May 182016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

TrumpHillary

Introduction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clinton on the Road to Nuclear War

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Donald Trump: the Peaceful Road to Recession

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Several dominant ideas circulate in his speeches and interviews.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 172016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

Amerique_latine-Empire-US

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tiers of Imperial Allies in the West

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Eastern Imperial Empire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tiers of Empire in Latin America

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Myth of a US Global Empire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 072016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Prologue

In 2004 I wrote Brazil and Lula: Year Zero (Edifurb:  Blumenau, Sao Paolo 2005), in which I presented my analysis of the Lula-Workers Party (PT) regime in Brazil undergoing a Grand Transformation with the first stage represented by the PT’s incorporation into a government apparatus led by of bankers and exporters (the agro-mineral elite). Two year earlier, my colleague, Henry Voltmeter, and I had published Cardoso’s Brazil: A Land for Sale (Rowman and Littlefield, Lanham MD 2003) where we described how President Cardoso had sold off the major public resources, banks, petroleum and iron resources to foreign capital for rock bottom prices. The 2002 election of President Lula DaSilva of the Workers’ Party did not reverse Cardoso’s sell-out. Indeed, Lula accepted his predecessor’s neoliberal policies – embellished them – and set about forging an alliance between the Workers’ Party and the economic elites, replacing Cardoso’s Party! For the next few years, we were attacked by the Left academic and pundit world for having dared to advance such a critique on their ‘worker president’! The consequences of what we had described as the PT’s pact with the Right are clear to everyone today: Brazil is enmeshed in swindles, scandals and coups.

Introduction

The nature of the multitude is to arrive rapidly and depart swiftly”.

For more than a decade, left-wing parties, accompanied by working class trade unions and landless rural social movements, dominated Brazil, the largest country in Latin America. Their political leaders were repeatedly elected; their trade union and rural social officials secured concessions from the state; the political process followed legal procedures adjudicating its agenda with the opposition business, banking and professional parties.

We were told the days of coups and revolutions were passed. Electoral processes, honest vote counts and mutual recognition of political legitimacy precluded any violent, dismissal and ouster of the established Left political leadership.

The Rise and Fall of the Political Left

The dominance of the Left is now only a memory! Its parties are in full retreat. Its leaders are scorned, insulted and prosecuted by their former political allies. The business allies of the past are now at their throats. Those politicians, who secured government positions in return for loyalty and votes, have fled clamoring for ‘impeachment’ and claiming deceit … while seeking new sources of patronage and plunder.

The great left political leaders, who had once bragged of 53 million voters, who were hailed in the international press for their command of a huge mass base while accommodating the interest of modern trade and business, are now condemned by the capitalist media as the cause of the current economic calamity.

The popular heroes of yesterday, who shared wealth and status with their rivals in the business elite, are now ostracized and facing show-trials for corruption.

The Trade Union and Rural Workers’ Leaders

Veteran trade union and rural leaders came to the Presidential Palace to celebrate the electoral successes of the ‘worker president’.

Once blushing with flattery, these mass leaders are now dismayed that the fiesta has ended and the music has stopped, while the workers and peasants are ordered to pay for the broken dishes and start the cleanup…

The mass popular organizations are now without allies in Congress; their voices are shut out of the bourgeois media; the domestic economy has been abandoned by the market; and the masses are in the streets clamoring for retribution against the politicians betrayal. Now trade union and peasant leaders appeal for resistance and a return to class struggle; but their followers are in retreat!

Toward an Understanding of a Historical Defeat

The rise and fall of the Left is a historical reversal, which requires a systematic analysis of a disastrous strategy. The left’s defeat cannot simply be dismissed as a betrayal by treacherous allies, corrupt party officials or plots concocted by billionaires and the US Embassy, leading up to a coup via a clearly phony impeachment process. The real question to ask is: Why did the Left allow such treachery and betrayal, culminating in a legislative ‘coup d’état’, to develop unopposed leading to reversal and rout of the Left? How could a huge multi-million-person voting machine, a vast and experienced trade union apparatus and a militant rural social movement fall defeated without even a struggle?

The Strategy of the Left

The Left parties deliberately adopted a short-term strategy of accommodation with the right, in part to avoid long-term, large-scale strategic confrontations with the defeated economic elite. For their part, the parties of the Right and their US advisors patiently chose to accept the Left’s compromises and offers of cooperation, in order to prepare for a strategic offensive when the Left’s mass of support had declined.

The Left parties embraced poorly thought-out ‘short-cuts’ to governance. They occupied government posts while cutting cozy deals with all the major power brokers of the Right.

The Left signed ‘austerity’ agreements with the IMF to restrain budgets and accept debt obligations. Members of notorious rightwing and opportunistic political parties were brought into the cabinet, assigned strategic congressional leadership positions and placed on senior presidential advisory panels in exchange for their votes to approve loans, credits and regional development projects.

The Left negotiated deals with business elites, offering them generous subsidies and high profits, while restraining workers’ demands for structural changes. They viewed this accommodation as an exchange for economic growth, wage increases and trade union recognition as a legitimate power sharer.

The Left dismissed the grassroots demands for social transformation and they opposed any popular campaign to prosecute the financial elites for money laundering and white-collar crimes. Instead, they favored incremental increases in wages, poverty funds, pensions and consumer credit.

The Left ignored the reality that such arrangements with the business elites were only a temporary truce rather than a permanent, strategic alliance.

The trade unions followed the lead of the Left political leadership. They directed their mass organizations to accept negotiations based on periodic wage increases, more funds for trade union education and subsidies for new union building complexes. The trade union leaders discouraged strikes, repressed demands for public ownership and prevented any investigation into mining, banking and agro-business corruption, tax evasions and bribery. Even the well-documented wave of assassinations of landless worker activists and the naked land grabs of ‘protected’ Indian territories went unpunished.

The business elite realized they faced a potential radical mass movement, which was under the control of an elected ‘Left’ government. They were ‘delighted’ that this Left government was so willing to accommodate capitalist demands. They cautiously decided that short-term rewards and well-placed bribes would help prepare the ground for their restoration to power and reversal of the left’s concessions.

The Left rural social movements retained their radical socialist rhetoric and mass membership, but their leadership followed the Left parties in government.

In exchange for subsidies to set-up and expand community-based rural organizations and training schools for farmworkers, the social movements mobilized their mass activists to ‘turn-out the vote’ for the Left parties’ President and Congress people.

The rural movement leaders justified their accommodation with the Left- business alliance describing the Left regime as a ‘field of contention’, where they could press for radical changes. After more than a dozen years of successful mass struggle, the radical rural movement chose to ally with the Left party apparatus! Only when the ‘Left President’ was impeached did the rural workers’ leader call for the return to class struggle!

The Left’s Short Term Gains and Long Term Losses 

The political leaders on the left, as well as trade union and rural movement leaders, all believed they had a winning strategy.  They claimed their mostly superficial ‘gains’ were ‘evidence’ of their success.  These included:

(1)  Their governance for over four administrations where they increased or maintained the left’s voting majority.

(2)  ‘Pragmatic’ political alliances with parties across the spectrum – won through various forms of bribery – as a formula for winning Congressional approval for major development contracts.

(3)  Their funding of opposition allies, which attracted ‘respectability’ and enriched both Left politicians and their electoral campaigns.

(4)  The decrease in social tension achieved by recruiting business opponents and gaining support among sectors of the capitalist class.

The Left political leaders’ strategy of accommodation depended on the economic success of the mineral-oil-agriculture export elites. This ignored the business sector’s fundamental policy of cutting social and productive investments whenever markets, profits and economic opportunities declined.

When the Left regime’s public subsidies for the export industry declined following the collapse of the global commodity market, the entire capitalist elite coalesced into a virulent Rightwing opposition.

When the previous political accommodation with capital, held together by corruption and questionable subsidies became the target, the Right launched their strategic offensive.

The fact that business, banking, media and agro-mineral elites were able to join forces so quickly and launch their attack on the Left shows how they had flourished for a decade during the commodity boom.

The entire façade of a ‘broad progressive coalition’ disappeared: The trade union and rural movement structures, linked to the Left political leaders, were incapable of mobilizing their mass base and countering the insurgent Right. For over ten years, the Left regime had cut all its political deals in Congress, in the corridors of elite power, while ignoring ‘class struggle’.

This was a ‘Left’ regime, wholly dependent on market conditions and business allies. It was unable to defend any strategic ground when the Right regained its power base.

The Left regime had retained an intact and fully functioning right administrative and judicial apparatus, composed of courts and judges, the prosecutors and investigators all aligned with the Right opposition. They were ready to undermine the regime’s congressional majority by opening ‘corruption’ investigations targeting the Left. Meanwhile, the business elite managed to intensify the consequences of the economic recession and insist that ‘recovery’ meant austerity against the poor.

The Right purchased its street crowds and mobilized its party allies, including the center, the fascists, the net-militarists, the agro-business elite and the imperial and local financial press. From Sao Paulo to New York to London they were poised to forcibly oust the elected Left President from power and jail its leaders.

Conclusion

The Left believed in the myth of democratic capitalism. They had faith that their negotiations with the business elites would increase social welfare. They operated on a platform of gradual accommodation of class interests leading to multi-class alliances and strategic conciliation between business and labor.

The historical lesson has proven otherwise – again. Business and the capitalist elite make clear, tactical short-term agreements in order to prepare a strategic counter-offensive. Their patient long-term strategy was to mobilize their class allies and overturn the electoral process – at the ripe moment.

The Left parties depended on achieving a series of ‘strategic understandings with the capitalist class’ where both would benefit at a time of peak global demand for Brazil’s commodities, instead of expanding their popular mandate by transforming the economy and domestic market.

The Left behaved as if favorable world market conditions would last forever. They lost their chance to use their 53 million-voter strength and radically change the organization and ownership of Brazil’s strategic economic sectors!

In this way, the Left imitated the Right, choosing to share its power bases through accommodation with their business-partners. These were amateurs at the bourgeois power game, who found themselves entrapped in corruption and crisis! How shocking!

It was so much easier for the Left politicians to get campaign funding through the usual practice of business payola than to campaign from door to door, factory to factory, village to village, fighting repression, elite media boycotts and armed vigilantes.

In the end, their ‘power base’ dissolved and their capitalist ‘partners’ and political ‘allies’ abandoned them: the Left President was impeached.

Victorious capital and empire neatly ended this charade of ‘market democracy’. The retreating Left parties begged for a reprieve via parliamentary vote and ended with a decisive defeat … bleating their last whimper as the door slammed shut …

Capitalists have never and will never recognize weak popular opposition. The capitalist political elite will always choose power and wealth over social democracy. The Left, in retreat, isolated and expelled from the corridors of power, now face retribution from the most corrupt and treacherous of their ‘former allies’.

They usher in a lost generation.

Apr 292016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

President Obama is racing forward to establish his imperial legacy throughout Russia, Asia and Latin America.

In the last two years he has accelerated the buildup of his military nuclear arsenal on the frontiers of Russia. The Pentagon has designed a high tech anti-missile system to undermine Russian defenses.

In Latin America, Obama has shed his shallow pretense of tolerating the center-left electoral regimes. Instead he is has joined with rabid authoritarian net-liberals in Argentina; met with the judges and politicians engineering the overthrow of the current Brazilian government; and encouraged the emerging far-rightwing regimes in Peru under Keiko Fujimori and Colombia under President Santos.

In Asia, Obama has clearly escalated a military build-up threatening China’s principle waterways in the South China Sea. Obama encouraged aggressive and violent separatist groupings in Hong Kong, Tibet, Xinjiang and Taiwan. Obama invites Beijing billionaires to relocate a trillion dollars in assets to the ‘laundry machines’ of North America, Europe and Asia. Meanwhile he has actively blocked China’s long-planned commercial ‘silk route’ across Myanmar and west Asia.

In the Middle East, President Obama joined with Saudi Arabia as Riyadh escalated its brutal war and blockade in Yemen. He directed Kenya and other African predator states to attack Somalia. He has continued to back mercenary armies invading Syria while collaborating with the Turkish dictator, Erdogan, as Turkish troops bomb Kurdish, Syrian and Iraqi fighters who are engaged on the front lines against Islamist terrorism.

President Obama and his minions have consistently groveled before the Jewish State and its US Fifth Column, massively increasing US ‘tribute’ to Tel Aviv. Meanwhile, Israel continues to seize thousands of acres of Palestinian land murdering and arresting thousands of Palestinians, from young children to aged grandparents.

The Obama regime is desperate to overcome the consequences of his political, military and economic failures of the past six years and establish the US as the uncontested global economic and military power.

At this stage, Obama’s supreme goal is to leave an enduring legacy, where he will have (1) surrounded and weakened Russia and China; (2) re-converted Latin America into an authoritarian free-trade backyard for US plunder; (3) turned the Middle East and North Africa into a bloody playpen for Arab and Jewish dictators bent on brutalizing whole nations and turning millions into refugees to flood Europe and elsewhere.

Once this ‘legacy’ is established, our ‘Historic Black President’ can boast that he has dragged our ‘great nation’ into more wars for longer periods of time, costing more diverse human lives and creating more desperate refugees than any previous US President, all the while polarizing and impoverishing the great mass of working Americans. He will, indeed, set a ‘high bar’ for his incumbent replacement, Madame Hilary Clinton to leap over and even expand.

To examine the promise of an Obama legacy and avoid premature judgements, it is best to briefly recall the failures of his first 6 years and reflect on his current inspired quest for a ‘place in history’.

Fear, Loathing and Retreat

Obama’s shameless bailout of Wall Street contrasted sharply with the desires and sentiments of the vast majority of Americans who had elected him. This was a historic moment of great fear and loathing where scores of millions of Americans demanded the federal government reign in the financial criminals, stop the downward spiral of household bankruptcies and home foreclosures and recovery America’s working economy. After a brief honeymoon following his ‘historic election’, the ‘historic’ President Obama turned his back on the wishes of the people and transferred trillions of public money to ‘bailout’ the banks and financial centers on Wall Street.

Not satisfied with betraying the American workers and the beleaguered middle class, Obama reneged on his campaign promises to end the war(s) in the Middle East by increasing the US troop presence and expanding his drone-assassination warfare against Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Syria.

US troops re-invaded Afghanistan, fought and retreated in defeat. The Taliban advanced. The US expanded its training of the puppet Iraqi army, which collapsed on its first encounters with the Islamic State. Washington retreated again. Regime change in Libya, Egypt and Somalia created predator-mercenary states without any semblance of US control and dominance.

Obama had become both a master of military defeats and financial swindles.

In the Western Hemisphere, a continent of independent Latin American governments had emerged to challenge US supremacy. The ‘Historic President’ Obama was dismissed as a clueless hack of the US Empire who lacked any rapport with governments south of the Panama Canal. While trade and investment flourished between Latin America and Asia; Washington fell behind. Regional political and economic agreements expanded, but Obama was left without allies.

Obama’s clumsy attempts at US-backed ‘regime change’ were defeated in Venezuela and elsewhere. Only the small, corrupt narco-state of Honduras fell into Obama’s orbit with the Hillary Clinton-engineered overthrow of its elected populist-nationalist president.

China and Russia expanded and flourished as commodities boomed, wealth expanded and demand for Chinese manufacturers exploded.

By 2013 Obama had no legacy.

The Recovery:  Obama’s Lost Legacy

Obama began the road to establishing his ‘legacy’ with the US-financed coup in Ukraine, spearheaded by the first bona fide Nazi militia since WWII. After celebrating the violent ‘regime change’ against Ukraine’s elected government, Obama’s new oligarch-puppet regime and its ethno-nationalist army have been a disaster, losing control of the industrialized Donbas region to ethnic Russian rebels and completely losing the strategic Crimea when the population overwhelmingly voted to re-join Russia after 50 years. Meanwhile, the oligarch-‘president’ Poroshenko and his fellow puppets have pilfered several billion dollars in ‘aid’ from the EU . . . all in pursuit of the Obama legacy’.

Obama then slapped devastating economic sanctions against Russia for its role in the Crimean referendum and its support for the millions of Russian speakers in Donbas, and in the process forced the European Union to make major trade sacrifices. For their role in creating a real “American legacy” for Mr. Obama, the Germans, French and the other twenty-eight countries have sacrificed billions of Euros in trade and investments – alienating large sectors of their own agricultural and manufacturing economy.

The Obama regime placed nuclear weapons on the Polish border with Russia, pointed at the Russian heartland. Estonians, Lithuanians and Latvians joined Obama’s military exercises stationing US ships and attack aircraft in the Baltic Sea threatening Russia’s security.

Obama’s Legacy in Latin America

The Obama regime intensified its efforts to re-establish supremacy with the demise of the Center-Left regimes following elections in late 2013 to the present.

Obama’s ‘legacy in Latin America is based on the return to power of neoliberal elites in the region. Their successful elections were the result of several factors, including: (1) the rise of rightwing economic power in Latin America; (2) the decay and corruption of political power within the Left; 3) incapacity of the Left to develop its own independent mass media to challenge the media monopoly of the Right; and (4) the failure of Center-Left regimes to diversify their economy and develop growth outside the boundaries defined by the dominant capitalist sectors.

The Obama regime worked closely with the political-business elite, organizing the political campaigns and controlling key economic policies even during the Center-Left governments. The Left regimes had financed, subsidized and rewarded right-wing business interests in agro-mineral industries, banking, and the media as well as in manufacturing and imports.

As long as worldwide demand for primary materials was strong, the Center-Left governments had plenty of room to adjust their social spending for workers while accommodating business interests. When demand and prices fell, budget deficits forced the Center-Left to cut back on social spending for the masses as well as subsidies for the business elite. In response, the business sector organized a full-scale attack on the government – in defense of elite power. The Center-Left failed to counter the growing power and position of their business elite adversaries.

The business elite launched a full-scale propaganda war via its captive mass media – focusing on real or imagined corruption scandals discrediting Center-Left politicians.  The Left lacked its own effective mass media to answer the Right’s accusations, having failed to democratize the corporate media monopolies.

The Center-Left parties adopted the elite’s technique of financing political campaigns – namely, through bribes, contract concessions, patronage other deal making with billionaire private and state contractors. The Center-Left imagined it could compete with the free-market rightwing in financing campaigns and candidates via swindlers – and not through class struggle. This was a game they could never master.

The Right, however, mobilized their allies within police, judicial and public institutions to prosecute and disqualify the Center-Left for committing the same crimes the Right had evaded.

The Center-Left did not mobilize the workers and employees to establish even minimal controls over the elite and assume some managerial power. They thought they could compete with the Right on its own terms, through shady business and chicanery.

The Center-Left relied on financing its administration and policies through the commodity boom in demand for its natural resources – overlooking the fundamental instability and volatility of the global commodity market. While the Right openly condemned the ‘weakness of the Center-Left’ – in private, it pursued policies even more dependent on overseas speculators and narrow elites.

In Argentina, as the economy declined, the leadership of the rightwing, led by Mauricio Marci, launched a successful presidential campaign involving the mass media, banks, middle class voters and agro-mining elites. Immediately upon taking power, the Macri regime cut social services for workers and the lower middle class, slashing their living standards and lay off thousands of government employees. Obama saw Macri as his kind of legacy savior and viewed Argentina as the new center of US power in Latin America – with plans for more regime change in Brazil, Venezuela and throughout the region.

In Brazil, the Center-Left Workers’ Party (PT) faced a massive attack on its power base by the extreme rightwing parties. Corruption scandals rocked the entire spectrum of the political class, but the PT was most heavily implicated by massive fraud in Brazil’s huge national oil company, Petrobras. The PT regime’s troubles intensified as the country entered a recession with the drop in demand for its agro-mining exports. Growing fiscal deficits compounded the regime’s problems. The Brazilian hard Right mobilized its entire apparatus of elite power – the courts, judges, police and intelligence agencies – in a bid to overthrow the PT government and impose an authoritarian neo-liberal regime seizing all financial, business and productive assets

The Center-Left had never been very left, if at all. Under Presidents Lula and Rousseff  (2003-2016), the powerful mining and agricultural elites flourished; banking, investment and multi-national enterprises prospered. The Center-Left made some paternalistic concessions to the lowest income classes, and increased wages for labor and farm workers. But the PT relegated labor to the background while it signed business agreements and granted tax concessions to capital. It failed to engage Brazilian workers in class struggle.

The Right was never engaged in any struggle with a genuine leftist government pressing business for structural changes. Nevertheless, the Right sought to eliminates even the most superficial reforms. It would accept nothing short of total control, including: the privatization of the major national oil company, the reduction of wages, pensions and transport subsidies and a slashing of social programs. The Brazilian Rightwing coup – a fake impeachment organized by indicted crooks – is designed to vastly re-concentrate wealth, and re-establish the power of business, while plunging millions into poverty and repressing the principal organized mass movements. In Brazil, the elite-controlled media, courts and politicians act as judge, jury and jailers – against a Center-Left regime which had never taken control over the major institutions of elite power.

Obama and the Axis of his Legacy

Political rightists join police to control the multitudes and seize power, re-establishing deep ties among Brazil, Washington and Argentina. They will then move toward the neoliberal re-conquest of all Latin America. Against this new wave, it must be understood that Obama’s Latin American legacy is too recent, too hasty and too disjointed – the new Right exhibits the same or even worse features of the recently deceased Left.

Argentina’s Marci borrows $15 billion at 8% interest, when the economy is fracturing, employment is collapsing, exports and worldwide demand is declining. At the same time, President Mauricio Marci’s cabinet is plagued by major financial scandals ‘a la Panama Papers’. The entire political party-trade union-employed working class is profoundly disenchanted with Marci’s minority rule.

Argentina may not turn out to be Obama’s enduring Latin Legacy: While Macri may open the door for a brief Washington take-over, the results will be catastrophic and the future, given Argentina’s recent history of popular street uprisings, is uncertain.

Likewise in Brazil, the impeachment/coup will result in new and more numerous investigations with trials of post-impeachment politicians and a deepening economic crisis. Brazil’s Vice-President, who turned against Rouseff, now faces corruption charges, as do his supporters. The prolonged confrontation precludes any basic continuity. The rightwing regime’s policy of slashing wages, pensions and poverty ‘baskets’ will detonate large-scale confrontations with the polarized population. Obama’s ‘legacy’ will be a brief episode – celebrating the ouster of the Workers’ Party President followed by a long period of instability and disorder.

Rightist regimes in Venezuela, Colombia and Peru will be part of Obama’s ‘legacy’ but to what lasting end?

The Venezuelan rightwing congress – dubbed the MUD – seeks to overthrow the elected president. It demands the release of several right-wing assassins from prison, the privatization of the oil industry, and a deep cut in social programs (health and education). They would reduce employees’ wages and eliminate food subsidies. The MUD has no competent plan or capacity to grow the oil economy and overcome chronic food shortages. The MUD would merely replace the Left’s subsidized economy with massive price increases for basic commodities — reducing domestic consumption to a fraction of its current level. In other words, the right-wing offensive may defeat the Chavista left but it will not stabilize Venezuela or develop a viable neoliberal alternative. Any new rightwing regime will deteriorate rapidly and the chronic problem of criminal violence will exceed the current levels. The alliance between Washington and Venezuela’s far right will hardly support Obama’s claim to a historic legacy. More likely, it will serve as another example of a failed right wing state unable to replace a weakening left regime.

Similar circumstances can be found among other ‘emerging’ rightist regimes.

In Colombia, the current rightwing President Santos talks to the FARC guerrillas, but also accommodates the paramilitary death squads. His talks of peace settlements and social reform are linked to the genocidal right, led by the former President Uribe. Meanwhile, the economy stagnates with oil and metal prices collapsing on the world market. Colombian living standards have declined and the promise of a rightwing revival grows dim. The US-Colombian alliance may undercut the FARC but the rightwing does not offer any prospect for modernizing the economy or stabilizing the society.

Similarly in Peru, the rightwing wins votes and embraces free markets, but growth declines, investments and profits dry up and mass disenchantment grows among the poor, promising street conflicts.

The Obama ‘legacy’ in Latin America has followed a series of brutal victories, which have no capacity to re-impose a stable ‘new order’ of free markets and free elections. The initial wave of favorable investments and lucrative concessions will fail to revive and recalibrate a new growth dynamics.

More ominously, Obama relied on mass murder to replace an elected leftist-nationalist president in Honduras and imposed a regime of terror against the poor and indigenous population. Meanwhile, illicit offshore handouts reward speculators in Argentina.

Obama’s legacy in Latin America reflects an entire spectrum from illicit-rightwing coups to oust the elected governments in Brazil and Venezuela, to elected authoritarian presidents in Peru and Colombia with historic links to death squads and multi-million dollar overseas accounts.

Obama’s contemporary ‘Latin American legacy’ reeks of gross electoral manipulation preparing the ground for bloody class wars.

Obama’s Legacy in the Ukraine, Yemen and Syria

The Obama regime thought it could manage widespread conflicts, uprisings and wars to advance its global supremacy.

To that end, Obama spent billions of dollars in weapons and propaganda arming Neo-Nazi para-military troops to seize power in Ukraine. A grotesque, brutal gang of oligarchs (and disgraced, foreign fugitives – like the ousted Georgian leader, Mikhail Saakachvili) served Washington in the puppet Kiev regime. Critics, journalists, jurists and citizens are being assassinated. The economy has collapsed; prices skyrocket; incomes declined by half; unemployment tripled and millions have sought refuge abroad. Wars raged between Russian ethnic citizen armies in the Donbas and the puppet Kiev regime. The people of Crimea voted to rejoin Russia. Meanwhile, economic sanctions against trade with Russia have exacerbated shortages for the people of Ukraine.

Under Obama’s stewardship the Ukraine became a world-class . . . basket case: so much for his European legacy. He can rightly claim credit for imposing a thoroughly retrograde regime of Klepto-capitalism with no redeeming feature.

Obama embraced Saudi Arabia’s war against Yemen – destroying the life and cities of the poorest nation in the Middle East. Obama’s ‘legacy’ in Yemen stands for the systematic obliteration of a sovereign people: Obama performs his tricks for billionaire Saudi despots while savaging the innocent. To the Israelis in Palestine and the Saudis in Yemen, Obama pays homage to the criminals responsible for millions of shattered lives.

What of the Obama ‘legacy’ in Syria and Libya? How many million Africans and Arabs have been murdered or fled on rotten boats in destitution. Only the rankest gang of corrupt media pundits in the US media can pretend this gangster President should evade a war crimes tribunal.

Conclusion

The Obama regime has pursued wars of unremitting destruction. It has forged partnerships with terrorists and death squads as it seeks short-term imperial victories, which end in dismal failures.

The imperial legacy of this ‘historic’ president is a mirage of pillage, squalor and destruction. The effect of his political lies has even begun register here among the American public: Who trusts the US Congress and the President? And in Europe, who trusts Obama’s European partners as they eagerly pushed for wars in the Middle East and North Africa and now fear and loathe the millions of their victims—refugees fleeing to the cities of Europe, with the drowned corpses of uprooted communities spoiling their beaches?

Obama pushed for wars and the Europeans receive the victims – with fear and disgust.

Obama’s victories are temporary, blighted and reversed.

Obama bombed Afghanistan yesterday and now flees renewed resistance.

Obama’s allies are again plundering Latin America but face imminent ouster via popular uprisings.

Obama terrorized and fragmented Syria yesterday but lost elections the day after.

Obama threatens China’s economy while eagerly buying China’s products.

The Obama legacy began as a failed military and economic offensive accompanying a profound social crisis. During his final year in office, Obama tries to forge alliances with the dregs of the hard right to save his legacy. His brief advance into this sordid world of neo-liberals, neo-Nazis and Saudi despots is a prelude to more retreat and chaos.

Obama’s public celebration of the right turn in Asia, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East applauds the most retrograde alignment of forces in modern times: Saudis and Israelis; Egyptian generals and Libyan jihadis; neo-ottoman Turks with Ukrainian gangster-oligarchs. Regime changes in Argentina and Brazil encourage Obama to claim vindication of his imperial legacy.

His ‘moment’ of imperial truth is brief, all too brief. Everywhere, we witness the rapid rise of imperial success followed by a series of debacles.

Throughout Latin America capitalist profiteers plunge into wild financial adventures, theft and chaos. In the Middle East, the US stands on the crumbling palaces of a moribund Saudi regime. The much-proclaimed imperial advances are based on grand theft everywhere, from Egypt and Turkey to the Ukraine.

Simply stated: the US formula for a successful legacy is failing at the precise moment that it claims success! Obama and the Right have created a world of chaos and disintegration. Obama and his legions, the US and Europe have no future in peace or war, election or defeats.

There is no imperial legacy for the ‘historic’ President Obama!

Apr 132016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

1-Hillary-Clinton-warmonger-3

Introduction

From left to right a raucous chorus has emerged to denounce Republican Presidential primary frontrunner Donald Trump as a ‘fascist’. They cite his campaign promises to build an Israeli-style wall along the US border; his threats to expel eleven million undocumented immigrants; and to restrict foreign Muslims from entering the US, as well as the way his pugnacious face and arm resemble those of Benito Mussolini (‘he juts out his chin, he raises his arm’). They decry his extreme nationalism as ‘resembling Hitler’s policy’, by which they mean his opposition to detrimental free trade agreements and his slogan to “Make America Great.. Again.”

In this article I will critically address the current cartoonish image of fascism with fascism’s historical reality, and then proceed to analyze the so-called “lesser evil” politics behind the re-invention of an American fascist in the guise of billionaire Donald Trump.

Fascism: Fact and Fiction

Historically, fascist politics involved organized mass movements, armed militia and paramilitary groups who assaulted political opponents and violently censored critical speech and suppressed the right to assemble. Fascists scapegoated minorities, especially gypsies and Jews, and burned trade unions and leftist headquarters, assassinating their leaders and beating their members. Programmatically, they attacked pacifists and defended overseas wars and empires in the name of ‘living space’. Evoking a past imperial glory, they were not ‘isolationists’.

Candidate Trump has not organized anything resembling a mass movement, let alone an armed militia. There are no ‘TrumpetingBrown Shirts’. At most, the police and a handful of his (often elderly) white supporters have punched a few KKK-dressed provocateurs who have physically disrupted and threatened Trump’s public meetings and his exercise of free speech. In fact, the ‘fascist’ disruption of democratic freedoms seems to be mostly organized and practiced by his political rivals.

Trump, far from scapegoating the powerful Jewish minority in this country, gave a shamelessly Israel-centric speech and received a standing ovation from nearly 18,000 mostly prominent Jews at the March 2016 meeting of the major pro-Israel lobby (AIPAC).

His rhetoric, concerning the expulsion of 11 million undocumented workers from Mexico and Central America and the building of a border wall, is a far cry from the practice of imprisoning and violently expelling over two million undocumented Latinos under the Clinton-Bush-Obama/Clinton regimes. At its worst, Trump promises to continue the existing federal policy on immigration and not create a ‘fascist’ rupture with past administrations. Is a ‘rhetorical cement wall’ worse than the real wall of armed border police, helicopters and armed carriers that have operated under the Presidencies of Clinton – Bush – Obama/Clinton with its hundreds of migrant deaths in the desert? Are declarations of a repressive immigration policy more ‘fascist’ coming from Trump’s loud mouth than the actual official practice of violently seizing undocumented workers from their homes and workplaces with long-term imprisonment and expulsion? Expelling  youth, raised and educated in this country, or violently splitting up productive, well-integrated families and imprisoning their main breadwinners for lack of documents … that’s the official policy of the current and past three administrations.

There is far less of the truly fascist embrace of pre-emptive war and invasion in Trump’s speeches than in the actual policies pursued by the Clinton-Bush-Obama/Clinton regimes. In fact, among Trump’s numerous critics, especially his Republican rivals and the Hillary Clinton camp, we hear the loudest denunciations of his non-interventionist foreign policy (isolationism), which is “out of line” with the interventionist, overseas wars of current and past Republican and Democratic administrations. Trump’s critics and media pundits are ‘horror-struck’ at his apparent willingness to co-operate with Russian President Putin against common enemies, such as ISIS. Is his pragmatic regard of Russia more or less fascist than his rivals’ support for the Ukrainian putsch, orchestrated by the Obama regime in alliance with bona fide armed anti-Semitic Ukrainian fascists? His calls to dump NATO as an expensive drain on US treasure and manpower have the elite howling in outrage!

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The propagandists, who paint Trump as a modern American fascist, cite his crude sexist remarks as ‘examples of a misogynist totalitarian’ while pointing favorably to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton as potentially the ‘first feminist President’. In regard to his alleged misogyny, ‘the Donald’ pointed to Madame First Lady, Senator and Secretary Clinton’s promotion and critical role in US wars against Libya, Iraq and Syria where well over one million women have been rendered refugees, raped, injured or killed. Which is worse, one may ask: Crude locker room jokes or millions of orphaned boys and girls denied parents, homes, education and any future in the Middle East and North Africa? That is the world Midwife Hillary Clinton had helped to deliver.

Misogyny is the in the eye of the deceiver.

Are Trump’s verbal attacks on the practice of US multi-nationals relocating abroad to avoid US taxes and Wall Street financial houses hiding billions of the US elites’ obscene wealth in offshore tax shelters, more detrimental to ‘American values’ (as charged) than Hillary Clinton’s pandering to Wall Street while pocketing over $300,000 for each 45 minute sycophantic performance (marketed as her ‘policy lectures’), or her decades of actively promoting  globalization – including the US job-destroying NAFTA?

Clearly Trump currently lacks program, organization and practice that define a fascist politician. At the very worst, he parrots the general line of attack against immigrants and Muslims. So far he would just bar them from the US but not bomb them ‘to the stone-age’. This should be contrasted with the actual policies carried out by the war-criminals Clinton/Bush/Obama-Clinton. It would be hard for Donald to ‘trump’ Hillary when she threatened to ‘obliterate Iran’ and its scores of millions of citizens because of Iran’s fictitious ‘nuclear program’.

On the other hand, Trump’s own meetings and rallies have been the victim of repeated disruption by organized groups acting like fascist thugs. Role reversal in real life: Trump, the target of rabid sustained mass media attacks, is pronounced the fascist …

Bashing Trump: Backdoor Backing of Hillary the Militarist Psychopath

If the objective case for labeling Trump ‘a fascist’ is weak or non-existent, why do so many prestigious academics and journalists play this stupid game of name-calling?

The common sense explanation of their ruffled bluster is because they are setting up ‘Trump-the- Straw-Dragon’ in order to promote the poisonous Madame Secretary Hillary Clinton as the ‘lesser evil candidate’ for President of the United States.

No serious observer minimally aware of Clinton’s carnal embrace of multiple simultaneous disastrous and destructive wars in Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Libya, could possibly support her – unless if they are convinced that a greater danger looms on the horizon and “we have to defeat fascist Trump at all cost”? No serious democrat or wage and salaried employee can ignore Madame Clinton’s role as Wall Street’s most shameless pimp unless they ‘believe’ that a loud-mouth New York ‘fascist is worse than Wall Street’.

The phony scaremongering about Trump’s “fascism” just serves to cover up Clinton’s most servile promotion of traitorous wars for the benefit of Israel. One should envision the thousands of desperate Syrian refugees clinging to decrepit boats in the Mediterranean when reading excerpts of Clinton’s private e-mails: According to  WikiLeaks, Hillary declared that “the best way to help Israel deal with Iran’s growing nuclear capability (sic) is to help (sic) the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad. … The fall of the House of Assad could well ignite a sectarian war between the Shiites and the majority Sunnis of the region drawing in Iran, which, in the view of Israeli commanders would not be a bad thing for Israel and its Western allies”. Not a bad thing for Israel – but a cruel and criminal policy against a sovereign nation and multi-ethnic society. Madame Clinton followed through with these demented pronouncements, which can only be viewed as genocidal! Clinton promoted the most violent proxy war, uprooting over half of the civilian population of Syria and killing hundreds of thousands, while shredding a sovereign nation. She thus pandered to her Israeli mentors and Pluto-Zionist funders.

To justify backing a serial war monger, a US Secretary of State who has served Israel’s interests, and a politician who has canalized her ‘feminist principles’ with Wall Street billionaires, Hillary Clinton’s smarmy supporters have had to invent an opponent who is even worse: Creating and then denouncing “Trump the Fascist” serves as a backdoor justification for supporting a proven political psychopath!

Apr 092016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

The terror bombings in Paris and Brussels have raised a cacophony of voices, ranging from state officials, Prime Ministers and Presidents, to academics, journalists and media consultants. Tons of ink and print have focused on the psychology, networks and operations of the alleged perpetrators – radicalized young Muslim citizens of the EU.

Few have examined the long-term, large-scale policies of the EU, US and NATO, which have been associated with the development and growth of the worldwide terror networks. This essay will discuss the historical links between Islamist terrorists and the US-Saudi Arabian–Pakistan intervention in Afghanistan, as well as the consequences of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. In Iraq, the US implemented a deliberate policy of destroying all secular state structures and promoting the Balkanization of the country via ethnic-religious and tribal wars – a policy it has followed in subsequent areas of intervention.

The last section will focus on the US-EU-Gulf Petrol-Monarchy proxy invasions and ‘regime change’ bombings of the secular republics of Libya and Syria with the further cultivation and growth of international Islamist terrorism.

Historical Origins of International Islamist Terrorism: Afghanistan

Carpet bombing of Tutukhan hill, northwest of Kabul, during 2nd phase of the U.S air war

Carpet bombing of Tutukhan hill, northwest of Kabul, during 2nd phase of the U.S air war

In 1979, President James Carter and his National Security Chief, Zbigniew Brzezinski, launched Operation Cyclone, a major Islamist uprising against the Soviet- aligned secular Afghan regime. The US coordinated it campaign with the rabidly anti-Soviet monarchy in Saudi Arabia, which provided the funding and mercenaries for ‘international jihad’ against secular governance. This brutal campaign ‘officially’ lasted 10 years until the Soviet withdrawal in 1989. It produced millions of casualties and decades ‘blow-back’ when the CIA-Pakistani-Saudi trained Arab mercenaries (the ‘Afghan-Arabs’) returned to their home countries and elsewhere. The US intelligence agencies, Special Forces Commands and military directorates (especially Pakistan’s ISI intelligence service) trained and armed terrorists with US-Saudi funding. The American covert financial contribution mushroomed over the years rising to over $670 million dollars a year by 1987. Tens of thousands of Islamist mercenaries and adventurers were recruited from the Middle East, North Africa, the Gulf States, the Soviet Union (Chechens), Yugoslavia (Bosnians and Kosovars), China (Uigurs) and Western Europe.

With the defeat of the secular regime of President Najibullah in 1992, the Islamists and tribal factions then fought among themselves, converting Afghanistan into the world’s best-equipped training ground for International Islamist terrorists. Eventually, the Pashtun-based Taliban faction (with Pakistani arms and support) prevailed and established an extreme Islamist regime. The Taliban, despite its rhetoric, settled down to consolidating their brand of ‘Islamism in one country’, (1995-2001), a largely nationalist project. In its quest for respectability, it successfully destroyed the opium poppy fields, earning the praise of US President GW Bush in spring 2001. It also hosted a variety of Saudi princes and warlords, eventually including the jihadi-internationalist Osama bin Laden, who had been driven from North Africa.

Following the terrorist attack on the US in September 2001, US and NATO invaded Afghanistan of October 2001 and overthrew the nation-centered Islamist Taliban regime. The subsequent chaos and guerrilla war opened up a huge new inflow and outflow of thousands of international extremists who came to Afghanistan, trained, fought and then departed, fully prepared to practice their terrorist skills in their countries of origin in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

The US interventions and invasion of Afghanistan provide some of the context for the subsequent bombings in Europe and the US. The Islamist ‘returnees’ to Europe and elsewhere had received funds from Saudi Arabia and training from the CIA and Pakistani intelligence. They began their work among a very ‘available’ constituency of potential recruits in the marginalized Muslim youth of the ghettos and prisons of Europe.

The Middle Period: The US-Zionist Invasion and Destruction of Iraq

Fallujah, Iraq

Fallujah, Iraq

The turning point in the growth and internationalization of Islamist terrorism was the US invasion, occupation and systematic reign of terror in Iraq. Largely under the guidance of key US Zionist policymakers (and Israeli advisers) in the Pentagon, State Department and the White House, the US dismantled the entire secular Iraqi army and police forces. They also purged the administrative, civil, educational, medical and scientific institutions of nationalistic secular professionals, opening the field to warring Islamist tribal factions. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians were killed and millions fled in a regime of ethnic cleansing – which Washington touted as a model for the rest of the Middle East. However, thousands of experienced, but jobless Iraqi military officers, who had survived the US-orchestrated purges, regrouped and eventually joined with tens of thousands of nationalist and internationalist Islamist extremists to form ISIS. Their motives were arguably less ethno-religious and more related to revenge for their displacement and the destruction of their own society.

The deliberate US (Zionist)-EU-Saudi strategy to divide and conquer Iraq initially involved working closely with Sunni feudal tribal leaders and other extremists to counter the rising power of pro-Iranian Shia. They promoted a policy of fragmenting the country with the Kurds dominating in the North, the Sunnis in the center and the Shia in the south (the so-called Joseph Biden-Leslie Gelb Plan of national dismemberment and ethnic cleansing). The rationale was to create a weak central authority completely under US-EU tutelage and loose group of fragmented subsistence fiefdoms in what had been the most advanced secular Arab republic.

Despite pouring billions of dollars in arms from the US to create a puppet-colonial Iraqi ‘national army’, the Saudis and Israelis pursued their own policy of financing sectors of the Kurds and violent Sunni opposition – with the latter forming the original mass base of ISIS.

As the US-client Shia regime in Baghdad focused on stealing billions while killing or exiling hundreds of thousands of educated Sunnis, Christians and other secular Iraqis from the capital, the morale of its US-puppet troops plummeted. With the entire experienced and nationalist Iraqi officer core purged (slaughtered or driven into hiding), the new puppet officers were cowardly, corrupt and incompetent – as openly acknowledged by their US ‘advisers’. ISIS, meanwhile had acquired hundreds of thousands of US weapons and was financed by the Shia-hating Saudi Royal Family and other Gulf Monarchs. Armed Sunnis soon launched major, lightning-quick offensives under the leadership of ex-Baathist army officers, supported by thousands of terrorists, suicide bombers and foreign mercenaries. US and European ‘military experts’ expressed ‘shock’ at their effectiveness.

ISIS routed the Baghdad-controlled army, their US advisers and Kurdish allies from northern Iraq, capturing major cities, including Mosul, thousands of productive oil wells and drove their forces to within a few dozen kilometers of Baghdad. Territorial conquest and military successes attracted thousands more Islamist volunteers from the Middle East, Europe, Afghanistan and even North America. ISIS provided the military training; Saudi Arabia paid their salaries; Turkey purchased their captured oil and antiquities and opened its borders to the transfer of jihadi troops and weapons. Israel, for its part, purchased captured ISIS petrol at a discount from corrupt Turkish traders. Each regional player had its snout in the bloody trough that had once been Iraq!

ISIS successes in Iraq, led it to expand its operations and ambitions across the border into Syria. This occurred just as the US and EU were bombing and destroying the secular government of Colonel Gaddafi in Libya, in another ‘wildly successful’ planned campaign of ‘regime change’ (According to US Secretary of State Clinton as she gleefully watched the captive wounded Gadhafi ‘snuff film’ by unspeakable torture – ‘WE came and HE died’.).

Smoke fills the sky over Tripoli

Smoke fills the sky over Tripoli

The chaos that ensued in Libya led to an exponential growth of extremist Islamist groups with tons of weapons of ‘liberated’ Libyan weapons! Islamist terrorists in Libya gained territory, took over oil wells and attracted ‘volunteers’ from the marginalized youth of neighboring Tunisia, Egypt, Mali and as far away as Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria – flush with more guns, money and training. Many graduates went on to Syria and Iraq.

The Contemporary Period: EU-US-Turkey-Saudi-Israeli Sponsored War in Syria

Syrian government “barrel bombs”? No, U.S. “precision bombing” lays waste to Kobanê, 18 October 2014. Drive the imperialists out of the Middle East!  (Kai Pfaffenbac//Reuters

Syrian government “barrel bombs”? No, U.S. “precision bombing” lays waste to Kobanê, 18 October 2014. Drive the imperialists out of the Middle East! (Kai Pfaffenbac//Reuters

In 2011, as ISIS rolled across the Iraqi border into Syria and terrorist Islamist bands seized cities in Libya, the US-EU-Turkish-Saudi and Israeli regimes financed and armed Islamist (and the mythical ‘moderate’) forces in Syria to overthrow the nationalist-secular Syrian regime of Bashar al Assad.

Thousands of Islamist extremist volunteers heeded the call (and the fat paychecks) of the Saudi regime and its Salafist propagandists. These constituted the Saudi Royal Family’s own ‘Foreign Legion’. They were trained and armed and shipped into Syria by Turkish intelligence. The US armed and trained hundreds of its own so-called ‘moderate rebels’ whose fighters quickly defected to ISIS and other terrorist groups turning over tons of US arms, while the ‘moderate rebel leaders’ gave press conferences from London and Washington. ISIS seized swaths of Syrian territory, sweeping westward toward the Russian naval and air bases on the coast and upward from the south, encircling Damascus. Millions were uprooted and minority populations were enslaved or slaughtered.

The news of ISIS territorial gains with their plundered oil wealth from sales to Turkey and the flow of arms from Saudi Arabia, the EU and the US attracted over 30,000 ‘volunteer’ mercenaries from North America, Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.

These new terrorists received military training, including bomb making and logistical planning in Syria. Many were citizens of the EU, Islamist extremists, numbering over five thousand. These young fighters trained and fought in Syria and then returned to France, Belgium, Germany and the rest of the EU. They had gone to Syria with the tacit support and/or tolerance of their own European governments who had used them, rather than NATO troops, in the US-EU campaign of ‘regime change’ against Damascus.

The European governments were sure they had ‘their’ Muslim recruits under control as they joined the US in a reckless policy of overthrowing independent secular governments in the Middle East and North Africa. They happily encouraged their marginalized young Muslim citizens to flock Syria and fight. They hoped they would remain in Syria (fighting on the ground or buried under the ground). Officially, EU leaders claimed to support ‘moderate rebels’ (the bland term Western media used to sanitize Islamist terrorists) fighting the Assad ‘dictatorship’. European regimes were not prepared to detain the battle hardened ‘returnees’, who had been trained in Iraq and Syria. These young European Muslims (children of immigrants or converts to Islam) had been heavily indoctrinated and incorporated into international terrorist networks. They easily melted back into their marginalized European urban ghettos – beyond the control of Europe’s bloated intelligence services.

In practice, the EU regimes saw the thousands of Europe’s Muslim youth flocking to Syria as an ‘EU Foreign Legion’, a glorified wastebasket for unemployed young thugs and ex-prisoners, who would advance NATO’s imperial goals while solving the domestic social problem of the marginalized children of North African migrants. Europe’s Muslim youth were viewed as convenient cannon fodder by NATO planners and the governments of France, Belgium and the UK. For public relations, it was better for these young men and women to die overthrowing the secular government in Syria than to send in European soldiers (white Christians) whose deaths would have domestic political repercussions.

The EU underestimated the depth of antagonism these ‘volunteers’ felt about US-EU intervention in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as their anger at Europe’s continued support for Israeli land grabs in Palestine. In its racist arrogance, EU leaders underestimated the capacity of ISIS to indoctrinate, train and organize these marginalized kids from Europe’s slums into effective international cells able to carry the war back to Europe.

The EU smugly overlooked the active roles of Turkey and Saudi Arabia who had their own independent, regional ambitions. Ankara and Riyadh trained and financed the ‘volunteers’, and facilitated their flow into Syria from camps in Turkey and Jordan. The wounded were treated in Turkey and sometimes even in Israel. Thousands, many EU citizens, would flow back into Europe or to their countries of origin in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as Russia.

The EU had slavishly and blindly followed Washington’s lead in all its Middle East wars. Now it is paying a big price:  Thousands of trained terrorists have returned; bombings and attacks on European civilians and civil structures have occurred, while the European government leaders trip over each other in a mad rush to dismantle civil and constitutional citizen rights and impose wide ranging police state measures (States of Emergency).

These new Saudi-funded terrorist recruits (Riyadh’s Legionnaires) are active in all the countries where the US and EU have launched proxy wars: Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan. Turkey funds ISIS terrorists in Syria, Iraq and Kurdish territories to advance its own expansionist ambitions – oblivious to the clucking disapproval of EU leaders. Now Turkey receives over 6 billion Euro’s from the EU in what amounts to blackmail: In return, Turkey will ‘contain’ the flood of regional refugees in barely disguised concentration camps out of European sight.

Conclusion

            Ever since the US-EU policymakers decided to implement a war against Arab and West Asian secular nationalism in the Middle-East, Afghanistan, Iran and North Africa through serial ‘regime change’ campaigns they have relied on Islamist Salafist mercenaries and volunteers to do most of the killing on the ground, while the West operates from the air. Washington and its NATO allies operated on the assumption that they could use and then discard their recruits, mostly from marginalized urban youth and criminal gangs, once they had served imperial military purposes. A few with requisite talent and ruthlessness could be turned into puppet ‘leaders’ to unleash on the Russians and other ‘obstacles’ in future engagements.

The EU-US totally misunderstood the volunteers’ high level of independence, their organizational autonomy and their own understanding of the tactical nature of their alliance with Western imperialism. Islamist extremist leaders, like their Western counterparts, believe there are no permanent alliances – only permanent interests.

The EU and US have pursued a policy of overthrowing independent Muslim and secular Arab nations and returning them to the status of pre-independence semi-colonies. The rollback policy against secular nationalism (with its deep roots in the Dulles era) has extended from North Africa, through the Middle East to Southwest Asia. For its part, ISIS and its allies envision a return to a pre-colonial Islamic caliphate over the same lands and people to counter Western imperialism. Millions are caught in the middle.

ISIS views the Westernized secular elites in the Muslim countries as a fifth column for the spread of empire, while it has re-socialized and trained young Islamists from the EU to serve as networks of terrorists ‘behind enemy lines’ sowing mayhem in the West.

The political repercussions of this internationalized war are profound. Millions of civilians in the war zones have been and will be killed, uprooted and converted into desperate refugees flooding the EU. Police-state emergency rule, arbitrary searches, arrests and interrogations have become the norm in the highly militarized European airports, train and metro stations, as well as markets and cultural centers. The EU has increasingly undergone an ‘Israelization’ of its society, with its population polarized and resembling Israel- Palestinian . . . its Muslim community marginalized and confined into little Gaza’s.

In this charged atmosphere, Israeli high tech security companies and advisers flourish, mergers and acquisitions of police state technology multiply. Israeli Prime Minister Benny Netanyahu embraces the French Prime Minister Hollande in the club of electoral authoritarians.

Meanwhile the refugees and their children flow to and fro, the bombs come and go. We line up to place flowers on our latest dead and then pay our taxes for more wars in the Middle East. More young ‘volunteers’ will become cheap fodder to fight in our wars; some will return and plant more bombs, so we can mourn some more at patriotic vigils – protected by armed battalions…

Mar 102016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

2013-05-02T021620Z_01_WAS916_RTRIDSP_3_USA_image_982w

Introduction

Pluto-Zionism is the three-way marriage of plutocracy, rightwing Zionism and US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, a serial war criminal, racist and servant of Wall Street. How did this deadly ménage-a-trots cone about? The answer is that a stratospherically wealthy donor group, dedicated to promoting Israel’s dominance in the Middle East and deepening US military intervention in the region, has secured Clinton’s unconditional support for Tel Aviv’s ambitions and, in exchange, Hilary receives scores of millions to finance her Democratic Party foot soldiers and voters for her campaign.

Pluto-Zionism and Clinton

Pluto-Zionists comprise the leading financial backers of Clinton. Her million-dollar backers, among the most powerful financiers and media moguls in America, include: George Soros ($6 million), Marc Benioff, Roger Altman, Steven Spielberg, Haim and Cheryl Saban ($3 million and counting), Jeffrey Katzenberg, Donald Sussman, Herb Sandler, Jay and Mark Pritzker, S. Daniel Abraham ($1 million), Bernard Schwartz, Marc Lasry, Paul Singer, David Geffen, Fred Eychaner, Norman Braman and Bernie Marcus. Waiting in the wings are the  Republican billionaire ‘king-makers’, Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, the Koch brothers as well as the ‘liberal’ multi-billionaire, Michael Bloomberg who had contributed $11 million in 2012 elections. These erstwhile Republican funders are increasing frightened by the anti-‘free trade and anti-intervention’ rhetoric of their party’s front-runner, Donald Trump, and are approaching the solidly pro-Israel, pro-war and pro-Wall Street candidate, Madame Clinton.

Israeli-First Ideologues and Clinton

In addition to the powerful Pluto-Zionists, a vast army of ‘Israel-First’ ideologues is behind Clinton, including ‘veteran’ arm-chair war mongers like Victoria Nuland Kagan, Donald and Robert Kagan, Robert Zoellick, Michael Chertoff, Dov Zakheim among so many other promoters of Washington’s continuous wars on many fronts. Ms Nuland-Kagan, as US Undersecretary of State for East European Affairs, openly bragged about using hundreds of millions of dollars of US taxpayer money to finance the right-wing Ukrainian coup. Michael Chertoff, as head of Homeland Security after 9/11, jailed thousands of innocent Muslims while freeing five Israeli-Mossad agents arrested by the FBI for suspected involvement or pre-knowledge of the attacks in New York after they were seen filming the collapse of the towers and celebrating the event from a warehouse rooftop in New Jersey!).

Pluto-Zionists and the Israel-First ideologues support Ms Clinton as a reward for her extraordinary military and economic activities on behalf of Tel Aviv’s quest for regional dominance. Her accomplishments for the Jewish State include the promotion of full-scale wars, which have destroyed Iraq, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan; economic sanctions and blockade against Iran (she threatened to ‘obliterate Iran’ in 2007; and her own repeatedly stated unconditional support for Israel’s devastation against the people imprisoned in Gaza, which has cost thousands of civilian lives and rendered hundreds of thousands homeless. (In a letter to her ‘banker’, Haim Saban, Hillary stated: “Israel didn’t teach Hamas (the people of Gaza) a harsh enough lesson last year”).

Clinton versus Trump: ‘Moderation’ is in the Eyes of the Deceiver

The Pluto-Zionists, Israel-First ideologues, the US mass media and their acolytes on Wall Street and the Republican and Democratic Party elite are all on a rampage against the wildly popular Republican frontrunner, Donald Trump, labeling him as ‘a danger to everything America stands for. (sic)’ Apart from savaging his persona, the anti-Trump chorus contrast his ‘extremism’ with warmonger Clinton’s ‘pragmatism’.

A careful examination of the facts reveals who is the ultra-extremist and who deals with reality:

Women

Madame Clinton’s much touted wars against the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya have killed and maimed hundreds of thousands of women and children and uprooted millions of households. This bloody and undeniable record of mayhem was cited by Donald Trump when he argued that his policies would be much better for women than the Feminist Clinton’s had been.

So far, Trump’s worst offenses against women are his crude rhetorical misogynist quips, which pale before Hillary’s bloody record of devastation.

African-Americans

Clinton is backed by the leading black politicians who have long fed out of the Democratic Party patronage trough while selling the Clintons to the black electorate as ardent protectors of civil rights. In fact, as Steve Lensman has written, Hillary had referred to marginalized black youth as “super predators (with) no conscience, no empathy”. During her husband Bill’s presidency, she was on record supporting his draconian ‘three strikes’ crime laws, leading to the mass incarceration of hundreds of thousands of young blacks; and she backed his ‘welfare reform’ program, which shredded the social safety net for the poor and forced millions of impoverished mothers to work for sub-poverty wages, further eroding the stability of black female-headed households. On the African front, ‘Sister’ Secretary of State Hillary’s war on Libya led to the displacement, rape and murder of tens of thousands of black women of sub-Saharan origin at the hands of her jihadi war-lord allies. Millions of black sub-Saharan migrants had lived and worked in Gaddafi’s Libya for years, tens of thousands becoming Libyan citizens. They endured the horror of rampant ethnic cleansing in Clinton’s ‘liberated’ Libya.

Trump, at worst, has done nothing of direct harm to African Americans and remains an enigma on black issues. He opposes Clinton’s war on Libya and has vividly blamed her policies as responsible for the chaos and human misery in post-NATO bombing Libya.

Latinos

Under the Obama-Clinton administration almost 2 million Latino immigrants have been seized from their homes and workplaces, separated from their families and summarily expelled. As Madame Secretary of State, Clinton backed the Honduran military coup that overthrew the elected government of President Zelaya and led directly to assassination of over three hundred activists, including feminist, indigenous, human rights and environmental leaders, like Berta Careers. Clinton actively backed unsuccessful coups against the democratically elected Bolivian and Venezuelan governments.

Trump has verbally threaten to extend and deepen the Obama-Clinton expulsion of whatever remains of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrant Latino workers after Obama’s expulsion of the 2 million and the hundreds of thousands who have voluntarily gone home. His ‘extremist’ vision is completely in line with that of his allegedly ‘pragmatic’ opponent whose State Department promoted the destruction of so many Latino families in the US.

Foreign Policy

Clinton has launched or promoted more simultaneous wars than any Secretary of State in US history. She was the leading force behind the US bombing of Libya and the brutal ‘regime change’ that has fractured that nation. She promoted the military escalation in Iraq, backed the violent seizure of power in Ukraine, ‘engineered’ the military build-up (pivot to Asia) against China and negotiated the continued presence of thousands of US troops in Afghanistan.

Clinton has repeatedly pledged to her supporter Haim Saban and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that she will give Israel with “all the necessary military, diplomatic, economic and moral support it needs to vanquish Hamas” regardless of the many thousands of Palestinian civilian casualties. The ‘pragmatic feminist’ Hillary is a fervent supporter of the Saudi despotism and its genocide war against the popular forces in Yemen. Hillary tried to pressure President Obama to send US ground troops into Syria. She promotes the continuation of harsh trade sanctions against Russia.

Trump opposes any further direct US intervention in the Middle East. During his debate in South Carolina, he repeatedly denounced President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq – as based on ‘deliberate lies to the American people’, to the shock and horror of the Republican Party elite. He has rejected Pluto-Zionist financing, arguing that only as an independent ‘honest broker’,  who doesn’t take the side of Israel in its conflict with Palestinians, can he be effective in brokering a ‘deal’. He opposes sending ground troops overseas to Europe or Asia, which imposes a huge financial burden on the US taxpayers. He has gone on to suggest that European and Asian powers can and should pay for their own defense. Trump argues that the US could work with Putin against radical Islamist terrorism and he regards Russia as a potential trading partner. His anti-interventionism has been labeled as ‘isolationist’ by the Pluto-Zionist ideologues and militarist warlords holed up in their Washington think tanks, but Trump’s ‘America First’ resonates profoundly with the war-weary and economically devastated US electorate.

Israel

Clinton has totally and unconditionally pledged to widen and deepen US subordination to Israel’s war aims in the Middle East and to defend Israel’s war crimes against the Palestinian people in the occupied territories and within apartheid Israel. As a result, Clinton has built a coalition made-up of unsavory mafia-linked, gambling, media and speculator billionaires, whose first loyalty is not to America but Israel. She denounces all critics of Israel as ‘anti-Semites’.

Trump has never been a critic of Israel but he has called for greater ‘evenhandedness’, which is anathema within Zionist circles. For that reason he has not secured a single Pluto-Zionist supporter. So far, he has not been labelled an anti-Semite … perhaps because his own daughter converted to Judaism following her marriage, but his lack of effusive philo-Zionism has him marked as ‘unreliable’ to the Jewish State. As a subterfuge for his lack of servility to Tel Aviv, Democratic Party Zionist hacks emphasize his ‘racism’ and ‘fascist’ tendencies…

The Democratic Elections: The Real Muck 

Clinton currently leads Sanders for the Democratic nomination mostly on the basis of non-elected delegates, the so-called ‘super delegates’, who are party loyalists appointed by the bosses and elite politicians. Sanders’ call for a “political revolution in America” has no traction unless there is first a political revolution within the Democratic Party. But the Democratic Party is like the Augean Stable – a clean up requiring a Herculean effort and a loud pugnacious leader with a big broom. Senator Sanders is no Hercules.

As a positive beginning, Sanders has mobilized grass roots support, raised progressive health, education and tax policies that adversely affect Clinton’s billionaire Wall Street backers (Big financier Jaime Diamond called Sanders ‘the most dangerous man in America’), and secured millions of contributions from small donors. But he has failed to target and demand the exit of the Pluto-Zionists, the Wall Street bankers and speculators and venal black politicians controlling the Democratic Party. They run the elections of US presidents and will make sure Hillary Clinton secures the nomination by hook or (more likely) crook.

Clinton is backed by this formidable authoritarian (profoundly anti-democratic) electoral machine. She is totally embedded in the process. Clinton has a track record of enthusiastic support for the barbarism of torture – laughing at and cheering on the torture-death of the wounded Libyan President Gaddafi. In the pursuit of wars and war crimes, Hillary Clinton knows no limit and has borne no accountability. What makes Hillary so terrifyingly dangerous is that she could be ‘Commander in Chief’ of a great military power. While Clinton may be no Hitler, the US is vastly more engaged in world politics than Weimer Germany ever was. Her dictate would bring on global destruction.

If the Democratic primaries are as profoundly undemocratic as they have been in the past, the Republicans and their plutocrat partners are openly planning and plotting to ‘Dump the Donald’ and prevent Trump from obtaining an electoral victory. They have been discussing ways to use convention procedures to undermine a majority vote, and set up a ‘brokered convention’, where the ‘big-wigs’ jigger the delegates, rules and voting procedures behind closed doors robbing the populist front-runner of his party candidacy.

Conclusion

The US presidential primaries reveal in all their facets the decay and corruption of democracy in an era of imperial decline. The ascendancy of a financial oligarchy in the Democratic Party, backing a psychopathic militarist, like Hillary, cannot disguise her track record by labeling their candidate a ‘pragmatist’; the majority of Sanders supporters have no illusions about Madame Clinton. Panic and hysteria among an unsavory elite in the Republican Party and its efforts to block a sui-generis conservative Republican isolationist speaks to the fragility of imperial rule.

If the psychopathic war-monger Clinton is crowned the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, there is no way she can be considered the pragmatic ‘lesser evil’ to Donald Trump or any Republican – their bosses decide to spew out. At best, she might be the ‘equal evil’. In this case, more than 50% of the electorate will not vote. If, after being robbed of his growing movement for the Democratic Party candidacy, ‘Bernie’ Sanders does not break out with an independent bid for the White House, I will join the minuscule 1% who vote for Green Party candidate, Dr. Jill Stein.

Mar 082016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

Mapping the emerging global economic, political and military configurations requires that we examine regions and countries along several dynamic policy axis:

  1. Capitalist versus anti-capitalist
  2. Neoliberal versus anti-neoliberal
  3. Austerity versus anti-austerity
  4. War command centers and war zones
  5. Political change and socio-economic continuity
  6. New Order and political decay

Though many of these dimensions overlap, they also highlight the complexity and influence of local and national versus global power relations.

We will first identify and classify the regimes and emerging movements, which fall into each of these categories, and then proceed to generalize about current ‘global’ trends and future perspectives based on approximations of the real correlation of forces.

Capitalism versus Anti-Capitalism

Capitalism is the only economic system throughout the world. However, it has and continues to experience periods of severe crisis, stagnation and breakdown. Several regimes continue to declare themselves ‘socialist’ (like Cuba, Venezuela and China) even as they pursue large scale foreign investments, establish free trade zones and provide incentives to stimulate expansion of the private sector.

Anti-capitalist parties, movements and trade unions have emerged and some still engage in large-scale class-struggles. But others have capitulated, like Syriza in Greece, and Refundacion Comunista in Italy, which renounced any anti-capitalist pretense and embraced neo-liberal variants of capitalism.

Anti-capitalist tendencies are at best implicit in the mass working class strikes occurring in China, India and South Africa and explicitly by minor parties in Europe, Asia, South America and elsewhere. Much more significant are the conflicts and struggles between variants of capitalism: neoliberal and anti-neoliberal regimes and movements; and between austerity and anti-austerity regimes and movements.

In military terms, conflicts can best be understood by differentiating between ‘war (command) centers’ in the imperial countries and ‘war zones’.

Neoliberal and Anti-Neoliberal Correlations of Power

The balance of power has shifted toward pro-neoliberal regimes over the past two years. Even where political regime changes have occurred, they have not been accompanied by any significant shifts toward anti-neoliberal policies.

Latin America has witnessed the biggest shift toward hard-right neoliberal regimes and policies. Rightwing extremists won presidential elections in Argentina and legislative elections in Venezuela. In Brazil the so-called ‘Workers Party’ regime has embraced a neoliberal austerity program. In Bolivia, the social democratic Movement to Socialism lost the recent referendum allowing a 3rd term re-election for President Evo Morales. The organized forces that defeated the referendum were predominantly hardline neo-liberals.

Elsewhere, in Latin America political changes, from hardline neoliberal presidents to ostensible social democrats (Chile and El Salvador) and nationalists (Peru), simply led to the continuation of free market economic policies. Even socialist regimes, like Cuba, have introduced market incentives and free trade zones for foreign multi-nationals.

In the Middle East and North Africa, popular revolts against incumbent neoliberal despots were violently suppressed. Recycled neoliberal military autocrats and politicians returned to power in Egypt, Tunisia, Israel, Iraq and Yemen.

Iran, under the recently elected ‘reformist’ Rohani regime, has opened the oil and gas fields to foreign capital and captured about 40% of the legislative deputies in the February 2016 election.

In Asia, neoliberals, who took power in recent elections in India and Indonesia, are moving to de-regulate and promote foreign multi-national capital penetration. China and Russia have moved to facilitate financial capital flows – resulting in  multi-billion-dollar capital flight and the relocation of new billionaire families to Canada, England, the US and other Western countries.

In Europe, Scandinavian and Low Countries, Social Democrats have embraced and deepened neoliberal policies even as they lose support to rightwing anti-immigrant parties.

In the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania hardline neoliberals have imposed harsh austerity programs provoking protests of no great political consequences, as the opposition has promoted the same policies.

Russia, under Putin, has succeeded in the reconstruction of the state and economy after the destructive policies of Gorbachev and Yeltsin. But apart from ending the flagrant pillage of the economy by a gangster-ridden oligarchy, Russia is still an oil-dependent state in which billionaires invest and disinvest with facility.

Greece, which became a bankrupt vassal state under the rule of corrupt rightwing parties, experienced an electoral revolt in January of 2015, electing a supposedly leftist “anti-neoliberal” party. Syriza, under the leadership of Alexis Tsipras, embraced a brutal European Union – IMF austerity program plunging Greece deeper into debt, stagnation, poverty and vassalage.

In Portugal, an anti-austerity alliance between the Socialist (social democrats) and the Communist and Left Bloc parties formed a new government. However, under pressure from the EU, it capitulated, surrendering its tepid anti-austerity proposals.

In Canada, the opposition Liberal Party defeated the Conservatives, offering cosmetic changes and promptly reneged on its promises to end austerity.

In sum, the neoliberal- austerity onslaught provoked mass electoral opposition that led to political changes, bringing to power parties and leaders who embraced almost identical policies! In some cases, the changes deepened neoliberal policies by extending austerity measures; in other cases, they modified some of the restrictions on salaries and social expenditures.

The February (2016) elections in Ireland are a case in point: The neoliberal austerity enthusiasts in the governing coalition (Fine Gael and the Labor Party) were defeated and the Fianna Fáil re-emerged as a leading party, even though it had brought about the economic crisis and breakdown! The only exception to this revolving door politics was an increase in the vote for the national-populist Sinn Fein Party and a scattering of anti-neoliberal and left parties. In the end, the two neoliberal parties are likely to form a coalition regime.

In Europe, the main anti-neoliberal, anti-austerity parties are rightwing-conservatives who have won election in Poland and Hungary and opposition parties like the National Front in France.

The major exception is in Spain where a leftist party, Podemos, has embraced an anti-austerity program, even as it offered to form a coalition government with the neoliberal Socialist Party. The coalition regime never came about.

The return, continuation and triumph of neoliberal and austerity parties and policies occur despite a deepening economic crisis and growing popular hostility.

In the Middle East, North Africa, the Baltic and Eastern European states, Egypt, Tunisia, Lithuania and Poland, repressionhas undercut leftist opposition.

Secondly, nationalist parties and conservative regimes have pre-empted attacks on austerity as is the case in France and Hungary and have marginalized the Left.

Thirdly, international tensions, wars, coups and military build-ups in Ukraine, Syria, Yemen, Turkey and Southeast Asia have temporarily undercut popular opposition to neoliberal and austerity programs.

In the Ukraine, the US-backed neoliberal regime has virtually collapsed and is widely discredited. The problem is that the most aggressive opposition comes from the neo-Nazi Right!

In the short-run, international conflicts have temporarily distracted popular opposition to neoliberalism. However, over time, the wars, coups and military destruction are exacerbating the domestic crisis, as refuges flood and threaten to disintegrate the European Union.

EU sanctions toward Russia over the Ukraine exacerbated the economic crisis.

The Saudi-Turkey-US-EU-sponsored terror war against Syria and its allies heightens tensions and dampens investment in the region.

In other words, neoliberal/austerity regimes are threatened less by internal opposition than they are by the expansion of ‘war zones’, emanating from ‘imperial war centers’.

War Centers and War Zones

The economic and political configurations and divisions, which we have described, emphasize the varieties of capitalist regimes, the advance of neoliberalism and the emergence of variations among capitalists (austerity versus anti-austerity). US and EU militarism has deepened cleavages between emergent (China) and re-emergent (Russia) capitalist powers.

The political-economic map and the correlation of forces are deeply affected by military conflicts.

Wars, coups and insurgencies profoundly impact the scope, depth and character of socio-economic systems, above and beyond the dichotomies stated above.

Essentially the global military divisions can be understood through identifying war (imperial command) centers and war zones.

War centers are countries and regimes, which plan, organize, fund and execute military action against other countries. The war centers usually are run by imperialist regimes, which span the globe with military bases in order to defend and promote financial and multi-national corporation domination in other countries.

The war centers, form alliances, but also compete among themselves; they have follower regimes providing bases, mercenary soldiers and political support, even to the point of sacrificing their own economic goals in order to serve the dominant war centers. Follower regimes participate only at the periphery of decision-making.

War centers have global interests (US, EU), regional interests (Saudi Arabia and Israel – the Middle East) and local interests (Ukraine – Crimea).

The war centers with global interests have clearly defined adversaries: They target emerging military and economic competitors, like Russia and China; nationalist regimes, like Venezuela, Syria and Iran; popular anti-imperialist movements (Hezbollah in Lebanon) and Islamist anti-Western movements (Taliban in Afghanistan). The war centers, at the same time, correlate with neoliberal regimes and destroy or undermine lucrative markets and prosperous sites for investments by expanding the war zones.

War zones, defined by the US and the EU, have included Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Ukraine and earlier Yugoslavia. The ensuing wars succeeded in ousting incumbent regimes and splintering target countries, but failed to consolidate political control and, above all, destroyed hundreds of billions of dollars in investment, trade, financial and resource extraction opportunities.

The war centers have engaged in three levels of military engagement: (1) High intensity, signifying long-term large-scale warfare involving massive expenditures and commitments of troops such as Iraq and Afghanistan; (2) Middle level intensity, involving US-EU air wars and the use of proxy mercenaries as in Syria, Ukraine and Libya; and (3) Low intensity wars providing military support to regional allies, e.g. Israel’s onslaughts against the Palestinians, Saudi Arabia’s assault on Yemen and Turkey’s war against the Kurds in Iraq, Syria and Kurdish regions of Turkey.

The war centers in the EU and US have differences over China. The EU favors market expansion, while the US seeks to intensify the military encirclement of China.

Likewise, Europe and the US have differences over sanctions against Russia: the economic elite in the European Union, with billions of Euros invested in Russia is divided. Meanwhile the US mobilizes its clients in Poland and the Baltic countries to escalate military operations on Russia’s borders.

The growth of military tensions reflects both economic competition (US-EU versus China) and military expansion (US-EU coups in Ukraine).

Conclusion

The growth and advance of neoliberal and austerity regimes are largely the outcome of domestic or internal class conflicts. These, in turn, are the result of political-electoral contests where the imperial powers play an indirect role (mostly financial/propaganda).

In other words, the advance of neoliberal capitalism is not a result of imperial wars. It conquers because of its electoral advances and because of the defeats, retreats and capitulations of the trade unions and leftist political parties.

The limits of neoliberalism have been clearly set by destructive wars from the imperial military centers; the sanctions imposed on independent capitalist countries; and the alliances with destructive, aspiring regional hegemony (Israel, Turkey and Saudi Arabia).

The prolonged war economy and the neoliberal policies of the imperial centers have concentrated wealth, undermined economic growth, provoked downward social mobility and led to massive population displacement in war zones.

Widespread malaise among voters subject to the destabilization and disintegration of the European Union and the brutal concentration of wealth, power and privilege within the US has led to the emergence of social democratic and rightwing nationalist mass electoral movements.

High intensity warfare and prolonged austerity and social polarization have created a chaotic political universe and a multitude of diverse conflicts within the capitalist system.

If the anti-capitalist left is nowhere near overthrowing the system, the system may self-destruct, in a war of all against all: the great sow devouring her own progeny.

Mar 072016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

9/12/07 Salon Blanco: Banco del Sur.

Introduction

Over the past three years Latin American leftist leaders, who presided over heterodox ‘free trade’ and commodity based welfare economies, lost presidential, legislative and municipal elections and referendums or faced impeachment. They fell because they lost competitive elections, not because of US invasions or military coups. These same leftist leaders, who had successfully defeated coups and withstood gross US political intervention via AID, NED, the DEA and other US government agencies, lost at the ballot box.

What accounts for the changing capacity of leftist presidents to retain majoritarian electoral support over almost a decade? Why did the US-backed and funded candidates win this time, when they had been defeated in several previous elections? What accounts for the defeat of the rightist violent road to power and their subsequent victory via the electoral process?

Class Struggle and Popular Mobilization as a Prelude to Leftist Electoral Victories

The electoral victories of the Left were preceded by a deep crisis in the ‘free market’ and deregulated economies, which were accompanied by intense class struggle from below. Class struggle polarized and radicalized vast sections of the working and middle classes.

In Argentina, the total collapse of the financial and manufacturing system led to a popular uprising and the rapid overthrow of three presidents. In Bolivia, two popular uprisings overthrew two US backed ‘free market’ presidents. In Ecuador, a popular ‘citizen movement’ ousted a US-backed president.

In Brazil, Paraguay and Venezuela, burgeoning peasant and urban movements, engaged in direct action and in opposition to their ‘free market’ presidents, resulted in the election of left presidents.

Four inter-connected factors came to the fore to explain the left’s rise to power: First, the dramatic collapse and ensuing socio-economic crisis, entailing poverty, stagnation and repression by rightwing regimes, precipitated a large-scale shift to the left. Secondly, the intense class struggle, responding to the crisis, politicized the workers, radicalized the downwardly mobile middle classes and eroded the influence of the ruling class and the impact of their elite-controlled mass media. Thirdly, the leftist presidents promised long-term large-scale structural changes and successfully implemented immediate social impact programs (employment, social benefits, bank deposit protection, pay raises and large scale public investments). Last, but not least, the leftist presidents came to power at the beginning of or during a mega-cycle commodity boom providing multi-billion dollar surpluses in export earnings and tax revenues with which to finance new inclusionary social programs.

Electoral Clientalized Politics, Social De-Mobilization and Extractive Partnerships

During the first years of the left governments, they kept the heat on the rightwing elites: defeating abortive coups, expelling intrusive US Ambassadors and US agencies and defeating the local US clients.

They moved on the legal front to consolidate political power by convoking constitutional assemblies to approve progressive constitutions. They attracted and built on the support from their new indigenous, popular and middle class constituents.

The constitutional changes reorganized new social alignments, especially the rights of indigenous people, but fell far short of serving as the basis for a change of property relations.

The left governments reinforced their dependence on agro-mineral exports by designing a growth strategy based on economic partnership with multi-nationals and agro-business plantation owners.

The rising prices of commodities on the world market led to increases in government revenues, public investment in infrastructure and expanded employment in the public sector. The left governments constructed large-scale patronage systems and clientelistic electoral machines, which ‘mobilized’ the masses on electoral and ceremonial occasions and for international forums.

International left academics and journalists were impressed by the left administrations’ fiery rhetoric supporting anti-imperialist, anti-neoliberal policies. Local and overseas pundits parroted the rhetoric about new forms of ‘socialism’, 21st century socialism in Ecuador and Venezuela and Andean socialism in Bolivia.

In actual practice long-term, large-scale contracts were signed with international giants like, Repsol, Monsanto, Jindel and scores of other imperial backed multi-nationals.

Big agro-exporters received credits, loans and technical aid while peasants and local producers received only the paper ‘land titles’ for their small holdings. No large-scale land distributions were undertaken. Landless peasants, who were engaged in land occupations, were forcibly evicted. Increased government spending on credit and technical assistance was channeled almost exclusively to large-scale soya, cattle, cotton and other agro-exporters, which increased rural class inequalities and exacerbated the decline of food security.

During the decade, militants became functionaries, who developed ties with business groups and began their own process of ‘social mobility’.

The agro-mineral export model raised incomes and reduced poverty but also accentuated inequalities between government functionaries and peasants and urban workers. The newly affluent, upwardly mobile middle class no longer flocked to hear ‘egalitarian rhetoric’. They sought security, pursued credit-financed consumerism and looked upward toward the wealthy elite for their role models and life style changes – rather than expressing solidarity with those left behind.

From Retreat to Defeat: Pragmatic Accommodation as a Formula for Neo-Liberal Restoration

The leaders’ anti-imperialist rhetoric was increasingly discounted by most people as it was contrasted with the large-scale inflow of capital and the contracts with multi-nationals.

The symbolic ‘gestures’ and local projects celebrated before large crowds were accepted but increasingly failed to compensate for the daily routines of centralized power and local corruption.

Over the decade the political cadres of the left governments rounded-up votes via electoral patronage favors, financed by bribes from contractors and illicit transfers of public funds.

Re-election bred complacency, arrogance and a sense of impunity. The perquisites of office were taken for granted by party leader but were perceived as unwarranted privileges by many working class and peasant voters.

The de-radicalization process at the top and middle levels of the left regimes led the lower classes to rely on individualistic, family and local solutions to their everyday problems.

With the demise of the commodity cycle, the broad coalition of workers, peasants, middle class and professional groups splintered. Many rejected the malfeasance of the left regimes as a betrayal of the promise of change.

Thus the popular sectors embraced the moralizing critique mounted by the right.

The retrograde radical right exploited discontent with the incumbents and played down or disguised their plans to reverse and undermine the employment and salary gains, pensions and family allowance gained over the decade.

Conclusion

The left governments stimulated the growth of extractive capitalism and converted their mass base into a passive recipient of regime reforms.

The unequal power between leaders and followers was tolerated as long as the incremental rewards continued to flow.

As classes rose in the social hierarchy they shed their leftist ideology born of crisis and looked to elite politicians as the new ‘modernizers’.

The left regimes encouraged a ‘dependency culture’ in which they competed for votes on the bases of growth, markets and patronage.

The left functionaries, unable to rise via the ‘closed’ agro-mineral sectors – under the control of the multi-nationals, turned to state corruption, extracting ‘commissions’ as intermediaries for the MNC, or simply absconding with public funds allocated for municipal health, education and infrastructure projects.

As a result, electoral promises were not kept. The corrupt practices were ignored by their elected leaders, deeply offending the popular electorate, who were disgusted by the spectacle of corrupt left politicians applauding radical rhetoric while raiding federal funds with impunity.

Party loyalty undermined any national political oversight of local politicians and functionaries. Disenchantment with the local functionaries spread up to the top.  Popular leaders, who were repeatedly elected soon, were implicated or at least complicit in bribe-taking.

The end of the decade and the end of the commodity bookmarked the twilight of idols. The left lost elections throughout the region.

Epilogue

The Kirchner-Fernandez regime was defeated in Argentina (2015).

The Lula-Rousseff regime faces indictment and impeachment in Brazil (2014-2016).

The Chavez-Maduro regime lost the legislative election in Venezuela (2015).

The Evo Morales regime lost the constitutional amendment allowing the president’s third term re-election in Bolivia (2016).

Feb 252016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

The presidential elections of 2016 have several unique characteristics that defy common wisdom about political practices in 21st century America.

Clearly the established political machinery – party elites and their corporate backers -have (in part) lost control of the nomination process and confront ‘unwanted’ candidates who are campaigning with programs and pronouncements that polarize the electorate.

But there are other more specific factors, which have energized the electorate and speak to recent US history.  These portend and reflect a realignment of US politics.

In this essay, we will outline these changes and their larger consequences for the future of American politics.

We will examine how these factors affect each of the two major parties.

Democratic Party Politics: The Context of Realignment

The ‘rise and decline’ of President Obama has seriously dented the appeal of ‘identity politics’ – the idea that ethnic, race and gender-rooted ‘identities’ can modify the power of finance capital (Wall Street), the militarists, the Zionists and ‘police-state’ officials. Clearly manifest voter disenchantment with ‘identity politics’ has opened the door for class politics, of a specific kind.

Candidate Bernie Sanders appeals directly to the class interests of workers and salaried employees. But the ‘class issue’ arises within the context of an electoral polarization and, as such, it does not reflect a true ‘class polarization’, or rising class struggle in the streets, factories or offices.

In fact, the electoral ‘class’ polarization is a reflection of the recent major trade union defeats in Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio. The trade union confederation (AFL-CIO) has almost disappeared as a social and political factor, representing only 7% of private sector workers. Working class voters are well aware that top trade union leaders, who receive an average of $500,000-a-year in salaries and benefits, are deeply ensconced in the Democratic Party elite. While individual workers and local unions are active supporters of the Sanders campaign, they do so as members of an amorphous multi-class electoral movement and not as a unified ‘workers bloc’.

The Sanders electoral movement has not grown out of a national social movement: The peace movement is virtually moribund; the civil rights movements are weak, fragmented and localized; the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement has peaked and declined while the ‘Occupy Wall Street Movement’ is a distant memory.

In other words, these recent movements, at best, provide some activists and some impetus for the Sanders electoral campaign. Their presence highlights a few of the issues that the Sanders electoral movement promotes in its campaign.

In fact, the Sanders electoral movement does not ‘grow out’ of existing, ongoing mass movements as much as it fills the political vacuum resulting from their demise. The electoral insurgency reflects the defeats of trade union officials allied with incumbent Democratic politicians as well as the limitation of the ‘direct action’ tactics of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘Occupy’ movements.

Since the Sanders electoral movement does not directly and immediately challenge capitalist profits and public budget allocations it has not been subject to state repression. Repressive authorities calculate that this ‘buzz’ of electoral activity will last only a few months and then recede into the Democratic Party or voter apathy. Moreover, they are constrained by the fact that tens of millions of Sanders supporters are involved in all the states and not concentrated in any region.

The Sanders electoral movement aggregates hundreds of thousands of micro-local struggles and allows expression of the disaffection of millions with class grievances, at no risk or cost (as in loss of job or police repression) to the participants. This is in stark contrast to repression at the workplace or in the urban streets.

The electoral polarization reflects horizontal (class) and vertical (intra-capitalist) social polarizations.

Below the elite 10% and especially among the young middle class, political polarization favors the Sanders electoral movement. Trade union bosses, the Black Congressional Caucus members and the Latino establishment all embrace the anointed choice of the political elite of the Democratic Party: Hilary Clinton. Whereas, young Latinos, working women and rank and file trade unionists support the insurgent electoral movement. Significant sectors of the African American population, who have failed to advance (and have actually regressed) under Democratic President Obama or have seen police repression expand under the ‘First Black President’, are turning to the insurgent Sanders campaign. Millions of Latinos, disenchanted with their leaders who are tied to the Democratic elite and have done nothing to prevent the massive deportations under Obama, are a potential base of support for ‘Bernie’.

However, the most dynamic social sector in the Sanders electoral movement are students, who are excited by his program of free higher education and the end of post-graduation debt peonage.

The malaise of these sectors finds its expression in the ‘respectable revolt of the middle class’: a voters’ rebellion, which has temporarily shifted the axis of political debate within the Democratic Party to the left.

The Sanders electoral movement raises fundamental issues of class inequality and racial injustice in the legal, police and economic system. It highlights the oligarchical nature of the political system – even as the Sanders-led movement attempts to use the rules of the system against its owners. These attempts have not been very successful within the Democratic Party apparatus, where the Party bosses have already allocated hundreds of ‘non-elected’ so-called ‘mega-delegates’ to Clinton – despite Sander’s successes in the early primaries.

The very strength of the electoral movement has a strategic weakness: it is in the nature of electoral movements to coalesce for elections and to dissolve after the vote.

The Sanders leadership has made no effort to build a mass national social movement that can continue the class and social struggles during and after the elections. In fact, Sanders’ pledge to support the established leadership of the Democratic Party if he losses the nomination to Clinton will lead to a profound disillusionment of his supporters and break-up of the electoral movement. The post-convention scenario, especially in the event of ‘super-delegates’ crowning Clinton despite a Sanders popular victory at the individual primaries, will be very disruptive.

Trump and ‘Revolt on the Right’

The Trump electoral campaign has many of the features of a Latin American nationalist-populist movement. Like the Argentine Peronist movement, it combines protectionist, nationalist economic measures that appeal to small and medium size manufacturers and displaced industrial workers with populist right-wing ‘great nation chauvinism’.

This is reflected in Trumps’ attacks on ‘globalization’ - a proxy for Peronist ‘anti-imperialism’.

Trump’s attack on the Muslim minority in the US is a thinly veiled embrace of rightwing clerical fascism.

Where Peron campaigned against ‘financial oligarchies’ and the invasion of ‘foreign ideologies’, Trump scorns the ‘elites’ and denounces the ‘invasion’ of Mexican immigrants.

Trump’s appeal is rooted in the deep amorphous anger of the downwardly mobile middle class, which has no ideology . . . but plenty of resentment at its declining status, crumbling stability and drug-afflicted families (Witness the overtly expressed concerns of white voters in the recent New Hampshire primary).

Trump projects personal power to workers who bridle under impotent trade unions, disorganized civic groups, and marginalized local business associations, all unable to counter the pillage, power and large-scale corruption of the financial swindlers who rotate between Washington and Wall Street with total impunity.

These ‘populist’ classes get vicarious thrills from the spectacle of Trump snapping and slapping career politicians and economic elites alike, even as he parades his capitalist success.

They prize his symbolic defiance of the political elite as he flaunts his own capitalist elite credentials.

For many of his suburban backers he is the ‘Great Moralizer’, who in his excess zeal, occasionally, commits ‘pardonable’ gaffes out of zealous exuberance – a crude ‘Oliver Cromwell’ for the 21st Century.

Indeed, there also may be a less overt ethno-religious appeal to Trump’s campaign: His white-Anglo-Saxon Protestant identity appeals to these same voters in the face of their apparent marginalization. These ‘Trumpistas’ are not blind to the fact that not a single WASP judge sits on the Supreme Court and there are few, if any, WASPs among the top economic officials in Treasury, Commerce, or the Fed  (Lew, Fischer, Yellen, Greenspan, Bernacke, Cohen, Pritzker etc.). While Trump is not up-front about his identity – it eases his voter appeal.

Among WASP voters, who quietly resent the ‘Wall Street’ bailouts and the perceived privileged position of Catholics, Jews and African-Americans in the Obama Administration, Trump’s direct, public condemnation of President Bush for deliberately misleading the nation into invading Iraq (and the implication of treason), has been a big plus.

Trump’s national-populist appeal is matched by his bellicose militarism and thuggish authoritarianism. His public embrace of torture and police state controls (to ‘fight terrorism’) appeals to the pro- military right. On the other hand, his friendly overtures to Russian President Putin (‘one tough guy willing to face another’) and his support to end the Cuban embargo appeals to trade-minded business elites. His calls to withdraw US troops from Europe and Asia appeals to ‘fortress America’ voters, while his calls to ‘carpet bomb’ ISIS appeals to the nuclear extremists. Interestingly, Trump’s support for Social Security and Medicare, as well as his call for medical coverage for the indigent and his open acknowledgement of Planned Parenthood’s vital services to poor women, appeals to older citizens, compassionate conservatives and independents.

Trump’s left-right amalgam: Protectionist and pro-business appeals, his anti-Wall Street and pro-industrial capitalism proposals, his defense of US workers and attacks on Latino workers and Muslim immigrants have broken the traditional boundaries between popular and rightwing politics of the Republican Party.

Trumpism’ is not a coherent ideology, but a volatile mix of ‘improvised positions’, adapted to appeal to marginalized workers, resentful middle classes (marginalized WASPs) and, above all, to those who feel unrepresented by Wall Street Republicans and liberal Democratic politicians based on identity politics (black, Hispanic, women and Jews).

Trump’s movement is based on a cult of the personality: it has enormous capacity to convoke mass meetings without mass organization or a coherent social ideology.

Its fundamental strength is its spontaneity, novelty and hostile focus on strategic elites.

Its strategic weakness is the lack of an organization that can be sustained after the electoral process. There are few ‘Trumpista’ cadres and militants among his adoring fans. If Trump loses (or is cheated out of the nomination by a ‘unity’ candidate’ trotted out by the Party elite) his organization will dissipate and fragment. If Trump wins the Republican nomination he will draw support from Wall Street, especially if faced with a Sanders Democratic candidacy. If he wins the general election and becomes President, he will seek to strengthen executive power and move toward a ‘Bonapartist’ presidency.

Conclusion

The rise of a social democratic movement within the Democratic Party and the rise of a sui generis national-populist rightist movement in the Republican Party reflect the fragmented electorate and deep vertical and horizontal fissures characterizing the US ethno-class structure.  Commentators grossly oversimplify when they reduce the revolt to incoherent expressions of ‘anger’.

The shattering of the established elite’s control is a product of deeply experienced class and ethnic resentments, of former privileged groups experiencing declining mobility, of local businesspeople experiencing  bankruptcy  due to ‘globalization’ (imperialism) and of citizens resentment at the power of finance capital (the banks) and its overwhelming control of Washington.

The electoral revolts on the left and right may dissipate but they will have planted the seeds of a democratic transformation or of a nationalist-reactionary revival.