NATO to keep its Nuclear Arsenal

November 8th, 2010 by Global Research

Commander of NATO’s Allied Command Transformation (ACT) General Stephane Abrial says the Western military alliance has to keep its tactical nuclear arsenal.

“As long as the world is nuclear, the (NATO) alliance has to keep nuclear weapons,” Abrial said in a security conference in Halifax, Canada on Saturday, AFP reported.

NATO leaders are scheduled to meet in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon later this month to map out the future of the Western alliance.

NATO’s nuclear arsenal in Europe is a source of friction within the organization. Germany, Poland, Belgium and Sweden want a greater NATO commitment to nuclear disarmament.

In May 2009, Senior Belgian and German officials called for prompt withdrawal of the US atomic arms and pullouts by Russia, saying that the Cold War deployments had outlived their military or political value, Global Security Newswire reported in late October.

According to the report, an estimated 200 nuclear-armed B-61 gravity bombs are stored at six bases in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey.

Unconfirmed reports suggest that Russia has roughly 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons at bases inside its own borders. Moscow says it regards NATO nuclear arms in Europe as a threat to its security.

But the US and France oppose the alliance’s nuclear disarmament, fearing it could heighten pressure on Paris to relinquish its own arsenal.

French forces have roughly 300 nukes, while the continent’s other nuclear power, the United Kingdom, has its own stockpile of 225 nuclear warheads.

“There are only two nuclear powers in Europe, and neither Britain nor France are going to give them up at this present [time],” Julian Lindley-French, a scholar at the Netherlands Defense Academy, said in September.

In April 2010, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared to rule out early withdrawal of its nuclear warheads deployed across Europe.

A new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) negotiated earlier this year cuts Russia and the United States limits in deployed nuclear warheads from a figure agreed on in 2002, allowing them a maximum of 1,550 warheads each.

Sweden accuses US of spying

November 8th, 2010 by Global Research

Swedish government officials have accused the US Embassy in Stockholm of conducting unauthorized surveillance activities in the country, shortly after similar charges were made in Norway and Denmark.

The surveillance, performed by people “assigned by the [US] embassy to undertake the measures,” has been in place since 2000 and its extent is still unknown, Swedish Justice Minister Beatrice Ask said on Saturday.

“It seems as though we haven’t been fully informed and that’s not good,” AP quoted her as saying.

Ask called on US officials to cooperate in the investigation into the matter.

She did not disclose the targets of the surveillance but pointed out that the activities “seem to be similar” to those uncovered in Norway earlier this week.

“We welcome that those countries that have a heightened threat risk apply their own measures to reduce the risk for attacks, but of course it has to be done in line of what the Swedish law says and permits,” Ask noted.

Denmark’s TV-2 Denmark disclosed on Saturday that the US Embassy in Copenhagen has also conducted secret surveillance activities in the Danish capital.

The report says a unit of 14 agents attached to the US Embassy kept tabs on Danish citizens by adding their personal data to a special computer database.

Also on Wednesday, Norway’s TV-2 News channel revealed that the US Embassy in Oslo has hired 15 to 20 people to monitor local residents.

Following the disclosure, Oslo asked US officials to provide an explanation.

Israel: Racism in Upper Galilee

November 8th, 2010 by Jonathan Cook

The tranquility of Safed, a small Israeli city nestled high in the hills of the Upper Galilee close to the Lebanese border, is not usually disturbed except by the occasional pilgrimage by Madonna or other famous devotees of the Jewish mystical teachings of Kabbalah.
 
But in the past few weeks, Safed — one of Judaism’s four holy cities — has been making headlines of a very different kind. Gideon Levy, a columnist for the Israeli daily Haaretz, last week declared it “the most racist city in the country”.
 
The unflattering, and hotly contested, epithet follows an edict from Safed’s senior rabbis ordering residents not to sell or rent homes to “non-Jews” – a reference to the country’s Palestinian Arab citizens, who comprise a fifth of Israel’s population.
 
At an emergency meeting, called last month to discuss the dangers of “assimilation” caused by Arab men dating Jewish women, the 18 rabbis warned that Safed was facing an “Arab takeover”. Jewish residents were told to inform on neighbours who try to sell or rent to Arabs.
 
The number of Arabs in the city, though low, has been steadily rising as Safed Academic College has expanded. There are now some 1,300 Arab students enrolled at the school.
 
The rabbis’ statements have provoked a series of riots by local religious Jews, in which several Arab homes have been attacked to chants of “Death to the Arabs”. In one recent incident, three Arab students were beaten as shots were fired.
 
So far three Jewish youths, including an off-duty policeman, have been charged with participating in the violence. The policeman is accused of firing his gun.
 
The anti-Arab campaign escalated last week as posters were plastered across the city threatening to burn down the home of an elderly Jew if he did not stop renting to Arab students.
 
The owner, 89-year-old Eli Zvieli, said the posters appeared after he received phone threats and visits from several rabbis warning him to change his mind.
 
Jamil Khalaili, 20, a physiotherapy student at the college who rents an apartment with a friend in a Jewish neighbourhood, said the atmosphere in Safed was rapidly deteriorating.
 
“We’re being treated like criminals, like we’re trying to steal their homes,” he said. “It’s got the point where many of my friends are wondering whether to leave. I want to study here but not if it costs me my life.”
 
Leading the opposition to the presence of Arab students in the city is Safed’s chief rabbi, Shmuel Eliyahu, who is employed by the municipality as head of its religious council.
 
“When a non-Jew moves in, residents begin to worry about their children, about their daughters. Many Arab students have been known to date Jewish girls,” he told Israel National News, the main news agency of the settlement movement.
 
The 18 rabbis issued their joint statement after learning of the city’s plan to build a medical school, which is expected to draw Arab students from across the Galilee.
 
They urged Jewish residents to shun a “neighbour or acquaintance” who rents to Arabs. “Refrain from doing business with him, deny him the right to read from the Torah, and similarly ostracize him until he renounces this harmful deed,” it read.
 
They have been given backing by a former chief rabbi, Ovadia Yosef, who used a recent sermon to tell his followers that “selling to [non-Jews], even for a lot of money, is not allowed. We won’t let them take control of us here.”
 
Similar anti-Arab sentiments have been heard in two other Jewish cities in the Galilee, Karmiel and Upper Nazareth. Both were established decades ago as part of a government “Judaisation” programme to settle more Jews in the country’s most heavily Arab-populated region.
 
In Karmiel, 30km west of Safed, ads in local newspapers have been promoting a special email address for residents to inform on neighbours planning to sell homes to Arabs. According to Ynet, a popular news website, the email account is overseen by officials for Oren Milstein, the city’s deputy mayor until he was fired last week.
 
Adi Eldar, the mayor, said Mr Milstein had “damaged the city’s image” after he gave a newspaper interview in which he boasted that he had prevented the sale of 30 homes to Arab families.
 
Mr Milstein’s replacement as deputy mayor, Rina Greenberg, is a member of the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party of Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s foreign minister, who advocates ridding the country of many of its Arab citizens.
 
Meanwhile, the mayor of Upper Nazareth, Shimon Gapso, who is also allied Yisrael Beiteinu, has announced plans to build a new neighbourhood for 3,000 religious Jews to halt what he called the city’s “demographic deterioration”.
 
Hundreds of Arab families from neighbouring Nazareth have relocated to the Jewish city to escape overcrowding. Today, one in eight of Upper Nazareth’s 42,000-strong population is Arab.
 
In August, Mr Gapso said he felt “as happy as if I had a new baby” at the news that 15 extremist families from the former Gaza settlement of Gush Katif were establishing a Jewish seminary in his city.
 
Hatia Chomsky-Porat, who leads Galilee activists for Sikkuy, a group advocating better relations between Jews and Arabs, said: “The political atmosphere is growing darker all the time. Racism among Jews is entirely mainstream now.”
 
In Safed, the Arab student body, heavily outnumbered by nearly 40,000 Jewish residents, has tried to keep a low profile. However, one small act of defiance appears to have further contributed to Jewish residents’ fears of a “takeover”.
 
Inhabitants awoke recently to find a Palestinian flag draped on the top of a renovated mosque — one of the many old stone buildings in Safed that attest to the city’s habitation long before Israel’s establishment.
 
In 1948, when Jewish forces captured the town, Safed was a mixed city of 10,000 Palestinians and 2,000 Jews. All the Palestinian inhabitants were expelled, including a 13-year-old Mahmoud Abbas, now the president of the Palestinian Authority.
 
Mr Khaliali said the city’s history appeared still to haunt many of its Jewish residents, who expressed fears that Arab students were there to reclaim refugee property as the vanguard of a movement for the Palestinian right of return.
 
It is not the first time Mr Eliyahu, the son of a former chief rabbi of Israel, has been accused of inciting against the city’s Arab population.
 
In 2002, during a wave of suicide attacks at the start of the second intifada, he called on Safed college to expel all Arab students.
 
Two years later he launched a campaign against intermarriage, accusing Arab men of waging “another form of war” against Jewish women by “seducing” them.
 
He narrowly avoided prosecution for incitement in 2006 after he agreed to retract his earlier statements.
 
The Religious Action Centre, a group of Reform movement Jews, and several Arab MPs have demanded that Yehuda Weinstein, the attorney-general, investigate Mr Eliyahu and the other rabbis for incitement to violence.

 
Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.
 
A version of this article originally appeared in The National (www.thenational.ae), published in Abu Dhabi.
 

 

US to build super base on Pacific island of Guam

November 8th, 2010 by Global Research

The USA is building an 8 billion super military base on the Island of Guam in the western part of the Pacific Ocean in response to China’s strengthening of its defence potential, “The Daily Telegraph” reports. The work is currently being done on the U.S. Air Force Base in Guam to build docks for aircraft carriers and test ranges there, in addition to the existing facilities, and also to develop a national missile defence system there. The head of the New Eurasia Foundation Andrei Kortunov says: 

Naturally, Americans do not say officially that this base is being created to contain China’s military build-up. But if we look at the map and compare the military potential of the countries surrounding the Pacific Ocean, it won’t be difficult for us to understand that, most likely, China is exactly the key factor which is taken into consideration here.

The point is that there’re no Sino-American agreements which could limit in one way or another such projects on the U.S. side. Moreover, Guam is a U.S. territory. Therefore, legally, China can make no objections on that score. However, there’s reason to believe that China’s answer to the on-going construction will be a new increase in assignments for the development of its navy. Because the Chinese fear that U.S. domination of the northern part of the Pacific Ocean may hamper China’s efforts in the settlement of the Taiwan issue.     

If we compare the military might of China and the USA, we’ll see that China has to work much to catch up with the USA, the Russian expert says.

We can say nothing about China’s parity or its ability to resist the USA on the high seas either. However, the dynamism of the development of the Chinese naval forces is an object of concern for Pentagon strategists.

There are many American military facilities in the northern part of the Pacific Ocean, Kortunov says. They are scattered over a large territory north of Alaska across Okinawa and as far as the Hawaiian Islands, where, traditionally, the U.S. Navy has a stronghold. Which means that there are many U.S. military facilities there, which form an arc and which must guarantee America’s hegemony in the Pacific Ocean.

As Americans say, these facilities have been set up to guarantee the security of commercial communications in the region, including the security of oil supplies from the Persian Gulf area to the western coast of the USA. But taking into account current tendencies, this infrastructure is regarded by many people in Beijing as one that is aimed against China.

Asked whether the new super base will infringe on Russia’s interests, the head of the New Eurasia Foundation said that, as it appears, it would be beneficial for Russia to distance itself from the current arms race.

However, one circumstance should be taken into account here – that fanning tensions in the Pacific Ocean region will not be beneficial strategically  for the countries situated in that part of the world.

Exposición de introducción a un taller sobre deuda publica durante la Conferencia Nacional de Comités Locales (CNCL) ATTAC Francia, 16 y 17 de octubre 2010, Universidad de Saint-Denis, Paris VIII

I. Algunos datos sobre la deuda externa de los países en desarrollo (PED) y de los países mas industrializados

Volumen de las deudas:

Deuda pública externa de todos los PED[1]. 1,5 billones de dólares (1 500 000 000 000 dólares)

Deuda pública externa del África subsahariana: 100.000 millones de dólares.

Deuda pública externa de América latina: 406.000 millones de dólares (406 000 000 000 dólares)

Deuda pública externa de Francia: 1,2 billones de dólares (1 200 000 000 000 dólares) -esta cifra incluye solamente la deuda del gobierno central-[2]

Deuda pública externa de España: 318.000 millones de dólares.

Deuda pública externa de Estados Unidos: 3,5 billones de dólares (la deuda total interna y externa de todas las administraciones públicas de Estados Unidos es de unos 15 billones de dólares).

Otro concepto a tener en cuenta: la deuda total externa es la suma de la deuda pública y de la deuda privada, y se compara con el PIB (producto interior bruto).

Deuda externa de América Latina: cerca del 40 % del PIB.

Deuda externa de Irlanda: 1.100 % del PIB.

Deuda externa de España: 169 % del PIB.

Deuda externa de Portugal: 233 % del PIB.

Deuda externa de Grecia: 162 % del PIB.

Deuda externa de Estados Unidos: 100 % del PIB.

Deuda externa de Reino Unido: 400 % del PIB.

II. La deuda en el Sur

El contexto actual es favorable en muchos aspectos a los PED, debido a tres factores que producen un peligroso sentimiento de despreocupación, cuando no de euforia en sus jefes de gobierno, ya sean éstos de derecha, de centro o de izquierda.

- En lo que concierne a la deuda pública:

1) Los bajos tipos de interés (0 % en Japón, 0,25 % en Estados Unidos, etc.) permiten a los PED refinanciar en el Norte su deuda externa, además con una reducción en las primas de riesgo vinculadas a cada país. Por otro lado, para algunos países pobres muy endeudados, los efectos de la anulación de deuda por el Club de París, el Banco Mundial, el FMI, etc. comienzan a aliviar realmente el servicio de la deuda. Los problemas subsisten pero el peso del reembolso de la deuda es menor. Pero, atención, este alivio es la contrapartida de la prosecución de las políticas neoliberales dictadas por el FMI y el BM que afectan mucho a las condiciones de vida de la mayoría de la población.

2) El alza de los precios de los productos primarios (a partir de 2004) aumenta los ingresos de los países que los exportan y, al mismo tiempo, aumenta sus reservas en divisas fuertes. Al tener estas reservas se facilita el reembolso de sus deudas exteriores (que se deben pagar en divisas).

3) Debido a la enorme masa de liquidez que se mueve a través del mundo, existen flujos de capitales que van, temporalmente, a las bolsas de los países emergentes.

► De manera general, la deuda externa pública de los PED baja, y esta evolución concierne a casi todos estos países, incluso a los más pobres. Pero de nuevo atención: hasta aquí hemos tenido en cuenta que la deuda pública externa disminuye. Sin embargo, la situación se complica claramente si se toma en cuenta la deuda pública total, ya que la deuda interna va en aumento. En consecuencia, el peso del servicio de la deuda pública con respecto al presupuesto del Estado es, en muchos casos, idéntico al de hace unos años.

No obstante, como los gobiernos del Sur, el Banco Mundial y el FMI ponen énfasis en la deuda externa, la situación parece a primera vista totalmente controlada. Sin embargo, esta coyuntura es frágil, puesto que depende de factores que los PED no controlan:

1.- La evolución de uno de ellos tiene y tendrá un papel determinante, se trata de China. Este país —el taller del mundo— es el mayor importador de bienes primarios. El mantenimiento de un nivel elevado de importación de estos bienes por China provoca la elevación del nivel de precios de estos productos. Si los pedidos chinos bajaran de manera significativa, se correría un fuerte riesgo de que su precio se redujeran o se desplomaran. Varios factores pueden fragilizar el crecimiento actual chino, que podrían conducir a una reducción de la demanda: la especulación en la bolsa, con unas fluctuaciones considerables; el desarrollo de una burbuja inmobiliaria que alcanza proporciones realmente preocupantes. Todo esto en un marco de endeudamiento exponencial dentro sus fronteras[3] puede producir la explosión de unas acreencias más que dudosas, provocando la fragilización de un sistema bancario principalmente público. Podemos temer el estallido de varias burbujas en China —llamadas en particular crisis gemelas: crisis de la bolsa y crisis inmobiliaria, que pueden producir el crash bancario, como ocurrió en Estados Unidos en 2007-2008, y en Japón en 1990—, y sin embargo, no se hace una valoración seria de cuáles serán las consecuencias en el resto del planeta, incluidos los PED. Lo que es probable, y es lo que debemos tener presente, es que en caso de desaceleración del crecimiento de la economía china existe un riesgo importante de descenso del precio de los productos primarios.

2.- Los tipos de interés algún día aumentarán. En el Norte, los bancos privados tienen acceso en los Bancos Centrales (la Fed, el Banco Central Europeo, el Banco de Ingletera, el Banco de Japon,…) a un recurso financiero muy poco costoso, o sea, con un interés bajo. Con esta enorme liquidez, los bancos prestan, pero en cantidades limitadas, a las empresas que invierten en producción y a las familias que consumen. El resto, grandísimo, les sirve para especular con las materias primas, con los títulos de la deuda pública, o para prestar a terceros (por ejemplo a empresas industriales, que con ese dinero a su vez especulan en lugar de invertirlo en producción). Los Bancos Centrales de los países más industrializados saben que se están formando nuevas burbujas y en consecuencia tendrían que aumentar los tipos de interés para disminuir la liquidez en circulación. Pero dudan, puesto que si se resuelven a hacerlo existe de nuevo un riesgo de quiebras bancarias. Es como la elección ente la peste y el cólera: si los tipos permanecen bajos, se formarán nuevas burbujas y pueden llegar a un volumen realmente inquietante; si los tipos aumentan, las burbujas que ya existen podrían estallar rápidamente.

            Si los tipos de interés aumentan, la especulación con las materias primas debería disminuir (ya que la liquidez disponible para esas actividades se agotará), lo que producirá una disminución en su precio.

            Resumiendo, si los tipos de interés acaban aumentando, los PED pueden acabar estrangulados: encarecimiento del servicio de la deuda, unido a un descenso en la entrada de divisas por la fuerte reducción en el precio de los bienes primarios (véase el punto precedente). Los PED corren el riesgo en este caso de encontrarse de nuevo en la situación de los años ochenta: el alza del tipo de interés decidido por la Reserva Federal estadounidense a fines de 1979 —decisión seguida por otros Bancos Centrales de los países más industrializados—que provocó el aumento brutal de los reembolsos de las deudas que debían efectuar los PED, que, al mismo tiempo, se vieron confrontados a una caída del precio de los productos primarios (recordemos que el precio de las materias primas mantuvo una tendencia a la baja de 1981 a 2003).

3.- Finalmente, los flujos de capitales que van hacia las bolsas de los países emergentes pueden cambiar su rumbo bruscamente, desestabilizando la economía de estos países.

III. La deuda en el Norte

Sobre esta parte, Eric Toussaint toma como referencia un informe de economistas de la Universidad de Londres, en especial Costas Lapvitsas, donde se trata, entre otras, la cuestión de la deuda de Grecia, Portugal y España. Este estudio de 72 páginas, que merece ser traducido al español, es una mina de informaciones y de ideas.[4] También se hace referencia a un trabajo de 4 páginas sobre el tema del la deuda en el Norte del CADTM.[5]

Referencia histórica: La deuda comenzó a tener en el Norte niveles elevados en los años ochenta del siglo pasado. En efecto, después del primer shock petrolero y de la crisis económica de 1973-1975, los gobiernos trataron de relanzar la economía con empréstitos públicos. La deuda explotó cuando la Reserva Federal estadounidense aumentó sin previo aviso los tipos de interés a partir de octubre de 1979 (véase más arriba).

Seguidamente, a partir de fines de los años ochenta, la situación de las finanzas públicas se agravó de nuevo. Su causa: la «contrarreforma fiscal » llevada a cabo a favor de las empresas y de las personas de altos ingresos, que tuvo como consecuencia una reducción de la recaudación fiscal, compensada por una parte por el aumento de los impuestos indirectos (el IVA), y por la otra por el recurso al endeudamiento.

La crisis que comenzó en 2007 y sobre todo la manera con que los gobiernos rescataron a los bancos privados degradaron aún más la situación de las finanzas públicas.

En los países como el Reino Unido, Bélgica, Alemania, los Países bajos, Irlanda, los gobiernos gastaron sumas considerables de dinero público para salvar a los bancos. En un futuro próximo, el gobierno español decidirá seguramente hacer lo mismo con las cajas de ahorro regionales, en quiebra virtual debido a la crisis del sector inmobiliario. Irlanda está literalmente hundida bajo las deudas provenientes de los grandes bancos privados que el gobierno ha nacionalizado, sin recuperar el costo del salvataje, con los recursos de los accionistas.

Por otra parte, con la enorme liquidez puesta a su disposición por los Bancos Centrales en 2007-2009, los bancos del Oeste europeo (sobre todo los alemanes y franceses) concedieron un gran volumen de créditos (principalmente al sector privado pero también a los poderes públicos) a los países de la «periferia de la Unión Europea», como España, Portugal y Grecia, ya que los banqueros consideraban que no existía ningún peligro. La consecuencia de esta política de préstamos fue un fuerte aumento de la deuda de estos países, en particular el de la deuda privada (la relación deuda privada/deuda total externa es del 83 % en España, 74 % en Portugal y 47 % en Grecia)[6]. Los banqueros alemanes y franceses tienen entre ambos el 48 % de los títulos de la deuda española (los bancos franceses el 24 %); también el 48 % de los títulos de la deuda portuguesa (los franceses, ellos solos, el 30 %); el 41 % de los títulos de la deuda griega (los franceses el 26 %)[7].

A pesar de que los gastos sociales de los Estados no son en absoluto responsables del aumento de la deuda pública, están en el punto de mira de los planes de austeridad.

El aumento de la deuda pública es utilizada por los gobiernos como argumento para justificar la adopción de nuevos planes de austeridad.

Por otro lado, se dice en el Norte que El Problema es la deuda pública, cuando, en la mayor parte de países es la deuda privada la que plantea problemas. Esta enorme deuda de las empresas privadas corre el riesgo, si no se toman medidas adecuadas, de transformarse en poco tiempo en deuda pública.

La crisis griega:

Gran parte de los préstamos fueron concedidos a Grecia para financiar la compra de material militar a Francia y a Alemania, aumentar el consumo a crédito de las familias y para favorecer el endeudamiento de las empresas privadas. Después del estallido de la crisis, el lobby militar-industrial logró que el presupuesto de defensa fuera apenas tocado, mientras el gobierno del PASOK recortaba brutalmente los gastos sociales. Sin embargo, en plena crisis griega, a comienzos de año, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, el primer ministro de Turquía, país que mantiene tensas relaciones con su vecino griego, fue a Atenas a proponer una reducción del 20 % en los presupuestos militares de ambos países. Pero el gobierno griego no cogió el cable que le había tendido Turquía. Se encontraba bajo la presión de las autoridades francesas y alemanas, que querían promover sus exportaciones de armas. A eso hay que agregar los numerosos préstamos de los bancos, principalmente alemanes y franceses, a empresas privadas y a las autoridades griegas en 2008-2009. Estos bancos habían recibido préstamos del Banco Central Europeo a tipos de interés bajos y ese dinero, así obtenido, lo prestaron a Grecia con tipos de interés más altos. Como resultado, un buen negocio, que les permitió obtener en un corto plazo jugosos beneficios. Los banqueros no se preocuparon de la capacidad de los deudores para reembolsar el capital prestado a medio plazo. Por lo tanto, los bancos privados tienen una gran responsabilidad en este endeudamiento excesivo. Los préstamos de los países miembros de la Unión Europea y del FMI a Grecia no respetan los intereses de la población griega, sólo sirven para el pago a los bancos alemanes y franceses en peligro por una arriesgada política de préstamos. Además, están unidos a políticas que atentan contra los derechos sociales de la población griega. Y bajo este aspecto, constituyen préstamos odiosos.

Nota bene: ver la ponencia que hizo Claudio Katz en Atenas el 16 de octubre 2010 comparando Grecia 2010 y Argentina 2001- …  http://www.cadtm.org/Grecia-2010-Argentina-2001

IV. Las alternativas

1.- El CADTM ha propuesto 8 medidas que conciernen a la deuda pública (véase las 4 páginas mencionadas más arriba en http://www.cadtm.org/Juntos-para-imponer-otra-logica ), en el que el elemento central es la moratoria unilateral de la deuda, sostenida por una auditoría de la deuda pública efectuada bajo control ciudadano. Cuando el CADTM recomienda una cesación de pagos sabe de qué habla, pues participó en la comisión de la auditoría de la deuda de Ecuador, creada en julio de 2007. Comprobamos que numerosos préstamos habían sido concedidos violando las reglas más elementales. En noviembre de 2008, el nuevo gobierno se basó en nuestro informe para suspender el reembolso de bonos de la deuda que vencían, algunos en 2012 y otros en 2030. Finalmente, el gobierno de este pequeño país de Latinoamérica salió vencedor del pulso mantenido con los banqueros norteamericanos tenedores de los bonos de la deuda ecuatoriana. El gobierno compró por 1.000 millones de dólares títulos que valían 3.200 millones, ahorrando así el tesoro público ecuatoriano cerca de 2.200 millones de dólares del stock de la deuda, a lo que hay que sumar los 300 millones de dólares de interés por año, que desde 2008 no se pagan. Esto le dio al gobierno ecuatoriano nuevos medios financieros para poder aumentar los gastos sociales en sanidad, educación, ayuda a los pobres.

La cuestión es poner en evidencia el carácter legítimo o ilegítimo de la deuda (concepto histórico de «deuda odiosa», precedentes históricos como la anulación de la deuda iraquí en 2004, a pedido de Estados Unidos).

2.- Recurso de los Estados a efectuar «actos soberanos». Habitualmente se piensa a Estados Unidos o a Israel cuando se citan.

Sin embargo hay ejemplos recientes, en particular en Latinoamérica, de actos soberanos para resistir a la dominación de las IFI, de acreedores privados o de países dominantes:

• El ejemplo de la suspensión unilateral del pago de la deuda por Ecuador, mencionado más arriba.

• El ejemplo de Argentina, que rechazó el pago de su deuda entre 2001 y 2005, poniendo por delante la responsabilidad de los acreedores. Argentina, después de haber suspendido el reembolso de su deuda, finalmente la renegoció en febrero-marzo de 2005 al 45 % de su valor. Gracias a esta moratoria unilateral sobre los títulos de la deuda por un monto de cerca de 100.000 millones de dólares, el país pudo invertir sus recursos y reanudar su crecimiento (8 % de crecimiento anual en el período 2003-2007). Argentina todavía tiene una cuenta pendiente con miembros del Club de París. Desde diciembre de 2001 no hace ningún reembolso a los países miembros del Club y lo lleva muy bien. El Club de París representa los intereses de los países industrializados y no quiere publicidad acerca del no pago de la deuda argentina, ya que teme que otros gobiernos puedan seguir el ejemplo. Hay que destacar que Argentina forma parte actualmente del G20 y que, por lo tanto, no está en absoluto marginada a pesar de sus actos unilaterales soberanos.

Se puede agregar que, condenados por los órganos de las IFI, algunos países notifican a estas mismas organizaciones que han dejado de reconocer sus decisiones o arbitrajes, y eso está muy bien. Así, en 2009, Ecuador denunció 21 tratados bilaterales de inversiones y notificó al Banco Mundial que dejaba de reconocer al CIADI, el tribunal de Banco Mundial en materia de litigios sobre inversiones. Ya Bolivia había tomado la delantera en 2007.

3.- El Banco del Sur, lanzado en 2007 por 7 países de América del Sur (Argentina, Bolivia, Brasil, Ecuador, Paraguay, Venezuela), aunque todavía no ha comenzado sus actividades (véase la entrevista a Eric Toussaint publicada en el diario suizo Le Courrier, el 16 de octubre de 2010, http://www.cadtm.org/Senales-preocupantes-en-America  )  

Perspectivas de trabajo para ATTAC

Después de este taller, podemos sugerir varias pistas de trabajo: – Hacer difusión, mediante un material apropiado, las «gestiones soberanas» de resistencia realizadas por algunos países (Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, etc.), los actos efectuados y sus consecuencias.

• Impugnación de la deuda: condiciones de aplicación de una gestión análoga a la de Ecuador en el marco de la Unión Europea o de la zona Euro, con la identificación de los márgenes de maniobra que podrían disponer los países frente a los diktats de la Unión Europea, del FMI y a las presiones de los acreedores, etc.

• Integrar la reivindicación de la auditoría de la deuda en las proposiciones realizadas por ATTAC.

- Proponer una información accesible sobre los respectivos papeles de la deuda pública y de la deuda privada en la situación actual, sobre la responsabilidad de los bancos en la formación de las burbujas financieras y por lo tanto en el aumento de la deuda pública.

Traducido por Griselda Pinero.

[1] Los países llamados PED por los organismos internacionales (FMI, BM, OCDE) son los de América Latina, África, Oriente Medio, Asia —salvo Japón y Corea del Sur— y Europa del Este.

[2] OCDE, Dette de l’Administration centrale, Annuaire statistique 2000-2009, p. 31.

[3] Ojo! Nos referimos al endeudamiento interno preocupante en China. No confundir la situación de la China respecto a su deuda interna con la posición del país asiático frente al exterior. China es el mayor acreedor internacional.   

[4] C. Lapavitsas, A. Kaltenbrunner, C. Lambrinides, D. Lindo, J. Meadway, J. Michell, J. P. Painceira, E. Pires, J. Powell, A. Stenfors, N. Teles «THE EUROZONE BETWEEN AUSTERITY AND DEFAULT», SEPTEMBER 2010 http://www.researchonmoneyandfinance.org/media/reports/RMF-Eurozone-Austerity-and-Default.pdf

[5] http://www.cadtm.org/Juntos-para-imponer-otra-logica  

[6] C. Lapavitsas y … p. 8.

[7] C. Lapavitsas y … p. 10.

 
Eric Toussaint es presidente del CADTM Bélgica (www.cadtm.org ) y miembro del Consejo Científico de ATTAC Francia.

BP blamed for toxification

November 8th, 2010 by Dahr Jamail

James Miller, a commercial shrimper, lifelong fisherman in Mississippi and former BP oil response worker, is horribly sick.

“I’ve been vomiting, my head feels like it’s going to explode, diarrhoea, and I keep passing out,” Miller, who worked in BP’s so-called Vessels of Opportunity (VOO) oil response programme, said from his bed at Biloxi Regional Hospital on November 5.

Four days earlier, Miller, his wife and dog were boating on the Gulf of Mexico near one of Mississippi’s barrier islands when all three of them fell ill.
 
“My wife and I felt the chemicals immediately and my dog even started hacking like he was trying to cough up a bone,” Miller explained.

Later that day he began vomiting and experiencing a severe headache and diarrhoea. Then on November 4 he passed out in the shower. Concerned by his uncontrollable nausea and bleeding in his esophagus, his wife took him to the emergency room.

“The doctor just told me I have acid reflux,” Miller, who has been experiencing many of his symptoms since joining the VOO programme, said. “They don’t even know what this is. I told him I needed to be tested for toxic chemicals. I’m in a major hospital and they are telling me they don’t know what this is.”

Miller’s friend, Chris Balius, also a former VOO worker, was in a boat near Miller’s on that same day out on the Gulf.

“I was hit by it too,” Balius explained. “Headache, nausea, diarrhoea, and now my eyesight is failing. When I was in the VOO programme, I had to let someone else run my boat after 30 days because I got so sick. Every time I go on the water I get sick, so I no longer go, and don’t allow my family to go anymore.”

Joseph Yerkes, who lives on Okaloosa Island, Florida, was in BP’s VOO programme for more than two months, during which time he was exposed to oil and dispersants on a regular basis.

“I worsened progressively,” Yerkes said. “Mid-September I caught a cold that worsened until I went to a doctor, who gave me two rounds of antibiotics for the pneumonia-like symptoms, and he did blood tests and found high levels of toxic substances in my blood that he told me came from the oil and dispersants.”

Increasing numbers of people across the Gulf Coast are suffering from symptoms that doctors and toxicologists are linking to chemicals from the BP oil disaster that began last summer when the blowout of the Macondo well gushed at least 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf.

BP responded by using at least 1.9 million gallons of toxic dispersant to sink the oil.

Widespread toxic exposure

Fisherman James Miller on his boat in Mississippi
[Erika Blumenfeld]

“The dispersants used in BP’s draconian experiment contain solvents such as petroleum distillates and 2-butoxyethanol,” Dr. Riki Ott, a toxicologist, marine biologist and Exxon Valdez survivor, said. “People are being made sick in the Gulf because of the unprecedented release of oil and toxic chemicals from this past summer in response to BP’s disaster.”

Ott is frank in her assessment of the ongoing health crisis residents are facing in the Gulf.

“It’s clear to me there are four to five million people, from Terrebonne Parish in Louisiana, through the big bend of Florida, who are being exposed to dangerous levels of dangerous chemicals,” she said.

“Oil and dispersants are in the air and water, that are at levels that exceeded the acute or intermediate threshold that federal agencies have declared to be safe. Just speaking of air exposure, and there are scientific papers on this, if you release one molecule of toluene, at three metres above the ground, into a six kilometre wind, that molecule, uninterrupted, will travel 34 kilometres.”

Charter plane pilots who have conducted Gulf over-flights have reported having to wipe an oily, orange film from their plane afterwards. Following this, the skin on their hands peeled off. “The oil and dispersants are in the air and in the rain and are making people sick,” Ott said. “These Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are there, and at dangerous levels.”

Pathways of exposure to the dispersants are inhalation, ingestion, skin and eye contact. Health impacts include headaches, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pains, chest pains, respiratory system damage, skin sensitisation, hypertension, central nervous system (CNS) depression, neurotoxic effects, cardiac arrhythmia and cardiovascular damage. The chemicals are also teratogenic, mutagenic and carcinogenic.

“People experiencing these symptoms, that is their body trying to tell them they are in a dangerous situation,” explained Ott. “Exposure to dispersants makes everything worse because they affect the CNS more. They act as an oil delivery system, bringing the oil deeper into the body.”

Wilma Subra, a chemist in Louisiana, tested the blood of eight BP cleanup workers and residents in Alabama and Florida. “Ethylbenzene, m,p-Xylene and Hexane are volatile organic chemicals that are present in the BP crude oil,” Subra said. “The blood of all three females and five males had chemicals that are found in the BP crude oil. So the presence of these chemicals in the blood indicates exposure.”

The BP workers and community members had shockingly high levels of toxic chemicals like Ethylbenzene and Hexanes in their bodies, with one 48-year-old male showing the highest concentrations.

“I’m that 48-year-old male,” Gregg Hall, from Pensacola, Florida, said. “I’ve been nauseas and had headaches, burning eyes and numb feet for months. The bays here are now toxic. It’s all around us, yet the government keeps telling us everything is fine.”

According to Ott, doctors along the Gulf coast are treating the symptoms of the widespread exposure to BP’s toxic chemicals with antibiotics.

“You can’t take antibiotics and expect to get better,” she explained. “Environmental medicine is what these people need, but it is hard to find that in the Gulf, where the oil and petrochemical industry reign supreme and medical doctors there are reluctant to call a spade a spade.”

Getting treatment

Dr. William Rea, the founder of the Environmental Health Center in Texas [Erika Blumenfeld]

Dr. William Rea is a thoratic and cardiovascular surgeon who specialises in the environmental aspects of health and disease. He founded the Environmental Health Center in Dallas, Texas in 1974 and has been treating people who have been exposed to toxic chemicals in crude oil and dispersants for years.

“We first try to eliminate people’s symptoms, and that is organ specific,” Rea explained at his clinic, which is one of the oldest and most advanced centres in the world for addressing health as it relates to the environment. “We try to lower their toxic load by giving them intravenous nutrients, oral nutrients, sauna, and have them live in quarters that are less polluted, eat organic food and have them get safe drinking water.”

Rea has treated many people from the Gulf that have been made sick by BP’s toxic chemicals.

“I have multiple concerns now about people in the Gulf being affected by these chemicals,” he said. “First, they are all fatigued and not able to work. When your muscles are all fatigued and tired, it’s hard to function. People are getting cloudy brains, others are having heart problems because of the chemicals. Others have broncho-spasm and asthma from this. Others bloat and get sleepy after eating, diarrhoea, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and other gastrointestinal problems.”

Donny and Angel Matsler, from Dauphin Island, Alabama, recently arrived at Rea’s centre for treatment. Donny has been suffering symptoms he attributes to BP’s toxic chemicals for months.

“I started to vomit brown, and my pee was brown also,” Donny said. “Sometimes I kept that up all day. Then I had a night of sweating and non-stop diarrhoea unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.”

Donny, a Vietnam veteran who had pre-existing health issues before the BP disaster began, believes his condition has worsened exponentially because of ongoing exposure to BP’s chemicals as a result of living on the coast.

“We have many friends breaking out in rashes, having severe breathing problems and other symptoms,” Angel explained.

“It would help if they had some doctors on the coast that knew about all of this, so they could do some preventive work and maybe head some of this off,” Rea said of what he sees as a lack of expertise among doctors in the Gulf. “And folks who are heavily affected, like Donny and Angel, you have to get them out of the area to treat them.”

Leaving the Gulf Coast

Donny and Angel Matsler obtaining treatment at the Environmental Health Center in Texas [Erika Blumenfeld]

Lynn Ferguson lived in Palatka, Florida, with her husband Rod Norman until July, when they decided to move to Montana after suffering symptoms they attribute to the BP oil disaster.

“I lost my voice in June and my breathing got much worse,” said Ferguson. “I was having heart palpitations, coughing, painful lungs, shortness of breath, lethargy, and it all kept worsening. Rod flew to Montana in June and was there 10 days, and had immediate relief. But when he came back to Florida he got sick again.”

Ferguson said that after learning that her symptoms were being reported by others across the Gulf, “I took money out of my retirement and we moved to Butte, Montana. My breathing is much better and 90 per cent of my voice has come back”.

“Sinus infections, ear infections, chest congestion, burning eyes, I kept going to the doctor for these, and he put me on all kinds of antibiotics and it didn’t clear anything up,” Norman said. “He kept trying different antibiotics but it never really worked. I got well as soon as I got out of the state.”

Yerkes, the former VOO worker, said that his doctor, a general physician with a background in toxicology, instructed him to begin a nutritional detoxification programme in order to “lower the levels of pollution in the blood”. The doctor also told Yerkes to move away from the Gulf Coast.

“He was very clear about his diagnosis, explaining how dangerous and damaging these chemicals can be to our bodies, and concluded that all of my symptoms are due to the elevated, abnormal levels of chemicals present in my system from the Gulf oil spill,” Yerkes said. “The doctor who did my blood work said that the results showed that I have oil in my blood. I have the solvents in my bloodstream.”

Yerkes is looking for somewhere to move to as he continues his detoxification programme at his home in Florida.

“Every morning I wake up with nausea, I have blurred vision, a low grade fever comes and goes, and now I’m having anxiety attacks, which I’ve never experienced before,” he said. “I’m having symptoms unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, and some of them scare me to death.”

Yerkes is struggling with the prospect of leaving the Gulf Coast, even though he feels that it is the only way he can regain his health.

“It deeply saddens me after living on or around the Gulf my whole life, making a living from it, and experiencing the serenity and contentedness it has always brought to me,” he said.

“But now I have to leave and start my life over. I know I am not the only one, and there are many much worse off than me, and I pray for everyone on the Gulf Coast to be oil and dispersant free. Nobody deserves this poisoning of our bodies, it is hell feeling like you’re being destroyed from the inside out from exposure every day.”

The Olbermann Expulsion: The Man, The Media, The Back Story

November 7th, 2010 by Danny Schechter

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141). Cassius, a nobleman, is speaking…

Alex Gibney’s new film The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer” shows how the former Governor’s indictments and criticisms of many Wall Street firm’s led to counter attacks and pushback from powerful people. It shows how he became targeted and exposes the role of the FBI, the Bush appointed US Attorney, rich players on Wall Street, corrupt politicians in Albany, a professional former Nixon boosting political provocateur/hit-man and Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post. They all went after him with a vengeance. He was, in fact, outed by the dirty tricksters.

In the end, though, Spitzer blamed himself for his own ego, arrogance and hubris. He says he brought himself down.

There is no doubt that Keith Olbermann had many pols and powercrats gunning for him for his outspoken commentaries and political impact.  He is a partisan, yes, but also a commentator who takes wacks at his own party. He pointed to the deep biases and superficiality in TV News. But then, he violated a firm rule governing TV journalists barring political donations to people they are covering. He apparently flouted his own contract although I am sure there is ambiguity there

In doing so, Keith put himself at risk and opened the door to being suspended.

A few years ago I wrote a magazine profile on Olbermann (who NBC blocked me from speaking to.)  It does show his history of confronting broadcasters and bosses. I admire his work, even as I find it sometimes pedantic and predictable, He  knew, or should have known, that he would be outed for a blatant transgression, and that does not excuse the others who do it, including his company and competitors.

(I do not make partisan political donations for this very reason, (as well as my disgust for most politicians) but I also do not disguise my viewpoints with the blather of phony “objectivity.”)

Yes, I would like to see him back on the air.

Is there hypocrisy here? Of course! That goes without saying. TV is a minefield, and to survive, you need an internal radar and realization that perception often trumps reality. You need relationships with colleagues and managers too, or you can isolate yourself. Who had his back? Did he believe his own hype?

MY PROFILE OF KEITH OLBERMANN IN 2007 (NBC would not let me speak to him) http://www.larryflynt.com/mycms/index.php?mact=News,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=63&cntnt01returnid=15

The most upsetting thing about watching Good Night, and Good Luck—George Clooney’s cinematic tribute to media legend Edward R. Murrow—was realizing there aren’t any journalists of his stature in the hyper-commercialized, dumbed-down “wasteland” of contemporary network TV news. An intrepid war correspondent and broadcaster, Murrow dared expose tyrannical Senator Joseph McCarthy on CBS in the 1950s. Who among today’s blow-dried anchors and reporters would have had the cajones to take on blustering blowhard McCarthy?

In the wake of Clooney’s 2005 biopic, one candidate has emerged from the media pack to reinvigorate the fourth estate. “Keith Olberman is, quite simply, the Edward R. Murrow of our time,” asserts liberal radio host Stephanie Miller, whose program has been heard on Sirius Satellite Radio and other broadcast outlets.

The sportscaster-turned-political analyst anchors MSNBC’s evening newscast, Countdown With Keith Olbermann. If you haven’t been paying attention to his rising influence and popularity, you may be alone—Countdown’s viewership rose 21% in a year, and the perpetually third-place cable-news network edged out its CNN competitor during Olbermann’s time slot. Countdown is MSNBC’s highest-rated program.

Olbermann has always stood out, and not just because he stands 6-3 and wears size 13 shoes. Born in New York City in 1959, he was a gifted child who, at age 14, wrote the book The Major League Coaches: 1921-1973 (published by Card Memorabilia Associates). He was also a play-by-play announcer for his high school’s hockey team on WHTR. Chris Berman, now an ESPN mainstay, was the station’s sports director.

Keith entered Cornell University at age 16, and while an undergraduate, covered sports for WVBR, a student-run  radio station. Graduating at 20, Olbermann paid his dues on local news at Boston and Los Angeles TV stations before landing a berth at ESPN. He won awards for a witty and distinctive reportorial style that was also criticized for having “too much backbone.” It was literally true because the oversized Olbermann has six lumbar vertebrae, while the rest of us have only five. He refers to himself as a “spinal mutant,” quipping, “I do have too much backbone.”

Olbermann has had to overcome some physical problems, including celiac disease, which requires a gluten-free diet. In 1980 he hit his head on a New York City subway door and lost depth perception. Olbermann also has had some problems containing his emotions. When Keith left ESPN in June 1997, colleague Mike Soltys said, “He didn’t burn bridges here. He napalmed them.” One issue was an appearance on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show that ESPN did not authorize.

On November 17, 2002, Olbermann published what he called a “mea culpa” on Salon.com, in which he mused about his motivations, emotional vulnerability and willingness to talk about doubts and concerns most public figures avoid.

“It feels as if I’ve been coming out of a huge fog bank,” Olbermann wrote, acknowledging there had been problems and screwups on his show. “On top of everything else about it that can destabilize the soul, television is fraught with a million commonplace things that can go wrong.

“I have lived much of my life assuming much of the responsibility around me and developing a dread of being blamed for things going wrong,” Keith candidly confessed. “Moreover, deep down inside I’ve always believed that everybody around me was qualified and competent, and I wasn’t, and that someday I’d be found out. If you think that way, when somebody messes up, you can’t imagine that it just ‘happened.’ Since they’re so much better than you are, how could they not complete a task successfully? They have to be not trying hard enough—and when they don’t try and the show goes to hell, who gets blamed? You do.”

Olbermann’s backbone surfaced again when MSNBC hired him to cover politics. He quickly discovered he couldn’t stand cable’s marathon-like obsession with repetitive Monica Lewinsky news-a-thons. On January 21, 1998, MSNBC reoriented Olbermann’s program, The Big Show, to focus on “what we euphemistically call ‘The Clinton-Lewinsky investigations,’” Keith said.

The story began to get to him. He later explained why at the Cornell University commencement address that June: “Virtually every night, for an hour, sometimes two, I have presided over discussions about this stuff, so intricate, so repetitive, that it has assumed the characteristics of the medieval religious scholars arguing for months and even years over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

“Then my network starts covering this story 28 hours out of every 24.” He confessed it led him to “having dry heaves in the bathroom” and “days…when my line of work makes me ashamed, makes me depressed, makes me want to cry.” Later that spring, “I awakened from my stupor and told my employers that I simply could not continue doing this.” He then urged the graduates to do the right thing.

After 17 months at MSNBC, Olbermann returned to sports, this time at Fox, for another short stint as anchor. He went freelance, turning up on CNN, then radio, also writing for Salon.com, until bouncing back to MSNBC.

Olbermann really took off after he debuted his current MSNBC show, Countdown, on March 31, 2003. The program originates at MSNBC’s Secaucus, New Jersey, headquarters. One of its most-talked-about segments, called “Oddball,” features wacky footage from around the world illustrating Keith’s eclectic interests and idiosyncratic passions. (An oddball fact about Caucasian Keith is that he’s related by marriage to boxer Mike Tyson. The niece of Tyson’s adoptive father, longtime trainer Gus D’Amato, married Olbermann’s father’s brother, making Keith—who is single and childless—a Tyson cousin. How appropriate—considering his initials are K.O.)

Playgirl magazine voted Olbermann its number one sexiest male newscaster in 2004. GQ recently branded him a “renegade” and named him one of the publication’s “Men of the Year.” Keith has also won an Edward R. Murrow Award for reporting, which may explain why he signs off Countdown with Murrow’s signature farewell, “Good night, and good luck.” The CBS broadcaster, renowned for speaking truth to power, is Olbermann’s role model.

The MSNBC anchorman took on his Fox competition directly and personally by skewering its “reportage,” repeatedly labeling Fox bullyboy Bill O’Reilly “The Worst Person in the World.” Last summer, Olbermann wore an O’Reilly mask to a meeting of TV critics, giving them the Nazi “Sieg Heil” salute. The demagogic O’Reilly blasted back, cutting off callers to his radio program for using the K or O words. He even sicced Fox security on one caller who managed to bleat out the offending name.

After Olbermann started detailing the charges lodged by a former producer in a sexual harassment suit against The O’Reilly Factor’s führer, the New York Post—which, like Fox, is owned by conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his News Corp—reported on accusations posted to a gossip Web site that Olbermann was a lousy lover. The feud soon deteriorated into a very personal tit-for-tat.

Olbermann moved from taking on people like O’Reilly to frontally challenging the Bush regime, and then Dubya himself. For the first time, left-leaning and Democratic viewers had a voice that resonated with them in a medium dominated by right-wing pundits and opinion makers.

His “special comments” segment, centering on pressing issues, spontaneously began after Hurricane Katrina so that Olbermann could express his outrage at the federal government’s disastrous bungling. The special comments—the best soliloquies since Hamlet—are spread virally on sites like YouTube and Google and linked throughout the blogosphere. Keith used his own “Bloggerman” blog to make sure his words could be read as well as heard.

Suddenly, Olbermann’s ratings rocketed, as did his status as a fearless and articulate force in media. When Keith teamed up with Hardball’s Chris Matthews to cover the 2006 midterm elections, MSNBC doubled the size of the audience that had watched it during 2002’s midterms. Overall, MSNBC’s viewership rose from 15% of the cable news audience in 2002 to 25% in 2006. Meanwhile, the ratings of MSNBC’s competitors have declined.

TV critics such as the Washington Post’s/CNN’s Howard Kurtz credit Olbermann with helping to swing the 2006 election to the Democrats.

“Keith is a powerhouse—a pundit/journalist with brains and guts, and a fundamental sense of decency,” adds Mark Crispin Miller, an NYU media professor and author. “I think it’s telling that his background is not news but sports, because the U.S. news establishment would never have produced a voice so brave and honest.”

What audiences seem to like most is that Keith does not genuflect or pull punches vis-à-vis the powers-that-be. He goes right for the jugular; no other contemporary newsman would chastise the commander in chief with impertinent words like: “The President of the United States owes this country an apology. It will not be offered, of course. He does not realize its necessity. There are now none around him who would tell him or could. There needs to be an apology from the President. … And more than one.”

Olbermann went further in responding to Donald Rumsfeld, when he compared his critics to appeasers of Nazis. Keith denounced the then-Defense Secretary for “demonizing disagreement,” and compared Rumsfeld to Murrow’s old archenemy, Red-baiter Joseph McCarthy. The anchorman concluded with a clear reference to Rummy & Company: “This country faces a new type of fascism. Indeed!”

Olbermann’s outspoken rants—which are punched up with humor, historic quotes and an undeniable sincerity—differentiate him from his colleagues and even fictional newsy characters, notably the deranged ex-anchor Howard Beale from the 1976 movie Network. Thirty years after its release, the satire trashing television feels more and more like a documentary.

And yet Olbermann is up against the same industry forces that brought Beale down and pushed Murrow out—an anxious, profit-driven executive bureaucracy terrified of rocking the boat. Olbermann has already been warned not to have too many “liberal” guests, a rationale used to end Phil Donahue’s program, MSNBC’s highest-rated show in 2003. On Al Franken’s Air America radio show, Olbermann defiantly revealed, “I got called into a vice-president’s office…and [was] told, ‘Hey, we don’t mind you interviewing these guys, but should you really have put liberals on on consecutive nights?’”
Jeff Cohen, a former Donahue producer, finds this alarming. The author of the insider book Cable News Confidential discloses: “What Olbermann has done in the recent era was specifically banned by NBC management when I was at MSNBC with Phil Donahue four years ago.”

Cohen, who co-founded the media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) and who also worked at Fox and CNN, adds: “Setting oneself apart from what the others are selling can bring customers. Olbermann is a beneficiary of the shifting political environment that resulted from Bush disasters and years of brave activism and advocacy by progressives in Congress, civil liberties lawyers, MoveOn[.org] and thousands of hard-core activists who turned the tide—not to mention [Comedy Central’s Jon] Stewart and [Stephen] Colbert.”

Can Bloggermann survive at General Electric-owned MSNBC if he is identified as a voice of the Left? It’s not a topic he was allowed to speak to this reporter about. MSNBC press liaison Jeremy Gaines finally responded to three e-mails requesting an Olbermann interview with a terse “The answer is ‘No.’”

I spoke informally to a former MSNBC president who thinks the anchorman’s days are numbered in the cautiously conservative NBC environment. But an NBC News V.P., who spoke off the record and is personally bullish on Olbermann, told me it has taken years for the newscaster to establish himself and that the network wants him to stay. Keith’s contract was due to expire in March 2007.

I asked the veep about the attitude of NBC President Bob Wright, who reportedly kowtows to GE, a defense contractor credited with building Ronald Reagan’s career. “Bob Wright is content agnostic, but financially religious” was the response, suggesting that as long as Countdown’s numbers are good, and the revenues are up, there will be no pressure on Olbermann to follow the party line.

FAIR’s Peter Hart contends that Olbermann is helping MSNBC, which has generally trailed Fox and CNN in the ratings. “Those of us on the outside have been saying for years that the best way for the cable news channels to compete with Fox would be to counterprogram by featuring hosts and guests who represent the Left/progressive end of the political spectrum, since those voices are nearly silent on national television.”

The media observer adds: “Olbermann represents a tentative step in that direction, and folks are watching. It’s also worth noting that they’re not watching a typical cable-news shoutfest—Olbermann is delivering passionate, articulate critiques of the powerful. The conventional wisdom…would have probably told you that was a horrible idea, but viewers seem to disagree,” Hart points out.

According to Dan Abrams, who runs (RAN)  MSNBC, “[Olbermann’s] program could become a model for the newscast of the future. It’s a mix of straight news…with lighter fare and occasionally with some opinion.”

Although it was hard to find outspoken critics outside the Fox orbit and its echo chamber, Olbermann has attracted enemies and at least one death threat. On Fox’s media observer program News Watch, Christian conservative columnist Cal Thomas bestowed the “Turkey Award” on Keith last November for claiming 65-year-old Thomas dyed his jet-black hair.

On a more serious note, in October 2006 Olbermann received a letter at his New York home with an unidentified white powder in it. He immediately called police and was told not to go public, as this could tip off the sender. But when Murdoch’s New York Post published an account of the incident, the journalist went ballistic, in part because he insisted the newspaper’s story was wrong. Keith claims he did not ask for a medical checkup, as reported in the Post, and then spoke about what happened on the air:

“My first inclination was to wait until the start of the next workday to notify authorities. But the remote possibility that any delay might have endangered others led me to reverse my decision. … The officer in charge of the 18 or so police officers who responded asked that I follow their protocol: a decontamination shower at the scene, the bagging and sealing of the clothes I was wearing at the time of the incident, and my transportation to an emergency room. I mean, not to overdo this, but they had to melt my keys and my wallet.”

Californian Chad Castagana was arrested in November 2006 by the FBI and charged with mailing threatening letters, along with white powder, to Olbermann, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, David Letterman, Jon Stewart and other high-profile figures. The 39-year-old suspect is a conservative blogger.

Being a target of right-wing wrath hasn’t deterred Olbermann from confronting the status quo and speaking up for others threatened by reactionary wingnuts. After talk radio’s Stephanie Miller received a letter that threatened her and antiwar mom Cindy Sheehan, Keith gallantly rose to their defense in a riveting rant championing the right to dissent. This earned him a tongue-in-cheek marriage proposal from the single and attractive radio hostess.

“The fact that I routinely refer to Keith as my future husband has more to do with my delusional nature than anything to do with his personal taste, which, I’m sure, is much more evolved,” jokes Miller, whose father, William Miller, was Barry Goldwater’s GOP running mate in 1964’s Presidential race.

In any case, Olbermann faces a daunting minefield at MSNBC, a part of the larger big media battleground where backstabbing, oversized egos and bottom-line pressures clash every day with journalistic values.
Keith Olbermann’s role model, Edward R. Murrow, was an early victim of these pressures, despite his renown and success. Can the gutsy TV host known as “Bloggerman” survive and prosper? Stay tuned, and as Murrow would say, “Good night, and good luck.”

Danny Schechter is the blogger-in-chief of MediaChannel.org, the world’s largest online media issues network. A former CNN and ABC News producer with a short stint at CNBC, Schechter has directed many independent documentaries, including WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception and a new film, In Debt We Trust: America Before the Bubble Bursts, dealing with the credit trap that has already ensnared six out of ten Americans. (See Globalvision.org to order and for more info.) Besides penning eight books—including When News Lies: Media Complicity and the Iraq War (SelectBooks) and The Death of Media and the Fight for Democracy (Melville House Publishing)—Schechter writes regularly for leading Web sites and media outlets worldwide. His latest film is Plunderthecrimeofourtime. (Plunderthecrimeofourtime.com)

If we cannot trust what the government tells us about weapons of mass destruction, terrorist events, and the reasons for its wars and bailouts, can we trust the government’s statement last Friday that the US economy gained 151,000 payroll jobs during October?

Apparently not. After examining the government’s report, statistician John Williams (shadowstats.com) reported that the jobs were “phantom jobs” created by “concurrent seasonal factor adjustments.” In other words, the 151,000 jobs cannot be found in the unadjusted underlying data. The jobs were the product of seasonal adjustments concocted by the BLS.

As usual, the financial press did no investigation and simply reported the number handed to the media by the government.

The relevant information, the information that you need to know, is that the level of payroll employment today is below the level of 10 years ago. A smaller number of Americans are employed right now than were employed a decade ago.

Think about what that means. We have had a decade of work force growth from youngsters reaching working age and from immigration, legal and illegal, but there are fewer jobs available to accommodate a decade of work force entrants than before the decade began.

During two years from December 2007 – December 2009, the US economy lost 8,363,000 jobs, according to the payroll jobs data. As of October 2010, payroll jobs purportedly have increased by 874,000, an insufficient amount to keep up with labor force growth. However, John Williams reports that 874,000 is an overestimate of jobs as a result of the faulty “birth-death model,” which overestimates new business start-ups during recessions and underestimates business failures. Williams says that the next benchmark revision due out next February will show a reduction in current employment by almost 600,000 jobs. This assumes, of course, that the BLS does not gimmick the benchmark revision. If Williams is correct, it is more evidence that the hyped recovery is non-existent.

Discounting the war production shutdown at the end of World War II, which was not a recession in the usual sense, Williams reports that “the current annual decline [in employment] remains the worst since the Great Depression, and should deepen further.”

In short, there is no employment data, and none in the works, unless gimmicked, that supports the recovery myth. The US rate of unemployment, if measured according to the methodology used in 1980, is 22.5%. Even the government’s broader measure of unemployment stands at 17%. The 9.6% reported rate is a concocted measure that does not include discouraged workers who have been unable to find a job after 6 months and workers who who want full time jobs but can only find part-time work.

Another fact that is seldom, if ever, reported, is that the payroll jobs data reports the number of jobs, not the number of people with jobs. Some people hold two jobs; thus, the payroll report does not give the number of employed people.

The BLS household survey measures the number of people with jobs. The same October that reported 151,000 new payroll jobs reported, according to the household survey, a loss of 330,000 jobs.

The American working class has been destroyed. The American middle class is in its final stages of destruction. Soon the bottom rungs of the rich themselves will be destroyed.

The entire way through this process the government will lie and the media will lie.

The United States of America has become the country of the Big Lie. Those who facilitate government and corporate lies are well rewarded, but anyone who tells any truth or expresses an impermissible opinion is excoriated and driven away.

But we “have freedom and democracy.” We are the virtuous, indispensable nation, the salt of the earth, the light unto the world.

L’imperialismo non può più sopportare la rivoluzione bolivariana, perché questa costituisce una minaccia reale alle sue ambizioni di dominio e di espansione non solo in America latina, ma in tutti i paesi “oppressi e rivoluzionari”, come ha dichiarato il presidente venezuelano in visita a Teheran la settimana scorsa.

Le grandi potenze si vedono obbligate ad attaccarlo su tutti i fronti e quello della manipolazione dell’opinione pubblica mondiale sembra sempre più il mezzo preferito da loro.

Questa”crociata mondiale “ anti-Chavez che è iniziata in Colombia fa parte di questo movimento.

Le grandi potenze voglio trasformare l’immagine di Hugo Chavez in quella di un nemico comune e cercano di richiamare in questa direzione la percezione della maggior parte della popolazione mondiale.

Hanno perseguito i medesimi stratagemmi con Mouammar Gheddafi,Slobodan Milosevic,Saddam Hussein,Osama Bin Laden,i Talibani e con il presidente Ahmadinejad in Iran.Quello che loro vogliono creare non è solo la “sindrome del nemico” ma anche la costituzione di una piattaforma sulla quale installare i fondamenti per un’invasione armata del Venezuela.

Dopo il fallito colpo di Stato dell’aprile 2002 che mirava al rovesciamento del presidente Chavez, è stata messa a punto una strategia con gli Stati Uniti con lo scopo di radunare i paesi dell’America Latina contro i membri dell’Alleanza bolivariana di Las Americas (ALBA) e di contrastare la grande influenza che questa esercita sull’insieme delle società non solo in America latina, ma anche in un gran numero di paesi in via di sviluppo.Questo raggruppamento non solo non si è concretizzato ma è sfociato nell’emergenza di una presa di coscienza ancora più profonda sulle nefaste conseguenze dell’asservimento dei popoli agli interessi primari dell’impero così come l’adesione di altre nazioni alla rivoluzione bolivariana.Questa rivoluzione ora è arrivata e rappresenta il passaggio che dovranno iniziare senza tardare tutti i popoli del mondo.E’ la lotta contro l’Imperialismo sotto tutte le sue forme.E’ l’instaurazione dei regimi politici democratici e popolari che rispondono ai bisogni essenziali dell’umanità per quel che riguarda l’educazione e la sanità preservando allo stesso tempo i fondamenti delle diversità biologiche terrestre e marina che risultano di cruciale importanza nel fornire come priorità, alimenti di base per miliardi di abitanti che ne sono privi.

I Aumentare le tensioni tra i membri di ALBA e la Colombia

La strategia degli Stati Uniti è quella di aumentare le tensioni tra i membri di ALBA da un lato e la Colombia dall’altro e farne scaturire cosi un movimento d’appoggio a favore di un’invasione armata del Venezuela, generando così un movimento di accerchiamento o di isolamento dei membri di questa alleanza per poter neutralizzare le loro azioni nell’insieme del sub continente.

La messa in opera della Zona di Libero Scambio delle Americhe(Z.L.E.A.) non si è realizzata e questo fatto ha provocato una cocente delusione per le forze imperialiste ed in particolare , per gli Stati Uniti.

D’altro canto, sotto l’impulso del presidente Chavez, la recente creazione di istituzioni votate principalmente agli interessi dei paesi latino-americani come il Banco del Sud, Telesud e l’Unione delle nazioni sud-americane(UNASURI) sono venute ad esacerbare le frustrazioni degli Stati Uniti incitandoli a spiegare nuovamente le sue forze in modo a riprendersi il terreno perduto. 

II Piazzare dei dispositivi di provocazione e di aggressione

Il ritorno della Quinta Flotta nel luglio 2008 nel mar dei Carabi e negli Oceani che bagnano il Sud America, il rovesciamento del governo in Honduras,le dichiarazioni di cooperazione tra Caracas e le Forze armate rivoluzionarie della Colombia(FARC) e il recente accordo firmato tra gli Stati Uniti e la Colombia per l’utilizzo da parte dell’esercito americano di sette basi militari colombiane, sono altrettanti fattori considerati come atti di aggressione diretta contro i popoli latino-americani che vogliono prendere pienamente a carico il loro destino.

Questi elementi contribuiscono a creare un clima d’instabilità il cui scopo è quello di preparare lo scenario per un rovesciamento del presidente del Venezuela sia attraverso la creazione di agitazioni interne al paese stesso, sia attraverso lo sviluppo di un movimento massivo nell’opinione pubblica colombiana in favore di una invasione armata terrestre da parte dei suoi vicini che sono l’Equador e il Venezuela. 

Conclusione

Contro la disinformazione e per promuovere l’espansione di ALBA e delle sue iniziative. 

Questa “crociata mondiale” anti-Chavez dev’essere contrastata dalla diffusione di notizie sui membri di ALBA e sui risultati dei programmi politici , economici e sociali che questa associazione ha sviluppato negli ultimi anni così come attraverso quelle informazioni sui considerevoli progressi sociali che sono stati ottenuti.

Dev’essere lanciato un appello su scala mondiale affinché tutti gli organismi non governativi(Ong) operanti per la pace e la giustizia diffondano un messaggio per il prosieguo e lo sviluppo dei popoli oppressi di questo pianeta.

La riuscita delle esperienze effettuate dai membri di ALBA sarà anche quella di tutti coloro che lavorano all’impresa del disarmo e all’instaurazione di una pace duratura attraverso un equo sviluppo economico e sociale.

 

http://www.mondialisation.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=15095

Traduzione a cura di Stella Bianchi

06/10/2009

La muerte de Baitullah Meshud, líder de los talibanes pakistaníes, sería un gran éxito para Washington e Islamabad». Este comunicado que, una vez más, anuncia la muerte de un ser humano causada por la guerra, es lógico que alegre a los estrategas de los países occidentales que ocupan ilegalmente un país soberano de Asia central desde 2001. Esta noticia permite a los que llevan a cabo esta guerra de conquista manifestar, durante algunos instantes, su alegría y demostrar la eficacia de sus mortíferas intervenciones sobre el terreno. Pero conviene añadir otra interpretación a este suceso.

La desaparición del líder de los talibanes pakistaníes vendría a sumarse a los elementos que justifican la extensión de la guerra de ocupación que arrasa Afganistán al vecino Pakistán. Y contribuiría a legitimar una vez más, ante la opinión pública mundial, los actos de guerra perpetrados por Washington y el ejército nacional de Pakistán sobre el territorio pakistaní propiamente dicho, aunque convencer de la utilidad de la guerra contra los talibanes se ha convertido en una tarea muy fácil para Washington después de tantos años fabricando al «enemigo» encarnado actualmente por los talibanes a los ojos de la población mundial.

En este contexto es importante ser consciente de que el auténtico motivo de esas guerras no es la erradicación de los talibanes, sino más bien el establecimiento de las infraestructuras e instituciones necesarias para una ocupación permanente de la región por parte de Washington y las demás potencias occidentales. Esas guerras sólo acabarán cuando el régimen de Kabul sea capaz de asegurar un control militar total del territorio afgano, y eso sólo será posible con la ayuda del ejército nacional pakistaní, para el control de las zonas tribales fronterizas con Afganistán como el Waziristan, la Provincia de la Frontera del Noroeste, incluido el distrito de Swat.

 Las acciones guerreras pakistaníes aparecen como parte de la «guerra contra el terrorismo» decretada por la ex administración de G. W. Bush y vinculadas a la guerra de Afganistán. El valle del Swat cayó bajo el dominio de los talibanes en diciembre de 2008 y después ha sido objeto de operaciones militares con el fin de desalojarlos o simplemente «hacerlos desaparecer»

Esta guerra dirigida por el ejército nacional pakistaní con la ayuda del ejército estadounidense no se ha declarado oficialmente. Se desarrolla en el marco de la denominada «guerra preventiva» contra el terrorismo y permite a las potencias occidentales aumentar su control en todas las regiones de Pakistán, lo que no consiguieron hacer durante la presidencia de Pervez Musharraf, entre junio de 2001 y agosto de 2008.

El balance de la guerra en 2009

Varios informes recientes han dado cuenta de los repetidos ataques en la región contra los talibanes y los insurgentes procedentes de Afganistán, lo que ha acarreado un éxodo masivo de las poblaciones hacia el interior del país. La utilización de «drones» (aviones teledirigidos sin piloto, N. de T.) por parte de Estados Unidos para eliminar los presuntos focos de refugios de los terroristas ha causado un número de víctimas considerable.

Según los datos recientes, esos ataques y otras intervenciones habrían causado más de 1.500 muertos entre los talibanes. En el conjunto de las regiones afectadas por la guerra se observó el desplazamiento de dos millones de personas. «Hasta ahora, los costes son muy elevados; dos mil muertos y más de dos millones de personas desplazadas a causa de los combates en el valle de Swat y otros lugares». Según el Pakistan Body Count con fecha del mes de agosto de 2009, las bombas y los ataques de los drones han causado casi 10.000 víctimas; entre dichas víctimas se contarían más de 3.300 muertos. La web añade la observación de que «Tanto si se trata de un atentado con bomba o del ataque de un drone, el resultado es el mismo, un pakistaní muerto».

 Así, la web proporciona la historia completa y la cronología de los atentados con bomba y de los ataques de los drones. Los datos proceden de los informes de los medios de comunicación, hospitales y sitios de Internet. Todos los datos están disponibles para el gran público y ninguno es confidencial. Lo que permite dar una idea de la intensidad de los atentados con combas y los ataques perpetrados por los drones.

Según Bill Van Auken, es importante que recordemos que el pasado mes de mayo «El gobierno de Obama estaba considerando cada vez más aumentar su intervención en Pakistán como una guerra específica contra la insurrección, y para la que pedía el mismo tipo de poderes militares que ya obtuvo Bush para Afganistán e Iraq». Esos poderes podrían permitir al Pentágono, entre otras cosas, suministrar una ayuda militar a Pakistán del orden de 400 millones de dólares.

Mapa: Las provincias pakistaníes fronterizas con Afganistán. Fuente : http://argoul.blog.lemonde.fr/category/fugues-au-pakistan/  

Referencias:

AFP y AP 2009. «La mort du chef des talibans pakistanais semble se confirmer», Le Devoir, 8 y 9 de agosto de 2009: http://www.ledevoir.com/2009/08/08/262081.html

CTV.CA News Staff. 2009. «As deaths rise, Pakistan struggles against Taliban» 28 de junio de 2009: http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20090628/Taliban_Pakistan_09062820090628?hub=TopStories

Durfour, Jules, 2008 «Les guerres d’occupation de l’Afghanistan et de l’Irak: un bilan horrifiant de portée mundiales». 22 de julio de 2008. Montreal, Centro de Investigación sobre la globalización (CRM). http://www.mondialisation.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9645

Lind, William S. y L. Rockwell. 2008. «Pakistan. Une victime collatérale des guerres américaines». Alternatives Internationale. 17 de enero de 2008: http://www.alterinter.org/article1623.html?lang=fr

Operaciones militares contra los talibanes en Pakistán: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guerre_au_Waziristan

Pakistan Body Count: http://www.pakistanbodycount.org/

Pervez Musharraf: http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pervez_Musharraf

Tisdall and Saeed Shaa. 2008. «Reported US attack pushes Afghanistan war into Pakistan. Up to 20 die in attack by commandoes on village near known Taliban and al-Qaida stronghold», guardian.co.uk, 3 de septiembre de 2008: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/sep/03/pakistan.afghanistan1

Van Auken, Bill. 2009. «Le gouvernement d’Obama cherche à obtenir des pouvoirs militaires extraordinaires au Pakistan». 7 de mayo de 2009. Montreal, Centro de Investigación sobre la globalización (CRM). http://www.mondialisation.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=13528

Waziristan: http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wazirist%C3%A1n

Texto original en francés: http://www.mondialisation.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=14719

Traducido para Rebelión por Caty R.

Jules Dufour, geógrafo, es presidente de la Asociación Canadiense para las Naciones Unidas (ACNU)/Sección Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, profesor emérito de la Universidad de Québec en Chicoutimi, miembro del Círculo Universal de los Embajadores de la Paz y caballero de la Orden Nacional de Québec.

Esta importante fecha en la historia de Argelia firmó el acta de nacimiento de una revolución ejemplar en los anales de los movimientos de liberación de los pueblos. Fue obra del pueblo argelino contra el abyecto e inhumano orden colonial que en nombre de las grandes potencias borrachas de poder y de conquistas hacía estragos entre los pueblos para acaparar sus tierras y sus riquezas. Éste fue el sino de tantos países africanos, entre ellos Argelia, a la que codiciaba el imperio colonial francés.

Sometido por la brutalidad de las armas y encadenado por el odioso Código del Indígena (*) que le despojaba de sus derechos y de sus bienes, el pueblo argelino ha padecido desde la invasión francesa de 1830 los peores abusos del despiadado sistema colonial. Todas sus revueltas de resistencia contra la ocupación fueron aplastadas en sangre. Pueblos enteros fueron extermiando y los combatienes argelinos fueron asesinados o deportados a islas lejanas, a Nueva Caledonia, sin esperanza de poder volver. El viaje se hacía en condiciones atroces, similares a las de los africanos a los que se transformaba en esclavos al servicio de los conquistadores de la “Nueva América”. Pocos de ellos sobrevivirían.

Mientras que se calculaba en unos tres millones de individuos la población argelina antes de la invasión del ocupante francés, en menos de veinte años el ejército colonial la redujo a un tercio. El ejército colonial multiplicó metódicamente carnicerías y masacres con el objetivo de diezmar a las poblaciones autóctonas y permitir a los colonos franceses instalarse en los territorios vaciados así de sus habitantes.

El infierno colonial prosiguió para varias generaciones de argelinos que vivieron secuestrados y martirizados en su propio país hasta la independencia en 1962. Sin embargo, obligada por el nuevo contexto internacional de la postguerra y los Acuerdos de Ginebra que prohibían toda forma de trabajos forzados, Francia había tenido que abolir en 1946 el Código del Indígena en vigor en sus colonias, pero no lo abolió en Argelia, donde el pueblo no debía acariciar en absoluto el sueño de la libertad. Para lograrlo y en nombre de la Argelia francesa, se desplegaron unos colosales medios de guerra sobre el suelo argelino y las filas del ejército colonial llegaron a alcanzar los 500.000 soldados para acabar con la revolución argelina, mientras que antes de que ésta se desencadenara había 40.000 soldados. Francia era muy consciente de que el destino del imperio colonial se jugaba en tierra argelina y se dotaba de los medios para quebrar esta Revolución e impedir que se lograra la independencia de esta colonia. Pero a pesar de todo su sofisticado arsenal militar, Francia no logrará detener el curso de la historia decidido por un pueblo ávido de libertad y el 5 de julio de 1962 Argelia celebró su independencia.

Y si se habla de Revolución ejemplar es simplemente porque la resistencia y el combate del pueblo argelino desbordaron rápidamente las fronteras del país para extenderse como ejemplo a otros pueblos colonizados, en particular sus vecinos africanos que sobrevivían bajo la dominación de los Imperios francés y británico. Se puede decir que la guerra de liberación llevada a cabo por el pueblo argelino contra la potencia armada francesa fue un elemento fundamental en el desmoronamiento del edificio colonial francés, cuya crueldad se mostraba al fin a ojos del mundo entero. Esta guerra duró siete años y causó más de un millón de víctimas argelinas. Fue una de las guerras más atroces a las que se entregó el ejército colonial francés, un ejército tanto más frustrado en cuanto que acababa de sufrir una amarga derrota en Indochina y, por lo tanto, estaba decidido a rehacerse sobre el cadáver argelino para que viviera el mito de la “Argelia francesa” (**) a costa de cualquier precio y de cualquier medio. Y entre estos medios hubo un amplio abanico de prácticas y de crímenes de guerra que iban desde quemar pueblos enteros con sus habitantes dentro, lo que dio la gloria a los generales franceses desde los primeros años de la colonización (el apogeo del imperio), hasta el sistema de la tortura metódica y bárbara de la década de 1960 que salpicó a los generales que tomaron el relevo y contribuyó al declive del imperio colonial (***). Sin embargo, toda esta cronología de crímenes no impidió a los padrinos del colonialismo rehabilitarlo por la vía oficial en Francia adoptando una ley (23 de febrero de 2005) que reconocía sus aspectos positivos, mientras que sus millones de víctimas siguen luchando para lograr que sea reconocido como un crimen contra la humanidad al mismo título que la esclavitud.

Tras 132 años de crueldad colonial el pueblo argelino podía impregnarse de la luz de la libertad. Por fin es amo de sí mismo y puede decidir su destino, al menos eso creía, ingenuamente. Desgraciadamente, las cosas se presentan de manera muy diferente y muy pronto los argelinos se verán confrontados a la adversidad del neocolonialismo. Incluso vencidas políticamente las potencias coloniales conservan una capacidad de hacer daño que resulta igual de fatal para las nuevas y frágiles independencias africanas. Su sistema colonial se transformó rápidamente en neocolnial y se desplegó como un pulpo, inflitrando sus tentáculos en las diversas esferas de los recién nacidos Estados y parasitando todos los proyectos de emancipación real. En el plano económico es donde las potencias coloniales decidieron causar estragos sobre todo creando el negocio de una cooperación completamente específica destinada esencialmente a garantizar sus intereses despojando poco a poco a las antiguas colonias de su soberanía. La evolución de la situación, tanto en Argelia como en el resto de África durante estos últimos cincuenta años “de independencia”, da testimonio de esta voluntad de las grandes potencias de conservar bajo su control las riquezas de estos países, sobre todo creando disensiones entre los grupos de la sociedad, favoreciendo tanto la inestabilidad y/o la mala gobernanza como la emergencia de dictaduras que garanticen sus intereses en detrimento de su pueblo. No hay más que pensar en estos dictadores criminales que reprimen a sus pueblos y los matan de hambre, particulamente en África, saquean sus países para edificar colosales fortunas personales y se pavonean por el mundo bajo las alas protectoras de las “madres patria” de antaño.

Sin embargo, este injusto statu quo que sustituyó al protectorado de hecho por las independencias no podía sobrevivir a las aspiraciones de las jóvenes generaciones de africanos que tienen sed de libertad y de democracia. Y en Argelia brama cada vez más fuerte la revuelta del pueblo al que se ha expoliado de los logros de su Revolución. En adelante la democracia ya no será un engaño en tierra argelina. Se hace posible gracias a la voluntad del pueblo y al contexto internacional que ha destituido el monopolio de las grandes potencias sobre los asuntos africanos y argelinos. La globalización ha permitido la emergencia de otras fuerzas económicas que favorecen de hecho el advenimiento de un nuevo orden mundial que dará paso al diálogo y la solidaridad entre los pueblos. Diversificando sus intercambios, sobre todo haciendo negocios con nuevos socios económicos como, por ejemplo, China, Brasil y otros, Argelia y varios países africanos podrán librarse del dominio de los padrinos del neocolonialismo y construir una cooperación sana que benefice por fin a su país. Sólo de este modo la independencia argelina, tal como la quiso su ejemplar Revolución, podrá levantar el vuelo y permitir al pueblo argelino vivir en democracia en un Estado de derecho conforme al espíritu de la Declaración del 1 de Noviembre de 1954 que refleja sus aspiraciones.

Zehira Houfani Berfas es escritora.

Notas de la traductora:

(*) El Código del Indígena (publicado 28 de junio de 1881) distinguía a los “ciudadanos” franceses (con orígenes europeos) de los “sujetos” franceses (los indígenas). Estos últimos estaban privados de la mayoría de sus derechos políticos.

(**) Según este mito, entre franceses y argelinos regiría una justicia imparcial.

(***) En relación a las torturas del ejército francés, véase la receinte publicacion en castellano de Henri Alleg, La Question, Hiru, 2010, libro en el que se relatan las torturas que padeció el periodista H. Alleg. El libro se publicó en Francia inmediatamente después de éstas y causó una verdadera conmoción en este país y en Europa.Ver también: http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=115862

Texto original en francés : http://www.mondialisation.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=21625

Traducido del francés para Rebelión por Beatriz Morales Bastos

Europa, indagar sin descanso para tratar de comprender…

November 7th, 2010 by Daniel Vanhove

“Los días pasan y se parecen”, se oye a veces. Y a escala de la Historia, las semanas, los meses y los pocos años que pasamos en ella no parecen representar gran cosa, si no nada… Así, podíamos preguntarnos cuánto pesa una vida frente a la humanidad, frente al mundo y frente a la eternidad. Sin embargo, a la escala humana que es nuestra medida (y que debe seguir siéndolo) cada día cuenta. Y tener proyectos sólo a muy largo plazo no equivale a nada si no somos capaces de asegurar lo cotidiano. Quizá también sea útil recordarnos este adagio: “Si tú no te ocupas de la política, que sepas que ella se ocupa de ti…”

Ahora bien, ¿a qué estamos asistiendo desde hace varios años si no es a una deriva lenta pero inexorable de una sociedad occidental cuyos políticos giran a la derecha cuando no es directamente y de manera cada vez más acusada a la extrema derecha?

Los últimos acontecimientos lo ilustran bien: en los Países Bajos la coalición que dirige el país se ha aliado con un partido profundamente racista y este país, citado como ejemplo por su tolerancia y apertura durante décadas, parace volver la espalada a su pasado; en Austria, feudo del ardor xenófobo de Jörg Haider, la extrema derecha obtiene cerca del 30% de los votos en las últimas elecciones en Viena; en Francia se imponen por la fuerza las medidas antisociales entre expulsiones de gitanos, declaraciones racistas de algunos ministros y apoyo a la política israelí de apartheid; en Italia Berlusconi, aliado con la Liga del Norte, impulsa las peores derivas a la derecha hasta llegar a cambiar las leyes para prevenirse de la justica; en Suiza el partido xenófobo UDC muestra su estigmatización sin complejos de los minaretes y de todo lo que se refiere al Islam; en los países nórdicos, que tienen, sin embargo, fama de estar bien orientados en sus políticas sociales, se ha abierto una brecha desde el escándalo de las caricaturas del profeta [Mahoma] en Dinamarca hasta las recientes elecciones en Suecia; en Alemania uno de los dirigentes del SPD (izquierda alemana, de la que después ha hecho que le expulsaran), Thilo Sarrazin, ha publicado un libro racista a propósito de la inmigración en el país y la canciller A. Merkel acaba de declarar que “ha fracasado totalmente el modelo multicultural”; sin olvidar Bélgica, cuyos vagabundeos nacionalistas flamencos podrían llevar al país a la implosión… Todos estos países tienen en común (y no es casual) la utilización de métodos policiales cuyas derivas en contra de sus propios ciudadanos, inaceptables para unas democracias dignas de tal nombre, podemos ver casi a diario.

Para aquellas personas que han sabido conservar la memoria del pasado el cuadro es cada vez más inquietante. Y conviene preguntarse por las razones de este fenómeno antes de encontrar las posibles respuestas. La primera constatación que me parece esencial recordar en esta reflexión es que en Europa del norte y del este una gran mayoría de la población había llegado a un nivel desahogo nunca alcanzado en la historia de nuestros países, hasta el punto de conocer, lo cual es de lo más normal, un fenómeno de inmigración intensiva ya que los habitantes de los países pobres estaban tan informados de nuestro nivel de vida por los medios de comunicación modernos que soñaban con escapar de sus precarias condiciones de vida para tener su parte de la tarta. Y que, lejos de responsabilizarnos, este mullido bienestar nos ha adormecido, unos demasiado ocupados en aumentar nuestro propio bienestar y otros en preservarlo. Basta con echar una mirada atrás para recrodar de dónde partieron nuestros padres y ver el camino recorrido…

Pero detengámonos en el ejemplo francés donde la respuesta popular ha adquirido en estos últimos meses un nuevo giro. ¿Qué no se ve, no se lee, no se oye hoy a propósito del presidente francés, autoproclamado monarca ilustrado, en una Francia que bajo su dirección parece, sin embargo, sumirse en las tinieblas? La euforia de la elección “people” de 2007 parece ya muy lejana y el pueblo francés parace despertar, por fin, con una fuerte resaca. ¿Cómo se ha podido producir esto si no es por un desinterés generalizado de la “cosa politica” que permitió acto seguido la elección de este insolente mundano? Durante años su principal preocupación de ciudadano ha sido la búsqueda de su pequeña felicidad personal en detrimento de todo espíritu de solidaridad, alimentado en ello por los medios de comunicación que no han dejado de promover una vida soñada, fantasiosa, al alcance de la mano y de cualquiera siempre que se extenúe para acceder a ella… El milagro de esta impostura quedaba resumido en el eslogan presidencial: ¡Trabajar más para ganar más! Y la manada se precipitó a ello, como los terneros a los que se lleva al matadero. El “cada uno a lo suyo” en una sociedad hedonista se ha convertido en modelo en detrimento de todo espíritu de solidaridad, de reconocimiento mutuo, de fraternidad… a excepción de algún telemaratón sobremediatizado, nuevo egocentrismo colectivo de libro, para hacer olvidar durante 24 horas el egoísmo que prevalece los demás 364 días del año… Y hoy, ¡catapum!, una derecha aliada al gran capital recorta los logros duramente adquiridos por nuestros mayores y estos logros son incluso discutidos por un poder al que ya no preocupa mentir, hacer trampa, camuflar y ocultar las realidades para que emerja el fruto de su ideología detestablemente fascista.

¿Debemos sorprendernos? Desgraciadamente creo que no. Y me doy cuenta de lo previsible que era todo esto desde el momento en que en vez de informar, de educar, de llevar al ciudadano a “la cosa politica”, nuestra sociedad del placer apoyada por los medios de comunicación al servicio del poder se afana en distraerla, en aturdirla y en contarle historias, unas veces bonitas, otras feas, pero historias. Se dice que al pueblo le encantan las historias. Y cada noche se le cuentan en la tele y cada semana en el cine. No hay más que ver lo indecentes que son los sueldos de las estrellas y el acontecimiento planetario que constituyen los festivales en los que les despliegan las alfombras rojas y se les distribuyen Oscars y Césars para darse cuenta de los sueños que para muchos hacen las veces de realidades… Lo mismo ocurre con el éxito de las religiones que se mantienen: unas historias para dormir despierto, tomadas no sólo por reales sino por La Verdad, preferentemente con L mayúscua y V mayúscula.

Y así, la información no es sino la sombra de sí misma y se desvía, se pervierte y se tergiversa en beneficio de las anécdotas, de las sagas y de los sucesos generalmente muy lejos de las realidades pero cercanos a la engañifa. Y ficción y realidad se mezclan para unos cerebros que se pueden malear a voluntad, alineados a los mitos, a los cuentos, a los fantasmas y no formados. La razón pierde sus derechos en beneficio de la emoción. En adelante todo se enuncia según la fibra emocional, con ayuda de una tecnología cada vez más eficiente, puntera en efectos especiales, y con el miedo como telón de fondo, para hacernos reaccionar con las tripas en vez de llevarnos a reflexionar. Y entonces, las consecuencias que debían cantar según unas promesas renovadas regularmente, suenan falsas y son tanto más difíciles de vivir…

Francia eligió a un nuevo rico despreciable, a un vulgar egocéntrico, pero que supo hacer vibrar a la nación por medio de sus discursos demagógicos y populistas. Y he aquí que ésta se despierta (pero un poco tarde, diría La Fontaine) y constata el resultado… Lejos de velar por el bienestar de la población, este Narciso engreido no tiene más preocupaciones que las que se refieren a su pequeña persona y a algunos periodicuchos que le siguen como su sombra tratando aquí y allá de limpiar sus torpezas.

Mientras tanto, la población ve multiplicarse cada día las disparidades y las injusticias. Y finalmente la revuelta a propósito de las pensiones no es sino la gota que colma el vaso. Cuantos intervienen en la cuestión reconocen que la edad media de los individuos aumenta con el tiempo y los progresos de la medicina. Y aceptan el hecho de que, al fin y al cabo, trabajar unos meses más no sería el problema. En cambio, lo que rechazan es la manera como se ha articulado la reforma de las pensiones, porque una vez más, en vez de borrar las injusticias, esta reforma mal gestionada (algo que ha reconocido hasta el gobierno, que anuncia ya que se deberían volver a discutir algunos puntos), las alimenta. Por consiguiente, los ciudadanos tienen razón en protestar y luchar contra esta enésima deriva de un poder que los desprecia en masa a beneficio de un puñado de personas. Y no es difícil comprender que ha sido la acumulación de los “excesos” del presidente y de sus vasallos lo que ha terminado por provocar el hartazgo al que estamos asistiendo. Las pancartas de las manifestaciones hablan por sí mismas. E incluso resulta extraño que no se haya manifestado antes esta ira porque no le faltan razones a no ser que se repita que se debe sin duda a una falta de conciencia política…

Para acabar, hay que decir también que nuestros países han llegado a este punto porque las actuales izquierdas se han mostrado incapaces de proponer alternativas verdaderamente creíbles. En su mayoría sólo tienen un discurso o bien radical, o bien utópico o incluso que se diferencia poco del de la derecha… Y esto debe enseñarnos lo siguiente: una cosa es cuestionar el sistema que no queremos y otra es tener la capacidad de sustituirlo por otro que sea suficientemente convincente y que se sostenga…

Así pues, sólo queda esta conclusión, que no deberíamos seguir volviendo la espalda a la cosa política sino, bien al contrario, es necesario que vuelva a ser asunto de cada ciudadano y ciudadana. Sólo en ese caso el sistema político que no nos conviene se podrá cambiar y volverse participativo y ya no representativo. Ya no tendremos que padecer las decisiones, podremos participar en ellas, activamente. Y se verá que, efectivamente, el futuro está en nuestras manos y que somos los artesanos de nuestro propio destino.

 

Texto original en francés: http://www.mondialisation.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=21658

Traducido del francés para Rebelión por Beatriz Morales Bastos


Daniel Vanhove
es observador civil y escritor. Su último libro es La Démocratie Mensonge, Ed. Marco Pietteur, colección
Oser Dire, 2008.

Lindsey Graham Makes The Case For Strike On Iran

November 7th, 2010 by Global Research

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia — A leading U.S. senator on defense issues says any military strike on Iran to stop its nuclear program must also strive to take out Iran’s military capability.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who sits on the Armed Services Committee and the Homeland Security Committee, said Saturday the U.S. should consider sinking the Iranian navy, destroying its air force and delivering a decisive blow to the Revolutionary Guard.

He says they should neuter the regime, destroy its ability to fight back and hope Iranians will take a chance to take back their government.

His remarks stunned many in the audience at the Halifax International Security forum.

Graham told the audience that newly elected conservatives would back “bold” action against Iran, reports Agence France Presse:

If President Barack Obama “decides to be tough with Iran beyond sanctions, I think he is going to feel a lot of Republican support for the idea that we cannot let Iran develop a nuclear weapon,” he told the Halifax International Security Forum.

“The last thing America wants is another military conflict, but the last thing the world needs is a nuclear-armed Iran… Containment is off the table.”

The Obama administration, through top military officials, has made it clear that all options are on the table.

Even Alan Greenspan is confirming what William Black, James Galbraith, Joseph Stiglitz, George Akerlof and many other economists and financial experts have been saying for a long time: the economy cannot recover if fraud is not prosecuted and if the big banks know that government will bail them out every time they get in trouble.

Specifically, Greenspan said today in a panel discussion at a Fed conference in Jekyll Island, Georgia (where the plans to form the Fed were originally hatched):

Banks operated with less capital because of an assumption they would be rescued by the government, he said. Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. wouldn’t have failed with adequate capital, he said. “Rampant fraud” was also an issue, he said.

Lack of Trust

“Fraud creates very considerable instability in competitive markets,” Greenspan said. “If you cannot trust your counterparties, it would not work.”

Greenspan is right.

As leading economist Anna Schwartz, co-author of the leading book on the Great Depression with Milton Friedman, told the Wall Street journal in 2008:

“The Fed … has gone about as if the problem is a shortage of liquidity. That is not the basic problem. The basic problem for the markets is that [uncertainty] that the balance sheets of financial firms are credible.”

So even though the Fed has flooded the credit markets with cash, spreads haven’t budged because banks don’t know who is still solvent and who is not. This uncertainty, says Ms. Schwartz, is “the basic problem in the credit market. Lending freezes up when lenders are uncertain that would-be borrowers have the resources to repay them. So to assume that the whole problem is inadequate liquidity bypasses the real issue.”

***

Today, the banks have a problem on the asset side of their ledgers — “all these exotic securities that the market does not know how to value.”

“Why are they ‘toxic’?” Ms. Schwartz asks. “They’re toxic because you cannot sell them, you don’t know what they’re worth, your balance sheet is not credible and the whole market freezes up. We don’t know whom to lend to because we don’t know who is sound. So if you could get rid of them, that would be an improvement.”

Similarly, Robert Reich wrote in 2008:

The underlying problem isn’t a liquidity problem. As I’ve noted elsewhere, the problem is that lenders and investors don’t trust they’ll get their money back because no one trusts that the numbers that purport to value securities are anything but wishful thinking. The trouble, in a nutshell, is that the financial entrepreneurship of recent years — the derivatives, credit default swaps, collateralized debt instruments, and so on — has undermined all notion of true value.

Many of these fancy instruments became popular over recent years precisely because they circumvented financial regulations, especially rules on banks’ capital adequacy. Big banks created all these off-balance-sheet vehicles because they allowed the big banks to carry less capital.

Nothing has changed since 2008 … the problem is still exactly the same.

The fraud committed by the giant banks – including mortgage fraud, encouraging appraisal fraud, fraud in representing the soundness of mortgages packaged together into mortgage backed securities, the rating of financial instruments, the numerous types of accounting fraud (repo 105s being just one example) – have continued. No big fish have been prosecuted.

No wonder no one trusts anyone else.

And the government has rewarded the looting by bailing out the bad actors again and again, either directly or through various backdoor schemes. ( And many economic writers believe that quantitative easing itself is just another bailout).

Even Alan Greenspan is calling out fraud and moral hazard. As I noted in April, Greenspan has been a a die-hard neoclassical or “free market” economist:

Alan Greenspan didn’t think regulators should even pay any attention to fraud:

He didn’t believe that fraud was something that needed to be enforced or was something that regulators should worry about, and he assumed she [Brooksley Born] probably did. And of course she did. I’ve never met a financial regulator who didn’t feel that fraud was part of their mission, but that was her introduction to Alan Greenspan.”

Indeed, as Born pointed out last year, Greenspan told her:

I don’t think there is any need for a law against fraud.

However, Greenspan started changing his tune somewhat in April, and his remarks today reinforce his apparent change of philosophy (a change which is as dramatic as the recantation by Judge Richard Posner – one of the leading proponents over the course of many decades for removing the reach of the law from the economy – of his anti-regulatory stance).

Admittedly, talk is cheap, and I’m not sure how much influence former Fed chairs like Greenspan and Volcker have on Bernanke or other sitting officials.

As I asked in April: “Fraud [is] finally being discussed in polite company … now where are the prosecutions?”

President Barack Obama arrived in Mumbai, India on November 6 and announced $10 billion in business deals with his host country which he claimed will contribute to 50,000 new American jobs. By some accounts half the transactions will be for India’s purchase of U.S. military equipment and half the new jobs will be created in the defense sector.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is completing a nearly two-week tour of the Asia-Pacific region which will culminate in meeting up with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen in Australia on November 8 to among other matters secure the use of the country’s military bases.

Gates will then visit Malaysia, “amid concern in the region over China’s growing economic and naval power” [1], to solidify military ties with the Southeast Asian nation as Obama moves to Indonesia, South Korea and Japan after his first visit to India on what will be his longest trip abroad since assuming the presidency.

Obama styles himself “America’s first Pacific president,” having been born in Hawaii and spending part of his childhood in Indonesia, and his administration has targeted Asia for the expansion of U.S. military influence and presence.

Several months ago a Chinese report warned that his visit to India was designed in large part to “secure $5 billion worth of arms sales,” a deal that “would make the US replace Russia as India’s biggest arms supplier” and “help India curb China’s rise.” [2]   

What he has accomplished is “a $5 billion sale for 10 of Boeing’s C-17 cargo planes” which represents “the sixth biggest arms deal in U.S. history.”

“This and the pending $60 billion deal with Saudi Arabia will certainly help to jump-start the economy, as they [arms sales] have for the past fifty years.” [3]

Job creation in the U.S. is an abysmal failure except in the military sector.

“Boeing said the C-17 deal with India will support 650 suppliers in 44 U.S. states and support the company’s own C-17 production facility in Long Beach, California, for an entire year.” [4]

Other deals included an $822 million contract for General Electric to provide 107 F414 engines for the Tejas lightweight multirole jet fighter being developed by India.

Rahul Bedi, Indian-based correspondent for Jane’s Defence Weekly, recently revealed that since U.S. sanctions enforced after India’s 1998 nuclear tests were lifted in 2001 “India has concluded and signed arms contract worth $12 billion. This includes maritime reconnaissance aircraft (Boeing P-81), missiles, artillery guns, radars and transport aircraft.

“India is also buying heavy lift transport for the air force (C-17s). An artillery radar contract was the first of its kind worth $142 million. Over the next years, India is going to go for repeat orders of C-17s [Globemaster IIIs], C-130J Super Hercules [military transport aircraft], etc.” and “these contracts are worth another 7 to 8 billion dollars.” [5]

The projected purchase of 126 multirole combat aircraft will account for another $10 billion and other contracts for assorted military helicopters are also being pursued by Washington. What is in question is $15 billion in weapons deals.

With already concluded and potential contracts, “we are talking about very, very big business. We are talking about the shifting of Indian military hardware, completely.

“Shifting from Russian components to American ones is a big shift. In the mid-90s, the Pentagon had assessed that by 2015 [it] would like India to source it’s 25 per cent of hardware. They seem to be well on their way in meeting their target.

“The profile of Indian military hardware is becoming US-oriented. This will bring definitive change in Indian military doctrine because it’s dependent on [imported] equipment.”

The U.S. is also pressuring the Indian government to sign several military-related agreements, including a Logistics Support Agreement which could prove “dangerous because the use of US ports by Indians will be zero while the US can or may use Indian bases frequently because of their presence in the region. So, technically speaking, if the US should have problem[s] with Iran or Pakistan they, under the agreement, may use our bases. Indian soil can become a lunching pad for refuelling or servicing.” [6]

Addressing the U.S.-India Business Council in Mumbai on November 6, Obama said: “There is no reason why India cannot be our top trading partner (from 12th position now)….I’m absolutely sure that the relationship between India and the US is going to be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century.” [7] That is, one of the decisive political-military alliances of the century.

In the words of Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary for Political Affairs, “The simple truth is that India’s rise, and its strength and progress on the global stage, is deeply in the strategic interest of the United States.” [8]
   
Obama will leave India on November 8, when Clinton, Gates and Mullen gather in Australia, and head to Indonesia where he will exploit his childhood history and then to the G-20 meeting in South Korea and the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit in Japan.

Indian troops are currently participating with U.S. airborne forces in this year’s annual Yudh Abhyas joint military exercises “involving airborne specialist operations in sub-zero temperatures in Alaska” of a sort that could be put to use along India’s Himalayan border with China in the event of an armed conflict like that which occurred in 1962.   

“The exercise will test the mettle of the Indian Army men in performing
operations in extreme cold conditions in Alaska where the temperature hovers around minus 20 degree Celsius.

“The exercise is designed to promote cooperation between the two militaries to promote interoperability through the combined military decision-making process, through battle tracking and manoeuvring forces, and exchange of tactics, techniques and procedures.” [9] Last year’s Yudh Abhyas, held in India, was the largest U.S.-Indian military exercise to date. [10]

From September 29-October 4 personnel from the Indian army, air force and navy trained with the U.S.’s 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit at the latter’s base in Okinawa in the East China Sea during the Habu Nag 2010 “bilateral amphibious training exercise between India and the United States, designed to increase interoperability during amphibious operations,” the first time “the Indian military had the chance to work alongside Marines in this situation.” [11]

“Okinawa is located close to China and has a significant US presence where several military bases are concentrated.” [12]

Clinton began her six-nation tour of the Asia-Pacific region on October 27 by visiting a military base in Hawaii, meeting with the head of U.S. Pacific Command and assuring the foreign minister of Japan that the U.S. is prepared to honor its military commitments under terms of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty in the event of further clashes between Japan and China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea. [13]

The next day U.S. and Japanese warships participated in an advanced ballistic missile interception test off the coast of Hawaii and on November 2 the U.S. launched the two-week Orient Shield 11 (XI) military exercise with 400 U.S. National Guard and 200 Japanese troops in the latter’s nation.

“Since World War II concluded, the United States has worked to build a better relationship with Japan. In 1960, the U.S. and Japan signed the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, a binding agreement for both countries to support each other from enemy attack.” As such, “United States Army Japan facilitates a two-week Orient Shield exercise in Japan each fall….”

In the words of the commander of the Japanese forces involved this year, “Our main goal is to enhance the interoperability between the U.S. and Japan.” [14]

Since Hillary Clinton spoke this July of U.S. intentions to intervene in territorial disputes in the South China Sea between China and its neighbors, the Pentagon has conducted three joint military exercises with South Korea, including in the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan/East Sea, and one with Vietnam in the South China Sea.

Last month the U.S. led a 14-nation Proliferation Security Initiative [15] naval exercise off the southern port city of Busan, “marking the first time for South Korea to host such a drill.” [16] In addition to the U.S. guided missile destroyer USS Lassen and two South Korean destroyers, a Japanese ship and personnel from Australia, Canada and France participated.

In late September China’s Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo warned that “A series of military drills initiated by the US and China’s neighboring countries showed that the US wants to increase its military presence in Asia.”

“The purpose of these military drills launched by the US is to target multiple countries including China, Russia and North Korea and to build up strategic ties with its allied countries like Japan and South Korea.” [17]

Secretary of State Clinton arrived in New Zealand on November 4. Like South Korea, Australia, Malaysia and now Japan (which has announced plans to deploy Self-Defense Forces medical personnel), New Zealand has troops serving in Afghanistan.

“New Zealand has participated in the U.S.-led campaign in Afghanistan, with 140 personnel carrying out reconstruction work in Bamiyan and 70 special forces troops in the country believed to be operating in Kabul.”

Her visit revived and expanded military ties between the U.S and New Zealand that had been dormant since 1986, “mark[ing] the end of a row over nuclear weapons dating back almost 25 years,” according to Prime Minister John Key. 

“U.S. and New Zealand troops could train together” again, the press reported, and two days before Clinton’s arrival the New Zealand government published a 100-page defense white paper, the first in 13 years, detailing “closer military relations with the United States, Australia, Britain and Canada, as well as enhanced front-line capabilities.

“On the ground the army will get more front-line soldiers and Special Air Service elite troops, while on the seas the Anzac frigates will be upgraded….Hillary Clinton arrived in New Zealand for a three-day visit, prompting one newspaper to suggest it was a perfect gift for her.” [18]

Though not of the same scope, the New Zealand white paper follows one by Australia last year that calls for a post-World War Two record $72 billion arms build-up. [19]

Clinton’s next stop was Australia, where Pentagon chief Gates had also arrived to “reinforce the U.S. commitment to the region with a longstanding U.S. ally and an increasingly close partner,” according to Defense Department Press Secretary Geoff Morrell.

Clinton, Gates and U.S. military chief Admiral Mullen will meet with Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith and Defense Minister John Faulkner on November 8 for the 25th anniversary Australia-United States Ministerial (AUSMIN) meeting.

The Pentagon spokesman added that “This year’s talks will cover a broad range of foreign policy, defense and strategic issues, including ongoing military operations in Afghanistan,” noting that “Australia is the largest non-NATO contributor to the International Security Assistance Force” in Afghanistan. [20]

Morrell emphasized the meeting would strengthen the U.S.’s alliance with Australia and would contribute to increased collaboration with regional partners to ensure “maritime security” in Asia. As a news source put it, “US officials often employ the phrase ‘maritime security’ to refer to concerns about China’s assertive stance over territorial rights in the Pacific, particularly in the South China Sea.” [21]

A local news report recently divulged that “Australia has agreed to a major escalation of military co-operation with the US,” including “more visits by American ships, aircraft and troops and their forces exercising here regularly….”

“Access to Australian Defence Force facilities will allow the US to step up its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region…as concern grows about China’s military expansion.”

Three “big announcements” on military cooperation will be made after the Australia-United States Ministerial consultations and “Increased numbers of US personnel in Australian facilities are expected within months, and the tempo of military exercises will be stepped up as that happens.” [22]

The military installations that the Pentagon will gain access to are expected to include army and air force bases at Townsville, the new Coonawarra naval base in Darwin, the Stirling naval base on Garden Island and the Bradshaw Field Training Area. 

“The Australian development is part of a new US strategy to step up its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region after reviews of strategic policy concluded that the Bush government’s attempts to project power from North America were not working.” [23]

When Clinton arrived in Melbourne on November 6 she “signalled increased military cooperation with Australia.”

“Easier use of Australian bases, more joint training programmes and more visits by ships, planes and troops are proposed. There could also be stockpiling of US military equipment and supplies at local bases, and a joint space tracking facility that would monitor missiles, satellites and space junk.”

In her own words: “I think it’s going to be an issue of discussion at AUSMIN (Australia-US ministerial level talks Monday) about the cooperation on a range of matters, including space, cyber-security and so much else.”

New Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard confirmed that her administration would “welcome the United States making greater use of our ports and our training facilities, our test-firing ranges.” [24]

The focus of U.S. military strategy has shifted from Europe, subjugated through NATO expansion, and Africa, subordinated under U.S. Africa Command, to Asia. An Asia-Pacific analogue of NATO and AFRICOM is being expanded by the day.

Notes

1) Radio Netherlands, November 4, 2010
2) Global Times, July 13, 2010
   http://world.globaltimes.cn/asia-pacific/2010-07/550830.html
3) Anika Anand, The Real Reason For Obama’s Trip To India: The Sixth Biggest
   Arms Deal In U.S. History
   Business Insider, November 6, 2010
   http://www.businessinsider.com/top-10-us-arms-deals-in-history-2010-11
4) CNN, November 6, 2010
5) Sheela Bhatt, As Obama arrives, US bids for heavy arms business
   Rediff News, November 5, 2010
   http://news.rediff.com/special/2010/nov/05/obama-visit-special-as-arrives-us-bids-for-heavy-arms-business.htm
6) Ibid
7) Press Trust of India, November 6, 2010
8) CNN, November 6, 2010
9) Press Trust of India, November 4, 2010
10) India: U.S. Completes Global Military Structure
    Stop NATO, September 10, 2010
    http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/09/10/india-u-s-completes-global-military-structure
11) United States Marine Corps, October 5, 2010
12) Indian Express, September 22, 2010
13) U.S. Supports Japan, Confronts China And Russia Over Island Disputes
    Stop NATO, November 4, 2010
    http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/11/04/u-s-supports-japan-confronts-china-and-russia-over-island-disputes
14) U.S. Army Japan, November 2, 2010
15) Proliferation Security Initiative And U.S. 1,000-Ship Navy: Control Of
    World’s Oceans, Prelude To War
    Stop NATO, January 29, 2009
    http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/08/26/proliferation-security-initiative-and-us-1000-ship-navy-control-of-worlds-oceans-prelude-to-war
16) Korea Herald, October 13, 2010
17) Global Times, September 26, 2010
18) United Press International, November 4, 2010
19) Australian Military Buildup And The Rise Of Asian NATO
    Stop NATO, May 6, 2009
    http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/08/28/australian-military-buildup-and-the-rise-of-asian-nato
20) U.S. Department of Defense, November 4, 2010
21) Radio Netherlands, November 4, 2010
22) Australian Associated Press, November 6, 2010
23) Ibid
    U.S. Marshals Military Might To Challenge Asian Century
    Stop NATO, August 21, 2010
    http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/08/21/u-s-marshals-military-might-to-challenge-asian-century
24) Deutsche Presse-Agentur, November 6, 2010

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Al Qaeda in Yemen is “Western-made”

November 7th, 2010 by Global Research

Yemeni Prime Minister Ali Muhammed al-Mujawar said Saturday that al-Qaida was originally a Western-made group and was never created by his country, Xinhua reported according to the state-run Saba news agency.

The prime minister’s remarks were made during a meeting in the capital Sanaa with ambassadors of Asian and African countries to Yemen to clarify Yemen’s stance against those who propagated negative impacts on Yemen over the bomb parcels shipped to the United States last week.

“Al-Qaida was essentially a Western-made group and was never created by Yemen, it is alleged by those who seek to propagate this view internationally about Yemen,” Saba quoted Mujawar as saying.

The Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) on Friday claimed responsibility for the bomb parcels that targeted the United States.

It also said it was behind downing a UPS cargo plane by exploding one of its experimental bomb packages aboard the plane immediately after it took off from Dubai International Airport on Sep. 3, 2010.

According to Saba, Mujawar called on the international community to support his government’s continuing efforts to fight al-Qaida regional wing.

Yemen has been exerting efforts to curb terrorist groups, which raised international security concerns again after two parcel bombs were found on U.S.-bound cargo flights from the Arabian peninsula country last week.

US deploys Predator drones in Yemen: report

November 7th, 2010 by Global Research

The administration of President Barack Obama has deployed unmanned Predator drones in Yemen to hunt for Al-Qaeda operatives who are becoming increasingly active in that Arab country, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

But citing unnamed senior US officials, the newspaper said US military and intelligence operatives have not fired missiles from these aircraft because they lack solid intelligence on the militants’ whereabouts.
….
US officials said the Predators have been patrolling the skies over Yemen for several months in search of leaders and operatives of Al-Qaeda, the report said.

But after a series of attacks by Yemeni forces and US cruise missiles earlier this year, Yemeni Al-Qaeda leaders “went to ground,” The Post quotes a senior Obama administration official as saying.

Yemeni officials said they had deep reservations about weapons they said could prove counterproductive, the paper noted.

“Why gain enemies right now?” The Post quotes Mohammed Abdulahoum, a senior Yemeni official, as saying. “Americans are not rejected in Yemen; the West is respected. Why waste all this for one or two strikes when you don’t know who you’re striking?”

Instead, Yemen has asked the United States to speed up shipment of promised helicopters and other military equipment, the report said.

A US defense official said plans were being made to nearly double military aid, to 250 million dollars, in 2011, The Post noted.

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in Australia Saturday that the US military was looking at how to bolster Yemen’s security forces amid growing concern over Al-Qaeda’s foothold in the country.

“I think in terms of training and so on there are things that we can do to help the Yemenis and strengthen their capabilities,” Gates told reporters on his plane before flying in to Melbourne.

“I think it’s fair to say we’re exploring with them a variety of possibilities along those lines,” he said.

Gates offered no details about what kind of assistance was on the horizon, but said: “The primary focus would be on training.”

“Under a paper money system, a determined government can always generate higher spending and hence positive inflation.”Ben Bernanke, future Fed Chairman (in 2002)

 “My thesis here is that cooperation between the monetary and fiscal authorities in Japan could help solve the problems that each policymaker faces on its own. Consider for example a tax cut for households and businesses that is explicitly coupled with incremental BOJ purchases of government debt – so that the tax cut is in effect financed by money creation. Moreover, assume that the Bank of Japan has made a commitment, by announcing a price-level target, to reflate the economy, so that much or all of the increase in the money stock is viewed as permanent.”Ben Bernanke, future Fed Chairman (in 2002)

 “The Fed, in effect, is telling the markets not to worry about our fiscal deficits, it will be the buyer of first and perhaps last resort. There is no need – as with Charles Ponzi – to find an increasing amount of future gullibles, they will just write the check themselves. I ask you: Has there ever been a Ponzi scheme so brazen? There has not.” Bill Gross, PIMCO’s managing director

On Wednesday, November 3rd, the Bernanke Fed announced that it stands ready to resume money printing to stimulate the economy through quantitative money easing, an euphemism for printing more dollars. Indeed, it intends to buy $600-billion of longer-term Treasury securities until the end of the second quarter of 2011, plus some $300 billion of reinvestments, on top of the some $1.75 trillion of various types of securities, many of which were mortgage backed securities, that it has added in 2009 to its balance sheet, currently standing at a total of $2.3 trillion. There could even be additional increases in newly printed money as the Fed intends to “regularly review and adjust the program as needed to best foster maximum employment and price stability.”

After the election of fiscal conservatives on November 2nd, it seems that printing money is the only instrument left for the Obama administration to stimulate the economy. I fail to see, however, what is “conservative” about that. Actively debasing a currency to stimulate an economy used to be a Third-World economic recipe, —A recipe for disaster. Now, the United States government feels that is the only way to get out of the economic doldrums.

But U.S. economic problems are essentially structural in nature, and are due to a bad housing mortgage policy, a bad industrial policy, a bad financial policy, a bad fiscal policy, a bad foreign investment policy, too much entitlement debt, severe demographic problems related to the aging baby-boomers, and to very costly wars abroad. Relying exclusively on monetary quick fixes to correct them misses the mark and may have serious unintended negative consequences down the road.

In fact, it is likely that in the long run, this extreme monetary policy risks exacerbating rather than correcting the problems. Economic structural problems cannot be corrected with monetary means. They rather require real economic solutions. That means correcting the housing mortgage mess and devising an industrial strategy, a fiscal strategy, and an investment strategy that can put the economy back on its tracks of economic growth.

But, for better or worse, the Federal Reserve Board (Fed) seems to be the only branch of the U.S. government left that can still function properly, i.e. that is not caught in a permanent political gridlock. As a consequence, for the time being at least, bankers are in charge of the U.S. economy. Since they are the ones who created many of the current problems, this is not very reassuring.

Let’s remind ourselves that the Fed is a semi-public, semi-private organization that has a long history of creating financial asset price bubbles in the U.S and around the world, essentially because the U.S. dollar is an international key-currency widely used around the world and is an important part of other central banks’ official reserves.

Thus, the real danger is that the Fed will again overdo it and create unmanageable financial and monetary bubbles in the coming years. —It did it in the past. It did it in the late 1960′s and early ’70s, and we witnessed the same scenario unfolding with the Greenspan Fed in the late 1990s, when excessive easy money helped inflate the Internet and tech stock market bubble. We saw this again in the early 2000s, when easy Fed money helped inflate the housing bubble. And now, we’re seeing it again with the Bernanke Fed. As a general rule, a central bank should not push the monetary gas pedal to the floor and be obliged to slam on the monetary brakes later, thus placing the real economy on a roller-coaster of booms and busts. That is not the way to run a large economy.

But because of the circumstances, the Fed may be at it again. This time it is busy creating a massive bond bubble, some important currency misalignments and a massive gold and commodity price bubble. We should also not forget that abnormally low interest rates and lower bond yields increase the present value of pension liabilities of most defined benefit pension plans.

Therefore, I would not be surprised to see a pension crisis developing in the coming years under the current Fed monetary policy. Of course, all of these bubbles are interrelated but when they come crashing down, four or five years down the road, maybe sooner, the economy may then be in worse shape than it is today. My most likely scenario is for the Fed to keep the monetary gas pedal way down until the 2012 election, and then slam on the monetary brakes thereafter to salvage what will be left of the imperial dollar.

If so, this could be a partial repeat of Japan’s experience in mismanaging its economy in the early 1990′s until 2000, a period known as the lost decade.

The current Fed’s monetary policy is to flood financial markets with liquidity, i.e. newly created dollars, and, in the process, devalue the U.S. dollar, spur American exports and prevent deflationary expectations from taking hold and from making already high debt loads even heavier. For this, the Fed has been engaged since 2009 in round after round of money creation and interest rate reductions to the point of pushing short-term monetary rates close to zero and keeping short-term real rates negative. But if the economy is in a liquidity trap, as it is fair to assume it is, although a central bank can print all the money it wants, this is unlikely to stimulate the real economy for very long. —This is like pushing on a string. Printing money, if it is an emergency temporary measure, can help mitigate the effect of having too much debt and debt-service costs relative to income, as is the case today with many debtors in a debt liquidation mode. However, if this becomes a feature of monetary policy for too long, it can have disastrous consequences.

In general, it can be said that the Fed can manipulate short term interest rates by artificially increasing demand for short term securities, but inflation expectations are a big component of long term interest rates and are much less influenced by the Fed. Therefore, if the Fed’s intention of printing large amounts of new money raises fears of future inflation, long term interest rates may rise rather than fall, and this is bound to hurt long-term productive investments.

Moreover, make no mistake, with globalized financial markets, a large chunk of the newly created dollars is flowing out of the United States and is invested in higher interest rate countries, pushing the dollar further down and these countries’ currencies further up. Of course, some of the newly created money will immediately find its way in the stock market, but there is no certainty that this will induce already stretched banks to increase their banking loans to businesses.

Another consequence is this: The current outflow of U.S. dollars helps keep the dollar exchange rate low, but when the Fed is forced to aggressively raise interest rates, as it will inevitably be forced to do later on, the reverse will happen and the U.S. dollar will likely overshoot and then become overvalued. This is the case today with the Japanese yen which became unduly strong when the Japanese carry trade (too much cheap money invested abroad returns home) collapsed.

What counts for most people, however, is that the Fed’s zero-interest rate policy has not cured the structural housing mortgage crisis, since home foreclosures are still very high. The Fed now places most of its hopes on a currency devaluation, which is the old trick of the “beggar thy neighbor” policy, i.e. trying to export one country’s unemployment to its trading partners by devaluating the currency. This was a form of protectionism much relied upon during the 1929-39 Great Depression. This may work for a while, at least as long as other countries can absorb American exports without launching their own money printing process in order to prevent an appreciation of their currencies.

Indeed, is it likely that countries which see their currencies being revalued by the Fed will remain passive? The Fed is implicitly making the bet that these countries will not retaliate, and that the international dollar-based currency system will remain intact. But for how long? Sooner or later, some central banks around the world will have no choice but to impose capital controls in order to slow down the inflow of unwanted outside money and the onslaught of imported inflation, and prevent their exchanges rates from rising too high too fast. If they do, the entire process of economic globalization may begin to unravel.

Meanwhile, foreign central banks, for example, could accelerate their rush to dump the U.S dollar and to accumulate gold and other more stable currencies such as the euro, the Swiss franc, the British pound, the Canadian dollar and the Australian dollar. China has already begun to do just that. The share of dollar official reserves would then decline from about 60 percent presently to perhaps less than 50 percent. That may signal the beginning of the end for the “imperial dollar” which has dominated the international monetary system since the Bretton Woods conference of 1944.

This is to be followed closely.

Rodrigue Tremblay is professor emeritus of economics at the University of Montreal and can be reached at [email protected]. He is the author of the book “The Code for Global Ethics” at: www.TheCodeForGlobalEthics.com/

The book “The Code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles”, by Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay, prefaced by Dr. Paul Kurtz, has just been released by Prometheus Books.:
www.TheCodeForGlobalEthics.com/

See it on Amazon USA:
See it on Amazon Canada:
See it on Amazon UK:
or, in Australia at:
The French version of the book is also now available. See:
www.lecodepouruneethiqueglobale.com/
or on Amazon Canada

Documents whose existence were denied by the Israeli government for over a year have been released after a legal battle led by Israeli human rights group Gisha. The documents reveal a deliberate policy by the Israeli government in which the dietary needs for the population of Gaza are chillingly calculated, and the amounts of food let in by the Israeli government measured to remain just enough to keep the population alive at a near-starvation level. This documents the statement made by a number of Israeli officials that they are “putting the people of Gaza on a diet”.

Calculation sheet from newly-released documents (image from Gisha)
Calculation sheet from newly-released documents (image from Gisha)
 

In 2007, when Israel began its full siege on Gaza, Dov Weisglass, adviser to then Prime-Minister Ehud Olmert, stated clearly, “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.” The documents now released contain equations used by the Israeli government to calculate the exact amounts of food, fuel and other necessities needed to do exactly that.

The documents are even more disturbing, say human rights activists, when one considers the fact that close to half of the people of Gaza are children under the age of eighteen. This means that Israel has deliberately forced the undernourishment of hundreds of thousands of children in direct violation of international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention.

This release of documents also severely undermines Israel’s oft-made claim that the siege is “for security reasons”, as it documents a deliberate and systematic policy of collective punishment of the entire population of Gaza.

Gisha’s director said, in relation to the release of documents, “Israel banned glucose for biscuits and the fuel needed for regular supply of electricity – paralyzing normal life in Gaza and impairing the moral character of the State of Israel. I am sorry to say that major elements of this policy are still in place.”

In its statement accompanying the release of the documents, Gisha wrote:

The documents reveal that the state approved “a policy of deliberate reduction” for basic goods in the Gaza Strip (section h.4, page 5*). Thus, for example, Israel restricted the supply of fuel needed for the power plant, disrupting the supply of electricity and water. The state set a “lower warning line” (section g.2, page 5) to give advance warning of expected shortages in a particular item, but at the same time approved ignoring that warning, if the good in question was subject to a policy of “deliberate reduction”. Moreover, the state set an “upper red line” above which even basic humanitarian items could be blocked, even if they were in demand (section g.1, page 5). The state claimed in a cover letter to Gisha that in practice, it had not authorized reduction of “basic goods” below the “lower warning line”, but it did not define what these “basic goods” were.

Commentator Richard Silverstein wrote: “In reviewing the list of permitted items for import, you come to realize that these are the only items allowed. In other words, if an item is not on the list, it’s prohibited. So, for example, here is the list of permitted spices: Black pepper, soup powder, hyssop, sesame. cinnamon, anise, babuna (chamomile), sage. Sorry, cumin, basil, bay leaf, allspice, carraway, cardamon, chiles, chives, cilantro, cloves, garlic, sesame, tamarind, thyme, oregano, cayenne. Not on the list. You’re not a spice Palestinians need according to some IDF dunderhead. And tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, toys, glassware, paint, and shoes? You can forget about them too. Luxuries all, or else security threats.”

Despite the disturbing nature of the documents, which show a calculated policy of deliberate undernourishment of an entire population, no major media organizations have reported the story.

The full text of the released documents, and the original Freedom of Information Act request filed by Gisha, can be found on Gisha’s website. See below for the Gisha Report

Due to Gisha’s Petition: Israel Reveals Documents related to the Gaza Closure Policy

Legal Center for Freedom of Movement

http://www.gisha.org/index.php?intLanguage=2&intItemId=1904&intSiteSN=113

Thursday, October 21, 2010: After one and a half years in which Israel at first denied their existence and then claimed that revealing them would harm “state security”, the State of Israel released three documents that outline its policy for permitting transfer of goods into the Gaza Strip prior to the May 31 flotilla incident. The documents were released due to a Freedom of Information Act petition submitted by Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement in the Tel Aviv District Court, in which Gisha demanded transparency regarding the Gaza closure policy. Israel still refuses to release the current documents governing the closure policy as amended after the flotilla incident.

“Policy of Deliberate Reduction” The documents reveal that the state approved “a policy of deliberate reduction” for basic goods in the Gaza Strip (section h.4, page 5*). Thus, for example, Israel restricted the supply of fuel needed for the power plant, disrupting the supply of electricity and water. The state set a “lower warning line” (section g.2, page 5) to give advance warning of expected shortages in a particular item, but at the same time approved ignoring that warning, if the good in question was subject to a policy of “deliberate reduction”. Moreover, the state set an “upper red line” above which even basic humanitarian items could be blocked, even if they were in demand (section g.1, page 5). The state claimed in a cover letter to Gisha that in practice, it had not authorized reduction of “basic goods” below the “lower warning line”, but it did not define what these “basic goods” were (page 2).

“Luxuries” denied for Gaza Strip residents In violation of international law, which allows Israel to restrict the passage of goods only for concrete security reasons, the decision whether to permit or prohibit an item was also based on “the good’s public perception” and “whether it is viewed as a luxury” (section c.b, page 16). In other words, items characterized as “luxury” items would be banned – even if they posed no security threat, and even if they were needed. Thus, items such as chocolate and paper were not on the “permitted” list. In addition, officials were to consider “sensitivity to the needs of the international community”.

Ban on Reconstructing Gaza Although government officials have claimed that they will permit the rehabilitation of Gaza, the documents reveal that Israel treated rehabilitation and development of the Gaza Strip as a negative factor in determining whether to allow an item to enter; goods “of a rehabilitative character” required special permission (section g, page 16). Thus, international organizations and Western governments did not receive permits to transfer building materials into Gaza for schools and homes.

Secret List of Goods The procedures determine that the list of permitted goods “will not be released to those not specified!!” (emphasis in original) (section j, page 17), ignoring the fact that without transparency, merchants in Gaza could not know what they were permitted to purchase. The list itemized permitted goods only. Items not on the list – cumin, for example – would require a special procedure for approval, irrespective of any security consideration, at the end of which it would be decided whether to let it in or not.

Calculation of product inventory The documents contain a series of formulas created by the Defense Ministry to compute product inventory (pages 8-10). The calculations are presumed to allow COGAT to measure what is called the “length of breath” (section i, page 8). The formula states that if you divide the inventory in the Strip by the daily consumption needs of residents, you will get the number of days it will take for residents of Gaza to run out of that basic product, or in other words, until their “length of breath” will run out.

According to Gisha Director Sari Bashi: “Instead of considering security concerns, on the one hand, and the rights and needs of civilians living in Gaza, on the other, Israel banned glucose for biscuits and the fuel needed for regular supply of electricity – paralyzing normal life in Gaza and impairing the moral character of the State of Israel. I am sorry to say that major elements of this policy are still in place”.

*Pagination is counted in the order the documents were received by the Ministry of Defense.

For translated excerpts of the state’s response initially refusing to reveal the documents for “security reasons”, click here.
 
To view the documents revealed by the state (translated from the original Hebrew into English), click here.
 
To view the FOIA petition submitted by Gisha (in Hebrew), click here.

In one of the most striking political comebacks in U.S. history, the Republican Party marched in lockstep to victory in the midterm elections and seized control of the House of Representatives and state houses across the nation. Republicans made a battle plan, they disciplined their troops, and the corporations paid for the ammunition.

Unless the Democrats do something drastically differently during the next two years, the rich and powerful will cement their victory around the body of democracy and dump the barrel of freedom into the deep dark waters of cash politics where it will be lost forever.

Looking across the piles of dead and wounded on the political battlefield at the vast hoard of mercenaries gathering to administer the coup de gra e to representative democracy, paid for by unlimited secret corporate financing, there is only one reserve force with the motivation, power and loyalty to defeat the army of fascism – those who have most to lose – the youth of America.

Pumped Up in 2008

The elections of 2004, 2006 and 2008 introduced the Millennial Generation, those born between 1977 and 1998, to the U.S. political arena. The concentrated votes of these confident and mostly liberal young people helped the Democrats achieve a Congressional majority in 2006 and lifted Barack Obama over the top in 2008.

Fueled by aggressive efforts to increase the turnout of young voters from historic lows, more than half, as many as 24 million, Millennials cast their ballots in the 2008 election, and more than two out of three voted for Obama. With older Americans splitting their votes between the two candidates, the youth vote made a significant political difference in those states where the popular vote was close.
Believing in a progressive domestic social agenda and sharing a deep concern for the environment, the Millennials had high hopes for the future of their country under an Obama administration. Unfortunately, the “change we can believe in” and the “change we need” turned out to be chump change in the currency of political deal making.

Ignored in 2009

Watching as the government continued to bail out Wall Street, suppress constitutional rights, and encourage deep ocean oil drilling, young people couldn’t help but notice the compromises made by their president that favored the rich and powerful over the interests of students and entry-level workers.

The economy sucked, jobs evaporated, college tuition increased, coal slurry continued to spill into mountain streams, and oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico.

Youthful enthusiasm was dampened by the repeated failures of President Obama and the Democratic Party to “change the way Washington works.” Although more than half of Millennials placed the blame on special interests and Obama’s political opponents, one third of the young people came to blame Obama himself for failing to deliver on his promises.

The effects of their disappointment was quickly felt as young people reduced their political participation. Youth voting in the 2009 gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey was only 17 and 19%, and only 15% of Massachusetts young people turned out to vote in the special senatorial election in January 2010, resulting in the defeat of Democrat Martha Coakley.

Disenchanted in 2010

During the year following his inauguration, President Obama’s approval rates fell from 73 to 57% among young people, and a July 2010 poll found him trailing a “generic Republican” among 18- to 34-year-olds.

Young people have been especially hard hit by the failing economy, yet they were generally ignored by most Congressional candidates in the 2010 election cycle. As Heather Smith of Rock the Vote said, “These young people are willing to participate and be active by nature, but they are not going to show up unless they are invited.”

Leading up to last week’s election, an October McClatchy-Marist Poll found that only 11% of registered voters under 30 were “very enthusiastic” about voting, compared to 48% of voters over 60 years of age. An earlier Rock the Vote poll in September found 34% of young voters favoring Democrats, 28% wanting a Republican takeover, but significantly, 36% believed it did not matter which party controls Congress.

An estimated 20.4% of young people voted on November 2, which is about a million fewer than in 2006 and was less than half of those who voted in the 2008 presidential election. However, there was an increase in voting from 2006 levels in those states targeted by the Vote Again 2010 coalition, which facilitated voter outreach and targeted advertising to young people.

Although there were some desertions, the young people who did vote demonstrated far greater loyalty than other categories with only +5% switching their party vote to Republicans.

Motivated in 2011

Concerned about their progressive domestic social agenda and worried for the well being of themselves, their families, and their friends, the Millennials have good reason to fear the 112th Congress.

The corporate artillery is lined up, and the guns are locked and loaded with high explosive shells. Here are the announced targets: campaign finance reform; consumer protection laws, expiration of tax cuts for the wealthy; environmental controls on businesses; worker’s ability to organize unions; health care reform; unemployment insurance; social security and Medicare.

As Samuel Johnson famously said, “Nothing focuses the mind like a hanging.” The young people of America are being hung out to dry politically and they will continue to flap in the wind as the new Congress rolls back even the modest gains of the Obama administration.

Mobilized in 2012

First, an understanding and then a plan.

The progressive attitudes of the Millennials are more representative of the American people than the election indicates. For nearly two decades, prior to 2008, “Voters have become more supportive of government spending and more sympathetic toward the poor. They were increasingly secular and increasingly likely to favor gay marriage. They were more worried about climate change and more inclined to support universal health care. And not surprisingly, they were more and more likely to identify as Democrats.”

Since 2008, fear of economic collapse has caused people to become more conservative; however, the 2010 election does not mean that the majority of the people have changed their political attitudes. Instead, the Tea Party movement demonstrates that “the entire political system has become disconnected from the practical needs and values of Americans, suggesting that its voting power stemmed as much from a populist sense of outrage in a tough economic moment as it did from ideology.”

Many of the “Blue Dog Democrats” were just voted out of office and replaced with Republicans, which means that the Democratic caucus of the new Congress will be more liberal than the current one. It does not mean that the Democrats have suddenly grown a spine; it only means that, if they can find the courage to stand firm and not give in to pressure, the American public will respect and support their efforts.

A recent poll found that most voters do not support a freeze on all government spending, only on the part going to national security, and a majority do not want to permanently extend the Bush tax cuts on incomes greater than $250,000 a year.

Another poll revealed that a majority of voters do not want to raise the social security retirement age or reduce benefits for future retirees, nor do they want to repeal the new health care law.
So, what should President Obama and the Democratic Party do?

First, the President should stop running for reelection. It is not all about him! Obama is further ahead in the polls than Reagan was at the same point. He should just chill out and do what is right and good for workers, the middle class and small business owners, rather than for the rich and powerful. If the President is incapable of such leadership, it will be no great loss if he is defeated in 2008. He will have been just another elephant trying to fit into a donkey suit.

In the meantime, Congressional Democrats should avoid compromising the principles of their constituencies and aggressively represent those who placed them in office. If they can’t do that, they do not warrant the trust placed in them and they too deserve to be defeated in 2008.

Finally, the Democratic Party should recognize that young voters are the best hope for the future of democracy. Democrats should take the advice of Rock the Vote’s Heather Smith and “invite young people to the party.”
The Millennials are loyal, progressive and inclusive, and they are prepared to work for what they believe in.

Most important, with their ability to instantly communicate with each other using the Internet, text messaging and social networks, young people are less vulnerable to being manipulated by the corporate media.

Corporations and the wealthy will continue to secretly pour millions of dollars into negative campaigns for the next election to cement their power. The Democratic Party and the institutions and foundations that support the progressive agenda must respond with a powerful positive campaign that not only motivates and turns out the youth vote, but one that makes use of their abilities to connect with others.

The reserve force of young voters is ready and willing to engage in the battle for freedom and their weapons of modern communication are in place; all they need is leadership.

A failure to provide them direction, here and now, will mean the death of democracy – not just here in the United States, but everywhere political power is dedicated to greed rather than need.

William John Cox is a retired prosecutor and public interest lawyer, author and political activist. His efforts to promote a peaceful political evolution can be found at VotersEvolt.com, his writings are collected at WilliamJohnCox.com and he can be contacted at [email protected].

Global Research Editor’s Note

Dr. Stephen Frost contacted Global Research and informed us regarding The British media’s coverup pertaining to the details of Dr. David Kelly’s death.

We are publishing below the letter which the Sunday Telegraph refused to publish. This letter was written in response to an article by Andrew Gilligan.

Who is Andrew Gilligan, the Sunday Telegraph journalist who states that “the case is closed” and that “the details of Dr David Kelly’s death, made public last week, should provide a final answer to the conspiracy theorists”.

Is Andrew Gilligan in a conflict of interest?  He is reporting on a case in which he was personally implicated.

It was Gilligan’s 2003 report on the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme which triggered the David Kelly affair.

In this report Gilligan quotes “a source”  “who believes Downing Street wanted the September intelligence dossier ‘sexed up’” to provide a justification for waging war on Iraq. That “source” was Dr. David Kelly, as confirmed by Kelly himself in a written note to his manager Bryan Wells, admitting he met Andrew Gilligan on 22 May 2003.

A Ministry of Defence statement subsequently refered to Kelly as “an unnamed official”, who met Andrew Gilligan.

“On 9 July 2003 Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, writes to Gavyn Davies, then BBC chairman, asking him to confirm whether Kelly is the ‘source’. The BBC refuses. MoD confirms to journalists that Kelly is the official involved.

On 17 July at 3pm, Kelly leaves home, telling his wife he is going for a walk. When he fails to return home by 11.45pm, his family contacts the police. He is found dead in the woods near his home the following morning. 20 July The BBC issues a statement after talking to Kelly’s family, naming him as the source of Gilligan’s report.” ( Will Lee, The Guardian, 2004).

When the Hutton report was published, the government of Tony Blair was exonerated, while the BBC was heavily criticised, implying the involvement of Andrew Gilligan, the author of the October 24, 2010 article in Annex Part I below entitled: David Kelly: case closed.


Michel Chossudovsky, November 5, 2010

A letter (see below) was submitted to the Sunday Telegraph in response to Andrew Gilligan’s article re Dr David Kelly published on 24 October 2010 in the same newspaper (see ANNEX 1).  After much prompting and discussion, the Sunday Telegraph finally agreed to publish a decimated version of our letter (see ANNEX 2).  This in our view constitutes refusal or neglect to publish a reasonable and accurate response to Andrew Gilligan’s article.  The right of reply, enshrined in editorial guidelines, has been denied to us.   

Dr. Stephen Frost, November 5, 2010

Dear Sir,

Andrew Gilligan’s article of 24 October has as its headline “David Kelly inquest: Case closed” followed by “The details of Dr David Kelly’s death, made public last week, should provide a final answer to the conspiracy theorists, says Andrew Gilligan”

The truth is that the case is far from closed, not least perhaps because no inquest has taken place.  The continued refusal or neglect to hold an inquest into this important death, which is required by the laws of this country and of Europe, constitutes a blatant subversion of due process of the law.

In January of this year the well known London lawyers Leigh Day & Co., representing five doctors, formally requested that the Ministry of Justice allow the doctors and lawyers sight of all the medical and scientific documents/evidence relating to Dr David Kelly’s death which had been secretly classified (at some time unknown in 2004/2005) for 70 years following the publication of the Hutton Report.  Despite repeated questions, both before and after the General Election, the Ministry of Justice has been unable to tell us the exact date on which the documents were classified, nor indeed to enlighten us as to the legal basis for classifying the documents, nor for continuing to keep them secret.  It is strongly suspected that no such legal basis exists.

On 22 October 2010 our lawyers finally received a reply from Ken Clarke, Secretary of State for Justice, in which he sought to justify not granting our request for sight of all the medical and scientific documents relating to the death.  He also informed us that he intended to publish the post-mortem report and the toxicology report on the Internet that very same day.  In a long rambling letter he attempted to justify his failure to comply with our lawyers’ request by quoting exemptions to disclosure allowed under the Freedom of Information Act.  But, we did not seek disclosure under the terms of that Act and that had been made very clear by our lawyers in January of this year.  Further, it seemed extraordinary to us that medical in confidence documents should be published on the Internet for all to see, particularly the post mortem report and the toxicology report, especially in view of the previous government’s and this government’s oft claimed desire to avoid unnecessary upset to the Kelly family.

It seems to us that this Government, by publishing these two highly sensitive reports, hoped to draw a line under the whole affair.  However, it will do no such thing.  Some weeks ago a 35 page legal document, known as the Memorial, was submitted to the Attorney General Dominic Grieve by our lawyers outlining the formal legal reasons why we think an inquest should take place.  Under Section 13 of the 1988 Coroners Act the Attorney General can grant us permission to apply to the High Court (or he can apply himself) for an inquest to be ordered.  In order to do this he has only to be satisfied that, were an inquest to take place, the verdict MIGHT be different NOT that it WOULD be different.  Section 13 requires that any ONE of six reasons be satisfied for the Attorney General to allow a formal application to the High Court for an inquest into a death.  The six reasons are:

1) insufficiency of inquiry

2) irregularity of proceedings

3) rejection of evidence

4) new facts or evidence

5) fraud (in this context deception)

6) refusal or neglect by a coroner to hold an inquest which ought to be held

We need to provide evidence to satisfy ONE reason but the Memorial contains convincing evidence for ALL SIX reasons.

Notwithstanding the extremely strong case for an inquest which has been submitted to the Attorney General in the form of the Memorial, we intend as a matter of urgency to set up a fund so that we are in a position to contest vigorously any refusal by the Attorney General for us to proceed to the High Court by judicially reviewing any such decision.

It is essential in any democracy that due process of law is followed with the utmost rigour.

Yours faithfully,

Dr. Stephen Frost           

ANNEX Part 1

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/8083520/David-Kelly-case-closed.html

David Kelly: case closed

The details of Dr David Kelly’s death, made public last week, should provide a final answer to the conspiracy theorists

Andrew Gilligan

24 October 2010

There was, said the pathology report, a band of vomit running from Dr David Kelly’s mouth, covering part of his head and staining his green waxed jacket. His body was soiled with dirt from the process of undressing it at the scene and moving it into a bag. And it seems that, contrary to most of what we have read in the past, there was a great deal of blood.

“There was bloodstaining and a pool of blood in an area running from the left arm of the deceased for a total distance in the order of two to three feet,” said Dr Nicholas Hunt, the pathologist. “There was heavy bloodstaining over the left arm.” There was blood on the front right side of his shirt beneath the left hand, the palm of which was bloodstained.

There were bloodstains over the groin area and the tops of both thighs, the right knee, the right elbow, the right shoulder, the back of the right knee. There was blood on the left arm, the left elbow, the back of the left elbow, the back of the fingers and palm of the right hand, blood on the lining of his Barbour cap, blood on Dr Kelly’s wristwatch, which he’d taken off, blood on the handles of the knife, blood smeared on the bottle of water with which he had taken 29 co-proxamol pills.

I, too, felt a bit soiled when I read the intimate details of Dr Kelly’s death. There is no dignity in a pathology report. But all this, and a good deal more that I’ve spared you, was last week published officially online, for ever, for the whole world to see. Happy now, conspiracy theorists?

The other reason why this document makes unpleasant reading is precisely that it does say what happened. There were, it says, multiple knife wounds over a 40 sq cm area of Dr Kelly’s left wrist, one of them up to a centimetre and a half deep. Some of them, it says, looked like “tentative or hesitation marks”. There was “extensive reddening around the whole injury complex, indicating that they had been inflicted while the victim was alive”. There was also a small abrasion “consistent with the biting of the lips”.

I don’t know about you, but when I read those words I wished I hadn’t. An instant picture of Dr Kelly in his last moments sprang into my head. The only other wounds visible at all were superficial abrasions to the head and minor bruising to the limbs – consistent, says the report, with scraping against rough undergrowth (presumably as his body was removed).

The report describes the various, necessarily intrusive procedures performed on Dr Kelly’s body to discover any less visible signs of foul play. None was found. The brain showed no knocks to the head. The lungs gave no sign of being “overpowered by a volatile chemical”. No mysterious drugs were detected in the bloodstream. Subcutaneous dissection of the arms and legs showed no “restraint-type injury”.

There was no evidence of “compression of the neck, such as by manual strangulation, ligature strangulation or the use of an arm hold”. There was no evidence from the post-mortem, or observations at the scene, to “indicate that the deceased had been dragged or otherwise transported to the location at which his body was found”. Another conspiracist claim dashed.

There was, said Dr Hunt, “a total lack of classical ‘defence’ wounds against a sharp weapon attack”, such wounds being typically to the palms or forearms. When somebody is murdered with a knife, the bloodstains left on the ground and clothing are often jagged and jerky, and spread all over the place, because the victim has been fighting for his life. But at the scene of Dr Kelly’s death, the blood, though extensive, was “relatively passive” in distribution. There was no obvious trampling to the undergrowth, no damage to his clothing.

The bloodstains on the removed wristwatch are significant, says the pathologist: “The fact that the watch appears to have been removed while blood was already flowing suggests that it has been removed deliberately in order to facilitate access to the wrist.” The water bottle and its top, also bloodstained, were placed neatly on the ground.

Dr Hunt spent seven and a quarter hours at the scene of death, then just under three hours carrying out the post-mortem. His conclusion is clear: the orientation and arrangement of the wounds on the left wrist “are typical of self-inflicted injury”, as is the rest of the layout of the death scene, and there is no evidence whatever to support any other finding.

As this previously “secret” pathology report is released, I’m in an unusual position. Contrary to various claims, this report was never quite “suppressed”. As one of those at the centre of the David Kelly affair, and a party to the Hutton Inquiry, it was shared with my lawyers back in 2003. I could have seen it if I’d wanted to – but I never wanted to.

Because even without the crushing detail supplied by Dr Hunt, I had very little doubt that Dr Kelly committed suicide. Even if you believe that the British government goes round bumping off its own employees in cold blood – which I do not – what motive could they possibly have had for killing Dr Kelly? How could it possibly have been in their interest to murder him?

By the time he died, Dr Kelly was no longer an obscure official. He had been at the centre of a national row. His death plunged the last government into the greatest crisis in its history, a crisis from which it never fully recovered. Killing him was guaranteed to create such a crisis, as anyone with an iota of sense would have known.

Yes, I was both appalled – and surprised – when I first heard he’d died. He hadn’t struck me as the suicidal type, if there is such a thing. He was well used to confrontation and pressure: he’d been a weapons inspector in Iraq, for goodness’ sake. And by the day of his death, the worst of the pressure was essentially over: the battle between Downing Street and the BBC over my sexed-up dossier story, for which Dr Kelly was the source, had reached stalemate.

But on the day of his dying, I knew nothing of how badly Dr Kelly had been treated. After learning what he went through at the hands of his employers, it is easier to understand the road that led him to that Oxfordshire hillside.

Alastair Campbell’s determination to use Dr Kelly to, in his words, “f—” me saw him placed under great pressure. Having come forward to his bosses under a promise that his identity would be kept secret, he was effectively surrendered to the world – after Campbell decided that “the biggest thing needed was the source out”. Ministry of Defence press officers gave journalists a series of clues which enabled anyone with Google to guess who he was. They kindly confirmed Dr Kelly’s name to anyone who guessed right. One newspaper was allowed to put more than 20 names to the MoD before it got to Dr Kelly’s.

Once outed, Dr Kelly was openly belittled by Jack Straw. He was intensively interviewed, forced into televised interrogation, coached in what to say, then blurted an untruth in the blaze of publicity – an untruth which, on the morning of his death, his bosses told him they would investigate. Dr Kelly defined himself by his work and his reputation for integrity. The fear of losing that work, and that reputation, must have been terrifying to him, even if it was almost certainly unfounded.

What this week’s report does do, however, is show the murder theory to be even more absurd and fantastic than it already was. For Dr Kelly to be killed, it would have needed someone to force 29 pills down his throat, making him swallow them without protest. Then they would have had to get him to sit on the ground without any restraint, making no attempt to defend himself, while they sawed away at his wrist with a knife. That knife, by the way, came from the desk drawer in Dr Kelly’s study, so they would also have had to burgle his house to get it.

This week’s publication has also demolished several of the Kelly conspiracy theory’s most treasured pillars: the “lack” of blood, the “movement” of the body, and the “suppression” of the report itself. Will it silence the conspiracy theorists? I rather doubt it. Several of them were still in full flow yesterday.

There are, to be fair, a number of questions the report does not address. Dr Hunt himself subsequently changed one of the conclusions shown in it. The cause of death was rare – Dr Kelly was reportedly the only person in England to die in that way the whole of that year. Operation Mason, the police investigation into his death, started nine hours before he was even reported missing.

Yet most of these facts, too, turn out to have seemingly plausible explanations. The pathologist did change his view of the precise cause of Dr Kelly’s death, but still ruled out the possibility that foul play was involved. Thames Valley police have said that the start time of Op Mason was chosen in retrospect to reflect the period of interest.

The fact that a cause of death is rare does not mean that it is unheard of, or impossible. Various doctors have questioned whether Dr Kelly could have bled to death from cutting the ulnar, one of the smaller arteries. But the actual cause of death is the combination of the severed artery with two other things: Dr Kelly’s long-standing heart condition of coronary artery atherosclerosis, and his swallowing of the tablets. There are just as many, if not more, experts who state that this cause is entirely plausible.

The conspiracy wants Dr Kelly to have been murdered – but the reality, his suicide, is more than scandal enough. And if you seek the hand of the British government in deliberate killing, the deaths of 150,000 Iraqis would seem, to me, rather more to the point than the death of one scientist.

Too often, as perhaps last week, Dr Kelly has been used by those wanting to fit him into their cause. Could we all please now leave him in peace?

ANNEX Part 2 [the “abridged” version of Dr. Frost’s letter published by the Sunday Telegraph

SIR –

The David Kelly case is far from closed (News Review, October 24), not least because no inquest has taken place.

The Government, by publishing the highly-sensitive post-mortem and toxicology reports, hoped to draw a line under the whole affair. It will do no such thing.

The continued refusal to hold an inquest into his death, which is required by the laws of this country and of Europe, constitutes a blatant subversion of due process of the law.

Dr Stephen Frost

Colwyn Bay, Conwy

If the CIA routinely lies to the American people, maybe that’s because its got so much to lie about, like killing millions of innocent human beings around the world. As far back as December, 1968, the CIA’s own Covert Operations Study Group gave a secret report to president-elect Richard Nixon that conceded, “The impression of many Americans, especially in the intellectual community and among the youth, that the United States is engaging in ‘dirty tricks’ tends to alienate them from their government.” According to Time Weiner’s book “Legacy of Ashes”(Anchor), the report went on to say, “Our credibility and our effectiveness in this role is necessarily damaged to the extent that it becomes known that we are secretly intervening in what may be (or appear to be) the internal affairs of others.”

President Bill Clinton, who first gave the CIA the green light to launch its illegal “renditions” (kidnappings,) told the nation on the occasion of the Agency’s 50th birthday (1997), “By necessity, the American people will never know the full story of your courage.” (Courage? For 22 agents to grab one Muslim cleric off the streets of Milan, Italy, and ship him abroad to be tortured?) Anyway, presidents who authorize criminal acts by the CIA, as virtually all have done since its founding in 1947, don’t want the truth out, either, lest knowledge of those “dirty tricks” sicken and revolt the American people when they find out what crimes the Agency is perpetrating with their tax dollars. As former CIA agent Philip Agee once put it, “The CIA is the President’s secret army.” This point was underscored at a luncheon by President Gerald Ford himself, which he hosted for New York Times top editors on Jan. 16, 1975. According to Weiner, Ford told them the reputation of every President since Truman could be ruined if the secrets became public. Asked by an editor, like what? Ford replied “like assassinations.”

One reason the Agency seeks to hide its operations is that it sadly is often guilty as charged. For example, take its complicity in the murders of American missionaries in Peru. As Reuters reported Nov. 21, 2008:

“The CIA obstructed inquiries into its role in the shooting down of an aircraft carrying a family of U.S. missionaries in Peru in 2001, the agency’s inspector general(IG) has concluded. The (IG’s) report said a CIA-backed program in Peru targeting drug runners was so poorly run that many suspect aircraft were shot down by Peruvian air force jets without proper checks being made first.” A small plane carrying Veronica Bowers, her husband Jim, their son Cory and infant daughter Charity was shot down by a Peruvian jet on April 20, 2001, after it was tracked by a CIA surveillance plane that suspected it was carrying drugs. Veronica and Charity Bowers were killed, while their pilot, Kevin Donaldson, who crash-landed the bullet-riddled plane into the Amazon River, was badly injured. The IG’s report said that in the aftermath of the 2001 incident the CIA sought to characterize it as a one-time mistake in an otherwise well-run program. “In fact this was not the case. The routine disregard of the required intercept procedures … led to the rapid shooting down of target aircraft without adequate safeguards to protect against the loss of innocent life,” the report from the Agency’s own IG said. (One might ask why the CIA didn’t wait for the plane to land to interrogate the passengers?)

The kicker in the Reuters account is “The IG said the CIA found ‘sustained and significant’ violations of procedure in its own internal investigation but had denied Congress, the National Security Council and the Justice Department access to its findings.” This raises the question of whether the CIA has become so powerful it can withhold findings even from the Justice Department and Congress? The answer is that it can, has, and likely continues to do so, because it is indeed both powerful and influential. After all, with the exception of President Clinton, who abetted the CIA’s crimes, presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush Jr., and Barrack Obama all have been directly on the CIA payroll as employees at one time or another. Bush Sr., of course, headed the Agency during 1976-77. Bush Jr. worked for a CIA front in Alaska, and President Obama worked for CIA front Business International Corporation after he got out of college.

The CIA’s influence is such that it can successfully forbid other agencies of government to conceal its crimes if they find out about them. Example: “The Drug Enforcement Administration(DEA) knew about and helped cover up the CIA’s involvement in Guatemala’s drug war murders, a former DEA agent said,” the AP reported on July 23, 1996. Although the DEA denied the allegations, Celerino Castillo, who was a special DEA agent assigned to Guatemala, said he and other DEA agents there “were aware of specific murders committed by the Guatemala military with CIA involvement and were ordered to lie to keep the crimes secret.” AP said the Intelligence Oversight Board issued a report stating CIA agents in Guatemala “were credibly alleged” to have ordered, planned or participated in human rights violations such as murder, torture and kidnapping.” (I.e., Castillo’s charges were true.) So it has long since gotten to the point that officials of other U.S. agents cannot report the CIA’s crimes either, as if they were under a Mafia oath of secrecy.

CIA employees themselves are forbidden by secrecy agreements (under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act passed under President Ronald Reagan) to write anything about the Agency without first clearing it with a CIA publications review board. Accordingly, the CIA recently cracked down on a former officer who wrote under the pseudonym “Ishmael Jones.” His “crime” was to publish two years ago “The Human Factor: Inside the CIA’s Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture.” The Associated Press quotes Jones as saying, “CIA censors attack this book because it exposes the CIA as a place to get rich, with billions of taxpayer dollars wasted or stolen in espionage programs that produce nothing.” Denying the truth, however, is a long established CIA practice. John Stockwell, for 13 years a CIA station chief in Angola or a top man in Viet Nam, said in a lecture, “What I ran into…was a corruption in the CIA and the intelligence business…what I found was that the CIA, us, the case officers, were not permitted to report about the corruption in the South Vietnamese army.”

Whether the Agency’s John Stockwell, Ishmael Jones or DEA’s Celerino Castillo, we note that many of the CIA’s critics are former American intelligence officers who have seen too much, men apparently with a conscience and respect for human rights. Stockwell, a former Marine who held high posts in the field for the CIA was in a position to know when he charged that over the years the CIA has killed “millions” of innocents. He says the victims were largely “people of the Third World…that have the misfortune of being born in the Metumba mountains of the Congo, in the jungles of Southeast Asia…in the hills of northern Nicaragua…most of (whom) couldn’t give you an intelligent definition of communism or of capitalism.” Stockwell estimated the CIA has perpetrated “10 to 20 thousand covert actions” between 1961, about the time of its Cuban Bay of Pigs fiasco, and 1987.

Stockwell concludes “We are responsible for doing these things on a massive basis to people of the world…we create a CIA, a secret police, we give them a vast budget, and we let them go and run these (covert) programs in our name and we pretend like we don’t know it’s going on…And we’re just as responsible for these 1 to 3 million people we’ve slaughtered and for all the people we’ve tortured and made miserable, as the Gestapo was of the people that they slaughtered and killed. Genocide is genocide.”

Is it? The Obama administration apparently has no plans to expose and bring to trial past CIA killers and torturers, much less those who obstructed justice by destroying tapes of their torture or lying to Congress about it. This is the same country—which is now waging war in three Middle East nations and has been responsible for the violent and bloody overthrow of dozens of foreign governments—that keeps a quarter of a million pot smokers in prison who have never hurt another person in their lives. Pardon me if I ask whether my native land has not, in fact, become a lunatic asylum run by the criminally insane? #

Sherwood Ross is director of the Anti-War News Service. He formerly worked for major dailies and wire services. To contribute to his news service or comment, reach him at [email protected]  

Introduction:

The November 2, 2010 electoral debacle of the Democratic Party in the US cannot be solely ascribed to the failed policies of President Obama, the Congressional leadership or their senior economic advisers. Nor is the demise of what passes for the American “center-left” confined to the US – it is a world-wide pattern, expressed in countries as diverse as Greece, Portugal, Spain, Great Britain and Japan.

The central question is why the left-center left governing parties are everywhere in crisis and will be for the foreseeable future?

The Left-Center Left: Past Winners, Present Losers

In the past leftist parties had been the beneficiaries of capitalist crises: Incumbent conservative regimes, which had presided over economic recessions or had been held responsible for military debacles, were ousted from power by leftist parties prepared to make large-scale, long-term public investments, funded by progressive taxes on wealth and capital, and to impose austerity programs on the rich and wealthy.

In contrast, today the left/center-left (L-CL) regimes preside over crisis-ridden capitalist economies and administer regressive socio-economic policies designed to promote the recovery of the biggest financial and corporate enterprises while rolling back wages, social programs, pensions and unemployment benefits.

As a result, the L-CL has become the prime political loser in the current economic crisis, reaping hostility and rejection from the great mass of its former working class and salaried supporters.

Wherever the Left has been elected in recent years, a deep polarization developed between its electoral base and the governing party leadership. Nowhere has the Left dared to infringe on the power and prerogatives of the very capitalist class of bankers and investors, who caused the crisis. Instead with perverse and reactionary logic the Left- Center Left parties have wielded stated power through the treasury to refinance capital, through the police and judiciary to repress labor and through the mass media to justify its regressive policies (especially via anti-‘chaos’ hysteria).

In Greece, the Pan-Hellenic Socialist regime (PASOK) has fired tens of thousands of public employees and its tight fiscal policies have raised unemployment from 8% to 14%. It has increased the age of retirement, reduced pensions and welfare provisions and raised fees for public services, while foreign and domestic bankers, ship owners and overseas investors have benefited by accumulating property and distressed enterprises on the cheap.

Similar polices have been adopted in Spain and Portugal where public employees’ salaries and jobs have been slashed, pensions and welfare payments have been reduced, job security has been deregulated and employers are free to hire and fire as never before.
Prior to the British Labor Party’s defeat, after more than a decade of promoting wild unregulated financial and real-estate speculation leading to the economic crash, the Labor leadership was planning massive layoffs and cuts in social programs.

In the United States, Obama and the Democrats were elected, on the basis of their promises to redress the grievances of the workers and salaried employees, who had been battered by the collapse of Wall Street. Instead, the White House poured trillions of tax dollars to rescue the major banking, financial and speculative institutions responsible for the collapse while unemployment and underemployment has climbed to over 20% and 10 million homeowners lost their homes through mortgage foreclosures.

Why the L-CL Deepens the Crises

Over the past 30 years the L-CL parties, which were once identified with working class interests and welfare reforms, have become deeply embedded in managing the capitalist system – going so far as to promote the most parasitic and volatile forms of speculative capital. As long as capitalist profits grew and speculative investments grew, the L-CL regimes believed that sufficient tax revenue would accrue to allow for a degree of social spending to pacify their popular voting constituency. The L-CL parties systematically eliminated the last traces of a socialist, social welfare or redistributive alternative.

The L-LC political leadership was unwilling to envision an alternative to their promotion of the policies of big corporate and banking interests as they led to financial crisis. When the big crash of 2007-2010 took place, the entire leadership of the L-CL was so deeply embedded in the institutions, policies and practices of the leading private financial structures, that the only solution they were capable of proposing was to sacrifice the public treasury in order to restore capitalist leaders and speculative institution to profitability. In other words, the U.S and European L-CL parties were prepared to jettison over 50 years of social advances. The past ties to their working-class voters, trade union allies, public employees and pensioners were severed, none were spared. The only interest that mattered to the L-CL parties was to restore conditions for profitability to benefit big overseas and domestic investors.

This economic recession has forced the L-CL parties to give up any pretext that they could satisfy bankers and public employees, corporations and workers, investors and pensioners. The crisis revealed the profound distance separating the working class from the political leaders of the L-CL.

The savage class austerity measures, repeatedly imposed on the working class every 3-6 months, in contrast to the vast and repeated subsidies to capital, reveal the true vocation of the current L-CL regimes. There was never a question of choice: From their entry into the government and from their leading economic appointments, to their subsequent agreements with the world’s leading banks, it has become obvious that the Papandreous (Greece), Socrates (Portugal), Zapatero (Spain) and Obama (USA) regimes were prepared to use the full power of the state to sacrifice labor to save capital.

Consequences of L-CL Policies and Practices

From the start, the L-CL parties decided there was everything to negotiate (and concede) with the bankers and nothing to negotiate and compromise with Labor. The recession was too profound, capitalist interests and institutions were “too big to fail”, and labor was, in the eyes of the L-CL parties, too expendable: ‘Let them march and yell in the streets’. Unemployment and under-employment climbed to double digits everywhere. The old arrangements of accommodation between the trade unions and the L-CL parties came under intense pressure everywhere (except in the US and UK) from the workers in factory assemblies, the offices of the public employees, and among the pensioners in the senior centers.

Repeated general strikes broke out in France, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy. The L-CL regimes absolutely refused to make any concession to the workers. The crises and austerity policies became the base for a real class war: The Left-Center Left regimes were determined to roll back over 50 years of working class advances. The general strikes were defensive battles to protect hard won advances in decent living standards. Workers everywhere in Europe recognized the abominable working and welfare conditions in the US, where trade unions have become doormats and the millionaire trade union bosses continue to use union funds to bankroll the Democrats and protect the bureaucracy’s privileges and wealth.

Conclusion

The Left-Center Left regimes are paying a high electoral price for sacrificing the working class in order to save the bankers: Obama’s recent electoral defeat is only a forerunner of future losses for the Spanish, Greek, Portuguese Socialists and other L-CL regimes. Their austerity policies have led them to ‘fall between two chairs’: They alienate workers and strengthen the capitalist class, which already has its own “natural” conservative capitalist parties. The “hard right” everywhere is advancing, sensing the debacle of the center-left as an opportunity to deepen and widen the frontal assault on labor rights, social welfare and any semblance of legal protection.

Faced with this assault, the main defense of militant workers in Southern Europe is the general strike, (totally absent for over a century in the US). But even so, given the ferocious backing of all of Europe’s (and the US) ruling classes for the regressive austerity policies, it is becoming clear that the positive experience of massive class solidarity is not enough. Greece has had half dozen general strikes. France has been shut down by a nationwide strike. Spain has more to come. But their L-CL rulers continue slashing and burning workers rights and living standards now and for years to come.

What will it take to stop and reverse this capitalist juggernaut? It is clear, that the L-CL parties, as we know them, are part of the problem and not the solution. Will new working class parties and movements emerge that can combine mass general strikes with challenges for state power? Will the rising power of the electoral right lead to a parallel rise of the left?

As of today, little or nothing of a left-right political polarization appears on the horizon in the United States where most of the union and social movement leaders are tied to the Democratic Party. In contrast, in Europe, particularly in France, Greece, Portugal and Spain, extra-parliamentary mass struggles will continue and perhaps intensify, raising the specter of possible popular uprisings as conditions continue to deteriorate.

The money powers prey upon the nation in times of peace, and conspire against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy. I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption will follow and the money power of the country will endeavor and prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people, until the wealth is aggregated into a few hands and the republic is destroyed. — Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 21, 1864  http://www.campaignforliberty.com/profile.php?member=Jason_Mazzy

Foreclosuregate will soon again dominate the financial news along with the three class action lawsuits – one is a RICO suit, entered against JPMorgan Chase and HSBC for rigging the silver markets.

Irrespective of what Wall Street tells you, but in Foreclosuregate we are taking about 2 trillion in securitizations, plus $500 billion in second mortgages. These bonds were all rated AAA by S&P, Moody’s and Fitch, but were in fact BBB. We have written over and over again questioning why the buyers were stupid enough to be buyers, or why no civil suits or criminal actions were filed for three years. our synopsis tells us the buyers, particularly the Europeans, who purchased 60% of this toxic paper, were either collectively grossly incompetent, or they had the bonds secretly guaranteed by the Fed. Hundreds of lawyers cannot be that stupid, so we believe the latter. The losses for lenders will be somewhere north of $500 billion. This kind of payout will take down Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi Group and Deutsche Bank, and a number of others will suffer large losses. We have yet to see large class action suits and they could compound the losses. As you have already seen Fannie, Freddie, PIMCO and the NY Fed have already banded together to protect their positions. What we are seeing is intercine fighting to see who will lose the most money among the elitists. This internal warfare is good for us because it puts them off balance and other issues dear to their hearts, such as world government are pushed to the side at least temporarily. The only way these banks can stay in business is to be nationalized, so that you the taxpayer will have the privilege of paying for their losses. Anyone who owns stock in these banks and HSBC should have their heads’ examined. When it comes to legal action the court system is a sham. Countrywide’s Mazillo was fined and BofA paid the fine. Mozilo should be doing 25 years for criminal fraud. Stand by we are only at the beginning of this fraud extravaganza.

The tentacles and the depth of this scandal has only been recognized by elitists behind the scenes in NYC and Washington.

Foreclosuregate could put a real damper on house sales and that will be compounded by a Congress and Senate that will be frozen in its tracks. All Wall Street and banking, which control the Fed, ever think of us shirt-term expediency. QE2, which, as we predicted, will over the next two years, cost $5 trillion. This will continually depreciate the value of the dollar. That will bring about a more intensive currency war and that will lead to tariffs, which is exactly what the US needs to economically survive. Speculative capital flows are meeting barriers already from Brazil and other will follow. Other nations are seeing inflation pressures intensify and they don’t want more dollar inflation. Brazil is being followed by China, Australia and India. The Fed is unprepared to deal with this as it tries to hold the US economy together, as it slowly spirals into a repeat of the last 20 years in Japan. You might call it a lost decade. Japan had 5% unemployment; the US has 22-3/4%. The Japanese government borrowed from Japanese savers. The US has to borrow from international markets or monetize. That means monetization by the Fed and higher unemployment and inflation, not to mention the ever-growing debt. Is it any wonder gold and silver is becoming the investments of choice.

Housing is going to be frozen as the backlog of housing inventory deepens. There are about two million houses for sale. Then there is the phantom inventory being held by lenders, that they cannot prove they own, of some four million more units. The rate of home ownership continues to fall. If that continues who will ever buy these homes?

These problems stand to the side as the stock market approaches new highs on a combination of QE2 and share buybacks by transnational corporations. At the same time gold, silver and commodities boom. The $600 bill QE2, or $75 billion a month, is what the Fed did the last time around and that was only successful for 5 quarters of 3% growth, half of which came from the increase in money and credit. Monetary creation of $2.5 trillion will increase GDP by 1% to 1-1/2% taking it to 2% this time. This time the reflation of asserts is not going to be as easy and won’t work as well. Most of the funds will end up in banks and on Wall Street, which will use the money to speculate with again. Banks have been trying to lend more since June and borrowers are generally not interested. They want to see what medical reform will cost the, whether the Bush tax cuts will be extended and what will new regulations mean to them. On the consumer side, only the government will lend to poor credit risks. Some 25% of mortgage holders are in trouble via negative equity and we believe that will worsen. In the face of growing unemployment it will be difficult to stay better than even.

The dollar’s countertrend rally is over. It could be called technical and flaccid at best. That is probably because that is the way Messrs. Bernanke and Geithner want it to be. It cheapens exports and restrains buying of foreign goods due to their higher costs.

We can expect more government debt as 5 million jobless get an extension on unemployment. It is either that or the possibility of revolution.

Will tax cuts be extended costing another $40 billion? Will a 1% financial transaction tax be passed, or will a grab for $6 trillion in retirement benefits become reality? Then there is the administration’s $650 billion stimulus package, which may well be a dead issue.

This week in gold and silver has certainly been spectacular in spite of continued US government manipulation. The professionals and big hitters just lie in wait for the cartel to push prices down, so they can take them back up again. After almost 20 years of price suppression the government, Fed and other central banks are getting another taste of their own medicine. Gold and silver are not the hard sells they once were with a crumbling financial foundati8on that underpins the dollar. The fact that many corporations, particularly in the financial sector, are carrying two sets of books doesn’t help much either. We see Foreclosuregate, which is just really getting underway, with three class action lawsuits, one RICO, versus JPMorgan Chase and HSBC for rigging the silver market, a falling dollar, and currency war, which will become trade war. Not to speak of a massive change in congress and deficits that worsen daily. Least we also not forget the fall coming in the municipal bond market as AMBAC goes bankrupt and all those bogus overrated bonds return to their real rating and as a consequence they fall in value. Just think what they’ll have to pay for interest in the future, not an inviting future.

That is why we say gold and silver related assets are the place to be. It has been that way for ten years over which we have recommended such assets and we see five or more good years ahead. The upward momentum in gold and silver will accelerate as funds escape from other asset groups. Less than 1% of investors own gold and silver shares and less than 2% own coins and bullion. Thus, plenty of players are yet to enter the game.

ForeclosureGate Could Force Bank Nationalization

November 6th, 2010 by Ellen Brown

For two years, politicians have danced around the nationalization issue, but ForeclosureGate may be the last straw.  The megabanks are too big to fail, but they aren’t too big to reorganize as federal institutions serving the public interest.

In January 2009, only a week into Obama’s presidency, David Sanger reported in The New York Times that nationalizing the banks was being discussed.  Privately, the Obama economic team was conceding that more taxpayer money was going to be needed to shore up the banks.  When asked whether nationalization was a good idea, House speaker Nancy Pelosi replied:

“Well, whatever you want to call it . . . . If we are strengthening them, then the American people should get some of the upside of that strengthening. Some people call that nationalization.

“I’m not talking about total ownership,” she quickly cautioned — stopping herself by posing a question: “Would we have ever thought we would see the day when we’d be using that terminology? ‘Nationalization of the banks?’ ”

Noted Matthew Rothschild in a March 2009 editorial:

[T]hat’s the problem today. The word “nationalization” shuts off the debate. Never mind that Britain, facing the same crisis we are, just nationalized the Bank of Scotland. Never mind that Ronald Reagan himself considered such an option during a global banking crisis in the early 1980s.

Although nationalization sounds like socialism, it is actually what is supposed to happen under our capitalist system when a major bank goes bankrupt.  The bank is put into receivership under the FDIC, which takes it over. 

What fits the socialist label more, in fact, is the TARP bank bailout, sometimes called “welfare for the rich.”  The banks’ losses and risks have been socialized but the profits have not.  The bankers have been feasting on our dime without sharing the spread.  

And that was before ForeclosureGate – the uncovering of massive fraud in the foreclosure process.  Investors are now suing to put defective loans back on bank balance sheets.  If they win, the banks will be hopelessly under water. 

“The unraveling of the ‘foreclosure-gate’ could mean banking crisis 2.0,” warned economist Dian Chu on October 21, 2010.     

Banking Crisis 2.0 Means TARP II

The significance of ForeclosureGate is being downplayed in the media, but independent analysts warn that it could be the tsunami that takes the big players down. 

John Lekas, senior portfolio manager of the Leader Short Term Bond Fund, said on The Street on November 2, 2010, that the banks will prevail in the lawsuits brought by investors.  The paperwork issues, he said, are just “technical mumbo jumbo;” there is no way to unwind years of complex paperwork and securitizations.  

But Yves Smith, writing in The New York Times on October 30, says it’s not that easy: 

 The banks and other players in the securitization industry now seem to be looking to Congress to snap its fingers to make the whole problem go away, preferably with a law that relieves them of liability for their bad behavior. But any such legislative fiat would bulldoze regions of state laws on real estate and trusts, not to mention the Uniform Commercial Code. A challenge on constitutional grounds would be inevitable.

Asking for Congress’s help would also require the banks to tacitly admit that they routinely broke their own contracts and made misrepresentations to investors in their Securities and Exchange Commission filings. Would Congress dare shield them from well-deserved litigation when the banks themselves use every minor customer deviation from incomprehensible contracts as an excuse to charge a fee?

Chris Whalen of Institutional Risk Analytics told Fox Business News on October 1 that the government needs to restructure the largest banks.  “Restructuring” in this context means bankruptcy receivership.  “You can’t prevent it,” said Whalen.  “We’ve wasted two years, and haven’t restructured the top banks, but for Citi.  Bank of America will need to be restructured; this isn’t about the documentation problem, this is because [of the high] cost of servicing the property.”

 
Profs. William Black and Randall Wray are calling for receivership for another reason — the industry has engaged in flagrant, widespread fraud.  “There was fraud at every step in the home finance food chain,” they wrote in the Huffington Post on October 25:

[T]he appraisers were paid to overvalue real estate; mortgage brokers were paid to induce borrowers to accept loan terms they could not possibly afford; loan applications overstated the borrowers’ incomes; speculators lied when they claimed that six different homes were their principal dwelling; mortgage securitizers made false reps and warranties about the quality of the packaged loans; credit ratings agencies were overpaid to overrate the securities sold on to investors; and investment banks stuffed collateralized debt obligations with toxic securities that were handpicked by hedge fund managers to ensure they would self destruct.

Players all down the line were able to game the system, suggesting there is something radically wrong not just with the players but with the system itself.  Would it be sufficient just to throw the culprits in jail?  And which culprits?  One reason there have been so few arrests to date is that “everyone was doing it.”  Virtually the whole securitized mortgage industry might have to be put behind bars.

The Need for Permanent Reform

The Kanjorski amendment to the Banking Reform Bill passed in July allows federal regulators to preemptively break up large financial institutions that pose a threat to U.S. financial or economic stability.  In the financial crises of the 1930s and 1980s, the banks were purged of their toxic miscreations and delivered back to private owners, who proceeded to engage in the same sorts of chicanery all over again.  It could be time to take the next logical step and nationalize not just the losses but the banks themselves, and not just temporarily but permanently. 

The logic of that sort of reform was addressed by Willem Buiter, chief economist of Citigroup and formerly a member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, in The Financial Times following the bailout of AIG in September 2008.  He wrote:

If financial behemoths like AIG are too large and/or too interconnected to fail but not too smart to get themselves into situations where they need to be bailed out, then what is the case for letting private firms engage in such kinds of activities in the first place?

Is the reality of the modern, transactions-oriented model of financial capitalism indeed that large private firms make enormous private profits when the going is good and get bailed out and taken into temporary public ownership when the going gets bad, with the tax payer taking the risk and the losses?

If so, then why not keep these activities in permanent public ownership? There is a long-standing argument that there is no real case for private ownership of deposit-taking banking institutions, because these cannot exist safely without a deposit guarantee and/or lender of last resort facilities, that are ultimately underwritten by the taxpayer.

Even where private deposit insurance exists, this is only sufficient to handle bank runs on a subset of the banks in the system. Private banks collectively cannot self-insure against a generalised run on the banks. Once the state underwrites the deposits or makes alternative funding available as lender of last resort, deposit-based banking is a license to print money.  [Emphasis added.]

Nearly all money today is created as bank credit or debt.  (That includes the money created by the Federal Reserve, a bank, and lent to the federal government when it buys federal securities.)  Credit or debt is simply a legal agreements to pay in the future.  Legal agreements are properly overseen by the judiciary, a branch of government.  Perhaps it is time to make banking a fourth branch of government. 

That probably won’t happen any time soon, but in the meantime we can try a few experiments in public banking, beginning with the Bank of America, predicted to be the first of the behemoths to be put into receivership.

Leo Panitch, Canada Research Chair in comparative political economy at York University, wrote in The Globe and Mail in December 2009 that “there has long been a strong case for turning the banks into a public utility, given that they can’t exist in complex modern society without states guaranteeing their deposits and central banks constantly acting as lenders of last resort.”

Nationalization Is Looking Better

David Sanger wrote in The New York Times in January 2009:

Mr. Obama’s advisers say they are acutely aware that if the government is perceived as running the banks, the administration would come under enormous political pressure to halt foreclosures or lend money to ailing projects in cities or states with powerful constituencies, which could imperil the effort to steer the banks away from the cliff.  “The nightmare scenarios are endless,” one of the administration’s senior officials said.

Today, that scenario is looking less like a nightmare and more like relief.  Calls have been made for a national moratorium on foreclosures.  If the banks were nationalized, the government could move to restructure the mortgages, perhaps at subsidized rates. 

Lending money to ailing projects in cities and states is also sounding rather promising.  Despite massive bailouts by the taxpayers and the Fed, the banks are still not lending to local governments, local businesses or consumers.  Matthew Rothschild, writing in March 2009, quoted Robert Pollin, professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst:

“Relative to a year ago, lending in the U.S. economy is down an astonishing 90 percent.  The government needs to take over the banks now, and force them to start lending.”       

When the private sector fails, the public sector needs to step in.  Under public ownership, wrote Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz in January 2009, “the incentives of the banks can be aligned better with those of the country.  And it is in the national interest that prudent lending be restarted.”

For a model, Congress can look to the nation’s only state-owned bank, the Bank of North Dakota.  The 91-year-old BND has served its community well.  As of March 2010, North Dakota was the only state boasting a budget surplus; it had the lowest default rate in the country; it had the lowest unemployment rate in the country; and it had received a 2009 dividend from the BND of $58.1 million, quite a large sum for a sparsely populated state. 

For our newly-elected Congress, the only alternative may be to start budgeting for TARP II.

Ellen Brown is an attorney and the author of eleven books. In Web of Debt: The Shocking Truth About Our Money System and How We Can Break Free, 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.

-The Australian development is part of a new US strategy to step up its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region after reviews of strategic policy concluded that the Bush government’s attempts to project power from North America were not working.

Australia has agreed to a major escalation of military co-operation with the US.

This will include more visits by American ships, aircraft and troops and their forces exercising here regularly, The Weekend Australian says.

Access to Australian Defence Force facilities will allow the US to step up its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region as it comes under pressure to wind down its key bases, such as Okinawa, as concern grows about China’s military expansion.

Increased numbers of US personnel in Australian facilities are expected within months, and the tempo of military exercises will be stepped up as that happens.

Likely early sites are Townsville, as the primary base for army operations, the port of Darwin, the Bradshaw Field Training Area in the Northern Territory and HMAS Stirling naval base in Western Australia.

Three big announcements on military and security co-operation will be made after Monday’s AUSMIN defence and foreign policy talks in Melbourne involving delegations headed by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Australia’s Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and Defence Minister Stephen Smith.

Sources close to the talks say US forces will not establish new bases on Australian soil but they will be welcomed into existing facilities.

The Australian development is part of a new US strategy to step up its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region after reviews of strategic policy concluded that the Bush government’s attempts to project power from North America were not working.

Japan refers to the four islands of the southern Kuril archipelago as the “Northern Territories.” The Japanese government designated Feb. 7 as “Northern Territories Day” to mark its claimed ownership of the islands. This is different from “Takeshima Day,” which was designated by only one Japanese province to mark Japan’s claim to Korea’s Dokdo islets.

But the four southernmost Kuril Islands are under Russian control, unlike the Senkaku Islands, which are under Japanese jurisdiction and which China calls Diaoyutai. Japan has taken a noisy approach in its dispute over the Kuril Islands and a silent approach in dealing with the Senkaku Islands.

Tokyo’s strategy has been to present areas under foreign control as being disputed and areas under its control unquestionably so. In dealing with Dokdo, it has taken the clever approach of annoying Korea so that it protests loudly against Tokyo’s claim. The approach did not stem from a belief that Dokdo and Kuril Islands are different. It merely places lower priority on Dokdo because of Korea’s strong alliance with the U.S, which also plays a key role in Japan’s national security.

Tokyo applies one principle to all of these territories — that there are no historical problems that could undermine its territorial claims. In other words, it claims it never controlled those territories against the will of other countries during the colonial period. But China and Russia see the territorial disputes as historical issues. China says Japan occupied the Senkaku Islands in the late 19th century when China was in turmoil, while Russia believes it merely won back the four islands in its World War II victory.

Dokdo cannot be seen from the same perspective, but the common factor is Japan’s persistent denials of history. It writes off anti-Japanese protests in China as internal disputes stemming from a widening income gap, high unemployment among the young and political chaos, almost as if it is chiding China for being politically underdeveloped. There is no soul-searching whatsoever among Japanese officials asking themselves why there is anti-Japanese sentiment among the Chinese.

The same goes for Korea. When anti-Japanese sentiment flared in Korea after Tokyo identified Dokdo as part of its own territory in school texts in 2008, Japanese officials and experts wrote it off as a ploy by the Korean government to unite a public divided over beef imports. And when the global financial crisis erupted, a Japanese newspaper even featured a column saying Korea will most likely end up begging Japan for money.

On Monday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited the Kuril Islands, rubbing salt on a highly sensitive spot for Japan as its territorial dispute with China rages on over the Senkaku Islands. Now it is Japan that is accusing its regional neighbors of reigniting imperialism. It says China and Russia, which have grown economically powerful, are flexing their muscle. But if China and Russia are guilty of imperialism, Japan is equally guilty of denying its imperialist past. This is clearly demonstrated in the anti-Japanese sentiments flaring up among the Chinese and Russian public, which are fueling China and Russia’s territorial challenges against Japan.

China and Russia are no longer former communist countries lagging behind in economic power. The more Japan denies its history, the greater the challenge it will face, and this will hurt stability in Northeast Asia. Japan has finally met its match.

‘George, I’m asking you to bomb the compound,’ Olmert told Bush according to former U.S. president’s memoirs; Israel eventually reportedly destroyed the facility. By Reuters Tags: Israel news Ehud Olmert Syria George Bush US Former United States President George W. Bush wrote in his recently published memoirs that he considered ordering a U.S. military strike against a suspected Syrian nuclear facility at Israel’s request in 2007, but ultimately opted against it, Reuters revealed on Friday.

Israel eventually destroyed the facility, which Syria denied was aimed at developing nuclear weapons.

In his memoir, “Decision Points,” to hit bookstores Tuesday, Bush says that shortly after he received an intelligence report about a “suspicious, well-hidden facility in the eastern desert of Syria,” he spoke by phone with former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

“George, I’m asking you to bomb the compound,” Olmert told Bush, according to the book, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.

Bush says he discussed options with his national security team. A bombing mission was considered “but bombing a sovereign country with no warning or announced justification would create severe blowback,” he writes.

A covert raid was discussed but it was considered too risky to slip a team in and out of Syria undetected.

Bush received an intelligence assessment from then-CIA Director Mike Hayden, who reported that analysts had high confidence the plant housed a nuclear reactor, but low confidence of a Syrian nuclear weapons program.

Bush writes that he told Olmert, “I cannot justify an attack on a sovereign nation unless my intelligence agencies stand up and say it’s a weapons program.”

Bush had ordered the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 based on intelligence that said Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, which were never found.

Olmert was disappointed with Bush’s decision to recommend a strategy of using diplomacy backed up by the threat of force to deal with Syria over the facility.

“Your strategy is very disturbing to me,” Olmert told Bush, according to the book.

Bush denies charges that arose at the time that he had given a “green light” for Israel to attack the installation.

“Prime Minister Olmert hadn’t asked for a green light, and I hadn’t given one. He had done what he believed was necessary to protect Israel,” Bush writes.

Bush writes that Olmert’s “execution of the strike” against the Syrian compound made up for the confidence he had lost in the Israelis during their 2006 war against Hezbollah in Lebanon, which Bush feels was bungled. 

World Geopolitics and The Battle for the Mediterranean

November 5th, 2010 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya


PART III
The Mediterranean Union: The Emergence of a New Order and the Battle for the Mediterranean

In PART I  of this study, the long-term plans for creating a Mediterranean Union, which predate Nicolas Sarkozy by many years, were revealed as were U.S. and E.U. efforts to turn the Middle East and North Africa into free-trade zones and economic territories. The implementation of what is now called the “Union of the Mediterranean” was a project planned through the 1995 Barcelona Process and the U.S. Middle East Free Trade Area (MEFTA).  

Also discussed were Franco-German plans for extending the borders of the European Union in synchronization with the “Global War on Terror.” The case of Libya was also discussed to expose the economic agendas of the E.U. and America. Finally the earlier portion of this text also confirmed the roles of Germany and the European Union as a whole in establishing the Mediterranean Union.

In PART II of the text, NATO expansion in the Mediterranean Basin was discussed through NATO’s “Mediterranean Dialogue” and its “Mediterranean Initiative” as a means of paving the way for E.U. expansion and control. The process follows the same steps as NATO and E.U. expansion in Eastern Europe. The projection for the inclusion of Israel in the E.U. and NATO were also addressed, as well as the role of securing energy resources and markets in the Middle East and North Africa.


 

The Barcelona Process and the Informal 1995 Declaration of a Mediterranean Union

On February 10, 2008 the E.U. Commissioner for Information Society and Media, Viviane Reding reacted to scepticism about the Mediterranean Union on Deutsche Welle Television (DW-TV). Commissioner Reding was told by her interviewer that sceptics in the E.U. fear that the Mediterranean Union will tear the E.U. apart. Reding, a Luxembourger, responded that the Mediterranean Union was already put in place in 1995 through the Barcelona Process and that at the time, in 2008, the entity was merely being fine-tuned: “We already have a Mediterranean Union with the [creation of the] Barcelona Process, where the E.U. formed a solidarity treaty with the countries of the Southern Mediterranean. The correct action [for the E.U.] is to build on that.” [1]

The three main stated objectives of the Barcelona Process or the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership that was established in Spain are stated through the Barcelona Declaration;

(1) The definition of a common area of peace and stability through the reinforcement of political and security dialogue.

(2) The construction of a zone of shared prosperity through an economic and financial partnership and the gradual establishment of a free-trade area.

(3) The rapprochement between peoples through a social, cultural, and human partnership aimed at encouraging understanding between cultures and exchanges between civil societies.

These principles are clearly tied to the creation of joint economic, political, and military-security spheres; the same ties that parallel the principles behind the formation of the European Union. Yet, the motives and agenda behind these principles are not as benign as they are presented. Actions speak louder than words. There is a great deal more to the larger picture of this supranational project.

One should ask, if the objectives behind this process were benign, why all the secrecy and why the deceit? Why the gradual brinkmanship of the project over time? Most importantly, why the use of threats, such as in the cases of Libya and Syria? Or military means, using violence and murder, such as in the cases of the Palestinian Territories and Lebanon, to bring about the materialization of the process?

The answer is simply that this process will benefit a select few circles in both the E.U. and the Mediterranean region and not the majority of citizens. The Mediterranean Union, along with the system of global governance that is being weaved into place, will bring about inescapable poverty and under its framework economic class will go down a road where it will virtually be fixed like a caste in the future.

Union of Inequity: Cheap Labour, Worker Immobility, Guest Workers, and the Mediterranean Union

“Even the so-called Democracy of Athens and the Platonic Utopia were based on domestic and industrial slavery.”

-Sir Halford J. Mackinder (Democratic Ideals and Reality, 1919)

The Mediterranean Union at its roots is not designed as an equal partnership for all its future members. Nor is it about serving the citizens of these countries. The citizens of Turkey, the Balkans, and the Southern Mediterranean will be treated as second-class and third-class citizens.

Under the current framework of the E.U. it is not in the European Union’s economic interests to admit Turkey as a full E.U. member. States like Germany in the Western European half of the E.U. benefit from the cheap migrant labour forces from Turkey that are called “guest workers.” If Turkey were to become a full E.U. member these Turkish workers and Turkey will gain equal rights that the E.U. does not want to grant them. This would include the right of Turkish workers to be treated in the same manner as nationals of the host countries in every way, including having equal wage levels and being able to benefit from the host nations public services. This would also give Turks mobility rights in the European Union: free movement, the right to look for other employers (the right of choice), and the right to be accompanied by their families. [2]

The same concept would apply to the Arab nations of the Southern Mediterranean, like Egypt with its large work force. The E.U. has no intention on granting these countries any equal status in a relationship of peers. This is why there is a rush to change migration laws in the European Union. The basis of a “special relationship” or “special partnership” is in reality a subordinate position.

It should also be noted that the E.U. is not a union of fair treatment and equity either: Eastern European members of the European Union, called the “European Union-Eight” and the “European Union-Eight plus Two” are also legally subordinated within the frameworks of the E.U. in regards to their relationships with the original fifteen members of the E.U., the “European Union-Fifteen.” [3] E.U. prosperity is also for a few and gross differences, which in many cases have been amplified, remain between Western Europe and Eastern Europe.

Aside from securing energy supplies and natural resources, another design of the Mediterranean Union is to harness the substantially large work forces in the Southern Mediterranean, while reducing dependency on cheap-labour from China and other Asian countries. The Southern Mediterranean is also the “near abroad” of the European Union and the establishment of a formal cheap-labour market in the Southern Mediterranean that is deeply tied to the E.U. would cut geographic distance, wait time, transportation costs, fuel consumption, and dependence on China in regards to products manufactured by cheap-labour.

To a certain extent, Chinese leverage over the E.U. would also be dealt a strategic blow. The E.U., like the U.S., is also looking for a means to reduce its dependence on the Chinese before Beijing can be challenged any further over global resources and raw materials. The Mediterranean Union provides a partial answer to this quest against China and other nations with substantially large populations, such as India and Brazil. Once dependence on the Chinese is reduced then energy supplies to China can be challenged with greater effort and possibly cut.

Preparations for Amalgamation: Changing E.U. migratory laws in anticipation for the Mediterranean Union? 

The underlying economic motives for the Mediterranean Union are the reasons why the E.U. is making a mad dash to change its migratory laws. The new regulations and laws will touch immigrants, emigrants, migrant workers, tourists, and other visitors. Fingerprinting, scanning, and collecting information on anyone crossing into or outside of the borders of the E.U. will become standard procedure. This process is also linked to the European Security Strategy, which is an E.U. replication of the strategic doctrine of post-September 11, 2001 America.

Also, the E.U. has announced that it plans on setting up an American-style visa regime for qualified foreign workers seeking entrance into the bloc. Along these lines an E.U. “blue card” that would be similar to the American “green card” would be unveiled as a pass for special residency in the European Union. Biometric identity management security systems are being upgraded and introduced within the European Union. One such system is BioDev II, which uses fingerprinting technology linked to E.U. entrance visas. The system has been developed by Motorola and is in us in France, Britain, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Belgium, and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg under the supervision of the executive branch of the E.U., the European Commission.

The changes to migratory laws in the E.U. are being brought about as a means to obstruct the free flow of migrant workers from the Southern Mediterranean countries that are expected to gravitate towards the countries of the Northern Mediterranean in search of better wages and jobs as soon as the Mediterranean Union is formalized. A neo-liberal paradigm of imparity is being strengthened and reinforced within the Mediterranean Union between capital and labour. Capital will be free to move within the Mediterranean with little regulation, whereas labour forces and individuals from the South Mediterranean will be restricted in their movements and rendered immobile.

E.U. border security and frontier control with non-E.U. countries in the Balkans, North Africa, the Middle East, and the former U.S.S.R. have been defined as major priorities for the European Union. Foreigners, including migrant or guest workers, will have to start routinely carrying identity cards and documents on them. The European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR) is being set up to monitor all E.U. border points using high resolution satellites and unmanned aircraft for migrant movements.

Frontex, a border intelligence agency with its headquarters in Warsaw, the Polish capital, has also been created by the E.U. to monitor all E.U. borders and frontiers. The Warsaw-based agency became operational on October 3, 2005. Additional emphasis has been placed on Ceuta and Melilla as frontier points, which include radar detection and sensory systems and an entire network of cameras to monitor migrant movements into the European Union. Ceuta and Melilla are tiny Spanish territorial positions in North Africa which Spain gained in 1912 as part of Spanish Morocco and has since refused to return to Morocco.

Fortress Europe and the Economic Motivations hiding behind a Global “Security Agenda”

The so-called reforms being brought about in the E.U. are conveniently justified to combat three elements: terrorism, illegal migratory movements, and crime. The dawning of the Mediterranean Union, in league with the global terrorism scare, will however also bring about greater control over E.U. citizens. Despite the creation of the Schengen Zone the passengers that will travel between different E.U. states or those travelling on domestic flights will also have to hand over a large amount of personal information. In Britain this includes credit card numbers and cellular phone numbers. [4] The information will be stored for thirteen years and could be used to profile any individual, including profiling their purchases through credit card records and their private network of relationships through a log of telephone contacts.

Biometrics has been undraped as a major cornerstone of the European Union. Mandatory fingerprinting of all travellers has also been unveiled in 2008 by the European Commission as a new procedure to be introduced throughout the bloc. All visitors crossing E.U. borders will also be monitored. All non-citizens, including those from countries like Canada which are allowed to travel to the E.U. without visas, would be forced to submit biometric data to gain entrance into or to even travel through the European Union. On February 13, 2008 Brussels announced a scheme to collect large amounts of personal information on every traveller entering or departing the European Union. This figure could be up to about nineteen pieces of personal information. [5] In 2007 an agreement was also reached by the E.U. and the U.S. to supply the U.S. Department of Homeland Security with nineteen pieces of information about individuals travelling from the E.U. to the United States. [6]

By mid-2009, all E.U. members declared they will issue passports with electronically archived fingerprints. E.U. member states, like Germany, also plan to start sharing fingerprint and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) data with the U.S. government through an automated exchange system modelled on the outlines of the European Union’s 2005 Prüm (Pruem) Treaty. [7] The Treaty of Prüm outlines the creation of a massive fingerprint information and DNA date exchange bank in the E.U. that has been nicknamed “Big Brother Europe” by its opponents inside the European Parliament (Europarl).

The new E.U. security measures would also reduce the rights guaranteed by U.N. agreements to asylum seekers trying to attain refugee status. Individuals trying to escape state persecution in North Africa or the Middle East for advocating greater freedom and for labour rights will now be put in a dangerous situation. The European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) has protested that the sweeping changes in the E.U. will make it more difficult to stay within the E.U. for asylum seekers while their requests are being reviewed. The E.U. is tactilely helping crush dissent in the Middle East and North Africa towards autocratic rulers and absolute monarchs. A safe haven for opposition movements will be systematically eliminated. In no uncertain terms it is clear that the E.U. is not seeking to nurture freedom or democratic values, but is strengthening the stranglehold of its autocratic allies that rule the Middle East and North Africa.

The changes that are expected by the European Commission to be ingrained within the E.U. between the years 2010 and 2015 are not about terrorism or fighting crime, but about the control of wages, labour markets, and labour supply. Behind the security and crime fighting agendas sits the real agenda of controlling migratory movements of people and wages. The control of labour forces — both domestic and foreign — is the main purpose of the new migratory reforms in the European Union. Knowing this it is of little wonder that the first joint summit of the Arab League and the E.U. held in Malta was the scene of not only major free-trade talks, but also major talks on migration control between the E.U. and the Arab World. According to Franco Frattini, the E.U. Justice Commissioner, the prime motive for the new regulations and laws is to control the flow of migrant workers into the European Union. According to Commissioner Frattini more than half the illegal immigrants entering the E.U. do so with valid documents, but stay past the expiration date of their permits.

If one were to live in a city where the only form of employment was a coal mine and there was no means to leave the city then one would have no choice but to work at the coal mine. Control of labour movement is a cornerstone to the socio-economic objectives of the U.S., the E.U., the World Bank, and a league of associated international financial institutions (IFIs). By rendering work forces immobile in any given geographic locality the rights of employment choice and occupational alternatives are removed and a new form of monopoly is established — a forced acceptance of work on whole pools of individuals. Rising fuel prices are also adding to the erosion of mobility rights.

The security agenda behind controlling movements is heavily tied to economic objectives, as are the international disease scares like avian influenza (bird flu) and the swine flue that lock up human movement. Control of mobility in the oceans and international waters of the world is also part of this objective. The internationally illegal Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) was initiated by the U.S. government, with the support of the E.U., in 2003 as part of the “Global War on Terror.” The Proliferation Security Initiative is presented as a means to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), however it can be applied to bring about a hold over global maritime mobility. The strategy is a threat to international movement on the high seas and maritime trade. There is good reason why it is illegal under international law and the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Industrial De-location in the European Union and the Global Economic Crisis

This process of industrial de-location has already been underway in the E.U. for years, under which industries have been relocated to Eastern Europe and other global regions. Under this neo-liberal paradigm jobs and industries can gradually be removed from wealthier E.U. states to Southern Mediterranean nations, where cheap and immobile labour forces will be awaiting.

This relationship is analogous to the events that occurred in North America during the 1990s when jobs and whole industrial sectors where relocated from Canada and the U.S. to Mexico where cheap-labour forces were waiting. In North America this process unfolded under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and resulted in a decline in living standards or the quality of life. Costs of living went up, wages experienced a decline, and a gap emerged between costs of living and wages which started to eat away at the middle class.

The global economic crisis is the ultimate form of shock therapy for industrial de-location and reconfiguration. The global economic crisis has helped advance the industrial de-location that had started decades earlier. In these terms, the global economic crisis is not about financial errors by the banking sector, but about pushing industrial de-location and re-engineering the socio-economic order of the globe under the guise of state austerity measures.

Triggering a Decline of Wages in both the E.U. and the Mediterranean: Challenging China and displacing Asian labour markets?

The wages of the cheap-labour market in China can also be further lowered by opening a cheap-labour market in the European Union’s “near abroad.” This is part of the global “race to the bottom” where regulatory standards in regards to labour wages are being increasingly dismantled. This process in effect facilitates a state of cannibalism or economic decomposition within the effected labour markets and ultimately brings about a decline in living standards.

If major cheap-labour markets like the Chinese market start to lower their wages to stay competitive with a reconfigured cheap-labour market controlled by the E.U. that would emerge in the Southern Mediterranean, then this could eventually result in much lower wages in other global labour markets. Other labour markets would lower their wages as part of an effort to keep their respective markets open or in neo-liberal terms as “a means of staying competitive.” Ultimately the results would have worldwide ramifications for lowering global wages that would also affect the citizens of the E.U., Japan, and North America. This is one aspect of the “race to the bottom” and it is part of a cycle that fuels itself into a downward spiral.

With the backdrop of the global economic crises, what is unwinding itself is a global levelling of wages. Wage levels within the E.U. are progressively experiencing a decline and being brought downwards. The labour laws protecting the wages and standards of E.U. citizens are being de-railed too. De-regulation and degeneration are the orders of the day. Before the “race to the bottom” and these measures were justified by E.U. officials through neo-liberal assertions that wages need to be lowered because of the need for “competitiveness.” Now austerity measures are being used as justification for reform and exploitation, because of the convenience of the global economic crisis.

Aside from exploitation of the work force and surplus labour in the Southern Mediterranean the remaining national assets in these countries, like in Eastern Europe after the end of the Cold War, will be privatized further and privately owned. This process will go hand-in-hand with the gradual entrenchment of higher costs of living that will further marginalize local populations to sell private property, private assets, or any other means of income out of desperation — decisions that will lock them into a neo-liberal induced state of poverty.

Expanding the European Union: The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP)

Even in an era of globalisation, geography is still important.”

-A Secure Europe in a Better World: The European Security Strategy (December 12, 2003)

The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) is a means to expanding the European Union or creating additional layers or satellites to the E.U., like the Mediterranean Union. The European Commission subtly elucidates on these expansionist intentions when describing the ENP: “The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) was developed in 2004, with the objective of avoiding the emergence of new dividing lines between the enlarged [European Union] and our neighbours and instead strengthening the prosperity, stability and security of all concerned.” [8] Special attention should be given to the European Commission’s stated “objective of avoiding the emergence of new dividing lines between the enlarged [European Union]” and its neighbours in the Balkans, the former U.S.S.R., the Middle East, and North Africa. [9] When removing fine lines, meaning borders (which are not necessarily physical), of separation what is left but some form of harmonization or assimilation?

The ENP also provides funding through so-called “financial instruments” such as the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) for macro-economic reforms and economic restructuring that includes the privatization of the national economies of the countries participating in the program. After the 2006 Israeli war against Lebanon the Lebanese government agreed through the European Union-Lebanon ENP Action Plan and the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) to accelerate the privatization of the Lebanese economy through international assistance, which means through the directorship of the U.S. and the European Union. The ENPI are categorized into those ENPI covering the “East” (Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union) and those ENPI covering the “South” (the countries of the Mediterranean Basin, specifically Israel and the Arab countries of North Africa and the Middle East).

The process has resounding resemblances to World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) programs. The ENP funding has been administered to all of the European Union’s frontiers in Eastern Europe, the former U.S.S.R, North Africa, and the Middle East through so-called democratization programs, stabilization initiatives, and humanitarian programs that include food aid. Recipients of ENP funding include Serbia, Ukraine, Moldova, Albania, Georgia, and the Arab countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. In the Balkans the Stabilization and Association Process (SAP) has also been at work, which includes so-called stabilization of national economies through action plans drawn by the E.U. involving country reports. E.U. assistance and aid is tied to conditionalities that are drawn up by the European Commission in Brussels, which include the privatization of state infrastructure that is bought by British, French, German, Dutch, Italian, and American companies amongst others. 

In 2007 the executive arm of the E.U. also formed the Neighbourhood Investment Fund. The purpose of the Neighbourhood Investment Fund, which will be active until 2013, is to support international financial institution (IFI) lending from such organizations as the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in ENP partner countries. Amongst the Arab countries of the Mediterranean, since 2002, the European Investment bank is also heavily involved in this process under the mandate of the ENP and the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP). This further cultivates the chains of privatization.

The Barcelona Process is also linked to the ENP. Under the Barcelona Process from the years 2007 to 2010 the Kingdom of Morocco is to receive 654 million euros, Algeria is to receive 220 million euros, Tunisia 300 million euros, Egypt 558 million euros, the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas is to receive in 632 euros, Syria is to receive 130 million euros, and Israel is to collect 8 million euros.

 

Betrayal on the European Union’s Frontiers: The Disloyal Establishments of the Mediterranean 

The continuum of Franco-German policy cuts across the lines of political parties and government administrations. Nicolas Sarkozy’s remarks about Turkey’s future in regards to the E.U. are almost similar to those of members of the federal administration of Gerhard Schröder (Schroeder) in Germany. The full inclusion of Turkey in the E.U. is tentative in nature. France has repeatedly said that Turkey will not be admitted into the E.U., but will enjoy a “special relationship” with the European Union. [10]

The relationships that are planned for Turkey and the Arab states of the Mediterranean Sea with the E.U. are essentially those of E.U. territories or economic dependencies with secondary privileges. The Mediterranean Union is destined to be a second-class periphery for the E.U. that will be subservient in nature. Through such an arrangement the nations of the Middle East and North Africa will be reduced to economic colonies.

At the same time Turkey is integrating itself with the economies of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, and Libya in various ways and through free-trade agreements. Many analysts believe that this, along with Turkish agreements with the Russian Federation, constitutes a shift in the Turkish position. This shift appears as being one that is against Turkey’s NATO allies and Israel. Tehran and Damascus also give the impression that they believe that a regional bloc and common market is being established by them in alliance with Ankara and with the Iranian-Syrian Awliyaa (Alliance) as its nucleus. Tehran is also moving closer to Georgia, even though Tbilisi is a staunch ally of the E.U. and America. 

Yet, what Turkey is doing is precisely what American geo-strategists have outlined for decades to rein in Iran and Syria through economic integration. For example, Zbigniew Brzezinski has stated: “American long-range interests in Eurasia would be better served by abandoning existing U.S. objections to closer Turkish-Iranian economic cooperation, especially in the construction of new pipelines, and also to the construction of other links between Iran, [the Republic of] Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan.” [11]

In Lebanon, where the country is tittering between the so-called West and the Iranian-Syrian Awliyaaa, social change is being instituted through austerity measures tied to the national debt of Lebanon. Lebanon ranks as one of the most heavily indebted countries on the planet. The Lebanese debt to foreign lenders has been accumulated by what is the March 14 Alliance portion of the government in Beirut and their predecessors. Control over natural gas fields off the Lebanese coast,  in the waters of the Eastern Mediterranean, could also be traded off as a means of servicing the Lebanese national debt.

The debt being accumulated by Lebanon and the nations of the littoral of the Mediterranean is a strategy to bypass popular sentiment through economical means. At the end of the day making bread is an important factor for the decisions of most people. All around the Mediterranean social change is being brought about through economic change.

The European Security Strategy: An Anglo-American and Franco-German Compact for Eurasia
 
Looking beyond the diplomatic jargon and the noise it is clear that expanding the borders of the European Union is the force behind the ENP. The ENP tackles the directives of the European Security Strategy, an E.U. document that was put together through Paris and Berlin that emerged in Brussels on December 12, 2003 after a series of meeting between the Anglo-American alliance and the Franco-German entente. It was at this time on December 16, 2003 that President Jacques Chirac and Chancellor Gerhard Schröder cancelled Iraqi financial debts to France and Germany after making arrangements with Washington, D.C. and London. This was the start of the rapprochement between the Franco-German and Anglo-American sides that resulted in an agreement to share the spoils of war in the Middle East and North Africa. The European Security Strategy is a product of the Franco-German and Anglo-American agreement to carve up the world into spheres of management.

Brzezinski has described the E.U. as the American bridgehead in Eurasia. All signs seem to indicate that France and Germany, as Anglo-American partners, have agreed to become the Anglo-American bridgehead in Eurasia. The European Security Strategy is the source for redefining the European Union security borders in concert with both Franco-German and Anglo-American interests. E.U. expansion is fully supported by America. The E.U. security document in fact states: “The United States has played a critical role in European integration and European security, in particular through NATO. The end of the Cold War has left the United States in a dominant position as a military actor. However, no single country is able to tackle today’s complex problems on its own.” [12]

To add to this, the Anglo-American and Franco-German sides have been in the process of merging as a means to end their rivalry. An example of this merger is the outcomes of the 2010 Anglo-French Defence and Security Cooperation Treaty. Under the treaty both Paris and London will share their aircraft carriers, pool their military resources, have joint military forces, have closer arms industry cooperation, have joint defence equipment projects, have joint military facilities, have integrated nuclear weapons programs, jointly develop nuclear submarines, assess cooperation on developing military satellites, and jointly developing unmanned aerial drones. [13]

In the European Security Strategy emphases is placed on the central importance of NATO as the embodiment of America and the E.U. and the objective of establishing a “rule-based international order” through international regional bodies such as the E.U., the U.N. Security Council, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), MERCOSUR, and the African Union. [14]

What is written about the Mediterranean is as follows: “The Mediterranean area generally continues to undergo serious problems of economic stagnation, social unrest and unresolved conflicts. The European Union’s interests require a continued engagement with Mediterranean partners, through more effective economic, security and cultural cooperation in the framework of the Barcelona Process. A broader engagement with the Arab World should also be considered.” [15] What is meant is that a project in the Mediterranean should be engaged as a broader engagement of the entire Arab World in economic and socio-political terms, as referenced by the Barcelona Process.

In no uncertain terms the E.U. security document goes on to declare the global ambitions of the European Union: “As a union of 25 states with over 450 million producing over a quarter of the world’s [gross national product] (GNP), and with a wide range of instruments at its disposal, the European Union is inevitably a global player. In the last decade European forces have been deployed abroad to places as distant as Afghanistan, East Timor, and the [Democratic Republic of the Congo].” [16] 

The security document replicates Anglo-American dogma, but in a very vague way. Even pre-emptively tackling threats abroad, in what has come to be known by political scientists as the Bush Doctrine, is also mentioned. [17] “Good governance” for the countries to the “East” of the European Union, which means the Balkans and the post-Soviet space, and the countries in the Mediterranean is also mentioned in line with what is ultimately an expansionist supranational economic project. [18] The document ultimately calls for “[h]igher defence spending upgrading the military and aligning the E.U. and NATO” in what will one day amount to integration. [19] 

The Mediterranean Union is merely a linking piece. This project is clearly engaged in brinkmanship towards global integration and the streamlining of supranational political, economic, and military organizations.  It is part of a compact between the elites of America and the major European powers.

An Embryonic Order is starting to emerge in the Mediterranean

 

The E.U. is moving beyond the Barcelona Process of 1995. The signs are appearing everywhere. The Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly (EMPA) was established after the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq on December 3, 2003. The Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly is an institution that has been sanctioned through the Barcelona Process. It is no coincidence that this body was brought about in 2003 because the Mediterranean Union is linked to the forced globalization that is being waged through the “Global War on Terror.”

The E.U. Commissioner for Information Society and Media has also given strong suggestions and foreshadowed what the E.U. intends to do in regards to the Mediterranean Union. Viviane Reding told Christian F. Trippe, the head of Deutsche Welle’s Brussels studio, during an interview that the E.U. should look beyond the Mediterranean and further eastward (e.g., the former U.S.S.R. and the non-Mediterranean areas of the Middle East like Iraq and the Persian Gulf) for expansion: “But we shouldn’t just look at the Mediterranean. We also need to look to the east. We have many new neighbors [sic.; neighbours]. And that’s why it’s so important to have the right policies to engage with them.” [20]
 
On November 22, 2007 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM) established its official headquarters in Spinola Palace, which is located in the Maltese city of St. Julian’s. Malta is an island-state and an E.U. member located in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea. [21] The roots of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean extend to an inter-parliamentary conference held in 1983 by Cyprus, but it was in 2005 and through security discussions held in Amman, Jordon that the green light was given for the establishment of the Mediterranean body.

On January 22, 2008 Reuters, quoting E.U. External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, reported that the E.U. “wants to push ties with Morocco to a higher level within a year, rewarding Rabat for progress in opening markets and pressing economic and social reforms,” and has elaborated that Morocco will take part in a shared border security, policing, and legal system with the E.U., amongst other things. [22] The Kingdom of Morocco had made a bid to join the E.U. in 1986, but was rejected.

It should come as no surprise that two inter-linked conferences on free-trade between the Arab World, the U.S., and the E.U. were made and held consecutively. The first of the meetings was in Amman, Jordon (February 10-11, 2008) and discussed establishing the U.S. Middle East Free Trade Area (MEFTA) by 2013. The second was an Arab League-European Union foreign ministers conference held in Malta (February 11-12, 2008) that discuss “political engagement” between the E.U. and the Arab League along the lines of the European Union Mediterranean Free Trade Area (EMFTA).

The U.S. MEFTA venture started in 2003, the same year as the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. Oman, Jordan, Bahrain, Israel, and Morocco already had bilateral free-trade agreements with the United States. All the U.S. MEFTA members are also member states of the Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA), which is the project of establishing an Arab common market. Such a project to establish a common market and customs union is not new amongst the Arabs. This Arab free-trade agreement, however, was adopted in the Arab League Summit of Amman in 1998, with 17 Arab League members signing the pact, it is supervised and run by the Arab Economic Council in the Arab League, but officially came into existence as of January 1, 2005. [23]

GAFTA objectives that are notable are as follows;

(1) The formation of a bigger and more homogenous market.

(2) Allowing foreign direct investment to work with a homogenous market with standardized regulations.

(3) Increase economic inter-dependence between the Arab states.

According to the Gulf Daily News of Bahrain, the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, Kent Patton, while visiting the U.A.E., Kuwait, and Bahrain for free-trade talks has said that the MEFTA will be put in place in the Middle East and North Africa by 2014; “There is a 2014 deadline for this but we hope it could be achieved sooner. There are no official discussions on but the process is very much in place.” [24] The MEFTA process is a step-by-step project, similar to the step-by-step formation of the European Union.

In 2010, interestingly enough, the Arab League meet in the Libyan city of Sirte and discussed establishing an Arab Neighbourhood. [25] The proposed Arab Neighbourhood could also include the non-Arab states of Turkey, Ethiopia, Chad, and Iran. This took place while Iran, Turkey, and Syria were talking about and taking steps to establish a common market and bloc in the Middle East that would also include Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordon.

Annapolis and the Economic Integration of Israel with the Arab World

Both the American-Arab and European Union-Arab League conferences, respectively in Jordon and in Malta, discussed economical integration, trade in the Mediterranean, and the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Both conferences were also coordinated with one another and planned during the end of 2007 in close proximity to the Annapolis Conference. The reason that Annapolis is linked to the timing of these two conferences is because the Annapolis Conference promoted the Saudi-proposed Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 and the Agreement of Principles between Mahmoud Abbas and Ehud Olmert, which both call for the economic integration of Israel with the Arab World. These proposals by Riyadh, Ehud Olmert, and Mahmoud Abbas are part of the blue prints for establishing the fertile grounds for the emergence of the Mediterranean Union.

Understanding the link between all these events and objectives and realizing their age will allow one to also understand why The Washington Post published a front-page article on February 9, 2003 that declared that both Israeli and American policy had become perfectly aligned in the Middle East: “For the first time a U.S. administration and a Likud [Israeli] government are pursuing nearly identical policies.” [26] The wars against Iraq and Taliban-controlled Afghanistan were about globalization under the helm of military might.

Wars of Integration: from the Balkans to Iraq

In order to move forward with the Mediterranean Union and the restructuring of the Middle East the people of the region must all be subdued so that the “New Middle East” can be brought about. Furthermore, this is why NATO/E.U. troops and ships are in Lebanon and the Eastern Mediterranean. This project is part of the emerging “New World Order” that George H. W. Bush Sr. was talking about when Baathist Iraq was defeated in 1991 and it is this new order that is beginning to lift up its head into the limelight for the whole earth to see. This endeavour is also the underlying reason for the “Global War on Terror” and why America and the E.U. were partners from the start of the so-called “long war.”

According to Lieutenant-General James J. Lovelace, the force known as U.S. Army Central (USARCENT/ARCENT) was establishing a permanent platform for “full spectrum operations” in the twenty-seven countries that form the boundaries of what use to be U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) in the Middle East, Central Asia, East Africa, and Pakistan.[27] This was before all the African states, except for Egypt, that fell into the borders of CENTCOM were transferred to the watch of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM, USAFICOM). 

Lieutenant-General Lovelace’s acknowledgement about the operational expansion of the capabilities of the U.S. Army in the Middle East, Central Asia, East Africa, and Pakistan only confirms what many experts and analysts predicted from the onslaught of the “Global War on Terror” in 2001: the U.S. intended to stay permanently in the Middle East and Central Asia under the cloak of fighting terrorism. Lieutenant-General Lovelace also confirmed that the process was part of a worldwide transformation of the U.S. military with the ability to conduct offensive, defensive, and stability operations.

Lieutenant-General Lovelace has moreover confirmed that the U.S. military has set its mind on staying permanently in the Middle East and its surrounding regions: “These commands now have a permanent responsibility to this theater. They’ll have a permanent presence here. The personnel will change; the commands will remain.” [28] This process became apparent when Lieutenant-General Paul T. Mikolsdhrk relocated from ARCENT headquarters from Fort McPherson, Georgia to Kuwait in the Persian Gulf in November 11, 2001.

The Stabilization and Association Process (SAP): Supranational Expansionism

The SAP is part of the modus operandi of the E.U. and U.S. for moving into conflict zones. Along with similar agreements and devices, the SAP is a form of neo-colonialism and imperial expansion. Countries are either smashed or eroded and then swallowed through incorporation into a much larger entity.

The words conflict, post-conflict, and stabilization all go together. Where war brings instability, the economic and political tutelage of the U.S. and E.U. has been presented as bringing stability. Both are systematic steps of the same formula. Stability operations is a vague word used to beautify occupation, economic restructuring of nation-states under occupational administrations similar to the ones in Iraq and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and nation-building.

The Stabilization and Association Process (SAP) has been part of the expansion formula of the European Union. It has been applied in the war-torn republics of the former Yugoslavia. It has proceeded by encouraging SAP candidates to quickly open up their economies, integrate themselves, and eventually to enter the E.U. as members. The process establishes a contractual relationship between the E.U. and the SAP candidate nations, which imposes legal obligations on the SAP candidate to open up its economy and to privatize its state infrastructure. State loans and economic arrangements are also made by the E.U. for the SAP candidate state, which further put it under the economic control of the main E.U. powers. Currently Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) are SAP candidates.

A Grand Hoax: From the Mediterranean Union to the “Union of the Mediterranean”

A public relations campaign trying to hide the long-standing objectives of creating the Mediterranean Union as an additional layer to the European Union, which itself is a piece of a much larger emerging polity, has been underway. Public deception has been at play. The Mediterranean Union is costumed neo-colonialism, economic imperialism, and servitude. The supranational project is being orchestrated under the cover of a patient decades-long public relations campaign.

Germany has been pretending to oppose the supposedly solitary French idea of creating a Mediterranean Union. Chancellor Angela Merkel even claimed that the project risked splitting the E.U. with Paris establishing a sphere of influence in North Africa and the Middle East and Berlin a sphere of influence in Eastern Europe. A false compromise has been drawn between Paris and Berlin where the whole project has become a project that will involve Germany and the rest of the European Union.

The Mediterranean Unions name has been changed to the “Union of the Mediterranean” (UfM) as part of an effort to give the impression that a genuine compromise has been made over supposed concerns and oppositions towards it; when in fact the compromise is false and there were no disagreements between Paris and Berlin. In an omission about the true nature of the Mediterranean Union as a project of the entire E.U., President Nicolas Sarkozy told reporters that “I never had the idea of excluding any [E.U.] states [from the Union of the Mediterranean]…I never regarded it as a rival to the [European Union].” [29] According to Ingrid Melander the Mediterranean Union “concept has shrunk from an international forum grouping only states with a Mediterranean coastline and involving nine new agencies and a bank, to a mere regular summit of [E.U.] and [non-E.U.] Mediterranean countries with a joint presidency — which may yet be dropped — and a small secretariat.” [30]

After the so-called German objections, it was also widely reported that Nicolas Sarkozy has given the assurance of the French government to Chancellor Merkel and Germany that the Mediterranean Union will be a project for the entire European Union. Yet, on the opposite shores of the Mediterranean Sea there were voices refuting this. Colonel Qaddafi, the leader of Libya, expressed his opposition to the so-called diluted version of the Mediterranean Union that Paris and Berlin agreed upon and demanded a full union. The Jamahiriya News Agency of Libya quoted Colonel Qaddafi as saying: “The idea of true cooperation between the countries located around one sea on the lines of President Sarkozy’s initiative deserves support…” [31] Later Colonel Qaddafi would publicly make a reversal, voicing his opposition to the Mediterranean Union. Qaddafi would boycott a summit co-chaired by Egypt and France (the co-presidents nations of the Union of the Mediterranean) in July, 2008. [32]

Before its official acceptance in 2008, the proposal for a Union of the Mediterranean was presented as a joint Franco-German initiative to the rest of the E.U. bloc. [33] The Franco-German proposals, like many other political documents, are deliberately vague. The French government distributed a paper to other E.U. countries earlier in January of the same year outlining joint initiatives in agriculture, energy, the environment, migration, transport and ten other areas. Yet, none of this was mentioned in the less than two-page Franco-German paper. Paris and Berlin will chair the E.U. involvement in the Mediterranean Union. [34] The Mediterranean Union will also be managed by two directors or co-presidents, one from a non-E.U. Mediterranean nation and the other from an E.U. member state.

In 2008, during an E.U. summit, held from March 13 to March 14, 2008, the project was approved unanimous by the entire E.U. and was handed over to the European Commission for implementation with no public consolations with E.U. citizens. The project from its beginnings in 1995 as part of the Barcelona Process was part of a united E.U. endeavour to control the Mediterranean. Paris has pretended that it originally wanted the project to only include the nations of the Mediterranean littoral as members, while Berlin argued that the E.U. would be divided amongst its northern and southern members because of the project.

From the outset the project was funded by the entire European Union as a part of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. The whole project is based on the foundations of establishing a free-tree zone between the E.U. and the nations of the Mediterranean and the Arab World. There are clear indications that Berlin and the E.U. are being untruthful about the whole process including claims that Germany opposed French economic ties with Libya. [35]

The E.U. has stage-managed the whole project by creating false opposition or  a counter-discourse within the E.U. to the Mediterranean Union. Additionally, there is a deliberate attempt to downplay the whole process and its ramifications. The European Commission has claimed that the process of trade between the E.U. and the Mediterranean has merely generated substandard results because of  the inefficient governments of the nations of both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Southern Mediterranean. Brussels and E.U. officials have also downplayed the Mediterranean Union as a reinvigorated Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. The mainstream media and journalists in the E.U. have merely repeated these claims verbatim. Little is said, however, about the European Union’s geo-strategic aims of securing the vast natural resources and energy reserves of North Africa and the Middle East.

The Role of Corporations in the Union of the Mediterranean

An additional dimension to this deceit is the role of multinational corporations. In a stage-managed event, Berlin was presented to the public as prevailing in demands not to allow further E.U. funds to be allocated to the Barcelona Process and the Mediterranean Union. This has actually opened the door for the corporate private sector, which is one of the main forces behind the whole project. As part of the false compromise France requested for approximately 14 billion euros from multinational corporations. [36]

In fact on May 27, 2010 financial institutions and private investors were invited to the Marseille Provence Chamber of Commerce and Industry to discuss financing and investment in the Southern Mediterranean and Eastern Mediterranean countries, specifically in the energy, water, transport, and urban development sectors. [37] The Secretary-General of the Union of the Mediterranean, Ahmed Masadeh, was present. Also present at the meeting was the E.U. Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Štefan Füle, and the Vice-President of the European Investment Bank, Philippe de Fontaine Vive. [38]

Since 2002, the European Investment Bank has also been involved in this as part of the ENP through what are called Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) programs. These FEMIP programs are extended to Algeria, the Palestinian Territories, Israel, Jordon, Lebanon, Syria, Morocco, and Tunisia and encouragethe opening-up of the economies of Mediterranean partner countries.” [3] In the words of the European Investment bank, this is done through focusing “on two priority areas: support for the private sector and creating an investment-friendly environment.” [40]

The globe will be divided into poor and rich. People are not only being alienated and estranged from the products of their labour, but they are on the path of ultimately being alienated and estranged to the system of governance that controls their lives through unaccountable supranational organizations. The global economic crisis has resulted in an induced anomic state in Europe and other regions, which provides the perfect order for re-organizing the social and economic order. In this aspect the Mediterranean Union is one phase within a global roadmap towards re-institutionalizing feudalism under a global elitist compact. Yet, all global elites will not be equal in this compact. From the Eurasian Heartland a challenge is rising from the elites of the triple entente of Moscow, Tehran, and Beijing, who have watched uneasily as the U.S. and E.U. inch closer in different ways towards their domains.

PART IVThe Mediterranean Union: The Geo-Strategic Challenge from Russia and Iran

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).


NOTES
  
[1] Viviane Reding, February 10, 2008 Interview about the Treaty of Lisbon and the E.U.”, interview by Christian F. Trippe, Journal, February 10, 2008.

[2] European  Commission, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities. Do you want to work in another EU Member State?” (Belgium: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 2006), pp.5, 7-9, 11-14, 15-25, 33.

[3] Ibid., pp.9, 27-29; The European Union-Eight (E.U.-8) are the nations, aside from Malta and Cyprus, that joined the E.U. on May 1, 2004: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Slovenia; The European Union-Eight Plus Two (E.U.-8 +2) is a grouping of the E.U.-8 with the addition of Bulgaria and Romania, which both joined on January 1, 2007.

[4] Ian Traynor, Government wants personal details of every traveller”, The Guardian (U.K.), February 23, 2008.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Germany, US deepen anti-terror cooperation”, Agence France-Presse (AFP), March 11, 2008.

[8] European Commission, The Policy: What is the European Neighbourhood Policy?” Accessed March 12, 2007: <http://ec.europa.eu/world/enp/policy_en.htm>.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Fulya Özerkan, Mediterranean project vs. EU: An illusion or reality for Turkey?” Turkish Daily News, May 30, 2007.

[11] Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and the Geostrategic Imperatives (N.Y.C., New York HarperCollins Publishers, 1997), p.204.

[12] Council of the European Union, A Secure Europe in a Better World: The European Security Strategy, (Brussels: Consilium, December 12, 2003), p.1.

[13] Prime Minister’s Office (10 Downing Street), UK–France Summit 2010 Declaration on Defence and Security Co-operation, November 2, 2010:
<http://www.number10.gov.uk/news/statements-and-articles/2010/11/uk%E2%80%93france-summit-2010-declaration-on-defence-and-security-co-operation-56519>.

[14] European Union, A Secure Europe, Op. cit., p.9.

[15] Ibid., p.8.

[16] Ibid., p.1.

[17] Ibid., p.7.

[18] Ibid., pp.7-8.

[19] Ibid., p.12.

[20] February 10, 2008 Interview”, Op. cit. 

[21] Fiona Galea Debono, Malta determined in its Med. vocation – President”, Times of Malta, November 23, 2007.

[22] Tom Pfeiffer, ed. Ralph Boulton, EU wants Morocco ties within a year”, Reuters, January 22, 2008.

[23] European Institute for Research on Mediterranean and Euro-Arab Cooperation (MEDEA), Arab Free Trade Area (AFTA)”, Accessed January 22, 2008: <http://www.medea.be/index.html?page=2&lang=en&doc=286>.

[24] Trade Deal”, Gulf Daily News, vol. 30, no. 344, February 27, 2008 p.1; Mandeep Singh, New push for Mideast free trade deal”, Gulf Daily News, vol. 30, no. 344, February 27, 2008, p.32.

[25] Arab League silent on Middle East peace process”, Agence France-Presse (AFP), October 9, 2010.

[26] Robert G. Kaiser, Bush and Sharon Nearly Identical On Mideast Policy”, The Washington Post, February 9, 2003, p.A01.

[27] Vince Little, Permanent U.S. Army command taking shape in Kuwait”, Stars and Stripes, February 19, 2008.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ingrid Melander et al., EU leaders to endorse Mediterranean Union: draft”, ed. Philippa Fletcher, Reuters, March 14, 2008.

[30] Ibid.

[31] Gaddafi says Med Union risks running into sand”, Reuters, March 15, 2008.

[32] Mediterranean Union is launched”, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), July 13, 2008.

[33] Stephen Castle, Sarkozy and Merkel draft agreement detailing role of nations on EU’s southern border”, International Herald Tribune, March 12, 2008.

[34] Germany and France present proposal for chairing Mediterranean Union”, IRNA, March 12, 2008

[35] Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, The Mediterranean Union: Dividing the Middle East and North Africa”, Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), February 19, 2008.

[36] Melander, EU leaders”, Op. cit.

[37] European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) Info Centre, UfM projects in the spotlight at Marseille investors’ forum”, May 14, 2010:
<http://www.enpi-info.eu/mainmed.php?id=21566&id_type=1&lang_id=450>.

[38] Ibid.

[39] European Investment Bank, “Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP)”, Accessed September 13, 2010:
<http://www.eib.org/projects/regions/med/>.

[40] Ibid.
 

Related Global Research articles 
 
 The Mediterranean Union: Dividing the Middle East and North Africa
 
 NATO and Israel: Instruments of America’s Wars in the Middle East
 
 America’s “Divide and Rule” Strategies in the Middle East
 
 The “Great Game” Eurasia and the History of War
 
 The “Great Game” Enters the Mediterranean: Gas, Oil, War, and Geo-Politics
 
 The Sino-Russian Alliance: Challenging America’s Ambitions in Eurasia
 
 Europe and America: Sharing the Spoils of War

The Democrats Prepare to Move Right

November 5th, 2010 by Shamus Cooke

On the eve of the Republican-dominated mid-term election, working people were told to vote Democrat to prevent a “truly dangerous” Republican party from taking power. There is an element of truth in this:  the Republican Party has been sprinting to the far right for decades, to the point where they are incapable of speaking sensibly about political issues.

 But in a close second place in this rightward scramble are the Democrats, who’ve spent decades racing into the arms of the corporations that dominate both political parties unchallenged. 

This mad dash to the right did not stop at the midterm election; the Democrats are preparing to unleash their hidden second wind, kept from public view until after the elections. 

The first step to the right occurred in the commentary over the lost elections. The Democrat’s fake analysis about why they lost will push them to “correct their mistakes.” 

Contrary to all evidence or common sense, the Democrats now claim that their agenda was “too progressive” while in power, to be fixed by shifting even further to the right. In effect, the Democrats are now agreeing with the Tea Party’s analysis of the Obama Administration.  

Democratic Senator from Indiana Evan Bayh explained this false narrative in The New York Times, in his op-ed entitled Where Do Democrats Go Next?  His answer could only be interpreted as to the right:

“It is clear that Democrats over-interpreted our [progressive] mandate. Talk of a ‘political realignment’ and a ‘new progressive era’ proved wishful thinking.” (November 3, 2010). 

Bayh suggests that the Democrats adopt numerous Republican policies to compensate, such as cuts to both corporate taxes and Social Security. 

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/03/opinion/03bayh.html

Obama wasted no time in agreeing with the Tea Party in his concession speech. He had “lost contact” with the American people, meaning, that he had acted too progressively. To compensate, Obama implied a move to the right, by serving corporations even more obediently: 

“I’ve got to take responsibility in terms of making sure that I make clear to the business community [Wall Street and corporate America], as well as to the country, that the most important thing we can do is to boost and encourage our business sector…,”

Obama also promised to “negotiate” with Republicans over the Bush tax cuts, energy, and education policies.
 
Social Security is an additional area that Obama has agreed to negotiate with the Republicans. Obama’s bipartisan Deficit Reduction Commission purposely waited for the midterm elections to end before it announced its recommendations, which will reportedly include cuts to Social Security and Medicare.  

Both Republicans and Democrats are set to unite in attacking Social Security, in the same way they have united over the Bush/Obama wars; the Bush/Obama bank bailouts;  the Bush/Obama destruction of civil liberties; the Bush/Obama education policy; and the Bush/Obama general favoritism of corporations over working people. 

Both parties agree that the U.S. deficit is a more severe problem than creating jobs. They will thus unite to reduce the deficit by cutting or destroying valuable social services to working people, including Social Security, Medicare, public education, and other federally funded programs.   This is their only option, since both parties agree that raising taxes on the rich and corporations or cutting military spending are “off the table”.

These bi-partisan, anti-worker policies will further expose the Democrats as being extensions of the very wealthy and the corporations.  Working people will refuse to vote for this “lesser evil” in the future and demand that their labor and community groups move towards political independence.

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

The “New Anti-Semitism”

November 5th, 2010 by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East

Canada’s Governor General, others lend names to conference alleging “new anti-Semitism”  
 
For Immediate Release 

Montreal, November 5, 2010 – The Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combatting Anti-Semitism (ICCA) will be holding its second international conference Nov. 7-9 in Ottawa at the Parliament Buildings. Currently posted documents at the ICCA website reveal that Canada’s Governor General David Johnston, the House and Senate Speakers, Official Opposition Leader Michael Ignatieff and Foreign Affairs critic Bob Rae will speak at the conference.

ICCA’s Ottawa conference is a follow-up to its February 2009 inaugural conference in London England at which it issued a declaration warning of a “dramatic increase in recorded anti-Semitic hate crimes,” but provided no evidence to substantiate that claim. The London declaration also implied that the intensifying criticism of Israel – abundant during and after Israel’s lethal 22-day assault on Gaza just prior to the London conference – was itself a new form of anti-Semitism.

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is disappointed that the Governor General and Messrs Ignatieff and Rae are lending their names – and Canada’s – to a closed event orchestrated to shield Israel from criticism.  CJPME notes that criticism rightly falls on nations – like Israel – which repeatedly violate international law and basic human rights. CJPME President Thomas Woodley notes, “The presence on ICCA’s steering committee of hardliner Israeli minister Yuli Edelstein -who not only opposes any moves to scale back the Occupation but also seeks to intensify Israeli presence in Palestinian territory – is indicative of ICCA’s orientation and underlying purpose.” CJPME is firmly opposed to anti-Semitism, a historical problem of tragic proportions, and is concerned about a growing movement to conflate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.

Israel has recently come under criticism for various policies – chief among them the colonization (a.k.a. “settlement”) of the occupied Palestinian territories by Jewish Israelis.  This policy violates the Fourth Geneva Convention and has derailed current peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Despite international condemnation, Israel also continues to impose an illegal blockade on Gaza and its people.
  

For more information, please contact:
Patricia Jean
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East
Telephone: 450-812-7781 or 438-380-5410
CJPME Email - CJPME Website

The United Nation’s Human Rights Council in Geneva reviews the human rights record of the United States on the 5th of November 2010, on the occasion of the Ninth Session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), 1 to 12 November 2010. The following is a presentation given by Dirk Adriaensens in Geneva on 3 November.

Just days after the devastating attacks of 9/11 Deputy Defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz declared that a major focus of US foreign policy would be: “ending states that sponsor terrorism”.

Iraq was labelled a “terrorist state” and targeted for ending.

President Bush went on to declare Iraq the major front of the global war on terror. US forces invaded illegally with the express aim to dismantling the Iraqi state. After WWII focus of social sciences was on state-building and development model. Little has been written on state-destruction and de-development. We can now, after 7 years of war and occupation, state for certain that state-ending was a deliberate policy objective.

The consequences in human and cultural terms of the destruction of the Iraqi state have been enormous: notably the death of over 1,3 million civilians; the degradation in social infrastructure, including electricity, potable water and sewage systems; over eight million Iraqis are in need of humanitarian assistance; abject poverty: the UN Human rights report for the 1st quarter of 2007 found that 54% of Iraqis were living on less than $1 a day; the displacement of minimum 2.5 million refugees and 2.764.000 internally displaced people as to end 2009. One in six Iraqis is displaced. Ethnic & religious minorities are on the verge of extinction. UN-HABITAT, an agency of the United Nations, published a 218-page report entitled State of the World’s Cities, 2010-2011. Prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, the percentage of the urban population living in slums in Iraq hovered just below 20 percent. Today, that percentage has risen to 53 percent: 11 million of the 19 million total urban dwellers.

Destroying Iraqi education

The UNESCO report “Education Under Attack 2010 – Iraq”, dated 10 February 2010, concludes that “Although overall security in Iraq had improved, the situation faced by schools, students, teachers and academics remained dangerous”. The director of the United Nations University International Leadership Institute published a report on 27 April 2005 detailing that since the start of the war of 2003 some 84% of Iraq’s higher education institutions have been burnt, looted or destroyed. Ongoing violence has destroyed school buildings and around a quarter of all Iraq’s primary schools need major rehabilitation. Since March 2003, more than 700 primary schools have been bombed, 200 have been burnt and over 3,000 looted. Populations of teachers in Baghdad have fallen by 80%. Between March 2003 and October 2008, 31,598 violent attacks against educational institutions were reported in Iraq, according to the Ministry of Education (MoE). Since 2007 bombings at Al Mustansiriya University in Baghdad have killed or maimed more than 335 students and staff members, according to a 19 Oct 2009 NYT article, and a 12-foot-high blast wall has been built around the campus. MNF-I, the Iraqi Army and Iraqi police units occupied more than 70 school buildings for military purposes in the Diyala governorate alone, in clear violation of The Hague Conventions. The UNESCO report is very clear: “Attacks on education targets continued throughout 2007 and 2008 at a lower rate – but one that would cause serious concern in any other country.” Why didn’t it cause serious concern when it comes to Iraq? And the attacks are on the rise again, an increase of 50%, as these statistics show:
 

Murdered Academics (source: BRussells Tribunal)

Date unknown

115

killed in 2003-2005

2003

16

2004

36

2005

65

2006

113

2007

63

2008

19

2009

10

2010

16

(Until 15 October 2010)

Murdered Media-professionals (source: BRussells Tribunal)

2003

26

6 Iraqis

2004

59

53 Iraqis

2005

59

58 Iraqis

2006

90

88 Iraqis

2007

82

81 Iraqis

2008

19

19 Iraqis

2009

8

8 Iraqis

2010

12

 12 Iraqis (Until 15 October 2010)

(On the 20th of March 2008, Reporters Without Borders reported that hundreds of journalists were forced into exile since the start of US-led invasion.)

Eliminating the Iraqi middle class

Running parallel with the destruction of Iraq’s educational infrastructure, this repression led to the mass forced displacement of the bulk of Iraq’s educated middle class — the main engine of progress and development in modern states. Iraq’s intellectual and technical class has been subject to a systematic and ongoing campaign of intimidation, abduction, extortion, random killings and targeted assassinations. The decimation of professional ranks took place in the context of a generalized assault on Iraq’s professional middle class, including doctors, engineers, lawyers, judges as well as political and religious leaders. Roughly 40 percent of Iraq’s middle class is believed to have fled by the end of 2006. Few have returned. Up to 75 percent of Iraq’s doctors, pharmacists and nurses have left their jobs since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. More than half of those have emigrated. Twenty thousand of Iraq’s 34,000 registered physicians left Iraq after the U.S. invasion. As of April 2009, fewer than 2,000 returned, the same as the number who were killed during the course of the war.

To this date, there has been no systematic investigation of this phenomenon by the occupation authorities. Not a single arrest has been reported in regard to this terrorization of the intellectuals. The inclination to treat this systematic assault on Iraqi professionals as somehow inconsequential is consistent with the occupation powers’ more general role in the decapitation of Iraqi society.

Destroying the Iraqi culture and erasing collective memory

All these terrible losses are compounded by unprecedented levels of cultural devastation, attacks on national archives and monuments that represent the historical identity of the Iraqi people. On America’s watch we now know that thousands of cultural artefacts disappeared during “Operation Iraqi Freedom”. These objects included no less that 15.000 invaluable Mesopotamian artefacts from the National Museum in Baghdad, and many others from the 12.000 archaeological sites that the occupation forces left unguarded. While the Museum was robbed of its historical collection, the National Library that preserved the continuity and pride of Iraqi history was deliberately destroyed. Occupation authorities took no effective measures to protect important cultural sites, despite warnings of international specialists. According to a recent update on the number of stolen artefacts by Francis Deblauwe, an expert archaeologist on Iraq, it appears that no less than 8.500 objects are still truly missing, in addition to 4.000 artefacts said to be recovered abroad but not yet returned to Iraq. The smuggling and trade of Iraqi antiquities has become one of the most profitable businesses in contemporary Iraq.

The attitude of the US-led forces to this pillage has been, at best, indifference and worse. The failure of the US to carry out its responsibilities under international law to take positive and protective actions was compounded by egregious direct actions taken that severely damaged the Iraqi cultural heritage. Since the invasion in March 2003, the US-led forces have transformed at least seven historical sites into bases or camps for the military, including UR, one of the most ancient cities of the world and birthplace of Abraham, including the mythical Babylon where a US military camp has irreparably damaged the ancient city.

Destroying the Iraqi state

Rampant chaos and violence hamper efforts at reconstruction, leaving the foundations of the Iraqi state in ruins. The majority of Western journalists, academics and political figures have refused to recognise the loss of life on such a massive scale and the cultural destruction that accompanied it as the fully predictable consequences of American occupation policy. The very idea is considered unthinkable, despite the openness with which this objective was pursued.

It is time to think the unthinkable. The American-led assault on Iraq forces us to consider the meaning and consequences of state-destruction as a policy objective. The architects of the Iraq policy never made explicit what deconstructing and reconstructing the Iraqi state would entail; their actions, however, make the meaning clear. From those actions in Iraq, a fairly precise definition of state-ending can be read. The campaign to destroy the state of Iraq involved first the removal and execution of the legal head of state Saddam Hussein and the capture and expulsion of Baath figures. However, state destruction went beyond regime change. It also entailed the purposeful dismantling of major state institutions and the launching of a prolonged process of political reshaping.

Bremer’s 100 orders turned Iraq into a giant free-market paradise, but a hellish nightmare for Iraqis. They colonized the country for capital – pillage on the grandest scale. New economic laws instituted low taxes, 100% foreign investor ownership of Iraqi assets, the right to expropriate all profits, unrestricted imports, and long-term 30-40 year deals and leases, dispossessing Iraqis of their own resources.

This desecration of the past and undermining of contemporary social gains is now giving way in occupied Iraq to the destruction of a meaningful future. Iraq is being handed over to the disintegrative forces of sectarianism and regionalism. Iraqis, stripped of their shared heritage and living today in the ruins of contemporary social institutions that sustained a coherent and unified society, are now bombarded by the forces of civil war, social and religious atavism and widespread criminality. Iraqi nationalism that had emerged through a prolonged process of state-building and social interaction is now routinely disparaged. The regime installed by occupation forces in Iraq reshaped the country along divisive sectarian lines, dissolving the hard-won unity of a long state-building project. Dominant narratives now falsely claim that sectarianism and ethnic chauvinism have always been the basis of Iraqi society, recycling yet again the persistent and destructive myth of age-old conflicts with no resolution and for which the conquerors bear no responsibility. Contemporary Iraq represents a fragmented pastiche of sectarian forces with the formal trappings of liberal democracy and neo-liberal economic structures. We call this the divide and rule technique, used to fracture and subdue culturally cohesive regions. This reshaping of the Iraqi state resulted in a policy of ethnic cleansing, partially revealed by the Wikileaks files.

The Wikileaks documents

The Wikileaks documents, first made public on 22 October 2010, show how the US military gave a secret order not to investigate torture by Iraqi authorities discovered by American troops.

The data also reveal how hundreds of civilians were killed by coalition forces in unreported events, how hundreds of Iraqi civilians: pregnant women, elderly people and children, were shot at checkpoints.

There are numerous claims of prison abuse by coalition forces even after the Abu Ghraib scandal. The files also paint a grim picture of widespread torture in Iraqi detention facilities. Two revelations await the reader of the Wikileaks section dealing with civilian deaths in the Iraq War: Iraqis are responsible for most of these deaths, and the number of total civilian casualties is substantially higher than has been previously reported.

The documents record a descent into chaos and horror as the country plunged into so-called “civil war”. The logs also record thousands of bodies, many brutally tortured, dumped on the streets of Iraq.

Through the Wikileaks files we can see the impact the war had on Iraqi men, women and children. The sheer scale of the deaths, detentions and violence is here officially acknowledged for the first time.

A thorough research of these documents will give us a further insight into the atrocities committed in Iraq. The Wikileaks logs can serve as evidence in courts. They are important material for lawyers to file charges against the US for negligence and responsibility for the killing of thousands. A fair compensation for the families of the victims and the recognition of their suffering can help to heal the wounds. In the first official US State Department response to the massive WikiLeaks release of these classified Iraq War documents, spokesman P.J. Crowley shrugged off the evidence that US troops were ordered to cover up detainee abuse by the Iraqi government, insisting the abuse wasn’t America’s problem. This response is infuriating. The perpetrators of this violence and those who ordered the soldiers to turn a blind eye when being confronted with torture and extra-judicial killings should be convicted for war crimes. The US and UK forces and Governments clearly refused to fulfil their obligations under international law as a de facto occupying power.

However, these logs reveal only the ‘SIGACT’s or Significant Actions in the war “as told by soldiers in the United States Army”: the reports of the “regular” US troops. The logs contain nothing new, they merely confirm and officialize what the Iraqis and un-embedded Western observers have been trying to convey to the public for years. While all of the press is now reporting the Wikileaks story, few media outlets are going back to their own coverage and acknowledging how they have failed to honestly report about the crimes.

What these 400.000 documents do not reveal is the US involvement of “irregular troops” in Special Operations, counter-insurgency war and death squads activities. When will the documents of the “dirty war” be revealed? The BRussells Tribunal, monitoring this horrendous invasion and occupation since 2003, is convinced that the leaked logs only scratch the surface of the catastrophic war in Iraq. What we can extract from the Wikileaks documents is only the tip of the iceberg. It is time to take a dive into the troubled waters of the Iraq war and try to explore the hidden part of the iceberg.

Ethnic cleansing

It became clear after the invasion in 2003 that the Iraqi exile groups were to play an important role in the violent response to dissent in occupied Iraq. Already on January 1st 2004, it was reported that the US government planned to create paramilitary units comprised of militiamen from Iraqi Kurdish and exile groups including the Badr brigades, the Iraqi National Congress and the Iraqi National Accord to wage a campaign of terror and extra-judicial killing, similar to the Phoenix program in Vietnam: the terror and assassination campaign that killed tens of thousands of civilians.

The $87 billion supplemental appropriation for the war in November 2003 included $3 billion for a classified program, funds that would be used for the paramilitaries for the next 3 years. Over that period, the news from Iraq gradually came to be dominated by reports of death squads and ethnic cleansing, described in the press as “sectarian violence” that was used as the new central narrative of the war and the principal justification for continued occupation. Some of the violence may have been spontaneous, but there is overwhelming evidence that most of it was the result of the plans described by several American experts in December 2003.

Despite subsequent American efforts to distance US policy from the horrific results of this campaign, it was launched with the full support of conservative opinion-makers in the USA, even declaring that “The Kurds and the INC have excellent intelligence operations that we should allow them to exploit… especially to conduct counterinsurgency in the Sunny Triangle” as a Wall Street Journal editorial stated.

The Salvador Option

In January 2005, more than a year after the first reports about the Pentagon’s planning for assassinations and paramilitary operations emerged, the “Salvador Option” hit the pages of Newsweek and other major news-outlets. The outsourcing of state terrorism to local proxy forces was regarded as a key component of a policy that had succeeded in preventing the total defeat of the US-backed government in El Salvador. Pentagon-hired mercenaries, like Dyncorp, helped form the sectarian militias that were used to terrorize and kill Iraqis and to provoke Iraq into civil war.

In 2004 two senior US Army officers published a favourable review of the American proxy war in Colombia: “Presidents Reagan and Bush supported a small, limited war while trying to keep US military involvement a secret from the American public and media. Present US policy toward Colombia appears to follow this same disguised, quiet, media-free approach.”

It reveals the fundamental nature of “dirty war”, like in Latin America and the worst excesses of the Vietnam War. The purpose of dirty war is not to identify and then detain or kill actual resistance fighters. The target of dirty war is the civilian population. It is a strategy of state terrorism and collective punishment against an entire population with the objective to terrorizing it into submission. The same tactics used in Central America and Colombia were exported to Iraq. Even the architects of these dirty wars in El Salvador (Ambassador John Negroponte and James Steele) and in Colombia (Steven Casteel) were transferred to Iraq to do the same dirty work. They recruited, trained and deployed the notorious “Special Police Commandos”, in which later, in 2006, death squads like the Badr Brigades and other militias were incorporated. US forces set up a high-tech operations centre for the Special Police Commandos at an “undisclosed location” in Iraq. American technicians installed satellite telephones and computers with uplinks to the Internet and US forces Networks. The command centre had direct connections to the Iraqi Interior Ministry and to every US forward operating base in the country.

As news of atrocities by these forces in Iraq hit the newsstands in 2005, Casteel would play a critical role in blaming extrajudicial killings on “insurgents” with stolen police uniforms, vehicles and weapons. He also claimed that torture centres were run by rogue elements of the Interior Ministry, even as accounts came to light of torture taking place inside the ministry headquarters where he and other Americans worked. US advisers to the Interior Ministry had their offices on the 8th floor, directly above a jail on the 7th floor where torture was taking place.

The uncritical attitude of the Western media to American officials like Steven Casteel prevented a worldwide popular and diplomatic outcry over the massive escalation of the dirty war in Iraq in 2005 and 2006, consistent with the “disguised, quiet, media-free approach” mentioned before. As the Newsweek story broke in January 2005, General Downing, the former head of US Special Forces, appeared on NBC. He said: “This is under control of the US forces, of the current Interim Iraqi government. There’s no need to think that we’re going to have any kind of killing campaign that’s going to maim innocent civilians.” Within months, Iraq was swept by exactly that kind of a killing campaign. This campaign has led to arbitrary detention, torture, extra-judicial executions and the mass exodus and internal displacement of millions. Thousands of Iraqis disappeared during the worst days of this dirty war between 2005 and 2007. Some were seen picked up by uniformed militias and piled into lorries, others simply seemed to vanish. Iraq’s minister of human rights Wijdan Mikhail said that her ministry had received more than 9,000 complaints in 2005 and 2006 alone from Iraqis who said a relative had disappeared. Human rights groups put the total number much higher. The fate of many missing Iraqis remains unknown. Many are languishing in one of Iraq’s notoriously secretive prisons.

Journalist Dr. Yasser Salihee was killed on June 24th 2005 by an American sniper, so-called “accidentally”. Three days after his death Knight Ridder published a report on his investigation into the Special Police Commandos and their links to torture, extra-judicial killings and disappearances in Baghdad. Salihee and his colleagues investigated at least 30 separate cases of abductions leading to torture and death. In every case witnesses gave consistent accounts of raids by large numbers of police commandos in uniform, in clearly marked police vehicles, with police weapons and bullet-proof vests. And in every case the detained were later found dead, with almost identical signs of torture and they were usually killed by a single gunshot to the head.

The effect of simply not pointing out the connection between the US and the Iranian-backed Badr Brigade militia, the US-backed Wolf Brigade and other Special Police Commando units, or the extent of American recruitment, training, command, and control of these units, was far-reaching. It distorted perceptions of events in Iraq throughout the ensuing escalation of the war, creating the impression of senseless violence initiated by the Iraqis themselves and concealing the American hand in the planning and execution of the most savage forms of violence. By providing cover for the crimes committed by the US government, news editors played a significant role in avoiding the public outrage that might have discouraged the further escalation of this campaign.

The precise extent of US complicity in different aspects and phases of death squad operations, torture and disappearances, deserves thorough investigation. It is not credible that American officials were simply innocent bystanders to thousands of these incidents. As frequently pointed out by Iraqi observers, Interior Ministry death squads moved unhindered through American as well as Iraqi checkpoints as they detained, tortured and killed thousands of people.

As in other countries where US forces have engaged in what they refer to as “counter-insurgency”, American military and intelligence officials recruited, trained, equipped and directed local forces which engaged in a campaign of state-sponsored terror against the overwhelming proportion of the local population who continued to reject and oppose the invasion and occupation of their country.

The degree of US initiative in the recruitment, training, equipping, deployment, command and control of the Special Police Commandos made it clear that American trainers and commanders established the parameters within which these forces operated. Many Iraqis and Iranians were certainly guilty of terrible crimes in the conduct of this campaign. But the prime responsibility for this policy, and for the crimes it involved, rests with the individuals in the civilian and military command structure of the US Department of Defense, the CIA and the White House who devised, approved and implemented the “Phoenix” or “Salvador” terror policy in Iraq.

The report of the Human Rights Office of UNAMI, issued on September 8th 2005, written by John Pace was very explicit, linking the campaign of detentions, torture and extra-judicial executions directly to the Interior Ministry and indirectly to the US-led Multi-National Forces.

The final UN Human Rights Report of 2006 described the consequences of these policies for the people of Baghdad, while downplaying their institutional roots in American policy. The “sectarian violence” that engulfed Iraq in 2006 was not an unintended consequence of the US invasion and occupation but an integral part of it. The United States did not just fail to restore stability and security to Iraq. It deliberately undermined them in a desperate effort to “divide and rule” the country and to fabricate new justifications for unlimited violence against Iraqis who continued to reject the illegal invasion and occupation of their country.

The nature and extent of involvement of different individuals and groups within the US occupation structure has remained a dirty, dark secret, but there are many leads that could be followed by any serious inquiry.

The Surge

In January 2007, the US government announced a new strategy, the “surge” of US combat troops in Baghdad and Al-Anbar province. Most Iraqis reported that this escalation of violence made living conditions even worse than before, as its effects were added to the accumulated devastation of 4 years of war and occupation. The UN Human Rights report for the 1st quarter of 2007 gave a description of the dire conditions of the Iraqi people. The violence of the “surge” resulted i.e. in a further 22% reduction of the number of doctors, leaving only 15.500 out of an original 34.000 by September 2008. The number of refugees and internally displaced has risen sharply during the period 2007-2008.

Since Interior Ministry forces under US command were responsible for a large part of the extra-judicial killings, the occupation authorities had the power to reduce or increase the scale of these atrocities more or less on command. So a reduction in the killings with the launch of the “security plan” should not have been difficult to achieve. In fact, a small reduction in violence seems to have served an important propaganda role for a period until the death squads got back to work, supported by the new American offensive.

The escalation of American firepower in 2007, including a five-fold increase in air strikes and the use of Spectre gun-ships and artillery in addition to the “surge” was intended as a devastating climax to the past 4 years of war and collective punishment inflicted upon the Iraqi people. All resistance-held areas would be targeted with overwhelming fire-power, mainly from the air, until the US ground forces could build walls around what remained of each neighbourhood and isolate each district. It’s worth mentioning that General Petraeus compared the hostilities in Ramadi with the Battle of Stalingrad without qualms about adopting the role of the German invaders in this analogy. Ramadi was completely destroyed as was Fallujah in November 2004.

The UN Human Rights reports of 2007 mentioned the indiscriminate and illegal attacks against civilians and civilian areas and asked for investigations. Air strikes continued on an almost daily basis until August 2008 even as the so-called “sectarian violence” and US casualties declined. In all the reported incidents where civilians, women and children were killed, Centcom press office declared that the people killed were “terrorists”, “Al Qaeda militants” or “involuntary human shields”. Of course, when military forces are illegally ordered to attack civilian areas, many people will try to defend themselves, especially if they know that the failure to do so may result in arbitrary detention, abuse, torture, or summary execution for themselves or their relatives.

Forces involved in “Special Operations”:

Another aspect of the “surge” or escalation appears to have been an increase in the use of the American Special Forces assassination teams. In april 2008 i.e. President Bush declared: ”As we speak, US Special Forces are launching multiple operations every night to capture or kill Al-Qaeda leaders in Iraq”. The NYT reported on 13 May 2009: “When General Stanley McChrystal took over the Joint Special Operations Command in 2003, he inherited an insular, shadowy commando force with a reputation for spurning partnerships with other military and intelligence organizations. But over the next five years he worked hard, his colleagues say, to build close relationships with the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. (…) In Iraq, where he oversaw secret commando operations for five years, former intelligence officials say that he had an encyclopaedic, even obsessive, knowledge about the lives of terrorists, and that he pushed his ranks aggressively to kill as many of them as possible. (…) Most of what General McChrystal has done over a 33-year career remains classified, including service between 2003 and 2008 as commander of the Joint Special Operations Command, an elite unit so clandestine that the Pentagon for years refused to acknowledge its existence.” The secrecy surrounding these operations prevented more widespread reporting, but as with earlier US covert operations in Vietnam and Latin America, we will learn more about these operations over time.

- An article in the Sunday Telegraph in February 2007 pointed towards clear evidence British Special Forces recruited and trained terrorists in the Green Zone to heighten ethnic tensions. An elite SAS wing, called “Task Force Black”, with bloody past in Northern Ireland operates with immunity and provides advanced explosives. Some attacks are being blamed on Iranians, Sunni insurgents or shadowy terrorist cells such as Al Qaeda.

- the SWAT teams (Special Weapons and Tactics), extensively used in counter-insurgency operations. The mission of SWAT is to conduct high-risk operations that fall outside the abilities of regular patrol officers to prevent, deter and respond to terrorism and insurgent activities. It was reported that “The foreign internal defense partnership with Coalition Soldiers establishes a professional relationship between the Iraqi Security and Coalition forces where the training builds capable forces. Coalition soldiers working side-by-side with the SWAT teams, both in training and on missions.” On 7 October 2010 the Official website of US Forces in Iraq reported that “The Basrah SWAT team has trained with various Special Forces units, including the Navy SEALs and the British SAS. The 1st Bn., 68th Arm. Regt., currently under the operational control of United States Division-South and the 1st Infantry Division, has taken up the task of teaching the SWAT team.”

- the Facilities Protection Services, where the “private contractors” or mercenaries, like Blackwater, are incorporated, are also used in counter-insurgency operations.

- the Iraq Special Operations Forces (ISOF), probably the largest special forces outfit ever built by the United States, free of many of the controls that most governments employ to rein in such lethal forces. The project started in Jordan just after the Americans conquered Baghdad in April 2003, to create a deadly, elite, covert unit, fully fitted with American equipment, which would operate for years under US command and be unaccountable to Iraqi ministries and the normal political process. According to Congressional records, the ISOF has grown into nine battalions, which extend to four regional “commando bases” across Iraq. By December 2009 they were fully operational, each with its own “intelligence infusion cell,” which will operate independently of Iraq’s other intelligence networks. The ISOF is at least 4,564 operatives strong, making it approximately the size of the US Army’s own Special Forces in Iraq. Congressional records indicate that there are plans to double the ISOF over the next “several years.”

Conclusion: the “dirty war” in Iraq continues. Even as President Barack Obama was announcing the end of combat in Iraq, U.S. forces were still in fight alongside their Iraqi colleagues. The tasks of the 50,000 remaining US troops, 5,800 of them airmen, are “advising” and training the Iraqi army, “providing security” and carrying out “counter-terrorism” missions.

According to the UN Human Rights report, upon a request for clarification by UNAMI, the MNF confirmed that “the US government continued to regard the conflict in Iraq as an international armed conflict, with procedures currently in force consistent with the 4th Geneva Convention” and not that the civil rights of Iraqis should be governed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other human rights laws, because this would have strengthened the rights of Iraqis detained by US or Iraqi forces to speedy and fair trials. The admission that the US was still legally engaged in an “international armed conflict” against Iraq at the end of 2007 also raises serious questions regarding the legality of constitutional and political changes made in Iraq by the occupation forces and their installed government during the war and occupation.

Legitimizing torture

When the public revelations of abuse and torture at Abu Ghraib prison created a brief furor in the world, the ICRC, Human Rights First, AI, HRW and other Human Rights groups documented far more widespread and systematic crimes committed by US forces against people they extra-judicially detained in Iraq. In numerous human rights reports they established that command responsibility for these crimes extended to the highest levels of the US government and its armed forces.

The forms of torture documented in these reports included death threats, mock executions, water-boarding, stress positions, including excruciating and sometimes deadly forms of hanging, hypothermia, sleep deprivation, starvation and thirst, withholding medical treatment, electric shocks, various forms of rape and sodomy, endless beatings, burning, cutting with knives, injurious use of flexicuffs, suffocation, sensory assault and/or deprivation and more psychological forms of torture such as sexual humiliation and the detention and torture of family members. The ICRC established that the violations of international humanitarian law that it recorded were systematic and widespread. Military officers told the ICRC that “between 70% and 90% of the persons deprived of their liberty in Iraq had been arrested by mistake”.

All these facts are well known, but only the lower ranks in the Army were mildly punished. The “Command’s Responsibility” report revealed that the failure to charge higher ranking officers was the direct result of the “key role” that some same officers played “in undermining chances for full accountability”. By delaying and undermining investigations of deaths in their custody, senior officers compounded their own criminal responsibility in a common pattern of torture, murder and obstruction of justice. Senior officers abused the enormous power they wield in the military command structure to place themselves beyond the reach of law, even as they gave orders to commit terrible crimes. It was in recognition of the terrible potential for exactly this type of criminal behaviour that the Geneva Conventions were drafted and signed in the first place, and that is why they are just as vital today.
Nevertheless, the responsibility for these crimes is not limited to the US army. The public record also includes documents in which senior civilian officials of the US government approved violations of the Geneva Conventions, the 1994 Convention against Torture and the 1996 US War Crimes act. The United States government should thus be held accountable for this terrible tragedy it inflicted upon millions of Iraqi citizens and should be forced to pay appropriate compensations to the victims of its criminal policy in Iraq.

RECOMMENDATIONS

We learned that on Tuesday the 26th of October the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay urged Iraq and the United States to investigate allegations of torture and unlawful killings in the Iraq conflict revealed in the Wikileaks documents. We are very surprised by this statement. Does the High Commissioner think it is appropriate for criminals to investigate their own crimes? Wijdan Mikhail, the Iraqi Minister of Human Rights in Iraq has called for putting Julian Assange on trial instead of investigating the crimes. And since the Obama administration has shown no desire to expose any of the crimes committed by US officials in Iraq, an international investigation under the auspices of the High Commissioner of Human Rights is necessary. Different Special Rapporteurs should be involved: i.e. the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism and the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. A Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iraq should be urgently appointed.

Although the U.N. did not authorize the invasion of Iraq, it did “legalize” the occupation a posteriori in UNSC resolution 1483 (22 May 2003), against the will of the overwhelming majority of the world community, that didn’t accept the legality or the legitimacy of that UN resolution. And it was during the occupation that the war crimes brought to light by WikiLeaks took place. As should the U.S., the U.N. has the moral and legal duty to respond.

The world community has the right to know the complete and unbiased truth about the extent and responsibilities of American involvement in Iraq’s Killing Fields and demands justice for the Iraqi people.

We appeal to all states to ask the US about all these crimes against the Iraqi people during the UPR on the 5th of November.

We also demand that procedures be set up to compensate the Iraqi people and Iraq as a nation for all the losses, human and material destruction and damages caused by the illegal war and the occupation of the country lead by the US/UK forces.

Dirk Adriaensens is Member of the BRussells Tribunal Executive Committee

Note: this presentation contains information available in the public domain, it is compiled wirh reference to several official reports, press articles, BRussells Tribunal witness accounts, Max Fuller’s articles on the counter-insurgency war (http://www.brusselstribunal.org/FullerKillings.htm ) and two books: “Cultural Cleansing in Iraq”, of which Dirk Adriaensens is co-author (Pluto Press, London, and “Blood On Our Hands, The American Invasion And Destruction Of Iraq”, by Nicolas J.S. Davies. (Nimble Books LLC)

CIA advisor: Extraordinary rendition legal

November 5th, 2010 by Global Research

The notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq exposed the US military practice of torturing detainees. A top lawyer for the CIA has claimed that the practice of extraordinary rendition is legal, even in cases that lead to the torture of a suspect.

Daniel Pines, an assistant general counsel at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), has claimed that the practice of abducting terror suspects overseas and sending them to a third country for interrogation is legal under US law.

Writing in the Loyola University Chicago Law Journal, Pines stated, “There are virtually no legal restrictions on these types of operations… Indeed, US law does not even preclude [the] rendering [of] individuals to a third country in instances where the third country may subject the rendered individual to torture.”

“The only restrictions that do exist under US law preclude US officials from themselves torturing or inflicting cruel and unusual punishment on individuals during rendition operations,” he added.

The American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU), however, says that Pines failed to disclose the most extreme cases of renditions that involved torture.

The ACLU also points out that Washington has carried out renditions in the past where Americans were the jailers and torturers.

“The article does not even address the most extreme form of rendition carried out under the Bush administration: renditions to US run ‘black-site’ prisons, where Americans, not foreign intelligence services, were the jailers and the torturers,” Ben Wizner, litigation director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, told SpyTalk.

Moreover, the issue’s legality has never been tried in US courts.

“Every case to date brought by a victim of the Bush administration’s rendition policies has been dismissed by US courts, but none of those courts addressed the legality of the challenged practices. Rather, the cases were dismissed on the basis of overbroad secrecy and immunity claims,” Wizner noted.

War Crimes: ‘US targets civilians in Kandahar’

November 5th, 2010 by Global Research

US-led forces in Afghanistan US-led foreign forces have once again been criticized for military operations that have led to death and destruction in war-ravaged Afghanistan.

A human rights group says civilian casualties have spiked since operations started in Kandahar province in early September.

The Afghan Rights Monitor (ARM) says the US-led campaign in Kandahar has destroyed or damaged hundreds of houses.

It says US-led NATO forces have used aerial bombings, hidden booby traps and mines in private homes.

According to the rights group, most of the attacks have been carried out in areas that hold about one-third of Kandahar province’s population.

Tens of thousands of Afghan and foreign troops have been fighting the Taliban in Kandahar province to flush militants out of the region.

The developments come as the US and its allies step up a bombing campaign in the troubled southern Afghanistan.

US-led foreign forces in Afghanistan are currently continuing with their massive military operation in the volatile region.

Witnesses have recently told Press TV that NATO forces have dropped more bombs on villages they assume Taliban militants are hiding in, inflicting extensive damage to civilian properties.

The Western military alliance says it is experimenting with a new powerful bomb during the operation.

More than one-hundred thousand Afghans have been killed since the US-led invasion of the country in 2001.

The loss of civilian lives at the hand of foreign forces has led to a dramatic increase in anti-American sentiments in Afghanistan.

There are currently more than 150,000 US-led foreign forces in Afghanistan.

US-led forces have stepped up attacks in Afghanistan under Washington’s new war strategy that aims to reduce its military presence next year.

Financial Fraud in Germany. The Wall Street Model Backfires

November 5th, 2010 by F. William Engdahl

The earlier filing of fraud charges against Wall Street banking titan Goldman Sachs by the US Government Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was only the tip of a huge fraud iceberg. Now a US mortgage insurer has charged one of the most aggressive banks involved in the US subprime mortgage scam of fraud. The bank is none other than Deutsche Bank. This case is also likely to be just the “tip of a very big iceberg.”

Since he left his post as president of the Swiss-US Credit Suisse bank to go to Deutsche Bank, Swiss banker Josef Ackermann has focused on making the premier German bank into an imitation of the major Wall Street banks. It seems he has succeeded only too well.

Assured Guaranty Ltd., owner of Assured Guaranty Mortgage Insurance Company of New York has sued affiliates of Deutsche Bank AG for over $312 million of mortgage-backed securities (MBS), the controversial bonds that the bond insurer guaranteed and says were “plagued by rampant fraud and misrepresentations.” Assured Guaranty is asking a judge to force Deutsche Bank to repurchase the loans, on which the insurer has already paid almost $60 million in loss claims with potential for tens of millions of dollars more. The suit was filed in New York State Supreme Court against DB Structured Products Inc. and ACE Securities Corp. The bond insurer, backed by billionaire Wilbur Ross, is also seeking reimbursement for the claims paid and for future losses. This is major.

When asked by the press, a spokesman for Deutsche Bank in New York declined to comment.

“The entire pools of loans that Deutsche Bank securitized and to a large degree originated in the transactions are plagued by rampant fraud and misrepresentations and an abdication of sound origination and underwriting practices,” Assured stated in its New York court filing. They declared, “more than 83 percent of 1,306 defaulted loans examined in one of the transactions…breached Deutsche Bank’s representations and warranties.” In other plain language, they claim Deutsche Bank lied. In the second deal, Home Equity Loan Trust, 86 percent of the 1,774 loans breached the agreements, Assured said.[1]

The Wall Street model backfires

According to members of the Frankfurt financial community, Joe Ackermann came to Deutsche Bank with the clear goal of making the traditional German bank a competitor to the most successful Wall Street investment banks.

The only problem, as began to emerge with the explosion of the US Financial Tsunami in 2007 around Wall Street’s securitization of bundles of thousands of individual low quality, high-risk home mortgages, dubbed “sub-prime” as in below best quality, is that the success “model” of Wall Street was based on fraud to begin with. That’s the model for mega-profits and giga-bonuses that Ackermann’s Deutsche Bank is apparently building its business on.

In recent weeks it has emerged that perhaps millions of US homeowners had been fraudulently tricked into signing mortgages in which their true costs were hidden only to explode some years after they signed the loan agreement with the lender, forcing them to default and the banks to repossess the homes, so-called bank foreclosure. Now legal action is also hitting Germany’s esteemed Deutsche Bank.  

‘Stupid Germans…’

According to Bloomberg financial writer and author, Michael Lewis, under Ackermann’s leadership at Deutsche Bank, the bank, through its New York offices, set out to outdo Goldman Sachs in the home mortgage securitization bonanza of the past decade. Lewis documents the fact that Deutsche Bank in New York was selling what it knew were toxic waste or junk mortgage bonds on US subprime mortgages to “stupid German investors in Duesseldorf” as one Deutsche Bank New York bond trader told Lewis.[2]

The “stupid German investors in Duesseldorf” it turns out, were IKB, the daughter of the German state Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau. The interesting point is that Ackermann’s DB sold what were allegedly fraudulently-constructed “AAA” CDO’s or Collateralized Debt Obligations, some of the highest risk fraudulent derivatives from Wall Street mortgages to IKB at a time Deutsche Bank knew or should have known that the US mortgage default crisis was beginning to explode. In effect it appears that the DB dumped its toxic waste onto IKB. At the same time Deutsche Bank was selling exotic US real estate collateralized debt obligations too the “stupid German investors” at IKB, it was aggressively organizing other Wall Street banks and hedge fund managers to bet on the crash of that same mortgage bubble. No one at Deutsche Bank headquarters in Frankfurt seemed to mind so long as the profits rolled in from all parties. [3]

To add injury to insult, or even more injury to injury, Deutsche Bank’s Ackermann personally sent a notice to the head of the German bank regulator, BaFin-Chef Jochen Sanio, on July 27, 2007, kindly alerting the German regulators that IKB held a pile of toxic bonds and that the bank could be in trouble. Ackermann even went public to the press and admitted he knew because Deutsche Bank had sold the toxic financial securities to IKB.[4]

That announcement by Ackermann is credited with bringing IKB to the brink of bankruptcy and necessitating a state taxpayer rescue of billions. What the charitable Herr Ackermann did not divulge is how much profit his bank  might have made in the collapse of IKB. The collapse of IKB, as I detail in my Der Untergang des Dollar Imperiums (((PLEASE hyperlink))), was the catalyst to explode the multi-trillion Euro US financial bubble worldwide, a bubble which today is far from deflated.

Notable as well is the fact that two days after being sued for fraud in New York court, Deutsche Bank announced that it had set aside more in compensation for employees of its corporate and investment bank in the first nine months of 2010 than Goldman Sachs. Deutsche Bank reserved enough money to pay a bonus of 285,352 euros to each of the 16,194 workers at the division, which includes transaction banking, company data show. But that money goes only to a handful of top traders whose bonus is likely in the tens of millions. “The market continues to be very competitive and top talent has its value and its price and we cannot ignore that fact,” Deutsche Bank Chief Financial Officer Stefan Krause said according to a report in Business Week magazine. “And the beat goes on, and the beat goes on, on, on…” as the pop song goes. 

Notes

[1] Shannon D. Harrington and Karen Freifeld, Assured Guaranty Sues Deutsche Bank Over Mortgages, Bloomberg, October 25, 2010. T The case is Assured Guaranty Corp. v. DB Structured Products Inc., 651824/2010, New York state Supreme Court (Manhattan)., accessed in http://noir.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=ada1QmQYr_BI

[2] Michael Lewis, The Big Short, London, Penguin Group, 2010,  p.93

 

[3] Anne Seith , Ackermann im IKB-Prozess: Der Teflon-Zeuge, Spiegel Online, http://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/unternehmen/0,1518,694403,00.html

 

[4] Ibid.

The Obama referendum came in and he got what he deserved. When you run on change and leave the same criminals in positions of power and don’t hold anyone accountable for obvious crimes, and allow them to continue to commit those crimes, you deserve to lose your power. This is what happens when you put Tim Geithner and Larry Summers in charge of the economy, and support Ben Bernanke for reconfirmation as Chairman of the Federal Reserve. This is what happens when you keep Robert Gates as your Secretary of Defense and General Petraeus in charge of your wars. This is what happens when you lie to protect the interests of BP over the American people. This is what happens when you bailout Wall Street and the health care industry and sell out everyone else. This is what happens when your rhetoric is the opposite of your actions. The past two years have clearly exposed Obama as a spineless corporate puppet and he deserves to be voted out in 2012.

Now, don’t get me wrong, most of the people who were just voted into office are just as bad, if not worse, as hard as that is to believe. This election marks the third straight time that the American public dramatically voted out the people who were in power. The fact of the matter is that these people are not voting for politicians that they like as much as they are voting against politicians they hate. Hopefully by 2012 the American public will finally understand that they must support Independent candidates and alternative political structures, and cannot vote for Democrats or Republicans, if they ever want to achieve the needed change. Both parties serve the same corporate masters. Yes, there are some differences between the two. The Democrats serve half of the top economic one percent, and the Republicans serve the other half. We have Neo-liberals to the left and Neo-cons to the right, leaving 99% of us without representation.

And the saddest part of all, the system is now so rigged via campaign finance, lobbying and the revolving door that it is almost impossible for people who represent us to even get into office, let alone stay in office and enact policies that will bring change. Two politicians in Congress who actually fought for us against the Economic Elite just lost their reelection bids. Alan Grayson and Russ Feingold lost because record amounts of cash went to funding the candidates who ran against them. Even their own party’s leadership didn’t support their reelection efforts. The bottom line in this money rigged system is that you cannot run against the most powerful corporations and win. They will just pour unlimited funds into defeating you, and your own party will desert you.

The truth that many so called “Independent” news outlets will not tell you is that this government is now beyond repair. You won’t hear many calls for Revolution because even the more “Independent” news outlets are dependent on the two-party system. It is absurd that these outlets still play into the obsolete Republican versus Democrat dynamic. The only reason why they do it is because they are dependent on grants from foundations and political organizations that will not fund them unless they bow to Democrats and bash Republicans, or vice versa.

I can speak from personal experience. I’ve lost a vital grant to fund my work because I wasn’t willing to focus my attention on blaming Republicans for our problems. Our problems are a result of the two-party system. When you engage in bashing one party in favor of the other, you become a pivotal cog in the machine that is killing our country. I will not be part of the disease. The stakes are too high now. America is burning and both parties are pouring gasoline all over it.

Most Americans have only a vague understanding of the collapse that we have been set up for. If you think the past two years were bad, they were just a warm up to what is coming our way. After analyzing the policies in place and the current political environment, I can assure you that the next two years will be worse that the previous two. 52 million Americans have already been driven into poverty, 30 million are in need of work, millions of American families have been foreclosed upon and the inequality of wealth is the most severe it has ever been in the history of the United States. And this is just the beginning phase of the decline. Millions more will be added to these totals and the social safety-nets that have held our society together are breaking down. Cuts to vital social programs are going to be severe across the board.

Our paid-off government is not going to fix our problems, they are making them worse. Don’t you think it’s time for you to start representing yourself? Don’t you think it’s time for you to start defending your family’s interests?

These are questions that I’ve already asked myself and deeply considered. I made my decision and have dedicated myself to building a wide-ranging network of alliances across the political spectrum and have drafted a common ground platform that we are building off of. I’ve analyzed power politics very closely over the years. I know how the game is played and I know who our enemies are. I’m going to do everything I can to end the two-party oligopoly.

I’m not saying that you should follow me. I’m saying that it’s time for YOU to lead. It’s time for YOU to get involved. Build your own army. Once you start paying attention and put in some time to do the research, you will clearly see for yourself that both parties are working against your interests. You will also see how critical the situation is and realize that you can no longer be passive and expect to keep living a healthy and secure lifestyle. We are going to be tested in ways we have never been tested before. We cannot get away with being apolitical anymore. It’s time for us to pay attention, to become directly involved in the decision-making processes that guide our life. I know this is something that most people don’t enjoy and don’t want to do, but the consequences of our inaction will be much worse than anything we have ever experienced.

Yes, I sound extreme, but these are extreme times. I’m not going to sit quietly as our future is ripped out from under us. I will not let my family’s well being and our country’s fate be decided by short-sighted greed addicted forces that have looted the global economy and brought poverty, death and destruction throughout the world.

I see the path we are on and I intend to change it!

It is evident that the overwhelming majority of the population has become cynical and feels that it is useless to try to change things. If these people would just realize that they are the overwhelming majority and take action, we can change things. We have power in numbers. We are 99% of the population. If we organize on common ground and fight back, we will win!

David DeGraw is the founder and editor of www.AmpedStatus.com. He is the author of The Economic Elite Vs. The People of the United States of America, and his forthcoming book is The Road Through 2012: Revolution or World War III.

Shir Hever, a radical Israeli economist, recently wrote an article, which posed the question: ‘Why does Israel continue to occupy the Palestinians?’ That is also one of the major questions addressed in his new book, an ambitious work on the political economy of the occupation.

Hever is an academic/activist on the Israeli Left with a consistently critical perspective on the Israeli state. As a researcher based at Jerusalem’s Alternative Information Centre, he is able to draw on a wealth of sources for this tremendously well-informed account of the economic dynamics of the Israeli occupation. He provides an invaluable historical perspective, tracing developments since 1967, when Israel massively expanded its occupation of Palestinian land. Perhaps surprisingly considering the topic, Hever’s book is highly accessible to those who don’t specialise in economics.

The analysis seeks to address some important questions: why is it that Palestinians in the Occupied Territories live in such awful poverty? Does Israel benefit from Palestinian poverty, and if so how? A great strength here is Hever’s skilful avoidance of simplification. The focus is on ‘the economic aspects of the relations between the Israeli authorities and the occupied Palestinians’, noting that these are frequently neglected yet just as important as military and geopolitical aspects. Nonetheless, he rejects the reductionist, over-simplistic idea that Israel is driven to maintain its occupation solely by economic factors, narrowly conceived. The reality is more complex. He insists that that ‘profit alone cannot explain the actions of the many actors perpetuating or resisting the occupation.’

Economic inequality is a recurring theme. While it is true that ‘certain Palestinian businesspeople and politicians are much better-off than certain Israelis of the lower socioeconomic classes’, overall inequality lies principally between Israelis and Palestinians. Acute poverty is widespread in the Occupied Territories; the Palestinian economy as a whole is prevented from developing, as part of a broader process of exploitation and subjugation.

Hever never loses sight of the fact that he is writing about a part of the world which, while very small, is the focus for a huge amount of global attention. Israel is famously a recipient of a vast amount of US ‘overseas aid’, while international aid of a different kind is essential for many desperately poor Palestinians. Israeli policy towards Gaza has been ‘to keep it constantly on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe’, as a deliberate policy intended to suppress resistance and self-organisation. But Hever also stresses the persistent, and essentially irrational, contradictions in Israeli policy, which are shaped by the contradictions and irrationality of both capitalism in general and the particularities of the occupation.

For example, while the occupation is certainly now uneconomic from the point of view of the wider Israeli economy and society, there are very particular military and business interests which do well from it. In other respects, Israel has at times in the past allowed a rise in Palestinians’ standard of living in order to ‘make them more docile’, but then it has launched ‘brutal attacks which destroy the infrastructure necessary for the survival of the Palestinian population’. Israel has welcomed international aid to the occupied Palestinians, as it relieves it of some responsibility. Yet Israel then erects a variety of obstacles to this aid actually reaching those for whom it is designed.

Hever also avoids treating the economics of occupation as ahistorical and unchanging. Quite the opposite in fact: I was fascinated to discover how economic relationships have evolved over the forty years or so since the Gaza Strip and West Bank were occupied, though in general it is a miserable tale of worsening conditions for the occupied Palestinians. After 1967 there was a period of relative prosperity, influenced by Israel’s preference for cultivating Palestinian co-operation rather than seeking to subjugate them violently. At that stage, consent was more important than coercion. Nonetheless, Israel prevented the development of a viable independent Palestinian economy, ensuring the occupied population was heavily dependent upon Israeli imports, Israeli financial institutions and employment by Israeli companies. Hever writes:

‘As local sources of income were suppressed by Israeli authorities, the main source of income to the Palestinians became remittances from Palestinian workers living in Israel, in the Jewish settlements in OPT [Occupied Palestinian Territories], and in the Gulf states.’

The 1980s saw a change for the worse. Falling oil prices led to falling demand for Palestinian migrant workers in the Gulf States. A collapse in the Israeli stock market led to problems for Palestinian workers in Israel: a fall in income combined with the tightening of work opportunities for Palestinians, accompanied by discrimination and abuse. The growth of Jewish settlements inside the Occupied Territories involved the theft of Palestinian land, damaging the local economy. And Israeli policy became more belligerent, shifting away from seeking consent and accommodation. All these factors influenced the emergence of the first intifada, the militant rebellion by Palestinians against oppression, which started in 1987.

Fast forward to the Oslo process, which began in 1993. This did nothing for the Palestinian economy; indeed there was a fall in living standards, which was (again) one factor behind the eruption of resistance in the start of the second intifada in 2000. A major problem in these years was the increasing curtailment of employment opportunities for Palestinians seeking work inside Israel. Growing poverty and discrimination fed bitterness and disillusionment.

A gulf opened up during the Oslo years (1993-2000): while the Israeli economy boomed, the Palestinian economy contracted. For Palestinians, poverty and unemployment grew. Living standards fell still further after 2000, when Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank became increasingly reliant on overseas aid to avoid humanitarian disaster. In the West Bank the Palestinian Authority (PA) has failed to even marginally improve conditions for the local population, but has often colluded with Israeli occupation policies. Neve Gordon has referred to this, in an evocative turn of phrase, as Israel ‘outsourcing the occupation’ to the PA.

Hever highlights how expensive the occupation actually is, especially in terms of vast spending on a complex security apparatus. An assessment of the costs and profits of occupation concludes that three groups pay for its maintenance: Israeli citizens (through taxation), Palestinians (via exploitation of cheap labour) and the US (donating ‘aid’ which helps sustain the fragile Israeli economy). But there are also profits to be reaped. It will come as no surprise to learn there ‘was a rapid rise in the market value and business of the military-surveillance sector of the Israeli economy after the September 11, 2001 attacks.’ International oil companies, arms manufacturers and the ‘security’ industry have all made handsome profits from the occupation.

More generally, the occupation and Israeli policies in recent years have proved good for business: ‘the neo-liberal policies of the Israeli government enable large companies to extract high profits with minimal regulation and taxes, and to buy government assets cheaply while the government is engaged in a rush to privatisation. Those who profit from the Israeli crisis have no incentive to help in resolving it.’

In his conclusion, Hever outlines the cases for a two-state solution and a one-state solution, specifically examining the economic dimensions of the question. He leans heavily towards a one-state solution, i.e. a single secular and democratic state encompassing the whole of historic Palestine. He is realistic about the problems, but writes that it would at least create the framework and tools required for tackling many of the current economic injustices.

He also praises the efforts of the international boycott movement, pointing to the anti-apartheid movement which targeted South Africa as a relevant precedent. It can be effective because Israel’s business sector is so dependent on international trade. The boycott movement is vital in working towards ‘the replacement of the existing system of repression through the creation of a democratic state to represent everyone who lives in the area currently controlled by Israel.’

Shir Hever, The Political Economy of Israel’s Occupation: Repression Beyond Exploitation (Pluto Press, 2010), 240pp.

Review:

Democracy in the Middle East continues to be a hugely popular topic of discussion. Its virtues are tirelessly praised by rulers and oppositions alike, by intellectuals and ordinary people, by political prisoners and their prison guards. Yet, in actuality, it also remains an illusion, if not a front to ensure the demise of any real possibility of public participation in decision-making.

Bahrain was the latest Arab country to hold free and fair elections. It managed a reasonable voter turnout of 67 percent. The opposition also did very well, winning 45 percent of the seats. In terms of fairness and transparency, the Bahraini elections could serve as an excellent example of how ‘things are changing’ in the Middle East. More, they might provide Western leaders, such as US President Barack Obama an opportunity to commend the contribution of American guidance to ‘progress’ in the region.

In actual fact, nothing is changing – except for the insistence by some that it is. Arab governments have made two important discoveries in the last decade.

The first discovery is that US interests cannot peacefully co-exist with true democracies in the region. Egypt had a rude awaking in 2005, when Muslim Brotherhood candidates won fifth of the votes, if not more. This was followed by the unmatched democratic revolution in Palestine when Hamas won the majority of the vote. The aftermath of both of these events was enough to remind both Arabs and the US of the folly of their so-called democracy project.

The second realization is that Arabs are not judged by the genuineness of their democracy; rather, the success of their democratic experiences is judged on the basis of how well they can serve and protect US interests. Since the democracy radar is measured by Washington, Arab countries deemed lacking in democratic reforms are often cited as promising and fledgling democracies in Congressional reports or White House statements. Countries deemed hostile to US economic and political interests are remorselessly shunned, as if their experiments with democracy could never yield anything of worth or consideration.

These two realizations led to a superficial change of course, forming a new trend that Shadi Hamid, writing in Foreign Policy, refers to as “free but unfair — and rather meaningless — election.”

Free elections are known to be the cornerstone of true democracy. Thus by giving the impression of freedom, automatically one tends to conclude fairness. But fairness is nowhere to be found, for if it truly exists then change becomes possible and is likely to follow. Those who have followed the new democratic experiences of some Arab countries will have observed that they have also been defined by the same political stagnation of the pre-democracy years.

American journalist, Sydney J. Harris once wrote, “Democracy is the only system that persists in asking the powers that be whether they are the powers that ought to be.” If Harris is correct, then whatever is underway in the Middle East is anything but democracy. Although new parliamentarians are elected, new faces flash on television, and an increasing number of women are paraded along with their male colleagues following each election, the powers that be remain unchanged, unhinged and truly unchallenged.

Most polls, whether conducted by Arab or non-Arab pollsters, indicate that the vast majority of Arab people view democracy in very positive terms. But the plot has truly thickened in recent years, when on the one hand democracy has become a household name in much of the Middle East, and not one ruler or government contests its virtues. Yet, no true democracy has in fact actualized in any shape or form.

Have Middle Eastern ruling elites figured out the democracy trick, the great con of our time? Have they realized that democracy in the Middle East is only what the White House says it can be?

Israel has mastered this very trick since the day of its inception. This is what Hasan Afif El-Hasan argues in his new and very instructive book, Is the Two-State Solution Already Dead? “The identity of the Israelis in their legal documents and ID cards is expressed in terms of their group religious affiliation as ‘Jewish,’ ‘Muslim,’ ‘Christian’, ‘Bahai,’ ‘Durzi,’ etc., where all privileges are conferred by the state on the Jews by virtue of being Jews, thus making Israel an religio-ethnocracy rather than a liberal democracy.”

Israel’s unique democracy is in fact getting more unique, as non-Jewish citizens of Israel are subjected to increasing levels of legal harassment and are constantly asked to jump through all sorts of political hoops to prove their loyalty to the Jewish state. Still, clever and persistent Israel has managed to present itself to the world at large, Arabs included, as being a model democracy.

This was and continues to be the original democracy con in the Middle East. It took some Arab governments decades to catch up and also present themselves as democratic, whatever the reality on the ground. This is not your everyday democracy scheme. It is particularly devious because it can boast of being free, fair and transparent – and the numbers would actually attest to that – but the political structure would still be construed in such a way that the freely elected parliaments are blocked from legislating effectively to challenge the powers that be. If any legislation is allowed to pass, through, say, unelected upper houses, and approved by the ultimate ruler (both usually serving as an insurance system against elected parliaments), it tends to be unimportant and largely decorative.

Since democracy is always a work in progress, for no country can claim to be perfectly democratic, then Middle East governments can always use this idea to justify their own shortcomings. Expectedly, the US tends to honor that, bestowing praise on their friends, and condemning their enemies – the former for courageously taking on democratic initiatives and the latter for failing the democracy test.

The great democracy con would not succeed, were it not for the fact that many players, including the US, are so invested in its success. As for the ordinary people, who are eager to see their rights respected, freedoms honored, and political horizons expanded, well, they can always vote – even if only their vote actually counts for nothing, and only further validates the very system they are trying to change.

Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London), now available on Amazon.com.

US Mid-Term Elections: The Death of Hope and Change

November 4th, 2010 by Andy Worthington

To be brutally honest, those of us concerned with “national security” issues (indefinite detention without charge or trial at Guantánamo and elsewhere, trials by Military Commission and accountability for the Bush administration’s torturers) and foreign policy (the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan) could tell by May 2009 that “hope” and “change” were dead in the water.

Whereas Barack Obama had never disguised his desire to step up the military occupation of Afghanistan, while scaling down operations in Iraq, he had promised — or had seemed to promise — a thorough repudiation of the detention policies at Guantánamo and Bagram, and the coercive interrogations and torture that had stalked their cells and interrogation rooms.

However, although he promised to close Guantánamo within a year and to uphold the absolute ban on torture in a series of executive orders issued on his second day in office, fine words were followed by months of inactivity, as a cautious Task Force of career officials from government departments and the intelligence agencies was convened to review the Guantánamo cases.

By May 2009, with Republicans seizing on the President’s court-ordered release of a notorious series of “torture memos,” issued by Justice Department lawyers in the Office of Legal Counsel in 2002 and 2005, as a demonstration of his untrustworthiness on national security issues, a fundamental change occurred.

The reviled Military Commission trial system for Guantánamo prisoners, which Obama had suspended on his first day in office, was reintroduced, as was indefinite detention without charge or trial as an official policy, even though this was the heart of the Bush administration’s program, and even though progressive supporters of the President had presumed that there were only two options for the remaining prisoners: federal court trials, or release.

This was followed by another deeply unsavory official policy — resisting any more embarrassing disclosures about the Bush administration’s torture program by inappropriately invoking sweeping “state secrets” privileges, as, for example, in the case of five men subjected to “extraordinary rendition” and torture, who sought to sue Jeppesen Dataplan Inc., a Boeing subsidiary that had operated as the CIA’s torture travel agent.

There were also several other disgraces: fighting a court order providing new homes on the US mainland to Guantánamo prisoners (the Uighurs) who had won their habeas corpus petitions but who could not be repatriated (to China) because of the risk of torture in their home countries; fighting a court order extending habeas corpus rights to a handful of foreign prisoners rendered to Bagram from other countries; preventing the release of any cleared prisoners to Yemen after a hysterical overreaction to the news that the failed Christmas Day plane bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was recruited in Yemen; replacing the Bush administration’s detention and interrogation policies with drone attacks on Pakistan; and approving the assassination of US citizens anywhere in the world.

Although Republicans in Congress — and cowardly members of Obama’s own party — bear considerable blame for the descent into paralysis of those few parts of the President’s bold promises that he had not already undermined voluntarily, the end result of the last 21 months of cowardice and compromise is that, on foreign policy and national security issues, there was little positive momentum that a shift of political power in the mid-term elections could actually erode.

That said, losing control of the House of Representatives guarantees that anything the administration might have still contemplated doing — standing up to critics and insisting that, as announced a year ago, the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others accused of involvement in the 9/11 attacks will take place in federal court, or moving any of the Guantánamo prisoners to a prison on the US mainland — has no chance of happening at all, making the United States a slightly gloomier place than it was before the mid-term elections.

Moreover, given the deepening of Obama’s paralysis that this signifies, it also makes it seem less, rather than more likely that the President and his party will be able to do anything meaningful to lure back the progressive base that helped secure victory in 2008, in time for the 2012 Presidential election, unless, by some miracle, someone decides to try to rein in the Pentagon and the military-industrial complex as an economic necessity (if for no other reason).

That, however, sounds too much like “hope” and “change,” which, to reiterate, are dead in the water in America today.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield.

The Cell Phone Trap: The Health Hazards

November 4th, 2010 by Joel S. Hirschhorn

It is now inconceivable that our world could function without the 5 billion cell phones used globally.  The new book by Devra Davis “Disconnect” deserves your attention.  Indeed, if you use a cell phone a lot it should be mandatory reading.

It also seems inconceivable that the trillion dollar cell phone industry and governments worldwide could have pushed this technology without ever having solid research results proving the safety of cell phones.  If true that would be deadly frightening.  But that is exactly the reality.

Is this a bizarre slip up or an intentional conspiracy between corporate and government interests?  The more you learn the more you fear.  Nightmarishly, cell phone technology has become too big to fail, no matter its deadly risks.  Government won’t protect you, so you have to protect yourself.

Let me note that I rarely use my cell phone.  Very few people have my number and I rarely turn it on, except when I need to make a call.  As a former professor of engineering I have always seen technology as offering risks, not just heavily commercialized benefits.  The risks are often dismissed, poorly studied or just plain ignored. 

And by now everyone should be concerned that neither government regulations nor corporate responsibility protect us very well from harmful foods, prescription drugs and manufactured products.

Facing the truth is often painful, but if you care about protecting your health and the health of people you love, then this is a book you definitely want to read and get others to read.  Make no mistake, what you learn will upset you, but beyond getting angry at companies and the government for not adequately protecting against a man made public health disaster, you will be motivated to change your behavior.  The subtitle sums up the theme: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry Has Done to Hide It, and How to Protect Your Family.

Here are some of the eye-popping facts and insights I picked up from reading of this book.

Tests show young men who keep their phones in a pants pocket have reduced sperm counts.

Some scientists have, for decades, known about the adverse effects that radiofrequency causes in the brain.  For example, radiofrequency allows chemicals and toxins from the blood, which are normally kept away from the nervous system, to enter the brain and cause disease.

The work of Dr. Lennart Hardell in Sweden should make cell phone users reconsider their practices.  Swedes who have used cell phones the most and for the longest times have more malignant brain tumors than others.  After a decade of use the risk of brain tumors is doubled.  Similar results were found by scientists in Israel , Finland , Russia and England .  Hardell has also found that teenagers using cell phones end up after a decade with four times more brain cancers.

The book highlights what the distinguished research scientist Dariusz Leszczynski said: “we clearly showed that radiation from a phone had a biological impact.  After this work, which in fact repeated that of many others…the world could no longer pretend that the only problems with cell phones occurred after you could measure a change in temperature.  This view was always mistaken, of course, and our work showed that.”  In other words, much lower power than in microwave ovens does not mean the absence of effects on our bodies.

Davis makes the inescapable point at the end of the book that “we need to invest in cell phones’ safety as we do with other modern technologies.”  But it is not clear whether that is proceeding as it should.  Do you think industry and government will do the right thing and risk getting research results that could devastate cell phone usage?  With corporate interests corrupting Congress it is highly unlikely that what is needed in terms of research and regulation will happen.

What should cell phone users do?  They and children in particular should not be using cell phones without “ear buds.”  They should not keep cell phones that are turned on in their clothing next to their body.  Use the speaker option.  Recognize that texting and other phone functions can be less dangerous than holding a phone next to your head to hear.  Remember that cordless phones also pose similar radiation hazards, so minimize their use at home.

I wonder whether the richest and most powerful people in society, like President Obama (and his children), have been strongly advised to not hold cell phones next to the head.

Bottom line: Your addiction to cell phone use just might be your downfall.  How much risk do you want to take?  Smart phones are the rage.  Now we need a lot more smart people.  Disconnect.  The more you use your cell phone, the more trapped you are.

[Contact Joel S. Hirschhorn through delusionaldemocracy.com.]

The Impotence of Elections

November 4th, 2010 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

In his historical novel, The Leopard, Giuseppe di Lampedusa writes that things have to change in order to remain the same.  That is what happened in the US congressional elections on November 2.

Jobs offshoring, which began on a large scale with the collapse of the Soviet Union, has merged the Democrats and Republicans into one party with two names. The Soviet collapse changed attitudes in socialist India and communist China and opened those countries, with their large excess supplies of labor, to Western capital. 

Pushed by Wall Street and Wal-Mart, American manufacturers moved production for US markets offshore to boost profits and shareholder earnings by utilizing cheap labor. The decline of the US manufacturing work force reduced the political power of unions and the ability of unions to finance the Democratic Party. The end result was to make the Democrats dependent on the same sources of financing as Republicans.

Prior to this development, the two parties, despite their similarities, represented different interests and served as a check on one another. The Democrats represented labor and focused on providing a social safety net. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment insurance, housing subsidies, education, and civil rights were Democratic issues. Democrats were committed to a full employment policy and would accept some inflation to secure more employment.

The Republicans represented business. The Republicans focused on curtailing big government in all its manifestations from social welfare spending to regulation. The Republicans’ economic policy consisted of opposing federal budget deficits.

These differences resulted in political competition.

Today both parties are dependent for campaign finance on Wall Street, the military/security complex, AIPAC, the oil industry, agri-business, pharmaceuticals, and the insurance industry. Campaigns no longer consist of debates over issues. They are mud-slinging contests.

Angry voters take their anger out on incumbents, and that is what we saw in the election. Tea Party candidates defeated Republican incumbents in primaries, and Republicans defeated Democrats in the congressional elections.

Policies, however, will not change qualitatively. Quantitatively, Republicans will be more inclined to more rapidly dismantle more of the social safety net than Democrats and more inclined to finish off the remnants of civil liberties.  But the powerful private oligarchs will continue to write the legislation that Congress passes and the President signs. New members of Congress will quickly discover that achieving re-election requires bending to the oligarchs’ will.

This might sound harsh and pessimistic.  But look at the factual record.  In his campaign for the presidency, George W. Bush criticized President Clinton’s foreign adventures and vowed to curtail America’s role as the policeman of the world. Once in office, Bush pursued the neoconservatives’ policy of US world hegemony via military means, occupation of countries, setting up puppet governments, and financial intervention in other countries’ elections. 

Obama promised change. He vowed to close Guantanamo prison and to bring the troops home. Instead, he restarted the war in Afghanistan and started new wars in Pakistan and Yemen, while continuing Bush’s policy of threatening Iran and encircling Russia with military bases.

Americans out of work, out of income, out of homes and prospects, and out of hope for their children’s careers are angry. But the political system offers them no way of bringing about change. They can change the elected servants of the oligarchs, but they cannot change the policies or the oligarchs. 

The American situation is dire. As a result of the high speed Internet, the loss of manufacturing jobs was followed by the loss of professional service jobs, such as software engineering, that were career ladders for American university graduates. The middle class has no prospects. Already, the American labor force and income distribution mimics that of a third world country, with income and wealth concentrated in a few hands at the top and most of the rest of the population employed in domestic services jobs. In recent years net new job creation has been concentrated in lowly paid occupations, such as waitresses and bartenders, ambulatory health care services, and retail clerks. The population and new entrants into the work force continue to grow more rapidly than job opportunities. 

Turning this around would require more realization than exists among policymakers and a deeper crisis.  Possibly it could be done by using taxation to encourage US corporations to manufacture domestically the goods and services that they sell in US markets. However, the global corporations and Wall Street would oppose this change.

The tax revenue loss from job losses, bank bailouts, stimulus programs, and the wars have caused a three-to-four-fold jump in the US budget deficit. The deficit is now too large to be financed by the trade surpluses of China, Japan, and OPEC. Consequently, the Federal Reserve is making massive purchases of Treasury and other debt. The continuation of these purchases threatens the dollar’s value and its role as reserve currency. If the dollar is perceived as losing that role, flight from dollars will devastate the remnants of Americans’ retirement incomes and the ability of the US government to finance itself.

Yet, the destructive policies continue. There is no re-regulation of the financial industry, because the financial industry will not allow it. The unaffordable wars continue, because they serve the profits of the military/security complex and promote military officers into higher ranks with more retirement pay. Elements within the government want to send US troops into Pakistan and into Yemen. War with Iran is still on the table.  And China is being demonized as the cause of US economic difficulties. 

Whistleblowers and critics are being suppressed. Military personnel who leak evidence of military crimes are arrested. Congressmen call for their execution. Wikileaks’ founder is in hiding, and neoconservatives write articles calling for his elimination by CIA assassination teams. Media outlets that report the leaks apparently have been threatened by Pentagon chief Robert Gates.  According to Antiwar.com, on July 29 Gates “insisted that he would not rule out targeting Wikileaks founder Julian Assange or any of the myriad media outlets which reported on the leaks.” http://news.antiwar.com/2010/07/29/gates-wont-rule-out-targeting-assange-media-in-leak-investigation/ 

The control of the oligarchs extends to the media. The Clinton administration permitted a small number of mega-corporations to concentrate the US media in a few hands.  Corporate advertising executives, not journalists, control the new American media, and the value of the mega-companies depends on government broadcast licenses. The media’s interest is now united with that of the government and the oligarchs.

On top of all the other factors that have made American elections meaningless, voters cannot even get correct information from the media about the problems that they and the country face. 

As the economic situation is likely to continue deteriorating, the anger will grow. But the oligarchs will direct the anger away from themselves and toward the vulnerable elements of the domestic population and  “foreign enemies.” 

In a six-day span the U.S. State Department has bluntly affirmed unequivocal backing for Japanese territorial claims against both Russia and China, even invoking a defense treaty provision that could lead to direct military intervention and war with the world’s most populous nation.

Beginning a 13-day, seven-nation tour of the Asia-Pacific region on October 27 in Hawaii, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and met with Admiral Robert Willard, head of U.S. Pacific Command – the largest overseas regional military command in the world – and held a joint press conference with new Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara in Honolulu.

Clinton’s comments on the occasion underlined Washington’s increasingly assertive – and intrusive – role in East Asia and the Western Pacific Ocean. They included:

“This year, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of our alliance, which was forged at the height of the Cold War. At the time, President Eisenhower described the indestructible partnership between our two countries, and time has proven him right. The world’s geopolitical landscape has shifted many times since then, but the partnership between the United States and Japan has endured….This alliance is the cornerstone of American strategic engagement in the Asia Pacific….. I’m grateful that we are the two largest contributors to reconstruction in Afghanistan.” [1]

Responding to a question from the press corps on an East China Sea island chain contested by Japan and China – the Senkaku Islands in the Japanese designation and the Diaoyu Islands in the Chinese – near which a Chinese trawler collided with two Japanese coast guard ships on September 7, almost leading to an international incident, Clinton added that for the government she represents “the Senkakus fall within the scope of Article 5 of the 1960 U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. This is part of the larger commitment that the United States has made to Japan’s security. We consider the Japanese-U.S. alliance one of the most important alliance partnerships we have anywhere in the world and we are committed to our obligations to protect the Japanese.” [2]
 

Clinton’s raising Article 5 of the 1960 Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan, which states that “Each Party recognizes that an armed attack against either Party in the territories under the administration of Japan would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common danger,” paralleled and followed by three months a similar attempt to intervene against China in the South China Sea.

On July 23 Clinton spoke at the 17th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum in Hanoi, Vietnam, and alluding to disputes in the South China Sea between China and ASEAN member states Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei over the Spratly Islands and between China and Vietnam over the Paracel Islands, she maintained that “The United States, like every nation, has a national interest in freedom of navigation, open access to Asia’s maritime commons, and respect for international law in the South China Sea….We oppose the use or threat of force by any claimant.” [3] Clinton had the temerity to evoke the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which the U.S. has not ratified.
 
 

Her allusion to the prospect of force being used is – could only be – a reference to China in the current context. In an indisputable attempt to take up cudgels in alleged defense of the ten members of ASEAN – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma) the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – against what is being promoted by Washington as a common threat, China, Clinton delivered the opening salvo in what has since been an intensifying campaign to introduce the U.S. as not so much a mediator as a power broker and military guarantor in the Asia-Pacific region.

An outside player whose main “negotiation” tools are U.S. Pacific Command and the world’s largest expeditionary naval force, the U.S. Seventh Fleet, with 50–60 warships, 350 aircraft and as many as 60,000 sailors and marines attached to it at any given time.

In her comments in the Vietnamese capital on July 23 Clinton foreshadowed the renewed American emphasis on East Asia, in particular on isolating and confronting “outposts of tyranny” (her predecessor Condoleezza Rice’s term) Myanmar and North Korea and revivifying and expanding military alliances in the area. [4]

“The day before, I was in Seoul, my third visit to Korea as Secretary. Together, Secretary Gates and I have sent the strong message that 60 years after the outbreak of the Korean War the U.S.-Korea alliance is strong….I’ve just completed two days of intensive consultations with my ASEAN colleagues and with the other partners who have come here to pursue a common endeavor: strengthening security, prosperity, and opportunity across Asia….[T]he Obama Administration is committed to broad, deep, and sustained engagement in Asia.” [5]

The Pentagon demonstrated what America’s sustained engagement in Asia means starting two days after Clinton’s statements in Vietnam and every month since: With the Invincible Spirit military exercise in the Sea of Japan/East Sea starting on July 25. The first joint U.S.-Vietnamese military exercise – naval drills in the South China Sea – and the Ulchi Freedom Guardian military exercises in South Korea in August. Anti-submarine warfare maneuvers in the Yellow Sea near where China claims an exclusive economic zone in September. Confirmation late last month that naval exercises will be held in the near future in the Yellow Sea with the participation of the almost 100,000-ton nuclear-powered supercarrier USS George Washington, based in Yokosuka, Japan, which was deployed for the earlier Sea of Japan/East Sea and South China Sea exercises.

During the same period, from late July until the present, U.S. Pacific Command and Central Command led multinational military exercises in the two countries aside from North Korea that border both Russia and China – Kazakhstan (Steppe Eagle) and Mongolia (Khaan Quest 2010) [6] – and in Cambodia (Angkor Sentinel) and the Philippines (Amphibious Landing Exercise 2011). [7] The U.S. also conducted this year’s Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC 2010) naval warfare exercises, the world’s largest, off Hawaii from June 23 to July 30.

For all of Hillary Clinton’s talk of the use “soft power” to advance U.S. foreign policy objectives, Washington overwhelmingly depends on its (decidedly) hard power: Nuclear aircraft supercarrier strike groups, six regional navy fleets, advanced bombers and jet fighters, nuclear attack submarines and cruise missiles. When Clinton and other American officials pledge to support Japan in future conflicts with China – or Russia – they do not intend to limit themselves to the use of diplomatic niceties.

The U.S.’s top diplomat will end her current Asia-Pacific trip, which includes stopovers in Hawaii, Vietnam, China, Cambodia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia, on November 8 and in the interim will have strengthened her country’s position in the Asia-Pacific region on the civilian side, with her foreign policy partner Defense Secretary Robert Gates supplementing her efforts on the military one. Though on October 27 it was Clinton and not Gates who assured Japan that in the event of a repetition of last month’s Chinese-Japanese clash over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands Washington would honor its military commitment to intervene.

That is how Japanese Foreign Minister Maehara understood her statement at the time when he responded by saying:

“There was a question about the Senkaku Islands and rare earth minerals [the shipment of which were stopped by China]. As I have been saying, Senkaku Islands, in terms of history and international law, are inherent territory of Japan and have – we have had (inaudible) control over the islands and will continue to do so. Today, Secretary Clinton repeated that the Senkaku Islands would fall within the scope of the application of Article 5 of the bilateral security treaty. That was very encouraging.” [8]

Clinton had made the same pledge, to abide by Article 5 of the two nations’ military assistance treaty, to Maehara on September 23, and on October 11 U.S. Defense Secretary Gates and Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa agree “that their countries will jointly respond in line with a bilateral security pact toward stability in areas in the East China Sea covering the Senkaku Islands that came into the spotlight in disputes between Japan and China….” [9]

At their recent Hawaiian press conference Clinton and Maehara also confirmed a common position against Iran and North Korea.

As with the disputes over the Spratly and Paracel island chains in late July, Clinton also attempted to intrude the U.S. as a third party in the China-Japan conflict over the eight Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Hanoi on October 30, insisting the U.S. was “more than willing to host a trilateral [meeting] where we would bring Japan and China and their foreign ministers together to discuss a range of issues.” [10]

Three days later Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ma Zhaoxu responded by stating: “I’d like to stress that this is only the thinking of the U.S. side….The Diaoyu Islands and their adjacent islets are an inalienable part of China’s territory and the territorial dispute over the islands is an issue between China and Japan.

“It is absolutely wrong for the United States to repeatedly claim the Diaoyu Islands fall within the scope of the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. What the United States should do is to immediately correct its wrong position.” [11]

Next month Japan’s Self-Defense Forces (SDF) are to conduct “island-reclaiming drills” in the East China Sea in which “the U.S. military and the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet will provide support” as part of a “newly compiled defense program for the Nansei Islands.” The latter, also known as the Ryukyu Islands, form a 700-mile-long archipelago which includes Okinawa and at its southwest extreme gives way to the Senkaku Islands. In the words of a senior Japanese Ministry of Defense official, “It must be demonstrated to China…that the SDF and the U.S. military form a watertight defense array.” [12]

Antagonizing China with the threat of military intervention on behalf of Japan – or rather using Japan as the bait to provoke a military showdown with China – does not exhaust American plans in the Far East.

On November 1 President Dmitri Medvedev became the first Russian head of state to visit the Kuril Islands. The four islands were transferred from Japan to Russia after World War Two under terms of the 1945 Yalta agreement to which President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a party. Sixty-five years later there is still no peace treaty between Russia, as successor state to the Soviet Union, and Japan because of the dispute over the Kurils.

Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara immediately summoned the Russian ambassador to Japan to lodge a protest over Medvedev’s trip, and after Russia returned the favor Japan recalled its own ambassador from Moscow.
 
 

Washington lost no time in entering the fray. Hillary Clinton’s spokesman, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Philip Crowley, stated on November 1 that “We do back Japan regarding the Northern Territories,” [13) employing the Japanese government's name for the islands.

In the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty the U.S., while not recognizing Soviet rights to the Kurils, did accede to Japan losing any rights to them as well as to Russia's Sakhalin island to their northwest. In fact the treaty, to which Washington was a signatory, explicitly states that "Japan renounces all right, title and claim to the Kuril islands, and to that portion of Sakhalin and the islands adjacent to it over which Japan acquired sovereignty as a consequence of the Treaty of Portsmouth of 5 September 1905," signed after the 1904-1905 Russo-Japanese War. [14] Sakhalin is rich in oil, natural gas and coal. Japanese designs on the Kurils may not be limited to those islands but include the entire Sakhalin Oblast to which they belong.

The State Department now openly expresses its support for Japan’s claims on Russian territory while it repeatedly confirms its willingness to honor a bilateral military agreement to back Japan in an armed conflict with China over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands.

According to China’s Global Times, “The Russia-Japan row over the islands coincides with a dispute between Japan and China over the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea following Japan’s detention of a Chinese boat captain in September….[T]he strong message by Medvedev’s visit to the island, to some extent, echoes China’s firm stance on its dispute with Japan.” [15]

U.S. backing for Japanese claims on the Kurils has now progressed from tacit to explicit commitment, part of a policy of World War Two revisionism also evident in Washington’s actions in Eastern Europe from the Baltic Sea to the Balkans which aim at undoing the results of the Yalta and Potsdam conferences and the entire post-war system of international relations.

After the break-up of the Soviet Union and during Russia’s debilitated state under the Boris Yeltsin presidency in the 1990s, the first moves were made to do to Russia what had been done to the Soviet Union: Fragment it. From the Kuril Islands to the North Caucasus, from the Arctic to Kaliningrad and the Republic of Karelia, parts of post-Soviet Russia were coveted by neighboring states or otherwise targeted to be wrested from the country.

Japanese claims, though, have been even more brazen in recent years. In July of 2008 the Japanese government published new textbook guidelines directing teachers to instruct students that Japan has sovereignty over the Kuril Islands. A Russian commentary at the time remarked that in “maps published in…regions of the country even the whole territory of the Kuril Islands is marked as Japanese.

“Such kinds of territorial disputes had long been dubbed as ‘cartographic aggression.’

“For example, if Japan does not want to settle an old dispute with China over the Diaoytai Islands, also known as the Senkaku Islands in Japanese, it may mark the territory as Japanese.” [16]

In November of 2009 the Japanese government reiterated the accusation that “the Russian Federation is illegally occupying four northern islands.” [17]

The Russian Foreign Ministry responded by labelling as “unacceptable” a document issued by Tokyo identifying the alleged “illegal occupation by Russia” of the Kuril Islands, stating:

“We consider it necessary to stress that the Southern Kuril Islands are an inseparable part of the Russian Federation territory on legal grounds based on the WW2 results in accordance with the legally binding agreements and treaties between the ally states, as well as the UN Charter that was ratified by Japan.” [18]

Last month then-Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada spoke of the Kurils being “illegally occupied by Russia.”

When similar statements were made by Okada’s successor, Seiji Maehara, chairman of the international affairs committee in the Russian State Duma Konstantin Kosachev remarked:

“Such an inappropriate and tough statement by the Japanese foreign minister is regrettable.

“Like the parliament of that country did earlier, Tokyo is consistently
toughening its stance, pointing out the debatable status of the Kuril islands. That may only drive the situation into a deadlock.” [19]

It is this intensified policy of Japanese recalcitrance and revisionism that Washington has now squarely endorsed. Although State Department spokesman Philip Crowley qualified his comments of November 1 by saying the Article 5 military component of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan would not be invoked as long as Japan did not administer the Kurils, the door was left open for the activation of the article should Japan succeed, peacefully or otherwise, in gaining possession of the islands and the transition be recognized by Washington.

But the Kuril, as well as the Senkaku/Diaoyu, Spratly and Paracel, islands are minor chess pieces in a far broader stratagem. The U.S. intends to accelerate its return to and domination over the Asia-Pacific region and China and Russia are the main obstacles to its doing so.

The day after Hillary Clinton met with Japan’s foreign minister in Hawaii, weeks after the Chinese-Japanese confrontation in the East China Sea and days before the Japanese-Russian contretemps began, the Japanese destroyer JS Kirishima launched a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IA interceptor missile 100 miles into the sky above the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands on the Hawaiian island of Kauai and destroyed a multi-stage target missile. The missile intercept was the fourth jointly conducted by Japan and the U.S. Although North Korea will be evoked as the probable target of the bilateral tests, that country’s neighbors to the north – China and Russia – have also been put on notice.
 

The USS Lake Erie guided missile cruiser and USS Russell Arleigh Burke class destroyer, both part of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System of the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency, simultaneously carried out a mock interception of the target missile. USS Lake Erie shot down a space satellite with a Standard Missile-3 133 miles over the Pacific Ocean on February 20, 2008, with USS Russell part of the task force assigned to the mission.

In September the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) awarded Raytheon Company, the world’s largest missile manufacturer, a $175 million contract to “work with partners in Japan on the cooperative engineering and development efforts for the SM-3 Block IIA missile through the preliminary design process.”

“Raytheon and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, under contract to the MDA and Japan’s Ministry of Defense, are developing the next-generation SM-3 Block IIA missile, scheduled to begin flight testing in 2014. The company says the new missile will include larger second- and third-stage rocket motors and a larger kinetic warhead to provide a greater area of defense against sophisticated threats.” [20]

Last month it was disclosed that “Japan is likely to decide by year-end whether to order Northrop Grumman RQ-4B Global Hawk surveillance aircraft that could later be upgraded to reinforce the country’s ballistic missile defenses.” [21] The transaction is expected to be authorized in the National Defense Program Guideline to be published later this year.

A Kyodo News report revealed that Japan would pay $150 million for three Global Hawk unmanned high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft to “deal with China’s military rise” and to “defend remote Japanese islands.”

The same news agency divulged in a separate report that “Japan and the US are planning to hold a joint military exercise in December focused on defending the disputed [Senkaku/Diaoyu] islands….said to have vast oil and gas reserves.” [22]

An analysis in the Japan Times last month indicated the broader parameters of enhanced U.S.-Japanese military collaboration. It stated that “the scope of the Japan-U.S. military treaty has been extended far beyond ‘the Far East,’ roughly defined as areas north of the Philippines. The U.S. bases here support global engagements, including in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Indian Ocean.

USS George Washington and USS Blue Ridge are based in Yokosuka. The second is the flagship of the Seventh Fleet whose “area of responsibility ranges from the Kuril Islands in the north to the Antarctic, and from the international date line to the 68th meridian east at the India-Pakistan border.

“The area includes 35 maritime countries and the world’s five largest armed forces outside the U.S. — China, Russia, India, and North and South Korea. Five of the seven U.S. Mutual Defense Treaties are with countries in the area — the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand, South Korea, Japan and Thailand, according to the 7th Fleet’s official website.

“The U.S. currently deploys 11 ships and units to Yokosuka, including the USS George Washington, the world’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier.

“The III Marine Expeditionary Force in Okinawa is tasked with covering the Asia-Pacific to the Middle East.” [23]

The U.S. is acting in the 21st century much as it did during the most dangerous days of the Cold War half a century ago, for all the world appearing to prepare for a replication of the Taiwan Strait Crises of the 1950s, though now in an Asia with several nuclear powers.

Notes

1) U.S. Department of State, October 27, 2010
2) Ibid
3) U.S. Department of State, July 23, 2010
4) Asia: Pentagon Revives And Expands Cold War Military Blocs
Stop NATO, September 14, 2010
http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/asia-pentagon-revives-and-expands-cold-war-military-blocs
5) U.S. Department of State, October 27, 2010
6) Kazakhstan: U.S., NATO Seek Military Outpost Between Russia And China
Stop NATO, April 14, 2010
http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/04/15/kazakhstan-u-s-nato-seek-military-outpost-between-russia-and-china/
Mongolia: Pentagon Trojan Horse Wedged Between China And Russia
Stop NATO, March 31, 2010
http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/03/31/mongolia-pentagon-trojan-horse-wedged-between-china-and-russia
7) Asia: Pentagon Revives And Expands Cold War Military Blocs
Stop NATO, September 14, 2010
http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/asia-pentagon-revives-and-expands-cold-war-military-blocs
U.S. Marshals Military Might To Challenge Asian Century
Stop NATO, August 21, 2010
http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/08/21/u-s-marshals-military-might-to-challenge-asian-century
8) U.S. Department of State, October 27, 2010
9) Kyodo News, October 11, 2010
10) Radio Netherlands, November 2, 2010
11) Xinhua News Agency, November 2, 2010
12) Yomiuri Shimbun, August 20, 2010
13) Russian Information Agency Novosti, November 2, 2010
14) Treaty of Peace with Japan
http://www.international.ucla.edu/eas/documents/peace1951.htm
15) Global Times, November 2, 2010
16) Voice of Russia, July 1, 2008
17) Russian Information Agency Novosti, November 24, 2009
18) Itar-Tass, November 25, 2009
19) Interfax, September 29, 2010
20) Associated Press, September 27, 2010
21) Aviation Week, October 11, 2010
22) Kyodo News, October 3, 2010
23) Japan Times, October 14, 2010

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Haiti’s cholera toll: An indictment of Imperialism

November 4th, 2010 by Bill Van Auken

Like the massive death toll inflicted by the earthquake last January, the cholera outbreak in Haiti is not some natural disaster, but rather the product of desperate poverty created by centuries of imperialist oppression.

Haitian and international officials reported Sunday that the death toll from the outbreak of cholera had reached 337, with over 4,000 confirmed cases of the disease, mostly in the central and northern part of the Caribbean nation.

The water-borne intestinal disease causes uncontrollable diarrhea and vomiting which can claim its victims in hours from dehydration if untreated. As 75 percent of those who contract cholera exhibit no symptoms, the real number of those infected is thought to be some 15,000.

Haitian health ministry and United Nations officials are warning that the epidemic is likely to get worse before it can get better and could end up claiming “tens of thousands” of victims. The cholera outbreak could prove virtually uncontrollable if it spreads into the slums of the capital of Port-au-Prince. Particularly vulnerable are the more than 1,300 squalid tent cities which, 10 months after the country’s devastating earthquake killed approximately a quarter of a million people, are still home to some 1.3 million internally displaced persons.

At least six cases of cholera have already been reported in Port-au-Prince, though there is widespread suspicion that Haitian authorities are reluctant to confirm an outbreak in the capital. While health officials have claimed that these cases have involved people who contracted the disease in the rural Artibonite region in center of the country, doctors at one clinic have reported treating a girl from the sprawling Cite Soleil slum who had not been out of the city.

Neither Haiti nor anywhere else in the Western hemisphere has seen such an epidemic of cholera in the last century.

The disease is easily preventable and easily treatable—given minimal conditions of sanitation and the availability of clean water. Such conditions, however, are beyond the reach of the great majority of Haiti’s population, more than half of which lives in abject poverty. In rural areas, where most Haitians live, less than 8 percent of the population has access to secure drinking water, according to a report by the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

As for the Port-au-Prince camps in which over one million people are languishing under makeshift tents, virtually none have running water.

The cholera epidemic is not an after-effect of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti last January. The abysmal social conditions that facilitate such an outbreak of the disease were present well before then. They are the same conditions that left the Haitian people so vulnerable to the quake, resulting in the appalling death toll.

Underlying these conditions are economic and political relations forged through a century of exploitation and oppression of the Caribbean nation at the hands of US-based banks and corporations. Their domination has been enforced through the brutal repression of the population conducted by US military occupations and a succession of US-backed dictatorships, most infamously that of the Duvalier dynasty, which ruled the country through the death squad terror of the Tontons Macoutes for nearly 30 years.

The reaction of the Obama administration to Haiti’s plight in the wake of last January’s earthquake has been entirely in line with this shameful legacy. Its immediate response was to dispatch an armed US military force of 12,000 to seize control of strategic areas of the capital and ensure that no popular uprising challenged US domination and the rule of Haiti’s wealthy oligarchy. Once it became clear that security could be maintained, this force was withdrawn, leaving Haiti in a shambles.

Nothing has been done to replace Haiti’s shattered infrastructure, which was already in a calamitous state before the quake. Barely 2 percent of the rubble has been removed from Port-au-Prince, the precondition for any rebuilding.

And, while millions of ordinary people in the US and internationally responded powerfully to the appeal for aid to Haiti, virtually none of that aid has gotten to the Haitian people.

Less than 2 percent of the $5.3 billion in aid pledged by world governments for 2010-2011 has been delivered. Washington has set the example by delivering not one penny of the $1.15 billion that it promised. The criminal failure to make good on these promises has left the Haitian population largely defenceless in the face of the cholera epidemic.

Some of the aid that has been forthcoming from the US has only deepened Haiti’s crisis. Washington has subsidized the export of cheap rice to the country, undercutting local farmers and threatening to bankrupt Haiti’s agricultural sector, upon which 66 percent of the population depends for its survival.

This is part of a longstanding policy in which “aid” is employed by Washington as a means of deepening Haiti’s subordination to US capitalism and furthering US strategic interests in the region.

These methods have played a very direct role in the current outbreak of cholera. In an attempt to undermine the government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide—who was overthrown in a US-backed coup in 2004—Washington blocked loans from the Inter-American Development Bank that were earmarked for the development of Haiti’s water infrastructure, including the provision of a safe water supply to the Artibonite region, the epicenter of the current outbreak.

The plight of the Haitian people is not unique. Billions of human beings across the planet confront similar conditions of abject poverty and are prey to ancient diseases that modern technology make entirely preventable.

The United Nations reported last week that 1,500 people in Nigeria have lost their lives to cholera, while three other African nations are confronting the spread of the disease. Pakistan and Nepal have also reported outbreaks. The World Health Organization estimates that there are 3 to 5 million cholera cases every year, with between 100,000 and 120,000 dying from the disease annually. The toll is rising, according to the WHO, a manifestation of the increasingly desperate conditions created by capitalism in crisis.

The figures for waterborne diseases as a whole are even more staggering. According to the WHO, they will claim the lives of 1.4 million children this year, 90 percent of them under the age of five. That is approximately 4,000 children dying every single day for the want of rudimentary sanitation and access to clean water.

These conditions, in Haiti and internationally, are an inescapable indictment of the profit system, which subordinates all human endeavor to the enrichment of a narrow financial elite and condemns millions to die as part of the bargain.

Without a fundamental transformation of the existing social order, these millions will continue to lose their lives to preventable and survivable diseases. The eradication of poverty is impossible within the framework of the profit system.

The struggle posed in Haiti and in every country is that of putting an end to the capitalist system and reorganizing global economic life by freeing it from subordination to profit and dedicating it to meeting the needs of all the world’s people.

In back-to-back press conferences Wednesday, the day after sweeping Republican gains in the 2010 midterm election, victorious Republican Party leaders and Democratic President Barack Obama took their first tentative steps towards an open political partnership directed against the American working class.

The man who will become speaker of house in January, Ohio Republican Congressman John Boehner, made an appearance on Capitol Hill, flanked by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi, chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

All three repeated bromides about listening to the American people and following their lead, although the policies they support—slashing social programs such as Social Security, Medicare, education and unemployment compensation, and further tax breaks for the rich—are overwhelmingly opposed by the population.

Boehner was conciliatory in his demeanor, calling on the Obama White House and congressional Democrats, who still control the Senate, to work together with the new Republican majority in the House for a “smaller, less costly and more accountable government in Washington, DC.”

McConnell was more belligerent, declaring, “We’ll work with the administration when we agree with it and confront it when we don’t.” But he said, “it’s clear that we’ll have to have some kind of bipartisan agreement” on spending cuts, adding, “We anticipate enough Democrats will support this to make progress.”

Barbour issued the clearest call for across-the-board cuts in spending, saying, “In state government, we’ve learned to make real cuts, and we hope that will be an example to the new Congress.”

The calls for spending restraint and “smaller” government apply only to the programs that provide assistance to working people, the sick and the elderly. No Republican congressional leader favors cuts in spending on the military or the gargantuan tax subsidies to Wall Street and the wealthy.

On the contrary, Boehner and McConnell both reiterated their support for an extension of the Bush administration tax cuts for the wealthy, which are due to expire December 31. An extension has been held up by the dispute between the White House, which wants to limit the cuts to those making $250,000 a year or less, and the congressional Republicans, with considerable Democratic support, who want the tax cuts continued without any income ceiling, at the cost of $800 billion.

At his press conference an hour later, President Obama made it clear that he was open to the Republican approach, pledging bipartisan cooperation to cut spending and repeatedly suggesting areas of “common ground,” such as energy policy, education and tax cuts for investment.

Obama blamed the Democratic Party rout in the election on the dismal state of the US economy, particularly the widespread concern over the lack of jobs and high unemployment. But he proposed absolutely nothing to create jobs except more tax breaks for business, while offering to listen to any measures the Republicans might propose.

In an echo of the statements of an earlier Democratic president, Bill Clinton, after his party lost control of Congress in 1994, Obama asserted his continued relevance, declaring, “no one party will be able to dictate where we go from here” and expressing his desire to sit down with Boehner and McConnell.

In a comment that is particularly significant coming on the eve of a long trip to Asia, including a G20 economic summit in South Korea, Obama said, “The most important contest we face is not the contest between Democrats and Republicans. In this century, the most important competition we face is between America and our economic competitors around the world.”

This suggests an appeal to the Republicans to join forces for an aggressive program of economic nationalism to promote the interests of American corporations against their international rivals. A key element in the Obama administration’s campaign for “export-led” growth is to lower the wage levels of American workers so that American corporations can become more competitive in the world market.

In response to repeated questions about whether the election represented a repudiation of his administration’s policies, Obama would concede only that the US economy had so far failed to generate enough jobs for the rapidly growing number of unemployed, although he claimed to have “stabilized the economy” and produced “job growth in the private sector.” He added, “But people all across America aren’t feeling that progress. They don’t see it.”

In a clear olive branch to his right-wing opponents, Obama embraced their rhetoric against “big government.” He said that in the course of his first two years in office, with crisis interventions in the banking system, the auto industry and health care, “I think people started looking at all this and it felt as if government was getting much more intrusive into people’s lives than they were accustomed to.”

It is notable that neither Obama nor his Republican opponents classify government spying, wiretapping, secret prisons or assassination orders—all the trappings of a police state—as “big government.” What the Republicans demonize is the slightest government restriction on the activities of giant corporations, banks and wealthy individuals to plunder and exploit working people.

Obama pointed to the bipartisan deficit commission he appointed in March, which is to submit proposals next month for cuts in entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, as well as possible consumption taxes on the working class.

He also touted his embrace of accelerated depreciation rules for business, so companies “get a huge tax break next year,” citing this as “an idea that business groups and Republicans I think have supported for a very long time.”

Obama concluded with a paean to the capitalist market that could have been given by newly elected Republican Senator Rand Paul, declaring, “The reason we’ve got a unparalleled standard of living in the history of the world is because we’ve got a free market that is dynamic and entrepreneurial, and that free market has to be nurtured and cultivated.”

What “unparalleled standard of living” is Obama talking about? American workers who are facing levels of poverty, unemployment and social misery unprecedented in three-quarters of a century might respond with an impolite gesture.

The president wanted above all to reassure corporate America that he had learned his lesson from the election and would never again speak ill of Wall Street, no matter what crimes are committed by the bankers and CEOs. Citing the financial crash, the scandal of huge executive bonuses, and the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, he said, “I think business took the message that, well, gosh, it seems like we may be always painted as the bad guy.”

This extraordinary apology to those who have wrecked the US and world economy, despoiled the environment, and destroyed the livelihoods of tens of millions of working people demonstrates the complete subservience of both parties and all of official Washington to the ruling financial aristocracy.

Some of America’s wars are condemned outright, while others are heralded as “humanitarian interventions”. A significant segment of the US antiwar movement condemns the war but endorses the campaign against international terrorism, which constitutes the backbone of US military doctrine.

The “Just War” theory has served to camouflage the nature of US foreign policy, while providing a human face to the invaders. In both its classical and contemporary versions, the Just War theory upholds war as a “humanitarian operation”. It calls for military intervention on ethical and moral grounds against “insurgents”, “terrorists”, “failed” or “rogue states”.

Taught in US military academies, a modern-day version of the “Just War” theory has been embodied into US military doctrine. The “war on terrorism” and the notion of “pre-emption” are predicated on the right to “self defense.” They define “when it is permissible to wage war”: jus ad bellum.

Jus ad bellum has served to build a consensus within the Armed Forces command structures. It has also served to convince the troops that they are fighting for a “just cause”. More generally, the Just War theory in its modern day version is an integral part of war propaganda and media disinformation, applied to gain public support for a war agenda. Under Obama as Nobel Peace Laureate, the Just War becomes universally accepted, upheld by the so-called international community.

The ultimate objective is to subdue the citizens, totally depoliticize social life in America, prevent people from thinking and conceptualizing, from analyzing facts and challenging the legitimacy of the US NATO led war.

War becomes peace, a worthwhile “humanitarian undertaking”, Peaceful dissent becomes heresy.

The outbreak of the war on Yugoslavia in March 1999 was in many regards a watershed, a breaking point in the development of the “Just War” fought on “humanitarian” grounds. Many sectors of the Left both in North America and Western Europe embraced the “Just War” concept. Many “progressive” organizations upheld what they perceived as “a humanitarian war” to protect the rights of Kosovar Albanians. The war was described as a civil war rather than a US-NATO led bombing and invasion.

At the height of the NATO bombings, several “progressive” writers described the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), as a bona fide nationalist liberation army, committed to supporting the civil rights of Kosovar Albanians. The KLA was a terrorist organization supported by the CIA with links to organized crime. Without evidence, the Yugoslav government was presented as being responsible for triggering a humanitarian crisis in Kosovo. In the words of Professor Richard Falk:

“The Kosovo War was a just war because it was undertaken to avoid a likely instance of “ethnic cleansing” undertaken by the Serb leadership of former Yugoslavia, and it succeeded in giving the people of Kosovo an opportunity for a peaceful and democratic future. It was a just war despite being illegally undertaken without authorization by the United Nations, and despite being waged in a manner that unduly caused Kosovar and Serbian civilian casualties, while minimizing the risk of death or injury on the NATO side.”

(See http://www.wagingpeace.org/articles/2003/08/01_falk_interview.htm)

How can a war be “just despite it being illegally undertaken”, resulting in the deaths of men, women and children? 

An illegal war, which constitutes a criminal act is upheld  as a humanitarian endeavor.

Several progressive media joined the bandwagon, condemning the “Milosevic regime” without evidence, while at the same time condoning the NATO led war and expressing mitigated support for the KLA. In the words of Stephen Shalom, in a ZNet article:

“I am sympathetic to the argument that says that if people [the KLA] want to fight for their rights, if they are not asking others to do it for them, then they ought to be provided with the weapons to help them succeed. Such an argument seemed to me persuasive with respect to Bosnia.” (quoted in Michael Karadjis, Bosnia, Kosova & the West, Resistance Books, 2000, p. 170).

Human Rights Watch (HRW), which is known to support US foreign policy “urged regime-change for Yugoslavia, either through President Slobodan Milosevic’s indictment or a U.S. war to affect the same outcome.” (Edward S. Herman, David Peterson and George Szamuely, Yugoslavia: Human Rights Watch in Service to the War Party, Global Research, March 9, 2007). According to a HRW Fred Abrahams published in the New York Herald Tribune:

“[T]he international community’s failure to punish Milosevic for crimes in Croatia and Bosnia sent the message that he would be allowed to get away with such crimes again. It is now obvious that the man who started these conflicts cannot be trusted to stop them.” (Fred Abrahams, “The West Winks at Serbian Atrocities in Kosovo,” International Herald Tribune, August 5, 1998. quoted in Edward S. Herman et al, op cit)

Punishing a head of State by waging war on his country?

In 1999, Milosevic was portrayed by the “progressive” British Weekly The Observer, as the “Butcher of Belgrade”. (See Peter Beaumont and Ed Vulliamy, Ten years on, the end of the line, The Observer, 24 June 2001) 

The same reasoning was put forth in relation to Saddam Hussein, in the months leading up to the March 2003 bombing and invasion of Iraq. Saddam Hussein was described by the same author of the London Observer as the “Butcher of Baghdad”: 

“Saddam’s lonely childhood, bloody path to power and final, deadly miscalculation of his foreign enemies are charted by Peter Beaumont, foreign affairs editor” (See Peter Beaumont. The death of Saddam Hussein, The Observer, Sunday , December 31, 2006)

Meanwhile, the names of the “butchers of  Washington, London and Brussels”, who waged a “Just War” on the people of Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Palestine and Iraq are rarely mentioned.

Fake Anti-war Activism: Heralding Iran as a Nuclear Threat

Many people in the antiwar movement, while condemning the US administration, also condemn the government of President Ahmadinejad for its bellicose stance with regard to Israel.  The Jus ad Bellum reasoning used as a pretext to bomb Yugoslavia on humanitarian grounds is now being applied to Iran.

President Ahmadinejad allegedly wants Israel to be “wiped off the Map” as first reported by the New York Times in October 2005:

“Iran’s conservative new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said Wednesday that Israel must be “wiped off the map” and that attacks by Palestinians would destroy it, the ISNA press agency reported.

Ahmadinejad was speaking to an audience of about 4,000 students at a program called “The World Without Zionism,” …. His tone was reminiscent of that of the early days of Iran’s Islamic revolution in 1979. Iran and Israel have been bitter enemies since then, and anti-Israel slogans have been common at rallies.”(See Nazila Fathi, Wipe Israel ‘off the map’ Iranian says – The New York Times, 27 October 2005)

The alleged “Wiped Off the Map” statement by Iran’s president was never made. The rumor was fabricated by the American media with a view to discrediting Iran’s head of state and providing a justification for waging an all out war on Iran:

On October 25th, 2005 …. the newly elected Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered a speech at a program, titled “The World Without Zionism”….

Before we get to the infamous remark, it’s important to note that the “quote” in question was itself a quote— they are the words of the late Ayatollah Khomeini, the father of the Islamic Revolution. Although he quoted Khomeini to affirm his own position on Zionism, the actual words belong to Khomeini and not Ahmadinejad. Thus, Ahmadinejad has essentially been credited (or blamed) for a quote that is not only unoriginal, but represents a viewpoint already in place well before he ever took office.

THE ACTUAL QUOTE:

So what did Ahmadinejad actually say? To quote his exact words in farsi:

“Imam ghoft een rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad.”

That passage will mean nothing to most people, but one word might ring a bell: rezhim-e. It is the word “Regime”, pronounced just like the English word with an extra “eh” sound at the end. Ahmadinejad did not refer to Israel the country or Israel the land mass, but the Israeli regime. This is a vastly significant distinction, as one cannot wipe a regime off the map. Ahmadinejad does not even refer to Israel by name, he instead uses the specific phrase “rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods” (regime occupying Jerusalem).

So this raises the question.. what exactly did he want “wiped from the map”? The answer is: nothing. That’s because the word “map” was never used. The Persian word for map, “nagsheh”, is not contained anywhere in his original farsi quote, or, for that matter, anywhere in his entire speech. Nor was the western phrase “wipe out” ever said. Yet we are led to believe that Iran’s President threatened to “wipe Israel off the map”, despite never having uttered the words “map”, “wipe out” or even “Israel”.

THE PROOF:

The full quote translated directly to English:

“The Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time”.

Word by word translation:

Imam (Khomeini) ghoft (said) een (this) rezhim-e (regime) ishghalgar-e (occupying) qods (Jerusalem) bayad (must) az safheh-ye ruzgar (from page of time) mahv shavad (vanish from).

Here is the full transcript of the speech in farsi, archived on Ahmadinejad’s web site: 

www.president.ir/farsi/ahmadinejad/speeches/1384/aban-84/840804sahyonizm.htm“ 

(See the detailed article by Arash Norouzi, Israel: “Wiped off The Map”. The Rumor of the Century, Fabricated by the US Media to Justify An All out War on Iran , Global Research  February 20, 2007)

What President Ahmadinjad was essentially calling for in his statement was “regime change” in Tel Aviv. (Compare Ahmadinejad’s bland statement on regime change in Israel with that of former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who called for “Ending states that sponsor terrorism”. 

This alleged “Wiped off the Map” statement has served not only to justify a pre-emptive attack against Iran but also to subdue and tame the antiwar movement.

While the danger of an all out war on Iran is a matter of concern, it is by no means a priority for the US, Canadian and European antiwar movements. In the US, there are very few antiwar events focussing on US-Israeli threats directed against Iran (See Main US antiwar collective: United for Peace & Justice : Index, United for Peace & Justice : Events).

On the other hand, there is an ongoing campaign led by United Against Nuclear Iran” (UANI), calling on President Obama  and the US Congress to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. (See UANI home page). The UANI collective, founded by Obama appointees Richard Holbrooke and Gary Samore, claims to be integrated by “human rights and humanitarian groups, the labor movement, political advocacy and grassroots organizations” (Coalition | UANI)

Notwithstanding Arash Norouzi’s disproval, many in the antiwar movement, while condemning the US, continue to believe that Iran constitutes a threat and that the solution is “regime change”.  The funding of NGOs (which are constituent members of major antiwar collectives) by tax exempt charities and corporate foundations, has also contributed to weakening antiwar activism in relation to Iran.  Iran is viewed by many within the antiwar movement as a potential aggressor. Its non-existent nuclear weapons are considered, a threat to global security.

A pre-emptive war using US made tactical nuclear weapons against Iran has been on the Pentagon’s drawing board since mid 2003. Both president Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have stated that “all options are on the table” including the use of nuclear weapons against Iran, without realizing that the use of nuclear weapons could lead humanity into a global nuclear war as outlined by Fidel Castro in a recent speech:

“Today there is an imminent risk of war with the use of that kind of weapon and I don’t harbour the least doubt that an attack by the United States and Israel against the Islamic Republic of Iran would inevitably evolve towards a global nuclear conflict. (Fidel Castro Ruz, VIDEO: Fidel’s Message against Nuclear War: “In a Nuclear War the ‘Collateral Damage’ would be the Life of All Humanity.”, Global Research, October 21, 2010)

War and the Economy

The war economy is presented as a means to generating employment. At the height of an economic crisis, trade unions are called upon not only pay lip service to job creation in the defence industry but also to soften their antiwar stance. In a twisted irony, according to the Washington Post, a war on Iran would have the added advantage of resolving the economic crisis and triggering a “war recovery”:

“What else might affect the economy? The answer is obvious, but its implications are frightening. War and peace influence the economy.

Look back at FDR and the Great Depression. What finally resolved that economic crisis? World War II.

Here is where Obama is likely to prevail. With strong Republican support in Congress for challenging Iran’s ambition to become a nuclear power, he can spend much of 2011 and 2012 orchestrating a showdown with the mullahs. This will help him politically because the opposition party will be urging him on. And as tensions rise and we accelerate preparations for war, the economy will improve.

I am not suggesting, of course, that the president incite a war to get re-elected. But the nation will rally around Obama because Iran is the greatest threat to the world in the young century. If he can confront this threat and contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions, he will have made the world safer and may be regarded as one of the most successful presidents in history.” (David Broder, The War Recovery, Washington Post, October 31, 2010) 

As Election Day draws near, it’s pretty clear: Voters are worried about jobs, the budget deficit and the rising national debt.

But behind those issues—behind the ads and candidates’ speeches, behind the rhetoric about “out-of-control” government spending—there lurks a hidden, less-talked-about issue: the cost of the ongoing wars.

Already, we’ve spent more than $1 trillion in Iraq, not counting the $700 billion consumed each year by the Pentagon budget.

And spending in Iraq and Afghanistan now comes to more than $3 billion weekly, making the wars a major reason for record-level budget deficits.

Two years ago, Joseph Stiglitz and I published The Three Trillion Dollar War in which we estimated that the budgetary and economic costs of the war would reach $3 trillion.

Taking new numbers into account, however, we now believe that our initial estimate was far too conservative—the cost of the wars will reach between $4 trillion and $6 trillion.

For example, we recently analyzed the medical and disability claim patterns for almost a million troops who have returned from the wars, and, based on this record, we’ve revised our estimate upward to between $600 billion and $900 billion—a broad specter, yes, but certainly also a significant upward tick from our earlier projection of $400 billion to $700 billion, based on historical patterns.

Similarly, our estimates for the economic and social costs associated with returning veterans can be expected to rise by at least a third—the staggering toll of repeated deployments over the past decade.

The Bush administration not only vastly underestimated the cost of the wars but cut taxes twice—in 2001 and 2003—just as we were ramping up the war effort. This was the first time in U.S. history that a government cut taxes while also appropriating huge new sums to fight a war. And the consequence is that the wars added substantially to the federal debt.

Between 2003 and 2008—before the financial crisis unfolded—the debt rose from $6.4 trillion to $10 trillion, and, at least one-quarter of this increase was directly attributable to the wars, first in Iraq and then in Afghanistan.

The US is spending more that $3 billion a week on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq

We have already spent more than $1 trillion in Iraq… and weekly—yes, weekly—spending in Iraq and Afghanistan now comes to more than $3 billion.

For example, in March 2003—the month of the Iraq invasion—oil prices hovered just under $25 per barrel. Immediately afterward, however, prices started to soar, reaching $140 a barrel five years later. Add to that: for Americans, the war-spending left us with much less wiggle room domestically to deal with the financial crisis.

In the run-up to the election, people have expressed concerns about the debt and the deficit, as well as the huge ongoing burden of funding the conflict, and the constraints they exert on the size of the economic stimulus package.

Here is what we know: the legacy of the wars will continue to drag the economy down.

The long-term costs of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will be higher than previous wars because of higher survival rates, greater incidence of PTSD and other mental-health disorders. Additionally, a higher percentage of veterans are claiming disability benefits, and far more veterans have served multiple tours of duty.

Taken in context, history shows that the cost of caring for war veterans typically peaks 40 years after a conflict ends. The peak year for paying out disability claims to World War I veterans didn’t occur until 1969; the peak for paying out World War II benefits was in the 1980s, and we have not yet reached the peak cost for Vietnam veterans. Even the Gulf War of 1991, which lasted just six weeks, now costs more than $4 billion a year in veterans’ disability compensation.

Hundreds of thousands of veterans have already been treated in VA medical facilities; and many will require care for the rest of their lives. Half-a-million people plus have filed for disability compensation. And the total lifetime cost of providing for these veterans is likely to tally between $600 billion and $900 billion, as mentioned above. But of course, even these huge numbers don’t include the economic costs that are borne by veterans and their families, in terms of diminished quality of life, lost employment and long-term suffering.

We will also to need to find billions of dollars to replace vehicles, weapons and other equipment that will never be repatriated.

It is this spending (and the accompanying debt) that will one day need to be paid, that is truly haunting the November elections. We just don’t care to connect the dots. Iraq and Afghanistan cast a long shadow. We will be living with their legacy for decades.

Linda J. Bilmes is a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She is co-author with Joseph Stiglitz of the New York Times bestseller The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict. Bilmes has written extensively on financial and budgetary issues in newspapers, magazines and academic journals including the New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Financial Times.

US ‘knew’ of al-Qaeda parcel plot

November 4th, 2010 by Global Research

Authorities say they were aware of al-Qaeda’s plan to use international cargo systems several weeks before foiled plot.

US authorities have said that they knew of al-Qaeda’s plans to use international cargo systems several weeks before last week’s foiled parcel bomb plot, Al Jazeera has learned.

The authorities are reported to have intercepted packages shipped by the group in September.

“Several weeks ago, we identified packages in transit that appeared to have a connection to al-Qaeda,” a US official told Al Jazeera on Tuesday.

“We looked at them very closely, and determined they did not contain explosives. We obviously took this earlier event into account in dealing with last week’s cargo threat.”

The parcel bombs, addressed to synagogues in Chicago, were discovered at a UK airport and in a cargo terminal in Dubai on Friday.

Qatar Airways said the Dubai parcel had been transported on two of its passenger planes from Sanaa via Doha.

Theresa May, Britain’s interior minister, said the package intercepted in the UK was powerful enough to bring down the aircraft, while other officials said the device was so sophisticated that it nearly slipped past investigators despite a tip-off.

Highly explosive

The parcel, which was hidden inside a computer printer with a circuit board and mobile phone SIM card attached, was said to contain pentaerythritol trinitrate (PETN), a highly potent explosive, which is difficult to detect in security screenings.

Al Jazeera’s Rob Reynolds, reporting from Los Angeles, said that this recent development makes things a lot more interesting but also a lot more murky.

“It is not clear still whether the bombs were intended to reach the destinations in the US, or whether they were designed to bring down the planes in flight,” Reynolds said.

“What is certain is that the al-Qaeda group in that region seems to be determined to use this route to further their objectives, much like the incident with the shoe-bomb attempt.”

A leading al-Qaeda fighter in Yemen who surrendered to Saudi Arabia last month provided the tip that led to the thwarting of the mail bomb plot, according to Yemeni security officials, The Associated Press (AP) news agency reported on Monday.

The officials said Jabir al-Fayfi, a Saudi who had joined al-Qaeda in Yemen, had told Saudi officials about the plan.

The Yemeni officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to the press.

Several tribal leaders with knowledge of the situation, who similarly spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed al-Fayfi’s role, AP said.

The Saudi newspaper Al-Watan on Monday cited Saudi security officials saying that the kingdom gave US investigators the tracking numbers of the packages.

“The latest announcement about al-Faifi brings to the fore two major issues,” Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from Sanaa, said.

“One, that Saudi Arabia enjoys unlimited influence and leverage in Yemen. Number two, is it shows that Saudi managed to infiltrate Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Ahelbarra said that this was something unheard of in the history of al-Qaeda.

Flight bans

“Usually, when they plan an attack, it is only a small circle of al-Qaeda that is familiar with all the details of the operation,” he said.

“The Yemenis don’t seem to be happy with the revelations that Saudi was the key player in tipping off the Americans”.

Following this incident, a number of countries announced changed security procedures or have placed bans on cargo from Yemen.

Britain banned unaccompanied cargo freight to the UK from Yemen and Somalia, while Germany extended its ban on cargo aircraft from Yemen to include passenger flights.

The Netherlands and Canada suspended all cargo flights from Yemen, while France and the US banned air freight from Yemen in response to the plot.

Last night after Rand Paul won in Kentucky, MSNBC commenter Larry O’Donnell warned that Paul himself could send the world into a global depression.

How?

O’Donnell worries that Paul will torpedo any effort to hike the debt ceiling, and thus cause an immediate default, causing a global depression.

Even if he couldn’t do it on his own, there’s the fear that the GOP-controlled house could prevent the ceiling from being hiked, especially since Michael Steele, head of the RNC, has vowed “no compromise” on this issue.

Anyway, normally this is a perfunctory issue, but with the debt being such a huge issue right now, this is one to watch. A vote will come some time in 2011.

War Is Sold Just Like Soda or Toothpaste

November 3rd, 2010 by Washington's Blog

 


Painting by Anthony Freda: www.AnthonyFreda.com.

White House chief of Staff Andrew Card famously said – in explaining why the Bush administration waited until September to make its case for war in Iraq:

From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.

War is – indeed – marketed just like soda or toothpaste.

Everyone knows that truth is the first casualty of war.

Countries need to lie about their enemies in order to demonize them sufficiently so that the people will support the war.

That is why intelligence “failures” – such as the following – are so common:

  • It is also now well-accepted that the Gulf of Tonkin Incident which led to the Vietnam war was a fiction (confirmed here).

That is also why governments from around the world have used false flag incidents for thousands of years to sell their people on whatever wars they wish to launch.

Of course, the demonization process is catapulted far and wide by the mainstream media. Indeed, the corporate media is instrumental in spreading the lies so as to support war.

(Unknown artist)

The New American Credo: Might Is Right

November 3rd, 2010 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

In my last column, Who Has The Crystal Ball, I questioned the existence of “the liberal media,” and I remarked that it would be interesting to know the manufacturer of the full body scanners and the company’s relationship to the US and Israeli governments.

Conservative readers wrote to me saying that, as I had not mentioned National Public Radio, I had hidden “the liberal media” under the table. Another reader, well informed on the subject, told me about the full body scanner company and its relationship to the US and Israeli governments.

Let’s begin with the latter.

The full body scanners are manufactured by Rapiscan Systems, a firm represented by the Chertoff Group. The Chertoff Group is Michael Chertoff, a dual Israeli/US citizen appointed Secretary of Homeland Security in 2005 by Puppet President George W. Bush. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) used Obama’s economic stimulus, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, to purchase 150 Rapiscan machines. Much larger purchases are in the works.

Chertoff has been a federal judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and a federal prosecutor who convicted and destroyed the Arthur Andersen accounting firm, apparently illegally as the conviction was overturned by the US Supreme Court. But, of course, the firm and the careers of its employees were already destroyed by Chertoff.

Chertoff was also appointed Assistant Attorney General of the Department of Justice by George W. Bush. Chertoff supervised the 9/11 investigation or non-investigation.

Chertoff is also the co-author of the USA PATRIOT Act, a piece of fascist legislation that destroys American civil liberties.

Today Chertoff is using his government credentials to push full body scanners into American airports. A rights group, FlyersRights.org, has criticized Chertoff for abusing “the trust the public has placed in him as a former public servant to privately gain from the sale of full-body scanners.”
http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2010/01/02/group_slams_chertoff_on_scanner_promotion/ 

Now let’s have a look at National Public Radio. Once upon a time NPR was an alternative voice. That voice was discarded during the Bush administration when Republican fundraiser Gay Hart Gaines was appointed by Dubya as vice chair for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Cheryl Feldman Halpern was appointed chair of the Corporation by Dubya, and Elizabeth Sembler was appointed by Dubya to the board of the corporation.

These women are certainly not liberals. Gaines is affiliated with right-wing and neoconservative organizations, such as the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation and the National Review Institute. According to Common Cause, Gaines was “an ardent fundraiser for Newt Gingrich.”
http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Gay_Hart_Gaines 

Halpern is a Republican donor and a critic of NPR. Halpern has accused NPR of anti-Israel bias and said that public broadcasting journalists should be penalized for biased programs. Biased programs are those that don’t fit Republican and AIPAC agendas. Halpern accompanied President George W. Bush to Jerusalem for the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Israeli state in May 2008. Halpern is a board member of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a spin-off organization from AIPAC tasked with focusing primarily on influencing the US executive branch while AIPAC focuses on Congress. At her confirmation hearing, Halpern expressed her opinion that Public Broadcasting System’s Bill Moyers was not objective and regretted that as chair of the corporation she lacked the authority to “remove physically somebody who had engaged in editorialization of the news.”
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/14/AR2005071402099.html 

Sembler is director of Jewish Studies at the Jewish Day School in Clearwater, Florida. Her husband is CEO of the Sembler Company, a shopping center development firm.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting board distributes federal funds to noncommercial radio and TV stations. It became clear to NPR that their funding was in question, and NPR deserted truth for money.

The Republican takeover was completed by an infusion of corporate money into NPR.

Today the station has as many advertisements for corporate donors as a commercial station. It still pretends to be financed by listeners, but NPR is now part of the corporate media and sounds like the voice of Israel.

On November 2, NPR’s news broadcast showed its new colors. Reporting on the 40-year sentence handed to Omar Khadr by a Gestapo military tribunal for “war crimes,” NPR provided commentary from a widow of a US soldier killed in the firefight that captured the wounded 15-year old Khadr and by a retired US military officer. NPR did not provide any commentary by legal experts who have shown the “trial” to be a travesty of law.

Khadr was captured in wounded condition following a four-hour firefight in the Afghan village of Ayub Kheyl, which came under US attack. He was accused of throwing a hand grenade that fatally wounded a US soldier. It is impossible to know who threw a grenade during a firefight. Moreover, the use of lethal force in military encounters does not constitute a war crime.

Khadr was held for seven years in Guantanamo where he was tortured into confession. At his trial, his confession became a plea bargain.

What Khadr’s trial was about is establishing that “enemy combatants” who resist US aggression are war criminals. The assumption is that only “terrorists” resist American invasion of their countries.

None of this information was revealed by the NPR report. Instead America’s “alternative voice” was thoroughly neoconservative. NPR presented its listeners with the self-righteous celebration of the US soldier’s widow, who, the Guardian reported (Nov. 2) “pumped her fist and cheered ‘yes.’ The widow said that now, finally, that justice was done she could get on with her life. NPR followed up with a retired US military officer, who said that Khadr’s sentence was equivalent to freeing a murderer.

Khadr’s prosecutor, Jeffrey Groharing, declared that Khadr’s sentence “will send a message to Al-Qaeda and others whose aims and goals are to kill and cause chaos around the world.” The irony in this assertion escaped the tamed NPR. The deaths that can be attributed to Al Qaeda are tiny in number compared to the deaths inflicted by gratuitous US and Israeli naked aggression against Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Lebanon, Pakistan, Yeman, and Somalia. Groharing declared the 15-year old Khadr to have been “an accomplished terrorist” who committed the offense of resisting American aggression.

Now, really, what kind of idiot would interpret NPR’s report as “the liberal media.”

What message did Khadr’s sentence send? To insouciant Americans only that finally a terrorist got his comeuppance despite the liberal media. To the rest of the world the message is: the US is a morally bankrupt, self-righteous country that believes that might is right. The American claim to world leadership is discredited.

HASBUNALLAH KHAN/AP

OUTSIDE A HOUSE, with bloodstained walls, after a U.S. drone attack in Mohammadkhel village in north Waziristan along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, in October 2008. The strike killed about 20 people in two villages.
 
 
United States President Barack Obama, who is due to visit India in early November, has virtually adhered to almost all the security policies of his predecessor. In fact, he has enhanced some of the most reprehensible policies of the George W. Bush administration, including the targeting of civilians by unmanned drones. Rendition (kidnapping) and indefinite detention of terror suspects have increased under his watch.
 
President Obama has substantially increased defence spending and has expanded the war in Afghanistan. A Federal Court in the U.S. overturned a decision by a lower court granting former prisoners tortured by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) the right to sue for damages. The Federal judge said he overturned the ruling because he supported the Obama administration’s position on the issue. He stated in his judgment that “there is a painful conflict between human rights and national security”. The judge concluded that fundamental human rights had to be sacrificed at the altar of national security.
 
Before assuming the presidency, Obama had promised to give up the unlawful practices of the Bush administration such as the rendition of suspects to secret CIA bases in countries such as Romania and Poland, where they were routinely subjected to torture.
 
Such practices may have diminished somewhat, but the Obama administration has wholeheartedly endorsed the Bush administration’s policy of eliminating terror suspects using pilotless high-tech drone aircraft. Instead of using the laborious technique of capturing alleged terrorists from their hideouts in crowded cities and remote villages, the drones just bomb the house or village where the suspects are holed up. In the process, there has been huge collateral damage. Innocent civilians killed far outnumber those killed in the fight against the occupation.
 
Ever since he took office two years ago, Obama has made the deadly drones a key instrument in his fight against the militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The drones are also being used liberally to target militants in Yemen and Somalia. The German magazine Der Spiegel reported that Obama had, since assuming power, authorised more than 120 drone attacks in Pakistan. During the eight years of the Bush presidency, there were only an estimated 60 such drone attacks. The drone attacks have contributed significantly to the alienation of the Pakistani public from the U.S. and the rise in suicide attacks on American and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) targets.
 
The CIA had targeted the Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mesud 16 times with drones. It was only in the last attempt that it succeeded in getting him. In the last attack alone, around nine of his relatives and friends were killed. Most of those killed in the continuing drone attacks have been poor civilians living in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. More than 700 civilians were killed in 2009. This year the numbers are bound to rise substantially.
 
The drones, many of which are launched by CIA operatives from Pakistani military bases, allow the U.S. military to function from Pakistani territory without attracting much domestic attention. Washington and Islamabad have never publicly acknowledged the presence of U.S. troops on Pakistani soil.
 
Drone history
 

Drone technology was first used during the U.S. war against the democratically elected government of Nicaragua in the early 1980s. The “Predator” drone, which the U.S. military and security agencies are using now, was developed after the Balkan war of the 1990s. It was initially devised as an intelligence-gathering tool and later armed with Hellfire missiles. Priced at around $10 million, it is cheaper to operate than conventional jet fighters, which cost 10-15 times more a piece.
 
A mechanism was installed in the drones to ensure that shrapnel from the missiles killed people within a 20-metre radius of the impact site.
 
In early 2000, the Pentagon developed a more advanced version of the drone, called the “Reaper”. The plane could remain airborne for 36 hours, 12 hours more than the Predator. It could also be armed with lethal 240-kg bombs. The Reaper was guided by global positioning system (GPS) and laser technology.
 
In the next decade, the spending on drones is set to increase sevenfold. Many governments, including India and Iran, are investing heavily in this technology. Israel, true to style, was the first country to use drones to target civilians on a large scale. Since the early 1990s, drones have been used relentlessly against the hapless population trapped in Gaza. In another alarming development, the U.S. has started to use Predator drones to patrol its border with Mexico.
 
Marshall Peterson, the man who played a pioneering role in the development of drone technology, told Der Spiegel that he was not told that his work was being used for “targeted killings”. He said that the software was improperly installed, which, he felt, was the reason for the high number of civilian casualties.
 
The dramatic rise in civilian casualties is also directly related to the random targeting of houses on the basis of sketchy information gathered by the CIA. A new report compiled by the U.S.-based Campaign of Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC) found that houses in the tribal areas of Pakistan were routinely targeted because Taliban fighters had once frequented them. A civilian victim of a drone strike told a researcher from CIVIC, Christopher Rogers, that his house in Wazirstan was targeted a day after a group of Taliban fighters barged into it demanding food.
 
The researcher, who investigated nine of the drone strikes carried out in Pakistan since 2009, reported that 30 civilians, including 10 women, had been killed in these strikes. Out of the estimated 2,000 people killed so far, as a result of drone attacks in Pakistan, only 66 were Al Qaeda or Taliban militants.
 
It is the civilian population that has borne the brunt of the attacks. A study by the prestigious Brookings Institute revealed that for every militant killed in a drone attack, 10 civilians perished as part of the collateral damage.
 
Evidently, under Obama, the CIA has been given a freer hand. The rise in civilian casualties has had no impact on the White House. David Kilcullen, the counter-insurgency expert who had worked closely with Gen. David Petraeus and is currently in charge of the U.S./NATO military operations in Afghanistan, said that only 2 per cent of those killed in drone attacks had been “jihadists”.
 
It is not surprising that a large majority (76 per cent) of the residents of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) oppose the use of drones. More than half of those questioned believed that the Predator and Reaper drones were mainly used for targeting the civilian population.
 
Robert Baer, a senior ex-CIA operative, has said that the U.S. administration now prefers to kill a suspect rather than capture him. “Targeted killings are easier for the CIA or for the military to deal with than taking someone prisoner. No one really questions a killing but when you take someone a prisoner, then you are responsible for the person and then headaches come. We have a logic that leads to more and more targeted killings,” he said.
Kilcullen noted that the use of drones is “not moral” and only serves to provide “more recruits for militant movements that have grown exponentially as drone attacks have increased”.
 

BONNY SCHOONAKKER/AFP

A PREDATOR DRONE of the U.S., armed with a missile, in its hangar at the Bagram airbase in Afghanistan in November 2009.
 
Philip Alston, the U.N. Human Rights Council’s special representative on extrajudicial executions, has submitted a report highlighting the grave threat posed to international law by the indiscriminate use of drones by countries such as the U.S. and Israel. Alston has said that many countries will be encouraged to follow the lead taken by the U.S. and carry out “competing drone attacks” on those they label as terrorists operating outside their borders. In fact, Israel has been killing Palestinians using drones. The state of Israel brands people it does not like as terrorists and liquidates them, and no questions are asked.
 
In November 2002, the U.S. sent its first drone to Yemen to target an Al Qaeda suspect allegedly responsible for the attack on USS Cole. There has been no looking back since then. The CIA has been given a carte blanche on the use of drones to target whomever it suspects in any part of the world. The agency is not deemed legally accountable for its actions as the U.S. administration argues that the former is engaged in an asymmetrical war against global terrorism. The U.S. government has justified targeted killings as a legitimate weapon of “self-defence” in the war against terror.
 
Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen currently residing in Yemen, is on the most wanted list of the CIA. Al-Awlaki has filed a lawsuit in an American court demanding that the U.S. government desist from murdering him. He was the “radio Imam” who allegedly influenced Nidal Malik Hassan, a U.S. army officer, to shoot 13 people dead in Fort Hood, Kansas, in 2009. The U.S. put the preacher on the “kill list” immediately, without bothering to provide any clinching evidence against him. Al-Awlaki has so far avoided being killed. He escaped from Sana’a, the capital of Yemen, after he first heard the tell-tale sound of a drone circling over his apartment building and has since taken refuge in the rugged mountains in the Yemeni desert.
 

MOHAMMAD MALIK/AFP

A protest in Lahore, Pakistan, on October 21 against the drone attacks in the Waziristan region.
 
John Radsan, who was a legal adviser to the CIA, told Der Spiegel that President Bush had delegated the presidential power to order killings to the head of the CIA, who in turn delegated it to its Counterterrorism Centre. A New York Times correspondent, Scott Shane, highlighted the constitutional dichotomy involved.
 
“To eavesdrop on a terrorism suspect, intelligence agencies would have to get a court warrant. But designating him for death needed no judicial review,” he wrote.

La necessità della Russia e della Cina del partner strategico iraniano è una componente di qualsiasi strategia difensiva o alternativa praticabile contro l’interferenza americana e dell’Unione Europea nelle loro sfere di interesse geopolitico.

Nel 2009, la necessità dei Russi e dei Cinesi di avere un governo al potere a Tehran che fosse loro alleato è diventata evidente durante il periodo di irrequietezza dopo le elezioni del 2009 in Iran. Mosca, Beijing e molte altre capitali nel mondo hanno tenuto lo sguardo puntato sull’Iran quando le sommosse e le proteste si sono riversate nelle strade iraniane. L’ “Onda Verde” o Rivoluzione Verde è connessa alle sommosse da parte di un segmento dell’opposizione dopo le elezioni presidenziali in Iran del 2009. Il movimento ha preso nome dal colore della bandiera iraniana che ha scelto il candidato alla presidenza Mir-Hussein Mousavi. Questo evento sarebbe potuto diventare un colpo di stato geopolitico contro l’entità politica dell’Eurasia. Sarebbe potuto ben diventare un’autentica minaccia geopolitica per gli interessi della Russia e della Cina. Al contrario, l’Onda Verde è stata accolta favorevolmente dall’America, dalla Gran Bretagna, dalla Francia, dalla Germania, da Israele e dai loro alleati.

Per capire la necessità cino-russa dell’Iran, devono essere discusse le dimensioni geopolitiche dell’Onda Verde, come pure il modo in cui questi fattori sono collegati all’Iran come perno geostrategico e le sue opzioni di politica come attore politico sulla scena internazionale. Una dimensione correlata è lo sviluppo coesivo di un ordine unificato in Eurasia, che gli USA e i suoi alleati stanno cercando di bloccare. L’Iran ha un ruolo cruciale nel processo di coesione eurasiatica che coinvolge una triplice alleanza di base che consiste nella Federazione Russa, la Repubblica Popolare Cinese e l’Iran.

L’Onda Verde e le sommosse politiche che sono esplose in Iran sono emerse da un gran numero di ragioni intercorrelate. C’erano diverse motivazioni tra i suoi membri ed organizzatori. Ci sono diverse spiegazioni e prospettive sulle cause e sulle motivazioni dell’Onda Verde. Tutti questi fattori sono parte di una più ampia concezione della relazione tra la politica interna iraniana e la geopolitica globale.

Tuttavia, tra le descrizioni dell’Onda Verde come lotta democratica, ovvero una lotta per maggiori libertà civili, c’è il fatto che riflette un elemento di lotta interna tra le elite iraniane. Questo punto è cruciale. A tutti gli effetti, questa caratteristica chiave dell’Onda Verde va tenuta a mente quando se ne discute a livello geopolitico.

La geo-strategia utilitaristica e i preparativi per la guerra in Eurasia

È facile tralasciare l’impatto dei fattori geografici dello sviluppo storico, sociale ed economico. La maggior parte degli studiosi e degli analisti cercano di evitare la fallacia semplicistica del determinismo geografico. Eppure, il ruolo della geografia non deve essere trascurato nel corso dello sviluppo dell’uomo. Per esempio, la produzione di energia è legata alla realtà fisica di una terra, e in passato un popolo che viveva lungo una costa sarebbe stato orientato verso il mare e la pesca nella maggior parte, se non in tutti, gli aspetti della vita collettiva: da quelli economici a quelli socio-culturali. Con la stessa logica le azioni dell’uomo non devono essere attribuite alla sola geografia. L’opera dell’uomo ha sempre svolto un ruolo nel percorso dello sviluppo degli esseri umani e delle loro società.

In merito alle questioni vicine, queste sono ineluttabilmente legate ad una realtà geografica che è troppo forte per essere ignorata. La spinta a controllare l’Eurasia da parte della Periferia è parte di questo. Questa spinta, che si è infiltrata all’interno verso il cuore dell’Eurasia, si è espressa in molti modi differenti durante tutta la storia moderna. La Periferia è un termine concettuale applicato agli USA, alla Gran Bretagna, all’UE, al Giappone, all’Australia, e ai loro alleati, che sono essenzialmente stati al di fuori dell’Eurasia o ai suoi limiti.

Deve essere applicato anche un nuovo termine a questo punto: la geo-strategia utilitaristica. La geo-strategia utilitaristica, un termine ivi coniato, è l’applicazione o proiezione dell’utilitarismo o dei valori utilitaristici alla geopolitica. Il termine è nuovo, ma la modalità di pensiero non lo è. Il termine cattura sia lo spirito che la base della geostrategia moderna e conferisce ad essa una forma tangibile. Oggi è la geo-strategia utilitaristica, con la sua base materialistica, che costituisce il dogma dietro la marcia verso la guerra in Medio Oriente e nel resto dell’Eurasia.

Anche Halford J. Mackinder ha capito questa realtà nei termini di quella che ha chiamato geografia strategica. Mackinder ha affermato che ciascuno stato organizzato, che ha chiamato nazione civilizzata, era collegato alla terra fisica che occupava in due modi: “Qualunque siano gli scambi effettuati mediante il commercio, [un paese] è (1) infine dipendente dai [prodotti] passati e presenti del suo territorio, e (2) [un paese] deve essere preparato a difendere quel territorio dall’intrusione dei vicini bramosi”. [1] È precisamente a questi fenomeni a cui i paesi dell’Eurasia si stanno preparando; si stanno preparando a difendere i loro territori dall’intrusione in tutte le sue forme, dall’occupazione militare alla colonizzazione economica. La base della questione è chiaramente economica ed imperniata su valori utilitaristici.

Anche Mackinder ha riconosciuto questa natura economica. Ha scritto quanto segue sull’argomento: “I due gruppi di idee coinvolti possono essere grosso modo catalogati in termini di economia e strategia. Possiamo descrivere la geografia economica come interessata all’aumento e alla distribuzione dei beni, e la geografia strategica come ciò che gestisce le condizioni topografiche più grandi dell’attacco e della difesa. Ma i problemi da risolvere sono strettamente legati, perché la difesa è essenzialmente la protezione dei mezzi di sussistenza economica …” [2] L’entità spaziale più grande del pianeta Terra è l’Eurasia ed ha la costa più lunga, la popolazione più grande, un’enorme ricchezza di risorse naturali (dall’energia ai minerali), la forza lavoro più grande, e la parte più grande dell’attività economica globale.

Se le nazioni dell’Eurasia dovessero unirsi come unico attore non avrebbero rivali sotto tutti i punti di vista. La prevenzione della coesione dell’Eurasia è stata uno degli obiettivi primari degli USA e dei loro alleati. Questa politica prevenzionistica praticata dagli USA ha preso soprattutto come bersaglio quattro stati eurasiatici: la Russia, la Cina, l’India, e l’Iran, come pure l’intero spazio post-sovietico. Abbiamo a che fare da un lato con l’insieme delle manovre geopolitiche e geostrategiche da parte degli USA e dei suoi alleati in Eurasia, e dall’altro con le contro-manovre della Russia, della Cina, e dell’Iran. È anche a questo punto che entra in discussione un’alleanza eurasiatica. L’India è riuscita a guardarsi dalla linea di fuoco geopolitica ed ha mantenuto una distanza protetta da un’alleanza o da un’intesa eurasiatica. La Russia, l’Iran e la Cina – gli altri tre stati eurasiatici menzionati – in tutti gli aspetti pratici hanno formato una reale alleanza attraverso vari accordi, intese, legami, ed organizzazioni formali e informali.

Cosa contraddistingue l’Iran dalla Russia e dalla Cina ?

Seppure molto influente, l’Iran non è una potenza né una nazione grande quanto la Cina, la Russia e l’India. L’Iran non è neanche altrettanto forte quanto questi altri stati eurasiatici, ma il ruolo dell’Iran in questa equazione dell’Eurasia è molto significativo.

Peraltro, l’Iran è caratterizzato dalla “flessibilità geo-politica” in contrasto con gli altri grandi stati eurasiatici. Quasi tutti gli stati sono in qualche misura dei perni geo-strategici, ma il grado in cui sono perni geo-strategici varia. L’Iran è un pesante perno geo-strategico, il che significa semplicemente che tutti gli attori geo-politici devono aggiustare le loro politiche, il loro comportamento e le loro strategie in base al comportamento dell’Iran. In altre parole, il comportamento di Tehran detta le regole del gioco globalmente.

L’Iran si distingue inoltre per un altro importante attributo. Contrariamente a Beijing e Mosca, Tehran essenzialmente può arrivare ad un accordo di lungo termine con gli USA e i loro alleati. Qualunque accordo siglato tra gli USA e i loro alleati con la Russia e la Cina può essere solo un accordo di breve durata. Nel lungo termine la Cina e la Russia sono i bersagli finali dell’invasione americana in Eurasia. È in gioco la sopravvivenza della Russia e della Cina come stati nazione indipendenti. Sia Mosca che Beijing sono importanti rivali economici e minacce per l’egemonia degli Stati Uniti. A causa della geografia, le vaste influenze, le risorse, i mercati e i territori della Russia e della Cina sono il premio finale per gli USA e i loro alleati. Anche l’India, nel lungo termine, è in pericolo. Per l’America, l’eliminazione di tutti i potenziali rivali fa parte di questa politica. In linea con la geo-strategia utilitaristica usata dagli Stati Uniti e dai loro alleati, Washington può permettersi di accettare un compromesso o di raggiungere un accordo con l’Iran e di cooptare Tehran, contrariamente a Beijing e Mosca. Questa asserzione, tuttavia, va ulteriormente qualificata; gli USA possono permettersi di fare un compromesso o un accordo con Tehran, cioè se gli Iraniani non fossero una reale minaccia per il controllo e gli interessi dell’America, che anche Israele rappresenta, in Medio Oriente. Alla fine degli anni ’90, Zbigniew Brzezinski avvisava che “[1] non è interesse dell’America perpetuare l’ostilità americano-iraniana”. [3] Brzezinski ha avvertito che l’Iran non doveva essere antagonizzato dall’America fino ad una posizione in cui Tehran si sarebbe alleato con la Russia e la Cina.

Questa apertura dell’America ad un accordo con l’Iran è principalmente dovuta alla scala o dimensione geografica dell’Iran, che è molto più piccolo sia della Russia che della Cina. L’Iran può farcela ad esistere con una porzione molto più piccola delle risorse e dell’influenza globali per il motivo della sua minore estensione e popolazione, ma sia la Russia che, più specificamente la Cina non possono farlo nel lungo termine. Brzezinski scrive a questo proposito:

“Un’eventuale riconciliazione [tra l’America e l’Iran] dovrebbe essere basata sul riconoscimento del reciproco interesse strategico di stabilizzare quello che attualmente è un ambiente regionale molto volatile per l’Iran”. [4]

Con questa affermazione Brzezinski intende dire che la cooperazione e il controllo congiunto di Iran e America dovrebbe essere perseguito nelle immediate vicinanze dell’Iran, che sono il Medio Oriente, l’Asia Centrale, e possibilmente il Caucaso. Ha ulteriormente qualificato la sua affermazione: “Certamente, qualsiasi riconciliazione [tra l’America e l’Iran] deve essere perseguita da entrambe le parti e non è un [favore] concesso dall’una all’altro”. [5] Brzezinski vuol dire che con l’Iran si deve negoziare e contrattare e che deve essere raggiunta un’intesa tra le elite sia dell’Iran che dell’America.

Questa posizione geo-strategica colloca l’Iran in una posizione unica, che gli consente di staccarsi dalla Russia e dalla Cina e di fare un accordo come la Libia con gli USA e i loro alleati. Un accordo come quello della Libia è come segue; la Libia si trovava nei reticoli della preparazione alla guerra anglo-americana prima del 2003, ma Tripoli ha ceduto agli USA e all’UE dopo aver visto la caduta di Baghdad. Tripoli era anche a conoscenza dei programmi dei leader americani e britannici; ha iniziato i negoziati segreti con la Casa Bianca nel 2001. Da quel momento in poi la Libia ha firmato maggiori accordi energetici con gli USA e i loro alleati e il suo premier, il Colonnello Gheddafi, è stato dunque riaccolto nella comunità internazionale. Questa è stata una parte del corso della politica che in passato Brzezinski aveva consigliato all’amministrazione USA nelle relazioni con la Libia, l’Irak e l’Iran.

Tehran può essere usata per destabilizzare e balcanizzare la Russia e la Cina

L’Iran potrebbe inoltre destabilizzare seriamente la Russia e la Cina attraverso il sostegno ai loro movimenti separatisti, che hanno legami etno-culturali con l’Iran. Brzezinski afferma: “Un Iran forte, persino motivato religiosamente, ma non fanaticamente anti-occidentale è nell’interesse degli USA, e persino l’elite politica iraniana potrebbe infine riconoscere questa realtà”. [6] Con ciò potrebbe voler dire che se si realizzasse una cooperazione tra l’Iran e l’America, entrambe le nazioni potrebbero lavorare insieme per incominciare a spartirsi tra loro le repubbliche dell’ex Unione Sovietica e che i legami dell’Iran con l’Islam potrebbero essere usati per controllare l’Asia Centrale e il Caucaso e per contrastare l’influenza della Russia e della Cina in entrambe le regioni. In altre parole, l’Iran potrebbe essere usato come un braccio dell’America per contrastare efficacemente gli interessi russi e cinesi in queste regioni.

In merito all’interpretazione dell’Onda Verde, ciò che Brzezinski dice sulle elite politiche iraniane sul loro riconoscimento della “realtà” è di chiave [importanza]. Si riferisce a due cose. In primis, alla flessibilità geo-politica dell’Iran, che abbiamo spiegato finora, e in secondo luogo, alla fazione pragmatista in Iran, di cui tratteremo, che vuole la cooperazione con l’America in un ordine globale che comprende l’Iran.

In merito alla cooptazione dell’Iran, Brzezinski scrive inoltre: “Gli interessi americani a lungo raggio sarebbero meglio serviti abbandonando le attuali obiezioni americane ad una più stretta cooperazione economica turco-iraniana, specialmente nella costruzione di nuovi gasdotti, ed anche nella costruzione di altri collegamenti tra l’Iran, [la Repubblica di] Azerbaijan, e il Turkmenistan”. [7]

Tale asserzione implicava il sostegno dell’Iran contro il controllo della Russia delle rotte energetiche dell’Eurasia e il sostegno americano per i condotti energetici Nabucco e del tipo Nabucco. In aggiunta, potrebbe ben essere che l’integrazione, sia delle economie che dei mercati iraniani e siriani con l’economia e il mercato turchi incorporerebbe sia l’Iran che la Siria nell’economia globale, rendendoli più suscettibili al controllo americano e dell’Unione Europea. In altre parole, il risultato finale potrebbe essere che sia l’Iran che la Siria potrebbero trovarsi inavvertitamente come parte del sistema globale dell’America e dell’Unione Europea.

Pertanto, la natura generale di questa situazione, con alla sua base la geo-strategia utilitaristica, porta ad un paradosso. Nel più lungo termine gli USA e i loro alleati possono negoziare con gli Iraniani, ma per poter evitare la coesione in Eurasia e prevenire che la Russia e la Cina si preparino appropriatamente o sfidino l’egemonia americana nel più breve termine, non possono negoziare con Tehran. Ecco perché la questione nucleare iraniana, che è basata su quanto gli USA, l’UE e Israele hanno dipinto come una finestra temporale finita, è la base principale delle negoziazioni con l’Iran. Naturalmente, se ci deve essere un risultato nel più breve termine per gli USA, allora non ci può realmente più essere una soluzione o un’intesa per il più lungo termine tra gli USA e l’Iran.

Usare la Turchia per allontanare l’Iran dall’Eurasia?

I legami tra Ankara e Tehran si sono rafforzati. Entrambi gli stati stanno parlando di un mercato comune e di libero scambio regionale in Medio Oriente. È già stata firmata una serie di accordi di libero scambio che coinvolgono il Libano, la Siria, la Turchia, la Giordania, l’Irak e l’Iran. Il governo turco ha inoltre spinto la Libia a firmare un accordo di libero scambio con Ankara. Le relazioni amichevoli che Ankara ha coltivato con l’Iran e la Siria possono essere usate per

(1) spiegare ciò che sembra essere un cambiamento della politica estera turca e (2) la freddezza pubblica dei legami tra Israele e la Turchia. Questo, tuttavia, potrebbe fare parte di (3) una strategia degli USA per attirare l’Iran e la Siria nella loro orbita e per allontanarli dagli alleati russi e cinesi dell’Iran. Lo sviluppo del cosiddetto asse Iraniano-Siriano-Turco deve avvenire con cautela, perché le cose potrebbero finire con l’essere alquanto diverse dalla formazione di un’alleanza genuina e di un blocco regionale.

I Neoconservatori al comando della politica estera americana: il grande errore e l’Iran

Perché l’Iran si è rifiutato di ritrattare? Ci potrebbero essere svariate ragioni, tra cui il calcolo dell’Iran che gli USA e i loro alleati soccomberanno di fronte alla crescente forza della Russia, della Cina e dell’Iran se Tehran rimane nell’intesa dell’Eurasia con Mosca e Beijing. Un’altra ragione potrebbe essere a causa dell’ errore dei neo-conservatori che guidano la politica estera americana. Gli Iraniani non si fideranno degli USA e dei loro alleati a causa dell’errore strategico di George W. Bush Jr. e della sua amministrazione, che ha dato il controllo della politica estera prevalentemente ai neoconservatori, o neocon. [8] Mentre Zbigniew Brzezinski è stato categorizzato come un realista della politica estera americana, lo stesso non può essere detto dei neoconservatori. I realisti e i neoconservatori condividono gli stessi obiettivi economici, ma il modo in cui li perseguono è differente.

I neoconservatori usano l’ideologia come un mezzo per descrivere la realtà. Inoltre, i realisti credono che le guerre non dovrebbero essere combattute per portare avanti gli interessi americani se non necessario, mentre i neoconservatori credono che la forza militare debba essere usata attivamente per plasmare l’ambiente globale. I realisti sono anche pragmatici o opportunisti nelle relazioni internazionali, mentre i neoconservatori sono irremovibili per quanto riguarda la politica, con un quadro bianco o nero delle relazioni internazionali.

Mentre George W. Bush Jr. era nell’Ufficio ovale, i neoconservatori avevano grande influenza sul Pentagono e sulla politica estera. È stato sotto i neoconservatori che l’amministrazione di George Bush Jr. ha voltato le spalle a Tehran, dopo che il governo iraniano aveva aiutato l’America e la Gran Bretagna nell’Afghanistan controllato dai Talebani e aveva cercato di concludere un importante accordo attraverso il governo svizzero. [9] Forse inebriata di vittoria e di alterigia per quella che è sembrata una vittoria facile contro l’Afghanistan e l’Irak con la resa della Libia, la Casa Bianca di Bush Jr. ha pensato di poter andare avanti e sottomettere l’Iran. È stato a questo punto che dei membri senior dell’amministrazione di Bush Jr. dicevano entusiasticamente: “Chiunque può andare a Baghdad! Gli uomini veri vanno a Tehran!”

L’Iran era già l’ultima nazione nell’elenco dei paesi da sottomettere che comprendeva inoltre l’Irak, la Libia, il Sudan, la Somalia, il Libano e la Siria. In un modo o nell’altro, gli USA avevano direttamente o indirettamente attaccato o sottomesso ciascuno di questi paesi dal 2001. Inoltre, è stato anche durante questo lasso di tempo che gli USA hanno cercato di accusare la Siria, alla stessa maniera dell’Irak, di possedere armi di distruzione di massa (WMD) ed avevano persino parlato apertamente di invadere la Siria. Anche Israele ha cercato di istigare un conflitto con la Siria, che Damasco ha detto che fosse parte di un complotto per creare un pretesto per l’invasione della Siria da parte dell’America e della Gran Bretagna.

Indipendentemente dalle ragioni [alla base] della decisione dell’amministrazione di Bush Jr. di non trattare con l’Iran, è stato un enorme errore geo-strategico per gli Stati Uniti. Il non aver trattato con l’Iran è stato un errore madornale che potrebbe ben essere costato alle elite americane il loro obiettivo di supremazia sull’Eurasia. Questo errore degli USA ha spinto Tehran ancor più verso la Russia e la Cina.

L’ Iran pragmatico: il jolly del mazzo di carte eurasiatico?

L’Iran è una potenza regionale che può sfidare gli USA, la Russia e la Cina per l’egemonia nell’Asia Centrale, nel Caucaso e in Medio Oriente.

Nel 1993, Brzezinski ha detto che “l’Iran è chiaramente un aspirante all’egemonia regionale ed è preparato a superare gli Stati Uniti”. [10] Aggiunge che: “[l’Iran] ha una tradizione imperiale e possiede sia la motivazione religiosa che nazionalistica per contestare sia la presenza americana che quella russa nell’area. Così facendo, può contare sulla simpatia religiosa dei suoi [vicini]. Con sia la regione che il nazionalismo che cospirano contro un’egemonia regionale esterna, l’attuale supremazia americana in Medio Oriente è costruita, proprio letteralmente, sulla sabbia”. [11]

Anche se la Cina e la Russia hanno consentito al Consiglio di Sicurezza delle Nazioni Unite che fossero imposte delle sanzioni all’Iran, entrambe l’hanno fatto per mantenere l’Iran dalla loro parte. Mosca e Beijing hanno approvato le sanzioni dell’ONU per tenere l’Iran, un alleato indipendente e un potenziale rivale, al suo posto. Il loro sostegno delle sanzioni dell’ONU è limitato e continuerà solo fintantoché servirà ai loro interessi strategici. Per questo entrambe [Russia e Cina] sono contrarie a sanzioni unilaterali contro l’Iran e si oppongono alle sanzioni degli USA e dell’UE.

La Cina e la Russia sono pienamente consapevoli che gli USA preferirebbero cooptare l’Iran nel loro ambizioso schema dell’Eurasia come un satellite o un partner piuttosto che rischiare un conflitto aperto. Lo scopo degli obiettivi cino-russi è di evitare un riavvicinamento tra Washington e Tehran. Le necessità iraniane sono, da questo lato, molto più facili da soddisfare per gli USA che non quelle della Cina e della Russia.

Mantenere una distanza sicura tra gli USA e l’Iran è una delle ragioni per cui Beijing e Mosca hanno sostenuto le sanzioni limitate dell’ONU. Mentre l’Iran è costretto a ritirarsi dal cosiddetto mondo occidentale, si integra di più con la Russia e la Cina. Le sanzioni economiche dell’ONU obbligano inoltre l’Iran a spostare i suoi legami economici dall’UE alla Russia, alla Cina, alle ex repubbliche sovietiche, al blocco bolivariano e ai paesi asiatici. Questo cambiamento ha portato alla sostituzione dei membri dell’UE come l’Italia e la Germania con i paesi come la Cina, come principali partner commerciali dell’Iran.

Secondo la Commissione Europea, nel 2004 l’UE rappresentava il 35,1 per cento della quota di mercato totale del commercio con l’Iran. [12] Secondo le stesse cifre, nel 2004 l’Iran era classificato ventiquattresimo nel volume del commercio totale dell’Unione Europea e l’Iran era uno dei primi sei fornitori di energia dell’Unione Europea. [13] Con l’inizio del declino del commercio con l’Iran, il commercio asiatico è al contrario aumentato. La Russia e la Cina si fanno avanti per colmare i vuoti nel mercato, costringendo quindi l’Iran sempre più all’interno del loro gruppo eurasiatico. In parole semplici, Mosca e Beijing stanno eliminando la flessibilità dell’Iran di lasciare l’orbita della loro intesa eurasiatica.

Per quanto concerne la neutralizzazione della rivalità iraniana, un insieme delle sanzioni dell’ONU contro l’Iran sono dirette anche contro l’industria della difesa iraniana e le esportazioni militari iraniane. Questo è un mezzo per eliminare la competizione dell’Iran, che ha una crescente industria della difesa che produce un’ampia gamma di armi, dai carri armati agli aerei militari e i razzi. L’Iran esportava inoltre armi negli stati della NATO come suoi clienti prima delle sanzioni dell’ONU.

Il riorientamento del commercio e delle relazioni internazionali di Tehran va a vantaggio della Russia e della Cina. Mentre le banche tedesche come la Commerzbak AG, la Dresdner Bank AG e la Deutsche Bank AG rompono i loro legami con l’Iran, il vuoto finanziario viene colmato dagli investitori e dalle banche asiatiche. Inoltre, il settore bancario iraniano si è coinvolto pesantemente con i settori bancari del Venezuela, della Siria, della Bielorussia e di svariate ex repubbliche sovietiche.

Il passaggio dell’Iran dall’UE agli stati non appartenenti all’UE e agli stati asiatici è stato inoltre uno degli obiettivi della politica estera dell’amministrazione di Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Questa nuova politica estera è stata chiamata in Iran come “guardare all’Est”. Come un miscuglio delle sanzioni e delle politiche di Ahmadinejad, questo mutamento si riflette nella gravitazione e nell’attrazione dell’Iran verso la SCO, la Comunità degli Stati Indipendenti (C.S.I.), l’Associazione Sud-Asiatica per la Cooperazione Regionale (SAARC), e la Comunità Economica Eurasiatica (EurAsEC).

Le differenze tra le relazioni bilaterali tra l’Iran e la Russia e tra la Cina e l’Iran

Beijing è l’attore più importante della triplice intesa dell’Eurasia. Gli interessi iraniani e cinesi sono meno in conflitto tra loro che quelli di Mosca e Tehran. In linea di massima, sia Tehran che Mosca danno maggiore priorità e valore ai loro legami con la Cina che a quelli reciproci tra di loro.

Sia la Russia che l’Iran sono esportatori di energia, mentre la Cina è un paese importatore di risorse energetiche. I Russi e gli Iraniani sono inoltre interessati al controllo di molti degli stessi mercati. Entrambi hanno forti interessi nel sud del Caucaso e nel controllo dei corridoi energetici attorno al bacino dal Mar Caspio. Per queste ragioni il Cremlino vuole che l’Iran sia abbastanza forte da poter sfidare e resistere all’America e ai suoi alleati, ma non abbastanza forte da sfidare Mosca sull’influenza nelle repubbliche dell’ex Unione Sovietica. Questo può essere usato per spiegare perché Mosca ha fatto pressione su Tehran affinché arricchisse uranio attraverso la Russia o sul territorio russo le tensioni tra Tehran e Mosca sotto il presidente Dmitry Medvedev[1]. La Repubblica Popolare Cinese ha un interesse acquisito per un Iran forte, ma un Iran forte che sia ostile all’America. Le relazioni bilaterali tra Cina e Iran sono reciprocamente vantaggiose. Gli strateghi cinesi vedono l’Iran come uno dei quattro centri riemergenti del potere globale; gli altri tre sono la Russia, la Cina, e l’India. Il Brasile è un centro emergente (e non riemergente) del potere. Il 9 aprile 2008, durante una visita a Tehran il vice ministro cinese per gli affari esteri Zhai Jun, ha affermato che la crescita di potere dell’Iran in Medio Oriente e globalmente è nell’interesse di Beijing, mentre si incontrava con dei funzionari iraniani. [14]

La fortezza dell’Eurasia è vulnerabile senza l’Iran: Mosca e Beijing hanno bisogno di Tehran

Beijing e Mosca sono entrambe consapevoli delle ramificazioni di una massiccia guerra guidata dall’America e dai suoi alleati contro l’Iran in Medio Oriente. I Russi sanno che se l’Iran cadesse, gli USA e la NATO prenderebbero di mira la Russia come bersaglio successivo.

L’Iran è stato meglio descritto dal geografo e studioso tedesco Georg Stadtmüller, con riferimento all’Albania, come un “Durchgangsland” (uno stato di ingresso). [15] L’Iran è il Durchgangsland verso l’ex Unione Sovietica e il ventre molle della Russia.

Se l’Iran dovesse cambiare la sua orbita, Mosca sarebbe in pericolo. La Russia perderebbe un importante alleato e gli USA aprirebbero un importante varco verso il Mar Caspio, il Caucaso, e l’Asia Centrale. La porta del “near abroad” della Russia sarebbe spalancata attraverso l’Iran. L’Iran è anche la rotta più economica e ideale per esportare il petrolio e il gas di queste regioni.
Anche il complesso militare-industriale russo sarebbe indebolito dalla chiusura di un mercato redditizio se l’Iran dovesse entrare nell’orbita anglo-americana e franco-germanica. Andrebbero in pezzi anche i programmi russi, in sinergia con l’Iran, di creare un potente cartello del gas simile all’OPEC che coinvolgerebbe anche il Turkmenistan, il Venezuela, la Bolivia, e l’Algeria. D’altro canto la Cina sa che la sua sicurezza energetica sarebbe messa ulteriormente a rischio e che l’economia cinese verrebbe tenuta in ostaggio dagli editti stranieri a causa dei fabbisogni energetici cinesi.

A causa di tutti questi fattori si è cautamente instaurata un’intesa tattica e strategica in Eurasia tra Mosca, Beijing e Tehran. Ciò che è inizialmente nato per necessità, è diventata una triplice intesa eurasiatica. Un maggiore attacco sull’Iran sarebbe pertanto un attacco contro la Russia e la Cina.

 

L’Onda Verde e i suoi legami con la geo-politica globale

Quindi tutti questi fattori in gioco con riferimento all’equazione iraniana, quale effetto hanno sull’Onda Verde? Il nazionalismo, la speculazione geo-politica, il capitale e le richieste delle libertà civili si sono scontrati contro l’Iran; gli scontri che sono emersi dalle elezioni presidenziali del 2009 in Iran, che sono state tenute il 12 luglio, sono un risultato di queste dinamiche.

La geo-politica del confronto tra l’Eurasia e la Periferia è diventata evidente nelle strade di Tehran e di altre maggiori città iraniane, come Tabriz e Shiraz, attraverso gli slogan dell’Onda Verde. Non solo si opponevano alla rielezione di Mahmoud Ahmadinejad e accusavano la sua fazione di brogli elettorali nelle elezioni presidenziali, ma hanno anche lanciato accuse contro la Russia e la Cina.

I loro slogan comprendevano: “Abbasso la Russia e la Cina!” e “No al Libano e no a Gaza!”. Gli slogan dell’opposizione iraniana nelle strade suggeriscono una correlazione tra i teatri regionali in Medio Oriente (Libano e i Territori Palestinesi) e i più ampi teatri in Eurasia che coinvolgono la Russia, la Cina, gli USA e la NATO.

Con Mahmoud Ahmadinejad si sono congratulati anche il presidente russo Dmitry Medvedev e il presidente cinese Hu Jintao nella città russa di Yekaterinburg durante un vertice della SCO del 16 luglio 2009. Il presidente Ahmadinejad è arrivato in Russia dopo le elezioni iraniane. Beijing, Mosca e la SCO collettivamente, hanno offerto il loro sostegno politico ad Ahmadinejad. La calda accoglienza di Ahmadinejad, persino come un osservatore al Summit di Yekaterinburg dimostra l’attaccamento russo e cinese per i sostenitori della dottrina di Primakov in Iran e per un governo iraniano opposto alla politica americana.

Le divisioni interne tra le elites iraniane

Se in Iran esistevano le condizioni per il dissenso politico, sono stati dei potenti attori all’interno dell’Iran che hanno contribuito a scatenarle dopo la rielezione di Ahmadinejad. In parte, gli eventi dietro le sommosse in Iran sono state fomentate dalle divisioni interne all’interno della classe dirigente in Iran. Mehdi Karroubi, uno dei candidati alla presidenza, ha anche alluso, durante i dibattiti presidenziali che ci sarebbe stata una lotta post-elettorale.

Queste divisioni sono collegate alla “flessibilità” dell’Iran nella partita a scacchi geopolitica per l’Eurasia. Il fatto che l’Iran può negoziare con gli USA nel breve termine ha un peso sulle sue divisioni interne. La natura pragmatica di certi cerchi elitari in Iran è anch’essa parte di queste divisioni interne.

Dietro le scene, le questioni in gioco a Tehran sono state il controllo dei prezzi da parte dello stato, i regolamenti sulla produzione, l’eliminazione dei regolamenti sulla finanza e sul settore bancario iraniani, e la privatizzazione. Grandi porzioni dell’infrastruttura statale e dei beni statali sono state vendute e privatizzate. I cittadini iraniani per anni hanno goduto dei sussidi dello stato, che hanno contribuito a mantenere i prezzi dei generi alimentari, del carburante, dell’elettricità, e di altri beni essenziali a livelli significativamente inferiori rispetto ai prezzi internazionali. Il governo iraniano, tuttavia, ha lentamente eliminato i sussidi statali.

In politica ci sono strani connubi. Nell’ambito degli eventi che hanno portato all’Onda Verde c’è stato uno scontro all’interno delle elite iraniane tra una fazione che voleva mantenere le politiche in essere, ed un’altra fazione che è stata formata da un’alleanza tra gli interessi commerciali iraniani e le organizzazioni per le libertà civili. Nella seconda fazione del capitale iraniano e delle libertà civili, il primo gruppo si è nascosto dietro l’altro. Questa alleanza tra il capitale iraniano e i gruppi che chiedevano maggiori libertà civili potrebbe sorprendere qualcuno, ma non è né un’anomalia storica né un’anomalia politica. Molti movimenti e molte rivoluzioni sono state configurate attraverso simili alleanze.

Il lavoro di Alexis de Tocqueville ha identificato la Rivoluzione Francese come una rivoluzione capitalista. L’obiettivo della Rivoluzione Francese non era di distruggere lo stato o la religione organizzata, ma di imporre la riforma economica, e specificamente l’eliminazione delle restrizioni sulla proprietà privata. Ciò fu espressamente dichiarato nel 1789, nell’articolo diciassettesimo della Déclaration des droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen (Dichiarazione dei diritti dell’uomo e del cittadino) : ˝la proprietà, essendo un diritto inviolabile e sacro, non potrà essere tolta in nessun caso, salvo quello in cui la necessità pubblica, legalmente constatata, lo esiga chiaramente e sempre con la condizione di una precedente giusta indennità ”. [16]

Nel cercare di eliminare le restrizioni economiche il capitale francese (gli interessi commerciali) si è allineato alla richiesta di maggiori libertà individuali e alle idee dell’Illuminismo francese. Secondo il nuovo ordine politico della Rivoluzione Francese, i membri borghesi del Terzo Stato hanno abolito i controlli sui prezzi dello stato, hanno bandito le corporazioni (i precursori dei sindacati), hanno abolito le restrizioni sulla produzione, tolto le regolamentazioni sulla finanza e sulle banche, hanno eliminato i diritti feudali degli agricoltori, ed infine hanno confiscato e venduto le terre della Chiesa Cattolica come proprietà privata. [17] Una massiccia ondata di privatizzazioni ha consumato la Francia rivoluzionaria. La Rivoluzione Francese del 1848 ha inoltre visto svolgersi lo stesso scenario con un’alleanza tra la classe operaia e il piccolo capitale. Questo scenario storico sotto molti punti di vista è pertinente alla situazione dell’Iran del giorno d’oggi.

Dall’altro lato dello spartiacque c’è la fazione politica di Ahmadinejad e dei suoi alleati politici, che comprendono sia ferventi ideologi rivoluzionari che gli interessi commerciali iraniani. Vogliono o un Iran fortemente consolidato all’interno dell’alleanza eurasiatica formata con la Cina e la Russia, oppure come parte di un nuovo ordine regionale in Medio Oriente. Anche la leadership militare dell’Iran, sia nelle forze armate regolari iraniane che nella guardia rivoluzionaria sostiene queste posizioni. D’altro canto Ali Akbak Hashemi Rafsanjani, i suoi alleati, e molte delle elite commerciali in Iran vogliono un corso ben più pragmatico o opportunistico per l’Iran, come quello dell’India. Quest’ultimo gruppo di cui fa parte Rafsanjani non vuole neppure la finestra temporale perché passino le negoziazioni con gli USA e l’UE.

Rafsanjani è una persona molto ricca, un ex presidente iraniano, ed una figura politica potente. È presidente sia del Consiglio per il Discernimento Iraniano che dell’Assemblea degli Esperti. Impersona il capitalismo iraniano e gli interessi dell’elite economica iraniana. Tra i suoi alleati c’è Mohammed Khatami, il presidente iraniano dal 1997 al 2005. Rafsanjani e i suoi alleati vogliono la deregolamentazione dell’economia iraniana; abbracciano il neoliberalismo economico e vogliono che l’economia iraniana sia pienamente integrata nell’economia globale. Questa fazione è anche pronta a lavorare contro gli interessi della Russia e della Cina se ciò porta loro vantaggio. Sebbene la privatizzazione delle industrie nazionali e dei beni statali dell’Iran è proseguita durante il secondo termine di Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, è stata originariamente iniziata da Rafsanjani, Khatami e i loro alleati durante il mandato di presidenza di Khatami.

 

In questa divisione all’interno della classe dirigente iraniana, i fautori delle libertà civili e della libertà vengono inoltre invischiati e giocati come carte. Queste persone sono accorse sotto il baluardo di Mir-Hussein Mousavi, l’ultimo ad aver prestato servizio come primo ministro dell’Iran prima che l’ufficio venisse assorbito da quello del presidente iraniano. Sia Rafsanjani che Khatami hanno inoltre prestato il loro sostegno a Mousavi. La preoccupazione di molti dei protestanti potranno essere le maggiori libertà civili e i risultati elettorali, ma per la maggior parte dell’elite dirigenziale la posta in gioco è molto diversa.

La divisione all’interno delle elite politiche iraniane ha provocato una rottura politica a Tehran. Entrambe le fazioni si accusano vicendevolmente di corruzione. Sulla televisione pubblica iraniana, ce ne è stato un palese esempio durante i dibattiti sulle elezioni presidenziali quando Ahmadinejad ha accusato Rafsanjani e la sua famiglia di alto tradimento e corruzione. Ci sono state inoltre evidenti tensioni sulla Banca Centrale dell’Iran (CBI); l’opposizione sosteneva che la Banca Centrale e il settore bancario non dovessero essere subordinati al controllo politico.

Le minacce di una guerra sono dirette al Medio Oriente o al cuore dell’Eurasia ?

I realisti della politica estera americana e i pragmatisti iraniani hanno lavorato per colmare il divario tra gli USA e l’Iran e per arrivare ad un accordo tra Washington e Tehran. Tuttavia, sia gli USA che l’Iran hanno alleati che sono contrari a questo. Sebbene Tel Aviv serva gli interessi americani in Medio Oriente, un ravvicinamento americano-iraniano è contro gli interessi israeliani ed è per questo che ci sono state reazioni ostili da parte di gruppi che fanno pressione per gli interessi israeliani. Alcuni governatori arabi temono inoltre che un ravvicinamento potrebbe far sì che gli USA non si oppongano ad una eliminazione dal potere di questi governatori arabi da parte dell’Iran. A causa dei loro interessi, anche Mosca e Beijing si opporrebbero ad un’alleanza strategica tra gli USA e l’Iran. La geo-strategia americana in Eurasia è vacillante e le elite d’America ci hanno investito troppo per poterla vedere crollare, compresa la configurazione dell’economia USA. È per questo che la situazione è ancora più critica. Le persone disperate possono prendere misure disperate, affrettate, e molto incaute.

 

Sono stati attentamente scolpiti e preparati svariati pretesti per una guerra contro l’Iran e i suoi alleati in Medio Oriente dalla Casa Bianca e dal numero 10 di Downing Street simultaneamente. Questo fa parte di una denuncia minuziosamente architettata per un ampio conflitto regionale in Medio Oriente che consumerà un’area che si estende dalla costa del Mediterraneo Orientale alle montagne e alle vallate dell’Afghanistan.

La mossa di Washington di definire la Guardia Rivoluzionaria come un’organizzazione terroristica è parte del processo di preparazione dei pretesti e delle giustificazioni per la guerra e per i crimini di guerra. Questa non è solo una parte dell’approccio stilizzato della demonizzazione dei cosiddetti nemici nella “guerra globale contro il terrorismo”. Le Convenzioni di Ginevra e le leggi marziali sarebbero sospese nel caso di una futura guerra che coinvolgesse le Guardie Rivoluzionarie Iraniane. Fornirebbe inoltre un pretesto per un attacco guidato dagli USA contro l’Iran sul presupposto di combattere la “guerra globale contro il terrorismo”. A causa di questa definizione il governo americano ha iniziato ad accusare l’Iran di ospitare un’organizzazione terroristica come parte della sua campagna di disinformazione contro Tehran. Anche la campagna di isolare economicamente l’Iran e di imporre sanzioni contro l’Iran stesso fa parte di questo.

La dottrina militare iraniana è di natura difensiva, il che non vuol dire che l’Iran sia incapace di rispondere ad un attacco. L’Iran ha una considerevole forza militare. Come nazione, l’Iran può provocare significative perdite agli USA e alle forze alleate. Ha la capacità di respingere gli attacchi americani, eccetto nel caso di un massiccio attacco nucleare. Durante la campagna elettorale del 2008, una delle figure politiche chiave dell’Iran, Ali Larijani, ha affermato che un attacco degli USA contro l’Iran, che considerava un’eventualità remota, non solo sarebbe un azzardo, ma porterebbe ad una grande sconfitta americana in Medio Oriente. Sarebbe anche la fine dello status degli USA come potere globale. Il primo ministro siriano Al-Otri (Al-Utri), ha inoltre intimato che un attacco da parte di Israele contro l’Iran minaccerebbe lo status di Israele come potenza considerevole in Medio Oriente, oltre ad essere la fine del progetto sionista.

L’Iran e i suoi alleati hanno allontanato quella che chiamano l’eccitazione e la guerra psicologica in riferimento al pericolo imminente di un attacco americano, dicendo che gli USA sono incapaci di eseguire un tale attacco. Tehran, tuttavia, non ha escluso le operazioni per destabilizzare l’Iran, né un attacco da parte dell’America o di Israele, specialmente contro la Siria e il Libano. Le voci ufficiali da Tehran hanno inoltre avvertito svariate volte durante tutto il 2010 che si aspettavano degli attacchi contro i loro alleati arabi.

Quanta della preparazione alla guerra fa parte di uno schermo di fumo o di intimidazione e quanta è reale? Per l’appunto, c’è una certa nebulosità in merito alle relazioni internazionali, ma è innegabile che sono stati fatti dei preparativi per la guerra in tutta l’Eurasia. Lo scudo missilistico USA ne è testimonianza. Peraltro, gli Iraniani e i loro alleati sono convinti che l’Iran non sarà attaccato. Ci sono anche dei segnali che possono essere letti come una mossa per stabilire una distensione; le discussioni tra gli USA e l’Iran sull’Irak, la cooperazione turco-iraniana, l’impegno della Siria da parte dell’UE e dell’America, il miglioramento dei legami tra la Siria e l’Alleanza 14 marzo guidata da Hariri in Libano, e il pubblico riconoscimento dell’Iran da parte del governo americano come un importante attore nella stabilizzazione dell’Afghanistan. Tutte queste cose, comunque, potrebbero essere usate in congiunzione con le politiche americane per portare avanti gli obiettivi degli USA e dei loro alleati per il controllo dell’Eurasia. Chi vivrà vedrà.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya risiede a Ottawa ed è uno scrittore indipendente specializzato in Medio Oriente e Asia Centrale. È ricercatore al Centro per la Centre for Research on Globalization/ Ricerca sulla Globalizzazione (CRG).

Traduzione per Come Don Chisciotte a cura di Micaela Marri (03 novembre, 2010).

Note

[1] Halford J. Mackinder, Britain and the British Seas (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press Publishers, 1969), p.309.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and the Geostrategic Imperatives (N.Y.C., New York HarperCollins Publishers, 1997), p.204.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, “The Sino-Russian Alliance: Challenging America’s Ambitions in Eurasia”, Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), August 26, 2007.
[9] Ibid.
[10] Zbigniew Brzezenski, Out of Control: Global Turmoil on the Eve of the 21st Century, (N.Y.C., New York: Charles Scriber’s Sons, 1993) p.162.
[11] Ibid.
[12] European Commission, Bilateral Relations with Iran, 2004 Statistics.
[13] Ibid.
[14] “Iran proposes forming Asian union”, Tehran Times, April 10, 2008, p.2.
[15] Georg Stadtmüller, “Landschaft und Geschichte in Albanisch-epirotischen Raum”, Revue Internationale des Études Balkaniques, vol. 3 (1937-1938): pp.345-370.
[16] Frank Maloy Anderson, ed., The Constitution and Other Select Documents Illustrative of the History of France, 1789-1907 (N.Y.C., New York: Russell and Russell, 1908), pp. 59-61.
[17] Alexis de Tocqueville, The Old Regime and the French Revolution, trans. Stuart Gilbert, (N.Y.C., New York: Anchor Books, [1856] 1955).

[1] Ndt. Il periodo è troncato nel testo originale.

VIDEO: Obama Legitimizes Bush’s Wars

November 3rd, 2010 by Ralph Nader

US Elections 2010: Learning From Defeat

November 3rd, 2010 by Eric Walberg

In the US mid-term elections, Republicans picked up approximately 65 seats in the House for a 237-198 majority, and six seats in the Senate — including the Illinois seat formerly held by President Obama and that of liberal icon Russell Feingold of Wisconsin — for a 49-49 tie in the Senate, where two independents will hold the Democrats ransom. Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio will succeed Democrat Nancy Pelosi of California as speaker of the House. Republicans gained eight governorships, but Democrats hold the two biggest states: Andrew Cuomo beat Republican Carl Paladino in New York, and Jerry Brown returned to the governor’s job in California, defeating former eBay Chief Executive Meg Whitman.

This was a clear repudiation of Obama’s Bush-lite presidency. By failing to find a way to undo Bush’s policies, and introducing a healthcare policy that mostly benefits corporate insurance providers, the enthusiasm Obama gave rise to, gave way to an extreme rightwing Tea Party movement reaction which has elected more Bush-like politicians than ever.

The only Democratic ray of hope was Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada whose Tea Party opponent advocated ending Medicare and Social Security, abolishing the Energy and Education departments, and vastly reducing the size of government, turning even Republicans against her.

But the real problem is more Congress than Obama and will continue to fester. Seventy-three per cent disapproved of Congress and only 49 per cent of the job Obama is doing as president. An almost identical 72 per cent disapproved of Congress in 2008 while an unprecedented 73 per cent disapproved of Bush in his final year.

Obama has nothing to lose now by sticking to his principles. He can still rally Americans by pushing ahead with arms control and climate change measures, carrying through on his vow to end the war in Afghanistan next year, pressuring Israel to abide by international norms, thereby showing the Washington beltway cabal for what it is.

Economists: The Unholy Priests of the Banksters

November 3rd, 2010 by Gabriel Donohoe

“Political Economists,” according to Stephen Zarlenga in The Lost Science Of Money, “became the priesthood of the new Bank aristocracy, often serving as a propaganda apparatus to whitewash the monetary power structure. They put forward false ideas and smoke screens on the nature of money, primitive concepts that help entrench the bankers.”

Zarlenga blames the wreckage of the world economy on “the financial establishment and their economists” and describes the latter as being the mouthpieces of the ‘Money Power’. The reason why the corrupt system of modern banking has endured for so long despite its abysmal performance is because professional economists almost never point the finger at the banksters nor do they ever challenge the fraudulence of private, debt-based money creation or the outrageous deceit of fractional reserve lending.

Economists are schooled in bank-funded university economics departments where they are thoroughly indoctrinated in monetary theories. The Money Power ensures that economists are methodically trained in economic language and thought and are programmed to spout the official, approved version. Manipulation is the name of the game and contentious issues are ignored or distorted.  Proper evaluation of the history and function of banking is never allowed because that would throw up some very unsettling truths. Zarlenga compares political economists to medieval doctors “who theorized on how the body worked, but never dared to dissect the body and find out what was actually happening.”

Just as mules are the sterile offspring of asses and horses, economists are the barren progeny of banksters and corporatists. They are impotent when it comes to generating new thinking or new ideas outside of the current monetary system. Economists seem to be utterly incapable of meaningful monetary innovation and just cannot conceive of any systemic alternatives beyond that drilled into them in their bankster schools. Although they regard themselves as a different species from the banksters they really are one and the same. When one’s father is a donkey it is impossible to hide one’s pedigree; both have big ears and make the same braying sounds. Economists may argue and bluster and often appear critical of the banksters but for all their ‘hee-hawing’ they never manage to utter a single predatory growl.

When economists appear on TV or radio or write in the print media, these ‘experts’ argue heatedly and contradict one another and trot out conflicting solutions to our monetary woes. However, their pontifications rarely venture beyond the bounds of the existing monetary system, much to the delight of the banksters, as economists show no inclination whatsoever to challenge the fundamentals of a centuries old fraudulent practice of private, debt-based, interest-bearing money creation. Their debates can be hot and lively but in the end, utterly meaningless. Economists are much like the Big-Endians and Little-Endians in Gulliver’s Travels who argued ferociously over which end of the egg one should crack – the big end or the little end. This dispute was so fierce and bloody that it led to six rebellions with great loss of life, including that of the Emperor of Lilliput. And so it is with the empty polemics of economists.

Economists have been on the receiving end of the acerbic wit of no less a writer than George Bernard Shaw who said, “If all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion.” Author and Investment Advisor, Peter Lynch, twists this quote a little more savagely: “If all the economists in the world were laid end to end, it wouldn’t be a bad thing.”

While Zarlenga is scathing about those economists who dance to the banksters’ tune and promote confusion and division among the public at large he praises those few free-thinking economists who dare speak out about the failings and criminal deception of the banking industry. But, in a bankster-dominated world, enlightened economists are treated much differently from the banksters’ own brood. Of the latter, Zarlenga says, “Some of the most ignorant and even the insane among them [such as Bonamy Price] were given important positions while the better minds were pushed aside or ignored by the money power.”

This writer came across a typical example of economist benightedness in a recent article in the Irish Independent by Professor Stéphane Garelli of the University of Lausanne (http://www.independent.ie/business/world/emerging-economies-hold-worlds-purse-strings-2349528.html). Professor Garelli is an economist and is currently the Director of the World Competitiveness Center at the IMD business school in Lausanne which publishes the annual World Competitiveness Yearbook. Garelli has a very impressive list of qualifications and achievements (http://www.garelli.ch/english/cv_complet.htm) but one can’t help wondering if the good professor may have been educated just a tiny jot beyond his intelligence.

Professor Garelli (quoting Raymond Barre, another economist) declares: “One of the few things we know about economics is that it has cycles — the problem is that we do not know when they start, how long they last and why they end.” Garelli goes on to assert: “The stigma of modern economics is that we still do not know how to avoid recessions and unemployment.”

Well, I’ve got news for you, Professor. Recessions are caused by central bankers intentionally contracting the money in circulation by calling in existing loans and refusing to issue new ones. If you don’t believe me, read Milton Friedman, recipient of the Nobel Prize for Economics. Dr. Friedman is on record saying that the Federal Reserve deliberately caused the Great Depression of the 1930s:

“The Fed was largely responsible for converting what might have been a garden-variety recession, although perhaps a fairly severe one, into a major catastrophe. Instead of using its powers to offset the depression, it presided over a decline in the quantity of money by one-third from 1929 to 1933…”  Milton Friedman , Two Lucky People, p233.

When asked about a single cause of severe economic depressions, Dr. Friedman responded:

“I know of no severe depression, in any country or any time, that was not accompanied by a sharp decline in the stock of money, and equally of no sharp decline in the stock of money that was not accompanied by a severe depression.”

It is incredible that Professor Garelli should admit that he does not know the cause of recessions. It is equally incredible that he should also admit that he does not know when economic cycles start, how long they last, or why they end. They are planned, dear Professor, planned and controlled by central bankers. There is abundant evidence to support this. The big boys of international banking decide when there will be bubbles and when there will be busts. That is how they get mega-rich.  They provide lots of cheap money (rather, credit) and when people are over-borrowed they call in loans, stop lending, and foreclose on defaulters.

Since 97% of the money in the world is created from debt, any loans paid off decreases the amount of money in circulation. And when no further loans are given, the circulating money stock falls dramatically, adversely affecting businesses and the economy at large. This intentional reduction of the money supply leads to widespread business failures, high unemployment, foreclosures on property, and severe hardship within the community. On the other hand, great wealth is transferred from defaulting borrowers to the banksters. It is an act of gross criminality and systematic fraud.

The banksters have occasionally been caught boasting about their abilities to cause recessions and depressions and how they can seize property from borrowers for mere cents on the dollar. This racketeering has been going on for generations. The private issuance of a nation’s money has given tremendous power to central bankers, a power so great that even democratically elected governments are subservient to them. Governments are not in control of the economy; it is the all-powerful banksters who create the money, determine interest rates, and decide who gets loans and who doesn’t.

Thomas Jefferson, keenly aware of the dictatorial power of private central banks, was instrumental in having Congress decline to renew of the charter of the First Bank of the United States in 1811. Nathan Rothschild, operating from London, threatened the young republic with war and financial disaster if the bank’s charter were not renewed. The charter was not renewed and, sure enough, the United States soon found itself embroiled in the War of 1812, with all its attendant loss of life and financial difficulties. Such is the alarming supremacy of rapacious international banksters.

To restore financial normality, President Madison granted a 20 year charter to a new central bank in 1816, the privately owned Second Bank of the United States. But then, in 1828, along came another president who shared Jefferson’s great distrust and opprobrium for central banks and banksters, one Andrew Jackson, a former army general known affectionately as ‘Old Hickory’, a national hero of the War of 1812.

Jackson refused to renew the charter of the Second Bank of the United States, even vetoing Congress who had approved its renewal. Nicholas Biddle, president of the bank, threatened Jackson that he would inflict a recession on the country if the president did not lift his veto on the charter renewal. Jackson still refused. Biddle, true to his word, called in bank loans and refused to issue new loans. The supply of money in the United States shrank dramatically.

Soon, Biddle’s engineered recession enveloped the whole country. Businesses failed and unemployment rose. But ‘Old Hickory’ was not for turning, even after a would-be assassin, an Englishman called Richard Lawrence, attempted to murder him in January, 1835. Both the assassin’s pistols misfired and legend has it that ‘Old Hickory’ then proceeded to thrash the man with his cane until restrained by his own aides. Jackson himself blamed the Rothschilds for the attempt on his life. In any case, the determined Jackson prevailed over the bank and its charter wasn’t renewed; it would be some 77 years before the central banksters could finagle another privately controlled central bank with the establishment of the Federal Reserve in 1913.

It is rare to get documented proof of the banksters’ deviousness in causing recessions in order to enrich themselves at the expense of the people. But we do have a private memo from the American Bankers Association in 1891, the contents of which are actually recorded in the Congressional Record of April 29, 1913. Keep in mind that this memo was written in 1891, undeniable proof that the Panic of 1893 was planned by the banksters a couple of years in advance:

“We are authorizing our loan officers from the Western States to loan on properties, monies repayable by September 1st, 1894. No fatal date is to exceed this date.

“On September 1st, 1894, we shall categorically refuse all loan renewals. On that day, we shall demand the repayment of our money, under penalty of foreclosure on collaterals.

“The mortgaged properties will become ours. (Money will have become scarce beforehand, and the repayments will have become generally impossible.) We’ll thus be able to acquire, at a price agreeable to us, two-thirds of the farms west of the Mississippi and thousands more east of this great river.

“We’ll even be able to possess three quarters of the western farms as well as all the money in the country. The farmers will then become land tenants only, just like in England.”

(Source – http://www.michaeljournal.org/bankphilo.htm )

So, you see, my dear Professor Garelli, recessions are deliberately caused by avaricious banksters for their own gain. These crooks care not a whit for the hardship and misery their greed inflicts on the people. They are conspirators and thieves and through their fraudulent actions they reveal the criminal philosophy upon which the entire banking system is founded. This contemptible philosophy still thrives on Wall Street and throughout the world and therein lies the source of all our global economic woes.

The people expect economists to keep a rein on the banksters and to keep them honest – well, at least more honest than they want to be. They also expect economists to advise governments on honest, effective, and socially rewarding economic practices. But you, Professor Garelli, and the vast majority of your colleagues, have let the people down. Whether through cowardice, ignorance, or dishonesty you have sided with the banksters and allowed these racketeers to enslave the people of the world in a lifetime of utterly unnecessary debt. Your failure to question the blatant dishonesty of modern banking and your reluctance to offer ethical alternatives has prevented a fair and equitable system of money creation from coming into being, an incorruptible system which would have brought economic freedom, opportunity, and prosperity to all.

Thankfully, not all economists sup from the banksters’ trough. There are many economic reformers who are worthy of praise and attention. While glancing at the notes for this article the author comes across one Larry Bates, a former professor of economics, a bank president for eleven years, a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives, a chairman of a Committee on Banking and Commerce, and the author of a best-seller, The New Economic Disorder.

Bates says:

“The greatest shock of this decade is that more people are about to lose more money than at any time before in history, but the second greatest shock will be the incredible amount of money a relatively small group of people will make at the same time. You see, in periods of economic upheaval, in periods of economic crisis, wealth is not destroyed, it is merely transferred.”

Bates goes on:

“The Fed really is more powerful than the Federal Government. It is more powerful than the President, Congress, or the Courts…The Fed determines what the average person’s car payment and house payment is going to be and whether they have a job or not. And I submit to you – that is total control…”

Larry Bates hits it right on the head. “Total control.” The banksters want to maintain total control. They want the people to remain in ignorance. They don’t want them to know there is a much happier, beneficial alternative. They want to keep all of humanity submissive to them in lifelong debt slavery. And above all, they are terrified the people will somehow become aware of their outrageous conniving and criminality.

What we need now is more economists who will use their knowledge and training to show the people how they can take this reprehensible power away from the banksters and how they can formulate exemplary new ways of money creation that will deliver the people from the relentless treadmill of debt and give them a new birthright of freedom, happiness, and abundance.

Gabriel Donohoe is an Irish-based Writer, Natural Health Educator, and Shamanic Counsellor. He sometimes uses the name of Fools Crow.   http://foolscrow.wordpress.com  

American Democracy: Despair Follows Delusion

November 3rd, 2010 by Joel S. Hirschhorn

Despite all the hype and rhetoric, only one impact of the midterm elections is assured.  Notwithstanding power shifts from Democrats to Republicans in Congress there will not be any deep, sorely needed true reforms of our corrupt, dysfunctional and inefficient government.  The culture of corruption in Washington , DC will remain.  Hundreds of millions of dollars from corporate and other special interests will assure that.

Voters who think otherwise are either delusional or stupid.  It will not matter whether you voted for Republicans because you wanted to defeat Democrats (or vice-versa), or whether you voted for Tea Party candidates, or whether you voted against incumbents, or whether you voted for what you believe are lesser-evil candidates.  Americans lost however they voted, but it may take time for most to comprehend that.  That is a terribly painful reality, which is why many who chose to vote will resist facing the ugly truth.

When it comes to politics in America , delusion and stupidity are rampant, like a terrible epidemic that has killed brain cells.  Several billion dollars were spent selling candidates this year.  Who profited?  The many media outlets that received the advertising bonanza and companies that supplied mailings, posters and automatic phone calls.  At least all that spending was kept domestic.

Yes, you are thinking that this is the most cynical view possible.  Cynicism beats delusion.  I recommend it.

This is what American history tells us.  Americans have been brainwashed and tricked into thinking that elections are crucial for maintaining American democracy.  That is exactly what the two-party plutocracy needs to maintain their self-serving political system and that is also what the rich and powerful Upper Class wants to preserve their status.  But voting in a corrupt political system no longer sustains democracy.  It only sustains the corrupt political system that makes a mockery of American democracy.  Think about it.

In the months following this election, when unemployment and economic pain for all but the rich remain awful, anyone who pays attention and is able to face the truth will see that there is little chance of genuine government reforms.  Nor will any of the nation’s severe fiscal and spending problems be smartly attacked.  The Republicans will blame the Democrats, the Democrats will blame the Republicans, the Tea Party winners will blame the system, the radio and cable pundits will blabber endlessly, and Jon Stewart and other comics will have an abundance of material to take jabs at.  The two-party plutocracy will triumph.

Every member of Congress will, as before, spend most of their time and energy doing what is necessary to win the next election.  The army of lobbyists will be busier than ever legally bribing politicians to sustain the successful political strategy of the rich and business sector to make the rich and superrich still richer at the expense of the middle class.  Anyone who thinks that winner Republicans will work to overturn economic inequality is stupid or delusional.  A disproportionate and ludicrous fraction of the nation’s income and wealth will go to a tiny fraction of rich and superrich Americans.  Nothing that President Obama or the Democrats have done or championed was aimed squarely at reversing economic inequality and the death of the middle class, which by itself justified defeating them.

President Obama, of course, will continue his self-serving rhetoric with the sole goal of winning reelection in 2012.  The presidency just made him destructively delusional.  Of course he will speak about working with Republicans.  Wait and see.

Here is what non-delusional Americans can hope for: Maybe a decent third party presidential candidate will emerge.  Maybe the Tea Party movement will wake up to the reality that electing Republicans is a terrible strategy for reforming the government and restoring the health of the nation and shift their interest to forming a third party.  I doubt very much whether any of the Tea Party winners in Congress will stand up and aggressively work for and demand true reforms.  The new Republican Speaker of the House is a classic establishment Republican.  Maybe the greatly expanded calls for an Article V convention (mostly by Republicans and conservatives) as the constitutional path to reforms through constitutional amendments will gather more energy (especially from Tea Party people) and finally succeed.

Welcome to the good old USA where citizens, unlike those in Europe , do not riot in the streets demanding justice but keep believing in the nonsense that voting for either Republicans or Democrats will work for them and the nation.

Despair follows delusion.  Despite the endless media hype, the political revolution of 2010 is like a badly made firecracker – a dud.  President Obama, Republicans and Democrats will have learned nothing profound, not enough to dedicate themselves to real reforms. Along with economic pain, widespread anger will persist as nothing tangible results to make the lives of ordinary Americans a lot better.  Will Americans demand smarter strategies than voting in regular elections with choices between Democrats and Republicans?  What do you think?

Contact Joel S. Hirschhorn through www.delusionaldemocracy.com.

El 21 de octubre de 2010, el Parlamento Europeo anunció el galardonado 2010 del Premio Sajarov “por la libertad del espíritu”, y lo otorgó al disidente cubano Guillermo Fariñas Hernández. Según la institución europea, éste se inscribe “en un largo linaje de disidentes, defensores de los derechos humanos y de la libertad de pensamiento”. El presidente del Parlamento Jerzy Buzek apuntó que el opositor al gobierno de La Habana “estuvo listo a arriesgar la salud y la vida para cambiar las cosas en Cuba”. Se trata de la tercera vez en nueve años que un opositor cubano recibe esta distinción, después de las Damas de Blanco en 2005 y Oswaldo Payá en 2002.1

Conviene volver sobre el recorrido personal de Guillermo Fariñas y su ingreso en el mundo de la disidencia en Cuba, antes de evocar la politización del Premio Sajarov.

Guillermo Fariñas

Nacido el 3 de enero de 1962, Guillermo Fariñas es un antiguo soldado que sirvió en Angola en 1981, en la lucha por la independencia de la nación africana y contra el régimen racista de Sudáfrica. Durante mucho tiempo fue un ferviente admirador del proceso revolucionario, y su padre había participado en la lucha contra la dictadura de Fulgencio Batista al lado de Fidel Castro. Tras la caída del Muro de Berlín en 1989 y la aparición de las primeras dificultades económicas en Cuba, abandonó entonces la Juventud Comunista, sin tomar, no obstante, una posición política contraria al gobierno de La Habana.2

Sólo fue en 2003 cuando realizó un viraje ideológico de 180 grados y dio la espalda a las ideas que defendió antaño. Integró entonces la disidencia y fundó la agencia de prensa Cubanancan Press, financiada por “cubano-americanos anticastristas”, según la agencia estadounidense Associated Press.3 El Parlamento Europeo señala que es “partidario de la no violencia” y que realizó “no menos de 23 huelgas de hambre para atraer la atención sobre la opresión de los disidentes cubanos y reclamar la libertad de acceso a Internet”. Subraya también que pasó once años en prisión –en realidad nueve, pero estuvo encarcelado un poco más de un año– sin revelar las razones de las diferentes condenas.4

En ningún momento, la entidad europea afirma que sus estancias en prisión se debieron a su actividad política por la simple razón que sus encarcelaciones se debieron a delitos comunes. La discreción del Parlamento Europeo respecto a los antecedentes penales de Fariñas es comprensible, pues sus actos delictivos desacreditan la afirmación del carácter “no violento” del Premio Sajarov 2010.5

En efecto, Fariñas dispone de serios antecedentes penales. En 1995, fue condenado a tres años de prisión sin internamiento y a una multa de 600 pesos tras agredir violentamente a una mujer, colega de trabajo del instituto de salud en el cual ocupaba un puesto de psicólogo, ocasionándole múltiples lesiones en el rostro y en los brazos. Realizó entonces su primera huelga de hambre.6

En 2002, en la ciudad de Santa Clara, en la provincia de Las Villas, Fariñas agredió a un anciano con un bastón. El anciano, gravemente herido, fue llevado al hospital con urgencia donde fue sometido a una operación quirúrgica para extirparle el bazo. Después de ese delito, fue condenado a cinco años y diez meses de prisión. Realizó de nuevo una huelga de hambre y se benefició de una medida de licencia extra-penal el 5 de diciembre de 2003 por razones de salud.7

Al respecto, la agencia de prensa EFE se limita a declarar que fue condenado “por los delitos de desorden público y atentado”, sin proporcionar más detalles.8 Por su parte, Associated Press es más explícita y recuerda que “algunos de sus problemas judiciales se deben a la agresión de una colega de trabajo y otro comportamiento violento”.9

En 2005, Fariñas empezó otra huelga de hambre y exigió que el Estado Cubano le instalara un acceso a Internet en su casa. Se reunió con la representación diplomática estadounidense de La Habana, la Sección de Intereses Norteamericanos, la cual financia sus actividades. Reconoce sin problema esta realidad. El diario francés Libération señaló que “Fariñas nunca ha negado recibir ‘donaciones’ de la Sección de Intereses Norteamericanos para procurarse una computadora y ejercer su oficio de ‘periodista independiente’ en Internet”.10

Pero Guillermo Fariñas fue realmente mediatizado a partir del 24 de febrero de 2010 cuando inició, en su casa, una huelga de hambre, que duró hasta el 8 de julio de 2010, para exigir la liberación de los que califica de “presos de opinión”, en referencia a los opositores condenados por aceptar el financiamiento de Estados Unidos. 11 Por otra parte, a este respecto, la Agencia estadounidense para el Desarrollo Internacional (USAID), que depende del gobierno federal, admite que financia a la oposición cubana. Según la Agencia, para el año fiscal 2009, la suma de la ayuda destinada a los disidentes cubanos se elevó a 15,62 millones de dólares. “La gran mayoría de esta suma se destina a individuos que se encuentran en cuba. Nuestro objetivo es maximizar la suma del apoyo del cual se benefician los cubanos en la isla”12.

La organización gubernamental enfatiza también el siguiente punto: “Hemos formado centenares de periodistas en un periodo de diez años cuya labor ha aparecido en grandes medios de comunicación internacionales”. Esta declaración destroza las afirmaciones sobre el carácter independiente de los periodistas opositores en Cuba. Formados y estipendiados por Estados Unidos, responden ante todo a los intereses de Washington, cuyo objetivo es, como lo señalan los documentos oficiales del Departamento de Estado, un “cambio de régimen” en la isla.13

Desde un punto de vista jurídico, esta realidad ubica de hecho a los disidentes que aceptan los emolumentos ofrecidos por la USAID en una situación de agentes al servicio de una potencia extranjera, lo que constituye una grave violación del código penal en Cuba, pero también en cualquier país del mundo. Cuestionada al respecto, la Agencia se limita a recordar que “nadie está obligado a aceptar o formar parte de los programas del gobierno de Estados Unidos”.14

La última protesta de Fariñas había afectado gravemente su estado de salud y sobrevivió sólo gracias a la atención médica que le brindaron las autoridades cubanas. Agradecido, no vaciló en expresar su gratitud al equipo médico que se ocupó de él, durante una entrevista concedida a la televisión española mientras se encontraba en el hospital.15

Guillermo Fariñas jamás ha tenido problemas para expresar su opinión respecto al gobierno cubano. Ha gozado al respecto de una libertad de expresión total. Para convencerse de ello, basta con echar un ojo a sus declaraciones emitidas durante su última huelga de hambre. 16 Durante su estancia en el hospital, concedió regularmente entrevistas a la prensa occidental, y atacó con virulencia a las autoridades de la isla. He aquí algunos extractos de una entrevista otorgada a Reporteros sin Fronteras el 8 de abril de 2010: “El régimen castrista es totalmente retrógrado, arcaico, con una falta total de flexibilidad, de humanismo, con una crueldad marcada que deja morir públicamente a sus opositores”. Fariñas no vacila en referirse al “régimen totalitario cubano” y denuncia sin problema “las crueldades, los abusos, las torturas” que se cometerían en la isla.17

Fariñas no está exento de contradicciones. Mientras se muestra muy crítico del sistema cubano y compara la vida en la isla a un infierno, se niega a emigrar a pesar de una propuesta de acogida por parte de España.18 En efecto, resulta curioso negarse a vivir en la novena potencia económica mundial y preferir un pequeño país del Tercer Mundo que sufre de innegables dificultades económicas agravadas por el embargo impuesto por Estados Unidos y por la crisis mundial. Hay una razón para ello. Si abandona Cuba, Fariñas no recibiría ninguna ayuda financiera ni de Estados Unidos ni de la Unión Europea.

La politización del Premio Sajarov

El Parlamento Europeo escogió, por tercera vez en nueve años, a un disidente cubano para el Premio Sajarov, a pesar de la calidad de los otros dos pretendientes, la ONG israelí Breaking the Silence y la opositora etíope Birtukan Mideksa.19

Breaking the Silence fue creada por soldados israelíes y antiguos combatientes y “muestra al público israelí la realidad de la ocupación israelí vista a través de los ojos de los soldados. Participa en el debate sobre el impacto de la ocupación prolongada de los territorios palestinos”, según el Parlamento. En cuanto a Birtukan Mideksa, se trata de una política y antigua jueza etíope, líder de la oposición, condenada a cadena perpetua en 2008 por denunciar el encarcelamiento de los opositores en su país, que luego fue liberada en octubre de 2010.20

No se trata de criticar a Guillermo Fariñas por su acción. Hace falta cierta dosis de valentía personal para arriesgarse la vida mediante una huelga de hambre. No obstante, la elección del Parlamento Europea es discutible en la medida en que utiliza primero y ante todo parámetros políticos. En efecto, dominado por la derecha, el hecho de recompensar otra vez a la oposición cubana en detrimento de todas las personas que arriesgan verdaderamente la vida en el mundo por defender la causa de los derechos humanos y las libertades, no puede ser fruto del azar.21

Además, esta distinción aparece mientras el gobierno cubano ha procedido a la liberación de la casi totalidad de los prisioneros llamados “políticos” listados por Amnistía Internacional. Los trece últimos, después de la liberación de 39 personas desde julio de 2010, serán liberados antes de finales de noviembre de 2010, según el acuerdo entre La Habana y la Iglesia Católica Cubana.22 Sólo se puede constatar que la decisión del Parlamento se basa sobre todo en criterios ideológicos y arroja una sombra sobre la credibilidad de los objetivos oficiales del Premio Sajarov, a saber la defensa de los derechos humanos.

Algunos parlamentarios europeos han criticado esta decisión, tomada en comité limitado a puertas cerradas durante la Conferencia de los Presidentes, y no en sesión plenaria en presencia de todos los diputados. El eurodiputado Willy Meyer del grupo Izquierda Unida ha lamentado la “opción ideológica que nada tiene que ver con la defensa de los derechos humanos en todo el mundo, en un momento de guerras y gravísimos problemas en el que miles de activistas de los derechos humanos son perseguidos en el mundo, mientras su labor o no se reconoce o se oculta”.23 Por su parte María Muñiz, portavoz de los socialistas españoles en la Comisión de Asuntos Exteriores del Parlamento, ha deplorado que los demás candidatos hayan sido ignorados y que la “progresiva liberación de presos cubanos disidentes” no se hay tenido en cuenta.24

Conclusión

Guillermo Fariñas ha escogido, como los opositores cubanos mediatizados por la prensa occidental, vivir de la actividad disidente, pues ofrece perspectivas financieras innegables y un nivel de vida muy superior al de los cubanos en un contexto marcado por dificultades económicas y penurias materiales. El Premio Sajarov no es sólo una distinción honorífica. Se trata también de una fuerte retribución económica de 50.000 euros. Representa una suma considerable, sobre todo para los cubanos, cuando se sabe la realidad del sistema social en la isla. Como ejemplo, Fariñas no ha tenido que pagar un centavo por su hospitalización de varios meses, es propietario de su vivienda, como el 85% de los cubanos, y se beneficia de la libreta que le permite conseguir gratuitamente productos alimentarios.

Guillermo Fariñas tiene todo el derecho a expresar abiertamente su desacuerdo con un sistema político que defendió hasta los treinta años. No debe ser criticado por ello. Tampoco deben ocultarse sus antecedentes penales. No obstante resulta difícil de creer, al ver los poderosos intereses políticos y mediáticos occidentales que lo apoyan, que su acción es verdaderamente independiente y únicamente enfocada en la cuestión de los derechos humanos. Al aceptar los emolumentos de Washington –que financia públicamente a los opositores cubanos –, se pone al servicio de una política destinada a derrocar al gobierno cubano.

Revisado por Caty R.

Doctor en Estudios Ibéricos y Latinoamericanos de la Universidad Paris Sorbonne-Paris IV, Salim Lamrani es profesor encargado de cursos en la Universidad Paris-Sorbonne-Paris IV y en la Universidad Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée y periodista francés, especialista de las relaciones entre Cuba y Estados Unidos. Acaba de publicar Cuba: Ce que les médias ne vous diront jamais. Disponible en librerías y en Amazon: http://www.amazon.fr/Cuba-Medias-Vous-Diront-Jamais/dp/2953128417/ref=pd_rhf_p_t_1 Para cualquier petición dedicada, contactar directamente: [email protected] , [email protected]

 

Notas

1 Parlamento Europeo, « Gros plan sur les droits de l’homme : le Prix Sakharov 2010 », 21 de octubre de 2010. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/public/focus_page/015-84708-274-10-40-902-20101001FCS84570-01-10-2010-2010/default_p001c004_fr.htm  (sitio consultado el 26 de octubre de 2010).

2 Ibid. ; EFE, « Fariñas, el rostro de la huelga de hambre por los presos políticos cubanos », 21 de octubre de 2010.

3 Associated Press, « EU Rights Prize for Cuban Dissident Farinas », 21 de octubre de 2010.

4 Parlamento Europeo, « Gros plan sur les droits de l’homme : le Prix Sakharov 2010 », op. cit.

5 Ibid.

6 Alberto Núñez Betancourt, « Cuba no acepta presiones ni chantajes », Granma, 8 de marzo de 2010.

7 Alberto Núñez Betancourt, « Cuba no acepta presiones ni chantajes », op. cit

8. EFE, « Fariñas, el rostro de la huelga de hambre por los presos políticos cubanos », op. cit.

9 Associated Press, « EU Rights Prize for Cuban Dissident Farinas », 21 de octubre de 2010.

10 Félix Rousseau, « Fariñas, épine dans le pied de Raúl Castro », Libération, 17 de marzo de 2010.

11 Salim Lamrani, Cuba. Ce que les médias ne vous diront jamais. Paris, Estrella 2009, p. 79-105.

12 Along the Malecon, « Exclusive : Q & A with USAID », 25 de octubre de 2010. http://alongthemalecon.blogspot.com/2010/10/exclusive-q-with-usaid.html (sitio consultado el 26 de octubre de 2010).

13 Ibid.

14 Ibid.

15 59 segundos, « Cuba », 12 de abril de 2010. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRxzicTmWz8 (sitio consultado el 26 de octubre de 2010).

16 Mauricio Vicent, « Hay momentos en la historia en que tiene que haber mártires », El País, 2 de marzo de 2010.

17 Reporters sans frontières, « Interview de Guillermo Fariñas », 8 de abril de 2010. http://fr.rsf.org/interview-de-guillermo-farinas-08-04-2010,37147.html (sitio consultado el 26 de octubre de 2010)

18 Juan O. Tamayo, « Fariñas no acepta la oferta de recuperarse en España », 30 de marzo de 2010.

19 Parlement européen, « Présentation des trois finalistes 2010 », 1 de octubre de 2010. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/public/focus_page/015-84708-274-10-40-902-20101001FCS84570-01-10-2010-2010/default_p001c003_fr.htm (sitio consultado el 26 de octubre de 2010).

20 Ibid.

21 Agence France Presse, « Los tres premios Sajarov de la oposición cubana », 21 de octubre de 2010.

22 EFE, « Damas instan al gobierno a cumplir plazo de excarcelaciones », 25 de octubre de 2010: Andrea Rodríguez, « Anuncian liberación de presos no incluidos en acuerdo », 10 de octubre de 2010.

23 Willy Meyer, « El premio Sajarov queda hoy tocado del ala », Izquierda Unida, 21 de octubre de 2010. http://www1.izquierda-unida.es/node/7945 (sitio consultado el 27 de octubre de 2010).

24 Associated Press, « División de opiniones en España tras premio europeo a cubano Fariñas », 21 de octubre de 2010. 

Cuba y la Posición Común de la Unión Europea

November 3rd, 2010 by Salim Lamrani

El 25 de octubre de 2010, la Unión Europea decidió mantener la Posición Común sobre Cuba, impuesta en 1996 por ex presidente español José María Aznar, que limita drásticamente las relaciones políticas y diplomáticas entre Bruselas y La Habana. A cambio de la suspensión del Título III –que afecta a las empresas europeas– de la ley Helms-Burton adoptada ese mismo año, legislación con carácter extraterritorial que acrecienta las sanciones contra la Isla del Caribe, Bruselas había aceptado alinearse con la política exterior estadounidense respecto a Cuba.1

Trinidad Jiménez, ministra española de Asuntos Exteriores, abogó por un cambio: “Es tiempo de abrir un nuevo diálogo, una nueva relación entre la UE y Cuba”.2 Pero la propuesta de España de poner término a la Posición Común, que valora como discriminatoria, ineficaz e ilegítima, no fue aceptada por el conjunto de las naciones, siendo la unanimidad necesaria para su abrogación. España, Italia, Francia e Irlanda, entre otros, estaban a favor de su eliminación mientras que otros tales como Suecia, Gran Bretaña, Alemania, Polonia, Hungría y la República Checa preconizaban su mantenimiento.3 La Europa de los 27 se limitó a pedir a su alta representante para la Política Exterior y la Seguridad Común, Catherine Ashton, que estudiara las posibilidades de negociar un acuerdo bilateral con las autoridades cubanas.4

En efecto, la Posición Común, que se justifica oficialmente por la situación de los derechos humanos en Cuba, es discriminatoria en la medida en que el único país del continente americano, desde Canadá hasta Argentina, que la Unión Europea estigmatiza de tal forma es Cuba, mientras que según los informes de Amnistía Internacional, la isla del Caribe está lejos de ser el peor alumno del hemisferio en términos de violación de los derechos fundamentales. Es ineficaz, pues no ha tenido ninguna influencia en las decisiones que han tomado las autoridades de La Habana y ha llevado a una congelación de las relaciones bilaterales. Por fin es ilegítima porque numerosos países de la Europa de los 27 –particularmente los que se oponen a la normalización tales como Polonia, República Checa, Hungría y el Reino Unido– presentan, según Amnistía Internacional, una situación de los derechos humanos más desastrosa que la de Cuba.5

Bruno Rodríguez, canciller cubano, subrayó durante la reunión anual de la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas que su gobierno no reconoce a la Unión Europea ninguna “autoridad moral ni política alguna para criticar [a Cuba] en materia de derechos humanos”, recordando que el Viejo Continente es escenario de deportaciones de minorías, represión de manifestaciones, legislaciones anti-emigrantes y víctima de una creciente exclusión social. También advirtió de que ninguna normalización de las relaciones será posible mientras siga vigente la Posición Común.6

La retórica de los derechos humanos de la Unión Europea padece una falta de credibilidad por el carácter selectivo de la política de Bruselas. En efecto, se asemeja a un pretexto en la medida en que países responsables de violaciones masivas de los derechos humanos –asesinatos de opositores, de militantes sociales y de sindicalistas, actos de tortura y de barbarie, descubrimiento de fosas comunes– tales como Colombia u Honduras se encuentran lejos de ser prioridades para Europa.

En efecto, desde el golpe de Estado en Honduras y la instauración de la dictadura militar el 27 de junio de 2009, liderada primero por Roberto Micheletti y luego por Porfirio Lobo desde el 28 de enero de 2010, han ocurrido más de quinientos asesinatos, otros tantos casos de desapariciones e innumerables casos de tortura y de violencia, cometidos por las fuerzas del orden.7

En diciembre de 2009 en La Macarena, Colombia, se descubrió la mayor fosa común de la historia de América Latina, con más de 2.000 cadáveres. Según los testimonios recogidos por eurodiputados británicos presentes allí, se trataría de sindicalistas y líderes campesinos asesinados por los paramilitares y las fuerzas especiales del ejército colombiano. El jurista Jairo Ramírez, secretario del Comité Permanente para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos en Colombia, describió la espantosa escena: “Lo que vimos fue escalofriante. Infinidad de cadáveres y en la superficie cientos de placas de madera de color blanco con la inscripción NN y con fechas desde 2005 hasta hoy. El comandante del ejército nos dijo que eran guerrilleros caídos en combate, pero la gente de la región nos habla de multitud de líderes sociales, campesinos y defensores comunitarios que desaparecieron sin dejar rastro”. A pesar de los múltiples testimonios y la presencia de parlamentarios europeos, a pesar de la visita de una delegación parlamentaria española allí para investigar el caso, la Unión Europea no ha juzgado útil imponer una Posición Común a Colombia.8

El verdadero objetivo de la UE hacia La Habana fue definido claramente por Javier Solana, el predecesor de Catherine Ashton, durante una reunión con los cancilleres europeos. Cuba debe “hacer algunas reformas económicas mucho más claras y rápidas”. Bruselas condiciona así el levantamiento de la Posición Común, no a una eventual mejora de los derechos humanos –preocupación accesoria– sino a un cambio de la estructura económica del país, a saber una liberalización del mercado interno.9

La Europa de los 27 de nuevo ha perdido una oportunidad de normalizar las relaciones con La Habana y demostrar que su política exterior no es tributaria de la de la Casa Blanca. Al abrogar la Posición Común y al adoptar una postura racional, contractiva e independiente, como preconiza España, la UE habría dado un paso en la dirección adecuada. Pero Bruselas parece no haber entendido la idiosincrasia cubana. En efecto, el gobierno de la Isla está dispuesto a todo -menos la negociación de la soberanía y de la identidad nacionales– cuando las relaciones se basan en el diálogo, el respeto y la reciprocidad –como lo ha demostrado el acuerdo con la Iglesia Católica y España que ha desembocado en la liberación de todos los prisioneros llamados “políticos”. En cambio, se muestra resueltamente inflexible –sólo basta ver el estado de las relaciones entre Washington y La Habana desde hace medio siglo– cuando el lenguaje de la fuerza, de la amenaza o de la coacción toma el paso sobre la diplomacia convencional.

Revisado por Caty R.

Salim Lamrani es doctor en Estudios Ibéricos y Latinoamericanos de la Universidad Paris Sorbonne-Paris IV. También es profesor encargado de cursos en la Universidad Paris-Sorbonne -Paris IV y en la Universidad Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée y periodista francés, especialista de las relaciones entre Cuba y Estados Unidos. Acaba de publicar Cuba: Ce que les médias ne vous diront jamais . Disponible en librerías y en Amazon: http://www.amazon.fr/Cuba-Medias-Vous-Diront-Jamais/dp/2953128417/ref=pd_rhf_p_t_1 Para cualquier petición dedicada, contactar directamente: [email protected] , [email protected]

 

Notas

1 Juan O. Tamayo, «Unión Europea mantiene Posición Común», El Nuevo Herald, 25 de octubre de 2010.

2 Agence France Presse, «L’Europe envisage d’assouplir sa position vis-à-vis de Cuba», 25 de octubre de 2010.

3 EFE, «Afirman que la UE mantendrá posición común», 25 de octubre de 2010; Agence France Presse, «UE prevé mantener Posición Común con Cuba pero estudia un gesto de apertura», 20 de octubre de 2010; Agence France Presse, «Cuba: la position de l’EU plus souple ?», 22 de octubre de 2010.

4 EFE, «España dice que ‘ha quedado superada’ la ‘posición común’ de la UE sobre Cuba», 25 de octubre de 2010.

5 Salim Lamrani, Double Morale. Cuba, l’Union européenne et les droits de l’homme. París, Editions Estrella, 2008.

6 Cubadebate, «Unión Europea no tiene autoridad moral para criticar a Cuba, afirma Canciller», 26 de octubre de 2010.

7 Maurice Lemoine, «Selon que vous serez Cubain ou Colombien…», Le Monde Diplomatique, 26 de febrero de 2010. En español: Depende de si usted es cubano o colombiano.

8 Antonio Albiñana, «Aparece en Colombia una fosa común con 2.000 cadáveres», Público.es, 26 de enero de 2010.

9 Agence France Presse, «Solana pide a la isla reformas más contundentes», 25 de octubre de 2010.

Ecuador and Venezuela: Danger South of the Border

November 3rd, 2010 by Paul Kellogg

It is not difficult to see that the events of September 30, in the Latin American country of Ecuador, amounted to an attempted right-wing coup d’état. Mass mobilizations in the streets and plazas of Quito (the capital) and other cities – in conjunction with action by sections of the armed forces which stayed loyal to the government – stopped the coup before the day was out. But those few hours highlighted, again, the deep dangers facing those fighting for progressive change in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa wearing a gas mask

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa wearing a gas mask during the state of emergency.

Remarkably, the first task is to re-assert that in fact a coup attempt took place. In the wake of the failure of the coup, commentator after commentator was trying to minimize what happened. Peruvian “libertarian” Álvaro Vargas Llosa – darling of the World Economic Forum and outspoken critic of Che Guevara and the current governments of Bolivia and Venezuela – insists that it was not a coup just an “ill-advised, violent protest by the police against a law that cut their benefits.”[1]

Let us examine the facts. Rafael Correa is the democratically elected president of the country, re-elected in 2009 winning 51.99 per cent of votes cast, on a turnout of almost 75 per cent (in an electorate of more than 10 million people). His nearest rival – ex-president and oil company friend Lucio Gutierrez – received just 28.24 per cent of the vote.[2]

Trouble Begins

September 30 – thousands of police rebelled, taking control of several cities, shutting down roads and airports.[3] In the capital city, Quito, they took over their barracks. When President Correa, went to the main barracks to confront the policemen, he was attacked with tear gas and injured. He was allowed to go for treatment in a police hospital, but confined there for 12 hours until rescued – after a “fierce gun battle” (according to Atilio A. Boron)[4] which resulted in the death of two policemen (including the police sergeant protecting Correa), a soldier and a student.[5]

During these tense hours, there was a rebellion in sections of the armed forces (members of the Ecuadoran air force took over and shut down Quito’s international airport)[6] and anti-Correa political figures – including the lawyer for defeated presidential candidate Gutierrez – tried to force their way into the buildings of Ecuador National Television.[7]

When the democratically-elected president of a country is attacked, injured and confined against his will: when police take over towns and sections of the air force take over and close the country’s major airport: when pro-business political figures try to storm the national television statement – that is called an attempted coup d’état. If it were to happen in Ottawa, Washington or London, there would be no dispute.

A photograph accompanying an important article by Mark Weisbrot (co-writer of Oliver Stone’s South of the Border) showed masses of people taking to the streets of Quito to defend Correa. In the article, Weisbrot persuasively argued that “to anyone who watched the prolonged, pitched gun-battle on TV last night, when the armed forces finally rescued President Correa from the hospital where he was trapped by the police” this could only be seen as an attempted coup, “an attempt to overthrow the government.”[8]

The reason there is a bizarre attempt to pretend that this coup attempt never happened, is to hope that people won’t ask who might have benefited from such an action. A quick examination of the actions of President Correa sheds considerable light on that.

  • In 2006, working with President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, Correa moved to increase state control over oil production in the country.[9]
  • In 2008, he announced that Ecuador would not pay several billions of its more than $10-billion foreign debt, calling it “illegitimate.”[10]
  • In 2009, he refused to renew the lease of the U.S. military airbase in Manta, saying that “the only way the U.S. could keep their military base in Ecuador, is if Ecuador were allowed to have one of its own in Florida.”[11]
  • In 2009, he officially brought Ecuador into ALBA – the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America led by Venezuela, Cuba and Bolivia.

When a country increases state control, challenges illegitimate foreign debt, pushes the U.S. military out of the country and joins a regional alliance with Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba – it is clear that the forces that would benefit from a coup would be: a) corporate interests inside Ecuador; b) international financial institutions; and c) the United States and its allies.

There is another reason why the right-wing, corporate elite and the imperialist countries might have an incentive to minimize what happened September 30. There is now a shamefully long list of recent coup attempts in Latin America and the Caribbean – four of them against members of ALBA.

  • April 2002, President Chávez of Venezuela was briefly taken into exile in a coup d’état which was stopped when one million of his supporters surrounded the presidential palace.
  • February 2004, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti was forcibly overthrown in a coup backed by the military forces of Canada, the United States and France. [Ed.: more information on Haiti.]
  • September 2008, in the Santa Cruz area of Bolivia, right-wing forces used armed fascist gangs to try and break the hold of President Evo Morales.[12] They were stopped through a combination of mass mobilizations, and the intervention by loyal sections of the armed forces.
  • June 2009, Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was overthrown by the military. [Ed.: see Bullet No. 290 for more information.]

All but Haiti were members of ALBA – and one of the main acts of the coup regime in Honduras was to withdraw from ALBA.

It is not, therefore, an exaggeration, to say that the coup attempt in Ecuador is the latest in a series of violent attempts to roll back the anti-neoliberal movement, whose main institutional shape is represented by the ALBA countries.

The Situation in Venezuela

The dangers facing the anti-neoliberal movement, and the region, were also highlighted by the results of National Assembly elections in Venezuela. At one level, they represent a remarkable achievement – the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) topping the polls and winning 98 seats out of 165. But within that victory, there were troubling signs.

First while the PSUV won more than five million votes in both the nationwide vote for the Latin American parliament and the state-wide party lists, its right-wing rival, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) also topped five million in both votes, trailing the PSUV by around 200,000.

Second – key states along the border of Colombia (the principle base for the U.S. military in the region) fell to the MUD.

Finally – while 98 seats is a majority, it is short of the two-thirds majority necessary for key constitutional changes. Important advances – such as creating a favourable legislative framework for workers’ control of industry – will be much more difficult.[13]

There is disillusionment in sections of the base of the PSUV. The recession hit Venezuela harder than many other countries in Latin America. The old state bureaucracy is still largely intact (and quite reluctant to support Chávez’s reforms), and the bulk of the media remains in the hands of the right-wing. In addition – while the PSUV has been a remarkable school in politics for millions of people – it has also been a source of career advancement for a few thousand. Nepotism and bureaucratic tendencies have become a drag on many of the reform projects launched by the regime.

In each of the ALBA countries, internal difficulties are immense, and in each there is an array of positions which are often difficult for Global North observers properly to understand. In Ecuador, for instance, it wasn’t just darlings of the right-wing like Álvaro Vargas Llosa who denied that the September 30 events were a coup. Unfortunately, Ecuador’s important coalition of social movements, the Federation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) took the same position. “We energetically announce that there never was any attempted coup d’état, much less a kidnapping, but an event that responded to the uncertain political management of the government that causes popular discontent through permanent aggression, discrimination and violations of human rights consecrated in the Constitution.”[14]

CONAIE’s importance in the social movements in Ecuador is not to be doubted. Its mobilization of the Indigenous community has been a key factor in the social advances made in Ecuador this century. And Correa has not always been an easy president to defend. In 2009, CONAIE was involved in a “week of marches and road blockades” in protest against certain of Correa’s policies. At issue were “the autonomy of the indigenous bilingual education system,” the new water law and the new mining law passed in January 2009 which CONAIE has “appealed before the Constitutional Court.”[15] But even with legitimate grievances against Correa, it is clearly a mistake for CONAIE to minimize the dangers represented by the September 30 events.

Contradictions in ALBA

Global North solidarity activists need to be aware of internal conflicts in the ALBA countries, take them very seriously, and try to sort out our attitude toward them. But from a distance, that is not such an easy task. In very general terms, we can say that the way forward in all the ALBA countries will be found in popular mobilizations at the base. Political tendencies which base themselves on the developing organs of popular control, in the neighbourhoods and workplaces, are the only long-term alternative in all the ALBA countries. It is also very clear that no break from imperialism will be possible which is not deeply rooted in Indigenous sovereignty.

But we need to be absolutely clear, for us in the Global North, these are not the key issues. We won’t be the ones addressing and solving them. That task will of course fall to the workers and campesinos inside the ALBA countries themselves.

Our job is to know the importance of the push-back to imperialism represented by the ALBA countries and the grim seriousness of our states in their determination to reverse this process. Our job is to build solidarity with the ALBA countries against attacks from the United States and Canada. To the extent we can do that, we can modestly increase the space for the struggles against neoliberalism, unfolding in Latin America and the Caribbean.

This task is not easy. In Canada and the U.S., there is a virtual blanket of silence around the enormous movements against imperialism which have broken through in Latin America and the Caribbean. We need education to demonstrate the importance of the struggles in Latin America and the Caribbean. We need to encourage worker-to-worker and student-to-student exchange programs, so that we can see for ourselves the challenges and possibilities in Latin America and the Caribbean. All of this, done properly, will lay the basis for a bigger solidarity movement should there be a sixth coup d’état attempt in the months to come.

This is not an act of charity. It was the poor of Cochabamba in Bolivia who, ten years ago, rose up and defeated the privatization of water in their region – the first big victory against privatization in all the Americas. It was the masses of Latin America and the Caribbean who defeated the Free Trade Area of the Americas in 2005. It was the new government of Bolivia which convened the alternative conference on climate justice – again in Cochabamba – after the Global North failed miserably in Copenhagen.

In every sense of the word, their struggle is our struggle. •

Paul Kellogg maintains a blog at PolEconAnalys.org where this article was originally published.

Notes

1. Álvaro Vargas Llosa. “Ecuador police protest was no attempted coup.” The Australian. 7 October 2010.

2. European Union Election Observation Mission. “Ecuador Final Report: Presidential and Parliamentary Elections – 26 April 2009.” 8 June 2009.

3. Max Fisher. “Fallout of Failed Coup in Ecuador.” The AtlanticWire. 1 October 2010.

4. Atilio A. Boron. “A Note About the Failed Coup in Ecuador.” Translation: David Brookbank. 3 October 2010.

5. Alexander Martinez. “Correa declares victory over rebel forces in Ecuador.” AFP, 2 October 2010.

6. Wayne Madsen. “Obama administration fingerprints on Ecuador coup attempt.” voltairenet.org. 3 October 2010.

7. Boron 2010.

8. Mark Weisbrot. “Ecuador: Coup attempt encouraged by Washington.” Links: International Journal of Socialist Renewal. 1 October, 2010.

9.Venezuela to Build New Refinery in Ecuador.” voltairenet.org. 5 June 2006.

10.Ecuador defaults on foreign debt.” BBC News. 13 December 2008.

11. Mankh (Walter E. Harris III). “‘South of the Border’ Documentary Film Review.” Axis of Logic. 6 October 2010.

12. Federico Fuentes and Stuart Munckton. “Bolivia: Fascist right launches ‘civic coup.’GreenLeft. 13 September 2008.

13. Federico Fuentes. “Venezuela: Left wins, but right makes gains.” Green Left. 2 October. Much of this analysis is based on discussions which took place at a seminar in Toronto. Raul Burbano, Nicolas Lopez. “VenezuelaVotes: Eyewitness to a People in Struggle.” Venezuela We Are With You Coalition (CVEC), Barrio Nuevo and Centre for Social Justice. Toronto. 3 October.

14. Marlon Santi. “The Alleged Coup d’Etat, Democracy, and the Indigenous Organizations.” In Al Giordano. “Statement by Ecuador’s Most Important Social Movements.” The Field. 6 October, 2010.

15. Jennifer Moore. “Ecuador: CONAIE and Correa Begin Dialogue.” Upside Down World, 6 October, 2009. In an earlier version of this article, this read as follows: “And Correa has not always been an easy president to defend. In June, in response to CONAIE protesters, he was quoted as saying: ‘These people are gringos who are coming here with NGOs. Take it somewhere else. These people’s stomachs are full enough’.” (Telesur TV, source: www.telesurtv.net, 25 June 2010. Cited in Raúl Zibechi. “Bolivia and Ecuador: The State against the Indigenous People,” Amazon Watch, 19 July, 2010. Thanks to Martin Huber who pointed out that Zibechi’s quotation is distorted and taken out of context. For those who want to check, the original can be found at Telesur: “Correa insta a sacar de la pobreza a pueblos ancestrales de América Latina,” Telesurtv, 25 June, 2010. The main point of the paragraph remains, however. There have been tense relations between CONAIE and Correa, and CONAIE does have legitimate grievances.

The UK, Europe, the US and Canada are different degrees of welfare states. By way of regulation, government controls via taxation. The states and their inhabitants send taxes to Washington, which takes its cut and sends funds back to the states with strings attached. You either do what we want you to do, or we cut off your funds. The states and the people are subject to extortion with government using their funds to do so. By using regulations, welfare and extortion, the federal government creates dependency.

Another phenomenon that has developed is a second dependency. People in society, not just in the US, but also in many countries, are dependent on their grandparents and parents and as years progress that situation will worsen. Earning power to maintain a previous lifestyle is no longer available with the staggering tax burden. Including income and VAT taxes in Europe, taxation averages 70%. The ability and opportunity to become successful and wealthy is more limited in today’s societies. Even the college degree has been demeaned. Almost anyone who can hold a pencil today is college material, when 60% of attendees shouldn’t even be there. Adding insult, the jobs once available to college attendees are no longer available, because more often then not illegal aliens hold them. As a result, it is far more difficult to work your way through college and as a result one graduates with a loan for $60,000 that will be paid back in many cases over a lifetime. In most cases that means most won’t be able to afford to buy a house until they are in the 30s or 40, if ever.

Since 1913 the basis for growth in America has been creation of debt out of thin air, a product of the privately owned Federal Reserve and a fractional banking system. It is considered prudent under such a system to lend nine times your underlying assets. Several years ago the figure was 70 and today it is still 40 times. Government and citizens purchase economic goods on credit. Government issues bonds and individuals borrow money.

Today money is only a method of exchange; it is not longer a store of value, especially in an environment of zero interest rates. An important characteristic of money to retain its soundness is gold backing. Today only one currency has any gold backing and that is the euro, which has about 5% gold backing. Ten years ago that backing was 15%, but gold was sold off to suppress the price of gold in conjunction with the US government and many other central banks. As a result we have a world of essentially worthless fiat currencies. The world is left with no sound money and as a result gold has again taken its place as the world’s reserve currency. If for no other reason is that it owes no one anything. Occasionally silver fulfills this role as well – both have for the last six centuries.

Financial operations conducted by government and a privately owned Federal Reserve leads to the extended creation of money and credit exceeding revenues. That leads to inflation, perhaps hyperinflation, and some times eventually deflationary depression. This is especially true when currency is not backed by gold. Having a Federal Reserve makes sound money even more difficult, because it can create endless amounts of money and credit as we have witnessed since August 15, 1971. What the banks and the Federal Reserve have done is use the fractional banking system to steal and expropriate the wealth of dollar owners. Such a system by its very nature is unsound. There is no such thing as full faith and credit, because it is not worth the paper it is written on, whether it is issued by a Federal Reserve or by a government, especially if it’s fiat or unbacked by something such as gold. This money leads to servitude because as it carries less value perpetually and the discovery leads to war and totalitarian government.

A recent manifestation of this profligacy is the urging by government for consumers to consume more with their steadily depreciating currency and to stop paying off debt. At the same time interest rates are lowered to zero to encourage consumption. Needless to say, savers are penalized with poor returns. That is for the most part the elderly. Such policy forces savers to become speculators, unless, of course, they have discovered gold and silver related investments. This process reduces the savings base and forces central banks to create more and more aggregates. It also enrages savers. The entire game has been changed and for the most part few have learned how to protect themselves.

The foregoing allows the Dow to sell at higher levels than previously because a part of those savings go into the stock market and bonds. If you haven’t noticed the bond market is in a bubble created by the Fed. You would think there was some kind of safety in stocks and bonds. Then again, desperate people do desperate things. If you want to see what safety in bonds is, just look at Britain’s bond markets since WWII. This is the sort of result you can expect when you marry corporations and government, and you end up with corporatist fascism.

By the time you read this the US congressional elections will be over and the Democrats will have lost about 50 House seats and probably 9 Senate seats. The American people are outraged over what has been done to them by the last three administrations.

As a result gold has been rising strongly, as the dollar remains under pressure. This in part is due to QE2, as well as the systemic problems facing the US economy. Spending the economy into strength again is not working. The only party increasing spending is the government. They also reflect most of the job growth. Private construction was the weakest in a dozen years.

This is reflected as well in government debt up $1.65 trillion to $13.5 trillion. The government is so deep in debt it cannot sell more debt fast enough to keep up with increases and old debt. The Fed has to purchase 80% of that debt, which cannot continue indefinitely. The result of all this is that the US lurches from one crisis to another.

As always bankers have been borrowing short to lend long, a sure recipe for disaster. That leads us to one of the greatest frauds of the century, the collapse of the real estate market and securitized mortgages. In order to survive banks are borrowing from the Fed at zero rates and lending back to them at 2-1/2%. No one says anything because no one wants the banks to fail. No matter what you call it the result is extending the debt timeline hoping something good will happen

Over the past few weeks we have seen the beginnings of trade war, which in reality had been going on for years. The statements by Chairman of the Fed, Bernanke, and statements as well by Treasury Secretary Geithner, started the ball rolling. The discussion of a possible QE2 set off wild currency volatility with the dollar falling the most and the yen, euro and Aussie dollars being the strongest. The Swiss franc shared leadership with the yen. While this transpired Mr. Geithner told the world the government wanted a strong dollar and that its lower level was just about right.

The significance of currency war is that inevitably leads to trade war. You might call it a backdoor entry. The string of competitive devaluations over the years were overlooked and tolerated by the US because cheap foreign goods held down US inflation and the dollars purchased to subdue domestic currency value were used to buy US Treasuries and Agencies. That benefit was now of limited benefit as nations bought less Treasuries and the Fed had to monetize US Treasury debt. This has and will continue to bottle up inflation to a larger degree in the US, as less hot US dollar flow goes into foreign countries. Countries such as Brazil have already implemented a tax on dollar flows into their country. We can expect more countries to follow and that will be followed by US trade taxes on goods and services. We have already started to see this in goods sold in China and the US. The US wants to increase exports and a weaker dollar makes that happen.

The Fed via stealth has been engaged in QE2 since early June via the bond and repo markets and Wall Street is well aware of that. The easing is talked to in terms of $500 billion over the short term in order to keep the economy level to slightly higher. Some $2.5 trillion will be needed over the next year and another 42.5 trillion the following year. If not forthcoming deflation will rear its ugly head and devour the US and then the world economy. In the meantime the secretive Fed has been surreptitiously lending more funds to Europe to Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Italy.

The deliberately cheapened Chinese yuan has caused a $260 billion trade deficit with China, or a 20% plus increase. That is a doubling in 10 years from 20% to 40% of its trade deficit. China says it is willing to raise the value of the yuan incrementally over the next several years, but that simply isn’t good enough. We believe trade barriers will become a major issue in the coming session of Congress. The transnational conglomerates know such a move is inevitable. The US has to find a way to solve growing unemployment, which in the real world now stands at 22-3/4%. You cannot have a recovery as long as that many people are unemployed. In addition, those numbers are headed higher, soon to reach 1930’s depression levels. This is something that should have been done long ago, but the elitist forces fought it off as long as possible. The end of free trade and globalization, as we have known it, over the past 20 years will be one of the bigger issues in congress over the next two years. When the yuan is 40% undervalued it becomes a major issue.

The flip side of the immediate problem of QE2 and a lower dollar is higher gold, silver and commodity prices, and an increase in inflation. Mr. Bernanke says we need inflation. Not a lot just a little. Official CPI figures are up 1.6%, whereas real inflation has risen 7% and is headed higher. It’s tough being between the rock and the hard place and that is where the Fed sits. It’s expanded money and credit for banking and Wall Street so no one will be too big to fail.

This issue will hit the streets prior to all the election results being known.

Just as big news will be how much QE2 will be admitted to by the Fed and besides Treasuries and Agencies, how much and what other bonds will the Fed purchase? After we find out how money will be injected into the system we then have to discern how much inflation it will foster.