Nov 212015

By James Petras, 99GetSmart



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

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

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

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

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

Imperial Wars: From 2001 – 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Washington: Military Workshop of the World

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pivot to Asia and the Pirouette to Syria

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pirouette: China and Syria

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

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

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

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

Warfare: From Piecemeal Interventions to Nuclear Confrontation

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

Elite Factional Politics: An Overview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Latin America: The Last Outpost of the Multi-Nationals

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Both factions overlapped in creating the debacle in Libya.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov 092015

By James Petras, 99GetSmart



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

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

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

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

Center-Left and Right Incumbents in Retreat

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

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

Why Do Incumbents Lose?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why the Consequential Left is Not an Alternative

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Right Surges; the Left Recedes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov 062015

By James Petras, 99GetSmart



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Troika Maligns Russia

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

Troika-Backed Ukrainian Puppet Secures 1% Approval

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Troika and its ‘Hate Venezuela’ Campaign

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Troika and Palestine: In Defense of Israeli Terror

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

No mention or little importance is given to:

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

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

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

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

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

The Troika and Syria: Armchair Generals

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

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

The Troika and Wayward Neo-Liberals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct 232015

By James Petras, 99GetSmart



Democratic critics of military seizures of power commonly refer to them as military coups. They adopt a very narrow and misleading conception of what is taking place.

Likewise, human rights activists and progressive analysts who conceptualize the reign of violence which follows, a ‘coup’ as state terror fail to take account of the systemic forces – the capitalist social order and class relations – which determine the classes which wield state power. They ignore the specific classes and groups which are targeted and which classes direct and benefit from terror.

Concepts like ‘state terror’ and ‘military coup’ obscure as much as enlighten. Moreover, the narrow focus on the military limits the political changes in the class structure required to avoid the repetition of the violent overthrow of democratic governments.

In this essay we will focus on the case of Argentina, where the Central Bank has opened its archives to judicial investigators looking into the relationship between the military dictatorship (1976-83) and major capitalist enterprises.

We will also cite the empirical research of Professor Juan Carlos “Lito” Marin, one of Argentina’s leading scholars on the violent overthrow of the elected government. His specialty was on the social relations and class context of the killing of 30,000 Argentines during the military dictatorship.

We will especially draw on his statistical analysis of the victims found in his book (“Lucha de calles, lucha de clase’ –  Street struggles, class struggle).

Capitalist and Military Rule

According to the documentary evidence presented by the Argentine Central Bank, immediately after the military seized power, the leading manufacturers presented the military with a comprehensive list of all the trade union leaders, delegates and activists to be eliminated. In other words the capitalist class give the military their ‘marching orders’. They dictated who was to be arrested, tortured, killed and/or disappeared. The military executed the orders of the capitalist class – of the 30,000 Argentines who were murdered, the vast majority were unarmed industrial workers involved in workplace industrial action.

The Central Bank documents confirm the earlier detailed study of Professor Marin. He found that over eighty percent of the ‘disappeared’, the victims of the military regime, were trade unionists, urban neighborhood activists and rural organizers. Less than twenty percent were in any way affiliated with the urban or rural guerrillas.

In other words it was not state terror in the abstract – but violent class struggle organized according to the priorities and demands of the capitalist class which accounted for the vast majority of killings. And the massacre set the stage for the second priority of the capitalist class, the introduction of the neo-liberal economy. The mass slaughter allowed the military to hand-over lucrative public enterprises to the capitalist class who proceeded to fire large number of employees without the problem of worker opposition.

The intellectual authors and beneficiaries of the mass murder were not a band of power hungry military officials; but highly respectable leaders and upholders of the capitalist social order.

In the run-up to the coup the capitalist class, for the better part of a decade, was engaged in a bitter class struggle with militant trade unions, which organized several successful general strikes in Cordoba (the ‘Cordobazo’, el ‘Viborazo’), Rosario, and greater Buenos Aires.

Between 1970-71, some 5 years before the military takeover, I conducted interviews with leaders of Argentina’s principle industrial association (Argentine Industrial Union). Without exception they looked at the “Brazilian example” as a model for Argentina. Brazil was ruled by a business-military regime resulting from the overthrow of a democratic government in1964. In other words, the strategic decision to seize power was taken by the capitalist class; the military made the tactical decision of when and how, in consultation with US military attaches at the Embassy

The capitalist class set several tasks for the military, according to the Central Bankdocuments.

First and foremost, the capitalist class demanded a comprehensive and violent purge of all levels of leaders of the working class, at work and in the neighborhoods. But the largest percentage of killings affected militant grass roots leaders, especially shop floor delegates.

Secondly, the capitalists demanded the expropriation and dispossession of enterprises and farms owned by sectors of the nationalist, “Keynesian”, bourgeoisie and their handover to the neo-liberal business elite. This led to the concentration and centralization of ownership and capital. Among the beneficiaries was a powerful media conglomerate (the Clarin group) which served as a propaganda megaphone in favor of the dismantling of labor and social legislation and the privatization of public enterprises.

Thirdly, the capitalist class demanded and secured the military purge of the judiciary, police and civil service of independent voices and the appointment of  hard right officials.

In other words the capitalist social order supported and directed the military seizure of government; dictated the transformation of state institutions and targeted the social class representatives to be eliminated.

The Capitalist Coup ad the Transition to Democracy

Subsequent to the so-called “transition to democracy”, when the military ceded governance to civilian electoral parties and politicians, the entire judicial, police and administrative structure organized to promote neoliberalism and defend the power, privileges and prerogatives of the capitalist class, remained intact.

Even more important, up until the present, the capitalist class which actively participated in the identification, purge and murder of the vast majority of workers killed by the military, was never brought to trial. In some cases, the military executioners were tried for crimes against humanity, and in Argentina (but not elsewhere), some were jailed.

The social order, the capitalist system, which presided over  mass murder was never called into question. The whole issue of class violence was reduced to an issue of “human rights” violations committed by the military elite.

The larger context of class conflict and class struggle, which precipitated the violent seizure of power which culminated in mass murder was obfuscated.

The key to understanding why the capitalist class prospered during the dictatorship and escaped any punishment and prosecution afterwards is found in the fact that the vast majority of worker and community leaders who would have led the majority in the quest for justice were murdered.

In other words the capitalist class’s violent political power grab and mass murder ensured the growth of profits and the consolidation of growth during the military regime, and the obfuscation of their role in the mass killings secured their illicit property grab and wealth with the restoration of electoral politics.


Labeling the violent seizure of power as a military coup is to adopt a one-dimensional view. Instead, if we examine the coup as an integral element of the internal dynamics of the class struggle, which allowed the capitalist class to deepen and extend its power, we have a fuller understanding of its deeper meaning. The continuation of capitalist power within the electoral political system allowed the bourgeoisie to continue organizing and promoting profoundly anti-democratic, anti-working class activity.

Not all military coups or reigns of state terror are linked to class struggle between capitalists and workers. Even in Argentina, the coup served to resolve intra-capitalist conflicts between neo-liberal and nationalist-protectionist business elites.

In Africa, Asia and in nineteenth and early twentieth century Latin America, military coups were largely elite shifts in power. However, with the growth and emergence of capitalist class relations and class conflict, the military’s role as an autonomous force diminished, as it became integrated and subordinated to the emerging capitalist order.

By the middle of the twentieth century onward, especially as class conflict intensified and class polarization deepened, the military coup became a strategic weapon of the capitalist class to advance its class interests. This was especially the case where they could no longer retain their profits and prerogatives in a democratic electoral framework.

In other words as capitalism expands and defines the nature of the social order, the military coup is redefined as capitalist coup; and state violence deepens and expands to encompass larger sectors of the working population.

In each and every capitalist coup and in each example of organized state terror, the US imperial state is directly involved at the behest and on behalf of the capitalist class – be they multi-national corporations or banks. The US imperial state coordinates with their multinational corporations and the Latin American capitalist class the objects and targets of the capitalist coup as well as the composition of the post-coup regime. The US military influenced the political timing of the Argentine coup – as a former US military official operating out of the Argentine embassy once told me. The US CIA compiled lists of working class and social activist to be targeted (murdered) in Chile after the 1973 coup, especially of those employed by US multi-nationals, as was revealed by US Senator Church’s Congressional investigation between 1974-76.

In other words, the capitalist coup and terror state has a strategic international character. It is also an integral part of imperialist conquest and anti-imperialist struggles. The class struggle and the anti-imperialist struggles are two sides of the same process.

Oct 212015

By James Petras, 99GetSmart



The October 12, 2015 terror bombing in Ankara, resulting in the death of 127 trade unionists, peace activists, Kurdish advocates and progressives, has been attributed either to the Recep Tayyip Erdoğan regime or to ISIS terrorists.

The Erdoğan regime’s ‘hypothesis’ is that ISIS or the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) was responsible for the terrorist attack, a position echoed by all of the NATO governments and dutifully repeated by all of the Western mass media. Their most recent claim is that a Turkish member of ISIS carried out the massacre – in a ‘copy-cat action’ after his brother, blamed by the Turkish government for an earlier bombing which left 33 young pro-Kurdish activists dead in July in Suruc, on the Syrian border.

The alternative hypothesis, voiced by the majority of the Turkish opposition, is that the Erdoğan regime was directly or indirectly involved in organizing the terrorist attack or allowing it to happen.

In testing each hypothesis it is necessary to examine which of the two best accounts for the facts leading up to the killing and who benefits from the mayhem.

Our approach is to examine those behind various acts of violence preceding, accompanying and following the massacre in Ankara. We will examine the politics of both the victims and the Erdoğan regime, and their conception of political governance, especially in light of the forthcoming November 2015 national elections.

Antecedents to the Ankara Terror Bombing

Over the past several years the Erdoğan regime has been engaged in a violent crackdown of civil society activity. In 2013, massive police action broke-up a major social protest in the center of Istanbul, killing 8 demonstrators and injuring 8500 environmental and civil society activists defending Taksim Gezi Park from government-linked ‘developers’. In May 2014, over 300 Turkish coal miners in Soma were killed in an underground explosion in a mine owned by an Erdoğan supporter. Subsequent demonstrations were brutally suppressed by the state. The formerly state-owned mine had been privatized by Erdoğan in 2005 – many questioned the legality of the sale to regime cronies.

Prior to and after these violent police actions against civilian demonstrators, thousands of officials and public figures were arrested, fired and investigated by the Erdoğan regime for allegedly being supporters of a legal Islamic social organization – the so-called Gülen movement.

Hundreds of journalists, human rights activists, publishers and other media workers were arrested, fired and blacklisted at the behest of the Erdoğan regime, for criticizing high level corruption in the Erdoğan cabinet.

The Erdoğan regime escalated its domestic repression of the secular opposition in order to concentrate power in the hands of an Islamist cult-ruler. This was particularly the case after the government deepened its support of thousands of foreign jihadi extremists and mercenaries streaming into Turkey on their way to the Syrian jihad.

From the beginning of the armed uprising in Syria, Turkey became the main training ground, arms depot  and entry-point for armed Islamist terrorists (AIT) entering Syria. The Erdoğan regime directed the AIT to attack, dispossess and destroy the Syrian and Iraqi Kurds whose fighters had liberated a significant section of northern Syria and Iraq and served as an ‘example of self-government’ for Turkish Kurds.

The Erdoğan regime has joined the brutal Saudi monarchy in financing and arming AIT groups and especially training them in urban terror warfare against the secular government in

Damascus and the Shiite regime in Baghdad. They specialized in bombing populated sites occupied by Erdoğan’s enemies or the Saudi targets especially secular Kurds, leftists, trade unionists  and Shiites allied with Iran.

The Erdoğan regime’s intervention in Syria was motivated by its desire to expand Turkish influence (neo-Ottomanism) and to destroy the successful Kurdish autonomous government and movement in Northern Syria and Iraq.

To those ends, Erdoğan combined four policies:

(1) He vastly expanded Turkish support for and recruitment of Islamic terrorists from around the world, including Libya and Chechnya.

(2) He facilitated their entry into Syria, and encouraged them to attack villages and towns in the ethnic Kurdish regions.

(3) He broke off peace negotiations with the PKK and re-launched a full-scale war against the militant Kurds.

(4) He organized a covert terrorist campaign against the legal, secular, pro-Kurdish electoral party, the People’s Democratic Party (HDP).

The Erdoğan regime sought to consolidate dictatorial powers to pursue and deepen its ‘Islamization’ of Turkish society and to project his version of Turkish hegemony over Syria and the Kurdish regions inside and outside Turkey. To accomplish these ambitious and far reaching goals, Erdoğan needed to purge his Administration of any rival power centers.

He started with the jailing and expulsion of secular, nationalist Kemalist military figures. He continued with a purge of his former supporters in the Gülen organization.

Failing to gain a majority in national elections because of the growth of the HDP, he proceeded with a systematic terror campaign: organizing street mobs made up of his followers in the ‘Justice and Development Party’, who burned and wrecked HDP offices and beat up activists. Erdoğan’s terror campaign culminated with the July 2015 bombing of a leftist youth meeting in Suruc whose activists were aiding Syrian Kurdish refugees and the beleaguered fighters resisting Islamist terrorists in Korbani, a large Syrian town across the border controlled by the Erdoğan-backed ISIS. Over 33 activists were murdered and 104 were wounded. Two Turkish covert intelligence officers or ‘policemen’, who knew in advance of the bombing, were captured, interrogated and executed by the PKK. This retaliation for what was widely believed to be a state-sponsored massacre provided Erdoğan with a pretext to re-launch his war on the Kurds. Erdoğan immediately declared war on both the armed and unarmed Kurdish movements.

The Erdoğan regime trotted out the claim that the Suruç terrorist attack was committed by ISIS suicide bombers, ignoring the regime’s ties to ISIS. He announced a large-scale investigation. In fact it was a perfunctory round up and release of suspects of no consequence.

If ISIS was involved in this and the Ankara massacres, it did so at the command and direction of Turkish Intelligence under orders of President Erdoğan.

The Suruç Massacre: A Dress Rehearsal for Ankara

Suruç was a ‘dress rehearsal’ for Erdoğan’s terrorist attack in Ankara, three months later.

Once again the main target was the Kurdish opposition electoral party (the HDP) as well as the major progressive trade unions, professional associations, and anti-war activists.

Once again Erdoğan blamed ISIS, without acknowledging his ties to ISIS. Certain facts point to Turkish state complicity:

1)      Why were the bombs placed in the midst of the unarmed demonstrators and not next to the police and intelligence headquarters within a block of the carnage?

2)      Why did Erdoğan’s police attack and prevent emergency medical assistance to the demonstrators in the immediate aftermath of the bombing?

3)      Why did he block popular leaders, independent investigators and representatives from targeted groups from examining the bombing site?

4)      Why did Erdoğan immediately reject a cease-fire offer from the PKK and launch a vast military operation while promoting rabidly chauvinistic street demonstrators against Kurds engaged in legal political campaigning?

5)      Why did the police attack mourners at the subsequent funerals?

Who Benefited from the Terror Attacks?

The terror attacks benefited Erdoğan’s immediate and long-range strategic political goals – and no one else!

First and foremost, they killed activists from the HDP party, anti-war leftists and trade unionists. The violent government attacks against the HDP in the aftermath of the massacre has increased Erdoğan’s chances of securing the electoral majority that he needs in order to change the Turkish constitution so he can assume dictatorial powers.

Secondly, it was aimed at (1) reducing the ties between the Turkish and Syrian Kurds; (2) breaking the ties between progressive Turkish trade unions, secular professionals ,peace activists and the Kurdish Democratic Party; (3) mobilizing the rightwing ultra-nationalist Turkish street mobs to attack and destroy the electoral offices of the HDP; (4) intimidating pro-democracy activists and progressives and silencing dissent to Erdoğan’s domestic power grab and intervention in Syria.

To the question of who is responsible for serial violent attacks on civil society organizations, opposition political parties, and purges and arrests of independent officials in the lead-up to the terror attack? The answer is Erdoğan.

Who was behind the campaign of violence and bombing in Kurdish neighborhoods in Istanbul and elsewhere leading up to the Suruç and Ankara terrorist attacks? The answer is Erdoğan.


We originally counter -posed two hypotheses regarding the terrorist attack in Ankara: The Erdoğan regime’s hypothesis that ISIS – as a force independent of the Turkish government – or even the PKK were responsible for brutally killing key activists in Turkish and Kurdish civil organizations; and the opposite hypothesis that the Erdoğan regime was the mastermind.

After reviewing the motives, actions, beneficiaries and interests of the two hypothetical suspects, the hypothesis, which most elegantly and thoroughly accounts for and makes sense of the facts is that the Erdoğan regime was directly responsible for the planning and organization of the massacres through its intelligence operatives.

A subsidiary hypothesis is that the execution – the placing of the bombs – may have been by an ISIS terrorist, but under the control of Erdoğan’s police apparatus.

Oct 192015

By James Petras, 99GetSmart



In 1975 the people of Vietnam successfully ended one of the longest and bloodiest anti-colonial wars in world-history – defeating the US, the world’s biggest imperial power, after 20 years of struggle.

Barely forty years later the Vietnamese regime signed off on the US-Japanese dominated Trans-Pacific Free Trade Agreement (TPFTA), which essentially converted Vietnam into a vassal state.

Vietnam has gone full circle: From a neo-colony ruled by puppet dictators backed by an American occupation army involving 500,000 troops from 1955-1975, to its current ‘Communist’ rulers who have turned-over its markets, industries, ports, resources and labor to the 500 largest Western and Asian multi-national corporations.

Contrasting Historical Moments: 1975 and 2015

In 1975, the revolutionary government closed all US military bases and expelled all US military personnel. Today the Vietnam ‘vassal regime’ allows US naval visits and signs military agreements to tighten the imperialist military encirclement of China.

In 1975, the revolutionary leaders promised to end imperial exploitation of plantation and factory labor; today the vassal rulers offer the imperial states cheap labor, at wages less than half that paid to Chinese workers to ‘entice’ multi-nationals.

In 1975, the government intervened in favor of workers, taking over plantations and factories; today the vassal state savagely represses striking workers and outlaws class-based unions.

In 1975, the revolutionary government declared its solidarity with workers’ and peasants’ struggles around the world; today the vassals declare their unconditional support of all of the major imperial organizations – from the World Trade Organization to the Trans-Pacific Treaty organization.

What explains this total reversal of politics and allegiances? What accounts for the transformation from revolutionary vanguard to submissive vassal of imperial powers? What factors led to the degeneration and decay of a revolutionary movement of millions and the ascendancy of a corrupt and servile political and socio-economic elite? Why did this counter-revolution occur without any major mass popular upheaval?

Stages and Circumstances of Vietnam’s Degeneration

Liberated Vietnam facing Military Siege

Internal and external events and forces played a major role in undermining the promise of social transformation proclaimed by the Vietnamese revolutionaries.

Beginning with the US destruction of the economy and Washington’s subsequent refusal to pay reparations and vindictive policy of post-war boycott and sanctions, the Vietnamese faced monumental tasks with few financial resources.

The US ground and air war devastated the infrastructure and productive enterprises of the country. Napalm and chemical warfare (Agent Orange) devastated villages and poisoned the rice fields, water and soil. Millions of cluster bombs maimed scores of thousands of peasants.

The US secretly supported the Khmer Rouge, the Cambodian terror regime, in its war on liberated Vietnam. This further damaged Vietnam’s shattered economy and diverted scarce resources needed for peacetime reconstruction to military operations.

China launched a border war on Vietnam’s northern frontier, increasing the burden on the depleted resources of the Vietnamese state.

The Difficult Transition

The Vietnamese revolutionary government, during the first decade of its existence, struggled to make the transition from a war to a peace economy

Given the scarcity of resources, skilled manpower and revenues, and under stress to protect its borders, the Vietnamese government attempted to ‘socialize’ the economy with few personnel and limited external support from the Soviet Union and its allies.

Power was concentrated, political militants and loyalists took command, although many lacked experience or expertise in economic development. Economic recovery was understandably dictated by political and military priorities. Politics was in command – trained orthodox economists were in retreat. The choice was ‘red’ over ‘expert’.

After decades of deprivation and sacrifice, many cadres sought and obtained access to scarce resources. A privileged elite emerged, especially in South Vietnam, where the US military occupation had spawned a huge black-market economy, and a large stratum of wealthy ‘middlemen’ who acted as ‘brokers’ with wealthy overseas Chinese businesspeople, especially in Hong Kong and beyond.

The Vietnamese defeated the Pol Pot terrorist regime at a heavy cost and backed a friendly client regime.

By 1980, China began its transition to capitalism and showed no interest in  providing aid or investment to hasten Vietnam’s socialist reconstruction. By the mid 1980’s, with the ascendance of Gorbachev, Russia cut off its economic assistance to Vietnamese state enterprises, denigrated socialist planning and backed ‘market solutions’.

External ‘Allies’ Promote Internal Enemies

In sum, Vietnam’s external allies were moving in a direction, which favored Vietnamese technocrats and ‘capitalist holdovers’ from the colonial and neo-colonial period.

The ‘new rich’, including privileged sectors of the revolutionary regime, took advantage of the ‘shortage of capital flows’ and the years of shortages and sacrifices to advocate an ‘opening to the market’ and to promote the entry of foreign capital. This was accompanied by the privatization of public enterprises (dubbed ‘joint ventures’) and ‘incentives’ (high profits) to manufacturers, especially from Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan.

Internal Factions and the Victory of the Capitalist Technocrats

By the late 1980’s, four tendencies competed for influence in the Communist Party:

(1) A revolutionary faction, including some of the historic leaders of the Liberation struggle.

(2) A centrist or reformist faction of privileged officials who sought to protect and promote state enterprises – a source of their own enrichment. They supported the “partnership” with foreign private capital supposedly as a supplement to the so-called “socialist sector”’

(3) A third faction of technocrats, who favored the gradual conversion to a private capitalist economy, except in some ill-defined ‘strategic sectors’.

(4) A fourth faction, composed of Western educated and connected economists, who sought and secured submission to overseas capitalist and international financial institutions. They joined forces with the technocrats and privileged, corrupt Party elite and became the eventual rulers of Vietnam.

The Counter-revolutionary ‘Unholy’ Alliance

In the course of the following decade, an alliance of technocrats, corrupt and enriched officials (with their families), who had become business partners, and pre-revolutionary elites took control of the economy. By the middle of the 1990’s, Vietnam could no longer ‘balance’ between the USSR and China on the one-hand and Western capitalists on the other. The USSR had disappeared. Russia was in chaos. China was in headlong pursuit of capitalist growth at any cost, through any means, especially via the privatization of major enterprises and  stripping workers of all labor and welfare rights.

The Vietnam revolutionaries were ‘retired’ or relegated to the historical museum as respected but impotent figureheads. They were trotted out on special ‘national’ occasions.

The ‘statists’ - the Party CEOs fought rearguard struggles trying to retain lucrative  fiefdoms in public enterprises, but lacked any strategic allies abroad or internally. They had immobilized the working class and had themselves embraced the privileges of power, luxury and corruption – (with few notable exceptions).

By the turn of the millennium, the technocrats and capitalist ideologues had taken full command of economic decision-making. They embraced the politics and economics of ‘globalization’ and the insertion of Vietnam into the World Trade Organization (WTO). They cited Vietnam’s rapid growth, lauding its abundant disciplined, cheap labor, kept in line by the centralized Party. Communist Party leaders exhibited all the features of the authoritarian personality: arrogant and abusive to the workers under them, submissive and servile to the foreign investors above them.

The Party had become the instrument for repressing outbreaks of industrial strikes, rural protests and public disaffection.

Many of the corrupt officials embraced the ‘free market’ to legitimate their corrupt appropriation of public goods and the laundering of illicit earning.

The ideology “getting rich is good” pervaded the top and middle echelons of the Party, which was ‘Communist’ in name only.

The party-state lost its legitimacy along with its revolutionary legacy. The former colonial enemies, Japan, the US and their allies were eagerly courted as the Vietnamese elite’s new ‘partners’ and mentors for the upwardly mobile technocrats and economists who served them.

With the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), US imperialism easily secured in luxury conference rooms what they had failed to achieve in twenty years on the battlefield: Total access to all of Vietnam’s major economic sectors, a captive labor force without rights or protection and a ruling elite willing to serve as an accomplice to its militarist policy of encircling  China.

Imperial Dominance by Invitation

The US political-economic conquest of Vietnam was accomplished by the invitation and complicity of the Vietnamese ruling Communist Party and not by the force of arms, not by a puppet ruler or a bought and bound ‘Generalissimo’.

The main beneficiaries of its vassalage are the Vietnamese collaborators, intermediaries, importers, exporters and labor contractors, who  receive legal and illicit commissions for selling out the nation’s wealth. This includes a small army of ‘service operators’, embedded in IT start-ups, Chinese-Vietnamese business associates of Hong Kong sweatshop manufacturers, new university graduates turned business consultants and public officials who ‘sign-off’ on tax exemptions, and  fabricate compliance with labor and environmental protection laws. These are the ones who grow rich in the new ‘market economy’.

As the major US, Japanese and overseas Chinese corporations take control of Vietnam’s manufacturing, banking, retail and wholesale sectors and local and overseas trade, small-scale local businesspeople will go bankrupt. State enterprise will be sold or closed. Small farmers and peasants will a lose access to credit while cheap imported rice will flood the market and bankrupt local farmers.

Vietnamese workers and peasants, once heralded as the vanguard of the liberation struggle, will be savagely  exploited by the Communist – capitalist ‘partnership’. They are now among the poorest of the poor in all of Asia.


The ascendancy of a pro-imperialist collaborator elite in Vietnam was not inevitable; it was a relatively gradual process, in which the negative external environment gradually eroded the will and capacity of Vietnam’s heroic and historic leaders to combine the revolutionary reconstruction with popular democratic institutions following the defeat of the US military. In a repeat of the Imperial Roman scorched and salted earth policy, the US took revenge for its humiliating defeat by leaving a devastated country, refusing reparations and imposing vindictive economic sanctions on the Vietnamese people and nation. The demise of the USSR and China’s turn to capitalism forced Vietnam to look for alternative sources of external finance.

Added to these harsh external conditions, difficult internal problems complicated the transition: Vietnam’s revolutionary leaders, who were magnificent and victorious strategists of politico-military struggle, were mediocre economic strategists. They turned to the pre-revolutionary Chinese-Vietnamese business elite, linked to Hong Kong, Taiwan, and mainland business families, to navigate the economy.

The young, educated post-revolutionary generation was drawn heavily from privileged families, especially from Saigon; they inexorably adapted and imposed their neo-liberal ideology on the regime.

The marriage of corrupt repressive statist officials to the traditional privileged clans and classes brought the new post-revolutionary educated technocrats to power.

The authoritarian Party elite ensured the de-radicalization of the workers and peasants, the exclusion and repression of leftwing activists and the unhindered application of neo-liberal, pro-imperial economic policies.

The Vietnam experience provides us with several important historical lessons:

The first lesson is the importance of democratizing and socializing production, distribution and culture following national liberation to check against the post-revolutionary seizure of power by Party and military leaders and to limit the advance of the old privileged classes.

Secondly, the educated classes must serve the interests of the revolutionary masses, and admission to institutes of higher education should favor the sons and daughters of the working class, not the children of the traditional comprador elite.

University students should be integrated into democratic class organization to further and deepen their links to the past and present revolutionary heritage

Public resources should be concentrated on economic and social programs that improve the lives of wage and salaried workers and local producers. The presence of private, local and foreign investors should be rigorously controlled via time- bound agreements.

The administration and decision-making in cooperative, self-managed and local enterprises should be decentralized.

Political education should be based on egalitarian ethics. Anti-corruption, disciplinary committees, elected by workers, peasants, employees, accountants, consumers and environmentalists should be established throughout the economy.

State expenditures on social and private consumption should be balanced with emphasis on public transport, health, education and leisure facilities.

Solidarity and support for on-going liberation struggles around the world should be the rule. Social practice in everyday life should be combined with individual and collective learning of technical, historical, social and literary subjects, which enrich and deepen understanding of the revolutionary roots of contemporary society.

The state should combat the tendency of organized local ethnic groups to serve as agents loyal to foreign regimes. Material and symbolic rewards for excellence should be combined and lifetime accomplishments recognized. Those guilty of illicit economic and social activities, especially those related to nepotism or kin/clan enrichment, should be marginalized and punished.

The post-liberation defeat and reversal of Vietnam’s revolutionary gains was not inevitable. Negative lessons should be studied and serve as guidelines for future revolutions. There are grounds to believe that the Vietnamese revolutionary legacy is not dead. The revolutionary grandparents in ‘retirement’ can and will transmit their vision and experience of  an alternative class struggle to their grandchildren, who are going to suffer savage exploitation, dispossession and de-nationalization following Vietnam’s entry into the imperialist Transpacific Partnership Agreement.

Leaders, who have grown rich from the TPP, will face anger and revolt by the Vietnamese masses who are destined to pay heavily for their leaders’ sell-out.

The Vietnam’s leaders have embraced the aggressive US-Japanese militarist policy against China; this betrayal of the people’s struggle will have long-lasting negative consequences.

Once against external and domestic developments will converge – hopefully, this time ushering in a new phase of revolutionary change.

Oct 142015

By James Petras, 99GetSmart



The major influential western print media are engaged in a prolonged, large-scale effort to demonize Russian President Putin, his politics and persona. There is an article (or several articles) every day in which he is personally stigmatized as a dictator, authoritarian, czar, ‘former KGB operative’ and Soviet-style ruler; anything but the repeatedly elected President of Russia.

He is accused of hijacking Russia from the ‘road to democracy’, as pursued by his grotesquely corrupt predecessor Boris Yeltsin; of directing the bloody repression of the ‘freedom loving Chechens’; of jailing innocent, independent and critical oligarchs and robber barons; of fomenting an uprising in the ‘democratic, newly pro-Western’ Ukraine and seizing control of Crimea; of backing a ‘bloody tyrant’ in Syria (elected President Bashar Assad) in a civil war against ISIS terrorists; of running the Russian economy into the ground; and of militarily threatening the Baltic and Eastern European  NATO member countries.

In a word, the media have propagated an image of an ‘out-of-control autocrat’, who makes a mockery of ‘democratic’ norms and ‘Western values’, and who seeks to revive the ‘Soviet (aka Evil) Empire’.

The corollary is that ‘Western powers’, despite their peace-loving propensities and fraternal attempts to bring Russia into the democratic ‘fold’, have been ‘forced’ to now surround Russia with NATO military bases and missiles; to finance a violent coup in the Ukraine (on Russia’s frontier) and arm the Ukrainian putsch government and neo-fascist militias to ‘restore democracy’ and violently suppress ethnic Russian ‘separatists’ in Eastern Ukraine. We are told that US and EU sanctions against Russia were carefully crafted ‘diplomatic’ measures designed to punish the Moscow ‘aggressor’.

In reality, the Western media has relentlessly demonized Vladimir Putin in a campaign to further NATO military expansion and undermine the Russian economy and its national security. The goal is ultimately to force a ‘regime change’, restoring the neo-liberal elites who had pillaged Russia’s economy during the 1990’s and whose brutal economic policies led to the premature death of over 6 million Russians due to deprivation and the collapse of the healthcare system.

Putin: Demon or Realist, Autocrat or Democrat, Vassal or Independent Leader?

The Western media has backed every oligarch, gangster and fraudster who has gone on trial and been convicted during Putin’s term in office. The propagandists tell us the reason for this affinity between the Western media and the gangster-oligarchs is that these convicted felons, who claim to be ‘political dissidents’ and critics of Putin’s rule, have been dispossessed, and jailed for upholding ‘Western values’.

The Western media conveniently ignore the well-documented studies on the source of the gangster-oligarchs’ wealth: The violent and illegal seizure of multi-billion dollars-worth of natural resources (aluminum, oil and gas), banks, factories, pension funds and real estate. During the Yeltsin period the oligarchs controlled thousands of armed gangsters and engaged in internal warfare during which thousands were killed, including top government regulators, police officials and journalists who dared to oppose or expose their pillage and property grabs.

Putin’s prosecution of a mere fraction of the most notorious oligarch-gangsters has won the support of the vast majority of Russian citizens because it represents a return to law and order and the return of stolen public wealth.

Only the Western media has dared to refer to these convicted felons as ‘political victims and reformers’. They did so because the oligarchs had become the most loyal and submissive assets in the US and EU governments’ efforts to convert Russia into an irreversibly weak vassal state.

The Western media constantly refer to President Putin as the ‘authoritarian ruler’, despite the fact that he has been repeatedly elected by large majorities in competitive elections against Western backed and funded candidates. His popularity is attested to by opinion polls conducted by Western agencies.

In 2015, President Putin’s support soared to over 85%. The pro-Western Russian neo-liberal politicians scored in the low single digits according to the same independent polls.

Clearly the Russian public does not want to return to the poverty and chaos of the Western-backed gangster politics of the 1990’s.

Whatever reservations working and middle class Russians have over President Putin’s style of decision-making, they clearly value his crackdown on gangster-controlled elections, Chechen terrorism, and his restoration of Russian military defense of its frontiers, including the annexation of Crimea, following the US-engineered coup in Ukraine.

Every day, the Western media recycle reports of the ‘decline and demise’ of the Russian economy, blaming ‘statist’ mismanagement of the economy by Putin. They claim ‘declining living standards’, the ‘negative growth’ of the economy and the ‘growing isolation’ of an ‘expansionist’ Russia in the face of Western sanctions.

These media claims are laughable. Readily available data demonstrate that living standards of the vast majority of Russian citizens have significantly increased under President Putin’s administration, especially after the utter collapse under the free marketers of the1990’s. Russian workers receive their pay, pensioners their pensions, enterprises their loans – on time. During the ‘free market’ days of Boris Yeltsin, workers went up to a year without pay, pensioners were selling their heirlooms in the street to survive and enterprises paid extortionate interest rates to oligarch-gangster controlled banks! Comparative data, easily obtained, are deliberately ignored by the mass media because it doesn’t fit the demonological narrative.

The mass media present the neo-liberal ‘opposition’ and ‘liberal critics’ as Russian democrats defending ‘Western values’. They forget to mention that these ‘liberal critics’ have been directly funded by Western foundations (National Endowment for Democracy, Soros Foundation, etc.) and Russian non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) with longstanding ties to US and EU governments, intelligence agencies and exiled Russian billionaires. The so-called ‘Russian’ democratic opposition revealed their abject servility to Western interests when they openly supported the Ukrainian coup and Kiev’s bloody assault on ethnic Russian-Ukrainians in the eastern ‘Donbas’ regions of Donetsk, Luhansk and Odessa. Whatever shreds of respectability and credibility the ‘democratic opposition’ retained with the Russian public, up to that point, was lost. They were seen for what they are: propaganda arms of Western imperialism and mouth-pieces for neo-fascists.

The Western mass media charge Putin’s government with the same crimes that their own governments commit. After the US State Department’s Victoria Nuland admitted to channeling $5 billion to fund the 2014 coup in Ukraine and after the Polish regime boasted of training far right street fighters, whose mob violence served as a pretext for the coup, and after neo-fascist coalition partners in Odessa of burned alive four dozen ethnic Russian-Ukrainian citizens opposed to the coup, the Western mass media accused Putin of ‘intervening’ in Ukraine. This was because Russia had convoked a referendum in Crimea, in which over 80% of the electorate voted to secede from the illegitimate Ukrainian coup regime and rejoin Russia.

In truth, the Putin government is a victim of the Western power grab in the Ukraine, with Russia having to absorbed hundreds of thousands of ethnic Russian refugees driven out of the Donbas, yet the Western media portray Putin as the executioner. Meanwhile the Western coup-makers and their far-right allies are depicted as victims … forced to bomb and decimate the Donbas region.

The charade continued. The Western media portray the subsequent punitive, economic sanctions imposed by the expansionist US and EU on Russia as a result of Putin’s ‘aggression’, referring to Russia’s defense of Crimea’s self-determination and the rights of the millions of bilingual ethnic Russian citizens of Ukraine.

The absurdity and convoluted nature of Western demonological propaganda has reached new even more bizarre heights with their hysteria against Russia’s military support of the secular Syrian government against ISIS and other jihadi terrorists.

The Western mass media have launched a global campaign charging that the Russian air force  bombs ‘non-ISIS military bases’, presumably the bases of Western-backed ‘friendly’ jihadi terrorists. This ridiculous ‘reportage’ and its accompanying ‘photos’ were published before the Russian air strikes even took place!!

Apparently timing doesn’t matter in Washington’s ‘alternative universe of lies’!

NATO passed its political line to the media that Russian support for the legitimate regime of President Assad must be discredited; that the Russian presence is ‘provocative’ and responsible for ‘creating tensions’ in the region – after years of Western-sponsored jihadi terrorism against Syria!

Obedient to its masters, the Western media breathlessly ‘reported’ that the Russians were ‘really’ engaged in Syria in order destroy the pro-Western ‘fighters’ leaving ISIS alone.

No credible evidence for this propaganda was ever presented. They trotted out aerial photos of wreckage, which had likely been lifted from previous US bombings.

The media’s clumsy execution of the Pentagon’s line managed to embarrass even the US Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, who backed off of such claims and called for an explanation from Russia. Even Secretary Kerry, who now seeks to secure Putin’s military support for the US against ISIS while withdrawing Russia’s political backing of President Assad, has cautioned the media to modify its line, now that the US favors ‘greater coordination’ with Russia – but under US leadership. The media has recently conformed to this line, although it has not managed to explain how Washington could now work with the demonic President Putin.


Western media is engaged in an intense long-term propaganda campaign to demonize President Putin. Its role is to convince world public opinion and world leaders to blindly follow the US and EU, as well as their ‘allies’ and vassal states, in a campaign to degrade and undermine Russia, and consolidate a unipolar empire under US tutelage.

The Western mass media is important; but it must be remembered that the media is an instrument of imperial state power. Its lies and fabrications, its demonization of leaders, like President Putin, are one part of a global military offensive to establish dominance and to destroy adversaries.

The more intense the imperial campaign, the riskier the power grab, the greater the need to demonize the victims.

This explains how the escalation of the rabid anti-Putin propaganda campaign coincides with the single biggest Western power grab – the Ukraine coup (‘regime change’) – since West Germany annexed East Germany, and NATO and the EU incorporated the Baltic States, Eastern Europe and the Balkans into the West’s strategic alliance. The West’s bloody break-up of the Yugoslav federation was part of this strategic program.

The problem with the Western demonization of adversaries, whether it is Russia, Iran and China today, or earlier Cuba, Libya and Yemen in the past, is that Washington and the EU face severe economic crises at home and military defeats abroad by armed Islamic and nationalist resistance movements.

The US had invested hundreds of billions of dollars to prop up a shaky puppet regime in US-occupied Iraq, yet the US-trained and supplied Iraqi Army fled as the Baathist-Islamist ‘ISIS’ quickly over-ran half the country.

US troops have occupied Afghanistan for fourteen years, losing tens of thousands of lives and limbs and yet the nationalist-Islamist Taliban can easily take over Afghanistan’s third largest city, Kunduz (population 300,000), and occupies three quarters of the rest of the countryside.

Libya and Somalia are a disaster. And still Washington allocates a half billion dollars to train pro-Western mercenaries to overthrow Syria’s President Assad – mercenaries who give up their arms or join ISIS the moment they cross the border from Jordan or Turkey. The US trained mercenaries have handed over untold millions of dollars worth of heavy and light weapons and armored carriers to ISIS and Al Qaeda. The EU and the US face the dismal reality that Libya, Somalia and Syria are over-run by anti-Western Islamic fighters.

In Asia, China is demonized in the Western media, portrayed as being on the verge of collapse, facing a hard landing, even as China grows at 7%. The Western media wring their collective hands over the crisis in China while Beijing finances two new international development banks for $100 billion, raises its contribution to the IMF and brings 50 countries, including most of the EU but minus the US and Japan, into a new infrastructure lending institution.

Two big questions face the US and EU:

Why do the Western media launch a campaign of demonization that doesn’t correspond to reality? What is the goal of such demonization, which objectively undermines the possibility of forming tactical alliances to end the US’ military losses, political defeats and diplomatic isolation? The US needs Russia to defeat ISIS.

For Moscow, the fight against ISIS is crucial to Russian national security: Thousands of Chechen terrorists (some trained by the US) are fighting with ISIS and threaten to return to the Caucuses and terrorize Russia. Unlike the US public’s opposition to Washington’s role in forcing ‘regime change’ in Syria, the Russian public supports Moscow’s military support for the Syrian government because the Chechens’ campaign of terror within Russia, especially the 2004 massacre of hundreds of school children, teachers and parents in Beslan, is seared into their memory – a fact conveniently ignored by Western media when it ‘sympathizes’ with Chechen ‘freedom fighters’.

In reality, Washington should have a common interest to ally with Russia in the fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. However Obama is committed to ousting Assad (Russia’s ally) to expand US dominance in the Middle East in partnership with Israel and Saudi Arabia. Clearly there are insurmountable contradictions between short-term military objectives (fighting ISIS) and strategic imperial political imperatives (consolidating US-Israeli hegemony over the Middle East and Iran).

Washington has moved to end its isolation in Latin America by re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba. Meanwhile, Washington retains the economic blockade of Cuba and its huge US military base in Guantanamo. Cuba is seen as a tactical political ally in ‘moderating’ the leftist government of Venezuela and pressuring the Colombian FARC to disarm, even as Washington deepens its military presence in the continent.

Obama signed off on a nuclear agreement with Iran (but the crippling sanctions and blockade remain in place) in order to secure Tehran’s support for the war against ISIS in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Temporarily, the Western mass media has ‘toned-down’ its demonological reporting on Iran and Cuba, for tactical purposes.

The Obama regime has adopted a ‘good cop/bad cop’ (or schizophrenic) posture with Russia on Syria – Secretary of State John Kerry speaks of joint co-operation with Moscow while Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter proposes to militarily confront ‘Russian aggression’. The media hasn’t made the switch because they don’t know which orders to obey or which line to ‘parrot’.

In the meantime, the domestic economic crisis deepens, ISIS advances, the Taliban approaches Kabul, the Russians are arming and defending President Assad and millions of refugees, fleeing the war zones, have over-run Europe. European border wars are raging. And Obama wrings his hands in impotence. Demonology offers no allies, no solutions and no positive path to peace and co-existence.

Oct 062015

By James Petras, 99GetSmart



Western imperialism, in all of its manifestation, is being challenged by five political leaders, through diplomacy, moral persuasion and public pressure. In recent time, Pope Francis, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn have raised fundamental questions concerning (1) war and peace in the Middle East and the Caucuses; (2) climate change and the destruction of the environment; (3) economic sanctions, military threats and confrontation; and (4) growing inequalities of class, gender and race.

The New Global Agenda

These five protagonists of a new global agenda differ from past critics from the left both in the style and substance of their politics.

The politics of change, reform and peace in the near immediate period has a particular complex, heterodox complexion, which contains traditional conservative and popular components.

These leaders have a global audience and major impact on world public opinion – and indirectly and directly on Western politics.

Defying Past Left-Right Divisions

These five leaders defy the traditional left-right division. Pope Francis demands immigrant rights, equal pay for women, diplomacy and peace negotiations instead of war, and greater class equality. He excoriates neoliberal, capitalism (“the dung of the devil”).

But he also defends traditional Catholic doctrine on abortion, divorce, contraception and homosexuality. He opposes class struggle and social revolution in favor of class collaboration, dialogue, and negotiations.

President Putin favors negotiations and peaceful resolution of conflicts in Syria and the Ukraine. He is an ardent advocate of a global coalition to fight Islamic terrorism. He has sharply reduced western pillage of the Russian economy and restored salaries, pensions and employment. He has restored Russian military capacity and national security and reduced terrorist assaults from the Caucuses.

At the same time Putin supports some of the biggest Yeltsin era billionaires; is closely aligned with the conservative Russian Orthodox Church; and is excavating the remains of the last tyrannical Russian Tsar to honor him and his family.

President Xi Jinping has played a leading role in promoting increases in consumer spending, wages, pensions and social welfare. He has deepened links with US high tech industries and signed off on a major reduction of carbon fuels and pollution, offering $3 billion dollars to fund alternatives for less developed countries. He has fired, prosecuted and jailed over 250,000 corrupt government and party officials who exploited and abused the public, while limiting operations of speculative Western hedge funds.

At the same time, Xi retains the authoritarian one party system; defends China’s one hundred-plus billionaires; and restricts all forms of independent class political and trade union organizations.

Hassan Rouhani is both devout practicing Muslim and a staunch advocate of peace. He supports a ‘nuclear-free Middle East’. He is a consequential opponent of terrorism by Salafist Islamists, Zionists, Christians and Hindus. He is the leading critic of Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in Yemen and a principled defender of national self-determination. Internally he has reduced authoritarian state controls and censorship of free expression and promoted scientific and technological research – in a country where half of research scientists are women.

President Rohani has signed a high risk peace agreement with the US and its partners (5 + 1) dismantling Iran’s nuclear facilities and opening its military installations to international inspection by an international  atomic agency of dubious neutrality.

At the same time, Rohani opposes a secular state, supports liberalizing the economy, invites foreign multi-nationals to exploit lucrative oil and gas fields, and supports the corrupt and regressive US backed Shia regime in Iraq.

Jeremy Corbyn, the newly elected head of the British Labor Party, has been a consequential critic of neo-liberal capitalism and a strong advocate of public ownership of strategic economic sectors. He backs a highly graduated progressive income tax to finance a comprehensive welfare program.

He advocates a democratic foreign policy that opposes Anglo-American and Israeli imperialism in the Middle East and elsewhere.

However, upon taking office as head of the neo-liberal, pro-imperialist Labor Party, he confronts a parliamentary party dominated by his adversaries. His appointments to the “shadow cabinet” are overwhelmingly pro-NATO and pro-European Union; some even oppose his Keynesian budgetary agenda. Moreover, Corbyn endorses ‘working in the EU’ and promises to support a ‘yes vote’ in any referendum, even as the world witnessed how the EU imposed harsh austerity budgets on Latvia, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and other countries in financial straits.

The Collective Impact of the Five

There is no question that these five leaders have made a major impact on world public opinion on issues of peace, climate change, equality and the need to reach international agreements. In most cases one or more of the leaders have exercised greater influence on a specific public or region and have had a greater impact on some issues over others.

The Pope, for example, has greater influence on Christians; Rohani on the Muslim public; Putin, Corbyn and Xi on secular opinion. Xi and the Pope have a greater impact on proposals for climate change. Putin, the Pope, Rohani and Xi are prominent in advocating peaceful resolution of conflicts; Corbyn and the Pope on reducing inequalities and securing social justice.

With the exception of Corbyn and Xi, all support traditional religious beliefs and observances. Most are ‘ecumenical’ in the sense of supporting religious tolerance.

Most important, all pursue these goals through persuasion, diplomacy and winning over public opinion. None of these world leaders have invaded or overthrown incumbent adversarial regimes or occupied countries. All are leading opponents of terror – especially ISIS.

President Putin is playing a leading role in challenging President Obama to join a broad coalition, including Bashar Assad and Iran, in fighting ISIS terrorism.

Washington, despite its rhetorical hostility, was pressured to respond – ‘partially favorable’.

President Putin has also taken the initiative in the Middle East. He leads a coalition, including Iraq, Iran and Syria to co-ordinate the war against terrorism.

China’s President Xi has committed military forces in support of the Russia’s anti-terrorist proposal for Syria. The Pope has offered tacit support via his pronouncements against terrorism and for international coalitions.

As a consequence of the massive flood of refugees resulting from the US-EU-Saudi-Turkey support of Islamist mercenaries invading Syria and Iraq, several European allies of Washington are reconsidering their anti-Assad policies. They are moving toward the broad front proposals of Putin-Rohani-Xi and the Pope.

The social-economic impact of the Pope’s call for social justice is less apparent, apart from the routine lip-service from Western leaders. Among the quintet, Rohani is looking toward ‘market solutions’: inviting Western and Asian investors to revitalize the oil industry. Xi is cracking down on big time fraudsters in China and abroad, but has yet to embrace a comprehensive welfare and incomes policy. Putin presides over a petrol-economy in recession and has relied on private corporate oligarchs and overseas investors to regain growth. Corbyn’s egalitarian pronouncements have little impact among Labor Party politicians and his shadow cabinet. Moreover, he appears reluctant to mobilize the rank and file Labor activists for a fight for his program within the  Party.

The climate change and environmental struggle received robust backing from the Pope –in his speeches to the US Congress, the United Nations and in his mass gatherings.

President Xi reinforced the message by proposing to fund a massive clean air program for the less developed countries, while setting rigorous targets to reduce pollution in China. There is no doubt that their message is well received by all environmental groups and the general public. Some political leaders, including Obama, appear to be, in part, receptive.

Rohani, Putin and Corbyn have played only a minor role in the defense of the environment.

Response of the Western Powers

The US, EU, Japan, Israel and Australia, referred to as the ‘Western Powers’ paid lip service to the cause of peace, while continuing to pursue military objectives via air wars, cross border terrorist activities and military build ups.

In general terms, they manipulate a double discourse – of talking peace and bombing adversaries.

However, the Western Powers feel the pressure of ‘the quintet,’ which is winning the political ideological contest. The ‘Russian threat’ is no longer viewed as credible by most of the international public. China’s international financial initiatives have gained major support from across the globe.

Japanese militarization has provoked mass domestic unrest and regional concerns – especially in Southeast Asia.

Israel is a pariah, not just in the Middle East but is increasingly viewed with hostility by the rest of international public opinion.

Germany, Europe’s leading economic power, has been discredited because of the massive fraud scandal by Volkswagen, its leading automobile maker and major exporter.

In other words, while the Western Powers retain military superiority and important markets, their overseas policies have suffered severe setbacks and their leaders have lost credibility. Their domestic and overseas supporters are turning against them. Moreover, the moral authority of Western leaders has been severely questioned by the Pope’s harsh critique of the ‘exclusionary’ policies toward immigrants and refugees, the excessive greed of capitalism, the reliance on force instead of diplomacy and the massive human suffering due to capitalism’s unrelenting destruction of the environment.

The Pope’s generalities would not have had such a powerful political impact, if they were not accompanied by (1) the selective use of arms and diplomacy emanating from President Putin; (2) the diplomatic successes of President Rohani; and (3) the economic muscle of President Xi, in support of economic development and international co-operation on the environment and climate change.


From widely divergent origins and diverse ideological backgrounds, five political leaders have set a new agenda for dealing with war and peace, equality and inequality, security and terrorism and environmental protection. Except for Jeremy Corbyn, who in any case will probably be rendered impotent by his own party’s elite, none of these progressive leaders’ ideologies is derived from the secular left.

They challenge the status quo, and raise the central issues of our time, at a time when the secular left is marginal or self-destructs (as Greece’s Syriza, Spain’s Podemos or Italy’s Five Stars in Southern Europe).

Faced with this heterodox reality, the Left has the choice of (1) remaining in sterile isolation; (2) embracing one, some, or all of ‘the quintet’; (3) or aligning with them on specific pronouncements and proposals.

The five have sufficient drawbacks, ‘contradictions’ and limitations to warrant criticism and distance. But in the big picture, on the major issues of our time, these leaders have adopted progressive policies, which warrant whole-hearted active support. They are the only ‘show’ in the real world – if we are serious about joining the struggle against imperial wars, terrorism, environmental destruction and injustice.

Sep 212015

By James Petras, 99GetSmart



Step by step, Washington is inexorably setting up a major provocation against China. Until now, the Obama regime tightened a military encirclement of China, expanding its armed forces agreements with Japan, the Philippines and Australia. In addition, it has promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), a regional trade agreement which openly excludes China. Obama has ordered a major naval build-up in the South China Sea and embarked on extensive cyber-espionage of Chinese industries and the government via major US high-tech companies, as revealed by Edward Snowden in his release of confidential NSA document.

As President Xi Jinping prepares for his first US visit as China’s leader on September 25, with the aim of extending economic ties between Chinese and US business (especially with the high tech corporations in Seattle and Silicon Valley), the Obama regime has threatened to impose a series of punitive sanctions against Chinese companies and individuals for ‘cyber-espionage’, essentially undermining the purpose of his trip.

Characterizing the Chinese as ‘cyber-thieves’ and imposing sanctions on Chinese businesses on the eve of Xi’s visit will be justifiably seen as a deliberate humiliation and a provocation, designed to treat China as a mere vassal state of Washington.

This will force the Chinese government to retaliate on behalf of Chinese businesses – and President Xi is fully capable of imposing retaliatory sanctions against multi-billion dollar high tech US corporations, which had been flourishing – up to now – in China.

Obama’s decision to provoke China on multiple fronts reflects the overwhelming influence of the militarist power configurations in Washington: the Pentagon, the NSA and the Zionist-militarist ideologues.

In contrast to Washington’s aggressive policy, the major US high tech corporations are almost unanimous in their opposition to Obama’s ‘military pivot’ and are appalled by the threat of cyber sanctions, rightly calling them a “needless provocation”.

For its part, Wall Street has taken an intermediary position – hoping Washington will coerce China into ‘opening’ its protected financial markets to the big US banks. It doesn’t necessarily support aggressive sanctions, which could provoke a response from China closing off lucrative opportunities in the world’s biggest financial market.

Background to a Momentous Confrontation

China’s growth and overseas economic expansion has increasingly challenged US market supremacy in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

China’s relationship with the US, EU and Japanese multi-national corporations has changed due to its recent technological advances in its manufacturing and service sectors moving its production up the value chain. Increasingly, the Chinese have been demanding technology transfers from their multinational partners and an increasing use of locally manufactured parts in their assembly plants.

China’s economic expansion and industrial maturation has evoked divergent responses from the elites in Washington, Silicon Valley and Wall Street.

US Elites Diverge

The Pentagon and the White House developed the ‘military pivot’ to deal with China’s ascendency as an economic world power. This is essentially a policy of strategic confrontations, including military encirclement through regional base agreements, deliberate economic exclusion through regional trade agreements and political provocation through threatened sanctions. US military bases have expanded and a huge naval armada patrols China’s maritime frontier. There are US fighter planes flying over Beijing’s reclaimed island installations while the US State Department goads China’s neighbors to stake their own territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The White House and its highly militarized State Department have launched a full-scale propaganda campaign through the US mass media, criminalizing China with unsubstantiated charges of espionage. The range, intensity and frequency of these accusations indicate that this campaign is not some clever diplomatic ploy intended to squeeze out concessions in an otherwise peaceful relation. Rather Washington’s criminalization of China is meant to provoke a full rupture in diplomatic, political and economic relations and prepare for harsh military confrontations.

Washington’s campaign to criminalize China includes the hysterical claims that China has engaged in the long-term, large scale theft of US intellectual property rights. By falsely attributing China’s technological advances to ‘theft’ Washington denigrates China’s endogenous scientific and technological achievements as well as criminalizing the Beijing and Chinese companies.

In the last few years, the US arrested several Chinese scientists and issued warrants for others, publicly accusing them of spying on US companies. The charges against several of the scientists were later quietly dropped by the FBI for lack of evidence but not before the scientists had seen their careers destroyed. The negative propaganda impact on the US public was successful – Chinese scholars and scientists were depicted as spies. Whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations of National Security Agency’s documents clearly show that it was the US which was engaged in large-scale spying on Beijing, using major US IT corporations operating in China as a principal vehicle for data theft.

The US has accused China of violating international norms regarding the governance of the internet – claiming that Chinese authorities exercise censorship and control over US IT companies as well as its own citizens. In other words, Washington denies Chinese sovereignty by claiming extra-territorial jurisdiction over the internet! Along the same lines, Washington asserts that China has blocked US market access by insisting that public agencies rely on Chinese suppliers and that US firms store their data in China. China’s new policies developed after they discovered that US multi-national corporations were working hand-in-glove with the NSA and other US intelligence agencies. Is it any wonder that China sought to protect its industrial and trade secrets, as well as national security, by limiting access for US IT corporations?

The “Financial Press”: Wars over Markets

Washington’s provocative campaign to criminalize China and Chinese industries has been amplified in the financial pages of the respectable US and British press. The degree to which the leading Anglo-American financial newspapers, the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times, have become rabid advocates of Obama’s militarist confrontational policy instead of serving the business community’s market interests, evaluating the impact of sanctions on US high tech multi-nationals and presenting the much more moderate position of the major high-tech multi-nationals is striking.

The financial press’s shrill campaign is designed to paint China as a corporate criminal and ignores major US corporate opposition to any rash military actions. This propaganda campaign is warning the US IT elite of an imminent barrage of economic sanctions against China’s burgeoning cyber industries. These Sanctions could be announced prior to or even during President Xi Jinping’s visit to the US– if the militarists have their way.

White House Sanctions: The Divergences in US Policy

Despite White House rhetoric and anti-China hysteria, most US IT corporations have reaped huge profits from their sales and business arrangements with the Chinese state and Chinese businesses. According to one executive, “Apple is the standout success story, with sales of the iPhone rising 75 percent in China over the past year (2014)’. (FT 9/12 – 9/13/15).

Senior IT executives have expressed their willingness to accommodate China’s demands a change in the way they do business, including technology transfers, because they see “huge opportunities (for profit) in the near term”. The last thing Silicon Valley wants is for Washington to provoke hostile retaliation from China if Obama imposes sanctions:  That would entail the loss of hundreds of billions of dollars!

In the highly militarized-‘Zionized’ Obama administration, immersed in the politics of provocation and war, the multi-nationals do not have the final say.

China’s Maturing Capitalism: Indigenous Innovations

China’s maturing capitalism has been accompanied by significant changes. And in 2006, the Chinese leadership announced a new policy promoting ‘indigenous innovation’. The purpose of the policy was two-fold: to become less dependent on foreign technology and to combat the growing threat of Washington’s espionage via US high tech corporations operating in China.

In line with these strategic goals, in 2009 China ruled that only companies with locally developed technology would be allowed to bid for public procurement contracts.

In 2010, Google’s operations in China were shutdown when it was revealed that the company had acted as a ‘transmission belt’ transferring sensitive Chinese data to the NSA.  Washington immediately denounced China for what it termed “censorship” of Google.

As the endogenous innovation policy gained momentum, the US MNC monopoly of China’s high tech market was undermined. The MNC’s called for Washington to intervene and force China to “open” its markets to US dominance.

In strategic terms, the tie-in between the US IT MNCs and Washington boomeranged: While spying for NSA may have gained short-term favors for the high tech sector, it undermined strategic relations with China and its lucrative market. The IT moguls re-thought the strategy and sought greater autonomy from the NSA to regain China’s trust and re-enter its market.

High Tech Diplomacy

The high tech multinational corporations are eager to welcome China’s President Xi on his visit, viewing it as an opportunity to mend and expand relations. The Silicon Valley-Seattle corporate elite oppose sanctions against while the White House claim to be acting on their behalf.

The US high tech elite are aware that American IT companies must accommodate China’s demands to transfer and share technology. They have adopted a realistic perspective that if they do not share markets, technology and sales – they can lose out entirely.

Apple, IBM, CISCO, Qualcomm have declared that they would rather cooperate with China’s indigenous innovations policy than face big losses or total exclusion from the Chinese market.

Even Google, which served as the NSA’s willing accomplice and was expelled for espionage against China, is now seeking approval for a limited re-entry.

Wall Street Diplomacy: Pressure not Provocation

The big Wall Street bankers, on the other hand, want the White House to pressure China to de- regulate its financial markets. They want China to allow American hedge funds and speculators to sell short and artificially drive down the value of Chinese stocks, increasing volatility and discouraging investors.

It is questionable whether Wall Street’s idea of US “pressure” extends to applying punitive economic sanctions. After all, limited financial access under present circumstances is still far more lucrative than total exclusion which could result from Chinese retaliation in response to White House sanctions.


The divergent interests and approaches among US imperial elites, between high powered IT corporate CEO’s and Pentagon and White House militarists is evident in two parallel meetings taking place during President Xi’s visit.

During his visit to the US, Xi will stop over in Seattle to confer with top IT executives, coinciding with the US-China Internet Industry Forum. The timing and location (Seattle) of the Forum is not coincidental. Its timing was planned by the Chinese and reflects their influence and capacity to play-off powerful US economic elites against Washington’s war mongers and Pentagon militarists.

The White House has been pushing for a fight with China ever since Obama announced his so-called ‘pivot to Asia’. The saber rattling has escalated over the past two years, aided and abetted by an all-out propaganda campaign denigrating China’s scientific and economic performance and exaggerating fears of its defense modernization programs. When one reads the Wall Street Journal or the Financial Times, one would think the Chinese economy is on the verge of collapse. They describe the drop in China’s projected annual growth from 7.3% to 7% as ‘catastrophic’! If the EU and US grew at half that rate, the financial scribes would claim an ‘economic miracle’!

Denigration of the Chinese economy; screeds and characterizations of the Chinese as industrial thieves engaged in spying and criminal behavior and the wild paranoid warnings about the growing ‘Chinese military threat’ are part of a systematic build-up to counter lucrative economic relations between China and IT corporations and other leading US economic sectors.

Washington’s projected sanctions on China will be many times more costly to US MNC than its current sanctions on Russia. White House sanctions on Moscow mainly damaged European-based industries and businesses. However sanctions against China will have a massive impact on the US economy.

The White House’s version of the “yellow peril” has no redeeming features for any sector of the US economy. It is the purest expression of militarism run amok. It over-rides any rational economic interest in pursuit of unadulterated geo-political military supremacy. Even on its own terms military supremacy is unattainable as Washington will soon discover, as China deepens its military ties with Russia!

If and when Washington raises the specter of sanctions against China, (with the accompanying gratuitous insults and unsubstantiated accusations of state sponsored “cyber theft”) the Chinese government will respond.

President Xi will take reprisals as he has done before, faced with lesser threats. And he will have the support of the vast majority of Chinese from all regions and classes.

US IT corporations are aware of this potential debacle and have openly and forcefully conveyed their views to Washington. For them, the so-called ‘cyber theft’ is a minor issue compared to the lucrative long term strategic opportunities in working with China.

So far the militarists in the Obama White House have commanded US-China policy. Up to now they have disregarded corporate American interests; whether it is US oil interests in Iraq and Libya, or IT corporations in China.

If Zionist officials in the Executive influence the militarists on Middle East policy, the hard core militarists influence the Zionists in the Far East.

If the US military-driven Middle East policy has been a failure, a similar policy toward China will be catastrophic.

US sanctions and humiliation against China and the consequent falling out of relations will play out in slow motion. Beginning with the precipitous decline of joint ventures and exports, it will lead to lifeless cranes in empty Pacific coast ports and rusting container ships; profit losses and vacant country clubs in Silicon Valley and lost sales for US auto companies. The list is endless but the consequences are clear.

Sep 122015

By James Petras, 99GetSmart


China’s wealthiest classes have secured their recent fortunes through various means, both legal and illegal: These include (1) the privatization of public enterprises; (2) the savage exploitation of cheap labor after destroying workers rights , protections and social welfare legislation; (3) large-scale, long-term corruption of government officials; (4) the often violent state-sponsored land-grabs from towns, villages and farmers and the land transfer to private investors; (5) real estate speculation; (6) changes in state regulatory policies leading to oligopolistic control of markets; (7) large-scale tax evasion, money laundering and offshore transfers of profits and (8) state policies dictating low wage and salaries and repressing workers collective action.

The Communist leadership’s pursuit of an ‘export-oriented’ growth model, based on reducing labor costs to secure competitive advantages in world markets, coincided with the emergence of aggressive Chinese capitalists intent on increasing their profits and concentrating private wealth.

This model of capitalist accumulation required ‘capital-friendly’ labor policies to attract large-scale, long-term investment from US, Japanese and European multinational in association with China’s wealthiest capitalists.

China’s capitalist development was based on a triple alliance of national, foreign and state capitalists, all of whom depended on the widespread, massive corruption of state-party officials.

The Dynamics of Mature Capitalism

As the economy grew, national capital diversified from manufacturing to the FIRE economy, (finance, insurance and real estate). As the economy “liberalized”, overseas and local financial institutions proliferated. Speculative profits attracted major investors as well as millions of middle class ‘fortune seekers’.

China’s growth led to its rise as the primary market for raw materials and the primary producer of imported consumer goods in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

Its rapid growth provoked the US to build-up its bases around China and launch a policy of military confrontation and encirclement as well as regional trade exclusion (the so-called ‘Pivot to Asia’)..

The long, deep recession in the European markets and the financial crisis in the US limited China’s high growth export model.

Meanwhile, second and third generations of skilled Chinese workers became more militant, demanding and winning double digit wage increases. At the same time rural communities staged mass demonstrations and took direct action against corrupt local officials linked to land-grabbing speculators and other attempts to drive them from their homes and farms on behalf of powerful real estate interests.

Wealthy Chinese investors, who diversified into the FIRE economy, created a speculative real estate bubble.

High-ranking party officials, who had enriched themselves through the corrupt takeovers of lucrative state monopolies, caused economic stagnation and deep political disenchantment among the mass of Chinese people.

Worldwide demand for China’s exports declined with the global economic crisis.

Crises and Rectification

Faced with a major loss of political legitimacy, the stagnation of its global export markets, a real estate bubble and stock market volatility, the Chinese government launched a wide-reaching rectification campaignwhich featured:

  1. A massive anti-corruption campaign was launched to restore morality to the government and to win back public respect. Over 250,000 corrupt officials were identified, investigated and tried. Many were imprisoned or dismissed and some were executed.
  2. Reform of wage and income policies was designed to reduce inequalities and encourage domestic consumption. As a result wages rose 10% annually.
  3. The investigation and prosecution of speculators, including investors connected to foreign hedge funds and big oligarchs who had gained gaining billions by “defrauding” retail investors, was initiated by the judiciary.
  4. The Chinese currency, the renminbi, was devalued to promote exports.
  5. The government increased military spending in order to confront the US naval encirclement, including upgrading its of most sophisticated weapons systems, which were on display recently during China’s massive ‘Victory over Japan’ parade.
  6. Two new international investment-financial organizations were set up to counter the US dominated IMF and World Bank and to encourage the participation of regional trade partners as a response to Washington’s Asia Pacific trade arrangements which specifically excluded China.
  7. Greater emphasis is now placed on providing domestic government services, enforcing tax collection, broadening social welfare legislation and social accountability.
  8. Measures are being implemented to prevent the flight of Chinese capital by oligarch families as they flee criminal prosecution for their illicit business activities.

The Response from China’s Wealthy Classes

China’s wealthy classes are resisting these government reforms designed to lessen some of the class imbalances and injustices and to deal with the multiple crises in the society and economy. They have been transferring hundreds of billions of dollars out of the country – essentially disinvesting and de-capitalizing the economy. They have expressed deep concern that the increase in workers’ wages will cut into their profits and that they will lose their lucrative contracts as well as access to compliant, corrupt government officials. They are anxious to hide their source of wealth for fear they will end up in the criminal docket with corrupt partners in the government.

China’s wealthy classes have gone on a buying spree of overseas real estate, fixed income securities, commercial properties, trust products, etc. in an attempt to safely stash their wealth.

Large-scale speculation, the massive flight of capital and canceling of irregular state loans have all contributed to the current volatility in the Chinese economy. China’s wealthy classes create their own self-fulfilling prophecy: their capital flight and speculation creates the very volatile conditions that then serve as the pretext for even more capital flight.

Crisis, Rectification and the Struggle for Power

The source of the current Chinese crisis is found in the behavior and political alliances of the leading classes who benefited from the rapid growth Chinese capitalism.

Progressive capitalist reformers believe that to end the crises requires radical reforms. They advocate: (1) returning the financial market to its original role as an instrument of productive activity; (2) reversing the liberalization of the financial market, including ending speculation by Western hedge funds, re-introducing capital controls, going after tax evaders and punishing massive illegal transfers of profits to offshore havens; and (3) increasing domestic mass consumption and imposing restrictions on  conspicuous elite consumption, via progressive income tax and welfare measures.

The process of rectification has encountered passive resistance from the comprador capitalists as they spirit their wealth out of China. Wealthy Chinese have adopted a post-colonial comprador mentality born out of their tight economic ties with Western capitalists.  They absorbed the neo-liberal ideology; they prize Western education and culture and turn to the US imperial state to protect their wealth – in a dramatic shift of loyalties.

Their own children attend the most expensive private US universities where they are indoctrinated with US elite-centered  political and economic dogma.

They stash their money in high end real estate as an investment and to house their families and children who attend elite US schools..


It is difficult for Chinese political and economic ‘reformers’ to solve the problem of the comprador capitalist, because the ‘reformers’ have engaged in similar behavior and practices over the years.

It is critical for the ‘reformers’ to expose the illicit wealth and go after the compradors with aggressive prosecution. This will be difficult because many reformers have family members among the comprador class, have benefited from the speculative ‘boom’ and have sent their own children abroad. Some may even have their own secret bank accounts overseas – the profits from deals made with big investors.

There is no deep fundamental or class division between compradors and reformers in China. However, the crisis and capital flight is intensifying class polarization and external events are forcing a deeper rethink of how China should confront US militarist policies.

The US military threat is causing problems for Chinese compradors and their economist-propagandists. It is difficult to ‘sell’ the idea of opening wide to Wall Street when the country is staring down the barrels of US guns.

In a strategic sense, this frenzy of Chinese capital flight legitimizes the rectification campaign and weakens compradors’ influence in the economy. Even some of China’s most ardent economic liberals are in flight!

Nevertheless, the reformers’ hesitant steps, their deep ‘faith in the market’ and the massive presence of foreign multi-nationals inside China indicates that real, deep, structural changes are not on the agenda. China’s reformers have started their new version of “The Long March” through many layers of corrupt, flawed and failing institutions . . . Bigger and more consequential changes await the awakening of the working class.