Jul 242016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan prepared a list of targets for arrest even before the coup (sic) was launched”, European Commission official on Turkey (FT 7/19/2016).

Introduction

The coup in Turkey was made to order. A group of military officers and police officials were set-up to seize power by senior intelligence operatives in the Erdoğan regime. They were allowed to drop a few bombs, seize bridges and buildings before they were encircled, rounded-up and arrested using a list of targets for arrest prepared even before the so-called coup. In the midst of this fake coup, the ‘vacationing’ Erdoğan flies into Istanbul unharmed, of course, because his vacation resort was bombed after he had left. He seizes the mass media, denounces the coup, rouses the Muslim masses and sets about on a mass purge of Turkish society, concentrating on the civil service, teachers and administrators, the military, the courts and judges. Indeed every institution capable of independent action or reputedly critical of Erdoğan is closed. After a week over 60,000 people had been purged.

Why did Erdoğan resort to a coup? Why did Erdoğan purge Turkish society? What policies will follow Erdoğan’s power grab?

Prelude to the Coup

Over the past 5 years Erdoğan has suffered a series of political, economic and diplomatic failures and defeats, seriously undermining his dictatorial and territorial ambitions. His air force shot down a Russian military jet operating within Syrian territory. The images of Turkish jihadi mercenaries murdering a Russian pilot as he parachuted to safety, as well as a member of the Russian rescue party, caused the Russian government to halt the multi-billion-dollar Russian tourism industry in Turkey and cancel lucrative business deals. He broke relations with Israel, which undercut a lucrative gas and oil offshore contract. His support for ISIS and other violent Salafist mercenary groups operating in Iraq and Syria provoked a rupture with Syria and Iran. His subsequent effort to disavow Turkey’s links with ISIS led to a series of horrific terror bombings by jihadi cells implanted in the country. Turkey’s diplomatic position in Egypt deteriorated as Erdoğan sought to maintain his ties with the Muslim Brotherhood after it had been ousted from power by a US sponsored Egyptian military coup.

Domestically, Erdoğan alienated the secular Kemalist military and civilian political-economic elite via trumped up trials and media purges. Erdoğan’s heavy-handed assault on liberal and leftist protestors over environmental issues increased Western concern. His brutal handling of the labor protests following the 2014 Soma coal mine disaster, when over 300 workers were killed, further isolated him.

Erdoğan’s war on the Kurdish independence movements in Turkey, Iraq and especially in Syria, where they were allied with the US against the jihadi terrorist ISIS, added to domestic unrest and international isolation.

In order to consolidate his executive power, Erdoğan had first allied with the extensive Gulenist-Islamist networks in Turkey in order to undermine the Kemalists and then he turned around to purge his former allies.

Faced with enemies and adversaries at home and overseas, Erdoğan decided on a dual strategy of improving his ties abroad, especially his links with Russia and Israel while launching a total war on domestic critics.

Fabricated Coup and the Permanent Purge

Erdoğan’s intelligence operatives within the military command encouraged or even provoked his critics in the General Staff, who were fed up with his bungling and disastrous policies, to mount a coup. They gave the rebellious military sufficient space and resources to provide a semblance of authority while retaining strategic control over the air force and key ground troops. They may have feigned sympathy to the launching of a premature uprising … doomed to defeat. Once the heavily infiltrated rebel units moved, the entire Erdoğan operation struck. Hapless conscripts thought they had been called out for military exercises, only to find themselves encircled, arrested and even lynched. The dissidents were isolated, their advances paralyzed, their leaders incapacitated. Erdoğan’s loyalist within the Turkish Air Force flew the triumphant president into the ‘liberated’ Istambul International airport to the cheers of his adoring civilian supporters.

Erdoğan immediately decreed a massive purge – in the name of the fatherland. A real coup had indeed taken place – Erdoğan’s total power grab. The entire political, military, judicial and police system was stripped of personnel within hours. There were over 20,000 arrests, beatings and disappearances. There were calls to re-introduce the death penalty.

Erdoğan’s power grab eliminated key US assets among the Gulenist and eliminated independent Supreme Court officials and secular republican officials. The president was free to rebuild an entire civil, governmental and military apparatus with his own loyalists. His control over the media and the educational institutions was total.

Rule Under Erdoģan

Erdoğan’s pre-emptive coup, purge and power grab will result in a monolithic state which Erdoģan will shape into his long-sought version of an Islamist regime. The new regime announced a ‘State of Emergency’, which places all Turks under strict compliance with Erdoğan’s policies.

Erdoğan’s “New Order” will launch large-scale operations against the Kurds, with no respect for the Syrian or Iraqi national borders. Erdoğan will ensure compliance with Islamist decrees designed to enforce conformity. He will succeed in imposing a dictatorial ‘Presidential’ regime. And parliament, if necessary will be bypassed; his ‘electoral’ mandate will be ensured.

In the immediate aftermath, mass detentions will strengthen the state – and Erdoğan’s generals, allied religious authorities and street thugs will call the shots.

Unleashing force and violence against his domestic enemies, however, may lead to internal disputes among the new predators over the spoils of victory. The economic elite may accept the New Order, but only if and when Erdoğan tones down his rhetorical attacks on the US and the EU.

Erdoğan has yet to develop a strategy on replacing the purged (‘Gulenist’) professionals within the civilian economy and public bureaucracy – especially the schools and judiciary. The impetuous reversals of his reckless policy of confrontation with Russia, Syria, Israel, Iran, Iraq and the Kurds are likely to generate new layers of discontent, especially among his current military commanders.

Erdoğan’s New Order arises from the breakdown of civil society and long-term alliances. He may remain in power in Ankara but he will be viewed as more of a local political thug than a partner among the regional big powers.

Erdoğan’s external allies will exploit his isolation and radical bombast to forge lucrative alliances.Israel will push for favorable gas and oil deals; Russia will insist that Erdoğan abandons his ISIS allies. The US will demand he cease attacks on the Kurds. The EU will use the ongoing purge and re-institution of the death penalty to finally declare Turkey unfit to join the European Union. Bankers and foreign investors will wait for Erdoğan to stop his rampage over the financial sector and ‘get serious’ about the economy.

Erdoğan’s dream of lifetime rulership presiding over an Islamic Neo-Ottoman caliphate, buttressed by street mobs, praetorian guards and crony capitalists makes for an unstable and unruly Turkey. Erdoğan’s military loyalists have their own rivalries and ambitions. Now that Erdoğan has established his ‘military road to power’, he has set a clear precedent for other ‘Erdoğan’s’ to take the same route.

In the short-run Erdoğan needs to restart the economy, stabilize the political system and establish a semblance of international order.

Erdoğan cannot and probably will not prolong tensions with the US over the Gulen affair. Glen will remain in Pennsylvania, in the CIA’s ‘regime change’ pocket. Meanwhile, he has eliminated most of the Gulenist agents capable of working with the US as a fifth-column. The question is whether he now moves back to his role as a ‘valued’ NATO junior partner, or if he will launch an intensified war against the US’s strategic Kurdish allies?

Erdoğan’s ties with Russia are precarious. There is no reason for the Russians to trust him. He has fallen somewhere between the need for reconciliation with Russia and the desire to continue his proxy war against the government of Syria.

In the end Erdoğan may have secured power and undertaken a vast domestic purge of his enemies, but he has lost the regional war while bearing the consequences of millions of war refugees and a deeply entrenched jihadi terrorist threat within Turkey.

Jul 172016
 

By James Petras99GetSmart

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Introduction

The European Union is controlled by an oligarchy, which dictates socio-economic and political decisions according to the interests of bankers and multi-national business. The central organs of power, the European Commission (EC), the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have systematically imposed austerity programs that have degraded working conditions, welfare programs, and wages and salaries.

EU policies demanding the free immigration of non-unionized workers to compete with native workers have undermined wage and workplace protections, union membership and class solidarity. EU financial policies have enhanced the power of finance capital and eroded public ownership of strategic economic sectors.

The European Union has imposed fiscal policies set by non-elected oligarchs over and against the will and interests of the democratic electorate. As a result of EU dictates, Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland have suffered double-digit unemployment rates, as well as massive reductions of pensions, health and educational budgets. A huge transfer of wealth and concentration of decision-making has occurred in Europe.

Rule by EU fiat is the epitome of oligarchical rule.

Despite the EU’s reactionary structure and policies, it is supported by Conservatives, Liberals, Social Democrats, Greens and numerous Leftist academics, who back elite interests in exchange for marginal economic rewards.

Arguments for the EU and their Critics

The pro-EU power elite base their arguments on concrete socio-economic interests, thinly disguised by fraudulent ideological claims.

The ideological arguments backing the EU follow several lines of deception.

They claim that ‘countries’ benefit because of large-scale transfers of EU payments. They omit mentioning that the EU elite secures the privatization and denationalization of strategic industries, banks, mass media and other lucrative national assets. They further omit to mention that the EU elite gains control of domestic markets and low wage labor.

The EU argues that it provides ‘free movements’ of capital, technology and labor – omitting the fact that the flows and returns of capital exclusively benefit the powerful imperial centers to the detriment of less advanced countries and that technology is controlled and designed by the dominant elites which also monopolize the profits. Furthermore, the ‘free flow of labor’ prejudices skilled productive sectors in less developed countries while reducing salaries, wages and benefits among skilled workers in the imperial centers.

The EU: A Self-Elected Dictatorship of Empire Builders

‘Integration into the EU’ is not a union of democratic participants; the decision-making structure is tightly controlled by non-elected elites who pursue policies that maximize profits, by relocating enterprises in low tax, low wage, non- unionized regions.

European integration is an integral part of ‘globalization’, which is a euphemism for the unimpeded acquisition of wealth, assets and financial resources by the top 1%, shared, in part, with their supporters among the top 25%.

The EU promotes the concentration of capital through the merger and acquisition of multi-national firms which bankrupt local and national, medium and small scale industries.

Political and Academic Satraps of the EU Elites

The European Union’s oligarchy has organized a small army of highly paid politicians, functionaries, advisers, experts and researchers who support the European Union in a manner not unlike NGO workers in the developing world – answerable only to their ‘foreign’ paymasters.

Numerous Social Democrats draw stipends, travel expenses, lucrative fees and salaries as members of commissions and serve on impotent ‘legislative’ assemblies.

Academics advise, consent —and draw duplicate salaries from membership in the EU bureaucracy. Journalists and academics ‘front’ for the EU oligarchy by playing a leading propaganda role. For example, they have been busy slandering British pro-democracy, anti-EU voters by (1) calling for a new referendum and (2) questioning the right of the working class electorate to vote on issues like the recent EU referendum.

The leading financial press adopts a demagogic pose accusing the pro-democracy voters of being ‘racists’, ‘nativists’, or worse, for ‘opposing Eastern European immigration’.

In fact, the vast majority of workers do not oppose immigrants in general, but especially those who have taken once-unionized jobs at wages far below the going rates for established workers, on terms dictated by employers and with no ties or commitment to the community and society. For decades British workers accepted immigrant labor from Ireland because they  joined unions at wage rates negotiated by union leaders, won by long workers struggle and voted with the majority of English workers. Under the EU, Britain was flooded with Eastern European workers who acted as ‘scabs’ displacing skilled British workers who were told it was ‘progress’. This acted to destroy the prospects of their own children entering a stable, skilled labor market.

The financial press’s lurid descriptions of the British workers’  anti-EU ‘racism’ against Polish immigrant labor ignores the long history of Warsaw’s virulent hostility to immigrants–namely the refugees from the wars in the Middle East. The Polish government and population exhibit the most furious opposition to sheltering the thousands of Middle East and African war refugees, while claiming that they are not ‘Christians’ or might pose cultural or even terrorist threats against the ethnically pure Polish population.

Some of the British workers’ hostility toward Polish workers has a recognized historical basis. They have not forgotten that Polish strike breakers took the side of  ‘Iron Lady’ Thatcher’s militarized assault against unionized UK miners during the great coal strikes and even offered to export coal to aid the Conservative government in breaking the strike. As such, EU-Polish immigrant workers are not likely to integrate into the militant British working class culture.

The Polish regime’s aggressive promotion of the economic sanctions against Russia has further undermined English jobs linked to that large and growing market.

The financial press ignores the fact that Polish immigrants ‘scab’ on unionized British workers in the construction industry, undercutting long-established UK plumbers, electrical workers, carpenters and laborers – who have multiple generational ties to their communities and work. The EU elites use the importation of Polish workers to strengthen the reactionary labor policies of the employers

After the fall of Communism, Polish workers backed a succession of right-wing regimes in Warsaw, which privatized and denationalized industries and eroded their welfare system leading to their own impoverishment. Poles, instead of fighting against these neo-liberal regimes at home, headed for England and have been helping the British bosses ever since in their own anti-labor campaigns to reduce wages and decrease worker access to decent, affordable housing, public services, education and medical care.

The Eastern Europeans became the willing recruits of the EU reserve army of labor to raise profits for industrial and finance capital thus further concentrating wealth and power into the hands of the British oligarchs.

To label British workers’ antipathy to these EU policies over the free entry of cheap immigrant labor, as ‘racist’, is a blatant case of blaming workers for opposing naked capitalist profiteering. It is not hard to imagine how the Poles would react if skilled Syrian electricians were taking their jobs!

The pro-EU prostitute press claims that the pro-democracy voters are ‘anti-globalization’ and a threat to England’s living standards and financial stability.

In fact, labor votes in favor of trade but against the relocation of English industry overseas. Labor votes for for greater investment in the UK and greater regional diversity of productive, job-creating sectors, as opposed to the concentration of capital and wealth in the parasitic finance, insurance and real estate sectors concentrated in the City of London.

The EU-City of London-financial oligarchy have priced labor out of the housing market by promoting the massive construction of high-end luxury condos for ‘their kind of immigrant’, i.e. the millionaire and billionaire Chinese, Russian, Indian, Eastern European and US plutocrats who flock to London’s famous tax-evasion and money-laundering expertise.

The scribes of the EU-City oligarchy who claim that exit from the EU will lead to a cataclysmic breakdown are blatantly scaremongering. In fact, the stock and bond market, which declined for less than a week, rebounded sharply, as trade, production and demand were scarcely affected by the vote.

The hysteria-peddlers among the financial press resounded . . . in the minds and pockets of the City of London speculators. They rightly feared that their own lucrative financial operations could relocate overseas.

Conclusion

If and when the EU – City end their oligarchical control over the British economy, workers will gain an opportunity to debate and elect freely their own representatives and have a say in their own government. Leaving the EU is just the first step. The next move will be to change the rules for immigrant labor to accord with the standards of wages and conditions set by UK trade union organizations.

The following steps would include subordinating the banks to the needs of industry, investment in public housing for workers and the development of local technology for domestic producers.

The cleavage between productive labor and the EU parasites and their political hangers-on requires a new political leadership with a democratic foreign policy, which precludes overseas wars and imperial alliances.

The break with the EU logically and persuasively argues for a break with NATO and an opening toward free trade with Russia, China and the new dynamic global markets. The end of the EU can help weaken the strategic partnership between the European and City of London oligarchs. No doubt, the latter will not go without a class war of unprecedented ferocity, involving financial lockouts, manufactured fiscal crises, street mobs and parliamentary coups at the top of their agenda.

Only if the democratic electoral majority becomes a cohesive and combative class movement, in and out of Parliament, can they convert the referendum from a temporary electoral win to a stable basis for structural transformation.

Only a democratic majority can implement a fair and equitable immigration policy that strengthens labor and welfare policies and which would be based on the traditional values of British trade unionism and not on some criteria parroted by the ‘house servants’ for the lords of the EU-London ‘Downton Abbey’.

Jul 132016
 

By James Petras and Robin Eastman-Abaya, MD, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

The white working class in the US has been decimated through an epidemic of ‘premature deaths’– a bland term to cover-up the drop in life expectancy in this historically important demographic. There have been quiet studies and reports peripherally describing this trend – but their conclusions have not yet entered the national consciousness for reasons we will try to explore in this essay. Indeed this is the first time in the country’s ‘peacetime’ history that its traditional core productive sector has experienced such a dramatic demographic decline – and the epicenter is in the small towns and rural communities of the United States.

The causes for ‘premature death’ (dying before normal life expectancy – usually of preventable conditions) include the sharply increasing incidence of suicide, untreated complications of diabetes and obesity and above all ’accidental poisoning’ – a euphemism used to describe what are mostly prescription and illegal drug overdoses and toxic drug interactions.

No one knows the total number of deaths of American citizens due to drug overdose and fatal drug interactions over the past 20 years, just as no central body has kept track of the numbers of poor people killed by police nationwide, but let’s start with a conservative round number – 500,000 mostly white working class victims, and challenge the authorities to come up with some real statistics with real definitions. Indeed such a number could be much higher – if they included fatal poly-pharmacy deaths and ‘medication errors’ occurring in the hospital and nursing home setting.

In the last few years, scores of thousands of Americas have died prematurely because of drug overdoses or toxic drug interactions, mostly related to narcotic pain medications prescribed by doctors and other providers. Among those who have increasingly died of illegal opioid, mostly heroin, fentanyl and methadone, overdose, the vast majority first became addicted to the powerful synthetic opioids prescribed by the medical community, supplied by big chain pharmacies and manufactured at incredible profit margins by the leading pharmaceutical companies. In essence, this epidemic has been promoted, subsidized and protected by the government at all levels and reflects the protection of a profit-maximizing private medical-pharmaceutical market gone wild.

This is not seen elsewhere in the world at such a level. For example, despite their proclivity for alcohol, obesity and tobacco – the British patient population has been essentially spared this epidemic because their National Health System is regulated and functions with a different ethic: patient well being is valued over naked profit. This arguably would not have developed in the US if a single-payer national health system had been implemented.

Faced with the increasing incidence of returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans dying from suicide and overdose from prescription opioids and mixed drug reactions, the Armed Forces Surgeon General and medical corps convened ‘emergency’ US Senate Hearings in March 2010 where testimony showed military doctors had written 4 million prescriptions of powerful narcotics in 2009, a 4 fold increase from 2001. Senate members of the hearings, led by Virginia’s Jim Webb, cautioned not casting a negative light on ‘Big Pharma’ among the largest donors to political campaigns.

The 1960’s public image of the heroin-addicted returning Vietnam War soldier that shocked the nation had morphed into the Oxycontin/Xanax dependent veteran of the new millennium, thanks to ‘Big Pharma’s’ enormous contracts with the US Armed Forces and the mass media looked away. Suicides, overdoses and ‘sudden deaths’ killed many more soldiers than combat.

No other peaceful population, probably since the 1839 Opium Wars, has been so devastated by a drug epidemic encouraged by a government. In the case of the Opium Wars, the British Empire and its commercial arm, The East India Company, sought a market for their huge South Asian opium crops and used its military and allied Chinese warlord mercenaries to force a massive opium distribution on the Chinese people, seizing Hong Kong in the process as a hub for its imperial opium trade. Alarmed at the destructive effects of addiction on its productive population, the Chinese government tried to ban or regulate narcotic use. Its defeat at British hands marked China’s decline into semi-colonial status for the next century – such are the wider consequences of having an addicted population.

This paper will identify the (1) the nature of the long-term, large-scale drug induced deaths, (2) the dynamics of ‘demographic transition by overdose’, and (3) the political economy of opioid addiction. This paper will not cite numbers or reports – these are widely available. However they are scattered, incomplete and generally lack any theoretical framework to understand, let alone confront, the phenomenon.

We will conclude by discussing whether each ‘death by prescription’ is to be viewed as an individual tragedy, mourned in private, or as a corporate crime fueled by greed or even a pattern of ‘Social-Darwinism-writ-large’  by an elite-run decision making apparatus.

Since the advent of major political-economic changes induced by neoliberalism, America’s oligarchic class confronts the problem of a large and potentially restive population of millions of marginalized workers and downwardly mobile members of the middle class made redundant by ‘globalization’ and an armed rural poor sinking ever deeper into squalor. In other words, when finance capital and elite ruling bodies view an increasing ‘useless’ population of white workers, employees and the poor in this geographic context, what ‘peaceful’ measures can be taken to ease and encourage their ‘natural decline’?

A similar pattern emerged in the early ‘AIDS’ crisis where the Reagan Administration deliberately ignored the soaring deaths among young Americans, especially minorities, adopting a moralistic ‘blame the victim’ approach until the influential gay community organized and demanded government action.

The Scale and Scope of Drug Deaths

In the past two decades, hundreds of thousands of working age Americans have died from drugs. The lack of hard data is a scandal. The scarcity is due to a fragmented, incompetent and deliberately incomplete system of medical records and death certificates – especially from the poorer rural areas and small towns where there is virtually no support for producing and maintaining quality records. This great data void is multi-faceted and hampered by the problems of regionalism and a lack of clear governmental public health direction.

SKULL_RX_iStock_000007073329Large-400x400Early in the crisis, medical professionals and coroners were largely in ‘denial’ and under pressure to certify ‘unexpected’ deaths as ‘natural due to pre-existing conditions’ – despite overwhelming evidence that there had been reckless overprescribing by the local medical community. Fifteen to twenty years ago, the victims’ families, isolated in their little towns, may have derived some short-term comfort from seeing the term ‘natural’ attached to their loved-one’s untimely death. Understandably, a diagnosis of ‘death by drug overdose’ would evoke tremendous social and personal shame among the rural and small-town white working class families who had traditionally associated narcotics with the urban minority and criminal populations. They thought themselves immune to such ‘big city’ problem. They trusted ‘their’ doctors who, in turn, trusted ‘Big Pharma’s’ assurances that the new synthetic opioids were not addicting and could be prescribed in large quantities.

Despite the local medical community’s slowly growing awareness of this problem, there was little public attempt to educate the at-risk population and still fewer attempts to rein in the over-prescribing brethren physicians and private ‘pain-clinics’. They, or their nurse practitioners and PA’s, did not counsel patients on the immense dangers of combining opioids and alcohol or tranquilizers. Many, in fact, were not even aware of what their patients were prescribed by other providers. It is common to see healthy younger adults with multiple prescriptions from multiple providers.

Through the last few decades under neoliberalism, rural county heath department budgets were stripped because of business-promoted austerity programs. Instead, the federal government mandated that they implement expensive and absurd plans to confront ‘bio-terrorism’. Often, health departments lacked the necessary budget to pay for the costly forensic toxicology testing required for documenting drug levels in suspect overdose cases among their own population.

fda-drug-approvalFurther compounding this lack of quality data, there was no guidance or coordination from the federal and state government or regional DEA regarding systematic documentation and the development of a usable database for analyzing the widespread consequences of overprescribing legal narcotics. The early crisis received minimal attention from these bodies.

All official eyes were focused on the ‘war on drugs’ as it was being waged against the poor, urban minority population. The small towns, where over-prescribing doctors formed the pillars of the local churches or country clubs, suffered in silence. The greater public was lulled by media mis-education into thinking that addiction and related deaths were an ‘inner city’ problem, one that required the usual racist response of filling up the prisons with young blacks and Hispanics for petty crimes or drug possession.

But within this vacuum, white working class children were starting to dial ‘911’…because, ‘Mommy won’t wake up…’.  Mommy with her ‘prescribed Fentanyl patches’ took just one Xanax too many and devastated an entire family unit. This was the prototype of a raging epidemic. All throughout the country these alarming cases were growing. Some rural counties saw the proportion of addicted infants born to addicted mothers overwhelm their unprepared hospital systems. And the local obituary pages published increasing numbers of young names and faces besides the very elderly –never printing any ‘cause’ for the untimely demise of a young adult while devoting paragraphs for a departed octogenarian.

Recent trends demonstrate that drug deaths (both opiate overdose and fatal mixed interactions with other drugs and alcohol) have had a major impact on the composition of the local labor force, families, communities and neighborhoods. This is reflected in the lives of workers, whose personal life and employment has been severely impaired by corporate plant relocations, downsizing, cuts in wages and health benefits. The traditional support systems, which provided aid to workers damaged by these trends, such as trade unions, public social workers and mental health professionals, were either unable or unwilling to intervene before or after the scourge of drug addiction had come into play.

The Dynamic Demography of Drug-Induced Death

Almost all publicized reports ignore the demography and differential class impacts of prescription-related drug deaths. The majority of those killed by illegal drugs were first addicted to legal narcotics prescribed by their providers. Only the overdose deaths of celebrities manage to hit the headlines.

Most of the victims have been low wage, unemployed or under-employed members of the white working class. Their prospects for the future are dismal. Any dream of establishing a healthy family life on one salary in ‘Heartland America’ would be met with laughter. This is a huge national population, which has experienced a steep decline in its living standards because of deindustrialization. The majority of fatal overdose victims are white working age males, but with a large proportion of working class women, often mothers with children. There has been little discussion about the impact of an overdose death of a working age woman on the extended family. They include grandmothers in their 50’s living with three generations under one roof. In this demographic, women often provide critical cohesion and stability for several generations at risk – even if they had been taking ‘Oxy’ for their chronic pain.

Apparently the US minority population has so far escaped this epidemic. Black and Hispanic Americans had already been depressed and economically marginalized for a much longer period – and the lower rate of prescription drug deaths among their populations may reflect greater resilience. It certainly reflects their reduced access to the over-prescribing private-sector medical community – a grim paradox where medical ‘neglect’ might indeed have been ‘benign’.

While there may be few class-based studies looking at comparative trends in ‘overdose deaths’ among urban minorities and rural/small town whites from sociology, public health or minority-studies university departments, anecdotal evidence and personal observation suggest that minority urban populations are more likely to provide assistance to an overdosing neighbor or friend than in the white community where addicts are more likely to be isolated and abandoned by family members ashamed of their ‘weakness’. Even the practice of ‘dumping’ an overdosed friend at the entrance of an emergency department and walking away has saved many lives. Urban minorities have greater access and familiarity with the chaotic big-city emergency rooms where medical personnel are skilled at recognizing and treating overdose. After decades of civil rights struggles, minorities are possibly more sophisticated in asserting their rights regarding use of such public resources. There may even be a relatively stronger culture of solidarity among the marginalized minorities in rendering assistance or an awareness of the consequences of not taking someone’s neighbor to the ER. These urban survival mechanisms have been largely absent in the white rural areas.

Nationwide, US doctors had long been dissuaded from prescribing powerful synthetic opioids to minority patients, even those in significant pain. There are various factors here, but the medical community has not been immune to the stereotype of the Hispanic or black urban addict or dealer. Perhaps, this widespread medical ‘racism’ in the context of the prescription opioid epidemic has had some paradoxical benefit.

Whatever the reason, urban minority addicts, while experiencing overdose in large numbers are more likely to survive an opiate overdose than small town or rural whites, unfamiliar with narcotics and their effects.

In the rural and small-town (deindustrialize) US heartland there has been an enormous breakdown in community and family solidarity. This has followed the destruction of a century-old stable employment base, especially in the manufacturing, mining and productive agricultural sectors. Only post-Soviet Russia experienced a similar pattern of declining life expectancy from ‘poisoning’ (alcohol and drugs) following the nationwide destruction of its socialized full employment system and the breakdown of all social services. Furthermore the loss of the tough Soviet police apparatus and the growth of an oligarch-mafia class saw the tremendous in-flooding of heroin from Afghanistan.

The growth of opioid addiction is not based on ‘personal choice’, nor is it the result of shifts in cultural life styles.  While all class and educational levels are included among the victims, the overwhelming majority are younger white working class and the poor. They cover all age groups, including adolescents recovering from sports injuries, as well as the elderly with joint and back pain. The surge of addiction is a result of major shifts in the economy and the social structure. The regions most affected by overdose deaths are those in deep, prolonged and permanent decline, including the former ‘rust belt’ regions, small manufacturing towns of New England, Upstate New York, Pennsylvania and the rural South and agricultural, mining and forestry regions of the west.

This is the product of private executive decisions to (1) relocate productive US companies overseas or to distant, non-union regions of the country, (2) force once well-paid employees into lower paid jobs, (3) replace American workers with skilled and unskilled foreign immigrants or poorly paid ‘temps’, (4) eliminate pension and health benefits and (5) introduce new technology – including robots- which cuts the labor force by rendering human workers redundant. These changes in the relationship of capital to labor have created enormous profits for senior executives and investors, while producing a surplus labor force, which puts even greater pressure on young first-time workers and workers with seniority. There have been no effective job protection/ sustainable job creation programs to address the decades of declining well-paid employment. Good jobs have been replaced by minimum wage, service sector ‘MacJobs’ or temporary poorly paid manufacturing jobs with no benefits or protections. All across this devastated heartland, expensively touted programs, such as ‘Start-Up New York’, have failed to bring decent jobs while spending hundreds of millions of public money in free PR for state politicians.

The drug addiction epidemic has been most deadly precisely in those regions of industrial job loss and working wage decline, as well as in the depressed, once protected, agricultural and food processing sectors where union jobs have been replaced by minimum wage immigrants. The loss of stable employment has been accompanied by a slashing of social services and tremendous cuts in benefits – just when such services should have been bolstered.

Precisely because the so-called ‘drug problem’ is linked to major demographic changes resulting from dynamic capitalist shifts, it has never been the focus of elite-run government and corporate foundation grant research – unlike their fixation on the ‘radicalization of Muslims’ or ‘trends in urban crime’. Research tended to focus on ‘minorities’ or merely nibbled at the periphery of the current phenomenon.  Good studies and data would have provided the rationale and basis for major public programs aimed at protecting the lives of marginalized white workers and reversing the deadly trends. The decade-long, nation-wide absence of research and data into this phenomenon has justified the glaring absence of an effective governmental response. Here the ‘neglect’ has not been ‘benign’.

In parallel with the increase in opioid addiction, there has been an astronomical increase in the prescription of psychotropic drugs and anti-depressants to the same population – also highly profitable to ‘Big Pharma’. The pattern of prescribing such powerful, and potentially dangerous, mood altering medications to downwardly mobile Americans to ‘treat’ or numb normal anxieties and reactions to the deterioration in their material condition has had profound consequences. Such individuals, often on unemployment assistance or MEDICAID, may be expected to follow a complex daily regimen of up to nine medications – besides their narcotic pain medications, while trying to cope with their crumbling world.

Where a dignified job with a decent wage would effectively treat a marginalized worker’s despair without unpleasant or dangerous ‘side effects’, the medical and mental health community has consistently sent their patients to ‘Big Pharma’. As a result, post-mortem toxicological analyses often show multiple prescribed psychotropic medications and anti-depressants in addition to narcotics in cases of opioid overdose deaths. While this may constitute an abdication of the medical provider’s responsibility to patients, it is also a reflection of the medical community’s utter helplessness in the face of systemic social breakdown – as has occurred in the marginalized communities where drug overdose deaths concentrate.

Demographic studies, at best, identify the victims of drug addiction. But their choice to treat their despair as an ‘individual problem’ occurring in a ‘specific, immediate context’ overlooks the greater political and economic structures, which set the stage for premature death.

The Political Economy of Overdose Deaths

When the remains of a young working class overdose victim is wheeled into a morgue, his or her untimely demise is labelled a ‘self-inflicted’ or ‘accidental’ opioid overdose and a great cover-up machine is turned on: The sequence leading up to the death is shrouded in mystery, no deeper understanding of the socio-cultural and economic factors are sought. Instead, the victim or his/her culture is blamed for the end-result of a complex chain of elite capitalist economic decisions and political maneuverings in which a worker’s premature death is a mere collateral event. The medical community has merely functioned as the transmission belt in this process, rather than as an agent for serving the public.

The vast majority of overdose fatalities are, in reality, victims of decisions and losses far beyond their control. Their addictions have shortened their lives as well as clouded their understanding of events and undermined their capacity to engage in class struggle to reverse this trend. It has been a perfect solution to the predictable demographic problems of brutal neoliberalism in America.

Wall Street and Washington designed the macro-economy that has eliminated decent jobs, cut wages and slashed benefits. As a result millions of marginalized workers and the unemployed are under tremendous tension and resort to pharmacologic solutions to endure their pain because they are not organized. The historical leading role of trade union and community organizations has been eliminated. Instead, redundant workers are ‘charged by Big Pharma’ to dig their own graves and class leaders are nowhere to be found.

Secondly, the workplace has become much more dangerous under the ‘new economic order’. Bosses no longer fear unions and safety regulations: many workers are injured by the accelerating pace of work, longer hours, faulty job training and lack of federal supervision of working conditions. Injured workers, lacking any judicial, trade union, or public agency protection rightly fear retaliation for reporting their work injury and increasingly resort to prescription narcotics to cope with acute and chronic pain while continuing to work.

When employers allow workers to report their injuries, the low coverage and limited treatments available, encourage providers to over-prescribe narcotics on top of other medications with potentially dangerous interactions. Many pain clinics, contracted by employers, are eager to profit from injured clients while pharmaceutical companies actively promote powerful synthetic narcotics.

A vicious chain is formed: The pharmaceutical industry’s mass production of narcotics has been among its most profitable products. Corporate pharmacy chains fill the prescriptions written by tens of thousands of ‘providers’ (doctors, dentists, nurses and physician assistants) who have only a limited amount of time to actually examine an injured worker. The deteriorating work conditions create the injury and the workers become consumers of Big Pharma’s miracle relief – Oxycontin or its cousins – which a decade of drug salesmen had touted as ‘non-addicting’. A long line of highly educated professionals, including doctors and other providers, pathologists, medical examiners and coroners carefully paper over the real cause, the corporate decision makers, in order to protect themselves from corporate reprisals should they ‘blow the whistle’. Behind the scientific façade there is a Social Darwinism that few are willing to confront.

Only recently, in the face of incredible numbers of hospitalizations and deaths from narcotic overdose, the federal government has started to release funds for research. Academic-medical researchers have started to collect and publicize data on the growing epidemic of opiate deaths; they provide shocking maps of the most affected counties and regions. They join the chorus in urging the federal and state agencies to become more actively involved in usual panacea: ‘education and prevention’. This beehive of activity has come two decades too late into the epidemic and reeks of cynicism.

Funding for research into this phenomenon will not result in any effective long-term programs for confronting these small community-based ‘crises of capitalism’. There is no institution willing to confront the basic cause: the devastation of capitalist– labor relations in post-millennial America, the corrupt nature of state-corporate-pharmaceutical linkages and the chaotic, profit-driven character of our private medical system. Very few writers ever explore how a national, public, single-payer, health system would have clearly prevented with epidemic from the beginning.

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Conclusion

Why does the capitalist-state and pharmaceutical elite sustain a socio-economic process, which has led to the large-scale, long-term death of workers and their family members in rural and small town America?

One ready and convincing hypothesis is that the modern dynamic corporate elite profits from the results of ‘demographic change by overdose.’

Corporations gain billions of dollars in profits from the ‘natural decline’ of redundant workers: slashing social services and job benefits, such as health plans, pension, vacation, job training programs, allowing employers to increase their profits, capital gains, executive bonuses and raises. Public services are eliminated, taxes are reduced and workers, when needed, can be imported – fully formed – from abroad for temporary employment in a ‘free labor market’.

Capitalists profit even more from the technology gains – robots, computerization, etc. – by ensuring that workers do not enjoy reduced hours or increased vacations resulting from their increased productivity. Why share the results of productivity gains with the workers, when the workers can just be eliminated? Dissatisfied workers can turn inward or ‘pop a pill’, but never organize to retake control of their lives and future.

Election experts and political pundits can claim that white American workers reject the major establishment parties because they are ‘angry’ and ‘racist’. These are the workers who now turn to a ‘Donald Trump’. But a deeper analysis would reveal their rational rejection of political leaders who have refused to condemn capitalist exploitation and confront the epidemic of death by overdose.

There is a class basis for this veritable genocide by narcotics raging among white workers and the unemployed in the small towns and rural areas of American: it is the ‘perfect’ corporate solution to a surplus labor force. It is time for American workers and their leaders to wake up to this cruel fact and resist this one-sided class war or continue to mourn more untimely deaths in their own drug-numbed silence.

And it is time for the medical community to demand a ‘patient-first’ publicly accountable national health system that rewards service over profit, and responsibility over silent complicity.

____________________

Please note James Petras new collection of essays with Clarity Press:

THE END OF THE REPUBLIC AND THE DELUSION OF EMPIRE

            ISBN: 978-0-0072870-5-9, $24.95/ 252 pp./ 2016

Jul 082016
 

By James Petras99GetSmart

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Introduction

Amid raging corruption, social pathologies and outright political thuggery, a new gang of vassal regimes has taken-over Latin America. The new rulers are strictly recruited as the protégé’s of US financial and banking institutions. Hence the financial press refers to them as the “new managers” – of Wall Street.

The US financial media has once again provided a political cover for the vilest crimes committed by the ‘new managers’ as they launch their offensive against labor and in favor of the foreign and domestic financiers.

To understand the dynamics of the empire’s new vassal managers, we will proceed by identifying (1) the illicit power grab (2) the neoliberal policies they have pursued (3) the impact of their program on the class structure (4) their economic performance and future socio-political perspectives.

Vassals as Managers of Empire

Latin America’s current vassalage elite is of longer and shorter duration.

The regimes of longer duration with a historical legacy of submission, corruption and criminality include Mexico and Colombia where oligarchs, government officials and death squads cohabitate in close association with the US military, business and banking elites.

Over the past decades, 100,000 citizens were murdered in Mexico and over 4 million peasants were dispossessed in Colombia. In both regimes over ten million acres of farmland and mining terrain were transferred to US and EU multinationals.

Hundreds of billions of illicit narco earnings were laundered by the Colombian and Mexican oligarchy to their US accounts via private banks.

The current political managers, Peña in Mexico and Santos in Colombia, are rapidly de-nationalizing strategic oil and energy sectors while savaging dynamic social movements – hundreds of students and teachers in Mexico and thousands of peasants and human rights activists in Colombia have been murdered.

The new wave of imperial vassals has seized power throughout most of Latin America with the direct and indirect intervention of the US. In 2009, Honduras President Manuel Zelaya was ousted by a military coup backed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Zelda’s program of agrarian reform, regional integration (with Venezuela) and constitutional elections was abolished. Zelda was replaced by a US vassal, Roberto Micheletti, who proceeded to murder several hundred landless rural workers and indigenous activists.

Washington moved to organize a constitutional cover by promoting a highly malleable landowner, Porfirio Lobo Sosa, to the presidency.

The State Department next ousted Paraguayan President Francisco Lugo who governed between 2008-2012. Lugo promoted a moderate agrarian reform and a centrist regional integration agenda.

With the backing of Secretary of State Clinton, the Paraguayan oligarchy in Congress seized power, fabricated an impeachment decree and ousted President Lugo. He was briefly replaced by Vice President Federico Franco (2012-2013).

In 2013, Washington backed Asuncion’s notorious crime boss, for President, one Horacio Castes – convicted for currency fraud in 1989, drug running in 1990, and most recently (2010) money laundering.

The Honduras and Paraguayan coups established (in miniature) the precedent for a new wave of ‘big country’ political vassals. The State Department moved toward the acceleration of banking takeovers in Brazil, Argentina and Peru.

In rapid succession, between December 2015 and April 2016, vassal managers seized power in Argentina and Brazil. In Argentina, millionaire Mauricio Macri ruled by decree, by-passing constitutional legality. Macri fired scores of thousands of public service workers, closed social agencies and appointed judges and prosecutors without Congressional vote. He arbitrarily arrested social movement leaders – violating democratic procedures.

Macri’s Economic and Finance Ministers gained millions of dollars by ‘buying into’ multinational oil companies just prior to handing over private options on public enterprises.

The all-encompassing swindles and fraud carried out by the ‘new managers’ were covered up by the US media, who praised Macri’s professional team.

Moreover, Macri’s economic performance was a disaster. Exorbitant user fees on utilities and transport for consumers and business enterprises increased three to ten-fold, forcing bankruptcy rates to soar and households to suffer light and gas closures.

Wall Street vulture funds received seven billion dollar payment from Macri’s managers, for defaulted loans purchased for pennies over a dollar, twenty-fold greater then the original lenders.

Data based on standard economic indicators highlights the worst economic performance in a decade and a half.

Price inflation exceeds 40%; public debt increased by twenty percent in six months.  Living standards and employment sharply declined. Growth and investment data was negative. Mismanagement, official corruption and arbitrary governance, did not induce confidence among local small and medium size businesses.

The respectable media, led by the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post falsified every aspect of Macri’s regime. Failed economic policies implemented  by bankers turned cabinet ministers were dubbed long-term successes; crude ideologically driven policies promoting foreign investor profiteering were re-invented as business incentives.

Political thugs dismantled and replaced civil service agencies were labelled ‘a new management team’ by the vulgar propaganda scribes of the financial press.

In Brazil, a  phony political power grab by  Congressional opportunists ousted elected President Dilma Rousseff. She was replaced by a Washington approved serial swindler and notorious bribe taker, Michel Temer.

The new economic managers were predictably controlled by Wall Street, World Bank and IMF bankers. They rushed measures to slash wages, pensions and other social expenditures, to lower business taxes and privatize the most lucrative public enterprises in transport, infrastructure, landholdings, oil and scores of other activities.

Even as the prostitute press lauded Brazil’s new managers’, prosecutors and judges arrested three newly appointed cabinet ministers for fraud and money laundering. ‘President’ Temer is next in line for prosecution for his role in the mega Petrobras oil contracts scandal for bribes and payola.

The economic agenda by the new managers are not designed to attract new productive investments. Most inflows are short-term speculative ventures. Markets, especially, in commodities, show no upward growth, much to the chagrin of the free market technocrats. Industry and commerce are depressed as a result of the decline in consumer credit, employment and public spending induced by ‘the managers’ austerity policies.

Even as the US and Europe embrace free market austerity, it evokes a continent wide revolt. Nevertheless, Latin America’s wave of vassal regimes remain deeply embedded in decimating the welfare state and pillaging public treasuries led by a narrow elite of bankers and serial swindlers.

Conclusion

As Washington and the prostitute press hail their ‘new managers’ in Latin America, the celebration has abruptly given way to mass rage over corruption and demands for a shift to the political left.

In Brazil, “President” Temer rushes to implement big business measures, as his time in office is limited to weeks not months. His time out of jail is nearing a deadline. His cabinet of ‘technocrats’ prepare their luggage to follow.

Maurice Macri may survive a wave of strikes and protests and finish the year in office. But the plunging economy and pillage of the treasury is leading business to bankruptcy, the middle class to empty bank accounts and the dispossessed to spontaneous mass upheavals.

Washington’s new managers in Latin America cannot cope with an unruly citizenry and a failing free market economy.

Coups have been tried and work for grabbing power but do not establish effective rulership. Political shift to the right are gyrating out of Washington’s orbit and find no new counter-balance in the break-up of the European Union.

Vassal capitalist takeovers in Latin America generated publicist anesthesia and Wall Street euphoria; only to be rudely shocked to reality by economic pathologies.

Washington and Wall Street and their Latin America managers sought a false reality of unrestrained profits and pillaged wealth. The reality principle now forces them to recognize that their  failures are inducing rage today and uprisings tomorrow.

Jul 022016
 

By James Petras99GetSmart

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Introduction

Over the past fifty plus years, over 125 mass shootings/massacres have occurred within the United States but not one perpetrator has been identified as a trained member of an international Islamist terrorist organization.

A review of the massacres will shed considerable light on the political, cultural and socio-psychological features of US society. The frequent and intensely bloody nature of these mass shootings are a distinctly US phenomenon. The high proportion of fatalities over wounded survivors is a reflection of the availability of high-power weapons in the US and the poorly coordinated police response – where SWAT teams place ‘force protection’ over saving lives.

Method and Scope

Until very recently, civilian-initiated massacres were an infrequent phenomenon in US society up. In order to understand the rise of civilian-initiated massacres as an American phenomenon, we will first set out approximately 20-year time frames, then list the number of massacres in each time period, examine the number of fatalities and the political and social ethos within each time frame. It would be interesting to look at the ratio of fatalities to wounded survivors in order to gauge the effectiveness of the police/medical response.

We can identify three time frames: the early period between 1960-1980; the middle period between 1981-1998; the most recent period between 1999-2016.

Political Dynamics of Massacres

There is a clear and consistent increase in the number of massacres and fatalities over the entire half century. From 1960 to 1980, there was one large massacre resulting in at least 14 fatalities and 32 wounded.

In the subsequent period between 1981-1998 the number of massacres jumped four-fold and the number of fatalities increased four-fold from fourteen to seventy-one.

In the most recent period (1999-2016) the number of massacres almost doubled again and the number of fatalities increased two and a half times.

The number of massacres and victims have ‘taken off’ in the last few years. There are grounds to believe that we have moved from massacres as a rarity to a transitional period, to a significant upsurge which has become the ‘new norm’ for mass killings.

Myths: State Propaganda and Social Realities

Large, civilian-initiated massacres were rare (The Texas University Tower in 1967) during the two decades (1960-1980) despite this being a time of mass popular protest against the war and racism, cultural revolts, labor unrest and community-based collective action.

During these tumultuous years, the political-cultural climate encouraged mass collective action directed at changing government policy. Individual political, social and local grievances or psycho-cultural resentments were channeled through well-structured community based organizations. State propaganda was challenged by a widespread system of robust opposition media, well-publicized critical voices and familiar places of revolt. Domestic massacres, when they occurred were more often perpetrated by the State – as in the massacres against the Black Panther leadership, or shooting of students at Jackson State and Kent State Universities.

The growth of civilian-initiated massacres as public events began to find prominence between 1980-1998, a time of growing elite dominance over everyday life and the retreat of collective expression.

This ‘middle’ or ‘transitional period’ was characterized by state and media emphasis on individual justifications and resentments, together with the growing cult of private greed– the ‘animal spirits’ of the market – and the promotion of military revivalism, through Reagan’s invasion of Grenada, and George Bush’s destruction of Panama and Iraq.

The previous political culture, which had absorbed grievances and offered outlets for individual aggression, was in retreat.

The elites, led by President Reagan, established the culture of the ‘Lone Ranger’ (or lone wolf), vindicating grievances with his ‘righteous rifle’. The conflation of the Second Amendment of the US Constitution with the worship of the lone vigilante helped to create the contemporary mass killer.

The political culture of resistance was replaced by the pathology of resentment; protests directed at political targets were replaced by violent terror directed at diffuse apolitical publics – the amorphous innocents.

The transition period established several key determinants that led to the subsequent massification of massacres.

First, the political-cultural elites deliberately and systematically discredited the social context of mass popular protest, ridiculing popular discontent and suppressing dissent while enhancing the image of the power of the individual. The cult of the ‘individual over the collective’ morphed into a deranged Ayn Randian Atlas with his semi-automatic 9 mm.

Secondly, the transitional political culture renewed and enhanced the role of state violence in resolving conflicts and extended the notion of social violence downward into the mass of society.

Under the guardianship of the political and media elites, the 1980’s and 1990’s did not encourage or permit any effective mass cultural alternative to violence.

The deregulation of the economy and the Clinton regime’s open-ended policy of conquest (or ‘regime changes’) through massive bombing of overseas adversaries led to a massive policing of both foreign (imperial clients) and domestic civil societies, which fed into the pathological tendencies of individuals who set out to vindicate their private grievances.

The first two decades of the 21st century witnessed a sharp increase in domestic civilian-initiated massacres with an even greater proportion of fatalities. The cumulative effects of mass murders of previous decades, found expression in a rising spiral of massacres.

The 21st century is the epoch of multiple serial killings at every geographical region, from global, regional, national and local levels. The bloody consequences of lawless imperial wars of aggression and pillage (with such psychotic justifications as ‘regime change’ or ‘humanitarian intervention’ especially under the First Clinton Dynastic Regime) are features of everyday life. Military budgets have skyrocketed at the international and national level and are mirrored by multi-million arms purchases by individuals at the domestic civilian level.

Military metaphysics and quasi-religious public displays of superhuman ‘avengers’ wrapped in the national flag have permeated every cranny of society – from mega-million dollar sporting extravaganzas to school assemblies, business meetings (like the Rotary Clubs) and workplace gatherings.

Millions have entered the war zones; daily police killings of citizens, especially African American and marginalized youth, have become the norm. Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of immigrants are demonized, assaulted, dragged from their homes or workplaces, incarcerated and deported with barely the shirt of their backs – leaving sundered families and communities.

Most important, the US imperial state has brutalized and, directly or indirectly, massacred millions of Muslim civilians, citizens of once-sovereign nations, throughout the Middle East, South Asia, and North Africa and even in the immigrant ghettos, raising lawlessness to a new and more diffuse level.

The pathology of the American state, with its embrace of state-sponsored massacres, has created mass psycho-phobia against Muslim people and is in the process of stirring up the boiling pot of even more brutal civilian massacres. It must be emphasized that American citizens, overwhelmingly non-Muslim, have committed the vast majority of mass shooting in America. Even those mass shooting committed by self-described Islamists have involved US-born Muslims or converts who have shown an affinity and commitment to the dominant gun ethos of America. None have been ‘trained abroad’, none have proved to be ‘soldiers’ of some remote international Islamist movement. Most have learned their requisite ‘skills’ at ‘for-profit’ US shooting ranges and all have imbibed the national gun ideology over community and mass collective action.

Only two of the most recent seven large massacres have a remote link to Islam – and these assassins were not directly related to overseas, organized terrorist groups but had been ‘self-radicalized’ in the context of the individualist US gun culture. Omar Mateen, who massacred scores of unarmed young, mostly Hispanic, people at a gay club in Orlando, Florida clearly had much more in common (spiritually and operationally) with the Norwegian mass murderer, Anders Breivik (who shot and killed over seventy youth at a multi-cultural summer camp in 2011) or with Adam Lanzo (who killed 20 small pupils and 6 teachers in Connecticut in 2012), than with any fighting units in Syria or Afghanistan.

Conclusion

The personal-political grievances of mass murderers have everything to do with their cultural and psychological isolation, resentment and deep spiritual commitment to the dominant arms culture of America: these massacres have become their self-prescribed psycho-therapy. The dominant political and police institutions naturally use these for propaganda to advance the imperial agenda, rather than encourage positive collective expressions of grievances to address social issues.

Today there is no collective social expression with highly credible, committed mass activists as there had been during the 1960-70’s, when large-scale civilian initiated massacres were very rare. The notorious 1967 mass shooting in Austin Texas by a former Marine champion sharpshooter (one shot per kill) was followed by meticulous expert examination of the circumstances and context. Today, there are no political collective or community responses like that of the Texas tower sniper. During the 1980-90’s, the elites encouraged and promoted voracious aggressions against rival markets and whole nations, which the financial press pundits have celebrated as expressions of the ‘animal spirits’, the triumph of the ‘fittest’, most individualistic capitalism. From 2000 to the present, the mass media has saturated its audiences with military solutions to individual grievances. The psychopathology of the mass murderers is reflected in the state writ-large.

Jun 152016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

Rational Voters and Irrational Experts

Large swaths of the US electorate are voting for rational choices against a system controlled by an economic and political oligarchy.

Rational choice is based on their experience with political leaders who have pursued policies leading to a trillion dollar financial crisis and bank bailouts while impoverishing millions of mortgage holders and working families – the US tax payers.

Their rejection of the established leadership of both major parties is rational. It reflects  an understanding that campaign promises are worthless.

They want rational commitments to address growing inequality and end the series of overseas wars which have weakened America. They identify with the slogan to ‘make America strong again’, emphasizing a dramatic transformation of the domestic economy and security system.

An army of political pundits have ignored the rational socio-economic and political choices exercised by the American electorate and repeatedly turn to psycho-babble, pontificating that contemporary voters are really reacting out of ‘anger’ and ‘irrational emotionalism’ or even ‘racism’ in their preference for non-establishment political figures like Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. The experts deny the objective bases for popular voter choice.

Sanders and Trump: Appeals to the New Rationality?

The woeful and wilful blindness of political experts is a product of their own arrogance and hostility to the emergence of two Presidential candidates: Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, who challenge the established party and economic leadership.

The Sanders campaign has proceeded along the lines of a political polarization between big business and the working class; demanding higher taxes for the wealthy and greater social spending for public health and education for the working class.

Sanders has sought to unify racial and ethnic minorities and majoritarian workers with progressive gender, religious and environmental movements.

The Trump campaign, on the other hand, has sought to mobilize the white American majority among workers, small businesspeople and professionals, who have seen their living standards decline over the decades and have been marginalized by globalization and the ‘politics of identity’.

Sanders emphasizes a refurbished class identity. Trump promotes new nationalist symbols. Yet in many ways the establishment opposition, the parties, mass media and the economic elite, are far more hostile to Trump’s ‘nationalist politics’ than Sanders’ democratic socialist program and class appeal, which they view as weak and easily manipulated – like the huge anti-war movement was manipulated during the Bush and Obama Administrations.

Sanders apparent willingness to come to terms with the Democratic Party elite and back Clinton’s candidacy when he loses the nomination is far more acceptable to the establishment than Trump. As in all previous presidential campaigns, the Democratic Party will allow progressive candidates to propose advanced socio-economic campaign platforms in order to secure working class and middle class votes, and drop the progressive façade in favor of  corporate-warmonger policies once in office.

Trump’s initial nationalist-anti-globalist rhetoric has aroused greater animosity from business, liberal and militarist elites than Sanders occasional critical comments.

Trump’s nationalism was rooted in popular and reactionary sentiments. On the one hand he would speak of relocating multi-national corporations back to the US. On the other hand, he would demand the expulsion of over ten million Mexican immigrants from the US labor market.

His anti-globalization-business relocation strategy is vague and lacks several essential ingredients: He did not specify which multi-nationals would be affected and he did not describe what policies he would implement to force the trillion-dollar corporate return.

In contrast, Trump was brutally clear about which immigrants would be expelled and his methods of expulsion and exclusion leave no ambiguities. ‘Build the Wall!’, has become his rallying cry to keep out migrant workers from the southern border.

Trump’s Electoral Victory and Neoliberal Right Turn 

Trump’s unorthodox, controversial and successful campaign to secure the nomination for the Republican Party’s candidate for president has led him to appeal to the big donors for campaign funding and endorsements from Republican neoliberal establishment leaders like Congressional Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. This quest for ‘respectability’ has caused Trump to shed his anti- globalization rhetoric and economic nationalist politics, and focus on his more chauvinist ethno-racist appeals.

Trump’s current electoral strategy seeks to unify the hard neo-liberal political elite with the ‘patriotic’ white working class.

Trump’s ideological road to the Presidency is no longer paved with economic-nationalist attacks on globalization. Instead he relies on arousing public support by stigmatizing minorities as ‘anti-American’ and targeting Clinton’s personal ‘corruption’ and lies, rather than her domestic and foreign policies.

Trumps’ “Make America Strong” rhetoric ties in neatly with President Obama’s tariff wars against China’s steel exports to US markets.

Trump’s “Make America Strong” proposals mirror Obama’s systematic assault on the World Trade Organization’s role in negotiating trade agreement and the recent imposition of Washington’s dictates of the WTO’s settlement process.

Obama blocked the reappointment of an objectionable (read independent) South Korean lawyer who opposed Washington’s blatant violation of WTO rules. Trump would endorse Obama’s promotion of US business lobbies against the WTO.

Trump also echoes Obama’s policy of favoring globalization only insofar as Washington maintains control of the key international institutions controlling the global economy. Trump would continue Washington’s policy of packing global institutions with its vassals.

Trump in the Footstep of Sanders

Trump’s embrace of the neoliberal business elite mirrors Sanders submission to the Democratic Party bosses. Trump seems to believe that his mass base of supporters will be fooled by his increasing provocations against immigrants accusing them of stealing jobs while spreading crimes and drugs … and not notice his new embrace of the establishment economic elites.

Trump’s mass meetings are composed almost exclusively of white working and middle class voters – especially in parts of California and the Southwest with huge Hispanic and immigrant populations. These are clearly designed to provoke violent protests.

Trump gains nationalist support by circulating videos of NBC, CNN and ABC reports depicting his peaceful white supporters being ‘terrorized and beaten up by mobs of (Mexican-American) protestors waving Mexican flags and sporting gang insignia.’

Trump calls on his American supporters to ‘stand strong’ against demonstrators who grab and burn the Stars and Stripes and stomp on his “Make America Great” campaign hats.

Conclusion

Trump’s turn to the neoliberal Republican elite means he will intensify his repressive and anti-immigrant rhetoric. Trump’s appeal will be aided by mindless violent protestors and provocateurs as they conveniently “overwhelm the police” at anti-Trump rallies. He effectively promotes in the “propaganda of the deed”: linking disloyal immigrants who wave the Mexican and not the US flag.

The recent realignment of the Republican Party will bring Trump into the arms of the hardline neoliberal Congressional-Wall Street elite. This shift means Trump’s ideological and mass base will focus on ‘domestic enemies’ – Mexicans, Muslims, women and ecologists rather than the economic elite and the devastating foreign policies of previous administrations.

Trump expects a wholesale incorporation of the Sanders support machine into the Clinton campaign. In this scenario, marginalized white workers and downwardly mobile middle class voters will confront the real face of Wall Street’s darling warmonger Mme. Clinton and be less likely to reject Trump’s opportunism with the rightwing Congressional business alliance.

Any working class opposition to his embrace of the neoliberal Congressional Republicans will be deflected by revelations of Clinton’s big business dealings and covert operations with foreign leaders. If pursued by the FBI, Clinton’s blatant violation of federal security regulations, her ‘private’ and illegal system of communication and liaison with foreign officials while Secretary of State could blow up her campaign and hand the presidency to Donald Trump.

Trump has gained working class voter support in West Virginia, Ohio and many other rust-belt states because of Clinton’s free trade and anti-working class history, which has shattered any residual illusions about the Democratic Party.

Trump’s electoral victory will hinge on his capacity to mask his turn to the neoliberal elite and to focus voter attention on Clinton’s militarist, pro-Wall Street politics, her corrupt conspiratorial behavior and her anti-working class policies.

Jun 072016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

During her 4 years as Secretary of State of the United States (2009-2014), Hillary Clinton controlled US foreign policy. She had access to the most confidential information and state documents, numbering in the tens of thousands, from all of the major government departments and agencies, Intelligence, FBI, the Pentagon, Treasury and the office of the President. She had unfettered access to vital and secret information affecting US policy in all the key regions of the empire.

Today, Mme. Clinton’s critics have focused on the technical aspects of her violations of State Department procedures and guidelines regarding handling of official correspondences and her outright lies on the use of her own private e-mail server for official state business, including the handling of highly classified material in violation of Federal Records laws, as well as her hiding official documents from the Freedom of Information Act and concocting her own system exempt from the official oversight which all other government officials accept.

For many analysts, therefore, the issue is procedural, moral and ethical. Mme. Clinton had placed herself above and beyond the norms of State Department discipline. This evidence of her arrogance, dishonesty and blatant disregard for rules should disqualify her from becoming the President of the United States. While revelations of Clinton’s misuse of official documents, her private system of communication and correspondence and the shredding of tens of thousands of her official interchanges, including top secret documents, are important issues to investigate, these do not address the paramount political question: On whose behalf was Secretary Clinton carrying out the business of US foreign policy, out of the review of government oversight?

The Political Meaning and Motivation of Clinton’s High Crimes Against the State

Secretary Clinton’s private, illegal handling of official US documents has aroused a major FBI investigation into the nature of her activities. This is separate from the investigation by the Office of the Inspector General and implies national security violations.

There are several lines of inquiry against Mme. Clinton:

(1)  Did she work with, as yet unnamed, foreign governments and intelligence services to strengthen their positions and against the interest of the United States?

(2)  Did she provide information on the operations and policy positions of various key US policymakers to competitors, adversaries or allies undermining the activities of military, intelligence and State Department officials?

(3)  Did she seek to enhance her personal power within the US administration to push her aggressive policy of serial pre-emptive wars over and against veteran State Department and Pentagon officials who favored traditional diplomacy and less violent confrontation?

(4)  Did she prepare a ‘covert team’, using foreign or dual national operative, to lay the groundwork for her bid for the presidency and her ultimate goal of supreme military and political power?

Contextualizing Clinton’s Clandestine Operations

There is no doubt that Mme. Clinton exchanged minor as well as major official documents and letters via her private e-mail system. Personal, family and even intimate communications may have been carried on the same server. But the key issue is that a large volume of highly confidential government information flowed to Clinton via an unsecured private ‘back channel’ allowing her to conduct state business secretly with her correspondents.

Just who were Secretary Clinton’s most enduring, persistent and influential correspondents? What types of exchanges were going on, which required avoiding normal oversight and a wanton disregard for security?

Clinton’s covert war policies, which included the violent overthrow of the elected Ukraine government, were carried out by her ‘Lieutenant’ Under-Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, a virulent neoconservative holdover from the previous Bush Administration and someone committed to provoking Russia and to enhancing Israel’s power in the Middle East. Clinton’s highly dangerous and economically destabilizing ‘brainchild’ of militarily encircling China, the so-called ‘pivot to Asia’, would have required clandestine exchanges with elements in the Pentagon – out of the State Department and possibly Executive oversight.

In other words, within the Washington political circuit, Secretary Clinton’s escalation of nuclear war policies toward Russia and China required secretive correspondences which would not necessarily abide with the policies and intelligence estimates of other US government agencies and with private business interests.

Clinton was deeply engaged in private exchanges with several unsavory overseas political regimes, including Saudi Arabia, Israel, Honduras and Turkey involving covert violent and illegal activities. She worked with the grotesquely corrupt opposition parties in Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil

Clinton’s correspondence with the Honduran armed forces and brutal oligarchs led to the military coup against the elected President Zelaya, its violent aftermath and the phony election of a pliable puppet. Given the government-death squad campaign against Honduran civil society activists, Clinton would certainly want to cover up her direct role in organizing the coup. Likewise, Mme. Clinton would have destroyed her communications with Turkish President Erdogan’s intelligence operations in support of Islamist terrorist-mercenaries in Syria and Iraq.

Secretary Clinton’s e-mail would have shown her commitment to the Saudis when they brutally invaded Bahrain and Yemen to suppress independent civil society organizations and regional political rivals.

But it is Clinton’s long-term, large-scale commitment to Israel that goes far beyond her public speeches of loyalty and fealty to the Jewish state. Hillary Clinton’s entire political career has been intimately dependent on Zionist money, Zionist mass media propaganda and Zionist Democratic Party operations.

In exchange for Clinton’s dependence on political support from the Zionist power configuration in the US, she would have become the major conduit of confidential information from the US to Israel and the transmission belt promoting Israel-centric policies within the US government.

The entire complex of Clinton-Israel linkages and correspondences has compromised the US intelligence services, the State Department and Pentagon.

Secretary Clinton went to extraordinary lengths to serve Israel, even undermining the interests of the United States. It is bizarre that she would resort to such a crude measure, setting up a private e-mail server to conduct state business. She blithely ignored official State Department policy and oversight and forwarded over 1,300 confidential documents and 22 highly sensitive top-secret documents related to the ‘Special Access Program’. She detailed US military and intelligence documents on US strategic policies on Syria, Iraq, Palestine and other vital regimes. The Inspector General’s report indicates that ‘she was warned’ about her practice. It is only because of the unusual stranglehold Tel Aviv and Israel’s US Fifth Column have over the US government and judiciary that her actions have not been prosecuted as high treason. It is the height of hypocrisy that government whistleblowers have been persecuted and jailed by the Obama Administration for raising concerns within the Inspector General system of oversight, while Secretary Clinton is on her way to the Presidency of the United States!

Conclusion

Many of Clinton’s leading critics, among them two dozen former CIA agents, have presented a myth that Hillary’s main offence is her ‘carelessness’ in handling official documents and her deliberate deceptions and lies to the government.

These critics have trivializedpersonalized and moralized what is really deliberate, highly politicized state behavior. Mme. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was not ‘careless in managing an insecure mail server’.  If Clinton was engaged in political liaison with foreign officials she deliberately used a private email server to avoid political detection by security elements within the US government. She lied to the US government on the use and destruction of official state documents because the documents were political exchanges between a traitor and its host.

The 22 top secret reports on ‘Special Access Programs’ which Clinton handled via her private computer provided foreign governments with the names and dates of US operatives and proxies; allowed for counter-responses inflicting losses of billions of dollars in program damages and possibly lost lives.

The Inspector General Report (IGP) deals only with the surface misdeeds. The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has gone a step further in identifying the political linkages, but faces enormous obstacles from Hillary’s domestic allies in pursuing a criminal investigation. The FBI, whose director is a political appointee, has suffered a series of defeats in its attempts to investigate and prosecute spying to Israel, including the AIPAC espionage case of Rosen and Weismann and in their long held opposition to the release of the notorious US-Israeli spy, Jonathan Pollard. The power of the Zionists within the government halted their investigation of a dozen Israeli spies captured in the US right after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Clinton’s choice of conducting secret private communications, despite  several years of State Department warnings to abide by their strict security regulations, is an indication of her Zionist power base, and not a mere reflection of her personal hubris or individual arrogance.

Clinton has circulated more vital top-secret documents and classified material than Jonathan Pollard.

President Obama and other top Cabinet officials share her political alliances, but they operate through ‘legitimate’ channels and without compromising personnel, missions, funding or programs.

The executive leadership now faces the problem of how to deal with a traitor, who may be the Democratic Party nominee for US President, without undermining the US quest for global power. How do the executive leadership and intelligence agencies back a foreign spy for president, who has been deeply compromised and can be blackmailed? This may explain why the FBI, NSA, and CIA hesitate to press charges; hesitate to even seriously investigate, despite the obvious nature of her offenses. Most of all it explains why there is no indication of the identity of Secretary Clinton’s correspondents in the various reports so far available.

As Sherlock Holmes would say, “We are entering in deep waters, Watson”.

Jun 012016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

anglo-american50

Introduction

What does it mean when the US and British financial systems launder hundreds of billions of dollars of illicit funds stolen by world leaders while their governments turn a ‘blind eye’, and yet the very same Anglo-American officials investigate, prosecute, fine and arrest officials from rival governments, rival banks and political leaders for corruption?

What does it mean when the US government expands a world-wide network of nuclear missiles on bases stretching from Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, the Gulf States to Japan, surrounding Russia, Iran and China, while the very same US and NATO officials investigate and condemn rival defense officials from Russia, China and Iran, as military threats to peace and stability?

What does it mean when Anglo-American economic officials devote decades to raising the age of retirement, reducing working and middle class household income, cutting workers compensation, expanding part-time work, setting the stage for mass layoffs slashing unemployment and health benefits and reducing social spending by the hundreds of billions of dollars and then turn around and investigate and threaten rival countries, like China and Argentina with loss of markets, investment and employment for not doing the same thing ?

The meaning of Anglo-America’s long-term, large-scale structural regression is clearly evident across the world. From Europe to Latin America and from Asia to Africa, socio-economic and politico-military agendas have been reversed.

Since the end of the Second World War there had been incremental gains in labor rights, stable employment, poverty reduction and working conditions.

Recently, these have all been reversed: Longer working days and weeks with reduced salaries and benefits; unstable temporary work replaces stable employment; employer-funded pensions are eliminated and replaced by multi-billion dollar corporate tax cuts and off-shore tax evasion.

Systematic structural swindles by the leading financial institutions have forced employees to delay retirement for years in order to ‘self-finance’ their own meager ‘pensions’, some expecting to ‘die at the job’.

Capitalist regression has been implemented by arbitrary state dictates and authoritarian decrees, erasing any pretense of democratic procedures and constitutional laws.

The regressive and retrograde leader-states from the imperial centers impose their conditions on follower regimes like Mexico and Russia forcing them to reverse their legacy of social progress while blackmailing these regimes’ oligarchs with the loss of lucrative markets, access to tax and money-laundering havens and impunity for their crimes and swindles.

Anglo-America: Historic Reversion

For the past three decades, the US and Great Britain have led the global drive to undermine labor’s advances. First, the economic structure sustaining labor organizations were dismantled and fragmented. Then organized labor was decimated, co-opted and corporatized.

Capital proceeded to reverse labor and social welfare legislation and lower wages, in order to impose longer workdays and destabilize employment.

The mass media re-packaged the regression cycle as ‘economic reform’, a euphemism, which disguised the re-concentration of power, wealth and income over the last three decades.

The growth of inequality and the concentration of wealth and assets to the 1% became ‘the standard’ for the Anglo-American era. However, class organization and the vicissitudes of class struggles continued to constrain efforts to impose unchallenged Anglo-American capitalist rulership throughout the world.

The first decisive blow against social reform resulted from the systematic Anglo-American breakdown of the former USSR and allied nations of the Warsaw Pact in East Europe. This was followed by the endogenous dissolution of Communist Party rule in China, Russia, Eastern Europe, the Baltic and Balkan states and their conversion into capitalist satellites. Social welfare, full employment, public pensions and health systems were shredded; labor lost all its rights except one – the right to emigrate to the West as cheap labor.

From Russia to Latvia and Poland to Bulgaria and Romania, there were massive layoffs, plant closures and the total dissolution of social security networks driven by the Anglo-America neo-liberal onslaught. The Atlantic Alliance brought their new Eastern satellites to social submission.

Until the second decade of the 21st century, Western Europe’s centers for the defense of the progressive social agenda were in France, Italy, Spain, Greece and Portugal. The social agenda in Latin America and China faced the Anglo-America offensive even earlier.

France: The Strategic Key to Anglo-American Social Regression

France has been the center where the Anglo-American regressive attack on socio-economic policy and Southern Europe’s resistance has been playing out.

By 2015 the regressive alliance had overturned all progressive social policy in the former communist bloc countries. Their alliance with Germany’s finance sector give them tight control of the EU and they successfully decimated the progressive social programs and labor legislation in Greece, Spain and Portugal.

France became the centerpiece for Western capitalism’s drive to incorporate Italy into the regressive orbit. The conquest of France and Italy would completely reverse 70 years of incremental labor gains after the defeat of fascist capitalism.

The assault on  France’s progressive social agenda is spearheaded by the retro-Socialist President Francois Holland and his troika of authoritarian hyper-capitalist ministers: Financial Minister Michel Sapin, Prime Minister Manuel Valls and Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron.

The strategy of relying on a ‘nominal socialist’ to destroy the social welfare state is a classic ‘Trojan Horse’ operation. Hollande’s virulent anti-labor policy is implemented by decree under a joint plan developed in association with France’s leading industrialists.

The imposition of the regressive policy in France began in stages. It first established the retrograde political leadership with Valls, a notorious authoritarian police-state official willing to over-ride any democratic niceties. The Economy Minister, Emanuel Macron, a millionaire investment banker, is a direct associate of the financial elite, with no qualms in slashing labor programs. The Finance Minister Michel Sapin, a long-time accomplice of the French bureaucratic-capitalist elite, is prepared to slash pensions and public services while reducing job security in order to lower the cost of labor to capital.

Once the Hollande and his troika took control of the centers of political power, (and after militarizing French society in response to the terrorist attacks), the regime launched its anti-labor offensive to shred the progressive social agenda. Its first target was its most formidable – the mass of the French working class.

Declaring ‘anti-ISIS’ martial law powers, Hollande adopted an outright authoritarian strategy, bypassing the elected French Parliament in the legislatureand imposed ‘rule by decree’ with the announcement of a highly regressive labor law against the French people.

The dictatorial labor decree was a first step to weaken organized labor’s capacity to protect wages and job security in order to give a powerful impetus to employer control over the French labor force.

Once Hollande’s labor decree established capitalist supremacy, his Troika would be in a decisive position to reverse seventy of incremental social advances.

The joint Hollande-Troika-capitalist bloc emasculated the legislature, leaving a weak, bleating chorus of so-called ‘left Socialists’ to bemoan their political impotence. Then an entirely new business anti-labor code was rolled out, which  included the right of bosses to hire and fire workers at will, extend the workday, lengthen the work week, undermine labor’s bargaining power and restrain strikes and job actions. This would open the way for a wave of irregular and contingent jobs for new workers . . . Using the pretext of terrorist attacks, the French capitalist class had begun to rule by decree to further expand and deepen their long planned assault on labor.

Hollande’s troika and France’s capitalists are lowering corporate taxes and employer contribution to social payments. Regulations that restrained the concentration of elite power were eliminated.

With curfews and ‘anti-terrorist’ militarized police in the streets, French business elite could now freely begin to to imitate the Anglo-American capitalist elite and impose an iron-fisted New Order.

Without labor constraints on French capital, the bosses are free to relocate factories and investments any and everywhere, under the most favorable wage, tax, employment and environmental conditions.

No longer required to invest in French industry, the business elite can transfer capital from industry to financial sectors, allowing hundreds of billions of euros to be laundered in off shore tax havens.

The Hollande troika will now also establish its own version of ‘Security and Exchange investigators’ to prosecute and fine its rival Anglo-American financial swindlers, just as the Anglo-Americans pursue their French competitors today.

The Hollande regime’s regressive social agenda has opened the door for an even more extreme Presidential prototype to follow and Alain Juppe is waiting.

The rabid Republican Party presidential candidate, Alain Juppe, promises to go ‘whole hog’ in utterly destroying the French welfare state, as it has existed since the fall of fascism. If elected president, Juppe promised to slash 100 billion euros from the budget – double the amount that the Hollande regime currently seeks to cut. Juppe has pledged to eliminate 250,000 civil service jobs in all vital social sectors; to delay the retirement age from 62 to 65; eliminate the 35-hour workweek; facilitate worker layoffs and decimate unemployment benefits. Finally, Juppe has promised French capital that he would implement their entire business agenda, cut taxes for business and bankers and eliminate the tax on inheritance implemented nearly four decades ago.

In other words, the Hollande regime’s assault on labor and embrace of business has opened the door for the rise of the extreme right. Moreover, Hollande has manipulated the incidents of Islamist terrorism to assume arbitrary decree powers wiping out any pretense of a democratic government. The terrorist incidents are arguably related to Hollande’s colonialist embrace of the ‘regime change’ assaults against the secular nationalist governments of Libya and Syria and his policy of sending (or tolerating the recruitment of) marginalized French youth of North African ancestry to fight in the ensuing civil wars. This has further strengthened the rise of the extreme right in France.

As the Socialist and Republicans compete for dictatorial powers to serve business’ regressive agenda, the nationalist, protectionist and social reformist policies of the National Front are emerging as the populist alternative in the coming presidential race. Anti-fascist rhetoric has worn thin and important sectors of the working class will turn to the National Front in defense of their jobs and social legislation. The anti-immigration rhetoric of the National Front is now part of the political vocabulary of the Republicans as well as Prime Minister Valls.

The only alternative to a power grab by the French hard right is a mass general strike and sustained street battles in order to resist the reaction by decree.

As throughout history, popular struggles in France begin in the streets – among the trade unions and young workers angrily facing low wages, austerity and the grim prospect of ‘permanently’ temporary jobs.

The outcome of the intensifying French labor-capital conflict will have a decisive impact on the future of labor throughout Europe, especially among all Left unionists.

Latin America: The Labor-Capital Showdown

Beyond Europe, the Anglo-American onslaught against labor and the working class resonates most directly in Latin America and to a lesser extent in Asia and Africa.

The first country to fall victim to capital’s attack was Mexico with the implementation of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). By the early 1990’s NAFTA had demolished the independent Mexican trade unions, crippled social legislation, eliminated subsidies to small corn farmers, forced peasants into debt, reduced minimum wage, doubled poverty levels and turned the majority of the labor force into landless, indebted, casual workers. On the other hand, NAFTA has been a bottomless source of wealth as capitalists accumulate double and triple digit profits and absolute power to hire and fire employees. Mexico’s government, under Anglo-American capital, has allowed the illicit transfer of hundreds of billions of dollars of Mexican assets to US, English and other overseas banks, which have become immense money-laundering operations. The proximity of Mexican drug cartels to the US banks has facilitated the extension of their networks into the US market. The horrific expansion of drug cartel death squads, linked to Mexico’s political leaders, dates from the 1990’s and the signing of NAFTA. This bloody nexus has consolidated neoliberal political power in Mexico and weakened the possibility of a viable mass electoral alternative.

Anglo-American dominance in Latin America in the 1990’s led to an entire panoply of regressive policies: privatizing and denationalizing the most lucrative natural and state resources, banks and industries; reducing wages and social spending for labor while increasing the concentration of capital. By 2001 however the Anglo-American edifice collapsed throughout South America with the demise of its neo-liberal political leadership.

From Venezuela in 1999, to Argentina in 2002, Brazil 2003, Bolivia 2006 and Ecuador 2007, left and center-left parties capitalized on their mass support and were elected into power. They took advantage of global economic conditions with the rising commodity prices, booming Chinese markets and new regional alliances to fund a variety of progressive social agendas, including increased social expenditures, guaranteed pensions, family allowances, minimum wages, wage increases for public sector and expanded labor rights.

The Anglo-American power elite was in retreat and isolated, but it was far from defeated. They retrenched and prepared to re-mobilize their strategic business, banking and political allies when the opportunity arose. They counter-attacked when global and regional conditions turned unfavorable to the social regimes.

The assault on Latin America was preceded by the Anglo-American neoliberal take-over of Northern Europe from the 1990’s to the first decade of the 21st century. This was followed by the sweep and grab of the Balkans and Southern Europe. The combined Anglo-American-EU-NATO offensive now seeks to reverse the last social-welfare regimes in Europe: France and Italy with the help of President Hollande and Prime Minister Renzi.

Simultaneously the Anglo-American offensive has been launched throughout Latin America. Their goal is to recover the imperial prerogatives, political power and economic privileges lost during the previous decade. The primary Euro-American target is the ‘golden triangle’, Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela. These countries constitute a global center of immense oil and agro-mineral wealth.

The Argentine neoliberal restoration took off in December 2015 with the election of  far-right President Mauricio Macri. His junta wasted no time in stripping the state of its social legislation, dismantling job security through large-scale layoffs and assuming authoritarian rule by decree to devalue Argentina’s currency by 40% and to eliminate state subsidies and raising the price for gas, electricity, transport, and water between 300 and 800 %.

The regressive offensive was in full force. Next, Brazil’s twice elected President Dilma Rousseff was ‘impeached’ and essentially overthrown by a bizarre legislative right-wing coup-d’état, designed to reverse a generation of progressive regulatory, labor and employment legislation. It was also secretly designed to halt corruption investigations against many right-wing politicians.

Venezuela is next. It will be the scene of a full-scale-elite coup-d’état with imperial backing, to overthrow the government of President Maduro and end decades of progressive social advances under the Chavista governments.

While in France and Italy, the great social reversal is being implemented by internal enemies from the ‘progressive’ political parties (“Trojan Horses”), in Latin America the reversal is led by openly hostile class enemies who depend on the arbitrary exercise of executive power. The drive to put a definitive end to the ‘welfare state’ in Europe and Latin America is marked by the use of dictatorial decrees, (in the style of Mussolini in the 1920’s) as exercised by Argentina’s elected President Marci in January 2016 and Brazil’s ‘Interim (Coup) President’ Temer in April 2016. Meanwhile capitalist lockouts, hoarding and sabotage are being used to crush Venezuela’s elected government.

This epochal confrontation has spread across Africa and Asia. China’s capitalist offensive has seen a four-fold increase in the number of new billionaires in less than a decade, at the expense of hundreds of millions of workers stripped of their rights and social programs.

South Africa, under the ANC government, turned its back on social gains promised by the liberation struggle and has imposed regressive social legislation and repressive anti-labor decrees. A corrupt class of black and white billionaires now rule by guns and clubs over the black working class.

In Africa and the Middle East, the social welfare states of the nationalist regimes in Iraq and Libya have been completely shredded through imperialist military intervention and civil war. Their once advanced societies have been thrown back into ethno-tribal warfare with no remaining modern social institutions in those two blighted, resource-rich nations.

Wither the Class Struggle: Historical Reversal and Class Revolt?

The Anglo-American offensive to reverse decades of social advance has captured most of Europe. They have incorporated or coopted the Social Democratic parties and are moving swiftly toward dismantling the decade-long center-left welfare states in Latin America.

In Africa, the centerpiece of Anglo-Americanization is South Africa, the continent’s most advanced bastion of international capitalism.

In Asia, China, the second most important capitalist economy in the world, has been leading the struggle to overturn the social agenda of the revolutionary past.

Large-scale, prolonged class resistance in several decisive centers is emerging to confront this Anglo-American process of reversion. The class confrontation however takes specific characteristics in each country.

In France, the major protagonists of street fighting and marches are young unemployed or casual workers, members of the strategic transport and oil unions and student-workers facing a bleak future of marginal employment and a shredded social safety net.

Trade unions and farmers’ association have joined the street struggles on numerous occasions, possibly in preparation for a general strike.

In Latin America, the center of the class struggle is Argentina. Power-mad President Macri immediately imposed regressive policies against all sectors of the working class. His actions managed to unite the four major trade union confederations, multiple retirees associations and small businesspeople bankrupted by exorbitant charges on gas and electrical use and regional neighborhood federations. The widespread growth of job actions among public sector employees points to a general strike.

The regressive assault on long-term social legislation in Brazil immediately followed the thinly disguised capitalist coup. The ousting of President Rousseff has provoked street demonstrations, led by the huge rural landless workers movement (MST), the confederation of industrial and service workers (CUT), social movements of the homeless workers and the recipients of Lula’s poverty programs. New revelations, based on taped conversations among the coup plotters reveal their plans to oust the incumbent President Rousseff in order to derail official investigations into their own corruption scandals. This has enraged the general public.

With the initial take-over, the Brazilian political-financial elite has prepared to launch its full-scale reversal of pensions and employment laws and wage guarantees. The pro-business leadership plans to slash corporate and wealth taxes and to appoint business executives to all leading ministries. The deep corruption scandal and the mass demonstrations suggest the rightwing power grab may not survive.

The regressive offensive in Venezuela has severely crippled the national economy and deeply eroded living standards of the vast majority of the working class. The rightist Congress, backed by the US and allied with international mass media, industry and multinational banks, are trying to force the resignation of Socialist President Maduro.

Maduro has declared a state of emergency and mobilized the armed forces. He  called on the military and popular militia to defend the constitutional order and has threatened to mobilize the workers to “take control of the means of production”. Still, the leftist government vacillates over arming the militias and workers. A wide gap remains before the word and the deed.

In the meantime Venezuela’s right wing and left-wing mass mobilizations face each other in the streets seething with class hatred and waiting to engage in a decisive confrontation. The military thus far remains constitutionalist and on the side of the elected president.

In South Africa, the corrupt pro-business ANC led by President Zuma murdered dozens of striking mine workers. It has impoverished millions of shantytown residents, while increasing the wealth and power of the black-white elite. On April 30, 2016, 1.1.million South African activists, including civil society and community organizations and trade unions covering the mining, manufacturing and service sectors have organized to form a new confederation linked with informal, unemployed and poor workers. The South African Workers Summit replaces the moribund and corrupt labor confederation, COSATU, the ‘labor desk’ for the neoliberal ANC regime. The new confederation will co-ordinate mass struggles and reclaim social programs as a central part of the anti-capitalist revolution.

In China, the growth and consolidation of the world’s second largest concentration of billionaires has led to the proliferation of large-scale industrial workers’ strikes, walkouts and confrontations with factory bosses, company unions and government officials. China is becoming the epicenter of Asia’s working class struggles. Chinese workers have forced the government to investigate and jail over 200,000 corrupt officials, high and low, and to concede substantial wage increases and social compensation to factory workers. Fearing more social upheaval, China’s billionaires and multi-millionaires have transferred hundreds of billions of dollars of stolen assets abroad in a buying spree of high-end property in the ‘safe’ Anglo-American “heartland” of world reaction.

The continued advance of working class struggles against the public and private oligarchs has forced the Chinese Prime Minister to reform elite privileges and prosecute large-scale banking swindles and illegal seizure of farmland. Especially important, millions of workers have successfully secured double-digit wage increases and the right to legally live in urban/industrial and construction centers.

As it gains momentum, class struggle in China can become the centerpiece for a wider Asian social transformation and a great leap forward to socialist values.

Conclusion

The Anglo-American drive to establish a global regressive social order has pushed billions of workers on five continents into destitution, insecurity and lifelong exploitation. The capitalist world rules by fiat and violence, declaring that social regression and worker repression are the ‘wave of the future’. For the elite, the proper order of the universe is being ‘restored’!

In response, new working class organizations have emerged and engage directly to defend their historic social advances and economic rights.

In the course of defending their past progressive social legacy, the new working class militants can clearly see the imperative to challenge and overthrow the entire political and economic order. From France to Latin America, from China to South Africa, class struggle is defining the present and future of class relations.

May 182016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

TrumpHillary

Introduction

Over half the US electorate views the two leading candidates for the 2016 Presidential elections with horror and disdain.

In contrast, the entire corporate mass media, here and abroad, repeat outrageous virtuous claims on behalf of Hillary Clinton and visceral denunciations of Donald Trump.

Media pundits, financial, academic and corporate elites describe the prospects of her presidency as one of responsibility, national security, business prosperity and political normalcy.

In contrast, they paint billionaire Republican candidate, Donald Trump as a grave threat, likely to destroy the global economic and military order, polarize US society and destined to lead an isolated and protectionist US into deep recession.

The super-charged rhetoric, flaunting the virtues of one candidate and vices of the other, ignores the momentous consequences of the election of either candidate. There is a strong chance that the election of ultra-militarist Hillary Clinton will drive the world into catastrophic global nuclear war.

On the other hand, Trump’s ascent to the US Presidency will likely provoke unprecedented global economic opposition from the corporate establishment, which will drive the US economy into a profound depression.

These are not idle claims: The destructive consequences of either candidate’s presidency can best be understood through a systematic analysis of Mme. Clinton’s past and present foreign policies and Trump’s belief that he his the ability to transform the US from an empire to a republic.

Clinton on the Road to Nuclear War

Over the past quarter century, Hillary Clinton has promoted the most savage and destructive wars of our times. Moreover, the more directly she has been engaged in imperial policymaking, the greater her responsibility in implementing  foreign policy, the closer we have come to nuclear war.

To identify Hillary Clinton’s path to global war it is necessary to identify three crucial moments. Hillary’s bloody history can be dated initially to her de facto ‘joint Presidency’ with husband Bill Clinton (1993 – 2001).

Stage One: The Conjugal Militarist Presidency (1993 – 2001)

During Hilary Clinton’s joint presidency with William Clinton (the Billary Regime) the First Lady actively promoted an aggressive militarized takeover of Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the Middle East and Eastern Africa – often under her favorite messianic doctrine of ‘humanitarian intervention and regime change’.

This justified the relentless bombing of Iraq, destroying its infrastructure and blockading its population into starvation while preparing to carve its territory into ethnic and religious divisions. Over 500,000 Iraqi children were murdered as proudly justified by then-Secretary of State Madeline Albright (1997 – 2001) and lauded by the Clintons.

In the same manner, Yugoslavia was bombed by the US humanitarian coalition air forces and cruise missiles over 1,000 times from March 24 to June 11, 2009 in the course of sub-dividing the country into five backward ‘ethnically cleansed’ mini-states. Thousands of factories, public buildings, bridges, passenger trains, radio stations, embassies, apartment complexes and hospitals were devastated; over a million victims became refugees while hundreds of thousands were wounded or killed.

The Conjugal Presidency successfully carried out the bloodiest war of aggression in Europe since the Nazi invasion during WWII, in order to subdivide an ethnically diverse and industrially advanced federation whose independent foreign policies had angered the Western corporate empire.

The Clintons launched the military invasion of Somalia (in East Africa) to impose a vassal regime, leading to the death of many thousands and a regional imperial war. Faced with desperate popular resistance from the Somalis, the Clintons were forced to withdraw US troops and bring in thousands of Sub-Saharan African and Ethiopian mercenaries – whose death would pass unnoticed among the US electorate.

From 1992 through 2001 the Clinton war machine helped set up the Yeltsin kleptocratic vassal state in Russia facilitating the greatest peace-time pillage of state resources in world history.

In the post-Soviet breakup era, over 1 trillion dollars of former public assets were seized especially by US and British-allied Zionist gangsters, Clinton-affiliated officials and ‘academics’ and Wall Street bankers.  Under Clinton’s vassalage the entire Soviet public health system was eliminated and Yeltsin’s Russia experienced a population decline of 4.3 million citizens, mostly due  to diseases, alcohol and drug toxicity, suicide, malnutrition, unemployment and loss of wages, pensions and and an unprecedented epidemic of tuberculosis and infectious diseases once thought wiped out, like syphilis and diphtheria.

Senator Hillary Clinton: War Crimes by Association- January 3, 2001 to January 21, 2009

During the George W. Bush dynastic regime, Mme. Senator Clinton supported the US war machine ‘sowing death and destruction to the four corners of the earth’ (to quote Bush Jr.), millions in Iraq and Afghanistan died or fled in terror. Bush had only deepened and expanded the mayhem that the Clinton Conjugal Presidency had begun a decade earlier.

Mme. Senator Clinton promoted the US direct and unprovoked invasion and occupation of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan. Mme. Senator Clinton embraced crippling economic sanctions against Iran and she blessed Israel’s military assault against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and Israeli massacres in Lebanon.

Mme. Senator Clinton supported President Junior Bush’s aborted coup against Venezuelan President-elect Hugo Chavez (2002), a prelude to the coup attempts in Latin America that she directed later as US Secretary of State.

Hillary Clinton’s Senatorial term served as a transition linking her initial joint presidential period of wars of conquest onto the next period. As US Secretary of State under President Obama she aggressively promoted global military supremacy.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: Naked Militarism Unleashed (2009 – 2014)

Whatever restraints Mme. Clinton faced as Senator dissolved as she ran amok during her term as Secretary of State.  Across Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, Hillary Clinton bombed, massacred and dispossessed millions of families, shredding entire societies and dismantling the institutions of organized civil life for scores of millions. She never balked at the prospect of ethnocide and even joked that NATO might become ‘Al Queda’s Air Force’ as she pushed for a ‘no-fly zone’ over Syria.

A wild-eyed cackle echoed down the marbled corridors as the Foggy Bottom turned into a psycho-ward.

Mme. Secretary promoted the terror mercenary brigades invading Syria in a bid to ‘regime change’ the secular government of Al Assad, driving several million  Syrian refugees into flight. Entire ancient Syrian Christian communities were wiped out under her reign of ‘regime change’.

Mme. Secretary Clinton directed US air force bombers and missiles to buttress the despotic Saudi monarch’s drive to obliterate Yemen.

Clinton unleashed the most savage bombing against Libya destroying the country and leading to the ethnic cleansing of a million and a half of Sub-Sahara workers and Black Libyans of sub-Saharan descent.

Under the aegis of murderous jihadi warlords and tribal chiefs, Mme. Clinton joked over the torture death of the wounded captive President Gaddafi, whose nauseating, almost pornographic murder by anal impalement was documented as a kind of ‘regime-change’ snuff film. Less known is the earlier, almost Old Testament-type slaughter of several of Gadhafi’s non-political children and five small grandchildren by a deliberate US missile strike aimed at ‘teaching the dictator’ that even his smallest grandchild cannot be hidden.

Mme. Clinton, who bragged that her Biblical role-model is the ethnocidal Queen Ester, has declared unconditional support for Israel’s war crimes against Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and among the diaspora. Hillary endorsed and defended Israeli torture and prison camps for children, the elderly and the homeless.

Mme. Secretary sent her criminal sub-secretary Victoria Nuland (an unreconstructed Neo-Con holdover from the Bush Administration) to orchestrate the violent putsch in the Ukraine. Millions from Ukraine’s huge ethnic Russian population were dispossessed from the Donbas region. Mme. Clinton had sought to convert Russian strategic military assets in Crimea to US-NATO bases aimed at Moscow, causing the residents of Crimea to overwhelmingly reject the coup and vote to re-join Russia.

The forceful intervention  by Russian President Vladimir Putin prevented Mme. Clinton’s ethnic cleansing power grab in Crimea and the Donbas. The US retaliated by pushing for massive European Union economic sanctions against Russia.

Consistent with her pitiless Biblical role model, Mme. Clinton openly threatened to obliterate Iran with a nuclear war and incinerate 76 million Iranians to please her Uncle Netanyahu – a demented process that would poison a hundred million Arabs and perhaps a few million Israelis. Even the insane Israeli ‘Samson option’ was never dreamt of being ordered from Washington, DC!

During her tenure as Secretary of State, Mme. Clinton actively obstructed any diplomatic moves to achieve a US-Iran agreement on nuclear technology, parroting the Israeli militarist solution against regional rivals!

Mme. Clinton has remained an unrepentant enemy to the emerging independent Latin American governments. In search of vassal states, Clinton promoted successful military coups in Honduras and Paraguay, but was defeated in Venezuela. She proudly touts the death squad regime in Honduras among her foreign policy successes.

Mme. Hillary backed the death squad and narco-regimes in Colombia and Mexico, which killed over a hundred thousand civilians.

On the path to global war, Mme. Militarist has prepared to encircle Russia, stationing nuclear weapons in the Balkans and Poland. She promised that missiles would be placed in south central Europe and Ukraine.

Clinton raised the nuclear ante by hysterically claiming that the elected Russian President Vladimir Putin was ‘worse than ISIS’… ‘worse’ than Hitler.

Repeatedly threatening global war and actually making aggressive regional war should clearly have marked Mme. Hillary Clinton as unfit for the Presidency of the United States. She is politically, intellectually and emotionally unable to deal realistically with an independent Russia and any other independent power, including China and Iran. Her monomania is a course of violent ‘regime changes’, unable to evaluate any of the catastrophes her policymaking has in fact already produced.

Hillary Clinton was the proud author and director of the so-called US ‘pivot to Asia’. Clinton’s ‘pivot’ has led to a massive buildup of the US air and naval forces surrounding China’s maritime routes to its global markets and access to essential raw materials.

Clinton’s hyper-militarism expanded US war zones to cover Australia, Japan and the Philippines, greatly heightening tensions and increasing the possibility of a military provocation leading to nuclear war with China.

No US presidential contender, past or present, has engaged in more offensive wars, in a shorter time, uttering greater nuclear threats than Mme. Hillary Clinton. That she has not yet set off the nuclear holocaust is probably a result of the Administrative constraints imposed on the Mme. Secretary of State by the less blood-thirsty President Obama. These limitations will end if and when Mme. Hillary Clinton is ‘elected’ President of the United States in a process that the electorate increasingly knows is ‘rigged’ toward that outcome.

Donald Trump: the Peaceful Road to Recession

In sharp contrast to the militarist Mme. Clinton, Donald Trump, ‘the Businessman’, has adopted a relatively peaceful approach to international politics for an American presidential candidate in the current era.

Businessman’ Trump envisions productive negotiations with Russian President Putin. Employing his loudly trumpeted deal-making genius to benefit the United States, Trump predicts economic and diplomatic successes with Russia, China and other major powers.

Angered at US military allies enjoying decades of US Treasury largesse, a President Trump promises to withdraw US military bases from Asia and Europe and demanding that overseas allies ‘pony-up’ for their own defense.

What the war mongers in the mass media, academia and Washington bureaucracy, dismiss as ‘Trump’s isolationism’, The Businessman describes as rebuilding America by converting overseas military spending into domestic infrastructure projects and ‘real’ jobs in America.

Trump’s ‘America First’ policy, under his ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan, does not envision wars of conquest against Muslim countries, especially since they have already led to massive floods of Muslim refugees, threatening trade and stability, and Trump opposition to the entry of more Muslim refugees into the US.  Trump’s foreign policy of limited military goals and warfare is diametrically opposed to Clinton’s total war strategy. Trump, ridiculed by his rivals for ‘his small hands’, does not appear to have Hillary’s itchy trigger finger on the nuclear button!

Trump mouths contradictory economic statements, especially his proposals to “rebuild America”, while operating in the framework of an imperial system. As President of the United States, his protectionist policies will come into direct confrontation with US and global ‘finance and monopoly capitalism’ and will likely lead to systematic disinvestment and a disastrous economic collapse or, more likely, the Businessman-President’s capitulation to the status quo.

The problem is not Trump’s pledges to tax the rich (as he occasionally promises), or expand Social Security (as he claims), but his failure to admit that these policies would lead to massive flight by the capitalist elite to avoid taxes. The major threat is that, if Trump follows-up on his America-First policies, there will  be massive capital resistance and a Congressional revolt by both finance-dominated political parties, which will paralyze any hope for his economic agenda.

Without political independence to implement his domestic economic agenda, Trump will have to face a massive investment and lending revolt from capitalists and bankers who would be very willing to drive the fragile economy into a major recession – threatening a kind of ‘domestic economic sabotage’.

Trump’s Republican Party (and certainly the Democrats) will never support a program which will force multi-national capital to sacrifice its reliance on cheap overseas labor and double digit profits in order to create American jobs and employ American workers at living wages.

A President Trump would not even secure a handful of Congressional votes to increase taxes on plutocrats to fund his proposed large-scale public works, infrastructure and job creation projects.

The Businessman President would face the full fury of the powerful military-industrial-high tech complex if and when he attempted to retire US global military forces from Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

The non-politician Trump’s historic rise to national political prominence has its roots in the ideas and values of the majority of working people who have been marginalized to the fringes by the media moguls and Wall Street riffraff. Today Trump’s themes and ideas resonate with the mainstream of voters.

Several dominant ideas circulate in his speeches and interviews.

First, Trump rejects ‘globalization’ (the watered-down PR term for imperialism) and ‘free trade’ (a euphemism for the transfer of profits extracted from US workers to business investment abroad).

Trump’s narrative resonates with the recent anti-Wall Street ‘Occupy’ movements opposing the power of 0.1% super rich against the vast majority.

Secondly, Trump embraces economic nationalism in his slogan “Make American Great Again”. Too many American workers and their families resent having been exploited, maimed and slaughtered to serve multiple wars in the Middle East, Asia and Europe for the interests of US warlords, bankers, Zionists and other imperial royalties. Trump argues that the entire inflated security and corporate welfare system has led to an untenable debt payments spiral.

The third theme that draws millions is Trump’s notion that the US should reject the policy of serial ‘regime change’. We should not initiate and engage in perpetual overseas wars against Muslim countries as a way to avoid domestic attacks by individual terrorists. During an early foreign policy debate, Trump shocked the political establishment when he accused the Bush Administration of deliberately lying the country into the disastrous invasion of Iraq. This ‘truth-telling’ elicited wild applause from the mass Republican electorate.

Trump’s goal is to strengthen American civilization and avoid provoking more ‘clashes of civilizations’…

The fourth, and probably most attractive, message to most Americans is Trump’s powerful assault on Washington and Wall Street elites and their academic and media apologists.

Millions of Americans have been disgusted with the Bushes, Clintons and Obamas, as well as the Morgans, Goldman Sachs and Paulsons, whose policies have exacerbated class inequalities through multiple banking swindles and financial crashes, all ‘bailed out’ by the American tax payers.

Fifth, Trump’s loud, brash exposure of the mass media’s lies and propaganda has resonated with the same deep distrust felt by the American public. His talent for talking directly and bluntly to the public and on the internet has led to his enormous appeal. He does not engage in ‘conspiracy’ but acknowledges that the Edward Snowden revelations have unmasked the government’s deceptions and its program of espionage against the people, destroying the foundations for democratic discourse.

Trump might win the election based on his ‘five truths’ and his pledge to ‘make America great again’, but more likely he will lose because he has insulted the traditional establishment, the Latinos, Afro-Americans, feminists, trade union bureaucrats and their followers from both parties. Even if he succeeds at the ballot box, his political agenda with relying on Republican elites in Washington and Wall Street, the Pentagon and the ‘international security system’ will lead to a major economic crisis. For the elite, if blocking Trump’s domestic economic agenda requires a financial crash to defend ‘globalization’, serial wars and the 0.1%, then tighten your belts!

This November, the country will face the disagreeable choice between a proven nuclear warmonger and a captive of Wall Street. I will try to keep warm, roast chestnuts and avoid thinking about Mme. President’s Looming Mushroom Cloud.

May 172016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

Amerique_latine-Empire-US

Post-colonial empires are complex organizations.  They are organized on a multi-tiered basis, ranging from relative autonomous national and regional allies to subservient vassal states, with variations in between.

In the contemporary period, the idea of empire does not operate as a stable global structure, though it may aspire and strive for such. While the US is the major imperial power, it does not dominate some leading global political-economic and military powers, like Russia and China.

Imperial powers, like the US, have well-established regional satellites but have also suffered setbacks and retreats from independent local economic and political challengers.

Empire is not a fixed structure rigidly embedded in military or economic institutions. It contains sets of competing forces and relations, which can change over time and circumstances. Moreover, imperial allies and clients do not operate through fixed patterns of submission. While there is submission to general agreements on ideology, military doctrine and economic policy identified with imperial rulers, there are cases of vassal states pursuing their own links with non-imperial markets, investors and exporters.

If the global world of imperial power is complex and indeterminate to some degree, so is the internal political, economic, administrative and military structure of the imperial state. The imperial political apparatus has become more heavily weighted on the side of security institutions, than diplomatic and representative bodies. Economic institutions are organized for overseas markets dominated by multi-national corporations against local markets and producers ‘Market economy’ is a misnomer.

Military-security institutions and budgets utilize most state functionaries and public resources, subordinating markets and diplomatic institutions to military priorities.

While imperial state operations function through their military and civilian administrative apparatus, there are competitive socio-political-class, ethnic and military configurations to consider.

In analyzing the effective or ‘real power’ of the principle institutions of the imperial state, one must distinguish between goals and results, purpose and actual performance. Often commentators make sweeping statements about ‘imperial power and dominance’, while in fact, some policies may have ended in costly losses and retreats due to specific national, local or regional alignments.

Hence it is crucial to look closely at the imperial interaction between its various tiers of allies and adversaries in order to understand the immediate and long-term structures and direction of imperial state policy.

This essay will first describe the leader-follower imperial relationships in four zones: US-Western Europe-Canada, Asia-Pacific, Middle East-Africa and Latin America and identify the terrain of struggles and conflict. This will be followed by an examination of the contemporary ‘map of empire’. We will then contrast the alignment of forces between Western imperial allies and their current adversaries. In the final section we will look at the sources of fragmentation between the imperial state and economic globalization as well as the fissures and fallout between imperial allies and followers.

Tiers of Imperial Allies in the West

Western imperialism is a complex pyramidal structure where the dominant United States interacts through a five-tier system. There is a vertical and horizontal configuration of leader and follower states that cannot be understood through simplistic ‘solar system’ metaphors of ‘centers, semi-peripheries and peripheries’.

Western imperial power extends and overlaps from the first tier to the second, that is, from the United States to France, England, Germany, Italy and Canada. The scope and depth of US military, bureaucratic, political and economic institutions form the framework within which the followers operate.

The second tier of empire ties the top tier to the bottom tiers by providing military support and economic linkages, while securing autonomous levers to enlarge its own geo-political spheres.

The third tier of imperialism in the West comprises Poland, Scandinavia, the Low Countries and Baltic States. These are geographically and economically within the sphere of Western Europe and militarily dependent on US-NATO military dominance. The third tier is a heterogeneous group, ranging from highly advanced and sophisticated welfare-states like Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Holland and Belgium to relatively backward Baltic dependencies like Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania and Poland. They exercise few independent power initiatives and depend on protection from the Tier 1 and 2 imperial centers.

Tier four’ states include countries like Greece, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania.  These are essentially satellite nations, who follow the leader imperial countries, providing bases, troops and tourist resorts. In general, they have no independent voice or decision-making presence in regional or global conflicts. Despite their instability and the occasional outbursts of radical dissent, the lower tier countries have yet to break with the higher tiers controlled by the EU and NATO hierarchy.

The fifth-tier satellites include recently fabricated mini-states like Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Slovenia and Croatia, which act as military bases, tourist havens and economic dependencies. They are the outcome of the first-tier and second-tier policies of ‘regime change’ and state dismemberment through NATO-led wars designed to destroy any remnant of the multi-ethnic social welfare states and degrade Russian influence, especially in Yugoslavia.

Mapping the leader-follower structure of the Western empire depends on the distribution of military resources and their location along the Russian border. The US-EU Empire faces the problem of meeting rising economic demands from the multi-tiered empire, which has exceeded their capacity. This had led to shifting trade alliances and independent pressure to ‘go beyond’ the dictates of the imperial leaders.

Leader imperial states have tightened economic and political control over their followers – especially when the military consequences of empire have disrupted everyday life, security and the economy. An ongoing example is the flood of millions of desperate refugees entering Europe, as a result of US imperial war policies in the Middle East and North Africa. This mass influx threatens the political and social stability of Europe. Following the US putsch in the Ukraine and the inevitable response from Moscow, Washington ordered an economic blockade of Russia. The economic consequences of US-imposed sanctions against the giant Russian market has severely affected European exports, especially agriculture and heavy industry and caused instability in the energy market which was dominated by the now banned Russian petroleum and gas producers.

The Eastern Imperial Empire

The US imperial design in East Asia is vastly different in structure, allies and adversaries from that in the West. The leaders and followers are very heterogeneous in the East. The multi-tier US Empire in Asia is designed to undermine and eventually dominate North Korea and China.

Since the Second World War, the US has been the center of the Pacific empire. It also suffered serious military setbacks in Korea and Indo-China. With the aid of its multi-tiered auxiliaries, the US has recovered its influence in Indo-China and South Korea.

The US position, as the first-tier imperial power, is sustained by second-tier imperial allies, such as Australia, New Zealand, India and Japan.

These second-tier allies are diverse entities. For example, the Indian regime is a reticent latecomer to the US Empire and still retains a higher degree of autonomy in dealing with China. In contrast, while Australia and New Zealand retained their dependent military ties with the US, they are increasingly dependent on Chinese commodity markets and investments.

Japan, a powerful traditional economic ally of the US, remains a weak military satellite of the US-Asian Empire.

Third-tier countries include South Korea, Taiwan, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. South Korea is the US’s most important military dependency, despite which it has moved steadily closer to the Chinese market, as has the populous Indonesian Republic.

Taiwan, while a military dependency of the US, has stronger ethnic and economic links to China than the US.

The Philippines is a backward US military vassal-state and former colony, which retains its legacy as an imperial enclave against China. Thailand and Malaysia have remained as third-tier imperial auxiliaries, subject to occasional nationalist or democratic popular upsurges.

The fourth-tier countries within US East Asian Empire are the least reliable because they are relatively ‘new associates’. Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar have transformed from independent statist economies to US-Japanese and Chinese-centered markets, financial and military dependencies.

The US Empire has focus on confronting China through its military, controlling its South China trading routes and trying to form regional economic trade agreements, which exclude China. However, the imperial multi-tiered structure has been mostly limited to various US military harassment and joint ‘war games’ exercises with its clients and ‘allies’. This has had minimal economic input from even their closest allies. The US Eastern Empire has lost significant economic counterparts because of its confrontational approach to China. Its provocative trade-pacts have failed to undermine China’s dynamic economy and trade.

The US Eastern Empire may dominate its multi-tiered allies, vassals and recent converts through its military. It may succeed in provoking a serious military confrontation with China. But it has failed to re-establish a dominant structure within Asia to sustain US imperial superiority in the event of a war.

China drives the growth and dynamism of Asia and is the vital market for regional products as well as a crucial supplier of minerals, precious metals, industrial products, high tech and service activity throughout the region.

The US has occasionally turned to its  ‘fifth-tier’ allies among non-state entities in Tibet and Hong Kong and among ethno-Islamist terrorist-separatist groups in Western China, using ‘human rights’ propaganda, but these have had no significant impact in weakening China or undermining its regional influence.

The Eastern Empire can wield none of the economic leverage in China that the Western empire has with Russia. China has established more effective economic relations in Asia than Russia has with the West. However, Russia has greater military capability and a more committed political will to push back Western imperial military threats than China. In recent years, Beijing has adopted a policy of strengthening its high tech military and maritime capabilities. In the wake of the US putsch in the Ukraine and the West’s economic sanctions against Russia, Moscow has been forced to bolster strategic military-economic ties with China. Joint security exercises between Russia and China, as well as greater trade, pose formidable counter-weights to the multi-tiered alliances linking the US and EU to Japan, Australia and South Korea.

In other words, the diverse geographic multi-tiered US imperial structures in the East do not and cannot, dominate a strategic top-tiered alliance of Russia and China, despite their lack of other strong military allies and client states.

If we look beyond European and Asian spheres of Empire to the Middle East and Latin America, the US imperial presence is subject to rapidly evolving power relations. We cannot simply add or subtract from the US and Russian and Chinese rivalries, because these do not necessarily add up to a new ‘imperial’ or ‘autonomous’ center of power.

Imperial Power in the Middle East: The Multi-Tiered Empire in Retreat

The US imperial empire in the Middle East occupies a pivotal point between West and East; between the top and secondary tiers of empire; between Islamic and anti-Islamic alliances.

If we extend the ‘Middle East’ to include South Asia and North Africa we capture the dimensions of the Western imperial quest for supremacy.

The imperial empire in the Middle East reflects US and Western European tiers of power as they interact with local counterparts and satellite states.

The US-EU top tiers link their goals of encircling and undermining Russia and regional adversaries, like Iran, with the regional ambitions of their NATO ally, Turkey.

Imperial powers in the Middle East and North Africa operate through local allies, auxiliaries and satellites as they compete for territorial fragments and power bases following the US ‘wars for regime changes’.

With the US at the top, the European Union, Israel, Turkey and Saudi Arabia comprise the second-tier allies. Egypt, Tunisia, Iraq and Jordan, which are financial and political dependencies of the empire, rank as third-tier. The fourth-tier includes the Gulf states, the Kurd war lords, Lebanese and Yemeni local puppets of the Saudi Monarchy and Israel’s client Palestinian Bantustan in the West Bank.

Saudi and Western-funded regional terrorist groups aspire to fourth-tier membership following a successful ‘regime change’ and territorial fragmentation in Syria.

The terrorist enclaves are located in Syria, Iraq and Libya and play a ‘specific and multi-purpose’ role in undermining adversaries in order to restore imperial dominance.

The Middle East Empire is the least stable region and the most susceptible to internal rivalries.

Israel exercises a unique and unrivaled voice in securing US financial and military resources and political support for its brutal colonial control over Palestine and Syrian territories and captive populations. Saudi Arabia finances and arms autonomous Islamist terrorist groups as part of their policy of advancing the kingdom’s political- territorial designs in Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Iran and the Gulf. Turkey has its own regional ambitions and terrorist mercenaries. Within this volatile context, the US Empire finds itself competing with its auxiliaries for control over the same Middle East clients.

The Middle East Empire is fraught with powerful adversaries at each point of contention. The huge, independent nation of Iran stands as a powerful obstacle to the West, Saudis, and Israel and competes for influence among satellites in the Gulf, Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Hezbollah, a powerful nationalist group within Lebanon, has played a crucial role defending Syria against dismemberment and is linked with Iran against Israeli intervention. Russia has military and trade relations with Syria and Iran in opposition to the Western imperial alliance. Meanwhile, the US imperial satellite states in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Egypt are rapidly disintegrating in the face of gross corruption, Islamist resurgence, policy incompetence and economic crises.

To speak formally of a ‘Western imperial empire’ in vast sections of the Middle East and North Africa is a misnomer for several reasons:

In Afghanistan, the Nationalist-Islamist Taliban and its allies control most of the country except for a few garrison cities.

Yemen, Libya and Iraq are battleground states, contested terrain with nothing remotely resembling a functioning imperial domain. Iraq is under siege from the North by Kurds, the center by ISIS, the South by nationalist Shi’a militias and mass organizations in contention with grossly corrupt US imperial-backed puppets in Baghdad.

The US-EU mercenaries in Syria have been defeated by Syrian-Russian-Hezbollah-Iranian forces aided by independent Kurds.

Israel behaves more like a militarist ‘settler’ predator usurping historical Palestine than a reliable imperial collaborator.

So far, the empire project in the Middle East and North Africa has been the costliest and least successful for Western imperialism. First and foremost, responsibility for the current Middle East imperial debacle falls directly on the top tier political and military leaders who have pursued policies and strategies (regime change and national dismemberment) incompatible with imperial precepts that normally guide empires.

The top tier of the US imperial-military elite follows Israeli military prerogatives, as dictated by the Zionist Power Configuration (ZPC) embedded within the US state apparatus. Their policy has been to destroy Islamic and Arab-nationalist structures and institutions of power – not conquer and reconfigure them to be absorbed into Western imperial institutions . . . as the US was able to do in Asia and Europe. This parrots the Israeli- settler policy of ‘erasure’ and has made the region totally unstable for imperial trade. The wanton dismemberment of the whole social-political-security institutional structure of Iraq is a prime example of the Israeli policy of ‘erasure’ promoted by US Zionist advisers on a grand scale. The same advisers remain within the top tier imperial decision-making apparatus despite 15 years of abject failure.

Western empire’s multi-tier structure, from the US and Western Europe at the top to Kosovo at the bottom, have followed imperial imperatives. In contrast Israeli imperatives direct US military power into perpetual war in the Middle East through the influential ZPC.

This divergent path and the inability to change course and rectify imperial policy has brought disastrous defeats, which have repercussions throughout the global empire, especially freeing up competitors and rivals in Asia and Latin America.

Tiers of Empire in Latin America

The US imperial empire expanded in Central America and the Caribbean during most of the 19th century and reigned supreme in the first half of the 20th century. The exceptions included the nationalist revolutions in Haiti in the early 19th century and Paraguay in the mid-19th century. After the US Civil War, the British Empire in Latin America was replaced by the US, which established a dominant position in the region, except during the successful Mexican Revolution.

Several major challenges have emerged to US imperial dominations in the middle of the 20th century.

The centerpiece of anti-imperialism was the Cuban Revolution in 1959, which provided political, ideological and material backing to a continent-wide challenge.  Earlier a socialist government emerged in Guyana in 1953 but was overthrown.

In 1965, the Dominican Revolution challenged a brutal US backed-dictator but was defeated by a direct US invasion.

In 1970-73 a democratic socialist government was elected in Chile and overthrown by a bloody CIA coup.

In 1971 a ‘workers and peasants’ coalition backed a nationalist military government in Bolivia only to be ousted by a US-backed military coup.

In Argentina (Peron), Brazil (Goulart) and Peru (Alvarez), nationalist-populist governments, opposed to US imperialism, were elected between the middle 1960’s to the mid 1970’s. Each were overthrown by US-military coups. Apart from the Cuban revolution, the US Empire successfully counter-attacked, relying on US and local business elites to back the military juntas in repressing anti-imperialist and nationalist political parties and movements.

The US Empire re-established its hegemony, based on a multi-tiered military and market directorate, headed at the top by the US. Argentina, Brazil and Chile comprised the second-tier, a group of military dictatorships engaged in large-scale state terror and death squad assassinations and forcing hundreds of thousands into exile and prison.

The third-tier was based on US surrogates, generals and oligarch-families in Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay.

The fourth-tier of satellite regimes included Central-America, except Nicaragua, and all of the Caribbean, except Cuba and (briefly) Grenada.

The US Empire ruled through predator allies and satellite oligarchs and successfully imposed a uniform imperial structure based on neoliberal policies. US-centered regional trade, investment and military pacts ensured its imperial supremacy, through which they sought to blockade and overthrow the Cuban revolution. The US imperialist system reached its high point between the mid-1970’s to the late 1990’s – the Golden Age of Plunder. After the pillage of the 1990’s, the empire faced a massive wave of challenges from popular uprisings, electoral changes and the collapse of the corrupt auxiliary neo-liberal regimes.

The US imperial empire faced powerful challenges from popular-nationalist regimes from 1999 to 2006 in Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia and Ecuador. Dissident liberal-nationalist governments in Uruguay, Honduras and Paraguay posed their own challenges to imperial control.

The US empire was bogged down in multiple imperial wars in the Middle East (Iraq, Libya, Syria) Asia (Afghanistan) and Europe (Ukraine, Georgia, Yugoslavia), which undermined its capacity to intervene militarily in Latin America.

Cuba, the hemispheric center of the anti-imperialist politics, received economic aid from Venezuela and strengthened its diplomatic, trade and security alliances with the anti-interventionist center-left. This provided an impetus to the formation of independent regional trade organizations, which traded heavily with US imperial rivals, China, Iran and Russia during the ‘commodity boom’.

While the US imperial empire in Latin America was in retreat, it had not suffered a strategic defeat because it maintained its powerful business, political and state auxiliary structures, which were ready to regroup and counter-attack at the ‘right moment’ – the end of the ‘global commodity boom’.

By the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the US Empire counter-attacked, with their political-military clients taking power in the weakest links, Honduras and Paraguay. Since then, neo-liberal extremists have been elected to the presidency in Argentina; a corrupt oligarch-led congress has impeached the President of Brazil; and the ground is being prepared to seize control in Venezuela.

The US Empire re-emerged in Latin America after a decade-long hiatus with a new or re-invigorated multi-tier structure.

At the top-tier is the United States, dependent on enforcement of its control through satellite military and business elites among the second-tiercountries, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico.

At the third-tier are Chile, Peru, Uruguay and the business-political elites in Venezuela, linked to the US and tier-two countries.

The fourth-tier is dominated by weak submissive regimes in Central America (Panama, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador), the Caribbean (especially Santa Domingo, Haiti and Jamaica) and Paraguay.

The US has re-assembled its imperial structure in Latin American rapidly, creating an assemblage which is extremely fragile, incoherent and subject to disintegration.

The new neo-liberal regime in Argentine, the centerpiece of the empire, immediately faces the triple threat of mass unrest, economic crisis and a weak regime under siege.

Brazil’s new US neo-liberal constellation of characters are all under indictment for corruption and facing trials, while economic recession and social polarization is undermining their ability to consolidate imperial control.

Venezuela’s rightwing auxiliaries lack the economic resources to escape the demise of the oil economy, hyperinflation and the virulent internecine conflicts within the Right.

The US imperial empire in Latin America could best operate through links with the Asian-Pacific trade pact. However, even with new Asian ties the Latin satellites exhibit none of their Asian counterparts’ stability. Moreover, China’s dominant economic role in both regions has limited US hegemony over the principal props of the empire.

The Myth of a US Global Empire

The ‘narrative’ of a US global empire is based on several profound misconceptions, which have distorted the capacity of the US to dominate world politics. The US regional empires operate in contested universes where powerful counter forces limit imperial dominance.

In Europe, Russia is a powerful counterforce, bolstered by its growing alliances in Asia (China), the Middle East (Iran) and, to a limited extent, by the BRIC countries.

Moreover, Washington’s multi-tiered allies in Europe have occasionally followed autonomous policies, which include Germany’s oil-gas independent agreements with Russia, eroding US efforts to undermine Moscow.

While it may appear that the ‘imperial military, banking, multi-national corporate structure’, at a high level of abstraction, operates within a common imperial enterprise, on issues of everyday policy-making, budgeting, war policies, trade agreements, diplomacy, subversion and the capitalist market-place there are multiple countervailing forces.

The empire’s multi-tiered allies have their own demands as well as sacrifices imposed on the US imperial center.

Internal members of the imperial structure define competing priorities via domestic power wielders.

The US Empire has extended its military operations to over 700 bases across the world but each operation has been subject to restraints and reversals.

US multi-nationals have multi-billion dollar operations but they are forced to adjust to the demands of counter-imperial powers (China). They evade almost a trillion dollars of US taxes while absorbing massive assets from the US Treasury in the form of subsidies, infrastructure and security arrangements.

In sum, while the sun may never set on the empire, the emperors have lost their sight.