The Comité Fabio Di Celmo pour les 5 de la Table de concertation de solidarité Québec-Cuba (The Fabio Di Celmo Committee for the Five of the Concertation Table of Quebec-Cuba Solidarity) has been organizing picket lines in front of the US Consulate in downtown Montreal the second Thursday of every month for more than three years. At times this action has been accompanied by the handing in of petitions to the Consular officials in order to be transmitted to the US Ambassador in Ottawa. Also part of the activity is monthly press releases which at times have been taken up by the media. Neither rain, cold nor snowstorms have stopped the militants from this monthly activity. During these past years important Quebec trade unions, federal Deputies from Quebec in the Canadian parliament, innumerable personalities and well-known cultural figures have added their voice to this demand put forward by the Comité Fabio Di Celmo.

The second Thursday of this month of September falls on September 9 when the picket line is being held as part of the world-wide movement on the occasion of the twelfth anniversary of the imprisonment of René González, Antonio Guerrero, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Fernando González. They were arrested twelve years ago on September 12, sentenced unjustly to long prison terms and held in terrible penitentiary conditions. For what reason? They infiltrated terrorist organizations in the south of Florida operating against Cubans and installations on Cuban soil. The goal of the Five was to provide this information to the Cuban government in order that the latter informs Washington so that it takes action against terrorism. The cruel conditions of confinement include the fact that Rene and Gerardo have been deprived for close to twelve years by the US authorities to see their respective wives Olga Salanueva and Adriana Pérez.  

September 4 is the thirteenth anniversary of the assassination in Havana of Fabio Di Celmo who was a victim of a terrorist campaign organized against Cuba by among others by Luis Posada Carriles. He is the same individual responsible for blowing a plane up in mid-air over the coast of Barbados killing 73 people aboard on October 6, thirty-five years ago.

On this occasion of the three bitter anniversaries, I held an interview on September 7 with Fabio Di Celmo’s brother, Livio Di Celmo (who lives in Montreal). Reminiscing about his brother, Livio said that “Fabio became Canadian Resident in 1976 when he was 11 years old. In order for him to continue his studies in Italy for a while he would spend summers in Montreal and winters in Italy. At around the age of 18 he was living more in Canada than Italy and just before his death he also spent many months in Cuba. Fabio liked Canada for its diversity and loved Montreal because of the green spaces, social tranquillity and its multicultural profile.”

            I asked him: “What are your feelings on the thirteenth anniversary of the assassination of your brother and the twelfth anniversary of the imprisonment of the Cuban 5?” Livio answered: “I came to realize that at one point, when we seek justice, the concept of time becomes obsolete because human affairs are evolving in their own timeframe and as the truth comes out more and more people somehow enlighten themselves and contribute to accelerate events which eventually render justice for past deeds. Fabio’s death and the imprisonment of the Five are so closely connected that I can tell you that if the worldwide solidarity movement manages to free the Five, then somehow justice will have been rendered to Fabio as well. At one point Luis Posada Carriles and company which are a by–product of the evil imperialist USA will eventually be dealt with by divine justice in which I greatly believe.”

             Autumn brings out the fact that there are several families involved in seeking justice.

There are the families of the Cuban Five, who in the course of the common struggle have virtually forged themselves into one family as part of the entire Cuban family composed of the over–whelming vast majority of Cuban people. The Cuban Five themselves, despite the complete lack of contact between them as part of the on–going psychological personal torture, have become one family of five brothers. For those thousands of us who are carrying out correspondence with them, while their letters reflect their respective distinct personalities and talents, one gets the impression that we are in contact with the same person. They are all inspired by the same motivation to resist all the pressures; they are all driven by the insatiable desire to be true to their families and their people. At the same time they all exhibit that remarkably unique feature of the Cuban society and government: concern for the future not only of their country but also of humanity, over and above their own individual well-being.

And there is the family of Fabio Di Celmo: his brother in Montreal, his father in Cuba and other family members in Italy. They demand justice. Their political proximity to the Cuban Five and their families is such that despite the aggravation and frustration that Fabio Di Celmo’s family have been going through for over thirteen years, Livio believes that the freedom of the Five in itself will render justice to Fabio even before (and if) Carriles is tried and convicted for his crimes including the murder of his brother.

The families of the Barbados incident will have been seeking justice for thirty–four years by next month. Nothing can bring back those seventy–three people whose families have had to spend every day of thirty–four years living with the abominable fact that the confessed responsible person is walking the streets of Miami for many years. The Barbados’ family committee members can be seen side by side with the families of the Cuban Five in Cuba on many occasions.

Livio’s selfless words and other similar declarations by all those involved directly, indicate something that augers very well for the continuation of the struggle. Over the years the different families have, so to speak, virtually converged into one family composed of the relatives of the Five, of the Barbados victims and of  the Fabio Di Celmo casualty in Havana, united as brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters and so on, all demanding that justice be done, not tomorrow, but now.

President Obama holds in his constitutional power the right to free the Cuban Five and open the juridical doors for Carriles and others to be tried and convicted for their crimes. As Obama’s first term moves towards a close, does he want to have these flagrant violations of justice be part of his heritage? Or does he want to be remembered by the extended family of individuals and peoples of the world as someone who had stood up to the pressures of the extreme right–wing in the US? 

*Arnold August (writer/journalist/lecturer) is a member of the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five and the Fabio Di Celmo Committee for the Five of the Concertation Table of Quebec-Cuba Solidarity.

New Delhi: India is augmenting its military preparedness and infrastructural development along its 5,045km disputed frontier with neighbouring China in response to similarly heightened activity on the other side.

Official sources said India was making preparations to deploy its strategic Agni II intermediate-range ballistic missiles and Prithvi III surface-to-surface ballistic missiles to the Chinese border.

An unspecified number of missile units under the Strategic Forces Command, which controls India’s nuclear arsenal, had recently been placed under the army’s Eastern Command, which has responsibility for managing the Chinese threat.

These measures were planned in response to China moving its advanced, longer-range CSS-5 missiles to the Tibet region and developing contingency plans to shift airborne forces there at short notice.

The neighbours fought a bitter war in 1962 – in which India came off worse – over their unresolved border dispute.

China maintains the disputed area to be over 120,600sq km and to include Arunachal Pradesh province in northeastern India, a claim New Delhi dismisses.

Over the decades, there has been no indication of a resolution to these conflicting claims, despite continuing negotiations and the recent upswing in diplomatic, political, commercial and even fledgling military ties between the world’s two most populous countries.

Tensions also persist along the undemarcated line of actual control, with India claiming frequent instances of increasingly aggressive border patrolling by the People’s Liberation Army, including incursions deep into its territory in order to test its responses.

A Pentagon report on China’s military status and ambitions had last month also warned against Beijing militarily reinforcing its borders with India, which, in turn, was preparing a riposte to these developments.

The Indian Air Force, for instance, plans to increase the number of Su-30MKI multi-role fighters at its base in Tezpur in Assam province, bordering Tibet.

Military sources said the Su-30MKI’s radius of operation from Tezpur could be further enhanced by 5,000km to 8,000km with air-to-air refuelling by the air force’s recently acquired tankers to enable them to strike at targets deep inside China.

Former US Senator Mike Gravel (D-AK) and Richard Gage, AIA, Founder of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth Discuss Scientific Findings

National Press Club, Washington DC, 2:00 pm, Thursday, September 9, 2010

WASHINGTON, Sept. 7 — On Thursday September 9, 2010, Gravel and Gage will host a central press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, presenting hard evidence that all three WTC skyscrapers on September 11, 2001, in NYC were destroyed by explosive controlled demolition.

Senator Gravel notes, “Critically important evidence has come forward after the original government building reports were completed.”

This press conference will be webcast at AE911Truth.org and hosted concurrently in cities throughout the world.* Following the conference, there will be a mock debate during which public statements made by government investigators and other defenders of the official account will be presented and responded to in multimedia format. “They refuse to debate us in person,” says Gage, “so we will let their public statements represent them.”

Gage will release a media-friendly summary of his organization’s findings, which are based on forensic evidence as well as video and eyewitness testimony that were omitted from official reports. He will show evidence that the WTC Twin Towers were not destroyed by jet plane impacts or fires, but by pre-set explosives and incendiaries. The non-profit organization, Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, will also call for a grand jury investigation of government report lead engineers Shyam Sunder and John Gross of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. “They were in a position to know the evidence we have been presenting,” says Gage.

Also speaking will be Florida State Professor Lance deHaven-Smith, who coined the academic term State Crimes Against Democracy (SCAD). Prof. deHaven-Smith has appeared on Good Morning America, the Today Show, NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, CBS Nightly News with Dan Rather, and other national TV/radio shows.

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It was so painful for me as my wife Lil and I watched the events of September 11, 2001 on television. Seeing a plane hit the World Trade Center (WTC) North Tower at 8:46, then a second plane hit the South Tower at 9:02. Shortly, we saw the firefighters and other first responders courageously going into the buildings hoping to extinguish the fires, but it was impossible to foresee what followed.

Then we watched in shock as nearly a dozen people were jumping from the upper floors to their deaths.

We felt profound horror at 9:59 as the South Tower cascaded in freefall into its own footprint, and then 29 minutes later when the North Tower came down in the same impossible freefall way.

The new forensic evidence which is being released today by Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth demonstrates the presence of controlled demolition materiel in the World Trade Center buildings One and Two.

Just one week after September 11, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Christine Todd Whitman declared “I am glad to reassure the people of New York and Washington DC that their air is safe to breathe and their water is safe to drink” and that we “. . . need not be concerned about environmental issues as [we return to [our] homes and workplaces”.

Yet to this day, at least 900 first responders have since died as a result of the effects of toxic “dust” from the buildings and the some 3,000 human remains that enveloped lower Manhattan and which Mayor Rudolph Giuliani declared “We must clear the rubble”. This “rubble” in fact constituted evidence from a massive crime scene, but was hauled away, first to Long Island, and then was eventually placed on barges and shipped to China.

One thing I know is that the official government story of those events, as well as what took place that day at the Pentagon, is just that, a story. This story is not the truth, but far from it.  

I was born on October 12, 1932. I am announcing today that I will be consuming only liquids beginning Sunday until my eightieth birthday in 2012 and until the real truth of what truly happened on that day emerges and is publicly known.

The Spectre of Barbarism and its Alternative

September 10th, 2010 by Prof. Michael A. Lebowitz

The Spectre of Barbarism and its Alternative: (Eight Theses) was presented at a conference of Venezuelan intellectuals organized by Centro Internacional Miranda (CIM) in Caracas on ‘The New International Situation and Construction of Socialism in the 21st Century’ on 1 October 2009; this paper points to both the international struggle and (peripherally on this occasion) the internal struggle. The second intervention (‘The Responsibility of Revolutionary Intellectuals in Building Socialism’) was presented at a CIM conference, ‘Intellectuals, Democracy and Socialism,’ on 2 June 2009 – a conference in Caracas composed largely of leading Venezuelan intellectuals which generated much controversy because of public criticisms of ‘the process’ made there; despite my statement that this presentation was ‘general rather than specific to Venezuela,’ it nevertheless was declared to be as an attack on PSUV (Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela) by a Chavist faction linked to the oil ministry.

Thesis One. The capitalist economic crisis is not over.

Make socialism fly

“Make socialism fly” – street art in Caracas. Photo from nosabemosdisparar.blogspot.com.

Although the immediate financial crisis appears to have been resolved, all of the underlying factors (which are the result of the overaccumulation to which capitalism is prone and which made fictitious capital so vulnerable) are still present. The incredible trade imbalance of the U.S. economy has not been addressed; the unprecedented deficit of the U.S. federal budget is rising; the over-extension of consumer credit hangs over the economy; unemployment is rising and thus consumer confidence and spending is not likely to return to previous heights; and, the general picture is one in which the U.S. economy, the dominant economy in the world, will continue to lose hegemony. When commentators stress signs of recovery, it is essential to remember that this pattern differs not at all from that of 1929 to 1933 – in other words, the period between the stock market crash and the bank failures – a period before much of the depression of the 1930s. At best, although capitalism itself may recover, the prospect is one of a significant geographical restructuring of capital on an international basis, which will require a painful adjustment for the U.S. economy – one which involves acceptance of continued stagnation or decline of incomes for the mass of people.

Thesis Two. The resource/food/water/climate/environment crisis is deepening.

All these elements are connected. There is a food crisis which reflects, among other things, drought as the result of climate change and the diversion of food for the production of biofuels. Despite the ability to produce sufficient food at this time for the world, unequal distribution has meant starvation for many and has been reflected in food riots over the price of staple products like rice. There is a process of land grab occurring in which countries such as China, India, South Korea and Saudi Arabia are in the process of leasing land in Africa, Pakistan, and the Philippines among other places for the purpose of securing food (especially grain) and fuels. For example, Daewoo of South Korea took a 99 year lease on 3,000,000 acres of land in Madagascar (half of all arable land in the country) for the purpose of producing corn and palm oil. Similarly, Pakistan offered a half million hectares of land and promised Gulf investors that if they signed up it would hire a security force of 100,000 to protect the assets. A significant aspect of these contracts which secure arable land for foreign investors is that it is a way of dealing with the impending crisis of water shortage. And, this problem is becoming increasingly serious with the melting of glaciers for example in Tibet and the Andes – which will affect the availability of water not only for consumption and agriculture but also for hydroelectric power. This problem, the problem of over-expansion of economic activity in relation to existing resources under capitalism, will only get worse as India and China in particular attempt to emulate the consumption standards of the developed North.

Thesis Three. The current internal political correlation of forces in the United States and other advanced capitalist countries is not favourable to the advance of progressive forces.

Here we can simply note the recent rightwing victories in elections in Germany, Italy and France, in the European Union, as well as the current prospect of a smashing defeat of the Labour government in England. Of course, it is stretching matters to think of these defeats for social democracy as defeats of progressive forces; however, what is evident is the failure of the left, of trade union organizations and social movements to make significant gains in this time of capitalist crisis. To this, it is important to add the very successful mobilization of forces in the United States against healthcare reform. What is striking is the composition of that mass opposition: the so-called “tea party” movement has been attacking not only Obama, not only big government and socialism but also Wall Street and corporations – and so many of those who have marched describe themselves as working class. There is no comparable mobilization of the working class from the left in the United States.

Thesis Four. In the context of resource shortages, the struggle to control resource supplies will become intense. That struggle is not likely to take the form of market and financial domination; rather, force will decide. This is one aspect of the spectre of barbarism.

Thesis Five. In the absence of strong political movements on the left, the response in the United States in particular and in other advanced capitalist countries is likely to be one best analyzed by psychologists.

For example, in the United States (where it is a matter of faith that ‘this is the greatest country in the world’), the reaction to the changing world capitalist economy will be a tendency toward protectionism, xenophobia (manifested in particular against Muslims), quick military solutions, racism and attacks upon immigrants who are seen as stealing good jobs. In short, the likely response will be the search for scapegoats – those responsible for stealing the birthrights of true Americans. As we can see already in Europe (for example, in the fascist attacks upon the Roma people in Hungary), this is another aspect of the spectre of barbarism.

Thesis Six. The old concepts of socialism, the characteristics of socialism of the 20th century, will never challenge the mass psychology which prevails in advanced capitalist countries.

If there is anything clear in the reaction of masses in developed capitalist countries to the initial appearance of this crisis within capitalism, it is that the concept of a big state, of verticalism, of interference by distant entities (not only big government but also big companies) is precisely what people do not want. For them, that is the enemy.

Thesis Seven. The concept of socialism for the 21st century, with its emphasis upon communal councils and workers councils, is the only way to make inroads on the working class of advanced capitalist countries at this point.

What people do respond to favourably is the idea of local decision-making and the ability to make the decisions that affect their lives – precisely because that option has been removed in advanced capitalist countries. Those are precisely the elements needed for the battle of ideas in order to struggle against barbarism.

Thesis Eight. At this time, only Venezuela offers the vision that can arm militants around the world in the battle of ideas in the struggle against barbarism. For that reason, a special responsibility falls upon Venezuela. It not only must struggle against state domination and verticalism and for development of those protagonistic institutions which alone can transform people. This struggle is essential for the health of the Venezuelan revolution; however, the success of this struggle also is needed to provide an example internationally in order to defeat the spectre of barbarism.

II. The responsibility of revolutionary intellectuals in building socialism

When we talk about intellectuals, we have to recognize of course that there are many varieties of intellectual. So, let me be specific. I’m not talking about traditional intellectuals nor about academics. I am talking about intellectuals who are committed to building socialism. Further, my comments are not directed specifically about Venezuelan intellectuals – that would be inappropriate for me as a visitor. So, my comments are general rather than specific to Venezuela.

“Socialism for the 21st century … a combination of social ownership of the means of production, social production organized by workers and communities, and a society based upon solidarity which is oriented toward producing for communal needs and communal purposes.”

What I want to focus upon are revolutionary intellectuals – people who are committed to building socialism for the 21st century. And I have in mind here something quite specific – a particular combination of elements. So, when I speak of socialism for the 21st century, I have in mind a combination of social ownership of the means of production, social production organized by workers and communities, and a society based upon solidarity which is oriented toward producing for communal needs and communal purposes.

These revolutionary intellectuals are people, in short, who are committed to a revolutionary project – to a revolutionary labour process in which the goal (socialism for the 21st century) is clear, and where what is called for is discipline to achieve that goal. In other words, a revolutionary intellectual must be disciplined in order to carry out the revolutionary project. Let me take this a further step. The revolutionary intellectual must be subject to discipline by the revolutionary party, a party dedicated to building socialism for the 21st century. The revolutionary intellectual must take guidance from that revolutionary party.

However, before my statement generates a hailstorm of shoes thrown at me, let me make one thing quite clear. We need to distinguish clearly between the revolutionary party and the party of the moment. I am using the term ‘moment’ here with its dialectical meaning – a step, a phase, a momentary stopping point which is and must be transcended in the course of progress.

So, the distinction that I am making is between the revolutionary party, the party of the socialist future, and the party of the moment. It is the former to which revolutionary intellectuals must be disciplined. After all, the party of the moment may not be committed to the socialist project. The dominant forces in the party of the moment may be oriented to a hierarchical command structure similar to the unfortunate experiences of the 20th century; they may have little interest or commitment to building a process of worker management which is essential for developing the capacities of working people, and they may believe that a focus upon producing on the basis of anything other than self-interest is utopian. Should revolutionary intellectuals discipline themselves to such a party? (I speak, incidentally, as someone who functioned for many years in a social democratic party.)

In other words, we have to recognize that there will be a gap between the concept of a revolutionary party oriented toward building socialism for the 21st century and the party of the moment. And, such a gap is inevitable. As Marx (and indeed every dialectical thinker) recognized, new forms always emerge within the old, and they inevitably reproduce defects of the old. Further, the new necessarily emerges in an inadequate form. Hegel commented that when we want to see an oak tree with its vigorous trunk, its spreading branches and its foliage, we are not satisfied to be shown an acorn instead.

So, how do we respond to that inevitable gap as revolutionary intellectuals? One possible stance is to stand outside and critique the inadequacy of the form that has emerged. The other, the revolutionary response, is the struggle to make what is potential real. Victor Serge was asked at one point, were the seeds of Stalin present in Lenin? Serge answered, ‘there were many seeds in Lenin.’ I suggest that the responsibility of revolutionary intellectuals is to nurture the revolutionary seeds. And, to do so everywhere possible. To communicate the vision of socialism for the 21st century to the masses because, as we know, ideas become a material force when they grasp the minds of masses. And to try to convince those who are providing leadership to the process about those same ideas and that same vision.

Of course, we understand that in committing ourselves to discipline by the revolutionary party of the future and not to discipline by the party of the moment, this may be seen as a criticism of the party of the moment. And, those least oriented toward building socialism for the 21st century will be most anxious to prevent such expressions. However, I think we must all be conscious of the consequences of abandoning the vision of socialism. If they are to be true to the project of building socialism for the 21st century, revolutionary intellectuals must place upon their banner Marx’s comment about the importance of criticism which is as little afraid of the results it arrives at as it is of conflict with the powers that be.

And, if this is the responsibility of revolutionary intellectuals, there is also the responsibility of revolutionaries within the party of the moment. If the party of the moment truly wishes to explore the process of building socialism for the 21st century, it will ensure that there is space for revolutionary intellectuals to follow the discipline of the revolutionary party. Not to provide this space and not to encourage the nurturing of revolutionary seeds is to allow the weeds to advance. •

Michael A. Lebowitz is professor emeritus of economics at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, and the author of Beyond Capital: Marx’s Political Economy of the Working Class (also available on Scribd), Build It Now: Socialism for the Twenty-First Century and his most recent book The Socialist Alternative: Real Human Development.

US soldiers killed Afghans as sport

September 10th, 2010 by Global Research

A dozen American soldiers have been charged with alleged killing of innocent Afghan civilians as a sport and collecting their fingers as trophies.

At least twelve US soldiers were accused of forming a secret “kill team” that shot and blew up civilians at random. 

Five of the soldiers were charged with murdering three Afghan men in separate attacks in southern Kandahar province this year. 

The three Afghan victims were shot. Two were also hit with grenades in what has proved to be one of the most serious war-crime cases to emerge from the Afghan war. 

Seven other soldiers were accused of covering up the killings and assaulting another soldier who exposed the murders when he reported other abuses. 

At least one of the soldiers collected the fingers of the victims as souvenirs and that some of them posed for photographs with the bodies, the Army Times reported. 

Five soldiers — Calvin Gibbs, Jeremy Morlock, Andrew Holmes, Michael Wagnon and Adam Winfield — were also accused of murder and aggravated assault among other charges. 

All of the soldiers, who face the death penalty or life imprisonment if convicted, have denied the charges. 

Civilians have been the main victims of violence in Afghanistan, particularly in the country’s troubled southern and eastern provinces. 
 

This article summarizes earlier writings by the author on 9/11 and the role of Al Qaeda in US foreign policy. For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, America’s “War on Terrorism”, Global Research, 2005  

“The United States spent millions of dollars to supply Afghan schoolchildren with textbooks filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings….The primers, which were filled with talk of jihad and featured drawings of guns, bullets, soldiers and mines, have served since then as the Afghan school system’s core curriculum. Even the Taliban used the American-produced books,..”, (Washington Post, 23 March 2002)

“Advertisements, paid for from CIA funds, were placed in newspapers and newsletters around the world offering inducements and motivations to join the [Islamic] Jihad.” (Pervez  Hoodbhoy, Peace Research, 1 May 2005)

“Bin Laden recruited 4,000 volunteers from his own country and developed close relations with the most radical mujahideen leaders. He also worked closely with the CIA, … Since September 11, [2001] CIA officials have been claiming they had no direct link to bin Laden.” (Phil Gasper, International Socialist Review, November-December 2001) 

Highlights

-Osama bin Laden, America’s bogyman, was recruited by the CIA in 1979 at the very outset of the US sponsored jihad. He was 22 years old and was trained in a CIA sponsored guerilla training camp. 

-The architects of the covert operation in support of “Islamic fundamentalism” launched during the Reagan presidency played a key role in launching the “Global War on Terrorism” in the wake of 9/11. 

- President Ronald Reagan met the leaders of the Islamic Jihad at the White House in 1985

-Under the Reagan adminstration, US foreign policy evolved towards the unconditional support and endorsement of the Islamic “freedom fighters”. In today’s World, the “freedom fighters” are labelled “Islamic terrorists”.

-In the Pashtun language, the word “Taliban” means “Students”, or graduates of the madrasahs (places of learning or coranic schools) set up by the Wahhabi missions from Saudi Arabia, with the support of the CIA. 

-Education in Afghanistan in the years preceding the Soviet-Afghan war was largely secular. The US covert education destroyed secular education. The number of  CIA sponsored religious schools (madrasahs) increased from 2,500 in 1980 to over 39,000.

The Soviet-Afghan war was part of a CIA covert agenda initiated during the Carter administration, which consisted  in actively supporting and financing the Islamic brigades, later known as Al Qaeda.

The Pakistani military regime played from the outset in the late 1970s, a key role in the US sponsored military and intelligence operations in Afghanistan. In the post-Cold war era, this central role of Pakistan in US intelligence operations was extended to the broader Central Asia- Middle East region. From the outset of the Soviet Afghan war in 1979, Pakistan under military rule actively supported the Islamic brigades. In close liaison with the CIA, Pakistan’s military intelligence, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), became a powerful organization, a parallel government, wielding tremendous power and influence. 

America’s covert war in Afghanistan, using Pakistan as a launch pad, was initiated during the Carter administration prior to the Soviet “invasion”: 

“According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahideen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.” (Former National Security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, Interview with Le Nouvel Observateur, 15-21 January 1998)

In the published memoirs of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who held the position of  deputy CIA Director at the height of the Soviet Afghan war, US intelligence was directly involved from the outset, prior to the Soviet invasion, in channeling aid to the Islamic brigades. 

Robert Gates

With CIA backing and the funneling of massive amounts of U.S. military aid, the Pakistani ISI had developed into a “parallel structure wielding enormous power over all aspects of government”. (Dipankar Banerjee, “Possible Connection of ISI With Drug Industry”, India Abroad, 2 December 1994). The ISI had a staff composed of military and intelligence officers, bureaucrats, undercover agents and informers, estimated at 150,000. (Ibid) 

Meanwhile, CIA operations had also reinforced the Pakistani military regime led by General Zia Ul Haq:

“Relations between the CIA and the ISI had grown increasingly warm following [General] Zia’s ouster of Bhutto and the advent of the military regime. … During most of the Afghan war, Pakistan was more aggressively anti-Soviet than even the United States. Soon after the Soviet military invaded Afghanistan in 1980, Zia [ul Haq] sent his ISI chief to destabilize the Soviet Central Asian states. The CIA only agreed to this plan in October 1984.” (Ibid)

The ISI operating virtually as an affiliate of the CIA, played a central role in channeling support to Islamic paramilitary groups in Afghanistan and subsequently in the Muslim republics of the former Soviet Union. 

Acting on behalf of the CIA, the ISI was also involved in the recruitment and training of the Mujahideen. In the ten year period from 1982 to 1992, some 35,000 Muslims from 43 Islamic countries were recruited to fight in the Afghan jihad. The madrassas in Pakistan, financed by Saudi charities, were also set up with  US support with a view to “inculcating Islamic values”. “The camps became virtual universities for future Islamic radicalism,” (Ahmed Rashid, The Taliban). Guerilla training under CIA-ISI auspices included targeted assassinations and car bomb attacks.  

“Weapons’ shipments “were sent by the Pakistani army and the ISI to rebel camps in the North West Frontier Province near the Afghanistan border. The governor of the province is Lieutenant General Fazle Haq, who [according to Alfred McCoy] . allowed “hundreds of heroin refineries to set up in his province.” Beginning around 1982, Pakistani army trucks carrying CIA weapons from Karachi often pick up heroin in Haq’s province and return loaded with heroin. They are protected from police search by ISI papers.”(1982-1989: US Turns Blind Eye to BCCI and Pakistani Government Involvement in Heroin Trade See also McCoy, 2003, p. 477) . 


Front row, from left: Major Gen. Hamid Gul, director general of Pakistan’s
Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), Director of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
Willian Webster; Deputy Director for Operations Clair George; an ISI colonel; and senior CIA official,
Milt Bearden at a mujahedeen training camp in North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan in 1987.
(source RAWA)

Osama Bin Laden

Osama bin Laden, America’s bogyman, was recruited by the CIA in 1979 at the very outset of the US sponsored jihad. He was 22 years old and was trained in a CIA sponsored guerilla training camp. 

During the Reagan administration, Osama, who belonged to the wealthy Saudi Bin Laden family was put in charge of raising money for the Islamic brigades. Numerous charities and foundations were created. The operation was coordinated by Saudi intelligence, headed by  Prince Turki al-Faisal, in close liaison with the CIA. The money derived from the various charities were used to finance the recruitment of Mujahieen volunteers. Al Qaeda, the base in Arabic was a data bank of volunteers who had enlisted to fight in the Afghan jihad. That data base was initially held by Osama bin Laden.  

The Reagan Administration supports “Islamic Fundamentalism”

Pakistan’s ISI was used as a “go-between”. CIA covert support to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan operated indirectly through the Pakistani ISI, –i.e. the CIA did not channel its support directly to the Mujahideen. In other words, for these covert operations to be “successful”, Washington was careful not to reveal the ultimate objective of the “jihad”, which consisted in destroying the Soviet Union.

In December 1984, the Sharia Law (Islamic jurisprudence) was established in Pakistan following a rigged referendum launched by President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. Barely a few months later, in March 1985, President Ronald Reagan issued National Security Decision Directive 166 (NSDD 166), which  authorized  “stepped-up covert military aid to the Mujahideen” as well a support to religious indoctrination. 

The imposition of The Sharia in Pakistan and the promotion of “radical Islam” was a deliberate US policy serving American geopolitical interests in South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East.  Many present-day  “Islamic fundamentalist organizations” in the Middle East and Central Asia, were directly or indirectly the product of US covert support and financing, often channeled through foundations from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. Missions from the Wahhabi sect of conservative Islam in Saudi Arabia were put in charge of running the CIA sponsored madrassas in Northern Pakistan.

Under NSDD 166, a series of covert CIA-ISI operations  was launched. 

The US supplied weapons to the Islamic brigades through the ISI. CIA and ISI officials would meet at ISI headquarters in Rawalpindi to coordinate US support to the Mujahideen. Under NSDD 166, the procurement of US weapons to the Islamic insurgents increased from 10,000 tons of arms and ammunition in 1983 to 65,000 tons annually by 1987.  “In addition to arms, training, extensive military equipment including military satellite maps and state-of-the-art communications equipment” (University Wire, 7 May 2002). 

Ronald Reagan meets Afghan Mujahideen Commanders at the White House in 1985 (Reagan Archives

VIDEO (30 Sec.)

With William Casey as director of the CIA, NSDD 166 was described as the largest covert operation in US history:  

The U.S. supplied support package had three essential components-organization and logistics, military technology, and ideological support for sustaining and encouraging the Afghan resistance…. 

U.S. counterinsurgency experts worked closely with the Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in organizing Mujahideen groups and in planning operations inside Afghanistan. 

… But the most important contribution of the U.S. was to … bring in men and material from around the Arab world and beyond. The most hardened and ideologically dedicated men were sought on the logic that they would be the best fighters. Advertisements, paid for from CIA funds, were placed in newspapers and newsletters around the world offering inducements and motivations to join the Jihad. (Pervez  Hoodbhoy, Afghanistan and the Genesis of the Global Jihad, Peace Research, 1 May 2005)

Religious Indoctrination

Under NSDD 166, US assistance to the Islamic brigades channeled through Pakistan was not limited to bona fide military aid. Washington also supported and financed by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the process of religious indoctrination, largely to secure the demise of secular institutions: 

… the United States spent millions of dollars to supply Afghan schoolchildren with textbooks filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings, part of covert attempts to spur resistance to the Soviet occupation.

The primers, which were filled with talk of jihad and featured drawings of guns, bullets, soldiers and mines, have served since then as the Afghan school system’s core curriculum. Even the Taliban used the American-produced books,..

The White House defends the religious content, saying that Islamic principles permeate Afghan culture and that the books “are fully in compliance with U.S. law and policy.” Legal experts, however, question whether the books violate a constitutional ban on using tax dollars to promote religion.

… AID officials said in interviews that they left the Islamic materials intact because they feared Afghan educators would reject books lacking a strong dose of Muslim thought. The agency removed its logo and any mention of the U.S. government from the religious texts, AID spokeswoman Kathryn Stratos said.

“It’s not AID’s policy to support religious instruction,” Stratos said. “But we went ahead with this project because the primary purpose . . . is to educate children, which is predominantly a secular activity.”

… Published in the dominant Afghan languages of Dari and Pashtun, the textbooks were developed in the early 1980s under an AID grant to the University of Nebraska -Omaha and its Center for Afghanistan Studies. The agency spent $ 51 million on the university’s education programs in Afghanistan from 1984 to 1994.” (Washington Post, 23 March 2002)

The Role of the NeoCons

There is continuity. The architects of the covert operation in support of “Islamic fundamentalism” launched during the Reagan presidency played a key role in launching the “Global War on Terrorism” in the wake of 9/11. 

Several of the NeoCons of the Bush Junior Administration  were high ranking officials during the Reagan presidency.  

Richard Armitage, was Deputy Secretary of State during George W. Bush’s first term (2001-2004). He played a central key role in post 9/11 negotiations with Pakistan leading up to the October 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. During the Reagan era, he held the position of Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy. In this capacity, he played a key role in the implementation of NSDD 163 while also ensuring liaison with the Pakistani military and intelligence apparatus. 

Richard L. Armitage
Richard Armitage

Meanwhile, Paul Wolfowitz was at the State Department in charge of  a  foreign policy team composed, among others, of Lewis Libby, Francis Fukuyama and Zalmay Khalilzad. 

Wolfowitz’s group was also involved in laying the conceptual groundwork of US covert support to Islamic parties and organizations in Pakistan and Afghanistan. 

Paul Wolfowitz

Paul Wolfowitz


Zalmay Khalilzad. 

Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, who now serves the Obama administration, was also involved in setting the groundwork for CIA covert operations. He was appointed Deputy Director for Intelligence by Ronald Reagan in 1982, and Deputy Director of the CIA in 1986, a position which he held until 1989. Gates played a key role in the formulation of NSDD 163, which established a consistent framework for promoting Islamic fundamentalism and channeling covert support to the Islamic brigades. He was also involved in the Iran Contra scandal. . 

The Iran Contra Operation

Richard Gates, Colin Powell and Richard Armitage, among others, were also involved  in the Iran-Contra operation.  

Armitage was in close liaison with Colonel Oliver North. His deputy and chief anti-terrorist official Noel Koch was part of the team set up by Oliver North. 

Of significance, the Iran-Contra operation was also tied into the process of channeling covert support to the Islamic brigades in Afghanistan. The Iran Contra scheme served several related foreign policy: 

1) Procurement of weapons to Iran thereby feeding the Iraq-Iran war, 

2) Support to the Nicaraguan Contras, 

3) Support to the Islamic brigades in Afghanistan, channeled via Pakistan’s ISI. 

Following the delivery of the TOW anti-tank missiles to Iran, the proceeds of these sales were deposited in numbered bank accounts and the money was used to finance the Nicaraguan Contras. and the Mujahideen: 

“The Washington Post reported that profits from the Iran arms sales were deposited in one CIA-managed account into which the U.S. and Saudi Arabia had placed $250 million apiece. That money was disbursed not only to the contras in Central America but to the rebels fighting Soviet troops in Afghanistan.” (US News & World Report, 15 December 1986).

Although Lieutenant General Colin Powell, was not directly involved in the arms’ transfer negotiations, which had been entrusted to Oliver North, he was among “at least five men within the Pentagon who knew arms were being transferred to the CIA.” (The Record, 29 December 1986).  In this regard, Powell was directly instrumental in giving the “green light” to lower-level officials in blatant violation of Congressional procedures. According to the New York Times, Colin Powell took the decision (at the level of military procurement), to allow the delivery of weapons to Iran:

“Hurriedly, one of the men closest to Secretary of Defense Weinberger, Maj. Gen. Colin Powell, bypassed the written ”focal point system” procedures and ordered the Defense Logistics Agency [responsible for procurement] to turn over the first of 2,008 TOW missiles to the CIA., which acted as cutout for delivery to Iran” (New York Times, 16 February 1987)

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was also implicated in the Iran-Contra Affair.

The Golden Crescent Drug Trade

The history of the drug trade in Central Asia is intimately related to the CIA’s covert operations. Prior to the Soviet-Afghan war, opium production in Afghanistan and Pakistan was directed to small regional markets. There was no local production of heroin. (Alfred McCoy, Drug Fallout: the CIA’s Forty Year Complicity in the Narcotics Trade. The Progressive, 1 August 1997). 

Alfred McCoy’s study confirms that within two years of the onslaught of the CIA operation in Afghanistan, “the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderlands became the world’s top heroin producer.” (Ibid) Various Islamic paramilitary groups and organizations were created. The proceeds of the Afghan drug trade, which was protected by the CIA, were used to finance the various insurgencies: 

“Under CIA and Pakistani protection, Pakistan military and Afghan resistance opened heroin labs on the Afghan and Pakistani border. According to The Washington Post of May 1990, among the leading heroin manufacturers were Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an Afghan leader who received about half of the covert arms that the U.S. shipped to Pakistan. Although there were complaints about Hekmatyar’s brutality and drug trafficking within the ranks of the Afghan resistance of the day, the CIA maintained an uncritical alliance and supported him without reservation or restraint.

Once the heroin left these labs in Pakistan’s northwest frontier, the Sicilian Mafia imported the drugs into the U.S., where they soon captured sixty percent of the U.S. heroin market. That is to say, sixty percent of the U.S. heroin supply came indirectly from a CIA operation. During the decade of this operation, the 1980s, the substantial DEA contingent in Islamabad made no arrests and participated in no seizures, allowing the syndicates a de facto free hand to export heroin. By contrast, a lone Norwegian detective, following a heroin deal from Oslo to Karachi, mounted an investigation that put a powerful Pakistani banker known as President Zia’s surrogate son behind bars. The DEA in Islamabad got nobody, did nothing, stayed away.

Former CIA operatives have admitted that this operation led to an expansion of the Pakistan-Afghanistan heroin trade. In 1995 the former CIA Director of this Afghan operation, Mr. Charles Cogan, admitted sacrificing the drug war to fight the Cold War. “Our main mission was to do as much damage to the Soviets. We didn’t really have the resources or the time to devote to an investigation of the drug trade,” he told Australian television. “I don’t think that we need to apologize for this. Every situation has its fallout. There was fallout in terms of drugs, yes, but the main objective was accomplished. The Soviets left Afghanistan.” (Alfred McCoy, Testimony before the Special Seminar focusing on allegations linking CIA secret operations and drug trafficking-convened February 13, 1997, by Rep. John Conyers, Dean of the Congressional Black Caucus)

Lucrative Narcotics Trade in the Post Cold War Era

The drug trade has continued unabated during the post Cold war years. Afghanistan became the major supplier of heroin to Western markets, in fact almost the sole supplier: more than 90 percent of the heroin sold Worldwide originates in Afghanistan. This lucrative contraband is tied into Pakistani politics and the militarization of the Pakistani State. It also has a direct bearing on the structure of the Pakistani economy and its banking and financial institutions, which from the outset of the Golden Crescent drug trade have been involved in extensive money laundering operations, which are protected by the Pakistani military and intelligence apparatus:  

According to the US State Department  International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (2006) (quoted in Daily Times, 2 March 2006), 

“Pakistani criminal networks play a central role in the transshipment of narcotics and smuggled goods from Afghanistan to international markets. Pakistan is a major drug-transit country. The proceeds of narcotics trafficking and funding for terrorist activities are often laundered by means of the alternative system called hawala. … .

“Repeatedly, a network of private unregulated charities has also emerged as a significant source of illicit funds for international terrorist networks,” the report pointed out. … “

The hawala system and the charities are but the tip of the iceberg. According to the State Department report, “the State Bank of Pakistan has frozen more twenty years] a meager $10.5 million “belonging to 12 entities and individuals linked to Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda or the Taliban”. What the report fails to mention is that the bulk of the proceeds of the Afghan drug trade are laundered in bona fide Western banking institutions.   

The Taliban Repress the Drug Trade

A major and unexpected turnaround in the CIA sponsored drug trade occurred in 2000. 

The Taliban government which came to power in 1996 with Washington’s support, implemented in 2000-2001 a far-reaching opium eradication program with the support of the United Nations which served to undermine a multibillion dollar trade. (For further details see, Michel Chossudovsky, America’s War on Terrorism, Global Research, 2005). 

In 2001 prior to the US-led invasion, opium production under the Taliban eradication program declined by more than 90 percent. 

In the immediate wake of the US led invasion, the Bush administration ordered that the opium harvest not be destroyed on the fabricated pretext that this would undermine the military government of Pervez Musharraf. 

“Several sources inside Capitol Hill noted that the CIA opposes the destruction of the Afghan opium supply because to do so might destabilize the Pakistani government of Gen. Pervez Musharraf. According to these sources, Pakistani intelligence had threatened to overthrow President Musharraf if the crops were destroyed. …

‘If they [the CIA] are in fact opposing the destruction of the Afghan opium trade, it’ll only serve to perpetuate the belief that the CIA is an agency devoid of morals; off on their own program rather than that of our constitutionally elected government’” .(NewsMax.com, 28 March 2002)

Since the US led invasion, opium production has increased 33 fold from 185 tons in 2001 under the Taliban to 6100 tons in 2006. Cultivated areas have increased 21 fold since the 2001 US-led invasion. (Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 6 January 2006)  

In 2007, Afghanistan supplied approximately 93% of the global supply of heroin. The proceeds (in terms of retail value) of the Afghanistan drug trade are estimated (2006) to be in excess of 190 billion dollars a year, representing a significant fraction of the global trade in narcotics.(Ibid) 

The proceeds of this lucrative multibillion dollar contraband are deposited in Western banks. Almost the totality of the revenues accrue to corporate interests and criminal syndicates outside Afghanistan. 

The laundering of drug money constitutes a multibillion dollar activity, which continues to be protected by the CIA and the ISI. In the wake of the 2001 US invasion of Afghanistan. 

In retrospect, one of the major objectives of the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan was to restore the drug trade. 

The militarization of Pakistan serves powerful political, financial and criminal interests underlying the drug trade. US foreign policy tends to support these powerful interests. The CIA continues to protect the Golden Crescent narcotics trade. Despite his commitment to eradicating the drug trade, opium production under the regime of Afghan President Hamid Karzai has skyrocketed.  

The Assassination of General Zia Ul-Haq

In August 1988, President Zia was killed in an air crash together with US Ambassador to Pakistan Arnold Raphel and several of Pakistan’s top generals. The circumstances of the air crash remain shrouded in mystery. 

Following Zia’s death, parliamentary elections were held and Benazir Bhutto was sworn in as Prime Minister in December 1988. She was subsequently  removed from office by Zia’s successor, President Ghulam Ishaq Khan on the grounds of alleged corruption. In 1993, she was re-elected and was again removed from office in 1996 on the orders of President Farooq Leghari. 

Continuity has been maintained throughout. Under the short-lived post-Zia  elected governments of Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, the central role of the military-intelligence establishment and its links to Washington were never challenged. 

Both Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif served US foreign policy interests. While in power, both democratically elected leaders, nonetheless supported the continuity of military rule.  As prime minister from 1993 to 1996, Benazir Bhutto “advocated a conciliatory policy toward Islamists, especially the Taliban in Afghanistan” which were being supported by Pakistan’s ISI (See F. William Engdahl, Global Research, January 2008)

Benazir Bhutto’s successor as Prime Minister,  Mia Muhammad Nawaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) was deposed in 1999 in a US supported coup d’Etat led by General Pervez Musharraf.  

The 1999 coup was instigated by General Pervez Musharaf, with the support of the Chief of General Staff, Lieutenant General Mahmoud Ahmad, who was subsequently appointed to the key position of head of military intelligence (ISI). 

From the outset of the Bush administration in 2001, General Ahmad developed close ties not only with his US counterpart CIA director George Tenet, but also with key members of the US government including Secretary of State Colin Powell, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, not to mention Porter Goss, who at the time was Chairman of the House Committee on Intelligence. Ironically, Mahmoud Ahmad is also known, according to a September 2001 FBI report, for his suspected role in supporting and financing the alleged 9/11 terrorists as well as his links to Al Qaeda and the Taliban. (See Michel Chossudovsky, America’s “war on Terrorism, Global Research, Montreal, 2005) 

Concluding Remarks 

 These various “terrorist” organizations were created as a result of CIA support. They are not the product of religion. The project to establish “a pan-Islamic Caliphate” is part of a carefully devised intelligence operation. 

CIA support to Al Qaeda was not in any way curtailed at the end of the Cold War. In fact quite the opposite. The earlier pattern of covert support took on a global thrust and became increasingly sophisticated. 

The “Global War on Terrorism” is a complex and intricate intelligence construct. The covert support provided to “Islamic extremist groups” is part of an imperial agenda. It purports to weaken and eventually destroy secular and civilian governmental institutions, while also contributing to vilifying Islam. It is an instrument of colonization which seeks to undermine sovereign nation-states and transform countries into territories. 

For the intelligence operation to be successful, however, the various Islamic organizations created and trained by the CIA must remain unaware of the role they are performing on the geopolitical chessboard, on behalf of Washington. 

Over the years, these organizations have indeed acquired a certain degree of autonomy and independence, in relation to their US-Pakistani sponsors. That appearance of “independence”, however, is crucial; it is an integral part of the covert intelligence operation. According to former CIA agent Milton Beardman the Mujahideen were invariably unaware of the role they were performing on behalf of Washington. In the words of bin Laden (quoted by Beardman): “neither I, nor my brothers saw evidence of American help”. (Weekend Sunday (NPR); Eric Weiner, Ted Clark; 16 August 1998).

“Motivated by nationalism and religious fervor, the Islamic warriors were unaware that they were fighting the Soviet Army on behalf of Uncle Sam. While there were contacts at the upper levels of the intelligence hierarchy, Islamic rebel leaders in theatre had no contacts with Washington or the CIA.” (Michel Chossudovsky, America’s War on Terrorism, Chapter 2). 

The fabrication of “terrorism” –including covert support to terrorists– is required to provide legitimacy to the “war on terrorism”. 

The various fundamentalist and paramilitary groups involved in US sponsored “terrorist” activities are “intelligence assets”. In the wake of 9/11, their  designated function as “intelligence assets” is  to perform their role as credible “enemies of America”. 

Under the Bush administration, the CIA continued to support (via Pakistan’s ISI) several Pakistani based Islamic groups. The ISI is known to support Jamaat a-Islami, which is also present in South East Asia, Lashkar-e-Tayya­ba, Jehad a-Kashmiri, Hizbul-Mujahidin and  Jaish-e-Mohammed.  

The Islamic groups created by the CIA are also intended to rally public support in Muslim countries. The underlying objective is to create divisions within national societies throughout the Middle East and Central Asia, while also triggering sectarian strife within Islam, ultimately with a view to curbing the development of a broad based secular mass resistance, which would challenge US imperial ambitions.  

This function of an outside enemy is also an essential part of war propaganda required to galvanize Western public opinion. Without an enemy, a war cannot be fought.  US foreign policy needs to fabricate an enemy, to justify its various military interventions in the Middle East and Central Asia. An enemy is required to justify a military agenda, which consists in ” going after Al Qaeda”. The fabrication and vilification of the enemy are required to justify military action. 

The existence of an outside enemy sustains the illusion that the “war on terrorism” is real. It justifies and presents military intervention as a humanitarian operation based on the right to self-defense. It upholds the illusion of a “conflict of civilizations”. The underlying purpose ultimately is to conceal the real economic and strategic objectives behind the broader Middle East Central Asian war. 

Historically, Pakistan has played a central role in “war on terrorism”. Pakistan constitutes from Washington’s standpoint a geopolitical hub. It borders onto Afghanistan and Iran. It has played a crucial role in the conduct of US and allied military operations in Afghanistan as well as in the context of the Pentagon’s war plans in relation to Iran. 

AMERICA’S “WAR ON TERRORISM”

by Michel Chossudovsky

ISBN 0-9737147-1-9  (2005)

387 pages.

Global Research Online Price: US$14.00  (Retail $19.95)  

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

In this new and expanded edition of Michel Chossudovsky’s 2002 best seller, the author blows away the smokescreen put up by the mainstream media, that 9/11 was an attack on America by “Islamic terrorists”.  Through meticulous research, the author uncovers a military-intelligence ploy behind the September 11 attacks, and the cover-up and complicity of key members of the Bush Administration.

The expanded edition, which includes twelve new chapters focuses on the use of 9/11 as a pretext for the invasion and illegal occupation of Iraq, the militarisation of justice and law enforcement and the repeal of democracy.

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

September 11, 2001 provides a justification for waging a war without borders. Washington’s agenda consists in extending the frontiers of the American Empire to facilitate complete U.S. corporate control, while installing within America the institutions of the Homeland Security State.

Chossudovsky peels back layers of rhetoric to reveal a complex web of deceit aimed at luring the American people and the rest of the world into accepting a military solution which threatens the future of humanity.

“Millions of people have been misled regarding the causes and consequences of September 11.

When people across the US and around the World find out that Al Qaeda is not an outside enemy but a creation of US foreign policy and the CIA, the legitimacy of the bipartisan war agenda will tumble like a deck of cards.”

Across the land, the image of an “outside enemy” is instilled in the consciousness of Americans. Al Qaeda is threatening America and the world. The repeal of democracy under the Patriot legislation is portrayed as a means to providing “domestic security” and upholding civil liberties.

The 9/11 Commission Report destroys the historical record of US covert support to international terrorism, while creating the illusion that America and “Western Civilization” are threatened. In turn, the various terrorist warnings and code orange alerts have created, across America, an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.

Michel Chossudovsky, America’s “War on Terrorism”,  Global Research 2005

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

The following 1997 document of the US Congress was posted on the Global Research website nine years ago, barely two weeks after the 9/11 attacks.

This 1997 document reveals accusations by Republican Party to the effect that the Clinton administration had supported operatives of  “The Military Islamic Network” is Bosnia. What this document reveals from the Horse’s Mouth is

1. The US Administration did not cease its support of Al Qaeda in the wake of the Cold War.
2. Both Democratic and Republican administrations consistently supported the alleged architects of 9/11.


The document can be found in the Archives of US Senate, office of (former) Senator Larry Craig

MILITANT ISLAMIC BASE Congressional Press Releases January 16, 1997, Thursday

Copyright 1997 FDCHeMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  
Congressional Press Releases

January 16, 1997, Thursday

SECTION: PRESS RELEASE

HEADLINE: MILITANT ISLAMIC BASE

BYLINE: LARRY CRAIG , SENATOR , SENATE , CLINTON-APPROVED IRANIAN ARMS TRANSFERS HELP TURN BOSNIA INTO

BODY:
January 16, 1997

Extended Bosnia Mission Endangers U.S. Troops

Clinton-Approved Iranian Arms Transfers

The original Global Research article can be consulted at http://globalresearch.ca/articles/DCH109A.html

Clinton Administration supported the “Militant Islamic Base”

Editorial note

Posted at globalresearch.ca 21 September 2001

Since the Soviet-Afghan war, recruiting Mujahideen (“holy warriors”) to fight covert wars on Washington’s behest has become an integral part of US foreign policy. A 1997 document of the US Congress reveals how the Clinton administration –under advice from the National Security Council headed by Anthony Lake– had “helped turn Bosnia into a militant Islamic base” leading to the recruitment through the so-called “Militant Islamic Network,” of thousands of Mujahedin from the Muslim world.

The “Bosnian pattern” has since been replicated in Kosovo, Southern Serbia and Macedonia. Among the foreign mercenaries now fighting with the Kosovo Liberation Army(KLA) in Macedonia are Mujahideen from the Middle East and the Central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union. Also within the ranks of the Kosovo Liberation Army are senior US military advisers from a private mercenary outfit on contract to the Pentagon as well as “soldiers of fortune” from Britain, Holland and Germany.

“Americans have many questions tonight. Americans are asking, ‘Who attacked our country?’” said George W. Bush in his address to the US Congress on 20 September. “This group and its leader, a person named Osama bin Laden are linked to many other organizations in different countries.”

What the President fails to mention in his speech is the complicity of agencies of the US government in supporting and abetting Osama bin Laden.

The Bush Administration has misled the American people. What is the hidden agenda? The largest military operation since the Vietnam War is being launched against Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda network, when the evidence amply confirms that Osama has been “harbored” since the Soviet-Afghan war by agencies of the US government.

We are reproducing below the 1997 Congressional Press release, which provides detailed evidence from official sources of the links between the Islamic Jihad and the US government during the Clinton Adminstration. The CRG does not necessarily share or endorse the conclusions of the document which emanates from the Republican Party.

Michel Chossudovsky, 21 September 2001

Clinton-Approved Iranian Arms Transfers Help Turn Bosnia into Militant Islamic Base

Congressional Press Release, US Congress, 16 January 1997 Posted at globalresearch.ca 21 September 2001
 

Help Turn Bosnia into Militant Islamic Base

“‘There is no question that the policy of getting arms into Bosnia was of great assistance in allowing the Iranians to dig in and create good relations with the Bosnian government,’ a senior CIA officer told Congress in a classified deposition. ‘And it is a thing we will live to regret because when they blow up some Americans, as they no doubt will before this … thing is over, it will be in part because the Iranians were able to have the time and contacts to establish themselves well in Bosnia.”‘ “Iran Gave Bosnia Leader $ ["Iran Gave Bosnia Leader $ 500,000, CIA Alleges: Classified Report Says Izetbegovic Has Been 'Co-Opted,' Contradicting U.S. Public Assertion of Rift," Los Angeles Times, 12/31/96. Ellipses in original. Alija Izetbegovic is the Muslim president of Bosnia.] “‘If you read President Izetbegovk’s writings, as I have, there is no doubt that he is an Islamic fundamentalist,’ said a senior Western diplomat with long experience in the region. ‘He is a very nice fundamentalist, but he is still a fundamentalist. This has not changed. His goal is to establish a Muslim state in Bosnia, and the Serbs and Croats understand this better than the rest of us.”‘ ["Bosnian Leader Hails Islam at Election Rallies," New York Times, 9/2/96]

Introduction and Summary

In late 1995, President Bill Clinton dispatched some 20,000 U.S. troops to Bosnia-Hercegovina as part of a NATO-led “implementation force” (IFOR) to ensure that the warning Muslim, Serbian, and Croatian factions complied with provisions of the Dayton peace plan. [NOTE: This paper assumes the reader is acquainted with the basic facts of the Bosnian war leading to the IFOR deployment. For background, see RPC's "Clinton Administration Ready to Send U.S. Troops to Bosnia, "9/28/95," and Legislative Notice No. 60, "Senate to Consider Several Resolutions on Bosnia," 12/12/95] Through statements by Administration spokesmen, notably Defense Secretary Perry and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Shalikashvili, the president firmly assured Congress and the American people that U S. personnel would be out of Bosnia at the end of one year. Predictably, as soon as the November 1996 election was safely behind him, President Clinton announced that approximately 8,5 00 U.S. troops would be remaining for another 18 months as part of a restructured and scaled down contingent, the “stabilization force” (SFOR), officially established on December 20, 1996.

SFOR begins its mission in Bosnia under a serious cloud both as to the nature of its mission and the dangers it will face. While IFOR had successfully accomplished its basic military task – separating the factions’ armed forces – there has been very little progress toward other stated goals of the Dayton agreement, including political and economic reintegration of Bosnia, return of refugees to their homes, and apprehension and prosecution of accused war criminals. It is far from certain that the cease-fire that has held through the past year will continue for much longer, in light of such unresolved issues as the status of the cities of Brcko (claimed by Muslims but held by the Serbs) and Mostar (divided between nominal Muslim and Croat allies, both of which are currently being armed by the Clinton Administration). Moreover, at a strength approximately one-third that of its predecessor, SFOR may not be in as strong a position to deter attacks by one or another of the Bosnian factions or to avoid attempts to involve it in renewed fighting: “IFOR forces, despite having suffered few casualties, have been vulnerable to attacks from all of the contending sides over the year of the Dayton mandate. As a second mandate [Dayton mandate. As a second mandate [i.e., SFOR] evolves, presumably maintaining a smaller force on the ground, the deterrent effect which has existed may well become less compelling and vulnerabilities of the troops will increase.” ["Military Security in Bosnia-Herzegovina: Present and Future," Bulletin of the Atlantic Council of the United States, 12/18/96]

The Iranian Connection

Perhaps most threatening to the SFOR mission – and more importantly, to the safety of the American personnel serving in Bosnia – is the unwillingness of the Clinton Administration to come clean with the Congress and with the American people about its complicity in the delivery of weapons from Iran to the Muslim government in Sarajevo. That policy, personally approved by Bill Clinton in April 1994 at the urging of CIA Director-designate (and then-NSC chief) Anthony Lake and the U.S. ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith, has, according to the Los Angeles Times (citing classified intelligence community sources), “played a central role in the dramatic increase in Iranian influence in Bosnia.” Further, according to the Times, in September 1995 National Security Agency analysts contradicted Clinton Administration claims of declining Iranian influence, insisting instead that “Iranian Revolutionary Guard personnel remain active throughout Bosnia.” Likewise, “CIA analysts noted that the Iranian presence was expanding last fall,” with some ostensible cultural and humanitarian activities “known to be fronts” for the Revolutionary Guard and Iran’s intelligence service, known as VEVAK, the Islamic revolutionary successor to the Shah’s SAVAK. [[LAT, 12/31/96] At a time when there is evidence of increased willingness by pro-Iranian Islamic militants to target American assets abroad – as illustrated by the June 1996 car-bombing at the Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, that killed 19 American airmen, in which the Iranian government or pro-Iranian terrorist organizations are suspected ["U.S. Focuses Bomb Probe on Iran, Saudi Dissident," Chicago Tribune, 11/4/96] – it is irresponsible in the extreme for the Clinton Administration to gloss over the extent to which its policies have put American personnel in an increasingly vulnerable position while performing an increasingly questionable mission.

Three Key Issues for Examination

This paper will examine the Clinton policy of giving the green light to Iranian arms shipments to the Bosnian Muslims, with serious implications for the safety of U.S. troops deployed there. (In addition, RPC will release a general analysis of the SFOR mission and the Clinton Administration’s request for supplemental appropriations to fund it in the near future.) Specifically, the balance of this paper will examine in detail the three issues summarized below:

  1. The Clinton Green Light to Iranian Arms Shipments (page 3): In April 1995, President Clinton gave the government of Croatia what has been described by Congressional committees as a “green light” for shipments of weapons from Iran and other Muslim countries to the Muslim-led government of Bosnia. The policy was approved at the urging of NSC chief Anthony Lake and the U.S. ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith. The CIA and the Departments of State and Defense were kept in the dark until after the decision was made.

  2. The Militant Islamic Network (page 5): Along with the weapons, Iranian Revolutionary Guards and VEVAK intelligence operatives entered Bosnia in large numbers, along with thousands of mujahedin (“holy warriors”) from across the Muslim world. Also engaged in the effort were several other Muslim countries (including Brunei, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Turkey) and a number of radical Muslim organizations. For example, the role of one Sudan-based “humanitarian organization,” called the Third World Relief Agency, has been well documented. The Clinton Administration’s “hands-on” involvement with the Islamic network’s arms pipeline included inspections of missiles from Iran by U.S. government officials.

  3. The Radical Islamic Character of the Sarajevo Regime (page 8): Underlying the Clinton Administration’s misguided green light policy is a complete misreading of its main beneficiary, the Bosnian Muslim government of Alija Izetbegovic. Rather than being the tolerant, multiethnic democratic government it pretends to be, there is clear evidence that the ruling circle of Izetbegovic’s party, the Party of Democratic Action (SDA), has long been guided by the principles of radical Islam. This Islamist orientation is illustrated by profiles of three important officials, including President Izetbegovic himself; the progressive Islamization of the Bosnian army, including creation of native Bosnian mujahedin units; credible claims that major atrocities against civilians in Sarajevo were staged for propaganda purposes by operatives of the Izetbegovic government; and suppression of enemies, both non-Muslim and Muslim.

The Clinton Green Light to Iranian Arms Shipments

Both the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Select Subcommittee to Investigate the United States Role in Iranian Arms Transfers to Croatia and Bosnia issued reports late last year. (The Senate report, dated November 1996, is unclassified. The House report is classified, with the exception of the final section of conclusions, which was released on October 8, 1996; a declassified version of the full report is expected to be released soon.) The reports, consistent with numerous press accounts, confirm that on April 27, 1994, President Clinton directed Ambassador Galbraith to inform the government of Croatia that he had “no instructions” regarding Croatia’s decision whether or not to permit weapons, primarily from Iran, to be transshipped to Bosnia through Croatia. (The purpose was to facilitate the acquisition of arms by the Muslim-led government in Sarajevo despite the arms embargo imposed on Yugoslavia by the U.N. Security Council.) Clinton Administration officials took that course despite their awareness of the source of the weapons and despite the fact that the Croats (who were themselves divided on whether to permit arms deliveries to the Muslims) would take anything short of a U.S. statement that they should not facilitate the flow of Iranian arms to Bosnia as a “green light.”

The green light policy was decided upon and implemented with unusual secrecy, with the CIA and the Departments of State and Defense only informed after the fact. ["U.S. Had Options to Let Bosnia Get Arms, Avoid Iran," Los Angeles Times, 7/14/96] Among the key conclusions of the House Subcommittee were the following (taken from the unclassified section released on October 8):

  • “The President and the American people were poorly served by the Administration officials who rushed the green light decision without due deliberation. full information and an adequate consideration of the consequences.” (page 202)

  • “The Administration’s efforts to keep even senior US officials from seeing its ‘fingerprints’ on the green light policy led to confusion and disarray within the government.” (page 203)

  • “The Administration repeatedly deceived the American people about its Iranian green light policy.” (page 204)

Clinton, Lake, and Galbraith Responsible

Who is ultimately accountable for the results of his decision – two Clinton Administration officials bear particular responsibility: Ambassador Galbraith and then-NSC Director Anthony Lake, against both of whom the House of Representatives has referred criminal charges to the Justice Department. Mr. Lake, who personally presented the proposal to Bill Clinton for approval, played a central role in preventing the responsible congressional committees from knowing about the Administration’s fateful decision to acquiesce in radical Islamic Iran’s effort to penetrate the European continent through arms shipments and military cooperation with the Bosnian government.” ["'In Lake We Trust'? Confirmation Make-Over Exacerbates Senate Concerns About D.C.I.-Desipate's Candor, Reliability," Center for Security Policy, Washington, D.C., 1/8/97] His responsibility for the operation is certain to be a major hurdle in his effort to be confirmed as CIA Director: “The fact that Lake was one of the authors of the duplicitous policy in Bosnia, which is very controversial and which has probably helped strengthen the hand of the Iranians, doesn’t play well,” stated Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Shelby. ["Lake to be asked about donation," Washington Times, 1/2/97]

For his part, Ambassador Galbraith was the key person both in conceiving the policy and in serving as the link between the Clinton Administration and the Croatian government; he also met with Imam Sevko Omerbasic, the top Muslim cleric in Croatia, “who the CIA says was an intermediary for Iran.” ["Fingerprints: Arms to Bosnia, the real story," The New Republic, 10/28/96; see also LAT 12/23/96] As the House Subcommittee concluded (page 206): “There is evidence that Ambassador Galbraith may have engaged in activities that could be characterized as unauthorized covert action.” The Senate Committee (pages 19 and 20 of the report) was unable to agree on the specific legal issue of whether Galbraith’s actions constituted a “covert action” within the definition of section 503(e) of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. Sec. 413(e)), as amended, defined as “an activity or activities … to influence political, economic, or military conditions abroad, where it is intended that the role of the United States Government will not be apparent or acknowledged publicly.”

The Militant Islamic Network

The House Subcommittee report also concluded (page 2): “The Administration’s Iranian green light policy gave Iran an unprecedented foothold in Europe and has recklessly endangered American lives and US strategic interests.” Further – ” … The Iranian presence and influence [" ... The Iranian presence and influence [in Bosnia] jumped radically in the months following the green light. Iranian elements infiltrated the Bosnian government and established close ties with the current leadership in Bosnia and the next generation of leaders. Iranian Revolutionary Guards accompanied Iranian weapons into Bosnia and soon were integrated in the Bosnian military structure from top to bottom as well as operating in independent units throughout Bosnia. The Iranian intelligence service [intelligence service [VEVAK] ran wild through the area developing intelligence networks, setting up terrorist support systems, recruiting terrorist ‘sleeper’ agents and agents of influence, and insinuating itself with the Bosnian political leadership to a remarkable degree. The Iranians effectively annexed large portions of the Bosnian security apparatus [known as the Agency for Information and Documentation (AID)] to act as their intelligence and terrorist surrogates. This extended to the point of jointly planning terrorist activities. The Iranian embassy became the largest in Bosnia and its officers were given unparalleled privileges and access at every level of the Bosnian government.” (page 201)

Not Just the Iranians

To understand how the Clinton green light would lead to this degree of Iranian influence, it is necessary to remember that the policy was adopted in the context of extensive and growing radical Islamic activity in Bosnia. That is, the Iranians and other Muslim militants had long been active in Bosnia; the American green light was an important political signal to both Sarajevo and the militants that the United States was unable or unwilling to present an obstacle to those activities – and, to a certain extent, was willing to cooperate with them. In short, the Clinton Administration’s policy of facilitating the delivery of arms to the Bosnian Muslims made it the de facto partner of an ongoing international network of governments and organizations pursuing their own agenda in Bosnia: the promotion of Islamic revolution in Europe. That network involves not only Iran but Brunei, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan (a key ally of Iran), and Turkey, together with front groups supposedly pursuing humanitarian and cultural activities.

For example, one such group about which details have come to light is the Third World Relief Agency (TWRA), a Sudan-based, phoney humanitarian organization which has been a major link in the arms pipeline to Bosnia. ["How Bosnia's Muslims Dodged Arms Embargo: Relief Agency Brokered Aid From Nations, Radical Groups," Washington Post, 9/22/96; see also "Saudis Funded Weapons For Bosnia, Official Says: $ 300 Million Program Had U.S. 'Stealth Cooperation'," Washington Post, 2/2/96] TWA is believed to be connected with such fixtures of the Islamic terror network as Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman (the convicted mastermind behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing) and Osama Binladen, a wealthy Saudi emigre believed to bankroll numerous militant groups. [WP, 9/22/96] (Sheik Rahman, a native of Egypt, is currently in prison in the United States; letter bombs addressed to targets in Washington and London, apparently from Alexandria, Egypt, are believed connected with his case. Binladen was a resident in Khartoum, Sudan, until last year; he is now believed to be in Afghanistan, “where he has issued statements calling for attacks on U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf.” [on U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf." [WP, 9/22/96])

The Clinton Administration ‘s “Hands-On ” Help

The extent to which Clinton Administration officials, notably Ambassador Galbraith, knowingly or negligently, cooperated with the efforts of such front organizations is unclear. For example, according to one intelligence account seen by an unnamed U.S. official in the Balkans, “Galbraith ‘talked with representatives of Muslim countries on payment for arms that would be sent to Bosnia,’ … [would be sent to Bosnia,' ... [T]he dollar amount mentioned in the report was $ 500 million-$ 800 million. The U.S. official said he also saw subsequent ‘operational reports’ in 1995 on almost weekly arms shipments of automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, anti-armor rockets and TOW missiles.” [TNR, 10/28/96] The United States played a disturbingly “hands-on” role, with, according to the Senate report (page 19), U.S. government personnel twice conducting inspections in Croatia of missiles en route to Bosnia. Further — “The U.S. decision to send personnel to Croatia to inspect rockets bound for Bosnia is … subject to varying interpretations. It may have been simply a straightforward effort to determine whether chemical weapons were being shipped into Bosnia. It was certainly, at least in part, an opportunity to examine a rocket in which the United States had some interest. But it may also have been designed to ensure that Croatia would not shut down the pipeline.” (page 21)

The account in The New Republic points sharply to the latter explanation: “Enraged at Iran’s apparent attempt to slip super weapons past Croat monitors, the Croatian defense minister nonetheless sent the missiles on to Bosnia ‘just as Peter [i.e., Ambassador Galbraith] told us to do,’ sources familiar with the episode said.” [episode said." [TNR, 10/28/96] In short, the Clinton Administration’s connection with the various players that made up the arms network seems to have been direct and intimate.

The Mujahedin Threat

In addition to (and working closely with) the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and VEVAK intelligence are members of numerous radical groups known for their anti-Western orientation, along with thousands of volunteer mujahedin (“holy warriors”) from across the Islamic world. From the beginning of the NATO- led deployment, the Clinton Administration has given insufficient weight to military concerns regarding the mujahedin presence in Bosnia as well as the danger they pose to American personnel. Many of the fighters are concentrated in the so-called “green triangle” (the color green symbolizes Islam) centered on the town of Zenica in the American IFOR/SFOR zone but are also found throughout the country.

The Clinton Administration has been willing to accept Sarajevo’s transparently false assurances of the departure of the foreign fighters based on the contention that they have married Bosnian women and have acquired Bosnian citizenship — and thus are no longer “foreign”! or, having left overt military units to join “humanitarian,” “cultural,” or “charitable” organizations, are no longer “fighters.” [See "Foreign Muslims Fighting in Bosnia Considered 'Threat' to U.S. Troops," Washington Post, 11/30/95; "Outsiders Bring Islamic Fervor To the Balkans," New York Times, 9/23/96; "Islamic Alien Fighters Settle in Bosnia," Pittsburgh PostGazette, 9/23/96; "Mujahideen rule Bosnian villages: Threaten NATO forces, non-Muslims," Washington Times, 9/23/96; and Yossef Bodansky, Offensive in the Balkans (November 1995) and Some Call It Peace (August 1996), International Media Corporation, Ltd., London. Bodansky, an analyst with the House Republican Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, is an internationally recognized authority on Islamic terrorism.] The methods employed to qualify for Bosnian citizenship are themselves problematic: “Islamic militants from Iran and other foreign countries are employing techniques such as forced marriages, kidnappings and the occupation of apartments and houses to remain in Bosnia in violation of the Dayton peace accord and may be a threat to U.S. forces.” ["Mujaheddin Remaining in Bosnia: Islamic Militants Strongarm Civilians, Defy Dayton Plan," Washington Post, 7/8/96]

The threat presented by the mujahedin to IFOR (and now, to SFOR) – contingent only upon the precise time their commanders in Tehran or Sarajevo should choose to activate them has been evident from the beginning of the NATO-led deployment. For example, in February 1996 NATO forces raided a terrorist training camp near the town of Fojnica, taking into custody 11 men (8 Bosnian citizens – two of whom may have been naturalized foreign mujahedin and three Iranian instructors); also seized were explosives “built into small children’s plastic toys, including a car, a helicopter and an ice cream cone,” plus other weapons such as handguns, sniper rifles, grenade launchers, etc. The Sarajevo government denounced the raid, claiming the facility was an “intelligence service school”; the detainees were released promptly after NATO turned them over to local authorities. ["NATO Captures Terrorist Training Camp, Claims Iranian Involvement," Associated Press, 2/16/96; "Bosnian government denies camp was for terrorists," Reuters, 2/16/96; Bodansky Some Call It Peace, page 56] In May 1996, a previously unknown group called “Bosnian Islamic Jihad” (Jihad means “holy war”,) threatened attacks on NATO troops by suicide bombers, similar to those that had recently been launched in Israel. ["Jihad Threat in Bosnia Alarms NATO," The European, 5/9/96]

Stepping-Stone to Europe

The intended targets of the mujahedin network in Bosnia are not limited to that country but extend to Western Europe. For example, in August 1995, the conservative Paris daily Le Figaro reported that French security services believe that ,Islamic fundamentalists from Algeria have set up a security network across Europe with fighters trained in Afghan gerrilla camps and [[in] southern France while some have been tested in Bosnia.” [[(London) Daily Telegraph, 8/17/95] Also, in April 1996, Beligan security arrested a number of Islamic militants, including two native Bosnians, smuggling weapons to Algerian guerrillas active in France. [in France. [Intelligence Newsletter, Paris, 5/9/96 (No. 287)] Finally, also in April 1996, a meeting of radicals aligned with HizbAllah (“Party of God”), a pro-Iran group based in Lebanon, set plans for stepping up attacks on U.S. assets on all continents; among those participating was an Egyptian, Ayman al- Zawahiri, who “runs the Islamist terrorist operations in Bosnia- Herzegovina from a special headquarters in Sofa, Bulgaria. His forces are already deployed throughout Bosnia, ready to attack US and other I-FOR (NATO Implementation Force) targets.” ["States- Sponsored Terrorism and The Rise of the HizbAllah International," Defense and Foreign Affairs and Strategic Policy, London, 8/31/96 Finally, in December 1996, French and Belgain security arrested several would-be terrorists trained at Iranian-run camps in Bosnia.["Terrorism: The Bosnian Connection," (Paris) L'Express, 12/26/96]

The Radical Islamic Character of the Sarajevo Regime

Underlying the Clinton Administration’s misguided policy toward Iranian influence in Bosnia is a fundamental misreading of the true nature of the Muslim regime that benefited from the Iran/Bosnia arms policy. “The most dubious of all Bosniac [i.e., Bosnian Muslim] claims pertains to the self-serving commercial that the government hopes to eventually establish a multiethnic liberal democratic society. Such ideals may appeal to a few members of Bosnia’s ruling circles as well as to a generally secular populace, but President Izethbegovic and his cabal appear to harbor much different private intentions and goals.” ["Selling the Bosnia Myth to America: Buyer Beware," Lieutenant Colonel John E. Sray, USA, U.S. Army Foreign Military Studies Office, Fort Leavenworth, KS, October 1995]

The evidence that the leadership of the ruling Party of Democratic Action (SDA), and consequently, the Sarajevo-based government, has long been motivated by the principles of radical Islam is inescapable. The following three profiles are instructive:

Alija Izetbegovic: Alija Izetbegovic, current Bosnian president and head of the SDA, in 1970 authored the radical “Islamic Declaration,” which calls for “the Islamic movement” to start to take power as soon as it can Overturn “the existing non- Muslim government…[Muslim government...[and] build up a new Islamic one,” to destroy non-Islamic institutions (“There can be neither peace nor coexistence between the Islamic religion and non-Islamic social institutions’), and to create an international federation of Islamic states. [The Islamic Declaration: A Programme for the Islamization of Muslims and the Muslim Peoples, Sarajevo, in English, 19901 Izetbegovic's radical pro-Iran associations go back decades: "At the center of the Iranian system in Europe is Bosnia-Hercegovina." President, Alija Izetbegovic, . . . who is committed to the establishment Of an Islamic Republic in Bosnia- Hercegovina." ["Iran's European Springboard?", House Republican Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, 9/1/92 The Task Force report further describes Izetbegovic's contacts with Iran and Libya in 1991, before the Bosnian war began; he is also noted as a "fundamentalist Muslim" and a member of the "Fedayeen of Islam" organization, an Iran-based radical group dating to the 1930s and which by the late 1960s had recognized the leadership of the Ayatollah Khomeini (then in exile from the Shah). Following Khomeini's accession to power in 1979, Izetbegovic stepped-up his efforts to establish Islamic power in Bosnia and was jailed by the communists in 1983. Today, he is open and unapologetic about his links to Iran: "Perhaps the most telling detail of the [detail of the [SDA's September 1, 1996] campaign rally … was the presence of the Iranian Ambassador and his Bosnian and Iranian bodyguards, who sat in the shadow of the huge birchwood platform…. As the only foreign diplomat [platform.... As the only foreign diplomat [present], indeed the only foreigner traveling in the President’s [only foreigner traveling in the President's [i.e., Izetbegovic's] heavily guarded motorcade of bulky four-wheel drive jeeps, he lent a silent Islamic imprimatur to the event, one that many American and European supporters of the Bosnian Government are trying hard to ignore or dismiss.” [trying hard to ignore or dismiss." [NYT, 9/2/96] During the summer 1996 election campaign, the Iranians delivered to him, in two suitcases, $ 500,000 in cash; Izetbegovic “is now ‘literally on their [on their [i.e., the Iranians'] payroll,’ according to a classified report based on the CIA’s analysis of the issue.” LAT, 12/31/96. See also “Iran Contributed $ [LAT, 12/31/96. See also "Iran Contributed $ 500,000 to Bosnian President's Election Effort, U.S. Says," New York Times, 1/l/97, and Washington Times, 1/2/97] Adil Zulfikarpasic, a Muslim co- founder of the SDA, broke with Izetbegovic in late 1990 due to the increasingly overt fundamentalist and pro-Iranian direction of the party. [See Milovan Djilas, Bosnjak: Adil Zulfikarpasic, Zurich, 1994]

Hassan (or Hasan) Cengic: Until recently, deputy defense minister (and now cosmetically reassigned to a potentially even more dangerous job in refugee resettlement at the behest of the Clinton Administration), Cengic, a member of a powerful clan headed by his father, Halid Cengic, is an Islamic cleric who has traveled frequently to Tehran and is deeply involved in the arms pipeline. ["Bosnian Officials Involved in Arms Trade Tied to Radical States," Washington Post, 9/22/96] Cengic was identified by Austrian police as a member of TWRA’s supervisory board, “a fact confirmed by its Sudanese director, Elfatih Hassanein, in a 1994 interview with (lazi Husrev Beg, an Islamic affairs magazine. Cengic later became the key Bosnian official involved in setting up a weapons pipeline from Iran…. Cengic … is a longtime associate of Izetbegovic’s. He was one of the co- defendants in Izetbegovic’s 1983 trial for fomenting Muslim nationalism in what was then Yugoslavia. Cengic was given a 10- year prison term, most of which he did not serve. In trial testimony Cengic was said to have been traveling to Iran since 1983. Cengic lived in Tehran and Istanbul during much of the war, arranging for weapons to be smuggled into Bosnia.” [WP, 9/22/961 According to a Bosnian Croat radio profile: "Hasan's father, Halid Cengic ... is the main logistic expert in the Muslim army. All petrodollar donations from the Islamic world and the procurement of arms and military technology for Muslim units went through him. He made so much money out of this business that he is one of the richest Muslims today. Halid Cengic and his two sons, of whom Hasan has been more in the public spotlight, also control the Islamic wing of the intelligence agency AID [Agency for Information and Documentation]. Well informed sources in Sarajevo claim that only Hasan addresses Izetbegovic with ‘ti’ [second person singular, used as an informal form of address] while all the others address him as ‘Mr. President,”‘ a sign of his extraordinary degree of intimacy with the president. [BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 10/28/96, "Radio elaborates on Iranian connection of Bosnian deputy defense minister," from Croat Radio Herceg-Bosna, Mostar, in Serbo-Croatian, 10/25/96, bracketed text in original] In late 1996, at the insistence of the Clinton Administration, Hassan Cengic was reassigned to refugee affairs. However, in his new capacity he may present an even greater hazard to NATO forces in Bosnia, in light of past incidents such as the one that took place near the village of Celic in November 1996. At that time, in what NATO officers called part of a pattern of “military operations in disguise,” American and Russian IFOR troops were caught between Muslims and Serbs as the Muslims, some of them armed, attempted to encroach on the cease-fire line established by Dayton; commented a NATO spokesman: “We believe this to be a deliberate, orchestrated and provocative move to circumvent established procedures for the return of refugees.” ["Gunfire Erupts as Muslims Return Home," Washington Post, 11/13/96]

Dzemal Merdan: “The office of Brig. Gen. Dzemal Merdan is an ornate affair, equipped with an elaborately carved wooden gazebo ringed with red velvet couches and slippers for his guests. A sheepskin prayer mat lies in the comer, pointing toward Mecca. The most striking thing in the chamber is a large flag. It is not the flag of Bosnia, but of Iran. Pinned with a button of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s late Islamic leader, the flag occupies pride of place in Merdan’s digs — displayed in the middle of the gazebo for every visitor to see. Next to it hangs another pennant that of the Democratic Action Party, the increasingly nationalist Islamic organization of President Alija Izetbegovic that dominates Bosnia’s Muslim region…. Merdan’s position highlights the American dilemma. As head of the office of training and development of the Bosnian army, he is a key liaison figure in the U.S. [liaison figure in the U.S. [arm and train] program…. But Merdan, Western sources say, also has another job — as liaison with foreign Islamic fighters here since 1992 and promoter of the Islamic faith among Bosnia’s recruits. Sources identified Merdan as being instrumental in the creation of a brigade of Bosnian soldiers, called the 7th Muslim Brigade, that is heavily influenced by Islam and trained by fighters from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. He has also launched a program, these sources say, to build mosques on military training grounds to teach Islam to Bosnian recruits. In addition, he helped establish training camps in Bosnia where Revolutionary Guards carried out their work.” ["Arming the Bosnians: U.S. Program Would Aid Force Increasingly Linked to Iran," Washington Post, 1/26/96, emphasis added] General Merdan is a close associate of both Izetbegovic and Cengic; the central region around Zenica, which was “completely militarized in the first two years of the war” under the control of Merdan’s mujahedin, is “under total control of the Cengic family.” ["Who Rules Bosnia and Which Way," (Sarajevo) Slobodna Bosna, 11/17/96, FBIS translation; Slobodna Bosna is one of the few publications in Muslim-held areas that dares to criticize the policies and personal corruption of the ruling SDA clique.] Merdan’s mujahedin were accused by their erstwhile Croat allies of massacring more than 100 Croats near Zenica in late 1993. ["Bosnian Croats vow to probe war crimes by Moslems," Agence France Presse, 5/12/95]

The Islamization of the Bosnian Army

In cooperation with the foreign Islamic presence, the Izetbegovic regime has revamped its security and military apparatus to reflect its Islamic revolutionary outlook, including the creation of mujahedin units throughout the army; some members of these units have assumed the guise of a shaheed (a “martyr,” the Arabic term commonly used to describe suicide bombers), marked by their white garb, representing a shroud. While these units include foreign fighters naturalized in Bosnia, most of the personnel are now Bosnian Muslims trained and indoctrinated by Iranian and other foreign militants – which also makes it easier for the Clinton Administration to minimize the mujahedin threat, because few of them are “foreigners.”

Prior to 1996, there were three principal mujahedin units in the Bosnian army, the first two of which are headquartered in the American IFOR/SFOR zone: (1) the 7th Muslim Liberation Brigade of the 3rd Corps, headquartered in Zenica; (2) the 9th Muslim Liberation Brigade of the 2nd Corps, headquartered in Travnik (the 2nd Corps is based in Tuzla); and (3) the 4th Muslim Liberation Brigade of the 4th Corps, headquartered in Konjic (in the French zone). [Bodansky, Some Call It Peace, page 401 Particularly ominous, many members of these units have donned the guise of martyrs, indicating their willingness to sacrifice themselves in the cause of Islam. Commenting on an appearance of soldiers from the 7th Liberation Brigade, in Zenica in December 1995, Bodansky writes: "Many of the fighters ... were dressed in white coveralls over their uniforms. Officially, these were 'white winter camouflage,' but the green headbands [bearing Koranic verses] these warriors were wearing left no doubt that these were actually Shaheeds’ shrouds.” [Some Call It Peace, page 12] The same demonstration was staged before the admiring Iranian ambassador and President Izethbegovic in September 1996, when white winter garb could only be symbolic, not functional. [[NYT, 9/2/96] By June 1996, ten more mujahedin brigades had been established, along with numerous smaller “special units’ dedicated to covert and terrorist operations; while foreigners are present in all of these units, most of the soldiers are now native Bosnian Muslims. [native Bosnian Muslims. [Some Call It Peace, pages 42-46]

In addition to these units, there exists another group known as the Handzar (“dagger” or 94 scimitar”) Division, described by Bodansky as a “praetorian guard” for President Izetbegovic. “Up to 6000-strong, the Handzar division glories in a fascist culture. They see themselves as the heirs of the SS Handzar division, formed by Bosnian Muslims in 1943 to fight for the Nazis. Their spiritual model was Mohammed Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem who sided with Hitler. According to LJN officers, surprisingly few of those in charge of the Handzars … seem to speak good Serbo-Croatian. ‘Many of them are Albanian, whether from Kosovo [the Serb province where Albanians are the majority] or from Albania itself.’ They are trained and led by veterans from Afghanistan and Pakistan, say LTN sources.” ["Albanians and Afghans fight for the heirs to Bosnia's SS past," (London) Daily Telegraph, 12/29/93, bracketed text in original]

Self-Inflicted Atrocities

Almost since the beginning of the Bosnian war in the spring of 1992, there have been persistent reports — readily found in the European media but little reported in the United States — that civilian deaths in Muslim-held Sarajevo attributed to the Bosnian Serb Army were in some cases actually inflicted by operatives of the Izetbegovic regime in an (ultimately successful) effort to secure American intervention on Sarajevo’s behalf. These allegations include instances of sniping at civilians as well as three major explosions, attributed to Serbian mortar fire, that claimed the lives of dozens of people and, in each case, resulted in the international community’s taking measures against the Muslims’ Serb enemies. (The three explosions were: (1) the May 27, 1992, “breadline massacre.” which was reported to have killed 16 people and which resulted in economic sanctions on the Bosnian Serbs and rump Yugoslavia; (2) the February 5, 1994, Markale “market massacre,” killing 68 and resulting in selective NATO air strikes and an ultimatum to the Serbs to withdraw their heavy weapons from the area near Sarajevo; and (3) the August 28, 1995 “second market massacre,” killing 37 and resulting in large-scale NATO air strikes, eventually leading to the Dayton agreement and the deployment of IFOR.) When she was asked about such allegations (with respect to the February 1994 explosion) then-U.N. Ambassador and current Secretary of State-designate Madeleine Albright, in a stunning non sequitur, said: “It’s very hard to believe any country would do this to their own people, and therefore, although we do not exactly know what the facts are, it would seem to us that the Serbs are the ones that probably have a great deal of responsibility.” ["Senior official admits to secret U.N. report on Sarajevo massacre," Deutsch Presse-Agentur, 6/6/96, emphasis added]

The fact that such a contention is difficult to believe does not mean it is not true. Not only did the incidents lead to the result desired by Sarajevo (Western action against the Bosnian Serbs), their staging by the Muslims would be entirely in keeping with the moral outlook of Islamic radicalism, which has long accepted the deaths of innocent (including Muslim) bystanders killed in terrorist actions. According to a noted analyst: “The dictum that the end justifies the means is adopted by all fundamentalist organizations in their strategies for achieving political power and imposing on society their own view of Islam. What is important in every action is its niy ‘yah, its motive. No means need be spared in the service of Islam as long as one takes action with a pure niy’ Yah.” [Amir Taheri, Holy Terror, Bethesda, MD, 1987] With the evidence that the Sarajevo leadership does in fact have a fundamentalist outlook, it is unwarranted to dismiss cavaliery the possibility of Muslim responsibility. Among some of the reports:

Sniping: “French peacekeeping troops in the United Nations unit trying to curtail Bosnian Serb sniping at civilians in Sarajevo have concluded that until mid-June some gunfire also came from Government soldiers deliberately shooting at their own civilians. After what it called a ‘definitive’ investigation, a French marine unit that patrols against snipers said it traced sniper fire to a building normally occupied by Bosnian [i.e., Muslim] soldiers and other security forces. A senior French officer said, ‘We find it almost impossible to believe, but we are sure that it is true.”‘ ["Investigation Concludes Bosnian Government Snipers Shot at Civilians," New York Times, 8/l/951

The 1992 "Breadline Massacre": "United Nations officials and senior Western military officers believe some of the worst killings in Sarajevo, including the massacre of at least 16 people in a bread queue, were carried out by the city's mainly Muslim defenders -- not Serb besiegers -- as a propaganda ploy to win world sympathy and military intervention.... Classified reports to the UN force commander, General Satish Nambiar, concluded ... that Bosnian forces loyal to President Alija Izetbegovic may have detonated a bomb. 'We believe it was a command-detonated explosion, probably in a can,' a UN official said then. 'The large impact which is there now is not necessarily similar or anywhere near as large as we came to expect with a mortar round landing on a paved surface." ["Muslims 'slaughter their own people'," (London) The Independent, 8/22/92] “Our people tell us there were a number of things that didn’t fit. The street had been blocked off just before the incident. Once the crowd was let in and had lined up, the media appeared but kept their distance. The attack took place, and the media were immediately on the scene.” [Major General Lewis MacKenzie, Peacekeeper: The Road to Sarajevo, Vancouver, BC, 1993, pages 193-4; Gen. MacKenzie, a Canadian, had been commander of the U.N. peacekeeping force in Sarajevo.]

The 1994 Markale “Market Massacre”: “French television reported last night that the United Nations investigation into the market-place bombing in Sarajevo two weeks ago had established beyond doubt that the mortar shell that killed 68 people was fired from inside Bosnian [Muslim lines." [people was fired from inside Bosnian [Muslim] lines.” ["UN tracks source of fatal shell," (London) The Times, 2/19/94] “For the first time, a senior U.N. official has admitted the existence of a secret U.N. report that blames the Bosnian Moslems for the February 1994 massacre of Moslems at a Sarajevo market…. After studying the crater left by the mortar shell and the distribution of shrapnel, the report concluded that the shell was fired from behind Moslem lines.” The report, however, was kept secret; the context of the wire story implies that U.S. Ambasador Albright may have been involved in its suppression. [DPA, 6/6/961 For a fuller discussion of the conflicting claims, see "Anatomy of a massacre," Foreign Policy, 12/22/94, by David Binder; Binder, a veteran New York Times reporter in Yugoslavia, had access to the suppressed report. Bodansky categorically states that the bomb "was actually a special charge designed and built with help from HizbAllah ["Party of God," a Beirut-based pro-Iranian terror group] experts and then most likely dropped from a nearby rooftop onto the crowd of shoppers. Video cameras at the ready recorded this expertly-staged spectacle of gore, while dozens of corpses of Bosnian Muslim troops killed in action (exchanged the day before in a ‘body swap’ with the Serbs) were paraded in front of cameras to raise the casualty counts.” [Offensive in the Balkans, page 62]

The 1995 “Second Market Massacre”: “British ammunition experts serving with the United Nations in Sarajevo have challenged key ‘evidence’ of the Serbian atrocity that triggered the devastating Nato bombing campaign which turned the tide of the Bosnian war.” The Britons’ analysis was confirmed by French analysts but their findings were “dismissed” by “a senior American officer” at U.N. headquarters in Sarajevo. ["Serbs 'not guilty' of massacre: Experts warned US that mortar was Bosnian," (London) The Times, 10/i/95 A "crucial U.N. report [(London) The Times, 10/i/95] A “crucial U.N. report [stating Serb responsibility for] the market massacre is a classified secret, but four specialists – a Russian, a Canadian and two Americans – have raised serious doubts about its conclusion, suggesting instead that the mortar was fired not by the Serbs but by Bosnian government forces.” A Canadian officer “added that he and fellow Canadian officers in Bosnia were ‘convinced that the Muslim government dropped both the February 5, 1994, and the August 28, 1995, mortar shells on the Sarajevo markets.”‘ An unidentified U.S. official “contends that the available evidence suggests either ‘the shell was fired at a very low trajectory, which means a range of a few hundred yards – therefore under [a range of a few hundred yards - therefore under [Sarajevo] government control,’ or ‘a mortar shell converted into a bomb was dropped from a nearby roof into the crowd.”‘ ["Bosnia's bombers," The Nation, 10/2/95 ]. At least some high-ranking French and perhaps other Western officials believed the Muslims responsible; after having received that account from government ministers and two generals, French magazine editor Jean Daniel put the question directly to Prime Minister Edouard Balladur: “‘They [i.e., the Muslims] have committed this carnage on their own people?’ I exclaimed in consternation. ‘Yes,’ confirmed the Prime Minister without hesitation, ‘but at least they have forced NATO to intervene. “‘ ["No more lies about Bosnia," Le Nouvel Observateur, 8/31/95, translated in Chronicles - A Magazine of American Culture, January 1997]

Suppression of Enemies

As might be expected, one manifestation of the radical Islamic orientation of the Izetbegovic government is increasing curtailment of the freedoms of the remaining non-Muslims (Croats and Serbs) in the Muslim-held zone. While there are similar pressures on minorities in the Serb- and Croat-held parts of Bosnia, in the Muslim zone they have a distinct Islamic flavor. For example, during the 1996-1997 Christmas and New Year holiday season, Muslim militants attempted to intimidate not only Muslims but Christians from engaging in what had become common holiday practices, such as gift-giving, putting up Christmas or New Year’s trees, and playing the local Santa Claus figure, Grandfather Frost (Deda Mraz). ["The Holiday, All Wrapped Up; Bosnian Muslims Take Sides Over Santa," Washington Post, 12/26/96] hi general: “Even in Sarajevo itself, always portrayed as the most prominent multi-national community in Bosnia, pressure, both psychological and real, is impelling non-Bosniaks [i.e., non- Muslims] to leave. Some measures are indirect, such as attempts to ban the sale of pork and the growing predominance of [to ban the sale of pork and the growing predominance of [Bosniak] street names. Other measures are deliberate efforts to apply pressure. Examples include various means to make nonBosniaks leave the city. Similar pressures, often with more violent expression and occasionally with overt official participation, are being used throughout Bosnia.” ["Bosnia's Security and U.S. Policy in the Next Phase A Policy Paper, International Research and Exchanges Board, November 1996]

In addition, President Izetbegovic’s party, the SDA, has launched politically-motivated attacks on moderate Muslims both within the SDA and in rival parties. For example, in the summer of 1996 former Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic. (a Muslim, and son of the former imam at the main Sarajevo mosque) was set upon and beaten by SDA militants. Silajdzic claimed Izetbegovic himself was behind the attacks. [was behind the attacks. [NYT, 9/2/96] h-fan Mustafic, a Muslim who cofounded the SDA, is a member of the Bosnian parliament and was president of the SDA’s executive council in Srebrenica when it fell to Bosnian Serb forces; he was taken prisoner but later released. Because of several policy disagreements with Izetbegovic and his close associates, Mustafic was shot and seriously wounded in Srebrenica by Izetbegovic loyalists. [[(Sarajevo) Slobodna Bosna, 7/14/96] Finally, one incident sums up both the ruthlessness of the Sarajevo establishment in dealing with their enemies as well as their international radical links: “A special Bosnian army unit headed by Bakir Izetbegovic, the Bosnian president’s son, murdered a Bosnian general found shot to death in Belgium last week, a Croatian newspaper reported … citing well-informed sources. The Vjesnik newspaper, controlled by the government, said the assassination of Yusuf Prazina was carried out by five members of a commando unit called ‘Delta’ and headed by Ismet Bajramovic also known as Celo. The paper said that three members of the Syrian-backed Palestinian movement Saika had Prazina under surveillance for three weeks before one of them, acting as an arms dealer, lured him into a trap in a car park along the main highway between Liege in eastern Belgium and the German border town of Aachen. Prazina, 30, nicknamed Yuka, went missing early last month. He was found Saturday with two bullet holes to the head. ‘The necessary logistical means to carry out the operation were provided by Bakir Izetbegovic, son of Alija Izetbegovic,, who left Sarajevo more than six months ago,’ Vjesnik said. It added that Bakir Izetbegovic ‘often travels between Brussels, Paris, Frankfurt, Baghdad, Tehran and Ankara, by using Iraqi and Pakistani passports,’ and was in Belgium at the time of the assassination. Hasan Cengic, head of logistics for the army in Bosnia- Hercegovina, was ‘personally involved in the assassination of Yuka Prazina,’ the paper said.” [Yuka Prazina,' the paper said." [Agence France Presse, 1/5/94]

Conclusion

The Clinton Administration’s blunder in giving the green light to the Iranian arms pipeline was based, among other errors, on a gross misreading of the true nature and goals of the Izetbegovic regime in Sarajevo. It calls to mind the similar mistake of the Carter Administration, which in 1979 began lavish aid to the new Sandinista government in Nicaragua in the hopes that (if the United States were friendly enough) the nine comandantes would turn out to be democrats, not communists, despite abundant evidence to the contrary. By the time the Reagan Administration finally cut off the dollar spigot in 198 1, the comandantes — or the “nine little Castros,” as they were known locally — had fully entrenched themselves in power.

To state that the Clinton Administration erred in facilitating the penetration of the Iranians and other radical elements into Europe would be a breathtaking understatement. A thorough reexamination of U.S. policy and goals in the region is essential. In particular, addressing the immediate threat to U.S. troops in Bosnia, exacerbated by the extention of the IFOR/SFOR mission, should be a major priority of the of the 105th Congress.

US Ruling Class Prepares Attack on Social Security

September 9th, 2010 by Tom Eley

Prominent figures in the US ruling elite have recently made a series of statements that forewarn of massive cuts in social spending, up to and including Social Security, the bedrock federal insurance entitlement for elderly and disabled workers.

These comments reveal that, whatever the precise outcome of the midterm elections on November 7, they will set the stage for a bipartisan assault, in the name of “fiscal responsibility,” on what remains of the social reforms of the last century.

The knives are already being sharpened for a long-awaited attack on Social Security. In a rude and provocative e-mail to the president of the Older Women’s League dated August 23, former Republican Senator Alan Simpson—appointed by President Obama as co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform—revealed his deep hatred of both Social Security and the working people who depend upon it.

Social Security “has reached a point now where it’s like a milk cow with 310 million tits! [sic],” Simpson said. He blasted its recipients—retirees, those maimed and sickened by their work, and dependent survivors of dead workers—who, he said “milk it to the last degree.”

In an earlier outburst—in June, Simpson was caught on tape berating an independent journalist— he revealed the ruthless logic behind the ruling class drive for cuts: Workers, whom Simpson dubbed “the lesser people,” live too long. When Social Security was created “they never dreamed that the life expectancy would go from 57 years of age to 78 or 75 or whatever,” Simpson said. “Who would dream that? No one. They just died.”

Simpson’s commission, established earlier this year by an Obama executive order to rein in budget deficits, is reportedly considering several measures, including raising the retirement age, perhaps to as high as 70, and cutting benefits as well as cost-of-living increases. It is expected to announce its recommendations in December—not accidentally, one month after the November elections.

There is unanimity in the ruling class in favor of the attack on Social Security. Co-chairing the Fiscal Responsibility commission is Erskine Bowles, formerly a White House chief of staff to Bill Clinton, and another long-time advocate of Social Security “reform.” And signaling the trade union bureaucracy’s active collaboration, Andy Stern, former president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), also sits on the commission.

“I agree with many Commissioners who have said that all entitlement programs should be on the table,” Stern has declared. “We should include as part of our agenda ideas for strengthening the private parts of the retirement security system, reviewing both the adequacy and the solvency of the Social Security system, and the possibility of universal add-on retirement accounts.”

Deepening the fiscal attack on the working class in the US, Europe and internationally was also the primary topic for discussion at the Ambrosetti Forum held last week on the shores of Italy’s elite Lake Como. Attended by political figures such as Spain’s José María Aznar, Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Henry Kissinger from the US and Israeli President Shimon Peres, as well as numerous European Union functionaries, top bankers, businessmen and academicians, the forum provides a sounding board for policies that few politicians would dare identify themselves with in public.

In one session, Hans-Werner Sinn of the University of Munich declared that Americans will “just have to go down in their living standards after years in which their living standards soared in part based on foreign credit which is no longer there.” And Jacob Frenkel, chairman of JP Morgan Chase International “urged the United States to rein in entitlements as part of a ‘political deal’ that recognizes reality,” according to an Associated Press account of the conference. JP Morgan has received tens of billions in loans, debt buy-downs, and direct cash infusions from the federal government.

The attack on entitlements and social spending is the second phase in a broad offensive against the living conditions of the entire working class, following quickly on the heels of the unprecedented attack on jobs and wages spearheaded by the Obama administration’s forced reorganization of the auto industry.

Workers are being conditioned to accept what is referred to as “the new normal” typified by low wages and benefits and the total absence of any form of social protection. Or, in the blunter words of Fiat head Sergio Marchionne, US workers must accept a “culture of poverty,” abandoning what he contemptuously referred to as a “culture of entitlement.”

The class character of the calls for “sacrifice” and “responsibility” is increasingly naked. Even as Washington prepares for drastic cuts to Social Security and all manner of social spending, Congress appears likely to extend or make permanent the Bush-era tax cuts for the extremely wealthy, which have cost the federal government trillions of dollars.

Peter Orszag, until July 30 Obama’s director of the Office of Management and the Budget, in a Tuesday column for the New York Times called for a two-year extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for the richest income earners. In the very same article, Orszag called for Social Security “reform,” a 5 percent cut to discretionary social spending, a 6 percent value added sales tax, and higher taxes on “middle-class and lower-class families,” which he called “troubling” but “unavoidable.”

The sharp move toward austerity and the attack being prepared on Social Security stand as a testament to the bankruptcy of American democracy. The upcoming election and the official debate that surrounds it—including Obama’s latest in a series of purely symbolic jobs proposals—only aim to disorient the population.

The basic thrust of US policy has already been determined. The ruling class is determined to shift the full burden of the financial and economic crisis onto the working class. In this context, the widely anticipated gains for Republicans in the election are already being presented as evidence that the demand for attacks on social spending originate in the population itself.

This is a lie. In fact, the objective interests of the great majority of the population—suffering through the worst social crisis in generations—demand a massive jobs program, free universal health care, secure retirement, improved quality and access to education and culture, and other social rights necessary for life in modern mass society.

The trajectory set by the ruling financial aristocracy is in precisely the opposite direction. The attack on living conditions will continue and deepen until the working class mobilizes its independent political strength to bring it to a halt.

The US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit by five victims of the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” program against Jeppesen Dataplan, a unit of Boeing. The six-five ruling adopts as a rationale the anti-democratic “state secrets” doctrine advocated by the Obama administration.

The American Civil Liberties Union brought the suit in May 2007, charging that defense contractor Jeppesen Dataplan knowingly facilitated the renditions, known as “spook flights” or “torture flights,” by providing flight planning and logistical support to CIA personnel.

The suit, Mohamed v. Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc., threatened to expose a tangled and dirty web of connections between top executives of defense corporations, foreign intelligence agencies, and the US government. It also threatened to reveal that major defense corporations were participating in and profiting from torture.

The ACLU pointed to a report in the New Yorker magazine that, at an internal corporate meeting, a senior Jeppesen official had said, “We do all of the extraordinary rendition flights―you know, the torture flights. Let’s face it, some of these flights end up that way.”

The Ninth Circuit’s ruling argued that “there is precious little Jeppesen could say about its relevant conduct and knowledge without revealing information about how the United States government does or does not conduct covert operations.” On this basis, the court dismissed the case.

The Jeppesen Dataplan case has an important history. Immediately after the suit was initiated in May 2007, the Bush administration, which was not a party to the case, intervened. The Bush administration asserted that if the case was allowed to go forward, disclosures associated with it “reasonably could be expected to cause serious―and in some instances, exceptionally grave―damage to the national security of the United States.” In February 2008, the Bush administration secured a dismissal on those grounds.

The ACLU appealed. While the case was pending, Obama took office following the November 2008 elections, appointing Eric Holder as attorney general. However, the Obama administration took exactly the same position as the outgoing Bush administration: that the case should be dismissed on the grounds of the “state secrets” privilege.

In April 2009, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit ruled against the Obama administration. Writing for the panel, Judge Michael D. Hawkins wrote that the “state secrets” doctrine advocated by the administration “has no logical limit.” “As the Founders of this Nation knew well,” Hawkins wrote, “arbitrary imprisonment and torture under any circumstance is a gross and notorious act of despotism.”

The Obama administration sought review of Hawkins’ decision by the entire Ninth Circuit (en banc). Yesterday’s decision, authored by liberal Raymond C. Fisher, overturns the decision of Judge Hawkins.

While couching his opinion in language of “balancing” national security against individual liberties, Judge Fisher concluded, “Courts must act in the interest of the country’s national security to prevent disclosure of state secrets, even to the point of dismissing a case entirely.”

The Obama administration, Judge Fisher claimed, “is not invoking the privilege to avoid embarrassment or to escape scrutiny of its recent controversial transfer and interrogation policies.”

The “state secrets” privilege is an anti-democratic legal doctrine that is routinely invoked to shield the abuses and crimes of the US government from scrutiny. Here, the invocation of the privilege by the Obama administration is transparently spurious. The “extraordinary renditions” of the five victims in the case are largely already a matter of public record.

Among the victims is Ethiopian citizen Binyam Mohamed, who in July 2002 was the subject of an “extraordinary rendition” to Morocco. Mohamed’s rendition has already been the subject of major public revelations. (See Britain: Government crisis deepens over Binyam Mohamed torture revelations.)

Mohamed and the other victims―Abou Elkassim Britel, Ahmed Agiza, Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah, and Bisher al-Rawi―were “disappeared” between 2001 and 2003 into the secret US-led network of “black site” torture facilities without trial or charges.

The victims report the same now-familiar pattern of abuses: the victims were chained, shackled, stripped, drugged, and dressed in diapers and hoods before being smuggled onto secret intercontinental flights. Deep inside secret facilities in Morocco, Egypt, and Afghanistan, they were relentlessly interrogated and tortured.

Sexual torture features prominently in the litany of horrors described by the victims, revealing the extreme state of backwardness that prevails inside US intelligence agencies and their foreign collaborators. Mohamed’s torturer systematically cut him with a razor blade on his genitals and elsewhere. Agiza was subjected to electric shocks by means of wires attached to his ear lobes, nipples, and genitals. Britel was threatened with sodomy with a bottle and castration.

The decision by the traditionally liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals underscores the complicity of the entire political establishment in the policy of rendition and torture. Since coming to office, Obama has continued in all its essentials the anti-democratic policies of his predecessor, while at the same time expanding US wars abroad.

Under the slogan of “looking forwards, not backwards,” Obama has consistently blocked investigations and litigation that threaten to reveal torture. The administration is well aware that the Democratic Party knew about these actions and is complicit in them. At the same, time the Democratic administration is determined to continue these practices.

By blocking any court challenge to the criminal policies of the US government, yesterday’s decision sets a profoundly anti-democratic precedent.

El discurso del presidente Barack Obama retransmitido a todo el Estado desde el Despacho Oval de la Casa Blanca el pasado jueves [27 de agosto de 2010] fue un ejercicio de cobardía y de engaño. Fue decepcionante para el pueblo de Estados Unidos y de todo el mundo en su caracterización de la criminal guerra contra Iraq. Y fue cobarde en su prosternación ante el ejército estadounidense.

El discurso no podía sino inspirar disgusto y desprecio entre quienes lo vieron. Obama, que en gran medida debe su presidencia al sentimiento en contra de la guerra del pueblo estadounidense, utilizó el discurso para glorificar la guerra a la que erróneamente se había considerado que él se oponía.

El pasaje más espeluznante llegó al final del discurso de 19 minutos cuando Obama declaró: “Nuestras tropas son el acero de nuestro barco de Estado” y añadió: “Y aunque nuestra nación navegue por aguas tempestuosas, nos dan confianza de que nuestro rumbo es bueno”.

El miserable discurso de Obama merece ser recordado por esta declaración más que por todas ambigüedades acerca de la retirada de tropas. Era una retórica apropiada para una república bananera gobernada por los militares o para un Estado fascista. El ejército (y no la Constitución, ni la voluntad del pueblo o las instituciones ostensiblemente democráticas del país) constituyen el “acero” en el “barco de Estado”. Se supone que los derechos democráticos del pueblo son un lastre que se puede arrojar por la borda cuando sea necesario.

El motivo del discurso fue el plazo artificial fijado por el gobierno de Obama para lo que el presidente llamó el “final de nuestras misiones de combate en Iraq.”  Ésta es sólo una de las innumerables mentiras incluidas en sus breves comentarios.

Unas 50.000 personas pertenecientes a las tropas de combate siguen desplegadas en Iraq. Aunque se les ha cambiado el nombre por el de fuerzas “transitorias” dedicadas supuestamente a “adiestrar” y “aconsejar” a las fuerzas de seguridad iraquíes, su misión sigue siendo la misma.

Es más, apenas una semana después de que los medios convirtieran el repliegue de Iraq de solo un batallón Stryker en un “hito” que señalaba la retirada de las últimas tropas de combate, se envió de vuelta al país ocupado desde Fuerte Hood, Texas, a 5.000 miembros del Tercer Regimiento Acorazado de Caballería.

Washington no tiene intención de acabar con su presencia militar en Iraq. Sigue construyendo bases permanentes y está determinado a seguir con la agenda original después de que gobierno de Bush iniciara la guerra en marzo de 2003: la imposición de la hegemonía estadounidense en el rico en petróleo Golfo Pérsico.

El discurso de Obama fue tan incoherente como humillante. De forma deshonesta, el presidente trataba ganar crédito por cumplir su promesa de campaña respecto a Iraq. Cuando era candidato había prometido retirar las tropas de combate estadounidenses del país en el plazo de 16 meses desde que llegara al poder. Al final se limitó a adoptar el calendario y el plan diseñados por el Pentágono y el gobierno de Bush para una retirada parcial que deja 50.000 soldados de combate en Iraq.

Bajo la apariencia de rendir tributo a “nuestros soldados” el residente demócrata se sentía obligado a distorsionar y lavar la imagen de todo el carácter de la guerra a la que fueron enviados a luchar describiendo uno de los capítulos más negros de la historia estadounidense como una especie de esfuerzo heroico.

“Mucho ha cambiado” desde que Bush emprendió la guerra hace siete años y medio, afirmó Obama. “Una guerra para desarmar a un Estado empezó una lucha contra toda insurgencia” en la que los soldados estadounidenses combatieron calle por calle para ayudar a Iraq a aprovechar la oportunidad de un futuro mejor”.

El discurso se elaboró como si el presidente se dirigiera a una nación de amnésicos. ¿ Creía realmente que nadie recuerda que fue una guerra que se emprendió basándose en mentiras? Se le dijo al pueblo estadounidense que era necesaria la invasión de Iraq porque el gobierno de Sadam Husein había desarrollado “armas de destrucción masiva” y se estaba preparando para ponerlas en manos de al-Qaeda para hacer estallar “nubes en forma de hongo” sobre todas las ciudades estadounidenses.

No había “armas de destrucción masiva” ni había relación alguna entre el régimen iraquí y al-Qaeda. Eran invenciones de un gobierno que estaba decidido a llevar a cabo una guerra de agresión para hacer avanzar los intereses estratégicos imperialistas estadounidenses.

Estas mentiras se expusieron minuciosamente y contribuyeron a hacer que entre el pueblo estadounidense aumentara una hostilidad generalizada hacia la guerra. Todo esto tiene que ser olvidado, descalificado y reducido a detalles insignificantes.

Obama presentó al pueblo iraquí como el afortunado beneficiario del auto-sacrificio y heroísmo estadounidense, que le otorgó la “oportunidad de abrazar un nuevo destino”.

Apenas se podría imaginar que más de un millón de iraquíes han perdido la vida a consecuencia de esta guerra estadounidense que no fue provocada, ni que la violencia ha expulsado de sus hogares a unos cuatro millones de personas obligadas a exiliarse o bien desplazas dentro del propio país devastado por la guerra. Cada institución y componente esencial de la infraestructura social de Iraq fue arrasado por la invasión estadounidense, que desencadenó lo que con toda propiedad se podría calificar de sociocido, el asesinato de toda una sociedad. La devastación causada por el militarismo estadounidense ha dejado una destrozada nación de viudas, personas sin hogar, parados y heridos.

Aunque se pudo lograr una reducción temporal de la resistencia armada a la ocupación estadounidense cometiendo una sangría entre el pueblo iraquí, lo que ha quedado es una sociedad y un sistema político inviables, dominados por divisiones sectarias y eclipsados por la continua presencia estadounidense.

Entre las secciones del discurso de Obama que más revolvían el estómago estaba el tributo gratuito a su antecesor, George W. Bush. Aunque reconoció que habían “estado en desacuerdo respecto a la guerra” (un desacuerdo que no tenía ganas de explicar en detalle), Obama insistió en que “nadie podría dudar del apoyo del presidente Bush a nuestros soldados, o de su amor al país y su compromiso con nuestra seguridad”. Esto demostraba, continuó, que “había patriotas que apoyaban esta guerra y patriotas que se oponían a ella. Y todos nosotros coincidimos en nuestro reconocimiento a nuestro hombres y mujeres soldados”.

Bush emprendió una guerra que era ilegal según el derecho internacional. Él y otras figuras dirigentes de su gobierno (Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice) arrastraron al pueblo estadounidense a un crimen de guerra, esencialmente el mismo acto por el que los nazis fueron juzgados y condenados en Nuremberg: planear y emprender una guerra de agresión.

Obama dijo a su audiencia que había hablado con Bush aquella tarde, aparentemente para expresar su solidaridad a un criminal de guerra que debería ser juzgado en La Haya.

Inevitablemente, a este crimen esencial le sucedieron toda una serie de otros crímenes. Los “hombres y mujeres soldados” estadounidenses, cuyo honor se invoca constantemente para justificar el asesinato masivo, se convirtieron en partícipes de estos espantosos crímenes.

Al pueblo estadounidense y al mundo entero le asquearon las imágenes procedentes de Abu Ghraib. Pero el gobierno Obama ha intervenido ante los tribunales para impedir que se expongan las pruebas de otros actos criminales que son aún más atroces.

Los propios soldados fueron víctimas de esta guerra. Casi 4.500 han perdido la vida en la agresión emprendida por el gobierno de Bush y otros 35.000 más han resultado heridos. Cientos de miles han padecido traumas psicológicos a consecuencia de ser arrojados a una sucia guerra colonial.

“La grandeza de nuestra democracia es nuestra capacidad para movernos más allá de nuestras diferencias y aprender de nuestras experiencias mientras hacemos frente a los desafíos que tenemos ante nosotros”, continuó Obama. ¡Menuda farsa!

La reputación de la democracia estadounidense se construyó sobre principios y derechos constitucionales que fueron destrozados por el gobierno Bush en nombre de una “guerra global contra el terrorismo”. El gobierno de Obama ha aceptado completamente estos ataques a los derechos democráticos y ha defendido el espionaje interno, los juicios extraordinarios, el encarcelamiento sin cargos o juicio, e incluso arrogar al ejecutivo el derecho de considerar a ciudadanos estadounidenses sospechosos de terrorismo y ordenar su ejecución extrajudicial.

El retorcido camino del discurso de Obama llevó de Iraq a Afganistán. En este caso afirmó que era una guerra que podría ser apoyada por “estadounidenses de todo el espectro político” porque supuestamente se emprendió contra al-Qaeda, que “sigue tramando contra nosotros”.

Señaló que la “retirada de Iraq” había permitido que se dedicaran mayores recursos a esta guerra con el resultado de que “casi una docena de dirigentes de al-Qaeda” habían sido “asesinados o capturados por todo el mundo”.

No se explicó qué tiene esto que ver con triplicar el número de soldados estadounidenses desplegados en Afganistán desde que Obama entró en la Casa Blanca. Según altos cargos y agentes de la inteligencia estadounidense, hay menos de cien miembros de al-Qaeda en Afganistán, que ahora está ocupado por casi 100.000 soldados estadounidenses y otros 40.000 de la OTAN y otros soldados extranjeros.

Obama continuó reconociendo que las fuerzas estadounidenses “están luchando para romper el impulso talibán” sin molestarse siquiera en exponer los argumentos a favor de una relación entre esto y “eliminar” a miembros de al-Qaeda por todo el planeta. La realidad es que en Afganistán las fuerzas estadounidenses están luchando contra afganos que resisten a una ocupación extranjera. El objetivo no es derrotar el “terrorismo”, sino establecer el dominio estadounidense en Asia Central, con su importancia geoestratégica y sus vastos recursos de energía.

Por último, tras reconocer que la guerra de Iraq había contribuido a llevar al país a la quiebra, Obama sugirió que el cambio que ha ordenado en el despliegue militar en Iraq está relacionado en algún modo con una determinación por parte de su gobierno de cambiar su centro atención hacia resolver la crisis a la que se enfrentan más de 26 millones de trabajadores estadounidenses que o bien están en paro o son incapaces de encontrar un empleo a tiempo completo.

“Hoy, nuestra tarea más urgente es restaurar nuestra economía y hacer que los millones de estadounidenses que han perdido su empleo vuelvan a trabajar”, afirmó. “Para fortalecer a nuestra clase media debemos dar a todos nuestros niños la educación que merecen y a todos nuestros trabajadores las habilidades que necesitan para competir en una economía global”.

Ésta es otra mentira. Mientras que el gobierno ha entregado billones de dólares para rescatar a Wall Street, ha dejado claro muchas veces que no hará nada para crear empleo para los parados. Por lo que se refiere a la educación, el gobierno federal sigue recortando los fondos, despidiendo a profesores y cerrando escuelas.

Tras su retórica artera el discurso ha subrayado una cosa: las decisiones respecto a Iraq y Afganistán las han dictado los altos cargos militares y la Casa Blanca de Obama las ha implementado obedientemente. Éste es un gobierno que no tiene una política independiente y mucho menos convicciones. Implementa unas políticas elaboradas en otra parte (en Wall Street y dentro del Pentágono) y está entregado a la defensa de la aristocracia financiera a expensas del pueblo estadounidense.

Texto original en inglés: http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/sep2010/obam-s01.sh

Obama’s Iraq speech: An exercise in cowardice and deceit

Traducido del inglés para Rebelión por Beatriz Morales Bastos

Los no elegidos potentados de la Comisión de la Unión Europea en Bruselas han tratado de invalidar recientemente lo que repetidamente ha demostrado ser la abrumadora oposición de la población de la UE a que se propaguen los organismos modificados genéticamente (OMG) por la agricultura de la UE. El presidente de la Comisión de la UE tiene ahora un contable maltés como comisionado de sanidad y medio ambiente para dar el visto bueno a la adopción de los OMG. El anterior comisionado de medio ambiente de la UE procedente de Gracia se oponían ferozmente a los OMG. El gobierno chino también ha señalado que puede aprobar una variedad de arroz OMG. Antes de que las cosas vayan demasiado lejos, harían bien en observar atentamente el mayor laboratorio de OMG del mundo, Estados Unidos. Ahí los cultivos OMG son todo menos beneficiosos. Todo lo contrario.

Lo que se elimina cuidadosamente de la propaganda de Monsanto y de otras agroindustrias a la hora de promocionar cultivos modificados genéticamente como una alternativa a los cultivos convencionales es el hecho de que en todo el mundo hasta el presente las cultivos de OMG han sido manipulados y patentados sólo por dos razones: la primera, ser resistentes o “tolerantes” al patentado herbicida químico glifosato altamente tóxico que Monsanto y los demás obligan a comprar a los agricultores como condición para comprar sus patentadas semillas. La segunda característica es que las semillas OMG han sido modificadas genéticamente para resistir a insectos específicos. Contrariamente a los mitos de relaciones públicas promovidos en su propio interés, no existe una sola semilla OMG que proporcione un mayor rendimiento en la cosecha que las convencionales, ninguna que requiera menos herbicidas químicos tóxicos, por la simple razón de que no hay beneficio en ello.

La plaga de las super-semillas gigantes

Como ha señalado el destacado opositor a los OMG y biólogo, el dr. Mae-Wan Ho del Instituto de Ciencia de Londres, las compañías como Monsanto incorporan a sus semillas una tolerancia a los herbicidas gracias a una forma de insensibilidad al glifosato del gen codificado para el enzima atacado por el herbicida. El enzima deriva de la bacteria del suelo Agrobacterium tumefaciens. La resistencia a los insectos se debe a una o más toxinas derivadas de la bacteria del suelo Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis). Hacia 1997 Estados Unidos empezó a cultivar a gran escala plantes OMG por motivos comerciales. En este momento las cosechas de OMG ocupan entre el 85% y el 91% de las zonas plantadas con los principales cultivos de Estados Unidos, soja, maíz y algodón, en casi 171 millones de acres.

Según Ho, está a punto de estallar la bomba de relojería ecológica asociada a los OMG. Al cabo de varios años de aplicación constante de herbicidas patentados de glifosato, como el muy famoso Roundup de Monsanto, han evolucionado nuevas “super malas hierbas” resistentes a los herbicidas como una respuesta de la naturaleza ante los intentos del hombre de violarla. Para controlar a las super malas hierbas se necesita mucho más, no menos, herbicida.

ABC Television, una importante cadena nacional de televisión estadounidense, elaboró hace poco un documental sobre las super malas hierbas titulado “No se puede acabar con las super malas hierbas” [1].

Entrevistaron a agricultores y científicos de toda Arkansas que describían los campos invadidos por gigantescas malas hierbas de Amaranthus palmeri que podían soportar todas las pulverizaciones de glifosato que les hicieran los agricultores. Entrevistaron a un agricultor que había gastado 400.000 € en solo tres meses en un intento frustrado de acabar con las malas hierbas.

Las nuevas super malas hierbas son tan robustas que las cosechadoras no pueden cosechar los campos y las herramientas manuales se rompen al tratar de cortarlas. Sólo en Arkansas esta nueva plaga biológica mutante ha invadido al menos 400.000 hectáreas de soja y algodón. No se dispone de datos detallados de otras zonas agrícolas pero se cree que son similares. Se ha informado de que el pro-OMG y pro-agroindustria Departamento de Agricultura de Estados Unidos ha mentido acerca del verdadero estado de las cosechas estadounidenses, en parte para ocultar la nefasta situación y para evitar que estalle una revuelta contra los OMG en el mayor mercado de estos del mundo. Una variedad de super mala hierba, la Amaranthus palmeri, puede alcanzar hasta 2,4 metros de altura, soporta fuertes calores y prolongadas sequías, y produce miles de semillas con un sistema de raíces que agota los nutrientes de los campos. Si se la deja crecer libremente, ocupa todo un campo em un año. Algunos agricultores se han visto obligados a abandonar sus tierras. Hasta el momento, además de en Arkansas, también en Georgia, Carolina del Sur, Carolina del Norte, Tennessee, Kentucky, Nuevo México, Mississippi y más recientemente, en Alabama y Missouri se ha detectado la invasión de Amaranthus palmeri en regiones de cultivos de OMG.

Los especialistas en malas hierbas de la Universidad de Georgia calculan que sólo dos plantas de Amaranthus palmeri por cada 6 metros de largo en las filas de algodón pueden reducir el rendimiento en al menos un 23%. Una sola planta de mala hierba puede producir 450.000 semillas [2].

Se está encubriendo el peligro de la toxicidad del Roundup

El glifosato es el herbicida más utilizado en Estados Unidos y en todo el mundo. Patentado y vendido por Monsanto desde la década de 1970 bajo el nombre comercial de Roundup, es un componente obligatorio al comprar las semillas OMG de Monsanto. Usted no tiene usted más que ir a la tienda de jardinería local, pedirlo y leer la etiqueta cuidadosamente.

Como detallo en mi libro, Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation, unas compañías que eran fundamentalmente compañías químicas (Monsanto Chemicals, DuPont and Dow Chemicals) desarrollaron en la década de 1970 las cosechas OMG y las semillas patentadas, con un importante apoyo financiero de la pro-eugenista Fundación Rockefeller. Las tres compañías se vieron implicadas tanto en el escándalo del muy tóxico Agente Naranja utilizado en Vietnam, como en el de la dioxina en la década de 1970, y mintieron para ocultar el verdadero daño infligido tanto a sus propios empleados como a poblaciones civiles y militares expuestos a ellos.

Sus semillas OMG patentadas se consideraron un medio inteligente de obligar a comprar cada vez más sus productos químicos agrícolas, como el Roundup. Los agricultores tenían que firmar un contrato con Monsanto en el que se estipulaba que sólo se podía usar el pesticida Roundup de Monsanto. De esta manera los agricultores están atrapados y obligados a comprar nuevas semillas de Monsanto en cada cosecha, además del tóxico glifosato.

En un equipo dirigido por el biólogo molecular Gilles-Eric Seralini, la Universidad de Caen, Francia, realizó un estudio que demuestra que el Roundup contenía un ingrediente, el polyethoxylated tallowamine, o POEA. El equipo de Seralini demostró que el POEA en el Roundup era incluso más mortífero para los embriones humanos y para las células de la placenta o del cordón umbilical que el propio glifosato. Aparte del glifosaro, Monsanto se niega a dar a conocer detalles del contenido de su Roundup alegado que es objeto de una patente [3] .

El estudio Seralini encontró que los ingredientes inertes del Roundup amplifican los efectos tóxicos sobre las células humanas, ¡incluso en concentraciones mucho más diluidas que las utilizadas en granjas y pastos! El equipo francés estudió múltiples concentraciones de Roundup, desde la dosis típica de cultivos o pastos hasta concentraciones 100.000 veces más diluidas que los productos que se venden en el mercado. Los investigadores encontraron que era dañino para las células en todas las concentraciones.

La propaganda del glifosato y del Roundup señala que son “menos tóxicos que la sal de mesa” en un panfleto del Instituto de Biotecnología que promueve las cosechas de OMG como ‘combatientes de las malas hierbas’. Trece años de cosechas de OMG en Estados Unidos han aumentado el uso total de pesticidas en 318 millones de libras en vez de reducirlo como prometían los Cuatro Jinetes del Apocalipsis OMG. La carga extra de enfermedades en la nación a causa de ello es considerable.

En todo caso, tras la introducción comercial de las semillas OMG de Monsanto en Estados Unidos, el uso de glifosato ha aumentado más del 1.500% entre 1994 y 2005. En Estados Unidos se utilizan al año aproximadamente 100 millones de libras de glifosato en pastos y granjas, y en los últimos 13 años se han utilizado en más de mil millones de acres. Según se ha informado, cuando se le preguntó al director de desarrollo técnico de Monsanto, Rick Cole, afirmó que los problemas eran “manejables”. Aconseja a los agricultores alternar cosechas y utilizar diferentes tipos de herbicidas elaborados anteriormente por Monsanto. Monsanto está animando a los agricultores a mezclar glifosato con otros herbicidas, como el 2,4-D, prohibido en Suecia, Dinamarca y Noruega por su relación con el cáncer y con daños reproductivos y neurológicos. El 2,4-D es un componente del Agente Naranja, producido por Monsanto para ser utilizado en Vietnam en la década de los 1960.

Los agricultores estadounidenses se cambian a los cultivos biológicos

Según se informa, en todo Estados Unidos los agricultores están volviendo a los cultivos tradicionales no OMG. Según un nuevo informe del Departamento de Agricultura de Estados Unidos, las ventas al por mayor de comida orgánica aumentaron hasta 21.100 millones de dólares en 2008 desde los 3.600 millones en 1997[4]. El mercado es tan floreciente que las granjas orgánicas a veces compiten por producir una oferta suficiente capaz de seguir el rápido ascenso de demanda de los consumidores, lo que lleva a una escasez periódica de productos orgánicos.

La nueva coalición liberal-conservadora en el Reino Unido está apoyando enérgicamente que se levante la prohibición de facto de los OMG en este país. El Consejero Científico Jefe de Reino Unido, Prof. John Beddington, escribió recientemente un artículo en el que erróneamente afirmaba: “La próxima década verá el desarrollo de combinaciones de rasgos deseables y la introducción de nuevas características como la tolerancia a la sequía. Para mitad de siglo puede que sean factibles opciones más radicales relacionadas con rasgos altamente poligénicos”. Continuaba prometiendo “animales clonados con una inmunidad innata a las enfermedades gracias a la ingeniería genética” y más cosas. Muchas gracias, pero creo que podemos prescindir de eso.

Un reciente estudio de la Universidad Estatal de Iowa y del Departamento de Agricultura de Estados Unidos que evalúa los resultados en granjas durante los tres años de transición que cuesta cambiar de producción convencional a producción orgánica certificada demostraba unas ventajas notables de la agricultura orgánica sobre las cosechas OMG e incluso sobre las cosechas convencionales no OMG. En un experimento que ha durado cuatro años (tres de transición y el primer año orgánico) el estudio demuestra que aunque los rendimientos cayeron inicialmente, se equipararon en el tercer año y para el cuarto los rendimientos superaron a los convencionales tanto para la soja como para el maíz.

Del mismo modo, se ha publicado recientemente la Evaluación Internacional de Conocimientos Agrícolas, Ciencia y Tecnología para el Desarrollo (IAASTD, en sus siglas en inglés), [que es] el resultado de tres años de deliberaciones por parte de 400 científicos y representantes no gubernamentales procedentes de 110 países de todo el mundo. Llega a la conclusión de la agricultura orgánica a pequeña escala es la vía que hay que seguir para luchar contra el hambre, las desigualdades sociales y los desastres medioambientales [5]. Como argumenta el dr Ho, se necesita urgentemente un cambio fundamental en la práctica agrícola antes de que la catástrofe agrícola se extienda más a través de Alemania y el resto de la UE hasta el resto del mundo [6].

Texto original en inglés : http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=20675

Traducido del inglés para Rebelión por Beatriz Morales Bastos

Notas:

[1] Super weed can’t be killed, abc news, 6 de octubre de 2009. Véase también, Jeff Hampton, N.C. farmers battle herbicide-resistant weeds, The Virginian-Pilot, 19 de julio de 2009, http://hamptonroads.com/2009/07/nc-farmers-battle-herbicideresistant-weeds

[2] Clea Caulcutt, ‘Superweed’ explosion threatens Monsanto heartlands, Clea Caulcutt, 19 de abril de 2009, http://www.france24.com/en/20090418-superweed-explosion-threatens-monsanto-heartlands-genetically-modified-US-crops  

[3] N. Benachour and G-E. Seralini, Glyphosate Formulations Induce Apoptosis and Necrosis in Human Umbilical, Embryonic, and Placental Cells, Chem. Res. Toxicol., Article DOI: 10.1021/tx800218n   

Fecha de publicación (en la web): 23 de diciembre de 2008.

[4] Carolyn Dimitri y Lydia Oberholtzer, Marketing U.S. organic foods: recent trends from farms to consumers, USDA Economic Research Service, septiembre de 2009, http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/EIB58/  

[5] International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development, IAASTD, 2008, http://www.agassessment.org/index.cfm?Page=Press_Materials&ItemID=11  

[6] Ho MW.UK Food Standards Agency study proves organic food is better. Science in Society 44, 32-33, 2009.

F. William Engdahl es autor de Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation.

 

 

The Fed is proposing another round of “quantitative easing,” although the first round failed to reverse deflation.  It failed because the money went into the coffers of banks, which failed to lend it on.  To reverse deflation, the money needs to be funneled directly to state and local economies. The Fed may not be authorized to “monetize” state bonds, but it COULD buy bonds issued by state-owned banks.

In 2002, in a speech that earned him the nickname “Helicopter Ben,” then-Fed Governor Bernanke famously said that the government could easily reverse a deflation, just by printing money and dropping it from helicopters.  “The U.S. government has a technology, called a printing press (or, today, its electronic equivalent),” he said, “that allows it to produce as many U.S. dollars as it wishes at essentially no cost.”  Later in the speech he discussed “a money-financed tax cut,” which he said was “essentially equivalent to Milton Friedman’s famous ‘helicopter drop’ of money.”  You could cure a deflation, said Professor Friedman, simply by dropping money from helicopters.

It seems logical enough.  If there is insufficient money in the money supply (deflation), the solution is to put more money into it.  But if deflation is so easy to fix, then why has the Fed’s massive attempts to date failed to do the job?  At the Federal Reserve’s Jackson Hole summit on August 27, Chairman Bernanke said he would fight deflation with his whole arsenal, including “quantitative easing” (QE) – purchasing longterm securities with money created on a computer.  Yet since 2008, the Fed has added more than $1.2 trillion to “base money” doing just that, and the economy is still in a serious deflationary spiral.  In the first quarter of this year, the money supply actually shrank at a record annual rate of 9.6%.  

Cullen Roche at The Pragmatic Capitalist has an answer to that puzzle.  He says that as currently practiced, quantitative easing (QE) is not really a money drop.  It is just an asset swap:

 “[T]he Fed doesn’t actually ‘print’ anything when it initiates its QE policy.  The Fed simply electronically swaps an asset with the private sector.  In most cases it swaps deposits with an interest bearing asset.”

The Fed just swaps Federal Reserve Notes (dollar bills) for other assets (promissory notes or debt) that can quickly be turned into money.  The Fed is merely trading one form of liquidity for another, without raising the overall water level in the pool. 

The mechanics of how QE works were revealed in a remarkable segment on National Public Radio on August 26, describing how a team of Fed employees bought $1.25 trillion in mortgage bonds beginning in late 2008.  According to NPR:

“The Fed was able to spend so much money so quickly because it has a unique power: It can create money out of thin air, whenever it decides to do so.  So . . . the mortgage team would decide to buy a bond, they’d push a button on the computer – ‘and voila, money is created.’

“The thing about bonds, of course, is that people pay them back.  So that $1.25 trillion in mortgage bonds will shrink over time, as they get repaid.  Earlier this month, the Fed announced that it will use the proceeds from the mortgage bonds to buy Treasury bonds – essentially keeping all that newly created money in circulation.  The decision was a sign that the Fed thinks the economy still needs to be propped up with extraordinary measures.”

“Extraordinary measures” was a reference to Section 13(3) of the Federal Reserve Act, which allows the Fed in “unusual and exigent circumstances” to buy “notes, drafts and bills of  exchange” (debt instruments) from “any individual, partnership or corporation” satisfying its requirements.  The Fed was supposedly engaging in these extraordinary measures to “reflate” the money supply and get credit flowing again.  Yet the money supply continued to shrink.  The problem, as Roche explains, is that the dollars were merely being swapped for other highly liquid assets on bank balance sheets.  That this sort of asset swap will not pump up a collapsed money supply has been shown not only by the Fed’s failed experiments over the last two years but by two decades of failed QE policy in Japan, an economy which remains in the deflationary doldrums.  To reverse deflation, it seems, QE needs to be directed somewhere else besides the balance sheets of private banks.  What we need is the sort of helicopter drop described by Bernanke in 2002 – one over the towns and cities of the real economy. 

There is another interesting lesson suggested by two decades of failed QE: it might actually be possible for the government to “print” its way out of debt, without triggering the dreaded hyperinflation long warned of by pundits.  Swapping dollars for debt hasn’t inflated the circulating money supply to date because federal debt securities already serve as forms of “money” in the economy.

The Textbook Money Multiplier Model . . .  And Why It Is Obsolete

Beginning with some definitions, quantitative easing” is explained in Wikipedia like this:

“A central bank . . . first credit[s] its own account with money it has created ex nihilo (‘out of nothing’). It then purchases financial assets, including government bonds, mortgage-backed securities and corporate bonds, from banks and other financial institutions in a process referred to as open market operations.  The purchases, by way of account deposits, give banks the excess reserves required for them to create new money, and thus a hopeful stimulation of the economy, by the process of deposit multiplication from increased lending in the fractional reserve banking system.” 

“Deposit multiplication” is the textbook explanation for how credit expands as it circulates through the economy.  In the textbook model, banks must retain “reserves” equal to 10% of outstanding deposits (including deposits created as loans).  With a 10% reserve requirement, a $100 deposit can support a $90 loan, which gets deposited in another bank, where it becomes an $81 loan, and so forth, until a $100 deposit becomes $1,000 in credit-money. 

The theory is that increasing the banks’ reserves will stimulate this process, but both the Federal Reserve and the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) now concede that the process has not been working in the textbook way.  (The BIS is “the central bankers’ central bank” in Basel, Switzerland.)  The futile effort to push more money into bloated bank reserve accounts has been compared to adding more apples to shelves that are already overstocked with apples.  Adding more reserves to a banking system that already has more reserves than it can use has no net effect on the money supply. 

The failure of QE either to increase bank lending or to inflate the money supply was confirmed in a March 24 paper by Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Donald L. Kohn, who wrote:

 “The huge quantity of bank reserves that were created [by quantitative easing] has been seen largely as a byproduct of the purchases [of debt instruments] that would be unlikely to have a significant independent effect on financial markets and the economy. This view is not consistent with the simple models in many textbooks or the monetarist tradition in monetary policy, which emphasizes a line of causation from reserves to the money supply to economic activity and inflation.”

The textbook model is obsolete because banks don’t make lending decisions based on how many reserves they have.  They can always get the reserves they need.  If customers don’t walk in the door with new deposits, the bank can borrow deposits from other banks, something they can now do at the very low Fed funds rate of .2% (1/5th of 1%).  And if those deposits are not available, the Federal Reserve itself will supply the reserves.  This was confirmed in a BIS working paper called “Unconventional Monetary Policies: An Appraisal”, which observed:

“[T]he level of reserves hardly figures in banks’ lending decisions. The amount of credit outstanding is determined by banks’ willingness to supply loans, based on perceived risk-return trade-offs, and by the demand for those loans. . . .

“The aggregate availability of bank reserves does not constrain the expansion [of credit] directly. The reason is simple: . . . in order to avoid extreme volatility in the interest rate, central banks supply reserves as demanded by the system. From this perspective, a reserve requirement, depending on its remuneration, affects the cost . . . of loans, but does not constrain credit expansion quantitatively. . . . [A]n expansion of reserves in excess of any requirement does not give banks more resources to expand lending. It only changes the composition of liquid assets of the banking system. Given the very high substitutability between bank reserves and other government assets held for liquidity purposes, the impact can be marginal at best.”

Again, one form of liquidity is just substituted for another, without changing the overall level in the pool. 

If bank reserves do not constrain bank lending, what does?  According to the BIS paper, “the main . . . constraint on the expansion of credit is minimum capital requirements.”  These capital requirements, known as “Basel I” and “Basel II,” were imposed by the BIS itself.  It is interesting that the BIS knows that the main constraints on bank lending are its own capital requirements, yet it is talking about raising them, in an economic climate in which lending is already seriously impaired.  Either the BIS is talking out of both sides of its mouth, or its writers don’t read each other. 

A Solution to the Federal Debt Crisis?

Another interesting aside arising from all this is the suggestion that the government could actually print its way out of debt – it could print dollars and buy back its bonds — without creating inflation.  As Roche observes:

“[Quantitative easing] in time of a balance sheet recession is not actually inflationary at all.  With the government merely swapping assets they are not actually ‘printing’ any new money.  In fact, the government is now essentially stealing interest bearing assets from the private sector and replacing them with deposits.  . . . [T]his policy response would in fact be deflationary – not inflationary.”

Roche concludes, “the inflationistas have been wrong and the USA defaultistas have been horribly wrong.”  The “inflationistas” are the pundits screaming that QE will end in hyperinflation, and the “defaultistas” are those insisting that the U.S. must eventually default on its debt.  Representing both camps, for example, is Richard Russell, who writes:

“In my opinion, the US MUST default on its debt. There are two ways to default. One is simply to renege on the debt. . . . The other way to default on the debt is to inflate it away. I’m absolutely convinced that this is the path that the US will take. If the US inflates enough, then over time (many years) the devalued dollar will tend to reduce the power of the debts.”

The failed QE experiments in Japan and the U.S. suggest, however, that there is a third alternative.  Printing dollars to pay the debt (referred to by Russell as “inflating the debt away”) might actually eliminate the debt without creating inflation.  This is because federal bonds and Federal Reserve Notes are interchangeable forms of liquidity.  Government securities trade around the world just as if they were money.  A $100 bond represents a claim on $100 worth of goods and services, just as a $100 bill does.  The difference, as Thomas Edison said nearly a century ago, is merely that “the bond lets money brokers collect twice the amount of the bond and an additional 20%, whereas the currency pays nobody but those who contribute directly in some useful way. . . . Both are promises to pay, but one promise fattens the usurers and the other helps the people.”

The Fed’s earlier attempts at QE involved swapping $1.25 trillion in mortgaged-backed securities (MBS) for dollars created on a computer screen.  As noted in the NPR segment, many of those securities have come due and have gotten paid off, putting cash in the Fed’s till.  The Fed now proposes to use this money to buy long-term Treasury debt rather than MBS.  That means the Fed will, in effect, be buying the government’s debt with dollars created on a computer screen.  The privately-owned Federal Reserve is not actually an arm of the federal government, but if it were, the government would thus be printing its way out of debt – just as Helicopter Ben proposed in 2002.  Recall that he said, “the U.S. government has a technology, called a printing press” – the U.S. government, not the central bank that has done all the QE to date. 

Running the government’s printing presses to pay its bills has not seriously been tried since the Civil War, when President Lincoln saved the North from a crippling war debt at usurious interest rates by printing Greenbacks (U.S. Notes).  Other countries, however, have tested and proven this model more recently.  They include Germany, which pulled itself out of a massive financial collapse in the early 1930s by printing a form of currency called “MEFO bills”; and Australia, New Zealand and Canada, all of which successfully funded public works in the first half of the twentieth century simply by advancing the credit of the nation.  China, Malaysia, Guernsey, Jersey, India, Argentina and other countries have also revived their economies at critical times by this means.  The U.S. government could do this too.  It could print dollars (or type them into electronic bank accounts) and spend the money on the sorts of local public projects that would put people back to work and get the economy rolling again. 

How to Reverse a Deflation:

Do a Helicopter Drop on the States

The government could pay its bills by issuing Greenbacks as Lincoln did, but it probably won’t, given the current deadlock in Congress.  Today only the Federal Reserve Chairman seems to be in a position to act unilaterally, without asking anyone’s permission.  Chairman Bernanke could execute his own plan and generate the credit needed to get the economy churning again, by aiming his “quantitative easing” tool at the states.  After all, if Wall Street (which got us into this mess) can borrow at .2%, underwritten by the Fed as “lender  of last resort,” then state and local governments should be able to as well.  Chairman Bernanke could credit the Fed’s account with money created ex nihilo (out of nothing) and swap it for state and municipal bonds at the Fed funds rate. 

A “state” might not qualify as an “individual, partnership or corporation” under Section 13(3) of the Federal Reserve Act, but a state-owned bank would.  Bruce Cahan, an attorney and social entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, California, proposes that the Fed could diversify its role by buying long-term bonds in existing or newly-chartered state-owned banks.  These banks, which would have a mandate to serve state and local communities, would more quickly and accountably lend for in-state purposes than private banks do now. They could be required to use accepted transparency accounting standards to trace how the proceeds of their loans flowed into the economy.  Local needs would thus determine how best to jumpstart and keep alive businesses and households that the “too big to fail” megabanks no longer want to fund on fair credit terms.  Adding a state-owned bank would also bring competition to regional banking markets such as that of the San Francisco Bay area, which are now dominated by out-of-state megabanks.  By funding state-owned banks, the Fed could inject “liquidity” where it is most needed, in local markets where workers are hired and real goods and services are sold. 

Ellen Brown is an attorney and the author of eleven books.  In Web of Debt, her latest book, she shows how the Federal Reserve and “the money trust” have usurped the power to create money from the people themselves, and how we the people can get it back. Her websites are webofdebt.com, ellenbrown.com, and public-banking.com.

Read Ellen Brown’s chapter on the Economic Crisis 

NEW BOOK FROM GLOBAL RESEARCH
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The Global Economic Crisis


Michel Chossudovsky
Andrew G. Marshall (editors)

There are few Arab governments that would accord Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a warm welcome. One has been Syria, the other Iraq. A kindly reception was conferred only by certain parties in Baghdad though, and the same scenario is likely to hold true when he visits Lebanon later this month. That made the Iranian leader’s Sunday trip to Qatar —a rare Sunni Arab ally—all the more telling. It was Ahmadinejad’s sixth visit to the Persian Gulf state in five years, but it spoke less of him than the quiet, effective diplomacy for which his host, the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, is renowned.

In a climate of heightened rhetoric in the Persian Gulf over Iran’s nuclear ambitions and attendant fears of perceived expanding spheres of influence, the cool, even-handed approach adopted by Sheikh Hamad has not only been the exception, but emblematic of the way the emir has settled seemingly intractable regional disputes, often ones with sectarian overtones.

Qatar ’s friendly relations with Tehran are in stark contrast to those of the usual Mideast heavyweights like Egypt , Jordan and Saudi Arabia . On Ahmadinejad’s latest visit to Qatar , a defense cooperation agreement was inked between the two nations. The emir also officially backed last May’s nuclear fuel-swap deal arranged by Turkey and Brazil and supports Iran ’s development of a peaceful nuclear energy program.

Successful mediation of conflicts by the emir, however, usually takes place far from the Gulf.

His efforts famously helped rescue Lebanon from the brink of civil war in 2008. At the time, Lebanon was in the midst of a tense 18-month political standoff, including the last six without a seated president.

Events came to a head in May of that year when Prime Minister Fouad Siniora’s cabinet declared Hezbollah’s telecommunications network illegal and attempted to have it dismantled (the same network that remained impenetrable to Israeli intelligence during the July 2006 war and was instrumental to Lebanon ’s defense).

After the cabinet decision, street battles erupted in Beirut and other parts of the county between supporters of the opposition March 8 Coalition (Hezbollah and Amal) and the ruling March 14 Coalition. At one point, Hezbollah briefly took control of West Beirut before returning authority to the Lebanese Army. More than 100 lives were lost in the clashes.

Under the aegis of the Arab League, Sheikh Hamad acted as intermediary between the rival coalitions, first in Beirut and thereafter at a National Dialogue Conference in Doha . The outcome was the signing of the Doha Accord on May 21. It led to the restoration of the prime minister’s cabinet, formation of a national unity government, and the election of Gen. Michel Suleiman as president. Civil war had been averted.  

With upcoming indictments by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon expected to finger Hezbollah elements in the February 2005 assassination of the late Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri, concerns that violence could again erupt along sectarian lines prompted Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to pay a high-profile, joint visit to Beirut in late July.

Quietly slipping behind the scenes to again help defuse tensions was the Qatari emir. He even took time off from diplomacy in Beirut to go where the other two leaders dared not venture: southern Lebanon . Sheikh Hamad, a Sunni monarch of an oil-rich Persian Gulf nation, toured villages and towns in the war-ravaged Shia heartland. It was the first time a visiting Arab head-of-state had visited the area.

The towns’ residents, who witnessed most Arab leaders give tacit approval to the Israeli assault in hopes that Hezbollah would be destroyed, waved Qatar ’s flag and carried signs reading “Thank you Qatar ” along with pictures of the emir.

Millions in aid have been spent by Qatar to help finance the reconstruction of four towns in southern Lebanon devastated by Israeli shelling in the July 2006 war. One was Bint Jbeil, a Hezbollah stronghold and among the hardest towns hit. While there, Sheikh Hamad inaugurated a hospital, school, mosque and church.

Another conflict benefitting from his intervention has been the devastating six-year war between Zaidi Shia rebels, known as “Houthis,” in northern Yemen ’s Saada province and the government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The Zaidis assert they are fighting to end the socioeconomic marginalization and religious discrimination of their community while Saleh maintains their real intent is to restore the former Zaidi caliphate that existed in Yemen prior to the 1962 revolution.

The war has taken an exceptionally heavy toll on Saada’s poverty-stricken civilian population; hundreds of thousands displaced, overstretched refugee camps and growing child malnutrition all pointed to a full-blown humanitarian disaster. (This was not helped, of course, by Saudi Arabia ’s reckless bombing campaign in November 2009 under the broad and specious pretext of stemming Iranian influence in Yemen .)

A ceasefire deal negotiated by Doha in early 2008 fell apart by August 2009 after the government accused the Houthis of failing to abide by its terms. A sixth round of fighting ensued until yet another deal was struck in February 2010. The precarious truce nonetheless suffered from mutual recriminations of its violation, prompting Sheikh Hamad to fly to Sanaa in mid-July. As a result, talks resumed between the government and rebels based on the original peace treaty brokered by Qatar .

The Emir of Qatar has proven his ability to successfully tackle difficult situations and reconcile conflicts that fellow Arab rulers have not only failed to do, but have exacerbated. Sheikh Hamad’s amicable relations with Iran , his good standing among fellow Sunnis and the trust he has earned amongst Shia make him the Middle East ’s ideal arbiter in mediating regional disputes, particularly those that require bridging the political divide between Sunni and Shia.

There are two Arab countries now in desperate need of his diplomatic skills. Bahrain and Iraq eagerly await Sheikh Hamad’s arrival.

Rannie Amiri is an independent Middle East commentator.

Talks against backdrop of accelerated land seizures in West Bank

The front page of the Sept. 2, New York Times carried a photo of five men walking on a red carpet in the White House on their way to start the latest round of the Middle East peace talks. In the center was President Barack Obama, flanked on his right by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, and on his left by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and King Abdullah of Jordan.

The latter four have something in common: Each receives hundreds of millions or billions of dollars annually from the former. All four of their governments are heavily dependent on U.S. support for their very existence, an important starting point in any assessment of the new negotiations.

Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are seeking, they say, a two-state solution, a Palestinian state in a small fraction of Palestine alongside Israel. Their idea is to create a weak, disarmed and broken-up state side-by-side with and dominated in every respect by Israel, the world’s fifth-ranked military power. The Pentagon and CIA have been providing the funding, training and arms for tens of thousands of Palestinian police, whose main task would be the suppression of any Palestinian organizations unwilling to accept this new form of colonial domination.

The U.S. and Israeli positions are adamantly opposed to the right of return for more than seven million Palestinian refugees, most of whom live in the surrounding countries.

In his opening speech, Obama again called the current situation unsustainable. U.S. leaders urgently want to reach some kind of settlement, not due to any concern for the plight of the Palestinian people, but because they recognize that the current situation is intensifying anger in the entire region against the U.S.

The real aim of Washington in these talks remains what it has been since the U.S. first openly entered into negotiations with the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1991: the liquidation of the Palestinian struggle as part of a drive to pacify and dominate the Middle East as a whole.

In continuing disregard for the Palestinians’ right of self-determination, the Obama administration decided who could and who could not represent the Palestinian people in the talks. Hamas, the governing party in Gaza and winner of the last election of the 2006 Palestinian Legislative Council held in both the West Bank and Gaza, was excluded as were all Palestinian parties except Abbas’s Fatah.

On the day the talks began, a press conference in Gaza City by 12 Palestinian organizations including Hamas, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Islamic Jihad, Popular Resistance Committees, Palestine People’s Party and others denounced the Washington talks as a sham and announced their intention to intensify the resistance against Israeli occupation.

Renewed negotiations are taking place against a backdrop of the accelerated seizure of Palestinian land in the West Bank, a vast expansion of Israeli settlements and the continued blockade of Gaza. Today, there are more than 500,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank. The extreme right-wing Israeli government, which includes outright fascist elements, has intensified repression against Palestinians who make up 20 percent of the population inside the 1948 borders.

While organizations and leaders representing a majority of Palestinians were kept out, Mubarak and Abdullah presiding over police-state regimes in Egypt and Jordan—were brought in, mainly to apply pressure on the already pliable Abbas.

‘A net profit for the occupation’

While a target date of one year was agreed upon to reach a final agreement, there is a good chance that the new round of negotiations could quickly collapse, as has happened on a number of occasions over the past two decades.

The PA’s Abbas has said that he will quit the talks if the current Israeli so-called freeze (really a slowdown at best) on settlement expansion ends, as it is scheduled to, on Sept. 26. Even during the 10 months that the freeze has been in effect, the Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes and confiscation of Palestinian land in the West Bank has continued relentlessly.

In Libya on Sept. 4, Abbas stated: “If the (Israeli) government extends the decision to stop the settlements [sic], we will continue the negotiations, and if it doesn’t extend, we will leave these negotiations.” This seemingly unequivocal statement must be taken with a grain of salt, as Abbas has been prone to capitulate to U.S. pressure in the past, including in agreeing to the new talks.

The current Israeli government is a coalition of right-wing forces, including the misnamed Labor Party. All three top officials—Prime Minister Netanyahu (Likud), Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Israel Our Home) and Defense Minister Ehud Barak (Labor) have made clear they oppose any extension of the freeze or even a slowdown in settlement expansion. The fascistic Lieberman said on Sept. 5 that a treaty “is a target that is not attainable within the next year and not within the next generation.” Lieberman, the second-ranking official in the government, has never disguised his desire to drive all the Palestinians out of their homeland.

A second round of negotiations is set for Sept. 15 in Egypt.

A Sept.2 press release by the PFLP quoted a statement issued by the PFLP’s Political Bureau: “The White House meeting and gala dinner launching the direct bilateral negotiations brings to mind the same image of the White House lawn on Sept. 13, 1993 when the Oslo agreement was signed, with only a change in the actors and the extras surrounding them.” The press release continued: the Oslo agreement, said the Front, ended in disaster for the Palestinian people on the ground, and these negotiations pose the same threats.

Jamil Mizher, a member of the PFLP’s Central Committee, called the negotiations “a net profit for the [Israeli] occupation,” saying that both the United States and Israel will combine to “blackmail the Palestinian side to make concessions on Jerusalem, our borders, and the refugees’ right to return even as they refuse to end settlement building and reject all international law and resolutions.”

Imagine our declining pollinators – bees, moths, butterflies and bats – coming upon thousands of acres of toxic trees, genetically engineered so that every cell in the tree exudes pesticide, from crown to root. Imagine a world without pollinators. Without seed dispersers. Without soil microbes.

It would be a silent forest, a killing forest, an alien forest. No wonder Vandana Shiva scoffs at the moniker, biotechnology. “This is not a life technology. It’s a death science.”

Genetically engineered forests are a holocaust on nature. An award-winning documentary, A Silent Forest: The Growing Threat, Genetically Engineered Trees (2005, 46 mins) details the appalling effects. (You can buy the full length film at Amazon.)

Global Justice Ecology Project director, Ann Petermann defines the issue: “Genetically engineered trees are the greatest threat to the world’s remaining forests since the invention of the chainsaw.”

Jim Hightower calls them, “wildly invasive, explosively flammable, and insatiably thirsty for ground water.”

If planting a sterile, killer forest isn’t freaky enough, some GM trees will be viable and can and will contaminate natural species. Tree pollen can travel over 600 miles, according to a model created by Duke University, reported Petermann in 2006. Another study found pine pollen 400 miles from the nearest pines. This year, a scientist was surprised to find viable seeds 25 miles offshore.

“Sterile trees would also be able to spread their transgenes through vegetative propagation,” notes Petermann. Unlike with animals, being sexually sterile does not preclude reproduction when it comes to plants.

GM contamination occurs around the globe, as documented by GM Watch and the GM Contamination Register (among others). The technology cannot be contained. Genetically modified organisms are dominant over natural species and will forever alter Earth’s natural plants.

By the way, the latest batch of approved GM trees – 200,000 eucalyptus for seven southern states (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina) – are engineered to be cold tolerant. A lawsuit has been filed to overturn their approval.

Chemically altering the atmosphere to be cooler

Not only are the powers-that-be genetically altering trees, food crops and animals, they’re also chemically altering the atmosphere. In 1976, the United Nations banned hostile environmental modification, after investigative reporter Jack Anderson uncovered its use in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Next month, October 2010, the UN will vote on a resolution to stop all EnMod activities.

While the thought police label chemtrails a “conspiracy theory,” it’s unlikely that the UN scientific body calling for their termination would base such a recommendation on fiction. Those interested in scientific and legal proof can review the sources in my piece on atmospheric geoengineering.

Climate change is still being debated, especially after the University of East Anglia was caught publishing false data showing temperature increases. Significant errors in a report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), where it also falsely asserted as fact that Himilaya glaciers would melt by 2035, also fuel the debate.

Recently, an independent investigative body told the IPCC to stop lobbying on behalf of global warming programs. Members of the IPCC were also ordered to reveal their financial connections to such programs.

The temperature of the planet is characterized as too warm, and so the wealthy and powerful want to cool down the planet. If they do, those cold-tolerant GM trees will survive.

Altering the chemistry of the hydrosphere

Governments also support altering the chemistry of the hydrosphere. There is still much debate as to whether iron-seeding the oceans can remove enough carbon from the atmosphere to actually cool the planet. But, like the Cap and Trade scam, profit can be made so policy makers still support the idea.

Beyond deliberate attempts at geoengineering, we also have industry to blame for doing so. For over a century, humanity has been conned into poisoning the environment with toxic chemicals that end up in our streams, lakes and oceans. “Conventional” agriculture and industrial pollution is killing us.

Corporations profit by this, of course, enabled and protected by governments. The most recent example, allowing BP to spray at least two million gallons of toxic oil dispersants into the Gulf of Mexico, is a case in point. This is after the Earth Day Blowout that released up to 350 million gallons of oil into the Gulf. Those dispersants enable oil to more readily penetrate the bodies of sea life, and they interfere with oil-eating microbes.

They’re destroying an ocean and the US Senate is giving BP a pass. It refuses to grant subpoena power to investigate, let alone criminally prosecute. Forget partisanship, says Dateline Zero, “they are the same party, and they get their money from the same people, they get their orders from the same people — and that includes big oil.”

The actions of the corporations involved and the governmental agencies charged with regulating them have caused an ongoing Extinction Level Event.

This is happening all over the world. Corporations are destroying the planet under the guise of seeking profit. But their ecocidal activities are so horrendous and so ubiquitous that profits seem hardly plausible as authentic motive.

When taken together – chemically altered skies and waters and genetically altered plants and animals – reasonable minds cannot but wonder at the alien transformation of Planet Earth that we are witnessing.

..

Empire, Energy and Al-Qaeda: The Anglo-American Terror Network

September 8th, 2010 by Andrew Gavin Marshall

This is Part 2 of the series, “The Imperial Anatomy of Al-Qaeda.“

Part 1: The CIA’s Drug-Running Terrorists and the “Arc of Crisis”

The End of the Cold War and Strategy for the New World Order

With the end of the Cold War a new strategy had to be determined to manage the global system. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, declarations of a “New World Order” sprang forward, focusing on the United States as the single world superpower. This presented a great many challenges as well as opportunities for the worlds most powerful hegemon.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, a number of new Central Asian and Eastern European nations were formed and became independent, and with that, their immense deposits of natural gas and energy became available for exploitation. Afghanistan itself was considered “a major strategic pivot,” as it was “the primary gateway to Central Asia and the immense energy deposits therein.”[1] Western oil companies such as ExxonMobil, Texaco, Unocal, BP Amoco, Shell, and Enron begin pouring billions of dollars into the countries of Central Asia in the early 1990s.[2]

In 1992, a Pentagon document titled “Defense Planning Guidance” was leaked to the press, in which it described a strategy for the United States in the “new world order,” and it was drafted by George H.W. Bush’s Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney. It stated that, “America’s political and military mission in the post-cold-war era will be to ensure that no rival superpower is allowed to emerge in Western Europe, Asia or the territories of the former Soviet Union,” and that, “The classified document makes the case for a world dominated by one superpower whose position can be perpetuated by constructive behavior and sufficient military might to deter any nation or group of nations from challenging American primacy.”[3]

Further, “the new draft sketches a world in which there is one dominant military power whose leaders ‘must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role’.” Among the necessary challenges to American supremacy, the document “postulated regional wars against Iraq and North Korea,” and identified China and Russia as its major threats. It further “suggests that the United States could also consider extending to Eastern and Central European nations security commitments similar to those extended to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Arab states along the Persian Gulf.”[4]

Similarly, in 1992, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, one of the most influential think tanks in the United States, had established a commission to determine a new foreign policy for the United States in the wake of the Cold War. Participants included Madeleine Albright, Henry Cisneros, John Deutch, Richard Holbrooke, Alice Rivlin, David Gergen and Admiral William Crowe. In the summer of 1992, the final report, “Changing Our Ways: America and the New World,” was published. The report urged “a new principle of international relations: the destruction or displacement of groups of people within states can justify international intervention.” It suggested that the US “realign NATO and OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] to deal with new security problems in Europe,” and “urged military intervention under humanitarian guises.” This report subsequently “planted the policy seedlings for the Kosovo war” as it “provided both the rationale for U.S. interventionism and a policy recommendation about the best means–NATO–for waging that war.”[5]

Another Carnegie publication in the same year, “Self-Determination in the New World Order,” furthered imperialist goals for America, as it “set criteria for officials to use in deciding when to support separatist ethnic groups seeking independence, and advocated military force for that purpose.” It recommended that “international military coalitions, preferably U.N.-led, could send armed force not as peacekeepers but peacemakers–to prevent conflict from breaking out and stay in place indefinitely.” It further stated that, “the use of military force to create a new state would require conduct by the parent government so egregious that it has forfeited any right to govern the minority claiming self-determination.”[6]

The United States and its NATO allies soon undertook a new strategy, seeking to maintain dominance over the world, expand their hegemony over regions previously under the influence of the Soviet Union (such as in Eastern Europe and Central Asia), and prevent the rise of a resurgent Russia or China. One of the key facets of this strategy was the notion of “humanitarian intervention.”

Yugoslavia Dismantled by Design

In the 1990s, the United States and its NATO allies, in particular Germany and the UK, undertook a strategy of destabilization in Yugoslavia, seeking to dismantle and ultimately fracture the country. To do this, the imperial strategy of divide and conquer was employed, manipulating various ethnic tensions and arming and training various militias and terrorist organizations. Throughout this strategy, the “database”, or Al-Qaeda was used to promote the agenda of the destabilization and dismantling of Yugoslavia.

In 1989, Yugoslavia had to seek financial aid from the World Bank and IMF, which implemented a Structural Adjustment Program (SAP), which resulted in the dismantling of the public state, exacerbating social issues and fueling secessionist tendencies, leading to Croatia and Slovenia seceding from the republic in 1991.[7] In 1990, the US intelligence community had released a report predicting that Yugoslavia would break apart and erupt in civil war, and it blamed Milosevic for the impending disaster.[8]

As far back as 1988, the leader of Croatia met with the German Chancellor Helmut Kohl to create “a joint policy to break up Yugoslavia,” and bring Slovenia and Croatia into the “German economic zone.” So, US Army officers were dispatched to Croatia, Bosnia, Albania, and Macedonia as “advisers” and brought in US Special Forces to help.[9]

Fighting broke out between Yugoslavia and Croatia when the latter declared independence in 1991. The fighting subsequently lasted until 1995, and merged in part with the Bosnian war. The US supported the operation and the CIA actively provided intelligence to Croat forces, leading to the displacement of between 150,000 and 200,000 Serbs, largely through means of murder, plundering, burning villages and ethnic cleansing.[10] The Croatian Army was trained by U.S. advisers and a general later put on trial at the Hague for war crimes was personally supported by the CIA.[11] So we see the double standard of ethnic cleansing and genocide: when the US does it or supports it, it’s “humanitarian intervention,” politically justified, or it is simply unacknowledged; when an enemy state does it, (or is accused of doing it), the “international community” demands action and any means is deemed necessary to “prevent genocide”, including committing genocide.

The Clinton administration gave the “green light” to Iran to arm the Bosnian Muslims and “from 1992 to January 1996, there was an influx of Iranian weapons and advisers into Bosnia.” Further, “Iran, and other Muslim states, helped to bring Mujahideen fighters into Bosnia to fight with the Muslims against the Serbs, ‘holy warriors’ from Afghanistan, Chechnya, Yemen and Algeria, some of whom had suspected links with Osama bin Laden’s training camps in Afghanistan.”[12]

During the war in Bosnia, there “was a vast secret conduit of weapons smuggling though Croatia. This was arranged by the clandestine agencies of the US, Turkey and Iran, together with a range of radical Islamist groups, including Afghan mojahedin and the pro-Iranian Hizbullah.” Further, “the secret services of Ukraine, Greece and Israel were busy arming the Bosnian Serbs.”[13] Germany’s intelligence agency, the BND, also ran arms shipments to the Bosnian Muslims and Croatia to fight against the Serbs.[14] Thus, every side was being funded and armed by outside powers seeking to foment conflict and ultimately break up Yugoslavia to serve their own imperial objectives in the region.

In 1992, the al-Kifah Center in Brooklyn, the recruiting center for al-Qaeda, made Bosnia its chief target. By 1993, it opened a branch in Croatia. The recruitment operation for Bosnian Muslims “was a covert action project sponsored not only by Saudi Arabia but also in part by the US government.”[15]

In 1996, the Albanian Mafia, in collaboration with the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), a militant guerilla organization, took control over the enormous Balkan heroin trafficking routes. The KLA was linked to former Afghan Mujaheddin fighters in Afghanistan, including Osama bin Laden.[16]

In 1997, the KLA began fighting against Serbian forces,[17] and in 1998, the US State Department removed the KLA from its list of terrorist organizations.[18] Before and after 1998, the KLA was receiving arms, training and support from the US and NATO, and Clinton’s Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, was close with KLA leader Hashim Thaci.[19]

Both the CIA and German intelligence, the BND, supported the KLA terrorists in Yugoslavia prior to and after the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. The BND had KLA contacts since the early 1990s, the same period that the KLA was establishing its Al-Qaeda contacts.[20] KLA members were trained by Osama bin Laden at training camps in Afghanistan. Even the UN stated that much of the violence at the time came from KLA members, “especially those allied with Hashim Thaci.”[21]

The March 1999 NATO bombing of Kosovo was justified on the pretense of putting an end to Serbian oppression of Kosovo Albanians, which was termed genocide. The Clinton Administration made claims that at least 100,000 Kosovo Albanians were missing and “may have been killed” by the Serbs. Bill Clinton personally compared events in Kosovo to the Holocaust. The US State Department had stated that up to 500,000 Albanians were feared dead. Eventually, the official estimate was reduced to 10,000, however, after exhaustive investigations, it was revealed that the death of less than 2,500 Albanians could be attributed to the Serbs. During the NATO bombing campaign, between 400 and 1,500 Serb civilians were killed, and NATO committed war crimes, including the bombing of a Serb TV station and a hospital.[22]

Ultimately the strategy of the destabilization of Yugoslavia served various imperial objectives. The war in Yugoslavia was waged in order to enlarge NATO, Serbia was to be excluded permanently from European development to justify a US military presence in the region, and expansion was ultimately designed to contain Russia.[23]

An op-ed in the New York Times in 1996 stated that, “instead of seeing Bosnia as the eastern frontier of NATO, we should view the Balkans as the western frontier of America’s rapidly expanding sphere of influence in the Middle East.” Further:

The fact that the United States is more enthusiastic than its European allies about a Bosnian Muslim state reflects, among other things, the new American role as the leader of an informal collection of Muslim nations from the Persian Gulf to the Balkans. The regions once ruled by the Ottoman Turks show signs of becoming the heart of a third American empire.

[ . . . ] Now, in the years after the cold war, the United States is again establishing suzerainty over the empire of a former foe. The disintegration of the Soviet Union has prompted the United States to expand its zone of military hegemony into Eastern Europe (through NATO) and into formerly neutral Yugoslavia. And — most important of all — the end of the cold war has permitted America to deepen its involvement the Middle East.[24]

Further, with the dismantling of the former Yugoslavia, a passageway for the transport of oil and natural gas from the Caspian region was to be facilitated through the construction of the Trans-Balkan pipeline, which will “run from the Black sea port of Burgas to the Adriatic at Vlore, passing through Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania. It is likely to become the main route to the west for the oil and gas now being extracted in central Asia. It will carry 750,000 barrels a day: a throughput, at current prices, of some $600m a month.” As the Guardian reported:

The project is necessary, according to a paper published by the US Trade and Development Agency last May, because the oil coming from the Caspian Sea “will quickly surpass the safe capacity of the Bosphorus as a shipping lane”. The scheme, the agency notes, will “provide a consistent source of crude oil to American refineries”, “provide American companies with a key role in developing the vital east-west corridor”, “advance the privatisation aspirations of the US government in the region” and “facilitate rapid integration” of the Balkans “with western Europe”.

In November 1998, Bill Richardson, then US energy secretary, spelt out his policy on the extraction and transport of Caspian oil. “This is about America’s energy security,” he explained. “It’s also about preventing strategic inroads by those who don’t share our values. We’re trying to move these newly independent countries toward the west.

“We would like to see them reliant on western commercial and political interests rather than going another way. We’ve made a substantial political investment in the Caspian, and it’s very important to us that both the pipeline map and the politics come out right.”[25]

The pipeline project, supported since 1994, “featured prominently in Balkan war politics. On December 9 1998, the Albanian president attended a meeting about the scheme in Sofia, and linked it inextricably to Kosovo.” The message given at the meeting was that, “if you [the United States] want Albanian consent for the Trans-Balkan pipeline, you had better wrest Kosovo out of the hands of the Serbs.”[26]

And so, with the help of an international network of CIA-trained Islamic militants, American political and economic hegemony expanded into Central Asia and the Caspian region.

The Spread of Al-Qaeda

Al-Qaeda did not just spread to Bosnia and Albania/Kosovo, but rather a great many places around the world saw the spread of this vast “database” of Islamist fighters, and always aided by Western intelligence agencies or their regional conduits (such as the ISI and Saudi intelligence agencies). Following on the heels of the established American and NATO strategy following the Cold War, Islamic fundamentalism also came to play a part in this strategy.

Bernard Lewis was a former British intelligence officer and historian who is infamous for explaining Arab discontent towards the West as not being rooted in a reaction toward imperialism, but rather that it is rooted in Islam; in that Islam is incompatible with the West, and that they are destined to clash, using the term, “Clash of Civilizations.” For decades, “Lewis played a critical role as professor, mentor, and guru to two generations of Orientalists, academics, U.S. and British intelligence specialists, think tank denizens, and assorted neoconservatives.” In the 1980s, Lewis “was hobnobbing with top Department of Defense officials.”[27] He was also one of the originators, along with Brzezinski, of the “Arc of Crisis” strategy employed in the late 1970s.

Lewis wrote a 1992 article in Foreign Affairs, the journal of the Council on Foreign Relations, titled, “Rethinking the Middle East.” In this article, Lewis raised the prospect of another policy towards the Middle East in the wake of the end of the Cold War and beginnings of the New World Order, “which could even be precipitated by fundamentalism, is what has of late become fashionable to call ‘Lebanonization.’ Most of the states of the Middle East – Egypt is an obvious exception – are of recent and artificial construction and are vulnerable to such a process. If the central power is sufficiently weakened, there is no real civil society to hold the polity together, no real sense of common national identity or overriding allegiance to the nation-state. The state then disintegrates – as happened in Lebanon – into a chaos of squabbling, feuding, fighting sects, tribes, regions and parties.”[28]

Thus, the “database” of Al-Qaeda could be spread internationally so as to destabilize various regions, and thus provide the justification for intervention or even war. All that was needed was well-placed intelligence operatives to control key leadership positions within the terrorist organization. The great majority of both its higher-ups and nearly all al-Qaeda operatives would not have to be made aware of the organizations covert use as an arm of US geo-policy.

In the 1990s, Osama bin Laden “built a shadow air force to support his terrorist activities, using Afghanistan’s national airline, a surplus U.S. Air Force jet and clandestine charters.” Further, as the Los Angeles Times revealed:

With the Taliban’s blessing, Bin Laden effectively had hijacked Ariana, the national civilian airline of Afghanistan. For four years, according to former U.S. aides and exiled Afghan officials, Ariana’s passenger and charter flights ferried Islamic militants, arms, cash and opium through the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan. Members of Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda terrorist network were provided false Ariana identification that gave them free run of airports in the Middle East.

[ . . . ] Taliban authorities also opened the country’s airstrips to high-ranking Persian Gulf state officials who routinely flew in for lavish hunting parties. Sometimes joined by Bin Laden and Taliban leaders, the dignitaries, who included several high-ranking officials from Saudi Arabia and the Emirates–left behind money, vehicles and equipment with their hosts, according to U.S. and Afghan accounts.[29]  

Bin Laden’s secret purchase of a US Air Force jet in 1992 “was used to ferry Al Qaeda commanders to East Africa, where they trained Somali tribesmen for attacks on U.S. peacekeeping forces,” and Americans had “unwittingly” helped bin Laden “disguise the plane as a civilian jet.” US security officials were well aware of Ariana airlines being used by al-Qaeda,[30]

Among the high-ranking Persian Gulf officials who flew to Afghanistan for “hunting trips” were Prince Turki al Faisal who ran Saudi intelligence until August 2001, “maintaining close ties with Bin Laden and the Taliban,” as well as “Sheik Mohammed ibn Rashid al Maktum, the Dubai crown prince and Emirates defense minister.” On occasions both Osama bin Laden and Omar, the head of the Taliban, mingled with the hunters. Upon their departure, “the wealthy visitors often left behind late-model jeeps, trucks and supplies,” which was “one way the Taliban got their equipment.”[31]

What the article does not mention, however, was that the ISI was the prime sponsor of the Taliban, with the complete backing and facilitation of the CIA. The connection to the Saudi intelligence chief further strengthens the thesis that the Safari Club, created in 1976 by the French intelligence chief, may have survived as a covert intelligence network encompassing western intelligence agencies working through regional agencies such as those of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

The German intelligence agency, the BND, revealed in 2004 that two Saudi companies that were linked with financing al-Qaeda throughout the 1990s were in fact front organizations for Saudi intelligence, with close connections to its chief, Prince Turki bin Faisal.[32]

Between 1989 and 2001, Billy Waugh, a CIA contractor, trained several al-Qaeda operatives around the world.[33] In 2002, it was revealed that, “British intelligence paid large sums of money to an al-Qaeda cell in Libya in a doomed attempt to assassinate Colonel Gadaffi in 1996 and thwarted early attempts to bring Osama bin Laden to justice.” In 1998, Libya had issued an arrest warrant for Osama bin Laden, yet:

British and US intelligence agencies buried the fact that the arrest warrant had come from Libya and played down the threat. Five months after the warrant was issued, al-Qaeda killed more than 200 people in the truck bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.[34] 

However, “the resistance of Western intelligence agencies to the Libyan concerns can be explained by MI6′s involvement with the al-Qaeda coup plot.” Anas al-Liby, a Libyan al-Qaeda leader, “was given political asylum in Britain and lived in Manchester until May of 2000 when he eluded a police raid on his house and fled abroad.”[35]

Following the end of the Cold War, many mujahideen fighters were relocated to Russia’s unstable region of Chechnya, where the two main rebel leaders who came to power had previously been trained and funded by the CIA in Afghanistan. The war in Chechnya was planned in a secret meeting in 1996 attended by Osama bin Laden and high-ranking officials of the Pakistani ISI, whose involvement in Chechnya went “far beyond supplying the Chechens with weapons and expertise: the ISI and its radical Islamic proxies are actually calling the shots in this war.”[36] In other words, the CIA was directing the war through the ISI.

The US and U.K. have supported Chechen separatism as it, “weakens Russia, advances U.S. power in the vital Caspian Sea region, and cripples a potential future rival.”[37] Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of Russia, claimed that the British had been arming the Chechen rebels.[38] Oil also features prominently in the Chechen conflict, as Chechnya is home to large reserves of oil, as well as pipeline corridor routes being competed over by Russian and Anglo-American oil conglomerates. Thus, the Anglo-Americans support the Chechen separatists, while the Russians send in the military.[39] US intelligence helped fund and transport al-Qaeda into Chechnya in the early 1990s, American intelligence remained involved until the end of the decade, seeing the “sponsorship of ‘Islamist jihad in the Caucasus’ as a way to ‘deprive Russia of a viable pipeline route through spiraling violence and terrorism’.”[40]

The Global Domination Strategy for a New Century

Following upon the strategic objectives set out in the early 1990s for the United States and NATO to expand their hegemony across the world, in preventing the rise of rivals (China and Russia), and expanding the access of western economic interests to the Caspian region, new designs were being drawn in the powerful think-tank community in the United States as well as being outlined by highly influential strategic thinkers. The renewed strategy, hardly a break from the previously determined aim of encirclement and containment of China and Russia, simply expanded the scope of this strategy. From one faction, the neo-conservatives, came the initial aim at expanding militarily into the Middle East, starting with Iraq, while the more established hard-line realist hawks such as Zbigniew Brzezinski outlined a far more comprehensive and long-term strategy of world domination by controlling the entirety of Eurasia (Europe and Asia), and subsequently, Africa.

The neo-Conservative hawks in the US foreign policy establishment formed the think tank, the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) in the 1990s. In 2000, they published their report, Rebuilding America’s Defenses, in which they outlined a strategy for the United States in the “new century.” Following where the Defense Planning Guidance document left off (during the first Bush administration), the report stated that, “the United States must retain sufficient forces able to rapidly deploy and win multiple simultaneous large-scale wars,” and that there is a “need to retain sufficient combat forces to fight and win, multiple, nearly simultaneous major theatre wars,” as “the Pentagon needs to begin to calculate the force necessary to protect, independently, US interests in Europe, East Asia and the Gulf at all times.”[41]

It recommended the “regime change” of Saddam Hussein in Iraq as the “immediate justification” for a US military presence in the Gulf; however, “the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.” In advocating for a massive increase in defense spending, and outlining military operations against Iraq, North Korea, and possibly Iran, the report stated that, “further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.”[42]

Zbigniew Brzezinski outlined a long-term American imperial strategy to control Eurasia in his book, The Grand Chessboard. He stated bluntly that, “it is imperative that no Eurasian challenger emerges, capable of dominating Eurasia and thus of also challenging America,” and then made clear the imperial nature of his strategy:

To put it in a terminology that harkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.[43]

He further explained that the Central Asian nations (or “Eurasian Balkans” as he refers to them):

are of importance from the standpoint of security and historical ambitions to at least three of their most immediate and more powerful neighbors, namely Russia, Turkey and Iran, with China also signaling an increasing political interest in the region. But the Eurasian Balkans are infinitely more important as a potential economic prize: an enormous concentration of natural gas and oil reserves is located in the region, in addition to important minerals, including gold.[44]

Brzezinski emphasizes “that America’s primary interest is to help ensure that no single power comes to control this geopolitical space and that the global community has unhindered financial and economic access to it.”[45]

Preparing for War Against Afghanistan

In 1997, Taliban officials traveled to Texas to meet with Unocal Oil Company to discuss the possibility of a pipeline being built from Turkmenistan across Afghanistan and to Pakistan. Unocal had agreements with Turkmenistan to sell its gas and with Pakistan to buy it. The missing link was getting the gas to Pakistan through Afghanistan, which is where the Taliban came into the picture. Unocal’s main competitor in the pipeline bid was with Bridas, an Argentine firm. However, at this time, Afghanistan was still embroiled in civil war, making the prospect of a pipeline being built an unstable venture.[46]

A month before the Taliban visited Texas, Bridas, Unocal’s main competitor, merged its oil and gas assets with Amoco-Argentina Oil, a subsidiary of British Petroleum (BP), one of the world’s top three oil companies.[47] Shortly before this merger was finalized, Bridas had announced that it was close to signing a 2 billion dollar deal with the Taliban, saying “the talks were in their final stages.”[48]

After meeting with Unocal officials in Texas, the Taliban announced in January of 1998 that, “they’re close to reaching a final agreement on the building of a gas pipeline across Afghanistan,” however, they “didn’t indicate which of two competing companies the Taliban favoured.”[49]

It is significant to note some of the important figures that were involved with the oil companies in relation to Central Asian gas reserves and pipeline projects. In 1997, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the (self-proclaimed) mastermind for the Afghan-Soviet War, Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser, and cofounder with David Rockefeller of the Trilateral Commission, was an adviser to BP-Amoco, specifically dealing with the Caspian region.[50] Unocal, in an effort to try to secure their pipeline contract with the Taliban, hired former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Afghan-born Zalmay Khalilzad, former Reagan State Department Advisor on Afghanistan during the Afghan-Soviet War, was also brought on as a consultant for a group hired by Unocal. He would later become US envoy to Afghanistan after the US invasion in 2001.[51]

The pipeline project then ran into significant problems when, in December of 1998, Unocal announced that it quit its Afghan pipeline project.[52] Between 1996 and 2001, Enron bosses had given millions of dollars in bribes to Taliban officials to secure contracts for building pipelines. After Unocal withdrew from the deal, Enron continued to pressure the Taliban to continue with a pipeline. In 1996, neighboring Uzbekistan signed a deal with Enron to develop Uzbek natural gas fields.[53] In 1997, Halliburton, with Dick Cheney as its CEO, secured a contract in Turkmenistan for exploration and drilling in the Caspian Sea basin.[54] However, in December of 2001, Enron filed for bankruptcy.

Eventually, Unocal pulled out of the deal as a result of Afghanistan’s Taliban government not being fully recognized internationally as the legitimate Afghan government, and therefore, the pipeline project could not receive funding from international financial institutions like the World Bank. Unocal also pulled out as a result of the continual conflict raging in Afghanistan between various groups.[55]

In 1999, the Pentagon issued a secret document confirmed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of Defense, which stated that, “Oil conflicts over production facilities and transport routes, particularly in the Persian Gulf and Caspian regions, are specifically envisaged” in the near future, stating that, “energy and resource issues will continue to shape international security.” The document “vividly highlights how the highest levels of the US Defence community accepted the waging of an oil war as a legitimate military option.”[56]

Before George W. Bush became President in January of 2001, there were plans at the highest levels of the United States government in beginning preparations for a war against Afghanistan, which included attempts to secure an alliance with the Russians in “calling for military action against Afghanistan.”[57]

In March of 2001 it was reported that India has joined the US, Russia and Iran in an effort to militarily replace the Afghan Taliban government, with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to be used as bases to launch incursions into Afghanistan against the Taliban.[58] In the Spring of 2001, the US military envisaged and war gamed the entire scenario of a US attack on Afghanistan, which subsequently became the operational plan for the war.[59]

In the summer of 2001, the Taliban were leaked information from top-secret meetings that the Bush regime was planning to launch a military operation against the Taliban in July to replace the government. A US military contingency plan existed on paper to attack Afghanistan from the north by the end of the summer of 2001, as in, prior to 9/11.[60]

A former Pakistani diplomat told the BBC that the US was planning military action against Osama bin Laden and the Taliban before the 9/11 attacks. Niaz Naik, former Pakistani Foreign Secretary, “was told by senior American officials in mid-July that military action against Afghanistan would go ahead by the middle of October.” The invasion subsequently took place on October 7, 2001. Naik was told of this information at a secretive UN-sponsored meeting which took place in Berlin in July 2001, with officials from the US, Russia, and many Central Asian countries. He also stated that the US would launch the operation from their bases in Tajikistan, “where American advisers were already in place.”[61]

As revealed by MSNBC, “President Bush was expected to sign detailed plans for a worldwide war against al-Qaida two days before Sept. 11,” and that, “The plan dealt with all aspects of a war against al-Qaida, ranging from diplomatic initiatives to military operations in Afghanistan.” It outlined “essentially the same” war plan as was put into action following the 9/11 attacks. The National Security document was also submitted to Condoleezza Rice prior to the attacks, and included plans to attack the Taliban and remove them from power in Afghanistan.[62] Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair stated that, “To be truthful about it, there was no way we could have got the public consent to have suddenly launched a campaign on Afghanistan but for what happened on September 11.”[63]

Following the start of the war on Afghanistan in October of 2001, the Guardian’s George Monbiot wrote that the war “may also be a late colonial adventure,” as “Afghanistan is as indispensable to the regional control and transport of oil in central Asia as Egypt was in the Middle East.” It is worth quoting Monbiot at some length:

Afghanistan has some oil and gas of its own, but not enough to qualify as a major strategic concern. Its northern neighbours, by contrast, contain reserves which could be critical to future global supply. In 1998, Dick Cheney, now US vice-president but then chief executive of a major oil services company, remarked: “I cannot think of a time when we have had a region emerge as suddenly to become as strategically significant as the Caspian.” But the oil and gas there is worthless until it is moved. The only route which makes both political and economic sense is through Afghanistan.

Transporting all the Caspian basin’s fossil fuel through Russia or Azerbaijan would greatly enhance Russia’s political and economic control over the central Asian republics, which is precisely what the west has spent 10 years trying to prevent. Piping it through Iran would enrich a regime which the US has been seeking to isolate. Sending it the long way round through China, quite aside from the strategic considerations, would be prohibitively expensive. But pipelines through Afghanistan would allow the US both to pursue its aim of “diversifying energy supply” and to penetrate the world’s most lucrative markets. Growth in European oil consumption is slow and competition is intense. In south Asia, by contrast, demand is booming and competitors are scarce. Pumping oil south and selling it in Pakistan and India, in other words, is far more profitable than pumping it west and selling it in Europe.

As the author Ahmed Rashid has documented, in 1995 the US oil company Unocal started negotiating to build oil and gas pipelines from Turkmenistan, through Afghanistan and into Pakistani ports on the Arabian sea. The company’s scheme required a single administration in Afghanistan, which would guarantee safe passage for its goods. Soon after the Taliban took Kabul in September 1996, the Telegraph reported that “oil industry insiders say the dream of securing a pipeline across Afghanistan is the main reason why Pakistan, a close political ally of America’s, has been so supportive of the Taliban, and why America has quietly acquiesced in its conquest of Afghanistan”. Unocal invited some of the leaders of the Taliban to Houston, where they were royally entertained. The company suggested paying these barbarians 15 cents for every thousand cubic feet of gas it pumped through the land they had conquered.

For the first year of Taliban rule, US policy towards the regime appears to have been determined principally by Unocal’s interests. In 1997 a US diplomat told Rashid “the Taliban will probably develop like the Saudis did. There will be Aramco [the former US oil consortium in Saudi Arabia] pipelines, an emir, no parliament and lots of Sharia law. We can live with that.”

[. . . ] In February 1998, John Maresca, [Unocal’s] head of international relations, told representatives that the growth in demand for energy in Asia and sanctions against Iran determined that Afghanistan remained “the only other possible route” for Caspian oil. The company, once the Afghan government was recognised by foreign diplomats and banks, still hoped to build a 1,000-mile pipeline, which would carry a million barrels a day. Only in December 1998, four months after the embassy bombings in east Africa, did Unocal drop its plans.

But Afghanistan’s strategic importance has not changed. In September, a few days before the attack on New York, the US energy information administration reported that “Afghanistan’s significance from an energy standpoint stems from its geographical position as a potential transit route for oil and natural gas exports from central Asia to the Arabian sea. This potential includes the possible construction of oil and natural gas export pipelines through Afghanistan”. Given that the US government is dominated by former oil industry executives, we would be foolish to suppose that such plans no longer figure in its strategic thinking. As the researcher Keith Fisher has pointed out, the possible economic outcomes of the war in Afghanistan mirror the possible economic outcomes of the war in the Balkans, where the development of “Corridor 8″, an economic zone built around a pipeline carrying oil and gas from the Caspian to Europe, is a critical allied concern.

American foreign policy is governed by the doctrine of “full-spectrum dominance”, which means that the US should control military, economic and political development worldwide. China has responded by seeking to expand its interests in central Asia. The defence white paper Beijing published last year argued that “China’s fundamental interests lie in … the establishment and maintenance of a new regional security order”. In June, China and Russia pulled four central Asian republics into a “Shanghai cooperation organisation”. Its purpose, according to Jiang Zemin, is to “foster world multi-polarisation”, by which he means contesting US full-spectrum dominance.

If the US succeeds in overthrowing the Taliban and replacing them with a stable and grateful pro-western government and if the US then binds the economies of central Asia to that of its ally Pakistan, it will have crushed not only terrorism, but also the growing ambitions of both Russia and China. Afghanistan, as ever, is the key to the western domination of Asia.[64]

As revealed by the San Francisco Chronicle in November of 2001, “the United States and Pakistan decided to install a stable regime in place in Afghanistan around 1994 — a regime that would end the country’s civil war and thus ensure the safety of the Unocal pipeline project.” And so:

the State Department and Pakistan’s Inter- Services Intelligence agency agreed to funnel arms and funding to the Taliban in their war against the ethnically Tajik Northern Alliance. As recently as 1999, U.S. taxpayers paid the entire annual salary of every single Taliban government official, all in the hopes of returning to the days of dollar-a- gallon gas. Pakistan, naturally, would pick up revenues from a Karachi oil port facility.[65]

Clearly, the plans and purposes for war on Afghanistan had been well established. What was needed was the public justification. The people will not readily support a war to dominate strategic energy reserves and pipeline routes halfway around the world. Besides the fact that this would be an admission of empire, something that still a great many in the American public have failed to reconcile and accept, it would be a difficult task to ask Americans to die for Unocal. What the American people needed to rouse their appetite for war was to have their collective consciousness reshaped by fear; what was needed was terror.

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

 

Notes

[1]        Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation, and the Anatomy of Terrorism. (Northampton: Olive Branch Press, 2005), page 331 

[2]        Pipelineistan: The rules of the game. Asia Times: January 26, 2002:
http://www.gasandoil.com/goc/features/fex20867.htm 

Seymour Hersh, The Price of Oil. The New Yorker: July 9, 2001

[3]        Tyler, Patrick E. U.S. Strategy Plan Calls for Insuring No Rivals Develop: A One Superpower World. The New York Times: March 8, 1992.
http://work.colum.edu/~amiller/wolfowitz1992.htm 

[4]        Ibid.

[5]        John Roberts, Roots of Allied Farce. The American Spectator: May 4, 1999:
http://www.antiwar.com/spectator1.html 

[6]        Ibid. 

[7]        Michel Chossudovsky, Dismantling Former Yugoslavia, Recolonizing Bosnia-Herzegovina. Global Research: February 19, 2002:
http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=370

[8]        David Binder, Yugoslavia Seen Breaking Up Soon. The New York Times: November 28, 1990 

[9]        Gary Wilson, New reports show secret U.S. role in Balkan war. Workers World News Service: 1996: http://www.workers.org/ww/1997/bosnia.html
[10]      Ian Traynor, Croat general on trial for war crimes. The Guardian: March 12, 2008:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/mar/12/warcrimes.balkans 

[11]      Adam LeBor, Croat general Ante Gotovina stands trial for war crimes. The Times Online: March 11, 2008:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article3522828.ece 

[12]      Brendan O’Neill, ‘You are only allowed to see Bosnia in black and white’. Spiked: January 23, 2004:
http://www.spiked-online.com/Articles/0000000CA374.htm 

[13]      Richard J. Aldrich, America used Islamists to arm the Bosnian Muslims. The Guardian: April 22, 2002:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/apr/22/warcrimes.comment/print 

[14]      Tim Judah, German spies accused of arming Bosnian Muslims. The Telegraph: April 20, 1997:
http://www.serbianlinks.freehosting.net/german.htm 

[15]      Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America. University of California Press: 2007: pages 149-150

[16]      History Commons, Serbia and Montenegro: 1996-1999: Albanian Mafia and KLA Take Control of Balkan Heroin Trafficking Route. The Center for Cooperative Research:
http://www.historycommons.org/topic.jsp?topic=country_serbia_and_montenegro 

[17]      History Commons, Serbia and Montenegro: 1997: KLA Surfaces to Resist Serbian Persecution of Albanians. The Center for Cooperative Research:
http://www.historycommons.org/topic.jsp?topic=country_serbia_and_montenegro 

[18]      History Commons, Serbia and Montenegro: February 1998: State Department Removes KLA from Terrorism List. The Center for Cooperative Research:
http://www.historycommons.org/topic.jsp?topic=country_serbia_and_montenegro 

[19]      Marcia Christoff Kurop, Al Qaeda’s Balkan Links. The Wall Street Journal: November 1, 2001:
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/fr/561291/posts 

[20]      Global Research, German Intelligence and the CIA supported Al Qaeda sponsored Terrorists in Yugoslavia. Global Research: February 20, 2005:
http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=431 

[21]      Michel Chossudovsky, Kosovo: The US and the EU support a Political Process linked to Organized Crime. Global Research: February 12, 2008:
http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8055 

[22]      Andrew Gavin Marshall, Breaking Yugoslavia. Geopolitical Monitor: July 21, 2008:
http://www.geopoliticalmonitor.com/content/backgrounders/2008-07-21/breaking-yugoslavia/ 

[23]      Aleksandar Pavi, Correspondence between German Politicians Reveals the Hidden Agenda behind Kosovo’s “Independence”. Global Research: March 12, 2008:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8304 

[24]      Jacob Heilbrunn and Michael Lind, The Third American Empire. The New York Times: January 2, 1996:
http://www.nytimes.com/1996/01/02/opinion/the-third-american-empire.html?pagewanted=1 

[25]      George Monbiot, A discreet deal in the pipeline. The Guardian: February 15, 2001:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2001/feb/15/oil.georgemonbiot 

[26]      Ibid.

[27]      Robert Dreyfuss, Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam. Owl Books, 2005: page 332-333 

[28]      Bernard Lewis, Rethinking the Middle East. Foreign Affairs, Fall 1992: pages 116-117

[29]      Stephen Braun and Judy Pasternak, Long Before Sept. 11, Bin Laden Aircraft Flew Under the Radar. The Los Angeles Times: November 18, 2001:
http://web.archive.org/web/20030618094400/http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-111801osamair,0,7388562.story 

[30]      Ibid.

[31]      Ibid. 

[32]      John Crewdson, German Intelligence Points to Two Saudi Companies As Having Al Qaeda Links. The Chicago Tribune: March 31, 2004

[33]      Billy Waugh and Tim Keown, Hunting the Jackal: A Special Forces and CIA Ground Soldier’s Fifty-Year Career Hunting America’s Enemies. (William Morrow, 2004), pages 173, 303, 308 

[34]      Martin Bright, MI6 ‘halted bid to arrest bin Laden’. The Guardian: November 10, 2002:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2002/nov/10/uk.davidshayler

[35]      Ibid. 

[36]      Michel Chossudovsky, Who Is Osama bin Laden? Global Research: September 12, 2001:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO109C.html

[37]      Mark Ames, Dividing Russia. AlterNet: June 29, 2005:
http://www.alternet.org/story/23230 

[38]      Adrian Blomfield and Mike Smith, Gorbachev: US could start new Cold War. The Telegraph: May 6, 2008:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/1933223/Gorbachev-US-could-start-new-Cold-War.html 

[39]      Marcus Warren, Back garden ‘oil barons’ spring up in Chechnya. The Telegraph: June 7, 2002:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/1396582/Back-garden-oil-barons-spring-up-in-Chechnya.html 

Peter Dale Scott, Pipeline Politics – Oil Behind Plan for U.S. Troops in Georgia. New American Media: February 28, 2002:
http://news.ncmonline.com/news/view_article.html?article_id=812 

Michel Chossudovsky, Who Is Osama bin Laden? Global Research: September 12, 2001:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO109C.html 

Sharon LaFraniere, How Jihad Made Its Way to Chechnya. The Washington Post: April 26, 2003:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A39482-2003Apr25?language=printer 

BBC, Obituary: Chechen rebel Khattab. BBC World News: April 26, 2002:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/1952053.stm 

[40]      Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, Our Terrorists. The New Internationalist: October 2009:
http://www.newint.org/features/2009/10/01/blowback-extended-version/ 

[41]      PNAC, Rebuilding America’s Defenses. Project for the New American Century: September 2000, pages 6, 8, 9, 14, 51:
http://www.newamericancentury.org/publicationsreports.htm 

[42]      Ibid.

[43]      Brzezinski, Zbigniew. The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives. Basic Books, 1997: Page 40 

[44]      Ibid, page 124.

[45]      Ibid, page 148. 

[46]      BBC, Taleban in Texas for talks on gas pipeline. BBC World: December 4, 1997:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/west_asia/37021.stm 

[47]      Thomson Financial, Amoco Argentina-Oil Assets acquires Bridas Corp-South American Oil from Bridas Corp. Thomson Financial Mergers and Acquisitions: November 17, 1997:
http://www.alacrastore.com/storecontent/Thomson_M&A/Amoco_Argentina_Oil_Assets_acquires_Bridas_Corp_South_American_Oil_from_Bridas_Corp-693739040 

[48]      BBC, Afghan Pipeline Deal Close. BBC World: November 3, 1997:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/west_asia/21007.stm 

[49]      BBC, Taleban says it’s ready to sign Turkmen pipeline deal. BBC News: January 4, 1998:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/s/w_asia/44521.stm 

[50]      Brian Becker, Where have all the cold warriors gone? U.S. oil giants drain Azerbaijan. Workers World: August 21, 1997:
http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/51/029.html 

[51]      Mary Pat Flaherty, David B. Ottaway and James V. Grimaldi, How Afghanistan Went Unlisted as Terrorist Sponsor. The Washington Post: November 5, 2001:
http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-478705.html 

[52]      Steven Levine, Unocal Quits Afghanistan Pipeline Project. The New York Times: December 5, 1998:
http://s3.amazonaws.com/911timeline/1990s/nyt120598.html 

[53]      History Commons, 1996-September 11, 2001: Enron Gives Taliban Millions in Bribes in Effort to Get Afghan Pipeline Built.
http://www.historycommons.org/context.jsp?item=a96enronbribe#a96enronbribe 

[54]      Halliburton, Halliburton Alliance Awarded Integrated Service Contract Offshore Caspian Sea In Turkmenistan. 1997 Press Releases: October 27, 1997:
http://www.halliburton.com/news/archive/1997/hesnws_102797.jsp 

[55]      Dale Allen Pfeiffer, The Forging of ‘Pipelineistan’. From the Wilderness: 2002:
http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/071102_pipelineistan.html 

[56]      Ritt Goldstein, Oil wars Pentagon’s policy since 1999. Sydney Morning Herald: May 20, 2003:
http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/05/19/1053196528488.html 

[57]      S. Frederick Starr, Afghanistan Land Mine. The Washington Post: December 19, 2000:
http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/linkscopy/AfghanLM.html 

[58]      Rahul Bedi, India joins anti-Taliban coalition. Jane’s Security News: March 15, 2001:
http://www.janes.com/security/international_security/news/jir/jir010315_1_n.shtml 

[59]      SMH, Defence redefined means securing cheap energy. Sydney Morning Herald: December 26, 2002:
http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/12/25/1040511092926.html 

[60]      David Leigh, Attack and counter-attack. The Guardian: September 26, 2001:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4264545,00.html 

[61]      George Arney, US ‘planned attack on Taleban’. BBC News: September 18, 2001:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/1550366.stm 

[62]      Jim Miklaszewski and Alex Johnson, U.S. sought attack on al-Qaida. MSNBC: May 16, 2002:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4587368/ 

[63]      Michael Meacher, This War on Terrorism is Bogus. The Guardian: September 6, 2003:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2003/sep/06/september11.iraq 

[64]      George Monbiot, America’s pipe dream. The Guardian: October 23, 2001:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2001/oct/23/afghanistan.terrorism11 

[65]      Ted Rall, It’s About Oil. The San Francisco Chronicle: November 2, 2001:
http://articles.sfgate.com/2001-11-02/opinion/17625946_1_kazak-caspian-sea-black-sea 

NEW BOOK FROM GLOBAL RESEARCH
(click for details)
The Global Economic Crisis


Michel Chossudovsky
Andrew G. Marshall (editors)

Who pays for the loss of life in Iran?

September 8th, 2010 by Kourosh Ziabari

Since the victory of Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979 which toppled the U.S.-backed regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Iran has been facing with devastating and agonizing financial sanctions of the United States and its European allies who didn’t favor the post-revolutionary Iran’s doctrine of confrontation with the superpowers and its denial of Western liberal democratic values.

The 1979 revolution which put an end to 2,500 years of imperial monarchy in Iran was pivoted on theocratic and ideological values which the sumptuous, thrilling West usually tends to dislike and rebuff. Under the spiritual leadership of Imam Khomeini, Iranians declared that they wouldn’t need the support of Western and Eastern superpowers, will stand on their own feet and only seek to realize a political regime which establishes its bases and principles in accordance with morality and Islamic solidarity.

Iran’s ideological disagreement with the West and its efforts to fulfill independence as an Islamic state, however, cost for the Iranian people heavily. First of all, the United States spurred its regional puppet, the late dictator Saddam Hussein, on to launch a massive, crushing war against Iran so as to push the country’s newly-established political regime to annihilation. The 8-year war demolished Iran’s infrastructures irreversibly, caused irreparable damages to country’s economy and left more than 350,000 Iranians dead.

The 8-year resistance of the Iranian people, however, rendered the plans of the U.S. and its Baathist ally futile. Iran rose from the rubbles of 8-year war with Iraq and set out to emerge as a regional superpower gradually. Iranians recreated the country’s war-torn economy once again, renewed the obliterated infrastructures, appeased the pains of the families of 350,000 martyrs with compassion and brought hopes to the hearts of those who had come to think that a political state with the ideological pillars of Islam would be impossible to survive.

The animosity of the United States and its cronies, however, didn’t seem to be ending. In 1984, the United States approved its first set of sanctions against Iran which would prohibit Washington from selling American weapons to Tehran. During the presidency of Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, the sanctions got tougher and broader. In April 1995, President Bill Clinton issued a total embargo on U.S. dealings with Iran, banning every kind of financial transaction with the war-hit country. In 1996, the United States Congress passed the Iran–Libya Sanctions Act under which all the foreign firms and companies that provide investments over $20 million for the development of petrochemical projects in Iran would be penalized. The most inequitable and unreasonable sanctions against Iran, however, were those which would were endorsed in 1995 and disallowed the aviation companies around the world to sell aircrafts and repair parts to the Iranian airlines directly.

Iran’s aviation fleet which is chiefly comprised of Russian low-quality Tupelov and outdated Airbus and Fokker planes is one of the most vulnerable fleets in the world which suffers from increasing dilapidation and is considered to be highly at risk due to the unjust sanctions which are imposed against the country.

In December 2005, BBC World published a report in which it was expressively stated that Iran’s civil and military aviation fleet is undergoing intense safety setbacks. The report came after an Iranian Air Force C-130E military transport aircraft crashed into a residential complex in Tehran, killing 128 people including 68 reporters and journalists that were supposed to cover a military drill off the country’s southern coast on the Persian Gulf.

Two years earlier, a Russian-manufactured Ilyushin Il-76 transporter plane crashed in southeastern Iran, killing 302 passengers and cabin crew.

Iran has experienced several deadly air accidents in which hundreds of innocent civilians lost their lives. On July 15, 2009, the Caspian Airlines Flight 7908 heading from Tehran to Yerevan crashed near the village of Jannatabad in northern Iran, killing 168 passengers and cabin crews. Among the dead were all members of Iran’s national youth judo team members and several other prominent persons including a former parliament member and the wife of Georgian Ambassador to Tehran.

On July 24, 2009, another deadly plane crash happened in Iran which cost the life of 16 people. While attempting to land, the plane skidded off the runway and broke into a wall, killing 16 out of 153 passengers and crew members who were aboard the plane.

Unfortunately, the frequency of deadly plane crashes in Iran has been so high that made Iran’s aviation fleets one of the most insecure and unsafe ones in the world. Tens of people die each year as a result of a childish altercation which seems to have no rational basis. The United States has failed to dictate its political will to Iran and resorts to this failure as a pretext for punishing its people.

The United States and its European allies who boast of themselves as being the harbingers of human rights and liberty have obliviously forgotten that they are simply human beings who lose their lives as a result of the sanctions which they’ve devised. The civilian passengers who are destined to die in the insecure flights of Iran’s aviation fleet are the victims of those who have long trumpeted in our ears that they’re the sole defenders of human rights. If the life of each human being is respectable, then who is responsible for the lives of these hundreds of people who pass away before the eyes of the so-called international community which is always alert to caution about the violation of human rights in Iran and other independent countries? Isn’t the life of these people who get in the dilapidated Russian planes of Iran’s fleet and embrace death to the most extreme point of imagination respectable that you’ve deprived them of having the opportunity to experience a safe and secure trip? If you’re at loggerheads with the government of Iran, what’s the fault of its innocent civilians whom you’re punishing collectively?

«No voy a disparar Yo no voy a disparar aunque me lo ordenen. Podrán fusilarme por eso».

Karl Liebknecht, (co-fundador del Partido Comunista alemán, asesinado junto con Rosa Luxemburgo en la insurrección espartaquista de 1919 (amb@s de origen judío, por cierto).
Liliane Blaser Aza-Documentalista

.- Porque estamos en el siglo 21 y porque la humanidad vivió gran parte del siglo pasado bajo el temor de una hecatombe nuclear,

Porque siguen produciéndose hoy víctimas de los crímenes de guerra nucleares llamados Hiroshima y Nagasaki,

Porque no se entiende que potencias de enorme calibre nuclear utilicen las excusas que utilizan para justificar un ataque a Irán, en lugar de explicar que el tema es que este país tiene aparentemente la 2ª  reserva de petróleo y la 3ª de gas en el mundo, entre otras razones inconfesables, porque según Michel Chossudovsky*, “el ataque planificado contra Irán forma parte de un mapa global coordinado de orientación militar y es parte de la “larga guerra del Pentágono“, una provechosa guerra sin fronteras, un proyecto de dominación mundial, una secuencia de operaciones militares.”

Porque según el mismo autor, “un ataque aéreo “preventivo” contra Irán llevaría a que toda la región (desde el Mediterráneo Oriental hasta la frontera occidental de China con Afganistán y Pakistán) podría estallar, y a que el conflicto se extendería al Líbano y Siria, lo que nos conduce potencialmente a un escenario de Tercera Guerra Mundial” con el agravante de que en este ataque “no sólo el uso de armas nucleares, sino toda la gama de nuevos sistemas de armas avanzadas, incluso armas electrométricas y técnicas de modificación ambiental (ENMOD) se utilizarían… y que la Resolución del Consejo de Seguridad otorga, de hecho, “luz verde” para librar una guerra preventiva contra Irán,” porque si bien, según el mismo autor, “Irán, Siria y el Líbano son los objetivos inmediatos, China, Rusia, Corea del Norte, por no hablar de Venezuela y Cuba, son también objeto de amenazas de EEUU”

Y porque la vida tiene cierta importancia, porque no hay muchas otras cosas por hacer, y hay que hacerlas, Propongo a movimientos sociales, agrupaciones y personas con intención de sobrevivencia en este mundo, a una movilización masiva frente a la embajada de EEUU en Caracas, colinas de Valle Arriba, este jueves 9 de septiembre, a las dos pm, día en que vence el plazo fijado por la resolución del Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU para que Irán cumpla con las nuevas sanciones, que le han sido impuestas y arrecia la amenaza de ataque a esta nación.

Convoquémonos  para decir no a la guerra y al sometimiento de unos países por otros, y para exigir la puesta en marcha de algún tipo de mecanismo internacional que detenga la locura bélica de quienes detentan el mundo, ya que la ONU parece haber dejado de ser la Organización de las Naciones Unidas.

*Michel Chossudovsky es profesor (emérito) de Economía de la Universidad de Ottawa y director del Centro para la Investigación sobre la Globalización (CRG), Montreal. Es autor de La Globalización de la Pobreza y el Nuevo Orden Mundial (2003) y de La guerra de América contra el terrorismo (2005). También es colaborador de la Enciclopedia Británica. He preferido citar a Chossudovsky que a Fidel Castro Ruz, que tiene meses alertando con este peligro, para variar las fuentes y hacer hablar al vecino del “vientre del monstruo”

El mensaje hecho público ayer por ETA deja dos conclusiones a botepronto si se mira a todo lo ocurrido y dicho en los últimos meses. Primero, su anuncio marca un nuevo campo base al que se ha llegado con la izquierda abertzale abriendo brecha decididamente. Segundo, confirma la falsedad del discurso de los equipos de Interior que intentaban atribuirse el parón de la actividad armada. Pero lo más importante es su proyección futura: hay mucho terreno libre para avanzar.

Aunque eso no le reste el mínimo impacto, la decisión dada a conocer ayer por ETA puede calificarse sin duda como una crónica anunciada, en vista del torrente de noticias, seudonoticias y declaraciones políticas aparecidas al respecto y que coincidían además en una fecha: setiembre. De hecho, a estas alturas quizás pocos se sorprendan siquiera ante la confirmación de que el alto el fuego -ausencia de «acciones armadas ofensivas», según la terminología del comunicado- en realidad ya había comenzado hace meses. Y no sólo por los hechos objetivos -más de un año sin atentados-, sino sobre todo por la evidencia palpable de la determinación mostrada por la izquierda abertzale en cambiar de ciclo esquivando grietas y barrancos, ganando altura poco a poco.

Muchos quizás no lo recuerden, pero cuando se presentó la Declaración de Altsasu con su marcada apuesta por las vías exclusivamente políticas y democráticas -hace apenas diez meses-, en las formaciones políticas imperó la respuesta habitual de «más de lo mismo» o «sólo es palabrería». Sin embargo, desde entonces han llovido hechos incontestables. Por citar algunos, el documento “Zutik Euskal Herria” -colofón de un debate interno inédito por su alcance y por su extensión-, el aval internacional de la Declaración de Bruselas -aunque no se haya subrayado, nunca tantos y tan importantes líderes internacionales aplaudieron una iniciativa del independentismo vasco-, o el acuerdo estratégico con EA -sin precedentes también por su contenido y, sobre todo, por su proyección futura-. A día de hoy, ni Pedro J. Ramírez, director de “El Mundo”, se quiere ridiculizar a sí mismo argumentando que la izquierda abertzale propone «más de lo mismo».

Aunque la terminología utilizada por ETA en su mensaje de ayer no se corresponda estrictamente con la empleada por documentos como “Zutik Euskal Herria”, la primera evidencia innegable es que su decisión pisa -y con fuerza- en la misma huella marcada por las bases de la izquierda abertzale. Éstas han apostado por emprender un nuevo camino hacia la cumbre, saliéndose del barrizal creado por el Estado en réplica a la lucha armada y que mantiene empantanadas las aspiraciones independentistas. Lo han hecho, además, porque han querido hacerlo, sin imposiciones externas -incluso contra pronóstico, porque no hay más que recordar que hasta Jesús Eguiguren (PSE) decía que las tesis de Arnaldo Otegi no iban a ser «nada definitivo»-. Y lo han hecho tras un debate interno muy profundo y autocrítico, con el único objetivo de que su acción política sea más eficaz.

En resumen, ha sido una iniciativa unilateral e incondicionada a la que ETA se suma ahora con otra decisión igualmente unilateral e incondicionada, sin condiciones ni garantías previas como las negociadas con el Gobierno de Zapatero en verano de 2005 (que luego, como se vio, no sirvieron para gran cosa).

Incuestionablemente, quien así actúa muestra sentirse especialmente seguro de sus fuerzas.

Esta capacidad de iniciativa y esta unilateralidad han hecho que el papel del Estado español haya quedado relegado a un segundo plano, al mero papel de espectador y, como mucho, de saboteador. Sus representantes políticos y mediáticos -también los vascos- se han limitado en los últimos meses, semanas y días a especular sobre el alcance de las decisiones de ETA. O más bien, a ir subiendo y bajando el listón de «aceptabilidad» en función de los posicionamientos que ha ido ha- ciendo la izquierda abertzale. Basta recordar que para muchos el requisito mínimo exigible era un alto el fuego «verificable»… justo hasta que el viernes se filtró que la izquierda abertzale y EA apuestan por ello en sus conversaciones con otros partidos.

Reducido a espectador forzado, queda al descubierto que el Ministerio del Interior ha tenido que recurrir a la mentira. Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, el mismo que popularizó tras el 11-M aquella apelación de que «los españoles merecen un presidente que no les mienta», ha insistido durante el verano, y con más énfasis aún en los últimos días, en que ETA no atentaba porque no podía hacerlo. El pasado 13 de agosto, por ejemplo, afirmaba que «hoy hace 369 días que ETA no pone ninguna bomba, ni grande ni pequeña, y si no lo hace es porque no puede, no porque no quiera». El jueves de esta misma semana se declaraba «escéptico» ante los crecientes rumores de alto el fuego mientras matizaba que la retirada de algunos escoltas «no tiene nada que ver con todo esto».

Otro tanto ha ocurrido con el consejero de Interior de Lakua, Rodolfo Ares, que decía el mismo día que «ni descarto que pueda haber una declaración, ni un acto terrorista».

El afán de los responsables de Interior de Madrid y Lakua en alimentar la hipótesis de atentados de ETA ha sido constante en todos estos meses en que la evidencia era precisamente la contraria. Y este discurso ha sido aceptado como real pese que en diciembre del pasado año José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero admitió públicamente que los augurios de Rubalcaba sobre secuestros y atentados eran en realidad «una estrategia». Este dis- curso que ahora se revela como falso se ha complementado con acciones policiales prácticas que han recreado la sensación de riesgo de acciones armadas: de ello pueden dar fe ciudadanos vascos que han sido interrogados por las FSE en sus destinos vacacionales. Y el objetivo de todo ello, claro ésta, era tratar de cortocircuitar a la izquierda abertzale, algo que intentó Rubalcaba -sin resultado alguno- con los encarcelamientos de Arnaldo Otegi y sus compañeros o con las reuniones con ciertos partidos vascos (PNV, Aralar) para pedirles que hicieran el vacío a la izquierda abertzale.

Con todo, lo realmente importante del mensaje de ETA no son las conclusiones que deja «a pasado», sino el escenario que siembra «a futuro». El anuncio de que no habrá atentados no sólo refuerza la línea de acción de la izquierda abertzale y también de EA, sino que allana el camino al diálogo y la búsqueda de consensos con otros partidos vascos, potencia las movilizaciones unitarias (la del próximo sábado de Adierazi EH! cobra especial interés) y facilita un espacio seguro al Gobierno del PSOE para conseguir solucionar un conflicto armado que ha sobrevivido a dos régimenes y decenas de gobiernos. En caso de que Zapatero y Rubalcaba prefieran seguir en el «frente del no» de cuyo riesgo les advirtió Antonio Basagoiti (PP), la ciudadanía vasca también tendrá más fácil acumular fuerzas para recordarles que la demanda de solución es absolutamente mayoritaria en Euskal Herria.

Habrá quienes remarcarán hoy que ETA todavía no ha dicho muchas cosas. Y eso se puede presentar como un déficit, pero también como un estímulo, en la medida en que se abre un gran terreno para avanzar. Hay raíles que están marcados, jalones a la vista que pueden suponer auténticos saltos cualitativos cuando se alcancen. Por ejemplo, la Declaración de Bruselas, a la que ETA ha respondido indirectamente y que emplazaba también al Gobierno español; los principios Mitchell, evocados en “Zutik Euskal Herria” y que fueron claves para abrir la fase de diálogo político resolutivo en Irlanda; o la verificabilidad del alto el fuego, propuesta por la izquierda abertzale y EA. Estaciones todas ellas que quedan ahora más cerca con este nuevo campo base y que serán realidad si el esfuerzo hacia la cumbre es compartido.

‘Cotton never saw much cash, and never got rich by any means. not on the ten-cent and fifteen-cent purchases that farmers made there for over one hundred years. Yet he could pay Jackson Luttrell for the tomato hauling�in credit at the store. That enabled Jackson to buy seed, feed, hardware, fertiliser, tools, and gasoline, and farm until harvest time with very little cash, leaving him with enough to invest in a truck. Unger could run his tomato cannery and transform local produce into cash, because he could barter credit for farm products and services. This was a community economic ecology that blended labour, money, and goods to sustain a modest but satisfactort life for all.  Rainbow Pie

I don’t know where to start with Rainbow Pie, it’s a book of two sides, two faces even. On the one hand there’s Joe’s evocative, heartfelt nostalgia for a life destroyed by corporate capital and on the other, his anger and frustrations, rants on occasion, as if analyzing sets off an uncontrollable chain reaction to how capitalism destroys human beings and all in the name of free choice! It’s a frustration many of us lefties feel, a sense of powerlessness made all the worse by the knowing.

Having read his first book ‘Deerhunting with Jesus’, I had already gotten a taste for his prose when it came to describing the community he grew up in, Winchester, Virginia on the edge of the Southern Appalachian mountains. His memories of life growing up in a small, rural community, essentially that of subsistence farming is really outstanding. Simple yet powerful.

“The frost was upon the pumpkin one morning in 1960 when Jackson Luttrell dropped the wagon bolt into the tractor hitch, then stepped up on the tractor’s axle, easing himself into the cold, iron seat. He’d done it ten thousand times, but this day it took him three tries. Sixty Novembers in the fields exact their rightful toll, and he was more than feeling his age. Five minutes later, Jackson was down in his bottom land loading corn shocks onto the wagon. (You don’t waste a big truck on light loads.) A skiff of snow covered the dark soil around the corn stubble, or ‘stobs’ as he called them. Every remaining stub of a cornstalk represented one whack of a hand-held corn cutter all fifteen acres, some 300,000 of them, wielded by either Jackson himself or neighbours with whom he’d exchanged such work for forty years.’

What Joe calls the white underclass, some forty-plus million Americans, who struggle to survive out of sight and out of mind of the urban middle class who not only manage capitalism but who also shape the kind of self-image people end up having of themselves. They are Marx� surplus labour writ big, real big. They are the (former) heartland of the American Dream turned nightmare. A class turned in on itself and entirely ignored by mainstream everything.

To understand the source of Bageant�s anger, he takes us into the world of his parents, grand-parents, great grandparents, all the way back to 1755. Small farmers, manual labourers, trades people of all kinds, the people, the class that built America, along with the slaves of course. But as Joe points out, after Reconstruction, poor whites in the South didn�t get the vote either, excluded by lack of property or money, or both. Blacks got the franchise, briefly, then had it taken away.

But this seems to be a feature of US political life when every generation that comes along seems to be doomed to have to relearn the lessons of the past. Nothing gets handed down, passed on except the illusions. There is no continuity between the generations, something that also now afflicts the UK. The past that we ‘consume’ is an artifice, a sleight-of-hand, a concoction dreamed up in universities and media conglomerates’ ‘creative’ departments.

“When World War II began, 44 per cent of Americans were rural, and over half of them farmed for a living. By 1970, only five per cent were on farms.”

Farming was now big business, agri-business. There was no room for the Bageants in this brave new world. The transformation of the US demographic landscape is truly staggering and just goes to show what capitalism in its most unrestrained form can do to- well everything. When I lived in the US I traveled around a bit, north, south, east, west and I can tell you that the ‘built’ environment has gotta be the ugliest on the planet. Just kinda plonked down, cloned across the country. Main streets populated with franchises and little else except for the ubiquitous Walmarts, yet when we think of the US, an image of Manhattan or wide open spaces is evoked.

“The farm was not a business. It was a farm. Pap and millions of farmers like him were never in the ‘agribusiness’. They never participated in the modern ‘economy of scale’ which comes down to exhausting as many resources as possible to make as much money as possible in the shortest time possible.”

Looking in on Joe’s world it’s immediately apparent that his dilemma in looking back, is that by the time capital got around to demolishing Joe’s “community economic ecology”, it had pretty much gotten through destroying everything else, in fact ever since the days when Joe’s ancestors landed in 1755. Thus without political organization with which to defend their economic (and political) interests, there’s an inevitability to the trajectory of US capitalism. So even while Joe’s community was still intact and functioning, it was already surrounded by an advancing tide of avarice and destruction.

What’s left is what Rainbow Pie describes, millions of poor, uneducated whites, who have been left to rot on a once intact rural ecology, just as the original inhabitants, or what’s left of them, have been left to rot on ‘reservations’ or to call them by their correct name, Bantustans.

I don’t know if Joe has read any William Morris such as ‘News from Nowhere’ but I get the same sense of loss, a grievous loss of Joe’s cultural, let alone economic, inheritance just as Morris lamented the loss of rural life and all its many skills and traditions, wiped out by his hated Victorian capitalism. Yet over the past two hundred-plus years of capitalism rampant, Joe’s experience is the third such auto-destruction to take place in the so-called developed world, where entire cultures and communities have been erased from the face of the earth. All in the name of ‘progress’ of course as capital yet again must revolutionize the means of production or die.

For what Joe has done (and so far he appears to be the only one) is to record yet another transformation of a culture that had existed in one form or another for nearly three hundred years, just as capital depopulated rural communities in 18th and 19th century England, forcing them in the (yet to be built) industrial cities. And yet again, beginning in the 1970s as capital deindustrialized the UK and the USA, preferring to make its money out of ‘intangibles’ instead of real things. The Chinese can do that for us at a fraction of the cost. And all of it in vain as capitalism once again plunges us into a global depression and general war on the planet’s population by one means or another.

The paradox of Joe’s underclass is that it has been harnessed by the most Conservative elements in US capitalism and for a lot of reasons. Firstly, Joe’s community has always been very religious and secondly conservative with a small c. Thirdly, it’s been jettisoned as being surplus to requirement by what Joe calls the urban-based Establishment except when it comes to voting day. Stereotyped as ignorant and inbred hillbillies in the mass media (shades of ‘Deliverance’), the only ‘voice’ they have is one supplied to them by the likes of Oral Roberts et al, who allegedly speak on their behalves. After all, forty million voters come election time is a pretty big slice of the action.

This explains in part why so many people can be screwed over and over again and yet never revolt. The other part is the simple fact that they are mostly illiterate and deliberately under-educated, fed on a diet which is literally killing them physically and mentally.

But for anyone with a working class background, such as yours truly, Rainbow Pie, underneath all the crap Bageant exposes to the light of day in his very own Redneck America, there are so many evocations of working class life that I can identify with, especially the skills we used to possess that are instantly recognizable to a generation of industrial workers like my Dad�s. So different yet so familiar.

Joe finds their ignorance appalling but empathizes totally with their condition. These are not bad people, they’re just struggling to keep their heads above water and without a voice of their own (except Joe’s) what kind of a chance do they have?

The question is whether there is the right balance between recollection and rant in Rainbow Pie? Mostly it works but sometimes it doesn’t. I suppose it depends on just how angry Joe felt as he pounded away on his laptop. I sometimes found myself rushing through the political ‘asides’ just so I could get back to the descriptions of Joe’s life and times. Yet Joe speaks the truth to the reality of a system bankrupt on every level including now finally the ecological. The rural life that Joe describes, though whilst poor, barely above subsistence level, nevertheless reveals a culture that was in balance with the environment and to Joe’s credit, it’s not a romanticized vision of a life lost but echoes a lost culture that used to be the bedrock of the life of millions of working Americans.

This is a fascinating and extremely readable account of a life now vanished, destroyed by the insatiable appetite of capital and told with acid wit and great style making it enjoyable to relish the language but not too much, it’s not a travelog but a rare account of life that most of us are barely aware exists.

Rainbow Pie: A Redneck Memoir By Joe Bageant. Portobello Books, London, 2010

Available from amazon.co.uk, to be published on 7 October, 2010

Land grabs, biofuel demand raise global food-security risk

September 8th, 2010 by Global Research

A new report says Europe’s growing demand for biofuels increases the risk of conflict over land and impairs food security. The authors even warn of a potential global crisis.

The report, compiled by international environmental pressure group Friends of the Earth (FoE), says that the amount of land being taken in Africa to feed Europe’s increasing demand for biofuels is “underestimated and out of control.” An area of arable land the size of Denmark – around five million hectares – has been acquired by foreign companies to produce biofuels, mainly for the European market, the report says.

The FoE warns that even more land will be required for biofuels if the European Union is to reach its target of 10 percent of transport fuels from renewable sources by 2020.

Africans have protested unfair land deals

“Our research shows that Europe’s demand for biofuels is a major driver of land grabbing in Africa,” Adrian Bebb, food and agriculture campaigner for FoE Europe, told Deutsche Welle. “Local communities are facing increasing hunger and food insecurity just so Europe can fuel its cars.”

The pressure on local communities, regional and national governments in the 11 African nations investigated in the report’s research could lead to internal conflicts and potentially spread across borders as arable land, forests and natural vegetation are cleared for biofuel production.

Internal African unrest building over land rights

According to a controversial leaked World Bank report on land grabs – which it has so far refused to release publicly – local communities are being bypassed in consultations between land-acquiring companies and African governments, a situation which has already led to conflicts over land rights. The report, cited by FoE, claims that there have been protests in Tanzania, Madagascar and Ghana following land grabs by foreign companies.

Food shortages could lead to rioting, experts fear

“The expansion of biofuels on our continent is transforming forests and natural vegetation into fuel crops, taking away food-growing farmland from communities, and creating conflicts with local people over land ownership,” said Mariann Bassey, food and agriculture coordinator for Environmental Rights Action/FoE Nigeria.

“The aim of the investments taking place at the moment is to satisfy the food or agrofuel needs of foreign governments; some Gulf States, Asian countries and also EU-countries, and in the case of private companies, the hope for lucrative gains by speculating with land or trading agricultural goods,” Alexa Emundts from MISEREOR, a German development organization affiliated with the International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity Alliance, told Deutsche Welle.

“Most of the investments are done by a broad range of private companies, but there are also joint ventures with governments or purely government-lead investments from a number of Gulf States, China, India and others.”

The large scale investments in African land carry “a high risk for the local population’s food security,” Edmundts added…

…Food shortages and conflicts a possible consequence

With increasing demand for biofuel production reducing areas of arable land around the world, experts fear that the ultimate impact on food security will be global rather than local. Food shortages bring their own threat of instability and unrest. Resources and commodities used in food production will become increasingly sought after, and regions providing these will become more important and protected.

“When the food prices spiked in 2008-2009, we saw serious riots and the governments of Haiti and Madagascar fell,” said FoE’s Adrian Bebb. “Over the coming years we will see an increase in competition for land and natural resources, especially to meet the demand for biofuels … Biofuels also need a lot of water and this could be a sticking point between nations.”…

See the Report:
Africa Up For Grabs click here

Bankers, Bookies, and Gamblers

September 8th, 2010 by David Korten

As they say, to get the right answer you have to ask the right question. I’m stunned by how often news reports on Wall Street ask the wrong question, as do our politicians. The August 26, 2010, New York Times front page story “Despite Reform, Banks Have Room for Risky Deals” is a case in point.

The article centers on the Volcker Rule provision of the new financial regulation legislation that “sought to prevent federally insured banks from making speculative bets using their own money.” The legislation seems to presume that it is OK for banks to serve as bookies who set the odds and hold bets for gamblers (euphemistically referred to in the article as investors) so long as the banks don’t put their own money in play.

The main point of the article is that the big Wall Street banks have difficulty making this distinction, because when they accept a bet for which there is no counterparty, they are actually making the counter bet themselves, i.e., assuming the risk by betting against the client. It becomes more than a little awkward when they are loaning the gambler the money used to place the bet in the first place-thus in effect betting against themselves.

Then add in the fact that these same banks get cheap credit from the Federal Reserve, their depositors are federally insured, and the federal government feels compelled to step in and bail them out when their bets go badly wrong. The result is an impossible web of conflicting interests that Wall Street bankers are highly skilled at turning to their personal advantage.

The implicit question addressed in the article is, “Should banks be allowed to gamble with their own money?” This question has been a subject of extensive debate in Washington and in the press. The question we should be asking is, “What is the proper role and social function of a bank?”

When I studied economics years ago, I recall we were taught that banks serve as financial intermediaries. They take deposits from people in their communities, which they in turn loan to local businesses to invest in productive activities that respond to community needs. The bank absorbs a certain risk in the process, for which it is rewarded with a modest profit.

It seems that as a society we have lost sight of the crucial difference between productive investment and gambling, between the banker and the bookie, and between the insurer and the speculator.

Productive investment in a farm, a factory, a restaurant, a retail store, a cleaning service, education, physical infrastructure, and much more increases the real wealth of the society. The proper function of the banker is to convert savings into productive investment. The role of the bookie is to calculate the odds and hold the bets of people who are gambling on the outcome of a race in which they have no other skin in the game. Gambling on which horse is going to win the Kentucky Derby produces no new value for society.

Wall Street defenders commonly argue that Wall Street speculation stabilizes markets and protects real producers and real consumers from disruptive price swings. Beyond the mounting evidence that Wall Street speculation often creates and accentuates price volatility, this represents a failure to distinguish between the function of the insurer, who serves a vitally important social function by pooling risks to folks who have real skin in the game, and that of the speculator who has no other skin in the game beyond the bet placed with the bookie. It is entirely proper for me to take out fire insurance on my home. It is something else entirely when a stranger places a bet that my house will be destroyed by fire in the coming month.

Conventional banking and insurance are beneficial, indeed essential, social functions and they merit the support of public policy. These functions, however, are of little interest to Wall Street bankers who find gambling, bookmaking, usury, financial fraud, extortion, and the inflation of financial bubbles to be more profitable lines of business. With the benefit of massive public bailout funds, Wall Street is back to business as usual. Productive Main Street businesses continue to be starved of credit, however, because Wall Street is not in the business of funding productive investment.

Whether Wall Street banks have a right to engage in purely predatory activities may be subject to debate. Surely, however, reasonable people can agree that such activities should not enjoy the support of public subsidies and guarantees.

Furthermore, we should be able to agree that conventional banking and insurance functions are essential to the health and function of the society and that we must take steps to create and strengthen specialized institutions designed and managed to perform these functions in response to the real needs of healthy Main Street, real-wealth economies.

To get the right answer, i.e., that the proper function of a bank is to channel savings into real investment, we must start with the right question.


The arguments presented here are developed in greater detail in Agenda for a New Economy available from the YES! Magazine web store.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License

David Korten is co-founder and board chair of  YES! Magazine, co-chair of the New Economy Working Group, president of the People-Centered Development Forum, and a founding board member of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE). His books include Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth, The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community, and the international best seller When Corporations Rule the World.

Carla del Ponte, the former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, has recently been confronted with charges of intimidation of witnesses, which has led to the tribunal’s opening an investigation into the matter. This was made public by the British newspaper “The Guardian” in an article dated August 18th 2010.[1] According to this article, the court will nominate an external expert to examine the accusations and decide within six months whether a lawsuit is justified. Del Ponte’s former close associates, Daniel Saxon and Hildegard Ürtz-Retzlaff, are affected by the accusation as well. The charges were brought forward by the Serbian politician Vojislav Seselj, who himself is a Hague prisoner. The alleged victims of intimidation are several witnesses of the prosecution in his trial.

Seselj voluntarily surrendered to The Hague in 2003, this in spite of the fact that he does not recognise the court, arguing that it has never been legitimised by the UN general assembly, which in fact should be mandatory according to the UN Charter. The trial against the politician, who once presented himself as the nationalist alternative to the more Yugoslav-oriented former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, finally started at the end of 2006 and is still going on today, with several interruptions and so far with no relevant results.[2]

The fact that the ad hoc tribunal of The Hague deems it necessary to take this case into consideration in one way or another is in itself remarkable. After all, the tribunal’s manner of conduct cannot be called impartial: the methods The Hague employs to reach their desired convictions range from the denial of the right to self defence, to silencing the microphone when the accused speaks out on facts that are embarrassing to the prosecution or, as already mentioned, the intimidation of witnesses. Such occurrences happened often enough during the Milosevic trial[3], as when the former head of the Serbian secret service, Radomir Markovic, testified as a witness of the prosecution that he had been pressured in Belgrade to wrongly accuse Milosevic of having ordered war crimes.[4] For this he was offered a new identity abroad, but after these revelations, Markovic was sent back to Serbia where he is still serving a prison sentence.

Another way to make the witnesses tell the most fantastic stories are the so-called “plead guilty” lawsuits: someone who is accused of having committed war crimes by himself and who has testified already can be convicted in a summary procedure without the prosecution having to investigate and to prove the confession. The only important thing is that the right persons are being charged. The most well known example is the case of the Bosnian Croat Drazen Erdemovic, who pleaded guilty in 1996 to having served in the army of the Bosnian Serbs and having participated at the so-called “Srebrenica massacre” in July 1995. In 2000 Erdemovic was set free and was offered a new identity. Since then he has served the prosecution as a protected witness in several trials. Even the charge of having committed “genocide” in Srebrenica against the former Bosnian Serbian president Radovan Karadzic and his army chief General Ratko Mladic is based on Mr. Erdemovic’s confessions. The German-speaking journalist Germinal Civikov has written a book that deals with all the contradictory statements Erdemovic has given, and all the obvious lies he is telling.[5]

The German-language online magazine “Schattenblick” has published an article on the tribunal’s dealings with the Bosnian Serb officer Momir Nikolic, who was pressured to incriminate himself and others with regard to alleged crimes that are supposed to have taken place in Srebrenica. In exchange for this the prosecution offered to take back the charge of “genocide” against the officer and “only” blame him for having committed “crimes against humanity”. But they did not succeed:

“Nikolic, who was sentenced to 27 years, said in another case against one of his officer colleagues that he had been lying throughout. His lies were exposed by the American attorney Micheal Karnavas. He testified not to have ordered the alleged mass execution he had been blamed for and that he was not even at the place where the crime is supposed to have taken place. The attorney of the other accused officer demonstrated how Nikolic had confirmed that he had to “give something” to the prosecuting counsel, something he “did not have” for reducing his prison punishment to 20 years. Thus the model-witness for the “Srebrenica massacre” was “burned” judicially as well as politically.”[6]

Seselj had already mentioned the use of “false witnesses” in his testimony at the Milosevic trial in September 2005. Momir Nikolic also plays a role in his testimony, in the context of the trial against another officer, Miroslav Deronjic:

“I was an eyewitness in the prison of The Hague Tribunal as to how Miroslav Deronjic was broken down by The Hague Tribunal, how they blackmailed him and the process of breaking him down. I was on good terms with him to begin with. He told me how he was arrested, how he was beaten, how they put him in a barrel of water and so on and so forth. He confided in me, and they — it took months to break him down. And they didn’t succeed in breaking him down until Momir Nikolic, in his testimony before the Prosecution, said that Deronjic was present at a conversation where an execution was agreed. Well, then Deronjic broke down completely and agreed to testify on any subject whatsoever and against anybody whatsoever. He agreed to falsely testify against Karadzic.”[7]

Another important key witness of the prosecution who probably had been pressured was the former President of the Krajina Serbs, Milan Babic. He testified against Milosevic, blaming him of being responsible for war crimes. Seselj doubted his credibility as a witness:

“For example, Milan Babic, during his testimony mentioned my name on several occasions in a completely false context. And I’m conscious of it being a false context.”[8]

Babic will not be able to be questioned any more: he died in his cell in The Hague in March 2006, officially because of suicide, one week prior to Milosevic’s death under suspicious circumstances.

This and other examples are the subject of a new book written by a Swiss researcher with Serbian roots, Alexander Dorin [9], who, as Civikov, is researching facts, legends and the methods of justice in The Hague concerning the happenings in Srebrenica. But Ms Del Ponte is also facing dissatisfaction from unexpected circles, the ones she is claiming to fight for: the organisation “Mothers of Srebrenica”, founded by Bosnian Muslim women whose sons died in the war, blame Del Ponte for having destroyed their personal belongings that were supposed to help determine the causes of their sons’ deaths:

“Members of the Women of Srebrenica NGO are gathering signatures to file a lawsuit against former Hague prosecutor Carla Del Ponte. [...]Our memories have been murdered as well and Carla Del Ponte must be held responsible,” the organization said. Current Chief Hague Prosecutor Serge Brammertz confirmed in May of last year that some 1,000 pieces of evidence recovered from mass graves in and around Srebrenica were destroyed. Brammertz said this was regular procedure, implemented as the evidence could not be archived.”[10]

The justification of the destruction of “IDs, photographs and pieces of clothing” (B92) with the lack of sufficient storage space to archive them appears strange indeed, if one considers that we are talking about an incident that politicians and the mainstream media claim to be the “worst massacre in Europe since World War Two”. And in the ongoing trial against Radovan Karadzic, the politicians planned conviction for his alleged responsibility for “genocide” is supposed be justified with the Srebrenica case. The question should be allowed (without any intention to downplay the suffering of the Mothers of Srebrenica) if the destroyed documents maybe did not fully sustain the official version of the happenings in Srebrenica. After all, there was extensive fighting in the region, especially when soldiers of the Bosnian Muslim army were trying to break through the Serbian lines and reach the Muslim-controlled town of Tuzla. Dorin speaks of 2000 soldiers who died during the fighting and are now being counted as “massacre victims”.[11] Or, if soldiers were actually murdered, this alone is not conclusive evidence for a crime that was ordered from above, as the prosecutors of the tribunal pretend to know.

In any case, no written or otherwise recorded order from the hand of President Karadzic or his chief of army, Mladic, pertaining to the killing of soldiers or civilians has so far been found. But it is a fact that there was at the time a great amount of hatred on both sides in that region: the Muslim warlord Naser Oric, whose specialty was the production of videotapes of “burning houses, dead bodies, severed heads, and people fleeing”[12], was spreading terror among the Serbian villages around Srebrenica, which were officially declared a UN “safe haven” before the Serb invasion.

David Owen, the British politician who was the former negotiator from the European community for Yugoslavia, testified in at the Milosevic trial and spoke of a phone call he received in April 1993 from the former Serbian president, who was then already worried about the situation in the region:

“I rarely heard Milosevic so exasperated and also so worried. He feared that if the Bosnian Serb troops entered Srebrenica, there would be a bloodbath because of the tremendous bad blood that existed between the two armies.”[13]

Many other writers are nowadays contributing to the debunking of the official version of what happened in Srebrenica. Apart from the authors already quoted in this article, one should mention Philip Corwin [14], who was the highest UN-representative in Bosnia during the war (1992 – 1995), the journalist George Szamuely [15], and the well known writer Prof. Edward S. Herman [16], among many others.

The media’s prejudgment of Serbia, with the use of the term “genocide” when referring to Srebrenica as its climax, has enabled the tribunal to act in ways that serve neither the finding of truth nor the reconciliation between the Yugoslav peoples. The construction of “evidence” with the use of dishonest methods is intended only to justify in retrospect the western politics towards the Serbs as an “inevitable reaction” to their “savage and ruthless” behaviour.

So The Hague is using a strategy of creating “evidence” that puts the blame solely on the Serbian policymakers who were in power during the war, holding them personally responsible for the planning and execution of all the atrocities that took place in the civil war. A conflict that actually was fuelled from the outside is being presented to the western public as a “joint criminal enterprise” for the creation of an ethnically cleansed “Greater Serbia”.

It can be assumed that the tribunal will find a way to whitewash itself from the accusations. But the fact that the prosecutors will for the first time be forced to explain some of their strange conduct before a broader public restores an inkling of hope that the mainstream version of what happened with Yugoslavia will not be the one that people will learn in the future.

Notes

[1] http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2010/aug/18/carla-del-ponte-prosecution.

[2] See Hannes Hofbauer in “Neues Deutschland”, 26 10 2009:
http://www.neues-deutschland.de/artikel/158031.kriegsgraeuel-vor-umstrittenem-gericht.html.

[3] See for example the Dutch documentary “De zaak Milosevic”:
http://tv.globalresearch.ca/2010/03/milosevic-trial-corruption-international-justice-110.

[4] See trial transcript from 26 07 2002: http://www.milosevic-trial.org/trial/2002-07-26.htm.

[5] Civikov, Germinal: “Serbrenica. Der Kronzeuge”, Wien 2009.

[6] Translated from German: http://www.schattenblick.de/infopool/geist/meinung/gmeid-96.html.

[7] See trial transcript, 16 September 2005, page 44264: http://www.milosevic-trial.org/trial/2005-09-16.htm.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Dorin, Alexander: “Srebrenica. Die Geschichte eines salonfähigen Rassismus”, Berlin 2010.

[10] B92, 23 August 2010:
http://www.b92.net/eng/news/region-article.php?yyyy=2010&mm=08&dd=23&nav_id=69240.

[11] See interview with Alexander Dorin in “junge Welt”, 10 July 2010: http://www.jungewelt.de/2010/07-10/051.php.

[12] See: http://original.antiwar.com/malic/2006/07/05/crime-and-punishment.

[13] See trial transcript, November 3th 2003, page 28411:
\http://www.milosevic-trial.org/trial/2003-11-03.htm.

[14] See: Interview with Corwin in “junge Welt”, 31 7 2008:
https://www.jungewelt.de/loginFailed.php?ref=/2008/07-31/059.php.

[15] http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=5847.

[16] http://www.zcommunications.org/the-politics-of-the-srebrenica-massacre-by-edward-herman.

Edited Transcript of a Public lecture by professor Marc Herold, Massachussetts Institute of Technology M.I.T., Cambridge, Mass. August 2010

 

Kabul, August 1996 before the Taliban entered. An old man in his neighborhood that was destroyed by years of inter-factional fighting, following the withdrawal of the Soviets in 1989. Photo by photo-journalist anthropologist, Teun Voeten (from http://www.teunvoeten.com/ )

I shall discuss ten points:

·       The Taliban entering Kabul on September 27, 1996. Who were they?

·       Arrival of” the guest” (Osama bin Laden) in May 1996 and Al Qaeda’s agenda (very different from that of the Taliban);

·       9/11 and the implementing of the neo-conservatives’ Project for a New American Century (PNAC);

·       US aerial attacks during Oct-Nov Dec. 2001 (release of my first Dossier on Dec. 10, 2001 documenting the slaughter civilians, families, etc…) beginning of armed opposition to the invader;

·       Crucial battles in the northern plains of Afghanistan during Oct-Nov 2001 and what each side learned. Mullah Omar retreats on a motorcycle into the mountains north of Kandahar on Dec 8, 2001;

·       Begin of slow reconstitution of the Taliban, 2002-4. US anti-guerrilla operations alienate increasing numbers of common Afghans. By early 2004, I could write about the “Taliban’s Second Coming”:

·       Key point: the way the Americans (and later NATO) fought the Afghan resistance built a national liberation movement. People who fight a foreign occupation are a resistance, not terrorists. Provide lots of concrete examples of this;

·       Analysis of what I mean by the three words in the Afghan “national liberation movement.” Differences exist with other national liberation movements as in Algeria and Vietnam;

·       The primary struggle now is to oust the foreign occupiers;

·       End with three stark photos depicting maiming, abduction and fear.

Let me, in the words of Richard Nixon, “be perfectly clear” about some matters which I do not wish to speak about. I am not defending the Taliban and/or the Afghan resistance, but keep in mind that as far as retrograde social practices, the Taliban hold no monopoly on that in Afghanistan. [1] Secondly, much of Western denigration of the Taliban is inspired, sadly, by that old practice going back to the British Empire’s thieves of feminist language, i.e. “feminism as imperialism.”[2] Lastly, pre-modern forms of social failure are much more naked or visible than complex subtle modern forms. It is easy to critique the burka, but less so the bikini.[3] Or, civilians get killed in suicide bombings as they do in even deadlier U.S/NATO “precision” air strikes.[4]

The great African revolutionary leader Amilcar Cabral connected culture to national resistance,

Whenever Goebbels, the brain behind Nazi propaganda, heard anyone speak of culture, he pulled out his pistol. That goes to show that the Nazis who were and are the most tragic expression of imperialism and its thirst for domination even if they were, all of them sick like Hitler, had a clear idea of the value of culture as a factor in the resistance to foreign domination.[5]

The Taliban marched into Kabul after a ten month siege on September 27, 1996.[6]  The Taliban received strong Pakistani ISI support.

The reach of the Pashtun Taliban was never national with areas in the north (Tajik, Uzbek), center (Hazaras) and the west resisting. During October 1996-October 2001, bloody fighting continued across northern and central Afghanistan. The divides were largely along ethnic fault lines. The following map indicates the situation in September 2001:

 

Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bb/US_Army_ethnolinguistic_map_of_Afghanistan_–_circa_2001-09.jpg

The brunt of the Taliban’s conservative, patriarchal social policies was felt in Afghanistan’s more westernized urban areas – a small part of the country. In most of the rural regions, life went on as it had for decades, nay centuries, based upon traditional village structures and practices.

Former mujahideen, disillusioned with the chaos that had followed their victory in1989, became the nucleus of a movement that grouped around Mullah Mohammad Omar, a former minor mujahid from Kandahar province.[7] The group, many of whom were madrasa (Islamic school) students, called themselves Taliban, meaning “students”. Others who became core members of the Taliban were commanders in other predominantly Pashtun parties, and former Khalq PDPA members. Their stated aims were to restore stability and enforce their strict interpretation of Islamic law. But, the original Taliban came mostly from religious schools and refugee camps in the Pakistani border regions and were not former members of the mujahideen who had fought the Soviets (1980-89).

The Taliban inherited a devastated country, torn apart during six years of warlord in-fighting. Few state structures or institutions existed. Moreover, the background of the Taliban hardly prepared them for national governance. Close to a half of Kabul looked like this, destroyed by the factions once united in their fight against the Soviets:

 


 

A woman and her son walk along Kabul’s main avenue. Once a bustling thoroughfare lined with

merchants, the avenue was destroyed by four years of fighting. 1996 © Didier Lefevre (Source: http://www.lensculture.com/webloglc/mt_files/archives/2004/12/ )
 

During 1994-96, no relations existed between the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden. But a new element had been introduced in 1996: bin Laden arrived in Jalalabad, Afghanistan on May 18, 1996 after being expelled from the Sudan which bowed to U.S. pressure. Initially, bin Laden stayed in an area not controlled by the Taliban, who were fighting for control of the country. But by the end of September 1996, the Taliban conquered the capital of Kabul and gained control over much of the country. Bin Laden then became the guest of the Taliban. The Taliban, bin Laden, and their mutual opportunistic ally, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, then called for a jihad against Ahmed Shah Massoud, who retained control over a small mountainous area along Afghanistan’s northern border.

Osama bin Laden arrived in Jalalabad with 180 Arab followers on a chartered Ariana Boeing 727 cargo jet from the Sudan in May 1996. The pilot of Ariana, the Afghan national carrier, remembered flying to the Sudan and back in 1996.1 Sayed Hashimi said his crew waited for five days in Khartoum for their ‘cargo.’ They realized they had transported the bodyguards and the families of bin Laden’s inner circle to Jalalabad when at midnight at Jalalabad airport, all sorts of important people came to greet the ‘cargo’ of 90 persons.3 Bin Laden and his followers were welcomed by Haji Abdul Qadir and his lieutenant, Engineer Mahmood, the man who had extended the invitation to bin Laden. Bin Laden took up residence in Jalalabad with Mahmood. Tora Bora had been Mahmood’s headquarters during the 1980s anti-Soviet war.[8]

As bin Laden established a new safe base and political ties, he spoke about attacks on Western military targets in the Arabian Peninsula. Such attacks took place on U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998. 9/11 was a clear consequence of bin Laden’s original fatwa of August 1996 about the “Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places”. In turn, 9/11 provided the Bush regime with the perfect pretext to launch the neo-conservatives’ plan to establish unilateral U.S hegemony – or what was called at the time in the academic literature, America’s unipolar moment – in the twenty-first century. I have written extensively on that and why the U.S. decided to bomb Afghanistan in the fall of 2001.[9] 9/11 was the wished-for Pearl Harbor (trigger event) of the PNAC document.

The launching of the neoconservatives’ PNAC plan (or grand design) meant that no compromise with the Taliban would be accepted. Once the U.S bombing had begun, Mullah Omar made a couple serious attempts at compromise. All were immediately rejected by the Bush gang. Details may be found in my manuscript, Blown Away.

Aerial attacks such as the one in October 2001 by an AC-130 upon entire Afghan villages contributed to a growing sense amongst common Afghans that the foreigner was terrorizing the nation.[10] By the way, this was nine years before WikiLeaks in 2010 released the video, “Collateral Murder” of the U.S Apache helicopter assault upon innocent Iraqis.

During October – December 2001, some 3,000 innocent Afghan civilians – about the same number as died on 9/11 – were killed upon impact by U.S bombs (to which many others need be added – injured who later died, refugees in camps who froze to death or starved, etc.). The Taliban quickly lost territory faced by an unreachable onslaught of U.S air power, purchased mercenaries/thugs of the Northern Alliance, and some 400 U.S Special Forces and CIA operatives on the ground pinpointing targets with lasers. The technological asymmetry between the U.S aggressors and the Taliban defenders was stark and militarily decisive in the short-run: Toyota pickup trucks or Soviet-era tanks (photo below) stood no chance against F-16s, F-18s, B-52s, B1-Bs, F-15s and laser/GPS positioning technologies.

 

Source: http://www.registan.net/index.php/2009/09/01/the-case-for-afghanistan-recent-historical-considerations/

The following chart plots the civilian victims in each tragedy. As the body count of the World Trade Center [WTC] was revised downward from the initial high of 6,700 to the 2,819 in 2002, that in Afghanistan rose from 20-37 on October 8th to 3,215. The twin lines of ignominy cross around January 15, 2002. But in truth, the Afghan civilian casualties far exceeded the WTC deaths already during the second week of the U.S. airstrikes in real terms – experienced pain parity – that is in terms of the collective pain equivalent felt by a society. Why? The U.S. population was 13 times larger than the Afghan one [2001] and hence to make Afghan casualties relevant in U.S. terms we need to multiply Afghan numbers by thirteen. A calculation of the twin tragedies then reveals 2,819 dead at the WTC and an equivalent pain parity of 41,795 dead Afghan civilians.

The Twin Tragedies: Cumulative Civilian Deaths

Arundhati Roy added an important point:

The bombing of Afghanistan is not revenge for New York and Washington. It is yet another act of terror against the people of the world. Each innocent person that is killed must be added to, not set off against, the grisly toll of civilians who died in New York and Washington.[11]  

Conventional-style ground battles raged across the northern plains of Afghanistan during October-November 2001 pitting Taliban ground forces supplemented with Pakistani volunteers against the Northern Alliance backed up by U.S. Special Forces and CIA operatives with formidable air firepower. The Taliban lost 3-4,000 troops. Each side believed it had learned a lesson. The Taliban realized that they could no more marshal conventional ground forces to face the awesome firepower of the United States, a different enemy than the Soviets fifteen years earlier. They became true believers in asymmetric warfare, later superbly perfected with the use of IEDs and suicide bombers. For its part, the United States’ penchant to rely upon technological fixes/solutions was reinforced, leading to the certainty that the Taliban would soon be routed by U.S firepower. One might say the U.S was blinded by its success, thereby laying the foundation for its subsequent slow defeat.

Mullah Omar and the Taliban leadership “did the right tactical thing” to abandon Kandahar on December 8, 2001. Omar allegedly rode off into the Afghan dust on the back of a motorcycle headed into the mountains of Helmand evading hundreds of U.S troops searching for him.[12] For his part, bin Laden hiked across the Tora Bora or Spin Ghar Mountains southeast of Jalalabad into the Pakistan border area and then disappeared (I personally believe he is up in the Pakistan-Chinese mountainous Pamir border region). Mullah Omar’s comeback journey is nothing but extraordinary: from fleeing sitting on the back of a motorcycle in December 2001 to leading a movement which today exerts significant control in 80% of Afghanistan.

What had been the Taliban government quickly disintegrated. Slowly three groups reconstituted themselves – one led by the veteran anti-Soviet fighter and brilliant tactician, former Minister of Border Affairs in the Taliban government, Jalaluddin Haqqani, and the other a loose grouping based in Quetta, Pakistan what later would be called the Quetta Shura with Mullah Omar as leader. A third group slowly re-aligned itself with the Taliban, that of the particularly oppressive fundamentalist Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (the Hizb-i-Islami or the HIA). These three groups remain independent today, belying the silly notion of a unified resistance.

I want to now make and document a critical point: the way the U.S carried out its occupation of Afghanistan and its campaign against the Taliban, transformed what was a low-intensity guerrilla campaign as of 1/2002 into a full-fledged war of national liberation by 2006. For now almost nine years, I have been documenting how the U.S has waged its Afghan war and the consequences for average Afghans. This transformation from a low-intensity conflict during 2002-4 took place because of certain deeply felt, ingrained, Afghan cultural beliefs of independence, pride, and responsibility (by the way, beliefs I cherish too).  For example, to take revenge for ill done to a family member is expected. Estimates suggest that for every Afghan killed by the foreign occupiers, 3-5 members of the resistance are created.

But other factors played as well: (1) violation of the sanctity of Afghan homes by marauding U.S ground forces; (2) widely publicized desecration of the Koran; (3) mistreatment of Afghan female family members by occupation forces; (4) the abducting and/or beating of Afghan family members; (5) the old U.S. practice going back to Indochina of secretive night-time assassination raids carried out by U.S special operations forces[13]; and (6) systematically labeling civilians killed by US/NATO occupation forces as “insurgents” or Taliban

In some small Afghan village in 2004, U.S occupation forces break into another Afghan home  (photo from  http://images.wn.com/i/4a/c310f3e1aeeb70.jpg )

The heavy-handed U.S. search-and-destroy forays over time swelled the ranks of supporters, as the battle for Afghan hearts and minds tipped in favor of the Taliban. U.S. aerial ‘decapitation raids’ frequently devastate small villages and families. In January 2004, two U.S. raids killed 15 children and not a single Taliban was either captured or killed. The reality of living daily in fear is captured in the words of a young girl in Loi Karez, Zabul:

Whenever these tall people with blue eyes come to our village, we become very scared,” said eight-year-old Saira Bibi as she fetched water from a well in Loi Karez. “They take away people and ask us about the Taliban. I haven’t seen the Taliban. I don’t know who these Taliban are.

A similar perspective is offered in Qalat, Zabul province, in January 2004:

… For many people a much more visible aspect of American intervention is the steady stream of civilian casualties. And in Qalat, there is hostility to patrols by American Special Forces. From a Humvee a man gets out wearing a Stetson and sheriff’s badge, and proceeds to have a loud argument with a colleague carrying a sawn-off shotgun. As they move away, the locals stare after them. “We are so unhappy when we see them,” says Rahmatullah, a bearded 29-year-old shopkeeper watching from across the road. “When the Russians came here we fought to save our liberty and independence. So also Americans came… and so we will be fighting them.

During a search of the village of Atel Mohammed in Kandahar by U.S. Special Forces (and their allies of the Afghan Militia Forces) in the summer of 2003,

Scared Afghans in the southern province of Kandahar hid holy Quran and other religious items before United States troops searched their village, afraid the Americans would kill them for being Muslims.

U.S occupation forces of the 82nd Airborne raided homes in the village of Salar in Ghazni  province, December 2007 (photo by Tyler Hicks)

Afghan woman waits as U.S. Marines attached to the 2nd Battalion 2nd Marines from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, rest during a search of her residence during an operation

I am proud to have helped publicize the following rare photo. A collection of 1,000 photos of Afghanistan under the U.S occupation boot can be seen on my website under “Scenes of Afghanistan” at http://pubpages.unh.edu/~mwherold)

 

Photo 128. Member of 82nd Airborne, Stacey White, body searches Afghan women in a village in the Baghran valley, Helmand province, as U.S. forces moved northward village by village, house by house carrying out searches, confiscating items, going through houses and personal belongings, February 24, 2003  [A.P. photo, Aaron Favila].

A female American soldier frisks Afghan women at a village during Operation Deliberate Strike, some 40 miles north of Kandahar. The mission involves hundreds of U.S. troops on a sweep through southern Afghanistan to counter operations by the resurgent Taliban and allied groups (Monday, May 19, 2003)  Source: Kamal Kishore (Reuters)

The following shots by German photo journalist Perry Kretz were published in the German weekly, Der Stern:

 


 

These photos by German war photographer, Perry Kretz, were taken in the fall of 2004 during a raid by U.S. occupation forces in Paktika Province. The first shows a raid in-progress by the Wolfhound unit of the 3rd Platoon, 25th Infantry Division. The second depicts the same unit photographing a homeowner, Amir Mohammad, another example of the sexual humiliation perpetrated by the U.S. occupation forces upon Afghan villagers.

A French journalist visiting Kandahar in December 2003 wrote:

One quiet afternoon in Kandahar, a convoy of U.S. military vehicles passed by. In the pharmacy where I was making a purchase, men who had been chatting animatedly stopped and watched the personnel carriers drive slowly by carrying young American soldiers chewing gum and pointing their rifles defensively at the locals. After the last armored vehicle passed, one of the Afghans spat in their tire tracks, and mumbled, “Inshallah, they will leave soon.

An apocryphal story tells of a Taliban leader in the mountains where Afghanistan meets Pakistan, looking at his wrist and saying to a Western visitor: “You have the watches, but we have the time.”[14] That may be the Taliban’s most powerful weapon against the Americans.

By 2004, the Taliban were showing signs of a second coming as I wrote about in February 2004:

“The Taliban’s Second Coming”

The specter of Vietnam began taking shape in 2002 with U.S. raids upon compounds, villages, and neighborhoods of cities. The forced entries, frisking and abuse of persons (including women and children), the ransacking of homes, and the abductions merely served to heighten Afghan animosity towards the foreign occupier. John Pilger saw evidence of new Vietnams in: U.S. servicemen saying that once they leave their secured base, they are in a combat zone; renewed “search and destroy” missions carried out in villages across Afghanistan; and in the targeting of civilians (for arrest or execution). Daniel Bergner who accompanied a U.S. force into the countryside south of Kandahar, reports the enemy is everywhere and nowhere, and Liz Sly wrote about the same thing in eastern Afghanistan. Nick Meo provided a superb first-hand account of the sheer unknown, the dangers and frustrations experienced by young American soldiers on a nine-month tour of duty in Afghanistan. Others noted the resurgence of the Taliban and its allies – Al Qaeda and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb-i-Islami group – by mid-2003. In June 2003, the Taliban publicly named a new 10-man leadership council, including such veterans as former Defense Minister Mullah Obaidullah, Minister and Commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, and Commanders Mullah Dadullah Kakar and Mullah Akhtar Usmani. Mullah Usmani led Taliban forces in the south in late 2001 and was named in 2001 as successor to Mullah Omar should he perish. Dadullah harks from Uruzgan and Usmani from Helmand. (Source:  Marc W. Herold, “The Taliban’s Second Coming, Cursor.org (February 29, 2004) at  http://cursor.org/stories/secondcoming.html)

Both Usmani and Dadullah were later killed in U.S air strikes. The rest is history: soaring Afghan civilian, escalating violence, local military and US/NATO occupation forces deaths.

The following systems’ chart highlights the essential feedback elements at work in the America’s Afghan war:

The essential link is that America’s Afghan war causes civilian casualties which, in turn, fuel the Afghan resistance which, in turn, causes more U.S casualties. No link exists between Afghan and U.S civil societies, i.e. rising civilian casualties in America’s foreign wars have never caused the U.S general public to become anti-war.[15] Thirdly, McChrystal’s alleged effort to reduce Afghan civilian casualties (-) was a trade-off for rising U.S military casualties (++) as I demonstrated a year ago.[16] The graph makes an essential point: the United States can pursue its war but the result will be either soaring Afghan civilian casualties or escalating U.S. military deaths.

A recent video of how the U.S/NATO military actions contribute to the building of a movement of national liberation to oust the foreign occupiers was released by the Brave New American Foundation which confirms what NATO forces repeatedly denied: U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan killed dozens of people in the Sangin district of Helmand Province on July 23, 2010.[17] Mohamed Ahmadzai, a resident of Sangin where this U.S attack took place, explained clearly what happened. He told independent reporters how he was forced to bury two daughters, his sister and wife after a rocket fired by coalition forces hit a soft target: a house full of woman and children who had fled to the nearby village of Regai to avoid a firefight between the Taliban and occupation forces. His story described a reality that cannot be found in the mainstream U.S media or in a UNAMA report.

“We gather(ed) all of the body parts, some were missing legs or heads, we placed them in a bag and buried them,” Ahmadzai said. “We were able to identify them through the clothes they were wearing and by their shoes. The body parts we couldn’t identify we put into a piece of cloth and then buried them. Those chunks of flesh, blood and bone were from so many people not just one, but we couldn’t identify them so we put those body parts into an individual grave and buried them as though they belonged to one person…”

On July 1, 2002, I reported on the U.S aerial attack less than one hundred miles away from Regai upon a wedding party in Kakarak, Uruzgan province in which 63 civilians were massacred.[18] Nothing changes. But where were The Nation magazine, the Brave New Foundation, the Tom Engelhardts, etc. nine years ago when I was documenting at Cursor.org  the human carnage resulting from U.S military actions in Afghanistan?[19] Answer: all cozily housed inside the humanitarian imperialist tent alongside the likes of Laura Bush, Samantha Power, and Michael Ignatieff. Rare voices of dissent in America could only be read in Z Magazine, Counterpunch, Antiwar.com, etc. It’s easy to be anti-war today when humanitarian imperialism has visibly failed in Afghanistan.

As I wrote two years ago,

The perceived poison of a foreign occupation, the rampant corruption, the all-too-frequent desecration of Islam by the occupiers, the sheer folly of the US/NATO seeking to extend the writ of a central government to the Pashtun tribal regions , the spiraling count of civilian deaths has shifted the Afghan struggle towards a war of national liberation.  Anatol Lieven of King’s College (London) put it aptly. Afghanistan is ‘Becoming a sort of surreal hunting estate, in which the U.S. and NATO breed the very “terrorists” they then track down’.[20]

I realize that my use of the phrase “national liberation movement” may not sit well with some people.[21] How can a national liberation movement exist in a largely pre-modern, rural society? Isn’t a national liberation movement or front part of the anti-colonial struggle? The West had no qualms labeling Afghan resistance to Soviet occupation as a “war of national liberation.”[22] For example, the legal scholar W. Michael Reisman cited the 1949 Geneva Conventions which argued that peoples engaged in resisting the suppression of their right of self-determination are fighting what has come to be known as a “war of national liberation.”[23] The phrase illustrates the contest over assigned meaning. America’s duplicity is mind-boggling: when common Afghans fight the evil Soviet Union, it is a war of national liberation; when a dozen years later common Afghans fight the American invader, they are terrorists.

  

Let me briefly discuss the three terms – national, liberation and movement. The current Afghan resistance movement comprises various factions: the Quetta Shura led by Mullah Omar; the Haqqani group based in eastern Afghanistan, the Hekmatyar group, as well as some smaller organizations based in the Pakistani border regions. The dominant goal of this gradually constructed “coalition” comprised mostly of Pashtuns became the ouster of U.S and NATO occupation forces from the territory of Afghanistan. In that sense, this is a national movement; national does neither necessarily imply everyone is on board nor that the result will be a socialist society.[24] American neo-colonialists effectively sought to use ethnicity to divide-and-rule in Southeast Asia; the British colonizers did the same in British West Africa.[25] The national liberation of Angola from Portuguese rule was deeply divided along ethnic lines. The national liberation movement (the FLN) in Algeria, however, was a unified oppositional force. In Afghanistan, the U.S. employed the surrogates of the Northern Alliance. The Afghan resistance was not built through hard organizing work of the Taliban and associates, but rather by the actions of the US and later NATO.

The resistance differs greatly from other national liberation movements like those in Algeria, Vietnam, Angola, or Peru (Sendero Luminoso) insofar as it lacks a national political vanguard party. In Algeria and Vietnam, the armed struggle against the occupier began with the formation of a national liberation front. In Afghanistan, on the other hand, the national liberation movement emerged de facto after the aggressions of the foreign occupiers. This reflects the particular specificity of Afghanistan wherein family-clan-tribe-ethnic group form the primary social cohesion blocks. Afghanistan never was a secular nation-state; instead a figurehead, royal sovereign reigned over the little urban island of Kabul (just as Karzai, the ‘mayor of Kabul,’ has since 2002).

We saw the fragile unity at the national level in the Taliban movement in its tenuous relationship with the Al Qaeda group. The latter had clear national and international political agendas, whereas the Taliban’s focus was upon strengthening the Islamic emirate of Afghanistan proper inspired by the Deobandi interpretation of Islam, removing un-Islamic foreign influences. As I mentioned earlier, the Taliban were even willing to hand over Osama bin Laden in early October 2001 in return for a cessation of the brutal U.S. bombing. The Haqqani hard-line faction within the Taliban maintained a greater affinity and working relationship with Al Qaeda (it also remains the cutting edge in military terms of the Afghan resistance).

What the U.S-led occupation did was to provide the glue during 2003-6 to bring together disparate groups united in a fight against the foreign occupier (and his obvious corrupt, puppet regime in Kabul), i.e. liberation from the foreign occupation. In effect, this is a replay of the anti-Soviet struggle in which a variety of mujahideen groups aligned themselves against the Soviets. And just as when the Soviets withdrew in 1989, the disparate members of the current temporary national liberation movement will disband once the US/NATO exit and pursue their own regional agendas. In other words, I use the word “liberation” here in a very constrained way: this is no implied social liberation from multiple forms of social oppression. There is no guarantee what emerges after: Islamic Sharia, a bourgeois democracy, or a socialist state. The mujahideen anti-Soviet national liberation war resulted in six years of deadly civil war. Those who wish to conflate national and social liberation (however defined) may do so at their own intellectual peril. I would caution, however, against whining about a lack of “democracy” in post-occupation Afghanistan. Samir Amin has argued that the term “democracy” – or the ‘democratic question’ (whose essence is of course the caricature of ‘multi-party elections’) has been and continues to be employed by the Triad of collective imperialism (and its academic point men/women) as a battering ram in its geopolitical struggle to open up the world to the dictates of the market.[26] But, democracy in its essence is about accountability and traditional societies whether Native American Indian or rural Afghan may have community structures of responsibility and/or accountability, admittedly sometimes imperfect (respectively constrained here by money and there by religion). We whether bourgeois democrats or Marxists, might not like this national movement but that should not cloud our analysis. As Julian Assange recently stated, “the Taliban is part of the will of Afghan people.”[27]

An optimistic vision of Afghanistan’s post-occupation future must involve a very loose federative structure with significant regional autonomy, allowing regions to implement their visions of socio-economic “development.” For example, one would hope that Afghanistan’s innovative National Solidarity Program of grassroots development would be greatly expanded.

As my dear friends from RAWA put it, first get rid of the foreign oppressors, then we’ll focus upon the remaining home-bred ones. Is that not better than continued…..maiming……abductions……and fear?

Burned victims of a U.S. “precision” bombing in the Kajaki region arrived in October 2006 at the Emergency (Italia) Surgical Hospital in Lashkar Gah, Helmand Province (source:  Maso Notarianni, “Burnt Children after a NATO Bomb Attack,” RAWA News (October 31, 2006) at http://www.rawa.org/temp/runews/2006/10/31/afghanistan-presumed-taliban.phtml ). Maso Notarianni is the editor of PeaceReporter, an online news magazine and news agency set up by the Missionary International Service News Agency and the humanitarian organisation Emergency. Emergency is an independent and neutral Italian organization founded in order to provide free, high quality medical and surgical treatment to the civilian victims of war, landmines and poverty. Its work around the world is possible thanks to the help of thousands of volunteers and supporters. Maso is married to Cecilia Strada, daughter of Gino Strada and Teresa Sarti, the founders of Emergency.

Faces of Afghanistan under U.S. bombs and occupation. The first photo above depicts a detained Afghan

in November 2007 (photo by Reuters reproduced in Spain’s  El Pais). The second, award-winning picture (2001)

taken by Seamus Murphy shows a young “Girl in Ghulam Ali,” a village in the Shomali Plains  where the

U.S. bombed heavily during November 2001. The latter photo is taken from

http://www.poyi.org/62/wua/murphy_01.php.

Notes

[1] See Michael Stittle, “Warlords are no better than Taliban, says Afghan MP,” RAWA News (November 8, 2007) at
http://www.rawa.org/temp/runews/2007/11/08/warlords-no-better-than-taliban-says-afghan-mp.phtml

[2] See for example Katherine Viner, “Feminism as Imperialism. George Bush is not the First Empire-Builder to Wage War in the Name of Women,” The Guardian (September 21, 2002) at
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/sep/21/gender.usa/print

[3] Feminist politics of clothing is discussed in Sarah Seltzer, “From Bikinis to Burqas, the Feminist Politics of Clothing,” RHRealityCheck.org (July 10, 2010) at
http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/print/10694

[4] The conclusion is inescapable. When using delivery-adjusted cost data as a proxy for accuracy, U.S./NATO “precision” bombing slaughters many more innocent Afghan civilians than does a Taliban suicide car bomber (from my “Suicide Car Bombs vs ‘Precision’ Bombs,” Frontline. India’s National Magazine 23, 19 (Sep. 23-Oct 06, 2006) at
http://www.hinduonnet.com/fline/fl2319/stories/20061006001205600.htm ). 

[5] From his “National Liberation and Culture,” Transition No. 45 (1974): 12-17

[6] See video at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/player/nol/newsid_6560000/newsid_6565400/6565495.stm?bw=nb&mp=wm&news=1&ms3=6&ms_javascript=true&bbcws=2

[7] Omar fought as a guerilla with the Harakat-i Inqilab-i Islami faction of the anti-Soviet Mujahideen under the command of Nek Mohammad. After the experience in the Soviet conflict, Mohammed Omar shifted his attention to his religious studies.  He reportedly taught at a madrasah (Islamic religious school) near the Pakistan border.

[8] Kathy Gannon, “Qadir Key Pashtun Leader for Karzai,” Associated Press (July 6, 2002)

[9] See Marc W. Herold, “Tratando de comprender los veinte años de guerra en Afganistán (1989-2009) y el ‘momento unipolar’ de Estados Unidos” ,in Enric Prat Carvajal (ed.), Las raíces históricas de los conflictos armados actuals (Valencia:  Publicacions de la Universitat de València, 2010): pp. 141-169

[10]1] Go to a 7-minute video of an attack by an AC-130U Specter gunship upon an Afghan village in October 2001. The video depicts U.S gunners firing directly upon people leaving the mosque, view at: 
http://pubpages.unh.edu/~mwherold/AC130_Gunship.wmv.

[11] From her “Brutality Smeared in Peanut Butter. Why America Must Stop the War Now,” The Guardian (October 23, 2001)

[12] Martin Bentham, “Omar Flees by Motorcycle to Escape Troops,” Telegraph (January 6, 2002)

[13] Described by Philip Alston in 2008 in Joe Kay, “CIA Death Squads Killing with “Impunity” in Afghanistan,”
 WSWS.org (May 19, 2008) at
http://www.wsws.org/tools/index.php?page=print&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wsws.org%2Farticles%2F2008%2Fmay2008%2Fafgh-m19.shtml  
and in Pratap Chatterjee, “The Secret Killers: Assassinations in Afghanistan and Task Force 373,” The Huffington Post (August 19, 2010)

[14] H.D.S. Greenway, “In Mideast, Time is not on America’s Side,” Boston.com (February 27, 2004) at
http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2004/02/27/in_mideast_time_is_not_on_americas_side?mode=PF ).

[15] As beautifully expressed in “The American public is conditionally tolerant of [military] casualties and consistently indifferent to collateral damage,” Dr. Karl P. Mueller, School of Advanced Airpower Studies, Maxwell Air Force Base.

[16] See my “Obama’s Unspoken Trade-Off: Dead US/NATO Occupation Troops versus Dead Afghan Civilians?”
http://www.rawa.org/temp/runews/2009/08/23/obamaand-8217-s-unspoken-trade-off-dead-us-nato-occupation-troops-versus-dead-afghan-civilianso.html

[17] view 2 ½ minute video at http://seminal.firedoglake.com/diary/63771

[18] see my “Crashing the Wedding Party: Arrogance, Pentagon Speak and Spooky’s Carnage,” Cursor.org (July 8, 2002) at http://cursor.org/stories/kakarak.htm

[19] My original dossier was released on December 10, 2001 at the Cursor.org website. A slightly revised version can be found as “”A Dossier on Civilian Victims of United States’ Aerial Bombing of Afghanistan: A Comprehensive Accounting [revised],” Cursor.org (March 2002) at http://cursor.org/stories/civilian_deaths.htm

[20] Marc W. Herold, “More of the Same Packaged as Change. Barack Obama and Afghanistan,” Counterpunch (August6, 2008) at
http://www.counterpunch.org/herold08062008.html. I have added the “…” in Lieven’s quotes

[21] the concept is explored in amongst many others, Nigel Harris, National Liberation (London and New York: I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd, 1990)

[22] see amongst many others the editorial comment by the legal scholar, W. Michael Reisman, “The Resistance in Afghanistan is Engaged in a War of National Liberation,” American Journal of International Law 81,4 (October 1987): 906-909 available at http://www.jstor.org.libproxy.unh.edu/stable/pdfplus/2203416.pdf   

[23] Reisman, op. cit.: 908

[24] As falsely argued by David Whitehouse, “Afghanistan Sinking Deeper,” International Socialist Review No. 69 (Jan-Feb 2010: 12 at 
http://www.isreview.org/issues/69/feat-afghanistan.shtml 

[25] Details on Nigeria in Pade Badra, Imperialism and Ethnic Politics in Nigeria, 1960-1996 (Trenton, N.J.: Africa World Press, 1998): 72

[26] Samir Amin, “The Battlefields Chosen by Contemporary Imperialism: Conditions for an Effective Response from the South,” MRZINE.Monthly Review.org (20101) at
http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2010/amin070210p.html

[27] “Interview: Taliban is Part of Will of Afghan People – WikiLeaks Chief,” The Voice of Russia (2010) at
http://english.ruvr.ru/rtvideo/2010/08/01/video_14087677.html

The global elite has launched a world-wide operation against an unaware population to reduce and control fertility. Vaccines and even staple food crops have been modified to achieve these goals.

If you can’t seem to bring yourself to believe that such an undertaking is possible, or that there are human beings willing and capable; Look back in time, this kind of conspiracy isn’t new, in fact this kind of control was idealized by Plato some 2,300 years ago in his momentous work The Republic. Plato wrote that a ruling elite should guide society, “…whose aim will be to preserve the average of population.” He further stated, “There are many other things which they will have to consider, such as the effects of wars and diseases and any similar agencies, in order as far as this is possible to prevent the State from becoming either too large or too small.”

The activities of the ruling elite in controlling population, writes Plato, must be kept secret. He writes, “Now these goings on must be a secret which the rulers only know, or there will be a further danger of our herd… breaking out into rebellion.”

Peering back into the mists of time and history reveal that there is truly nothing new under the sun. What has been done will be done again, and the 21st Century manifestation of global elites have advanced tools at their disposal.

The GAVI Alliance (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization)


The GAVI Alliance, founded in 2000 with the help of the Gates Foundation, has the goal of vaccinating all of the third world. The member organizations of GAVI are listed on group’s the website, which include:

“…national governments of donor and developing countries, the Bill and Melinda Gates Children’s Vaccine Program, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations (IFPMA), the Rockefeller Foundation, UNICEF, the World Bank Group and the World Health Organization (WHO).”

In December of 2000, David Rockefeller and William H. Gates Sr., among others, (pictured to the right) visited the Rockefeller University campus to take part in a meeting on “Philanthropy in a Global Century”. While there, Gates spoke glowingly about his inspiration from Rockefeller in founding GAVI,

“Gates said that ‘Taking our lead and our inspiration from work already done by The Rockefeller Foundation, our foundation actually started GAVI by pledging $750 million to something called the Global Fund for Children’s Vaccines, an instrument of GAVI.’”

He also praised the Rockefeller family’s century of philanthropy, saying, ‘It seems like every new corner we turn, the Rockefellers are already there. And in some cases, they have been there for a long, long time.’”

The fact that such a global mechanism like GAVI exists – in the hands of outspoken population control advocates – for delivering vaccines to millions of people across the world should be disconcerting to say the least; Especially when confronted with the mountains of documentation proving that anti-fertility vaccines have been researched and delivered by the World Health Organization with grant money from the Rockefeller Foundation.

Bill Gates reaffirmed the global population control agenda during a recent TED conference presentation in which he stated,

“The world today has 6.8 billion people. That’s heading up to about nine billion. Now if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we could lower that by perhaps 10 or 15 percent.”

Anti-fertility vaccines


As Jurriaan Maessen reports, the World Health Organization, one of GAVI’s partners, teamed up with the World Bank and UN Population Fund in the 1970′s under the “Task Force on Vaccines for Fertility Regulation”. The Task Force,

…acts as a global coordinating body for anti-fertility vaccine R&D in the various working groups and supports research on different approaches, such as anti-sperm and anti-ovum vaccines and vaccines designed to neutralize the biological functions of hCG. The Task Force has succeeded in developing a prototype of an anti-hCG-vaccine.

In 1989 research was conducted by the National Institute of Immunology in New Delhi India on the use of ‘carriers’ such as Tetanus Toxoid and Diphtheria to bypass the immune system and deliver the female hormone called human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG). The research paper was carried in the Oxford University Press in 1990 and was titled “Bypass by an alternate ‘carrier’ of acquired unresponsiveness to hCG upon repeated immunization with tetanus-conjugated vaccine.” The Rockefeller Foundation is listed in the document as giving grants for the research.

By delivering hCG within a Tetanus vaccine – which acts as the carrier – the human body treats hCG as an intruder and creates antibodies against it. This has the effect of sterilizing women who receive the vaccine, and in many cases miscarriage when given during pregnancy.

Soon after anti-fertility vaccines were successfully developed, hCG (Human chorionic gonadotrophin) containing Tetanus vaccines were deployed across multiple third-world countries. Many of these countries were specifically targeted in the U.S. Government’s 1974 National Security Memorandum 200 document for population reduction. The document recommended at the time in 1974 that “injectable contraceptives” receive further funding.

In the aftermath of widespread covert use of anti-fertility vaccines, the BBC aired a documentary titled “The Human Laboratory” in 1995 (transcript available here). The discovery of “contaminated” Tetanus toxoid vaccines and the resulting sterilization of Philippine women was exposed.

The following are excerpts from the BBC program:

MARY PILAR VERZOSA: The women would say why is it that the tetanus shots that we’ve been getting have had effects on us? Our fertility cycles are all fouled up, some of the women among us have had bleedings and miscarriages, some have lost their babies at a very early stage. The symptoms could come soon after their tetanus vaccination – some the following day, others within a week’s time. For those who were pregnant on their first three or four months the miscarriage was really frightening.

MARY PILAR VERZOSA: I began to suspect that here in the Philippines that’s exactly what’s happening. They have laced the tetanus toxoid vials with the Beta HCG.

MARY PILAR VERZOSA: Oh boy that was really something when this came out of my fax machine. Report on HCG concentration in vaccine vials. Three out of those four vials registered positive for HCG, so my suspicions are affirmed that here in our country they are not only giving plain tetanus toxoid vaccination to our women, they are also giving anti-fertility.

According to the local population of the Akha in Thailand, pregnant women are forced to receive vaccines – including tetanus – in order to get ID cards for their children. The vaccine often results with miscarriage. In the video below, Matthew McDaniel, a human rights activist who has been working with the Akha people of Thailand, speaks with two Akha women about the forced Tetanus vaccine and the resulting miscarriages.

Rural populations of the third world have caught on to possible effects of vaccination. Their fears are dismissed as “rumors” and “myths” by the mainstream press that fails to report on the established precedence of anti-fertility vaccine research. Often, those reassuring that the vaccines are safe are the very organizations engaged in population reduction efforts. A 2006 press release from UNICEF (United Nations Children Fund), which is involved with vaccinating many third world countries, quotes the Assistant Project Officer for Health in Ethiopia’s Southern Nations, Tersit Assefa,

“In other places, women of this age often stay away,” said Ms. Tersit. “All sorts of misguided rumours go round that the injections will sterilize them or harm them in some way. But here, the village elders are on board. They are here, encouraging the women to come along.”

While the needle is an obvious and visible form of vaccination, new technologies have been developed with the financial support of the Rockefeller Foundation. Edible vaccines, according to the Indian Journal of Medical Microbiology, will be a more “socioculturally acceptable” alternative to needles. In other words, people will be less resistant to eating a mundane banana than taking a shot in the arm. The Journal states that new edible vaccine technology may serve a dual purpose of birth control. As stated,

“Edible vaccines hold great promise as a cost-effective, easy-to-administer, easy-to-store, fail-safe and socioculturally readily acceptable vaccine delivery system, especially for the poor developing countries… A variety of delivery systems have been developed. Initially thought to be useful only for preventing infectious diseases, it has also found application in prevention of autoimmune diseases, birth control, etc…”

The war against population is an ongoing effort on part of the global elite. This operation is truly massive in scope, but if we live our lives in fear of what the future may bring, we allow ourselves to be defeated. Let your awareness of the situation drive you to make positive changes. We still have the power to raise awareness among our fellow man, and despite what the elite may believe, they do not have a monopoly on the future.

Ben Affleck’s next movie, the Town, is set in Charlestown Mass, known for the battle of Bunker Hill and dubbed in the past by tabloid TV as “hell’s half acre” for all the crimes that take place there. The film, a cops and robbers tale, focuses on a gang that robs banks with extreme violence. Its ads refer to Charlestown as national capitol of bank robberies.

Actually the take by the gangsters there doesn’t come close to the amount of money stolen BY “Banksters” and banks on Wall Street.

Movies like Oliver Stone’s Wall Street2 delves into its well-mined culture of greed, with the Director, perhaps chastened by the criticisms of his recent political travelogue in South America, assuring the NY Times it’s not a “Michael Moore movie” whatever that means. Presumably it’s not explicitly political. (The Wall Street Journal called my film Plunder “the Anti-Wall Street Film That’s Not Just for Michael Moore fans.”)

A new studio backed documentary by Charles Ferguson about the financial crisis is titled Inside Jobs. It’s more about the business collapse than the crimes that caused it.

At the same time in a land far away, in Afghanistan, a country being introduced at gun point and drone attack to the wonders of Western Capitalism, a run on a big bank in Kabul has created a financial crisis that the owners of the Kabul bank, looted by its owners, say could lead to a “revolution.”

“If this goes on, we won’t survive,” says one of the men at the top. Reports say that some $300 billion dollars is missing.

Like its American counterparts, the Kabul bank wants a Washington bailout. Reports the Wall Street Journal, “Its executives seemed to have followed the western play book for ruining their bank.” They insiders gave themselves clandestine loans like many US lenders did. We have seen this movie before too: Does anyone remember Pakistan’s BCCI (a.k.a.”The Bank of Crooks And Criminals International.”)?

Officially, Washington says no help, but many suspect money will be forthcoming less the illusion of Afghanistan’s democracy to be crumbles.

In banking, justice has been redefined as “just-us” as Ben Bernanke of The Federal Reserve Bank tells the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, as the NY Crimes (my name, not theirs), reported, “and he said Americans were justifiably angry that bankers ‘who drove their companies into a ditch with off with lots of money.” He also admitted that he failed to see the flaws of the system.

Bernanke did allude to “innovations” that provided lenders with an “unfair advantage,” the closed he came to referencing the way borrowers were ripped off. He spoke about laws when it came to the Fed’s legal authority, but not to the way Wall Street and the mortgage people who he acknowledged worked for them flouted the law.

The Commission has its own “flaws,” failing to see or investigate this pervasive fraud at the heart of the crisis. Economist Michael Hudson notes, “I believe that the beneficiaries were fraudsters, and that the system cannot be saved. Trying to save it by keeping the debts in place – and letting Wall Street banks “work their way out of debt” at the U.S. economy’s expense – threatens to lock the economy in a chronic debt deflation and depression.”

In its hearings on the fall of Lehman, the Commission cited emails advising against helping the bank whose bankruptcy accelerated a major financial collapse. Jim Wilkinson, then chief of staff to ex-Goldman CEO and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson wrote them. What the Commission did not reveal was Wilkinson’s personal history of fraud as the head of the GOP operatives whose “riot” stopped a vote recount in Miami Dade in 2000, and then, in 2003, as the head of the Coalition Media Center in Doha called an “information deprivation tank” by critic Michael Wolf for all the lies about the coming Iraq War that were disseminated there.

Talk about fraud! Here’s one operative who went from voter fraud to political fraud to financial fraud.

So even as popular culture and an angry public see the Wall Street as a den of thieves, the people who are supposed to prosecute financial and White Collar Crime do not.

They have been getting some of the perpetrators to fork over multi-million fines t get out of jail rather than toss their asses behind bars.

Last week, Moody’s, the rating agency partially owned by the “Oracle of Omaha,” billionaire Warren Buffet, and which dished out triple A ratings like candy for “asset backed securities,” (with no assets behind them) was told by the SEC it will not be prosecuted. The Securities and Exchange Commission cited “jurisdictional reasons.”

These agencies were not being regulated when they misrepresented the value or the derivatives and “structured investment products” they were selling so a Regulator claims to be powerless to hold them accountable

Many banks bought this junk based on Moody’s reputation. In the end, they lost billions. They were also conned and lied to. The consequences: NONE. (One of the Ratings Agencies, Fitch, disclosed that 80% of the packages of mortgages they examined were fraudulent.)

80%!

The ratings agencies were not alone among those forgiven for their crimes. None of the big brand name banks are being prosecuted including the insurance giant AIG that proudly and profitably wrote credit default swaps on this crap.

Henry Blodget who was excommunicated as a Wall Street trader for his own excesses and dishonesty justifies all this:

“No criminal charges will be filed against Joseph Cassano or anyone else at AIG, lawyers have announced.

At first blush, this sounds outrageous–yet more failure to punish those responsible for the financial crisis–but in at least one important respect, it’s very good news.

Criminal charges against Cassano and other AIGers would have been greeted with near-unanimous applause, no matter how flimsy the case. Prosecutors who brought the charges would have been acclaimed for their toughness and heroism–and, even if the case eventually failed, would long since have moved on to the more lucrative side of the business (defense). Politicians would have cheered the toughness of the new regulatory regime. The public would have felt that in some small measure, justice would have been done. And so on.

So why is it good news that charges weren’t filed?

Because, despite crawling all over AIG for two years, Federal prosecutors apparently didn’t find enough evidence to hang criminal charges on…Being short-term greedy, betting the farm, and destroying your firm, it turns out, wasn’t against the law.”

Of course not, because the laws were rewritten with lobbying by the financial insutry before this recent crime spree. They security laws now have impossibly high standards for conviction. Yet the prosesceutors didn’t consider bringing a RICO action to prosecute the interconnected crimes of the Finance. Real Estate and Insurance companies.

I asked Aaron Krowne who edits the respected financial site ML-Implode about Blodget’s rationalization.

“My take is that RICO-style actions would be needed, as you say,” he wrote me. “The crime was the pattern. In most cases, no specific black-letter statues were violated at the high level (though they may have been violated at lower levels, i.e. with mortgage transfers and such.

Also, criminal prosecution should look inward to the regulators. AIG may have been regulated by the flimsy OTS (Office of Thrift Supervision) in the US, but that doesn’t mean the OTS has no responsibilities.

That’s the real rub. At the top of the pyramid, there is no enforcement, since it would require asking the enforcers to police themselves. (I’ve run into this in very literal terms in my HUD whistle-blowing/litigation)”

Like a fish, the rot starts at the head.

So the banks that robbed themselves, robbed each other, financed what the FBI calls a “mortgage fraud epidemic,” while gouging their customers with excess fees, phony charges and inadequate monitoring of fraud in individual accounts, are getting off Scott-free.

Well not exactly free, after having been given bailouts and loans for almost nothing that they can then pass on loans at higher fees to you and me. Despite it all hundreds of banks are waiting to fail.

They remain a business that gives us the business with little accountability or transparency.

Ain’t nothing free about this free market.

News Dissector Danny Schechter directed the film Plunder The Crime Of Our Time, and wrote a companion book. (www.Plunderthecrimeofourtime.com) Comments to [email protected].  

NEW BOOK FROM GLOBAL RESEARCH
(click for details)
The Global Economic Crisis


Michel Chossudovsky
Andrew G. Marshall (editors)

Is the US becoming a Third World Country?

September 6th, 2010 by Global Research

During recent years, the gap between the rich and poor has increased at a staggering pace, systematically wiping the existence of the middle class from America.The United States is on the brink of sliding down to a Third World country, as it struggles with massive debts, rising unemployment and a deteriorating economy.

Some of the warning signs that indicate America’s fantastic fall from a First World nation include rising unemployment and poverty.

According to Spiegel Online, the United States is recently faced with a new phenomenon called “the new poor.”

In Ventura California – a luxurious resort city – about 20 percent of the residents are at risk of homelessness.

The once-rich, who have lost their homes, are now forced to sleep in their expensive cars parked in the city’s corners, Captain William Finley, the head of the local branch of the Salvation Army said.

He further added that during the past months, the number of people taking advantage of the organization’s free meals program has doubled. Many drive up in their BMWs to receive free food, he went on to say.

Another signal that marks the demise of America’s so-called greatness is the disappearance of the middle class.

During recent years, the gap between the rich and poor has increased at a staggering pace, systematically wiping the existence of the middle class from America.

Income inequality in the US has reached a stage where only one percent of Americans own as much as 37 percent of the total national wealth.

That means that if an average CEO earned 30 times as much as an ordinary worker in 1950, today he would own 300 times as much.

Meanwhile, in its current annual report, the US Department of Agriculture stressed that some 50 million Americans were not able to afford enough food to stay healthy at some point in 2009.

It also noted that one in eight adult Americans and one in four children now survive on government food stamps. These are unbelievable numbers for the world’s richest nation, Spiegel wrote.

So far, US politicians have failed to come up with solutions to the growing crisis.

“The lights are going out all over America,” Nobel economics laureate Paul Krugman wrote last month. This is due to the fact that many US residents can no longer spend money because they have no savings.

Their houses have lost half of their value; they no longer qualify for low-interest loans; they are making less money than before or they’re unemployed. This in turn reduces or eliminates their ability to pay taxes.

As a result, many state and local governments are faced with enormous budget deficits. In Hawaii, schools are closed on some Fridays to save the state money. A county in Georgia has eliminated all public bus services and in Colorado Springs, a city of 380,000 people, a third of streetlights have been shut off to save electricity.

In fact, the United States, which is in the wake of a huge debt crisis of above 90% of GDP, is threatened by a social Ice Age more severe than anything the country has seen since the Great Depression.

This is why last month, a leading online columnist, Arianna Huffington, issued the almost apocalyptic warning that “America is in danger of becoming a Third World country.”

Obama’s Middle East Peace Talks: A Circus to Distract

September 6th, 2010 by Shamus Cooke

What a joke. President Obama surely knows there is zero chance that his Middle East peace talks will succeed, even with the deck stacked in his favor. All of the main actors are on the U.S. payroll: Israel, Egypt, and Jordan get billions in foreign aide, while the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has proven a pliable puppet for the U.S. as he is disdained by his own people.

But even puppets have their limits. If the above governments were to support the type of peace treaty that Israel would agree to, their already oppressed people would revolt.  
 
This is because Israel has been quite clear about what it will and will not “concede.” The basis for all Middle East Peace talks has always been the land that Israel stole during the 1967 six day war: the Golan Heights in Syria must be returned; the West Bank must be un-occupied; East Jerusalem must be returned to the Palestinian people. UN Resolution 242 demands that Israel return these territories. It will not.
 
Nor will Israel stop Israeli settlers from building communities in the West Bank or allow all Palestinian refugees to return to their land and homes that were confiscated beginning in 1948. Israel does not grant equal civil and political rights to any Arabs living in this theocratic state. The U.S. and Israel will not even allow the only political party in the occupied territories with any legitimacy, Hamas, to participate in the “peace process.” 
 
In fact, the only reason that Israel has agreed to participate in this sham is for some good public relations. Years of oppressing the Palestinians has earned Israel international condemnation, especially after the recent flotilla massacre. Israel hopes that in making a “sincere effort” in the peace process, it will shift attention away from the ongoing atrocities it commits as a matter of state policy.
 
Obama has similar motives as he pursues a path leading to nowhere. At home, Obama becomes more unpopular with each passing day, as he confronts a jobs depression by ignoring it or by pretending that the economy is improving for working people. 
 
The wars that Obama is conducting are failures; hundreds of billions of dollars continue to flow into the doomed effort, money that could instead be used to create jobs. 
 
As Obama chooses to pursue policies only acceptable to corporations, he must lean heavier on right-wing elements. The same approach that Israel uses to oppress the Palestinians — racism, scapegoating, and fear — are being transferred to the U.S., especially towards those with ancestry from the Middle East or immigrants from Latin America. 
 
As former Labor Secretary Robert Reich recently explained: 
 

“The practical choice we face is this: Either major action to reverse the jobs emergency or years of intolerably high unemployment coupled with demagoguery and scapegoating.” (September 3, 2010, robertreich.org

If there were good intentions behind the peace talks that included serious proposals, Obama would deserve credit for his effort. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Obama refuses to cut U.S. aid to Israel, which it uses to wage war against its neighbors and to crush the Palestinians. This is because Obama continues to use Israel as a giant extension of U.S. corporate interests: Israel uses its U.S. financed military to ensure that profitable resources like oil do not fall into the “wrong hands.”
 
Obama and the Democrats will travel down their corporate inspired path until there are obstacles thrown in their way. On October 2nd attention will be given to the enormous need for jobs as labor unions, the NAACP, and other organizations descend on Washington, D.C. for a mass demonstration.  Demonstrations in other states are being planned too.
 
The bigger the demonstrations, and the louder that the demand of “Jobs For All!,” the less able are politicians to focus on foreign affairs and phony negotiations.  The bigger the focus on creating jobs and making Wall Street pay for them, the less able are right-wing elements to steer workers frustration into racism, scapegoating, and other fake solutions.

All Out For October 2nd !

Non-combat US troops in Iraq engage in combat

September 6th, 2010 by Boris Volkhonsky

On September 5, US troops were called in by Iraqi authorities to help combat insurgents who attacked an army base in Baghdad. There were no casualties among the American military and the whole incident would hardly be worth mentioning be it not for the fact that American participation in combat took place only five days after the widely advertised pullout of all US combat troops. 

The memories of a high profile TV address by President Obama to the nation in which he declared that the mission is over and all combat troops have been withdrawn from Iraq, are still fresh.

Skeptics immediately pointed out that the remaining amount of 50,000 American military was too big for ‘advisers’ as they are officially called. Doubts were also expressed as to whether the pullout really signifies that the wave of violence in Iraq has subsided and Iraqi officials can cope with the terrorist threat themselves. As a Russian expert, President of the Institute of Middle Eastern Studies Evgeny Satanovsky said in an interview to “Vremya novostey” daily, if Obama’s speech did signify anything it was only a recognition of American failure in Iraq and the whole TV address was intended only for internal consumption in view of the complicated situation the Democrats are facing in mid-term elections. 

It did not take long to prove that skeptics were right.

Iraqi officials cannot handle the terrorist problem for themselves and non-combat US troops do engage in combat. While helping the Iraqi forces to fend off the attack, US troops used helicopters and unmanned aircraft.

Not only Russian, but American experts as well question the success of US Iraqi policy. An article in The New York Times by Steven Lee Myers and Duraid Adnan was published on Sunday under a heading that speaks for itself, ‘Attack Shows Lasting Threat to US in Iraq’.

In the authors’ view, the attack “underscored the ambiguity of the American military’s role in Iraq…and punctuated a sharp rise in violence as the United States declared an official end to its combat mission”. As for Iraqis, the attack seemed so furious that one of the civilians locked in the compound even thought that this was a coup and that the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had fallen. Well, this time it did not, but the very fact that such a thought occurred to an ordinary Iraqi on the earliest possible instance, does not leave much hope that the government will last long. 

Back in 2003, the ongoing Iraqi campaign was widely advertised as “America’s imperial moment”. In 2008, Obama’s promises to withdraw the troops from Iraq turned to be a significant factor in his election campaign. “Imperial adventure” had apparently failed by that time. Now, the pullout is as widely advertised – Barack Obama is trying to show that he keeps his promises. But the failure of Bush’s “imperial project” seems to pound back on Obama. The pullout has proved to be no more than just a pun, with combat troops being simply relabeled as ‘advisers’ (just like the Operation ‘Iraqi Freedom’ was renamed ‘New Dawn’), and the insurgents taking the opportunity to increase violence.

As BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson reports from Baghdad, “it is a pattern that every occupying power becomes used to. America, it seems, cannot do anything right – not even getting out.”

“America seems to have shrunk as a direct result of its imperial adventure in Iraq,” concludes the author, and “it will have to work very hard to persuade the rest of the world that it is strong again.”

Iraqi commentators are even more outspoken. “I don’t think the Americans are taking this action for the sake of Iraq. They are doing it for President Obama,” writes a 49-year old Nermeen Al Mutfi in a BBC blog. “And what are they handing over? There is still violence everywhere.”  Another blogger, a 42-year old Dr Anees from Baghdad writes, “When the Americans are gone, I believe, it will be easier for the extremists. It is a moral boost for them. They will be victorious because they have kicked the Americans out. But there is no victory, really.” 

There seems to be more truth in these words of an ordinary Iraqi than in the whole TV address by the President of the world strongest superpower.

Cyber Warfare: US Military Hackers and Internet Spies

September 6th, 2010 by Leonid Savin

After October 1 thousands of US military hackers and spies will get down to their cyber war activities.   

The declarations for taking cyber defense measures can be heard more and more often in the US. US analysts state that information and communication networks, on which the national infrastructure depends on, are becoming vulnerable for cyber criminals.

Cyberspace defense issue is urgent not only for the US. “The statistics revealed that cybercriminals have upped the ante and are becoming more sophisticated and creative, distributing more aggressive forms of malware” -Defence IQ website states.

“Our statistics show that Trojans and rogueware (‘fake’ antivirus programs) amounted to almost 85 per cent of all malware activity in 2009. 2009 was also the year of Conficker, though this belies the fact that worms ranked at just 3.42 per cent of last year’s malware creation”, the magazine read.

“The Conficker worm has caused serious problems in both domestic and corporate environments, with more than 7 million computers infected worldwide, and it is still spreading rapidly”. (1)

However it seems that the US is too concerned with the problem of cyber defense in comparison with other countries. On April 26, the CIA unveiled its plans to new initiatives in the fight against Web-based attacks. The document outlines the plans for the next five years and director of the CIA Leon Pannetta said that it was “vital for the CIA to be one step ahead of the game when it comes to challenges like cyber space security” (2).

In May 2009, the White House approved Cyberspace Policy Review (3), submitted to the US president by the members of a special commission. The document summed up the state of things in the US cyberspace and national information security.  It was proposed to a appoint cyber security policy official responsible for coordinating the US cyber security policies and activities.

The report outlined a new comprehensive framework to facilitate coordinated responses by government, the private sector, and allies to a significant cyber incident. The new system of coordination would enable Federal, State, local, and tribal governments to work with industry to improve the plans and resources they have in place in advance to detect, prevent, and respond to significant cyber security incidents. The initiative also implies providing US counter intelligence with more technical and functional options and training of new cyber defense specialists.

The last but not least – in mid 2010, on the territory of the Lackland air base in Texas the construction of the first specialized cyber intelligence center for a 400 personnel began. The 68th Network Warfare Squadron and 710th Information Operations Flight were moved to San Antonio. This place was chosen because of it is close to other cyber military facilities – Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Agency, Texas Cryptology Center of the USNational Security Agency, united information operations command and the US Air forces cryptology support. It will function in the interests of the US Space command, US Air Forces command and US Air Forces’reserve.

Numerous publications in the US mass media show that the reform of the national cyber defense forces as well as the introduction of the doctrine and strategy of the cyber war are soon to be completed. As for the US cyber strategy we can assume that it is in line with the general concept of the US global leadership.

William Lynn III in his article “ThePentagon’s Cyberstrategy”, published in Foreign Affairs journal (September/October 2010), outlined five basic principles of the future strategy:

- Cyber must be recognized as a warfare domain equal to land, sea, and air;

- Any defensive posture must go beyond “good hygiene” to include sophisticated and accurate operations that allow rapid response;

- Cyber defenses must reach beyond the department’s dot-mil world into commercial networks, as governed by Homeland Security;

- Cyber defenses must be pursued with international allies for an effective “shared warning” of threats; and

- The Defense Department must help to maintain and leverage U.S. technological dominance and improve the acquisitions process to keep up with the speed and agility of the information technology industry (4).

When commenting this article analysts point out that “The capabilities being sought would allow U.S. cyber-warriors to “deceive, deny, disrupt, degrade and destroy” information and computers around the globe”. (5)

Gen. Keith Alexander, the head of the Pentagon’s new Cyber Command(ARFORCYBER) said: “We have to have offensive capabilities, to, in real time, shut down somebody trying to attack us,” Earlier Keith Alexander compared cyber attacks with weapons of mass destruction and according to his recent statements the US is planning offensive application of the new warfare.

While Washington is accusing other countries of aiding and sponsoring cyber terrorism (Statistic shows that most of cyber attacks against US informational systems were made from China), the US special forces are training new personnel for cyber wars.

The command – made up of 1,000 elite military hackers and spies under one four-star general – is the linchpin of the Pentagon’s new strategy and is slated to become fully operational Oct. 1.- Washington Post reports (6). The Defense Department has “15,000 networks and 7 million computing devices in use in dozens of countries, with 90,000 people working to maintain them and it depends heavily on commercial industry for its network operations” (7). Attracting allies and private companies working in the sphere of IT and security the US plans to establish the new order in the global cyber space.

Considering all this what may we expect? It is quite likely that we may expect spying by means of tabs and backdoors in software sold by well-known companies such as Microsoft, as well as an informational blockade, limiting access to alternative sources of information. Thus from October 1, all the achievements of the informational age can be challenged.

Notes

(1) http://www.defenceiq.com/article.cfm?externalID=2718
(2) http://www.defenceiq.com/article.cfm?externalID=2460
(3) http://www.whitehouse.gov/assets/documents/Cyberspace_Policy_Review_final.pdf
(4) William J. Lynn III W. Defending a New Domain: The Pentagon’s Cyberstrategy.// Foreign Affairs. September/October 2010.
http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/66552/william-j-lynn-iii/defending-a-new-domain(29.08.2010)
(5) Webster S. Pentagon may apply preemptive warfare policy to the Internet. August 29, 2010.
 http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/0829/pentagon-weighs-applying-preemptive-warfare-tactics-internet/ (30.08.2010).
(6) Nakashima E. Pentagon considers preemptive strikes as part of cyber-defense strategy. Washington Post. August 28, 2010.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/28/AR2010082803849_pf.html
(7) Daniel L. Lynn Outlines Cyber Threats, Defensive Measures. American Forces Press Service.
http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=60600


People in Louisiana expressing their feelings about the BP oil disaster. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld © 2010)

“It is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself, when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks.” -Malcolm X

If someone broke into your house, pinned down your loved ones and began pouring poison down their throats, would you stop that person?

What if someone poured crude oil all over your crops and livestock? Wouldn’t you try to stop them from doing it?


 
Oyster beds soaked in BP oil. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld © 2010)

Oil filled inland lagoon on Timbalier Island, Louisiana. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld © 2010)

Pointed questions like these come from a man named Derrick Jensen. They provide a lens through which to view the havoc that corporate capitalism is wreaking on our planet. They are meant to jolt us into the awareness that we are watching life on earth annihilated. They are also meant to challenge us into thinking about what form our resistance to this should take.

“I think what we need to do is to stop deluding ourselves into believing that those in power will do what they have not done and they’ve shown no inclination to do, which is to support life over production,” says Jensen, an author and environmental activist who lives in Northern California.

Lewis Mumford, a US historian and philosopher of science and technology, has written, “The chief premise common to both technology and science is the notion that there are no desirable limits to the increase of knowledge, of material goods, of environmental control; that quantitative productivity is an end in itself and that every means should be used to further expansion.”

But how can unlimited growth and productivity be possible on a planet with finite resources?

Simple answer: It cannot.

Yet, we are all being pushed, at breakneck speed, toward a future that promises catastrophic global climate change, depleted natural resources, environmental degradation and human chaos and suffering on an apocalyptic scale.

One hundred and twenty species of life are erased from the planet each day.

Ninety percent of all the pelagic fish in the oceans are gone.

The Arctic ice cap is vanishing before our eyes as global temperatures continue to rise.

Here are some recent headlines from this summer:

  • Greenland Ice Sheet loses 100 square miles, biggest loss since 1962 (Aug. 2010)
  • Russia’s drought-driven halt to wheat exports panics world grain markets (Aug. 2010)
  • Pakistan’s worst flood in recorded history claims some 1,100 lives (July, 2010)
  • International study confirms accelerating warming trend (July, 2010)
  • Rapid decline in phytoplankton population stuns scientists (July, 2010)
  • Flash floods seen increasing as Milwaukee gets eight inches in two hours (July, 2010)
  •  Senate climate bill collapses (July, 2010)
  • Coral reef deaths soar in record ocean heat (July, 2010)
  • First half of 2010 was hottest such period on record (July, 2010)
  • Carbon lobby launches “CO2 is Green” campaign (July, 2010)
  • Massive Greenland glacier retreats one mile in one night (July, 2010)
  • Military declares climate change “a catalyst for conflict” (June, 2010)
  • Malaria soars with small rainforest reductions (June, 2010)
  • Oceans have stored more heat than they released since 1993 (May, 2010)
  • Climate change is causing “irreversible” destruction of ocean life systems (June, 2010)
  • Himalayan glacier melt puts 60 million people at risk of food shortages (June, 2010)
  • Warming pushes many small mammal species to the brink (June, 2010)

This is happening not because any of us want it, but because those in power, answerable only to their corporate sponsors, are playing out their mantra of “every means should be used to further expansion.”

Expansion of growth. Expansion of profits. Expansion of power.

Mumford has said a change in this mindset of perpetual expansion would likely only happen with “an all-out fatal shock treatment, close to catastrophe, to break the hold of civilized man’s chronic psychosis.”

We have already had many of these “fatal shock treatments:” the Exxon Valdez spill, the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, Chernobyl, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Agent Orange, Love Canal, Three Mile Island, the Seveso Italian dioxin crisis, the Baia Mare cyanide spill. These are just a few. It’s a long list.

And, now, we can add the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

View of “The Source.” (Area of Gulf of Mexico directly above the Macondo Well after the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon Rig.) (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld © 2010)

BP’s oilrig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded in April and, for 36 hours, its flames released immeasurable amounts of toxins into the atmosphere before it sunk into the depths. We now know that the vast majority of the oil that gushed from the well was intentionally submerged by BP via heavy use of dispersants at the wellhead, so most of the oil is floating around in giant undersea plumes, one of which is ten miles long, three miles wide and 300 feet thick. They are like oil bergs – what we see on top of the water is a mere fraction of what lies beneath. This was not an oil leak. This was a volcano of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico.

If independent estimates of the amount of oil released into the Gulf are correct, as many as one Exxon Valdez load of oil (250,000 barrels worth) was being released into the Gulf of Mexico every two and a half days. That means 8,700,000 barrels of oil, or 34 Exxon Valdez’s worth, were released into the Gulf of Mexico.

Conversely, what actions have been taken to bring BP to account? Will the CEO likely spend time in jail? Government officials and institutions that have colluded with BP – how about them being brought to justice?

When the Exxon Valdez struck a reef in Prince William Sound in Alaska in 1989, the incident was considered to be among the most devastating human-caused environmental disasters in history.

Even after the surface oil is cleaned up in the Gulf of Mexico, scientific studies already show (as they have shown in Prince William Sound) that oil can remain trapped in the seabed for decades, continuing to contaminate and kill fish, shrimp, crabs and bird life. To this date, a maximum of only 14 percent of the oil spilled in that disaster has been recovered. As you read this, BP is scaling down the response efforts to the Gulf disaster.

Meanwhile, as the so-called free market that allows unchecked corporate powers like BP to pollute and destroy our ecosystems with impunity continues, the oil spreads across the Gulf and another oil platform has exploded in the Gulf, this time 80 miles south of Louisiana.

Jensen believes that expecting those in power to do what is right for human beings, much less the planet, “is delusional.” “Their function in a democracy is to give us the illusion of power, but the truth is that they do what they want,” Jensen explains. “Why is it that cops are always called in to break strikes but not help the strikers? When the function of the state is to support the privatization of profits and the externalization of costs, what kind of state is this?”

Jensen, a prolific writer and author of several books, including “A Language Older Than Words” and “Endgame,” summarizes the situation we face like this: “The point is that when a gold mining corporation spreads cyanide all over the mine and this hits our groundwater and wells and destroys ground waters in Montana, they are not called a terrorist, they are called a capitalist.”

The same can be said for BP. Exxon. Monsanto. Bayer. Dow. Lockheed Martin. It’s a long list.

“If it was space aliens coming down and systematically changing the planet, would we appeal to them through lawsuits, take off our clothes and make peace symbols, petitions?” Jensen asks. “I was once being interviewed by a dogmatic pacifist and he felt that I wanted all activists to act like assassins. That’s not true. What I want is for all activists to act like they are serious about their resistance and that might include assassinations.”

Jensen believes that we are at a point in history where the very planet upon which we live and our lives are at stake. If the perpetual growth, corporate-capitalist-industrial machine is allowed to continue, we will die. Thus, it must be stopped by any means necessary.

To illustrate what might be possible by taking a militant approach, Jensen points to Johann Georg Elser, the man who attempted to assassinate Adolph Hitler in 1939.

“Everyone agrees that if Hitler was killed in 1939, the war doesn’t happen,” Jensen explains, “The point is that I want people to think like members of a resistance. The first thing that means is to start thinking away from being part of a capitalist industrial system and away from this government that we all acknowledge serves corporations better than us and toward the land where we live.”

Many are concerned that the approach Jensen advocates will generate extreme government crackdowns on activists working on topics across the political spectrum – that the use of violence to promote change is a bankrupt strategy and one that is doomed to failure.

“I am not the violence guy,” is Jensen’s response, “I’m really the everything guy. Only two percent of the IRA ever picked up weapons. 98 percent were doing support work. We need a wide range of tactics, which can include fighting back and attacking the infrastructure. I don’t know what is so radical or incendiary about believing that living oceans are more important than a social structure. The culture as a whole suffers from insanity, one form of which is that this social structure is more important than the living planet. I don’t believe you can suffer the delusion that you can systematically dismantle a planet and live on it. It’s very simple to me. Life is more important than capitalism.”

* * *

Many activists have argued that nonviolence is the only path that will lead to positive, lasting change in society. Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and activist, is a man Martin Luther King Jr. called “an apostle of peace and nonviolence.” In Saigon during the early 1960s, he organized students to rebuild bombed villages, resettle families and create agricultural coops. His work, then as now, is based on the Buddhist principles of nonviolence and compassionate action.

Voices like Hanh’s tell us that violence begets violence, a theory backed by thousands of years of historical evidence.

Some, like influential German Jewish political theorist Hannah Arendt, argue that the use of violence, while at times effective in destroying power, “Is utterly incapable of creating it.” Arendt’s work dealt with the nature of power that she explored via investigations of politics, authority and totalitarianism.

Arendt believed that true freedom was synonymous with collective political action among equals.

Organized nonviolent power, on a massive scale, like that by the movement behind Gandhi in India, could possibly avoid these draconian measures while destabilizing the corporate centers of power.

* * *

Jensen does not advocate the use of violence as a means toward taking control of, or even overthrowing, the US government. Instead, he encourages small groups of people to do what their government has failed to do. For example, he asks, “What would happen if police started enforcing cancer free zones, or rape free zones, or toxics free zones?” He goes on to answer his rhetorical question, “We could start putting together forces that say, “You will not toxify this land and we will stop you. If people came into our homes and started to pour poison down our throats, we would stop them.”

In Oakland, California, in the 1960s, police brutality against African-Americans was rampant. But when the Black Panthers decided to arm themselves, load into cars and trail the police, beatings of African-Americans decreased dramatically.

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A modern-day example is The Pink Sari Gang, a group of women in India who wear pink saris and train in the martial arts. “If they see a man abusing a woman, they beat the crap out of him,” Jensen says, “If they see the police abusing the poor, they step in. This dramatically reduces domestic violence.”

Jensen is not the first person to suggest the use of violence against those in power. Malcolm X also took on the establishment in the 1960s by indicting white America in the harshest of terms for its crimes against blacks, and he remains one of the most influential African-Americans in history.

“We declare our right on this earth … to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary,” is perhaps his most famous quote. While he was clear about only using violence in self-defense, Malcolm X was also clear on the issue of nonviolence: “It is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself, when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks,” he said.

* * *

Could these tactics succeed in the United States today?

Assassinations, sabotage and other violent acts geared toward stopping the corporate capitalist system might remove some corporate CEOs and temporarily slow ecological destruction, but the CEOs would immediately be replaced and the violence and sabotage would most certainly be used to justify draconian measures applied to the general public, thus, making further resistance more challenging.

The US government response to armed resistance in the 1960s and 1970s resulted in National Guardsmen killing unarmed anti-war protesters on college campuses and the FBI assassination of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in Chicago. Government spying and surveillance of resistance leaders was rampant, as was exposed by the COINTELPRO files being made public.

Arendt was critical of the tactics of Malcolm X and the Black Panthers for advocating violence, along with being critical of other groups in the 1960s in the US who did the same, like the Weathermen who carried out dozens of bombings of government targets in response to the war in Vietnam. Arendt wrote, “In a head-on clash between violence [military] and [collective nonviolent resistance] power, the outcome is hardly in doubt.”

Yet, her critique of the failure of governments’ use of violence to quell nonviolent movements is equally harsh: “Nowhere is the self-defeating factor in the victory of violence over [collective nonviolent] power more evident than in the use of terror to maintain domination, about whose weird successes and eventual failures we know perhaps more than any generation before us.”

Arendt could easily count the failing US empire project among her “eventual failures” in this analysis. Indeed, one can argue that the US empire project, which is essentially run by a corporate, capitalist, hegemonic ideology, is being crushed under its own weight. This is evidenced by the ongoing global financial crisis and the escalating human-made climate change.

Hailing the religions of infinite growth and perpetual profit within the confines of a finite plane is truly an example of the proverbial snake eating its own tail. So, why not leave it to eat itself, then rebuild and reconfigure ourselves to live closer to the land after the juggernaut collapses?

* * *

We do not have the luxury of that kind of time. Scientists now tell us that the Arctic ice cap will likely be ice free in the summer within ten years. When this happens, rather than reflecting sunlight, that area then turns into a heat absorbing sink that dramatically increases the rate of climate change and overall planetary warming.

Iceberg calved from the Antarctic Ice Shelf. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld © 2010)

By late 2009, two different studies showed seven years straight of a loss of Antarctic ice at a rate of 190 gigatonnes per year and the rate was increasing with time.

Some political scientists and currently serving US senators and Congresspersons now argue that our system of so-called representative government is so broken and corrupted that it is beyond its capability of righting itself.

Thirty years ago, people in the United States used to make fun of the Soviet Union and the Politburo because the body of the latter was approximately 97 percent populated by communist members. Thus, the legitimacy of the Politburo was erased.

“What percentage of the members of the Senate and House of Representatives are capitalist party members [politicians who subscribe to the so-called free market system]?” Jensen asks. “Suddenly it’s not so funny, is it? I ask people all over the country, ‘Do you believe we live in a democracy?’ And almost nobody ever says yes. I ask, ‘Does the government take better care of corporations or human beings?’ Of the thousands of people I ask this to at talks, nobody says human beings and this is not even to speak of salmon.”

Jensen says every morning when he wakes up, he asks himself if he should write or blow up a dam. “You and I can write all we want, but that doesn’t help the salmon,” he tells me, “What they need is for dams to be removed and logging stopped.”

His incisive pragmatism disregards any concern for upsetting people, groups or adherence to what is politically correct. He is spurred forward in his work because the urgency of the situation demands it. Jensen believes that all forms of resistance, nonviolent, violent and everything in between, are important and useful. But he does not hesitate to point out where he feels some methods do not go far enough.

Someone Jensen singles out as an example of how current tactics of resistance are not enough is Bill McKibben. In 1988, McKibben, a well-known author, environmentalist and activist wrote “The End of Nature,” the first book for a common audience about global warming. He is the co-founder of 350.org,  an international climate campaign to bring awareness to the fact that the planet faces both human and natural disaster if atmospheric concentrations of CO2 remain above 350 parts per million (ppm). Right now, we are at 390 ppm and climbing.

Last December, just prior to the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen that had enacted no useful legislation to curb carbon emissions, McKibben penned an article for Mother Jones magazine. In it, he wrote, “The latest numbers from the computer jockeys at Climate Interactive – a collaboration of Sustainability Institute, Sloan School of Management at MIT and Ventana Systems, is that if all the national plans now on the table were adopted the planet in 2100 would have an atmosphere with 770 parts per million CO2.”

“Bill McKibben has done a wonderful job of publicizing the threat from global warming,” Jensen says, “He’s been doing it for a long time, with incredible stamina and work and I have incredible respect for that.”

But Jensen insists that the tactics of McKibben’s group 350.org do not go far enough.

“So the question I have, not only for Bill, but for everyone is, what is your threshold? Give me one at which you’ll stop believing in and petitioning those in power and will begin direct attacks on the oil infrastructure. Is it 440ppm? 450? 570? When the planet turns into Venus? What is your threshold? We need stop them before they kill the planet.”

Applying tactics like those used by the Black Panthers, the Weathermen or Malcolm X would most likely lead to government security crackdowns that far surpass those used in the 1960s.

It is also a given that business-as-usual activism is not getting the job done. That the goal of opening “free markets” is written into the US National Security Strategy means that the march toward “freedom” really means a freedom for corporate interests to gobble up resources, pillage and pollute our common land base (and oceans, seas, Gulfs) and continue to exploit the underprivileged labor base in the US and abroad.

* * *

In April 2004, I watched local Iraqis in Fallujah, armed with Kalashnikov machine guns and rocket propelled grenade launchers, repel the most powerful military machine on the globe when US occupation forces attempted to invade their city. In 2006, during the Israeli attack of Lebanon, I saw Hezbollah, using little more than what the Iraqis used in Fallujah, repel an invasion by the Israeli military – a military defeat Israeli smart weapons, sophisticated US-made fighter jets and drones could do nothing to prevent.

“History provides many examples of successful resistance, as do current events,” writes Jensen, who maintains a regular column for Orion magazine called “Upping the Stakes.” In the March/April issue he wrote, “The Irish nationalists, the abolitionists, the suffragettes – I could fill the rest of this column with examples. Recently, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has, through attacks on oil pipelines and the kidnapping of oil workers, disabled as much as 40 percent of the oil industry’s output from Nigeria and some oil companies have even considered pulling out of the region. If those of us who are the primary beneficiaries of this global system of exploitation had 1 percent of their courage and commitment to the land and community, we could be equally effective if not more so. We have vastly more resources at our disposal and the best we can come up with is, what, compost piles? The world is being killed and many environmentalists still think that riding bikes is some sort of answer?”

Jensen told me that MEND was, for a long time, nonviolent, but after one of their leaders was killed, they moved toward using sabotage, then finally to violent resistance.

Jensen adds in his column, “MEND has said to the oil industry: ‘It must be clear that the Nigerian government cannot protect your workers or assets. Leave our land while you can or die in it.’ There is more courage, integrity, intelligence and pragmatism in that statement from MEND than in any statement I have ever read by any American environmentalist, including myself. We need to accept the fact that making this type of statement (and being prepared to act on it) might be necessary to preserve a living planet. Some people may be willing to give up on life on this planet without resisting. I’m not one of them.”

Jensen urges people to “think for themselves,” as he feels this is the most important first step toward true freedom.

“I want them to decolonize their hearts and minds,” he explains. “That means to recognize that this culture is not the only way to live. This is one culture. To recognize that technological progress is not progress. It is escalation. It improves the ability of those in power to make matter and energy jump through hoops on command. If sea turtles were developing all kinds of technology that was killing the planet, we would not call it progress.”

For all of us who are or want to be actively involved in work that might shape a better future for the planet, it is imperative we know what we love and care about most. Given the vast number of issues (climate change, militarism, corporate capitalism etc.) that need our immediate attention, coupled with the severity of crisis many of them encompass, it is easy to be overwhelmed.

“What would you live and die to protect?” Jensen suggests we ask ourselves. “Fight by any means, whether that be by a lawsuit or a gun? Is it your family, survivors of domestic violence, salmon, the Rio Grande River? What is it you love enough that you would fight to defend?”

Apathy and learned helplessness are now endemic in the US. The massive anti-war demonstrations on February 15, 2003, that preceded the Iraq war were ignored by the Bush administration. That administration went on to shred the US Constitution, openly advocate torture and enrich war-profiteering companies like Halliburton, Dyncorp and Bechtel in Iraq. People felt as though nothing could be done.

When tens of millions of US citizens voted in Barack Obama as president, they hoped real change for the better was upon them. Many of those people now feel betrayed by his broken promises. Guantanamo Bay, that he promised to close, remains open. The US occupation of Iraq, that he promised to end, continues with no real end in sight. Rather than acting as the peace president many hoped he would be, President Obama has tripled the number of soldiers in Afghanistan since he took office. It’s a long list. Millions of US citizens now feel they are at a loss.

“Do you believe that our culture will undergo a voluntary transformation to a sane and sustainable way of living?” asks Jensen.
“For the last several years I’ve taken to asking people this question, at talks and rallies, in libraries, on buses, in airplanes, at the grocery store, the hardware store. Everywhere. The answers range from emphatic ‘No’s’ to laughter. No one answers in the affirmative. One fellow at one talk did raise his hand and when everyone looked at him, he dropped his hand, then said, sheepishly, ‘Oh, voluntary? No, of course not.’

“My next question: how will this understanding – that this culture will not voluntarily stop destroying the natural world, eliminating indigenous cultures, exploiting the poor and killing those who resist – shift our strategy and tactics? The answer? Nobody knows, because we never talk about it: we’re too busy pretending the culture will undergo a magical transformation.”

Jensen asserts what millions around the world can corroborate – systematic abuse of the poor and helpless leaves lasting scars on entire generations. He compares this culture to an abusive family, where violence is a constant threat and the victims feel helpless and dependent on the abuser. He writes, “Civilization and the civilized continue to create a world of wounds.”

“From birth on – and probably from conception, but I’m not sure how I’d make the case – we are individually and collectively acculturated to hate life, hate the natural world, hate the wild, hate wild animals, hate women, hate our bodies, hate and fear our emotions, hate ourselves. If we did not hate the world, we could not allow it to be destroyed before our eyes. If we did not hate ourselves, we could not allow our homes – and our bodies – to be poisoned.”

* * *

“I say, do something,” Jensen urges. “The big dividing line is not between those who advocate resistance through any means necessary and those who don’t. It’s not even between grassroots and mainstream. The big divide is between those who do something and those who don’t.”

Business-as-usual activism and politics will guarantee catastrophic climate change, more environmental disasters like what we are witnessing in the Gulf of Mexico and continued corporate depravity. Wherever people stand in the debate on the use of violence versus nonviolence, Jensen’s sense of urgency at this moment in history is unarguable.

So, where do you stand?

Behind the Israeli Wall: A Lesson in Reality

September 6th, 2010 by Ramzy Baroud

Writers often romanticize their subjects. At times they even manipulate their readers. A book – or any piece of writing for that matter – is meant to provide a sense of completion. Sociological explanations are offered to offset the confusion caused by apparent inconsistency in human behavior. At times a reader is asked to take a stance, or choose sides. 

This is especially true in writings which deal with compelling human experiences. In Behind the Wall: Life, Love and Struggle in Palestine (Potomac Books, 2010), Rich Wiles undoubtedly directs his readers, although implicitly, towards taking a stance. But he is unabashed about his moral priorities and makes no attempt to disguise his objectives.

As I began reading Wiles’ book, various aspects struck me as utterly refreshing in contrast to the way Palestine is generally written about. We tend to complicate what was meant to be straightforward and become too selective as we construct our narrative. And we tend to consider the possible political implications of our writings, and thus compose the conclusions with only this political awareness in mind.  

Much of this is understandable. The situation in Palestine is appalling, and also worsening. If our writing is not meant to influence positive change, then why bother? But a hyped awareness of the consequences and over-politicization of narratives and texts can prove limiting and intellectually confining. Worse, at times it provides a particular contextualization of the conflict – with all of its internal offshoots and external outcomes – that does much injustice to other important contexts. It neglects facts and paints an unrealistic picture of a subject already confused in the minds of many readers.

Thus when the conflict is deciphered by a writer, all players take positions. Israel is pitted against ‘the Arabs’. Palestinians are often sliced off into two competing parties, while Israel is largely shown as maintaining a sense of political and institutional integrity. Palestinians are radicals or moderates, Islamists or secularists. The ‘conflict’ is right in the center, and within it are the sub-topics: the peace process, the occupation, the settlements and numerous others. Without such lucid configuration there is no structure. Publishers get frustrated. The writer is urged to revisit and restructure his work.

But real life is not a well-organized academic argument. It can be, and often is chaotic, strange and puzzling, but it is real. Only by understanding reality the way it is – not the way we feel that it ought to be for any reason – can we meaningfully position ourselves to appreciate the subject at hand.

Can we understand the conflict in Palestine and Israel without subscribing to the same language, confronting the same political and historical milestones? Can Palestinians be understood outside the confines of political and ideological affiliations?

That is what Rich Wiles attempted to do in Behind the Wall, and in my opinion, very much succeeded.

Wiles relocated the conflict historically, geographically and sociologically to the side most affected by it: the Palestinians. The book is located in the West Bank, mostly Aida refugee camp, where Wiles spent years dedicating his time and efforts as an artist and a writer to help children share their stories and talents with the rest of the world. The writing is a non-elitist, part and parcel, which is a prerequisite to a factual understanding of the struggle in Palestine. Equally important, Wiles provides a depiction of the Palestinian not as the victim, despite the protracted process of victimization that Palestinians have endured for generations. Wiles’ subjects might have been imprisoned or deeply scarred by war, but they are confident and complex human beings.

A chapter entitled “A Child and a Balcony” starts with this line: “‘On Friday, December 8, 2006, I was shot.’ Miras is unemotional as he tells his story.” Miras should be emotional, but he is not, and Wiles doesn’t attempt to rectify the seemingly inconsistent behavior. It turns out that Miras, a child (now a promising young photographer, thanks to Wiles’ help) almost died when a bullet carved its way through his body and penetrated his abdominal from one end and emerged from the other. He was playing with his siblings and cousins at a balcony in the refugee camp, when an Israeli sniper hit him from the watchtower. The story is short, but rich in emotionally powerful detail: the father’s panic and near hallucination, the mother confusion, the sense of solidarity that unifies the refugees and strengthens their resolve even when their situation seems so helpless.

Wiles is not an anthropologist or a detached ethnographer, and he doesn’t pose as one. He is part of the story, at times an important character. In “Memories”, he accompanies a young Palestinian boy on the journey of his life, from the confines of the small refugee camp to Jerusalem. The boy is visiting his very ill grandfather at a hospital in the Arab side of the city. (No other member of the family was granted an Israeli permission to make the short journey, thus the need for Wiles’ intervention). Wiles provides an extremely honest and vivid account, bringing to life the bravery of the boy and the sense of freedom he experiences as he crosses the checkpoints into Jerusalem.

At the same time, Wiles does not attempt to assemble the perfect, heroic and infallible character of the Palestinian. He includes the story of a son of drug user who was mysteriously killed (perhaps by a Palestinian group that suspected him as a collaborator with Israel). The son became involved in the resistance to redeem the family’s honor. His impulsive resistance (an attempt to burn a hole in the Israeli wall that surrounded his refugee camp) earned him time in an Israeli prison. Yasser Jedar (known as Yasser ‘Wall’ owing to his obsession with trying to bring down the Israeli wall) was certainly not a poster child revolutionary. But he is refreshingly real, which is what should matter the most to an inquisitive reader.

Wiles’ work is an important contribution to what I insist on referring to as a ‘People’s History of Palestine’. In order for this genre to endure and flourish, it must remain honest, and duty-bound to the truth – to reality as it is, not how we wish it to be.

 

Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of www.PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London), now available on Amazon.com.

By turning off much of his party’s key liberal supporters, President Obama has jeopardized the re-election chances even of some Democratic incumbents whose seats had been considered safe. If the liberal base stays home in November, the Obama program’s lifespan will be short and sour. At the same time he is losing liberals, Mr. Obama’s support among idealistic college students is also eroding.

According to Rasmussen pollsters, Obama’s general approval rating plunged from 65 per cent upon taking office to 45 per cent today. Larry Sabato, director of the Center For Politics at the University of Virginia, says the Republicans are poised to have a net gain of 47 House seats and likely eight Senate seats. “If anything,” says Sabato, “we have been conservative in estimating the probable GOP House gains…”

What’s turning off liberals is that on issue after issue, Obama appears to be little more than a slicker copy of his stumbling predecessor. When the Republicans under George Bush elected to bail out Wall Street, Obama helped them finish the job even though congressional mail ran overwhelmingly against it.

Instead, he might have created a massive jobs program to restart the economy with paycheck power as FDR did with his New Deal. But Obama’s half-hearted make-work blueprint appears to be too little and too late. “For Vulnerable Democrats, Economy Fuels Election Fears,” The New York Times reported September 4th. “Seeking to keep the focus away from Mr. Obama and the national economy, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona emphasizes her work for rougher border controls and support for the stimulus money that saved the jobs of local teachers and public safety workers,” the paper said. Her campaign manager, Rodde McLeod, says, “We’re running our own race.” Translation: the man in the White House is now a liability, not an asset.

A related article in the same issue is titled, “In a Shift, Fewer Young Voters See Themselves as Democrats.” Reporter Kirk Johnson writes, “The college vote is up for grabs this year—to an extent that would have seemed unlikely two years ago, when a generation of young people seemed to swoon over Barack Obama.” He quotes Mandi Asay, 22, spokeswoman for the University of Colorado’s College Democrats, as saying: “People are angry—about the budget deficit, health care plan, angry about this and that. I feel like Republicans definitely, definitely have a chance of getting back on their feet.” The percentage of collegians who identify themselves as Democrats has dropped about five points to 57 percent in roughly two years, according to Pew Research Center.

On health care, perhaps the No. 1 concern of liberals after the wars of aggression in the Middle East, Obama surrendered on the public option issue when he might have campaigned for it dramatically in person on hospital doorsteps around the country. Instead, the public got the idea that he regarded it as, well, optional.

And liberals who saw the president as a champion for ecological sanity, are also disillusioned. Writing in the July issue of “Sojourners” magazine, which defines itself as “Faith in Action for Social Justice,” author Bill McKibben writes Obama’s honeymoon with progressive Americans “took what looks like a lethal blow” when oil began washing ashore in the marshes of Louisiana last Spring.

True, Bush had relaxed the relevant environmental regulations “But it was Obama himself who had stood up three weeks before the spill and announced that he was lifting a long-standing moratorium on offshore drilling…” McKibben points out. Obama promised “We’ll be guided not by political ideology, but by scientific evidence,” when, “In fact, the president has basically ignored scientific evidence when it’s come to energy policy,” McKibben wrote.

And Paul Craig Roberts, the former Assistant Treasury Secretary under President Reagan, writes, “Obama… is committed to covering up the Bush regime’s crimes and to ensuring that his own regime can continue to operate in the same illegal and unconstitutional ways.” He points out, “To the consternation of his supporters, Obama is leaving 50,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq. The others are being sent to Afghanistan and to Pakistan, where on Obama’s watch war has broken out big time with already one million refugees from the indiscriminate bombing of civilians.” Says Roberts: “The change that we are witnessing is in Obama, not in policies. Obama is morphing into Dick Cheney.” Obama has even multiplied the illegal CIA drone attacks in Pakistan that have claimed the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians, possibly because he himself has been a long-time clandestine asset of that intelligence agency.

Where President Eisenhower once got a landslide voter response for his campaign slogan of “Peace and Prosperity,” it should surprise no one that President Obama’s failure to deliver either one of those ideals has turned off a nation—-starting with disillusioned liberals and college students whose energies played a major role in his election. As Tom Paine is said to have once remarked of a British politician, “As he rose like the rocket, he fell like the stick.”

Sherwood Ross is a former newspaper and wire service columnist who currently writes a regular column on political and military affairs. Reach him at [email protected]).

La concentración de los medios de comunicación dominantes en manos de algunos grupos privados es un verdadero peligro para la democracia. Y si bien algunos ciudadanos comienzan a comprenderlo, no es menos cierto que estos medios empiezan a ser muy influyentes en función de los intereses que persiguen. Intereses económicos la mayoría de las veces, pero también interés ideológico puesto que por medio de la perennidad de su ideología se podrán desarrollar tanto más fácilmente los intereses económicos que persiguen.

Así, en estos últimos meses, ¡qué no leemos, oímos o vemos en estos mismos medios a propósito de Oriente Medio! Entre las (supuestas) amenazas de un Irán nuclear y las amenazas (reales) de la importante deflagración que supondría atacar a este país; la retirada de Iraq del ejército estadounidense que “sólo” deja ahí 50.000 hombres a pesar del recrudecimiento de los atentados en un país en ruinas; Pakistán devastado por las inundaciones pero socorrido por medio del lanzamiento de paquetes humanitarios por parte de los mismos que los siguen bombardeando con [aviones teledirigidos] drones; el peligroso percance a causa de un árbol en la frontera libanesa o incluso la polémica suscitada por la reanudación de conversaciones directas entre un primer ministro sionista aliado a una extrema derecha profundamente racista y un presidente palestino que actúa sin mandato… ¿Cómo arreglárselas con todo?

Ante el tropel de informaciones aparentemente contradictorias, el objetivo de todas estas puestas en escena (porque es de eso de lo que se trata) es, sin embargo, el mismo: sentar y reforzar todavía más y siempre la ley del más fuerte, del pensamiento dominante y tratar de humillar , con el único fin de sacar el máximo de beneficio, la voz de los pueblos que aunque son mayoritarios están privados de medios equivalentes.

Así, cuando en el espacio de unos días se explota la imagen de la joven Aisha desfigurada, la de Sakineh en peligro de ser lapidada o más recientemente la de Ebrahim, un joven homosexual amenazado con ser colgado, para movilizar a la opinión pública en contra de regímenes políticos que utilizan estos métodos, ¿no habría que preguntarse por la ausencia de movilización de esta misma opinión pública ante las masacres cotidianas actuales a las que se entregan las “fuerzas coaliadas” en estos mismos países que ellas pretenden “liberar” y que sólo son objeto de una reseña en los medios? Más allá de los dramas que constituyen, esta focalización en estos casos particulares, escrupulosamente identificados, ¿acaso no es una manipulación para darnos buena conciencia e indicarnos así que, a pesar de nuestras intervenciones a golpe de armas de destrucción masiva contra unas poblaciones desprovistas de lo elemental (agua, electricidad, comida, alojamiento, medicamentos, atención médica), no habríamos perdido nuestro sentido altruista y que, a decir verdad, hace desaparecer así nuestra mentalidad siempre impregnada de un espíritu colonial? ¿Preocuparnos de pronto de estos casos en medio de los miles de casos anónimos que ignoramos la mayor parte de las veces acaso nos redimiría de nuestros fechorías y de nuestra habitual indiferencia? ¿Nos salvaría lo que nos queda de alma? ¡Qué buen negocio! Y sobre todo, qué hipocresía magistral: efectivamente, es más fácil blandir estos casos articulares e ignorar la ley de la gran cantidad que se sigue avasallando y masacrando con nuestras temibles tecnologías ….hasta el punto de que después sea imposible explotar en una de las revistas sensacionalista unos cuerpos destrozados, pulverizados, irreconocibles … Henos aquí que de este modo hemos logrado estigmatizar sin pestañear la “barbarie” de uno u otro caso… para ocultar mejor la nuestra que prosigue con sus lanzamientos de bombas de fragmentación, de fósforo, de uranio empobrecido, cuando no son las minas antipersona las que seguirán matando inocentes una vez que nuestros “chicos” hayan hecho las maletas y vuelto su país como héroes, orgullosos del “trabajo hecho”. ¡Sentir que uno pertenece a esta sociedad ya no tienen que ver con un mal sueño, sino con una auténtica pesadilla!

Otro acontecimiento que debería atraer nuestra atención en la manipulación de la información es el último ataque de la resistencia palestina contra cuatro colonos israelíes de la región de Hebrón, al sur de Cisjordania. Como siempre ocurre en un caso similar, la información que se nos ha revelado de forma continua subraya lo salvaje de la agresión frente a la pena inconsolable de la comunidad enlutada. En ninguna parte oirán ustedes que unas horas antes un grupo de colonos de esta misma región de Hebrón había ametrallado a una decena de palestinos que trabajaban en sus tierras. Después de todo, este suceso es corriente si no cotidiano. Y, ¿qué son estos palestinos, en otras palabras, estos árabes, en comparación con los piadosos israelíes establecidos ahí para expiar nuestros crímenes y “porque Dios les ha dado esta tierra”? Tampoco se señala en ninguna parte que Hebrón es la ciudad palestina donde hacen estragos los colonos probablemente más violentos que se pueda encontrar en Palestina, ¡unos verdaderos dementes, en realidad! Cualquier persona que haya estado en la región puede dar testimonio de ello. Como tampoco recuerdan en ninguna parte estos medios de comunicación tan conscientes que la ONU considera ilegales TODAS estas colonias. En cambio, no hay que esperar mucho para que estos medios insistan en el apoyo a esta acción por parte de las diversas acciones de la resistencia, (tratadas, no hay ni que decirlo, de “terroristas”) y, la mismo tiempo, su condena por parte de las autoridades oficiales… que se abstienen de censurar la presencia de estos colonos en este entorno.

Y, ¿qué pueden hacer los palestinos leyendo estas repetidas condenas?

- No pueden ni fomentar los atentados suicidas a causa del riesgo de matar civiles; sólo nosotros estamos autorizados a hacerlo con nuestras armas temibles… con el pretexto de aportar la “civilización” a países bárbaros;

- Tampoco pueden enviar a ciegas cohetes debido al mismo riesgo de matar civiles: sólo nosotros estamos capacitados para hacer este tipo de operación y con la ayuda de nuestros drones … nosotros sólo dejamos “daños colaterales”;

- No pueden oponerse al robo de tierras para que se siga construyendo el Muro, considerado ilegal por una gran mayoría de países, vía la Corte International de Justicia de La Haya en 2004… pero cuya orden de detención seguimos siendo incapaces de dar;

- Tienen prohibido armarse para defenderse de una ocupación que, sin embargo, la comunidad internacional reconoce que es ilegal a través de múltiples Resoluciones de la ONU…sin aplicar;

- Por no hablar de Gaza, este laboratorio en el que están enjaulados como ratas y donde el ocupante experimenta lo peor, obligándoles a excavar galerías para sobrevivir sin que ningún Estado occidental tenga el valor de condenar sin la menor ambigüedad a la entidad sionista por la ignominia de sus crímenes;

- Todo lo más, pueden desfilar pacíficamente, y aún así, evitando arrojar la menor piedra al ejército de ocupación… so pena de acabar en las cárceles israelíes para algunos años;

- Y se les pide además que garanticen la seguridad del ocupante y se acosa a todas aquellas personas que quieren resistirse a él, tarea a la que se dedican muy afanosamente los representantes de la Autoridad Palestina del no elegido presidente palestino Abbas… transformados así en colaboradores activos.

Mientras tanto, ¿a qué estamos asistiendo? A nada que no sea a cómo la entidad sionista prosigue cotidianamente la colonización de Palestina, a una enésima ronda de negociaciones de la que todo el mundo sabe que los dados están trucados de antemano. El asno palestino de Abbas empuja, pues, su viejo morro hacia el buey sionista del que él sabe que no debe esperar nada. ¿Por qué asno?, me dirán ustedes. Porque sólo a un asno se le hace avanzar con una zanahoria en una mano y el palo estadounidense en la otra. Entonces, ¿por qué el buey? Porque me parece que el primer ministro Netanyahu tiene una actitud grosera. Pero esta vez, estos dos no se inclinarán sobre un recién nacido. Sólo podrán constatar el aborto programado de un Estado comparsa que no se establecerá NUNCA sobre las pocas parcelas desperdigadas que le destina el obtuso ocupante desde la punta de sus napias. 

Texto original en francés :  http://www.mondialisation.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=20884

Traducido del francés para Rebelión por Beatriz Morales Bastos

A top Belgian politician warned the country’s citizens on Sunday to “get ready for the break-up of Belgium,” as King Albert II seeks to relaunch knife-edge coalition talks.

Leading francophone Socialist Laurette Onkelinx, considered a potential successor to party chief Elio Di Rupo, who gave up on negotiations with separatist Flemish leaders on Friday, gave her prognosis in a newspaper interview.

“Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that because if we split, it will be the weakest who will pay the heaviest price,” she told La Derniere Heure. “On the other hand, we can no longer ignore that among a large part of the Flemish population, it’s their wish.

“So yes, we have to get ready for the break-up of Belgium. Otherwise we’re cooked.

“When I look at the letters I receive, loads of people think it’s possible. (Our) politicians have to be prepared,” underlined the current caretaker federal minister for health and social affairs.

Albert II tasked late on Saturday the respective speakers of Belgium’s French-speaking Wallonia and Dutch-speaking Flanders state parliaments to try once more to navigate seven-party talks aimed at securing some form of government, other than the existing day-to-day formation.

That came after seven weeks of efforts by Di Rupo, who says that the biggest Flemish party, the independence-minded New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), rejected the widest set of concessions towards full autonomy for Flanders in Belgium’s tortured recent history.

Belgium, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union until the end of the year, adding a further layer to the pressure on the sovereign, has not been able to point to a stable government since June 2007.

The stark comments from Onkelinx followed those of another leading francophone Socialist, Philippe Moureaux, who has said Belgium was on the verge of a “progressive organisation of separation.”

Formerly taboo among the poorer francophone parts of Belgium, the prospect of going it alone is no longer considered so — with a third senior official, the head of the Wallonia state government, Rudy Demotte, also telling RTBF radio that “all options” are now open.

Demotte added that Wallonia and the capital region of Brussels, the third federal state and increasingly the focus of arguments about financial settlements, had the wherewithal “to see what we can do ourselves without waiting for tomorrow.”

While located within Flanders’ borders, Brussels is officially bi-lingual, although recent studies have shown accelerating numbers of registered French speakers, including the nearly one-in-three who hail from abroad.

Tens of thousands of Flemish people, meanwhile, took part on Sunday in an annual demonstration which consists in symbolically “encircling” Brussels by bike or on foot, to remind locals that they are surrounded by Flanders.

CADTM

Red Europa

Los gobiernos utilizan frecuentemente la deuda pública como argumento para imponer planes de austeridad.

Pero la deuda pública no es sólo útil como pretexto para que la población tenga que pagar cada vez más. También constituye un verdadero expolio  para los pueblos.

La deuda pública es la consecuencia directa de las políticas presupuestarias y fiscales favorables a las clases sociales acomodadas y a las grandes empresas. Al reducir la implicación del Estado y las contribuciones pagadas por los más ricos, se disparan los déficit públicos, mientras que se cumple cada vez en menor medida con las necesidades sociales de la mayoría.

Los beneficiarios de esta generosidad fiscal y social consiguieron un ahorro que no necesitaban. Aprovecharon para aumentar su fortuna, que en parte invirtieron en apetitosas obligaciones del Estado.

Esto les ha permitido ganar en los dos frentes: tienen menos impuestos que pagar y una renta garantizada proveniente de la deuda pública. En otras palabras, los gobiernos, por medio de sucesivas leyes fiscales permitieron a las empresas nacionales y extranjeras reforzar su posición de acreedoras del Estado y de capacitarse para chantajear a los poderes públicos, mientras obtienen grandes ganancias.

La deuda pública también aumento muchísimo a raíz de los generosos planes de salvataje concedidos al sector financiero por los Estados después de la crisis que comenzó en 2007/2008. Los gobiernos optaron por reflotar los bancos, pero sin aprovechar para imponerles el abandono de las prácticas que condujeron a la crisis. Por lo tanto este salvataje se hizo sin verdaderas contrapartidas. Aunque, realmente, las sumas comprometidas en la operación fueron asombrosas: al menos 700.000 millones de dólares en Estados Unidos, 500.000 millones de libras en el Reino Unido y 1,7 billones de euros en la zona euro. De esta manera los gobiernos gastaron el dinero público para socorrer a los operadores financieros culpables de graves errores antes de esta crisis y que continúan especulando contra las deudas de los Estados.

En consecuencia, la deuda pública de la Unión Europea pasó de 7,3 a 8,7 billones de euros entre 2007 y 2009. Este rápido aumento de la deuda conlleva reembolsos de capital e interés en fuerte subida. Los Estados toman esta situación como pretexto para imponer planes de austeridad draconianos que provocan un verdadero desmantelamiento de la protección social y de los servicios públicos.

La población  pierde dos veces: sufre las consecuencias sociales de la crisis (desempleo, precariedad, congelación de salarios, retraso de la edad de jubilación, etc.) y también sufre la sangría del Estado a través de los planes de rescate de los bancos y de los planes de austeridad.

Los culpables de la crisis salen casi indemnes y pueden continuar su carrera hacia los beneficios ya que se les ha dejado las manos libres. Las víctimas de la crisis deben pagar y ver cómo se degradan sus condiciones de vida. ¡Se debe terminar con este secuestro real de las finanzas públicas!

Hay que rechazar los planes de austeridad y atacar la raíz del problema

El CADTM plantea 8 propuestas alternativas para constituir una plataforma común de reivindicaciones de los movimientos sociales y políticos

 

1. Expropiar los bancos para transferirlos al sector público bajo control ciudadano

No existe una regulación duradera posible con instituciones financieras privadas. Los Estados deben retomar su capacidad de control y de orientación de la actividad económica y financiera.

2. Decretar una moratoria unilateral (sin acumulación de intereses por morosidad) sobre el pago de la deuda mientras se realiza una auditoría (con participación ciudadana) de los créditos públicos —el deudor es el Estado—. De acuerdo a los resultados de esta auditoría, se deberá anular la deuda identificada como ilegítima.

Con su experiencia sobre el problema de la deuda en los países del Sur, el CADTM advierte contra una reivindicación insuficiente, como una simple suspensión del reembolso de la deuda. Se necesita una moratoria, sin los intereses de morosidad, de las sumas no reembolsadas.

La moratoria se aprovecha para proceder a un examen de los préstamos con el fin de identificar las deudas ilegítimas. La participación ciudadana es la condición imperativa para garantizar la objetividad y la transparencia de la auditoría. Permitirá determinar las diferentes responsabilidades en los procesos de endeudamiento y de exigir que los responsables rindan cuentas a la colectividad. Las deudas identificadas como odiosas o ilegítimas deben ser anuladas.

3. Instaurar una verdadera justicia fiscal europea y una justa redistribución de la riqueza. Prohibir los paraísos fiscales. Gravar fuertemente las transacciones financieras.

Es imprescindible hacer una reforma en profundidad de la fiscalidad que lleve a una armonización europea que permita impedir el dumping fiscal. El objetivo es un aumento de los ingresos públicos, especialmente mediante el IRPF y el impuesto sobre sociedades, y una reducción del precio de acceso a los bienes y servicios de primera necesidad (alimentos básicos, agua, electricidad, calefacción, transportes públicos, etc.), esencialmente, a través de una fuerte y discriminada rebaja del IVA de esos bienes y servicios vitales.

Desde 1980, continúan bajando los impuestos directos que pagan las rentas más altas y las grandes empresas. En la Unión Europea, entre 2000 y 2008, los tipos superiores del impuesto sobre la renta y del impuesto de sociedades bajaron 7 y 8,5 puntos respectivamente. Estos miles de millones de euros de regalo fiscal se orientaron, principalmente, a la especulación y a la acumulación de riqueza por parte de los más ricos.

Es necesario prohibir cualquier transacción que pase por los paraísos fiscales. En todas las reuniones del G20 se rechazó, a pesar de las declaraciones de intención, atacar realmente a los paraísos judiciales y fiscales. Hay que prohibir esos agujeros negros de las finanzas de la corrupción, de la delincuencia de alto nivel y de los tráficos ilegales. Se debe agregar al carácter progresivo de la tasa, un impuesto disuasivo para las transacciones especulativas y sobre los ingresos de los acreedores de la deuda.

4. Luchar contra el fraude fiscal masivo de las grandes empresas y de los más ricos

El fraude fiscal priva de medios considerables a la colectividad y actúa en contra del empleo. Se debe proveer de medios públicos eficientes a los servicios de finanzas para luchar seriamente contra este fraude. Los resultados deben ser publicados y los culpables fuertemente sancionados.

5. Disciplinar los mercados financieros, principalmente mediante la creación de un registro de propietarios de títulos y por la prohibición de las ventas al descubierto.

La especulación a escala mundial representa varias veces la riqueza producida en el planeta. Los montajes sofisticados de la mecánica financiera la vuelve completamente incontrolable. Los engranajes que promueve desestructuran la economía real. La opacidad en las transacciones financieras es la regla. Para gravar las acreencias en su fuente, es necesario identificarlas. La dictadura de los mercados debe terminar.

6. Reducir radicalmente el tiempo de trabajo para crear empleos, pero aumentando los salarios y las pensiones.

Repartir de otra manera las riquezas es la mejor respuesta a la crisis. La parte de la riqueza producida destinada a los asalariados se redujo netamente, mientras que los acreedores y las empresas aumentaron sus beneficios para luego dedicarlos a la especulación. Al aumentar los salarios, no sólo se favorece el poder de compra de la población sino que se refuerzan los medios de la protección social y de los regímenes de pensiones.

Disminuyendo el tiempo de trabajo sin reducción del salario y creando empleos, se mejora la calidad de vida de la población.

7. Socializar las numerosas empresas y servicios privatizados en el curso de los últimos treinta años.

Una característica de estos últimos treinta años fue la privatización de gran número de empresas y servicios públicos. Desde bancos hasta el sector industrial, pasando por correos, telecomunicaciones, energía y transportes, los gobiernos dejaron al sector privado partes de la economía y por ese proceso perdieron cualquier capacidad de regulación de la economía. Esos bienes públicos, producidos por el trabajo colectivo deben retornar al dominio público.

8. Por una asamblea constituyente de los pueblos para otra unión europea.

La Unión Europea surgida de los tratados constitucionales impuestos a las poblaciones es una verdadera máquina de guerra al servicio del capital y de las finanzas. Debe ser totalmente refundada por un proceso constituyente en el que la palabra de las poblaciones sea finalmente tomada en consideración. Esta otra Europa democratizada debe trabajar por la armonización por lo alto de la justicia fiscal y social, de manera de permitir un aumento del nivel y de la calidad de vida de sus habitantes, la retirada de las tropas de Afganistán y la salida de la OTAN, la reducción radical de sus gastos militares, la prohibición de las armas nucleares y el compromiso firme en el desarme. Debe poner fin también a su política de fortaleza asediada por los candidatos a la inmigración, convertirse en un socio equitativo y realmente solidario con los pueblos del Sur del planeta.

¡Rompamos con la dominación del gran capital!

Actualmente, las instituciones financieras, en el origen de la crisis, se enriquecen y especulan con las deudas de los Estados, con la complicidad activa de la Comisión Europea, del Banco Central Europeo y del FMI para satisfacer los intereses de los grandes accionistas y de los acreedores. Este enriquecimiento privado, permitido por los regalos fiscales y sociales de los gobiernos y acelerado por los planes de austeridad, debe terminar.

La reducción de los déficit públicos se debe hacer mediante el aumento de los ingresos fiscales, gravando en mayor medida tanto al capital (empresas y capital financiero) como a la renta, al patrimonio de las familias ricas y a las transacciones financieras y no por la reducción de los gastos sociales públicos. Para conseguir esto, hay que romper con la lógica capitalista e imponer un cambio radical de la sociedad. Contrariamente al capitalismo que sufrimos en la actualidad, la nueva lógica que hemos de construir deberá integrar el aspecto ecológico y romper con el productivismo.

Nuestras reivindicaciones son respuestas concretas a la crisis en el interés de los pueblos. Anular la deuda ilegítima es un acto de soberanía de los Estados y de los pueblos. Para nosotros la salida de la crisis debe hacerse teniendo en cuenta el interés de las poblaciones.

Proponemos reunir las energías, en un frente anticrisis a escala europea pero también a escala local, para crear una relación de fuerza favorable para poder poner en práctica soluciones radicales centradas en la justicia social.

¡Juntos, para imponer otra lógica!

¡Anular la deuda ilegítima es posible y es el interés de los pueblos!

Hubo en la historia numerosas anulaciones de deudas en los países del Sur y en los del Norte, a veces unilaterales, otras validadas por la justicia, a veces concedidas bajo la presión de las potencias dominantes.

  El derecho internacional es rico en doctrinas y en jurisprudencias que pueden permitir, y por otro lado ya han permitido, los fundamentos de anulaciones o repudios de deuda.

  Un ejemplo emblemático: el CADTM participó activamente en la auditoría de la deuda del Ecuador en 2007/2008. Esta auditoría permitió al gobierno anular deudas ilegítimas y economizar 300 millones de dólares por año durante 20 años. Este dinero está ahora dedicado al mejoramiento de la sanidad pública, de la educación y a la creación de empleo.

  Estas medidas, por insuficientes que sean, marcan avances nada despreciables, que pueden ser utilizados por los movimientos sociales del Sur y del Norte para exigir la anulación total e incondicional de la deuda ilegítima.

  Esta anulación es actualmente una necesidad y una urgencia puesto que el dinero sustraído a los fines sociales y dedicado a los pagos perjudica al ejercicio de los derechos económicos, sociales y culturales de las poblaciones.

Impugnar la deuda pública y exigir una auditoría ciudadana es hoy indisociable de la lucha contra los planes de austeridad

Traducido por Griselda Pinero y Raul Quiroz.

Dick Cheney’s Oily Dream

September 6th, 2010 by Washington's Blog

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is currently saying that Dick Cheney’s vision of policy towards the Middle East after 9/11 was to re-draw the map:

Vice-President Dick Cheney’s vision of completely redrawing the map of the Middle East following the 9/11 attacks is “not stupid,” and is “possible over time,” former British Prime Minister Tony Blair says.

In his new book, A Journey, the former Labour Party leader wrote that Cheney wanted a wholesale reorganization of the political map of the Middle East after 9/11. The vice president “would have worked through the whole lot, Iraq, Syria, Iran, dealing with all their surrogates in the course of it — Hezbollah, Hamas, etc,” Blair wrote.

What does this mean?

Well, as I have repeatedly pointed out, the “war on terror” in the Middle East has nothing to do with combating terror, and everything to do with remaking that region’s geopolitical situation to America’s advantage.

For example, as I noted in January::

Starting right after 9/11 — at the latest — the goal has always been to create “regime change” and instability in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and Lebanon; the goal was never really to destroy Al Qaeda. As American reporter Gareth Porter writes in Asia Times:

Three weeks after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, former US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld established an official military objective of not only removing the Saddam Hussein regime by force but overturning the regime in Iran, as well as in Syria and four other countries in the Middle East, according to a document quoted extensively in then-under secretary of defense for policy Douglas Feith’s recently published account of the Iraq war decisions. Feith’s account further indicates that this aggressive aim of remaking the map of the Middle East by military force and the threat of force was supported explicitly by the country’s top military leaders.

Feith’s book, War and Decision, released last month, provides excerpts of the paper Rumsfeld sent to President George W Bush on September 30, 2001, calling for the administration to focus not on taking down Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network but on the aim of establishing “new regimes” in a series of states…

***

General Wesley Clark, who commanded the North Atlantic Treaty Organization bombing campaign in the Kosovo war, recalls in his 2003 book Winning Modern Wars being told by a friend in the Pentagon in November 2001 that the list of states that Rumsfeld and deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz wanted to take down included Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan and Somalia [and Lebanon].

***

When this writer asked Feith . . . which of the six regimes on the Clark list were included in the Rumsfeld paper, he replied, “All of them.”

***

The Defense Department guidance document made it clear that US military aims in regard to those states would go well beyond any ties to terrorism. The document said the Defense Department would also seek to isolate and weaken those states and to “disrupt, damage or destroy” their military capacities – not necessarily limited to weapons of mass destruction (WMD)…

Rumsfeld’s paper was given to the White House only two weeks after Bush had approved a US military operation in Afghanistan directed against bin Laden and the Taliban regime. Despite that decision, Rumsfeld’s proposal called explicitly for postponing indefinitely US airstrikes and the use of ground forces in support of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance in order to try to catch bin Laden.

Instead, the Rumsfeld paper argued that the US should target states that had supported anti-Israel forces such as Hezbollah and Hamas.

***

After the bombing of two US embassies in East Africa [in 1998] by al-Qaeda operatives, State Department counter-terrorism official Michael Sheehan proposed supporting the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance in Afghanistan against bin Laden’s sponsor, the Taliban regime. However, senior US military leaders “refused to consider it”, according to a 2004 account by Richard H Shultz, Junior, a military specialist at Tufts University.

A senior officer on the Joint Staff told State Department counter-terrorism director Sheehan he had heard terrorist strikes characterized more than once by colleagues as a “small price to pay for being a superpower”.

No wonder former U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski told the Senate that the war on terror is “a mythical historical narrative”.

But can Cheney’s desires can’t be equated to U.S. foreign policy as a whole? Well, the number two man at the State Department, Lawrence Wilkerson, said:

The vice president and the secretary of defense created a “Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal” that hijacked U.S. foreign policy.

And Cheney was the guy who set up the secret shop at the Pentagon to bypass the intelligence agencies and push fake “intelligence” showing that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

And as I wrote in 2009:

5 hours after the 9/11 attacks, Donald Rumsfeld said “my interest is to hit Saddam”.

He also said “Go massive . . . Sweep it all up. Things related and not.”

And at 2:40 p.m. on September 11th, in a memorandum of discussions between top administration officials, several lines below the statement “judge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. [that is, Saddam Hussein] at same time”, is the statement “Hard to get a good case.” In other words, top officials knew that there wasn’t a good case that Hussein was behind 9/11, but they wanted to use the 9/11 attacks as an excuse to justify war with Iraq anyway.

Moreover, “Ten days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush was told in a highly classified briefing that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the [9/11] attacks and that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda”.

And a Defense Intelligence Terrorism Summary issued in February 2002 by the United States Defense Intelligence Agency cast significant doubt on the possibility of a Saddam Hussein-al-Qaeda conspiracy.

And yet Bush, Cheney and other top administration officials claimed repeatedly for years that Saddam was behind 9/11. See this analysis. Indeed, Bush administration officials apparently swore in a lawsuit that Saddam was behind 9/11.

Moreover, President Bush’s March 18, 2003 letter to Congress authorizing the use of force against Iraq, includes the following paragraph:

(2) acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

Therefore, the Bush administration expressly justified the Iraq war to Congress by representing that Iraq planned, authorized, committed, or aided the 9/11 attacks. See this.

Indeed, the torture program which Cheney created was specifically aimed at producing false confessions in an attempt to link Iraq and 9/11.

So it should be clear to any honest, thinking person that Cheney and the U.S. used 9/11 as a pretext to redraw the map of the Middle East.

Cheney’s Oily Dream

But that doesn’t mean the Cheney’s goals had any impact on 9/11, right?

Well, it is surely just a coincidence that the Afghanistan war was planned before 9/11. See this and this.

And that top British officials, former CIA director George Tenet, former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill and many others say that the Iraq war was planned before 9/11.

Alan Greenspan, John McCain, George W. Bush, a high-level National Security Council officer and others say that the Iraq war was really about oil. They must be conspiracy theorists.

And it is surely meaningless that Cheney made Iraqi’s oil fields a national security priority before 9/11. As I pointed out in 2008:

You may have heard that the Energy Task Force chaired by Dick Cheney prior to 9/11 collected maps of Iraqi oil, Saudi and United Arab Emerates fields and potential suitors for that oil. And you might have heard that the oil bigs attended the Task Force meetings.

But you probably haven’t heard that – according to the New Yorker – a secret document written by the National Security Council (NSC) on February 3, 2001 directed NSC staff to cooperate fully with the Energy Task Force as it considered the “melding” of two seemingly unrelated areas of policy:

“The review of operational policies towards rogue states,” such as Iraq, and “actions regarding the capture of new and existing oil and gas fields”.

It is difficult to brush off Cheney’s Energy Task Force’s examination of arab oil maps as a harmless comparison of American energy policy with known oil reserves because the NSC explicitly linked the Task Force, oil, and regime change.

But don’t believe me…

The above-linked New Yorker article quotes a former senior director for Russian, Ukrainian, and Eurasian affairs at the NSC said:

If this little group was discussing geostrategic plans for oil, it puts the issue of war in the context of the captains of the oil industry sitting down with Cheney and laying grand, global plans.

See also this essay.

As I wrote last year:

CIA director Leon Panetta told the New Yorker:

When you read behind it, it’s almost as if he’s wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point.

News commentator Ed Schultz said today that Cheney is wishing for a terrorist attack on the U.S.

What should we make of all this?

Well, everyone knows that Cheney is ruthless:

Cheney is also the guy who:

***

A well-known writer said of Dick Cheney:

For his entire career, he sought untrammeled power. The Bush presidency and 9/11 finally gave it to him . . . .

***

Cheney also knew 9/11 was going to happen. The government knew that terrorists could use planes as weapons — and had even run its own drills of planes being used as weapons against the World Trade Center and other U.S. high-profile buildings, using REAL airplanes — all before 9/11. Indeed, the government heard the 9/11 plans from the hijackers’ own mouths before 9/11.

Indeed, Cheney was in charge of all counter-terrorism exercises, activities and responses on 9/11 (see this Department of State announcement; this CNN article; and this essay).

***

The Secretary of Transportation testified to the 9/11 Commission:

“During the time that the airplane was coming into the Pentagon, there was a young man who would come in and say to the Vice President … the plane is 50 miles out…the plane is 30 miles out….and when it got down to the plane is 10 miles out, the young man also said to the vice president “do the orders still stand?” And the Vice President turned and whipped his neck around and said “Of course the orders still stand, have you heard anything to the contrary!?”

(this testimony is confirmed here and here).

Could it be that Cheney got so lost in his dreams of redrawing the map of the Middle East (and grabbing some oil along the way) that he – as the guy in charge of all counter-terrorism efforts for the United States on 9/11 – spaced out and forgot to engage America’s standard air defenses?

I don’t know … But – unfortunately – Cheney’s oily dream has turned into a nightmare for America. See this, this and this.

Zivka Mijic, 46, talks about her family’s narrow escape from Croatia in the Balkan War. She and her family now live in Stickney. (Zbigniew Bzdak, Chicago Tribune / September 5, 2010)

Share Topics Trials War Crimes Religious Conflicts See more topics » By Ron Grossman, Tribune reporter http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-met-balkan-war-lawsuit-20100905,0,4744078,full.story September 5, 2010 E-mailPrintShare Text Size

Zivka Mijic doesn’t burden people with her troubles — which would be impractical anyway, unless the other person spoke Serbian — but she does want the tragic story of what brought her family to a Chicago suburb told in federal court.

“If I had even a spoon from over there, I’d hang it on the wall to remember,” Mijic, 46, said. Her son Branislav Mijic, 23, was translating. Alternating between his mother’s words and his own, Branislav explained why the Mijics have no souvenirs of their homeland.

On Aug. 4, 1995, artillery shells started falling on a village in Krajina, where the Mijics lived in what had been Yugoslavia before ethnic conflicts tore it apart. The Mijics harnessed theirhorses Soko and Cestar to a wagon and joined the crowd of fleeing villagers. It was 2 in the morning, the artillery fire lighting up a neighbor who had been traveling with them. He was decapitated by an incoming shell.

“If you weren’t there, you can’t feel what it was like,” said Zivika, who lives with her husband, Nedeljko, 46, three sons and a sister in a modest home in Stickney, no different from neighboring ones except for the bitter memories it houses. In a way, the Mijics’ saga is a common denominator of the immigrant experience: Driven abroad by war, poverty or oppression, families rebuild their lives in America.

But there is an unexpected, albeit difficult to prove, twist to the Mijics’ story: The class-action lawsuit recently filed in Chicago, to which Zivka is a party, alleges that American mercenaries were behind their suffering.

As her lawyers see it, during the Balkan War of the 1990s, America began to “outsource” some of the dirty work of war and diplomacy to private contractors. They allege that behind the early morning attack that the Croats dubbed “Operation Storm” was a northern Virginia-based consulting company called MPRI Inc., made up of former high-ranking U.S. military officers that included a chief architect of Operation Desert Storm a few years earlier in Iraq.

What the Mijics and other Serbs in Croatia went through, their lawyers allege, was a proving grounds for the kind of brutal strategy orchestrated later in Iraq by the now infamous Blackwater Worldwide company, another private military contractor whose security guards were charged by the Justice Department in 2008 with killing at least 17 Iraqi civilians during a firefight the year before.

“MPRI is the granddaddy of Blackwater,” said Robert Pavich, one of the lawyers representing Mijic and other Serbs.

MPRI was acquired in 2002 by another defense contractor, L-3 Communications. Officials from L-3 say the lawsuit is baseless.

“The suit is without merit, and L-3 intends to vigorously defend itself against these charges. Beyond that, the company has no additional comment at this time,” said L-3 spokeswoman Jennifer Barton in an e-mailed statement.

Since the events, the company has consistently denied involvement in the Krajina offensive. But it has benefited from speculation that it took part in it, said a former senior U.S. diplomat deeply knowledgeable in the Balkan Wars.

“The perception that they did run it helped turn them from a small company to a major contractor,” the diplomat said. “Afterwards, everyone wanted them to do what they thought MPRI had done in Croatia.”

The Mijics see the lawsuit as a chance to regain a little of what they had lost.

“Everything we had was taken from us,” said Branislav.

The Mijics lived comfortably as farmers in Yugoslavia, a nation cobbled together out of incompatible parts after World War I. Serbs and Croats, Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Muslims were thrown together, despite centuries of mutual antagonisms. When the country began to disintegrate during the early 1990s, it wasn’t possible to separate the pieces neatly, and warring communities mutually committed atrocities.

The Mijic family lived in Krajina, a Serbian enclave inside what became Croatia, which the Croatians were determined to eliminate in 1995.

“Upwards of 180,000 Serbs would flee the province under duress, the worst single incident of ethnic cleansing in the entire sequence of Yugoslav wars,” R. Craig Nation, a historian at the U.S. Army War College, wrote about Operation Storm in his study “War in the Balkans, 1992-2002.”

The Mijics experienced the Croatian offensive as 13 days of terror on roads clogged with refugees fleeing to Serbia, with little food to eat and only rainwater to drink.

“Sometimes you could only go 20 feet,” explained Branislav, who was 8 then but has vivid memories of the bloody journey. “When bombs fell on the column, dead horses and people and wrecked cars blocked the way.”

The Croatian army, described in the lawsuit as “a rag-tag rifle-carrying infantry” was ill-equipped for the bombing task, said Anthony D’Amato, another attorney on the case.

The army previously had performed poorly during the wars that followed the collapse of the Yugoslav state, he said. The maneuver in Krajina required pinpoint targeting to avoid hitting Croatian villages and U.N. peacekeeper bases. Striking crowds of civilians on a road is no mean military feat. Where did the Croatians come by their newfound skill?

“They hired MPRI,” said D’Amato, a Northwestern University law professor who has participated in a number of war-crimes lawsuits.

Such historical disputes often remain unresolved for decades, the relevant documents kept under seal in government archives. But as a private corporation, MPRI’s files are subject to subpoena, and it did have a contract with the Croatian military in 1995.

Peter Galbraith, U.S. ambassador to Croatia at the time, acknowledged the contract’s existence as a witness in the recent trial of Slobodan Milosevic at the Hague War Crimes Tribunal. Croatian leaders are currently on trial there, and testimony and previously unavailable documents produced at those trials makes the suit against MPRI possible.

For example, Slobodan Prajak, a Croatian military official currently on trial in the Hague, explained who was in charge of the operation by testifying: “…that’s why we have the organization MPRI in Croatian army, with the top American generals whom we paid and who helped us to prepare Storm and Flash.”

The notion that a U.S.-backed company would secretly orchestrate a successful Croat offensive in what at the time had been a Serbian-dominated conflict isn’t far-fetched, given the military and diplomatic situation, D’Amato argued.

Richard Holbrooke, a U.S. assistant secretary of state, was looking for a formula to end the fighting.

“As diplomats we could not expect the Serbs to be conciliatory at the negotiating table as long as they had experienced nothing but success on the battlefield,” Holbrooke wrote in a memoir, “To End a War.”

Whether MPRI was also hired to direct the Croatian offensive could be answered in a courtroom at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse.

The Mijics and their attorneys are so far taking heart in the fact that a federal judge in a similar lawsuit filed against MPRI in Maryland — alleging that its personnel tortured detainees in Iraq while serving another U.S. contract during the mid-2000s — recently allowed that case to go forward. MPRI is appealing that ruling.

For the Mijics, the wait occurs amid the trappings of a new life, where a gigantic television set in their living room symbolizes their having made it to the American middle class.

But it was a difficult and long passage. They made it through the shelling to the relative safety of Serbia, only to be resettled later in Kosovo. There, they were caught up in the fighting between ethnic Albanians and government forces.

In 2000, the family arrived in the Chicago area, where Nedejko Mijic eventually opened a landscaping business.

In her simply furnished home, Zivka sometimes dreams of the happy times before Operation Storm. On other nights, her mind revisits the incoming shells and their perilous flight.

“You wake up too soon from the good dreams,” she said.

This Labour Day, like the last two, is dominated by the ongoing global economic crisis. Since 2008 Canada’s workers, working families, and the communities in which we make our lives, have endured a period of deep economic insecurity the likes of which we have not seen since the Great Depression. The crisis began in the financial sector, amongst bankers, brokers, lawyers, and financial engineers of all sorts when the credit bubbles supporting the casino economy of derivatives, collateralized debt obligations, credit default swaps and other financial instruments began to deflate. What was revealed was not just the speculation and fraud these instruments enabled, but also the overaccumulation in key sectors such as housing, automobiles, electronics and others. It also has shown some of the limits of more than thirty years of the neoliberal politics of leaving key political and economic decisions to the markets and corporations to do what is best for business.

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What began as a crisis in the bowels of the world of finance has been shifted into the public sector and now though the various ‘exits of austerity’ governments have been imposing onto the shoulders of workers, and particularly poor workers, who had nothing to do with that crisis. Canada is not alone in this. From California to Latvia workers are seeing their incomes and pensions cut not for a year but permanently. Young workers, migrant workers, female workers are all being told, yet again, that they will have to work for much less and in much greater fear of job loss as a matter of the realities of modern working life. Equal access to health care, rewarding education, decent pensions, adequate housing – keys to the quality of individual livelihoods – are evaporating. Good, stable jobs are being replaced by short-term contracts and the further growth of precarious work.

Turning Back the Clock

For the leaders of the major corporations, the crisis also represents a potential ‘golden’ opportunity. The opportunity lies with the huge potential profits to be made from the de-unionization of the workforce, the privatization of public services, the decline in corporate and progressive income taxes, and the short-circuiting of collective bargaining. There’s money to be made from private health care, education, electricity production, cheap but quality labour and more. Politically, it’s a great opportunity to turn the clock back to a time when they were not taxed on those profits, when there were few taxes on the wealthy to help pay for public health care, when only those who preached free enterprise could afford to buy the requisite education to be eligible to enter quality jobs and careers, when workers would accept what they were given and ask for nothing more.

With this year’s spring budgets, the governments of Stephen Harper and Dalton McGuinty made it clear that workers should prepare for a future of austerity. The International Monetary Fund and other neoliberal institutions have been suggesting that two decades of austerity is not out of line. Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has suggested, unsurprisingly, not much different. And provincial and territorial treasuries across Canada are moving in the same direction, with city, regional and Aboriginal governments all following in step.

Austerity and Public Sector Wage Freezes in Ontario

In Ontario, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan has essentially proposed seven years of cuts to those very public services that have enabled a decent life for many – a society of partial inclusion, as some have called it. The Ontario Budget makes no attempt to hide that by 2017 what is spent on public services will be no more than what was spent during Mike Harris’ Common Sense Revolution. What will be different is that Ontario will be home to nearly a million more people, meaning those expenditures are being spread ever more thinly across Ontario.

What is at stake today is not just a two year wage freeze for public sector workers, but rather a transformation in how Ontario workers and working class families will live and what we can expect for ourselves and future generations. It is not about recovery. It is not about waiting a couple of years before we go back to what was.

This moment is about the winding down and permanent disabling of the legal rights and public services, put in place in the 1940s, and the union and working peoples’ struggles that help bring a measure of social justice and equality to Ontario.

Free and democratic collective bargaining gave Ontario’s workers the foundation necessary to advance not just economic security but also dignity as democratic citizens engaged in political struggle as well. That right is being challenged through the McGuinty government’s veiled threats that unions agree to cuts in wages, pensions and working conditions or else face stiffer restraints. The ‘or else’ means there may well be legislative intervention to impose austerity on public sector workers as we have seen so often from wage controls in the 1970s through to the Social Contract in 1993. It already means there will be direct cuts to budgets and public sector managers are being left to cope with layoffs, contracting-out and service cuts as best as they can.

Who Pays?

This is the path chosen by the McGuinty (and Harper) government(s). And it resembles the path chosen by other governments across Canada, the United States, Greece, Britain, Spain, and more. The difference is in the details. What is astonishing is the rather deafening silence from the governments of other options – the McGuinty Liberals (and Harper Conservatives) are too busy restoring the banking sector and protecting the ruling classes from new tax burdens. There has been an explicit rejection that corporate income tax cuts and personal income tax cuts, introduced by Mike Harris and sustained and deepened by McGuinty’s government, be reversed. In real terms, this means, if allowed to proceed unchallenged, that increasingly profitable corporations and their well compensated executives and managers, are ‘off the hook.’ It is workers – both public and private – who are to pay for the crisis and to do so for a very long time.

The story that is being spun by Canadian governments and business elites is that this is a crisis of spendthrift governments and privileged workers and not of the bankers, the financial system and the recklessness of neoliberal policies. These arguments must be confronted.

This moment in history and working class struggle may well be a watershed. As the capitalist classes attempt to dump the costs of the greatest financial disaster in history into the public sector and have workers pay for it, there will be no going back to a more comfortable period of collective bargaining and welfare state advance.

Radical Response

For workers across Canada, and indeed everywhere, a radical response will be needed to the challenge that the turn to austerity raises. By ‘radical’ we mean a response that challenges and confronts the very foundations of ruling class power that privileges corporate freedom to exploit the planet and its people unto death over the freedom of working class people to have full, meaningful and dignified lives. This is a profoundly democratic proposition. Struggles about occupational health and safety, for example, are ultimately about who controls the workplace. Struggles over austerity and who pays for the economic crisis are struggles over who controls the state and who controls production. A radical response is about raising fundamental questions about who controls our lives.

Concretely this radical response of working people is a challenge to a system that enables and rewards and encourages systemic fraud, over-consumption of resources, the degradation of the environment, the erosion of public spaces and the increasing exploitation of workplaces.

A radical response must present a different vision – a vision shaped by meeting human needs. Some of these needs are social and health services, affordable housing, daycare, recreation, culture, education, and public transit – the elements necessary to a full and dignified life with provision for all. Change of this type does not come from above. And all of us as workers – alongside the other struggles we engage with against racism, colonialism, sexism and much else – can bring this world into being.

It is necessary, however, to take a sober look at our own limitations and constraints. Our unions and much of the leadership have lost faith in the capacity of workers to imagine and struggle for a different world. In doing so, they have too often been helping manage the decline of working class living standards and freedoms, rather than leading in re-creating our union movement and helping forge a new socialist politics.

In countries like Greece, Spain, Portugal, Iceland and Britain, social democratic parties – all still holding the support of union leaderships – have been leading the charge for austerity, defending capitalism and insisting workers bear the cost of ‘adjustment’ to the new economic times. Where the New Democratic Party holds provincial power in Canada, there is no evidence of an alternative to austerity being mapped out. Social democracy has all but completely abandoned redistributional politics for social liberalism. These parties and the labourist ideological hold they maintain over union leaderships are clearly major obstacles to an anti-neoliberal political alternative emerging.

In the Ontario context, the Liberals represent a variation on this theme. McGuinty wants to avoid a confrontation with workers and we all fear a sharp turn to the right that will bring the Conservatives to power. Since the premiership of Bob Rae, the NDP has been a marginal force. The McGuinty Liberals understand the political calculation being made here. Trade union leaders are being told there is no alternative except the one they fear more – the return to power of the Conservatives under the leadership of Tim Hudak (who has been leading a campaign this summer across Ontario resembling nothing so much as the ‘Tea Party’ protests of the hard right in the USA).

Since 2003, the Ontario Liberals have built something of the old ‘Lib-Lab’ alliance with several key unions thereby filling the electoral vacuum left by the New Democrats. But if the Liberals have avoided a hard turn to austerity over concerns about the depth of the recession (much like the Obama Administration nationally in the U.S.), they are still moving to have the cost of the crisis paid for by cuts in welfare spending to the poor, wage restraint by public sector workers and cuts in government services, while easing the tax burden on corporations and the wealthiest sectors of society.

The Ontario government has been holding preliminary talks on restraint with a wide number of unions with public employees. To date, most unions have walked away from the talks, and voiced opposition to the wage restraint. But it is not so clear that the unions will mobilize opposition to the wage restraint or the cuts to government services, and build toward the strikes that will be necessary to break the budgetary proposals to have workers and the poor pay for the crisis. It would be foolish to rule out a deal emerging between a number of unions and the McGuinty government, a deal which would consolidate the new ‘Lib-Lab’ alliance and forge a business unionist orientation that will not easily be broken.

Accommodate Decline or Political Struggle?

For unions in Canada and Ontario, this is a defining moment. They can either bargain a deal to accommodate decline or begin to develop an opposition to how austerity is being imposed by ‘class struggle from above’ on workers across the central states of capitalism and now in Ontario and Canada. Unions have a strategic role to play in building workers’ capacities to organize resistance. But to fully exploit that potential will require a massive change in the ideological and organizing practices that have consolidated in Canadian unions over the last decade.

The McGuinty government will not and cannot do anything but manage the decline of working class living standards. He will defend business interests against any redistributional politics. The Liberals differ from the Harper (and Hudak) Conservatives only in that they seek to manage the decline incrementally. For workers, there is no alternative but militant resistance to growing tax cuts on profitable corporations, the impoverishment of public sector work through privatization, and interventions in free collective bargaining.

On Labour Day we celebrate the historical struggles of Canada’s unions and working people to build a socially just political order. We also reflect on the struggles we as workers are now confronting in Canada, and the limits of our current organizational capacities. This Labour Day it is the economic crisis and the battle over public sector austerity that is on every worker’s mind. We have already been facing enormous demands for concessions on wages, workplace controls and pensions in both the private and public sectors. We know more concession demands are coming.

This could well be as important a period of political struggle as any that the Canadian labour movement has faced. It will require breaking through the political and organizing impasse that has plagued the movement for a decade, and retrieval of some of the boldness that characterized the union movement’s opposition to neoliberalism in the past. It will also require socialists in Canada to shake off their own political complacency and backwardness and begin to build the new political organizations and capacities necessary to redefine contemporary socialism. Canada (with the partial exception of Quebec) is now more barren of innovative socialist politics than even the United States. Without a sense of urgency to move on both these fronts of struggle, the coming period could indeed get very ugly. The developing authoritarian face of neoliberalism was only too vividly shown on the streets of Toronto this past June. That, too, should be on the minds of union activists and workers this Labour Day. •

Greg Albo teaches political economy at York University and Bryan Evans teaches political science at Ryerson University.

DOHA: Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ruled out an attack on the Islamic republic over its nuclear programme, during a visit to Qatar on Sunday, because any such action would result in Israel’s destruction.

“Any act against Iran will lead to the eradication of the Zionist entity,” he told a joint news conference in Doha with Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, after their talks.

Israel, the region’s sole if undeclared nuclear power, has not ruled out a military strike to prevent Iran acquiring an atomic weapons capability, an ambition its arch-foe Tehran strongly denies.

“The Zionist entity and the US government would hit any country in the region whenever they are able to do so, and they will not wait to get permission. But (at the moment) they cannot,” he said.

“Iran has the ability to retaliate, strong and hard,” warned Ahmadinejad, whose comments in Farsi were translated into Arabic.

Iran’s hardline president said the talk of war against Iran to halt its controversial nuclear programme was aimed at putting psychological pressure on Tehran.

“There will be no war against Iran. What could take place is a psychological war,” he said.

In renewed criticism of the re-launched direct peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel, Ahmadinejad charged that the “decaying” Jewish state was hoping to “revive” itself through the talks.

“The Zionist entity is decaying. It is in a critically difficult state, and hopes to revive itself through an unfruitful dialogue,” he said.

Ahmadinejad had on Friday said the Washington-sponsored talks were “doomed” to fail, and infuriated the moderate Palestinian leadership by slamming it as unrepresentative.

“Who gave them the right to sell a piece of Palestinian land? The people of Palestine and the people of the region will not allow them to sell even an inch of Palestinian soil to the enemy,” he said at an annual pro-Palestinian rally.

Unlike other Arab states in the Gulf that have echoed Western suspicions about Iran’s nuclear programme and its ambitions in the region, Qatar has maintained friendly relations.

In May when the United States was pushing for a new round of UN sanctions against Iran, Qatar backed Turkish and Brazilian efforts to broker a deal that would avoid further punitive measures.

But Qatar is also a staunch US ally and hosts two American military bases.

As-Sayliyah base served as the coalition’s command and control centre during the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, while the US air force used Al-Udeid airbase in the 2001 war in Afghanistan and in the aftermath of the Iraq invasion. – AFP
 

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Introduction

As the 9th anniversary of 9/11 nears, and the war on terror continues to be waged and grows in ferocity and geography, it seems all the more imperative to return to the events of that fateful September morning and re-examine the reasons for war and the nature of the stated culprit, Al-Qaeda.

The events of 9/11 pervade the American and indeed the world imagination as an historical myth. The events of that day and those leading up to it remain largely unknown and little understood by the general public, apart from the disturbing images repeated ad nauseam in the media. The facts and troubled truths of that day are lost in the folklore of the 9/11 myth: that the largest attack carried out on American ground was orchestrated by 19 Muslims armed with box cutters and urged on by religious fundamentalism, all under the direction of Osama bin Laden, the leader of a global terrorist network called al-Qaeda, based out of a cave in Afghanistan.

The myth sweeps aside the facts and complex nature of terror, al-Qaeda, the American empire and literally defies the laws of physics. As John F. Kennedy once said, “The greatest enemy of the truth is not the lie – deliberate, contrived, and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, pervasive, and unrealistic.”

This three-part series on “The Imperial Anatomy of Al-Qaeda” examines the geopolitical historical origins and nature of what we today know as al-Qaeda, which is in fact an Anglo-American intelligence network of terrorist assets used to advance American and NATO imperial objectives in various regions around the world.

Part 1 examines the origins of the intelligence network known as the Safari Club, which financed and organized an international conglomerate of terrorists, the CIA’s role in the global drug trade, the emergence of the Taliban and the origins of al-Qaeda.

The Safari Club

Following Nixon’s resignation as President, Gerald Ford became the new US President in 1974. Henry Kissinger remained as Secretary of State and Ford brought into his administration two names that would come to play important roles in the future of the American Empire: Donald Rumsfeld as Ford’s Chief of Staff, and Dick Cheney, as Deputy Assistant to the President. The Vice President was Nelson Rockefeller, David Rockefeller’s brother. When Donald Rumsfeld was promoted to Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney was promoted to Chief of Staff. Ford had also appointed a man named George H.W. Bush as CIA Director.

           

In 1976, a coalition of intelligence agencies was formed, which was called the Safari Club. This marked the discreet and highly covert coordination among various intelligence agencies, which would last for decades. It formed at a time when the CIA was embroiled in domestic scrutiny over the Watergate scandal and a Congressional investigation into covert CIA activities, forcing the CIA to become more covert in its activities.

In 2002, the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Turki bin Faisal gave a speech in which he stated that in response to the CIA’s need for more discretion, “a group of countries got together in the hope of fighting Communism and established what was called the Safari Club. The Safari Club included France, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Iran [under the Shah].”[1] However, “The Safari Club needed a network of banks to finance its intelligence operations. With the official blessing of George H.W. Bush as the head of the CIA,” Saudi intelligence chief, Kamal Adham, “transformed a small Pakistani merchant bank, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), into a world-wide money-laundering machine, buying banks around the world to create the biggest clandestine money network in history.”[2]

As CIA director, George H.W. Bush “cemented strong relations with the intelligence services of both Saudi Arabia and the shah of Iran. He worked closely with Kamal Adham, the head of Saudi intelligence, brother-in-law of King Faisal and an early BCCI insider.” Adham had previously acted as a “channel between [Henry] Kissinger and [Egyptian President] Anwar Sadat” in 1972. In 1976, Iran, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia formed the Safari Club “to conduct through their own intelligence agencies operations that were now difficult for the CIA,” which was largely organized by the head of French intelligence, Alexandre de Marenches.[3]

The “Arc of Crisis” and the Iranian Revolution

When Jimmy Carter became President in 1977, he appointed over two-dozen members of the Trilateral Commission to his administration, which was an international think tank formed by Zbigniew Brzezinski and David Rockefeller in 1973. Brzezinski had invited Carter to join the Trilateral Commission, and when Carter became President, Brzezinski became National Security Adviser; Cyrus Vance, also a member of the Commission, became Secretary of State; and Samuel Huntington, another Commission member, became Coordinator of National Security and Deputy to Brzezinski. Author and researcher Peter Dale Scott deserves much credit for his comprehensive analysis of the events leading up to and during the Iranian Revolution in his book, “The Road to 9/11”,* which provides much of the information below.

Samuel Huntington and Zbigniew Brzezinski were to determine the US policy position in the Cold War, and the US-Soviet policy they created was termed, “Cooperation and Competition,” in which Brzezinski would press for “Cooperation” when talking to the press, yet, privately push for “competition.” So, while Secretary of State Cyrus Vance was pursuing détente with the Soviet Union, Brzezinski was pushing for American supremacy over the Soviet Union. Brzezinski and Vance would come to disagree on almost every issue.[4]

In 1978, Zbigniew Brzezinski gave a speech in which he stated, “An arc of crisis stretches along the shores of the Indian Ocean, with fragile social and political structures in a region of vital importance to us threatened with fragmentation. The resulting political chaos could well be filled by elements hostile to our values and sympathetic to our adversaries.” The Arc of Crisis stretched from Indochina to southern Africa, although, more specifically, the particular area of focus was “the nations that stretch across the southern flank of the Soviet Union from the Indian subcontinent to Turkey, and southward through the Arabian Peninsula to the Horn of Africa.” Further, the “center of gravity of this arc is Iran, the world’s fourth largest oil producer and for more than two decades a citadel of U.S. military and economic strength in the Middle East. Now it appears that the 37-year reign of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi is almost over, ended by months of rising civil unrest and revolution.”[5]

With rising discontent in the region, “There was this idea that the Islamic forces could be used against the Soviet Union. The theory was, there was an arc of crisis, and so an arc of Islam could be mobilized to contain the Soviets. It was a Brzezinski concept.”[6] A month prior to Brzezinski’s speech, in November of 1978, “President Carter named the Bilderberg group’s George Ball, another member of the Trilateral Commission, to head a special White House Iran task force under the National Security Council’s Brzezinski.” Further, “Ball recommended that Washington drop support for the Shah of Iran and support the fundamentalist Islamic opposition of Ayatollah Khomeini.”[7] George Ball’s visit to Iran was a secret mission.[8]

Throughout 1978, the Shah was under the impression that “the Carter administration was plotting to topple his regime.” In 1978, the Queen and Shah’s wife, told Manouchehr Ganji, a minister in the Shah’s government, that, “I wanted to tell you that the Americans are maneuvering to bring down the Shah,” and she continued saying that she believed “they even want to topple the regime.”[9] The US Ambassador to Iran, William Sullivan, thought that the revolution would succeed, and told this to Ramsey Clark, former US Attorney General under the Johnson administration, as well as professor Richard Falk, when they were visiting Sullivan in Iran in 1978. Clark and Falk then went from Iran to Paris, to visit Khomeini, who was there in exile. James Bill, a Carter adviser, felt that, “a religious movement brought about with the United States’ assistance would be a natural friend of the United States.”[10]

Also interesting is the fact that the British BBC broadcast pro-Khomeini Persian-language programs daily in Iran, as a subtle form of propaganda, which “gave credibility to the perception of United States and British support of Khomeini.”[11] The BBC refused to give the Shah a platform to respond, and “[r]epeated personal appeals from the Shah to the BBC yielded no result.”[12]

In the May 1979 meeting of the Bilderberg Group, Bernard Lewis, a British historian of great influence (hence, the Bilderberg membership), presented a British-American strategy which, “endorsed the radical Muslim Brotherhood movement behind Khomeini, in order to promote balkanization of the entire Muslim Near East along tribal and religious lines. Lewis argued that the West should encourage autonomous groups such as the Kurds, Armenians, Lebanese Maronites, Ethiopian Copts, Azerbaijani Turks, and so forth. The chaos would spread in what he termed an ‘Arc of Crisis,’ which would spill over into the Muslim regions of the Soviet Union.”[13] Further, it would prevent Soviet influence from entering the Middle East, as the Soviet Union was viewed as an empire of atheism and godlessness: essentially a secular and immoral empire, which would seek to impose secularism across Muslim countries. So supporting radical Islamic groups would mean that the Soviet Union would be less likely to have any influence or relations with Middle Eastern countries, making the US a more acceptable candidate for developing relations.

           

A 1979 article in Foreign Affairs, the journal of the Council on Foreign Relations, described the Arc of Crisis, saying that, “The Middle East constitutes its central core. Its strategic position is unequalled: it is the last major region of the Free World directly adjacent to the Soviet Union, it holds in its subsoil about three-fourths of the proven and estimated world oil reserves, and it is the locus of one of the most intractable conflicts of the twentieth century: that of Zionism versus Arab nationalism.” It went on to explain that post-war US policy in the region was focused on “containment” of the Soviet Union, as well as access to the regions oil.[14] The article continued, explaining that the most “obvious division” within the Middle East is, “that which separates the Northern Tier (Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan) from the Arab core,” and that, “After World War II, Turkey and Iran were the two countries most immediately threatened by Soviet territorial expansionism and political subversion.”[15] Ultimately, “the Northern Tier was assured of a serious and sustained American commitment to save it from sharing the fate of Eastern Europe.”[16]

While Khomeini was in Paris prior to the Revolution, a representative of the French President organized a meeting between Khomeini and “current world powers,” in which Khomeini made certain demands, such as, “the shah’s removal from Iran and help in avoiding a coup d’état by the Iranian Army.” The Western powers, however, “were worried about the Soviet Union’s empowerment and penetration and a disruption in Iran’s oil supply to the west. Khomeini gave the necessary guarantees. These meetings and contacts were taking place in January of 1979, just a few days before the Islamic Revolution in February 1979.”[17] In February of 1979, Khomeini was flown out of Paris on an Air France flight, to return to Iran, “with the blessing of Jimmy Carter.”[18] Ayatollah Khomeini named Mehdi Bazargan as prime minister of the Provisional Revolutionary Government on February 4, 1979. As Khomeini had demanded during his Paris meeting in January 1979, that western powers must help in avoiding a coup by the Iranian Army; in that same month, the Carter administration, under the direction of Brzezinski, had begun planning a military coup.[19]

Could this have been planned in the event that Khomeini was overthrown, the US would quickly reinstate order, perhaps even place Khomeini back in power? Interestingly, in January of 1979, “as the Shah was about to leave the country, the American Deputy Commander in NATO, General Huyser, arrived and over a period of a month conferred constantly with Iranian military leaders. His influence may have been substantial on the military’s decision not to attempt a coup and eventually to yield to the Khomeini forces, especially if press reports are accurate that he or others threatened to withhold military supplies if a coup were attempted.”[20] No coup was subsequently undertaken, and Khomeini came to power as the Ayatollah of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

As tensions increased among the population within Iran, the US sent “security advisers” to Iran to pressure the Shah’s SAVAK (secret police) to implement “a policy of ever more brutal repression, in a manner calculated to maximize popular antipathy to the Shah.” The Carter administration also began publicly criticizing the Shah’s human rights abuses.[21] On September 6, 1978, the Shah banned demonstrations, and the following day, between 700 and 2000 demonstrators were gunned down, following “advice from Brzezinski to be firm.”[22]

The US Ambassador to the UN, Andrew Young, a Trilateral Commission member, said that, “Khomeini will eventually be hailed as a saint,” and the US Ambassador to Iran, William Sullivan, said, “Khomeini is a Gandhi-like figure,” while Carter’s adviser, James Bill, said that Khomeini was a man of “impeccable integrity and honesty.”[23]

The Shah was also very sick in late 1978 and early 1979. So the Shah fled Iran in January of 1979 to the Bahamas, allowing for the revolution to take place. It is especially interesting to understand the relationship between David Rockefeller and the Shah of Iran. David Rockefeller’s personal assistant, Joseph V. Reed, had been “assigned to handle the shah’s finances and his personal needs;” Robert Armao, who worked for Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, was sent to “act as the shah’s public relations agent and lobbyist;” and Benjamin H. Kean, “a longtime associate of Chase Manhattan Bank chairman David Rockefeller,” and David Rockefeller’s “personal physician,” who was sent to Mexico when the shah was there, and advised that he “be treated at an American hospital.”[24]

It is important to note that Rockefeller interests “had directed U.S. policy in Iran since the CIA coup of 1953.”[25] Following the Shah’s flight from Iran, there were increased pressures within the United States by a handful of powerful people to have the Shah admitted to the United States. These individuals were Zbigniew Brzezinski, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, John J. McCloy, former statesman and senior member of the Bilderberg Group, Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations, who was also a lawyer for Chase Manhattan, and of course, David Rockefeller.[26]

Chase Manhattan Bank had more interests in Iran than any other US bank. In fact, the Shah had “ordered that all his government’s major operating accounts be held at Chase and that letters of credit for the purchase of oil be handled exclusively through Chase. The bank also became the agent and lead manager for many of the loans to Iran. In short, Iran became the crown jewel of Chase’s international banking portfolio.”[27]

The Iranian interim government, headed by Prime Minister Bazargan, collapsed in November of 1979, when Iranian hostages seized the US Embassy in Teheran. However, there is much more to this event than meets the eye. During the time of the interim government (February, 1979 to November, 1979), several actions were undertaken which threatened some very powerful interests who had helped the Ayatollah into power.

Chase Manhattan Bank faced a liquidity crisis as there had been billions in questionable loans to Iran funneled through Chase.[28] Several of Chase’s loans were “possibly illegal under the Iranian constitution.”[29] Further, in February of 1979, once the interim government was put in power, it began to take “steps to market its oil independently of the Western oil majors.” Also, the interim government “wanted Chase Manhattan to return Iranian assets, which Rockefeller put at more than $1 billion in 1978, although some estimates ran much higher,” which could have “created a liquidity crisis for the bank which already was coping with financial troubles.”[30]

With the seizure of the American Embassy in Iran, President Carter took moves to freeze Iranian financial assets. As David Rockefeller wrote in his book, “Carter’s ‘freeze’ of official Iranian assets protected our [Chase Manhattan’s] position, but no one at Chase played a role in convincing the administration to institute it.”[31]

In February of 1979, Iran had been taking “steps to market its oil independently of the Western oil majors. In 1979, as in 1953, a freeze of Iranian assets made this action more difficult.”[32] This was significant for Chase Manhattan not simply because of the close interlocking of the board with those of oil companies, not to mention Rockefeller himself, who is patriarch of the family whose name is synonymous with oil, but also because Chase exclusively handled all the letters of credit for the purchase of Iranian oil.[33]

The Shah being accepted into the United States, under public pressure from Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski and David Rockefeller, precipitated the hostage crisis, which occurred on November 4. Ten days later, Carter froze all Iranian assets in US banks, on the advice of his Treasury Secretary, William Miller. Miller just happened to have ties to Chase Manhattan Bank.[34]

Although Chase Manhattan directly benefited from the seizure of Iranian assets, the reasoning behind the seizure as well as the events leading up to it, such as a hidden role for the Anglo-Americans behind the Iranian Revolution, bringing the Shah to America, which precipitated the hostage crisis, cannot simply be relegated to personal benefit for Chase. There were larger designs behind this crisis. So the 1979 crises in Iran cannot simply be pawned off as a spur of the moment undertaking, but rather should be seen as quick actions taken upon a perceived opportunity. The opportunity was the rising discontent within Iran at the Shah; the quick actions were in covertly pushing the country into Revolution.

In 1979, “effectively restricting the access of Iran to the global oil market, the Iranian assets freeze became a major factor in the huge oil price increases of 1979 and 1981.”[35] Added to this, in 1979, British Petroleum cancelled major oil contracts for oil supply, which along with cancellations taken by Royal Dutch Shell, drove the price of oil up higher.[36] With the first major oil price rises in 1973 (urged on by US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger), the Third World was forced to borrow heavily from US and European banks to finance development. With the second oil price shocks of 1979, the US Federal Reserve, with Paul Volcker as its new Chairman, (himself having served a career under David Rockefeller at Chase Manhattan), dramatically raised interest rates from 2% in the late 70s to 18% in the early 80s. Developing nations could not afford to pay such interest on their loans, and thus the 1980s debt crisis spread throughout the Third World, with the IMF and World Bank coming to the “rescue” with their Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs), which ensured western control over the developing world’s economies.[37]

Covertly, the United States helped a radical Islamist government come to power in Iran, “the center of the Arc of Crisis,” and then immediately stirred up conflict and war in the region. Five months before Iraq invaded Iran, in April of 1980, Zbigniew Brzezinski openly declared the willingness of the US to work closely with Iraq. Two months before the war, Brzezinski met with Saddam Hussein in Jordan, where he gave support for the destabilization of Iran.[38] While Saddam was in Jordan, he also met with three senior CIA agents, which was arranged by King Hussein of Jordan. He then went to meet with King Fahd in Saudi Arabia, informing him of his plans to invade Iran, and then met with the King of Kuwait to inform him of the same thing. He gained support from America, and financial and arms support from the Arab oil producing countries. Arms to Iraq were funneled through Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.[39] The war lasted until 1988 and resulted in over a million deaths.

This was the emergence of the “strategy of tension” in the “Arc of Crisis,” in particular, the covert support (whether in arming, training, or financing) of radical Islamic elements to foment violence and conflict in a region. It was the old imperial tactic of ‘divide and conquer’: pit the people against each other so that they cannot join forces against the imperial power. This violence and radical Islamism would further provide the pretext for which the US and its imperial allies could then engage in war and occupation within the region, all the while securing its vast economic and strategic interests.

The “Arc of Crisis” in Afghanistan: The Safari Club in Action

In 1978, the progressive Taraki government in Afghanistan managed to incur the anger of the United States due to “its egalitarian and collectivist economic policies.”[40] The Afghan government was widely portrayed in the West as “Communist” and thus, a threat to US national security. The government, did, however, undertake friendly policies and engagement with the Soviet Union, but was not a Communist government.

In 1978, as the new government came to power, almost immediately the US began covertly funding rebel groups through the CIA.[41] In 1979, Zbigniew Brzezinski worked closely with his aid from the CIA, Robert Gates (who is currently Secretary of Defense), in shifting President Carter’s Islamic policy. As Brzezinski said in a 1998 interview with a French publication:

According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.[42]

Brzezinski elaborated, saying he “Knowingly increased the probability that [the Soviets] would invade,” and he recalled writing to Carter on the day of the Soviet invasion that, “We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.” When asked about the repercussions for such support in fostering the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, Brzezinski responded, “What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?”[43]

As author Peter Dale Scott pointed out in, The Road to 9/11:*

For generations in both Afghanistan and the Soviet Muslim Republics the dominant form of Islam had been local and largely Sufi. The decision to work with the Saudi and Pakistani secret services meant that billions of CIA and Saudi dollars would ultimately be spent in programs that would help enhance the globalistic and Wahhabistic jihadism that are associated today with al Qaeda.[44]

Hafizullah Amin, a top official in Taraki’s government, who many believed to be a CIA asset, orchestrated a coup in September of 1979, and “executed Taraki, halted the reforms, and murdered, jailed, or exiled thousands of Taraki supporters as he moved toward establishing a fundamentalist Islamic state. But within two months, he was overthrown by PDP remnants including elements within the military.”[45] The Soviets also intervened in order to replace Amin, who was seen as “unpredictable and extremist” with “the more moderate Barbak Karmal.”[46]

The Soviet invasion thus prompted the US national security establishment to undertake the largest covert operation in history. When Ronald Reagan replaced Jimmy Carter in 1981, the covert assistance to the Afghan Mujahideen not only continued on the path set by Brzezinski but it rapidly accelerated, as did the overall strategy in the “Arc of Crisis.” When Reagan became President, his Vice President became George H.W. Bush, who, as CIA director during the Ford administration, had helped establish the Safari Club intelligence network and the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) in Pakistan. In the “campaign to aid the Afghan rebels … BCCI clearly emerged as a U.S. intelligence asset,” and CIA Director “Casey began to use the outside – the Saudis, the Pakistanis, BCCI – to run what they couldn’t get through Congress. [BCCI president] Abedi had the money to help,” and the CIA director had “met repeatedly” with the president of BCCI.[47]

Thus, in 1981, Director Casey of the CIA worked with Saudi Prince Turki bin Faisal who ran the Saudi intelligence agency GID, and the Pakistani ISI “to create a foreign legion of jihadi Muslims or so-called Arab Afghans.” This idea had “originated in the elite Safari Club that had been created by French intelligence chief Alexandre de Marenches.”[48]

In 1986, the CIA backed a plan by the Pakistani ISI “to recruit people from around the world to join the Afghan jihad.” Subsequently:

More than 100,000 Islamic militants were trained in Pakistan between 1986 and 1992, in camps overseen by CIA and MI6, with the SAS [British Special Forces] training future al-Qaida and Taliban fighters in bomb-making and other black arts. Their leaders were trained at a CIA camp in Virginia. This was called Operation Cyclone and continued long after the Soviets had withdrawn in 1989.[49]

CIA funding for the operations “was funneled through General Zia and the ISI in Pakistan.”[50] Interestingly, Robert Gates, who previously served as assistant to Brzezinski in the National Security Council, stayed on in the Reagan-Bush administration as executive assistant to CIA director Casey, and who is currently Secretary of Defense.

The Global Drug Trade and the CIA

As a central facet of the covert financing and training of the Afghan Mujahideen, the role of the drug trade became invaluable. The global drug trade has long been used by empires for fuelling and financing conflict with the aim of facilitating imperial domination.

In 1773, the British colonial governor in Bengal “established a colonial monopoly on the sale of opium.” As Alfred W. McCoy explained in his masterful book, The Politics of Heroin:

As the East India Company expanded production, opium became India’s main export. [. . . ] Over the next 130 years, Britain actively promoted the export of Indian opium to China, defying Chinese drug laws and fighting two wars to open China’s opium market for its merchants. Using its military and mercantile power, Britain played a central role in making China a vast drug market and in accelerating opium cultivation throughout China. By 1900 China had 13.5 million addicts consuming 39,000 tons of opium.[51]

In Indochina in the 1940s and 50s, the French intelligence services “enabled the opium trade to survive government suppression efforts,” and subsequently, “CIA activities in Burma helped transform the Shan states from a relatively minor poppy-cultivating area into the largest opium-growing region in the world.”[52] The CIA did this by supporting the Kuomintang (KMT) army in Burma for an invasion of China, and facilitated its monopolization and expansion of the opium trade, allowing the KMT to remain in Burma until a coup in 1961, when they were driven into Laos and Thailand.[53] The CIA subsequently played a very large role in the facilitation of the drugs trade in Laos and Vietnam throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s.[54]

It was during the 1980s that “the CIA’s covert war in Afghanistan transformed Central Asia from a self-contained opium zone into a major supplier of heroin for the world market,” as:

Until the late 1970s, tribal farmers in the highlands of Afghanistan and Pakistan grew limited quantities of opium and sold it to merchant caravans bound west for Iran and east to India. In its decade of covert warfare against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the CIA’s operations provided the political protection and logistics linkages that joined Afghanistan’s poppy fields to heroin markets in Europe and America.[55]

In 1977, General Zia Ul Haq in Pakistan launched a military coup, “imposed a harsh martial-law regime,” and executed former President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (father to Benazir Bhutto). When Zia came to power, the Pakistani ISI was a “minor military intelligence unit,” but, under the “advice and assistance of the CIA,” General Zia transformed the ISI “into a powerful covert unit and made it the strong arm of his martial-law regime.”[56]

The CIA and Saudi money flowed not only to weapons and training for the Mujahideen, but also into the drug trade. Pakistani President Zia-ul-Haq appointed General Fazle Haq as the military governor of Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), who would “consult with Brzezinski on developing an Afghan resistance program,” and who became a CIA asset. When CIA Director Casey or Vice President George H.W. Bush reviewed the CIA Afghan operation, they went to see Haq; who by 1982, was considered by Interpol to be an international narcotics trafficker. Haq moved much of the narcotics money through the BCCI.[57]

In May of 1979, prior to the December invasion of the Soviet Union into Afghanistan, a CIA envoy met with Afghan resistance leaders in a meeting organized by the ISI. The ISI “offered the CIA envoy an alliance with its own Afghan client, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar,” who led a small guerilla group. The CIA accepted, and over the following decade, half of the CIA’s aid went to Hekmatyar’s guerillas.[58] Hekmatyar became Afghanistan’s leading mujahideen drug lord, and developed a “complex of six heroin labs in an ISI-controlled area of Baluchistan (Pakistan).”[59]

The US subsequently, through the 1980s, in conjunction with Saudi Arabia, gave Hekmatyar more than $1 billion in armaments. Immediately, heroin began flowing from Afghanistan to America. By 1980, drug-related deaths in New York City rose 77% since 1979.[60] By 1981, the drug lords in Pakistan and Afghanistan supplied 60% of America’s heroin. Trucks going into Afghanistan with CIA arms from Pakistan would return with heroin “protected by ISI papers from police search.”[61]

Haq, the CIA asset in Pakistan, “was also running the drug trade,” of which the bank BCCI “was completely involved.” In the 1980s, the CIA insisted that the ISI create “a special cell for the use of heroin for covert actions.” Elaborating:

This cell promoted the cultivation of opium and the extraction of heroin in Pakistani territory as well as in the Afghan territory under Mujahideen control for being smuggled into Soviet controlled areas in order to make the Soviet troops heroin addicts.[62]

This plan apparently originated at the suggestion of French intelligence chief and founder of the Safari Club, Alexandre de Marenches, who recommended it to CIA Director Casey.[63]

In the 1980s, one program undertaken by the United States was to finance Mujahideen propaganda in textbooks for Afghan schools. The US gave the Mujahideen $43 million in “non-lethal” aid for the textbook project alone, which was given by USAID: “The U.S. Agency for International Development, [USAID] coordinated its work with the CIA, which ran the weapons program,” and “The U.S. government told the AID to let the Afghan war chiefs decide the school curriculum and the content of the textbooks.”[64]

The textbooks were “filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings,” and “were filled with talk of jihad and featured drawings of guns, bullets, soldiers and mines.” Even since the covert war of the 1980s, the textbooks “have served since then as the Afghan school system’s core curriculum. Even the Taliban used the American-produced books.” The books were developed through a USAID grant to the “University of Nebraska-Omaha and its Center for Afghanistan Studies,” and when the books were smuggled into Afghanistan through regional military leaders, “Children were taught to count with illustrations showing tanks, missiles and land mines.” USAID stopped this funding in 1994.[65]

The Rise of the Taliban

When the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, the fighting continued between the Afghan government backed by the USSR and the Mujahideen backed by the US, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, so too did its aid to the Afghan government, which itself was overthrown in 1992. However, fighting almost immediately broke out between rival factions vying for power, including Hekmatyar.

In the early 1990s, an obscure group of “Pashtun country folk” had become a powerful military and political force in Afghanistan, known as the Taliban.[66] The Taliban “surfaced as a small militia force operating near Kandahar city during the spring and summer of 1994, carrying out vigilante attacks against minor warlords.” As growing discontent with the warlords grew, so too did the reputation of the Taliban.[67]

The Taliban acquired an alliance with the ISI in 1994, and throughout 1995, the relationship between the Taliban and the ISI accelerated and “became more and more of a direct military alliance.” The Taliban ultimately became “an asset of the ISI” and “a client of the Pakistan army.”[68] Further, “Between 1994 and 1996, the USA supported the Taliban politically through its allies Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, essentially because Washington viewed the Taliban as anti-Iranian, anti-Shia, and pro-Western.”[69]

Selig Harrison, a scholar with the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars and “a leading US expert on South Asia,” said at a conference in India that the CIA worked with Pakistan to create the Taliban. Harrison has “extensive contact” with the CIA, as “he had meetings with CIA leaders at the time when Islamic forces were being strengthened in Afghanistan,” while he was a senior associate of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. As he further revealed in 2001, “The CIA still has close links with the ISI.”[70] By 1996, the Taliban had control of Kandahar, but still fighting and instability continued in the country.

Osama and Al-Qaeda

Between 1980 and 1989, roughly $600 million was passed through Osama bin Laden’s charity front organizations, specifically the Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK), also known as Al-Kifah. The money mostly originated with wealthy donors in Saudi Arabia and other areas in the Persian Gulf, and was funneled through his charity fronts to arm and fund the mujahideen in Afghanistan.[71]

In the 1980s, the British Special Forces (SAS) were training mujahideen in Afghanistan, as well as in secret camps in Scotland, and the SAS is largely taking orders from the CIA. The CIA also indirectly begins to arm Osama bin Laden.[72] Osama bin Laden’s front charity, the MAK, “was nurtured” by the Pakistani ISI.[73]

Osama bin Laden was reported to have been personally recruited by the CIA in 1979 in Istanbul. He had the close support of Prince Turki bin Faisal, his friend and head of Saudi intelligence, and also developed ties with Hekmatyar in Afghanistan,[74] both of whom were pivotal figures in the CIA-Safari Club network. General Akhtar Abdul Rahman, the head of the Pakistani ISI from 1980 to 1987, would meet regularly with Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, and they formed a partnership in demanding a tax on the opium trade from warlords so that by 1985, bin Laden and the ISI were splitting the profits of over $100 million per year.[75] In 1985, Osama bin Laden’s brother, Salem, stated that Osama was “the liaison between the US, the Saudi government, and the Afghan rebels.”[76]

In 1988, Bin Laden discussed “the establishment of a new military group,” which would come to be known as Al-Qaeda.[77] Osama bin Laden’s charity front, the MAK, (eventually to form Al-Qaeda) founded the al-Kifah Center in Brooklyn, New York, to recruit Muslims for the jihad against the Soviets. The al-Kifah Center was founded in the late 1980s with the support of the U.S. government, which provided visas for known terrorists associated with the organization, including Ali Mohamed, the “blind sheik” Omar Abdel Rahman and possibly the lead 9/11 hijacker, Mohamed Atta.[78]

This coincided with the creation of Al-Qaeda, of which the al-Kifah Center was a recruiting front. Foot soldiers for Al-Qaeda were “admitted to the United States for training under a special visa program.” The FBI had been surveilling the training of terrorists, however, “it terminated this surveillance in the fall of 1989.” In 1990, the CIA granted Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman a visa to come run the al-Kifah Center, who was considered an “untouchable” as he was “being protected by no fewer than three agencies,” including the State Department, the National Security Agency (NSA) and the CIA.[79]

Robin Cook, a former British MP and Minister of Foreign Affairs wrote that Al-Qaeda, “literally ‘the database’, was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians.”[80] Thus, “Al-Qaeda” was born as an instrument of western intelligence agencies. This account of al-Qaeda was further corroborated by a former French military intelligence agent, who stated that, “In the mid-1980s, Al Qaida was a database,” and that it remained as such into the 1990s. He contended that, “Al Qaida was neither a terrorist group nor Osama bin Laden’s personal property,” and further:

The truth is, there is no Islamic army or terrorist group called Al Qaida. And any informed intelligence officer knows this. But there is a propaganda campaign to make the public believe in the presence of an identified entity representing the ‘devil’ only in order to drive the ‘TV watcher’ to accept a unified international leadership for a war against terrorism. The country behind this propaganda is the US and the lobbyists for the US war on terrorism are only interested in making money.[81]

The creation of Al-Qaeda was thus facilitated by the CIA and allied intelligence networks, the purpose of which was to maintain this “database” of Mujahideen to be used as intelligence assets to achieve US foreign policy objectives, throughout both the Cold War, and into the post-Cold War era of the ‘new world order’.

Part 2 of “The Imperial Anatomy of al-Qaeda” takes the reader through an examination of the new imperial strategy laid out by American geopolitical strategists at the end of the Cold War, designed for America to maintain control over the world’s resources and prevent the rise of competitive powers. Covertly, the “database” (al-Qaeda) became central to this process, being used to advance imperial aims in various regions, such as in the dismantling of Yugoslavia. Part 2 further examines the exact nature of ‘al-Qaeda’, its origins, terms, training, arming, financing, and expansion. In particular, the roles of western intelligence agencies in the evolution and expansion of al-Qaeda is a central focus. Finally, an analysis of the preparations for the war in Afghanistan is undertaken to shed light on the geopolitical ambitions behind the conflict that has now been waging for nearly nine years.

* [Note on the research: For a comprehensive analysis of the history, origins and nature of al-Qaeda, see: Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire and the Future of America, which provided much of the research in the above article.]

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

Notes

[1]        Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America. University of California Press: 2007: page 62

[2]        Ibid, page 63.

[3]        Ibid, page 62.

[4]        Ibid, pages 66-67.

[5]        HP-Time, The Crescent of Crisis. Time Magazine: January 15, 1979:
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,919995-1,00.html

[6]        Peter Dale Scott, op. cit., page 67.

[7]        F. William Engdahl, A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New  World Order. London: Pluto Press, 2004: page 171

[8]        Manouchehr Ganji, Defying the Iranian Revolution: From a Minister to the Shah to a Leader of Resistance. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002: page 41

[9]        Ibid, page 39.

[10]      Ibid, page 41.

[11]      Ibid.

[12]      F. William Engdahl, A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New  World Order. London: Pluto Press, 2004: page 172

[13]      Ibid, page 171.

[14]      George Lenczowski, The Arc of Crisis: It’s Central Sector. Foreign Affairs: Summer, 1979: page 796

[15]      Ibid, page 797.

[16]      Ibid, page 798.

[17]      IPS, Q&A:  Iran’s Islamic Revolution Had Western Blessing. Inter-Press Service: July 26, 2008:
 http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=43328

[18]      Michael D. Evans, Father of the Iranian revolution. The Jerusalem Post: June 20, 2007:
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1181813077590&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull

[19]      Peter Dale Scott, op cit., page 89.

[20]      George Lenczowski, The Arc of Crisis: It’s Central Sector. Foreign Affairs: Summer, 1979: page 810

[21]      F. William Engdahl, op cit., page 172.

[22]      Peter Dale Scott, op cit., page 81.

[23]      Michael D. Evans, Father of the Iranian revolution. The Jerusalem Post: June 20, 2007:
 http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1181813077590&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull

[24]      Peter Dale Scott, op cit., page 83.

[25]      Ibid, page 84.

[26]      Ibid, page 81.

[27]      Ibid, pages 85-86.

[28]      Ibid.

[29]      Ibid, page 87.

[30]      Ibid, pages 88-89.

[31]      Ibid.

[32]      Ibid, pages 87-88.

[33]      Ibid, page 85.

[34]      Ibid, page 86.

[35]      Ibid, page 88.

[36]      F. William Engdahl, A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New  World Order. London: Pluto Press, 2004: page 173

[37]      Andrew Gavin Marshall, Controlling the Global Economy: Bilderberg, the Trilateral Commission and the Federal Reserve. Global Research: August 3, 2009:
 http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=14614

[38]      Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America. University of California Press: 2007: page 89

[39]      PBS, Secrets of His Life and Leadership: An Interview with Said K. Aburish. PBS Frontline:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/saddam/interviews/aburish.html

[40]      Michael Parenti, Afghanistan, Another Untold Story. Global Research: December 4, 2008:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=11279

[41]      Oleg Kalugin, How We Invaded Afghanistan. Foreign Policy: December 11, 2009:
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2009/12/11/how_we_invaded_afghanistan

[42]      ‘’Le Nouvel Observateur’ (France), Jan 15-21, 1998, p. 76:
http://www.ucc.ie/acad/appsoc/tmp_store/mia/Library/history/afghanistan/archive/brzezinski/1998/interview.htm

[43]      Ibid.

[44]      Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America. University of California Press: 2007: page 73

[45]      Michael Parenti, Afghanistan, Another Untold Story. Global Research: December 4, 2008:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=11279

[46]      Peter Dale Scott, op cit., page 78.

[47]      Ibid, page 116.

[48]      Ibid, page 122.

[49]      Ibid, page 123.

[50]      Ibid,.

[51]      Alfred W. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade. (Lawrence Hill Books: Chicago, 2003), page 80

[52]      Ibid, page 162.

[53]      Ibid.

[54]      Ibid, pages 283-386.

[55]      Ibid, page 466.

[56]      Ibid, page 474.

[57]      Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America. University of California Press: 2007: page 73

[58]      Alfred W. McCoy, op cit., page 475.

[59]      Peter Dale Scott, op cit., page 74.

[60]      Ibid, pages 75-76.

[61]      Ibid, page 124.

[62]      Ibid, pages 75-76.

[63]      Ibid, page 124.

[64]      Carol Off, Back to school in Afghanistan. CBC: May 6, 2002:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/afghanistan/schools.html

[65]      Joe Stephens and David B. Ottaway, From U.S., the ABC’s of Jihad. The Washington Post: March 23, 2002:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A5339-2002Mar22?language=printer

[66]      Steve Coll, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, From the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001. Penguin Books, New York, 2004: Page 328

[67]      Steve Coll, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, From the Soviet Invasion to September 11, 2001. (London: Penguin, 2005), page 285

[68]      Steve Coll, “Steve Coll” Interview with PBS Frontline. PBS Frontline: October 3, 2006:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/taliban/interviews/coll.html

[69]      Robert Dreyfuss, Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam. (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2005), page 326

[70]      ToI, “CIA worked in tandem with Pak to create Taliban”. The Times of India: March 7, 2001:
http://www.multiline.com.au/~johnm/taliban.htm

[71]      Robert Dreyfuss, Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam. (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2005), pages 279-280

[72]      Simon Reeve, The New Jackals: Ramzi Yousef, Osama bin Laden, and the Future of Terrorism. (London: André Deutsch Ltd, 1999), page 168

[73]      Michael Moran, Bin Laden comes home to roost. MSNBC: August 24, 1998:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3340101/

[74]      Veronique Maurus and Marc Rock, The Most Dreaded Man of the United States, Controlled a Long Time by the CIA. Le Monde Diplomatique: September 14, 2001: http://www.wanttoknow.info/010914lemonde

[75]      Gerald Posner, Why America Slept: The Failure to Prevent 9/11. (New York: Random House, 2003), page 29

[76]      Steve Coll, The Bin Ladens. (New York: Penguin, 2008), pages 7-9

[77]      AP, Al Qaeda Financing Documents Turn Up in Bosnia Raid. Fox News: February 19, 2003:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,78937,00.html

[78]      Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America. University of California Press: 2007: pages 140-141

[79]      Ibid, page 141.

[80]      Robin Cook, The struggle against terrorism cannot be won by military means. The Guardian: July 8, 2005:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/jul/08/july7.development

[81]      Pierre-Henri Bunel, Al Qaeda — the Database. Global Research: November 20, 2005:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=BUN20051120&articleId=1291

NEW BOOK FROM GLOBAL RESEARCH
Special Offer
The Global
Economic Crisis


Michel Chossudovsky
Andrew G. Marshall (editors)

They’re called NGOs — non-governmental organizations — but the description is misleading at best, or an outright lie generated by intelligence agencies at worst.

In fact, almost all development NGOs receive a great deal of their funding from government and in return follow government policies and priorities. While this was always true, it has become easier to see with Stephen Harper’s Conservative Canadian government, which lacks the cleverness and subtlety of the Liberal Party who at least funded some “oppositional” activity to allow NGOs a veneer of independence.

The example of the NGO called Alternatives illustrates these points well. This group, which has ties to the progressive community in Canada and Quebec, has done some useful work in Palestine and Latin America. But, at the end of 2009 the Canadian International Development Agency failed to renew about $2.4 million in funding for Montreal-based Alternatives. After political pressure was brought to bear, Ottawa partly reversed course, giving the organization $800, 000 over three years.

Alternatives’ campaign to force the Conservatives to renew at least some of its funding and CIDA’s response tell us a great deal about the ever more overt ties between international development NGOs and Western military occupation. After the cuts were reported the head of Alternatives, Michel Lambert, tried to win favour with Conservative decision makers by explicitly tying the group’s projects to Canadian military interventions. In a piece claiming Alternatives was “positive[ly] evaluated and audited” by CIDA, Lambert asked: “How come countries like Afghanistan or Haiti that are at the heart of Canadian [military] interventions [and where Alternatives operated] are no longer essential for the Canadian government?”

After CIDA renewed $800,000 in funding, Lambert claimed victory. But, the CIDA money was only for projects in Afghanistan, Iraq and Haiti — three countries under military occupation. (The agreement prohibited Alternatives from using the money to “engage” the public and it excluded programs in Palestine and Central America.) When Western troops invaded, Alternatives was not active in any of these three countries, which raises the questions: Is Alternatives prepared to follow Canadian aid anywhere, even if it is designed to strengthen military occupation? What alternatives do even “leftwing” NGOs such as Alternatives have when they are dependent on government funding?

One important problem for Alternatives and the rest of the “progressive” government-funded NGO community is that their benefactor’s money is often tied to military intervention. A major principle of Canadian aid has been that where the USA wields its big stick, Canada carries its police baton and offers a carrot. To put it more clearly, where the U.S. kills Canada provides aid.

Beginning the U.S.-intervention-equals Canadian-aid pattern, during the 1950-53 Korean War the south of that country was a major recipient of Canadian aid and so was Vietnam during the U.S. war there. Just after the invasions, Iraq and Afghanistan were the top two recipients of Canadian aid in 2003-2004. Since that time Afghanistan and Haiti were Nos. 1 and 2.

For government officials, notes Naomi Klein, NGOs were “the charity wing of the military, silently mopping up after wars.” Officials within the George W. Bush administration publicly touted the value of NGOs for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Three months after the invasion of Iraq Andrew Natsios, head of USAID and former World Vision director, bluntly declared “NGOs are an arm of the U.S. government.” Natsios threatened to “personally tear up their contracts and find new partners” if an NGO refused to play by Washington’s rules in Iraq, which included limits on speaking to the media.

International NGOs flooded into Iraq after the invasion and there was an explosion of domestic groups. The U.S., Britain and their allies poured tens of millions of dollars into projects run by NGOs. Many Canadian NGOs, such as Oxfam Quebec and Alternatives, were lured to occupied Iraq by the $300 million CIDA spent to support the foreign occupation and reconstruction.

In the lead-up to the invasion of Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell explained: “I am serious about making sure we have the best relationship with NGOs who are such a force multiplier for us and such an important part of our combat team.”

Up from a few dozen prior to the invasion, three years into the occupation a whopping 2,500 international NGOs operated in Afghanistan. They are an important source of intelligence. In April 2009 U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, told the Associated Press that most of their information about Afghanistan and Pakistan comes from aid organizations.

Canada’s military also works closely with NGOs in Afghanistan. A 2007 parliamentary report explained that some NGOs “work intimately with military support already in the field.” Another government report noted that the “Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) platoon made up of Army Reserve soldiers organizes meetings with local decision-makers and international NGOs to determine whether they need help with security.” Some Canadian NGOs even participated in the military’s pre- Afghanistan deployment training facility in Wainwright Alberta.

As Paul Martin’s Liberals increased Canada’s military footprint in Afghanistan they released an International Policy Statement. According to the 2005 Statement, “the image that captures today’s operational environment for the Canadian Forces” is the “three-block war”, which includes a reconstruction role for NGOs. On the third and final block of “three-block warfare” troops work alongside NGOs and civilians to fix what has been destroyed. (The first block consists of combat while the second block involves stabilization operations.)

Canadian military personnel have repeatedly linked development work to the counterinsurgency effort. “It’s a useful counterinsurgency tool,” is how Lieutenant-Colonel Tom Doucette, commander of Canada’s provincial reconstruction team, described CIDA’s work in Afghanistan. Development assistance, for instance, was sometimes given to communities in exchange for information on combatants. After a roadside bomb hit his convoy in September 2009, Canadian General Jonathan Vance spent 50 minutes berating village elders for not preventing the attack. “If we keep blowing up on the roads,” he told them, “I’m going to stop doing development.”

If even a “progressive” NGO such as Alternatives can be pushed into working as a tool of the military, shouldn’t we at least come up with a better description than “non-governmental” organization?

Yves Engler is the co-author of Canada in Haiti: Waging War on the Poor Majority. His most recent book is Canada and Israel: Building Apartheid. For more information, go to his website, yvesengler.com

Table of Content

‘Globalisation’

The World Social Forum and the Struggle against ‘Globalisation’

I. How and Why the World Social Forum Emerged

II. WSF Mumbai 2004 and the NGO Phenomenon in India

Appendix I: Ford Foundation — A Case Study of the Aims of Foreign Funding

Appendix II: Funds for the World Social Forum

‘Globalisation’

It became fashionable in the 1990s to use the term ‘globalisation’ to describe the economic changes being brought about worldwide. We were told that economies worldwide were becoming more integrated, and that prosperity would spread to all.

The great range of actual measures carried on under the label of globalisation, however, were not those of integration and development. Rather, they were processes of imposition, disintegration, underdevelopment and appropriation. They were of continued extraction of debt servicing payments of the third world; depression of the prices of raw materials exported by the same countries; removal of tariff protection for their vulnerable productive sectors; removal of restraints on foreign direct investment, allowing giant foreign corporations to grab larger sectors of the third world’s economies; removal of restraints on the entry and exit of massive flows of speculative international capital, allowing their movements to dictate economic life; reduction of State spending on productive activity, development and welfare; privatisation of activities, assets and natural resources; sharp increases in the cost of essential services and goods such as electricity, fuel, health care, education, transport, and food (accompanied by the harsher depression of women’s consumption within each family’s declining consumption); withdrawal of subsidised credit earlier directed to starved sectors; dismantling of workers’ security of employment; reduction of the share of wages in the social product; suppression of domestic industry in the third world and closures of manufacturing firms on a massive scale; ruination of independent small industries; ruination of the handicraft/handloom sector; replacement of subsistence crops with cash crops and destruction of food security; removal of ceilings on landholdings; dispossession of tribal lands and the handing over of forests to corporate interests; developing dependence of peasants on the new (and profoundly hazardous) products of biotechnology; dumping of hazardous wastes in, and the shifting of harmful processes to, the third world; use of women as sweated factory labour; growth of prostitution amid large-scale unemployment; invasion of images aimed at making women consumers of the beauty industry; entry of multinational media corporations and their cultural products; and systematic development of islands of consumerism amid a vast sea of poverty.

Little wonder that, far from becoming more integrated and prosperous, the world economy is today even more starkly divided. By the indices of the World Bank, 45 per cent of the world lives on less than two dollars a day, and the number of the poor worldwide has grown during the 1990s. A third of the world’s labour force is unemployed or underemployed because of the economic order ruling today. At the same time, in 1993, the top one per cent of the world’s population received a larger share of the world’s income than the bottom 57 per cent; the top five per cent had an income share approaching that of the bottom 85 per cent.

Distribution has become even more unequal as growth has flattened. Within the wealthy economies themselves growth has slowed sharply in the past two decades compared to the previous two decades. Within the developing countries, the situation is much worse: average income growth per head has sunk to zero during 1980-98.

While poverty and inequality are not new, the last decade has been specially marked by frequent, devastating financial crises and collapses, which have spread even to economies that were hitherto considered safe. They affected a number of countries at a time, aided by the freeing of financial flows: the East and South-east Asian crisis of 1997-98 — itself involving seven or eight countries — was followed by the Russian collapse of August 1998; Brazil collapsed in August-September 1998, and again in the first half of 1999; in the course of the Brazilian collapse, Argentina’s fragile economy was shaken; it too collapsed dramatically in 2000, and has still not recovered. Instability, bordering on chaos, was the hallmark of the decade. Exchange rates fluctuated more sharply; so too did trade growth, for all the talk of the gains of `global integration’. Prices exports of raw materials from the third world fell sharply.

The devastation wreaked by such financial crises was comparable to that of a war. In many cases standards of living in the affected country were thrown back decades — in the case of Russia, by a century (male life expectancy in Russia fell to 57 in the 1990s). In Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, almost none of the countries had the same GDP at the end of the decade as they did in 1989. Russia’s GDP at the end of the decade was just two-thirds its 1989 figure; Moldova’s and Ukraine’s were a third of their 1989 figures. Unemployment rates during the Asian crisis tripled in Thailand, quadrupled in South Korea, rose ten-fold in Indonesia.

The imperialist countries, while scrambling to stabilise the financial situation arising from these crises (that is, ensuring continued debt payments by the crisis-affected country), also extracted gains from these devastations. The drop in prices of raw materials exports from the third world slashed costs of multinational corporations. Capital exiting East Asia, Russia and Brazil travelled to imperialist countries (the sums were massive: outflow from Thailand amounted to 7.9 per cent of GDP in 1997; 12.3 per cent in 1998; seven per cent in the first half of 1999). And as the East Asian, Russian, Brazilian and Argentinian currencies fell, their assets in the public and private sectors were now cheaper for foreign investors to snap up. (The bounty was huge. For example, in the 1990s, even before the latest collapse, multinationals bought up Brazil’s large privatised infrastructure and service sectors; they repatriated $7 billion in profits in 1998 alone.)

The term `globalisation’ is a gross distortion. Labour remains as trapped in national boundaries. Capital, no doubt, is armed with freedom of entry and exit worldwide (allowing it to maximise its exploitation of labour worldwide). But ownership of capital is by no means dispersed over the globe; it is more centralised and concentrated than ever before in imperialist hands.

It was not the working class in the imperialist countries that prospered from these processes. Income inequality in the US is estimated to be at its highest level since the 1930s, and growing steadily worse. The richest five per cent of the US — indeed largely the richest 1-2 per cent — pocketed almost all the gain from the 30 per cent that GDP grew over the 1990s. Now Census figures show a sharp upturn in US poverty in 2001. And in Europe, the current drive for economic integration and for greater `competitiveness’ is also in fact a drive to strip the European working class of its rights and social claims.

Resistance to `globalisation’ — or rather, resistance to the intensified imperialist onslaught — thus took shape both in the third world countries who were the worst sufferers as well as in the imperialist countries themselves, where the working class faced the onslaught. To tackle such resistance, imperialism has never hesitated to employ repression at home and military suppression abroad. But such measures, while basic, would not suffice; more sophisticated political means are required as well.

A new initiative

In January 2001, in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre, a large gathering took place voicing opposition to `globalisation’. It was composed of organisations and thousands of individuals from around the world. This gathering called itself the “World Social Forum”, counterposing itself to the World Economic Forum of corporate leaders and finance ministers which meets every year in Davos, Switzerland, to discuss the concerns of multinational corporations and how to advance ‘globalisation’. At the World Social Forum, various organisations held discussions, cultural events, rallies, exhibitions, and other forms of self-expression, on issues ranging from the environment to women’s movement to economic policy to alternative social orders. The large participation encouraged the organisers to hold similar gatherings in January 2002 and January 2003 as well, and each such witnessed even larger mobilisations, numbering over 100,000 in the last such.

These gatherings, and the wide publicity given to them, had an impact far beyond the circle of direct participants. The Forum began to be treated by many as a political alternative to the current political trends worldwide, and as a potential source of a new politics. Movements, organisations and circles of individuals all over the world that are opposed to, or in struggle against, imperialism, had to take note of the World Social Forum.

Further, while the direct impact of the earlier gatherings was largely limited to Latin America, it is no longer so. A series of regional meetings under the aegis and on the pattern of the World Social Forum have been held over the course of the past year in Argentina, Italy, Palestine, India and Ethiopia. It has now been announced that the next World Social Forum gathering will take place in Mumbai in January 2004.

It is against this background that, in order to understand the real objects and character of the World Social Forum (WSF), we must look into its emergence and development. This is being attempted here so all those struggling against imperialism can take an informed stand on their future course of action.

A brief summary of what follows

In the following we see how, in the US and Europe, a militant protest movement against the depredations of international capital came to the fore at the December 1999 Seattle conference of the World Trade Organisation, and raged for one and a half years thereafter. Attempts by the ruling circles of those countries to suppress this movement met with no success; indeed, the movement grew. It was in this context that the WSF was initiated by ATTAC, a French NGO (non-governmental organisation) platform devoted to lobbying international financial institutions to reform and humanise themselves, and by the Brazilian Workers’ Party, whose leftist image and `participatory’ techniques of government have not prevented it from scrupulously implementing the stipulations of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The WSF meets in Brazil for the past three years have attracted not only mammoth crowds but a wide range of participants, including many distinguished forces and individuals who are opponents of imperialism. The WSF slogan, “Another world is possible”, while vague, taps the widespread, inarticulate yearning for another social system. However, the very principles and structure of the WSF ensure that it will not evolve into a platform of people’s action and power against imperialism. Its claims to being a `horizontal’ (not a hierarchical) `process’ (not a body) are belied by the fact that decisions are controlled by a handful of organisations, many of them with considerable financial resources and ties to the very countries which control the existing world order. As the WSF disavows arriving at any decisions as a body, it is incapable of collective expression of will and action. Its gatherings are structured to give prominence to celebrities of the NGO world, who propagate the NGO worldview. Thus, in all the talk on ‘alternatives’, the spotlight remains on alternative policies within the existing system, rather than a change of the very system itself.

Indeed the ties of the WSF to the existing system are evidenced in a number of ways. While several political forces fighting for a change of the system been excluded from the WSF meets, droves of political leaders of the imperialist countries have been attending. Not only does the WSF as a body receive funds from agencies which are tied to imperialist interests and operations, but innumerable bodies participating in the WSF too are dependent on such agencies. The implications of this can be seen from the history of one such agency, Ford Foundation, which has closely collaborated with the US Central Intelligence Agency internationally, and in India has helped to shape the government’s policies in favour of American interests.

In recent years such funding has grown rapidly in India, leading to a vast proliferation of NGOs. While NGOs earlier restricted themselves to ‘developmental’ activities, they have expanded since the 1980s to `activism’ or ‘advocacy’, that is, funded political activity. This phenomenon serves to further bureaucratise social movements and remove them from popular control. A critique of the role of such funding agencies in Indian political life was produced in the late 1980s by the Communist Party of India (Marxist); however, it now its leading cadre are among the chief organisers of the WSF in India.

‘Globalisation’, a misleading word for the current onslaught by imperialism, can be resisted, and even defeated, by a combination of struggles at various levels, in various countries, in various forms; and forces fighting ‘globalisation’ will need to join hands in struggle against it. However, a careful analysis reveals that the World Social Forum is not an instrument of such struggle. It is a diversion from it.

The World Social Forum and the Struggle against ‘Globalisation’

I. How and Why the World Social Forum Emerged

The fourth gathering of the World Social Forum (WSF) is to take place in Mumbai in January 2004. This would be an event of unprecedented international visibility for India, and is already a subject of great curiosity, discussion and debate among circles opposed to what is termed ‘globalisation’. A number of insightful analytical articles have already been written on the WSF, both in India and abroad. Our purpose here is to gather some of these perceptions, substantiate certain points, and add a few further points.

The Seattle demonstrations and thereafter

The emergence of the WSF can be traced (in a contrary way) to the remarkable international upsurge of protest and confrontation that took place in the wake of the November 1999 conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) at Seattle in the US. That WTO conference, wracked by disputes among the world’s richest economies, was disrupted further, and crucially, by a great storm of protest in the streets. The over 50,000 marchers were a very diverse mass, including anti-capitalist propagandists, anarchists, campaigners for the abolition of third world debt, environmentalists and even, remarkably, sections of U.S. organised labour. The conference ended in a fiasco without completing its agenda. For those fighting against globalisation, Seattle was a signal victory, evidence that such a fight was possible and worthwhile.

For the next one and a half years, a series of protests inspired by Seattle seriously disrupted every major gathering of the leading international powers and institutions, including the World Economic Forum (WEF) meet (a gathering of representatives of the world’s leading corporations and countries) at Davos in January 2000; the IMF-World Bank spring meeting in Washington in April 2000; the WEF summit at Melbourne in September 2000; the IMF-World Bank annual meeting in Prague in September 2000; the European Union (EU) summit in Nice in December 2000; the Davos meet in January 2001; the Quebec economic summit of the Americas in April 2001; the EU summit in Gothenburg in June 2001; the WEF meet in Salzburg in July 2001; and the World Economic Summit of the Group of Eight (G-8) in Genoa in July 2001.

Inevitably, the summit chiefs and the corporate media accused the protesters of carrying out acts of meaningless destruction. However, the main immediate thrust of the protesters’ actions was quite straightforward: to physically prevent the delegates gathering and thus prevent these conferences from completing their agenda.

For that agenda was, broadly speaking, to turn the screws tighter: to yank open third world economies even further to invasion and occupation by imports, foreign investment, and privatisation; to devalue labour power (directly and indirectly) further in both advanced industrialised countries and the third world; to concentrate capital even more greatly than at present; and to sort out disputes among the leading imperialist powers in this game.

Demonstrations alone have never ultimately blocked the plans of international capital, but the wave of militant demonstrations at Seattle and after was at least remarkably effective in disrupting “business as usual”. At Seattle, the conference’s inaugural session was cancelled as the delegates — including the head of the WTO, the UN Secretary-General, the US Secretary of State, and the US Trade Representative — were virtually imprisoned in their hotels on the first day; and on the following days, as demonstrators fought cat-and-mouse battles with the police on the streets, the trade talks inside broke down. During the Washington Fund-Bank meet, the US government had to shut offices in a sizeable area around the two institutions’ headquarters, and demonstrators managed to block many top officials — including the French finance minister — from reaching the venue. At Melbourne the Australian prime minister, John Howard, and the world’s richest man, Bill Gates, were trapped along with other delegates at the venue. Since the entrances and exits were blocked by 30,000 demonstrators, the delegates had to be ferried back and forth by helicopters and boats. At Prague the conference centre was completely blocked for hours, and many prospective delegates stayed away from the event. At Nice, the authorities’ attempts to keep out 100,000 protesters kept the delegates themselves in a state of siege. A NATO conference scheduled to be held in December 2000 at Victoria (Canada) was cancelled for fear of demonstrations, as was a World Bank development meet in Barcelona in June 2001. At Davos in January 2001, what the Financial Times described as “unprecedented security” (including mass arrests and a shut down of road and rail) did not prevent hundreds of protesters making it to the site. At Quebec, the entire focus of attention shifted from the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas to the demonstrators. And in Sweden, the inner city of Gothenburg was converted into a virtual battlefield.

Each successive meet attempted to place larger areas officially out of bounds by erecting legal and physical barricades. These efforts peaked in Genoa, where a four metre high iron fence protected a large deserted “red zone” near the venue. Inhabitants were not allowed to receive visitors for days, and sharpshooters manned terraces and balconies. Even this level of quarantine was insufficient for the leaders of the world’s eight most powerful countries, who stayed on the cruise ship “European Vision”, guarded by minesweepers, specialist divers, and units with anti-aircraft guns. Rail and air traffic to the city were stopped; motorways were blocked; bus, underground and tram traffic were largely shut down; and large numbers of people were turned back at the Italian border. Revealingly, the very authorities who talked of a ‘united Europe’ and were busy removing national restraints on capital flows aggressively used national borders to block the flow of protesters. Hence the slogan of the marchers in Prague: “Open up the borders, smash the IMF”.

The slogans and causes of the participants in this series of demonstrations varied greatly, ranging from the reformist to the revolutionary (and even, in the US, a few chauvinist ones). But as the Economist put it, by and large what the marchers “have in common is a loathing of the established economic order, and of the institutions — the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO — which they regard as either running it or serving it.” The rallies indeed became schools to their heterogenous participants: many previously non-political forces, or forces limited to single issues, were exposed to broader political perspectives and were radicalised in the course of their experience. And far from flagging, their strength appeared to be growing: at Genoa a record 150,000 protesters overcame extraordinary hurdles and managed to reach the city.

For those behind the project of a united Europe — the European corporations — the unprecedented involvement of organised labour in these protests was a particularly ominous sign. The European corporations and their political representatives, in the course of fashioning a single superpower, are moving step by step to strip the European working class of all its security and social rights. A militant working class challenge joining hands across borders would endanger their project.

The response: repression

From the start the protesters had to face considerable repression. At Seattle-1999 tear gas (canisters were sometimes fired at protesters’ faces), truncheons, plastic bullets and concussion grenades were used. Over 600 were arrested, often merely for handing out or even receiving leaflets within the giant “no-protest zone”; the national guard was called out; night-time curfew and martial law were declared. At Davos 2000 and 2001, the police used water throwers (at below-freezing temperatures), tear gas and warning shots; at Washington April 2000 tear gas, pepper gas (some demonstrators were sprayed in the eyes) and truncheons; at Nice, stun grenades and tear gas; at Quebec, water-throwers, tear gas and rubber pellets.

The Gothenburg EU summit of June 2001 marked a turning point. The Swedish police not only attacked the protesters with horses, truncheons and dogs, but, for the first time in the post-Seattle protests, fired live ammunition. Three protesters were wounded, one seriously. British prime minister Blair nevertheless asserted that people were “far too apologetic” about demonstrators who disrupt gatherings of world leaders. “These guys don’t represent anyone…. I just think we’ve got to be a lot more robust about this.”

In line with Blair’s sentiments, the repression at Genoa was unprecedented. Demonstrations were banned in a large zone. The police had the power to stop and search anyone in the city. There was a complete ban on distribution of leaflets. On the first day of the conference, police shot in the head Carlo Giuliani, a 23-year-old protester who allegedly threw a fire extinguisher at a police van; the van then reversed over Giuliani where he lay on the ground, killing him. On the night of July 21-22, the police stormed the school building which served as the dormitory of the protesters. Those sleeping there were beaten with steel torches, wooden truncheons and fists so badly that 72 were injured; more than a dozen had to be carried out on stretchers, some unconscious; and many had to be hospitalised. All were eventually released without charge. According to Amnesty International, detainees were “slapped, kicked, punched and spat on and subjected to verbal abuse, sometimes of an obscene sexual nature…. deprived of food, water and sleep for lengthy periods, made to line up with their faces against the wall and remain for hours spread-eagled, and beaten if they failed to maintain this position.” In addition, “some were apparently threatened with death and, in the case of female detainees, rape.”

Eighteen months later, the Italian police confessed to a parliamentary inquiry that they had fabricated evidence against the protesters: one senior officer admitted planting two Molotov cocktails in the school, and another admitted faking the stabbing of a police officer. A Guardian investigation at the time of the protests had found that certain `demonstrators’ who committed acts of looting and attacks on reporters were in fact provocateurs from European security forces. Not surprisingly, “few, if any” of these persons were arrested. This was, then, a pre-planned assault by the leaders of Europe on the burgeoning anti-imperialist movement.

More sophisticated response required

While “robust” repression remained an essential tool of dealing with the movement, it was not sufficient. For, contrary to Blair’s assertion that “These guys don’t represent anyone”, it was clear that indeed they represented vast and growing numbers affected, in some cases even ruined, even within the imperialist countries themselves by the current processes. Early on, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service warned that “Seattle and Washington reflect how large the antagonistic audience has become, and the lengths to which participants will go in their desire to shut down or impede the spread of globalization”. The aggressively pro-`globalisation’ Economist, in an editorial titled “Angry and effective”, lamented that “The threat of renewed demonstrations against global capitalism hangs over next week’s annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank. This new kind of protest is more than a mere nuisance: it is getting its way.” It warned that “it would be a big mistake to dismiss this global militant tendency as nothing more than a public nuisance, with little potential to change things. It already has changed things”, counting the Multilateral Agreement on Investment as its first victim.

The Economist traced the effectiveness of the protests not to the methods employed but to the fact that they “enjoy the sympathy of many people in the West…. Many of the issues they raise reflect popular concern about the hard edges of globalisation — fears, genuine if muddled, about leaving the poor behind, harming the environment, caring about profits more than people, unleashing dubious genetically modified foods, and the rest. The radicals on the streets are voicing an organised and extremist expression of these widely shared anxieties…. the protesters are prevailing over firms, international institutions and governments partly because, for now, they do reflect that broader mood. If their continuing success stimulates rather than satisfies their appetite for power, global economic integration may be at greater risk than many suppose.”

A sophisticated response was required. At Melbourne, at a conference site besieged by demonstrators, World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab commented revealingly that “If I have learned one thing from here, I will try in future to install a dialogue corner where some business people here and some people in the street could meet in a safe corner and just exchange ideas.” The Economist noted that the Czech president tried unsuccessfully “to broker a meeting between the protesters [at Prague] and the boss of the World Bank…. Mr Havel has since managed to set up a forum on September 23rd that will be attended by Bank and Fund officials and by assorted opponents of globalisation.”

Such efforts are not new: The Bank, Fund, U.N., and other such institutions have for some years been sponsoring parallel NGO meets at each major international gathering. Indeed, at Seattle, in December 1999, the WTO itself hosted a parallel Social Summit the day before the opening of the WTO conference, where the new International Labour Office Director-General Juan Somavia spelled out the programme: “What we need today is a more fruitful collaboration between the ILO, the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank with the objective of creating a Social Chapter within the incipient structures of world governance…. We need to create structures where the fears and anxieties of civil society can be fully aired and addressed.”

At the same gathering, former WTO Director General Renatto Ruggiero warned that “if all actors in today’s global economy are not included to address the widening range of public concerns within this global system… they may turn to alternative solutions that could possibly destabilize the entire architecture of the global economy…. Certainly we must continue to advance trade liberalization within the multilateral system. But unless we achieve a consensus and cooperation with all the political actors, we cannot build the necessary support for trade liberalization and the global economy.”

The efforts of the 1999 Seattle Social Summit to engage the protesters in consensus-building for trade liberalisation were, to put it mildly, unsuccessful. And through all the militant protests that followed, it was clear that those sponsored efforts at consensus-building with the protesters, organised as they were under the auspices of the same international bodies that were the targets of the protests, carried no credibility with the marchers.

World Social Forum is given shape

It was during the following turbulent year, 2000, that the “alternative” to Seattle-type confrontations took shape — with remarkable speed, starting within three months of the Seattle events.

According to a member of the International Council of the WSF, in February 2000, Bernard Cassen, the head of a French NGO platform ATTAC, Oded Grajew, head of a Brazilian employers’ organisation, and Francisco Whitaker, head of an association of Brazilian NGOs, met to discuss a proposal for a “world civil society event”; by March 2000, they formally secured the support of the municipal government of Porto Alegre and the state government of Rio Grande do Sul, both controlled at the time by the Brazilian Workers’ Party (PT). In June 2000, the proposal for such an event was placed by the vice-governor of Rio Grande do Sul at an alternative UN meeting in Geneva. The World Bank website dates the WSF to this meeting, referring to it as “a new organizational perspective launched in June 2000 in Geneva by the major organisations of civil society”.

This political trend, which was already present within the protest movement, stepped up its efforts to influence it. A group of French NGOs, including ATTAC, Friends of L’Humanité, and Friends of Le Monde Diplomatique, sponsored an Alternative Social Forum in Paris titled “One Year after Seattle”, in order to prepare an agenda for the protests to be staged at the upcoming European Union summit at Nice. The speakers called for “reorienting certain international institutions such as the IMF, World Bank, WTO… so as to create a globalization from below” and “building an international citizens’ movement, not to destroy the IMF but to reorient its missions.” While strongly endorsing the project of the European Union (one of the central aims of which in fact is to strip the hard-won rights of European workers and their various forms of social protection), the organisers called for a Social Europe, “on the basis of a Third Way [ie neither capitalism nor socialism], that could implement policies against unemployment, insecurity, and the undermining of workers’ rights.”

The organisers had considerable success in foisting this agenda on the protest demonstrations at Nice, where the general secretary of the European Confederation of Trade Unions (ETUC) declared that “all components of civil society must play a major role in the construction of the European Union. The message of our demonstration is unmistakable: There needs to be the incorporation of the trade unions and NGOs into the decision-making structures in Brussels…. We agree that Europe must become more competitive, yes. But the new Europe must also contain a dignified quality of life for all its citizens.” This vision of a happy family of European labour and capital would warm any corporate chieftain’s heart.

Let us take a closer look here at the two principal authors of the World Social Forum: ATTAC of France and the Workers’ Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores, PT) of Brazil. It is worth looking at the background of these two forces.

ATTAC: devoted to dialogue with international financial institutions

ATTAC is an NGO platform that aims to build a coalition of diverse groups — farmers, trade unions, intellectuals — for a reform of the world financial system. Its name is the French acronym for Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions for the Aid of Citizens. It was originally set up in 1998 by Bernard Cassens and Susan George, the editors of Le Monde Diplomatique, to campaign for the Tobin tax. This is a tax long ago proposed by the American economist James Tobin, whereby speculative financial transactions would be taxed at the rate of 0.1 per cent in order to raise funds for productive and socially desirable purposes. (While ATTAC has broadened its concerns in the past several years, it has not abandoned its base in the Tobin tax proposal.) Tobin, a Nobel Prize-winning establishment economist who has advised US administrations, in no sense considered his proposal radical, anti-corporate or anti-globalization — indeed, he envisioned the tax revenues being administered by the IMF (ATTAC wants the United Nations to do so instead). At any rate, given the dominance of financial sector activity, and the hectic pace of speculative transactions worldwide, the Tobin tax stands nil chance of being actually enacted by any country wishing to remain in the existing world financial institutions, international capital flows and international trade; the country that made such a tax law would immediately be punished by the world financial community withdrawing capital from it. To be effective, it presumably would have to be enacted by all countries in the world, or at least the leading powers, which could then impose it on the rest of the world. The Tobin tax proposal is a mirage.

Apart from the Tobin tax, ATTAC advanced three other propositions at the World Social Forum: the reform of the World Bank and IMF; a global commission to slow down multinationals and increase competition; and “a procedure of mediation for countries of the `Third World’ in debt, where creditors and debtors should name their representatives and who then have to come to an agreement in regard to an arbitrator”. All this was to be achieved through “dialogue” with governments and international institutions like the Fund and Bank.

This understanding is also reflected in the work of one of ATTAC’s leading lights, Susan George, who argues against a write-off of the Third World debt, and instead for its “creative” renegotiation. She indeed defends the institution of the IMF: “Should the South seek to replace or abolish the IMF? Even if such a Herculean feat were possible, this strikes me as the wrong goal, precisely because the Fund is supra-national and because it is an instrument. If enough pressure and political skill were applied, it could become an instrument for governments more enlightened than that of the United States under Reagan.” While the intellectuals of ATTAC prominently occupied platforms and press conferences at each major post-Seattle protest, their actual politics starkly contrasts that of the protesters who called for writing off the Third World debt or “smashing the IMF”.

Nor does ATTAC have much in common with the traditional trade union goal of defending jobs. In a May 2001 document (The rules of the new shareholding capitalism), ATTAC upholds the right of the sack: “Clearly, the right to capitalist property includes the right to hire and fire. The question is knowing up to what point. As far as we are concerned, we want job-cuts to be the last resort, once all other possibilities of guaranteeing the survival of the company have been exhausted.”

For ATTAC the militant anti-`globalisation’ protests failed in a crucial sense: they lacked the `constructive’ development of `alternatives’. According to Christophe Aguiton of ATTAC, “The failure of Seattle was the inability to come up with a common agenda, a global alliance at the world level to fight against globalisation”. Hence the need for WSF. Says Bernard Cassens, the first president of ATTAC, “We are not just protesters, our ambition is to propose credible alternatives to show that another world is possible by once more putting the economy and finance at the service of society.”

To whom were these alternatives to be proposed, in whose eyes were they to be “credible”? Evidently, to those in charge of the existing world. ATTAC has been courted by various European social democratic governments: “In September last year (2001)the French prime minister, Lionel Jospin, and the German chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, both facing closely fought elections in the near future, agreed to set up a joint working party on how to regulate financial markets. The leadership of ATTAC France have held several meetings with Jospin’s chief of staff. The French National Assembly passed a resolution in November supporting the Tobin tax on international financial speculation. Perhaps because of this courtship, the ATTAC leadership did not mobilise its considerable influence against the war in Afghanistan. This courtship will continue at Porto Alegre. Among the notables present will be Danielle Mitterrand, widow of the former French president.” It is alleged that at various forums ATTAC have intervened to exclude discussion of issues such as Iraq and Afghanistan, and prevent discussion of state racism, immigrant rights, and explicit references to fascism and Islamophobia.

Indeed ATTAC sees no wrong in receiving funds from ruling quarters in Europe. The French business daily Les Echos (10/1/02) reported that “Last year ATTAC received 300,000 Euros in grants alone. Among the contributors were the European Commission (of the EU), the French government’s Department of Social Economy, the National Ministry of Education and Culture and a whole host of local governments.” According to the daily Le Monde (1/2/02), “ATTAC and Le Monde Diplomatique received 80,000 Euros from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs to help them organise the World Social Forum.” Les Echos (1/2/02) comments accurately that “The financing of the NGOs, whose role is not always transparent, often comes from multinational corporations who prefer to back them discreetly so as to be able to use them for their own purposes. It would appear that these are two opposing ideologies. In fact, more and more these ideologies are becoming intertwined.”

Of course, ATTAC’s construction experts ignore the fact that a genuine alternative cannot merely be mounted on top of the existing structure, but must be preceded by clearing away the burden of the past.

Workers’ Party: instrument of IMF rule

The other important force initiating the WSF, the PT of Brazil, can hardly be termed an opponent of globalisation. When the first three WSF meets took place, the PT was in power only in one province of Brazil, Rio Grande de Sul, whose capital is Porto Alegre. At the time it was celebrated for its “Participatory Budget” process. In this, an assembly would be held of associations representing various sections of society — including trade unions, NGOs, and employers’ associations. First, from the funds available, the amount required for the province’s contribution towards servicing the foreign debt would be subtracted. Then discussion would begin on how to spend the remainder, with each association allowed time to speak to ask for funds for its concern, and a vote at the end on all the proposals. None of the priorities may be funded, if there are not sufficient funds for them. Clearly such a procedure has nothing to do with opposing ‘globalisation’. What it does is to set various exploited social sections against one another and dissipate resentment for Bank-Fund austerity measures. Indeed the IMF publication Finance and Development, edited by the World Bank’s Chief Economist, praises the PT’s “participatory budget” as helping to “reduce the administrative and social constraints on economic activity and social mobility”.

Now that the PT has been elected to power at the national level, its anti-`globalisation’ pretensions have been dropped. In order to “confront the fear that had taken hold of investors, both foreign and Brazilian” before his election, “Lula [Luis Ignacio Silva, the head of the PT and now the president of Brazil], in a ‘letter to the Brazilian people,’ had committed himself during the campaign to maintaining the budget surpluses required by the IMF. When he took office, he not only did this, but he went further and surprised Wall Street by increasing the budget surplus from 3.5 percent of GDP to 4.6 percent” — a remarkable extraction from a poverty-ridden economy in recession. Unsurprisingly, “Officials at the IMF and World Bank in Washington have praised the stringent fiscal orthodoxy imposed by the new government.” For the critical position of president of the Central Bank, Lula appointed Henrique Meirelles, the former president of global banking at FleetBoston Financial, and “well known in US financial circles.” International investors are reassured: Since Lula took office on January 1, 2003, Brazil has received some $5.6 billion in foreign investment. Lula has also kept a distance from Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, one Latin American leader who is disliked by international capital.

As Brazil continues to service its debt and attract foreign capital, its basic interest rate, at 26.5 per cent, strangles domestic investment: interest now accounts on average for 14 per cent of the cost of production in Brazil and as much as 25 per cent in the steel and auto-parts industry. More than a third of the population is officially considered poor, and 15 per cent destitute. “Unemployment in the greater São Paulo region, Brazil’s industrial and financial heartland, has risen to over 20 percent. Brazil’s economic policy makers remain under IMF surveillance, obliged to make payments on the $30 billion of IMF loans that the previous government negotiated, which gives very little space for the economy to grow.” Brazil’s policymakers now talk the language of the IMF: “If budget surpluses can be sustained, once growth picks up next year, as they anticipate it will, they believe that they will at last be able to shift surpluses from paying debt and toward social development, education, health, and improving roads and other infrastructure.” It is elementary that a policy of extracting budget surpluses can only contract economic activity, making the possibility of social development even more remote.

Little wonder that “Some of the left-wing members of the PT were openly criticizing [Lula], and the party leaders were threatening the most acerbic critics with expulsion if they voted against the government’s reform measures.” The left-wing members would have contrasted Lula’s present positions with his words to the Havana Debt Conference in 1985:

“Without being radical or overly bold, I will tell you that the Third World War has already started — a silent war, not for that reason any the less sinister. This war is tearing down Brazil, Latin America and practically all the Third World. Instead of soldiers dying there are children, instead of millions of wounded there are millions of unemployed; instead of destruction of bridges there is the tearing down of factories, schools, hospitals, and entire economies…. It is a war by the United States against the Latin American continent and the Third World. It is a war over the foreign debt, one which has as its main weapon interest, a weapon more deadly than the atom bomb, more shattering than a laser beam….”

The context of class struggle in Latin America

Indeed the emergence of the WSF needs to be seen against the background of not only the upsurge of militant protests against the world’s leading financial institutions and bodies. It must also be seen against the great wave of struggles of workers and peasants sweeping Latin America since the Mexican Zapatista uprising of 1994, and more particularly in the last few years: a flowering of other movements on the land question in Mexico inspired by the Zapatista uprising, many of them armed; an extended and political Mexican student movement; the continuing guerrilla war led by FARC and ELN in Colombia; the continuing guerrilla war in Peru; a near-insurrection in Ecuador against IMF-imposed policies, resulting in the fall of a government; mass mobilisations in support of the Chavez government in Venezuela, in defiance of the Venezuelan elite and US imperialism; the militant direct occupation of land by the Movement of the Landless (MST) in Brazil; the remarkable Argentinian popular uprising and occupation of factories and sites of political power in 2001-02 in defiance of international investors, forcing repeated defaults of payments on the foreign debt; the Bolivian anti-privatisation struggles, including the successful struggle of Cochabamba against the privatisation of water; and others. Thus Latin America has become in recent years a particularly important zone of class struggle in the world, in confrontation with international capital. Many of these struggles have been spontaneous or led by amorphous forces, in search of political moorings and a vision of the future. Hence the importance for international capital of channeling them, too, along the ‘constructive’ paths charted by organisations like ATTAC.

So it was that, in 2002, the Porto Alegre municipality provided approximately $300,000 and the Rio Grande do Sul state government (under which the municipality falls) another $ one million for the WSF, despite their austerity regime. In 2003, there was some increase in the money provided by the municipal government and a substantial cut in the money given by the state government (as a result of PT losing the state elections). However, the new PT federal government, headed by Lula, decided to compensate for the cut by the state government. ATTAC channeled European Union funds for the setting up of the WSF, and it is itself a recipient of European Union and French government funding (see Appendix II for details). Apart from this, other WSF funders (or `partners’, as they are referred to in WSF terminology) included Ford Foundation, which we will discuss later in this article — suffice it to say here that it has always operated in the closest collaboration with the US Central Intelligence Agency and US overall strategic interests; Heinrich Boll Foundation, which is controlled by the German Greens party, a partner in the present German government and a supporter of the wars on Yugoslavia and Afghanistan (its leader Joschka Fischer is the German foreign minister); and major funding agencies such as Oxfam (UK), Novib (Netherlands), ActionAid (UK), and so on.

Remarkably, an International Council member of the WSF reports that the “considerable funds” received from these agencies have “not hitherto awakened any significant debates [in the WSF bodies] on the possible relations of dependence it could generate.” Yet he admits that “in order to get funding from the Ford Foundation, the organisers had to convince the foundation that the Workers Party was not involved in the process.” Two points are worth noting here. First, this establishes that the funders were able to twist arms and determine the role of different forces in the WSF — they needed to be `convinced’ of the credentials of those who would be involved. Secondly, if the funders objected to the participation of the thoroughly domesticated Workers Party, they would all the more strenuously object to prominence being given to genuinely anti-imperialist forces. That they did so object will be become clear as we describe who was included and who excluded from the second and third meets of the WSF.

The WSF Charter

The charter of the WSF describes the Forum opaquely as “a permanent process of seeking and building alternatives”, “an open meeting place for… groups and movements of civil society that are opposed to neoliberalism and to domination of the world by capital and any form of imperialism”, a “plural, diversified, non-confessional, non-governmental and non-party context”, and so on. However, the charter bars the WSF from any meaningful action. “The meetings of the WSF do not deliberate on behalf of the WSF as a body…. The participants in the Forum shall not be called on to take decisions as a body, whether by vote or acclamatiion, on declarations or proposals for action that would commit all, or the majority, of them…. It thus does not constitute a locus of power…” Thus the WSF organisers have strenuously and successfully resisted taking a stand on even such a glaring issue as the US invasion of Iraq.

The WSF’s diversity has its limits. Some groups of “civil society” — or of the people, to use a clearer term — are to be excluded: “Neither party representations nor military organizations shall participate in the Forum.” (The April 2002 Bhopal declaration of Indian organisations constituting WSF-India says that “The meetings of the World Social Forum are always open to all those who wish to take part in them, except organisations that seek to take people’s lives as a method of political action”.) Thus any struggle which defends or advances its cause by use of arms would be barred: for example, had the Vietnamese liberation struggle existed today it would not be able to attend the WSF, even were it to wish it; nor would today’s Palestinian or Iraqi resistance fighters. Examples can easily be multiplied.

Yet the same charter states that “Government leaders and members of legislatures who accept the commitments of this Charter may be invited to participate in a personal capacity.” (The Bhopal declaration of WSF India emphasises that the WSF does not intend “to exclude from the debates it promotes those in positions of political responsibility, mandated by their peoples, who decide to enter into the commitments resulting from those debates.” In other words, they are not participating in their “personal capacity”, but in their official capacity.) Given that these persons are leaders of political parties, and given that as heads of state they lead military organisations, this would seem to negate the earlier clause banning party representations or military organisations.

Clearly the objects of the two clauses are different. The first is intended to block certain `undesirable’ radical parties and their fighting forces. The second is to ensure the presence of representations from the very governments carrying out globalisation.

While barring the participation of armed organisations, the WSF Charter mentions that it will “increase the capacity for non-violent social resistance to the process of dehumanization the world is undergoing and to the violence used by the State.” (emphasis added) So the world is being dehumanized as a result of the intensification of exploitation; states are employing violence to accomplish this; yet resistance must be non-violent; failure to maintain non-violence will bar one from attending WSF gatherings.

On the other hand, the question of funding does not even figure in the charter of principles of the WSF, adopted in June 2001. Marxists, being materialists, would point out that one should look at the material base of the forum to grasp its nature. (One indeed does not have to be a Marxist to understand that “he who pays the piper calls the tune”.) But the WSF does not agree. It can draw funds from imperialist institutions like Ford Foundation while fighting “domination of the world by capital and any form of imperialism”. Indeed, the WSF Charter makes clear that it is opposed to all “reductionist views of economy, development and history”, meaning, presumably, Marxist analysis.

WSF 2001, 2002, 2003

The actual gatherings of the World Social Forum in 2001, 2002, and 2003 were marked by a sharp contrast. On the one hand there was the vibrant presence of masses of people — 5,000 registered participants and thousands of other Brazilian participants at the first event; 12,000 official delegates and tens of thousands of other participants at the second; and 20,000 delegates, at the third, which had a total attendance of 100,000.

One report describes how, at the meets, “Bank employees distributed leaflets with the title `all bankers are thieves’ and burnt dollar and euro banknotes. Metal and oil workers called for international solidarity with the Palestinians. In the morning the organisation of the homeless people occupied a building, which the city council had promised to convert into state-subsidised flats a year ago.”

There was a diversity similar to that of the anti-’globalisation’ protests, ranging from workers, peasants and students to environmentalists, anti-debt campaigners, and NGOs. But the new addition was high-powered officers of international institutions, academics, and politicians. James Petras writes of the second WSF meet:

“The Forum was sharply polarized. On one side were the reformers — the NGO’ers, academics and the majority of the organizers of the Forum, ATTAC-Tobin tax advocates from France and leaders from the social-liberal wing of the Brazilian Workers Party. On the other side were the radicals from the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement, activist intellectuals, piqueteros from Argentina, representatives of left-wing parties, trade unions, urban movements and solidarity groups. There were significant differences in the social composition of the meetings and the public demonstrations. At the opening inaugural march, run by the reformist officials, the marchers were from a diverse array of groups. The unofficial march of 50,000 against the Latin American Free Trade Agreement was organized by the radical groups and included a large contingent of Brazilian workers, peasants and homeless, as well as militant internationalists from ongoing struggles in Argentina, Bolivia and other countries.”

Naomi Klein notes that, while “any group that wanted to run a workshop… simply had to get a title to the organizing committee”, “there were sometimes sixty of these workshops going on simultaneously, while the main-stage events, where there was an opportunity to address more than 1,000 delegates at a time, were dominated not by activists but by politicians and academics.” Petras agrees: “It was the well-known intellectual notables from the NGOs which crowded the platforms and informed the public about the movements in their regions… The official plenary sessions and `testimonials’ were heavily biased in favour of NGO’ers and intellectuals, while the parallel workshops and seminars were the occasional site of fruitful exchange among activists from substantial movements engaged in the significant battles against imperialism (`globalization’).”

Who was included

Despite the WSF Charter’s prohibition of political parties, Lula, head of the PT and now head of the federal government of Brazil, prominently participated at all three WSF meets. For that matter the PT, the ruling party at the local and now national level, has been omnipresent at the WSF meets. And Lula, as part of his new presidential responsibilities, traveled straight from the WSF 2003 to Davos, to participate in the World Economic Forum meet. Thus it is possible to take part in both forums.

It is worth looking at the credentials of some of the other participants at the WSF. The French government — still more or less a colonial ruler in parts of Africa — has sent high-level delegations to the WSF, containing several cabinet ministers. Among those whom the organising body of WSF presumably considers “accept the commitments” of its charter were the French minister of cooperation (directly responsible for dealing with the foreign debt of the African countries — in particular former French colonies), the minister of housing, the minister of education, and so on. Also present at the WSF was a top-ranking delegation of the United Nations, a body in whose name several heinous wars have been fought since 1991. A special message from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was read out at the WSF — as it was also in the World Economic Forum at Davos.

At any rate the bar on political parties is selective: any number of representatives of political parties attend in their “individual capacities”, and even hold important positions in the WSF bodies. The bar is actually an enabling provision, to keep out those the organisers wish to keep out.

Even some prominent representatives of the WSF have been embarrassed by the contradiction. According to Jose Luis del Rojo, the Italian coordinator of the WSF: “We have a problem. There are several thousand politicians present, many of whom are members of parliament, mainly from Europe, who voted for the US war against Afghanistan. Many of these had declared themselves to be against our movement. And now they are all here, giving interviews to the international press…We have problems especially with the French and Italian members of parliament. For example, there is the secretary of the Left Democrats from Italy, Piero Fassino, who spoke strongly in favour of Italy entering this war. These are the same people, who in Genoa, while the police was beating us up, called upon the population not to join the demonstration, in order to isolate us and leave us in the hands of the repressive state apparatus…This should be a Forum of local government politicians, but here we have prefects from Europe taking part. These people in their municipalities and regions have expelled immigrants. All this has nothing to do with our principles.”

Of the German delegation, “The majority was made up of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), like the Evangelische Entwicklungsdienst (Protestant Voluntary Service Overseas). The bulk of the delegation was formed by foundations linked to political parties, such as the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (Friedrich Ebert Foundation) with a total of 19 delegates, the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung (Rosa Luxemburg Foundation) with 9 delegates, the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung (Heinrich Böll Foundation) with 2 delegates and the DGB (German Federation of Trade Unions) with 7 representatives.”

An International Council member notes that certain UN organs were actively involved in the WSF despite the bar on intergovernmental bodies. “In order to partially overcome such dilemmas, a new form of participation was attempted in 2002 when it was decided that the WSF would have a new category of events: roundtables of dialogue and controversy. Through these roundtables, representatives of institutions banned from the list of official delegates can be invited to debate and discuss.”

NGOs are major recipients of financing from the very institutions that the WSF is purportedly fighting. “For the last decade”, said the World Bank president to the WSF 2003, “we have held an active dialogue with the organisations of civil society, including through the projects that we are financing.” Thirteen per cent of the World Bank’s loans to various governments have to be channeled to finance the “participation” of NGOs. On this account, in 2001, the borrowing countries were indebted for a neat $2.25 billion to the World Bank. The NGOs in turn do their political bit for the Bank and Fund. The Economist notes that “The IMF, long regarded as impermeable to outsiders, now runs seminars to teach NGOs the nuts and bolts of country-programme design, so that they can better monitor what the Fund is doing and (presumably) understand the rationale for the Fund’s loan conditions. Horst Kohler, the IMF’s new boss, has been courting NGOs. Jim Wolfensohn, the Bank’s boss, has long fawned in their direction, but in the Bank too the pace of bowing down has been stepped up…. Mark Malloch Brown, the administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, has gone further. He has a board of NGOs (including some fairly radical ones) to advise him…”

While the bulk of the participants at the WSF were Brazilian (67 per cent at WSF 2002), the largest non-Brazilian representation was of those who had funds, or who could be sponsored by those who had funds — not social movements, but NGOs and parliamentary parties. Inevitably, the bulk of the deliberations were ‘constructive’ in the sense that ATTAC uses that word. The ‘dialogue’ with the powers that rule the world has begun. World Bank president James Wolfensohn closed his message to the WSF 2003 with these words: “My colleagues and I have followed the debates of the last two World Social Forums, and we will discuss with interest the ideas and proposals that will emerge this year… We can work together much more closely.”

Who was excluded

While NGOs and political leaders of the existing system flooded the city’s five-star hotels, there were significant absences at the WSF. Given the charter’s bar on “political parties” and “military organisations”, it was inevitable that popular insurgencies would be barred from participation by the organisers of the WSF. “During the first WSF, FARC [the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, who have been carrying on a long-standing armed struggle against the Colombian government; they are the main target of the US's massive Plan Colombia] received a lot of sympathy from some participants. In Brazil, relatively strong anti-US sentiments are often reflected in solidarity attitudes towards Colombian rebels. Unofficial moves were even afoot to recruit internationalist brigades to travel to Colombia.” However, for the second and third WSF meets, FARC representatives were not allowed to register as participants. The Zapatista fighters of Mexico, one of Latin America’s most prominent anti-`globalisation’ movements, too were excluded, presumably because they, like FARC, are an armed force.

The Cuban delegation too at WSF 2002 was not given an official status, nor given a prominent role. Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, battling intense US efforts at overthrowing his elected government, was not invited to WSF 2003. When he turned up nevertheless, he was not accorded space within the official Forum, despite his evident popularity among the participants.

Equally significant is the exclusion of an unarmed organisation, the Madres de Plaza de Mayo, an organisation of the mothers of those ‘disappeared’ by the Argentinian military dictatorship of 1976-83. The MST (the Brazilian Movement of the Landless), although formally on the Brazilian Organising Committee of the WSF, was unable to do anything about this exclusion of the Madres — a sign of who really calls the shots. The MST could only send an invitation to the Madres to attend in their personal capacity, along with an air ticket for the head of that organisation, Hebe Bonafini. We reproduce excerpts here from her speech at a mass rally in Buenos Aires, Argentina, after the WSF 2002:

“Comrades:

“We were in Porto Alegre on the occasion of the Second World Social Forum (WSF). More than 50,000 participated in this weeklong event. There were large numbers of people from all over the world, including thousands of youth.

“There were three different levels to this WSF. First, there were the small gatherings of those who were in charge, controlling things. They were led by the French, mainly from an association called ATTAC, and by others from a few other countries.

“Then there were all the commissions and seminars, where all the intellectuals, philosophers and thinkers participated.

“And then there were the rank-and-file folks. We participated at that level, and we discussed with all sorts of people. But the fact is that we were brought to the WSF so we could listen — not so the rank-and-file could participate.

“Fidel Castro was not invited to participate and nor were the FARC. That’s a shame. Nor were the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo invited.

“I went to Porto Alegre because I was invited in a personal capacity by the Landless Peasants Movement of Brazil, the MST. And it was important that I was there, because I, along with a few others, was one of the first ones to put forward our sharp criticisms of this World Social Forum.

“We said that `Social Democracy’ and `socialism’ are not the same thing. We said that the European Social Democracy had taken over and appropriated this WSF. We said that the French organizers [i.e., ATTAC] and their cohorts could, of course, participate in this process, but that they should not control it.

“We said that in our view, people had flocked to this WSF to fight and organize against globalization only to find out, when they arrived, that the organizers had staged the event so that all we were supposed to be talking about was `putting a human face’ on globalization.

“The people I spoke to heard a different message: I told them, in relation to Argentina, that we, the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, had taken over the Plaza de Mayo — which is just in front of the President Palace in Buenos Aires — 25 years ago.

“And I said that today, taking up where we left off, hundreds of thousands of people are assembling regularly and are bringing down the new wave of country-selling presidents.”

Democracy at the WSF

Who decides who is to be invited and who not? While the WSF makes much of its commitment to openness and democracy, in fact its structure is opaque and undemocratic. According to Teivainen, an International Council member, “Formal decision-making power has been mainly in the hands of the Organising Committee (OC), consisting of the [PT-affiliated] Central Trade Union Confederation (CUT), the MST and six smaller Brazilian civil society organisations”. Of those six smaller “civil society organisations”, five are funded NGOs (Brazilian Association of NGOs; ATTAC; Justice and Peace Brazilian Committee; Global Justice Centre; and Brazilian Institute of Social and Economic Analysis (IBASE). Teivainen points out that although CUT and MST are much larger in terms of membership, “Some of the participating Brazilian NGOs have better access to financial resources: for example, IBASE, a Rio-based research institute, has been an important fund-raiser for the WSF.”

The International Council for the WSF was founded in June 2001, and currently has 113 organisations (including the eight Brazilian OC members), though in practice many of them do not actively participate. As yet there is no clear division of labour and authority between the BOC and the IC. At any rate, as Teivainen, himself one of the IC members, states, “the WSF does not have internal procedures for collective democratic will-formation”.

Whether democratically or not, decisions are taken. The WSF structure is, we are told, “horizontal” — a large number of groups interacting without any centralising force. In fact, however, some force decides who will be invited and who not; who will be given prominence at the plenary sessions and press meets, and who will be consigned to the oblivion of a workshop. A “vertical” structure has scope for communication and representation from below to the top, whereas a pseudo-horizontal structure has scope for only top-down decisions by an inaccessible body — there is no scope for representation of the mass. Naomi Klein, a writer sympathetic to the mission of the WSF, writes: “The organizational structure of the forum was so opaque that it was nearly impossible to figure out how decisions were made or to find ways to question those decisions. There were no open plenaries and no chance to vote on the structure of future events. In the absence of a transparent process, fierce NGO brand wars were waged behind the scenes–about whose stars would get the most airtime, who would get access to the press and who would be seen as the true leaders of this movement.”

Hardly surprising, then, that the WSF sessions (as well as the Asian Social Forum held in January 2003 in Hyderabad) are being confronted by demonstrations outside their sessions. Twenty office-bearers of Brazilian unions (including of CUT) distributed an “Open Letter” to the WSF 2002, questioning the WSF, exposing the role of NGOs, and asking, “Is it possible to put a human face on globalisation and war?” Klein mentions how “the PSTU, a breakaway faction of the Workers Party, began interrupting speeches about the possibility of another world with loud chants of `Another world is not possible, unless you smash capitalism and bring in socialism!”

No less than three World Social Forums have taken place; they are only the beginning. The World Social Forum is a “permanent process”, one that is to spread to new parts of the world — the next “open meeting place” is to be held in India, and thereafter, presumably, in other uncharted lands. If one could quantify discussion, unprecedented quantities have been generated by the first three meets. Yet, in stark contrast to the movement to which it traces its birth, the WSF has not yielded a single action against imperialism. As its charter states, it is not a locus of power. However, in entangling many genuine forces fighting imperialism in its collective inaction, the WSF serves the purpose of imperialism.

II. WSF Mumbai 2004 and the NGO phenomenon in India

Buoyed by the success of the Porto Alegre meets, the WSF organisers have been trying systematically to expand the Forum’s influence even further. In the course of the last year they have organised an Argentina Social Forum meet in Buenos Aires, a European Social Forum in Florence, a Palestine Thematic Forum in Ramallah (on “negotiated solutions for conflicts”), an Asian Social Forum in Hyderabad, and an African Social Forum in Addis Ababa. It is as part of this “internationalisation” process that the WSF bodies (the Brazilian Organising Committee and the International Council) decided to hold the next WSF gathering not in Brazil, but in India.

The holding of the “Asian Social Forum” at Hyderabad on January 2-7, 2003, confirmed that such an event could be successfully held in India. Large funds were mobilised from foreign funding agencies for this event too, including from Ford Foundation, which is, as we have seen, one of the major funders of the WSF.

Just as in Brazil the WSF was initiated by ATTAC and PT, in India the WSF meet is being organised by an alliance of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and leading cadre from certain political parties — in the main, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Communist Party of India, along with their mass organisations of workers, students, peasants, and women. Certain mass organisations with close ties to NGOs are also involved. While these are the forces taking the initiative to organise the meet, and which are able to provide the full-time manpower to do so, a large number of other forces and individuals are likely to join the proceedings in one way or another, either as organisers of discussions or simply as participants.

Large requirement of funds

The foreign funding here, as in Porto Alegre, is of two types: first, the infrastructural funding which comes to the WSF central bodies; secondly, the funding for various participating organisations, which is much larger, but which is near-impossible to trace.

As for the first, the “Part Funding Policy” as adopted by the India General Council of the WSF at its April 7-8 2003 meeting at BTR Bhawan in Delhi, “Maximum international funds [are] to be raised and managed by IC/BOC (International Council/Brazilian Organising Council) as per their policy”. No principle is laid down here for what type of sources may be tapped, just as the WSF Charter is silent on this score. Apart from this, the Part Funding Policy says that “NRI’s [and] organisations other than funding organisations and individuals may be approached for contribution to solidarity fund.” The document “Project World Social Forum 2004″ (World Social Forum Secretariat — Brazilian Organising Committee and Indian Organising Committee) estimates that $2.5 million will have to be raised.

However, as mentioned above, this does not capture the full role of funding agencies. In fact “Project World Social Forum 2004″ estimates total expenditure for the event at $29.7 million (about Rs 135 crore), the bulk of which, $26.2 million, is the cost of the delegates’ participation (transportation, accommodation and food). Funding agencies would bear much of this cost, since an army of NGO functionaries and employees would be attending — nearly all of the country’s foreign-funded NGOs would be present, as well as many from abroad. The visits of many important personages too would be sponsored by NGOs. However, these sums would be disbursed directly to delegates without entering the WSF Secretariat accounts. The amount provided by foundations/funding agencies directly to the WSF Secretariat is a small fraction of such funds actually involved in the WSF meet (see Appendix II for some examples of this).

The NGO sector in India

Let us turn, then, to the activities of the NGOs — one of the two main forces organising the WSF in India. In Appendix I, we have discussed Ford Foundation’s activities at length because of its role as funder of the WSF, and also as a case study of foreign funding. The broad pattern displayed by the Ford Foundation holds for the entire NGO sector in India.

There are a number of sincere individuals working in NGOs or associated with NGOs. Many such persons are moved by a desire to reach some immediate assistance to needy people. Seen in specific contexts, they do in fact reach some relief to sections of people. Without questioning the commitment and genuineness of such individuals, our concern here is to point to the broader political significance of the NGO institutional phenomenon.

The 1980s and 1990s witnessed an extraordinary proliferation of foreign-funded NGOs in India: according to the Home Ministry, by the year 2000 nearly 20,000 organisations were registered under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, though only 13,800 of them submitted their accounts to the government as required. Total foreign funds received by these organisations rose from Rs 3,403 crore in 1998-99 to Rs 3,925 crore in 1999-2000 to Rs 4,535 crore (about $993 million) in 2000-01.

Not a spontaneous social phenomenon

NGOs make out that they have spontaneously emerged from society, hence the earlier term `voluntary agency’ and the now-favoured term `civil society organisation’. In fact, however, international funding agencies (from which smaller NGOs in various countries in the third world receive their funds) depend heavily on funds from government, corporate and institutional sources. For example, according to the World Bank document “Report on Development: 2000-2001″, more than 70 per cent of projects approved by the World Bank in 1999 included the participation of NGOs and representatives of “civil society” — a single project aimed at bolstering NGOs over seven countries cost $900 million. The Bank assigned two of its functionaries to relations with NGOs and representatives of “civil society”; that figure has grown to 80 today. As for governmental support, another report puts funds to NGOs from advanced industrial countries other than the US at $2.3 billion in 1995; including the US, the figure would be much larger. As one writer puts it, “These gigantic sums reveal the hoax of presenting the rapid growth of NGOs as a `social phenomenon’.”

Why do multinational corporations, the imperialist governments, and institutions such as the World Bank and the United Nations channel such funds to NGOs?

Indeed the extraordinary proliferation of NGOs serves imperialism in a variety of ways.

1. NGOs, especially those working to provide various services — health, education, nutrition, rural development — act as a buffer between the State and people. Many States find it useful to maintain the trappings of democracy even as they slash people’s most basic survival requirements from their budgets. NGOs come to the rescue by acting as the private contractors of the State, with the benefit that the State is absolved of all responsibilities. People cannot demand anything as a right from the NGOs: what they get from them is `charity’.

Till the 1980s, NGO activity in India was limited to `developmental’ activities — rural uplift, literacy, nutrition for women and children, small loans for self-employment, public health, and so on. This continues to be a major sphere of NGO activity — in 2000-01, Rs 970 crore, or 21 per cent of the total foreign funds, was designated for rural development, health and family welfare; other ‘developmental’ heads would have added to this figure.

But in what context are these ‘developmental’ activities taking place? In the basic context of enormous, conscious suppression of development. Under the guidance of the IMF and World Bank, successive Indian governments slashed their expenditure on rural development (including expenditure on agriculture, rural development, special areas programme, irrigation and flood control, village industry, energy and transport; the figures are for Centre and states combined) from 14.5 per cent of GDP in 1985-90 to 5.9 per cent in 2000-01. Rural employment growth is now flat; per capita foodgrains consumption has fallen dramatically to levels lower than the 1939-44 famine; the situation is calamitous. Were expenditure by Centre and states on rural development to have remained at the same percentage of GDP as in 1985-90, it would not have been Rs 124,000 crore in 2000-01, but Rs 305,000 crore, or more than two and a half times the actual amount.

In comparison with this giant spending gap, the sums being spent by NGOs in India are trivial. But, by their presence, the notion is conveyed all round that private organisations are stepping in to fill the gap left by the State. This is doubly useful to the rulers. The political propaganda of ‘privatisation’ is bolstered; and, as said before, people are unable to demand anything as their right. In effect, NGO activities help the State to whittle down even the existing meagre social claims that people have on the social product.

Thus NGOs are multiplied fastest where State policies — usually as part of an IMF/World Bank-directed policy — are withdrawing basic services such as food, health care, and education. The greater the devastation wreaked by the policy, the greater the proliferation of NGOs sponsored to help the victims. (Indeed, before the US prepares to invade a country, it funds and prepares leading NGOs to provide `relief’ after it has rained destruction. Thus in the second half of 2002 NGOs began cutting their spending on, and manpower deployed in, still-devastated Afghanistan — as part of their preparation to join the US caravan to Iraq.)

2. In the course of recruiting their manpower, the NGOs give employment and a small share of the cream to certain local persons. These persons might be locally influential persons, whose influence and operations then benefit the NGO. Or they might be vocal and restive persons, potential opponents of the authorities, who are in effect bought over. In either case, NGO employment, although tiny in comparison with the levels of unemployment in third world countries, serves as a network of local political influence, stabilising the existing order.

3. In the field of people’s movements, ‘activist’ or ‘advocacy’ NGOs help to redirect struggles of the people for basic change from the path of confrontation to that of negotiation, preserving the existing political frame. The World Bank explains in its “Report on Development” (cited above) its political reasons for promoting NGOs. It says: “Social tensions and divisions can be eased by bringing political opponents together within the framework of formal and informal forums and by channeling their energies through political processes, rather than leaving confrontation as the only form of release.” Thus ever since the early seventies Andhra Pradesh, a state with a strong tradition of revolutionary movements, has witnessed a massive proliferation of NGOs, and is indeed among the states receiving the maximum foreign NGO funds today.

NGOs bureaucratise people’s movements. Traditionally, people’s movements are self-reliant: they have to raise their own resources, and are led by representatives from among the people. These representatives, to one extent or another, thus have to be accountable to the people. By contrast, NGO-led movements, while claiming to represent the people, are led by officers of the NGOs, who are paid by funding agencies to carry on activity. Naturally, they are not accountable to the people, nor can they be removed by them; so they are also free to act without regard for people’s opinions. On the other hand, NGOs are accountable to their funders, and cannot afford to stray beyond certain bounds. Minus foreign and government funding, the entire NGO sector in India would collapse in a day.

Indeed, as NGOs proliferate and spread their wings, setting up funded adivasi organisations, dalit organisations, women’s organisations, ‘human rights’ organisations, cultural organisations, and organisations of unorganised labour, it is often NGOs that are the first to respond to any political or social issue — including ‘globalisation’ and its harmful effects. Political life itself is increasingly NGOised, that is, bureaucratised and alienated from popular presence and representation.

Ideological underpinnings

The foreign-funded NGO sector has, with remarkable uniformity, propagated certain political concepts. The first such, as we have mentioned in the case of Ford Foundation’s projects (see Appendix I), is the primacy of ‘identity’ — gender, ethnicity, caste, nationality — over class.

The ideological underpinnings, such as they are, of this trend are provided by what has come to be known as ‘post-modernism.’ This is an international intellectual current — now powerful, if not dominant, in social science academic institutions worldwide. Not its own strength as a school of thought, but the rich stream of funds and academic positions flowing to it, has ensured post-modernists institutional dominance — an echo of what Ford Foundation did in the 1950s.

Although ‘post-modernism’ is not really systematic thought, and so is difficult to pin down and refute, the following is an important strand of it, and the one that is relevant for the topic we are discussing here. This strand argues against any worldview which attempts (however approximately or tentatively) to comprehend all of reality in an integrated fashion. The post-modernists argue that such a worldview imposes its project on other realities. Instead, this strand posits that there are any number of realities, equally valid, and that the very tools of analysis for these realities differ.

Class analysis and post-modernism produce sharply contrasting analyses of social phenomena, which have sharply differing implications for the practice of social movements. Class analysis argues that, for example, the vast majority of women have an objective, material basis to join their movement with those of other sections (including dalits, adivasis, workers, and so on) in a struggle against the existing social order; that women’s liberation is tied up with (though a distinct sphere of) such a broader struggle; that male chauvinist attitudes of, say, male workers are against all workers’ own long-term interest; and that such attitudes have to be fought by making ruling class influences the target, not ordinary workers as such.

Post-modernism, however, considers such a view “reductionist” (the term used in the World Social Forum Charter). Rather, post-modernism places all struggles on par, with class as just another social category jostling with gender, ethnicity, nationality, and so on for attention. Post-modernism thus rules out the possibility of united action by various social sections on the basis of common objective interests; rather, it talks of varying coalitions/alliances of forces, joining hands to one extent or another for specific aims.

The post-modernist approach implies that members of the same coalition might be pitted against each other in some other respect — for example, male workers and women might join hands in a particular cause, but remain antagonists on gender issues. This in turn implies that no clear line can be drawn between the “camp of the people” and the camp of those who are responsible for exploitation and oppression of people. Both camps are open to all.

When male workers, who (in post-modernist eyes) are the target of struggle by women, can be part of the World Social Forum in which women’s organisations too participate, nothing need prevent industrialists from joining the Forum along with workers. Nothing, for that matter, prevents a UN delegation attending the Forum, or a prominent member of the Forum dashing off to attend the World Economic Forum as well. All of them — the workers and the capitalists, the protester and the World Bank functionary — are part of what the post-modernists call `civil society’. (Thus the April 2002 Bhopal declaration of WSF India clarifies that the WSF “must make space” not only “for workers, peasants, indigenous peoples, dalits, women, hawkers, minorities, immigrants, students, academicians, artisans, artists and other members of the creative world, professionals”, but also for “the media, and for local businessmen and industrialists, as well as for parliamentarians, sympathetic bureaucrats and other concerned sections from within and outside the state”. — emphasis added. The word “state” is used here in the sense of the organ of established political authority.)

The aim of class analysis is to strive for a social system worldwide which eliminates all exploitation and oppression. Whatever the specific and tortuous path the different contingents of humanity may have to traverse in different countries to get there, it is a common project of the people of the world.

Post-modernism rejects such an approach. Edward Herrman describes it succinctly as follows:

An important element of the intellectual trend called ‘postmodernism’ is the repudiation of global models of social analysis and global solutions, and their replacement with a focus on local and group differences and the ways in which ordinary individuals adapt to and help reshape their environments. Its proponents often present themselves as populists, hostile to the elitism of modernists, who, on the basis of `essentialist’ and ‘totalizing’ theories, suggest that ordinary people are being manipulated and victimized on an unlevel playing field.

Emerging as a political ‘alternative’

Naturally, this school of post-modernism implies that no single political force can represent the common long-term interests of all sections of the people in a country. Along the same lines, NGOs and various funded intellectuals in India have since the early 1980s advanced the notion of a “non-party political process”. It is this understanding that lies behind the World Social Forum’s hypocritical bar on the participation of political parties.

If the bar on political parties were in order to allow mass organisations and mass movements to occupy centre stage, one could understand the rationale. In fact it is the contrary. Political parties actually do take part in the WSF, appearing as ‘individuals’ — as can be seen by the leading role of PT in the Brazil WSF meets and the droves of parliamentarians who attended those gatherings. The point here is the ideological concept that post-modernists/NGO theorists strain hard to propagate: Namely, that any single political force aiming to represent all sections of the people amounts to an imposition on the tapestry of different groups or ways of being.

Indeed, for those who run the existing order, it is vital to ensure the absence of any coherent political force which can integrate the myriad sections in opposition against that order.

While NGOs thus oppose the concept of a single political party leading various sections of the people, they themselves are emerging as a single political force in their own right. They have unanimity on most issues. Their explicitly political activities span a wide range of social sections: they run organisations of women, adivasis, dalits, unorganised workers, fishermen, and slumdwellers; they also run organisations for the protection of the environment, cultural organisations, and human rights organisations (indeed, much admirable work in providing relief to the victims of the Gujarat massacres, and documentation of the crimes there, has been done by NGOs).

Till now, however, NGOs by and large have not been treated as a legitimate political force by the traditional mass organisations — the trade unions, peasant unions, student organisations, women’s organisations. And it continues to be the case that the mass organisations command much greater capacity to mobilise masses of people. Through platforms such as the World Social Forum now, NGOs are being provided an opportunity to legitimise themselves as a political force and expand their influence among sections to which they earlier had little access.

CPI(M)’s earlier stand

One of the early critiques of NGO politics and practice in India was written in 1988 by an important CPI(M) activist, now a politburo member, Prakash Karat; it first appeared in the CPI(M)’s theoretical journal, The Marxist. Titled Foreign Funding and the Philosophy of Voluntary Organisations, the publication describes in some detail this phenomenon, and gathers various data and anecdotal information on the topic, and points to what it considers to be its dangers.

Karat stated his thesis in brief as follows:

“There is a sophisticated and comprehensive strategy worked out in imperialist quarters to harness the forces of voluntary agencies/action groups to their strategic design to penetrate Indian society and influence its course of development. It is the imperialist ruling circles which have provided through their academic outfits the political and ideological basis for the outlook of a substantial number of these proliferating groups in India. By providing liberal funds to these groups, imperialism has created avenues to penetrate directly vital sections of Indian society and simultaneously use this movement as a vehicle to counter and disrupt the potential of the Left movement…. The CPI(M) and the Left forces have to take serious note of this arm of imperialist penetration while focussing on the instruments and tactics of imperialism. An ideological offensive to rebut the philosophy propagated by these groups is urgently necessary as it tends to attract petty bourgeois youth imbued with idealism.” (pp 2-3)

Karat argued that the new seemingly ‘activist’ stance adopted by the NGOs was a sophisticated imperialist strategy: “…along with the funding for the second phase [ie of 'activism' by NGOs] came the ideological package also. For how else can one explain the strange spectacle of imperialist agencies and governments funding organisations to organise the rural and urban poor to fight for their rights and against exploitation?” (p. 8)

In the course of the critique Karat mentioned several of the same foundations which have been funding the World Social Forum and affiliated activities — ICCO-Netherlands; Friedrich Ebert Foundation; NOVIB; Ford Foundation; Canadian International Development Agency; and Oxfam. “It would be no exaggeration to say that the whole voluntary agencies/action groups network is maintained and nurtured by funds from western capitalist countries. The scale of funding and the vast amounts involved are so striking that it is surprising that this has not become a matter of urgent public debate in this country…. This open access to foreign funds allowed by the Government of India has become one of the major sources of imperialist penetration financially in the country.” (p. 34)

He ended with a call for political struggle:

“The Left should treat all action groups (ie those directly involved in mobilisation and organisation of the people) as political entities. All those organisations receiving foreign funds are automatically suspect and must be screened to clear their bonafides.” (p. 64)

“The widest campaign has to be built up to force the Government of India to abandon its present posture of allowing free flow of foreign funds on the grounds that it contributes to the foreign exchange fund. The Foreign Contribution Regulation Act which allows such massive penetration of imperialist funds will have to be further amended to ensure: All voluntary organisations which claim to organise people for whatever form of political activity should be included in the list of organisations (just as political parties) which are prohibited for receiving foreign funds…. Most urgent is the necessity for a sustained ideological campaign against the eclectic and pseudo-radical postures of action groups.” (pp 64-65)

Indeed, he proudly states that “it is well known that it is the CPI(M) cadres and activists who have been in the lead all over the country in exposing the designs of foreign-funded voluntary work as they are clear about its implications”. (p. 60)

Sharp turnaround

Such was the official CPI(M) stand in 1988. Drastic changes appear to have taken place since the end of the eighties. In a number of forums, CPI(M) members and NGOs now cooperate and share costs — for example, at the People’s Health Conference held in Kolkata in 2002, the Asian Social Forum held in Hyderabad in January 2003, or the World Social Forum to be held in Mumbai in January 2004. Further, CPI(M) ideologues appear to be developing theoretical justifications for their stand, as can be seen from the following excerpt from a Frontline interview with Dr Thomas Isaac, CPI(M) MLA, former member of the State Planning Board in charge of decentralisation:

“Interviewer: There is criticism against the role of NGOs too, like the one you have floated in your constituency, as being that of ‘agents of globalisation and economic imperialism’ and the seemingly anti-globalisation struggles and programmes they are organising as being a clever strategy to promote essentially imperialist interests.

“Isaac: There is no doubt that there is a larger imperialist strategy to utilise the so-called voluntary sector to influence civil society in Third World countries. But you have also got to realise that there are also NGOs and a large number of similar civil society organisations and formations that are essential ingredients of any social structure. Therefore, while being vigilant about the imperialist designs, we have to distinguish between civil society organisations that are pro-imperialist and pro-globalisation and those that are not….

Isaac went on to blur the distinction between the Seattle-stream of protests and the World Social Forum:

“And today the world reality, particularly after the fall of the Soviet Union, the world revolutionary process is assuming new organisational forms of struggle. The best exhibition of this is the spontaneous mass protests against the WTO, the World Bank and the IMF, their conferences and also the anti-war movements that sprung up recently. Only those who are unaware of these divergent trends in the world today would claim that the World Social Forum and the anti-war movement are part of an imperialist conspiracy. They do not understand the contemporary world revolutionary process.”

In fact, quite to the contrary: the WSF is intended, among other things, precisely to co-opt the “new organisational forms of struggle” that arose around the Seattle protests. This is what we have tried to show at some length above.

CPI(M) — an opponent of globalisation?

While it is a turnaround from the stand of 1988, the new stand of CPI(M) on NGOs is not wholly surprising. Opposition to foreign-funded NGOs makes sense only as part of a broader opposition to imperialism. The CPI(M) is, no doubt, an opposition party nationwide, one which criticises the Central Government’s submission to the dictates of the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO, and the multinational corporations those institutions represent. But the CPI(M) is also a ruling party periodically in Kerala and continuously in West Bengal; one which actively invites foreign investment, negotiates large foreign loans with the Asian Development Bank, represses labour organisations, privatises public sector units, hikes electricity charges, and so on. In other words, it is carrying out the measures labeled `globalisation’.

The new chief minister of West Bengal, back from his recent trip to Italy to solicit investment from Gucci and other Italian firms, is now busy conferring with multinationals and Indian corporates to participate in his planned Kolkata global festival “to change the perception of the city in the eyes of outsiders”. Speaking to industrialists in Mumbai, he rushed to clarify, first, that the CPI(M) has not called for a boycott of American goods in the wake of the US invasion of Iraq, and that his government wanted not only Indian private companies but also foreign firms to invest in his state; and secondly, that labour militancy in Bengal was no longer a problem — indeed there “strikes and labour problems are much less than Maharashtra”. The CPI(M)-affiliated trade union centre, CITU, he assured them, “is aware that there would be no jobs if there are no industries.” The West Bengal government has issued advertisements for the privatisation of nine state public sector units: the pompous term used is “joint venture transformation through induction of strategic partners”, involving “transfer of equity stake ranging from 51 per cent to 74 per cent with management control”; the government is “open to considering the requisite extent of manpower restructuring and waiver of outstanding financial liabilities as may be necessary for ensuring their sustainable viability”. The financial adviser to the privatisation is the multinational Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

On the West Bengal chief minister’s table lies the report of the American consultancy firm, McKinsey (which his government commissioned in October 2001) on the prospects of agriculture-based industries and information technology-based industries in the state. McKinsey proposes that 41 per cent of the state’s arable land should be diverted from rice to vegetable and fruit cash crops; large agro-based corporations should be attracted to the state; laws should be altered to allow contract farming; and by the end of the decade the state should aim its agro-based products at the international market. “This initiative is aimed at attracting national and multinational investors to the state. McKinsey has already established contacts with several such investors. We have received a good response from them. Now our plans and efforts should be commensurate with their requirements and demands.”

World Social Forum — instrument of struggle?

In the preceding we have into some detail regarding the funding of the WSF and the nature of its participating organisations in order to present various specific aspects of this phenomenon. However, in the final analysis, the test of the World Social Forum is not merely how it is funded or the character of some of the leading/participating organisations or individuals, nor even its exclusion of various forces. After all, many forums in the world today have various limitations, and to abandon them all for their imperfections would cripple the forces struggling for change. The real test of any such forum is its actual political role, its relation to people’s struggles against the current imperialist onslaught: has it advanced them? Or has it diverted fighting forces to a dead-end?

The advocates of the WSF say it has given an impetus to struggle. This is not so. As we have tried to show, the vibrant protest movement gave an impetus to struggle. The people’s movements and upsurges of Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, and Ecuador gave an impetus to struggle. The World Social Forum has simply given an impetus to the next World Social Forum, and the next.

The WSF’s real relation to anti-imperialist struggle is starkly revealed by its organisers’ conduct at the Asian Social Forum meet in Hyderabad in January 2003. Hyderabad is the capital of Andhra Pradesh, which, apart from being one of the top recipients of NGO funds in India, is also marked by two other features.

First, the state government is perhaps the most active `globaliser’ in the country. In 1998, the state government directly negotiated a $500 million World Bank loan, which came tied with the Andhra Pradesh Economic Restructuring Programme (APERP). The APERP dictated the dismantling of the state electricity board, the inviting of private investment in power, and increasing electricity tariffs. It also dictated the hiking of water cesses for peasants; college fees; bus fares; and public hospital charges. It ordered all-round privatisation. The state government has been implementing this programme, undeterred by the massive suffering caused, the waves of starvation deaths, the thousands of suicides of peasants unable to repay their debts. When people’s organisations protested the electricity tariff hike, the Hyderabad police responded by massacring the protesters.

Indeed, the second feature, a necessary accompaniment to the first, is that state terror in Andhra Pradesh is at its zenith. The A.P. police is given fat financial rewards for routinely and cold-bloodedly murdering hundreds of the government’s political opponents in fake `encounters’. The targets have not been restricted to the members of revolutionary groups, but have been systematically extended to all those who do not submit to the reign of terror; a special target has been civil liberties activists.

The Asian Social Forum gathering at Hyderabad, with its myriad panel discussions, press meets, and public procession, did not speak a word about this armed ‘globalisation’ being carried out by Chandrababu Naidu. Evidently the organisers had negotiated terms with the government. In fact, at the same time as the ASF meet, Naidu and the deputy prime minister of India (the chief architect of the demolition of the Babri Masjid) L.K. Advani, were holding an investment conference in Hyderabad itself. Some dalit groups organised a protest against Naidu’s event, but the ASF, with its tens of thousands of participants at hand in the same city, maintained a studied silence.

The contrast with the Seattle demonstrations could hardly be sharper. The real political role of the WSF could hardly be clearer.

Appendix I:

Ford Foundation — A Case Study of the Aims of Foreign Funding

“Someday someone must give the American people a full report of the work of the Ford Foundation in India. The several million dollars in total Ford expenditures in the country do not tell one-tenth of the story.” — Chester Bowles (former US ambassador to India).

In the light of the steady flow of funds from Ford Foundation to the World Social Forum, it is worth exploring the background of this institution — its operations internationally, and in India. This is significant both in itself and as a case study of such agencies.

Ford Foundation (FF) was set up in 1936 with a slender tax-exempt slice of the Ford empire’s profits, but its activities remained local to the state of Michigan. In 1950, as the US government focussed its attention on battling the ‘communist threat’, FF was converted into a national and international foundation.

Ford and the CIA

The fact is that the US Central Intelligence Agency has long operated through a number of philanthropic foundations; most prominently Ford Foundation. In James Petras’ words, the Ford-CIA connection “was a deliberate, conscious joint effort to strengthen US imperial cultural hegemony and to undermine left-wing political and cultural influence.” Frances Stonor Saunders, in a recent work on the period, states that “At times it seemed as if the Ford Foundation was simply an extension of government in the area of international cultural propaganda. The Foundation had a record of close involvement in covert actions in Europe, working closely with Marshall Plan and CIA officials on specific projects.”

Richard Bissell, head of the Foundation during 1952-54, consulted frequently with Allen Dulles, the head of the CIA; he left the Foundation to become special assistant to Dulles at the CIA. Bissell was replaced by John McCloy as head of FF. His distinguished career before that included posts as the Assistant Secretary of War, president of the World Bank, High Commissioner of occupied Germany, chairman of Rockefeller’s Chase Manhattan Bank, and Wall Street attorney for the big seven oil corporations. McCloy intensified CIA-Ford collaboration, creating an administrative unit within the Foundation specifically to liaise with the CIA, and personally heading a consultation committee with the CIA to facilitate the use of FF for a cover and conduit of funds. In 1966, McGeorge Bundy, till then special assistant to the US president in charge of national security, became head of FF.

It was a busy collaboration between the CIA and the Foundation. “Numerous CIA ‘fronts’ received major FF grants. Numerous supposedly `independent’ CIA sponsored cultural organizations, human rights groups, artists and intellectuals received CIA/FF grants. One of the biggest donations of the FF was to the CIA-organized Congress for Cultural Freedom which received $ seven million by the early 1960s. Numerous CIA operatives secured employment in the FF and continued close collaboration with the Agency.”

The FF objective, according to Bissell, was “not so much to defeat the leftist intellectuals in dialectical combat (sic) as to lure them away from their positions.” Thus FF funneled CIA funds to the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) in the 1950s; one of the CCF’s most celebrated activities was the stellar intellectual journal Encounter. A large number of intellectuals were ready to be so lured. CIA-FF went so far as to encourage specific artistic trends such as Abstract Expressionism as a counter to art reflecting social concerns.

The CIA’s infiltration of US foundations in general was massive. A 1976 Select Committee of the US Senate discovered that during 1963-66, of 700 grants each of over $10,000 given by 164 foundations, at least 108 were partially or wholly CIA-funded. According to Petras, “The ties between the top officials of the FF and the U.S. government are explicit and continuing. A review of recently funded projects reveals that the FF has never funded any major project that contravenes U.S. policy.”

Such experiences ought to have alerted intellectuals and various political forces to the dangers of being bankrolled by such sources.

FF states (on the webpage of its New Delhi office) that from its inception to the year 2000 it had provided $7.5 billion in grants, and in 1999 its total endowment was in the region of $13 billion. It also claims that it “receives no funding from governments or any other outside sources”, but the reality, as we have seen, is otherwise.

Ford in India

The FF New Delhi office webpage claims that “At the invitation of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, the Foundation established an office in India in 1952.” In fact Chester Bowles, US ambassador to India from 1951, initiated the process. Like the rest of the US foreign policy establishment, Bowles was profoundly shocked at the “loss” of China (ie the nationwide coming to power of the communists in 1949). Linked to this was his acute worry at the inability of the Indian army to suppress the communist-led peasant armed struggle in Telangana (1946-51) “until the communists themselves changed their programme of violence”. Indian peasants expected that now, with the British Raj gone, their long-standing demand for land to the tiller would be implemented, and that pressure continued everywhere in India even after the withdrawal of the Telangana struggle.

Bowles wrote to Paul Hoffman, then president of FF: “the conditions may improve in China while the Indian situation remains stagnant…. If such a contrast developed during the next four or five years, and if the Chinese continued their moderate and plausible approach without threatening the northern Indian boundary…. the growth of communism in India might be very great. The death or retirement of Nehru might then be followed by a chaotic situation out of which another potentially strong communist nation might be born.” Hoffman shared these concerns, and stressed the need for a powerful Indian State: “A strong central government must be established…. The hardcore of communists must be kept under control…. The prime minister Pandit Nehru greatly needs understanding, sympathy and help from the people and governments of other free [sic] nations.”

The New Delhi office was soon set up, and, says FF, “was the Foundation’s first program outside the United States, and the New Delhi office remains the largest of its field office operations”. It also covers Nepal and Sri Lanka.

“The fields of activity suggested [by the US State Department] for the Ford Foundation”, writes George Rosen, “were felt to be too sensitive for a foreign (American) government agency to work in…. South Asia rapidly came to the fore as an area for possible foundation activity… Both India and Pakistan were on the rim of China and seemed threatened by communism. They appeared to be important in terms of American policy….” FF acquired extraordinary power over the Indian Plans. Rosen says that “From the 1950s to the early 1960s the foreign expert often had greater authority than the Indian”, and FF and the (FF/CIA-funded) MIT Center for International Studies operated as “quasi-official advisers to the Planning Commission”. Bowles writes that “Under the leadership of Douglas Ensminger, the Ford staff in India became closely associated with the Planning Commission which administers the Five Year Plan. Wherever there was a gap, they filled it, whether it was agricultural, health education or administration. They took over, financed and administered the crucial village-level worker training schools.”

Ford Foundation intervention in Indian agriculture

Given the background of the Chinese revolution and the Telangana struggle, the US priority in India was to find ways to head off agrarian unrest. Thus the first phase of FF’s work was in `rural development’. FF was intimately involved in the Indian government’s Community Development Programme (CDP), which Nehru hailed “as a model for meeting the revolutionary threats from left-wing and communist peasant movements demanding basic social reforms in agriculture.” The scheme was to carry out agricultural development with some funds from the Programme and voluntary village labour, thus bringing about what Nehru described as a “peaceful revolution”. At the Indian government’s invitation, FF helped train 35,000 village workers for the CDP. By 1960 the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations had between them extended over $50 million on the CDP alone. And by 1971, India, with grants totalling $104 million, was by far the largest recipient of grant aid from the Ford Foundation’s Overseas Development Programme. However, such cosmetic efforts neither brought about development nor solved the problem of simmering peasant discontent.

In 1959, a team led by a US department of agriculture economist produced the Ford Foundation’s Report on India’s Food Crisis and Steps to Meet It. In place of institutional change (ie redistribution of land and other rural assets) as the key-stone to agricultural development, this report stressed technological change (improved seeds, chemical fertilisers, and pesticides) in small, already irrigated, pockets. This was the `Green Revolution’ strategy. Ford even funded the Intensive Agricultural Development Programme (IADP) as a test case of the strategy, providing rich farmers in irrigated areas with subsidised inputs, generous credit, price incentives, and so on. The World Bank too put its weight behind this strategy.

Soon it was adopted by the Indian government, with far-reaching effects. Agricultural production of rice and wheat in the selected pockets grew immediately. Talk of land reform, tenancy reform, abolition of usury, and so on were more or less dropped from official agenda (never to return). But the initial spectacular growth rates eventually slowed. On the average agricultural production all-India has grown more slowly after the Green Revolution than before, and in much of the country per capita agricultural output has stagnated or fallen. Today even the Green Revolution pockets are facing stagnation in yields.

However, the Green Revolution was successful in another sense: it yielded a large market for foreign firms selling either inputs or the technology to manufacture those inputs.

Shift to funding NGO ‘activism’

Since 1972 there has been a shift in FF’s activities in India. Earlier FF had a large staff, focussing on agriculture and rural development, providing technical assistance in these fields and directly implementing its projects. Now FF’s developmental activities continue under the heading “asset-building and community development” (Ford claims that it is responsible for introducing the concept of “micro-lending” in India, now eagerly embraced by the Reserve Bank), but it has added two other heads: “peace and social justice” and “education, media, arts and culture”. This is in line with changes in foundation/funding agency policy worldwide, whereby, since the late 1970s, a new breed of ‘activist’ NGOs, engaging in social and political activity, have been systematically promoted. Among Ford’s “peace and social justice” goals are the promotion of human rights, especially those of women; ensuring open and accountable government institutions; strengthening “civil society through the broad participation of individuals and civic organisations in charting the future”, and supporting regional and international cooperation.

Over the period 1952-2002, FF New Delhi office, the first and oldest of FF’s 13 overseas offices, has distributed $450 million in grants. At a press conference to mark the fiftieth anniversary of FF in India, the foundation’s India representative said that it was launching a new Rs 220 crore ($45 million) funding programme — twice the usual annual allocation — and committing substantial funds to disadvantaged groups such as adivasis, dalits and women. “Asked if the shift in focus [from FF's traditional activities in rural development] was prompted by the inequalities caused by the Indian government’s economic policies of globalisation and liberalisation, he said there was no question of getting away from globalisation but it had brought some concern also. The projects would, therefore, act as a corrective measure to offset the adverse impact of uncontrolled market forces.”

This is precisely the language of the World Bank and IMF: their answer to “uncontrolled market forces” is not to control them, but to set up tiny well-publicised safety nets to catch a handful from among the masses of people thrown out by market forces.

Further, FF would specifically ensure that people’s struggles against the government do not take the course of confrontation: “While admitting that several of the voluntary organisations benefitting from the funding programme could be in confrontation with the government when they were working on issues such as welfare of Adivasis, he said the Foundation did not believe in conflict with the government. The attempt was to complement and cooperate with the efforts of the government.”

Ford has chosen to focus on three particularly oppressed sections of Indian society — adivasis, dalits, and women. All three are potentially important components of a movement for basic change in Indian society; indeed, some of the most militant struggles in recent years have been waged by these sections. However, FF takes care to treat the problems of each of these sections as a separate question, to be solved by special “promotion of rights and opportunities”. Since FF’s funds are negligible in relation to the size of the social problems themselves, the benefits of its projects flow to a small vocal layer among these sections. These are persons who might otherwise have led their fellow adivasis, dalits and women on the path of “confrontation with the government” in order to bring about basic change, change for all. Instead special chairs in dalit studies will be funded at various institutions; women will be encouraged to focus solely on issues such as domestic violence rather than ruling class/State violence; adivasis will be encouraged to explore their identity at seminars; and things will remain as they are.

Appendix II:

Funds for the World Social Forum

The WSF is not transparent regarding the sources of its funding. Moreover, given the structure of the WSF, where a number of organisations carry on activities semi-autonomously, it is near-impossible to trace the funding provided to all activities by all funding agencies.

A. Funds for the WSF Secretariat

Certain funds are provided directly to the WSF as a body. The following list, available on the WSF website (www.forumsocialmundial.org.br/main.asp?id menu=2&cd language=2), does not provide a break-up by amount:

WSF Partners WSF 2001:

Droits et Démocratie — a foundation run by the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Ford Foundation

Heinrich Boll Foundation — of the German Greens party, a partner of the ruling coalition in Germany, whose leader, Germany’s foreign minister, was an active supporter of the wars on Yugoslavia and Afghanistan

ICCO — an inter-church organisation, funded by the Netherlands government and the European Union

Le Monde Diplomatique

Oxfam

RITS – Rede de Informações para o Terceiro Setor

The state government of Rio Grande de Sul

The city government of Porto Alegre

WSF Partners WSF 2002:

RITS, EED, CCFD, NOVIB, OXFAM GB, Centro Norte Sul, ACTIONAID, ICCO, FUNDAÇÃO FORD, Governo do Estado de Rio Grande do Sul, Prefeitura de Porto Alegre, Procergs, World Forum for Alternatives.

B. Funding for WSF participants

In fact the financial role of the funding agencies is much larger than would be reflected in their contributions to the WSF as such. For the same agencies also funded various organisations which attended the WSF, and staged activities there. For example, the following list is from the Ford Foundation website database:

1. Ford Foundation Grants to WSF and Related Operations (from the Ford Foundation website database; apparently does not include current funding)

The following grants have been given as part of Ford’s “Asset Building and Community Development Program”, which “supports efforts to reduce poverty and injustice by helping to build the financial, natural, social, and human assets of low-income individuals and communities.”

Organization: Brazilian Association of NGOs

Purpose: For the 2003 World Social Forum, where civil society organizations develop social and economic alternatives to current patterns of globalization, based on human rights and sustainable development

Location: BRAZIL

Program: Peace and Social Justice

Unit: Governance and Civil Society

Subject: Civil Society

Amount: $500,000

www.fordfound.org/grants db/view grant detail.cfm?grant id=106054

Organization: Brazilian Association of NGOs

Purpose: Support for the organization of the first World Social Forum Meeting in Porto Alegre, Brazil in January 2001

Location: BRAZIL

Program: Peace and Social Justice

Unit: Governance and Civil Society

Subject: Civil Society

Amount: $100,000

www.fordfound.org/grants db/view grant detail.cfm?grant id=107383

Organization: Brazilian Association of NGOs

Purpose: To hold a seminar on international mechanisms for the protection of human rights during the second World Social Forum

Location: BRAZIL

Program: Peace and Social Justice

Unit: Human Rights

Subject: Human Rights

Amount: $40,000

www.fordfound.org/grants db/view grant detail.cfm?grant id=112616

Organization: Brazilian Consumer Defense Institute

Purpose: For a multimedia public information campaign at the World Social Forum and the Pan-Amazonian Social Forum

Location: BRAZIL

Program: Asset Building and Community Development

Unit: Community and Resource Development

Subject: Environment and Development

Amount: $30,000

www.fordfound.org/grants db/view grant detail.cfm?grant id=106056

Organization: Feminist Studies and Assistance Center

Purpose: To coordinate a campaign against fundamentalist dogmas during thesecond World Social Forum

Location: BRAZIL

Program: Peace and Social Justice

Unit: Human Rights

Subject: Human Rights

Amount: $65,600

www.fordfound.org/grants db/view grant detail.cfm?grant id=113190

Organization: Internews Interactive, Inc.

Purpose: For the Bridge Initiative on Globalization, a collaboration with television agency Article Z, to provide a means of communication for participants in the World Social Forum and World Economic Forum

Location: SAN RAFAEL, CA

Program: Peace and Social Justice

Unit: Governance and Civil Society

Subject: Civil Society

Amount: $153,000

www.fordfound.org/grants db/view grant detail.cfm?grant id=106245

2. Sponsors of the World Social Forum media centre

Another example of indirect funding: the WSF media centre, given below.

(source: http://web.inter.nl.net/users/Paul.Treanor/esf.htm )

The “independent” media centre Ciranda was sponsored by Le Monde Diplomatique and IPS, Inter Press Services (IPS). IPS itself is sponsored by:

* Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)

* Carl-Duisberg-Gesellschaft – CDG (Germany)

* Charles Stewart Mott Foundation (USA)

* Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs

* European Commission

* Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs

* Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

* Ford Foundation (USA)

* Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung – FES (Germany)

* German Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ)

* Group of 77, G77

* International Labour Organisation – ILO

* Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

* John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (USA)

* Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs

* Netherlands Organization for International Development Cooperation, Novib

* North-South Centre (Council of Europe)

* Norwegian Agency for Development – NORAD

* Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

* Student Union, Helsinki University

* Swedish International Development

* Cooperation Agency – SIDA

* U.N. Children´s Fund – UNICEF

* U.N. Development Fund for Women – UNIFEM

* U.N. Development Programme – UNDP

* UNESCO

* U.N. Environment Programme – UNEP

* U.N. Population Fund – UNFPA

* W. Alton Jones Foundation (USA)

3. Other sources of funds

At the first World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, the elected officials present agreed to constitute an International Network of Members of Parliament to advance the goals of the WSF. Francis Wurtz, chairperson of the United Left in the European Parliament, revealed that “The principle was adopted that the European Parliament would take responsibility for the coordination of all technical aspects of the Parliamentary Network, including its financing.”

The extent of coordination among the WSF funders is clear from the following passage from the website of the US-based “Funders Network on Trade and Globalization”:

“World Social Forum Funder Conference: FNTG initiated and has been helping to organize and co-host (with Ford and Veatch) a funder conference in New York on June 12 [2002] at the Ford Foundation. The convening, which brought together over 60 funders from NY and beyond, highlighted the work of the WSF, but also encouraged funders to support the participation of relevant US and non-US grantees at this annual forum, and the development of alternative strategies for equitable and sustainable development in the US and around the world.

Statement of Professor Philip Alston, John Norton Pomeroy Professor of Law, NYU School of Law, former U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions (2004-2010), and author of a report on targeted killings submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council in June 2010:

The United States’ assertion of an ever-expanding but ill-defined license to commit targeted killings against individuals around the globe, without accountability, does grave damage to the international legal frameworks designed to protect the right to life. Targeted killing — defined as the intentional, premeditated, and deliberate use of lethal force, by a state or its agents acting under color of law, against a specific individual who is not in the perpetrator’s custody — is permitted only in exceptional circumstances. Targeted killing is usually legal only in armed conflict situations when used against combatants or fighters, or civilians who directly engage in combat-like activities, and international law requires that any state that uses targeted killing must demonstrate that its actions comply with the laws of war.

To comply with its accountability obligations, the United States should disclose when and where it has authorized its forces, including the Central Intelligence Agency, to kill, the criteria for individuals who may be killed, how the U.S. Government ensures killings are legal, and what follow-up there is when civilians are illegally killed. Disclosure of these basic legal determinations is the very essence of accountability, but the United States has so far failed to meet this requirement. Instead, it has claimed a broad and novel theory that there is a ‘law of 9/11′ that enables it to legally use force in the territory of other States as part of its inherent right to self-defence on the basis that it is in an armed conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban and undefined ‘associated forces’. This expansive and open-ended interpretation of the right to self-defence threatens to destroy the prohibition on the use of armed force contained in the UN Charter, which is essential to the international rule of law. If other states were to claim the broad-based authority that the United States does, to kill people anywhere, anytime, the result would be chaos. The serious challenges posed by terrorism are undeniable, but the fact that enemies do not play by the rules does not mean that the U.S. Government can unilaterally re-interpret them or cast them aside. The credibility of the U.S. Government’s claim that it has turned the page on previous wrongdoing and seeks to uphold the rule of law in its actions against alleged ‘terrorists’ is called into question by its targeted killing policy.

See complete United Nation’s Report by Professor Alson, et al (pdf)

Targeted Killings

September 5th, 2010 by ACLU

The United States has reportedly initiated a targeted killing program under which the CIA and the military have the authority to hunt and kill individuals, including U.S. citizens, far away from the battlefields in Iraq, Afghanistan and even the Pakistani border regions, and potentially anywhere in the world. The program operates without any checks and balances; all of the essential details about the program remain secret. We do not know what criteria are used to put people on the “kill lists” maintained by the CIA and military, how much evidence is required to add a person to the lists, or whether there are any geographical limits on where individuals can be targeted. The President has, in effect, claimed the unchecked authority to put the names of citizens and others on “kill lists” on the basis of a secret determination, based on secret evidence, that a person meets a secret definition of the enemy.

It is not enough for the government to say “trust us” when it comes to authorizing the CIA to hunt and kill U.S. citizens and others all over the world. Over the last eight years, we have seen the government over and over again detain men as “terrorists,” only to discover later that the evidence was weak, wrong, or non-existent. Of the many hundreds of individuals previously imprisoned in the so-called “war on terror,” the vast majority have been released or are awaiting release because the government’s secret evidence against them could not withstand scrutiny. These types of mistakes are even more unacceptable when the consequence is death.

Furthermore, outside of armed conflict zones, the use of lethal force is strictly limited by international law and, when it comes to U.S. citizens, the Constitution. Specifically, lethal force can be used only against an imminent threat to life and, even then, only as genuine last resort once other alternatives have been exhausted. A program under which names are added to a “kill list” after a secret bureaucratic process and remain there for months is clearly not limited to imminent threats.

While it has been reported that at least 3 U.S. citizens have been put on the government’s targeted killing list, the identity of only one of those people has been reported: Anwar al-Aulaqi. In early July, the ACLU and co-counsel the Center for Constitutional Rights were retained by Nasser al-Aulaqi — Anwar al-Aulaqi’s father — to provide uncompensated legal representation in order to mount a constitutional challenge. The ACLU and CCR were originally prevented from bringing this challenge, however, by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”). On July 16, 2010, many months after the government had made clear its intention to kill Anwar al-Aulaqi, OFAC undertook to freeze his assets. These rules did not just freeze Aulaqi’s assets; they made it illegal for any attorney to provide “legal services” on his behalf without first obtaining a license. In other words, the same government that is seeking to kill a U.S. citizen took steps to prohibit attorneys from testing the legality of the government’s decision to kill him.  The ACLU and CCR sued the Treasury Department over the denial of the license, and the next day it was granted.

On August 30, the ACLU and CCR filed a lawsuit challenging the government’s asserted authority to carry out “targeted killings” of U.S. citizens located far from any armed conflict zone. The ACLU believes that the executive branch’s claimed authority to impose an extrajudicial death sentence on U.S. citizens and others found far from any actual battlefield violates both the Constitution and international law.

The ACLU has also filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit demanding that the government disclose basic information about the use of drones to conduct targeted killings. The lawsuit seeks disclosure of the legal basis, scope, and limits on the targeted killing program; information about internal oversight of the program; and data about the number of civilians and non-civilians killed in drone strikes.

As I have repeatedly pointed out, American taxpayers have been bailing out foreign banks for years.

For example, I noted in May:

As the Wall Street Journal points out, the Federal Reserve might open up its “swap lines” again to bail out the Europeans:

The Fed is considering whether to reopen a lending program put in place during the financial crisis in which it shipped dollars overseas through foreign central banks like the European Central Bank, Swiss National Bank and Bank of England.

***

At a crescendo in the crisis in December 2008, the Fed had shipped $583 billion overseas in the form of these swaps.

As the BBC’s Robert Peston writes:

There is talk of the ECB providing some kind of one year repo facility (where government bonds are swapped for 12-month loans) in collaboration with the US Federal Reserve.

See this for more information on swap lines.

Indeed, the Federal Reserve has been helping to bail out foreign central banks and private banks for years.

For example, $40 billion in bailout money given to AIG went to foreign banks. Indeed, even AIG’s former chief said that the government used AIG “to funnel money to other Institutions, including foreign banks”.

As the Telegraph wrote in September 2008:

The Fed has also just offered another $125bn of liquidity to banks outside the US that are desperate for dollars and can’t access America’s frozen credit markets.

Congressman Grayson said that the Fed secretly “stuffed” half a trillion dollars in foreign pockets.

(Of course, the Fed won’t tell Congress or the TARP overseer – let alone the American people – who got the cash).

And as I pointed out the same month:

A Fact Sheet from the U.S. Treasury says:

Participating financial institutions must have significant operations in the U.S., unless the Secretary makes a determination, in consultation with the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, that broader eligibility is necessary to effectively stabilize financial markets.

An article from today in Politico explains

“In a change from the original proposal sent to Capitol Hill, foreign-based banks with big U.S. operations could qualify for the Treasury Department’s mortgage bailout, according to the fine print of an administration statement Saturday night.”

Of course, even much of the bailout money which went to American banks ended up being shuttled abroad. As I wrote in March 2009:

Moreover, bailout money that went to Citigroup was loaned to Dubai, bailout money that went to Bank of America China was invested in China, and bailout money given to JP Morgan was invested in India.

And the government is in the process of providing billions more – along with trillions more in guarantees of worthless assets – to sovereign wealth funds and hedge funds.

So not only are Americans bailing out our own too big to fail banks, but we’re bailing out foreign mega-banks as well.

Even though bailing out Europe might make sense if America was flush with cash, things are different now. As Congressmen Kucinich and Filner wrote last June:

Our country and this body cannot afford to spend American tax payer dollars to bail out private European banks.

In addition, the U.S. is – of course – also contributing tens of billions of dollars towards the Greek bailout through its contributions to the International Monetary Fund. Some allege that the U.S. will secretly help bailout of all of Europe. See this and this.

As Tyler Durden pointed out last week, the IMF has now abandoned any cap on the bailouts it gives, and the U.S. is the largest funder of the IMF.

Now, the New York Times says that the U.S. is going to bail out Afghanistan’s biggest bank:

Details of the deal, including how much each government would contribute, were still being worked out on Saturday between the Central Bank of Afghanistan and the United States Treasury Department, officials said…

Top officials at Kabul Bank and a senior leader at the Central Bank declined to comment publicly on the proposed bailout, which was still being negotiated. However a manager at the Central Bank and a senior American official confirmed what the American official called an “intervention.”

Not surprisingly, there have been numerous allegations of corruption at the Kabul Bank.

Update: The New York Times has updated their story with comments from U.S. Treasury officials insisting that no American money will be used to recapitalize the Kabul Bank:

“No American taxpayer funds will be used to support Kabul Bank,” said Jenni LeCompte, a Treasury Department spokeswoman.

Of course, the IMF, World Bank or a foreign country could funnel the bailout moneys and then the U.S. could print more money to “repay” them later. Accounting shenanigans and under-the-table deals can work wonders to hide the truth from angry American serfs taxpayers.

Why did “The Hurt Locker,” a well-acted, tension-filled but otherwise undistinguished Hollywood war movie focusing on a military bomb-disposal team in Iraq, win the 2010 Academy Award for Best Picture?
 
After viewing the film recently, it appears to us that the main reason the U.S. movie industry bestowed the honor is that Kathryn Bigelow, who also received the Best Director prize, concealed the real nature of the American war in two distinct ways.
 
1. The film did not even hint that the three-man Army elite Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) squad operating in Baghdad a year after in the U.S. invasion was engaged in an unjust, illegal war, and thus were participants in what international law defines as a war crime.
 
According to the film website, the task of the GIs in question was “to try and make the city a safer place for Iraqis and Americans alike.”
 
Unmentioned is the fact that the war destroyed perhaps a million Iraqi lives, and created over four million refugees. Or that it took Washington’s divide-and-conquer policy of exacerbating sectarian religious and ethnic rivalries to produce a stalemate instead of a humiliating defeat for the Pentagon at the hands of up to 25,000 poorly armed, irregular and part-time guerrillas.
 
The film’s odd title, according to the producers, “is soldier vernacular for explosions that send you to the ‘hurt locker.’” But in the “collateral damage” of this unnecessary war — the civilian dead and wounded and millions of wrecked lives — has no place in “The Hurt Locker.” Only American pain is stored there, not Iraqi.
 
2. Director Bigelow and the film’s big money backers mischaracterized their efforts as “nonpolitical,” as did virtually all the American reviewers.
 
As one reviewer wrote, it was “remarkably nonpartisan and nonpolitical.” Another wrote: “It’s a nonpolitical film about Iraq. Many films about the Iraq war have fallen into a trap of appearing preachy or at least having a strong point of view.” The New Yorker’s David Denby said the film “wasn’t political except by implication — a mutual distrust between American occupiers and Iraqi citizens is there in every scene,” but the real meaning is that it “narrows the war to the existential confrontation of man and deadly threat.”
 
If “war is a mere continuation of politics by other means,” as von Clausewitz famously and correctly surmised, a “nonpolitical” film about what is virtually universally recognized as an unjust war is a conscious misrepresentation of reality. “The Hurt Locker” is an extremely political film, largely because of what it chose to omit, masquerading as apolitical in order to disarm the viewer.
 
Bomb disposal teams exist in all modern wars, but they do not exist in a moral or political vacuum. One side often represents the oppressor, and the other the oppressed, and it is morally dishonest to conceal the distinction.
 
For example, one assumes Japanese bomb teams were at work during the Nanking Massacre in China, and the time of the notorious Bataan Death March in the Philippines; and that German teams worked in Poland during the Warsaw Uprising in the Jewish ghetto, and during the horrific Nazi siege of Stalingrad.
 
These Japanese and German handlers of unexploded bombs were extremely brave, as are their American counterparts today, and some lost their lives, particularly since they didn’t have all the protective gear and bomb destroying robots available to Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams in Iraq or Afghanistan.
 
But what should we think about a German war film dealing with the Warsaw rising and the slaughter of Stalingrad, or a Japanese film about Nanking or the death march, that focused only on the heroism of their bomb-disposal  troopers, without any reference to the aggressive wars that situated them in Poland, Russia, China and the Philippines? Most people would characterize such films as “enemy propaganda,” particularly while the wars were still going on, as are the U.S. wars  in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen (as well as Iraq, despite Washington’s claim that “combat operations” are now over).
 
Suppose you were an Iraqi, who lived through 12 years of U.S.-UK-UN killer sanctions that took another million Iraqi lives, followed by seven years of invasion and occupation. What would you think of a U.S. war film where nearly all the Iraqi characters were villains or crooks, and the occupying GIs were depicted as heroes and at least well-meaning?
 
What would you think when you read from the producers that “The Hurt locker” is “a riveting, suspenseful portrait of the courage under fire of the military’s unrecognized heroes: the technicians of a bomb squad who volunteer to challenge the odds and save lives doing one of the world’s most dangerous jobs…. Their mission is clear — protect and save.”
 
You’d probably think this film, which won six Academy Awards while the war was still going on, was enemy propaganda.
 
Well, propaganda is propaganda no matter who’s the perpetrator. Most Americans, it seems to us, are unable to distinguish self-serving war propaganda from reality when it is delivered from the U.S. government, the corporate mass media, or the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
 
We can’t read director Bigelow’s mind, but objectively “Hurt Locker” seeks to justify the Bush-Obama wars. It does so by suppressing the political context of the wars, and by individualizing and conflating the scope of the conflict to resemble, as reviewer Denby suggests, an “existential confrontation [between] man and deadly threat.”
 
The “Hurt Locker” war is no longer a matter of U.S. foreign policy, military power, and the quest for geopolitical advantage and hegemony over the world’s largest petroleum reserves. It’s simply a matter of how three American guys in a very dangerous military occupation respond emotionally to the extraordinary pressure they are under.
 
“The Hurt Locker” is a movie of pro-war propaganda. Had this powerful war film instead told the truth about America’s ongoing imperial adventure in Iraq, even as it continued to focus mainly on the dilemmas confronting the bomb disposal team, it never would have been nominated for, much less become the recipient of, the most prestigious award in world filmmaking.

Report: Blackwater created shell companies

September 5th, 2010 by Global Research

WASHINGTON — The security company Blackwater Worldwide formed a network of 30 shell companies and subsidiaries to try to get millions of dollars in government business after the company faced strong criticism for reckless conduct in Iraq, The New York Times reported.

The newspaper said Friday that it was unclear how many of the created companies got American contracts but that at least three of them obtained work with the U.S. military and the CIA.

Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has asked the Justice Department to see whether Blackwater misled the government when using the subsidiaries to gain government contracts, according to the Times.

It said Levin’s committee found that North Carolina-based Blackwater, which now is known as Xe Services, went to great lengths to find ways to get lucrative government work despite criminal charges and criticism stemming from a 2007 incident in which Blackwater guards killed 17 Iraqi civilians. A committee chart outlines the web of Blackwater subsidiaries.

Messages left late Friday with spokespeople for the Michigan Democrat and Xe were not immediately answered.

The 2007 incident and other reports of abuses by Blackwater employees in Iraq led to criminal investigations and congressional hearings, and resulted in the company losing a lucrative contract with the State Department to provide security in Iraq.

But recently the company was awarded a $100 million contract to provide security for the agency in Afghanistan, prompting criticism from some in Congress. CIA Director Leon Panetta said that the CIA had no choice but to hire the company because it underbid others by $26 million and that a CIA review concluded that the contractor had cleaned up its act.

Last year, Panetta canceled a contract with Xe that allowed the company’s operatives to load missiles on Predator drones in Pakistan, and shifted the work to government personnel.

However, the Times quoted former Blackwater officials as saying that at least two Blackwater-affiliated companies, XPG and Greystone, obtained secret contracts from the CIA to provide security to agency operatives.

The newspaper said the network of subsidiaries, including several located in offshore tax havens, were uncovered as part of the Armed Services Committee’s examination of government contracting and not an investigation solely into Blackwater. But Levin questioned why Blackwater would need to create so many companies with various names to seek out government business, according to the Times.

The report quoted unidentified government officials and former Blackwater employees as saying that the network of companies allowed Blackwater to obscure its involvement in government work from contracting officials and the public, and to ensure a low profile for its classified activities.

Why Americans Elect Awful Presidents

September 4th, 2010 by Joel S. Hirschhorn

For years I muttered mentally to myself about the insanity of Americans electing George W. Bush president.  Now I go through the same agony about the craziness of the nation electing Barack Obama president.  As much as I thought Bush was a manipulated second-rate politician that carried out the terribly destructive policies pushed by Cheney and other conservative corporate shills, now I feel equally angry that so many voters fell for the slick rhetoric and lies of Obama.  Disgust produces public thirst for change and Obama was wickedly brilliant at selling change.  When voters are so easily victimized what does democracy amount to?

All this tells me that any nation that can elect such inept people president can also elect other people that appear to have no right or chance to be president of the United States just as Bush and Obama once appeared before they were sold to the public.  That is what is so frightening about the future of this nation.  The two-party plutocracy with its stranglehold on the American political system has the power to elect presidents that are an insult to the great ones that once served the nation with pride and competence.

I keep searching for explanations why millions of American voters make such bad electoral decisions.  Are they just so stupid, uninformed and distracted that they fall for endless political lies?  Have Americans become so easily manipulated and fooled by advertising and brilliant political campaigns that they can be sold terrible presidents as easily as unneeded, low quality and unhealthy products?

Yes, all this seems too true.  Delusional voters have produced our delusional democracy which strongly favors corporate, wealthy and elitist interests over ordinary Americans.  This explains frightening economic inequality and the demise of the middle class.  In the late 1970s, the richest 1 percent of American families took in about 9 percent of the nation’s total income; by 2007, the top 1 percent took in 23.5 percent of total income (less than 5 million people).  Two-thirds of the nation’s total income gains from 2002 to 2007 flowed to this sliver of households, which saw a rise of 62 percent, compared to 4 percent for the bottom 90 percent of households.  Today, the median male worker earns less, adjusted for inflation, than he did 30 years ago.  A corrupt bipartisan system gave us this.  Is this the change you were waiting for?

Considering Bush and Obama from a right-left perspective misses their several critical commonalities.  Both have wasted the nation’s wealth and lives on two ludicrous, unnecessary wars in Iraq and Afghanistan .  Both turned out to be pretty good communicators during their presidential campaigns but quite lousy after they became president.  The more intelligent and articulate Obama is particularly striking in being totally lackluster when it comes to addressing major issues and crises and building public support for his policies, which now explains his very low approval ratings.

Both pursued public policies and government programs that preferentially benefit corporate and other special interests, especially the financial sector.  This is no surprise because both depended on huge amounts of corporate money to get elected.  They both have responsibility for the economic meltdown that still exists for a large fraction of the nation.  A large majority of Americans correctly see the nation on the wrong track, but more importantly it is hurtling down the wrong track, which President Obama ignores, because he lacks solutions.

What may turn out to be the most disturbing similarity is that Obama may get elected for a second term just like Bush accomplished despite uninspiring performance.  If there is anything more disturbing than electing awful politicians with no real record of accomplishments it is reelecting them for a second term!  More than anything else this demonstrates the absence of true, effective political competition and the ability to brainwash and manipulate voters.

For years I hoped that some third party presidential candidate would emerge, capture public confidence and offer a true reform program to repair our nation.  But sadly the political system has been so corrupted that no third party presidential candidate stands a chance against the two-party plutocracy.  The biggest nonsense is that the US is the greatest democracy on Earth.  There are many other democracies where multiple political parties give citizens far more choices than Americans have.  It pays to remember that no nation ever copied the government structure of the US .  Instead, other democracies where citizens also have freedom use parliamentary structures with far more political choices and even the ability to more easily get rid of rotten leaders.  Here we suffer with disappointing presidents for far too many years.

The most fascinating aspect of our constitutional republic is that one constitutional path to get true, deep reforms of our government and political system has never been used.  This proves how powerful, entrenched interests on the right and left have maintained a corrupt, dysfunctional and costly system.  Very, very few Americans know anything about the option in Article V of the Constitution for a convention of state delegates that could propose constitutional amendments.  You can learn the facts at the Friends of the Article V Convention website.  The one and only requirement for a convention has long been met but Congress refuses to obey the Constitution.  They fear it.  We need it more than ever.

A constitutional scholar such as President Obama could make history by openly demanding that Congress convene the first Article V convention.  But that would require dropping the constitutional hypocrisy that he and so many others have.  The rule of law is a farce when an important part of the beloved Constitution is ignored.

Contact Joel S. Hirschhorn through www.delusionaldemocracy.com .

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Over 250 embedded links to more than 50 hours of news footage, talks, and documentaries spanning over four decades

Doped and fattened, we are being lied to like never before. Our minds are scientifically manipulated to teach us contempt for how others are treated. Sold subservience and wars of aggression, we’re ‘bringing freedom to women,‘ ‘education to girls.‘ These are our justifications for invading entire nations, for taking tens of millions of people back to the Stone Age, and for killing and maiming millions upon millions of innocent human beings.

We have 24/7 military budget reality TV shows, some spanning decades. Back-to-back thrillers are woven into a brilliant, sometimes confusing plot – Desert Storm, Shock & Awe, War on Terror, and many more. Themes evolve, realities change, new shows spring up when old ones expire. Truths become lies. Lies become the truth. All over the world, beamed up into space, we watch – the spectacle is live, visceral. This is our news. It helps sell pizza.

But for the people on the ground – the people we don’t see on our television screens – this is no movie: Pilotless drone bombs wedding party, scores killed. Imagine this is your mother, father, daughter, son, brother, sister, cousin, grandma, niece, or nephew all murdered in one shot. Imagine your entire world blown to smithereens right before your eyes. Imagine screams, blood, flesh from the people you love blown off their shattered bodies, blown all over you. Later, on the TV in the local cafe (if one still exists), imagine hearing the words ‘Collateral damage,’ spoken by the television host translating the muted lips of a groomed Westerner. Imagine yourself shaking with rage – a new extremist.

Bug splat. Wipe it off and move on.

This is what we do to people all over the world, in so many different ways, every day. We do it to line the pockets of our elite, who’ll do anything for a buck. ‘We don’t do body counts.’ ‘500 000 [slaughtered children] is worth it.’ Will we allow them to get away with anything in exchange for a life of consumerist serfdom?

We are creating a situation where millions live with just one ambition – revenge. We’ve left them no choice. We’ve stolen everything that matters to them, from them.

They’re primitive, they behave like wild animals.’ ‘They’re cruel, they’re heartless.’ ‘They don’t have the same feelings as us.’ That’s what they said when I was a boy. That was Apartheid South Africa. ‘Mandela is a terrorist.’

Now look in the mirror.

They mistreat their women.’ ‘Sharia law is crazy.’ ‘We’re going to set them free, bring them democracy, civilize them.’ Really? Who do we think we are kidding?

The ones they meet are our boys. Our boys call them rag-heads. Our boys carry the big guns. Do we really expect them to believe we respect them? In Apartheid South Africa we held the whips, we called them kaffirs, we carried the big guns. They knew we didn’t respect them.

The people we are attacking now were not concerned with us and our device driven lives before we interfered with theirs. They live in small, rural communities - real communities. They till their fields, repair things, grind grain, tend animals. Then, out of the blue they hear a high pitched scream for a second or two – boom, oblivion! Now the survivors know who we are. Now they have only one thing left to live for. Can we really blame them?

These days we are told to fear Jihad, to fear a world taken over by crazed Muslims. I ask those who tell us these things to show me a single Western nation under occupation by Islam, radical or otherwise. Ever since I’ve been around it is the Judeo-Christian world that has been the brutal aggressornon-stop. The Islamic and much of the Third World cowers under our brutality.

Terrorists – who are the real terrorists?

We are now into the seventh decade of a holocaust being methodically conducted against the Palestinian nation by the Jewish state, yet we stand by, virtually silent. If any of us dares speak out, cry foul, we are automatically labeled anti-Semitic. Each year we watch as the atrocities get more outrageous, and we call them terrorists. We call the prisoners terrorists. We call the Palestinians terrorists.

And we call the terrorists Israelis.

These days in Israel, political popularity contests are won on body counts. Witness the 94% approval ratings for the 2008/2009 Gaza massacre, where 1416 men, women and children enclosed in a walled, open air prison were slaughtered live on TV – a spectacular blitzkrieg. Three Israeli civilians were killed, and 10 Israeli soldiers died – four in ‘friendly fire’ incidents and six while participating in the massacre of the people in the open air prison.

In Israel, some folks picnic to watch the spectacle, but for us, the Western audience, it is reality TV at its finest – shot in panorama to enable a G rating for the dinner crowd. Operation Cast Lead, a special two week fireworks display and bloodbath to bring in the New Year. Brazen war crimes are witnessed by hundreds of millions of people all over the world, stomachs yet stuffed with Christmas turkey.

There are other people in the world who see the other side, the sheer terror being inflicted upon an entire nation trapped. They notice when hundreds of thousands of sitting ducks are selectively plucked out of existence or collectively blown to pieces, all with the tacit and full support of the Western powers. There is seething global outrage, murmurs of civil unrest. The system has to be seen to act. The United Nations appoints a fact-finding mission to investigate. To appease the Jewish state and powerful Zionist interests around the world, a Zionist judge, who, in the 1980s enforced the draconian ‘emergency laws’ of Apartheid South Africa (Richard Goldstone) is named to head up the mission. His report finds war crimes on both sides; apparently a nation trapped in a walled prison camp may not defend itself.

Later in the year, ‘Obama for changesweeps justice away. Even the Goldstone report means nothingIsrael plans its next war. Lebanon? Iran? Gaza again? Americans pay for thisIsrael receives massive military and economic funding from the US taxpayer.

Why do American citizens pay to kill Palestinians? Is it because they don’t know? Why does the rest of the Western world stand by and watch this atrocity, allowing such obscene crimes against other human beings to be committed, not to mention distortions of truth and justice? Is it because we don’t know? I hope so because the alternative is too frightening to contemplate.

Israel sits on top of Palestine. Most Palestinians were chased from their homes in 1948. They’ve spent over six decades in illegal exile, in concentration camps. That’s over sixty years – generations. A life sentence in almost all civilized countries is 25 years; what were the crimes of those men, those woman, those children? What are the crimes of these men, these women, these children? They hold title to their homes, in villages that were crushed by bulldozers and tanks, or occupied by Jewish colonists from Europe, arriving to settle their ‘promised land.’

Can we try to imagine being forced to live in the most densely populated prison camp on earth, surrounded by walls, fences, angry bullies with guns, tanks and killer CATs, backed by the overwhelming military might of a superpower? Can we imagine being part of an entire population that has been starved and enslaved, until cheaper servants could be brought in? That has been slaughtered at will, demoralized daily?  This is the plight of the Palestinian nation. Do we not have the humanity to feel the loss of dignity that these people have endured, to exclaim in horror at the preposterous kill ratio if nothing else? Are these people, these men, women, boys and girls good to go as piss-ons for supremacists to play with and exterminate at willblowing up schools, UN facilities, police stations full of men, pregnant mothers, little old ladies, boys and girls with no future? Is it really fair to be constantly reminded to engage our sympathy and guilt regarding the Holocaust, an event that took place before most of us were born, while simultaneously being told to disengage our humanity regarding a contemporary situation of such magnitude? One in which we are complicit and have the power to stop?

Why is it that this holocaust is being virtually ignored by our mainstream media, by our entertainment and movie industry? Who is behind this obvious deception? Why, if every human life has equal value, do we support this atrocity, this genocidal lie? Indeed, if we really do stand for ‘never again,’ why are we not putting a stop to what these people are doing?  

Some talk of a two state solution for Israel and Palestine – but is this not an almost exact replica of Apartheid South Africa, right down to the Bantustans? Where on earth can you kick an entire nation of people off a piece of geography and into permanent prison camps, then decree an exclusive state for yourself and your fellow chosen people? It is madness. All the people must share the land and the resources, just like anywhere else. There must be equal rights, equal opportunities for everyone, just like everywhere else. The people who have been oppressed must be compensated. The people who have been doing the oppressing must be brought to justice. The reconstituted nation can be called by any name, even Israel – let the people decide. Let a nation of all its citizens decide.

The Israel-Palestine conflict, the wars against the Iraqi and Afghan people – these are only symptoms of the larger problem playing out all over the world. We are running out of time to find our humanity – the ecosystem that sustains us, the environment we call home, is cracking beneath the strain. Ordinary people are the only ones with the power to stop this Orwellian nightmare threatening to destroy the fabric of our interdependent world. We must wake up, realize that the entire global governing system has failed us. Democracy has failed us. We have failed ourselves.

Freedom is an illusion, the façade fades by the day. An insane elite coupled with massive corporations is close to ruling our world. Their fists are turning to iron. They are preoccupied with wanting to know everything we do and think. They want total control over our minds, over our lives, to be able to see and hear everything we do and say. They need us to conform to their rules, to know if we even hint at stepping out of line. They have to see us naked in public.

Are they our Protectors? Or are they simply Perverts?

Are we condemning our children to death – will they inherit a choked-out future in a dying world? Will the tangible splendour of our world have to be remembered on handheld devices and widescreen TVs? Will the future see a charred ball orbit the sun instead of the beautiful, ever changing crystal sphere we currently share and call home?

Will a spacecraft full of crazed fools, ‘the survivors,’ head off into the darkness, hoping to find a new planet to settle before they run out of juice?

We all share a spacecraft called earth. She is our only viable home. Until we find our humanity we cannot hope to save her. We are playing at – and losing – the most dangerous game.

Rockefeller-Funded Anti-Fertility Vaccine Coordinated by WHO

September 4th, 2010 by Jurriaan Maessen

In addition to the recent PrisonPlanet-exclusive Rockefeller Foundation Developed Vaccines For “Mass-Scale” Fertility Reduction — which outlines the Rockefeller Foundation’s efforts in the 1960s funding research into so-called “anti-fertility vaccines”– another series of documents has surfaced, proving beyond any doubt that the UN Population Fund, World Bank and World Health Organization picked up on it, further developing it under responsibility of a “Task Force on Vaccines for Fertility Regulation”.

Just four years after the Rockefeller Foundation launched massive funding-operations into anti-fertility vaccines, the Task Force was created under auspices of the World Health Organization, World Bank and UN Population Fund. Its mission, according to one of its members, to support:

“basic and clinical research on the development of birth control vaccines directed against the gametes or the preimplantation embryo. These studies have involved the use of advanced procedures in peptide chemistry, hybridoma technology and molecular genetics as well as the evaluation of a number of novel approaches in general vaccinology. As a result of this international, collaborative effort, a prototype anti-HCG vaccine is now undergoing clinical testing, raising the prospect that a totally new family planning method may be available before the end of the current decade.

In regards to the scope of the Task Force’s jurisdiction, the Biotechnology and Development Monitor reported:

“The Task Force acts as a global coordinating body for anti-fertility vaccine R&D in the various working groups and supports research on different approaches, such as anti-sperm and anti-ovum vaccines and vaccines designed to neutralize the biological functions of hCG. The Task Force has succeeded in developing a prototype of an anti-hCG-vaccine.”

One of the Task Force members, P.D. Griffin, outlined the purpose and trajectory of these Fertility Regulating Vaccines. Griffin:

“The Task Force has continued to coordinate its research activities with other vaccine development programmes within WHO and with other international and national programmes engaged in the development of fertility regulating vaccines.”

Griffin also admitted to the fact that one of the purposes of the vaccines is the implementation in developing countries. Griffin:

“If vaccines could be developed which could safely and effectively inhibit fertility, without producing unacceptable side effects, they would be an attractive addition to the present armamentarium of fertility regulating methods and would be likely to have a significant impact on family planning programmes.”

Also, one of the advantages of the FRVs over “currently available methods of fertility regulation” the Task Force states, is the following (179):

“low manufacturing cost and ease of delivery within existing health services.”

Already in 1978, the WHO’s Task Force (then called Task Force on Immunological Methods for Fertility Regulation) underlined the usefulness of these vaccines in regards to the possibility of “large scale synthesis and manufacture” of the vaccine:

“The potential advantages of an immunological approach to fertility regulation can be summarized as follows: (a) the possibility of infrequent administration, possibly by paramedical personnel; (b) the use of antigens or antigen fragments, which are not pharmacologically active; and (c) in the case of antigens of known chemical structure, there is the possibility of large-scale synthesis and manufacture of vaccine at relatively low cost.”

In 1976, the WHO Expanded Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction published a report, stating:

“In 1972 the Organization (…) expanded its programme of research in human reproduction to provide an international focus for an intensified effort to improve existing methods of fertility regulation, to develop new methods and to assist national authorities in devising the best ways of providing them on a continuing basis. The programme is closely integrated with other WHO research on the delivery of family planning care by health services, which in turn feeds into WHO’s technical assistance programme to governments at the service level.”

Although the term “Anti-Fertility Vaccine”, coined by the Rockefeller Foundation, was replaced by the more bureaucratic sounding “Fertility Regulating Vaccine (FRV), the programme was obviously the same. Besides, The time line shows conclusively that the WHO, UN Population Fund and World Bank continued on a path outlined by the Rockefellers in the late 1960s. By extensions, it proves that all these organization are perfectly interlocked, best captured under the header “Scientific Dictatorship”. The relationshipbetween the WHO and the Rockefeller Foundation is intense. In the 1986 bulletin of the World Health Organization, this relationship is being described in some detail. While researching the effectiveness of “gossypol” as an “antifertility agent”, the bulletin states:

“The Rockefeller Foundation has supported limited clinical trials in China and smallscale clinical studies in Brazil and Austria. The dose administered in the current Chinese trial has been reduced from 20 mg to 10-15 mg/day during the loading phase in order to see if severe oligospermia rather than consistent azoospermia would be adequate for an acceptable, non-toxic and reversible effect. Meanwhile, both the WHO human reproduction programme and the Rockefeller Foundation are supporting animal studies to better define the mechanism of action of gossypol.”

In August of 1992, a series of meetings was held in Geneva, Switzerland, regarding “fertility regulating vaccines”. According to the document Fertility Regulating Vaccines (classified by the WHO with a limited distribution) present at those meetings were scientists and clinicians from all over the globe, including then biomedical researcher of the American Agency for International development, and current research-chief of USAID, Mr. Jeff Spieler.

In 1986 Mr. Spieler declared:

“A new approach to fertility regulation is the development of vaccines directed against human substances required for reproduction. Potential candidates for immunological interference include reproductive hormones, ovum and sperm antigens, and antigens derived from embryonic or fetal tissue.(…). An antifertility vaccine must be capable of safely and effectively inhibiting a human substance, which would need somehow to be rendered antigenic. A fertility-regulating vaccine, moreover, would have to produce and sustain effective immunity in at least 95% of the vaccinated population, a level of protection rarely achieved even with the most successful viral and bacterial vaccines. But while these challenges looked insuperable just a few years ago, recent advances in biotechnology- particularly in the fields of molecular biology, genetic engineering and monoclonal antibody production- are bringing antifertility vaccines into the realm of the feasible.”

“Vaccines interfering with sperm function and fertilization could be available for human testing by the early 1990s”, Spieler wrote.

In order for widespread use of these vaccines, Spieler writes, the vaccine must conquer “variations in individual responses to immunization with fertility-regulating vaccines”.

“Research”, he goes on to say,”is also needed in the field of “basic vaccinology”, to find the best carrier proteins, adjuvants, vehicles and delivery systems.”

In the 1992 document, the problem of “variations in individual responses” is also discussed:

“Because of the genetic diversity of human populations”, states the document, “immune responses to vaccines often show marked differences from one individual to another in terms of magnitude and duration. These differences may be partly or even completely overcome with appropriately engineered FRVs (Fertility Regulating Vaccines) and by improvements in our understanding of what is required to develop and control the immune response elicited by different vaccines.”

The picture emerging from these facts is clear. The WHO, as a global coordinating body, has since the early 70s continued the development of the Rockefeller-funded “anti-fertility vaccine”. What also is becoming clear, is that extensive research has been done to the delivery systems in which these anti-fertility components can be buried, such as regular anti-viral vaccines. It’s a mass-scale anti-fertilization programme with the aim of reducing the world’s population: a dream long cherished by the global elite.

¿Para qué sirve Fayyad?

September 4th, 2010 by Pierre-Yves Salingue

Ali Abunimah, fundador y editorialista de la página web The Electronic Intifada, publicó recientemente un artículo criticando lo que él llama «la falsa (o hipócrita) campaña de boicot de la Autoridad Palestina (AP)».

Acusa sobre todo a Salam Fayyad, el «primer ministro no elegido con sede en Ramala», de querer sabotear la campaña de BDS [boicot, desinversión y sanciones a Israel] y también de tratar de recuperar las acciones sobre el terreno de la «resistencia popular».

Jamal Juma, coordinador palestino de la campaña contra el muro (Stop the Wall), había declarado un poco antes que «la AP trataba de establecer los parámetros de la resistencia pacífica contra el muro del apartheid en función de su propia visión para tomar el control».

En el mismo momento, Mousa Abu Maria, coordinador del Palestine Solidarity Project y animador del Comité Popular de Beit Ommar, detenido alternativamente por el ejército israelí y por la policía de la AP, analizaba el repentino interés de ésta por la resistencia popular no violenta como «una velada oferta de Fayyad para tomar el control de un movimiento popular».

Estos pocos ejemplos ilustran una realidad que no supone misterio alguno en Cisjordania, donde son muchos quienes han comprendido que el control de las acciones de «la resistencia popular» se ha convertido en un importante reto politico.

El «liberal» surgido de un golpe de fuerza

El gobierno estadounidense y los diferentes países «donantes» lo proporcionaron y se lo impusieron a Arafat en calidad de ministro de Hacienda en 2002.

Nadie debía poden en duda su voluntad de servir a sus compatriotas: después estudiar en una universidad estadounidense y de pasar varios años en el Banco Mundial, puso en práctica su «derecho al retorno» aceptando en 1995 la responsabilidad de ser «representante del FMI» en los territorios de la AP.

En 2007 fue nombrado primer ministro por Abbas, quien junto con su acólito Dahlan acababa de intentar un golpe de fuerza contra Hamás en Gaza. Tras la desbandada de sus fuerzas financiadas por Estados Unidos, Abbas decretó el Estado de excepción, asistió sin decir una palabra al bloqueo a Gaza (e incluso animó a endurecerlo) y a la detención de los miembros de Hamás de Consejo Legislativo Palestino (CLP)[Parlamento], donde eran mayoría.

Quien se nos presenta a veces como un «liberal» no ha tenido el menor inconveniente en aprovecharse de un golpe de Estado para ocupar el puesto del primer ministro que había sido elegido por el grupo mayoritario Hamás del CLP.

Aunque su lista sólo obtuvo el 2.4 % de los votos durante las elecciones que ganó Hamás, es desde hace tres años el «primer ministro» de un gobierno que nunca ha sido ratificado por una votación en el CLP y fue nombrado por un «presidente» ¡cuyo mandato expiró hace 18 meses!

Curiosamente, a sus muchos admiradores occidentales no parece que les choque este «ligero» déficit de legitimidad democrática.

¿Construir un Estado bajo la ocupación?

El plan atribuido al nuevo salvador de los palestinos es el siguiente: debido al impasse de las negociaciones, la AP modernizada por Fayyad va a demostrar la seriedad palestina sobre el terreno y en un momento dado a ojos de la comunidad internacional estará claro que el único obstáculo para solucionar el conflicto es la ocupación…

¿Ingenuidad o sumisión? Esto es lo que dice Bernard Sabella, miembro del CLP próximo a Fayyad: «La insistencia en la no violencia entre nosotros, los palestinos de hoy, está de acuerdo con el plan de Fayyad para llegar a una postura en la que la comunidad internacional va a mirar a Palestina y decir: los palestinos están bien desarrollados en sus instituciones e incluso en su mentalidad. Así pues, ¿por qué no reconocerles un Estado?».

Fayyad afirma que entonces podrá forzar a la comunidad internacional para exigir que se concluya un acuerdo que ponga fin a la ocupación de 1967.

Por lo tanto, habría dos opciones en la búsqueda del reconocimiento del Estado palestino: la de Abbas, que se articula en proseguir con las negociaciones y se basa en la esperanza de un cambio de actitud del gobierno estadounidense, y la de Fayyad, que consiste en actuar sobre el terreno para establecer las bases económicas sin esperar a la creación del Estado.

En realidad, estad dos actitudes no son en absoluto contradictorias.

Abbas y Fayyad son dos estrellas gemelas que unen sus esfuerzos con la esperanza de que la comunidad internacional les conceda «un Estado y qué se le va a hacer si se trata de un bantustán totalmente sometido económicamente a la economía israelí, sin soberanía y consagrado principalmente al control policial de los palestinos».

Y ¡qué se le va a hacer si este «Estado» sirve mañana para olvidar la cuestión palestina que quedará reducida a unos cuantos episodios de un banal «conflicto fronterizo entre dos Estados Vecinos»!

Fayyad sabe que la combinación de la estructura de los Acuerdos de Oslo y de la ocupación militar israelí hace a la AP totalmente dependiente de Israel y que quien manda lo hace siempre en interés del Estado sionista.

El policía y el banquero: al servicio de la paz para el Capital

Si en Cisjordania se ha levantado el bloqueo financiero y el rastreo militar se ha aligerado un tanto es porque lo permitían el mantenimiento sobre le terreno de las fuerzas de ocupación israelíes y la participación activa de los colaboradores palestinos, sobre todo en la acción represiva de las fuerzas policiales palestinas bajo el mando del general estadounidense Dayton.

Com explicó Dayton, el USSC (siglas en inglés de Equipo Estadounidense de Coordinación de la Seguridad) está ahí «no para enseñar a luchar contra Israel sino para mantener el orden y la ley, respetar a todos los ciudadanos y hacer reinar la ley para que por fin puedan vivir en seguridad y en paz con Israel».

La misión de esta fuerza policial es ante todo el control de cualquier movimiento popular.

Algunos comentaristas occidentales no dejaron de señalar lo débiles que fueron las manifestaciones de protesta de los habitantes de Cisjordania durante la mortífera agresión contra Gaza a finales de 2008.

De nuevo Dayton explica: «Durante este periodo los israelíes mantuvieron un ‘perfil bajo’; cada día se coordinaban con las fuerzas de seguridad palestinas. Por ejemplo, el comandante palestino llamaba al comandante israelí para decirle: ”Habrá una manifestación del punto A al B. Pasa cerca del checkpoint de Bet El. Estaríamos agradecidos su pudieran quitar el checkpoint durante dos horas para que podamos controlar la manifestación y a continuación ustedes podrán retomar la posición”.

Dayton repite después las palabras de un oficial israelí: «La USSC está haciendo un trabajo magnífico. Cuanto más hagan el trabajo los palestinos menos tendremos que hacerlo nosotros» [1].

No debería haber la menor duda de cuál es primera misión de Fayyad: está ahí para contribuir a reunir las diferentes condiciones favorables a la liquidación de toda resistencia auténtica, se cual sea la forma, violenta o no violenta.

Evidentemente, no está solo y se beneficia del apoyo todavía necesario de Abbas, del apoyo forzado y no siempre entusiasta de Fatah y de la complicidad más o menos discreta de los dirigentes de las ONG cuya supervivencia depende de USAID o del dinero de Fayyad.

Por lo que se refiere a la «izquierda palestina», parece tener como única estrategia reclamar la unidad y la reconciliación negándose a admitir que en las actuales circunstancias cualquier reconciliación sólo se podría hacer a costa de la resistencia y en detrimento de los derechos fundamentales del pueblo palestino.

Fayyad es un jalón importante en el establecimiento de una AP despolitizada, una simple administración de gestión de la vida cotidiana de los palestinos «bajo su forma tecnicista alejada de cualquier compromiso político» [2].

Es también lo que dice Azmi Bishara: «el ex agente del banco Mundial, que se vanagloria de ser pragmático, ofrece soluciones para el día a día en vez de una causa nacional».

Sin embrago, en esta «gestión de lo cotidiano» la relativa mejora de algunos aspectos de la vida de los habitantes de Cisjordania, gracias a que se han levantado temporalmente algunas berreras a la entrada de algunas ciudades palestinas y al permiso dado a los palestinos para utilizar determinadas partes de las carreteras reservadas únicamente a los israelíes, no ha modificado profundamente la situación de los palestinos corrientes, la inmensa mayoría de los cuales no frecuenta las discotecas de Ramala donde la coca-cola cuesta 4 €, ni podrá ser propietario de un piso en Rawabi.

Además, en un contexto global de intensificación de la caza a los militantes de Hamás y más generalmente de la represión contra todas aquellas personas que discuten su política de complicidad con la ocupación, Fayyad debe dar el cambiazo y no puede ser reducido al papel de colaborador activo y entregado del ocupante.

Neutralizar la resistencia popular

Por consiguiente, para neutralizarlos mejor ha decidido ocupar dos terrenos en los que se expresa hoy la lucha contra la ocupación en Cisjordania: por una parte, «la resistencia popular» y por otra, el boicot a Israel.

A partir de 2002 los habitantes de los pueblos que padecían las primeras obras de construcción del muro (Jayyous, Bil’in…) emprendieron espontáneamente diversas luchas. Éstas adoptaban con frecuencia la forma de manifestaciones regulares contra el muro y por la defensa del libre acceso a las tierras y pueblos cada vez más rodeados por las colonias.

Ignoradas por las principales facciones políticas y despreciadas por la AP, estas luchas permanecieron aisladas durante varios años.

La Campaña «Stop the Wall» y después la de BDS en 2005 fueron las primeras que trataron de relacionar entre sí estas búsquedas de una alternativa por una parte al fracaso de las negociaciones y por otra a la imposibilidad de una participación popular en la segunda Intifada militarizada.

Pero la situación ha cambiado. Las negociaciones se han vuelto inexistentes y el aislamiento de las acciones armadas ha llevado a la segunda Intifada al impasse.

Desde hace algún tiempo las campañas de Stop the Wall y de BDS se han visto confrontadas por la concurrencia de dos organismos: el Comité Nacional y el Comité de Coordinación.

El primero lo creó Fatah ya en 2005 y se reactivó después de su última conferencia anual, tras el verano de 2009.

El segundo está bajo el control del gobierno de Fayyad y pretende querer organizar al conjunto de los responsables de los comités populares de Cisjordania.

Fayyad no es tacaño a la hora de utilizar el dinero y los diferentes comités populares no están en la misma categoría a la hora de la distribución del dinero.

Como dice con franqueza Mohamed Kattib, uno de los dirigentes del comité de Bil’in apoyado por la AP, «la presión mediática y el dinero que ha fluido a raudales han creado tensiones. Cada uno quiere su parte…» [3].

Además, la represión de las manifestaciones por parte del ejército israelí acaba en muchas destrucciones y detenciones. Hay que pagar a los abogados, pagar las fianzas y las multas, visitar a los presos en las cárceles israelíes que suelen estar lejos, etc. Todo eso cuesta caro y quien lo paga pretende sacar una ventaja política.

Esto se puede constatar estudiando las declaraciones finales de las conferencias internacionales que han tenido lugar en Bil’in en estos últimos años.

Cuando la presencia de Fayyad en 2009 y la ausencia de la AP en la lucha sobre el terreno fueron objeto de duras críticas y cuando la conferencia estableció entonces como prioridad la campaña de BDS, 2010 confirmó la creciente influencia de la AP sobre muchos comités populares.

Movilizando importantes medios financieros y sin dudar en utilizar la represión selectiva contra algunos dirigentes, a menudo con la complicidad activa de las fuerzas de ocupación, Fayyad parece haber tenido éxito ahí donde Mustapha Barghouti y Fatah habían fracasado en sus intentos de recuperación.

En abril de 2010 en Bil’in los portavoces de la campaña de BDS vieron como su acción quedaba relegada a segunda fila y vieron como ¡un «boicot a los productos israelíes procedentes de las colonias» sustituía al boicot a Israel!

Por consiguiente, Fayyad es el hombre orquesta de un dispositivo que permite hacer unos proyectos de zona industrial, unos proyectos de desarrollo turístico, que favorece el boom inmobiliario y de los comercios de lujo en Ramala… pero un dispositivo que no acaba con la ocupación y que no impedirá al ejército israelí, si mañana decide hacer frente a una nueva revuelta palestina, destruir toda esta pacotilla de la que hoy sólo se beneficia una pequeña elite palestina que ambiciona encontrar su lugar en el proyecto neoliberal del Gran Oriente Medio.

La realización del plan neoliberal de Fayyad pasa, evidentemente, por la liquidación de toda resistencia auténtica porque este plan integra a la ocupación israelí como una realidad inquebrantable [4].

[1] “Speach of Lieutenant General Keith Dayton, US Security Coordinator, Israel and the Palestinian Authority”, publicado por The Washington Institute for Near East Policy Washington, 7 de mayo de 2009.

[2] JF Legrain. www.ifri.org/downloads/notemomjflegrain.pdf

[3] International Crisis Group – MER n°95 26/04/2010

[4] Cf. C Cirillo-Allahsa http://www.politis.fr/La-paix-sur-un-mode-neoliberal,10243.html

Fuente: http://www.silviacattori.net/article1317.html?var_mode=calcul

Traducido del francés para Rebelión por Beatriz Morales Bastos

Mientras las fuerzas de combate estadounidenses abandonan Iraq, la situación en este país devastado por la guerra sigue siendo poco clara y los analistas empiezan a preocuparse por el periodo subsiguiente a la retirada de tropas estadounidenses después de permanecer siete años y cinco meses.

Iraq: ¿más violencia?

Una nueva oleada de bombardeos coordinados barrió las principales ciudades de Iraq el pasado miércoles [25 de agosto de 2010] mientras las tropas estadounidenses abandonaban el país y algunos analistas opinan que tras siete años de ocupación militar la violencias es uno de los pocos legados que deja Estados Unidos en Iraq.

“Ahora que se van los estadounidenses, las huellas más claras que dejan en Iraq y que cualquier iraquí puede percibir son la tortura, la corrupción y la guerra civil”, declaró el analista político iraquí Nuri Hadi a Xinhua en una entrevista reciente.

que Estados Unidos se había equivocado gravemente, empezando por el cambio de régimen, ya que no comprende ni la historia de Iraq ni sus características nacionales.

[Hadi afirmó también que] la reciente violencia en Iraq parece en cierto modo menos devastadora debido fundamentalmente a que el punto más alto del derramamiento de sangre en los años 2006 a 2007 fue tan espantoso y conocido, e indicó que Iraq todavía tiene un largo camino por delante para recuperar la vida normal de la gente. Añadió que los insurgentes todavía tienen la capacidad de llevar a cabo atentados importantes en las ciudades iraquíes.

Hadi afirmó que la última oleada de atentados mortales del pasado miércoles en las principales ciudades iraquíes, que dejó 64 personas muertas y más de 272 heridos, hizo que la retirada de tropas estadounidenses parezca más intempestiva. Del mismo modo, la repetida afirmación del gobierno Obama de que las fuerzas de seguridad iraquíes pueden valerse por sí mismas parecía más insostenible.

“En general se espera que aumente la violencia en Iraq con la retirada de tropas estadounidense a finales de agosto”, afirmó.

“Creo que los militantes de al-Qaeda han demostrado que se han reorganizado y en los últimos meses han demostrado tener capacidad para lanzar atentados esporádicos mortíferos y masivos en Bagdad y en otras ciudades”, afirmó Hadi. “Pero sigo creyendo que las fuerzas de seguridad iraquíes parece tener la capacidad de luchar contra ellos”.

Sin embargo, Hadi señaló. “Tengo que admitir que una gran parte de los grupos insurgentes en Iraq están directa o indirectamente vinculados con los partidos políticos que participan en el proceso político, por tanto la seguridad dependerá mucho de si estos partidos desean encontrar medios pacíficos para arreglar sus diferencias y su lucha por el poder o simplemente alzarán las armas para luchar unos contra otros”.

Mientras tanto, afirmó que muchos iraquíes, que creen que lo que es apropiado para Estados Unidos no lo es necesariamente para Iraq, no parecían dar la bienvenida la llamada democracia traída por Estados Unidos. “Para muchas personas aquí es una broma afirmar que los estadounidense trajeron la libertad, [ya que] el principal resultado de la presencia de las tropas estadounidenses en Iraq son las profundas divisiones, tanto raciales como sectarias, entre las facciones iraquíes”, afirmó Hadi.

¿Se precipitan los países vecinos a llenar el vacío?

Hadi advirtió además que el actual vacío de poder en Bagdad* hizo que gobierno central perdiera su influencia y control sobre otras partes del país. En particular, pueden surgir conflictos en ciudades cerca de la frontera de la semi-autónoma región kurda al norte del país, que se disputan el gobierno central y los kurdos.

Hani Khalaf, ex-representante de la Liga Árabe en Iraq, opinaba que si no había coordinación acerca de la retirada entre los estadounidenses y los países vecinos a Iraq, esto abriría las puertas a las ambiciones y estos países buscarían desempeñar un papel más importante en Iraq.

Khalaf afirmó acerca del papel de los países árabes: “Su papel podría ser mayor si los árabes reconocen al nuevo Iraq”.

Señaló que los países árabes discrepaban acerca del “Iraq post-Sadam” y que no trataban con el nuevo régimen, lo que hacía que los iraquíes sospecharan de su posible papel, añadió Khalaf.

Dr. Mohamed Abdel Salam, presidente del Departamento de Seguridad Regional en el Centro de Estudios Políticos y Estratégicos de Egipto, afirmó que Estados Unidos temía mucho la creciente influencia de Irán sobre Iraq.

Washington está muy preocupado por las estrechas relaciones entre los chiíes iraquíes y Teherán, y los gobiernos de Estados Unidos e Israel incluso han considerado la posibilidad de un ataque militar a Irán, añadió.

Adel Suleiman, director del Centro para Estudios Futuros y Estratégicos de El Cairo, afirmó que la retirada estadounidense de Iraq tenía que ser prudente en medio de la compleja situación regional ya que Estados Unidos, Israel y otros países occidentales están divididos en relación al programa nuclear iraní y el hecho de que este país se mezcle en los asuntos iraquíes sigue siendo su principal preocupación.

“La decisión de la retirada estadounidense de Iraq de esta manera está completamente injustificada, como la decisión de la invasión”, afirmó Suleiman y añadió que el ejército y las fuerzas de seguridad iraquíes no están lo suficiente adiestradas como para tomar la situación bajo su control. “Las fuerzas iraquíes todavía necesitan entre cinco y siete años para restaurar la situación en Iraq”, añadió.

Dificultades para que Estados Unidos realice sus objetivo estratégicos Para Estados Unidos, un Iraq estable y amistoso puede servir de fuente fidedigna de petróleo y al mismo tiempo como un país que puede contrarrestar la influencia de Irán en la región de Oriente Medio.

Anthony Cordesman, experto de defensa y seguridad del Centro de Estudios Estratégicos e Internacionales, afirmó que, por supuesto, Estados Unidos desea semejante “Estado fin”, pero “llevará como mínimo otros cinco años y probablemente diez”

Cordesman cree que el hecho de que deje Iraq no significa que Estados Unidos “se vaya a casa”. Las seis brigadas dejadas en Iraq tras la retirada pueden llevar a cabo misiones de combates.

Michael O’Hanlon, director de Investigación de Política Exterior del Brookings Institution de Washington, afirmó: “Todavía vamos a tener mucha capacidad y todavía estamos ayudando a asegurar a los iraquíes que están yendo en la dirección adecuada”.

Según el plan del presidente Barack Obama, Washington retirará a los restantes 50.000 soldados para finales de año. Cordesman escribió en su columna de este mes que esto no significaría el final de la misión iraquí, ya que el país es “un auténtico interés vital de seguridad nacional de Estados Unidos y de sus amigos y aliados”.

Afirmó que Estados Unidos forjaría una asociación con Iraq y que proporcionaría al país ayuda y asistencia en seguridad con la presencia militar estadounidense en la región.

Por lo que se refiere a las implicaciones políticas de la retirada dentro de Estados Unidos, los expertos están de acuerdo en que la retirada cumple una promesa electoral de Obama, pero que no tendrá mucha influencia en las elecciones a mitad de mandato [en noviembre].

Thomas Mann, un experto político del Brookings Institution, afirmó que Obama “se esta retirando [de Iraq] por su promesa electoral de retirar las tropas de combate de Iraq”, y que la guerra “no es un tema” de la campaña de otoño.

“Nuestra presencia allí está disminuyendo en un sentido, ya no estamos involucrados en acciones de combate, por tanto los demócratas están contentos porque aquello parece estar llegando a un final, los republicanos ahora no se inclinan a decir: ‘No, queremos mantener más soldados en Iraq’, [sino que] creen que hemos estado a la altura de nuestras obligaciones con los iraquíes” , afirmó.

*Recordemos que sigue sin formarse gobierno tras las pasadas elecciones de marzo (N. de la t.).

Texto original en inglés: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=20834

Traducido del inglés para Rebelión por Beatriz Morales Bastos

Ruanda, ¿un modelo económico para África?

September 4th, 2010 by Renaud Duterme

Tras la elección triunfal y controvertida de Paul Kagamé al frente de Ruanda, los debates sobre la situación del país se suceden a buen ritmo. Si con frecuencia se pone en tela de juicio el carácter democrático del régimen, no ocurre lo mismo con las muy liberales reformas económicas de las que el país se ha convertido en la punta de lanza. Desde todas partes se saluda esta orientación, con las instituciones financieras internacionales (IFI) y otros proveedores de fondos a la cabeza. Es cierto que algunos progresos pueden dar motivos para ser optimistas: tasa de crecimiento del 8% para la capital |1|, progreso en la lucha contra el paludismo, lucha contra la corrupción, campaña masiva de alfabetización, progreso en la educación (la escuela primaria es gratuita y obligatoria para todos), etc. A pesar de eso, algunos elementos vienen a matizar estas buenas noticias.

La persistencia de las desigualdades

En primer lugar, el mantenimiento de fuertes desigualdades: entre ricos y pobres, entre las ciudades y el campo. Las buenas cifras de crecimiento del país no beneficiarán al conjunto de la población. En efecto, según el indicador de medida de las desigualdades, Ruanda se clasifica en la parte baja de la clasificación |2|. Ahora bien, la historia reciente del país ilustra hasta qué punto una situación social y económica muy desigual puede ser un factor de profunda inestabilidad y favorecer una instrumentalización de las frustraciones, como ocurrió antes del genocidio de 1994 |3|. Quienes apoyan la liberalización del país raramente mencionan este abismo entre ricos y pobres. Sin embargo, a semejanza de muchos otros ejemplos, estas desigualdades tienen su origen directamente en las diferentes medidas promovidas por las instituciones internacionales (privatizaciones, desvinculación del Estado, etc.).

La apertura al gran capital

A continuación y relacionado con la anterior, la apertura sin barreras al capital extranjero. Testimonio de ello son los muy buenos resultados del país en el informe Doing Business 2010 [“Haciendo negocios 2010”] del Banco Mundial |4| que clasifica a los países según el clima de los negocios para guiar a los empresarios en sus inversiones. Ruanda registra el mejor progreso de la clasificación según la reglamentación de los negocios y pasa del puesto 149 al 67. Ahora bien, este progreso saludado por una parte y por otra se explica sobre todo tanto por el aumento drástico de la flexibilidad de los horarios de los trabajadores |5| como un aumento de la facilidad para el despido en las empresas instaladas en Ruanda |6|. La protección de las inversiones también es un criterio en el que el país progresa de manera importante puesto que gana 144 puntos en relación a 2009 |7|. Por consiguiente, se constata que estas reformas benefician sobre todo al capital en detrimento del trabajo, principio elemental de la ideología neoliberal (otro elemento que va en este sentido es la disminución del impuesto de sociedades que ha pasado del 50 al 35% |8|). Se puede ver que el gobierno sigue al pie de la letra los consejos de Tony Blair quien durante una visita a Kigali en mayo de 2009 subrayó la necesidad que tenía el país de promover las inversiones en el sector privado |9|. Todo esto sería insignificante si no tuviera consecuencias directas sobre la población. Ahora bien, como denuncia la International Trade Union Confederation [Confederación Internacional de Sindicatos], “Los patrones ya no tienen que hace consultas previas con los representantes de los empleados [concernientes a las reestructuraciones], ni avisar de ello a la inspección de trabajo”|10|. Evidentemente, este tipo de políticas lleva a un aumento de los beneficios de los patronos en detrimento del bienestar de los trabajadores. Además, lo más frecuente es que los beneficios se repatrien a los países de origen de los inversores. La siguiente gráfica muestra que estos repatriamietos aumentan claramente desde hace varios años. Aunque las cifras se detengan en 2006, se podría apostar a que los datos de los años siguientes siguieron desbocándose, sobre todo tras las políticas de neoliberalización emprendidas por Kigali. Es posible que tu navegador no permita visualizar esta imagen.

Graphique réalisé par nos soins sur base des chiffres du Global Development Finance 2009 de la Banque Mondiale

Otro problema de estas inversiones extranjeras es que dependen de factores diferentes de las políticas económicas establecidas por los gobiernos. Así, para un inversor la estabilidad política y macroeconómica es un elemento fundamental en la elección del lugar de inversión |11|. La volatilidad de los capitales aumentó de manera importante con la liberalización financiera. Por consiguiente, en caso de que las tensiones políticas amenacen a la estabilidad del país, se corre un grave riesgo de que los capitales invertidos abandonen el país tan rápido como llegaron, lo que llevaría a agravar una situación ya precaria para la mayoría de la población.

Una dependencia constante

Por consiguiente, la dependencia del país de estas aportaciones exteriores puede resultar un problema no desdeñable. Esta dependencia ya no se limita a las inversiones. Así, en el dominio comercial los ingresos de exportaciones de Ruanda están muy concentrados en algunos productos de débil valor unitario (principalmente té y café); la ayuda extranjera sigue representando una quinta parte de los ingresos del país y en el dominio financiero la mayoría de los bancos pertenecen a inversores extranjeros, |12| etc. Por todas estas razones, hablar de Ruanda en términos de modelo económico en el que se podría inspirar toda África es sin lugar a dudas exagerado. Aunque acompañen algunos éxitos, la vulnerabilidad del país en relación con los avatares de la economía es tal que hay un gran riesgo de ver degradarse la situación del país a toda velocidad en caso de un choque importante.

El FMI nunca está lejos

La situación descrita no es nueva para cualquier persona que se interese por la historia del país. Recordemos que en la década de 1970 los proveedores de fondos ya lo consideraban un ejemplo para la región. Por desgracia, la crisis económica mundial había vencido el entusiasmo que prevalecía, con las consecuencias que conocemos. Aunque las tensiones étnicas de la época parezcan calmadas, es razonable temer los efectos a largo plazo de esta liberalización a ultranza impulsada por las IFI con el aval del Estado, sobre todo si ésta prosigue con la exclusión de la mayoría de los ruandeses. Por ello, la firma el pasado mes de junio de un acuerdo entre el FMI y Ruanda es un tanto sorprendente. Y es que este acuerdo permitirá al país «basarse durante tres años en los consejos de expertos del FMI |13|». Visto el fiasco de las políticas económicas impulsadas por el FMI |14|, no se puede menos que preocuparse.

Muy felizmente, el país ha rechazado un nuevo préstamo del FMI. Aunque las razones invocadas son más sus éxitos económicos que la política laxista de los préstamos de las IFI para con el régimen de Habyarimana, esto podría evitar a la población ruandesa estar sometida a las decisiones de estos creadores de miseria. Esperemos que nuestras inquietudes respecto a los riesgos que corre el país a consecuencia de sus políticas sean infundados. En caso contrario, es poco probable que el país puede negar otra vez nada al FMI.

Notas:

|1| Aunque como han demostrado muchos estudios, no se ha demostrado la correlación entre crecimiento y bienestar.

|2| El indicador que mide la desigualdad de los ingresos de un país dado es el coeficiente de Gini. Varía entre 0 y 1. 0, que representan una igualdad perfecta y una desigualdad total. En el caso de Ruanda llega al 0,468, lo que sitúa al país en al parte baja de la clasificación. Véase www.statistiques-mondiales.com… .

|3| Para información sobre los factores económicos del genocidio, véase http://www.cadtm.org/Rwanda-un-geno… http://www.cadtm.org/Le-Rwanda-les-… .

|4| http://francais.doingbusiness.org/E…

|5| El índice de rigidez de los horarios pasó de 40 en 2009 a 0 en 2010.

|6| El índice de dificultad para despedir pasó de 30 en 2009 a 10 en 2010.

|7| Ruanda pasó del puesto 171 en 2009 al 27 en 2010.

|8| MILLET Damien, op. cit., p.86.

|9| http://www.afriquejet.com/afrique-c…

|10| http://www.ituc-csi.org/doing-busin…

|11| ZACHARIE Arnaud, Les enjeux de la globalisation dans les pays en développement, Université Libre de Bruxelles, curso 2008-2009.

|12| http://www.tv5.org/cms/chaine-franc…

|13| http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20100618-…

|14| Fue sobre todo a raíz de un programa de ajuste estructural cuando aumentó drásticamente la pauperización de la sociedad ruandesa en la década de 1989 lo que tuvo como consecuencia que la población desocupada contribuyó a la propaganda genocida.

Texto original: http://www.mondialisation.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=20850

Traducido del francés para Rebelión por Beatriz Morales Bastos

¡Principio del fin!

September 4th, 2010 by Elías Argudín Sánchez

Como nunca antes el planeta se ve amenazado por una de las tantas espadas de Damocles que penden sobre las cabezas de sus habitantes. Una filosa y pesada arma que cuelga de una hebra milimétrica sacada de un pelo. Dentro de solo unos días, unas horas como quien dice, expirará el plazo fijado por la Resolución del Consejo de Seguridad (CS) de la ONU, que autoriza a detener, abordar e inspeccionar en alta mar buques civiles (mercantes) iraníes, con el propósito de decomisar las cargas que no cumplan los requisitos establecidos por tal acuerdo.

Creo que a estas alturas a nadie le quepan dudas de lo que ello puede significar.

Está llegando a término el conteo regresivo, iniciado cuando los miembros del Consejo y en particular aquellos con derecho al veto, pusieron a la nación persa entre la espada y la pared y al planeta a caminar sobre el filo de una navaja, al aprobar una cuarta ronda de sanciones de amplio alcance, pero injustas y equivocadas, y algunas – como la citada en el párrafo anterior- tan inaceptables que pueden llevar a una confrontación militar, lo cual inevitablemente conduciría a una agresión de gran envergadura (léase nuclear) contra el país centroasiático, por parte de Estados Unidos e Israel, como bien ha venido alertando Fidel desde hace bastante tiempo. Ese puede ser el principio del fin de las especies y la Tierra misma.

Y aunque pudiera parecer paradójico y hasta increíble, la Resolución fue aprobada unos días después de la negativa del CS de adoptar una moción de condena a Israel por su ataque en aguas internacionales contra la Flotilla por la Libertad, con ayuda humanitaria para las comunidades palestinas de la Franja de Gaza. Saque usted las conclusiones.

Todas las evidencias revelan que el legítimo derecho de Irán al desarrollo de un programa de uso pacífico de la energía nuclear más que una amenaza –como sostienen y quieren hacerle creer a la opinión pública internacional Washington y Tel Aviv- es en realidad el pretexto que les viene como anillo al dedo para justificar sus pretensiones de invasión y sometimiento que desde hace mucho tiempo han abrigado para con la nación persa.

Ali Akbar Salehi, jefe de la Organización Atómica de Irán, ha dicho que seguirán potenciando la capacidad de enriquecer uranio con fines pacíficos, decisión a que fueron forzados después que se rompiera el acuerdo con algunas potencias occidentales y la Agencia Internacional de Energía Atómica (IAEA por sus siglas en inglés), en virtud del cual enviarían parte de su uranio enriquecido en bajos niveles al exterior a cambio de combustible para un reactor médico.

No se puede pasar por alto que Teherán aceptó la propuesta conjunta de Ankara y Brasilia de enriquecer en Turquía el uranio que utilizarían en su programa nuclear, en proporciones que impidieran la fabricación de armas de exterminio en masa y además reiterado su anuencia a una inspección , siempre y cuando no se enarbolen el chantaje y las presiones.

Tampoco puede obviarse que todavía están por encontrarse las presuntas armas de destrucción masiva de Sadam Hussein, lo cual sirvió de argumento a Estados Unidos para llevar a vías de hecho la invasión y ocupación de Irak. Del mismo modo que el hombre es el único animal que tropieza con la misma piedra parece ser que también algunos se dejan engañar dos veces con la misma mentira.

Estados Unidos, sus aliados y de igual modo la ONU condenan a Irán -firmante del Tratado de No Proliferación nuclear- por la supuesta pretendida aspiración de fabricar armas de extermino en masa, pero en cambio mantienen una parcialidad escandalosa a favor de Israel, que no ha rubricado el referido Tratado y además es dueño de un arsenal nuclear de consideración, precisamente adquirido a cuenta de la Casa Blanca.

Ahora les asustan las posibles armas nucleares de Teherán, sin embargo en tiempos del Sha, el títere a quien le entregaron las riendas del país con la encomienda de ser el gendarme de Asia, prestaron ayuda y asesoramiento para que las desarrollara. ¡Cuánto cinismo!

Un reconocido analista apunta que las razones reales del empecinamiento de Estados Unidos con Irán, además de las apetencias por controlar el abundante petróleo de la región y el contrapeso creciente que hace Teherán a Israel, hay que buscarlas en la “renuencia arrogante a que rivales como Rusia recuperada, la China emergente y los competidores imperialistas por la supremacía mundial obtengan mayor acceso a los recursos naturales y un punto de apoyo estable en la zona.”

A quienes desestiman la posibilidad de que se desate la guerra, les advierto solo una cosa: el río suena y es porque trae piedras. Fidel ha expuesto 238 razones irrefutables para estar preocupados y ha alertado sobre las nefastas consecuencias que de tal enfrentamiento se pueden derivar para la vida.

El Líder Histórico de la Revolución cubana, quien ha venido alertando -casi sin descansar un segundo-, a la opinión pública internacional sobre la posibilidad de un conflicto nuclear de incalculables consecuencias, ha dicho con una claridad meridiana:

“A partir del 7 de septiembre, el Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU analizará si Irán ha detenido su programa nuclear. Si conforme a la letra de la última Resolución, Estados Unidos o Israel intentan inspeccionar un mercante iraní en aguas internacionales, tendrán que usar la fuerza. Es el punto donde nos encontramos en estos momentos…”

Y a reglón seguido Fidel aclara que quien haya leído el artículo de Jeffrey Goldberg titulado El punto tras el que no hay vuelta atrás, conoce lo que significa la contradicción milenaria y prácticamente insoluble entre ambos países, “nada más y nada menos que en la era nuclear.”

Para luego afirmar categóricamente que desde su punto de vista “no existe la menor posibilidad de que los líderes políticos y religiosos de Irán acepten esa exigencia.”

Según Michel Chossudovsky, en un artículo publicado el pasado 9 de Agosto, en ningún momento, después de Hiroshima y Nagasaki en agosto de 1945, la humanidad ha estado más cerca de lo inimaginable, de un holocausto nuclear.

En ese mismo trabajo también defiende la tesis de que

todas las garantías de la era de Guerra Fría, que categorizó la bomba nuclear como “un arma del último recurso”, se han descartado. Acciones militares “ofensivas” con uso de armas nucleares se describen como actos de “defensa propia” ahora… La nueva doctrina nuclear de Estados Unidos está basada en “una mezcla de capacidades de ataque”. La última, que es aplicable al bombardeo aéreo planeado específicamente para Irán por el Pentágono, prevé el uso de armas nucleares en combinación con armas convencionales.

Todo parece indicar que la guerra es inevitable pero se impone seguir sumando voces con el fin de impedirlo. Los ciudadanos del planeta queremos vivir en paz, que existan organismos internacionales que regulen los conflictos con imparcialidad y justeza y no que una superpotencia siga haciendo la ley en todas partes. Necesitamos salir de la lógica neoliberal imperialista que solo beneficia a los más poderosos. Nadie puede obligarnos a optar por la guerra y la autodestrucción.

José Martí, Héroe Nacional de Cuba y hombre de largas luces, alertó sobre la postura a adoptar ante los conflictos bélicos: es hora ya de que las fuerzas de construcción triunfen en la colosal batalla humana a las fuerzas de destrucción -dijo. La guerra, que era antes el primero de los recursos, es ya hoy el último de ellos: mañana será un crimen.

El mañana de Martí es el hoy de los actuales habitantes del planeta.

VIDEO: 9/11 Cameraman Faces Extradition to United States

September 4th, 2010 by Kurt Sonnenfeld

The Internet has provided the world with, if nothing else, instantaneous access to news and in-depth information previously available only to governments and think tanks. It has also allowed for the exchange of data and analyses between groups and individuals around the globe, in part by making one tongue, English, the language of the World Wide Web. It remains to be seen whether the keystroke is mightier than the sword. 

An illustrative case in point is an August 29 report from China’s Xinhua News Agency on a news article by Egypt’s Middle East News Agency regarding a study conducted by the Strategic Foresight Group in India. The latter, a report published in a book entitled The Cost of Conflict in the Middle East, calculates that conflict in the area over the last 20 years has cost the nations and people of the region 12 trillion U.S. dollars.

The Indian report adds that the Middle East has recorded “a high record of military expenses in the past 20 years and is considered the most armed region in the world.” [1]

The study was originally released in January of 2009 and was recently translated into Arabic by the Institute for Peace Studies of Egypt. It estimates that in a peaceful environment the nations of the Middle East could have achieved an average annual growth in gross domestic product of 8 percent.

Sundeep Waslekar, president of the Strategic Foresight Group and one of the report’s authors, was quoted in January of last year saying of the region’s nations, “The choice they have to make is the choice between the danger of devastation and the promise of peace.” [2] 

An account of the presentation of the report last year added that the cost of conflict in the region is estimated at 2 percent of growth in gross domestic product.

In regards to specific cases, it stated:

“One conclusion is that individuals in most countries are half as rich as they would have been if peace had taken off in 1991.

“Incomes per head in Israel next year would be $44,241 with peace against a likely $23,304. In the West Bank and Gaza Strip they would be $2,427 instead of $1,220.

“For Iraq, income per head next year is projected at $2,375, one quarter of the $9,681 that would have been possible without the conflicts of the past two decades.” [3]

Other sources estimate the overall rate of unemployment in the Middle East at 20-25 percent, with joblessness in nations like Lebanon and Yemen at 30 percent or more. This despite the fact that the region has achieved one of the more impressive successes in improving educational opportunities, measured by the amount of years students spend in school, in the world.

The Middle East requires comprehensive regional development, but instead is receiving billions of dollars worth of arms. The area’s nations could be spending that sum on rural and urban infrastructure, dams and reservoirs, desalination and irrigation, forestation and fisheries, industry and agriculture, medicine and public health, housing and information technology, equitable integration of cities and villages, and repairing the ravages of past wars rather than on U.S. warplanes, attack helicopters and interceptor missiles.

An American news report of a year ago revealed that, according to a U.S.-based consultancy firm, several Middle Eastern nations are slated to spend over $100 billion on weapons in the upcoming five years. Most of those arms purchases – “unprecedented packages” – will be by Iraq, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and the “core of this arms-buying spree will undoubtedly be the $20 billion U.S. package of weapons systems over 10 years for the six states of the Gulf Cooperation Council – Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain.” The expansion of American arms sales and military presence in the Persian Gulf targets Iran in the first place.

The same feature documented plans for the U.S. to supply Egypt with a $13 billion arms package and Israel with $30 billion in weaponry over ten years, the latter “a 25 percent increase over previous levels.” [4]

A year later it was disclosed that Washington will sell $13 billion worth of arms and military equipment to Iraq, “a huge order of tanks, ships and hardware that U.S. officials say shows Iraqi-U.S. military ties will be tight for years to come.” A $3 billion deal for 18 F-16 Fighting Falcon multirole jet fighters is also in the works. Iraq will become one of the largest purchasers of U.S. weapons in the world.

 F-16 Fighting Falcon multirole jet fighter

According to the U.S. Army’s Lieutenant General Michael Barbero, ranking American officer in charge of training and advising Iraqi troops, such military agreements help “build their capabilities, first and foremost; and second, it builds our strategic relationship for the future.” [5]

With 4.7 million Iraqis displaced since 2003, 2.2 million as refugees in Jordan, Syria and other nations, and a near collapse of the nation’s civilian infrastructure since the U.S. invasion, surely there are better ways of spending $16 billion that on American arms.

To Iraq’s south, last month the U.S. announced one of the largest weapons sales in its history: A $60 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia. The Pentagon notified Congress of the colossal transaction which the U.S. legislative body will approve later this month.

Over the next decade Washington will supply Saudi Arabia with F-15SA Strike Eagle jet fighters (SA is for Saudi Advanced), 72 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, 60 AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopters, helicopter-carrying offshore patrol vessels and upgrades for the 96 Patriot Advanced Capability-2 interceptor missiles already stationed in the kingdom.

Last month Kuwait announced that it planned to purchase more than 200 U.S. Patriot anti-ballistic missiles in a $900 million deal. The U.S. Defense Department also advised Congress of that transaction, stating “Kuwait needs these missiles to meet current and future threats of enemy air-to-ground weapons.”

The news agency which reported the above, Agence France-Presse, also provided the following information:

“The U.S. has several military bases in Kuwait, including Camp Arifjan, one of the biggest U.S. military facilities in the region. There are between 15,000 and 20,000 U.S. troops stationed in Kuwait.” [6] The American Fifth Fleet is headquartered in neighboring Bahrain.

The U.S. is also providing Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates with Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile interception batteries.

Last year Washington approved the transfer of a Terminal High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) missile shield system to the United Arab Emirates. The deal, estimated to cost $7 billion, is the first transfer of the advanced interceptor missiles outside the U.S.

In May the Barack Obama administration requested $205 million from Congress for the Israeli Iron Dome layered interceptor missile shield, in the words of a Pentagon spokesman “the first direct U.S. investment in the Iron Dome system.” [7]

In the autumn of 2008 the U.S. opened an interceptor missile radar base in Israel’s Negev Desert centered on a Forward-Based X-Band Radar with a range of 2,900 miles.     

This August 15 Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced his country is to receive – one can’t say buy – 20 U.S. F-35 Joint Strike Fighters worth $96 million apiece along with spare parts, maintenance and simulators. “The $2.7 billion deal will be paid for using U. S. military assistance.” [8] The fifth generation stealth warplanes are the world’s most advanced. According to Israeli government sources in reference to the prospect of eventual deployment of Russian air defenses to Iran and Syria, “the purchase of F-35 fighters would effectively eliminate the threat from Russian-made S-300 air defense systems because a series of computer simulations had clearly demonstrated that new U.S. stealth fighters outperform the Russian missiles.”

This year the State Department confirmed that $2.55 billion in U.S. military assistance was given to Israel in 2009 and that the figure will “increase to $3 billion in 2012, and will total $3.15 billion a year from 2013 to 2018.” [9] That is, will grow by almost 25 percent.

Since the administration of Jimmy Carter and his National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski bought off Anwar Sadat and through him Egypt in 1978 at the expense of Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and other Arab states, Washington has provided Cairo with $1.3 billion a year in military aid, adding up to $50 billion by 2008.

In January of this year General David Petraeus, then head of U.S. Central Command and now in charge of 150,000 American and NATO troops in Afghanistan, visited Yemen and called for more than doubling military aid to the strife-torn nation from $70 to $150 million annually. He was later forced to retract his comments, but the Wall Street Journal reported on September 2 that “The U.S. military’s Central Command has proposed pumping as much as $1.2 billion over five years into building up Yemen’s security forces.” The United Nations Statistics Division estimated Yemeni gross national income per capita for 2008 at $1,260.

The U.S. has launched several missile strikes inside Yemen over the past nine months and “U.S. Special Operations teams…play an expansive role in the country.” [10] Funding for what the Pentagon describes as a counterterrorism program in the country has grown from $5 million a year in fiscal year 2006 to over $155 million four years later.

Washington is planning to add unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) equipped with lethal missiles operated by the Central Intelligence Agency to its operations in Yemen, replicating the same arrangement in Pakistan.

After the so-called Cedar Revolution in Lebanon in 2005 – modeled after comparable “color revolutions” in the former Soviet states of Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan in 2003, 2004 and 2005 respectively – led to the withdrawal of Syrian troops from the country and the installation of pro-Western Fouad Siniora as prime minister, the U.S. reestablished military contacts with Lebanon, which had been broken off after 1983. A dozen U.S. military officials travelled to Beirut at the end of the year, inspecting bases as part of a “comprehensive assessment of the condition of U.S.-made equipment in the Lebanon armed forces.” [11]

After the Israeli invasion of the country the following summer, Washington started military aid to the nation of four million people which two years later had exceeded $410 million. According to an Associated Press account in 2008, “The [George W. Bush] administration has spent about $1.3 billion in the past two years trying to prop up Siniora’s Western-allied government, including about $400 million in military aid.” [12]

On October 6, 2008 the U.S. established a joint military commission with Lebanon “to bolster military cooperation.”

The, by Lebanese standards, unprecedented donations of arms and military equipment by the Pentagon were explicitly for internal use – against Hezbollah – and for deployment at the Syrian border. Not for defending the nation against the country that had invaded it in 1978, 1983 and 2006 – Israel.

On August 2 of this year, a day before two Lebanese soldiers were killed in a firefight with Israeli troops on Lebanese territory, Congressman Howard Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, blocked a $100 million security assistance package to the Lebanese military. There should be no misunderstanding: The Pentagon has not built up the armed forces of post-”Cedar” Lebanon to defend the nation, its people or even the army itself.

The sum blocked by Berman, added to that already provided by the Pentagon, well exceeds half a billion dollars. That amount of money would go a long way in alleviating the suffering of 900,000 Lebanese displaced and in rebuilding some of the 30,000 housing units destroyed by the Israeli military in 2006.

Weapons are the most expensive of manufactured goods and the least productive, generating no value and designed only to destroy and kill. They are not produced solely or primarily to be displayed in parades or at air shows.

The Middle East is that part of the world that has known the least peace in the past 60 years and that is in most need of it. Regional disputes – over land and borders, over water and other resources – need to be resolved in a non-antagonistic manner.

The foreign and national security policies of the region’s states need to be demilitarized. Disarmament of both conventional and nuclear forces is imperative.

Washington pouring over $100 billion in news arms into the Middle East will not contribute to the safety and security of its inhabitants. It will not benefit the nations of the region. In truth not a single one of them.

Notes

1) Xinhua News Agency, August 29, 2010
2) Reuters, January 23, 2009
3) Ibid
4) United Press International, August 25, 2009
5) USA TODAY, August 31, 2010
6) Agence France-Press, September 1, 2010
7) Reuters, May 13, 2010
8) Russian Information Agency Novosti, August 15, 2010
9) Reuters, May 13, 2010
10) Wall Street Journal, September 2, 2010
11) Chicago Tribune, March 2, 2006
12) Associated Press, May 14, 2008

Stop NATO
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stopnato

Blog site:
http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/

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