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

Nov 212015

By James Petras, 99GetSmart



Over the past 15 years the US has been engaged in a series of wars, which has led many writers to refer to the ‘rise of militarism’ – the growth of an empire, built primarily by and for the projection of military power – and only secondarily to advance economic imperialism.

The rise of a military-based empire, however, does not preclude the emergence of competing, conflicting and convergent power configurations within the imperial state. These factions of the Washington elite define the objectives and targets of imperial warfare, often on their own terms.

Having stated the obvious general fact of the power of militarism within the imperial state, it is necessary to recognize that the key policy-makers, who direct the wars and military policy, will vary according to the country targeted, type of warfare engaged in and their conception of the war. In other words, while US policy is imperialist and highly militaristic, the key policymakers, their approach and the outcomes of their policies will differ. There is no fixed strategy devised by a cohesive Washington policy elite guided by a unified strategic vision of the US Empire.

In order to understand the current, seemingly endless wars, we have to examine the shifting coalitions of elites, who make decisions in Washington but not always primarily for Washington. Some factions of the policy elite have clear conceptions of the American empire, but others improvise and rely on superior ‘political’ or ‘lobbying’ power to successfully push their agenda in the face of repeated failures and suffer no consequences or costs.

We will start by listing US imperial wars during the last decade and a half. We will then identify the main policy-making faction which has been the driving force in each war. We will discuss their successes and failures as imperial policy makers and conclude with an evaluation of “the state of the empire” and its future.

Imperial Wars: From 2001 – 2015

The current war cycle started in late 2001 with the US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. This was followed by the invasion and occupation of Iraq in March 2003, the US arms support for Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 2006, the proxy invasion of Somalia in 2006/7; the massive re-escalation of war in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007 – 2009; the   bombing, invasion ‘regime change’ in Libya in 2011; the ongoing proxy-mercenary war against Syria (since 2012), and the ongoing 2015 Saudi-US invasion and destruction of Yemen. In Europe, the US was behind the 2014 proxy putsch and violent ‘regime change’ in Ukraine which has led to an ongoing war against ethnic Russian speakers in south-east Ukraine, especially the populous industrial heartland of the Donbas region.

Over the past 15 years, there have been overt and covert military interventions, accompanied by an intense, provocative military build-up along Russia’s borders in the Baltic States, Eastern Europe (especially Poland), the Balkans (Bulgaria and Romania) and the mammoth US base in Kosovo; in Central Europe with nuclear missiles in Germany and, of course, the annexation of Ukraine and Georgia as US-NATO clients.

Parallel to the military provocations encircling Russia, Washington has launched a major military, political, economic and diplomatic offensive aimed at isolating China and affirming US supremacy in the Pacific.

In South American, US military intervention found expression via Washington-orchestrated business-military coup attempts in Venezuela in 2002 and Bolivia in 2008, and a successful ‘regime change’ in Honduras in 2009, overthrowing its elected president and installing a US puppet.

In summary, the US has been engaged in two, three or more wars since 2001, defining an almost exclusively militarist empire, run by an imperial state directed by civilian and military officials seeking unchallenged global dominance through violence.

Washington: Military Workshop of the World

War and violent regime change are the exclusive means through which the US now advances its foreign policy. However, the various Washington war-makers among the power elite do not form a unified bloc with common priorities. Washington provides the weapons, soldiers and financing for whichever power configuration or faction among the elite is in a position, by design or default, to seize the initiative and push their own war agenda.

The invasion of Afghanistan was significant in so far as it was seen by all sectors of the militarist elite, as the first in a series of wars. Afghanistan was to set the stage for the launching of higher priority wars elsewhere.

Afghanistan was followed by the infamous ‘Axis of Evil’ speech, dictated by Tel Aviv, penned by presidential speech-writer, David Fromm and mouthed by the brainless President Bush, II. The ‘Global War on Terror’ was the thinly veiled slogan for serial wars around the world. Washington measured the loyalty of its vassals among the nations of Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America by their support for the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. The Afghan invasion provided the template for future wars. It led to an unprecedented increase in the military budget and ushered in  ‘Caesar’-like dictatorial presidential powers to order and execute wars, silencing domestic critics and sending scored of thousands of US and NATO troops to the ‘Hindu Kush’.

In itself, Afghanistan was never any threat and certainly no economic prize for plunder and profit. The Taliban had not attacked the US. Osama Bin Laden could have been turned over to a judicial tribunal – as the governing Taliban had insisted.

The US military (with its ‘Coalition of the Willing’ or COW) successfully invaded and occupied Afghanistan and set up a vassal regime in Kabul. It built scores of military bases and attempted to form an obedient colonial army. In the meantime, the Washington militarist elite had moved on to bigger and, for the Israel-centric Zionist elite, higher priority wars, namely Iraq.

The decision to invade Afghanistan was not opposed by any of Washington’s militarist elite factions. They all shared the idea of using a successful military blitz or ‘cake-walk’ against the abysmally impoverished Afghanistan as a way to rabble rouse the American masses into accepting a long period of intense and costly global warfare throughout the world.

Washington’s militarist elites fabricated the link between the attacks on 9/11/2001 and Afghanistan’s governing Taliban and the presence of the Saudi warlord Osama Bin Laden. Despite the ‘fact’ that most of the ‘hijackers’ were from the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and none were Afghans, invading and destroying Afghanistan was to be the initial test to gauge the highly manipulated and frightened American public’s willingness to shoulder the burden of a huge new cycle of imperial wars. This has been the only aspect of the invasion of Afghanistan that could be viewed as a policy success – it made the costs of endless wars ‘acceptable’ to a relentlessly propagandized public.

Flush with their military victories in the Hindu Kush, the Washington militarists turned to Iraq and fabricated a series of increasingly preposterous pretexts for war: Linking the 9/11 ‘jihadi’ hijackers with the secular regime of Saddam Hussein, whose intolerance for violent Islamists (especially the Saudi variety) was well documented, and concocting a whole fabric of lies about Iraqi ‘weapons of mass destruction’ which provided the  propaganda basis for invading an already disarmed, blockaded and starved Iraq in March 2003.

Leading the Washington militarists in designing the war to destroy Iraq were the Zionists, including Paul Wolfowitz, Elliot Abrams, Richard Perle, and a few Israel-centric Gentile militarists, such as Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. The Zionists had a powerful entourage in key positions in the State Department, Treasury and the Pentagon.

There were ‘outsiders’ – non-Zionists and militarists within these institutions, especially the Pentagon, who voiced reservations – but they were brushed aside, not consulted and ‘encouraged’ to retire.

None of the ‘old hands’ in the State Department or Pentagon bought into the hysteria about Sadaam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, but to voice reservations was to risk one’s career. The manufacture and dissemination of the pretext for invading Iraq was orchestrated by a small team of operatives linking Tel Aviv and  Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz’s “Office of Special Plans”, a tight group of Zionists and some Israelis headed by Abram Shulsky (Sept. 2002 – June 2003).

The US war on Iraq was an important part of Israel’s agenda to ‘re-make the Middle East’ to establish its unchallenged regional hegemony and execute a ‘final solution’ for its own vexing ‘Arab (native Palestinian) problem’: It was made operational by the powerful Zionist faction within the Executive (White House), which had assumed almost dictatorial powers after the attack on 9/11/2001. Zionists planned the war , designed the ‘occupation policy’ and ‘succeeded wildly’ with the eventual dismemberment of a once modern secular nationalist Arab state.

In order to smash the Iraqi state – the US occupation policy was to eliminate (through mass firings, jailing and assassination) all high level, experienced Iraqi civil, military and scientific personnel – down to high school principals. They dismantled any vital infrastructure (which had not been already destroyed by the decades of US sanctions and bombing under President Clinton) and reduced an agriculturally advanced Iraq to a barren wasteland which would take centuries to recover and could never challenge Israel’s colonization of Palestine, let alone its military supremacy in the Middle East. Naturally, the large Palestinian Diaspora refugee population in Iraq was targeted for ‘special treatment’.

But Zionist policymakers had a much larger agenda than erasing Iraq as a viable country: They had a longer list of targets: Syria, Iran, Lebanon and Libya, whose destructions were to be carried out with US and NATO blood and treasure (and not a single Israeli soldier).

Despite the fact that Iraq did not even possess a functioning air force or navy in March 2003 and Afghanistan in late 2001 was rather primitive, the invasions of both countries turned out to be very costly to the US.  The US completely failed to benefit from its ‘victory and occupation’, despite Paul Wolfowitz’ boasts that the pillage of Iraq’s oil fields would pay for the entire project in a ‘few months’. This was because the real Zionist plan was  to destroy these nations – beyond any possibility for a quick or cheap imperialist economic gain. Scorching the earth and salting the fields is not a very profitable policy for empire builders.

Israel has been the biggest winner with no cost for the ‘Jewish State’. The American Zionist policy elite literally handed them the services of the largest and richest armed forces in history: the US. ‘Israel-Firsters’ played a decisive role among Washington policy-makers and Tel Aviv celebrated in the streets! They came, they dominated policy and they accomplished their mission: Iraq (and millions of its people) was destroyed.

The US gained an unreliable, broken colony, with a devastated economy and systematically destroyed infrastructure and without the functioning civil service needed for a modern state. To pay for the mess, the American people faced a spiraling budget deficit, tens of thousands of American war casualties and massive cuts in their own social programs. Crowning the Washington war-makers’ victory was the disarticulation of American civil and constitutional rights and liberties and the construction of a enormous domestic police state.

After the Iraq disaster, the same influential Zionist faction in Washington lost no time in demanding a new war against Israel’s bigger enemy – namely Iran. In the ensuing years, they failed to push the US to attack Teheran but they succeeded in imposing crippling sanctions on Iran. The Zionist faction secured massive US military support for Israel’s abortive invasion of Lebanon and its devastating series of blitzkriegs against the impoverished and trapped people of Gaza.

The Zionist faction successfully shaped US military interventions to meet Israel’s regional ambitions against three Arab countries: Yemen, Syria and Libya. The Zionists were not able to manipulate the US into attacking Iran because the traditional militarist faction in Washington balked: With instability in Afghanistan and Iraq, the US was not well positioned to face a major conflagration throughout the Middle East, South Asia and beyond – which a ground and air war with Iran would involve. However, the Zionist factions did secure brutal economic sanctions and the appointment of key Israel-Centric officials within the US Treasury. Secretary Stuart Levey, at the start of the Obama regime, and David Cohen afterwards, were positioned to enforce the sanctions.

Even before the ascendency of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Tel Aviv’s military objectives after Iraq, including Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Libya and Yemen had to be spaced over time, because the non-Zionist factions among Washington’s elite had been unable to  integrate occupied Afghanistan and Iraq into the empire.

Resistance, armed conflict and military advances in both Afghanistan and Iraq never ceased and are continuing into their 2nddecade. As soon as the US would withdraw from a region, declaring it ‘pacified’, the armed resistance would move back in and the local sepoys would defect to the rebels or take off for London or Washington with millions in pillaged loot.

‘Unfinished wars’, mounting casualties and spiraling costs, with no end in sight, undermined the agreement between the militarist and the Zionist factions in the Executive branch. However, the massively powerful Zionist presence in the US Congress provided a platform to bray for new and even bigger wars.

Israel’s vicious invasion of Lebanon in 2006 was defeated despite receiving massive US arms supplies, a US funded ‘Iron Dome’ missile defense system and intelligence assistance. Tel Aviv could not defeat the highly disciplined and motivated Hezbollah fighters in South Lebanon  despite resorting to carpet bombing of civilian neighborhoods with millions of banned cluster munitions and picking off ambulances and churches sheltering refugees. Israelis have been much more triumphal murdering lightly armed Palestinian resistance fighters and stone-throwing children.

Libya: A Multi-faction War for the Militarists (without Big Oil)

The war against Libya was a result of multiple factions among the Washington militarist elite, including the Zionists, coming together with French, English and German militarists to smash the most modern, secular, independent state in Africa under President Muammar Gaddafi.

The aerial campaign against the Gaddafi regime had virtually no organized support within Libya with which to reconstruct a viable neocolonial state ripe for pillage. This was another ‘planned dismemberment’ of a complex, modern republic which had been independent of the US Empire.

The war succeeded wildly in shredding Libya’s economy, state and society. It unleashed scores of armed terrorist groups, (who appropriated the modern weapons of Gaddafi’s army and police) and uprooted two million black contract workers and Libyan citizens of South Saharan origin forcing them to flee the rampaging racist militias to the refugee camps of Europe. Untold thousands died in rickety boats in the Mediterranean Sea.

The entire war was carried out to the publicly giddy delight of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her ‘humanitarian interventionist’ lieutenants (Susan Rice and Samantha Power), who were utterly ignorant as to who and what the Libyan “opposition” represented. Eventually, even  Hillary’s own Ambassador to Libya would be slaughtered by . . . the same victorious US-backed ‘rebels’ (sic) in the newly liberated Benghazi!

The Zionist faction destroyed Gaddafi (whose capture, grotesque torture and murder was filmed and widely disseminated), eliminating another real adversary of Israel and supporter of Palestinian rights. The US militarist faction, which led the war, got nothing positive – not even a secure naval, air or training base – only a dead Ambassador, millions of desperate refugees flooding Europe and thousands of trained and armed jihadists for the next target: Syria.

For a while Libya became the main supply-line for Islamist mercenaries and arms to invade Syria and fight the secular nationalist government in Damascus.

Once again the least influential faction in Washington turned out to be the oil and gas industry, which lost lucrative contracts it had already signed with the Gaddafi regime. Thousands of highly trained foreign oil workers were withdrawn. After Iraq, it should have been obvious that these wars were not ‘for oil’!

Ukraine: Coups, Wars and Russia’s ‘Underbelly’

With the US-orchestrated coup and intervention in Ukraine, the militarist factions once again seized the initiative, establishing a puppet regime in Kiev and targeting Russia’s strategic ‘soft underbelly’. The plan had been to take over Russia’s strategic military bases in Crimea and cut Russia from the vital military-industrial complexes in the Donbas region with its vast iron and coal reserves.

The mechanics of the power grab were relatively well planned, the political clients were put in power, but the US militarists had made no contingencies for propping up the Ukrainian economy, cut loose from its main trading partner and oil and gas supplier, Russia.

The coup led to a ‘proxy war’ in the ethnic-Russian majority regions in the south east (the Donbas) with four ‘unanticipated consequences’. 1) a country divided east and west along ethno-linguistic lines, (2) a bankrupt economy made even worse by the imposition of an IMF  austerity program, (3) a corrupt crony capitalist elite, which was ‘pro-West by bank account’, (4) and, after two years, mass disaffection among voters toward the US puppet regime.

The militarists in Washington and Brussels succeeded in engineering the coup in Ukraine but lacked the domestic allies, plans and preparations to run the country and successfully annex it to the EU and NATO as a viable country.

Apparently the militarist factions in the State Department and Pentagon are much more proficient in stage managing coups and invasions than in establishing a stable regime as part of a New World Order. They succeed in the former and fail repeatedly in the latter.

The Pivot to Asia and the Pirouette to Syria

During most of the previous decade, traditional global strategists in Washington increasingly objected to the Zionist faction’s domination and direction of US war policies focused on the Middle East for the benefit of Israel, instead of meeting the growing challenge of the new world economic superpower in Asia, China.

US economic supremacy in Asia had been deeply eroded as China’s economy grew at double digits. Beijing was displacing the US as the major trade partner in the Latin American and African markets. Meanwhile, the top 500 US MNC’s were heavily invested in China. Three years into President Obama’s first term the ‘China militarist faction’ announced a shift from the Middle East and the Israel-centric agenda to a ‘pivot to Asia’, the source of 40% of the world’s industrial output.

But it was not profits and markets that motivated Washington’s Asia faction among the militarist elites – it was military power. Even trade agreements, like the TransPacific Partnership (TPP), were viewed as tools to encircle and weaken China militarily and undermine its regional influence.

Led by the hysterical Pentagon boss Ashton Carter, Washington prepared a series of major military confrontations with Beijing off the coast of China.

The US signed expanded military base agreements with the Philippines, Japan and Australia; it participated in military exercises with Vietnam, South Korea and Malaysia; it dispatched battleships and aircraft carriers into Chinese territorial waters.

The US confrontational trade policy was formulated by the Zionist trio: Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzer, Trade Negotiator, Michael Froman (who works for both the Asia militarist and Zionist factions) and Treasury Secretary, Jake Lew. The result was the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), involving 12 Pacific countries while deliberating excluding China. Washington’s Asian militarist faction planned to militarize the entire Pacific Basin, in order to dominate the maritime trade routes and, at a moment’s notice, choke off all of China’s overseas markets and suppliers – shades of the series of US provocations against Japan leading up to the US entering WW2.

The ‘Asia-militarist faction’ successfully demanded a bigger military budget to accommodate its vastly more aggressive  posture toward China.

Predictably, China has insisted on defending its maritime routes and has increased its naval and air base building and sea and air patrols. Also, predictably, China has countered the US-dominated TPP by setting-up a one hundred billion dollar Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), while contributing to the multi-billion dollar BRICS Bank. Meanwhile, China even signed a separate $30 billion dollar trade agreement with Washington’s strategic ‘partner’, Britain. In fact, Britain followed the rest of the EU and joined the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank – despite objections from Washington’s “Asia faction”.

While the US depends heavily on its military pacts with South Korea and Japan, the latter nations have been meeting with China – their most significant trading partner – to work on expanding and deepening economic ties.

Up until 2014, the “business-with-China faction” of the Washington elite played a key role in the making of US-Asia policy. However, they have been eclipsed by the Asia militarist-faction, which is taking US policy in a totally different direction: Pushing China out as Asia’s economic superpower and escalating military confrontation with Beijing now heads Washington’s agenda.

Ashton Carter, the US Defense Secretary, has China, the second most important economy in the world in the Pentagon’s ‘cross-hairs’. When the TPP failed to curtail China’s expansion, the militarist faction shifted Washington toward a high risk military course, which could destabilize the region and risk a nuclear confrontation.

The Pirouette: China and Syria

Meanwhile in the Levant, Washington’s Zionist faction has been busy running a proxy war in Syria. The pivot to Asia has had to compete with the pirouette to Syria and Yemen.

The US joined Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the Gulf Emirates and the EU in sponsoring a replay of the Libyan ‘regime change’ – sponsoring proxy terrorists from around the globe into invading and devastating Syria. Damascus has been attacked from all sides for the ‘crime’ of being secular and multi-ethnic; for being pro-Palestinian; for being allied with Iran and Lebanon; for having an independent foreign policy; and for maintaining a limited representative (but not necessarily democratic) government. For these crimes, the West, Israel and the Saudis would have Syria fractured into ethnically cleansed ‘tribal state’ – something they had accomplished in Iraq and Libya.

The US militarist faction (personified by Secretary of Defense Carter and Senators McCain and Graham) have funded, trained and equipped the terrorists, whom they call ‘moderates’ and had clearly expected their progeny to follow Washington’s directions. The emergence of Isis showed just how close these ‘moderates’ stuck to Washington’s script.

Initially, the traditional militarist wing of Washington’s elite resisted the Zionist faction’s demand for direct US military intervention (American ‘boots on the ground’). That is changing with recent (very convenient) events in Paris.

Warfare: From Piecemeal Interventions to Nuclear Confrontation

The Washington militarists have again committed more US soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan; American fighter planes and Special Forces are in Syria and Yemen. Meanwhile, US naval armadas aggressively patrol the coasts of China and Iran. The militarist – Zionist ‘compromise’ over Syria was comprised of an initial contingent of 50 US Special Forces to join in ‘limited’ combat roles with (“loyal” sic) Islamist mercenaries – the so-called ‘moderates’. There are commitments for greater and heavier weaponry to come, including ground to air missiles capable of shooting down Russian and Syrian military jets.

Elite Factional Politics: An Overview

How does the record of these competing factions, formulating US imperial war policies in the Middle East over the past 15 years stack up? Clearly there has been no coherent imperial economic strategy.

The policy toward Afghanistan is remarkable for its failure to end the longest war in US history – over 14 years of occupation! The recent attempts by US-led client NATO forces to withdraw have been immediately followed by military advances by the nationalist-Islamist resistance militia – the Taliban, which controls much of the countryside. The possibility of a collapse of the current puppet in Kabul has forced the militarists in Washington to retain US bases – surrounded by completely hostile rural populations.

The Afghan war’s initial appearance of success triggered new wars – inter alia Iraq. But taking the long view, the Afghan war, has been a miserable failure in terms of the stated strategic goal of establishing a stable client government. The Afghan economy collapsed: opium production (which had been significantly suppressed by the Taliban’s poppy eradication campaign in 2000-2001) is the now predominant crop – with cheap heroin flooding Europe and beyond. Under the weight of massive and all pervasive corruption by ‘loyal’ client officials – the Afghan treasury is empty. The puppet rulers are totally disconnected from the most important regional, ethnic, religious and family clans and associations.

Washington could not ‘find’ any viable economic classes in Afghanistan with which to anchor a development strategy. They did not come to terms with the deep ethno-religious consciousness rooted in rural communities and fought the most popular political force among the majority Pashtu, the Taliban, which had no role in the attack on ‘9/11’.

They artificially slapped together a massive army of surly illiterates under Western imperial command and watched it fall apart at the seams, defect to the Taliban or turn their own guns on the foreign occupation troops. These “mistakes”, which accounted for the failure of the militarist faction in the Afghanistan war were due, in no small part, to the pressure and influence of the Zionist faction who wanted to quickly move on to their highest priority, a US war against Israel’s first priority enemy – Iraq – without consolidating the US control in Afghanistan. For the Zionists, Afghanistan (envisioned as a ‘cake-walk’ or quick victory) was just a tool to set the stage for a much larger sequence of US wars against Israel’s regional Arab and Persian adversaries.

Before the militarists could establish any viable order and an enduring governmental structure in Afghanistan, attention shifted to a Zionist-centered war against Iraq.

The build-up for the US war against Iraq has to be understood as a project wholly engineered by and for the state of Israel, mostly through its agents within the US government and Washington policy elite. The goal was to establish Israel as the unchallenged political-military power in the region using American troops and money and preparing the ground for Tel Aviv’s “final solution” for the Palestinian ‘problem’; total expulsion…

The US military and occupation campaign included the wholesale and systematic destruction of Iraq: Its law and order, culture, economy and society – so there would be no possibility of recovery. Such a vicious campaign did not resonate with any productive sector of the US economy (or for that matter with any Israeli economic interest).

Washington’s Zionist faction set about in a parody of ‘Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge’ to identify and destroy any competent, experienced Iraqi professional, civil servant, scientist, intellectual, or military official capable of re-organizing and re-building the county and war-battered society. They were assassinated, arrested, tortured or driven into exile. The occupation deliberately encouraged religious parties and traditional tribes to engage in inter-communal massacres and ethnic cleansing. In other words, the Zionist faction did not pursue the traditionally understood policy of empire building which would incorporate the second tier functionaries of a conquered state to form a competent client regime and use Iraq’s great oil and gas wealth to build its economy. Instead they chose to impose a scorched earth policy; setting loose organized sectarian armies, imposing the rule of grotesquely corrupt ex-pats and placing the most venal, sectarian clients in positions of power. The effect has been to transform the most advanced, secular Arab country into an ‘Afghanistan’ and in less than 15 years destroying centuries of culture and community.

The goal of the ‘Zionist strategy’ was to destroy Iraq as Israel’s regional rival. The cost of over a million Iraqi dead and many million refugees did not prick any conscience in Washington or Tel Aviv.

After all, Washington’s traditional ‘militarist faction’ picked up the bill (costing hundreds of billions) which they passed on to the American taxpayers (well over one trillion dollars) and used the deaths and suffering of tens of thousands of American troops to provide a pretext for spreading more chaos. The result of their mayhem includes the specter of ‘Isis’, which they may consider to be a success – since hysteria over ‘Isis’ pushes the West ‘closer to Israel’.

The sheer scale of death and destruction inflicted on the Iraqi population by the Zionist faction led to thousands of highly competent Ba’athist officers, who had survived ‘Shock and Awe’ and the sectarian massacres, to join armed Islamist Sunnis and eventually form the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This group of experienced Iraqi military officers formed the strategic technical core of Isis which launched a devastating offensive in Iraq in 2014 – taking major cities in the north and completely routing the US-trained puppet armies of the ‘government’ in Baghdad. From there they moved into Syria and beyond. It is fundamental to understanding the roots of ISIS: The Zionist faction among US militarist policymakers imposed a deliberate ‘scorched earth’ occupation policy, which united highly trained nationalist Baathist military officers with young Sunni fighters, both locals and increasingly foreign jihadist mercenaries. These deracinated members of the traditional Iraqi nationalist military elite had lost their families to the sectarian massacres; they were persecuted, tortured, driven underground and highly motivated. They literally had nothing left to lose!

This core of the Isis leadership stands in stark contrast to the colonial, corrupt and demoralized army slapped together by the US military with more cash than morale. ISIS quickly swept through half of Iraq and came within 40 miles of Baghdad.

The US militarist faction faced military defeat after eight years of war. They mobilized, financed and armed their client Kurdish mercenaries in northern Iraq and recruited the Shia Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to appeal to the Shia militia.

ISIS exploited the Western-backed Islamist uprising in Syria – and extended their sweep well across the border. Syria had accepted a million Iraqi refugees from the US invasion, including many of Iraq’s surviving experienced nationalist administrative elite. The US militarists are in a dilemma – another full-scale war would not be politically feasible, and its military outcome uncertain. Moreover the US was aligned with dubious allies  – especially the Saudis – who had their own regional ambitions

Turkey and Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Kurds were each eager to expand their power territorially and politically.

In the midst of this, the traditional Washington militarists are left with no overall viable imperialist strategy. Instead they improvise with faux ‘rebels’, who claim to be moderates and democrats, while taking US guns and dollars and ultimately joining the most powerful Islamist groups – like Isis.

Throwing a wrench into the machinery of Israeli-Saudi hegemonic ambitions, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah have sided with the secular Syrian government. Russia finally moved to bomb Isis strongholds – after identifying a significant Isis contingent of militant Chechens whose ultimate aims are to bring war and terror back to Russia.

The US-EU war against Libya unleashed all the retrograde mercenary forces from three continents (Africa, Asia and Europe) and Washington finds itself with no means to control them. Washington could not even protect its own consulate in their “liberated” regional capital of Benghazi – the US ambassador and two intelligence aides were killed by Washington’s own ‘rebels’. The competing and cooperating factions of the Washington militarist elite placed Libya on a steaming platter: Serving up invasion, regicide and hundreds of thousands of refugees, which they did not bother to even ‘season’ with any plan or strategy – just  unadulterated scorched earth against another opponent of Zionism. And a potentially lucrative strategic neo-colony in North Africa has been lost with no accountability for the Washington architects of such barbarism.

Latin America: The Last Outpost of the Multi-Nationals

As we have seen, the major theaters of imperial policy (the Middle East and Asia) have been dominated by militarists, nonprofessional diplomats-linked to the MNCs. Latin America stands as something of an exception. In Latin America, US policymakers have been guided by big business interests. Their main focus has been on pushing the neoliberal agenda. Eventually this has meant promoting the US-centered ‘free trade’ agreements, joint military exercises, shared military bases, and political backing for the US global military agenda.

The ‘militarist faction’ in Washington worked with the traditional business faction in support of  the unsuccessful military coups in Venezuela (2002 and 2014), the attempted coup in Bolivia 2008, and a successful regime change in Honduras (2010).

To harass the independent Argentine government which was developing closer diplomatic and trade ties with Iran, a sector of the US Zionist financial elite (the ‘vulture fund’ magnate Paul Singer) joined forces with the Zionist militarist faction to raise hysterical accusations against President Cristina Kirchner over the ‘mysterious’ suicide of a Israel-linked Argentine prosecutor. The prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, had devoted his career to ‘cooking up a case’ against Iran with the aid of the Mossad and CIA for the unsolved, bombing the Buenos Aires Jewish community center in 1994. Various investigations had exonerated Iran and the “Nisman Affaire” was an intense effort to keep Argentina from trading with Iran.

The Washington business faction operated in a mildly hostile Latin America for most of the past decade. However, it was able to recover influence, via a series of bilateral free trade agreements and took advantage of the end of the commodity cycle. The latter weakened the center-left regimes and moved them closer to Washington.

The ‘excesses’ committed by the US backed military dictatorships during the nineteen sixties through eighties, and the crisis of the neoliberal nineties, set the stage for the rise of a relatively moderate business-diplomatic faction to come to the fore in Washington. It is also the case that the various militarist and Zionist factions in Washington were focused elsewhere (Europe, Middle East and Asia). In any case the US political elite operates in Latin America mostly via political and business proxies, for the time being.


From our brief survey, it is clear that wars play a key role in US foreign policy in most regions of the world. However, war policies in different regions respond to different factions in the governing elite.

The traditional militarist faction predominates creating confrontations in Ukraine, Asia and along the Russian border. Within that framework the US Army, Air Force and Special Forces play a leading, and fairly conventional, role. In the Far East, the Navy and Air Force predominate.

In the Middle East and South Asia, the military (Army and Air Force) factions share power with the Zionist faction. Fundamentally, the Zionist dictate policy on Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine and the militarists follow.

Both factions overlapped in creating the debacle in Libya.

The factions form shifting coalitions, supporting wars of interest to their respective power centers. The militarists and Zionists worked together in launching the Afghan war; but once launched, the Zionists abandoned Kabul and concentrated on preparing for the invasion and occupation of Iraq, which was of far greater interest to Israel.

It should be noted that at no point did the oil and business elite play any significant role in war policy. The Zionist faction pushed hard to secure direct US ground intervention in Libya and Syria, but was not able to force the US  to send large contingents of ground troops due to opposition from the Russians as well as a growing sector of the US electorate. Likewise, the Zionists played a leading role in successfully imposing sanctions against Iran and a major role in prosecuting banks around the world accused of violating the sanctions. However, they were not able to block the military faction from securing a diplomatic agreement with Iran over its uranium enrichment program – without going to war.

Clearly, the business faction plays a major role in promoting US trade agreements and tries to lift or avoid sanctions against important real and potential trade partners like China, Iran and Cuba.

The Zionists faction among the Washington elite policymakers take positions which consistently push for wars and aggressive policies against any regime targeted by Israel. The differences between the traditional militarist and Zionist factions are blurred by most writers who scrupulously avoid identifying Zionist decision-makers, but there is no question of who benefits and who loses.

The kind of war which the Zionists promote and implement – the utter destruction of enemy countries – undermines any plans by the traditional militarist faction and the military to consolidate power in an occupied country and incorporate it into a stable empire.

It is a serious error to lump these factions together: the business, Zionist and various militarist factions of the Washington policy making elite are not one homogeneous group. They may overlap at times, but they also differ as to interests, liabilities, ideology and loyalties. They also differ in their institutional allegiances.

The overarching militarist ideology, which permeates US imperial foreign policy obscures a deep and recurrent weakness – US policymakers master the mechanics of war but have no strategy for ruling after intervening. This has been glaringly evident in all recent wars: Iraq, Syria, Libya, Ukraine etc. Improvisation has repeatedly led to monumental failures: from financing phantom armies to bleeding billions to prop-up incompetent, kleptocratic puppet regimes. Despite the hundreds of billions of public money wasted in these serial disasters, no policymaker has been held to account.

Long wars and short memories are the norm for Washington’s militarist rulers who do not lose sleep over their blunders. The Zionists, for their part, do not even need a strategy for rule. They push the US into wars for Israel, and once having destroyed “the enemy country” they leave a vacuum to be filled by chaos. The American public provides the gold and blood for these misadventures and reaps nothing but domestic deterioration and greater international strife.

Nov 202015

By SnakeArbusto, 99GetSmart


French president François Hollande’s speech to the Congress at Versailles rode a wave of political solidarity, most politicians refraining from trying to make political profit off the terror attacks and “standing united against a common enemy”… with the notable exception of Hollande himself. He shamelessly used the situation to undermine the political threat from the Right and advance the implementation of an all-out police state. The satirical _Canard Enchainé_ called him “the General of [the] Division.”

Hollande announced that France’s borders were being closed and that he would ask for an extension of the emergency powers he has put in place, which can be maintained for a maximum 12 days without a legislative vote to extend them. (Today, as I write, all but a handful of deputies voted to grant an extension of three months.) Hollande further said that he would seek an amendment to the law governing the application of emergency powers allowing the executive to keep them in place longer without consulting the legislature. He said that “administrative” (meaning executive) searches and seizures will be able to be made with no court order. He promised to hire 5,000 new police and gendarmes in the next two years. Long-planned budget cuts designed to lower the costs of France’s armed forces have been frozen through 2019. He promised that he would seek an amendment to the constitution extending the conditions under which he can declare a state of siege – equivalent to full martial law. Constitutionalization would put the measure out of the reach of challenges from European human-rights legislation and France’s own Conseil Constitutionnel, which could challenge a law.

All of these legal and constitutional extensions of powers, Hollande suggested, are needed to cope with a “new context” which “the Republic will evolve” to face – presumably meaning a context in which young French men and women are recruited and trained as assassins and suicide bombers… by jihadist militias whom France itself and its allies have armed and trained for use as proxy armies against Assad.

Hollande clearly relishes the opportunity to play the strongman, to talk tough while undercutting his political adversaries. At one point he even made a brief head-wagging gesture that was astonishingly reminiscent of Mussolini. Or possibly Nicolas Sarkozy. Was it calculated, or spontaneous? Is he being coached by a consultant, the way the old George Bush was after his handlers noticed that a few of his gestures were just a touch too graceful? Is he simply aping his likely future adversary Sarkozy, who parlayed his stint as Interior (police) minister into a presidential term by baiting immigrants and ghetto youth, even stooping so low as to arrest suspected undocumented parents in a pre-dawn raid as they prepared their children for the first day of elementary school? Or, inside the chubby little bookkeeper, is there a swaggering Duce bent on taking the stage? And is a full-scale police state part of a long-standing plan to further tighten the grip of the neoliberal matrix?

In any case, Hollande is now “hunting on Sarkozy’s lands” as the French say. Beyond his militaristic posturing, he deliberately drew a connection between terrorism and the young people in France’s pressure-cooker suburban housing projects: “They move from delinquency to terrorism”. He promised that he would see to it that young offenders, born in France and sometimes third-generation immigrants, have their French nationality stripped from them. Playing on the fears of working-class citizens by singling out ghetto youths as being part of a foreign population the Republic is harboring in its bosom is one of the techniques Sarkozy had used to co-opt the extreme-Right Front National on his way to the presidency. Now Hollande – whose party is a direct inheritor of the Second International – is using the horror of November 13th as cover for doing exactly the same.

And the media are falling in line, while praising Hollande’s stern posturing and hypocritical calls for unity. The term “Islamofascism” is again being bandied about. A female journalist on the France-24 news network, commenting on the reports that a woman terrorist had blown herself up during the police attack in St-Denis Wednesday morning, said that “a page has been turned” and that “no woman wearing the Islamic veil can ever be trusted again”. Are women who wear blouson-style jackets and coats now suspect too? Or only if they are of Middle-Eastern complexion? Are all pregnant women now potential suicide bombers? Or only those who don’t have blond hair and/or smoke cigarettes?

The relatively short-term gains Hollande will take to the bank may or may not keep their value on the volatile market of politics. But the harm he is doing to the liberty that is supposedly one of France’s pillar values won’t easily be undone. And he chooses to do it rather than face the hypocrisy and the contradictions of France’s – and its allies’ – policies in the world in general and the Middle East in particular.

Nov 202015

By Mihalis Nevradakis, 99GetSmart

Dear listeners and friends of Dialogos Radio,

mosler1-300x169This week on Dialogos Radio, the Dialogos Interview Series will feature an exclusive and highly enlightening interview with well-known economist Warren Mosler. Mosler is a leading figure in the field of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and was also the co-founder of the Center for Full Employment and Price Stability at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. 
In our interview this week, Mosler will speak to us about the economic crisis in Greece and why it is, in reality, much different than often described, while also discussing the role of European Union policies in perpetuating the crisis. He will share with us his proposed solutions for combating the crisis, while also explaining to us exactly what seemingly straightforward terms such as “money” and “debt” actually mean.
Tune in for this excellent interview, plus our commentary of the week segment and some great Greek music, this week exclusively on Dialogos Radio!
For our full broadcast schedule, plus further details, our podcasts, archived programs, online radio station Dialogos Radio 24/7, and much more, visit
Recent Dialogos Radio Interviews Published in and!
Check out our recent interviews, which have been published on 99getsmart.comand on
Our interview with Greek-American aviation expert Bill Kalivas, on his online campaign for additional nonstop flights to be added from the United States to Greece, has recently been featured on, while our interview with Panagiotis Oikonomidis of Greece’s “No Middlemen Movement” has been featured in!
Dialogos Radio & Media
Αγαπητοί φίλοι και ακροατές,
Ενημερώνουμε τους ακροατές μας πως αυτή την εβδομάδα θα ετοιμάσουμε μόνοΑγγλόφωνη μετάδοση της εκπομπής μας. Η Ελληνόφωνη μετάδοση μας και η πολύ ενδιαφέρουσα συνέντευξη μας με τον οικονομολόγο Warren Mosler θα ακολουθήσει σε μία εβδομάδα. Μείνετε συντονισμένοι.
Διάλογος Radio & Media
Nov 172015

By Michael Nevradakis, 99GetSmart


The transcript of Dialogos Radio’s interview with Panagiotis Oikonomidis of Greece’s “No Middlemen Movement.” This interview aired on our broadcasts for the week of November 5-11, 2015. Find the podcast of this interview here.

MN: Joining us today on Dialogos Radio and the Dialogos Interview Series is Panagiotis Oikonomidis from the “No Middlemen Movement,” or Κίνημα Χωρίς Μεσάζοντες, in Greece. Oikonomidis will speak to us about the movement and its work in crisis-hit Greece, and more broadly on issues that have to do with local food production and the social economy in Greece. Panagiotis, thank you for joining us today.

PO: Great to be here with you and with your listeners.

MN: To get us started, share with us an introduction to the No Middle-Men Movement and what it does.

PO: Specifically, I am part of a group named “Breaking Up the Middle Men,” which is located in Petroupolis, one of the suburbs of Athens. This group is a member of the national No Middle-Men Movement. All of these local organizations, all of these solidarity groups which comprise the social economy in Greece through the national structure of the No Middlemen Movement, are interconnected with each other. This movement, aside from dealing with the practical issues of coordination and the exchange of information and know-how, also meets the needs which are expressed collectively through the national network of the No Middlemen Movement.

MN: Share with us some history about the No Middlemen Movement and how it first began.

PO: This movement first got started in 2012. At the time, it was first called the “Potato movement” and it got started with an initiative in the northern Greek city of Katerini from a local group there which decided to take action in response to the increasingly worsening Greek crisis and its impact on Greek society. This initiative had an immediate impact on both consumers and food producers. The founding members of this movement were attempting to find a solution that would allow them to assist both consumers and food producers at the same time, without there being any middle men involved. As you know, when an agricultural product is produced, this product is purchased by a merchant, who then usually packages it, distributes it, and resells it, before that product finally makes it to the market, whether it is on the shelves of a supermarket or at a farmer’s market.

In Greece, the farmer’s markets were revived beginning in the 1980s, as a means for farmers to bring their products direct to consumers, in specified locations within a municipality and in collaboration with the local municipal authorities. This is significant to keep in mind, because over time, these farmers’ markets have been transformed into markets which are dominated by middle men. At the present time, the best case scenario is that only perhaps 20 to 25 percent of the sellers who are at any given farmers’ market are actually farmers, while the rest are retailers and middle men.

So, as I was saying, what happens is that the product leaves the farm at its initial price, and then its price increases, both due to the fact that there is value added to the product by packaging or processing it, but also due to the profit margin of the middlemen involved. As a result, an agricultural product which might cost 35 cents per piece when it leaves the farm, reaches a cost of 1 euro and 10 cents once it hits the shelves. Obviously, this is a huge markup, and an added consequence of this market structure is that the middlemen end up wielding a tremendous deal of influence over the marketplace, allowing them to create artificial shortages of certain items, for instance, in order to inflate prices.

As the crisis in Greece deepened, all of these things, with regards to how the agricultural marketplace operates, began to rear their ugly head. This is where the No Middlemen Movement came in, to attempt to rebalance the situation, addressing the issue of cost for consumers, while also promoting the production of local, Greek-made produce. This is another extremely significant issue in Greece. There are agricultural products which are indeed produced in Greece, but there are also similar items which are imported from other countries at much lower prices and which somehow manage, through some illegal process, to end up labeled in the marketplace as products produced or grown in Greece and are promoted as such to consumers. This, of course, adversely impacts Greek agricultural production.

The No Middlemen Movement is attempting to address all of these issues, such as ensuring that items are accurately labeled as to whether they are produced in Greece or not or ensuring that they are sold at a fair price that would be good for consumers and allow them to purchase quality, locally-grown produce at an affordable price, while also guaranteeing that the farmer would earn enough in order to be able to prepare for his next harvest. The first efforts of this movement began in the city of Katerini in March of 2012 and was quickly dubbed by the media as the “Potato movement,” because the initial item that was sold were potatoes. Over time though, our movement began to provide directly to consumers a more diverse range of items, such as olive oil and honey, and at this time we offer around 90 or 100 different categories of goods.

MN: We are on the air with Panagiotis Oikonomidis of the No Middlemen Movement from Greece here on Dialogos Radio and the Dialogos Interview Series, and Panagiotis, with how many farmers and producers does the No Middlemen Movement presently work with throughout Greece, and how are they able to distribute their products through your network?

PO: As of the end of 2014, the No Middlemen Movement had 45 active groups operating throughout Greece. 26 of those groups are based in the Athens region. On average, 23 farmers and producers participate in each region where we are active, and between our foundation in 2012 and the end of 2014, our movement distributed a combined total amount of food totaling approximately 5,000 tons. This should give us an initial picture of what our movement has been able to accomplish during this time.

Now, how do we select farmers and producers to join our movement? Some of our criteria include that the food items offered are produced in Greece, that the individual who is joining our movement is a farmer and not a middleman or distributor, and that a fair price is offered for their goods. It is either our movement that comes in contact with a farmer or producer initially, or they can get in contact with us, either through our national network or one of our local organizations. Upon expressing their interest in participating in our movement and providing their produce to us, we ask them to name their selling price for the goods they are offering, how the food will be packaged, and from that point forward, in order to confirm that they are indeed a professional farmer, we ask for a copy of their tax return as well as for a copy of the declaration they have made to the Ministry of Agriculture, specifying the produce that they are growing and the total acreage they are dedicating to each item. This allows us to confirm that they are indeed a food producer and that the price that they have set is reasonable.

From that point, we perform a market study and determine the price levels for various goods in supermarkets, greengrocers and at the farmer’s markets, and based on that information, we agree to a final price with each producer who is interested in joining our movement. The next step is to make these items available via our website, where consumers can find an order form allowing them to pre-order for the types of items that they would like to purchase and the quantity of each item. On the day of distribution in each region, each producer sets up their stand with the produce that they are offering, and each consumer who has pre-ordered items can come by and pick up the items that they ordered, directly from the producer. The transaction, in other words, takes place directly between the producer and the consumer. Our movement does not participate at all in the final transaction.

This is the general idea as to how the No Middlemen Movement operates. There are of course small differences and variations from group to group throughout Greece, but in general each of our participating groups operates in this way.

MN: You mentioned earlier that the No Middlemen Movement is active in 45 regions throughout Greece. What are some of the areas you are active in outside of Athens, and how many families or households do you estimate have been able to obtain food and produce from your movement since its inception?

PO: There is of course our founding organization in the city of Katerini, as well as in cities such as Larissa, Volos, Rethymno in the island of Crete, Komotini, Thessaloniki, while our team in the city of Ioannina may have been inactive this past year. In Thessaloniki, our participating groups have faced many difficulties as of late and are currently in the process of reorganizing and rebuilding. They were targeted by the local farmer’s markets and by local municipalities who disagreed with the operation of the No Middle-Men Movement in the city or by groups who wanted to appropriate the actions of our movements for their own gain.

Now, in terms of how many households we have been able to provide food and produce to, we don’t have exact figures. What I can tell you though is just in the Athens region alone, we were able to provide food to 2,200 households in need, through one of the parallel actions of our movement. One of the things that the No Middlemen Movement does is that when a farmer provides part of their harvest to be sold direct to consumers through our network, our movement keeps 4 percent of the food and distributes it for free to families and households who are most in need. In 2014, the families we helped in Athens alone through this program surpassed 2,000, and so far what we have been seeing from this year’s figures is an increase of 20 to 25 percent of those numbers for this year.

MN: How does the No Middlemen Movement come in contact with households who are in need?

PO: We have a support structure in place which provides assistance to such households, either through the provision of ready-cooked meals, or through the distribution of packages of food which are comprised of food items donated through the No Middlemen Movement or which are collected by our volunteers, who stand outside of supermarkets and other establishments and ask for donations of items such as pasta or rice or flour from shoppers. These items are then sorted and distributed to households who are in need of this food. We operate through our nationwide network in order to distribute this food, and even though the percentage that we withhold from the food made available to our movement from each farmer is small, at 3 or 4 percent, the quantity adds up, if you consider that just at one market in one region we may have 15 producers who are providing a total of 10 tons of produce.

MN: We are speaking with Panagiotis Oikonomidis of the No Middlemen Movement from Greece here on Dialogos Radio and the Dialogos Interview Series, and Panagiotis, you mentioned earlier the fact that the No Middlemen Movement was targeted in the city of Thessaloniki…share with us more details about the various problems and challenges that your movement faces, either in terms of its outreach to the greater public, or at the hands of the government and other authorities.

PO: The No Middlemen Movement has created new conditions in the existing marketplace. Earlier, I mentioned the fact that the operation of farmers’ markets in Greek cities was restarted in the 1980s, especially in the largest cities such as Athens, Thessaloniki, Patra, and Iraklio. Conversely, farmers’ markets are les common in the smaller city, because these cities have much easier and much more direct access to their local producers, who are only a short drive away for anyone who wants to visit a farmer and buy their produce directly from them. Obviously this isn’t possible in the bigger cities, and so the farmers’ markets were reborn, even though they had actually been around since prior to World War I. Soon after the war these farmers’ markets largely disappeared from the urban landscape, but they were resurrected beginning in the 1980s, as a result of political decisions that were made at the time to combat the middle-men and their distribution networks, which had originally sprung up during the years of the military government in Greece. Along the way though, the farmers’ markets were used as a political tool, and increasingly, more and more permits were given to individuals who were not farmers, but rather wholesalers and middlemen, in direct contradiction of the whole idea of a farmers’ market.

Within the No Middlemen Movement, we are not claiming to have invented something new. What we believe we have accomplished though is to create a new method for operating something which already exists in Greece. The No Middlemen Movement operates with its members and volunteers at its core. It is a leaderless organization, without any political affiliation. It is a movement which concerns all citizens, both producers and consumers, while proving to food producers that there is another way in which the structure of food production and distribution could be organized in Greece.

Something which we need to take into account is that in the 1970s, Greece produced over 80% of the food which it consumed domestically, while today these numbers have been reversed, with 80% of food consumed in Greece being imported and only 20% produced domestically. This percentage has gradually increased over the years, as a result of the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policies, and with the tacit acceptance of successive Greek governments, which never lobbied for better terms for Greek agriculture within the framework of the Common Agricultural Policies. As a result, not only is Greek agriculture and food production not supported, but farmers have grown into the habit of simply receiving a subsidy from the European Union and being satisfied with this. In the meantime, the productive capacity of Greece has been diminished. One of the things that we are trying to do as part of the No Middlemen Movement is to help revive Greek agricultural production.

The No Middle-Men Movement, as you might understand, is facing challenges not just from the middle-men and distributors themselves, the ones who are profiting off the backs of the Greek public, but also from organized political interests which support the demands of the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policies and the European Union as a whole. It therefore is to be expected that we will face challenges from these circles. In terms of what actually took place in, the attacks against our movement began in 2013, perhaps because political conditions in the region were conducive to such an organized attack against us.

That same year in Athens, one of the local municipalities fought the activities of our movement, and then created his own copycat version of our movement in his municipality, apparently in an effort to score political points prior to the local elections. The biggest challenge for us though followed in 2014, when the Greek parliament passed a law concerning outdoor markets. The passage of this law led to a 10 day strike conducted by the farmers’ markets throughout Greece. Within this law, there were certain articles which pertained to the operation of farmers’ markets, while the law essentially abolished the operation of open-air markets throughout Greece. This of course encompassed farmers’ markets, as well as farmers who could stand at the side of the road with their truck and a sign and sell their produce. This was essentially abolished by law. The result of the 10 day strike which I mentioned a moment ago was for the law to be passed without the articles concerning the farmers’ markets but with all of its other clauses intact, including those covering open-air commerce more broadly. Those who were impacted were small farmers and the No Middlemen Movement, because the farmers who were participating in our movement were doing so with the permits that they already possessed as farmers to sell goods publicly in open-air locations. This covered their operations within the framework of the No Middlemen Movement. Essentially, the then-agriculture minister shelved the articles of the law which pertained to the farmers’ markets, to use them for future political pressure and clientelistic dealings, and in order to favor certain parties. This was essentially the climax of the battle against the operations of the No Middlemen Movement.

Of course, certain things have changed since then. There is now a discussion as to how the current law might be changed in some ways and how the No Middlemen Movement might be recognized, not as a body that is operating in opposition to the existing farmers’ markets, but as a complement to them. Because, as you may know, then these farmers’ markets begin operations in the morning, the items for sale are offered at a certain price, but if you go in the afternoon, before closing time, the prices on the same food may be reduced by as much as 50% compared to the starting price, as sellers are trying to get rid of inventory to avoid having to carry a large load back with them and incur higher transportation and fuel costs as well. However, this is dishonest, because if they are able to sell products at a profit at 50 cents, why is the starting price set at 1 euro or more?

The No Middlemen Movement does not operate this way. Our prices are unified, and are valid from the beginning to the end of each market we organize. It is the price which we advertise to our consumers, allowing them to budget their purchases, and we make every effort to keep these prices steady throughout the entire season. In other words, we attempt to keep the same price for each item we sell from the beginning of the season in September or October, all the way until the end of the season in June. This helps the farmers who are participating in our movement as well, since they know that they will come to our markets and be able to sell their produce, their harvest, receive their money immediately instead of being given a check, which is typically the case with the wholesalers and middlemen, and they know that they will have a steady price for the entire season. This setup allows families to budget their food purchases in advance, while the farmer knows that after every delivery of food to our movement, they will be able to pay their workers, and for their supplies, their seeds and fertilizer, their equipment and for their maintenance costs, and to plant their seeds for next year’s harvest. This setup lays the groundwork for a complete and total restructuring of the primary sector of the economy.

MN: You mentioned earlier the issue of domestic agricultural production in Greece, and despite the major decline that we have seen in recent decades in terms of production, there are statistics which show that Greece does still have self-sufficiency in certain sectors of food production even today. On a more general level, do you believe that Greece could once again become self-sustaining in terms of its food production and reduce its reliance on imported food products, and how could this take place?

PO: This is a major topic, one which we could discuss all day. Essentially you are referring to the complete restructuring of the primary sector in Greece. It is clear that our movement, the No Middle-Men Movement, is a successful example of how an alternative economic model could work and how it could ensure self-sufficiency on a small scale. At the same time, numerous scientific and university studies show that Greece could indeed once again attain self-sufficiency in terms of its food production. In fact, in many sectors of food production, Greece has the capacity to produce a plethora of food, which would allow it to export these products in exchange for food products in which it does not have enough production, allowing Greece to attain a balance of trade. For example, we used to have an overproduction of sugar, and recently, Greece’s sugar production industry was reopened once again. The surplus sugar could be traded for something else that the country needs to import. However, when you get to the point where you are unable to produce even those things which you are capable of producing, and you import these goods instead, it follows that you will run a trade deficit, that you will be forced to take loans and that you will therefore be dependent on the whims of those who are loaning money to you.

Aside from the agricultural sector though, Greece also has the capabilities to boost its capacity in the industrial sector, and particularly in the light industries and in the production of specific parts. Greece is privileged to have a well-educated, well-trained workforce, and it has the capacity to produce industrial products on demand. My belief is that Greece’s comparative advantage in terms of industrial production is not in the mass production of goods, which other countries are better able to do. Greece’s advantage is in the know-how that its workforce possesses for the production of specialized products, on demand.

Until relatively recently in Greece, around 15 or 20 years ago, there were many light industries in existence in Greece, which received subcontracts to produce specialized parts. This is Greece’s major strength in the industrial sector. And this sort of production can, of course, develop in conjunction with the development of the agricultural sector. Indeed, the agricultural sector is in need of machinery, parts, and supplies, and there is such production in Greece even now which could meet such demand. However, there needs to be a strategy and a plan in place. For instance, if you have major agricultural production in the regions of Macedonia or Thessalia, which are significant agricultural regions, you need to ensure that these regions also have producers who will make supplies, such as fertilizers or packaging or feeds, which the farmers in these regions could use, and that farmers would have local mechanics to go to in order to repair and maintain their equipment. Such industries co-existing lead to the creation of a local economic cycle. And all of this has to happen at the local level, but within a national planning framework, with a strategy as to what direction the national economy will go in.

In order for this to happen, it is necessary for the people to be on board with such change as well, as they will be the ones who will be participating in this process. No matter what we say, no matter which political forces, which government ministers, which government enforces such changes or supports them, those who will actually do the work in the fields, in the factories, and in the workshops, and those who will actually produce the wealth, are the ordinary people. Therefore, they are the ones who should have the first say over how this process of change should take place and have the belief instilled in them that such a process is possible. Such a process essentially represents a collective way in which a country can survive. It has been proven that a country cannot survive based on loans. With loans, a country is entirely dependent on its lenders, and as a consequence, it ends up being sold off, piece by piece, one airport at a time and one harbor at a time, to its lenders.

MN: We are on the air with Panagiotis Oikonomidis of the No Middlemen Movement from Greece here on Dialogos Radio and the Dialogos Interview Series, and Panagiotis, do you believe that the current economic model can sustain itself, or does it have an expiration date? And as a second part to this question, how do you believe that the social economy could contribute to a different economic model?

PO: Yes, I do believe that the current economic model has an expiration date. Though in the past several decades it has shown a tremendous resiliency to overcome internal crises, I would say that since 2008, it is experiencing great difficulties. The issue is that it is not simply experiencing another cyclical crisis. What we are seeing now is a basic, structural crisis of the economic system, and I believe that it has finally reached its limits. Now, how long this stage will last, it is hard to say. It could be 5 years, or 10 years or 50. It will depend on the actions of that other major factor in the economy: the people, those who produce goods, those who produce the wealth, who have begun to see that they can have a say, that they can have an opinion in the direction of the economy.

Within this framework, the structures of the social economy and the solidarity movement, which comprises the so-called “third sector” of the economy, can play a major role in improving the quality of life of the people to an extent, and also to serve as a tool of political emancipation and education for the people, to enable them to understand that they have the ability to create politics, to realize their political goals, and to create small, successful examples which could be built upon to create a broader and overriding economic structure.

This is part of the obligatory, I would say, daily political struggle, if we choose to define it in such terms. Now, the existing political and economic system has the ability, to an extent, to absorb such challenges, or to eliminate them, by force if necessary, if it cannot absorb them. However, this system cannot absorb nor can it stop everything new that is created, especially when these new structures that are being born are created completely outside the framework of the existing system. We are witnessing the birth of a new logic, of a new mode of thinking on a global scale and not just in Greece, though Greece does receive a lot of attention as a result of the crisis.

The social economy in Greece is not a fluke. We are talking about the No Middlemen Movement, with the existing family support structure, with community pharmacies and medical clinics, with community kitchens, with community tutoring pools which provide services to those students who cannot afford private lessons. It is clear that a sense of solidarity is ingrained in the Greek culture. What has changed though, particularly in terms of politics? The indignants’ movement, which spilled out into the streets in 2011 and 2012, the mass demonstrations and gatherings which took place, gave the people the opportunity to think, to learn, and to act. When these movements were violently suppressed, the participants of these movements returned to their local communities and brought with them all of the know-how and experience that they had attained, and began to implement it at the neighborhood level. Therefore, it could be said that this network of solidarity movements that we are seeing today is a continuation of the mass demonstrations of 2011 and 2012. The two are connected.

And to be clear, I am talking about solidarity movements, which are separate from NGOs. To give you an example, right now we are seeing the tremendous crisis with the refugees who are arriving from Syria and other Middle Eastern countries. The first people who arrived on the scene to assist these refugees came from the solidarity movements which I have been talking about, whereas after the end of the summer, after their summer vacations in international resorts, only then did the members of various NGOs show up. However, these NGOs only operate in economic terms, meaning that they will only participate and take action if they have first received funding. And so, we have seen various NGOs that were formed 15 or 20 years ago and which were continuously pursuing funding from European and Greek state sources, who are suddenly presenting themselves as groups who have been formed to help the refugees, but which in reality are organizations behind which are people who have close relations with previous government regimes in Greece.

What is noteworthy about this whole situation is the fact that the ordinary people, if you follow tools such as Facebook, support those structures which have a direct relationship with society, with those volunteers who are your next door neighbors, people the local communities know and see every day, people whom the local communities know are not profiting from such a crisis, because they are volunteers in the genuine sense. We are not talking about volunteerism in the sense that we saw it in Greece during the Athens 2004 Olympics, during a time of national euphoria, when there was a call for volunteers at the Olympic Games simply to solve the economic problem of the games’ organizers, bringing in volunteers while huge sums of money were consumed elsewhere. By all means I am not speaking poorly of those who volunteered, their intentions were good, but perhaps they did not realize that they essentially fell into a trap, that someone else pocketed money that had been allocated for the work that they ultimately performed as volunteers.

MN: In closing, where can our listeners find out more information about the No Middlemen Movement?

PO: There is a structure within our movement known as “Solidarity For All,” which pays a central organizing role in terms of collecting information and connecting our various local organizations. Its website is at On this site, you can find continuous updates about our movement’s actions and its structure. Our annual report for 2014 is also posted, which is available in English, French, German, and Spanish, in the international section of our website. This report contains a tremendous amount of information, both from international statistics, as well as data that our movement has collected. Also from our website, any citizen can find out about our movement’s actions at a local, neighborhood basis and can find out what is happening in their area and can come in contact with their local group.

MN: Well Panagiotis, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with us today here on Dialogos Radio and the Dialogos Interview Series, and best of luck with your continued efforts!

PO: I thank you as well for your efforts, because while groups like ours are able to tackle the issue of solidarity on a local and national level, there is also the issue of global solidarity, and it is radio programs like yours which play a major role in this regard. So we thank you for your efforts and for your invitation.

MN: Thank you once more!

Nov 152015

By SnakeArbusto, 99GetSmart


Here in France the official take on the Friday the Thirteenth attacks, from the politicians and the media, is that “our values”, “the values of the Republic”, have been attacked again. The narrative is the same one we heard after the Charlie Hebdo masssacre: We are a beacon of civilization and They are barbarians. Fundamentally, in this country where turning an elegant phrase and finding le mot juste is so highly valued, it’s no more sophisticated than Junior Bush’s “They hate us because we’re so free.”

No one can deny that this was a terrorist attack. But nobody mentions the fact that terrorism is simply a weapon of war used by peoples/states who face an overwhelmingly strong enemy. The nascent Israel used terrorism against the British and no one would dare criticize it today. But no – “terror” is an entity, like… “Islam” or, well, “freedom”. These are not people using terror as a weapon (never mind the fact that our “Western” states sytematically use terror against domestic and foreign populations), they’re just “terrorists” by nature, by birth, just as we are “free and democratic” by birth. And yet we’re told that this was an act of war, that France is at war, and that a state of emergency has been declared. A state of emergency is essentially martial law, though the term is studiously avoided. The executive can declare it for a period of twelve days, after which the legislature can prolong it by vote… a vote the “elected representatives of the people” would unhesitatingly take, just as the US Congress voted overwhelmingly to adopt the USAPATRIOT Act.

Indeed, France’s citizens, even though they may well be familiar with Franklin’s words, are probably willing to surrender a measure of freedom in order to have security. The discourse about “our values”, “the values of the Republic”, may be hard to swallow; but not only do we swallow it, we get on the bandwagon and organize huge demonstrations to show that we are free and unafraid. When it’s a question of us against Them, who will deny that we are we, and that he or she is not one of Them? We buy into the meme and help put flesh on its bones. And it becomes part of our culture, and as such that much easier to swallow the next time around… until we end up thinking that it really is in our nature to be free and fair and enlightened, and that They really are slaves to their beliefs, submissive, and benighted. And the result is that no one ever asks a simple question like:

“Since the ‘Socialist’ President of France learned to admire the role of Commander in Chief and realized that since the Charlie attacks he has a line of credit for extending the military, since France decided to make its modest contribution to the West’s civilizing program and help oust Assad and keep the money flowing to its own arms makers, and perhaps get back part of its former empire, how many people have been killed in Syria and Iraq due to France’s bombing? How many civilians?

In any event I haven’t heard it asked yet in the French media. Everyone is blinded by the light of our beloved Republic, that beacon of democracy and solidarity with the oppressed peoples. And, as a matter of fact, will the media really entertain the question of who it is we’re really at war with? Of who the killers actually were? Of who We really are?

Nov 092015

By James Petras, 99GetSmart



Incumbent politicians and parties, both center-left and right, have suffered serious defeats in recent elections. The principal beneficiary has been the extreme right. Nowhere did the ‘consequential left’ register a victory, although in a few instances it marginally increased its vote. The one major exception has been Turkey, where the incumbent Erdogan regime scored a ‘victory’ on November 1, 2015 by resorting to widespread violence during the general election campaign to intimidate and silence his opposition after having suffered a sharp (and surprise) defeat five months earlier in June 2015 when secular civil groups, leftists and Kurdish linked parties upset Erdogan’S parliamentary majority. During the recent campaign, Erdogan resumed bombing of Kurdish regions, both inside Turkey and across the border in Syria and Iraq. He shut down opposition newspapers and TV stations, and imprisoned hundreds of secular, leftist activists. Scores of opposition party regional offices were firebombed and wrecked. Most ominously, Erdogan and Turkish intelligence operatives have been implicated in the horrific massacre of scores of opposition peace marchers, leftists, trade unionists and Kurdish political party activists in the capital Ankara on October 10 and elsewhere. In other words, Erdogan prevented the electoral decline of his incumbent right-wing regime through terror, purges and mob violence. Washington and the EU promptly congratulated the Erdogan regime for its blood-stained ‘victory’.

This essay will address the reasons why incumbents lost worldwide. We will examine social policies, economic crises, personalities, corruption scandals, commodity cycles and growing class inequalities – and a combination of all of the above.

Secondly, we will discuss why the alternatives oscillate between the ‘center-left’ and the hard right and not the ‘consequential left (for lack of a better term)’ – the CL.

Thirdly, we will explore the historical and external and internal contemporary factors limiting the CL’s growth, and why the Left does not attract the mass of voters as an alternative to the Right and Center-left.

Center-Left and Right Incumbents in Retreat

This year, center-left and rightwing incumbents have suffered major defeats in elections in Poland, Canada, Portugal, Ukraine, Turkey, Spain, Colombia, Argentina and France. According to reliable polls, incumbent regimes in Venezuela and Brazil are expected to suffer serious losses in coming elections.

Moreover, center-left incumbents in Bolivia, Ecuador, Greece and El Salvador have secured their re-election by shifting to the right. For example, Bolivia’s President Evo Morales asked the Financial Times to organize a meeting on Wall Street inviting the CEO’S from 130 of the biggest multi-nationals. In this imperial ‘love-fest’, Evo offered every kind of economic inducement imaginable – outperforming the most openly neoliberal client rulers. Across the ‘pond’, Greek Prime Minister Tsipras turned over his nation’s sovereignty to the financiers of the European Union, promising to ‘privatize’ $50 billion worth of valuable public assets, while cutting salaries and pensions and ending state subsidies for family farmers.

Why Do Incumbents Lose?

What is striking about the near universal defeat of center-left and rightwing incumbents across the political spectrum is the fact that their regimes have identical policies which have worsened inequalities, reversed 70 years of social welfare legislation, concentrated wealth and imposed regressive class-based “austerity” on their populations.

Having weakened trade unions and undermined collective action, wage and salaried workers can only protest by voting out the incumbents. However, as class-based struggles decline, so does class-consciousness. As a result, ‘alternatives’, which are only minimally different from the incumbents, are elected.

Voters have another option: abstention from the polls. Voter turnout has plummeted. The uncounted ‘none of the above’ vote has increased significantly across the globe with few political consequences.

Impoverishment and growing popular discontent is exacerbated by the world economic crisis, the sharp decline in commodity prices (especially in agro-mineral export countries) and the regressive fiscal policies and cutbacks adopted by incumbents.

Most workers, especially those employed in the more vulnerable private sectors, are rarely organized or politically conscious. The loss of stable wage employment results in the growth of self-employment (street vendors, domestic servants and private contractors) and the loss of collective organizations. This makes them especially prone to the appeal of clientelistic politics from the right and center-left.

Moreover, EU dominance of its ‘vassal-members’ has awakened ‘nationalist’ political consciousness rather than class-consciousness, with the result that the alternative to neoliberal regimes is increasingly the hard nationalist-paternalistic right.

The paradox is that, the worse the capitalist crisis grows, the weaker the collective response from working class organizations and the more severe the austerity measures imposed by international financial-capital, the more likely the hard nationalist right will emerge as the principle alternative.

Intensification and Spread of Class Struggle… from Above:  ‘Austerity’

The reason for the growth of the hard right is clear: ‘Austerity’, a misnomer on all counts. First and foremost, the primary purpose of ‘austerity’ is to advance bourgeois class warfare in every sense of the word. Regressive economic policies grew out of a series of successful legislation designed to dismantle the legal and organizational institutions of the working class (portrayed as ‘flexibility’ and ‘labor reforms’). ‘Austerity’, the next phase in class warfare, encompasses far more than regressive socio-economic policies. It involves wholesale changes facilitating (1) capitalist firing of workers arbitrarily; (2) drastic changes in labor contracts including multi-tiered wages and the replacement of long-term employees with short-term contingent workers, (3) elimination of severance pay; (4) the power to ‘fire on the spot’; (5) and rotating employment.

Austerity’ measures are designed to undermine collective organization and encourage divisive competition among workers for jobs and scarce benefits.

Austerity leads to the replacement of senior, stable, class-experienced workers in favor of young vulnerable workers, refugees, and immigrants who are willing to work long hours, for lower pay with fewer benefits, while tolerating outright theft of their wages and other illegal practices.

The class warfare provisions accompanying ‘austerity’ are the essential political foundations for implementing these regressive socio-economic measures.

Since both center-left and rightwing regimes impose austerity policies, the working class, which has been weakened, threatened and fragmented, lacks a political basis for launching a class-wide offensive. Instead we find occasional instances of local direct action and, more rarely, national one-day protests.

Why the Consequential Left is Not an Alternative

The defeat and decay of incumbent regimes of both the neo-liberal right and center-left should have benefited the ‘consequential left’ (CL) — by which we mean political leaders and parties, which have been consistently opposed to capitalism and imperialism in all of its forms and structures.

That has not happened for several obvious reasons, which need to be examined in some detail. First of all, the CL has given ‘critical support’  to the center-left in various campaigns and, in the process, surrendered its identity, restrained the class struggle and, in some cases, even accepted ‘decorative’ positions (like ‘Secretary for Cultural Affairs’) within center-left regimes.

As a result, the CL provided a left veneer for the center-left regime in power and has not been able to capitalize on its demise in subsequent elections.

Secondly, where the CL managed to retain its independence and engage in frontal attacks on the center-left, it often happened in the context of a center-left regime still enjoying popular credibility based on ‘redistributive’ policies and anti-net-liberal rhetoric. As a result the CL was not able to attract the mass following that brought the center-left to power.

Thirdly, the CL was badly hit by the regressive socio-economic changes that the rightwing regimes implemented. The loss of trade union rights, the changes in labor contracts and the growth of temporary workers weakened the social base for the CL and undermined its capacity for direct action and class struggle – essential elements in building grassroots organization.

In contrast to the CL, the center-left relies on election appeals to discontented voters and attracts their votes through the political mass media without needing to organize them in any collective movement.

When the incumbent neo-liberal right or center-left regimes fall from power, they leave in place a political, social and economic framework, which inhibits collective organization and struggle.

The neo-liberal right consistently dismantles working class organizations, whereas the ‘hard right’ diverts the working class to nationalist-chauvinist and anti-immigrant consciousness.

Beyond these external factors weakening the CL, there is the problem of the social composition of its leadership, which is ‘top-heavy’ with academics and ‘intellectuals’ – journalists, lawyers and professionals.

These leaders are the most vehement critics of capitalism when they are in opposition, but they are submissive, impotent and incapable of confronting the hard right and the international financial institutions of the neo-liberal right when they occupy positions of power.

Moreover the intellectual left is used to addressing self-generating ‘socialist forums’, writing for small journals produced by and for the same intellectuals, and have no experience in direct face-to-face long-term, large-scale worker education.

Most have engaged, at some point, in student academic struggles – but have episodic or no experience in working class or community organizations. In many cases, their idea of ‘class struggle’ is linking up with the center-left and providing a ‘radical’ rationale, justifying co-habitation between the CL in ‘critical’ opposition and the center-left in power.

Over time the academic left is either absorbed by the center-left or they are marginalized, expelled, or defect when the center-left moves right. The academic left intellectuals, well situated in comfortable life-time academic or institutional appointments, have no direct contact or intimate knowledge or existential awareness of the political explosiveness of unemployed and contract workers, low paid, immigrant and female workers.

If and when the struggle turns militant, with a hard right crackdown, they fashion elaborate ideological justifications for retiring to academia.

Strong academic and professional class representation among the Censures its isolation from mass struggle; perpetuates internal “conversations”, paralyzes direct action and relies on unintelligible ‘narratives’ to insure popular incomprehension and discredit.

The Right Surges; the Left Recedes

In contrast, the hard right has gained mass support by relying on plebian language, direct action, popular nationalism, opposition to oligarchical international organizations and ethno-clerical chauvinism.

The single most important insight, which the hard right exploits, is the fear, loathing and resentment accompanying the real and clearly perceived downward mobility of vast sectors of the working and lower middle class.

Neo-liberalism has not only smashed the trade unions but it has severely torn the social safety net for unorganized workers and employees. The hard right has no truck for trade unions, but is deeply involved in restoring a vision of a ‘safety-net’ via  corporatist social organizations involving employer, employees and state social pacts.

The hard right has gained influence by opposing the neoliberal policies that raised the retirement age, reduced health coverage, undermined job security and block social advancement (blaming these losses on ‘immigrants and minorities’). They blame the neo-liberal immigration policies, which have increased the reserve army of unemployed and underemployed workers.

The hard right responds by launching racist attacks on the immigrants, and not on the capitalists who hire and exploit immigrant workers to increase profits. As multi-national corporations close factories and move to off-shore, cheap labor, low corporate tax sites, the hard right denounces globalization and calls for a national industrial policy. While the trade unions march in protest and shop delegates confront bosses, the far right reaps the electoral votes.

The hard right in France, Poland, Greece, Hungary, Austria and elsewhere has captured the support of discontented workers by attacking the neoliberal right and center-left. They take advantage of the self-marginalized left. They have pre-empted class polarization by a kind of ersatz ‘nationalist polarization’. Their opposition to the EU, IMF and WTO is directed against the economic dominance of blatant neo-liberalism not capitalism, against the European Union, but not against US-dominated NATO militarism (which has exacerbated the flood of refugees and migrants).

The decline of the center-left throughout Latin America, namely in Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela and Ecuador, is partly due to the corruption of high officials, which alienates the middle class as well as high inflation and unemployment, which erode living standards of the non-unionized majority of workers and informal sector self-employed. The center-left’s embrace of an agro-mineral export strategy and its recent collapse with the ‘end of the commodity boom’, has provoked mass discontent. State concessions to extractive capital (including the shredding of environmental protections laws) have alienated progressives, ecologists and indigenous communities. The neo-liberal right, in opposition, has gained the mass anti-incumbent vote by denouncing and mass organizing against corruption and by disguising their regressive socio-economic agenda.

The neoliberal right has capitalized on the pervasive corruption among top center-left politicians in Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela to win back the middle class. Its promise to reduce inflation wins popular support. Its free market and pro-imperialist policies attract large-scale financial and media backing.

The consequential left, marginalized or embedded within the center-left regimes, is discredited. When it joins the attacks on the center-left, the right is in the best position to harvest the votes.

Sectors of the popular classes who want to preserve their hard-won gains and resent inflation-induced downward mobility have turned to the right.

Middle class resentment at the loss of their status does not augur well for solidarity with marginal groups, indigenous peoples, immigrants and the dispossessed and displaced from the countryside.

Declining living standards and rising inequality, economic crisis and the end of the commodity cycle, in the present conjuncture, has radicalized popular sectors – but not in a leftward direction.

Rightwing demagogies link phony populist critiques of liberalism with militarist tub thumping and increased prerogatives for capitalism.

Eventually this rightwing turn will end in further mass disenchantment and a new round of mass protests. However, unless the left takes the lead, sheds its ‘professional’ mentors and engages in direct action, the pendulum may return the center-left to power once again!

Nov 062015

By James Petras, 99GetSmart



With the collapse of the Communist countries in the 1990’s and their conversion to capitalism, followed by the advent of neoliberal regimes throughout most of Latin America, Asia, Europe and North America, the imperial regimes in the US and EU have established a new political spectrum, in which the standards of acceptability narrowed and the definition of adversaries expanded. Over the past quarter century, the US and EU turned their focus from systemic adversaries (anti-capitalist and anti-imperial states and movements) to attacking capitalist regimes, which (1) had adopted nationalist, re-distributive and Keynesian policies; (2) had opposed military interventions, coups and bases; (3) had aligned with non-Western capitalist powers; (4) had opposed Zionist colonization of Palestine and Gulf State-financed Islamist terrorists; (5) and had refuse to follow the financial agendas dictated by Wall Street and the City of London investment houses, speculators and vulture funds.

The Western imperial regimes (by which we mean the US, Canada and the EU) have exercised their political, military, economic and propaganda powers to (1) eliminate or limit the variety of capitalist options; (2) control the kinds of market-state relations; and (3) secure compliance through punitive military invasions, occupations and economic sanctions against targeted adversaries.

The ‘Media Troika’: the Financial Press and Political Warfare

The major financial newspapers of record in the United States have played a key role in disseminating the post-communist political line regarding what are acceptable capitalist policies: The Wall Street Journal, (WSJ), the New York Times (NYT), and the Financial Times (FT) – the ‘Troika’ – have systematically engaged in political warfare acting as virtual propaganda arms of the US and EU imperialist governments in their attempts to impose and/or maintain vassal state status on countries and economies, ‘regulated’ according to the needs of Western financial institutions.

The propaganda Troika not only reflects the interests and policies of the ruling elites, but their editors, journalists and commentators shape policies through their reportage, analyses and editorials.

The Troika’s methods of political operation and the substance of their policies preclude any kind of balanced reportage.

Day in and day out, the Troika (1) fabricates ‘crises’ for adversaries and illusory promises of ‘recovery’ for vassals; (2) distorts and/or omits favorable information regarding adversaries, dismissing targeted regimes as  ‘authoritarian’and ‘corrupt’. In contrast, obedient and submissive rulers are described as ‘pragmatic’ and ‘realist’. The Troika attributes ‘military threats’ and ‘aggressive behavior’ to adversaries engaged in defensive policies, while labeling vassal state invasions or aggression as  justified, retaliatory or defensive.

A close reading of the reportage by the stable of Troika scribes over the past 2 years reveals the repeated use of vitriolic and highly charged terms in describing adversarial leaders. This prepares the reader for the one-sided, negative assessment of past, present and future policies adopted by the targeted regime.

Once the imperial states and the Troika decide on targeting a government and its leaders, all the subsequent ‘news’ is designed to present the motives of these leaders as ‘perfidious’ and the economic and social impact of their policies as ‘catastrophic’.

And whenever the ‘Troika’s’ analyses or predictions or prognostications turned out to be blatantly wrong – there are never corrections. Brazen lies are glossed over with nary a ripple in their smooth fabric of propaganda.

Once a government is designated as ‘enemy’ (ripe for ‘regime change’), the Troika recycles the same hostile messages almost daily. The readers, upon viewing Troika headlines, already know at least three quarters of the content of the ‘article’. A small portion of a report may refer tangentially to some particular event or policy decision for which the diatribe launched.

Working hand-in-hand with Western imperial regimes, the Troika targets the same regimes, using the exact same terms dished out by imperial policy spokesmen and women.

In this essay, we will discuss the main regimes and policies targeted by the Troika and its Western imperial state partners. We will then proceed to evaluate Troika facts, interpretations and their track record from the beginning of the onslaught to the present. We will conclude by examining the conversion of the mainstream ‘serious’ financial press into a triumvirate of tub-thumping warmongers.

The Troika’s Targeted Regimes: Trumpeting Their Sins and Denying Their Successes

The Troika’s propaganda war not only converges with the imperial states’ destabilization policies (‘regime change’) but also is aimed at specific policies and agreements among supposed allies, partners and even vassal states.

The intensity of vitriol and the frequency of hostile articles vary according to the level of conflict between the imperial regime and its target for ‘regime change’. The greater the conflict the more violent the language.

We find intense Troika hostility, in the form of frequent, hysterical attacks, directed against Russia, China, Venezuela, Argentina and Palestine. Even any suspected ‘deviations’ by vassals, like Chile or Brazil, in the form of popular domestic social legislations, are subjected to stern scolding and warnings of dire consequences.

The Troika Maligns Russia

The Troika’s attacks vary to some degree with each target. In the case of Russia, the Troika routinely denounces President Vladimir Putin as an authoritarian ruler who has undermined Russian democracy. They claim Russia’s economy is in crisis and facing imminent collapse. They vilify Russia’s military assistance to the Syrian government of Bashar Assad. They question the viability of Russia’s military treaties and economic agreements with China. In sum, the Troika portrays Russia as a once peaceful, democratic law-abiding country (during the kleptocratic years of Boris Yeltsin in the 1990’s), which has been taken over by former secret KGB officials who have embarked on reckless overseas military adventures, while repressing their own ethnic Muslim populations (in Chechnya and Dagestan) and which is being run into the ground because of mismanagement and Western economic sanctions. They never bother to explain why the ‘authoritarian’ Putin maintains a consistently high citizen approval despite the Troika’s litany of evils…

Troika-Backed Ukrainian Puppet Secures 1% Approval

In December 2013, US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, the foul mouth diplomat, puppet dominatrix and austerity zealot, bragged that Washington had poured $5 billion dollars into Ukraine in order to pursue ‘regime change ‘and install a puppet regime headed by President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister (‘Our Man Yats’) Arseniy Yatsenyuk as Prime Minister. Obedient to his Western sponsors and the Troika, Yatsenyuk proceeded to sign off on an IMF bailout and austerity program slashing salaries and pensions of Ukrainian citizens by half, reducing GNP by 25%, ending fuel and food subsidies and tripling unemployment. These policies brought windfall profits for his billionaire crony capitalists and intensified corruption. The Troika labelled the Nuland’s putsch a ‘democratic revolution’, applauding Yastenyuk for vigorously applying the IMF dictated program and predicted a prosperous future…

As discontent spread and anger mounted among Ukrainian citizens, Yatsenyuk continued to feed his own ego by reading the Troika’s puff-piece editorials lauding his courage for staying the course of austerity and ignoring his compatriots’ opinion polls, up until the October 25, 2015 elections.

As the elections neared, opinion polls revealed that 99% of the electorate (which excluded millions of restive citizens of the Donbas region) completely rejected Arseniy (now known as ‘Nolan’s arsehole’) Yatsenyuk. Faced with the universal rejection of his starvation policies and crony capitalism, he withdrew his party (the Popular (sic) Front) from the election, but not from the ‘democratic’ government…

For two years the Troika had praised the Kiev junta, fabricating ‘reports’ about Kiev’s positive economic ‘reforms’ … which had benefited the 1% corrupt oligarchs while impoverishing the masses. The Western propaganda mills systematically distorted popular reaction among the Ukrainian citizens, citing imaginary ‘anonymous experts’ and phantom ‘men in the street’ in praise of the debacle. Never had the Troika engaged in such blatantly deceptive ‘journalism’ as its account of the two years of pillage and mass immiseration under Prime Minister Yatsenyuk. And when ‘Yats’ was faced with total repudiation, he blithely dismissed Ukrainian public opinion, claiming he was ‘not concerned by temporary (sic) political party ratings’. His indifference with an electoral repudiation of 99% is rooted in a delusion that he will remain Prime Minister because he is widely praised by the EU, the US, the IMF … and the media Troika.

The Troika and China: Here Comes the Crash . . .?

In its ‘journalistic pivot to Asia’, the Troika deprecates China’s high-growth economy by questioning its data and by repeatedly predicting the impending crisis, breakdown and mass disaffection.

The Troika describes China’s defense policy as a ‘military threat to its neighbors’ and labels its overseas trade and investment policies as ‘neo-colonial exploitation’.

China’s national campaign against corruption and its prosecution of corrupt officials is dismissed by the Troika as a ‘political purge by a power-hungry president’.

The Troika attributes Chinese advances in science and technology as mere ‘cyber-theft of Western innovations’.

The movement of Chinese workers (internal migration) to areas with better paying jobs and investments is called ‘colonization’.

The Chinese government’s response to terrorism and armed separatists from Tibet and the Western Uighur regions is denounced as “Beijing’s systematic violation of the human rights of minorities”.

The Troika Castigates Capitalist Argentina (for a Decade of Growth)

Argentina has been on the Troika’s radar for a decade, despite the fact that it has a center-left government, which rescued capitalism from a total collapse (the Crisis of 1998-2002) restoring the growth of profits. Multi-nationals, like Monsanto and Chevron, enjoy huge returns on their investments in Argentina.

The Troika denounces the government for running up budget deficits while ignoring the impact of a Manhattan court judgement to award a group of Wall Street ‘vulture fund’ speculators ‘interest payments’ of one-thousand percent on old pre-crisis debt.

The Troika claims the regime engages in populist excesses, which prevent large-scale inflows of investment capital.

The Troika describes the recent slowdown in the economy as a ‘deep crisis’, which requires ‘deep structural changes’ (namely the elimination of social funding for pensioners, low income wage earners and school children).

The Troika paints a catastrophic picture of Argentina: a decaying economy run by a demagogic political leadership engaged in falsifying data … to mask an imminent collapse …

Troika and its ‘Hate Venezuela’ Campaign

The Troika’s journalists and editorial writers, portray Venezuela as an unmitigated disaster: a stagnant and collapsing economy, ruined by an authoritarian populist regime repressing peaceful opposition dissenters.

According to the Troika, Venezuela is incapable of providing basic goods to consumers. Instead it resorts to draconian confiscation of goods from honest businesses – unjustly accused of hoarding and profiteering. The daily reality of manufactured ‘shortages’ is consistently ignored.

When the Venezuelan government attempts to stop violent cross border raids by Colombian paramilitary gangs and smugglers it is denounced as arbitrarily repressing Colombian immigrants.

When Caracas arrests opposition leaders because of their well-documented involvement in violent street demonstrations, promoting the sabotage of power plants and clinics and for planning coups, they are portrayed as violating the ‘human rights of legitimate dissidents.’.

The Troika never mentions the tens of millions of US dollars provided by Washington to opposition NGOs to pursue its destabilization campaign against Venezuela. It labels US-funded opposition NGO’s as  “independent civil society organizations” (just like Ukraine before the putsch).

For almost 2 decades, the Troika has praised Venezuelan opposition groups as formidable critics of the Chavez-Maduro government, but has never explained to their readers why such ‘formidable’ groups have been soundly defeated in 14 of the 15 elections.

The Troika and Palestine: In Defense of Israeli Terror

In its Middle East coverage, the Troika consistently depicts the Palestinians as violent terrorists and aggressors while describing Israelis as their victims. According to the Troika, the Israeli army is engaged in justifiable ‘reprisals’ when they bomb and slaughter Palestinian civilians trapped in Gaza. The endless dispossession of Palestinians of their homes, farms and rights and the violent settler occupation by Israeli Jewish colonists is presented as the just settlement of Jews escaping persecution.

No mention or little importance is given to:

(1)   Israeli-Jewish desecration of Islamic and Christian religious sites;

(2)   Israeli systematic terror and mass jailing of peaceful protesters.

Palestinian resistance is described as ‘incendiary, irrational violence’.

The Troika journalists produce ‘articles’ which are virtually indistinguishable from the press handouts of the Zionist Power Configuration in the US. The Troika even chastises their partner US-EU regimes for their bland criticism or expression of shock at Israel’s most egregious crimes.

The Troika echoes Israeli and Zionist attacks on international tribunals charging Israeli officials with crimes against humanity. The Troika claims they lack ‘balance’.

The Troika and Syria: Armchair Generals

The Troika has demonized the Syrian government of Bashar Assad while backing jihadi terrorists dubbed ‘rebels or ‘moderates’. It has long argued for greater direct military intervention by NATO armies to overthrow the government in Damascus.

The Troika, masquerading as an independent ‘financial press’ publishes scores of articles by dozens of ‘armchair generals’ who concoct military strategies against Damascus while ignoring heavy economic costs, the social catastrophe of 4 million internal and external Syrian war refugees and the grave consequences of the splitting up a once-unified secular nation-state.

The Troika and Wayward Neo-Liberals

The Troika even chastises states and governments which have adopted ‘free market policies’ but maintained or introduced moderate social palliatives. For example, the Chilean regime of Michelle Bachelet fell victim to Troika criticism for promoting a mild increase in corporate taxes and implementing trade union legislation allowing for greater workers’ rights. According to the Troika, these mild reforms have led to economic stagnation, a decline in investment and greater social polarization.

Evaluation: Unmasking the Troika’s Distortions, Fabrications and Falsifications

The Troika’s ‘journalism and editorializing’ on Russia has totally distorted its recent political and economic history. Like all confidence men, Troika journalists and editors mix a few threads of facts with patent falsehoods, magnifying defects and minimizing achievements, ignoring positive long-term trends and emphasizing episodic negatives.

The Troika’s accounts of Russia’s recent military and diplomatic assistance to the Syrian government’s struggle against Islamist terrorists, ignores the achievement in reversing IS advances and stabilizing the central government.

The Troika paints a specter of Great Russian geopolitical expansion and ignores the long-standing political partnerships and alliances between Russia and major countries in the region, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.

With matters ‘economic’, the Troika describes the ‘catastrophic’ impact of US-EU sanctions against Russia over Ukraine, while ignoring the positive long-term results for Russia’s economy – greater self-reliance and investment in manufacturing and agriculture as a stimulus to local producers and the emergence of alternative overseas suppliers and markets, especially China and Iran.

The Troika highlights Russia’s two-year recession while ignoring a decade and a half of substantial growth after the catastrophic ‘Yeltsin’ years.

The Troika falsifies past and present political developments. They discretely praise the Western-backed violent gangster-oligarchs who ruled Russia during the pillage years of the 1990’s as a democracy while denouncing the relatively peaceful and competitive elections under the Putin Presidency as ‘authoritarian’.

The Troika resorts to similar propaganda ploys with China. Any slowdown from China’s three decades of double digit growth gets spun as an imminent collapse, ignoring the fact that the US-European business community can only dream of China’s still robust growth rate of 7%.

The allegations of Chinese cyber theft of Western science and technology ignore the obvious fact that China’s enormous public investment in basic and applied science and technology in dozens of centers of excellence has produced stunning achievements and levels of scholarship. A review of the international scientific literature and journals – paints an entirely different picture of Chinese advances from that described by the Troika.

Chinese economic growth through seaborne exports requires major investment and commitment to its maritime routes and security. To counter Chinese growth and assert US supremacy, Washington has signed new, provocative military pacts with Japan, Australia and the Philippines and escalated the intrusion of its planes and ships into Chinese waters and airspace. The Troika labels China’s defense of its waterways as an “aggressive” military threat to its regional neighbors, while US military investments in bases in Asia and constant intelligence gathering exceed Beijing’s five- fold. US warships brazenly violate China’s 12 mile maritime boundary.

Troika scribes completely ignore the recent history of US and Japanese empires invading dozens of Asian countries, establishing colonies, and killing scores of millions of people. In contrast to the enormous US strategic ring of military bases and communications outposts throughout the Asia-Pacific region, China has no foreign bases or overseas troops – a fact one will never learn from the ‘Troika’

The Troika’s campaign against Argentina, permeating its pages, minimizes the role of a short-term contemporary slow-down in international demand for commodities and attributes Argentina’s problems to its welfare programs, capital controls and state regulation. The Troika fails to acknowledge the past decade of growth, prosperity and rising living standards among the people in Argentina.

The source of Argentine stagnation is not because of a lack of free market policies but the Fernandez regime’s accommodation and promotion of  the interests of international bankers, virtually all foreign debt holders (except one notorious ‘vulture’!) and extractive capitalists (agribusiness, Monsanto, Barrack Gold etc.).

The Troika ignores ‘the decade of infamy’ – the 1990’s – during which Argentina served as a bargain bazaar for the privatization of lucrative public enterprises and eventually collapsed in the 2001 crash with major bank closings, one hundred thousand bankruptcies and five million unemployed (30% of the labor force) – a thoroughly pillaged economy. Instead the Troika fabricates an ideal world of past free market prosperity in order to condemn contemporary Argentina, ignoring the real historical record of a liberal debacle and Keynesian recovery.

Venezuela is currently in a severe crisis, as the Troika scribes remind us in their shrill reports – blaming it entirely on ‘populist’ (i.e. public spending on social welfare) and ‘nationalist’ policies.

The Troika ignores the well-documented sabotage by the importers and distributers in the private business community, hoarding, excess profiteering and currency speculation. These problems are exacerbated by the sharp decline of oil revenues resulting from international market forces, and not merely government mismanagement.

The Troika tells their readers that the Chavez and Maduro governments are authoritarian, ignoring the dozen and a half free and competitive elections since Chavez’ ascent to power. Moreover, the Troika has remained rather quiet over their verbally violent editorial support for the opposition business-led and US embassy-backed military coup in 2002 and an aborted coup in 2014.


The Troika: the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and the Financial Times have repeatedly made false prognoses regarding the economic performances of governments targeted for ‘regime change’. Their economic predictions were repeatedly wrong and their readers among the investor public would have lost their shirts if they had taken their cues from the Troika’s editorial pages and bet ‘short’ against China and the rest…

Their perverse denunciations of Russian and Chinese military defense activities are sharpening world tensions. Their support for ethnic separatists in the Russian Caucuses and western China has encouraged acts of terrorism leading to the deaths of hundreds of Chinese workers murdered by Uighur and Tibetan terrorists, hundreds of Russians at hands of Chechen terrorists and thousands of Russian-speakers in Ukraine’s Donbas region.

The Troika cannot be relied on for reliable information, especially regarding the economic, political and foreign policies of US and EU adversaries (those targets for ‘Regime change’).

At most their polemical screeds give the discerning reader an insight into the propaganda line promoted by the Western powers.

Moreover in recent times, the Troika has become even more strident and militaristic than the ruling elites. The Troika’s armchair generals mocked Obama for not sending ground troops into Syria; chastised the US and EU for signing the nuclear agreements with Iran; and embraced Israel’s systematic murder of Palestinians.

Unreliable and more given to strident invective than reporting the facts in a balanced way, the Troika has lost credibility for intelligent, serious readers who strain to ‘read between the lines’ when they write that a government is ‘unpopular’ during elections. More likely than not, the incumbents sweep the elections and retain popular majorities as has been the case so far in Russia, Argentina, Venezuela and elsewhere.

If and when the Troika succeeds in promoting more wars, as it has been doing in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia, each and every militaristic adventure will lead to economic and social disasters spawning millions more refugees.

When imperial governments, like England, adopt conciliatory policies toward China, eschewing zero sum confrontations, in favor of win-win cooperation, the Troika’s armchair generals are sure to mock and accuse the conservative government of ‘kowtowing’ to authoritarians – dismissing the $30 billion dollar investment deals.

The Troika has gone far beyond its earlier role of presenting the line of imperial regimes. They now march, rather independently, to the military drum of real and imagined nuclear warriors and terrorists. Welcome to the “free press”.

Nov 052015

By Michael Nevradakis, / Interview:

Gürkan Ozturan

Gürkan Ozturan

Turkey is experiencing increasingly tumultuous times. A string of terrorist bombings have targeted rallies organized by left-wing and peace groups throughout the country. These violent incidents have been followed by crackdowns by the Erdogan government. At the same time, Turkey finds itself embroiled in the ongoing war in Syria and in an ongoing conflict with its sizable Kurdish minority, while an unprecedented wave of refugees from Syria has been traveling through Turkey towards Greece and other European Union member-states.

Gürkan Ozturan is a journalist, blogger, academic and activist who was a key participant in the Gezi Park protests in 2013, and who has often been outspoken in his criticisms towards the Turkish government. In this interview, he speaks about the recent bombings in Ankara and other Turkish cities, the government crackdown which has followed, the Gezi Park protests of 2013 and the conflicts in Syria and against the Kurds and the refugee crisis which has followed.

Michael Nevradakis: Let’s begin with the recent deadly bombing incident at a peace rally in Ankara, the capital of Turkey. What was the nature of the rally that was being held, what was the reaction of the authorities to the bombing, and who do you believe was actually behind this bombing?

Gürkan Ozturan: This bombing reminds me of many other bombings that have taken place before election periods in Turkey in the past few decades. There has always been political violence, but never at this level. Five years ago, I was about to take a bus, the bus exploded right in front of me, and that was during a pre-election period again. Just four or five months ago, in Diyarbakir, there had been another explosion at a HDP [The People's Democratic Party, the left-wing party in the Turkish parliament] rally. The left parties in Turkey have been seen as a threat to the state, and for some reason, they always get subjected to violent attacks.

On the one hand, I want to become a more realistic person and say that I’m not very surprised that this attack took place, because I personally expect anything from this government, that they would hang on to power with all they have. They would not shy away from any kind of tactics or methods that include hurting people. So on the one hand, I was expecting it, on the other hand I was being so naive as to hoping that they would never do such a thing. I believe that the government somehow is linked with this. We have seen the reactions of the ministers and the state officials in the aftermath of the attacks. The first reaction was to blame the HDP. They declared that the HDP were self-bombing, which doesn’t sound very realistic, given that the explosion took place at the heart of the state. All the major state offices are just in a few kilometers’ distance to the explosion site, and it is a major square in the capital city. How can the opposition just carry bombs and kill over 100 people? It’s like a self-harm.

Another significant aspect of this attack is that the reaction of the police in the aftermath of the attacks. In three cases, in Diyarbakir and Suruç, and [recently] in Ankara, the police, in the aftermath of the attacks, actually started shooting rubber bullets and using water cannons against the survivors. This gives you a bit of an idea who might be behind the attacks, and this does not very look very hopeful, of course. Unfortunately people are getting killed, and I consider this as a part of political violence, and I guess all the fingers are pointing towards the government.

After the Ankara bombings, Selahattin Demirtaş, the chairman of the HDP, gave a very powerful speech, pointing fingers at the governmental authorities for the bombings and the attacks that took place. What did he say, and how did this speech resonate with the public?

He just spoke sincerely for ten minutes, he just spoke his heart. And in those ten minutes, he just gave his impression of what has happened, that the party and the Turkish youth have been targeted, and he was saying that this is not the first time that it’s happening, but every time they are being shown as those being responsible for the attacks. Even though the government is obviously controlling everything, they are trying to shy away from responsibility. He was stating that if he was in charge, if he was a part of the government and such a thing had happened, he would resign immediately and do the responsible thing. But in the Turkish political culture there is no resignation culture, unfortunately.

The government ministers, evaluating the situation, have been claiming that there is no security problem and that the state has full control of the situation, and Demirtaş has been asking, “If the state has full control of the situation, how can two bombs explode in the same square? And, if the state is unable to control the situation, why are you still not resigning?” He was asking this, and of course, these questions are echoed among the society, but when it comes to the media, the majority of the media is under government control and his words are actually getting subverted when being brought to the agenda. The pro-government media is using his earlier images – more joyful looking images – to represent his outlook on what has happened, and they distort his messages. So, the spread of propaganda is going on regarding the incidents.

Before the previous national elections [in June 2015], there was an explosion at another HDP rally in Diyarbakir. Back then, again, it was declared that the Islamic State – ISIS – had been responsible for the attack, but there was a very significant moment. When the attack took place, and when there was an explosion, the policemen started laughing and attacking the civilians with rubber bullets and water cannons. Since then, peace rallies, antiwar rallies have been arranged, also in relation to the Syrian situation, by people who did not want a war with Syria, people who did not want bombs to explode in the public squares in Turkey. They came out to the streets and they shouted with one voice. They have set a very simple agenda: that they want peace whatever the costs might be. And then, there has been another explosion.

If you remember the Kobani resistance, the activists from all around Turkey were set to go to Kobani and bring toys to the children. Unfortunately, their meeting in Suruç was subjected to a bombing, and at least 35 of our friends died. Again, right after the explosion, the police were standing right across the street from them and laughing at the suffering. And after that, the political violence has actually been escalating, in the sense that the state has been putting more and more pressure, seeing the HDP and the opposition crowds as a valid threat to the government’s sustainability. This has led to even more violence and the pumping of the far-right ideology that at some point has turned into a political mob on the streets. [There have been] violent mobs across the country, and dozens of people have been killed, and in hundreds of locations the far-right groups had been bussed in and had been marching on the streets, putting up flags and attacking people. This has been escalating, when there were more people at the peace rallies. So the more people joining the peace rallies, the more people would be brought towards the mobs that are becoming violent on the streets.

Unfortunately, I was hoping that this would never happen, but on the other hand, I was almost expecting that the government would indulge in such a thing, knowing how much they’re trying to put the blame on some other groups. It’s obvious that there is a security problem in Turkey, or, there is a problem of approach to human rights by the government of Turkey.

Following the attacks, the government in Turkey enforced a blackout on coverage of the bombings in the media and also online, through the social media. What is the Erdogan government’s typical stance towards the media?

Social media as a whole has been seen as a “menace to society,” as our dear president Erdogan has put it years ago. He has always been targeting social media because it is uncontrollable. And the media, at the hands of the government, is almost solidly submissive to the government control. Only a very few media corporations can actually write something that is out of the government’s scope. But even then, they are subjected to huge tax fines and they get subjected to violence, they get subjected to threats, and all kinds of other pressure. We have a system called “accreditation” which can be seen all around the world, but in Turkey, it is being used for the cause of censorship. Certain media groups are not invited to any event, they are not allowed to write about certain things, and right after the explosions in Ankara, there has been declared a broadcast ban. All kinds of media – including social media – are not allowed to talk about the event. This is the deadliest terror attack in Turkey, no matter where the bombs might have come from, and the government’s response is to declare a broadcast ban.

There is now a meme going around in Turkish social media that there have been six massacres in Turkey and six times there has been a broadcast ban and no one has resigned, and no one has taken responsibility. So in this sense, one can feel that as a citizen of the country, we are dispensable.

There was recently another terrible, shocking video that has been leaked online: a young man being dragged on the streets – a dead body being dragged on the streets. There has been an investigation started on this, there has been declared a broadcast ban on the visuals, and the investigation has been started not because someone has been tortured until death and his dead body was dragged on the streets, but because the videos have been leaked online. So the people who took the video and who leaked it online are being investigated, not the people who have killed and tortured.

You were a participant in the Gezi Park protests and rallies back in 2013. These were rallies that garnered worldwide attention and they were said to have begun in response to plans to replace an urban park in Istanbul with a shopping mall, but it seems that the protests were over much broader issues than just the park. Tell us about what happened back in 2013, what the climate was like at these protests and how the government responded.

In political theory, there is a line that I recall from Joseph Raz, a liberal theoretician. He said if you unnecessarily put pressure on the people, some day will come and they will react to this, they might start reacting regarding the color of the pavement stones even. So that has basically happened. The Turkish public space has been surrounded and put under pressure from all sides and at all levels, and the last point, the last drop came as the cutting down of the trees in Gezi Park.

Until that moment, there had been minor reactions, but the reactions could not get unified for some reason. When the park was to be demolished, only then were people able to unite for one cause, and I think the main reason for this was that it was seen as neutral, it didn’t have any political affiliation. For the first time in Turkish history, the citizens took up their cause and they did not expect someone to lead them.

I see the Gezi Park protests as the uprising of millions of people who decided to take their own fate into their own hands, and unlike the previous times, there were no political leaders to guide people, no one putting words into people’s mouths. Prior to the protests, there had been legislation passed for two months regarding alcohol prohibition, regarding men and women in the same house, regarding unmarried couples living together, regarding who is going to do what and where. There was too much intervention into personal lives, and of course there was to be a reaction to this. Combined with the excessive use of force by the police, it turned into a nuclear event.

Turkey under the Erdogan government has often been portrayed as an economic “success story” and as a regional economic powerhouse, and as a model for the rest of the Middle East region. Does this rhetoric match reality for the ordinary people of Turkey, for their economic freedoms and for their freedom in their everyday lives?

In fact, the Erdogan government has not been completely bad. The first five or six years actually saw economic growth. Due to that economic growth, there is a slightly better competitive market right now. Compared to the ’90s or ’80s or ’70s, the market situation is, of course, more risky, but at the same time it bears more opportunities. I can say that the citizens being able to take up their own rights in their own hands is partly due to Erdogan’s economic and financial policies. Unless the people could feel financially stable for themselves, they wouldn’t be able to dare react to this kind of government.

In order for there to be peaceful progress in the country, there had to be two basic elements: that the personal lives of the people would not be interfered with, and economically there would be progress. However, in the past two years and starting with the protests, there has been more and more pressure on the economy, and because of that, right now it doesn’t seem to have a very bright future. However, thanks to some of the economic advancements in the past 12-13 years, the citizens, to some extent, have been able to expand their circle of influence. But of course, whoever is able to sustain an economic level of guarantee for themselves, whenever they feel secure and safe, they would ask for more rights, and that is basically what has happened in Turkey, and unfortunately the government has failed this test, to listen to the citizens’ demands.

How has Turkey and its military been involved in the war in Syria?

There is not so much information in the [Turkish] media going around about Syria and Russia’s involvement. But the people seem to be making fun of the government’s approach towards Syria. Previously it has been fatal, the involvement of Turkey in Syria, the training of the rebel groups and especially al-Nusra and forces of the Free Syrian Army, jihadist Islamist groups. This has taken a lot of reaction from the citizens, but when Russia’s planes have started going through Turkey to Syria to bomb the rebel grounds, that has caused a sour reaction from Turkey.

The Turkish government has recently been announcing that the economic ties between Turkey and Russia might be hurt. But the losing end in this situation would be Turkey, because Turkey is the one to buy gas and oil from Russia, Turkey is the host country when it comes to Russian tourism and Turkey is also a net benefiter from trade in terms of vegetables and fruits to Russia, and also in terms of clothing and textiles. There has been a huge market between Turkey and Russia, and if there were to be any kind of cooling down of the economic situation, this would not reflect well on the side of Turkey.

How has the Turkish government been reacting towards the Kurdish population and towards the Kurdish struggle for independence?

After the Suruç bombing, it was declared that the Islamic State has taken responsibility, and then, the government declared that it would start bombing the Islamic State grounds and that it would start operations against the Islamic State. But in the past four months, there have been many bombardments, many house raids and thousands of Kurds have been taken into custody. They have been arrested, even though the Kurds have been the victims of attacks. They have been declared responsible, and Turkey has started the “low-frequency” civil war against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), as they put it, or “low-frequency armed conflict.” However, this is not really low frequency, it is basically declaring curfews in the Kurdish cities, up to eight days for example, and curfews that last for 24 hours in cities where there is no electricity, water or food supplies. This is treating citizens as subjects of siege during the war.

The conflict in Syria and in other Middle Eastern countries has led to a tremendous wave of refugees who are fleeing the region and travelling in many cases towards Europe, and many of these refugees are travelling through Turkey. How do these refugees manage to get through Turkey and into Greece and other countries, and what is being said or being done about the refugee issue in Turkey?

As part of the UN charter on refugees, Turkey has opened borders to Syria. [Turkey has] accepted anyone coming through, but there have been some complications regarding the documentation of the people coming in because, due to international humanitarian crisis, they did not have enough resources to build up the systems, so a lot of people came in to Turkey without any kind of documents to put them in to proper housing.

There are more than 2 million refugees in Turkey, and this population has started rising due to people giving birth. The Turkish capacity to handle the refugee situation is very limited. The Turkish budget obviously cannot handle this – there are very few facilities that the refugees can go to, and even then, there are not so many services. There needs to be schools; there needs to be hospitals for the refugees; there needs to be proper, basic citizen or resident services to be supplied to these people. They have originally entered Turkey through the south-eastern border, but currently, most of them have started going towards the west. Both Greece and Bulgaria have a fence on the Turkish border, so it’s becoming very hard for them to pass the border through there. Thus, many of them can be seen taking boats from the Aegean coast or the Black Sea coast of Turkey, which is very dangerous, especially in this season.

The refugees in Turkey, many of them live in miserable conditions, and I can say that even slavery is re-emerging. There are many places that offer food and shelter to Syrian refugees in return for having their labor, and it is a very worrying situation, but unfortunately I have to say that the European Union (EU) has prevented a more peaceful solution to be brought to this issue, that the EU has been the one to actually raise this situation up to this level by not sharing the burden with Turkey and Greece and Italy. Many countries at the borders of Europe have to suffer with dealing with so many crisis situations, while the other countries can say that they will eventually help by taking a few thousand [refugees]. The Polish government said that 2,000 refugees would endanger the Polish national culture. Well, the Turkish national culture, it’s over 2 million refugees, should already have been devastated.

Copyright, Reprinted with permission


Michael Nevradakis is a Ph.D. student in media studies at the University of Texas at Austin and a US Fulbright Scholar presently based in Athens, Greece. Michael is also the host of Dialogos Radio, a weekly radio program featuring interviews and coverage of current events in Greece.

Nov 042015

By William Blum, 99GetSmart

Are you confused by the Middle East? Here are some things you should know. (But you’ll probably still be confused.)


  • The US, France, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, and the Gulf monarchies have all in the recent past supported al Qaeda and/or the Islamic State (ISIS) with arms, money, and/or manpower.
  • The first example of this was in 1979 when the United States began covert operations in Afghanistan, six months before the Russians arrived, promoting Islamic fundamentalism across the southern tier of the Soviet Union against “godless communism”. All the al-Qaeda/Taliban shit then followed.
  • In addition to Afghanistan, the United States has provided support to Islamic militants in Bosnia, Kosovo, Libya, the Caucasus, and Syria.
  • The United States overthrew the secular governments of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya and is trying to do the same with Syria, thus giving great impetus to the rise of ISIS. Said Barack Obama in March of this year: “ISIS is a direct outgrowth of al-Qaeda in Iraq that grew out of our invasion. Which is an example of unintended consequences. Which is why we should generally aim before we shoot.” 1
  • More than a million refugees from these wars of Washington are currently over-running Europe and North Africa. God Bless American exceptionalism.
  • The Iraqi, Syrian and Turkish Kurds have all fought against ISIS, but Turkey – close US ally and member of NATO – has fought against each of them.
  • Russia, Iran, Iraq, and Lebanese factions have each supported the Syrian government in various ways in Damascus’s struggle against ISIS and other terrorist groups, including the (much celebrated but seldom seen) “moderate” ones. For this all four countries have been sharply criticized by Washington.
  • The United States has bombed ISIS in Syria, but has used the same occasions to damage Syria’s infrastructure and oil-producing capacity.
  • Russia has bombed ISIS in Syria, but has used the same occasions to attack Syria’s other enemies.
  • The mainstream media almost never mentions the proposed Qatar natural-gas pipelines – whose path to Europe Syria has stood in the way of for years – as a reason for much of the hostility toward Syria. The pipelines could dethrone Russia as Europe’s dominant source of energy.
  • In Libya, during the beginning of the 2011 civil war, anti-Gaddafi rebels, many of whom were al-Qaeda affiliated militias, were protected by NATO in “no-fly zones”.
  • US policy in Syria in the years leading up to the 2011 uprising against Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, which began the whole current mess, was designed to promote sectarianism, which in turn led to civil war with the goal of regime change. 2
  • US Secretary of State John Kerry declared on October 22 that in resolving Syria’s civil war the country “should not be broken up, that it must remain secular, and that Syrians should choose their future leader.” (All of which actually describes Syria under Assad.) Then Kerry said: “One thing stands in the way of being able to rapidly move to implement that, and it’s a person called Assad, Bashar Assad.”

Why does the government of the United States hate Syrian president Bashar al-Assad with such passion?

Is it because, as we’re told, he’s a brutal dictator? But how can that be the reason for the hatred? It would be difficult indeed to name a brutal dictatorship of the second half of the 20th Century or of the 21st century that was not supported by the United States; not only supported, but often put into power and kept in power against the wishes of the population; at present the list would include Saudi Arabia, Honduras, Indonesia, Egypt, Colombia, Qatar, and Israel.

The United States, I suggest, is hostile to the Syrian government for the same reason it has been hostile to Cuba for more than half a century; and hostile to Venezuela for the past 15 years; and earlier to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia; and to Dominican Republic, Uruguay, and Chile; and so on continuing through the world atlas and history books.

What these governments have had in common can be summarized in a single word – independence … independence from American foreign policy; the refusal to be a client state of Washington; the refusal to be continuously hostile to Washington’s Officially Designated Enemies; insufficient respect and zeal for the capitalist way of life.

Democratic Socialism

The candidacy of Bernie Sanders, a “democratic socialist”, for the US presidency has produced an unprecedented barrage of discussion in the American media about just what is this thing called “socialism”. Most of the discussion centers around the question of government ownership and control of the economy versus private ownership and control. This is, of course, a very old question; the meat and potatoes of the Cold War ideological competition.

What’s markedly different now is that a few centuries of uninhibited free enterprise have finally laid painfully bare the basic anti-social nature of capitalism, forcing many of even the most committed true believers to concede the inherent harm the system brings to the lives of all but the richest.

But regardless of what the intellects of these true believers tell them, they still find it very difficult emotionally to completely cut the umbilical cord to the system they were carefully raised to place the greatest of faith in. Thus, they may finally concede that we have to eliminate, or at least strictly minimize, the role of the profit motive in health care and education and maybe one or two other indispensable social needs, but they insist that the government should should keep its bureaucratic hands off everything else; they favor as much decentralization as possible.

The most commonly proposed alternative to both government or private control is worker-owned cooperatives or publicly owned enterprises managed by workers and consumer representatives. Sanders has expressed his support for worker-owned cooperatives.

There is much to be said about such systems, but the problem I find is that they will still operate within a capitalist society, which means competition, survival of the fittest; which means that if you can’t sell more than your competitors, if you can’t make a sufficient net profit on your sales, you will likely be forced to go out of business; and to prevent such a fate, at some point you may very well be forced to do illegal or immoral things against the public; which means back to the present.

You cannot follow the mass media without being confronted every day with story after story of one corporation or another trying to swindle the public in one way or another; the latest egregious case being that of the much revered Volkswagen, recently revealed to have manipulated the measurement of the car’s pollution emission. The fact that half of the company’s Supervisory Board – responsible for monitoring the Management and approving important corporate decisions – consists of employee representatives elected by the employees did not prevent this egregious fraud; the company is still obliged to strive to maximize profit and the firm’s stock-market value. It’s the nature of the corporate beast within a capitalist jungle.

Only removal of the profit motive will correct such behavior, and also keep us from drowning in a sea of advertising and my phone ringing several times each day to sell me something I don’t need and which may not even exist.

The market. How can we determine the proper value, the proper price, of goods and services without “the magic of the marketplace”? Let’s look at something most people have to pay for – rent. Who or what designed this system where in 2015 11.8 million households in the US are paying more than 50 percent of their income to keep a roof over their head, while rent is considered “affordable” if it totals some 30 percent or less of one’s income. 3  What is the sense of this? It causes more hardship than any other expense people are confronted with; all kinds of important needs go unmet because of the obligation to pay a huge amount for rent each month; it is the main cause of homelessness. Who benefits from it other than the landlords? What is magical about that?

Above and beyond any other consideration, there is climate change; i.e., survival of the planet, the quality of our lives. What keeps corporations from modifying their behavior so as to be kinder to our environment? It is of course the good old “bottom line” again. What can we do to convince the corporations to consistently behave like good citizens? Nothing that hasn’t already been tried and failed. Except one thing. Unmentionable in a capitalist society. Nationalization. There, I said it. Now I’ll be getting letters damning me as an “Old Stalinist”.

But nationalization is not a panacea either, at least for the environment. There’s the greatest single source of environmental damage in the world – The United States military. And it’s already been nationalized. But doing away with private corporations will reduce the drive toward imperialism sufficiently that before long the need for a military will fade away and we can live like Costa Rica. If you think that would put the United States in danger of attack, please tell me who would attack, and why.

Most Americans, like other developed peoples, worship the capitalism they were raised with. But do they? See the chapter in my book Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower: “The United States invades, bombs, and kills for it but do Americans really believe in free enterprise?” Written in 2000/2005, the examples given in the chapter may need some updating, but the ideas expressed are as valid as ever.

Nationalization, hand-in-hand with a planned society, would of course not preclude elections. On the contrary, we’d have elections not ruled by money. What a breath of fresh air. Professor Cornel West has suggested that it’s become difficult to even imagine what a free and democratic society, without great concentrations of corporate power, would look like, or how it would operate.

Who are you going to believe? Me or Dick Cheney?

I’ve spent about 30 years compiling the details of the criminal record of US foreign policy into concise lists, and I’m always looking for suitable occasions to present the information to new readers. The new book by Dick Cheney and his adoring daughter is just such an occasion.

“We are, as a matter of empirical fact and undeniable history, the greatest force for good the world has ever known. … security and freedom for millions of people around the globe have depended on America’s military, economic, political, and diplomatic might.”  – Dick Cheney and Liz Cheney, “Why the world needs a powerful America”

Well … nothing short of a brain and soul transplant would change the welt anschauung of Dr. Strangelove and his carefully-conditioned offspring, but for all of you out there who still live in a world of facts, logic, human rights, and human empathy, here’s the ammunition to use if you should happen to find yourself ensnared in the embrace of the likes of the Cheney reptiles (including mother Lynne who once set up a website solely to attack me and seven others for holding a teach-in on September 18, 2001 in which we spoke of US foreign policy as the main provocation of what had happened exactly a week earlier.)

These are the lists:

Since the end of World War 2, the United States has:

  • Attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically-elected.
  • Dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries.
  • Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders.
  • Attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 countries.
  • Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries. 4
  • Plus … although not easily quantified … more involved in the practice of torture than any other country in the world … for over a century … not just performing the actual torture, but teaching it, providing the manuals, and furnishing the equipment.

Open Letter to the War Politicians of the World

Jürgen Todenhöfer is a German journalist and former media manager; from 1972 to 1990 he was a member of parliament for the Christian Democrats (CDU). He was one of Germany’s most ardent supporters of the US-sponsored Mujahideen and their guerrilla war against the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. Several times he traveled to combat zones with Afghan Mujahideen groups. After 2001 Todenhöfer became an outspoken critic of the US interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq. He has published several books about visits he made to war zones. In recent years he twice interviewed Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and in 2015 he was the first German journalist to visit the ‘Islamic State’.

Dear Presidents and Heads of Governments!

Through decades of a policy of war and exploitation you have pushed millions people in the Middle East and Africa into misery. Because of your policies refugees have to flee all over the world. One out every three refugees in Germany comes from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. From Africa comes one out of five refugees.

Your wars are also the cause of global terrorism. Instead of some 100 international terrorists like 15 years ago, we now are faced with more than 100,000 terrorists. Your cynical ruthlessness now strikes back at us like a boomerang.

As usual, you do not even consider to really change your policy. You care only about the symptoms. The security situation gets more dangerous and chaotic by the day. More and more wars, waves of terror and refugee crises will determine the future of our planet.

Even in Europe, the war will one day knock again at Europe’s door. Any businessman that would act like you would be fired or be in prison by now. You are total failures.

The peoples of the Middle East and Africa, whose countries you have destroyed and plundered and the people of Europe, who now accommodate the countless desperate refugees, have to pay a high price for your policies. But you wash your hands of responsibility. You should stand trial in front of the International Criminal Court. And each of your political followers should actually take care of at least 100 refugee families.

Basically, the people of the world should rise up and resist you as the warmongers and exploiters you are. As once Gandhi did it – in nonviolence, in ‘civil disobedience’. We should create new movements and parties. Movements for justice and humanity. Make wars in other countries just as punishable as murder and manslaughter in one’s own country. And you who are responsible for war and exploitation, you should go to hell forever. It is enough! Get lost! The world would be much nicer without you.

– Jürgen Todenhöfer 5

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

The annual vote in the United Nations General Assembly on the resolution which reads: “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba” was just held. This year set a new record for “yes” votes, with the addition of the Marshall Islands and Palau (heretofore each voting “no” or abstaining) and Micronesia (heretofore abstaining). All three countries had established diplomatic relations with Cuba earlier this year, which of course the United States had also done, but without any change in Washington’s vote. Here is how the vote has gone in the past (not including abstentions):

Year Votes (Yes-No) No Votes
1992 59-2 US, Israel
1993 88-4 US, Israel, Albania, Paraguay
1994 101-2 US, Israel
1995 117-3 US, Israel, Uzbekistan
1996 138-3 US, Israel, Uzbekistan
1997 143-3 US, Israel, Uzbekistan
1998 157-2 US, Israel
1999 155-2 US, Israel
2000 167-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2001 167-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2002 173-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2003 179-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2004 179-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2005 182-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2006 183-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2007 184-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2008 185-3 US, Israel, Palau
2009 187-3 US, Israel, Palau
2010 187-2 US, Israel
2011 186-2 US, Israel
2012 188-3 US, Israel, Palau
2013 188-2 US, Israel
2014 188-2 US, Israel
2015 191-2 US, Israel

Each fall the UN vote is a welcome reminder that the world has not completely lost its senses and that the American empire does not completely control the opinion of all other governments. The real reason for Washington’s eternal hostility toward Cuba has not changed since the revolution in 1959 – The fear of a good example; the fear of an alternative to the capitalist model; a fear that has been validated repeatedly over the years as many Third World countries have expressed their admiration and gratitude toward Cuba.

How the embargo began: On April 6, 1960, Lester D. Mallory, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, wrote in an internal memorandum: “The majority of Cubans support Castro … The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship. … every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba.” Mallory proposed “a line of action which … makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.” 6

Later that year, the Eisenhower administration instituted its suffocating embargo against its everlasting enemy.

Nothing of any real importance has changed recently. Guantánamo Prison still exists in all its imperialist beauty and torture. The US has not renounced its “regime-change” policies toward Cuba. Not a penny of Cuba’s near-trillion-dollar lawsuit for compensation has been paid. Washington has recently threatened to revoke the tax exempt status of IFCO/Pastors for Peace, one of the most respected and experienced Cuba advocacy groups. I still can’t go to Cuba as a tourist, or to present a book of mine at a Cuban Book Fair (for which I’ve been blocked in the past). And the United States still does not relax its death grip on the embargo, including continuing to prohibit the sale of medicines to Cuba.

A note to readers

A number of you have remarked to me about Killing Hope being unavailable in stores and, usually, from Amazon, and often from myself. This is because one of the book’s publishers, Common Courage (Maine), and its editor Greg Bates, have blocked publication and distribution of the book by a new US publisher. Common Courage is essentially out of business but refuses to face up to the fact. Bates stole a royalty payment sent to me by my British publisher via Common Courage. This theft, among other things, nullified my contract with Common Courage. It’s complicated, but I feel obliged to offer some explanation to those of you who have been unable to find a copy of the book.


  1. The Independent (London), March 18, 2015
  2. The Wikileaks Files: The World According to US Empire (2015), Introduction by Julian Assange, chapter 10
  3. Newsweek, September 21, 2015
  4. William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower (2005), Chapter 18
  5. See Jürgen Todenhöfer’s Facebook and website. Some minor corrections to spelling and grammar have been made.
  6. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958-1960, Volume VI, Cuba (1991), p.885
Oct 282015

By Michael Nevradakis, 99GetSmart


On October 28, Greeks around the world will commemorate the anniversary of Oxi Day, the day on which in 1940 the Greek government said “no” to the demands of Mussolini to pass his troops through Greece unimpeded. This no has become an annual commemoration in Greece and is remembered as a moment of great resistance for Greece and its people, despite the fact that it came from a fascist, far-right government in its own right.

Today though, the word “no” has been stripped of its significance in Greece. After the supposed referendum of July 5th, a referendum without a clear question posed to the voters and, despite the 62% that voted no, without a clear message on the part of the voters, as the events since then have shown, we have seen the word “no” converted to yes, yes, YES, yes to even harsher austerity measures and cuts than those which were purportedly rejected in the referendum. And in contrast with 1940, there is no longer any semblance of national pride or a national identity in Greece, no backbone to truly stand up to this onslaught.

On the night of July 5th, the people of Greece knew how to spill out onto the streets and the squares to celebrate the supposedly heroic, historic vote of “no.” Celebrations which in my opinion were premature, as the government of the so-called “first time left” had demonstrated much evidence of its insincerity and willingness to sell out the people. I expressed this opinion in no less than four separate articles which were written shortly before and after the referendum and which are still available online.

However, I was the “bad guy” then for saying these things. I was the “bad guy” because I didn’t participate in the celebrations for the no vote. The “bad guy” because I wasn’t celebrating the “heroic” Tsipras, Varoufakis, or Konstantopoulou. The “bad guy” because I was simply saying the raw truth: that the SYRIZA-led government had been staging an elaborate show of supposed resistance and negotiation with the troika, which it had renamed to the kinder, gentler “institutions,” instead of stating a clear and resounding “no” of its own to the blackmail and harsh demands of the troika and instead of preparing plans to lead Greece out of the European Union and the Eurozone. I was the “bad guy” because I had seen the “first time left” government continuing the austerity measures and agreements of the previous governments, enforcing presidential decrees in order to loot the national treasury and pay the IMF after saying that it would not continue the previous government’s practice of ruling by decree. I saw this government elect the corrupt conservative former government minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos as president of the Republic, and I saw it telling the people of Greece that it was their patriotic duty to pay the unified property tax, which prior to the January elections SYRIZA had deemed unconstitutional and promised that the tax would be abolished. And, just so I can be even more of a “bad guy,” I will remind you that the members of the breakaway party Popular Unity (Laiki Enotita) voted yes to almost all of the aforementioned measures, while now presenting themselves to gullible voters as some sort of radical, anti-austerity alternative.

And just what can we expect now from the government which was once championing “no,” now that it has passed a new comprehensive bill containing dozens of new austerity measures demanded by the troika? I’ll become even more of a “bad guy” by telling you: elimination of the minimum pension, continuation of the illegal unified property tax, an increased interest rate for those paying for the tax in 100 installments, an increase in the price of tickets on public transportation, abolition of tax exemptions for farmers, the legislative abolishment of Greece’s pharmaceutical industry, a mandatory tax of 100 euros per month on all free-lancers whether or not they had income, and foreclosure of a household’s primary residence via electronic means are just some of the many measures included in the new law voted by the members of the now-“second time left” government of the “charismatic hero” Alexis Tsipras and the “patriotic” Panos Kammenos. Ah, but if you are a Greek homeowner in danger of losing your primary residence, don’t worry. As stated by the government, foreclosures will only take place against those households which are “uncooperative” with the banks.

Indeed, this same government, which prior to the January elections had promised that it would curtail the power of the oligarchs in Greece, is now preparing to issue licenses to only four national broadcasters, fewer than exist today, and to auction off these licenses to the highest bidder, ensuring that only the deepest, most oligarchical pockets will be able to afford them. The government is also preparing to do the same to the radio landscape, which means that if our listeners in Greece can no longer hear us in a few months, this will likely be the reason.

The “second time left” government of “hope” and “change” is claiming that by enforcing this “bitter medicine,” that the country will once again be close to returning to economic growth, growth which has been promised each and every year since 2011 but which somehow still remains elusive. This is why, apparently, Greece must now sell off 14 profitable publicly-owned regional airports, all in the name of supposed economic growth. This is why a mainstay in the Greek urban landscape, the kiosk, has been legislatively abolished, because apparently, it was these kiosks that sell ice cream and bottled water that were the impediment to economic growth in Greece and the attaining of the so-called European prospect, or dream. A “European dream” which will allow the Greek people to “efficiently” travel from German-owned airports and Chinese-owned harbors at the same time that such infrastructure remains largely publicly owned in countries like Germany and the United States, along with water systems, power companies and highways. The “European dream” which will allow the Greek people to buy their cigarettes and chocolate bars the “civilized,” European way, from multinational supermarkets instead of the corner kiosk. And in the meantime, the “second time left” government boasts members of parliament such as Evi Karakosta, who voted yes, yes, YES to the selloff of Greece’s biggest harbors and then brazenly took part in public demonstrations against the selloff of the harbors, proving that schizophrenia is a prevalent trait amongst politicians today, as also seen by the placement of the absolutely corrupt former leader of PASOK Evangelos Turkoglou (Venizelos) as secretary of the Greek parliamentary commission on transparency, as seen by the removal from the Greek parliament’s website of any mention of the involvement of the new speaker of the parliament, Nikos Voutsis, in the parliamentary debt audit commission or the commission which was investigating the Siemens scandal, as seen also by the recent statements by economy minister Giorgos Stathakis where he claimed to have simply “forgotten” to declare one million euros in income on his 2012 tax return.

And now, we have the European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici shaking a big stick at Greece and saying that there can be no discussion about debt relief, on the same debt which has been determined to be illegal and odious of course, until Greece follows through with its so-called” reforms,” referencing the staged, corrupt, completely discredited public opinion polls from Greece which claim that 80% of the Greek people wish to remain in the Eurozone at all costs, polls which are now being used as a weapon by the European Union against Greece. Then we have Nobel Peace Prize nominee Angela Merkel, who from the golden throne she was sitting on during her recent visit to the Sultan Erdogan in the neo-Ottoman Empire of Turkey, proposed that Greece and Turkey run joint patrols in the Aegean Sea to go after the Syrian refugees. This is the same Merkel that is housing such refugees in former concentration camps in Germany.

If you have ever taken a moment to wonder why the public sector in Greece is so inept, why Greece’s universities are rotting away, why so many public works projects are rusting away, why Greece’s TV stations have not been licensed at any point in the past 25 years, why Greece’s agricultural production has been decimated, why schools in Greece enforce rote learning and why students are forced to learn two foreign languages when in many other European countries this is not a requirement at all, why Greece’s injustice system operates in the way that it does, and why the Greek state consistently seems to create obstacles for any new or innovative business idea, the reasons are the very same as the reasons why the government, at the behest of the troika, is now getting ready to destroy Greece’s pharmaceutical industry, shutter the kiosks, and sell off airports, harbors, and water and electric systems. The reason is that this is exactly what the powers that be: the US, Germany, UK, France and others, want: a country in a geostrategic location that is essentially a neocolony, forever mired in mediocrity with no voice of its own, and whose promising young and educated workforce will simply migrate and benefit the economies of the economic superpowers instead of Greece, while foreign multinationals come in and dominate the Greek market, leaving no room for domestic industry or production. In the meantime, Iceland has sentenced 26 separate bankers to jail sentences totaling 74 years. It’s too bad Iceland has rejected the “European dream” in such a way. What a shame.

This is why, as the October 28th commemoration approaches, I will state my own “no.” No to the corrupt, traitorous, pro-austerity parties of SYRIZA, the Independent Greeks, PASOK, New Democracy, Potami and others and to the voters of these atrocities, no to corruption and patronage, no to the injustice system of Greece, no to Greece’s completely corrupt oligarch-owned media and to the absolutely pathetic, talentless hacks who serve as foreign correspondents and freelancers based in Greece, and no to the Euro, the European Union, and the never-ending pro-Europeanness, self-loathing, and national inferiority complex of Greece.