Dec 182014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

1526255_953887834640499_4657134757022031043_n

Introduction

The US Senate Report documenting CIA torture of alleged terrorist suspects raises a number of fundamental questions about the nature and operations of the State, the relationship and the responsibility of the Executive Branch and Congress to the vast secret police networks which span the globe – including the United States.

CIA:  The Politics of a Global Secret Police Force

The Senate Report’s revelations of CIA torture of suspects following the 9/11 bombing is only the tip of the iceberg. The Report omits the history and wider scope of violent activity in which the CIA has been and continues to be involved. CIA organized large scale death squad activities and extreme torture in Vietnam (Phoenix Project); multiple assassinations of political leaders in the Congo, Chile, Dominican Republic, Vietnam, the Middle East, Central America and elsewhere; the kidnapping and disappearance of suspected activists in Iraq and Afghanistan; massive drug-running and narco-trafficking in the “Golden Triangle” in Southeast Asia and Central America (the Iran-Contra war).

The Senate Report fails to locate the current acts of CIA terror and torture in a broader historical context – one which would reveal the systematic use of torture and violence as a ‘normal instrument of policy.  Contrary to White House and Senate claims that torture was a “policy error” committed by “incompetent” (or deranged) operatives, the historical record demonstrates that the long term extensive and intensive use by the CIA of torture, assassinations, kidnappings are planned and deliberate policies made by highly qualified, and experienced policymakers acting according to a global strategy approved by both Executive and Congressional leaders.

The Report treats torture as a “localized” set of events, divorced from the politics of empire building. In point of fact, torture is and always has been an integral part of imperial wars, colonial military occupations and counter-insurgency warfare.

Imperial wars and occupations provoke widespread opposition and nearly unanimous hostility. ‘Policing’ the occupied country cannot rely on community-wide support, least of all providing voluntary ‘intelligence’ to the imperial officials. The imperial armed forces operate out of fortresses surrounded by a sea of hostile faces. Bribes and persuasion of local collaborators provides limited information, especially regarding the operations of underground resistance movements and clandestine activists. Family, neighborhood, religious, ethnic and class ties provide protective support networks. To break this web of voluntary support network, the colonial powers resort to torture of suspects, family members and others. Torture becomes “routinized” as part and parcel of policies sustaining the imperial occupation. Extended occupation and intensive destruction of habitation and employment, cannot be compensated by imperial “aid” – much of which is stolen by the local collaborators. The latter, in turn, are ostracized by the local population, and, therefore, useless as a source of information. The “carrot” for a few collaborators is matched by torture and the threat of torture for the many in opposition.

Torture is not publicized domestically even as it is ‘understood’ by ‘knowing’ Congressional committees. But among the colonized, occupied people, through word and experience, CIA and military torture and violence against suspects, seized in neighborhood round-ups, is a weapon to intimidate a hostile population. The torture of a family member spreads fear (and loathing) among relatives, acquaintances, neighbors and colleagues. Torture is an integral element in spreading mass intimidation – an attempt to minimize co-operation between an active minority of resistance fighters and a majority of passive sympathizers.

The Senate Report claims that torture was “useless” in providing intelligence. It argues that victims were not privy to information that was useful to imperial policymakers.

The current head of the CIA, John Brennan rejects the Senate claim, while blithely admitting “some errors” (underwater submergence lasted a minute too long, the electric currents to the genitals were pitched to high?), heargues that “torture worked”. Brennan argues that his torturer colleagues did obtain “intelligence” that led to arrests of militants, activists and “terrorists”.

If torture “works” as Brennan claims, then presumably the Senate and the President would approve of its use. The brutalization of human life, of family members and neighbors is not seen as, in principle, evil and morally and politically repugnant.

According to the explicit rules of conduct of Brennan and the implicit beliefs of the Senate, only “useless” torture is subject to censure – if an address is obtained or a torture victim names a colleague a ‘terrorist’ to avoid further pain, then by the criteria of the Senate Report  torture is justified.

According to the operational code of the CIA, international law and the Geneva Conventions have to be modified: torture should not be universally condemned and its practioners prosecuted. According to the Senate only torture that “doesn’t work” is reprehensible and the best judge of that is the head of the torturers, the CIA director.

Echoing Brennan, President Obama, leaped to the defense of the CIA, conceding that only some ‘errors’ were committed. Even that mealy mouth admission was forcibly extracted after the President spent several years blocking the investigation and months obstructing its publication and then insisting on heavily editing out some of the most egregious and perverse passages implicating NATO allies

The Senate Report fails to discuss the complicity and common torture techniques shared between Israel’s Mossad and the CIA and Pentagon. In defense of torture, the CIA and White House lawyers frequently cited Israel’s Supreme Court ruling of 1999 which provided the “justification “for torture. According to Israel’s Jewish judges, torturers could operate with impunity against non-Jews (Arabs) if they claimed it was out of “necessity to prevent loss of or harm to human life”. The CIA and Harvard law professor and uber-Zionist zealot, Alan Dershowitz echoed the Israeli Mossad “ticking time bomb” justification for torture, according to which “interrogators can employ torture to extract information if it prevents a bombing”. Dershowitz cited the efficiency of Israel’s torturing a suspect’s children.

The CIA officials frequently cited the Israeli ‘ticking bomb’ justification for torture in 2007, at Congressional hearings in 2005, and earlier in 2001 and 2002. The CIA knows that the US Congress, under the control of the Zionist power configuration, would be favorably disposed to any official behavior, no matter how perverse and contrary to international law, if it carried an Israeli mark of approval or ‘logo’.

The US CIA and Israeli’s Mossad share, exchange and copy each other’s’ torture methods. The US torturers studied and applied Israel’s routine use of sexual torture and humiliation of Muslim prisoners. Racist colonial Israeli tracts about techniques on destroying the ‘Arab Mind’ were used by US intelligence. Israeli officials borrowed US techniques of forced feeding hunger strikers. Mossad’s technique of ‘Palestinian hanging’ was adopted by the US. Above all, the US copied and amplified Israel’s extra-judicial ‘targeted’ killings – the center piece of Obama’s counter-terrorism policy. These killings included scores of innocent bystanders for every ‘successful target’.

The Senate Report fails to identify the intellectual authors, the leading officials who presided over and who ultimately bear political responsibility for torture.

Top leaders, Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and Senate Intelligence Committee chairperson, Diane Feinstein, resort to the Nazi war criminals plea “we didn’t know”, “we were misled” and “the CIA didn’t tell us”.

No judge at the Nuremberg Trials believed them. Nor will any international court of law believe US political leaders’ pleas of ignorance of the CIA’s decade-long practice of torture – especially after former Vice President Cheney lauded the practice on US television and boasted he would implement the same policies again. (One has to wonder about the ‘source’ of Cheney’s transplanted heart…)

During the administration of President Bush, Jr., CIA leaders submitted detailed reports on intelligence, including the sources and the methods of obtaining the information, on a routine basis – with videos and ‘live feeds’ for the politicians to view. Nothing was ‘held back’ then and now, as current CIA head John Brennan testifies. From 2001 onward torture was the method of choice, as testimony from top military officials revealed during the Abu Ghraib investigation.

National Security Agency (NSA) meetings, attended by the President, received detailed reports extracted from CIA “interrogations”. There is every reason to believe that every NSA attendee ‘knew’ how the ‘intelligence’ was obtained. And if they failed to ask it was because torture was a ‘normal, routine operating procedure’.

When the Senate decided to investigate the “methods of the CIA”, half a decade ago, it was not because of the stench of burning genitals. It was because the CIA exceeded the boundaries of Senate prerogatives –it had engaged in pervasive and hostile spying against US Senators, including the Uber-Senator Feinstein herself; CIA crimes were compromising client regimes around the world; and most of all because their orgy of torture and dehumanization had failed to defeat the armed resistance in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Syria.

The Senate Report is an exercise in institutional power – a means for the Senate to regain political turf, to rein in CIA encroachment. The Report goes no further than to chastise “inappropriate” techniques: it does not proceed from crimes of state to prosecute officials responsible for crimes against international and domestic laws.

We know, and they know, and as every legal authority in the world would know, that without the punishment of political leaders, torture will continue to be an integral part of US imperial policy: Impunity leads to recidivism.

Richard Cheney, Vice-President under President George W. Bush, notorious war criminal on many counts, and prime advocate of torture, publicly declared on December 10, 2014 that President Bush specifically authorized torture. He bragged that they were informed in detail and kept up to date.

In the political world of torture, practiced by Islamic extremists and US imperialists, how does the decapitation of non-combatant prisoners, match up with the CIA’s refrigeration of naked political suspects?  As for “transparency”, the virtue claimed by the Senate Report publicists in publishing the CIA’s crimes, as “refurbishing the US image”, the Islamists went one step further in “transparency”: they produced a video that went global, revealing their torture by beheading captives.

The Senate Report on CIA torture will not result in any resignations, let alone prosecutions or trials, because over the past two decades, war crimes, police crimes, spy crimes, and financial swindles have not been prosecuted. Nor have any of the guilty officials spent a day in court. They are protected by the majority of political leaders who are unconditional defenders of the CIA, its power, techniques and especially its torture of captives. The vast majority of Congress and the US President repeatedly approve over $100 billion annual budgets for the CIA and its domestic counterpart, Department Homeland Security. They approved the annual budget voted on December 10, 2014, even as the “revelations” rolled in. Moreover, as the tempest over CIA torture proceeds, Obama continues to order the assassination by drone of US citizens “without ever crossing the door of a judge”.

Despite over 6,000 pages of documents and testimony, recording crimes against humanity, the Senate Report is unlikely to trigger any reforms or resignations. This is not because of the actions of some mysterious “deep state” or because a ballooning national security apparatus has taken power. The real problem is that the elected officials, Presidents and Congress people, Democrats and Republicans, neo-liberals and neo-conservatives, are deeply embedded in the security apparatus and they share the common quest for world supremacy. If Empire requires wars, drones, invasions, occupations and torture, so be it!

Torture will truly disappear and the politicians will be put on trial for these crimes, only when the empire is transformed back to a republic: where impunity ends justice begins.

bushimpeachment86_01

 

James Petras latest book, The Politics of Imperialism: The US, Israel and the Middle East (Atlanta:  Clarity Press 2014)

Dec 152014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

0

Introduction

The Brazilian working class is facing the most savage assault on its living standards in over a decade. And it is not just the industrial workers who are under attack. The landless rural workers, public and private salaried employees, teachers and health professionals, the unemployed and the poor are facing massive cuts in income, jobs and welfare payments.

Whatever gains were made between 2003 – 2013 will be reversed. Brazilian workers face a ‘decade of infamy’. The Rousseff regime has embraced the politics of “savage capitalism” as personified in the appointment of two of the most extreme advocates of neo-liberal policies.

The “Workers Party” and the Ascendancy of Finance Capital

In early December 2014, President Rousseff appointed Joaquin Levy as the new Finance Minister –  in effect the new economic czar to run the Brazilian economy. Levy is a leading member of the Brazilian financial oligarchy. Between 2010-2014 he was president of Bradesco Asset Management, an asset arm of the giant conglomerate Bradesco, with more than $130 billion dollars under management. Since his doctoral days at the U of Chicago, Levy is a loyal follower of neo-liberal supremo Professor Milton Friedman, former economic adviser to Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet. As a former top official in the International Monetary Fund (1992 – 1999), Levy was a strong advocate of the harsh austerity programs which a decade later impoverished southern Europe and Ireland. During the Presidency of Henrique Cardoso, Levy served as a top economic strategist, directly involved in the massive privatization of lucrative public enterprises – at bargain basement prices – and the liberalization of the financial system which facilitated the illicit financial outflow of $15 billion a year. Levy’s presence as a prominent member of Brazil’s financial oligarchy and his deep, longstanding ties to international financial institutions is precisely the reason President Rousseff put him in charge of the Brazilian economy. Levy’s appointment is part and parcel of Rousseff’s embrace of a new strategy of vastly increasing the profits of foreign and domestic finance capital, in the hope of attracting large scale investments to end economic stagnation.

For President Rousseff and her mentor, ex-President Lula DaSilva, the entire economy must be directed to gaining the “confidence” of the capitalist class.

The social policies which were implemented earlier are now subject to elimination or reduction, as the new financial czar Joaquin “Jack the Ripper” Levy, moves forward to implement his “shock therapy”. Deep and comprehensive cuts in labor’s share of national income is at the top of his agenda. The objective is to concentrate wealth and capital in the upper ten percent in hopes that they will  invest and increase growth.

While Levy’s appointment represents a decidedly turn to the extreme right, the economic policies and practices of the previous twelve years laid the foundations for the return of a virulent version of neo-liberal orthodoxy.

The Economic Foundations for the Return of Savage Capitations

During the electoral campaign in 2002, Lula DaSilva signed off on an economic agreement with the IMF which guaranteed a budget surplus of 3%. Lula sought to reassure bankers, international financiers and multi-nationals that Brazil would pay its creditors, increase foreign reserves for profit remittance and illicit financial flows overseas.

The Lula regime’s adoption of conservative fiscal policies, was accompanied by his austerity policies, reducing public employees’ salaries and pensions and providing only marginal increases in the minimum wage. Most of all, Lula supported all of the corrupt privatizations which took place under the preceding Cardoza regime. At the end of Lula’s first year in office, 2003, Wall Street hailed Lula as the “Man of the Year” for his “pragmatic policies” and his demobilization and de-radicalization of the major trade unions and social movements. In January 2003, President Lula Da Silva appointed Levy as Treasury Secretary, a position he held until 2006 – the most socially regressive period of the Da Silva Presidency. This period also coincided with a series of enormously lucrative multi-billion dollar corruption scandals involving dozens of top PT officials in the Lula regime receiving kickbacks from leading construction companies

Two events in the middle 2000’s allowed Da Silva to moderate his policies and introduce limited social reforms. The commodity boom – a sharp increase in the demand and prices of afro-mineral exports filled the coffers of Treasury. And increased pressure from the trade unions, rural movements and the poor for a share in the economic bonanza led to increases in social spending,  wages, salaries and easy credit without affecting the wealth, property and privileges of the elite.  With the economic boom, Lula could also satisfy the IMF, the financial sector and the business elite with subsidies, tax breaks, low interest loans and lucrative “overpriced” state contracts. The poor received 1% of the budget via a “family allowance” a $60 dollar a month handout and low paid labor received a higher minimum  wage. The cost of social welfare was a fraction of the 40% of the budget that the banks received in payments of principle and interest payments on dubious public debt incurred by previous neo-liberal regimes.

With the end of the boom, the government of Rousseff has reverted back to Lula’s orthodox policies of 2003 – 2005 and re-appointed Levy to carry them out.

Levy’s Shock Therapy and Its Consequences

Levy’s task of re-concentrating income, raising profits and revertng social policies is much harder in 2014 – 2015 than it was in 2003 – 2005. Mainly because, earlier, he was merely continuing the policies of the Cardoso regime – and Lula promised the workers it was only temporary. Today Levy must cut and slash gains that workers and the poor take for granted. In fact in 2013 – 2014 mass urban movements pressed for greater social expenditures for transport, education and health.

To advance Levy’s shock therapy, at some point, repression will be necessary, as was the case in Chile and Southern Europe when similar austerity policies depressed incomes and multiplied unemployment.

Levy proposes to rescue the interests of finance capital by taking several crucial measures which will be in line with the agenda of Wall Street, City of London and the Brazilian financial moguls. Taken in their entirety, Levy’s financial policies amount to “shock treatment” – harsh, rapid economic measures applied against workers living standards, equivalent to electric shocks to patients with disorders, applied by deranged psychologists who claim that “pain is gain”, but more frequently than not, turn patients into zombies or worse.

Levy’s first priority is to cut and slash public investments, pensions, unemployment payments and public sector salaries. Under the pretext of “stabilizing the economy” (for the financial groups) he will destabilize the household economy of tens of millions. He will rescind tax breaks for the mass of consumers buying cars, household appliances and ‘white goods’, thus increasing the costs to millions of working class households or pricing them out of the market. Levy’s purpose is to unbalance household budgets (increase debt over income) in order to increase the state budget surplus and ensure full and prompt debt payments to creditors like his own Bradesco conglomerate.

Secondly, Levy will “adjust” prices. More specifically end price controls on fuel, energy and transport so that the financial oligarchs with millions of shares in those sectors can jack-up prices and “adjust” their wealth upward into the billions of dollars. As a result, the working and middle class will have to spend a greater share of their declining income for fuel, transport and energy.

Thirdly, Levy will probably let the currency weaken to promote afro-mineral exports under the guise of greater “competiveness”. But a cheaper currency will increase the cost of imports, especially, of basic foodstuffs and manufactured goods.The de facto devaluation will hit hardest the millions who cannot hedge their savings and favors the financial speculators who will capitalize on currency movements. And comparative studies demonstrate that a cheaper currency doesn’t necessarily increase  productive investments.

Fourthly, Levy is likely to claim that energy shortfalls due to drought, which has reduced Brazil’s hydropower dams, requires “reform” of the energy sector, Levy’s euphemism for privatization. He will propose to sell-off  the semi-public billion dollar petroleum giant Petrobras, and accelerate the privatization of offshore exploitation sites, at terms favorable to big investment banks.

Fifthly, Levy is likely to slash and burn environmental and business regulations, including those affecting the rain-forest, labor and Indian rights, to facilitate the easy entry and fast exit of financial capital.

Levy’s “shock therapy” will have a profound social and economic impact on Brazilian society. Every indication, from past and present experiences, is that  in every country “Chicago Boys”, like Levy, have applied their “shock” formula, has resulted in profound economic recession, social regression and political unrest.

Contrary to the expectations of President Rousseff, cuts in credit, salaries and public investment will depress the economy – and send it from stagnation into recession. Retrograde budget balancing lessens demand and does not induce productive capital flows. The most dynamic growth sectors in manufacturing, the car industry, will be sharply and adversely affected by the increase in taxes on purchases. And the same goes for appliances.

Heretofore the expansion of public investment has been the main driving force of even the current meagre growth. There is no rational reason to believe that vast flows of private capital will suddenly take up the slack, especially in a shrinking market. This is especially true, if as is likely to happen, class conflict intensifies from across the board reductions in wages, salaries and living standards.

Levy, like all free market fanatics, will argue that recession and regression are short-term, necessary and, will succeed “in the long run”. But   in all contemporary countries pursuing his shock formula, the result has been prolonged regression. Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal are in the seventh year of austerity induced depression and their public debt is growing.

The Real Effective Consequences of Shock Therapy

We have to discard the ideological “stability and growth” claims of the Levyites and look at the real results of the policies he promises.

First and foremost, inequalities will increase because whatever income gains ensue will be concentrated at the top. Government deregulation and fiscal and exchange rate policies, will deepen the imbalances in the economy, favoring creditors over debtors, foreign finance over local manufacturers, owners of capital over wage workers, the private sector over the public.

Levy will indeed “secure the confidence of capital” because what is dubbed as “investor confidence” rests on an unimpeded license to plunder the environment, reduce  wages and eploit a growing reserve army of unemployed.

Conclusion

Levy’s shock therapy will heighten class tension and inevitably result in the break-down of the social pact between the so-calledWorkers Party regime and the trade unions, the landless rural workers and the urban social movements.

Rousseff and the leadership of the self-styled “Workers’ Party” regime, faced with economic stagnation resulting from the decline in commodity prices and the  decision of private capital to withhold investments, could have chosen to socialize the economy, end crony capitalism and increase public investment. Instead it capitulated. Rousseff has recycled the orthodox neo-liberal policies which Lula implemented during the first two years of his regime.

Instead of mobilizing workers and professionals for deeper structural changes, Rousseff and Lula Da Silva are counting on the “left-wing” of the PT to complain, criticize and conform. They are counting on the co-opted leaders of the trade union confederation (CUT), to hyperventilate and confine themselves to inconsequential symbolic protests which will not disrupt Levy’s “shock therapy”. However, the scope, depth and extremism of Levy’s so-called adjustment and stabilization program will provoke general strikes, first and foremost in the public sector. The cutbacks in the auto industry and rise in unemployment, will result in job action in the manufacturing sector. The cuts in public investment and rise in the costs of transport, health care and education will revive the mass urban movements.

Within a year, Rousseff and Levy’s shock policies will convert Brazil into a boiling cauldron of social discontent. Lula’s pseudo-populist gestures and empty rhetoric will have no effect. Rousseff will not be able to convince working people to accept Levy’s class biased “austerity” program, his incentives “to gain the confidence of international markets” and his incomes policies shrinking incomes of the vast majority of working people.

Levy’s policies will deepen the recession, not “re-awaken the animal spirits of entrepreneurs”. After a year of  “more pain and no gain” (except for higher profits for financiers and afro-mineral exporters), President Rousseff will face the inevitable negative political outcome of having lost the support of the workers, middle class and rural poor without gaining the support of the business and financial elite – they have their own reliable party leaders. Once having put in place his radically regressive free market policies, and having provoked massive popular discontent, Levy will  resign and return to the presidency of Bradesco, the multi-billion dollar investment fund, claiming “mission accomplished”

Rousseff might replace Levy and try to ‘moderate’ his ‘shock therapy’. But by then it will be too little too late. The Workers’ Party will end up in the dust bin of history. Rousseff’s decision  to appoint Levy as economic czar is a declaration of class war. And in order to win the class war, we cannot exclude that the radically regressive policies will be enforced by state violence – the repression of mass urban protests, the savage dislodgement of peaceful landless rural workers occupying fallow lands.

The “Workers’ Party” regime’s turn from “inclusive neo-liberalism” to Friedmanite free market extremism will radicalize and polarize Brazilian society. The oligarchy will push to remilitarize civil society. This in turn, will spur the growth of class conscious social movements, like those that ended twenty years of military rule. Perhaps this time, the social upheaval may not end in a liberal-democracy; perhaps the coming struggle will bring Brazil closer to a socialist republic.

Dec 042014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

10308974_10152342489092207_2194881001763267847_n

Introduction

Over the past 30 years, wealth has grown exponentially and has become increasingly concentrated foremost in the upper .01%, then the .1%, followed by the 1% and the upper 10% – 20%.

The large scale, long-term concentration of wealth has continued through booms and busts of the real economy, the financial and IT crises. Wealth grew despite long-term economic recessions and stagnation, because the so-called recovery programs imposed austerity on  80% of the households while transferring public revenues to the rich.

The so-called ‘crises of capitalism’ has neither reversed nor prevented the emergence of an international class of billionaires who acquire, merge and invest in each other’s activities. The growth of wealth has been accompanied by the pillage of accumulated profits from productive sectors which are stored as wealth not investment capital.

The dispossession of capital and its conversion to private wealth subsequently led to the rapid expansion of the financial and real estate sector. Capital accumulation of profits has been the source of private accumulation of wealth at the expense of wages, salaries, public welfare, and state revenues.

The growth of private wealth at the expense of productive investments is a world-wide phenomenon which has been facilitated by an international network of banks, political leaders and ‘regulators’ centered in the United States and England.

The single most important aspect of private wealth accumulation on a world-scale is criminal behavior by the elites in multiple locations and involves the violation of multiple laws and regulations.

The Chain of Illegality: From Exploitation of Labor to the Pillage of the Nation

The original source of private wealth is the exploitation of labor by capital,of which a small percentage of the profits are reinvested in expanding production in the ‘home market’ or overseas. The bulk of the profits are transferred into financial networks which in turn illicitly channel the funds into overseas accounts.

The movements of profits ‘overseas’ takes multiple forms (transfer pricing, phony invoices, etc.) and  they are primarily converted to private wealth. These ‘international movements’ of profits are largely composed of mega-thievery or plunder by political and business leaders from ‘developing countries’. According to the Financial Times (17/11/14, p2).  “Up to $1 trillion (dollars) is being taken out of developing countries every year through a web of corrupt activities involving anonymous shell companies that typically hide the identity of their true owners”. (my emphasis)

The $1 trillion of stolen profits and revenues from the ‘developing countries’ (Africa, Asia, South America) are part of a “corruption chain” which is organized, managed and facilitated by the major financial institutions in the US and UK. According to a World Bank report in 2011 “70 percent of the biggest corruption cases between 1980 and 2010 involved anonymous shell companies. The US and UK were among the jurisdictions most frequently used to incorporate legal entities that held proceeds of corruption” (Financial Times, 17/11/14, p2.).

This process of “taking out” or pillage of developing countries feeds into rent seeking, conspicuous consumption and other non-productive activity in the ‘developed countries’ or more accurately the imperialist states.  The principle beneficiaries of the pillage of ‘developing countries’ by the local elites are their counterparts in the top 1% of the imperial countries, who control, direct and manage the financial, real estate and luxury sectors of their economies.

The very same financial institutions in the imperial countries (and their related accountancy, legal and consultancy arms) facilitate the pillage of trillions from the ‘developed’ countries to offshore sites, via massive tax evasion operations, hoarding wealth instead of investing profits or paying taxes to the public treasury.

Long-term, large scale pillage and tax evasion depends on the central role, at both ends of the world economy, of the financial sector. This results in the ‘imbalance of the economy’ – predominance of finance capital as the final arbiter on how ‘profits’ are disposed.

The extremely narrow membership in the dominant financial sectors means that its growth will result in greater inequalities between classes. A disproportionate share of wealth will accrue to those who pillage the revenues and profits of the productive sector. As a result so-called ‘productive capitalists’ hasten to join and lay claims to membership in the financial sector.

The links between ‘productive’ and ‘fictitious’ capital or financial swindle capital, defy any attempt to find a progressive sector within the dominant classes. But the effort to enter the charmed circle of the dominant financial 1% is fraught with dangers and risks . . . because the financial sector has a very dynamic and super-active capacity for swindles.

The entire process of de-capitalizing the economy is underwritten in the US by the financial elite’s controls over the executive branch of government, especially the ‘regulatory’and enforcement agencies -Security Exchange Commission, the Treasury and Justice Departments.

Financial institutions facilitate the inflow of trillions of dollars from the kleptocrats in the developing countries as well as the outflow of trillions of dollars by multi-nationals to off-shore tax havens. In both instances the banks are key instruments in the process of dis-accumulation of capital by dispossessing nations and treasuries of revenues and productive investments.

The ‘hoarding’ of MNC profits in offshore shell companies does not in any way prevent speculative activity and large scale swindles in the for-ex, equity and real estate markets. On the contrary, the boom in high-end real estate in London, New York and Paris, and the high growth of luxury goods sales, reflects the concentration of wealth in the top .01%, .1% and 1%. They are the beneficiaries of ‘no risk’ pillage of wealth in developing countries, receiving lucrative commissions and fees in laundering the illicit inflows of wealth and outflows by tax dodging multi-nationals.

The Inverted Pyramid of Wealth

A small army of accountants, political fixers, corporate lawyers, publicists, financial scribblers, consultants and real estate promoters make-up the next 15% of the beneficiaries of the pillage economies. Below them are the 30% upper and lower middle classes who experience tenuous affluence subject to the economic shocks, ‘market volatility and risks of downward mobility. Below them, the majority of wage, salaried and small business classes experience declining incomes, downward mobility, rising risks of mortgage foreclosure,  job-loss and destitution among the bottom 30%.

Despite wide variations in the class structure between ‘developing’ neo-colonial and developed imperial states, the top 1% across national boundaries has forged economic, personal, educational, and social ties. They attend the same elite schools, own multiple private residences in similar high end neighborhoods, and share private bankers, money launderers and financial advisors. Each elite group has their own national police and military security systems, as well as political influentials who also co-operate and collaborate to ensure  impunity and to  defend the illegal financial flows for a cut of the wealth….

The investigatory authorities of each developed country tend to specialize in prosecuting rival financial institutions and banks, occasionally levying fines – never imprisonment – for the most egregious swindles that threatens the ‘confidence’ of the defrauded investors.

Yet the basic structure of the pillage economy, continues unaffected – in fact thrives – because the ‘show’ of ‘oversight’ and judicial ‘charges’ neutralizes public indignation and outrage.

The Decisive Role of Dis-Accumulation in the World Economy

While orthodox economists elaborate mathematical models that have no relationship to the operations, agencies and performance of the economy and ignore the real elite actors which operate the economy, Leftist economists similarly operate with theoretical premises about capital and labor, profits and capital accumulation, crises and stagnation, which ignore the centrality of pillage, dis-accumulation, and the dynamic growth of wealth by the international 1%.

The research center, the Capital Financial Integrity Group provides a vast array of data documenting the trillion dollar illicit financial flows which now dominate the world economy.

US MNCs have ‘hoarded’ over $1.5 trillion dollars in overseas shell companies, ‘dead capital’, to avoid taxes and to speculate in stocks, bonds and real estate.

Mexico’s ruling elite organizes massive illicit financial flows, mostly laundered by US banks, ranging from $91 billion in 2007 to $68.5 billion in 2010. The massive increase in illicit financial flows is greatly facilitated by the de-regulation of the economy resulting from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Contrary to most leftist critics the main beneficiaries of NAFTA are not Canadian mine owners or US agro-business or auto manufacturers – it is the US and Canadian financial and real estate money launderers.

From 1960 to 2010 the Brazilian 1% pillaged over $400 billion dollars. These illicit financial flows are laundered in New York, Miami, London, Switzerland and Montevideo. In recent years the rate of pillage has accelerate:  between 2000 -2012 illicit financial flows averaged $14.7 billion a year. And under the self-styled ‘Worker’s Party” (PT) regime of Lula DaSilva and Dilma Rousseff, $33.7 billion in illicit outflows were laundered annually – 1.5% of the GDP. Much of the pillage is carried out by private and public “entrepreneurs” in the so-called “dynamic” economic sectors of agro-minerals, energy and manufacturing via ‘trade mispricing’, import overpricing and export underpricing invoices.

According to a study published in the Wall Street Journal, (10/15/12), China’s elite’s illicit financial flows top $225 billion a year – 3% of national economic output. China’s 1%, the business-political elite, finance their children’s overseas private education, providing them with half million dollar condos. Illicit flows allow Chinese ‘investors’ to dominate the luxury real estate markets in Toronto, Vancouver, New York and London. They hoard funds in overseas shell companies. The Chinese corporate kleptocrats are the leaders in the drive to deregulate China’s financial markets – to legalize the outflows.

The scale and scope of China’s elite pillage has provoked popular outrage that threatens the entire capitalist structure – provoking a major anti-corruption campaign spearheaded by China’s President Xi Jinping. Thousands of millionaire officials and business people have been jailed, causing a sharp decline in the sales of the world’s luxury manufacturers.

India’s capitalists- as kleptocrats – have long played a major role in de-capitalizing the economy.  According to the Financial Times (11/24/14, p3) the Indian elite’s illicit financial flows totaled $343 billion dollars from 2002 to 2011. The Indian Finance Ministry immediately threw up a smoke screen on behalf of the 1%, claiming the Indian elite had only $1.46 billion in Swiss accounts. Most of India’s wealthy have taken up with holing their illicit wealth to  Dubai, Singapore, the Cayman and Virgin Islands as well as London

India’s neo-liberal policies eased the illegal outflows. Massive corruption accompanied the privatization of public firms and the allocation of multi-billion dollar assets such as mobile phones, coal fields and energy.

Indonesia, – percentage-wise is the leader in the outflow of illicit flows – fully 23% of annual output. The 1% elite of foreign and domestic capitalists, plunders natural resources, timber, metals, agriculture and dis-accumulates. Profits flow to foreign accounts in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, Los Angeles, London and Amsterdam.

Ethiopia, with per-capita income of $365 dollars, is the site of vast pillage by its ruling elite. From 2000 to 2009, over $11.7 billion dollars in illicit financial flow was laundered mostly by US banks. These outflows enriched the Ethiopian and the US 1% and provoked famine for Ethiopia’s 90%.

Conclusion

The illicit financial flows surpass the capital invested in productive activity. The process of dis-accumulation of capital through relocation is channeled to overseas shell corporations and private bank accounts and beyond into financial holdings and real estate. The accumulation of private wealth exceeds the sums invested in productive activity generating investments and wages. Massive perpetual tax evasion means higher regressive taxes on consumers (VAT) and wage and salaried workers, reductions in social services, and austerity budgets targeting food, family and fuel subsidies

The past thirty years of deregulated capitalism and financial liberalization, is a product of the financial takeover of state regulatory agencies. The signing of free trade agreements has provided the framework for large scale long-term illicit financial flows.

While illicit financial flows have financed some productive activities, the bulk has vastly expanded the financial sector. The absorption of illicit flows by the financial elite has led to greater inequalities of wealth between the 1% – 10% and the rest of the labor force.

Illicit earnings via mega swindles among the largest and most respected US and EU banks, has curtailed the amount of capital which is available for production, profits, wages and taxes. The circuits of illicit capital flows militate against any form of long-term economic development – outside of the wealth absorbing elites which control both the financial and political centers of decision-making.

The growth and ascendancy of financial elites which pillage public treasuries, resources and productive activity, is the result of an eminently political process. The origins of de-regulation, free trade and the promotion of illicit flows are all made possible by state authorities.

First and foremost, finance capital conquered state power – with the cooperation of “productive capital”. The peaceful transition reflected the interlocking directorates between banks and industry, aided and abetted by public officials rotating between government and investment houses.

The entire African continent was pillaged by billionaire rulers, many former nationalist politicians (South Africa), ex-guerilla and ‘liberation leaders’ (Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau), in collaboration with US, EU, Chinese, Russian and Israeli oligarchs. Trillions of dollars were laundered by bankers in London, New York, Zurich, Tel Aviv and Paris. Growth of the commodity sector bolstered Africa’s decade long expanding GDP – and the mega-outflows of illicit earnings.

World-wide, billionaires multiplied profits ‘received’, but wages, salaries, pensions and health coverage declined! Swindles multiplied as outflows accelerated in both directions. The higher the growth in China, India, Indonesia and South Korea the bigger and more pervasive the corruption and outflows of wealth-led by “Communist” neo-liberals in China, Indian “free marketers” and Russian “economic reformers”.

The World Bank’s and IMF’s proposed “economic reforms”  ‘freed’ the incipient political kleptocrats of controls and unleashed two-sided illicit financial flows – laundering funds from abroad and establishing trillion dollar offshore tax dodging citadels.

Illicit swindles dwarfed earnings from ‘capital accumulation’. The relations between capital and labor were framed by the organization and policies dictated by the directors and operators of the trillion-dollar financial networks based on the pillage of treasuries and the wealth of nations.

The center of China’s growth is shifting from manufacturing and the exploitation of labor, to real estate and “financial services”, as worker’s demand and secure double-digit increases in wages. The exploiters of labor turned predators of the national treasury.  Under the pretext of “stimulating” the construction sector, real estate speculators in tow with Communist Party officials, absconded with over a trillion dollars from 2009 to 2014. According to Jonathan Anderson of the Emerging Advisors Group “over a trillion dollars” has gone missing in China in the past five years (Financial Times, 28/11/14, p 1.).

Factories still produce, agro-business still exports, the paper value of high tech companies has risen into the high billions, but the ruling 1% of the system stands or falls with the illicit financial flows drawn from the pillage of treasuries. To replenish pillaged treasuries, regimes insist on perpetual ‘austerity’ for the 90%: greater pillage for the 1%, less public revenues for health care which results in more epidemics. Less funds for pensions means later retirement — work till you die.

The plunder of the economy is accompanied by unending wars – because war contracts are a major source of illicit financial flows. Plunder oligarchs share with militarists a deep and abiding belief in pillage of countries and destruction of productive resources.  The one reinforces the other in an eternal embrace – defied only by insurgents who embrace a moral economy and who proclaim the need for a total change – a new civilization.

Nov 212014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

svoboda-party-nazi4

Introduction

There are clear signs that a major war is about to break out in Ukraine: A war actively promoted by the NATO regimes and supported by their allies and clients in Asia (Japan) and the Middle East (Saudi Arabia). The war over Ukraine will essentially run along the lines of a full-scale military offensive against the southeast Donbas region, targeting the breakaway ethnic Ukraine-Russian Peoples Republic of Donetsk and Lugansk, with the intention of deposing the democratically elected government, disarming the popular militias, killing the guerrilla resistance partisans and their mass base, dismantling the popular representative organizations and engaging in ethnic cleansing of millions of bilingual Ukraino-Russian citizens. NATO’s forthcoming military seizure of the Donbas region is a continuation and extension of its original violent putsch in Kiev, which overthrew an elected Ukrainian government in February 2014.

The Kiev junta and its newly ‘elected’ client rulers, and its NATO sponsors are intent on a major purge to consolidate the puppet Poroshenko’s dictatorial rule. The recent NATO-sponsored elections excluded several major political parties that had traditionally supported the country’s large ethnic minority populations, and was boycotted in the Donbas region. This sham election in Kiev set the tone for NATO’s next move toward converting Ukraine into one gigantic US multi-purpose military base aimed at the Russian heartland and into a neo-colony for German capital, supplying Berlin with grain and raw materials while serving as a captive market for German manufactured goods.

An intensifying war fever is sweeping the West; the consequences of this madness appear graver by the hour.

War Signs: The Propaganda and Sanctions Campaign, the G20 Summit and the Military Build Up

The official drum- beat for a widening conflict in Ukraine, spearheaded by the Kiev junta and its fascist militias, echoes in every Western mass media outlet, every day. Major mass media propaganda mills and government ‘spokesmen and women’ publish or announce new trumped-up accounts of growing Russian military threats to its neighbors and cross-border invasions into Ukraine. New Russian incursions are ‘reported’ from the Nordic borders and Baltic states to the Caucuses. The Swedish regime creates a new level of hysteria over a mysterious “Russian” submarine off the coast of Stockholm, which it never identifies or locates – let alone confirms the ‘sighting’. Estonia and Latvia claim Russian warplanes violated their air space without confirmation. Poland expels Russian “spies” without proof or witnesses. Provocative full-scale joint NATO-client state military exercises are taking place along Russia’s frontiers in the Baltic States, Poland, Romania and Ukraine.

NATO is sending vast arms shipments to the Kiev junta, along with “Special Forces” advisers and counter-insurgency experts in anticipation of a full-scale attack against the rebels in the Donbas.

The Kiev regime has never abided by the Minsk cease fire. According to the UN Human Rights office 13 people on average – mostly civilians – have been killed each day since the September cease fire. In eight weeks, the UN reports that 957 people have killed – overwhelmingly by Kiev’s armed forces.

The Kiev regime, in turn, has cut all basic social and public services to the Peoples’ Republics’, including electricity, fuel, civil service salaries, pensions, medical supplies, salaries for teachers and medical workers, municipal workers wages; banking and transport have been blockaded.

The strategy is to further strangle the economy, destroy the infrastructure, force an even greater mass exodus of destitute refugees from the densely populated cities across the border into Russia and then to launch massive air, missile, artillery and ground assaults on urban centers as well as rebel bases.

The Kiev junta has launched an all-out military mobilization in the Western regions, accompanied by rabid anti-Russian, anti-Eastern Orthodox indoctrination campaigns designed to attract the most violent far right chauvinist thugs and to incorporate the Nazi-style military brigades into the frontline shock troops. The cynical use of irregular fascist militias will ‘free’ NATO and Germany from any responsibility for the inevitable terror and atrocities in their campaign. This system of ‘plausible deniability’ mirrors the tactics of the German Nazis whose hordes of fascist Ukrainians and Ustashi Croats were notorious in their epoch of ethnic cleansing.

G20-plus-NATO: Support of the Kiev Blitz

To isolate and weaken resistance in the Donbas and guarantee the victory of the impending Kiev blitz, the EU and the US are intensifying their economic, military and diplomatic pressure on Russia to abandon the nascent peoples’ democracy in the south-east region of Ukraine, their principle ally.

Each and every escalation of economic sanctions against Russia is designed to weaken the capacity of the Donbas resistance fighters to defend their homes, towns and cities. Each and every Russian shipment of essential medical supplies and food to the besieged population evokes a new and more hysterical outburst – because it counters Kiev-NATO strategy of starving the partisans and their mass base into submission or provoking their flight to safety across the Russian border.

After suffering a series of defeats, the Kiev regime and its NATO strategists decided to sign a ‘peace protocol’, the so-called Minsk agreement, to halt the advance of the Donbas resistance into the southern regions and to protect its Kiev’s soldiers and militias holed-up in isolated pockets in the East. The Minsk agreement was designed to allow the Kiev junta to build up its military, re-organize its command and incorporate the disparate Nazi militias into its overall military forces in preparation for a ‘final offensive’.  Kiev’s military build-up on the inside and NATO’s escalation of sanctions against Russia on the outside would be two sides of the same strategy: the success of a frontal attack on the democratic resistance of the Donbas basin depends on minimizing Russian military support through international sanctions.

NATO’s virulent hostility to Russian President Putin was on full display at the G20 meeting in Australia: NATO-linked presidents and prime ministers, especially Merkel, Obama, Cameron, Abbott, and Harper’s political threats and overt personal insults paralleled Kiev’s growing starvation blockade of the besieged rebels and population centers in the south-east. Both the G20’s economic threats against Russia and the diplomatic isolation of Putin and Kiev’s economic blockade are preludes to NATO’s Final Solution – the physical annihilation of all vestiges of Donbas resistance, popular democracy and cultural-economic ties with Russia.

Kiev depends on its NATO mentors to impose a new round of severe sanctions against Russia, especially if its planned invasion encounters a well armed and robust mass resistance bolstered by Russian support. NATO is counting on Kiev’s restored and newly supplied military capacity to effectively destroy the southeast centers of resistance.

NATO has decided on an ‘all-or-nothing campaign’: to seize all of Ukraine or, failing that, destroy the restive southeast, obliterate its population and productive capacity and engage in an all-out economic (and possibly shooting) war with Russia. Chancellor Angela Merkel is on board with this plan despite the complaints of German industrialists over their huge loss of export sales to Russia. President Hollande of France has signed on dismissing the complaints of trade unionists over the loss of thousands French jobs in the shipyards. Prime Minister David Cameron is eager for an economic war against Moscow, suggesting the bankers of the City of London find new channels to launder the illicit earnings of Russian oligarchs.

The Russian Response

Russian diplomats are desperate to find a compromise, which allows Ukraine’s ethnic Ukraine- Russian population in the southeast to retain some autonomy under a federation plan and regain influence within the ‘new’ post-putsch Ukraine. Russian military strategists have provided logistical and military aid to the resistance in order to avoid a repeat of the Odessa massacre of ethnic Russians by Ukrainian fascists on a massive scale. Above all, Russia cannot afford to have NATO-Nazi-Kiev military bases along its southern ‘underbelly’, imposing a blockade of the Crimea and forcing a mass exodus of ethnic Russians from the Donbas. Under Putin, the Russian government has tried to propose compromises allowing Western economic supremacy over Ukraine but without NATO military expansion and absorption by Kiev.

That policy of conciliation has repeatedly failed.

The democratically elected ‘compromise regime’ in Kiev was overthrown in February 2014 in a violent putsch, which installed a pro-NATO junta.

Kiev violated the Minsk agreement with impunity and encouragement from the NATO powers and Germany.

The recent G20 meeting in Australia featured a rabble-rousing chorus against President Putin. The crucial four-hour private meeting between Putin and Merkel turned into a fiasco when Germany parroted the NATO chorus.

Putin finally responded by expanding Russia’s air and ground troop preparedness along its borders while accelerating Moscow’s economic pivot to Asia.

Most important, President Putin has announced that Russia cannot stand by and allow the massacre of a whole people in the Donbas region.

Is Poroshenko’s forthcoming blitz against the people of southeast Ukraine designed to provoke a Russian response – to the humanitarian crisis? Will Russia confront the NATO-directed Kiev offensive and risk a total break with the West?

James Petras latest book is THE POLITICS OF IMPERIALISM: THE US, ISRAEL AND THE MIDDLE EAST (CLARITY PRESS:ATLANTA)

Nov 142014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

con-man-obama-e1313244448535

Introduction

The meteoric rise to power of Barack Obama in 2008 was propelled by one of the greatest demagogic US Presidential campaigns of all time: To millions of young Americans, he promised to end the US wars in the Middle East. To millions of working and middle class voters, he promised to end the economic crisis by confronting Wall Street. To women, he promised to protect and expand their social rights and end the gender gap in wages and salaries. To human rights and civil liberties activists, he promised to end police state surveillance and torture, and to close the Guantanamo concentration camp, which had denied political prisoners a fair and open trial. To blacks, he promised higher living standards and greater racial equality in income. To Latino-Americans, he promised immigration reform facilitating a path to citizenship for long-term residents. Overseas he spoke in Cairo of a “new chapter” in US policy toward the Muslim world. To Russia, he promised President Putin he would ‘reset relations’ – toward greater co-operation.

Obama’s rhetorical flourishes attracted millions of young activists, women and minority voters  and leaders to work for his election and the Democratic Party. He won a resounding victory! And the Democrats took control of the House and Senate.

Obama Embraces the Rightwing Agenda

The rhetorical exercise was a massive smoke screen. For his electoral campaign Obama raised over one billion dollars from the ‘1%’ – Wall Street bankers, Hollywood media moguls, Silicon Valley venture capitalists, Chicago Zionists and the Mid-Western business elite. Obama was clearly playing a double game – talking to “the people” and working for ‘the bosses’.

A few analysts cut through the demagogy and identified Obama as the ‘Greatest Con-Man of recent times”, the Washington counterpart of the great contemporary Wall Street swindler Bernard ‘Bernie’ Madoff.

According to the somewhat more skeptical liberals and progressives, Obama would have to ‘choose’ between those who elected him and those who groomed and bankrolled him.

Obama quickly and decisively resolved the progressives’ ‘dilemma’. He re-appointed the two central officials who designed disgraced President Bush Jr’s war policy and Wall Street bailout: Robert Gates was confirmed as Secretary of Defense and Timothy Geithner was renewed as Treasury Secretary. Obama followed by teaming up with the head of the Federal Reserve, Benjamin Shalom Bernacke and Treasury Secretary Geithner to launch a multi-year trillion dollar bailout of Wall Street, while hundreds of thousands of Obama voters had their mortgages foreclosed and millions of workers, who voted Democratic were fired and remained unemployed, because Washington prioritized Wall Street recovery of profitability over funding job-creating public works.

In response, millions of indignant citizens repudiated the Washington bailout and Congress temporarily shelved approval. However, the White House and the Democratic majority in both Houses, reversed course and approved the biggest State –to- Bankers handout in US – or for that matter, world – history.

If the Obama’s ‘First Wave of Reaction’ appointed powerful Wall Street clones and Pentagon war hawks to his cabinet and the ‘Second Wave of Reaction’ led to sacrificing workers’ incomes, employment and living standards, so that Wall Street could return to profitability, and the ‘Third Wave of Reaction’ was the escalation of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama has dispatched tens of thousands of US combat troops to ‘end the war by expanding the war’!

The Democratic Electorate Strikes Back: 2010

By the end of 2010, sufficient masses of Obama and Democratic voters were disenchanted to the point of notvoting in the Congressional elections: The Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives.

The most lucid and clearheaded progressives understood that nothing more was to be gained by waiting patiently ‘at the gate, like benighted pilgrims’ for their president Obama’s gaze to ‘turn left’ or for the Democrats to reverse course in Congress. Hundreds of thousands of citizens shook off the trickster’s spell and took to the streets blocking financial districts. ‘Occupy Wall Street’ – direct action in the streets, citizens clearly targeted the principle source of the economic crisis and the real power behind the demagogic rhetoric of the White House confidence man.

Federal, state and local police broke up, arrested and incarcerated the peaceful activists. The Occupy Wall Street movement, under massive and coordinated police-state siege, and without political direction, dispersed and disintegrated.

The ‘Fourth Wave of reaction’ was illuminated by the Snowden revelations of National Security Agency (NSA) intrusive spying into the lives of hundreds of millions of Americans as well as allied leaders in four continents – and unimaginable numbers of citizens in countries around the world. The White House gave unconditional backing to the entire, gargantuan police state apparatus and its unconstitutional intervention into everyday life of individuals and their families. Hundreds of thousands of civil libertarians, human rights activists and attorneys and millions of liberal democrats were shocked by Obama’s blatant refusal to rein-in or even acknowledge the enormous scope of illegal domestic spying.

The ‘Fifth Wave of Reaction’ was the cumulative impact of five years of nurturing Wall Street profits and ignoring working and middle class income and declining living standards. Thanks to virtually free federal ‘bailout’ money, Wall Street borrowed and invested overseas  -reaping returns triple the miniscule interest rates in the US. They speculated on the stock market. The ‘D-J boom’ continued for five years while real incomes of most Americans continued to decline. Young Democratic voters, who had believed the con-man, remained mired at entry level jobs barely paying room and board. The ‘Audacity of Hope’ became the ‘Humiliation of Return’ into their parents’ homes for millions of young workers unable to support themselves…

Disenchantment Deepens

            Millions of Latino citizens, who were conned into believing that Obama would provide a ‘road-map to citizenship’ for twelve million fellow immigrants, discovered that the real Obama  policy toward immigrants was a ‘road map to violent arrest, incarceration and deportation’: A record two million immigrants were expelled in five years, exceeding the totals of all previous Presidents, even the most rabid rightwing Republicans.

Probably the most egregious and cynical con-job of all was the mega-con Obama perpetrated on Afro-Americans. More than any other group in the US, Afro-Americans have supported Barack Obama:  Ninety-five percent voted for the ‘First Afro-American President’.

Under President Obama, Afro-Americans have lost more personal wealth than under any president since the Great Depression. Many key indicators show that the economic conditions of Afro-Americans have worsened dramatically under Obama.

According to the US Federal Reserve’s survey of consumer finances, between 2009-2014, non-white household incomes have declined by nearly a tenth to $33,000 a year. Median incomes fell by five percent.  Data on net wealth – assets minus liabilities – tells an even more brutal story. The median non-white family today has a net worth of just $18,100 – almost a fifth lower than it was when Obama took office. In contrast, white median wealth increased by one percent to $142,000. In 2009 white households were seven times richer than blacks; that gap is now eightfold. Both in relative and absolute terms, black Americans are doing much worse under President Obama. His ‘Wall Street First’agenda (bailing out the banksters and mortgage swindlers) has relegated Afro-Americans to last place. Racial inequalities have deepened because Obama, who may have ‘shot some hoops’ on an urban ghetto playground and dressed up as a  ‘black role model’, in fact, oversaw an increasingly segregated and deteriorating school system. In Washington, he marginalized African-American concerns about double digit rates of unemployment in Detroit and other urban centers, while offering pompous, stern ‘moral’ lectures to unemployed blacks about their ‘family responsibilities’.

Obama’s demagogy and deceptive populist posturing  bamboozled most progressive voters for a period of time, but after five waves of reaction, many of the activists ‘wised up’ – first in the streets and then in the elections – by refusing to vote for Democrats running in the Congressional elections of 2014.

The Democratic Debacle of 2014

The major reason for the Democrat’s debacle in the ‘mid-term elections’ was the high rate of abstention and lack of activists getting out the vote.In many states, where the Democrats lost, the overall rate of abstention among eligible voters approached seventy percent. And there is reason to believe that the vast majority of non-voters (aka – the ‘none of the above’ voters) were Democrats, people disenchanted or hostile to Obama’s betrayals and, in particular, voters who believed that he had deceived or ‘conned them’.

Young people’s participation in this election, a major factor in mobilizing voters for Obama in 2008 and 2012 and doubly deceived, were notable by their absence: Young voters’ share of the electorate declined from 19% in 2012 to 13% in 2014. Parallel declines were documented in Latino-American and Afro-American turn-outs.

For those who voted, nearly half (45%) said that the ‘economy was the key consideration’ and by economy they didn’t mean Wall Street’s booming profits, or record high Dow Jones Stock quotes, which White House Democrats had hailed as their ‘economic success’. For the American middle and working class voters ‘ the economy’ that drove some to vote on November 4, 2014, was measured in the deterioration of affordable health insurance coverage and pension plans, the decline of living standards and the growth of ‘dead-end’ low-paid, contingent employment that rendered the lives and future increasingly unstable.

Most former Obama voters did not defect to the Republicans: They realized that both Democrats and Republicans were responsible for the domestic economy-busting decade-long wars and Wall Street hand-outs. They didnot vote: Most abstained!  Some former Democrats and Independents, and not a few Republicans, turned their anti-Obama animus into a rabid racist rant against the black President and extended their anger toward people of color in generalObama’s con game has aroused deep racist undercurrents in US politics.

If his image as the first African-American President inspired a moment of hope and promise for greater racial equality in this country, his reactionary economic policies in practice allowed rightwing politicians to divert white worker and middle class economic discontent away from the criminals and swindlers on Wall Street to racist hostility toward the beleaguered black communities.

Post-Elections:  The Con-Man is Cornered

The new Republican Congressional majorities will continue to implement the fundamental economic and foreign policies of the Obama regime. Wall Street profits will continue to grow, income disparities between capital and labor will continue to sharpen and the highly militarized foreign policy of the last six years will become more overtly bi-partisan. The Democratic President will join with the Republican Congress in pursuing military confrontations in the Ukraine and in sending more US troops to Syria and Iraq.  Under pressure from Israel and its powerful US supporters, increased sanctions against Iran will scuttle US negotiations with Tehran. Obama’s blockade of Cuba will continue, as will bi-partisan hostility to center-left governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil and Argentina. The grotesque narco-state terror and mass murder in Mexico and Central America will continue to fuel the massive refugee pressure on the US border and expose the hypocrisy of Washington’s humanitarian military missions in the Middle East.

The Republicans rode to power by exploiting discontent with Obama’s ‘Five Waves’ of reactionary policies; they will now co-operate with him in launching a ‘6th Wave’. The Republican Congressional majority will embraceObama’s proposal to ‘fast-track’ free trade treaties covering Asia and Europe, currently blocked by House Democrats and opposed by US trade unions.

The Republicans will join with Obama in backing corporate tax ‘reform’, which substantially reduces the tax on US multinational corporations’ overseas earnings in order to end the hoarding of profits in low tax countries – while intensifying austerity on American workers and the poor.

In other words, Obama will now openly coordinate with his Republican counterparts on an agenda they have shared from the first day he took office. This time Barack Obama, the Con-Man, will have to play it straight and cut the populist palaver –  Republicans and their business partners demand economic payoffs and overseas military victories. Obama, the ‘cowering Con-Man’, has been unmasked by progressives and is cornered by the Republicans … and they have no further use for his confab

James Petras latest book is the Politics of Empire:The U.S, Israel and the Middle East @ claritypress@usa.net

Nov 042014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

ebola-and-war45

Washington escalates its military interventions abroad, launching simultaneous air and ground attacks in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan; multiplying drone attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia; training, arming and financing proxy mercenaries in Jordan, the Gulf States and Iraq; and dispatching National Guard battalions to West Africa, ostensibly to combat the Ebola epidemic, though they lack the most elementary public health capabilities. All in all the US spent $3.5 trillion for military invasions over 6 years.

At the same time, the US domestic public health services have deteriorated. At the state and local level, like Dallas, Texas and at the national level, officials and major institutions demonstrate an inability to effectively detect and manage cases of Ebola infections among the general population in a timely manner. An infected Liberian immigrant was not diagnosed correctly when he presented to a major Dallas hospital emergency room. Instead he received irrelevant and unnecessary ‘imaging studies’ and was sent home with oral antibiotics. This confirmed the widespread belief that Emergency Room physicians and nurses are under pressure from their administration to order costly CT scans and MRI’s on patients as a way to make money for the hospital and to cover-up their incompetence at basic patient history and physical examination. Despite the patient’s informing hospital workers of his recent arrival from Liberia, an Ebola outbreak hot-spot, personnel did not put on basic protective gowns, gloves, hoods and masks and they allowed the febrile, vomiting, desperately sick man to contaminate large areas of the emergency department, waiting room and MRI suite. Quarantine was not even considered. . . .

The director of the Dallas hospital covered up for his organization’s incompetence by a series of victim blaming – the patient, the computer system, the nurses …  National health guidelines may have been inadequate at the time, but Ebola was clearly on the national radar and the CDC had provided basic guidelines and measures. All hospitals have infectious control committees, disaster preparedness committees and receive state and national alerts.

As the crisis and public panic deepened, President Obama engaged in vigorous political fund-raising.  Meanwhile, Vice President Biden was preoccupied by his 40+ year-old son’s expulsion from the Navy Reserve for cocaine use. The Defense Secretary was busy picking targets to bomb in Syria and Iraq …

The Cabinet met over ‘National Security’ issues like ISIS, expanding military interventions around the world, while US medical personnel, international travelers and their family members, as well as average American citizens felt more threatened by the apparent breakdown of the public health system, both at the local and national levels, in the face of a deadly viral infection.

The inadequacy, indeed breakdown, of the US public health system as it confronts the first cases of Ebola in the US and the simultaneous escalation of military intervention in Syria and Iraq typifies, in microcosm, the demise of the US republic accompanying the rise of the US military empire.

The Dallas hospital, which had at first turned a desperately sick Liberian immigrant away, was run as a for-profit enterprise, directed by business managers eager for high returns and dismissive of basic health procedures and even more  of the advice of competent, experienced health workers: They had made their biggest investments in high technology and multi-million dollar equipment, irrelevant to the diagnosis and treatment of tropical and infectious diseases. The pressure to use the most expensive technology inappropriately and recoup the corporate investment, resulted in a deadly delay in diagnosis and contaminated at least a dozen health care workers. The corporate hospital director eventually apologized for their ‘mistakes’.  But the fault goes far beyond “bad decisions”: The procedures and protocols are built into the ‘for profit’ model emphasizing the need show a healthy ‘return’ on multi-million dollar advanced technological investments. There is a stark contrast between the high tech advances in imaging and surgery in a modern American hospital and the regressive, socially backward ignorance of the socio-medico context in which critically ill, infectious patients are embedded. It is as if such patients are not supposed to enter the techno-medical world where only the most highly remunerative procedures and protocols are available for those … who can pay.

At the deeper level, the entire national public health system is increasingly dependent on the formulation of rules and flows of information, corrupted and distorted by ‘market demands’ and political priorities heavily weighted toward  expanding the police state at home and militarism abroad. These political priorities in turn, are influenced by the massive shift in resources to support the permanent war policies of the Obama regime and the US Congress.

The proliferation and escalation of military interventions dominates the Obama Administration’s real agenda. According to Assistant Secretary of State for Eastern European Affairs, Victoria Nuland, six billion dollars of public money was spent on subverting the elected government of the Ukraine – $6 billion shifted from US domestic sectors, like health care and real disaster preparedness. Meanwhile hundreds of hospitals have been closed in most major US cities and rural clinics abandoned for lack of personnel. The entire health care system, in its current ‘for profit’ corporate form is devoid of competent, effective leadership. On the other hand, the US military is seen as the solution to the world’s (and increasingly domestic) problems, while the social roots of conflict and disaster are ignored with contempt.

The militarization of the minds of our political leaders has led to the most grotesque decisions: In the face of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, the Obama regime has sent 2000 National Guard combatants to Africa. These are soldiers who lack the most elementary knowledge, skill, capability and training to deal with the complexities of a major public health crisis in a devastated, war torn part of the world. One must recall how Washington pressured the United Nations to send ‘Peace-keepers’ to Haiti after the earthquake – UN soldiers from Nepal, who brought not peace but an epidemic of cholera killing additional tens of thousands of Haitian civilians. The immediate question regarding US National Guard troops in West Africa is not whether they can build rural clinics or maintain camps of quarantined Africans, the real concern is whether these heavily armed ‘health aides’ can avoid being infected and bringing Ebola home. This concern has now led the Pentagon to impose mandatory quarantine on its own soldiers returning from West Africa – a knee-jerk reaction motivated more by fear-mongering than science.

In contrast, Cuba has sent hundreds of highly skilled health workers, who form teams with proven track records in confronting public health crises in the tropics and elsewhere. Cuban teams include skilled epidemiologists who develop effective local programs, based on real-time, on-the-ground fact-finding and assessment of available resources. The enormous differences between the Cuban and US responses to the Ebola crisis reflects the profound contrast in their social and health systems: Cuba has a free national health system and strong public health and civil defense structures using rigorous procedures and effective guidelines to set up clinics and camps appropriate to the objective conditions. They emphasize the social context of disease and are not invested in expensive high tech medical equipment and tests irrelevant to the challenges at hand. Their budget is not skewed toward promoting imperial wars: for the Cubans health and welfare is an integral political priority.

In contrast ‘health care’ in the US has become big business while military metaphysics dominate the minds and policies of the political and business elite. The deterioration of basic health care delivery in general and the public health sector in particular is not only a consequence of a failure of political leadership, it also reflects the recurring and deepening economic crises. Under the ‘War on Terrorism’ fear-mongering over bio-weapons, namely threatened Anthrax attacks, tens of billions of public money was diverted from public health at the national and state level and the corrupted, crippled system has never recovered.

The economic crisis, gripping the US, the European Union (EU) and beyond, is clearly manifested in the stagnation of the US economy. The private corporate elite, who form the ruling class, are unable to sustain growth without massive US Treasury subsidies ($4.5 trillion dollars, according to the Financial Times (10/14/14). The US has experienced extreme volatility in its stock market, together with the impoverishment of its working class and diminution of its middle class. Heightened social inequalities are everywhere, especially in access to decent, effective health care. In the EU, Germany’s economy is plunging from zero to negative growth, while France, Italy and Holland are in deep recession. Greece, Spain and Portugal are in a prolonged depression, burdened by unpayable debts and unable to escape the downward social and economic spiral because of austerity programs imposed by Brussels.

Washington’s war policies, the concentration of state resources on financing military invasions and subsidizing the grossly inflated financial sector, account for the fatal deterioration of health and welfare services in the US. Growing majorities feel the pain, and many more are alienated from the Presidential and Congressional elite – as well as from their own corrupt, incompetent local elected officials.

To safeguard the power of the military-financial elite, the political rulers have resorted to a series of “Horror Shows” – orchestrating vast propaganda spectacles designed to strike fear and loathing of ‘external enemies’ among the American public, in order to secure their submission and obedience to police state policies.

Recently, there was the lurid media shock of the Muslim terrorists in ‘ISIS’ beheading two American captives. The public ‘horror’ was manipulated to justify the large-scale US military re-entry in Iraq and the air war against Syria – policies largely opposed by the war-weary US citizenry.

Close on the heels of the ‘beheading’ atrocities, came the spectacle of a fearsome African “Ebola” epidemic, spreading to the US and threatening Americans with brutally painful deaths … This was used to justify Obama’s sending of thousands of US National Guard to West Africa to act as “health workers”.

The total collapse of the public health systems throughout Africa follows decades of civil wars, fomented by US and EU military policies, in order to plunder Africa’s economies and rich natural resources – while marketing Western arms and mercenaries. Militarizing the problems of Africa and creating millions of refugees has naturally led to plagues – Ebola today, malaria yesterday and other infectious diseases and miseries tomorrow.

The immensely complex and catastrophic health crisis in West Africa is the stark backdrop to years of western propaganda hailing the massive growth of foreign investment in Africa’s extractive sectors – notably energy and mining. The business press (Financial Times, Economist, Wall Street Journal…) featured images of “Africa; the Sleeping Giant Awakes”, describing of emergence of wealthy mineral enclaves powered by large-scale foreign investments, creating vast private foreign and local fortunes while ignoring the sea of massive poverty, broken public health clinics, non-existent schools and devastating living conditions, as well as the war-lord ravaged masses of refugees fleeing the fights over mineral-rich lands. This created the ‘perfect storm’ for the emergence and spread of epidemics – like Ebola.

In Africa, under IMF and Western corporate dictates, entire budgets and foreign aid programs were channeled to finance infrastructure (roads, transport, ports, etc.) for extractive imperialism – while virtually nothing, in terms of public policy, was or is allocated to basic public health and preventative medicine. The ‘focused’ programs of the ‘Gates Foundation’ and others served to divert African health workers and resources to the ‘NGO’s, rather than national, priorities and encouraged the flight of African doctors and nurses to the West.

The recent cases of Ebola in the US highlight the deterioration of national and local public health systems – the result of deregulation, privatization and corporatization of the medicine. The ‘profit ethos’ permeates medical care in the US. Cutbacks in preventive medicine, divorcing medical care from the social context of illness, as well as the lack of accountability and transparency in the face of erroneous diagnoses and inappropriate or incompetent care are consequences of the larger failures in public policy. This also explains the emergence and rampant spread of multi-drug resistant bacterial infections within the hospitals and out in the communities. The preference for expensive, profitable techno-medicine (marketed as ‘personalized’ health care) over competent ‘hands on’, science-based medicine rooted in an understanding of objective social conditions, has fueled the crisis and spread mass confusion among the public.

When the government engages in long-term, large-scale wars abroad, when the Treasury allocates trillions of public dollars to Wall Street for the better part of a decade, when the government secures submission (“consent”) via horror scenarios that replace public accountability with fear and loathing, we, the US public pay a steep price in public health under autocratic elite rule.

The recent ‘police-state’ response to an American nurse, Kaci Hickox, highlights the corrupt arrogance of US politicians and opinion leaders, long accustomed to control via fear-mongering and criminalizing dissent. The fact that Nurse ‘Kaci’ arrived at ‘Liberty’ International Airport in perfect health from her months of heroic work in West Africa where she set up clinics and hospitals to help stem the Ebola crisis at its sources, did not dissuade the thuggish governor of New Jersey from confining her, like an animal, in a clear plastic cage in the parking lot of a Newark hospital. Her successful fight for freedom against this arbitrary confinement exposed Governor Cristie and his side-kick, New York Governor Cuomo, as ignorant bellowing thugs, intent on making her ‘an example’. Nurse Kaci Hickox’ victory of science and civil rights over brutal scare-mongering may be temporary – as the tendency has long been to militarize crises and erode citizen rights.

The American public is beginning to understand the relationship between this policy of scaremongering, the bail-out of billionaires and rampant militarism with the daily erosion of their standard of living, health and security and civil rights.It will take more than a Nurse ‘Kaci’ to reverse the tide, but one tough competent nurse has set a glorious example.

Nov 022014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

open-up-democracys-coming

Introduction

The principal reason why Washington engages in military wars, sanctions and clandestine operations to secure power abroad is because its chosen clients cannot and do not win free and open elections.

A brief survey of recent election outcomes testify to the electoral unattractiveness of Washington backed clients. The majority of  democratic electorates rejects candidates and parties which back the US global agenda: neo-liberal economic policies; a highly militarized foreign policy; Israeli colonization and annexation of Palestine; the concentration of wealth in the financial sector; the military escalation against China and Russia. While the US policy attempts to re-impose the pillage and dominance of the 1990’s via recycled client regimes the democratic electorates want to move on toward less bellicose, more inclusive governments, which restore labor and welfare rights.

The US seeks to impose the unipolar world, of the Bush Sr. and Clinton era, failing to recognize the vast changes in the world economy, including the rise of China and Russia as world powers, the emergence of the BRIC and other regional organizations and above all the growth of popular democratic consciousness.

Failing to convince electorates by reason or manipulation, Washington has opted to intervene by force, and to finance organizations to subvert the democratic electoral process. The frequent resort to bullets and economic coercion when ballots fail to produce the “appropriate outcome testifies to the profoundly reactionary nature of US foreign policy. Reactionary in the double sense of ends and means. Progmatically, the imperial centered socio-economic policies deepen inequalities and depress living standards. The means to achieve power, the instruments of policy, include wars, intervention, covert operations, are more akin to extremists, quasi-fascist, far right regimes.

Free Elections and the Rejection of US Clients

US backed electoral parties and candidates have suffered defeats throughout most of the world, despite generous financial backing and international mass media propaganda campaigns. What is striking about the negative voting outcomes is the fact that the vast majority of adversaries are neither anti-capitalist nor ‘socialist’. What is equally striking is that all of the US clients are rightist or far-rightist parties and leaders. In other words the polarization is usually between center-left and rightist parties; the choice is between reform or reaction, between an independent or satellite foreign policy.

Washington and Latin America:  Masters of Defeats

Over the past decade, Washington has backed losing neo-liberal candidates throughout Latin America and then sought to subvert the democratic outcome.

Bolivia

Since 2005, Evo Morales the center left leader favoring social reforms and an independent foreign policy has won three Presidential elections against Washington backed rightist parties, each time by a greater margin. In 2008, he ousted the US ambassador for intervening, expelled the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in 2008, USAID in 2013 and the Military Mission after foiling an aborted coup in Santa Cruz.

Venezuela

The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and its predecessor have won every Presidential and Congressional election (over a dozen) except one over the past 15 years despite US multi-million dollar funding of neo-liberal opposition parties. Unable to defeat the Chavez led radical-reform government, Washington backed a violent coup (2002), a boss’s lockout (2002/3), and decade’s long paramilitary attacks of pro-democracy leaders and activists.

Ecuador

The US has opposed the center-left government of President Correa for ousting it from the military base in Manta, renegotiating and repudiating some of its foreign debt and backing regional pacts which exclude the US. As a result Washington backed an abortive police led coup in 2010 that was quickly defeated.

Honduras

During democratically elected President Manual Zelaya’s tenure in office, a center-left President, Honduras sought to pursue closer relations with Venezuela in order to receive greater economic aid and to shed its reputation as a US dominated “banana republic”. Washington unable to defeat him at the ballot box, responded by supporting a military coup (2009) which ousted Zelaya and returned Honduras to the US fold. Since the coup Honduras has experienced more killings of popular leaders -200- than any country in Latin America.

Brazil

The center-left Workers Party has won four straight elections against US backed neo-liberal candidates beginning in 2002 and continuing through the 2014 elections. The US propaganda machine, including NSA’s spying on President Rousseff and the strategic state petrol company, Petrobras, and the international financial press went all out to discredit the reformist center-left government. To no avail! The voters preferred an ‘inclusive’ social liberal regime pursuing an independent foreign policy to an opposition embedded in the discredited socially regressive neo-liberal politics of the Cardoso regime (1994-2002). In the run-up to the 2014 elections Brazilian and US financial speculators attempted to strike fear in the electorate by betting against the currency (real) and driving the stock market into a precipitous fall. To no avail. Rousseff won with 52% of the vote.

Argentina

In Argentina a massive popular revolt overthrew the US backed neo-liberal regime of De la Rua in 2001. Subsequently, the electorate elected the center-left Kirchner government over the rightist, US backed  Menem candidacy in 2003. Kirchner pursued a reformist agenda imposing a moratorium on the debt and combining high economic growth with large scale social expenditures and an independent foreign policy. US opposition escalated with the election of his wife Cristina Fernandez. Financial elites, Wall Street, the US judiciary and Treasury intervened to destabilize the government, after failing to defeat Fernandez’s re-election. Extra-parliamentary financial pressures were matched by political and economic support for rightist politicians in preparation for the 2015 elections.

Earlier, in 1976, the US backed the military coup and political terror that led to the murder of 30,000 activists and militants. In 2014 the US backed a “financial coup” as a federal judge sided with vulture funds, sowing financial terror in international markets against a democratically elected government.

Paraguay

President Fernando Lugo was a moderate former Bishop who pursued a watered-down center-left agenda. Nevertheless, he raised issues that conflicted with Washington’s extremist agenda, including Paraguay’s membership in regional organizations that excluded the US (MERCOSUR). He appealed to the landless rural workers and he retained ties to other Latin American center-left regimes. He was deposed by Congress in 2012 in a highly dubious ‘institutional coup’, quickly supported by the White House and replaced by a straight-line neo-liberal, Federico Franco with tight links to Washington and hostile to Venezuela.

Globalizing US Threats to Democracy

US subversion of democracy when center-left political formations compete for power is not confined to Latin America – it has gone ‘global’.

Ukraine

The most egregious example is the Ukraine, where the US spent over $6 billion in over a decade and a half. Washington financed, organized, and promoted pro NATO shock troops to seize power against an elected regime (President Yevtushenko) which tried to balance ties between the West and Russia. In February 2014, an armed uprising and mob action led to the overthrow of the elected government and the imposition of a puppet regime totally beholden to the US. The violent putschists met resistance from a large swathe of pro-democracy activists in the Eastern region. The Kiev junta led by oligarch Petro Poroshenko dispatched air and ground troops to repress the popular resistance with the unanimous backing of the US and EU. When the rightist regime in Kiev moved to impose its rule over the Crimea and to break its military base treaty with Russia, the Crimean citizens voted, by a large margin (85%), to separate and merge with Russia.

In both the Ukraine and Crimea, US policy was directed toward imposing by force, the subordination of democracy to NATO’s drive to encircle Russia and undermine its democratically elected government.

Russia

Following the election of Vladimir Putin to the Presidency, the US organized and financed a large number of opposition “think tanks”, and NGO’s, to destabilize the government. Large scale demonstrations by well-funded NGO’s were given wide play by all the Western mass media.

Failing to secure an electoral majority and after suffering electoral defeats in the executive and legislative elections, Washington and the EU, using the pretext of Russian “intervention” in the Ukraine, launched a full scale economic war on Russia. Economic sanctions were enforced in the hopes of provoking economic collapse and a popular upheaval. Nothing of the sort occurred. Putin gained greater popularity and stature in Russia and consolidated its ties with China and the other BRIC countries.

In sum in the Ukraine, Crimea and Russia, facing independent elected governments, Washington resorted to a mob uprising, military encirclement and an escalation of economic sanctions.

Iran

Iran has periodic elections in which pro and anti-western parties compete. Iran has drawn the wrath of Washington because of its support for Palestinian liberation from the Israeli yoke; its opposition to the Gulf absolutist states; and its ties to Syria, Lebanon (Hezbollah) and post- Saddam Hussain Iraq. As a result, the US has imposed economic sanctions to cripple its economy and finances and has funded pro-Western neo-liberal opposition NGO’s and political factions. Unable to defeat the Islamist power elite electorally, it chooses to destabilize via sanctions in order to disrupt its economy and assassinations of scientists and cyber warfare.

Egypt

Washington backed the Hosni Mubarak dictatorship for over three decades. Following the popular uprising in 2011, which overthrew the regime, Washington retained and strengthened its ties to the Mubarak police, military and intelligence apparatus. While promoting an alliance between the military and the newly elected President Mohammed Morsi, Washington funded NGO’s, who acted to subvert the government through mass demonstrations. The military, under the leadership of US client General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, seized power, outlawed the Moslem Brotherhood and abolished democratic freedoms.

Washington quickly renewed military and economic aid to the Sisi dictatorship and stregthened its ties with the authoritarian regime. In line with US and Israeli policy, General Sisi tightened the blockade of Gaza, allied with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf despots, strengthened its ties with the IMF and implemented a regressive neo-liberal program by eliminating fuel and food subsidies and lowering taxes on big business. The US backed coup and restoration of dictatorship was the only way Washington could secure a loyal client relationship in North Africa.

Libya

The US and NATO and Gulf allies launched a war (2011) against the independent, nationalist Libyan government, as the only way to oust the popular, welfare government of Colonel Gadhafi. Unable to defeat him via internal subversion, unable to destabilize the economy, Washington and its NATO partners launched hundreds of bombing missions accompanied by arms transfers to local Islamic satraps, tribal, clan and other violent authoritarian groups. The subsequent ‘electoral process” lacking the most basic political guarantees, fraught by corruption, violence and chaos, led to several competing power centers. Washington’s decision to undermine democratic procedures led to a violent Hobbesian world, replacing a popular welfare regime with chaos and terrorism.

Palestine

Washington has pursued a policy of backing Israeli seizures and colonization of Palestinian territory, savage bombings and the mass destruction of Gaza. Israel determined to destroy the democratically elected Hamas government has received unconditional US backing. The Israeli colonial regime has imposed racist, armed colonies throughout the West Bank, financed by the US government, private investors and US Zionist donors. Faced with the choice between a democratically elected nationalist regime, Hamas, and a brutal militarist regime, Israel, US policymakers have never failed to back Israel in its quest to destroy the Palestinian mini-state.

Lebanon

The US, along with Saudi Arabia and Israel, has opposed the freely elected Hezbollah led coalition government formed in 2011. The US backed the Israeli invasion in 2006, which was defeated by the Hezbollah militias. Washington backed the rightwing Hariri led coalition (2008 – 2011) which was marginalized in 2011. It sought to destabilize the society by backing Sunni extremists especially in Northern Lebanon. Lacking popular electoral support to convert Lebanon into a US client state, Washington relies on Israeli military incursions and Syrian based terrorists to destabilize Lebanon’s democratically elected government.

Syria

Syria’s Bashar Assad regime has been the target of US, EU, Saudi and Israeli enmity because of its support for Palestine, its ties with Iraq, Iran, Russia and Hezbollah. Its opposition to the Gulf despotism and its refusal to become a US client state (like Jordan and Egypt) has been another source of NATO hostility. Under pressure from its internal democratic opposition and its external allies, Russia and Iran, the Bashar Assad regime convoked a conference of non-violent opposition parties, leaders and groups to find an electoral solution to the ongoing conflict. Washington and its NATO allies rejected a democratic electoral road to reconciliation. They and their Turkish and Gulf allies financed and armed thousands of Islamic extremists who invaded the country. Over a million refugees and 200,000 dead Syrians were a direct result of Washington’s decision to pursue “regime change” via armed conflict.

China

China has become the world’s largest economy. It has become a leading investment and trading country in the world. It has replaced the US and the EU in Asian, African and Latin American markets. Faced with peaceful economic competition and offers of mutually beneficial free trade agreements, Washington has chosen to pursue a policy of military encirclement, internal destabilization and Pan Pacific integration agreements that excludes China. The US has expanded military deployments and bases in Japan, Australia and the Philippines. It has heightened naval and air force surveillance just beyond China’s limits. It has fanned rival maritime claims of China’s neighbors, encroaching on vital Chinese waterways.

The US has supported violent Uighur separatists, Tibetan terrorists and protests in Hong Kong in order to fragment and discredit China’s rule over its sovereign territory. Fomenting separation via violent means results in harsh repression, which in turn can alienate a domestic constituency and provide grist for the Western media mills. The key to the US countering China’s economic ascent is political: fomenting domestic divisions and weakening central authority. The democratization which Chinese citizens favor has little resonance with US financed ‘democracy’ charades in Hong Kong or separatist violence in the provinces.

Washington’s effort to exclude China from major trade and investment agreements in Asia and elsewhere has been a laughable failure. The principle US “partners”, Japan and Australia are heavily dependent on the Chinese market. Washington’s (free trade) allies in Latin America, name Colombia, Peru, Chile and Mexico are eager to increase trade with China. India and Russia are signing off on multi-billion dollar trade and investment deals with China! Washington’s policy of economic exclusion miscarried in the first month!

In sum, Washington’s decision to pursue confrontation over conciliation and partnership; military encirclement over co-operation; exclusion over inclusion, goes counter to a democratic foreign policy designed to promote democracy in China and elsewhere. An authoritarian choice in pursuit of unachievable Asian supremacy is not a virtue; it is a sign of weakness and decay.

Conclusion

In our global survey of US policy toward democracy, center-left governments and free elections we find overwhelming evidence of systematic US hostility and opposition. The political essence of the “war on terrorism” is Washington’s world-wide long-term pernicious assault on independent governments, especially center-left democratic regimes engaged in serious efforts to reduce poverty and inequality.

Washington’s methods of choice range from financing rightist political parties via USAID and NGO’s, to supporting violent military coups; from backing street mobs engaged in destabilization campaigns to air and ground invasions. Washington’s animus to democratic processes is not confined to any region, religious, ethnic or racial group. The US has bombed black Africans in Libya; organized coups in Latin America against Indians and Christians in Bolivia; supported wars against Muslims in Iraq, Palestine and Syria; financed neo-fascist “battalions”and armed assaults against Orthodox Christians in the Eastern Ukraine; denounced atheists in China and Russia.

Washington subsidizes and backs elections only when neo-liberal client regimes win. It consistently destabilizes center-left governments which oppose US imperial policies.

None of the targets of US aggression are strictly speaking anti-capitalist. Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina are capitalist regimes which attempt to regulate, tax and reduce disparities of wealth via moderate welfare reforms.

Throughout the world, Washington always supports extremist political groups engaged in violent and unconstitutional activity that have victimized democratic leaders and supporters. The  coup regime in Honduras has murdered hundreds of rank and file democratic activists, farm workers, and poor peasants.

The US armed Islamic jihadist and ex-pat allies in Libya have fallen out with their NATO mentors and are at war among themselves, engaging in mutual bloodletting.

Throughout the Middle East, South Asia, North Africa, Central America and the Caucuses wherever US intervention has taken place, extreme right-wing groups have served, at least for a time, as Washington and Brussels principal allies.

Pro EU-NATO allies in the Ukraine include a strong contingent of neo-Nazis, paramilitary thugs and “mainstream” military forces given to bombing civilian neighborhoods with cluster bombs.

In Venezuela, Washington bankrolls terrorist paramilitary forces and political extremists who murdered a socialist congressional leader and dozens of leftists.

In Mexico the US has advised, finances and backs rightist regimes whose military, paramilitary and nacro-terrorist forces recently murdered and burned alive 43 teachers’ college students and are deeply implicated in the killing of 100,000 “other” Mexicans, in less than a decade.

Over the past eleven years the US has pumped over $6 billion dollars in military aid to Colombia, funding its seven military bases and several thousand special operations forces and doubling the size of the Colombian military. As a result thousands of civil society and human rights activists, journalists, trade union leaders and peasants, have been murdered. Over 3 million small land -holders have been dispossessed.

The mass media cover-up the US option for right wing extremism by describing ruling mass murderers as “center-right regimes” or as “moderates”: linguistic perversions and grotesque euphemisms, are as bizarre as the barbarous activities, perpetrated by the White House.

In the drive for world power, no crime is left undone; no democracy that opposes it is tolerated. Countries as small and marginal as Honduran or Somalia or as great and powerful as Russia and China cannot escape the wrath and covert destabilization efforts of the White House.

The quest for world domination is driven by the subjective belief in the “triumph of the will”. Global supremacy depends entirely on force and violence: ravaging country after country, from carpet bombing of Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya to proxy wars in Somalia, Yemen, Ukraine to mass killings in Colombia, Mexico and Syria.

Yet there are limits to the spread of the “killing fields”. Democratic processes are defended by robust citizens’ movements in Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia. The spread of imperial backed terrorist seizures of power are stymied by emergence of global powers, China in in the Far East and Russia in Crimea and eastern Ukraine have taken bold steps to limit US imperial expansion.

In the United Nations, the President of the United States and his delegate Samantha Powers rant and rave, in a fit of pure insanity, against Russia as “the greatest world terrorist state” for resisting military encirclement and the violent annexation of the Ukraine.

Extremism, authoritarianism and political insanity know no frontiers. The massive growth of the secret political police, the National Security Agency, the shredding of constitutional guarantees, the conversion of electoral processes into elite controlled multi-billion dollar charades, the growing impunity of police involved in civilian murders, speaks to an emerging totalitarian police – state inside the US as a counterpart to the violent pursuit of world power.

Citizens’ movements, consequential center-left parties and governments, organized workers, in Latin America, Asia and Europe have demonstrated that authoritarian extremist proxies of Washington can be defeated. That disastrous neo-liberal policies can be reverted. That welfare states, reductions in poverty, unemployment and inequalities can be legislated despite imperial efforts to the contrary.

The vast majority of the Americans, here and now, are strongly opposed to Wall Street, big business and the financial sector. The Presidency and the Congress are despised by three quarters of the American public. Overseas wars are rejected. The US public, for its own reasons and interests, shares with the pro-democracy movement’s world-wide, a common enmity toward Washington’s quest for world power. Here and now in the United States of America we must learn and build our own powerful democratic political instruments.

We must through the force of reason contain and defeat “the reason of force”: the political insanity that informs Washington’s ‘will to power’. We must degrade the empire to rebuild the republic. We must turn from intervening against democracy abroad to building a democratic welfare republic at home.

Oct 262014
 

Posted by James Petras, 99GetSmart

oil-and-gas-400x161

Introduction

There is no question that, in the immediate aftermath and for several years following US military conquests, wars, occupations and sanctions, US multi-national corporations lost out on profitable sites for investments.  The biggest losses were in the exploitation of natural resources – in particular, gas and oil – in the Middle East, the Persian Gulf and South Asia.

As a result some observers speculated that there were deep fissures and contradictory interests within the US ruling class.  They argued that, on the one hand, political elites linked to pro-Israel lobbies and the military industrial power configuration, promoted a highly militarized foreign policy agenda and, on the other hand, some of the biggest and wealthiest multi-national corporations sought diplomatic solutions.

Yet this seeming ‘elite division’ did not materialize.  There is no evidence for example that the multi-national oil companies sought to oppose the Iraq, Libyan, Afghan, Syrian wars.  Nor did the powerful 10 largest oil companies with a net value of over $1.1 trillion dollars mobilize their lobbyists and influentials in the mass media to the cause of peaceful capital penetration and domination of the oil fields via neo-liberal political clients.

In the run-up to the Iraq war, the three major US oil companies, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, eager to exploit the third largest oil reserves in the world, did not engage in Congressional lobbying or exert pressure on the Bush or later Obama Administration for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.  At no point did the Big Ten challenge the pro-war Israel lobby and its phony arguments that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction with an alternative policy.

Similar “political passivity” was evidenced in the run-up to the Libyan war.  Big Oil was actually signing off on lucrative oil deals, when the militarists in Washington struck again – destroying the Libyan state and tearing asunder the entire fabric of the Libyan economy.

Big oil may have bemoaned the loss of oil and profits but there was no concerted effort, t before or after the Libyan debacle, to critically examine or evaluate the loss of a major oil producing region.  In the case of economic sanctions against Iran, possessing the second largest oil reserves, the MNC again were notable by their absence from the halls of Congress and the Treasury Department where the sanctions policy was decided.  Prominent Zionist policymakers, Stuart Levey and David Cohen designed and implemented sanctions which prevented US (and EU) oil companies from investing or trading with Teheran.

In fact, despite the seeming divergence of interest between a highly militarized foreign policy and the drive of MNC to pursue the global accumulation of capital, no political conflicts erupted.  The basic question that this paper seeks to address is:  Why did the major MNC submit to an imperial foreign policy which resulted in lost economic opportunities?

Why the MNC Fail to Oppose Imperial Militarism

There are several possible hypotheses accounting for the MNC accommodation to a highly militarized version of imperial expansion.

In the first instance, the CEO’s of the MNC may have believed that the wars, especially the Iraq war, would be short-term, and would lead to a period of stability under a client regime willing and able to privatize and de-nationalize the oil and gas sector.  In other words, the petrol elites bought into the arguments of Rumsfeld, Chaney, Wolfowitz and Feith, that the invasion and conquest would “pay for itself”.

Secondly, even after the prolonged-decade long destructive war and the deepening sectarian conflict, many CEO’s believed that a lost decade would be compensated by “long term” gain.  They believed that future profits would flow, once the country was stabilized.  The oil majors entry after 2010; however, was immediately threatened by the ISIS offensive.  The ‘time frame’ of the MNC strategic planners was understated if not totally wrong headed.

Thirdly, most CEO’s believed that the US-NATO invasion of Libya would lead to monopoly ownership and greater profits than what they received from a public-private partnership with the Gadhafi regime.  The oil majors believed that they would secure total or majority control.  In other words the war would allow the oil MNC to secure monopoly profits for an extended period.  Instead the end of a stable partnership led to a Hobbesian world in which anarchy and chaos inhibited any large scale, long-term entry of MNC.

Fourthly, the MNC, including the big oil corporations, have invested in hundreds of sites in dozens of countries.  They are not tied to a single location.  They depend on the militarized imperial state to defend their global interests.  Hence they probably are not willing to contest or challenge the militarists in, say Iraq, for fear that it might endanger US imperial intervention in other sites.

Fifthly, many MNC interlock across economic sectors: they invest in oil fields andrefineries; banking, financing and insurance as well as extractive sectors.  To the degree that MNC capital is diversified they are less dependent on a single region, sector, or source for profit.  Hence destructive wars, in one or several countries, may not have as great a prejudicial effect as in the past when “Big Oil” was just ‘oil’.

Six, the agencies of the US imperial state are heavily weighted to military rather than economic activity.  The international bureaucracy of the US is overwhelmingly made up of military, intelligence and counter-insurgency officials.  In contrast, China, Japan, Germany and other emerging states (Brazil, Russia and India) have a large economic component in their overseas bureaucracy.  The difference is significant.  US MNC do not have access to economic officials and resources in the same way as China’s MNC.  The Chinese overseas expansion and its MNC, is built around powerful economic support systems and agencies.  US MNC have to deal with Special Forces, spooks and highly militarized ‘aid officials’.  In other words the CEO’s who look for “state support” perforce have mostly ‘military’ counterparts who view the MNC as instruments of policy rather than as subjects of policy.

Seventh, the recent decade has witnessed the rise of the financial sector as the dominant recipient of State support.  As a result, big banks exercise major influence on public policy.  To the extent that is true, much of what is ‘oil money’ has gone over to finance and profits accrue by pillaging the Treasury.  As a result, oil interests merge with the financial sector and their ‘profits’ are as much dependent on the state as on exploiting overseas sites.

Eighth, while Big Oil has vast sums of capital, its diverse locations, multiple activities and dependence on state protection (military), weaken its opposition to US wars in lucrative oil countries.  As a result other powerful pro-war lobbies which have no such constraints have a free hand.  For example the pro-Israel power configuration has far less ‘capital’ than any of the top ten oil companies.  But it has a far greater number of lobbyists with much more influence over Congress people.  Moreover, it has far more effective propaganda – media leverage- than Big Oil.  Many more critics of US foreign policy, including its military and sanctions policies, are willing to criticize “Big Oil” than Zionist lobbies.

Finally the rise of domestic oil production resulting from fracking opens new sites for Big Oil to profit outside of the Middle East – even though the costs may be higher and the duration shorter.  The oil industry has replaced losses in Middle East sites (due to wars) with domestic investments.

Nevertheless, there is tension and conflict between oil capital and militarism.  The most recent case is between Exxon-Mobil’s plans to invest $38 billion in a joint venture in the Russian Arctic with the Russian oil grant Rosneft. Obama’s sanctions against Russia is scheduled to shut down the deal much to the dismay of the senior executives of Exxon Mobil, who have already invested $3.2 billion in an area the size of Texas.

Conclusion

The latent conflicts and overt difference between military and economic expansion may eventually find greater articulation in Washington.  However, up to now, because of the global structures and orientation of the oil industry, because of their dependence on the military for ‘security’, the oil industry in particular, and the MNC in general, have sacrificed short and middle term profits for “future gains” in the hopes that the wars will end and lucrative profits will return.

Sep 282014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

isistroops-400x225

Introduction

In order to overcome massive US and world public opposition to new wars in the Middle East, Obama relied on the horrific internet broadcasts of ISIS slaughtering two American hostages, the journalists James Foley and Steve Sotloff, by decapitation.  These brutal murders were Obama’s main propaganda tool to set a new Middle East war agenda – his own casus belli bonanza!  This explains the US Administration’s threats of criminal prosecution against the families of Foley and Stoloff when they sought to ransom their captive sons from ISIS.

With the American mass media repeatedly showing the severed heads of these two helpless men, public indignation and disgust were aroused with calls for US military involvement to stop the terror.  US and EU political leaders presented the decapitations of Western hostages by the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) as a direct and mortal threat to the safety of civilians in the US and Europe.  The imagery evoked was of black-clad faceless terrorists, armed to the teeth, invading Europe and the US and executing innocent families as they begged for rescue and mercy.

The problem with this propaganda ploy is not the villainy and brutal crimes celebrated by ISIS, but the fact that Obama’s closest ally in his seventh war in six years is Saudi Arabia, a repugnant kingdom which routinely decapitates its prisoners in public without any judicial process recognizable as fair by civilized standards – unless tortured ‘confessions’ are now a Western norm.  During August 2014, when ISIS decapitated two American captives, Riyadh beheaded fourteen prisoners. Since the beginning of the year the Saudi monarchy has decapitated more than 46 prisoners and chopped off the arms and limbs of many more.  During Obama and Kerry’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia, horrendous decapitations were displayed in public.  These atrocities did not dim the bright smile on Barak Obama’s face as he strolled with his genial royal Saudi executioners, in stark contrast to the US President’s stern and angry countenance as he presented the ISIS killing of two Americans as his pretext for bombing Syria.

The Western mass media are silent in the face of the Saudi Kingdom’s common practice of public decapitation.  Not one among the major news corporations, the BBC, the Financial Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post, NBC, CBS and NPR, have questioned the moral authority of a US President who engages in selective condemnation of ISIS while ignoring the official Saudi state beheadings and the amputations.

Decapitation and Dismemberment:  By Dagger and Drones

The ISIS internet videos showing gaunt, orange-suited Western prisoners and their lopped-off heads have evoked widespread dismay and fear.  We are repeatedly told: ‘ISIS is coming to get us!’  But ISIS is open and public about their criminal acts against helpless hostages.  We cannot say the same about the decapitations and dismemberments of the hundreds of victims of US drone attacks.  When a drone fires its missiles on a home, a school, wedding party or vehicle, the bodies of living people are dismembered, macerated, decapitated and burned beyond recognition – all by remote control.  The carnage is not videoed or displayed for mass consumption by Obama’s high commend.  Indeed, civilian deaths, if even acknowledged, are brushed off as ‘collateral damage’ while the vaporized remnants of men, women and children have been described by US troops as ‘pink foam’.

If the brutal decapitation and dismemberment of innocent civilians is a capital crime that should be punished, as I believe it is, then both ISIS and the Obama regime with his allied leaders should face a people’s war crimes tribunal in the countries where the crimes occurred.

There are good reasons to view Washington’s close relation with the Saudi royal beheaders as part of a much broader alliance with terror-evoking brutality.  For decades, the US drug agencies and banks have worked closely with criminal drug cartels in Mexico while glossing over their notorious practice of decapitating, dismembering and displaying their victims, be they local civilians, courageous journalists, captured police or migrants fleeing the terror of Central America.  The notorious Zetas and the Knights Templar have penetrated the highest reaches of the Mexican federal and local governments, turning state officials and institutions into submissive and obedient clients. Over 100,000 Mexicans have lost their lives because of this ‘state within a state’, an ‘ISIS’ in Mexico – just ‘South of the Border’.  And just like ISIS in the Middle East, the cartels get their weapons from the US imported right across the Texas and Arizona borders.  Despite this gruesome terror on the US southern flank, the nation’s principle banks, including Bank of America, CitiBank, Wells Fargo and many others have laundered billions of dollars of drug profits for the cartels.  For example, the discovery of 49 decapitated bodies in one mass in May 2014 did not prompt Washington to form a world-wide coalition to bomb Mexico, nor was it moved to arrest the Wall Street bankers laundering the ‘beheaders bloody booty’.

Conclusion

Obama’s hysterical and very selective presentation of ISIS crimes forms the pretext for launching another war against a predominantly Muslim country, Syria, while shielding his close ally, the royal Saudi decapitator from US public outrage.  ISIS crimes have become another excuse to launch a campaign of ‘mass decapitation by drones and bombers’.  The mass propaganda campaign over one crime against humanity becomes the basis for perpetrating even worse crimes against humanity.  Many hundreds of innocent civilians in Syria and Iraq will be dismembered by ‘anti-terrorist’ bombs and drones unleashed by another of Obama’s ‘coalition’.

The localized savagery of ISIS will be multiplied, amplified and spread by the US-directed ‘coalition of the willing decapitators’. The terror of hooded beheaders on the ground will be answered and expanded by their faceless counterparts in the air, while delicately hiding the heads rolling through the public squares of Riyadh or the headless bodies displayed along the highways of Mexico …  and especially ignoring the hidden victims of US-Saudi aggression in the towns and villages of Syria.

Sep 132014
 

Posted by James Petras, 99GetSmart

kiev-trojan44

Introduction

The NATO proxy war in the Ukraine started with the violent US-EU-sponsored overthrow of the elected government via a mob putsch in February 2014.  This was well financed at $5 billion, according to President Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland.

The result was a junta, composed of neo-liberal puppets, rightist nationalists and fascists, which immediately proceeded to purge the Ukrainian legislature of any politicians opposed to the coup and Kiev’s submission to the European Union and NATO.  The NATO-sponsored client regime then moved swiftly to extend its control by centralizing power and overturning the official policy of bilingualism (Russian and Ukrainian) in the southeastern regions.   It was preparing to break its long-standing agreement over the huge Russian naval base in Crimea and renege on its massive debts to Russia for gas and oil imports.

These extremist measures by a violent coup regime amounted to a radical break with existing economic, cultural and political institutions and, naturally, provoked a robust response from large sectors of the population.  The overwhelmingly Russian speaking majority in Crimea convoked a referendum with 90% voter participation:  89% voted to secede and rejoin Russia.  The ethnic Russian and bilingual, industrialized southeast regions of Ukraine organized their own referenda, formed popular militias and prepared for an armed response from what they viewed as an illegal junta in Kiev. Threatened by the new measures against their language and traditional and economic ties with Russia, the resistance drew its fighters from the vast reservoir of skilled industrial workers, miners and local business people who understood that they would lose thousands of jobs and access to the Russian markets as well as cultural and family links under the boot of the EU-NATO puppet in Kiev.

For critical sections of Ukraine, the Kiev junta was illegitimate, so the NATO overseers, cooked up an election with a pre-selected candidate, Petro Poroshenko, a millionaire oligarch, willing to serve as a ‘reliable’ proxy, despite his history of dubious ‘business’ deals, who would implement the Euro-US agenda.  Despite large sectors boycotting the sham elections, the ‘victorious President’ Poroshenko immediately joined the EU, shredding the heavily subsidized and generous gas and oil agreements with Russia as well as cutting Ukraine off from its main export markets.  He proposed to join NATO and convert Ukraine into a launching pad aimed at Russia.  He eagerly signed an IMF agreement ending critical subsidies for low income Ukrainians, privatizing public enterprises and raising the cost of basic public services and food.  He launched an all-out military campaign against the Donbass region, using missiles, air strikes, artillery and ground forces while assuring his masters in Washington and Brussels that he could easily smash all resistance to his dictatorial fiats and impose their radical retrograde agenda.

The scope and depth of the changes and the unilateral manner in which they were formulated and implemented provoked a widespread popular uprising in the southeast that cut across the entire social spectrum.  The popular democratic nature of the opposition in the east attracted support throughout the region, reaching beyond the borders of Ukraine.  The resistance easily captured Ukrainian military outposts while conscripted soldiers, ex-soldiers and local police units joined the resistance, bringing their arms with them.

The Kiev regime and its increasingly fascist shock troops responded with terror tactics, bombing civilian infrastructure and neighborhoods. In the ethnically-mixed city of Odessa, with its substantial Russian-speaking population, Kiev-based fascists torched the city’s main trade union building where civilian protesters had sought refuge, burning alive or later slaughtering over 40 trapped citizen demonstrators.

The terrorist tactics of the Kiev government spurred thousands more to join the resistance. Horrified and demoralized Ukrainian conscripts, who had been told they were fighting ‘Russian invaders’ defected or surrendered in large numbers.  The spectacle of surrender and demoralization among its armed forces and police undermined this phase of Kiev’s offensive and led to a ‘legitimacy’ crisis.

The US-EU propaganda campaign intensified denying civilian resistance in the southeast any authenticity as an independent, democratic, national force by labeling them as ‘Russian separatists’ and ‘invaders’.  Together with their puppet-‘President’ Petro Poroshenko, the US-EU tried to discredit the popular resistance via a major provocation:  Ukrainian government air controllers in Kiev re-directed a civilian air liner, Malaysian Airlines Flt. 17, to fly directly over the war zone, shot it down killing almost 300 passengers and crew.  The puppet in Kiev and their masters in Brussels and Washington then blamed the resistance, as well as Russia, for the crime!

The NATO-backed proxy regime’s tactic of terror boomeranged and caused even more outrage!  More Ukrainian troops refused to fire on the own compatriots .The puppet regime in Kiev had to rely on the special fascist battalions eager to kill ‘Russians’.  Many ordinary soldiers deserted rather than obey orders to fire heavy artillery shells into densely populated urban neighborhoods full of trapped civilians.  Other troops crossed over into the safety of neighboring Russia where they surrendered and turned their arms over to the resistance.

The incredible strength of the southeast regional resistance came from several sources: First and foremost, they were defending home turf:  their families, relatives, friends, neighbors, homes, workplaces, transport systems, hospitals and schools and they increasingly saw themselves as a nation confronting the ravages of a foreign-imposed dictatorship arbitrarily selling their principle economic enterprises and means of livelihood while submitting to the dictates of the US-EU controlled International Monetary Fund.  This popular resistance was bolstered morally and materially by pro-democracy activists and militants from Euro-Asia, who understood that a NATO victory in Ukraine would lead to more coups in sovereign countries, more civil wars and brutal conquests throughout the region – a formula for economic and social disaster affecting tens, if not hundreds, of millions of people.

NATO’s heavy-handed presence behind the putsch in Kiev spurred a national liberation struggle in Ukraine and the growth of anti-NATO internationalism regionally.  The battle was joined.  The Kiev blitzkrieg halted in confusion.  The battles for Donetsk and Lugansk turned the tide.  The Resistance went on the offensive.  Over 800 Kiev soldiers were killed.  Thousands more were wounded, captured or deserted.

The Resistance was advancing westward and to the south threatening to create a land bridge to the Crimea and encircle an entire regiment.  The puppet regime in Kiev panicked and pleaded for its EU and US patrons to intervene directly.  Divisions within the junta deepened: the fascists demanded an all-out war against the Russian-speaking population and total mobilization.  The neo-liberals, for their part, begged for direct NATO intervention.

Meanwhile, the EU and US imposed wide economic sanctions against Russia, unwilling to believe that the citizens in the Donbass region of southeast Ukraine would successfully resist their puppet in Kiev.  They drank their own propaganda swill and blamed ‘Putin’, the Russian President, for the debacle.   The increasing economic sanctions against Russia had no effect on the popular resistance in Ukraine as it took on the character of a national liberation struggle.  However, the sanctions did provoke painful counter-measures from Russia, which slapped major embargos on EU and US agricultural products, deepening Europe’s economic recession.  And there was a build up of NATO troops and joint military exercises on Russia’s borders in Poland, the Baltic States and over the Black Sea.

Finally the NATO powers realized that their puppet’s military conquest of the East was not going to be another ‘cake walk’, indeed it was turning into a brutal farce.  From top to bottom, the junta’s armed forces were in shambles.  The continued advance of the popular resistance and the onset of winter without Russian oil and gas could topple the regime in Kiev and force new elections free from NATO, the CIA and the machinations of US Assistant Secretary ‘F… the EU’ Victoria Nuland, Obama’s key strategist for Eastern Europe.

With NATO’s and Washington’s fears in mind, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed a ‘compromise’ for Poroshenko, an immediate ceasefire and negotiations leading to a political settlement between Kiev and the rebels.  In the face of a military debacle in the East and growing internal fissures, the puppet in Kiev agreed to the ceasefire.

Prospects for Peace with Justice

Poroshenko and his NATO overseers eagerly grabbed onto Putin’s peace plan to stave off the advance of the popular resistance and gain time to re-group, rebuild and re-supply Kiev’s armed forces.  NATO leaders are counting on a ‘political’ settlement where they trade easily-broken political promises in exchange for the resistance demobilizing and disarming under Kiev’s authority. There is no indication that the NATO-Kiev axis intends to abandon their strategic goal of turning Ukraine into a NATO base and vassal state of the EU.

As the cease fire comes into effect, the NATO powers have organized two sets of military exercises within Ukraine and on its immediate border – clearly undermining Russia’s strategic interests. The ongoing military build-up is a sign that NATO intends to participate directly in crushing the popular resistance in the next round.  It is just a matter of time for NATO and Kiev to trot out some pretext to end the ceasefire.   Meanwhile, NATO is increasing the flow of arms, advisers and contract mercenaries to Kiev.  The oligarch in Kiev, Poroshenko is attempting to bolster his ground forces by imposing a highly unpopular universal conscription.  Even the citizens in the west of Ukraine can see the war is going badly with the return of wounded soldiers and caskets holding their sons and brothers.

Tactically Poroshenko/NATO may offer paper concessions, greater ‘autonomy’ . . . under the rule of the Kiev junta, and the acceptance of bilingualism, but political, administrative, legal and fiscal powers will not devolve to the democrats in Donesk and Lugansk to design and implement their own policies and protect their rights.  The regime will demand the re-entry of ‘its army’ on the pretext of guarding borders against Russia.  There will be no reparations for the massive loss of life and infrastructure in the region.  Kiev will seek to surround and fragment the Resistance and eliminate the key cross-border sanctuary with Russia.  The ultimate goal would be to squeeze and oust resistance-led regional self-government.

The prolongation of negotiations will be used to build-up Kiev’s military capabilities.  Meanwhile more US-imposed EU economic sanctions against Russia give Washington greater power to expand its influence in Europe and deepen political and trade polarization between the EU and Moscow.  The Ukraine crisis is only one part of the Obama regime’s strategy of global military escalation, which includes re-entry into Iraq, direct bombing of Syria (including Damascus) and increased sanctions against companies and banks trading with Iran and Cuba, as well as the encirclement and provocation of China.

An independent Russia is the real target and the annexation of the Ukraine is a mere stepping stone on the way to Moscow.  Under this strategic (and insane) vision, the US and EU will never accept a neutral (NATO-free), independent, democratic Ukraine.  The popular resistance in the country’s southeast must clearly understand this strategic vision and continue the fight.  They must recognize that the only means to establish democracy and self-rule, free from NATO and  IMF dominance, and free from the marauding gangs of  Kiev-led Nazi thugs – the terrorist Azov, Aidar and Donbass battalions – is via a plebiscite for total national independence.

The current cease fire is a Trojan horse:  within the bowels of these negotiations, Kiev warlords are busily preparing to unleash more of their military excrement – fascist hordes and the oligarchs’ private armies, the monstrous spawn of the NATO-armed Azov battalion under Nazi banners, sporting swastika tattoos and hate-filled insignias.  The choice is clear.