greydog

Linda Ross aka greydog is a native Chicagoan who lives and works in Prague. greydog is the founder and editor of 99GetSmart.

Sep 202016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

monsanto-dupont-roundup-war

The concentration and centralization of the agro-business multi-nationals advances with gigantic strides: Potash Corp and Agrium have combined into a $30 billion monopoly over the world fertilizer market. Dow Chemical and DuPont combine in a $130 billion dollar deal in the seed and agricultural chemicals sector.ChemChina prepares to takeover Syngenta in a $44 billion acquisition. Bayer is preparing to buy out Monsanto for $56 billion and further concentrate control over worldwide seed and chemical markets. A quarter of a trillion dollars worth of mergers and acquisitions is poised to concentrate control of global agriculture prices, profits and markets in four directorates. Parallel to the corporate capitalist drive for world domination, the White House has embarked on a full-scale trade and maritime war against China.

This essay presents the political and social implications of the agro-business counter-revolution and the concomitant US drive to encircle and enclose China’s market.

Agro-Business Monopolies and Social Revolution

This process of agri-business monopolization will have a major impact on farmers, consumers and environmentalists worldwide. Seed and fertilizer prices will rise, devastating farmers’ income and resulting in ever more bankruptcies. Nitrogen and potash, the two biggest fertilizer inputs for farmers, will be controlled by a monopoly cartel. Farmers will have no choice – either market response or political struggle. In other words, they can try to raise food prices or organize a revolt against the cartels.

In the imperial countries, national populist movements have emerged, especially in the countryside, small towns and cities: farmers, ecologists and consumers take to the streets while urban mass opposition, responding to rising food costs, are gaining momentum.

Throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America, the agro-business control of chemical and seed inputs raises the debt burden on peasants and farmers while contaminating food with pesticides and provoking food riots and land occupation movements.

The impact of food insecurity, including debt and malnutrition, undermines community and family cohesion. This is the context in which armed insurgents have emerged, including the Islamist movements in the Middle East, North Africa and West Asia, gaining credibility and followers among the millions of dispossessed.

In response, the agribusiness multinational corporations have reduced the question of popular resistance to one of  ‘political stability’, pushing for repressive state terror to suppress revolts. The Western mass media never discusses the linkage between the monopolization of agriculture and mass exploitation with armed popular resistance. Agro –business leaders claim that mass rebellion is merely a product of  ‘ideology’ promoted by deranged extremists on the left or violent jihadis.

The roots of revolt and upheaval are not analyzed or even described in the narrative of respectable financial newspapers in their “Companies and Markets” section.

Global monopolization of agriculture depends on state de-regulation, privatization, and the systematic policies of blaming any political opposition on ‘outside’ hostile forces. If the opponents are not ‘Islamists’ or communists, they are unfair competitors, who do not ‘play by market rules’ and rely on state subsidies.

Trade Wars for Monopoly Agriculture

The Obama regime has launched a full-scale agricultural war against China, imposing tariffs, promoting WTO boycotts and intensifying its ideological war. Obama’s Department of Agriculture, (which provides massive direct and indirect subsidies to the enormous US agro-industry), denounces China for subsidizing it basic food producers.

Obama attacks China for ‘unfair competition’ even as US MNCs earned $20 billion in agro exports to Beijing in 2015 alone!

While leading US corporate executives look to China’s dynamic growth as a source of investments for US elites, Obama warns of Chinese ‘security threats’. While former Treasury Secretary Paulson editorializes in favor of greater commercial linkages with Beijing as a vehicle for continued US business growth, Obama works to provoke military hostilities against China among second and third tier Asian countries.

In 2015 China invests nearly $20 billion in the US, generating several hundred thousand jobs, while Obama promotes a $38 billion military giveaway program for Israel. According to Obama’s perverse calculus, Israel, the plunderer, is our dearest ally and China the donor and job-creator, is an existential threat to the US!

While China attracts Philippine President Duterte with offers of billion dollar economic aid and investment, Obama encourages its clients among the Philippine military and Manila-based oligarchs to destabilize the government.

The US overt militarist policies toward China are integral to Obama’s political effort to divert the US electorate from the effects of monopoly mergers in raising the cost of living and deepening inequalities in America.

Obama’s war agenda in Asia may have the effect of intimidating US business, especially on the Pacific Coast, which would otherwise have ‘natural trade and investment ties’ with China, not to mention cultural ties.

Conclusion

US multi-national agro-business mergers have upped the ante in provoking social upheavals, North and South. While the agro-business elite expands overseas and increases domestic profits, it does so by heightening class and national conflicts, which, in turn, provoke brutal state repression.

The alliance between agro-business and militarism is a major factor driving the global ascent of populism and nationalism, as well as Islamist radicalism.

The ‘war versus trade’ contradiction dividing the US business elite has created a disjointed political class spinning in both directions without coherence.

The electorate reacts with double negatives: hostile to their own leaders and hostile to any alternatives. The response may well be greater abstention and withdrawal by the voters.

The US and EU multi-nationals, pivoting toward greater concentration of wealth and mega-monopolies, have yet to undermine the nature of Chinese state power – the ultimate arbiter of agriculture in Asia. As Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Philippines and Myanmar develop closer trade and diplomatic ties with China, the MNCs have to deal with new competition and challenges from non-multi-national adversaries.

Besides Japan, and possibly South Korea, the US trade war against China has few regional allies. Obama’s militarist ‘pivot’ resonates with few outside of the US presidential election rhetoric.

In the European Union, nationalist populist movements and governments are questioning Obama’s proposed ‘Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership’ (TTIP), particularly in regard to its impact on European agriculture. As the costs of food production and consumer prices increase the US-sponsored TTIP loses its supporters, because Washington’s conservative allies in Europe need the vote of small-scale farmers and middle class consumers in France, Poland, Hungary and elsewhere.

In India, the huge multinational agribusiness mergers are playing havoc with the political leaders in the BJP as they face scores of millions of devastated peasant producers.

In other words,  mega-agro powers form a two-edged sword in world capitalism: They strengthen the economies of the imperial powers while undermining their own electoral mass base. The feeble efforts to regulate these mergers have failed, as expected. When the ‘free market’ pulverizes small producers and local suppliers, it creates the conditions for class wars on many fronts, in the West and in the East, in the US and the EU, in China and in India.

Sep 132016
 

By , 99GetSmart

Originally published at MintPressNews:

Rather than casting off the shackles of the EU, eurozone and IMF, the Syriza-led Greek government favors the ‘oligarchs’ it once vowed to tear down and doubles down on austerity measures, leaving Greek people to suffer through a modern colonial nightmare.

A man walks past street art depicting Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Athens, Greece. Tsipras' decision to sign off on a bailout led to many in his left-wing Syriza party to quit in protest. An ensuing election in September saw Tsipras re-elected. His government has to meet a series of strict targets set by European creditors in order to get funds from the bailout, which are needed to prevent the country's bankruptcy and potential exit from the euro, Europe's single currency. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis, File)

A man walks past street art depicting Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Athens, Greece. Tsipras’ decision to sign off on a bailout led to many in his left-wing Syriza party to quit in protest.

ATHENS — (Analysis) Stories of human suffering continue to multiply in present-day Greece, which is loosely governed by the “first time left” government of Syriza and more directly by the European institutions and the International Monetary Fund.

In the city of Patra, an elderly woman whose only source of income is her severely battered pension, from which she supports her two grandchildren, had her electricity service cut in the presence of a police SWAT team, despite her reliance on an oxygen concentrator to live. Her son was arrested for protesting the action and brought before a prosecutor.

Police in the city of Katerini, implementing the government’s crusade against purported “tax evaders” to the letter, arrested a father of three, whose spouse is unemployed, for selling pastries on the street without a license, fining him €5,000 ($5,627) for the infraction. The man is well-known in his community for donating his unsold pastries to local children and a local home for seniors at the end of each day.

I’ve also heard the story of an impoverished cancer patient in Thessaloniki, who, according to the eyes of the law, was another one of those lazy, corrupt Greeks guilty of dipping their hands too deeply into the public trough. Her meal card which allowed her to eat at a local soup kitchen was revoked, simply because she was concurrently receiving state aid for being a cancer patient.

On the island of Samos, a short distance from the Turkish coast, uniformed German police freely patrol the streets of the main town, Vathi, purportedly on the lookout for refugees, while German coast guard boats sit docked in the harbor. A few kilometers away, in the mountain village of Manolates, residents and shopkeepers listen to Turkish music on the radio—as no reception of Greek broadcasters was possible.

Finally, in my own neighborhood in Athens, 17 out of 22 storefronts lie vacant in a three-block stretch, “for rent” signs fading slowly from view. A once-beautiful park and playground lies vacant, entrances chained shut, while overgrown weeds cover this former piece of urban green space.

None of these stories are likely to make it into Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ forthcoming state of the union speech at the Thessaloniki Trade Fair. The prime minister is much more likely to tell us that unemployment has purportedly decreased, that Greece has emerged from recession (just as it supposedly did in 2014), that industrial production has dramatically increased, that the country is returning to economic growth, and that it is pursuing closer defense and military ties with the United States and NATO.

Syriza-led Greek state strips itself of sovereignty

Reality, however, is much more grim. In May, without parliamentary debate, the Syriza-led government passed a 7,500 page omnibus bill that transferred control over Greece’s public assets to a fund controlled by the European Stability Mechanism for the next 99 years.

These assets include airports, harbors, public beaches and coastline, and natural resources.

Earlier this year, 14 profitable regional airports were sold to the German publicly-owned corporation Fraport, while a majority stake in the port of Piraeus, one of the largest ports in Europe, was sold to Chinese-owned Cosco for €365 million—equal to 15 days’ worth of debt repayments—while its facilities alone are valued at more than €5 billion. The national railway, TRAINOSE, including all infrastructure and trains, was sold to Italy’s Ferrovie Dello Stato Italiane for a mere €45 million, with the company’s debt was written off as part of the sale. The site of the former international airport of Athens, once slated to become Europe’s largest urban park, was sold to a consortium of investors from Greece, China, and the United Arab Emirates, led by the Latsis family of Greek shipping tycoons, who plan to construct luxury resorts and shopping malls on the site.

In May, Syriza’s cabinet presented plans to sell a 49-percent stake in the water utilities of Athens and Thessaloniki, plus 18 additional privatizations instead of the nine initially agreed to with creditors in the third memorandum. Prior to being elected in January 2015, Syriza promised to put an end to the privatization of public assets, and it vowed not to privatize water in its September 2015 platform.

Nevertheless, the Syriza government has committed to completing the privatization of numerous key assets, including the natural gas utility and the state’s stake in Athens’ Eleftherios Venizelos international airport, by November.

Also as part of the omnibus bill, the Greek parliament rendered itself voteless, as the legislation annuls the role of parliament to create a national budget or pass tax legislation. In earlier legislation, the government had agreed to submit all pending bills to the group of lenders known as the “troika” (European Commission, European Central Bank, and the IMF) for approval, reminiscent of the German Reichstag’s willful relinquishment of legislative power to then-Chancellor Adolf Hitler in 1933.

Taxes skyrocket and Greeks are unable to pay

Further illustrating just how much sovereignty has been stripped from the Greek state, the omnibus legislation also foresees the activation of automatic spending cuts, including salaries, without any parliamentary intervention if Greece fails to achieve targets for a primary surplus. In order to attain a primary surplus, spending has already been slashed dramatically, furthering the spiral of austerity Tsiprashad once promised to end with “one law and one article.”

Instead of austerity being abolished with one law and one article, Greek citizens have a new, crippling tax avalanche to look forward to beginning this autumn. On Aug. 29, this year’s unified property tax (ENFIA) was sent out to all property owners, with seven in ten businesses facing an increase this year. This is the same tax which members of the Syriza-Independent Greeks coalition government had denounced prior to being elected, claiming it was unconstitutional, promising to repeal it once in office, and instructing citizenson how to avoid paying it.

Once Syriza and the Independent Greeks came to power, however, payment of the ENFIA was described by the government as a “patriotic duty.”

Meanwhile, the Greek government is preparing to introduce a nationwide “asset registry” for taxation purposes, in which citizens will be obliged to declare not only their incomes and real estate, but everything from jewelry to family heirlooms, and even the amount of cash in their possession. This Orwellian measure will be supplemented by a national transaction registry, where essentially every bank transaction and purchase from each citizen will be tracked. Within five years, owners of homes and commercial buildings will be required to hire civil engineers to submit detailed blueprints and videos of their structures in order obtain a “structural identification” certificate—or risk steep fines or demolition.

These new taxes and measures are set to be enforced despite the growing inability of citizens and businesses to pay. The first half of 2016 saw a €1 billion shortfall in the collection of the value-added tax, while €272 million worth of income taxes for this year—about 25 percent of total expected revenue—remains unpaid. This is not due to a purported culture of “tax evasion,” but due to declining incomes and a general inability to pay.

Evidence of citizens’ inability to pay abounds. Deposits in Greece’s shattered banking system declined by €160 million in July alone. The number of employed people not being paid has reached 1 million, and 500,000 Greeks are paid less than €412 per month for their labor.

Eurostat figures from the fourth quarter of 2015 show that just 4.3 percent of the unemployed in Greece were able to find jobs. Greek families, who once took pride in passing property down from generation to generation, leading to the highest rate of homeownership in Europe, now find themselves rejecting inheritances from deceased relatives in record numbers, due to the tremendous tax burden.

Further fueling the oncoming storm, the Syriza government has committed to sweeping home foreclosures and auctions this autumn, while confiscations of funds from ever-dwindling bank accounts for unpaid debts to the state continue unabated. The government estimates it will collect over €2 billion from these confiscations by the end of the year.

In the meantime, the omnibus bill passed in May lowered the basic pension to a paltry €345-384 per month, while the value-added tax on many basic goods, including necessities like soap, was hiked to 24 percent. Following the initial slashing of basic pensions by up to 48 percent in June, aid for poor families and the disabled has been slashed almost in half beginning with this month’s payments.

Supplementary pensions for 150,000 recipients have been cut further, by as much as 38 percent, with further reductions slated for October. In response to the cuts, Giorgos Katrougalos, the labor minister who participated in the 2011 protests of the anti-austerity “indignants,” stated that the new system will “protect all Greeks from poverty,” adding that had pensions not been reduced, they would not be issued at all. Not convinced, pensioners have already begun to protest outside government ministries.

Meanwhile, the number of households which qualify for subsidized heating oil has been cut in half, the fuel and oil tax has once again been hiked, co-payments on prescription drugs covered by public insurance funds have been raised by 25 percent, while suffering small businesses have been further burdened by an increase in their tax rate from 26 percent to 29 percent. In a recent televised interview, Syriza MP Hara Kafantaristated that “the days where a shop owner was his own boss are over.” This perhaps helps explain why Greece’s burgeoning startup scene is being driven out amid Syriza’s excessive and unpredictable taxation.

Broadcasting licensing process rife with corruption

Syriza’s recent licensing bid for national television broadcasters is emblematic of its reign in office thus far. Diaploki is a Greek word which perfectly sums up the triangle of corruption and interplay between major political and business interests and the state. One of Syriza’s numerous pre-election pledges was to rout the “oligarchs” who control the media and much of the economy and put an end to this diaploki.

On Sept. 1, the Syriza-led government triumphantly claimed to have fulfilled this promise through the completion of the auctioning process for four licenses for national “general-interest” television stations. This announcement was accompanied by claims that “fairness” and “rule of law” had been “restored” after 27 years of “lawlessness” on the Greek airwaves (broadcasters have up until now been operating under a framework of provisional legality).

In Greece, the rabbit hole of diaploki runs deep—and this has not changed in the slightest during Syriza’s reign. The bidding process was both farcical and inhuman: The bidders were said to have been locked in isolated rooms in the headquarters of the Greek Secretariat for Press and Media, without any ability to communicate with each other or with the outside world for 70 hours, purportedly to ensure a “clean” bidding process.

In reality, though, the process was rife with illegalities, contradictions, inconsistencies, and absurdities, and it completely lacked transparency. It has also put six of Greece’s eight largest private television broadcasters in danger of being forced off the airwaves by the year’s end, including the top station in the ratings, Alpha TV.

Most significantly, perhaps, is the fact that the licensing process was conducted by the government itself, instead of by Greece’s independent licensing body for broadcasters, the National Commission for Radio-Television (NCRTV), which has remained defunct for most of the past year. This contradicts both the Greek constitution and European regulations which call for licensing processes to be conducted by independent bodies. The bid was based on the false premise that there were only enough frequencies available to license four national privately-owned broadcasters—two frequencies with two HD outlets each.

This claim is contradicted by the hundreds of digital stations broadcasting in Italian cities and the multiple HD channels per frequency on Britain’s Freeview service.

Further, while the government has repeatedly hinted that licenses for national “thematic” (special-interest stations) will be issued, it has not stated when this will happen, how many licenses will be issued, or through which process.

This immediately contradicts the government’s claim that, aside from technical reasons, the number of national general-interest licenses was limited to four due to the limited size of the Greek advertising market and the purported desire to ensure economically “viable” licensees.

How could bidders gauge their viability and bid accordingly, without knowing what the future marketplace will look like?

Adding to the confusion, upon completion of the licensing process, the government announced that it is pushing back the licensing process for “thematic” stations indefinitely and intends to instead focus next on the licensing of regional broadcasters through a similar process which would put most of Greece’s 100-plus regional stations at risk of being forced off the air. Already having been battered by the economic crisis, these regional stations would be unable to afford the steep cost of participating in the bidding process.

Following this, thematic licenses may be issued on a national basis, while similar licensing procedures for radio have been forewarned.

The licensing process also does not include any criteria whatsoever for the quality of programming, for balanced news presentation, or for public service programming. The only criterion which mattered was money, and with a limited amount of licenses being issued, the cost of each license was artificially driven upward, ensuring only the deepest of deep pockets–oligarchs, in other words–could participate.

It also ensured that should this licensing process be finalized and not legally struck down, Greece might just become the first country where fewer television stations will remain on the air in the digital era, instead of more.

Once out to fight the ‘oligarchs,’ Syriza’s given them TV stations instead

Syriza has repeatedly promised to “clean up” the airwaves and end diaploki. But just who are the oligarchs who successfully bid for licenses? Two of them, Giannis Alafouzos and Theodoros Kyriakou, own incumbent broadcasters Skai TV and Antenna TV, respectively. These two stations led the vociferous “pro-yes” media brigade prior to the July 2015 referendum.

Alafouzos, a shipowner, was found to be in possession of over €50 million in undeclared funds and had his assets frozen last month, pending an investigation for tax evasion. One of Skai’s main commentators, Bambis Papadimitriou, is notorious for having suggested that the previous conservative government of New Democracy could benefit from forming a coalition with a “serious” Golden Dawn, Greece’s far-right party.

Antenna TV, like Skai, is owned by a family of shipping and oil magnates. Antenna Group’s investments span multiple industries and over a dozen countries, while the station’s founder, Minos Kyriakou, has had his share of legal troubles in the past, including a jail sentence for illegal structures constructed in the resort region of Porto Heli (this sentence was later appealed down to a fine). Antenna, like Skai, also vehemently supported the pro-austerity “yes” vote in the 2015 referendum, likening the “yes” versus “no” option to a choice between being like Europe or “becoming Zimbabwe.”

The cases of the other two licensees, neither of whom are currently in possession of a television station, are even more egregious. One of the winning bidders is Vaggelis Marinakis, a shipping mogul and football magnate, who is facing at least five criminal investigations on charges ranging from match-fixing to directing a criminal organization.

Marinakis is also said to have been involved in the case of the “Noor 1,” a ship which Greek authorities found to be transporting 2.1 tons of heroin and which may be linked to Marinakis through close associates of his. Marinakis is a city councilman in Piraeus, while his right-hand man from the Olympiacos football club, Yannis Moralis, is mayor. Together, they exert control over the municipal radio station of Piraeus, Kanali 1. On Tuesday, prosecutors in Greece recommended that Marinakis be jailed pending trial on charges of match-fixing.

But perhaps the most flagrant case of all is that of Christos Kalogritsas, a former publisher-turned-construction magnate, and his son, Ioannis-Vladimiros Kalogritsas. Christos Kalogritsas’ construction firm, Toxotis S.A., is the recipient of numerous state contracts issued by the Syriza-led government for public works projects throughout Greece.

Toxotis S.A. recently purchased Medousa, a competing construction firm. It was formerly known as Tsipras ATE and owned by Pavlos Tsipras, father of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

Christos Kalogritsas and his wife are currently facing civil and criminal charges for an alleged €51 million in unpaid taxes, while employees at Toxotis S.A. have previously gone on strike over six months of unpaid wages. The Kalogritsas family also owns significant shares in Attica Bank, one of the banks which has been repeatedly recapitalized by Greek taxpayers.

It is from Attica Bank that Ioannis-Vladimiros Kalogritsas provided a letter of guarantee worth €3 million in order to participate in the television licensing bid. This letter was submitted past the deadline set by the government for participation in the bid, but was nevertheless accepted.

Additionally, Christos Kalogritsas has close ties to current defense minister, Panos Kammenos; the current minister of infrastructure, transport and networks, Christos Spirtzis (whose ministry oversees public works projects and matters pertaining to broadcast frequency allocation); and celebrity television personality Nikos Evaggelatos. Kalogritsas is also said to maintain a “brotherly” friendship with current minister of state, Nikos Pappas, who oversaw the television licensing process. He is also a primary shareholder of polling firm GPO, one of the many Greek polling firms which receives state funding and which has repeatedly produced grossly inaccurate public opinion and exit poll results.

Further adding to the web of corruption, both Marinakis and the Kalogritsas family are represented by the attorney Giannis Mantzouranis. Mantzouranis also happened to represent the Greek state in the recent television licensing process. Clearly, conflicts of interest are not a concern for Syriza. In the late 1980s, Mantzouranis had been jailed as part of the wide-ranging Koskotas money-laundering scandal.

He is also one of the attorneys of investigative journalist-turned-Syriza cheerleader Kostas Vaxevanis, who through his involvement in the HellasNet network of regional television stations, stands to be one of the beneficiaries of any bid for regional TV licenses.

Diaploki is safe with Syriza in power

While Syriza is making triumphant claims of “restoring rule of law” in the television landscape, its own party-owned radio station, Sto Kokkino, went on the air illegally in 2005 after purchasing the frequency of a radio station that went unlicensed during a 2001 bid (when, again, there were claims that there was “no room” for more stations). The station in question, NRG 105.5 FM, which is under the same ownership as Athens’ Kiss FM, had illegally returned to the airwaves.

In 2006 and 2007, Sto Kokkino was shut down by authorities for broadcasting without a license, but the New Democracy government under Prime Minister Konstantinos Karamanlis later passed a law which legalized party-owned broadcast stations, permitting them to operate without a license. Sto Kokkino was therefore “legalized.”

Meanwhile, Syriza continues to enforce a law passed by the previous conservative government which allows broadcast stations classified as “news” stations to switch classifications to “non-news,” but which does not provide the same privilege to “non-news” stations which wish to switch to news programming, thus creating a closed broadcast news marketplace. Sto Kokkino’s subsidiary stations throughout Greece violate this rule, but rather than changing the law and creating a level playing field, as Syriza is claiming to be doing now with the television licensing process, it keeps this blatantly undemocratic law as is and simply violates it for its own ends.

All of this has taken place while the NCRTV remains defunct, with no frequency table having been publicized for television stations, and with 1,000-2,000 employees in the television sector facing unemployment if their stations are forced to close. This would also create a restricted and highly centralized and controlled television market. Prime Minister Tsipras, in a recent speech celebrating the opening of a new stretch of highway (constructed by Toxotis S.A.), promised to turn over the €246 million in revenue from the licensing bid “to the poor.”

Of course, this assumes that money, which would be paid in three annual installments and only if the stations are profitable, is ever paid. Even so, EU officials have already stated that it will go toward Greece’scommitments to its lenders, not to the impoverished. They’ve also questioned  the licensing process itself.

Tsipras also omitted from his speech the loss of tax receipts and insurance fund contributions from the six stations slated to shut down, and the combined €700 million in debts they owe to Greek banks, which would likely go unpaid if they go off the air and be thrust upon the shoulders of Greek taxpayers instead via yet another recapitalization.

Make no mistake: Syriza’s “efforts” are not just contained to broadcast licensing. Syriza intends to create astate-run body to allocate advertising across media outlets, retaining a 30-percent commission for the state. Earlier in the year, government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili announced the government’s intention to “restore order to the internet,” beginning with the creation of a registry of online news outlets and blogs. Registration was mandatory for all outlets which wished to be considered for state advertising expenditures—an easy way for any government to pay its way into the hearts of media owners.

Another way is through patronage, as in the case of Giorgos Christoforidis, publisher of the (once) anti-austerity newspaper To Xoni and former candidate for parliament with the Independent Greeks. Christoforidis was appointed to a post in the government’s press office while continuing to publish To Xoni.

Is it the new left or the old right? Who can tell?

In the meantime, the Syriza-led government continues to operate with stunning arrogance and insensitivity. Proclamations are made for the “record” number of tourists visiting Greece—even while most tourist resort towns lay idle during the tourist season. In Samos, patrolled by German police, there were not many refugees in sight—nor many tourists. The vice president of the Syriza government, Giannis Dragasakis, hasstated that it was a mistake for Syriza to have “demonized” the word “memorandum.”

Syriza MP Makis Balaouras recently claimed that “austerity is not in Syriza’s DNA.” Economist Rania Antonopoulou, who holds the ironic portfolio of “alternate minister for combating unemployment,” recently wrote in the Syriza-owned Avgi newspaper that “the third memorandum has strengthened Greece’s position.” Nikos Xydakis, the foreign minister, recently said that Greece has renounced much of its national sovereignty. In a “let ‘em eat cake” moment, Deputy Minister for Social Solidarity Theano Fotiou remarkedthat “stuffed peppers could feed an entire family.” The start of the football season has been postponed, purportedly to stamp out corruption stemming from the same “oligarchs” who received television licenses.

Defense Minister Panos Kammenos has proposed the construction of a NATO base in the southern Aegean island of Karpathos, while German-owned Fraport is preparing to install a new €13 per passenger tax at the regional airports it now controls. Over the summer, the government proudly proclaimed the “loosening” of stifling capital controls—as the restriction on bank withdrawals was changed from a €420 weekly limit, to an €840 cap every two weeks. Do the math. Schools go without janitorial staffs, university restrooms without toilet paper.

All of this while there is nary a thought of departing the eurozone or following the example of British votersand waving goodbye to the EU. The signs were there about Syriza, its neoliberal tendencies, and the ensuing betrayal of its pre-election promises. Some warned about Syriza again, and again, and again, but those warnings fell on deaf ears.

Most of the world celebrated Syriza’s victory in January 2015, while “leftist” media outlets and commentators ranging from Democracy Now! to Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, and others, have long forgotten about Greece or have excused away Syriza’s betrayal as simply the result of being “bullied” and “blackmailed” by the EU—which Greece must nevertheless remain a part of at “all costs.”

In this modern-day debt colony the “leftist” government has demonstrated an astonishing arrogance in not only violating its pre-election promises and July 2015 referendum result, and agreeing to a third—and the most onerous to date—austerity program, but also continuing to pretend that it is acting in a “leftist” and “progressive” manner.

All the while, it’s keeping Greece firmly shackled to the chains of the EU, eurozone, and IMF, while the Greek people seemingly have lost their pluck, devoid of any fight, resigned to their EU shackles.

 

michael-120x120ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michael Nevradakis  

Michael Nevradakis is a PhD candidate in media studies at University of Texas, Austin and a US Fulbright Scholar presently based in Athens, Greece.

Sep 112016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

imperialism_usa

US empire building depends on regional regimes’ support, especially in the Middle East, Asia and Latin America. These proxy regimes fulfill valuable military roles securing control over neighboring regions, populations and territory.

In recent times, however, we witness the same proxies developing their own tendency toward expansionist policies – in pursuit of their own mini-empires.

Client regimes with local or regional ambitions now present Washington with new points of contention. At a time when the US empire has been forced to retrench or retreat in the face of its prolonged losses, a whole new set of conflicts have emerged. The post-imperial war zones are the new focus. Often, imperial client regimes take the initiative in confronting their regional adversaries. In other cases, competing proxies will brush aside their US ‘mentors’ and advance their own territorial ambitions.

The break-up of the US-dominated empire, far from ending wars and conflicts, will almost certainly lead to many local wars under the pretext of ‘self-determination’, or ‘self-defense’ or protecting one’s ethnic brethren – like Ankara’s sudden concern for the Turkmen in Syria.

We will examine a few of the most obvious case studies.

The Middle East: Turkish-Kurdish-Syrian Conflict

Over the past years, the Turkish regime has been in the forefront in the war to overthrow the secular nationalist Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad.

The Turks acted as proxies for the US – providing military bases, supplies, training and protection, as well as the point of entry, for overseas Islamist terrorist-mercenaries acting on behalf of Washington’s imperial ambitions.

As the ‘independent’ Islamist threat (ISIS) gained territory, targeting US objectives, Washington increasingly turned to its allied, mostly secular, Kurdish fighters. Washington’s Kurdish proxies took over territory from both the anti-US Islamists as well as the Syrian national government – as part of their own long-standing ethno-nationalist agenda.

Turkey saw Kurdish victories in northern Syria as a rallying point for autonomous Kurdish forces within Turkey. President Erdogan intervened militarily – sending tanks, warplanes and tens of thousands of troops into Syria, launching a war of extermination against the US-proxy Syrian Kurds! The Turkish invasion has advanced, taking Syrian territory, under the phony pretext of combating ‘ISIS’. In fact, Turkey has created a wide, colonial ‘safe zone’ to control the Kurds.

The Obama regime in Washington complained but was totally unwilling to intervene as the Turks drove the Kurds out of their northern Syrian home in a massive campaign of ethnic cleansing. Thus, Turkish-Kurdish-Syrian warfare has broken out and the terms, conditions and outcome are well beyond US control.

The US quest for an imperial puppet regime in Syria has flopped: instead, Turkey gobbled up Syrian land, the Kurds resisted the Turks for national-self-determination instead of driving out the Islamist mercenaries and Damascus faces an additional threat to its national sovereignty.

This brutal regional war, started largely by the US and Saudi Arabia, will expose the extent to which the US-Middle East Empire has shrunk.

Asia: Japan, Vietnam, Philippine and China Conflict

The US Empire in Asia has seen the making and unmaking of proxy states. After WWII, the US incorporated Japan, Pakistan, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand as proxy states in an effort to strangle and conquer China, North Korea and Vietnam.

More recently India, Vietnam and Myanmar have joined the US in its new militarist scheme to encircle China.

Central to the Obama-Clinton ‘Pivot to Asia’ is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a singular effort to ‘unify’ Asian nations under US control in order to isolate and diminish China’s role in Asia.

The original, post-WW2 proxies, South Korea, Philippines and Japan provided military bases, troops, material and logistic support. Vietnam, the newest ‘proxy-on-the-block’, welcomes Pentagon weapons aimed at China – despite the millions of Vietnamese deaths during the US war in Indochina.

While most of the Asian proxies continue to pay lip service to Washington’s ‘Sinophobic agenda’, many do so on their own terms: they are reluctant to provoke China’s economic wrath through Washington’s policy of direct confrontation. During the recent ASEAN Conference in Laos (2016), nations resisted Washington’s pressure to denounce China despite the ‘international court’ ruling against Beijing’s South China Sea maritime claims. The US’ ability to influence events through its Europe-based ‘international tribunals’ seems to have waned. The US cannot implement its own transpacific economic ‘blockade’ strategy (TPP) because of both domestic and external resistance. Meanwhile, new proxy relations have emerged.

The proxy-stooges in Tokyo face growing anti-proxy opposition from the Japanese people over their nation’s role as a glorified US airbase. As a result Tokyo carefully pursues its own anti-China strategy by forming deeper economic links to new or minor proxy states in Indo-China, the Philippines and Myanmar. In the course of developing its relations with these weaker proxy regimes, Japan is actually laying the ground for autonomous economic and military policies independent of the US.

Notably, the Philippines under its new President Détente, seeks to accommodate relations with China, even as its neo-colonial proxy military relations with Washington remain in place. The Western media kerfuffle over Duterte’s ‘colorful’ language and ‘human rights’ policies masks Washington’s imperial disapproval with his independent foreign policy toward China.

While India grows closer ties with the US and even offers military co-operation with the Pentagon, it is signing even greater Chinese investment and trade agreements – anxious to enter the enormous China market.

In other words, Washington’s Asian proxies have (1) widened their own reach, (2) defined autonomous spheres of action and (3) have downgraded US efforts to impose trade agreements.

Symptomatic of the decay of US ‘proxy power’ is the ‘disinclination’ among Washington’s clients to express overt hostility to Beijing. In frustration, the Washington-New York financial mouthpieces (New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal) provide bully pulpits for the most obscure, marginal characters, including a minor Hong Kong politician, a decrepit exiled Tibetan ‘holy man’ and a gaggle of Uighur terrorists!

Washington’s Ephemeral Proxies in Latin America

One of the most striking aspects of US empire-building is the ease with which it has secured proxies in Latin America … and how quickly they are undermined!

Over the past three decades the US propped up proxy military regimes, which were overthrown and replaced by independent governments in the last decade. These are currently being replaced by a new wave of neo-liberal proxies – a motley collection of corrupt thugs and elite clowns incapable of establishing a sustainable imperial-centered region.

A proxy-based empire is a contradiction in terms. The Latin American proxies are too dependent on outside support, lacking mass internal popularity and roots. Their very neoliberal economic and social policies are unable to stimulate the industrial development required grow the economy. The Latin American proxies are mere predators, devoid of historical entrepreneurial skills of the Japanese and the disciplined nationalist ideology of the Turks.

In that sense, the Latin American proxies more closely resemble the Philippine ruling oligarchy: They preach submission and breed subversion. Proxy instability and policy shifts emerge as powerful forces to challenge the US empire – whether the Chinese in Asia or domestic internal conflicts – like the Trump phenomenon in the US.

Conclusion

Imperial wars continue … but so does an upsurge in domestic instability, mass rejection of imperial policies, regional conflicts and national wars. The decline of the empire threatens to bring on an era of intra-proxy wars – multiple conflicts, which may or may not benefit the US empire. The war of the few against the many is becoming the war of the many against the many. But what are the choices in the face of such historic shifts?

Only the emergence of truly class-conscious organized mass movements can offer a positive response to the coming deluge.

_______________

Please see James Petras latest book: The end of the Republic and the Delusion of EmpireClarity Press 2016 ISBN 978-0-9972870-5-9

Sep 092016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

Big six: Tax woes

Big six: Tax woes

Introduction

Large-scale political and economic challenges are confronting the US multi-national corporate elite. Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Pfizer and scores of other multinational tax evaders are facing the triple threat of multi-billion dollar fines, the redistribution of their wealth and the possible reintroduction of equitable socio-economic programs, which could undermine their power.

Washington-backed exporters and financiers, eager to impose free trade agreements on European and Asian business classes, have been faced with stiff resistance and outright rejection.

In Latin America, the Obama administration recently installed neo-liberal regimes in Argentina and Brazil, provoking massive opposition from small and medium sized firms driven into bankruptcy by their harsh policies.

Intense intra-capitalist rivalries are no longer confined to the conference table: Open warfare, involving large-scale transfers of capital, has undermined the foundation of international capitalist class solidarity. While working class movements and mass protests still occur, the fundamental internal capitalist antagonism toward the US Empire has become the driving force of the current upheavals.

We will identify the alignment of forces and the implications of these challenges to the power and wealth of the multi-national corporations. We will then highlight the break-up of the free trade treaties and the demise of US dominance in Europe and Asia. In the final section, we will focus on the rise and decline of the latest US interventions to subordinate Latin America to its domination, starting with the legislative coup in Brazil and the conflicts in Argentina.

The European Commission and Apple ‘s Tax Evasion

The European Commission (EC) imposed an initial $13 billion penalty on the Apple Corporation for tax evasion – with tens of billions of more fines to come. The EC announced that Apple’s ridiculous 0.005% corporate tax rate in Ireland was a form of theft, exposing its phony posture as a defender of human rights and a paragon of corporate social responsibility. Scores of the biggest US multi-nationals have set-up overseas operations, especially in Ireland, specifically to avoid paying taxes. These include Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Pfizer and scores of others among the   ‘Fortune five hundred’.

Apple’s multi-billion-dollar tax scams were possible because of support from the US Treasury, Commerce and Trade Departments. Indeed, Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew, launched a tirade against the European Commission, threatening retaliation, claiming that these US tax swindles were vital to the security of world trade. Wall Street flunky, Senator Charles Schumer called the EU penalty ‘a cheap money grab’ and threatened to start a trade war with Europe if the Democrats regain power in the upcoming Senatorial and Congressional elections.

The entire US imperial edifice operates through corrupt multi-national corporate tax swindlers who control and direct their politician stooges who, in turn, intimidate, submissiveEuropean regimes (like Ireland). The system is now being challenged by rival European economic powers intent on reducing the US tax advantages to increase their competitiveness. The growing competition over profits, markets and tax receipts has important political implications as the US dominance of Europe depends on the supremacy of its multi-nationals.

US taxpayers subsidize the US multi-nationals even when they relocate jobs abroad to cheap labor markets and move their corporate head offices to low-tax countries. The result is that the US government has to increase the tax burden on wage- salaried workers and small businesspeople to finance social programs and critical infrastructure because the US multinationals have moved their ‘addresses’ to tax havens.

As Europe tightens the squeeze on the US billionaire tax fraudsters, Washington will retaliate by mobilizing its own stable of European flunkies and the ever-compliant US Senators. Capitalist warfare may increase ‘nationalist’ rancor and undermine Atlantic trade treaties.

The End of Atlantic and Pacific Trade Agreements

In demanding an end to negotiations with the US over the trans-Atlantic trade deal, the French minister for foreign trade summed up his country’s position: “There is no political support from France for those negotiations . . . the Americans give nothing or just crumbs”. Throughout Europe politicians of the Left and Right have pointed out that closer ties with the US undermine their business deals with Russia and China, dilute environmental protection and abolish workers’ rights.

Parallel developments are taking place in Asia with regard to the trans-Pacific trade deal: The US has failed to convince Asian countries to sign bilateral and multilateral trade pacts designed to exclude China.

Asia’s increasing use of China’s currency (the renminbi) shows that the Anglo-American bloc has declined as the center of foreign exchange markets and trade. The US no longer dominates Asia: Even its former colony, the Philippines, has made overtures to China. Cambodia has granted China extended use of a deep-water port, strengthening Beijing’s position as the dominant maritime power in Asia. The US ally, Australia increasingly depends on trade with Beijing. China’s mix of public-private capitalism has out-muscled the US in Asian markets while deepening its trade links with Russia, Iran, the Gulf States, Africa and Latin America.

To the extent that international capitalism has ‘recovered’ from the economic crisis of the recent past, it is thanks to Chinese–Asia capitalism. The policy failures of the US Treasury, Commerce and Trade departments have led to calls for protectionism – domestically with the Trump campaign – and growing militarism among both candidates.

Increasingly the struggle for world markets among regional capitalist blocs- Anglo-American, European and Sino-Asian –defines the nature of global instability.

Latin America: The Rebellion of the Middle Class

On the surface, Washington and Wall Street have gained some important political victories: In Argentina, the Mauricio Macri regime has imposed an economic agenda totally in line with Washington’s free trade demands. In Brazil, Washington successfully promoted the legislative coup impeaching the center-left government of President Dilma Rousseff and installing the corrupt Vice President Temer. The proxy regime is dedicated to de-nationalizing and privatizing strategic, lucrative sectors of the economy.

In Venezuela, Washington’s proxies who have gained control of the congress are organizing to oust the left-of-center Maduro government through street protests, sabotage and the hoarding of vital commodities.

Nevertheless the image of middle class and local capitalist support for Washington’s agenda is proving ephemeral. Once installed at the top, the US-backed local proxies are rapidly imposing brutal austerity policies that undermine middle class and, of course, working class support.

After merely nine months in power, Argentine President Macri and his Washington backers face open opposition from the entire range of small and medium size businesses.

Inflation and deflation, utility price increases of 400% to 1000% have bankrupted at least a fourth of small-scale commercial and medium-size business firms in Argentina. Thousands have massed in the streets. On September 2, a broad based multi-class demonstration of several hundred thousand took over the famous Plaza de Mayo in the center of Buenos Aires to denounce Macri’s devastating neo-liberal agenda.

Similar mass actions are erupting in Brazil, as the US-backed Temer regime slashes government budget subsidies, credit and public investments. His public approval rating (never high because of his own corruption) has dropped to a single digit.

In a short time the business class has become deeply divided between the top tier, linked to international capital, and the middle and lower tiers. The initial consensus opposing the left-populist government has rapidly disintegrated while the unity of the capitalist class has collapsed.

Conclusion

In the current phase of global capitalism, the most striking socio-economic dynamics are located in the deepening intra-capitalist conflicts between regions, nations and among segments of the capitalist class. The ideologues of capitalist globalization and  regional integration are finally exposed as false prophets. Attempts by the US to impose a new world order that subordinates Europe and Asia have failed; the US now faces internal dissension, notably in US Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s ‘American First’ campaign, pressing for ‘national solutions’.

The European capitalist elite is now only willing to collaborate with Washington where US-Europe trade agreements can be mutually beneficial – they openly reject being reduced to ‘reaping crumbs.’ National capitalism has emerged as the new reality on both sides of the Atlantic and across the globe in Asia, as China emerges as the dominant economic force in the region. China’s quest to secure global markets and investment sites has set in motion rival nationalist alignments, which threaten US regional power.

Rebellions by capitalist political elites are the ‘new norm’ everywhere. Multi-national rivalries over tax evasion and its consequences are leading to ‘tit-for-tat’ reprisals, which can rupture historical ties.

Latin American capitalist triumphs over the left are short-lived, as the different segments engage in violent divisions and realignments.

The ultra-militarist US is incapable of establishing a stable world capitalist order under its direction. Instead, we now find a multiplicity of capitals and competing state regimes with subordinate and divided segments of the capitalist class. Trans-Atlantic and Pacific unity fractures, and each sub-region seeks its own socio-economic partners. Trade talks cease and acrimony reigns.

Given the US total reliance on military-driven empire building, this post-imperial emergence of national and class rivalries is more likely to lead to war than to a new just social order.

Aug 292016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

#yankeegohome

#YankeeGOHome

Introduction

The Financial Times editorial page carries a logo that proclaims: “Without fear and without favor”. Indeed the editors have shown no fear when it comes to . . .  fabricating lies, promoting imperial wars decimating countries and impoverishing millions, whether in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and now Venezuela. The fearless “Lies of Our Times” have been at the forefront forging pretexts for inciting imperial armies to crush independent governments.

Despite its pretentious scribblers and prestigious claims, the FT is seen by the Anglo-American financial class as a belligerent purveyor of militarist policies designed for the most retrograde sectors of the ruling elite.

What is most striking about the FT fearless fabrications on behalf of imperial militarism is how often their political and economic prognostications have been incompetent and flat out wrong.

For the past ten years, the FT editorial pages have described  China in economic crisis and heading for a fall, while in reality, the Chinese economy has grown at between eight and six percent a year.

For over a decade and a half, the FT editors claimed Russia under President Vladimir Putin presented an international existential threat to ‘the West’. In fact, it was the ‘Western’ armies of NATO, which expanded military operations to the borders of Russia, the US, which financed a neo-fascist coup in Kiev and the US-EU which promoted an Islamist uprising in Syria designed to totally undermine Russia’s influence and relations in the Middle East.

The FT’s economic gurus and its leading columnists prescribed the very catastrophic deregulatory formulas which precipitated the financial crash of 2008-09, after which they played the clownish role of “Mickey the Dunce” – blaming others for the failed policies.

The fearless FT scribes are currently leading a virulent propaganda campaign to promote the violent overthrow of the democratically elected Venezuelan government of President Nicolas Maduro.

This essay will identify the FT’s latest pack of fearless lies and fabrications and then conclude by analyzing the political consequences for Venezuela and other independent regimes.

The Financial Times and Venezuela: From War in the Suites to Terror in the Streets

In covering the crisis in Venezuela, the FT has systematically ignored the ongoing campaign of assaults and assassinations against elected officials, security officers, military and police who have been murdered by the FT’s favored ‘opposition’.

The FT did not cover the horrific murders of an elected Chavista congresswoman and her two young children, who were executed (shot in the head) in broad daylight by opposition-paid hitmen.

These ongoing opposition terror campaigns against the elected government and the general public are systematically ignored in the FTs ‘reports’ and on its editorial pages, which focus more on the shortages of consumer items.

The FT cover-up of rightwing terror extended to inventing a ‘possible’ army or National Guard plan to open fire on opposition demonstrators. In this case, the FT anticipated rightwing violence by laying the blame on the government in advance.

The FT covers-up the opposition business elite’s campaign of hoarding essential goods to create artificial shortages and panic buying. They deny the ongoing price gouging and pin the blame for shortages and long consumer lines exclusively on ‘regime mismanagement’.

The FT conveniently omits to mention that the decline in world oil prices has affected not only the economy of Venezuela but all countries dependent on commodity exports, including the Financial Times favorite neo-liberal regimes in Brazil and Argentina.

The Financial Times cites bogus ‘opinion’ polls, which wildly exaggerate the government’s declining popularity: In the recent elections Maduro’s supporters secured 40% of the popular vote while the FT claims his support to be 7%!

US client regimes (Mexico, Peru, and Colombia) are the largest producers of illegal drugs and US banks are the largest launderers for narco-money. Yet the FT reports on “Venezuela’s role as a conduit for illegal drugs smuggled north to the US and east into Brazil, Africa and thence to Europe”. Drug enforcement experts all agree that Colombia, home to seven US military bases and with a regime closely linked to paramilitary-narco gangs, is the source of drugs smuggled through Venezuela. That Venezuela has become a victim of the violent Colombian narco-trade is never acknowledged by the elegant City of London pen-prostitutes.

The FT blames the re-emergence of ‘malaria and  other possible diseases’ on the leftist Maduro government. In fact the recent ‘malaria outbreak’ (also cited by the New York Timespropagandists) is based on a single illegal gold miner.

The FT ignores how the US- backed neoliberal regimes in Argentina and Brazil, which rule by presidential decree, have slashed public health programs setting the stage for much greater public health crises.

The Financial Times: Big Lies for Mass Murder

The Financial Times is waging an all-out propaganda war with one goal: To incite the violent seizure of power in Venezuela by US political clients.

In line with the Obama-Clinton ‘regime-change by any means’ policies, the FT paints a deceptive picture of Venezuela facing ‘multiple crises’, representing a ‘destabilizing’ threat to the hemisphere, and on the brink of a global ‘humanitarian crisis’.

Armed with these deadly clichés, the FT editorial pages demand “a new government soon and certainly before the 2018 elections”.

Recently, the FT proposed a phony legal gimmick – a recall referendum. However, since the opposition cannot initiate the vote in time to oust the elected President Maduro, the FT calls for “events which precipitate changes sooner” – a violent coup!

FT’s scenarios aim to precipitate a violent rightwing “march”, eventually provoking civil bloodshed in early September of this year.

The FT expects that “blood in Caracas will require an active Latin America response”(sic). In other words, the FT hopes that a US-backed military invasion from neighboring Colombia would help eliminate the Chavistas and install a rightist regime.

The Financial Times, which actively promoted the NATO-led destruction of the government in Libya, now calls for a US-led invasion of Venezuela. Never ones to re-assess their promotion of  ‘regime change’, the FT now calls for a violent coup in Venezuela, which will exceed that of Libya in terms of the loss of thousands of Venezuelan lives and  the brutal reversal of a decade of significant socio-economic progress.

Without fear and without favor”, the FT  speaks for imperial wars everywhere.

Conclusion

The US presidential elections take place just as the Obama-Clinton regime prepares to intervene in Venezuela. Using bogus ‘humanitarian’ reports of  widespread hunger, disease, violence and instability, the Obama will still need Venezuelan thugs to provoke enough violent street violence to trigger an’ invitation’ for  Washington’s Latin American military partners to ‘intervene’ under the auspices of the UN or OAS.

If  ‘successful’, a rapid overthrow of the elected government in Caracas could be presented as a victory for Hilary Clinton’s campaign, and an example of her policy of ‘humanitarian-military interventions’ around the world.

However, if Obama’s allied invasion does not produce a quick and easy victory, if the Venezuelan people and armed forces mount a prolonged and courageous defense of their government and if US lives are lost in what could turn into a popular war of resistance, then Washington’s intervention could ultimately discredit the Clinton campaign and her ‘muscular’ foreign policy. The American electorate might finally decide against four more years of losing wars and losing lives.  No thanks to the ‘fearless’ Financial Times.

The hashtag #YankeeGoHome has gone viral. – Photo: Twitter

The hashtag #YankeeGoHome has gone viral. – Photo: Twitter

Aug 242016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

Luka Robotics - While the US has spent trillions in the Middle East for wars on behalf of Israel, China has invested similar amounts in Germany for advanced technology, robotics and digital innovations.

Luka Robotics – While the US has spent trillions in the Middle East for wars on behalf of Israel, China has invested similar amounts in Germany for advanced technology, robotics and digital innovations.

Introduction

China and the United States are moving in polar opposite directions: Beijing is rapidly becoming the center of overseas investments in high tech industries, including robotics, nuclear energy and advanced machinery with collaboration from centers of technological excellence, like Germany.

In contrast, Washington is pursuing a predatory military pivot to the least productive regions with collaboration from its most barbaric allies, like Saudi Arabia.

China is advancing to global economic superiority by borrowing and innovating the most advance methods of production, while the US degrades and debases its past immense productive achievements to promote wars of destruction.

China’s growing prominence is the result of a cumulative process that advanced in a systematic way, combining step-by-step growth of productivity and innovation with sudden jumps up the ladder of cutting edge technology.

China’s Stages of Growth and Success

China has moved from a country, highly dependent on foreign investment in consumer industries for exports, to an economy, based on joint public-private investments in higher value exports.

China’s early growth was based on cheap labor, low taxes and few regulations on multi-national capital. Foreign capital and local billionaires stimulated growth, based on high rates of profit. As the economy grew, China’s economy shifted toward increasing its indigenous technological expertise and demanding greater ‘local content’ for manufactured goods.

By the beginning of the new millennium China was developing high-end industries, based on local patents and engineering skills, channeling a high percentage of investments into civilian infrastructure, transportation and education.

Massive apprenticeship programs created a skilled labor force that raised productive capacity. Massive enrollment in science, math, computer science and engineering universities provided a large influx of high-end innovators, many of whom had gained expertise in the advanced technology of overseas competitors.

China’s strategy has been based on the practice of borrowing, learning, upgrading and competing with the most advanced economics of Europe and the US.

By the end of the last decade of the 20th century, China was in a position to move overseas. The accumulation process provided China with the financial resources to capture dynamic overseas enterprises.

China was no longer confined to investing in overseas minerals and agriculture in Third World countries. China is looking to conquer high-end technological sectors in advanced economics.

By the second decade of the 21st century Chinese investors moved into Germany, Europe’s most advanced industrial giant. During the first 6 months of 2016 Chinese investors acquired 37 German companies, compared with 39 in all of 2015. China’s total investments in Germany for 2016 may double to over $22 billion dollars.

In 2016, China successfully bought out KUKA, Germany’s most innovative engineering company. China’s strategy is to gain superiority in the digital future of industry.

China is rapidly moving to automate its industries, with plans to double the robot density of the US by the year 2020.

Chinese and Austrian scientists successfully launched the first quantum-enabled satellite communication system which is reportedly ‘hack proof’, ensuring China’s communications security.

While China’s global investments proceed to dominate world markets, the US, England and Australia have been trying to impose investment barriers. By relying on phony ‘security threats’, Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May blocked a multi-billion dollar Chinese investment-heavy nuclear plant (Hinckley Point C). The pretext was the spurious claim that China would use its stake to “engage in energy blackmail, threatening to turn off the power in the event of international crises”.

The US Committee on Foreign Investment has blocked several multi-billion dollar Chinese investments in high tech industries.

In August 2016 Australia blocked an $8 billion-dollar purchase of a controlling stake in its biggest electricity distribution network on specious claims of ‘national security’.

The Anglo-American and German empires are on the defensive. They increasingly cannot compete economically with China, even in defending their own innovative industries.

In large part this is the result of their failed policies. Western economic elite have increasingly relied on short-term speculation in finance, real estate and insurance, while neglecting their industrial base.

Led by the US, their reliance on military conquests (militaristic empire-building) absorb public resources, while China has directed its domestic resources toward innovative and advanced technology.

To counter China’s economic advance, the Obama regime has implemented a policy of building economic walls at home, trade restrictions abroad and military confrontation in the South China Seas – China’s strategic trade routes.

US officials have ratcheted up their restrictions on Chinese investments in high tech US enterprises including a $3.8 billion investment in Western Digital and Philips attempt to sell its lighting business. The US blocked ‘Chen China’s planned $44 billion takeover of Swiss chemical group ‘Syngenta’.

US officials are doing everything possible to stop innovative billion dollar deals that include China as a strategic partner.

Accompanying its domestic wall, the US has been mobilizing an overseas blockade of China via its Trans-Pacific-Partnership, which proposes to exclude Beijing from participating in the ‘free trade zone’ with a dozen North America, Latin American and Asian members. Nevertheless, not a single member-nation of the TPP has cut back its trade with China. On the contrary, they are increasing ties with China – an eloquent comment on Obama’s skill at ‘pivoting’.

While the ‘domestic economic wall’ has had some negative impacts on particular Chinese investors, Washington has failed to dent China’s exports to US markets. Washington’s failure to block China’s trade has been even more damaging to Washington’s effort to encircle China in Asia and Latin America, Oceana and Asia.

Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Chile, Taiwan, Cambodia and South Korea depend on Chinese markets far more than on the US to survive and grow.

While Germany, faced with China’s dynamic growth, has chosen to ‘partner’ and share, up-scale productive investments, Washington has opted to form military alliances to confront China.

The US bellicose military alliance with Japan has not intimidated China. Rather it has downgraded their domestic economies and economic influence in Asia.

Moreover, Washington’s “military pivot” has deepened and expanded China’s strategic links to Russia’s energy sources and military technology.

While the US spends hundreds of billions in military alliances with the backward Baltic client-regimes and the parasitical Middle Eastern states, (Saudi Arabia, Israel), China accumulates strategic expertise from its economic ties with Germany, resources from Russia and market shares among Washington’s ‘partners’ in Asia and Latin America.

There is no question that China, following the technological and productive path of Germany, will win out over the US’s economic isolationist and global militarist strategy.

If the US has failed to learn from the successful economic strategy of China, the same failure can explain the demise of the progressive regimes in Latin America.

China’s Success and the Latin American Retreat

After more than a decade of growth and stability, Latin America’s progressive regimes have retreated and declined. Why has China continued on the path of stability and growth while their Latin American partners retreated and suffered defeats?

Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and Ecuador, for over a decade, served as Latin America’s center-left success story. Their economies grew, social spending increased, poverty and unemployment were reduced and worker incomes expanded.

Subsequently their economies went into crisis, social discontent grew and the center-left regimes fell.

In contrast to China, the Latin American center-left regimes did not diversify their economies: they remained heavily dependent on the commodity boom for growth and stability.

The Latin American elites borrowed and depended on foreign investment, and financial capital, while China engaged in public investments in industry, infrastructure, technology and education.

Latin American progressives joined with foreign capitalist and local speculators in non-productive real estate speculation and consumption, while China invested in innovative industries at home and abroad. While China consolidated political rulership, the Latin American progressives “allied” with strategic domestic and overseas multi-national adversaries to ‘share power’, which were, in fact, eagerly prepared to oust their “left” allies.

When the Latin commodity based economy collapsed, so did the political links with their elite partners. In contrast, China’s industries benefited from the lower global commodity prices, while Latin America’s left suffered. Faced with widespread corruption, China launched a major campaign purging over 200,000 officials. In Latin America, the Left ignored corrupt officials, allowing the opposition to exploit the scandals to oust center-left officials.

While Latin America imported machinery and parts from the West; China bought the entire Western companies producing the machines and their technology – and then implemented Chinese technological improvements.

China successfully outgrew the crisis, defeated its adversaries and proceeded to expand local consumption and stabilized rulership.

Latin America’s center-left suffered political defeats in Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, lost elections in Venezuela and Bolivia and retreated in Uruguay.

Conclusion

China’s political economic model has outperformed the imperialist West and leftist Latin America. While the US has spent billions in the Middle East for wars on behalf of Israel, China has invested similar amounts in Germany for advanced technology, robotics and digital innovations.

While President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s “pivot to Asia” has been largely a wasteful military strategy to encircle and intimidate China, Beijing’s “pivot to markets” has successfully enhanced its economic competitiveness. As a result, over the past decade, China’s growth rate is three times that of the US; and in the next decade China will double the US in ‘robotizing’ its productive economy.

The US ‘pivot to Asia’, with its heavy dependence on military threats and intimidation has cost billions of dollars in lost markets and investments. China’s ‘pivot to advanced technology’ demonstrates that the future lies in Asia not the West. China’s experience offers lessons for future Latin American leftist governments.

First and foremost, China emphasizes the necessity of balanced economic growth, over and above short-term benefits resulting from commodity booms and consumerist strategies.

Secondly, China demonstrates the importance of professional and worker technical education for technological innovation, over and above business school and non-productive ‘speculative’ education so heavily emphasized in the US.

Thirdly, China balances its social spending with investment in core productive activity; competitiveness and social services are combined.

China’s enhanced growth and social stability, its commitment to learning and surpassing advanced economies has important limitations, especially in the areas of social equality and popular power. Here China can learn from the experience of Latin America’s Left. The social gains under Venezuela’s President Chavez are worthy of study and emulation; the popular movements in Bolivia, Ecuador and Argentina, which ousted neo-liberals from power, could enhance efforts in China to overcome the business- state nexus of pillage and capital flight.

China, despite its socio-political and economic limitations, has successfully resisted US military pressures and even ‘turned the tables’ by advancing on the West.

In the final analysis, China’s model of growth and stability certainly offers an approach that is far superior to the recent debacle of the Latin American Left and the political chaos resulting from Washington’s quest for global military supremacy.

Aug 182016
 

By William Blum, 99GetSmart

syrian-rebels-2

For 50 years I’ve been painstakingly cataloguing the brutal militarism and human-rights violations of US foreign policy, building up in the process a very loyal audience.

To my great surprise, when I recently wrote about the brutal militarism and human-rights violations of the Islamic State, I received more criticism from my readers than I’ve gotten for anything I’ve ever written. Dozens of them asked to be removed from my mailing list, as many as I’d normally get in a full year. Others were convinced that it couldn’t actually be me who was the author of such words, that I must have been hacked. Some wondered whether my recent illness had affected my mind. Literally! And almost all of the Internet magazines which regularly print me did not do so with this article.

Now why should this be?

My crime was being politically incorrect. The Islamic State, you see, is composed of Muslims, and the United States and its Western allies have bombed many Muslim countries in the recent past killing thousands of Muslims and causing widespread horror. Therefore, whatever ISIS and its allies do is “revenge”, simple revenge, and should not be condemned by anyone calling himself a progressive; least of all should violence be carried out against these poor aggrieved jihadists.

Moreover, inasmuch as ISIS is the offspring of religion, this adds to my political incorrectness: I’m attacking religion, God forgive me.

Totally irrelevant to my critics is the fact that the religious teachings of ISIS embrace murderous jihad and the heavenly rewards for suicide bombings and martyrdom. This, they insist, is not the real Islam, a religion of peace and scholarly pursuits. Well, one can argue, Naziism was not the real Germany of Goethe and Schiller, of Bach and Brahms. Fortunately, that didn’t keep the world from destroying the Third Reich.

We should also consider this: From the 1950s to the 1980s the United States carried out atrocities against Latin America, including numerous bombings, without the natives ever resorting to the repulsive uncivilized kind of retaliation as employed by ISIS. Latin American leftists took their revenge out on concrete representatives of the American empire: diplomatic, military and corporate targets, not markets, theatres, nightclubs, hospitals, restaurants or churches. The ISIS victims have included many Muslims, perhaps even some friends of the terrorists, for all they knew or cared.

It doesn’t matter to my critics that in my writing I have regularly given clear recognition to the crimes against humanity carried out by the West against the Islamic world. I am still not allowed to criticize the armed forces of Islam, for all of the above stated reasons plus the claim that the United States “created” ISIS.

Regarding this last argument: It’s certainly true that US foreign policy played an indispensable role in the rise of ISIS. Without Washington’s overthrow of secular governments in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and – now in process – Syria, there would today be no ISIS. It’s also true that many American weapons, intentionally and unintentionally, have wound up in the hands of terrorist groups. But the word “created” implies intention, that the United States wanted to purposely and consciously bring to life the Frankenstein monster that we know and love as ISIS.

So, you wonder, how do we rid the world of the Islamic State? I’m afraid it may already be too late. The barn door is wide open and all the horses have escaped. It’s not easy for an old anti-imperialist like myself, but I support Western military and economic power to crush the unspeakable evil of ISIS. The West has actually made good progress with seriously hampering ISIS oil sales and financial transactions. As a result, it appears that ISIS may well be running out of money, with defections of unpaid soldiers increasing.

The West should also forget about regime change in Syria and join forces with Russia against the terrorists.

And my readers, and many like them, have to learn to stop turning the other cheek when someone yelling “Allahu Akbar” drives a machete into their skull.

_______________________________

Open letter to William Blum by SnakeArbusto:

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Bill, I’m one of the people who were sure that you couldn’t be the one who wrote your post entitled “Warning! What follows is very politically incorrect.” I’ve read all your books and follow your Web posts and had the pleasure and privilege of hearing you speak and meeting you once. And this just didn’t sound like you. And I’ve just read your follow-up entitled “Political correctness demands diversity in everything but thought.” In these posts you accuse us, your readers, of being blinded by something called “political correctness” to the point where we refuse to admit the evil of “radical Islamic terrorism.”

In my own defense and that of my fellow readers and admirers of your work, I have to take exception to your accusation of “political correctness.” What’s called “political correctness,” to define it in a way I think we can agree on, is an attempt to use language to disguise a reality whose existence we’re unwilling to recognize. Or to be more exact, to avoid using the actual word or term that designates that reality, since the use of that word or term would be offensive to certain groups, and instead use other words or terms that are less offensive. Needless to say, what is truly offensive is the reality in question and not the terms used to describe it, even if the use of a certain word can be hurtful in itself.

But what is the reality we, your readers who are guilty of political correctness, are avoiding? According to you, that there is an organized “armed forces of Islam” that is attacking our Western societies and needs to be destroyed using “Western military and economic power.” You say we’re unwilling to admit that those forces exist, or if we do admit it we justify terror attacks like the one in Nice, or atrocities like the beheading of an ailing 11-year-old, as retaliation for the horrors that Western military and economic power has inflicted on the people of the world for so many decades.

Nobody denies that there’s such a thing as radical Islamism. But what your last two posts boil down to is that They are different from us. We’re bad, but we don’t do what they do. Sure, we firebombed Tokyo and dropped the Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; since then we’ve continued devastating the world from a distance – dropping napalm and white phosphorus on people, scattering antipersonnel mines and depleted uranium and Agent Orange all over their countries, letting people slowly die from diseases we control the medications for because we’ve decided it’s politically expedient. And sure, recently we’ve allowed the fact that we actually torture people to peep through all the Shinola about how we’re Not Like That.

But I don’t need to catalogue the evils the Empire has visited and continues to visit on the world, because as you so rightly point out, you literally wrote the book about them. And for generations to come your work will be the foundation for anyone who wants to unlearn, the way you have, the deep-seated metaprogramming all Americans are fed from the cradle on: That we mean well; that we are the champion of freedom and democracy; that we are the big, strong, quiet guy who wants no trouble with anybody but who just can’t stand around and see somebody smaller and weaker than himself get picked on. Let alone get their head sawn off. Sure, you say, We do all that. But We don’t do what They do. Our Boys and Girls don’t saw people’s heads off.

But in fact – and I know you know this, because I learned it from you – it IS Our Boys who are doing it. The US shadow government and the military-financial complex that’s behind it didn’t create the jihadist phenomenon – though it did come into being as a result of Western influence in the Islamic world. But We used it as a Cold War weapon, as you recount in the chapter on Afghanistan in Killing Hope and as others have reported. In your second post you acknowledge the nurturing of radical Islamists, but say that the United States never intended “to purposely and consciously bring to life the Frankenstein monster that we know and love as ISIS.” Of course We didn’t. We never seem to foresee the consequences of our support for killers and rapists. All we see is the expediency. Let me quote you:

[…] At the beginning there had been some thought given to the morality of the policy. “The question here,” a senior official in the Carter administration said, “was whether it was morally acceptable that, in order to keep the Soviets off balance, which was the reason for the operation, it was permissible to use other lives for our geopolitical interests.”

But such sentiments could not survive. Afghanistan was a cold-warrior’s dream: The CIA and the Pentagon, finally, had one of their proxy armies in direct confrontation with the forces of the Evil Empire. There was no price too high to pay for this Super Nintendo game, neither the hundreds of thousands of Afghan lives, nor the destruction of Afghan society, nor three billion (sic) dollars of American taxpayer money poured into a bottomless hole, much of it going only to make a few Afghans and Pakistanis rich. […]

But aside from the short-term goal of  “giving the Soviets a dose of Vietnam,” Our support for jihadism had a more long-term payoff: creating the specter of Islamic Terrorism to serve as the Enemy we need to justify the existence of the most colossal and expensive military-industrial entity the world has ever seen.

Ever since the first army was formed, the people that army was supposed to be protecting have been propagandized to believe that there was an Enemy just across the border who would come and take their land and rape their women if they didn’t protect themselves against him. He was genetically programmed to dominate, to control. He put the idea of the Homeland above human life itself. He was not even really human. Both sides in every conflict were indoctrinated to believe the exact same things about the other side. In Europe a hundred years ago, the British and French were taught to hate the Hun. And in the USA, the modern advertising industry was born when Edward Bernays was called in to sell Americans the idea of participating in a war “Over There” against that inhuman Hun. Later, after the Second World War, we were told that that Enemy was bent on nothing short of global domination, and that his dedication to his beliefs was absolute, and that he was capable of any act, no matter how heinous, in order to achieve that domination. This time the Enemy was Communism. And we were programmed from the very cradle to believe in the threat. I’m a little younger than you, but I remember the drills in grammar school during the Cold War when we were taught to duck under our little desks in preparation for an attack by the Soviet Communists.

Why? The country was basically on a war economy, and that war economy had saved us from a depression. The military was the backbone of the reconstruction of our industries. What’s more, they were heroes who had saved Europe from Fascism. We elected one of those heroes President. Americans were willing to extend the military an unlimited line of credit. But we needed to “manufacture consent.” We needed an Enemy. And for 30 years or so Communism was that Enemy, and the advertising took on a life of its own. By the ’50s, with help from J. Edgar Hoover and his FBI, who had realized the importance of the press and radio, and later television, the media, and the publishing and entertainment industries, and the schools and churches helped further the Great Lie. We were told over and over again that somehow these people were just not like us; they were capable of putting their ideology above all human feeling, above life itself. Once they had been won over by that inhuman ideology, they were unredeemable – they had become The Other. They were like creatures from outer space who had taken over the bodies of humans and were capable of continuing to act normally, but were devoid of all human feeling, ruthlessly bent on conquering Earth and the human race. In fact, many of the popular horror films of the ’50s used an invasion by extraterrestrials as a metaphor for the Communist threat. In one film, My Son John, the doyenne of American actresses, Helen Hayes, played a mother whose son is indoctrinated by Communists and who actually turns him, her own son, in – sends him to prison rather than see him lose his soul. All to help fight a Cold War that could have been avoided had the US been willing to share influence with the USSR. Both powers could have dismantled their military machines and turned their propaganda efforts toward solving the problems that affect the human race as a whole, rather than convincing their populations that the Enemy on the other side was out to destroy them.

But then came détente and the fall of the Berlin Wall. With the fall of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, there was an uncomfortable void that needed to be filled. For a while, they tried to sell us the idea that our Enemy was “Instability.” But, according to a document called “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” , what was needed was “…some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.” And on September 11, 2001 we had that new Pearl Harbor. And we had our Enemy. That Enemy was just as ruthless, just as highly organized, just as dedicated to its ideology, just as international as the International Communist Conspiracy ever was. And that Enemy was just as determined to take over the world.

The Enemy is always depicted as ruthless and inhuman. The problem is that no human being or group of human beings, however you define that group and whatever name you put on it – even if it’s a “politically correct” name – is fundamentally evil. Just as no human being or group is fundamentally good. Because no human being or group of human beings is fundamentally different from any other. That is simply, as we used to say in the old days, a truth we hold to be self-evident. There is no force out there that plots to destroy Us because we’re good and they are evil. Does that mean there’s no such thing as evil? Of course not. And not even the most “politically correct” person will deny that the evil exists. But in insisting that there’s an evil out there that We can root out and destroy, and identifying it as ISIS or Radical Islamic Terrorism or the Armed Forces of Islam, you’re perpetuating the myth of that Enemy the Empire is so determined to get us to believe in.

So what is the real evil? There is a highly organized force, international in scope and totally committed to its beliefs to the point where it is capable of the most unimaginable evil, and that is bent on global domination. But that force is not the Hun, or Nazism, or Russian Communism or Radical Islamic Terrorism. Nobody knows better than you what it is: It’s the Empire itself. The shadow government of the United States of America and its allies and the military machine they have created. NATO. A colossal machine for occupying the planet and making it safe for business, while at the same time extracting wealth from citizens and toward a tiny financial elite. It eats up $895 billion of the $1.1 trillion the US government takes in from individual taxpayers every year, according to the Washington Post. It’s literally sucking the life blood out of the economy. Not to mention the harm it’s doing to the planet we live on. And not to mention the thousands, the hundreds of thousands, of innocent people who have died and who never wanted anything but to go about their lives in peace, and whose only crime was being in the wrong place at the wrong time – a place that was of geostrategic interest to the Empire. The same machine for world domination, with its all-pervasive propaganda tentacles, that you say is the antidote to ISIS.

But why are We bent on world domination? Is it because We’re just evil, as we’re told our Enemy is? Is it that greedy, unprincipled people are in control of our governments? No. World domination is simply the way we do business. Wealth as we define it is a blind, faceless force that moves toward concentration under its own power. No one individual makes the decision to do evil. We all do what we feel we need to do to survive, and once in a while we all have to make compromises. And as we move up the scale of success and power, those compromises begin to have more unfortunate consequences. But as long as we believe that our intentions are basically good, we don’t have to take full responsibility. We’re not fundamentally evil, as you suggest the jihadists are. We just don’t know any other way to perpetuate economic growth and concentration of wealth than to dominate – markets, but also land, resources, and populations. The so-called Free Market is only free for the power that dominates. And that domination is the source of the real evil. Your post refers to ISIS’s oil sales and financial transactions. If you look beyond their media portrayal as insane fanatics, you’ll realize that what the jihadists really want is to dominate sources of wealth. In other words, exactly what We do. Business. If they are the Enemy, then so are We.

I can’t argue with your recoiling in horror at people who are capable of acts like the mass slaughter in Nice, even in retaliation for the horrible acts that have been done to them. I won’t say that the firebombing of Tokyo or Hiroshima and Nagasaki or any of the evils the Empire has perpetrated since, or all of them collectively, are worse. But somehow a person committing a heinous act out of anger and hatred is not evil in the same way as a power that kills callously, without feeling, simply as a way of doing business, without any cruelty, with no hard feelings toward the people we’re killing from far away, as if they were characters in a video game. What inspires horror in me is a power that would just as soon kill you as dig a well in your village if it’s good for business.

Is there no alternative to the American Way? I would like to believe there is. So would the leaders of other countries – Russia, China, the BRICS countries – who believe in a multipolar world. But the military-financial complex, and the US economy and the large part of the world economy that depends on it, is bent on keeping a multipolar world from coming into being. And we in the “developed” countries are very attached to the comforts the American Way provides. We’re in this world domination thing too deep. So we’re preparing ourselves to believe that there can be a “kinder, gentler” form of world domination. We’re preparing to elect Hillary Clinton Leader of the Free World. But when Clinton says, in a speech before the Council on Foreign Relations, that in spite of what “other nations” may say, America intends to “Help more people in more places live up to their God-given potential,” you and I know that what she really means is that We plan to dominate even more populations and control even more territory and exploit even more resources and create and deploy even more weapons, and that the ultimate result of such an attitude will be more evil.

So, Bill, we “politically correct” readers are not shielding our eyes from the real nature of the evil that needs to be combated. We’re just asking you to look behind the media mask for the real face of that evil.

Aug 172016
 

By Banu Adiyaman, 99GetSmart

Turkish preacher Fethullah Gülen and OKC Thunder center Enes Kanter. (NonDoc)

Turkish preacher Fethullah Gülen and OKC Thunder center Enes Kanter. (NonDoc)

ISTANBUL — Enes Kanter, a center for the Oklahoma City Thunder, was recently disowned by his family for following and backing the so-called cleric Fethullah Gülen after a small military junta linked to Gülen launched an attempted coup July 15 in Turkey. Kanter announced he has changed his name to Enes Gülen.

Kanter appears to be a young man simply finding shelter in a father figure in the U.S. The Gülen movement is very good and experienced at attracting and ensuring the loyalty of young people through their schools in Turkey and all over the world. Some say Gülen has given Kanter an incredible honor by comparing him with the Prophet Muhammad’s adopted child Zaid bin Harith, who did not leave Muhammad after his family wanted to take him back.

In reality, it is much easier for Kanter to continue following Gülen after the coup attempt because he does not live in Turkey. Gülen himself lives in Pennsylvania.

Harsh decisions

Since the coup attempt, Turkey has embarked on a massive purge of all elements linked to Gülen from a range of institutions, detaining or sacking tens of thousands of people. The number of people dismissed from governmental services is nearing 70,000 as of the writing of this article.

In light of this climate, people in Turkey are forced to choose their sides between the Gülen movement and the government very harshly nowadays. Simply being a secularist or having always openly denounced military coups and Gülen’s hizmet (“service”) movement — even when mutual affection between AKP and Gülen was at its warmest point — would still leave doubt in the government’s eyes as to your loyalties. Therefore, even if you prefer simply to abstain from the ruling authority’s current protests and demonstrations against the coup and its backers, you can still be stigmatized as a “coup supporter” or even a “traitor.”

This could be part of why Kanter’s father, Mehmet Kanter, a lecturer at Medeniyet University, released a statement saying that his family condemned his son’s actions.

“We think that he was hypnotized and being used by Gülen. We are rejecting Enes and are asking him to change his surname. I apologize to the President [Erdogan] and the Turkish people for having such a child.”

Enes’ father’s position as a lecturer in a country in which almost 1,000 public and private university employees have been fired in a few months leaves little chance for his family to survive in Turkey if they had backed their son. Also, Mehmet’s claim that Enes is being used and deceived by Gülen likely has a base: the 24-year-old has invested in the so-called service movement, which was confirmed by recent hacking revealing Enes’ Twitter messages to a Turkish comedian linked to Gülen.

Gülen: Former political insider deemed ‘terrorist’

Since late October, Gülen has appeared on the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Turkey’s “most wanted terrorists” list, designated in the red category to indicate the highest threat level. Before earning such a dubious distinction, Gülen had close relationships with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and had many followers in the police, army, judiciary and the governmental system. However, Gülen’s increasing demands to share power with President Recep Tayip Erdogan led the way for tension between the two parties to reach a climax.

Given the background between Gülen and Erdogan, Kanter made headlines owing to his strong support for Gülen even after the coup attempt, and he drew widespread criticism for that — access to his Twitter account is still banned in Turkey. (Similarly, Turkish singer Sıla’s concerts have been canceled recently over her remarks about a “democracy” rally Aug. 7 in Istanbul, which she described as a “show” and where Erdogan hinted at the return of the death penalty in Turkey.)

What goes around …

Ideas don’t change overnight, but it is satisfying, to say the least, for one’s sense of justice to see that Gülenists can’t get away with all their bad karma after years of dominance and cronyism in the judiciary, the military, police organizations and ministries, eliminating non-Gülenist elements with unbelievably designed plots regardless of merit, experience and competence.

I hope karma will ensure what goes around comes around for others and allow us to be in the front row to see when they get theirs, too.

 

“IF YOU’RE REALLY A MEAN PERSON YOU’RE GOING TO COME BACK AS A FLY AND EAT POOP.”
― KURT COBAIN

Aug 102016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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“Many of our interlocutors have been purged or arrested”.

James Clapper, US Director of Intelligence on Turkish Coup (Financial Times 8/3/16, p. 4)

Introduction

Washington has organized a systematic, global, no holds barred campaign to oust Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump from the electoral process. The virulent anti-Trump animus, the methods, goals and mass media resemble authoritarian regimes preparing to overthrow political adversaries.

Comparable propaganda efforts led to political coups in Chile in 1973, Brazil 1964, ad Venezuela in 2002. The anti-Trump forces include both political parties, a Supreme Court judge, Wall Street bankers, journalists and editorialist of all the major media outlets and the leading military and intelligence spokespeople.

Washington’s forcible and illegal ouster of Trump is part and parcel of a world-wide campaign to overthrow leaders and regimes which raise questions about aspects of the imperial policies of the US and EU.

We will proceed to analyze the politics of the anti-Trump elite, the points of confrontation and propaganda, as a prelude to the drive to oust opposition in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

The Anti-Trump Coup

Never in the history of the United States, has a President and Supreme Court Judge openly advocated the overthrow of a Presidential candidate. Never has the entire mass media engaged in a round-the-clock one-sided, propaganda war to discredit a Presidential candidate by systematically ignoring or distorting the central socio-economic issues of their opposition.

The call for the ouster of a freely elected candidate is nothing more or less than a coup d’état.

Leading television networks and columnists demand that the elections be annulled, following the lead of the President and prominent Republican and Democratic Congressional and Party leaders.

In other words, the political elite openly rejects democratic electoral processes in favor of authoritarian manipulation and deception. The authoritarian elite relies on magnifying tertiary, questionable personal judgement calls to mobilize coup backers.

They systematically avoid the core economic and political issues which candidate Trump has raised – and attracted mass support – which challenge fundamental policies backed by the two Party elites.

The Roots of the Anti-Trump Coup

Trump has raised several key issues which challenge the Democratic and Republican elite.

Trump has drawn mass support and won elections and public opinion polls by:

(1)  rejecting the free trade agreements which has led major multinationals to relocate abroad and disinvest in well-paying industrial jobs in the US

(2)  calling for large scale public investment projects to rebuild the US industrial economy, challenging the primacy of financial capital.

(3)  opposing the revival of a Cold War with Russia and China and promoting  greater economic co-operation and negotiations.

(4)  rejecting US support for NATO’s military build-up in Europe and intervention in Syria, North Africa and Afghanistan.

(5)  questioning the importation of immigrant labor which lowers job opportunities and wages for local citizens.

The anti-Trump elite systematically avoid debating these issues; instead they distort the substance of the policies.

Instead of discussing the job benefits which will result from ending sanctions with Russia, the coupsters screech that ‘Trump supports Putin, the terrorist’.

Instead of discussing the need to redirect investment inward to create US jobs, the anti-Trump junta mouth clichés that claim his critique of globalization would ‘undermine’ the US economy.

To denigrate Trump, the Clinton/Obama junta resorts to political scandals to cover-up mass political crimes. To distract public attention, Clinton-Obama falsely claim that Trump is a ‘racist’, backed by David Duke, a racist advocate of “Islamophobia”. The anti-Trump junta promoted the US- Pakistani  parents of a military war casualty  as victims of Trump’s slanders even as they rooted for Hillary Clinton, promotor of wars against Muslim countries and author of  military policies that sent thousands of US soldiers to their grave.

Obama and Clinton are the imperial racists who bombed Libya and Somalia and killed, wounded and displaced over 2 million sub-Saharan Black-Africans.

Obama and Clinton are the Islamaphobes who bombed and killed and evicted five million Muslims in Syria and one million Muslims in Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.

In other words, Trump’s mistaken policy to restrict Muslim immigration is a reaction to the hatred and hostility engendered by the Obama- Clinton million-person Muslim genocide.

Trump’s “America First” policy is a rejection of overseas imperial wars – seven wars under Obama-Clinton. Their militarist policies have inflated budget deficits and degraded US living standards.

Trump’s criticism of capital and job flight has threatened Wall Street’s billion-dollar profiteering – the most important reason behind the bi-partisan junta’s effort to oust Trump and the working class’s support for Trump.

By not following the bi-partisan Wall Street, war agenda, Trump has outlined another business agenda which is incompatible with the current structure of capitalism. In other words’ the US authoritarian elite does not tolerate the democratic rules of the game even when the opposition accepts the capitalist system.

Likewise, Washington’s quest for ‘mono-power’ extends across the globe. Capitalist governments which decide to pursue independent foreign policies are targeted for coups.

Obama-Clinton’s Junta Runs Amok

Washington’s proposed coup against Trump follows similar policies directed against political leaders in Russia, Turkey, China, Venezuela, Brazil and Syria.

Russian President Putin has been demonized by the US propaganda media on an hourly basis for the better part of a decade. The US has backed oligarchs and promoted economic sanctions; financed a coup in the Ukraine; established nuclear missiles on Russia’s frontier; and launched an arms race to undermine President Putin’s economic policies in order to provoke a coup.

The US backed its proxy Gulenist ‘invisible government’ in its failed coup to oust President Erdogan, for failing to totally embrace the US Middle East agenda.

Likewise, Obama-Clinton have backed successful coups in Latin America. Coups were orchestrated in Honduras, Paraguay and more recently in Brazil to undermine independent Presidents and to secure satellite neoliberal regimes. Washington presses forward to forcibly oust the national-populist government of President Maduro in Venezuela.

Washington has escalated efforts to erode, undermine and overthrow the government of China’s President Xi-Jinping through several combined strategies. A military build-up of an air and sea armada in the South China Sea and military bases in Japan, Australia and the Philippines; separatist agitation in Hong Kong, Taiwan and among the Uyghurs; a US- Latin American- Asia free trade agreements which excludes China.

Conclusion

Washington’s strategy of illegal, violent coups to retain the delusion of empire stretches across the globe, ranging from Trump in the US to Putin in Russia, from Erdogan in Turkey to Maduro in Venezuela to Xi Jinping in China.

The conflict is between US-EU imperialism backed by their local clients against endogenous regimes rooted in nationalist alliances.

The struggle is ongoing and sustained and threatens to undermine the political and social fabric of the US and the European Union.

The top priority for the US Empire is to undermine and destroy Trump by any means necessary. Trump already has raised the question of ‘rigged elections’. But each elite media attack of Trump seems to add to and strengthen his mass support and polarize the electorate.

As the elections approach, will the elite confine themselves to verbal hysteria or will they turn from verbal assassinations to the ‘other kind’?

Obama’s global coup strategy shows mixed results: they succeeded in Brazil but were defeated in Turkey; they seized power in the Ukraine but were defeated in Russia; they gained propaganda allies in Hong Kong and Taiwan but suffered severe strategic economic defeats in the region as China’s Asian trade policies advanced.

As the US elections approach, and Obama’s pursuit of his imperial legacy collapses, we can expect greater deception and manipulation and perhaps even frequent resort to elite-designed ‘terrorist’ assassinations.

Aug 082016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

Part-PAR-Par7837089-1-1-0

Introduction

For the past decade, the US intelligence agencies operating in Turkey have worked closely with the increasingly influential parallel government of Fethullah Gulen. Their approach to power was, until recently, a permeationist strategy, of covertly taking over political, economic, administrative, judicial, media, military and cultural positions gradually without resort to elections or military coups. They adopted flexible tactics, supporting and shedding different allies to eliminate rivals.

In 2010 in support of Erdogan, they played a major role in arresting and purging 300 Kemalist – military officials.  Subsequently the Gulenists moved to prosecute and weaken the Erdogan regime via revelations of family corruption uncovered by their intelligence officials and publicized by its mass media outlets.

The Gulenists shared several important policies with Washington which favored “the convergence” that led up to the July 15, 2016 coup.

The Gulenists backed US-Israeli policies in the Middle East; opposed the ‘independent’ and erratic power projections of Erdogan; favored pro-Western free market policies; accepted US relations with the Kurds; rejected any accommodation with the Russians.

In other words, the Gulenists were far more reliable, dependent and subject to the dictates of EU-NATO-US policy throughout the Middle East than the Erdogan regime.

Erdogan was aware of the growing power of the Gulenists and their growing links to Washington.  Erdogan moved decisively  and successfully, to pre-empt the Gulenist power grab by forcing a premature coup.

Erdogan Power Bloc Defeats Gulenist Presence

The Gulenists were a powerful force in the Turkish state and civil society. They had a strong presence in the civil bureaucracy; among sectors of the military, the mass media and educational installations; and among technocrats in the financial agencies. Yet they were defeated in less than twenty-four hours, because Erdogan had several undeniable strengths.

First and foremost, Erdogan was an unmatched political leader with a strategy to retain power and a powerful active mass popular base. The Gulenists had nothing comparable.

Erdogan had a superior intelligence and military command which infiltrated and undermined the Gulenists who were totally unprepared for a violent confrontation.

The Gulenists ‘permeationist’ strategy was unprepared and totally incapable of seizing power and mobilizing ‘the street’.

They lacked the cadres and organized grass roots support which Erdogan had built from the bottom-up over the previous two decades.

Erdogan’s insider and outside Islamic-Nationalist strategy was far superior to the Gulenist insider-pro-US liberal strategy.

US Miscalculations in the Coup

The Gulenists depended on US support, which totally miscalculated the relations of power and misread  Erdogan’s capacity to preempt the coup.

The major flaw among the US advisers was their ignorance of the Turkish political equation: they underestimated Erdogan’s overwhelming party, electoral and mass support. The CIA overestimated the Gulenists support in their institutional elite structures and underestimated their political isolation in Turkish society.

Moreover, the US military had no sense of the specifications of Turkish political culture – the general popular opposition to a military-bureaucratic takeover. They failed to recognize that the anti-coup forces included political parties and social movements critical of Erdogan.

The US strategists based the coup on their misreading of the military coups in Egypt, Libya, Iraq and Yemen which ousted nationalist and Islamic civilian regimes.

Erdogan was not vulnerable in the same way as President Mohamed Morsi (June 30, 2012 – July 3, 2013) was in Egypt – he controlled intelligence, military and mass supporters.

The US-Gulenists military intelligence strategy was unplanned, uncoordinated and precipitous – Erdogan’s counter-coup forced their hand and struck decisive, sweeping blows that demoralized the entire Gulenist super-structure. Thousands of supporters fell like clay pigeons.

The US was put on the defensive – the rapid dissolution of their followers forced them to disown their allies and fall back on general, unconvincing ‘humanitarian’ and ‘security’ criticisms of Erdogan. Their claims that the Erdogan purge would weaken the fight against ISIS had no influence in Turkey. Washington’s charges that the arrests were ‘mistreating and abusing’ prisoners had no impact.

The key political fact is that the US backed an uprising which had taken up arms and killed Erdogan loyalist military personel and innocent unarmed civilians opposed to the coup undermined Washington’s feeble protests.

In the end the US even refused refugee status and abandoned their Gulenist General’s to Erdogan’s fate. Only Fethullah Gulen himself was protected from extradition by his State Department handlers.

Consequences of the US-Gulen Coup

Washington’s failure to bring down Erdogan could have enormous repercussions throughout the Middle East, Western Europe and the United States.

Erdogan ordered seven thousand troops to encircle the strategic NATO airbase in Incirlik, Turkey, an act of intimidation threatening to undermine NATO’s major nuclear facility and operational base against Syria, Iraq and Russia.

Turkish intelligence and cabinet officials have called into question ongoing political alliances, openly accusing the US military of treason for its role in the coup.

Erdogan has moved to reconcile relations with Russia and has distanced his ties with the European Union.

If Turkey downgrades its ties with NATO, the US would lose its strategic ally on the Southern flank of Russia and undermine its capacity to dominate Syria and Iraq.

Washington’s leverage in Turkey has been dramatically reduced with the decimation of the Gulenist power base in the civilian and military organizations.

Washington may have to rely on the anemic, unstable and servile Syriza – Tsipras regime in Greece to ‘anchor’ its policies in the region.

The failed coup means a major retreat for Washington in the region – and a possible advance for Syria, Iran, Lebanon and Russia.

There are two caveats to this proposition. After Erdogan ‘completes’ the purge of Gulenists’ and condemns Washington, will he be willing and able to pursue a new independent policy or will he simply tighten internal control and ‘renegotiate’ a NATO agreement?

Will Erdogan consolidate political control over the army or will the defeat of the Gulenists be a temporary outcome which will unleash new military factions which will destabilize the political regime?

Finally, Erdogan depends on Western finance and investment which is highly resistant to backing a regime critical of the US, the EU and NATO. If Erdogan faces economic pressures from the West can he turn elsewhere or will he, in the face of capitalist ‘realities’ retreat and submit?

Erdogan, temporarily may have defeated a US coup, but history teaches us that new military, political and economic interventions are on Washington’s agenda.