Apr 232014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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During the beginning of his first term in office President Obama promised “to remake the Middle East into a region of prosperity and freedom”. Six years later the reality is totally the contrary: the Middle East is ruled by despotic regimes whose jails are overflowing with political prisoners.  The vast majority of pro-democracy activists who have been incarcerated, have been subject to harsh torture and are serving long prison sentences.  The rulers lack legitimacy, having seized power and maintained their rule through a centralized police state and military repression. Direct  US military and CIA intervention, massive shipments of arms,military  bases, training missions and Special Forces are decisive in the construction of the Gulag chain from North Africa to the Gulf States.

We will proceed by documenting the scale and scope of political repression in each US backed police state. We will then describe the scale and scope of US military aid buttressing the “remaking of the Middle East” into a chain of political prisons run by and for the US Empire.

The countries and regimes include Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iraq, Yemen, Jordan and Turkey . . . all of which promote and defend US imperial interests against the pro-democracy majority, represented by their independent social-political movements.

Egypt:  Strategic Vassal State

Chuck Hagel, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi

A longtime vassal state and the largest Arab country in the Middle East, Egypt’s current military dictatorship, product of a coup in July 2013, launched a savage wave of repression

subsequent to seizing power. According to the Egyptian Center for Social and Economic Rights, between July and December 2013, 21,317 pro-democracy demonstrators were arrested.  As of April 2014, over 16,000 political prisoners are incarcerated.  Most have been tortured.  The summary trials, by kangaroo courts, have resulted in death sentences for hundreds and long prison terms for most.  The Obama regime has refused to call the military’s overthrow of the democratically elected Morsi government a coup in order to continue providing military aid to the junta.In exchange the military dictatorship continues to back the Israeli blockade of Gaza and support US military operations throughout the Middle East.

Israel:  The Region’s Biggest Jailer

Palestinian-prisoners

Israel, whose supporters in the US dub it the “only democracy in the Middle East”, is in fact the largest jailer in the region.

According to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselm, between 1967 and December 2012, 800,000 Palestinians have been imprisoned at some point, over 20% of the population. Over 100,000 have been  held in “administrative detention” without charges or trial.  Almost all have been tortured and brutalized.  Currently Israel has 4,881 political prisoners in jail.  What makes the Jewish state God’s chosen… premier jailer, however, is the holding of 1.82 million Palestinians living in Gaza in a virtual open air prison. Israel restricts travel, trade, fishing, building , manufacturing and farming through air, sea and ground policing and blockades.  In addition, 2.7 million Palestinians in the Occupied Territories (West Bank) are surrounded by prison-like walls, subject to daily military incursions, arbitrary arrests and violent assaults by the Israeli armed forces and Jewish vigilante settlers engaged in perpetual dispossession of Palestinian inhabitants.

Saudi Arabia:  Absolutist Monarchy

Barack Obama, King Abdullah

According to President Obama’s ‘remaking of Middle East’ Saudi Arabia stands as Washington’s “staunchest ally in the Arab world”.  As a loyal vassal state, its jails overflow with pro-democracy dissidents incarcerated for seeking free elections, civil liberties and an end to misogynist policies.  According to the Islamic Human Rights Commission the Saudis are holding 30,000 political prisoners, most arbitrarily detained without charges or trial.

The Saudi dictatorship plays a major role bankrolling police state regimes throughout the region.  They have poured $15 billion into the coffers of the Egyptian junta subsequent to the military coup, as a reward for its massive bloody purge of elected officials and their pro-democracy supporters.  Saudi Arabia plays a big role in sustaining Washington’s dominance, by financing and arming ‘jailer-regimes’ in Pakistan, Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan and Egypt.

Bahrain:  Small Country – Many Jails

Bahrain

According to the local respected Center for Human Rights, Bahrain has the dubious distinction of being the “top country globally in the number of political prisoners per capita”.  According to the Economist (4/2/14) Bahrain has 4,000 political prisoners out of a population of 750,000.  According to the Pentagon, Bahrain’s absolutist dictatorship plays a vital role in providing the US with air and maritime bases, for attacking Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.  The majority of pro-democracy dissidents are jailed for seeking to end vassalage , autocracy, and servility to US imperial interest and the Saudi dictatorship.

Iraq:  Abu Ghraib with Arab Characters

Barack Obama, Nouri al-Maliki

Beginning with the US invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003 and continuing under its proxy vassal Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, tens of thousands of Iraqi citizens have been tortured, jailed and murdered.  Iraq’s ruling junta, has continued to rely on US military and Special Forces and to engage in the same kinds of military and police ‘sweeps’ which eviscerate any democratic pretensions. Al-Maliki relies on special branches of his secret police, the notorious Brigade 56, to assault opposition communities and dissident strongholds. Both the Shi’a  regime and Sunni opposition engage in ongoing terror-warfare.  Both have served as close collaborators with Washington at different moments.

The weekly death toll runs in the hundreds.  The Al-Maliki regime has taken over the torture centers (including Abu Ghraib), techniques and jails previously headed and run by the US and have retained US ‘Special Forces’ advisers, overseeing the round-up of human rights critics, trade unionists and democratic dissidents.

Yemen:  A  Joint US-Saudi Satellite

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Yemen has been ruled by US-Saudi client dictators for decades.  The autocratic rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh was accompanied by the jailing and torture of thousands of pro-democracy activists, secular and religious, as well as serving as a clandestine torture center for political dissidents kidnapped and transported by the CIA under its  so-called “rendition” program.  In 2011 despite prolonged and violent repression by the US backed Saleh regime, a mass rebellion exploded threatening the existence of the state and its ties to the US and Saudi regimes.  In order to preserve their dominance and ties to the military, Washington and Saudi orchestrated a ‘reshuffle’ of the regime: rigged elections were held and one Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi, a loyal crony of Saleh and servant of Washington, took power.  Hadi continued where Saleh left off:  kidnapping, torturing, killing pro-democracy protestors… Washington chose to call Hadi’s rule “a transition to democracy”.  According to the Yemen Times (4/5/14) over 3,000 political prisoners fill the Yemen prisons.  “Jailhouse democracy” serves to consolidate the US military presence in the Arabian Peninsula.

Jordan:  A Client Police State of Longstanding Duration

Supporters of Jordan's opposition parties shout slogans during a demonstration after Friday prayers in Amman

For over a half century, three generations of reigning Jordanian absolutist monarchs have been on the CIA payroll and have served US interests in the Middle East.  Jordan’s vassal rulers savage Arab nationalists and Palestinian resistance movements; signed off on a so-called “peace agreement” with Israel to repress any cross-border support for Palestine; provide military bases in support of US, Saudi and EU training, arming and financing of mercenaries invading Syria.

The corrupt monarchy and its crony oligarchy oversee an economy perpetually dependent on foreign subsidies to keep it afloat: unemployment is running over 25% and half the population is subsisting in poverty.  The regime has jailed thousands of peaceful protestors.  According to a recent  Amnesty International Report (Jordan 2013), King Abdullah’s dictatorship “has detained thousands without charges”.  The jailhouse monarchy plays a central role in buttressing US empire-building in the Middle East and facilitating Israeli land grabbing in Palestine.

Turkey:  NATO Bulwark and Jailhouse Democracy

Under the reign of the self-styled “Justice and Development Party” led by Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey has evolved into a major military operational base for the NATO backed invasion of Syria.  Erdoğan has had his differences with the US; especially Turkey’s cooling relations with Israel over the latters’ seizure of a Turkish ship in international waters and the slaughter of nine unarmed Turkish humanitarian activists.  But as Turkey has turned toward greater dependence on international capital flows and integration into NATO’s international wars, Erdoğan has become more authoritarian.  Facing large scale public challenges to his arbitrary privatization of public spaces and dispossession of households in working class neighborhoods, Erdoğan launched a purge of civil society ,class based movements and  state institutions.  In the face of large scale pro-democracy demonstrations in the summer of 2013, Erdoğan launched a savage assault on the dissidents.  According to human rights groups over 5,000 were arrested and 8,000 were injured during the Gezi Park protests.

Earlier Erdoğan established “Special Authorized Courts” which organized political show trials based on falsified evidence which facilitated the arrest and imprisonment of hundreds of military officers, party activists, trade unionists, human rights lawyers and journalists, particularly those critical of his support for the war against Syria.  Despite conciliatory rhetoric, Erdogan’s jails contain several thousand Kurdish dissidents, including electoral activists and legislators (Global Views 10/17/12).

While Erdoğan has served as an able and loyal Islamist anchor against popular democratic and nationalist movements in the Middle East, his pursuit of greater Turkish influence in the region, has led the US to deepen its political ties with the more submissive and pro-Washington , pro-Israel Gulenist movement embedded in the state apparatus ,business and education.  The latter has adopted a permeationist-strategy: purging adversaries in its  quiet march to power from within the state.  The US still relies on Erdoğan’s “jailhouse democracy” to repress anti-imperialist movements in Turkey; to serve as a military anchor for the war against Syria; to back sanctions against Iran and to support the pro-NATO Maliki regime in Iraq.

The Middle East Gulag and US Military Aid

The police state regimes and the long-term authoritarian political culture in the Arab world is a product of long-term US military support for despotic rulers.  The absence of democracy is a necessary condition for expanding and advancing the US imperial military presence in the region.

A small army of US Islamophobic academics, “experts”, journalists and media pundits totally ignore the role of the US in promoting, sustaining and strengthening the ruling dictators and repressing the profoundly democratic mass movements which have erupted over a prolonged period of time.  Spearheaded by long-time pro-Israel Middle East scribes and scholars, in Ivy League universities, these propagandists, claim that Arab dictatorships are a product of “Islamic culture”,or  the “authoritarian personality of Arabs” in search of a ‘strongman’ to guide and rule them.  Ignoring or distorting the history of working class struggles, pro-democracy protests and affirmations, in all of the major Arab countries, these scholars justify the US ties to the dictatorships as “realistic policies” given the “available options”.

Wherever real democracy begins to emerge, where political rights begin to be exercised, Washington provokes coups and intervenes to bolster the repressive apparatus of the state (Bahrain 2011-14, Yemen 2011 to 2014, Egypt 2013, Jordan 2012 among numerous other cases). While the bulk of the Middle East “experts” blame the Arab citizens for authoritarian rule, they completely ignore and cover-up Israel’s racist majority which solidly backs the incarceration and torture of hundreds of thousands of pro-democracy Palestinians.

To understand the Middle East gulag requires a discussion of US ‘aid policy’ which is central to sustaining the ‘jailhouse regimes’.

US Aid to Egypt:  Billions for Dictators

The Egyptian police state anchors the US ‘arc of empire’ from North Africa to the Middle East.  Egypt has been actively engaged in destabilizing Libya, Sudan, Lebanon, Syria and collaborating with Israel’s dispossession of Palestinians.  The Mubarak dictatorship received $2 billion dollars a year from Washington – nearly $65 billion for its imperial services.  US aid strengthened its capacity to jail, and torture pro-democracy and trade union activists.  Washington continued its military support of dictatorial rule after the military coup against Egypt’s first democratically elected government, to the tune of $1.55 billion dollars for 2014 .

Despite “expressions of concern” over the murder of thousands of pro-democracy protestors by the new military strongman General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, there was no cut in funding for so-called “counter-terrorism” and “security”.  To continue funding the dictatorship under US Congressional legislation, Washington refused to characterize the violent seizure of power as a coup . . . referring to it as a “transition to democracy”.  The key role of Egypt in US foreign policy is to protect Israel’s ‘eastern flank’. US aid to Egypt is product of the pressure and influence of the Zionist power configuration in Congress and the White House:  US aid is conditioned on Egypt’s ‘policing’ of the Gaza border, ensuring that Israel’s blockade is effective.  The White House supports Cairo’s repression of the majority of nationalist, anti-colonial Egyptians opposed to Tel Aviv’s dispossession of the Palestinians.  Insofar as Israel’s interests’define US Middle East policy, Washington’s financing of Egypt’s jailhouse dictatorship is in accord with Zionist Washington’s strategy.

Israel:  The US “Pivot” in the Middle East

Most independent and knowledgeable experts agree that US Middle East policy is largely dictated by a multitude of Zionist loyalists occupying key policymaking positions in Treasury, State Department, the Pentagon and Commerce as well as Congressional dominance by the Presidents of the 52 Major American Jewish Organizations and their 171,000 full time paid activists.  While there is some truth in what some critics cite as the divergence of the ‘real’ US ‘national interest’ from Israel’s colonial ambitions, the fact is that US leaders in Washington perceive a convergence between imperial dominance and Israeli militarism.  In point of fact a submissive Egypt serves wider US imperial and Israeli colonial interests.

Israel’s war on Lebanon against the anti-imperialist Hezbollah movement served US efforts to install a docile client as well as Israeli’s effort to destroy a partisan of Palestinian self-determination.  Washington’s divergence with Israel over Israel’s dispossession of all Palestine does run counter to Washington’s interest in a Palestinian mini-state run by neo-colonial Arab officials.  As a result of Zionist influence, Israel is the biggest per-capita US aid recipient in the world, despite having a higher standard of living than 60% of US citizens.  Between 1985-2014, Israel received over $100 billion dollars, of which 70% was military, including the most advance high technology weaponry.  Israel ,the country which has the world record for political prisoners and military attacks on its neighbors over the past forty years, holds the record for US military aid.  Israel as the premier ‘jailhouse democracy’ is a key link in the chain of gulags extending from North Africa to the Gulf States.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia competes with Israel as an incarceration center of pro-democracy dissidents; the Saudi’s recycle hundreds of billions of petro-rents through Wall Street, enriching local Saudi despots and overseas pro-Israel investment bankers.  The Saudi-US-Israeli convergence is more than incidental.  They share military interests in warring against pro-independence, pro-democracy Arab movements throughout the Middle East. Saudi houses the major US military base and the biggest intelligence operations in the Gulf.  It backed the US invasion of Iraq.  It finances thousands of Islamic mercenaries in the US-NATO proxy war against Syria.  It invaded Bahrain to smash the pro-democracy movement.  It intervenes with Washington in support of the Yemen police state.  It is the biggest and most lucrative market for the US military-industrial complex.  US military sales between 1951 – 2006 totaled $80 billion.  In October 2010 it signed off on a $60.5 billion purchase of US arms and services.

Bahrain:  A US Aircraft Carrier called a Country

Bahrain serves as the naval base for the US Fifth fleet – and an operative base for attacking Iran.  It has been servicing the occupation of Afghanistan and US control of oil shipping routes.  The Al-Khalifa dictatorship is extremely isolated, highly unpopular and faces constant pressure from the pro-democracy majority.  To bolster their vassal rulers, Washington has increased its military sales to the tiny statelet from $400 million between 1993-2000 to $1.4 billion in the subsequent decade.  Washington has increased its sales and military training program in direct proportion to the growth of democratic discontent, resulting in the geometrical growth of political prisoners.

Iraq:  War, Occupation,and the Killing Fields of a Jailhouse Democracy

The US invasion and occupation of Iraq led to the slaughter of nearly 1.5 million Iraqis (mostly civilians, non-combatants) at a cost of $1.5 trillion dollars and 4,801 US military deaths.  In 2006 the US engineered ‘elections’ led to the installation of the Maliki regime, buttressed by US arms, mercenaries, advisers and bases.  According to a recent study for the Congressional Research Office (February 2014), by Kenneth Kilzman, there are 16,000 US military personnel and “contractors” currently in Iraq.  Over 3,500 US military contractors in the Office of Security Cooperation bolster the corrupt Maliki police state.  The jailhouse democracy has been supplied with US missiles and drones and over $10 billion dollars in military assistance :this includes $2.5 billion in aid and $7.9 billion sales between 2005 – 2013.  For 2014 -2015 Malaki has requested $15 billion in weapons, including 36 US F-16 combat aircraft and scores of Apache attack helicopters.  In 2013 the Malaki regime registered 8,000 political deaths resulting from its internal war.

Iraq is a crucial center for US control of oil, the Gulf and as a launch pad to attack Iran.  While Maliki makes ‘gestures’ toward Iran, its role as an advanced link in the US imperial gulag defines its real ‘function’ in the Gulf region.

Yemen:  The Desert Military Outpost for the American Gulag

Yemen is a costly military outpost for Saudi despotism and US power on the Arabian Peninsula.  According to a study, Yemen: Background and US Relations by Jeremy Sharp for the Congressional Research Service (2014), the US has supplied $1.3 billion in military aid to Yemen between 2009-2014.  Saudi Arabia donated $3.2 billion in 2012 to bolster the Saleh dictatorship in the face of a mass popular anti-dictatorial uprising.  Washington engineered a transfer of power from Saleh to “President” Hadi and ensured his continuity by doubling military aid to keep the jails full and the resistance in check. According to the New York Times (6/31/13) Hadi was “a carry-over of dictator Saleh”.  The continuity of a jailhouse democracy in Yemen is a crucial link between the Egypt-Israel-Jordan axis and the Saudi-Bahrain imperial gulag.

Jordan:  Eternal Vassal and Mendicant Monarchy

Jordan’s despotic monarchy has been on the US payroll for over a half century.  Recently it has served as a torture center for kidnapped victims seized by US Special Forces engaged in the “rendition” program.  Jordan has collaborated with Israel in assaulting and arresting Palestinians in Jordan engaged in the freedom struggle.  Currently Jordan along with Turkey serves as a training and weapons depot for NATO backed mercenary terrorists invading Syria.  For its collaboration with Israel, Washington and NATO, the corrupt jailhouse monarchy receives large scale long-term military and economic aid.  The monarchy and its extended network of cronies, jailers and family, skim tens of millions of dollars in foreign aid, laundered in overseas accounts in London, Switzerland, Dubai and New York.  According to a Congressional Research Service Report (January 27, 2014), US aid to the Jordanian royal dictatorship amounts to $660 million per year.  An additional $150 million for military aid was channeled to the regime with the onset of the NATO intervention in Syria.  The fund was directed to build-up the infrastructure around the Jordan-Syria border.  In addition, Jordan serves as a major conduit for arms to terrorists attacking Syria: $340 million destined for “overseas contingencies” probably is channeled through Amman to arm the terrorists invading Syria.  In October 2012, Jordan signed agreements with the US allowing a large contingent of Special Forces to establish airfields and bases to supply and train terrorists.

Turkey:  A Loyal Vassal State with Regional Ambitions

As the southern military bulwark of NATO, on Russia’s frontier, Turkey has been on the US payroll for over 66 years.  According to a recent study by James Zanotti Turkey – US Defense Co-Operation:  Prospects and Challenges (Congressional Research Service, April 8, 2011) in exchange for bolstering the military power of Turkey’s “jailhouse democracy”, the US secured a major military presence including a huge air base in Incirlik a major operational center housing 1,800 US military personnel.  Turkey collaborated with the US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and supported the NATO bombing of Libya.  Today Turkey is the most important military operational center for jihadist terrorists invading Syria. Despite President Erdoğan’s periodic demagogic nationalist bombast, the US empire builders continue to have access to Turkish bases and transport corridors for its wars, occupations and interventions in the Middle East and  South and Central Asia.  In exchange the US has stationed missile defense systems and vastly increased arms sales, so-called “security assistance”. Between 2006 – 2009 US military sales exceeded $22 billion dollars.  In 2013-14, tensions between Turkey and the US increased as Erdoğan moved to purge the state of the Gulenists, a US backed fifth column, which permeated the Turkish state and used its position to support closer collaboration with Israel and US military interests.

Conclusion

The expansion of the US Empire throughout North Africa and the Middle East has been built around arming and financing vassal states to serve as military outposts of the empire.  These vassal regimes, ruled by dictatorial monarchies, and authoritarian military and civilian rulers, rely on force and violence to sustain their rule.  The US has supplied the weapons, advisers, and financing allowing them to rule.  The US arc of imperial military bases stretching from Egypt through Israel, Turkey, Jordan, Yemen, Iraq , Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, is protected by a chain of prison camps containing tens of thousands of political prisoners.

The US engagement, its pervasive presence throughout the region, is accompanied by a chain of jailhouse democracies and dictatorships.  Contrary to liberal and conservative policy pundits and academics, US policy for over 50 years has actively sought out, installed and protected bloody tyrants who have pillaged the public treasury, concentrated wealth, surrendered sovereignty and underdeveloped their economies.

Pro-Israel academics at  prestigious US universities have systematically distorted the structural bases of violence, authoritarianism and corruption in the Islamic world:  blaming the victims, the Turkish and Arab people, and ignoring the role of US empire builders in financing and arming the authoritarian civilian and military rulers and absolutist monarchies and their corrupt military, judicial and police officials.

Contrary to the mendacious tomes published by the prestigious University presses and written mostly by highly respected pro-Israel political propagandists, the remaking of the Middle East depends on the strength of the democratic currents in Islamic society.  They are found in the student movements, among the trade unionists and unemployed, the nationalist intellectuals and Islamic and secular forces who oppose the US Empire for very practical and obvious reasons.  Along with Israel the US is the main organizer of the vast chain of political prison camps that destroy the most creative and dynamic forces in the region.  Greater Arab vassalage provokes the periodic explosion of a vibrant democratic culture and movement; unfortunately it also results in  greater US military aid and presence.  The real clash of civilizations is between the democratic aspirations of the Eastern popular classes and the deeply embedded authoritarianism of Euro-American- Israeli  imperialism.

Apr 222014
 

El análisis de James Petras, 99GetSmart

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“El acuerdo sobre Ucrania no tiene sentido. Porque las condiciones para firmar el acuerdo ya fueron violadas y sin pedir disculpas. Es decir, los países occidentales van a continuar violando los acuerdos, no tienen ninguna intención de respetar acuerdos”, dijo el sociólogo norteamericano James Petras en su columna de análisis de la coyuntura internacional por CX36, Radio Centenario. Además, Petras destacó el llamado a elecciones realizado por el gobierno sirio y repudió las acciones terroristas en ese país, incluso recordó que contra lo que dicen los grandes medios pro imperialistas, “el mensaje del Papa (del día de Pascuas) está directamente atacando a las fuerzas apoyadas por la OTAN” y añadió que “todas las autoridades morales han tomado partido en favor de las elecciones de junio y  contra el terrorismo de quienes tiran bombas en la ciudad frente al Parlamento”. Ante la muerte de Gabriel García Márquez, Petras cuestionó que ningún documental sobre su vida, destaque “al hombre político, al luchador profundamente antimperialista”. Transcribimos a continuación el análisis de James Petras que Usted puede volver a escuchar aquí: http://www.ivoox.com/james-petras-21-abril-audios-mp3_rf_3042330_1.html

Efraín Chury Iribarne: Le estamos dando la bienvenida en Radio Centenario a James Petras. Buen día, Petras, ¿cómo estás?

James Petras: Excelente. Después de haber pasado un buen fin de semana que incluyó un asado de cordero por la Pascua, acompañados de amigos y vecinos, estamos con un día soleado de Primavera. Y prontos para comenzar este encuentro semanal.

EChI: Mucho me alegra Petras, comencemos.

Para empezar debo insistir con la situación en Ucrania. ¿Qué está pasando allí? ¿Cuál es el papel de la Unión Europea,  la OTAN y los Estados Unidos en todo eso?

JP: Bien. Es una situación bastante clara y definitiva, que los países occidentales -principalmente Canadá, Estados Unidos y la Unión Europea- buscan demonizar a Rusia y facilitar la toma de toda la Ucrania a partir de las agresiones de los paramilitares vinculados con el gobierno títere en Kiev.

Sabemos que este fin de semana en Ginebra, firmaron un acuerdo con Rusia supuestamente como una forma de buscar un acuerdo que podría dar los derechos a los ciudadanos del Este de Ucrania, derechos lingüísticos y de mayor autonomía.

Pero en vez de eso, en momentos en que se esta formando el acuerdo, el gobierno fascista de Kiev manda un grupo de asesinos neofascista, que atacaron los pueblos del Este, matando al menos a tres personas. Esto hace que pueda surgir algún grupo de autodefensa apara aplastarlos.

Pero de todos modos, esto indica en primer lugar que los países occidentales no tienen ningún interés ni capacidad para controlar a los neofascistas, ya que les permitieron utilizar las rutas, las armas y los respaldos políticos, para tratar de desarmar y aplastar a los pueblos del Este.

En segundo lugar, la prensa burguesa -por ejemplo el New York Times hoy y la BBC todo el fin de semana- no comentaban sobre la agresión, simplemente hablaban de un conflicto, sin poner en  contexto que el conflicto en el Este producto de un invasión de fuerzas armadas desde occidente, que están presentes en el gabinete. No son un grupo suelto de paramilitares, son partidarios de representantes que están en el gobierno.

En otras palabras, ya el acuerdo no tiene sentido. Porque las condiciones para firmar el acuerdo ya fueron violadas y sin pedir disculpas. Es decir, los países occidentales van a continuar violando los acuerdos, no tienen ninguna intención de respetar acuerdos.

Es más, cuando Rusia firma el acuerdo, ellos imponen condiciones que no son aceptables para los ucranianos del Este, incluso los ruso parlantes, que no tienen nada que ver con los golpistas de Kiev, no tienen ningún interés de desarmar a los neofascistas que vienen atacando y más aún, ya tienen el respaldo de las tropas que están presentes allá. Tienen en otras palabras, una mayoría, tienen presencia en el gobierno, tienen su propio gobierno, y están dispuestos a negociar un acuerdo que de todas las libertades que piden. Y Rusia no tiene derecho a desarmarlos o pedir que se desarmen frente a esta agresión. Yo creo que Rusia puede estar bien intencionada, pero ellos confiaban demasiado en firmar acuerdos con (Barack) Obama, (Francois) Hollande y los golpistas. Y no tienen ninguna razón para confiar en estos porque Obama tiene toda una historia de violar acuerdo en cualquier parte del mundo.

Los pueblos del oriente de Ucrania tienen todo el derecho a separarse y formar su propio país, formar su propio gobierno, convocar a sus propias elecciones y referéndum. Y Rusia no debe intervenir en eso con acuerdos de cúpulas, porque los acuerdos que Rusia firmó este fin de semana ya están violados y los países occidentales no tienen ninguna intención de rectificar ni auto criticar su conducta.

EChI: ¿Podríamos suponer que Rusia se siente débil por eso se sienta a negociar? ¿Cuál es la correlación de fuerzas?

JP: Obviamente las sanciones, las amenazas de nuevas sanciones, podrían influir en Rusia. Pero también la presencia de bases militares es un cerco contra Rusia,. Ucrania dentro de la OTAN es peor que sufrir algunas sanciones y algunas presiones desde Occidente. Porque uno, es una presión coyuntural y Rusia tiene posibilidades de romper eso, porque grandes empresas occidentales como las petroleras Shell y British Petroleum, o Siemens de Alemania; todas tienen enormes intereses en Rusia y no tienen ninguna razón para romper relaciones.

En segundo lugar, existe la posibilidad real y efectiva de efectuar grandes acuerdos en Asia, con China y otros países, para compensar cualquier pérdida en el Oeste. El  único gobierno que esta empujando mayores sanciones es el menos afectado, que es Estados Unidos, porque tiene menos comercio, menos inversiones y menos dependencia del petróleo y del gas ruso. Por eso para ellos no cuesta nada perder eso.

Pero en todo caso, creo que Rusia si puede sentirlo, a partir de los oligarcas. Es decir, los mas afectados por las sanciones son los oligarcas y mejor que se vayan, que se bajen.

EChI: Si nos remitimos a los antecedentes recientes, la democracia o los gobiernos democráticamente electos están en peligro -lo pudimos ver en Libia, en Afganistán , Siria, etc. y hasta en Venezuela o Ucrania- ¿podría pasar en Rusia?

JP: Si, tienen una quinta columna que se llaman los liberales y la prensa occidental siempre está destacando su importancia Cualquier comentario, cualquier manifestación por minoritaria que sea, cualquier declaración de un experto o un autodenominado experto, que sirva para demonizar a (Vladimir) Putin. Es cierto que existe esta quinta columna también en Rusia, autodenominados demócratas liberales, pero no tienen capacidad electoral, no controlan el ejército, no tienen capacidad de movilizarse a nivel nacional.Están debilitados electoralmente, divididos entre sí. Yo no creo que estén en este momento, en situación de lanzarse. Pero la política occidental es  apretar a partir de golpes de Estado como en Ucrania: con ejercicios militares en todas las regiones fronterizas -Polonia, Letonia, hacia el sur- ..Es una política de desgastar Rusia y fortalecer la quinta columna rusa, a los demócratas liberales, creando condiciones más favorables para que ellos puedan avanzar en una coyuntura más adelante. En la actualidad, Putin es mucho mas fuerte.Las encuestas muestran un gran salto en su popularidad frente a la agresión occidental y la quinta columna está bastante decaída en este momento porque si se ponen en contra, aparecen como lo que son, como traidores de su país y simples agentes de occidente.

En este sentido, esta confrontación con Occidente ha fortalecido el sentido patriótico y anti agresor de Rusia.

EChI: ¿Qué te ha parecido la convocatoria a elecciones en Siria para junio?

JP: Bueno, ahí hay dos cosas a considerar.

El mismo día, este domingo, cuando el gobierno de Bashar Al Assad anunció elecciones presidenciales para el 3 de junio, los terroristas pro occidentales respaldados por los Estados Unidos pusieron una bomba y mataron a cinco personas frente al Parlamento sirio. Dos tipos de  respuestas completamente divergentes: uno, la iniciativa democrática del Presidente de Siria y dos, las bombas terroristas por parte de la oposición.

Y uno debe anotar una cosa que la prensa occidental trata de esconder: Cuando el Papa desde El Vaticano pide paz y el fin de la violencia, está dirigido contra la oposición; la prensa occidental trata de decir que está contra la “violencia de todos”, pero “todos” no incluye a los que están defendiendo el derecho a la libre creencia incluso protegiendo a los cristianos de los terroristas islámicos que están invadiendo el país. En este sentido, el mensaje del Papa está directamente atacando a las fuerzas apoyadas por la OTAN.

Lo mismo pasa con otra figura religiosa, como el patriarca de la Iglesia Cristiana Ortodoxa, que ha condenado a la oposición tanto por la violación de los derechos religiosos y la violación de todos los lugares sagrados. Incluso hay sectores musulmanes, no solamente los chiíes, sino los suníes que supuestamente están en contra de Bashar Al Assad, han atacado a los terroristas porque no respetan nada de los lugares religiosos

Entonces, el día de Pascua coincidió con la denuncia casi unánime de las grandes religiones en el mundo occidental, menos los rabinos judíos en Israel que siguen apoyando a los terroristas islámicos como aliados de Israel. Pero más allá de eso, debemos decir que todas las autoridades morales han tomado partido en favor de las elecciones de junio y  contra el terrorismo de quienes tiran bombas en la ciudad frente al Parlamento.

EChI: Bien, Petras, como siempre el último tramo es para que abordes los temas de tu interés.

JP: Bueno, quiero verter dos cosas más que nada, porque ya tocamos temas que tenia algunos apuntes.

El primer tema tiene que ver con la hipocresía occidental. Tres periodistas secuestrados por los terroristas en Siria, vuelven a casa en Francia. Fueron encarcelados y torturados por los terroristas apoyados por el gobierno francés. Y este hipócrita de Hollande fue a abrazar y apoyar a los periodistas. Es decir, por una parte apoya, financia y arma a los terroristas que secuestraron a los periodistas y cuando vuelven los secuestrados él va a recibirlos y saludarlos. Esto indica la hipocresía que domina la política occidental, por un lado están fomentando el terrorismo y por otro lado, supuestamente, están apoyando a los liberados.

El segundo punto que quiero exponer, es sobre la muerte de Gabriel García Márquez. En muchos reportajes, testimonios, hablan de la gran figura literaria, de la gran persona, de sus amistades incluso con Fidel Castro; pero no hablan del Gabriel García Márquez como político, como luchador, como partidario activo por los derechos humanos. Yo trabajé diez años con Gabriel García Márquez, entre 1973 y 1982, nos conocimos porque trabajamos casi mano a mano en el Tribunal (Bertrand) Russell contra la represión en América Latina.

Gabriel García Márquez era muy activo en las deliberaciones, lo recuerdo junto a Julio Cortázar pasando la noche entera preparando un Manifiesto en Defensa de los procesos revolucionarios en América Latina, fomentando un llamado a los intelectuales. Recuerdo las conversaciones con Gabo sobre como podíamos promover el Tribunal para recibir más publicidad, y García Márquez propuso invitar al ex agente de la CIA, Philip Agee, a una Sesión. Y le pagó el pasaje, Philip Agee estaba en Inglaterra y nosotros en Bruselas, Gabo lo llamó y en la misma tarde Agee llegó y dio su testimonio a Aula llena.

Es decir, Gabriel García Márquez tenia una imaginación política de cómo levantar la atención del público frente a lo que estaba pasando en el mundo, porque la violación de los derechos humanos no era producto simplemente de los dictadores en América Latina porque atrás de ellos estaba la actividad de la CIA.

Gabriel García Márquez era profundamente antiimperialista y eso no aparece en las memorias.

La hipocresía de los gobernadores en América Latina principalmente en Colombia, donde Gabriel García Márquez me contaba las amenazas que recibía del terrorismo. Incluso en una sesión del Tribunal , Gabriel García Márquez invitó a representantes de la comunidad indígena a dar su testimonio sobre cómo los grandes ganaderos colombianos, respaldados por el gobierno, no pensaban que matar indígenas era un crimen; para ellos era como matar a un lobo, una amenaza a la ganadería. Fue muy chocante oír cuando un indígena contó como un campesino entró a la comunidad a los balazos y cuando lo pararon dijo que su patrón le aseguraba que no era un crimen matar indígenas.

Este tipo de intervención de Gabriel García Márquez, muestra varias cosas. Primero, un profundo compromiso con el pueblo colombiano y no con los gobernadores que amenazaban con matarlo por esos testimonios.

Segundo, era un político de gran imaginación, capaz de promover actividades que llamaran la atención de los medios, incluso los medios burgueses.

Y tercero, Gabriel García Márquez, a pesar de ser un Premio Nobel, siempre mantuvo vínculos con las luchas populares, en todas las dimensiones no solamente humanitarias, sino activamente político contra las oligarquías en América Latina y contra la política imperialista.

Hasta ahora, los documentales que se vieron ahora no muestran estas dimensiones. Yo se que por lo menos por diez años García Márquez trabajó de forma muy consciente en el Tribunal Russell, después en la Organización por los Derechos de los Pueblos y en la fundación de Argelia en 1976.

EChI: Muy bien Petras, muchas gracias por esta aclaración.

Nos reencontramos el lunes.

JP: Así es, un abrazo.

Apr 092014
 

A play by James Petras, 99GetSmart

A Boy and His Father

Fathers and Sons:  The Invisible Ladder

By James Petras

Act 1

Setting: Restaurant, where four middle-age friends, who have known each other since their university days in the early 1970’s, meet for lunch.

Professor:  Should we share a bottle of wine?

Lawyer:      Why not!  There’s no time clock, clients or deadlines.

Social Worker:  (smiles). We can afford it!

Doctor:  No doubt … we’re drawing pensions, Social Security, and annuities.  Medicare covers our medical bills.  Mortgages are paid up.

Professor:       Someone e-mailed me an announcement about a half-century anniversary of the student strike… back then and when.

Lawyer:          Is it that long ago?  Seems like only yesterday we were rabble rousing and doing all-nighters running off leaflets.

Doctor:  For some folks that was the biggest moment of their lives.  They’re frozen in a time warp.

Social Worker:  You’d be surprised how many activists stayed and made a career out of celebrating their past.

Lawyer:          Yeah, past thirty they got seedy.  Didn’t know when to move on to the real world.

Professor: Best advice I ever got was from my dissertation director, who told me to ice the polemical stuff and publish in the premier journals and presses.   First, get in the big league … “After you make it,” he advised, “you can do whatever you want … your endorsement of good causes will be sought and valued.” He was right!

Lawyer: (cynical smile) Course after you climb the ladder, there’s no looking back … (quickly adds) but I still take pro-bono clients once in a while.

Social Worker: That’s good insurance if you ever run into one of those losers who went full-time and landed on their backsides when the big lay-offs hit in the early 1980’s. Now they’re full of envy and resentment of those of us that didn’t burn our bridges.

Lawyer:  I never run into the ‘losers’.  Not at work, not in my neighborhood, or not hanging around my summerhouse.

Professor:  I used to see some of them. The smart ones made it on the lecture circuit and cashed in for a while. But who knows what happened to them after that?

Doctor:  By the way, can I interest you guys in signing a petition for single payer national health care? It’s been circulating on the Internet.

Lawyer:  Send it to me.  I’ll look it over.  It must be for the next generation to worry about.  My medical needs are covered across the board.

Social Worker:  Lots of uncertainty out there. My kid resents paying Social Security.  He claims it won’t be around when it’s time for him to collect.

Professor:  He’s got a point there but he‘s stretching it a bit (pause) Times are changing though…  When I graduated, I had a dozen offers and I was still active in the Movement.  The Viet Nam war was still on and the blacks were rioting in the cities.  But I kept away from the crazies… the ones carrying the Vietcong flag and provoking the cops with taunts.  I published in the right journals, crunched the numbers the right way and I got the grants.  And promotions.

Lawyer:  (yawns discreetly covering his mouth).  It was all a question of hooking up with the right people.  I got an offer from a top law firm and worked round the clock and won my cases.  I made senior partner in five years.  Paid my mortgage in ten.  And bought my beach house when I was lead lawyer in the big Holocaust lawsuit against the Swiss…

Doctor:  It seems like there is no way going back or coming down, even when the protestors disappeared and the right-wing came back to power.

Social Worker:  I disagree. Some things changed for the worst.  I mean social budgets have been cut.  Iraq was invaded. Yugoslavia bombed.  Public employee salaries were frozen and benefits costs skyrocketed.

Professor:  Yeah.  Times are changing for the worst. They  hired three   part-timers to fill my line when I retired – they’ll have no benefits, no chance at tenure and the university saves a bundle.

Lawyer: I would agree … it’s more competitive if you’re starting out now.  But once you make it to the top – it’s never been better!

(Addresses social worker)  Can you pour me a little more of that Rioja?

Doctor:  My kids are making it. One’s a financial adviser and the other finished his residency and became a partner in a  private medical group.

Professor: (somewhat riled by the Doctor’s boasting.) Didn’t you make substantial annual contributions to your medical school alumni fund before he was admitted?

Doctor:  (very dismissive, waves him off) It was his grades and great letters of recommendations… but a little grease never hurt.

Social Worker:  (snickers) No one gets ahead just on talent these days … (Pause.  Tension around the table … friendly faces start to fade.  Professor looks for a way to bridge the differences).

Professor:  Oh by the way.  I’m taking my sailboat out next month.  If anybody’s game let me know.

Lawyer: (casually non-committal) I might take you up on that.  I’m shelving my tennis racket … since my knee operation.

Doctor:  (Looks at his watch).  Should we finish up with a cognac?

Social Workers:  I’ll pass.

Lawyer:  Make mine a Metaxa.

Professor:  I’ll have a double espresso.

Act Two Scenes 1

(Cramped cubicle where the social worker’s son is hunched over a computer ‘talking’ to a screen)

Voice:  I’m listening. It’s all I can do to catch up with the backlog and the new programs and the extra assignments.

Read:  You’re further behind on the new assignments!

Voice:  (distraught). What… extra assignments?

Read:  Remember the new contract, you’re on call 24/7 and responsible for any breakdown. Sign up or sign out!

Voice:  (anguish, ambiguous) I’m on my way.

(The screen goes blank)

Scene 2

(Social worker’s son walks through the office; half the cubicles are empty; dull-looking employees walking in, out and around.  Some are bent over their computer terminals, others are packing brief cases.  Everything is chaotic and dreary.)

(Inner Voice) ‘Costs are down.  Restructuring moves ahead.  Employment is a revolving door…’

New Employee:  Hi

Old Employee:  Good bye

Replacement:  Are you coming in or going out?

Social Worker’s Son:  I’ve been working here five years …

Replacement:  Are you sure?

Son:  No.  I mean yes…. (Looks uncertain).

(He walks to the Human Resources office, knocks and enters)

HR: (looks up) Yes?

Son:  I have some questions about the new hours and the added assignments

HR:  Did you read the memo?

Son:  I have some questions about the new hours and added assignments.

HR:  Sign in or sign out

Son: (anguished voice). What’s this all about?  I put in a lot of time expanding our program…

HR  (interrupts him).  The CEO doesn’t think you’re doing enough.  We are cutting costs. Raising productivity.  We need to show better numbers. (looks at watch and shuffles papers).  You really should be back at your desk … or out in the street.

(Son walks out.  He looks across the office noticing several new faces.  Only one face is familiar:  the receptionist.  One of her hands is holding the phone, the other tapping on the keyboard, her head bobbing signals to a messenger, and a loose finger tweaking something like ‘good bye’.  Son walks over to the desk of the CEO’s secretary. She is on the phone.)

Secretary:  He will be away at Hilton Head for the long weekend.  Yes, he’s busy.  Yes, he’s gotten his bonus  -  stock options…but don’t call back.  He’ll call you.  (She hangs up.  She looks up at the son with a scowl.)  You still around?

Son:  I would like to discuss my new contract with the CEO?

Secretary:  Nothing to discuss.  It’s a done deal.

Son: You could be next.

Secretary:  I’ll take my chances (phone rings). Yes.  You’re from Bloomberg’s? We understand you want an interview … now?…  The CEO is flying back tonight … you want to talk now? Yes, indeed.  I will locate him and have him get in touch with you right away.  I am terribly sorry to keep you waiting.  He’s on a conference call … working on the reorganization.  Hold it.  I’ll put him on.

(Dials CEO’s cell phone).

Sir, Bloomberg’s on the line.  They want a meeting this morning.

CEO’ voice:  (panic).  Send the driver to the airport right away. Stall the guy, tell Bloomberg… I’m sorry for the delay but I will be there in fifty minutes.

Act 3

(Lawyer and son having lunch in an upscale restaurant)

Lawyer:  Environmental law can be a lucrative field…if you don’t get in bed with the tree huggers and owl lovers.

Son:  C’mon dad, you were doing pro-bono work for the homeless in Santa Monica a while back.

Lawyer:  But that was after I was established and had a lucrative clientele.  Anyway my work with the homeless attracted rich liberals.

Son: I am not sure we are on the same wavelength … (pause).  The fish we are having for lunch might come out of the water pre-cooked and radiated, after the Japanese nuclear disaster.

Lawyer:  Well you got a point there. (Pause.)   Anyway environmental law is a two-edged sword.  One of my partners started out with Greenpeace and learned the ropes. Then she made a pile representing BP in the Gulf.

Son:  She switched sides?

Lawyer:  You can’t afford to do pro-bono if you don’t have some cash cows to pay the bills.  How do you think you got through law school without debt?

Son: (defensive). And how did you graduate without debt?

Lawyer:  Well…back then we didn’t have tuition …we just paid student activity fees.

Son:  And that’s when you had all those protests on campus?

Lawyer:  Why not?  The better the times the bigger the protests! (Laughs.)

Son: …I see… Fewer jobs, higher tuition and smaller protests?

Lawyer:  (triumphant). That’s why you should combine environmental and corporate law!

Son:  Thanks for lunch. Waiter the bill.

Lawyer:  (grabbing the bill)  I got it.

Act 3 Scenes 2

Professor(On the phone).  Hi Dave, haven’t seen or heard from you for a while …

Son:  Been working on some big corporate accounts.  I’m coming up for senior partner.

Professor:  I hope we can at least have lunch sometime.

Son:  Look Dad, an investment banker’s hours are not the same as a professor’s.  I’m in by seven and out by eleven – at night.

Professor:  What kind of life is that?  You live to work.

Son:  (snarls). Cut the crap dad! Why don’t you join those ‘Occupy’ bums hanging out in front of our office?  You can watch me crossing the picket line.

Professor:  We once walked picket lines together…

Son:  I remember being dragged along when I was a little kid … but look I’m in the middle of preparing a brief for a big merger.  We’ll talk later.  Bye.

Professor:  (talks into a dead phone) (soliloquy).  I can’t get through.  Something went wrong or maybe it’s just the changing times.  Same energy level but chasing trades rather than backing blacks.

Act 3 Scenes 3

(Doctor and son seated on a bench in a park)

Doctor:  How’s your practice?

Son:  So-so.  We are forced to double up on procedures to make-up for Medicare’s cuts in payment.

Doctor:  How are the kids?

Son:  Studying, basketball, video games … texting.

Doctor:  Taking any time off?

Son:  Going to Washington for the AIPAC conference.  It’s all about Iran. We shake up the clowns in Congress and then hand them our agenda for war against Teheran.

Doctor:  So you have a political passion for Israel?

Son:  What else?

Doctor:  We got problems in this country.

Son:  Let them take care of themselves.  Trouble with you dad is you never looked after your own people.  You never listened to grandpa … remember… “What’s in it for the Jews?”

Doctor:  (defensive) Look, I’m for Israel as much as anybody … but not ‘right or wrong.’  Take those illegal settlements…

Son:  (bursts out and cuts him off). We’ll take them and keep them!  All of them!  Only Arabs and the anti-Semites say they’re “illegal”.  Not our courts.  Nor our judges!

Doctor:  You mean the Supreme Court?

Son:  Yes sir… (spells it out).  The Israeli Supreme Court!

Doctor:  Ever thought of emigrating to Israel?

Son:  They got too many doctors there already.  Anyway, they tell us to stay here.  We are more valuable pushing the agenda in Washington.

Doctor:  You know… when I was active back in the 1960’s we had big fights with the Communists for toeing the Soviet line!  They said…Russian bomb tests were progressive while the US’s were a crime.  Who would have thought I would have a son lining up with ‘Israel, right or wrong’?

Son:  They were Stalinists… I’m a Zionist.

Doctor: Tell me the difference?

Son:  (furious, in a bully mode shouting).  You know if you weren’t my father, I would say you sound like an anti-Semite.

Doctor:  (speechless, stares at son without recognition).

Son:  (standing up facing father with contempt).  Better keep your ideas to yourself.  Watch out for your medical colleagues, especially those on the Medical Executive Committee.

Act 3 Scenes 4

(Social Worker walks into a cluttered bedroom where his son is hunched over his computer.)

Social Worker:  How goes the job search?

Son:  (looking straight ahead). Don’t ask.

Social Worker:  (pause) No luck?

Son:  (Looks back, stares, angry) Entry level, short-term contracts, on call … overtime without pay (turns back to computer).

(Social Worker drifts out of the room).

Social Worker Soliloquy:  I was going to invite him to take a break.  I forgot what it’s like to be unemployed.  I never considered what happened to the health sector workers who got laid-off … or to the teachers…  Well, I can’t worry about their issues … there are problems here and now, in this house.

Son: (looking at the screen and clicking the keyboard)

Son’s Soliloquy:  Two hundred and fifty-one CVs circulating out there … ten responses.  All entry level or part-time contracts.  When did they install the revolving door?  Who plans the restructuring?  It doesn’t matter… I still can’t figure out what happened to my unit.  We were so productive…  Now they’re gone … who knows where?  Everyone for himself … free-lance … free-fall … flexible labor…drop your pants, bend over here comes the CEO … all pain – no gain … more hours, complain and berate … I’m going…

(Shuts down the computer:  glances at blank screen. Rises and slowly walks out. Enters a sunny room and notices his father reading a newspaper. No quip.  No comment.)

Social Worker:  (looking up) How about lunch?

Son:  (stares, tentative) Why not?

Act 3 Scene 5

(Lunch in a café, Social Worker and son at table).

Son:  When I walked out of the office, it felt like I was walking out of a prison … a big load lifted … the buzz of the boss’s whiney voice was still in my head … until I cleared the building… Nobody looked up at me.  No good byes.  The new Indian guy (loudmouth graduate of ‘IIT-Bangalore’ and my cheap replacement) smirked as if he would do it right.  He’s got a moat in his eye.

Social Worker:  You did the right thing.  Your health comes first.  Stress kills.

Son:  Yeah, Dad, stay healthy … because there’s no health plan.

Social Worker: Let’s pack it up for now

Son:  Shop-talk spoils the appetite doesn’t it?  I mean thinking about the work situation. Friends I had, you know, at work, they come and go.

Social Worker: You ever see them?

Son : Who? Where?

Social Worker:  (Pensive. Soliloquy): No lunches over a bottle of wine.

(They finish eating and walk out.  Father’s hand on son’s shoulder)

Act 4

Senior investment banker of hedge fund, relaxing with wife and small child in a beach house in Martha’s Vineyard.

Hedge Fund banker:  This was a great idea buying this place on the Island.

Wife:  Well, I researched it: weather, airport, wind, currents, sun, temperature … and price.

Banker:  My bonus for the acquisition and restructuring of the health industry … came in handy.

Wife:  You did well.  Should we go for a walk?  I love to hear the waves crashing on the breakers.

Banker:  Give me five minutes. I got to send a message to headquarters.  We are preparing a public offering and we are getting rid of this jerk of a CEO who’s been screwing up a whole string of hospitals.  Bloomberg just put them in negative – sell.

Wife:  See you.  Me and Rachel will wait for you at the landing by the boat.

 

Apr 022014
 

El análisis de James Petras, 99GetSmart 

En Francia “el gobierno mal llamado socialista, mejor llamado social imperialista, sufrió una derrota contundente con más de 40% de ausentismo, o sea la gran mayoría del electorado que anteriormente votaron a los socialistas”, dijo el sociólogo norteamericano James Petras en su columna semanal de análisis de la coyuntura internacional por CX36 (*). En la oportunidad, Petras analizó a fondo lo sucedido en Francia y dijo que es típico pues “cuando hay una colaboración entre las cúpulas políticas de izquierda y el gran capital, siempre pierde el pueblo”. Otros temas abordados este lunes 31 de marzo fueron las elecciones en Turquía, el relacionamiento de estados Unidos con América Latina y con Israel; los últimos hechos acaecidos en Ucrania y las novedades en materia de legislación económica en Cuba. Transcribimos a continuación este material, que usted puede volver a escuchar en el siguiente link: https://soundcloud.com/audioscentenario/columna-de-james-petras-en

Efrain Chury Iribarne: Le damos la bienvenida, como cada lunes, a James Petras desde los Estados Unidos. Buen día, Petras,¿cómo estás?

James Petras: Estamos muy bien.

EChI: Para comenzar te leo una noticia que llega aquí: “La subcomisión de Relaciones Exteriores para el Hemisferio Occidental de la Cámara de Representantes convocó esta semana a una audiencia sobre el alejamiento o desvinculación de Estados Unidos en América Latina” y dice que “los congresistas se manifestaron preocupados por la pérdida del llamado patio trasero de la potencia frente a la llegada de naciones como China, Irán y Rusia. Los legisladores criticaron la política exterior del Gobierno de Barack Obama”.  ¿Es cierto que Obama se ha alejado de América Latina?

JP: El panorama es complejo pero podríamos tomar como punto de referencia dos cosas. Una es lo que pasaba en los años ’90, cuando Washington dominaba la región, involucrándose en las masacres en Centroamérica, influyendo sobre los gobernantes en América Latina como (Carlos Saúl) Menem (en Argentina), (Julio María) Sanguinetti (en Uruguay), (Fernando Henrique) Cardoso (en Brasil), (Gonzalo) Sánchez de Losada (en Bolivia); etc. Eso como punto de referencia, era la ‘época de oro’ cuando EEUU dominaba América Latina.

Después de los levantamientos y elecciones, con algunos gobiernos tibiamente de centro izquierda y mayor comercio diversificado, la influencia norteamericana disminuyó y a partir de eso, los congresistas se empezaron a quejar. Pero ellos mismos apoyaron la política militarista y el involucramiento en las guerras en Afganistán, etc. y la falta de una perspectiva de expansión económica, frente a la competencia de china.

Entonces, ahora despiertan y dicen que no controlan los países como lo hacían en los años ’90. ¿Y quién tiene la culpa? Obviamente la política de la Casa Blanca y comparte la culpa con los congresistas. Pero lo que piden los congresistas es la vuelta del neoliberalismo extremo, la política del garrote, el intervencionismo, y eso -me parece- no tiene mucha capacidad de imponerse.

Por tanto, el debate en el Congreso es algo fuera de la realidad, no tiene ningún contenido concreto, no tiene ningún proyecto económico para involucrar a los EEUU. Pero, podíamos anotar dos cosas. El hecho de que hay una derechización en algunos países de América Latina, empezando con Brasil y Argentina, tal vez Uruguay donde hay más acomodo a las grandes empresas. Por ejemplo, en Argentina la entrada de Chevron, la compensación a Repsol, son el indicio de que las aperturas hacia un proyecto nacional han terminado y los gobiernos vuelven a apoyarse en el capital extranjero.

Lo mismo ha pasado últimamente en Brasil, que nunca estuvo muy lejos de la política de las multinacionales pero ahora está buscando la forma de asociarse al gran capital.

Entonces, tal vez los congresistas piensan que Washington debe aprovecharse de algunas tendencias en America Latina e involucrarse. El caso mas emblemático está en Venezuela donde la Casa Blanca y los congresistas están apoyando a los terroristas y a un golpe de Estado para derrocar al gobierno de (Nicolás) Maduro. Esa es la primer indicación que la política de la derecha ha capturado a los sectores más influyentes en la política de Washington.

EChI: Nos venimos al Caribe, porque “el Parlamento cubano ha celebrado este sábado una sesión extraordinaria para aprobar una nueva Ley de Inversión Extranjera, que busca atraer fondos a la isla”, señala la información. ¿Qué supone esto?

JP: Es una extensión de la política liberal que ha ganado peso últimamente en Cuba. Están dando más facilidades  al capital privado y a asociaciones con empresas extranjeras.

Ahora, la nueva legislación va mucho más lejos, porque permite al capital extranjero entrar sin asociaciones en Cuba en todos los sectores dinámicos de la economía casi sin pagar impuestos o con impuestos muy bajos. Es parte de la política estratégica de los sectores del gobierno que han perdido la esperanza de que pueden revitalizar el sector público.

Es muy peligrosa esta movida y particularmente el hecho de que el debate en el Parlamento cubano fue mínimo y el voto unánime. No creo que una medida tan extremista deba ser aprobada sin debate y por unanimidad. Hay sectores de intelectuales y otros, que cuestionan estas medidas, si no en su totalidad por lo menos en la forma en que está presentado y no tiene representación en el Parlamento.

Entonces, me molesta tanto la forma de aprobación como el contenido, porque es una regresión al capital como fuerza motor de la economía, particularmente del capital extranjero.

Es difícil saber dónde puede terminar eso, si invitan a los viejos cubanos millonarios  exiliados en Miami a volver a Cuba, va a tener repercusiones políticas, no simplemente económicas; y va a fortalecer los sectores menos progresistas en la Isla.

Cuba hace tiempo no representa un modelo para America Latina, tal vez por las condiciones existentes en Cuba que son muy precarias y la política pública, que no tenía suficiente dinamismo. Pero para America Latina Cuba no representa ningún modelo y mucho menos la legislación sobre el capital extranjero, que me parece más cerca de lo que está pasando en México de lo que debe pasar en un país progresista.

EChI: Otra noticia que te pedimos nos analices, dice que “Rusia informa a Ucrania de su intención de cancelar los viejos acuerdos sobre la flota del mar Negro”. ¿Qué significa esto?

JP: Bueno, hoy Rusia enfrenta un caso de un gobierno hostil, un gobierno dispuesto a imponer bases militares de OTAN, un gobierno que surgió de un golpe de Estado con una composición de fascistas y neoliberales y entonces no tiene ninguna razón para seguir subvencionándolos.

Rusia busca un cambio en el gobierno a partir de un referéndum y es lo que temen los EEUU y Europa, porque muchas regiones ucranianas se oponen a la Junta de Gobierno. Si dejamos Kiev afuera –que tal vez es cuestionable- muchas regiones ucranianas y las principales ciudades del Este, buscan mayor autonomía, busca un gobierno electo y no uno nombrado por los golpistas. Entonces Rusia trata de apoyar esas propuestas dentro de Ucrania, no busca invadir, eso es una gran mentira.

Rusia no va a invadir Ucrania. Lo que están criticando los gobernantes y los cipayos en Kiev es que si las regiones eligen su propia representación y consiguen un grado de autonomía para extender sus relaciones y diversificar sus lazos.

En tanto, todos los pueblos de Ucrania tienen miedo del acuerdo del Fondo Monetario, temen que se terminen las subvenciones que recibían en el pasado, temen caer en una enorme crisis económica producto del acuerdo con el FMI. Y ese es el tema. Rusia ofrece concesiones, la Unión Europea y EEUU ofrecen austeridad. En esa situación, obviamente, la forma de imponer la política de la OTAN es a partir de mayor represión y menos representatividad de un nuevo gobierno elegido.

EChI: ¿Qué temas pueden estar en la agenda de la reunión entre el Jefe del Estado Mayor Conjunto de EEUU general Martin E. Dempsey y su par israelí, teniente general Benjamín Gantz?

JP: Israel siempre tiene mucha influencia sobre Estados Unidos. El otro día leímos un reportaje que indicaba que las principales organizaciones judías en los EEUU controlan 26.000 millones de dólares. E incluso, las  organizaciones pro Israel consiguen el 38% de todas los recursos que ingresan a las arcas de las organizaciones judías estadounidenses y eso incluye sobre todo el proceso político, congresistas, presidentes, jueces, etc.

Entonces, la relación EEUU-Israel es muy estrecha en función de las presiones e influencias de los sionistas .Las reuniones bilaterales, son para planificar y compartir influencia en Medio Oriente, para fortalecer a los invasores en Siria, perjudicar a los países independientes como Irán, y fortalecer las alianzas con los sectores árabes más reaccionarios como Arabia Saudita, donde el señor Obama dio un espaldarazo total a la monarquía absolutista y retrógrada; apoyan al nuevo gobierno militar en Egipto; tratan de provocar una guerra civil en Líbano; siguen apoyando a los terroristas que invaden Siria; e Israel sigue tirando bombas y fortaleciendo a los sectores más reaccionarios. Es toda una política coordinada entre EE e Israel, y entre ellos los sionistas con formidables recursos para comprar e influir a los políticos norteamericanos.

EChI: Petras, ¿en qué otros temas estas trabajando?

JP: Bien, podemos empezar con Francia, donde tenemos noticias de las elecciones.

Como indicamos el gobierno mal llamado socialista, mejor llamado social imperialista, sufrió una derrota contundente con más de 40% de ausentismo, o sea la gran mayoría del electorado que anteriormente votaron a los socialistas.

El voto no sólo fue un castigo por las medidas reaccionarias de Francois Hollande ni por las políticas de intervención militarista ni por ser seguidor de la política reaccionaria de la Casa Blanca; fue por la totalidad de la conducta del gobierno que no consulta a ningún sector popular. Solamente se reúne con las cúpulas de los grandes capitales. Y como consecuencia de eso sufrieron la pérdida de más de un tercio de todas las Alcaldías. Fue una derrota histórica, fue el desplome total del electorado socialista. Y también de los que no pudieron aprovechar del descontento, del Partido Comunista o la izquierda supuestamente radical,  porque dieron el apoyo crítico a Hollande y la gente no pudo diferenciar. El votante de izquierda entendió que al dar ese apoyo aunque fuera crítico, hacía que estuvieran implicados en ese gobierno por más que ahora querían separarse, por años formaron alianzas entre la izquierda radical y el Partido Socialista; y ahora están perjudicados también. En tanto, los grandes beneficiados fueron la derecha y la ultraderecha porque se pusieron en contra de la política. Ahora, desde posiciones derechistas; pero si uno quiere castigar a los gobernantes, era hasta lógico que se decidan a votar a esos sectores o a no votar. Es un gran drama, peor indica que la socialdemocracia otra vez muestra su cara reaccionaria y perjudicó a los sectores populares.

Esto me parece que es típico. Cuando hay una colaboración entre las cúpulas políticas de izquierda y el gran capital, siempre pierde el pueblo.

El otro tema que quiero tocar es el de las elecciones en Turquía. Hemos visto hace un año atrás grandes protestas en las calles contra el gobierno de (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan, sectores populares, estudiantes, intelectuales, profesionales,  miles de personas… Pero como resultado de eso no hay un nuevo partido, la gente llena las calles pero al momento de    organizarse para competir en las elecciones no tuvieron capacidad y tampoco tuvieron capacidad para resistir el fraude.

De esto no hablan los grandes medios. Yo recibo comunicaciones de activistas en Turquía y me dicen que hay 1.418 casos registrados de casos de fraude, de estafa electoral,  donde manejaron el voto en forma ilegal.

Más allá de eso debemos entender que cuando tiene un gobierno corrupto, reaccionario, como en Turquía; pero más allá de eso está financiando grandes proyectos de construcción que generan empleos y que consigue aumentar salarios; cuando tiene un gobierno que juega la carta religiosa, musulmán; cuando tienes un gobierno que tiene un estilo de atacar fuerzas externas, de culpar de los problemas a conspiraciones externas; esa configuración me parece formidable … La única forma de desafiarlo es construir un Partido capaz de conseguir la organización para poner una alternativa en las opciones electorales. Pero la única alternativa era el viejo partido kemalista, el Partido Republicano del Pueblo (CHP) que es un partido desprestigiado en el pasado, involucrado en golpes de Estado, en corrupción, etc. Entonces frente a esta competencia, Erdogan consiguió una victoria contundente con un 45% de los votos, pese al fraude, que podemos decir que el 5 o 6% de los votos se consiguieron en forma fraudulenta, pero de todos maneras obtuvo un 40%  contra la oposición que obtuvo menos de 30%.

Eso nos indica que los movimientos sociales tienen que ir de la protesta a la organización; tienen que buscar un plan de acción política que combine varias formas de lucha. Hay que construir las bases para enfrentar a un gobierno que si tiene las bases organizadas en función de todos los proyectos religiosos y el gasto público.

Yo espero una gran purga ahora, porque Erdogan va a tomar el mandato del próximo gobierno para limpiar al gobierno de los sectores vinculados con (Fethullah) Gülen, que es un predicador que en Estados Unidos está más cerca de la Casa Blanca. Era aliado de Erdogan, pero en determinado momento decidió tomar el poder.

Entonces Erdogan va a eliminar esta amenaza con una gran purga; pero a la vez de purgar a los gulanistas va a aprovechar para también atacar a la izquierda y a las fuerzas populares.

Veremos si no hay un viraje hacia un mayor autoritarismo y monopartidismo; Erdogan preparará el camino para ser electo Presidente pero con poderes extendidos para mantenerse en el poder por los próximos diez años.

EChI: ¿Erdogan está calificado como uno de los políticos ‘duros’?

JP: Es un político que ha tenido una carrera evolucionando. Empezó como un centro derecha, una versión musulmana de un demócrata cristiano, un demócrata musulmán; y en los últimos años ha concentrado poderes y ha realizado una gran purga a todos los sectores progresistas en la sociedad civil, fue muy represor. Últimamente ha caído en un conflicto interno entre sus propias fuerzas, entre un sector más pro norteamericano y otro sector que está más involucrado en un proyecto más neo otomano. Es decir otomano implica involucrarse en Siria, Líbano y las otras regiones., Estaban involucrados con Morsi.

Erdogan esta concentrando poderes y preparándose para imponer una jerarquía bajo su mando, tanto en el ejército, la policía y judicial. Va a formar un gobierno  muy autoritario, centralizado y represivo para continuar en el poder utilizando los resultados electorales.

EChI: Te agradecemos mucho en nombre de la audiencia tu análisis y el esclarecimiento de todos estos temas. Nos reencontramos el lunes.

JP: Espero que con mejor tiempo, ya en abril.

Un gran abrazo a los oyentes, particularmente a los pescadores de la rambla montevideana.

(*) Escuche en vivo los lunes a las 11:30 horas (hora local) la audición de James Petras por CX36, Radio Centenario desde Montevideo (Uruguay) para todo el mundo a través de  www.radio36.com.uy

Mar 262014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

Protest, dissent and the destructive terror of war are obviously very distinct forms of expressing opposition and bringing about change.  The Obama-Kerry regime support the opposition in Venezuela as a ‘protest movement’ composed of   ‘peaceful democratic opponents’ expressing their discontent with economic conditions, while they denounce the democratically-elected Maduro Administration as an ‘authoritarian regime’ violently repressing legitimate dissent.  Washington disingenuously claims to have played no part in the actions of the Venezuelan opposition and that its pronouncements are merely directed at promoting democratic freedoms.

The overwhelming evidence show that the Venezuelan opposition has engaged in prolonged and extensive violence, including terrorist acts, assassinations, arson, and destruction of public property.  Most recently this includes the murder of military officers and civilian supporters of the government.  Widely circulated photographs, even in Washington-controlled media outlets, show opposition activists throwing Molotov cocktails at police and counter-demonstrators and building barricades for bloody street confrontations.

The Obama-Kerry Administration denies any involvement in the ongoing violence while unconditionally defending the opposition gangs of thugs.  At the same time it demonizes every legitimate government action to defend its citizens, uphold the Constitution and enforce internationally recognized norms of law and order.  The Obama-Kerry regime’s political intervention and its escalating rhetoric is designed to incite the opposition to further violent activity in order to destabilize the country for ‘regime change’.

US Secretary of State John Kerry’s vitriolic rhetoric is timed to counter the recent ebb of opposition activity, assuring the opposition that Washington supports its campaign of ‘warfare in the streets’.   President Obama’s propaganda, the regime’s economic sanctions and the channeling of financial and military resources to the violent opposition groups is designed to reinvigorate the campaign of terror and sabotage against the Venezuelan government.  The Kerry- Obama sanctions and their war of words provide external support for violent terrorists operating inside Venezuela.

Kerry-Obama Rely on the Big Lie

Secretary of State Kerry’s accusation that the Venezuelan government is conducting a ‘campaign of terror’ against the peaceful opposition is a naked lie:  The Bolivarian government, which had been the target of two months of street violence sabotage, is itself accused of the crimes committed by the US-backed proxy opposition.  This is a favorite ploy of the empire in preparing the ground for ‘regime change’.    Washington is intent on the violent overthrow of a democratic government and the establishment of another satellite regime in Latin America.

Washington’s proxy terrorist power grab is evident everywhere.  The opposition is openly authoritarian in its demands.  It raises economic and social issues as pretexts to undermine of the democratic, constitutional government by force and violence.  They seek to weaken the government and have no interest in negotiations or signing any agreement on specific sets of issues.  Government offers to meet and establish dialog have been rejected outright.  Each government concession has been exploited as a sign of weakness.  When the government released dozens of thugs arrested for throwing Molotov fire-bombs, they returned to the streets to burn more property and attack the police.

The opposition has been given every chance to win over Venezuela’s voters in dozens of Presidential, state and local elections.  Refusing to accept the will of the majority in lawful elections, they have launched their violent assaults to undermine the people’s rule.  Opposition mayors have worked with street thugs who block normal commerce while assaulting individual supporters of the national government.

The opposition has accumulated vast stores of arms and munitions in preparation for an armed uprising.  It has trained snipers to assassinate military and police officers upholding the rule of law and have attacked municipal workers and citizen volunteers engaged in clearing streets of debris.

In terms of means, goals and ideology the opposition fits the description of an imperial-financed terrorist minority organized to seize power, destroy majority rule and impose an autocratic dictatorship which would serve as a proxy for US imperial power.

Democratic Politics or Terrorist Putsch ?

In the 8 weeks up to March 15, 2014, the terrorist opposition committed 500 violent actions throughout the country.  At least 68 members of the Venezuelan National Guard have been injured, shot, or killed by Secretary Kerry’s “democratic protestors”.  On May 13, government officials were attacked with high powered rifle fire and seven snipers were arrested with arms and explosives.  Paramilitary terrorists have been openly trained and housed at two or more elite universities (Carabobo University and UCV in Caracas). Phony claims of “autonomy” have been used to shield the fact that these privileged campuses are used to stockpile weapons, set up training bases and shelter for paramilitary gangs and snipers.

The economic impact is immense: Business revenues, salaries and wage losses run in the tens of millions.  Sniper fire has prevented civil servants, pro-government workers and ordinary citizens from shopping, going to work and participating in pro-government counter demonstrations.  The terrorists have sown fear and insecurity, primarily in middle class neighborhoods where they mostly operate – not daring to enter the militant poor and working class barrios.

The government is seen by the masses as extraordinarily tolerant (or excessively conciliatory) in their dealings with these violent opposition gangs, considering the scope and depth of mayhem: As of March 15, only 105 street thugs out the 1,529 violent demonstrators arrested remain in jail facing charges.

Many concerned Venezuelan and international democrats and experts on terrorism believe the Maduro government’s restraint has given the terrorists plenty of time and opportunity to arm, recruit and distribute US funds channeled through phony NGO’s, in preparation for even bigger and more destructive acts of terror, such as bombing bridges, power stations and clinics, as well as assassinating top civilian and military officials.  Their assessment of the Maduro government’s security policy is that it is too narrowly focused on the ‘lowest level’ of activists – those caught with Molotov cocktails or engaged in other acts of violence – rather than the political and financial networks which extend deep into the major opposition political parties and business elite who provide funding, political cover and ideological justifications for the growing war of terror against ordinary Venezuelan citizens.  Moreover, the ‘revolving door’ judicial system simply emboldens the thugs and saboteurs — since a day in jail is a very small price for having blown up a community health center or engulfed a National Guardsman in flames.

The government, in its efforts to secure agreements with a section of the opposition, appears to have tied the hands of its security forces:  small groups of National Guardsmen have become especially vulnerable to acts of terror from thugs protected by highly-placed opposition political leaders.

Conclusion

In the past two months over a thousand public buildings have been destroyed or damaged, mostly fire-bombed by what US Secretary of State John Kerry has called the “democratic and peaceful opposition”.  Most of the arson is directed at buildings closely associated with the government’s popular and effective social welfare programs.  These include neighborhood centers for adult education and training; free public medical and dental clinics; public banks providing low interest loans for micro-economic projects; primary and secondary public schools in poor neighborhoods; publicly-owned food-stores  providing subsidized food and groceries as well as the trucks carrying subsidized food and essential goods to working-class neighborhoods; public transportation, municipal sanitary workers, community radio stations, pro-government media centers and local Socialist Party headquarters.

Recently large scale caches of arms, including automatic rifles and mortars were discovered in the underground parking lot owned by an opposition-controlled municipality.   Another cache of 2,000 mortars and other weapons were found in the opposition stronghold, Táchira State, which borders Colombia, across which arms, drugs and mercenaries enter freely.  Many of the National Guardsmen injured were shot by opposition snipers.  On March 16, a National Guard captain was assassinated by a sniper shooting from a high rise apartment.  The assassin was captured and turned out to be a Chinese mercenary hired by the opposition and part of a para-military hit team

Kerry-Obama’s claim that the protestors are mostly peaceful students is refuted by the fact that nearly two-thirds (971) of the total arrestees (1,529) are not  students; many are self-styled street fighters receiving outside material support and funds.

Kerry’s claim that the US is ‘not involved’ and the State Department’s ludicrous effort to portray Venezuela’s charges of US intervention as “paranoia” have been refuted by official US documents showing a continuous annual flow of tens of millions of dollars to opposition organizations linked to the terror networks, including $15 million disbursed during the first two months of this year.  The even greater extent of ‘covert’ material aid, including weapons, is unknown.

Top security experts knowledgeable about the subject of external funding for destabilization and terrorism, have reviewed the scope and depth of the ongoing damage and casualties in Venezuela.  They have urged the Maduro government to allow the loyal Venezuelan armed forces to participate in quelling the violence.  Their recommendations include a declaration of martial law and  military sweeps into opposition strongholds to round-up and disarm the violent street thugs and terrorists; unlimited detention, pending trials, for suspected snipers and arsonists and military trials for those suspected of murdering soldiers, police and guardsmen.  Opposition mayors, governors and university officials who have provided sanctuaries, training bases, funds and arms to the mercenaries should no longer be immune from prosecution.  In recognition of the recent huge demonstrations by ordinary citizens and soldiers supporting a greater role for the Venezuelan Armed Forces and demanding firmer measures to end terror, President Maduro issued an ultimatum to the opposition to end their violence or face the full force of the state.

In addressing the Kerry-Obama regime, President Maduro, once again, demanded it stop aiding the violent opposition and denounced Washington’s threats to further undermine the Venezuelan economy with trade sanctions.   He has called on Washington to join a tri-partite commission, including top representatives from the US, Venezuela and the Union of South American states (UNASUR), to discuss peace and sovereignty.  While UNASUR is willing to support Maduro’s proposal for dialogue and his peace initiative, US Secretary of State Kerry is moving ahead with economic sanctions against Caracas in support of the US terror war by proxy.

The time for political conciliation is running out:  the Venezuelan Armed Forces  may finally be given their chance to end this imperial war by proxy.

Post-Script

Hopefully, the arm-chair revolutionaries and chattering classes in North America and Europe, who have been so quick to criticize the Venezuelan government, will set aside their ‘reservations’ and organize a solidarity movement to protest the Kerry- Obama imperial war by proxy against Venezuelan democracy.  To date they have spent too much time in internet chatter and not enough time in the streets.

Mar 242014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

Captain Jose Guillen Araque,  of the Venezuelan National Guard, recently gave President Maduro a book on the rise of Nazism, warning that “fascism has to be defeated before it’s too late”!  In retaliation for his prophetic warning, the patriotic young captain was shot by a US-backed assassin on the streets of Marcay in the state of Aragua on March 16, 2014.  This raised the number of Venezuelan soldiers and police killed since the fascist uprising to 29.  The killing of a prominent, patriotic officer on a major street in a provincial capital is one more indication that the Venezuelan fascists are on the move, confident of their support from Washington and from a broad swath of the Venezuelan upper and middle class.  They constitute a minority of the electorate and they have no illusions about taking power via constitutional and democratic means.

Captain Guillen Araque had stepped forward to remind President Maduro that the road to power for Nazi and fascist totalitarian groups has been littered with the corpses of well-meaning democrats and social democrats throughout contemporary history because of their failure to use their constitutional powers to crush the enemies of democracy.

The History of the rise of Fascism under Democracies

The term “fascist” in Venezuela is appropriately applied to the organized violent political groups currently engaged in mass terror in a campaign to destabilize and overthrow the democratically-elected Bolivarian government.  Academic purist might argue that the Venezuelan fascists lack the racist and nationalist ideology of their German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese predecessors.   While true, it is also irrelevant.  The Venezuelan brand of fascism is highly dependent on, and acts as a proxy for, US imperialism and their Colombian warlord allies.  In one sense however, Venezuelan fascism’s racism is directed against its multiracial African-Amerindian Venezuelan working and peasant classes – as demonstrated by their vitriolic racism against the deceased President Hugo Chavez.  The essential connection with earlier fascist movements is found in its (1) profound class hostility to the popular majority; (2) its visceral hatred of the Chavista Socialist Party, winner of 18 of the last 19 elections; (3) its resort to the armed seizure of power by a minority acting on behalf of the domestic and US imperial ruling classes; (4) its intention to destroy the very democratic institutions and procedures which it exploits in order to gain political space; (5) its targeting of working class institutions – communal councils, neighborhood associations, public health and dental clinics, public schools, transport, subsidized food stores, political meeting places, public credit unions, trade union organizations and peasant co-operatives; (6)  and its support of capitalist banks, huge commercial landed  estates and manufacturing firms.

In Germany, Italy, Spain, France and Chile, fascist movements also began as small terrorist groups, who gained the financial backing of the capitalist elite because of their violence against working class organizations and democratic institutions and recruited primarily among middle class university students, elite professionals (especially doctors) and active and retired higher military officers – united in their hostility to the democratic order.

Tragically and all too often, democratic leaders, operating within a constitutional government, tended to regard fascists as “just another party”, refusing or unwilling to crush the armed thugs, who combined terror in the streets with elections to gain state power.  Constitutionalist democrats have failed or were unwilling to see the political, civilian arm of the Nazis as part and parcel of one organic totalitarian enemy; so they negotiated and debated endlessly with elite fascists who meanwhile destroyed the economy while terrorists pounded away at the political and social foundations of the democratic state.  The democrats refused to send out their multi-million mass supporters to face the fascist hordes.  Worse, they even prided themselves on jailing their own supporters, police and soldiers, who had been accused of using ‘excessive force’ in their confrontation with fascist street thugs.  Thus the fascists easily moved from the streets to state power.  The elected democrats were so concerned about criticism from the international and capitalist media, elite critics and self-appointed ‘human rights’ organizations, that they facilitated the takeover by fascists.  The people’s right to the armed defense of their democracy had been subordinated to the pretext of upholding ‘democratic norms’ - norms that any bourgeois state under assault would have rejected!  Constitutional democrats failed to recognize how drastically politics had changed.  They were no longer dealing with a parliamentary opposition preparing for the next election; they were confronted with armed terrorists and saboteurs committed to armed struggle and the seizure of political power by any means – including violent coups-d’états.

In the lexicon of fascism, democratic conciliation is a weakness, a vulnerability and an open invitation to escalate violence; ‘peace and love’ and ‘human rights’ slogans are to be exploited;  calls for ‘negotiations’ are preambles for surrender; and ‘agreements’ preludes to capitulation.

To the terrorists, the democratic politicians who warn about a “threat of fascism” while acting as if they were engaged in ‘parliamentary skirmishes’, become an open target for violent attack.

This is how the fascists came to power, in Germany, Italy and Chile, while the constitutionalist democrats, to the last, refused to arm the millions of organized workers who could have throttled the fascists and saved democracy and preserved their own lives.

Fascism in Venezuela: A Mortal Threat Today

The martyred hero, Captain Guillen Araque’s warning of an imminent fascist danger in Venezuela has a powerful substantive basis.  While the overt terrorist violence ebbs and flows, the underlying structural basis of fascism in the economy and society remains intact.  The subterranean organizations, financing and organizing the flow of arms to fascists-in-waiting remain in place.

The political leaders of the opposition are playing a duplicitous game, constantly moving from legal forms of protest to sub-rosa complicity with the armed terrorists.  There is no doubt that in any fascist putsch, the political oligarchs will emerge as the real rulers – and will share power with the leaders of the fascist organizations.  In the meantime, their ‘respectability’ provides political cover; their ‘human rights’ campaigns to free incarcerated street thugs and arsonists earn ‘international media support’ while serving as ‘intermediaries’ between the open US funding agencies,  and the clandestine terrorist underground.

In measuring the scope and depth of the fascist danger, it is a mistake to simply count the number of bombers, arsonists and snipers, without including the logistical, back-up and peripheral support groups and institutional backers who sustain the overt actors,

To ‘defeat fascism before it is too late’, the government must realistically assess the resources, organization and operational code of the fascist command and reject the overly sanguine and ‘upbeat’ pronouncements emanating from some ministers, advisers and legislators.

First, the fascists are not simply a small band confined to pounding on pots and attacking municipal workers in the upper-middle class neighborhoods of Caracas for the benefit of the international and corporate media.  The fascists are organized on a national basis; their members are active throughout the country.

They target vital institutions and infrastructure in numerous strategic locations.

Their strategy is centrally-controlled,  their operations are decentralized.

The fascists are an organized force; their financing, arming and actions are planned.  Their demonstrations are not ‘spontaneous’, locally-organized actions, responding to government ‘repression’ as depicted in the bourgeois and imperial media.

The fascists bring together different cross currents of violent groups, frequently combining ideologically-driven right-wing professionals, large-scale smuggling gangs and drug traffickers (especially in border regions), paramilitary groups, mercenaries and known felons.  These are the ‘frontline fascists’, financed by major currency speculators, protected by elected local officials, offered ‘sanctuary’ by real estate investors and high-level university bureaucrats.

The fascists are both ‘nationals’ and internationals:  They include locally paid thugs and students from upper-middle class families;  paramilitary Colombian soldiers, professional mercenaries of all sorts, ‘contract killers’ from US ‘security’ outfits and clandestine US Special Forces Operatives; and fascist ‘internationalists’ recruited from Miami, Central America, Latin America and Europe.

The organized terrorists have two strategic sanctuaries for launching their violent operations – Bogota and Miami, where prominent political leaders, like ex-President Alvaro Uribe and US Congressional leaders provide political support.

The convergence of highly lucrative criminal economic activity  and political terrorism presents a formidable double threat to the stability of the Venezuelan economy and the security of the state . . .  Criminals and terrorists find a common home under the US political tent, designed to overthrow Venezuela’s democratic government and crush the Bolivarian revolution of the Venezuelan people.

The backward and forward inter-linkages between criminals and terrorists inside and outside the country, between  Washington senior policymakers, street drug pushers and contraband ‘camels’, provides the international elite mouthpieces and the  muscle for street fighters and snipers.

Terrorist targets are not chosen at ‘random’; they are not products of an enraged citizenry protesting social and economic inequities.  The carefully chosen targets of terrorism are the strategic programs which sustain the democratic administration; first and foremost the mass social institutions forming the base of the government.  This explains why terrorists bomb health clinics for the poor, public schools and centers for adult education in the barrios, the state subsidized food stores and the public transport system.  These are part of the vast, popular welfare system set up by the Bolivarian government. They are key building blocks in securing massive voter support in 18 out of the last 19 elections and popular power in the streets and communities.  By destroying the social welfare infrastructure, the terrorists hope to break the social bonds between people and government.

Terrorists target the legitimate national security system: Namely, the police, National Guard, judges, public prosecutors and other authorities in charge of safeguarding citizens.  The assassinations, violent attacks and threats against public officials, the  fire-bombing of public buildings and public transport are designed to create a climate of fear and to demonstrate that the state is weak and incapable of protecting the everyday life of its citizens.  The terrorists want to project an image of ‘dual power’ by seizing public spaces and blocking normal commerce… and by ‘governing the streets through the gun’.  Above all the terrorists want to demobilize and curtail popular counter-demonstrations by blocking streets and sniping at activists engaged in political activity in contested neighborhoods.  The terrorists know they can count on their ‘legal’ political opposition allies to provide them with a mass base via public demonstrations, which can serve as a shield for violent assaults and a pretext for greater sabotage.

Conclusion

Fascism, namely armed terrorism directed at violently overthrowing a democratic government, is a real and immediate threat in Venezuela.  The day-to-day, ups and downs of street fighting and arson are not an adequate measure of the threat.  As we have noted, the in-depth structural and organizational supports underlying the rise and growth of fascism are far more important.  The challenge in Venezuela is to cut-off the economic and political basis of fascism.  Unfortunately, up until recently the government has been overly sensitive to hostile criticism from overseas and domestic elites who rush to defend fascists – in the name of “democratic freedom”.  The government of Venezuela has enormous resources at its disposal to root out the fascist threat.  Even if firm action causes an outcry from overseas liberal friends, most pro-democracy advocates believe it is incumbent upon the government to act against those opposition officials who continue to incite armed rebellion.

Most recently, there have been clear signs that the Venezuelan government, with its powerful democratic and constitutional mandate, is moving with awareness of the fascist danger and will act with determination to stamp it out in the streets and in the suites.

The National Assembly has voted to strip Congresswoman Corina Machado of her immunity as a deputy in the National Assembly so she can be prosecuted for inciting violence.  The President of the National Assembly Diosdado Cabello has presented detailed documentary evidence of her role in organizing and promoting armed rebellion.  Several opposition mayors, actively involved in promoting and protecting snipers, street thugs and arsonists, have been charged and arrested.

The majority of Venezuelans confronted by the rising tide of fascist violence  support the punishment of these high officials engaged in or supporting sabotage.  Without firm action, Venezuelan intelligence agencies as well as the average citizen agree that these ‘opposition’ politicos will continue to promote violence and provide sanctuary for paramilitary assassins.

The government has realized that they are engaged in a real war, planned by a centralized leadership and executed by decentralized operatives.  Legislative leaders are coming to grips with the political psychology of fascism, which interprets Presidential offers of political conciliation and judicial leniency as weakness to be exploited by further violence.

The most significant advance toward stopping the fascist threat lies in the government’s recognition of the links between the parliamentary and business elite and the fascist terrorists:  financial speculators, smugglers and big-time hoarders of food and other essential commodities are all part and parcel of the same fascist drive for power together with the terrorists who bomb public food markets and attack the trucks transporting food to the poor neighborhoods.  One revolutionary worker said to me after a street skirmish: “Por la razon y la fuerza no pasaran!”(Through reason and force they will be defeated)…

Mar 192014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

FARC members in Columbia

FARC members in Columbia

Introduction

The two paths to 21st century empire-building-via-proxies are illustrated through the violent seizure of power in the Ukraine by a US-backed junta and the electoral gains of the US-backed Colombian war lord, Alvaro Uribe.  We will  describe the ‘mechanics’ of US intervention in the domestic politics of these two countries and their profound external effects – that is how they enhance imperial power on a continent-wide basis.

Political Intervention and Proxy Regimes:  Ukraine

The conversion of the Ukraine into a US-EU vassal state has been a prolonged process which involved large scale, long term financing, indoctrination and recruitment of cadres, organization and training of politicos and street fighters and, above all, a capacity to combine direct action with electoral politics.

Seizing power is a high stakes game for empire:  (1) Ukraine, in the hands of clients, provides a NATO with a military springboard into the heart of the Russian Federation; (2) Ukraine’s industrial and agricultural resources provide a source of enormous wealth for Western investors and (3) Ukraine is a strategic region for penetrating the Caucuses and beyond.

Washington invested over $5 billion dollars in client-building, mostly in ‘Western Ukraine’, especially in and around Kiev, focusing on ‘civil society groups’ and malleable political parties and leaders.  By 2004, the initial US political ‘investment’ in regime change culminated in the so-called ‘Orange Revolution’ which installed a short-lived pro-US-EU regime.  This, however, quickly degenerated amidst major corruption scandals, mismanagement and oligarchical pillage of the national treasury and public resources leading to the conviction of the former-Vice President and the demise of the regime.  New elections produced a new regime, which attempted to secure ties with both the EU and Russia via economic agreements, while retaining many of the odious features (gross endemic corruption) of the previous regime.  The US and EU, having lost thru democratic elections, relaunched their ‘direct action organizations’ with a new radical agenda.  Neo-fascists seized power and established a dictatorial junta through violent demonstrations, vandalism, armed assaults and mob action.  The composition of the new post-coup junta reflected two sides of the US-backed political organizations: (1) neo-liberal politicos for managing economic policy and forging closer ties with NATO, (2) and neo-fascists/violent nationalists to impose order by force and fist, and crush pro-Russian Crimean ‘autonomists’ and ethnic Russians and other minorities, especially in the industrialized south and east.

Whatever else may ensue, the coup and the resultant junta is fully subordinated to and dependent on the will of Washington:  claims of Ukrainian ‘independence’ notwithstanding.  The junta proceeded to purge the elected and appointed government officials affiliated with the political parties of the previous democratic regime and to persecute its supporters.  Their purpose is to ensure that subsequent managed elections will provide a pretense of legitimacy, and elections will be limited to two sets of imperial clients:  the neo-liberals, (self-styled “moderates”) and the neo-fascists dubbed as “nationalists”.

Ukraine’s road to imperialist power via a collaborator regime illustrates the various instruments of empire building: (1) the use of imperial state funds, channeled through NGOs, to political front groups and the build-up of a ‘mass base’ in civil society;  (2) the financing of mass direct action leading to a coup (‘regime change’); (3) the imposition of neo-liberal policies by the client regime; (4) imperial financing of the re-organization and regroupment of mass direct action groups after the demise of the first client regime; (5) the transition from protest to violent direct action as the major backdrop to the extremist sectors (neo-fascists) organizing the seizure of power and purge of the opposition; (6)  organizing an ‘international media campaign’ to prop up the new junta while demonizing domestic  and international opposition (Russia) and (7)  political power centralized in the hands of the junta, convoking “managed elections” limited to the victory of one or the other pro-imperial pro-junta candidates.

In summary, empire-builders operate on several/levels: violent and electoral; social and political; and with selected incumbents and rivals committed to one strategic aim:  the seizure of state power and the conversion of the ruling elite into willing vassals of empire.

Columbia’s Deathsquad Democracy: Centerpiece of the Imperial Advance in Latin America

In the face of a continent-wide decline of US influence in Latin America, Colombia stands out as a constant bulwark of US imperial interests:  (1) Colombia signed a free trade agreement with the US; (2) provided seven military bases and invited thousands of US counter-insurgency operatives; and (3) collaborated in building large-scale paramilitary death squads prepared for cross border raids against Washington’s arch enemy Venezuela.

Colombia’s ruling oligarchy and military have been able to resist the wave of massive democratic, national and popular social upheavals and electoral victories that gave rise to the post-neo-liberal states in Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay.

While Latin America has moved toward ‘regional organizations’  excluding the US, Colombia strengthened its ties to the US through bilateral agreements.  While Latin America reduced its dependence on US markets, Colombia expanded its commercial ties.  While Latin America reduced their military ties to the Pentagon, Colombia tightened them.  While Latin America moved toward greater social inclusion by increasing taxes on foreign multinational corporations, Colombia lowered corporate taxes.  While Latin America expanded land settlements for its landless rural populations, Colombia displaced over 4 million peasants as part of the US-designed ‘scorched earth’ counter-insurgency policy.

Colombia’s “exceptional” unwavering submission to US imperial interests is rooted in several large-scale, long-term programs developed in Washington.  In 2000, President ‘Bill’ Clinton committed the US to a $6 billion dollar counter-insurgency program (Plan Colombia) which greatly increased the brutal repressive capacity of the Colombian elite to confront the popular grass roots movements of peasants and workers.  Along with arms and training, US Special Forces and ideologues entered Colombia to develop military and paramilitary terror operations – aimed primarily at penetrating and decimating political opposition and civil society social movements and assassinating activists and leaders.  The US-backed Alvaro Uribe, notorious narco-trafficker and the very personification of a ruthless imperial vassal, became president over a ‘Death-Squad Democracy’.

President Uribe further militarized Colombian society, savaged civil society movements and crushed any possibility of a popular democratic revival, such as were occurring throughout the rest of Latin America.  Thousands of activists, trade unionists, human rights workers and peasants were murdered, tortured and jailed.

The ‘Colombian System’ combined the systematic use of para-militarism (death squads) to smash local and regional trade union and peasant opposition and the technification and massification of the military (over 300,000 soldiers) in fighting the popular insurgency and ‘emptying the countryside’ of rebel sympathizers.  Large-scale multi-billion dollar drug trafficking and money laundering formed the ‘financial glue’ to cement a tight relationship among oligarchs, politicos, bankers and US counter-insurgency advisers – creating a terrifying high-tech police state bordering Venezuela, Ecuador and Brazil – countries with substantial popular mass movements.

The same state terror machinery, which decimated the pro-democracy social movements, has protected, promoted and participated in ‘stage-managed elections’, the hallmark of Colombia as a “death squad democracy”.

Elections are held under a vast overlapping network of military bases, where death squads and drug traffickers occupied towns and villages intimidating, terrorizing and ‘corrupting’ the electorate.  The only ‘safe’ protest in this repressive atmosphere has been voter abstention. Electoral outcomes are pre-ordained: oligarchs never lose in deathsquad democracies, they are the empire’s most trusted vassals.

The cumulative effects of the decade and a half-long bloody purge of Colombian civil society by Presidents Uribe and his successor, Santos, have been to eliminate any consequential electoral opposition.  Washington has achieved its ideal:  a stable vassal state; a large-scale and obedient military; an oligarchy tied to US corporate elites; and a tightly-controlled ‘electoral’ system that never permits the election of a genuine opponent.

The March 2014 Colombian elections brilliantly illustrate the success of US strategic intervention in collaboration with the oligarchy:  The vast majority of the electorate, over two-thirds, abstained, demonstrating the absence of any real legitimacy among the eligible voters.  Among those who ‘voted’, ten percent submitted ‘spoiled’ or blank ballots.  Voter abstention and ballot-spoilage was especially high in the rural regions and working class areas which had been subject to state terror.

Given the intense state repression, the mass of voters decided that no authentic pro-democracy party would have any chance and so refused to legitimize the process.  The 30% who actually voted were largely urban middle and upper class Colombians and residents in some rural areas completely controlled by narco-terrorists and the military  where ‘voting’ may have been ‘compulsory’.  Of a total of 32 million eligible voters in Colombia, 18 million abstained and another 2.3 million submitted spoiled ballots.  The two dominant oligarchical coalitions led by President Santos and ex-President Uribe received only 2.2 million and 2.05 million  votes respectively, a fraction of the number who abstained  (14 million).  In this widely scorned electoral farce, the center-left and left parties made a miserable showing.  Colombia’s electoral system puts a propaganda veneer on dangerous, highly-militarized vassal state primed to play a strategic role in US plans to “reconquer” Latin America.

Two decades of systematic terror, financed by a six-billion dollar militarization program, has guaranteed that Washington will not encounter any substantial opposition in the legislature or presidential palace in Bogota.  This is the ‘acrid, gunpowder-tinged smell of success’ for US policymakers:  violence is the midwife of the vassal state.  Colombia has been turned into the springboard for developing an US-centered trade bloc and a military alliance to undermine Venezuela’s Bolivarian regional alliances, such as ALBA and Petro Caribe as well as Venezuela’s national security.  Bogota will try to influence neighboring right and center-left regimes pushing them to embrace of the US Empire against Venezuela.

Conclusion

Large-scale, long-term subversion and organization in Ukraine and Colombia, as well as the funding of paramilitary and civil society organizations (NGO) has enabled Washington to: (1) construct strategic allies, (2) build ties to oligarchs, malleable politicians and paramilitary thugs and (3) apply political terrorism for their seizure of state power.  The imperial planners have thus created “model states” – devoid of consequential opponents and ‘open’ to sham elections among rival vassal politicians.

Coups and juntas, orchestrated by longstanding political proxies, and highly militarized states run by ‘Death Squad Executives’ are all legitimized by electoral systems designed to expand and strengthen imperial power.

By rendering democratic processes and peaceful popular reforms impossible and by overthrowing independent, democratically elected governments, Washington is making wars and violent upheavals inevitable.

Mar 182014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

crimea-map

“La respuestas que esperamos de Estados Unidos y de Europa, es de no reconocer las elecciones en Crimea” lo que “tiene una significación particularmente en la propaganda, pero lo importante es el reconocimiento que tienen las elecciones entre los pueblos de Ucrania” pues “ahora en la parte Este de Ucrania, en los grandes centros industriales, surgen grandes manifestaciones reclamando un referéndum, que permita mayor autonomía estas provincias y estados y vetar la intervención militar de la Junta en Kiev”, dijo el sociólogo norteamericano James Petras quién hizo un profundo análisis en CX36, Radio Centenario (*), del resultado del referéndum celebrado el domingo 16 de marzo en Crimea.  En la oportunidad dio las cinco razones por las que los crimeos apoyaron en forma aplastante la independencia de Ucrania y la unión con Rusia. Asimismo se refirió a los avances en Venezuela y en Siria en la lucha contra el terrorismo. Transcribimos a continuación el análisis de James Petras de este lunes 17 de marzo, que Usted puede volver a escuchar aquí: http://www.ivoox.com/james-petras-17-marzo-audios-mp3_rf_2930241_1.html

Efrain Chury Iribarne: Recibimos con mucho gusto a James Petras. Buenos días ¿Cómo estás?

James Petras: Estamos muy bien, a la espera de esta llamada.

EChI: Comencemos entonces y si estás de acuerdo, lo hacemos con lo que está pasando en Crimea.

JP: Si. Primero, es un gran triunfo del pueblo de Crimea, que votó en un 97% a favor de la independencia y tal vez un paso hacia la unión con Rusia.

Tenemos que analizar ese voto. El hecho es que todos los sectores en Crimea votaron por la independencia. Incluso los tártaros, que según la prensa occidental estaban en contra de Rusia, en contra de la independencia y a favor de continuar con Ucrania.

Obviamente los tártaros junto con los otros grupos y clases sociales, votaron a favor de la independencia de Crimea.

Ahora, debemos ver por qué.

En primera instancia es un voto contra los golpistas y la Junta pro occidental en Kiev (capital de Ucrania). En segundo lugar, es un rechazo al control y la sumisión a la Unión Europea, prefieren juntarse con Rusia en un sistema democrático, en vez de someterse a los dictados de los gobernantes oligarcas de Bruselas. En tercer lugar, es un rechazo al programa de austeridad del Fondo Monetario que están preparando e implementando hoy en día en Kiev.  En cuarto lugar, es una clara preferencia por un standard de vida más alta en Rusia que en Ucrania. Es que el ingreso promedio en Rusia es tres veces más alto que en Ucrania. Y en quinto lugar, es una declaración a favor de la libertad cultural y de respeto para sus tradiciones nacionales y culturales, favorable a la lengua rusa y contra el chauvinismo ucraniano que es dominante hoy en Kiev.

Estas son las cinco razones por la que los crimeos votaron así en le referéndum del domingo.

Hay que destacar también que los observadores internacionales declararon que no hubo ningún caso de corrupción ni manejo deshonesto del conteo de votos; dijeron que estuvieron libres de coerción, que fue un conteo honesto y tal vez lo más importante, que la participación fue  altísima, votaron cerca del 90% del electorado. Si comparamos esto con los países occidentales, donde se celebran elecciones como en Colombia donde se da el 70% de abstención y voto en blanco. La diferencia entre Crimea y Colombia es contundente.

La respuestas que esperamos de Estados Unidos y de Europa, es de no reconocer las elecciones,eso solo tiene una significación particularmente en la propaganda,  pero lo importante es el reconocimiento que tienen las elecciones entre los pueblos de Ucrania. Ahora en la parte Este de Ucrania, en los grandes centros industriales, surgen grandes manifestaciones reclamando un referéndum, que permita mayor autonomía estas provincias y estados y vetar la intervención militar de la Junta en Kiev.

Hay una división más allá de Crimea, que cada vez es más grande. Además hay indicios de un realismo en la parte occidental, que exigen que Kiev no trate de militarizar el país, que se permita mayor autonomía y autogobierno. Pero vamos a ver si la Junta de gobierno de Kiev va a permitir la coexistencia en Ucrania, sino podríamos pasar a una guerra civil donde la Junta trate de imponer por la fuerza su gobierno, ante la falta de legitimidad.

La respuesta occidental habla de sanciones, hasta ahora las sanciones son muy débiles; se habla de castigar las cuentas y evitar dar Visas a una o dos docenas de oficiales, pero eso no va a afectar el comercio ni las inversiones.

Porque saben que las sanciones contra Rusia puede afectar la economía europea.Es decir Europa depende de las importaciones de gas y de petróleo  ruso y si aplican sanciones, van a afectar sus propias economías, van a sufrir consecuencias por le retiro de inversiones rusas. Eso también ha ocurrido, pues más de cien mil millones de deuda norteamericana en Bonos del Tesoro han salido del país y ya empieza a tener un efecto negativo sobre los bonos del gobierno norteamericano.

En otras palabras, estamos en una situación de enfrentamiento entre la autodeterminación en Crimea y la independencia; contra el imperialismo occidental que utiliza un gobierno títere para tratar de extender su influencia y amenazar los intereses de seguridad nacional de Rusia. No hay ningún gobierno independiente en Kiev, fue un gobierno que se impuso por la fuerza simplemente como instrumento occidental. Y los izquierdistas y liberales que hablaban de una “Revolución”, son los mismos tontos que apoyaron la invasión de Libia y la invasión se Siria; son consistentes en su entrega a los intereses imperiales.

El impacto sobre Rusia va a ser positivo, porque Rusia va a tener mejor defensa de sus bases militares.Está permitiendo actualmente un debate en su Parlamento  sobre cómo tratar la unión con Crimea; anotan que Washington podría recibir golpe por golpe. No estamos en situación de triunfo del occidente. Hablan de la aislación de Rusia, pero Rusia sigue teniendo grandes posibilidades no sólo en relación con Asia, África y América Latina, pero también incluso en Europa. Es dudoso que Alemania vaya a romper relaciones y someterse a una crisis económica por la falta de energía. Entonces, es mucho lo que occidente puede perder si Rusia los castiga, los elementos son bastante limitados y debemos anotar eso.

EChI: “Uno de los mayores destructores lanza misiles de la armada norteamericana abandonó un puerto búlgaro y tomó rumbo desconocido en el Mar Negro. ¿Qué significa esto?

JP: Es una guerra de tensiones, es una guerra peligrosa, para poner presión militar sobre Rusia.

En este momento tienen miedo del impacto positivo que la votación en Crimea puede tener sobre otras regiones en Ucrania. Tienen miedo de que un movimiento por la independencia pueda extenderse por la zona Este de Ucrania y están utilizando  la Armada, para evitar que Rusia preste apoyo a los independentistas en esas zonas de Ucrania. Es un hecho consumado el de Crimea, pero no quieren ver a su títere dividido en un sector independentista y otro sector gobernado pro la Junta. En todo caso la Junta está movilizando al Ejército para aplastar a los manifestantes en las zonas orientales de Ucrania y por eso creo que las Fuerzas Armadas occidentales quieren prestar apoyo a la Junta para conquistar las partes disidentes de ese país.

EChI: Bien, Petras. ¿En qué otros temas vienes trabajando en estos días?

JP: Hay dos temas y uno extendido; sobre Venezuela.

El señor (John) Kerry (secretario de Estado de Estados Unidos), el canciller, ataca al gobierno venezolano como “autoritario” y apoya lo que él llama la ‘oposición democrática y pacífica’. Pero los datos hablan de otra situación. Hay más de mil edificios, incluyendo Centros Médicos, Educativos, Mercados, Autobuses, camiones con mercancías, que han sido incendiados. Eso no es una protesta democrática, están atacando lugares civiles que alimentan y educan al pueblo.

Hay más de 60 guardias hospitalarias que han recibido heridos la mayoría con balas, eso no es protesta democrática y pacífica.

Han descubierto francotiradores y morteros para destruir edificios y atacar lugares estratégicos.

Hablan de la autonomía universitaria en Carabobo y en la Universidad Central de Venezuela, mientras encuentran armas, ametralladoras y fusiles allí. Eso no es autonomía, es un refugio de terroristas.

Encuentran en Táchira, una provincia de la frontera con Colombia, armas y paramilitares; eso no es una protesta democrática.

En otras palabras, Kerry está defendiendo a los terroristas y tratando de presionar al gobierno para que deje a los terroristas seguir destruyendo el país.

Por fin, la respuesta de (el presidente de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela, Nicolás) Maduro, fueron dos. Una fue presentar una propuesta a Kerry planteando la necesidad de abrir negociaciones para la paz, porque sabe que Kerry es el que controla a los terroristas. Y dice que negociamos la paz y la soberanía con la UNASUR, los países latinoamericanos, como mediadores.

Y la respuesta de Kerry a esa oferta de paz, fue pedir sanciones. Es una escalada a los ataques. Kerry está preocupado porque Maduro está defendiendo el país y los opositores están en declive; de sesenta municipalidades donde venían realizando acciones bajaron a tres y los tres últimos han sido limpiados por la Guardia Nacional en las últimas 12 horas.

Entonces, Kerry trata de sustituir sanciones por la ausencia y el declive de los terroristas internos.  Pero no es un problema entre gobierno y oposición, es el terrorismo contra la democracia, es el terrorismo violento que trata de desestabilizar al gobierno, dirigidos por los Estados Unidos.

Me parece que es un enfrentamiento muy importante y la victoria del gobierno que está avanzando, me parece con una decisión y una acción muy positiva. Es importante que por fin el gobierno ofrezca la paz y el diálogo, y a la vez aumente la presencia de la Guardia Nacional, para de un momento a otro terminar con los terroristas; porque los terroristas funcionan sólo en los barrios altos y medios altos, incluso ya está perjudicando el tránsito y los negocios de sus apoyantes políticos: las quejas entre la oligarquía contra los terroristas están aumentando. Por eso  no tiene ningún rechazo cuando Maduro manda tropas a sacar a los terroristas de las calles. Sólo quedan los políticos pro Washington, apoyando a los terroristas diciendo que son ‘disidentes democráticos’. Un chiste de mal gusto.

Finalmente, el otro tema, es la victoria en Siria, donde las fuerzas nacionales han atacado y destruido a los terroristas en una ciudad clave, en las fronteras de Siria y Líbano, en la ciudad de Yabrud.

Allí, las fuerzas nacionales liberaron la ciudad y terminaron con un lugar estratégico para la entrada de armas y el tránsito de terroristas  que vienen de afuera. Es otro indicio de que el gobierno de Bashar Al Assad está avanzando militarmente y también políticamente porque su propuesta de convocar a una eleccion multipartidaria han recibido alguna aprobación de la oposición dentro del país.

Los mercenarios occidentales que funcionan en Inglaterra, Francia, Turquía y Jordania, no han dado ninguna respuesta política y pierden capacidad militar –es cada vez más evidente- para tumbar al gobierno.

El tiempo marcha a favor del gobierno y la historia marcha hacia una resolución electoral y democrática.

EChI: Muchas gracias por todo este análisis. Un abrazo y nos reencontramos el lunes.

JP: Muchas gracias, hasta el lunes.

(*) Escuche en vivo los lunes a las 11:30 horas (hora local) la audición de James Petras por CX36, Radio Centenario desde Montevideo (Uruguay) para todo el mundo a través de  HYPERLINK “http://www.radio36.com.uy/” www.radio36.com.uy

Mar 122014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

20140301_wom908

Introduction

In the biggest power grab since George Bush seized Eastern Europe and converted it into a NATO bastion confronting Russia, the Obama regime, together with the EU, financed and organized a violent putsch in the Ukraine which established a puppet regime in Kiev.[1]  In response the citizens of the autonomous Crimean region, fearing the onslaught of cultural and political repression, organized self-defense militia and pressured the administration of Russian President Vladimir Putin to help protect them from armed incursions by the NATO-backed coup regime in Kiev.[2]    Russia responded to the Crimean appeal with promises of military assistance – effectively halting further Western absorption of the entire region.

Immediately following the proxy putsch the entire US-EU propaganda machine spun into high gear.[3]  The nature of the Western power grab of the Ukraine was ignored.   Russia’s defensive action in Crimea became the focus of media and Western government attacks.  Unconditional support for  the for the violent seizure of the Ukraine by the US and EU-backed coup was broadcast by the West’s entire stable of journalistic hacks and accompanied by screeds calling for measures to destabilize the Russian Federation itself through a full-scale economic and diplomatic war.  The US and EU convoked meetings and press conferences calling for trade and investment sanctions.  Threats emerged from the White House and Brussels calling for a “freeze of Russian assets” in Western banks, if Moscow did not hand over the Crimea to the coup regime in Kiev.  Russian capitulation became the price of mending East-West ties.

The Obama regime and a host of US Congress people, media pundits and policy advisers called for, or engaged in, imposing sanctions on strategic sectors of the Russian economy, including its financial assets in the West.  Opinions in Europe divided over this issue: England, France and the rabidly anti-Russian regimes of Central Europe (especially Poland and the Czech Republic) pushed for harsh sanctions, while Germany, Italy and the Netherlands were more measured in their response (Financial Times, 3/5/14, p. 2).

The Washington-based advocates for imposing sanctions against Russia view this as an opportunity to: (1) punish Russia for acceding to the Crimean autonomous government’s call for defense against the Kiev putsch by activating Russian troops stationed  in the region; (2) weaken Russia’s economy and isolate it politically from its major Western trading and investment partners; (3) legitimatize the violent seizure of power by neo-liberal and neo-Nazi clients of the US; and (4) promote destabilization within the borders of the Russian Federation.  At a minimum, economic sanctions have become an aggressive tool for energizing the corrupt pro-Western elites and oligarchs in Russia to influence the Putin government to accept the de-facto regime in Kiev and deliver the autonomous Crimean nation into their hands.

Sanctions” are seen by the White House advisers as:  (1) projecting US power, (2) securing the Ukraine as a strategic new base for NATO, (3) ethnically cleansing this diverse and complicated region of its Russian-speaking minority and (4) opening the Ukraine for the whole-sale plunder of its economic and natural resources by Western multinational corporations.

The Obama regime cites the “success” of the financial and economic sanctions against Iran as a ‘model’ for what can be achieved with Russia:  A weakened economy, diminution of its trade, destabilizing its currency and provoking consumer scarcities and mass unrest. (FT 03/05/2014 p.2)  Secretary of US State John Kerry is pushing for more extreme forms of economic reprisals:  trade and investment sanctions, which obviously could lead to a break in diplomatic relations.(FT 03/05/2014 p.1)

Impact of Sanctions on Russia, the US and EU

Energy and financial sanctions on Russia, assuming that they can be imposed, would have a severe impact on Russian energy companies, its oligarchs and bankers.  Trade and investment agreements would have to be abrogated.  As a result Europe, which relies on Russian oil and gas imports for 30% of its energy needs, would slip back into an economic  recession (FT  03/05/2014 p.2). The US is in no position to replace these energy shortfalls.  In other words, trade and investment sanctions against the Russian Federation would have a ‘boomerang effect’ – especially against Germany, the economic ‘locomotor’ of the European Union.

Financial sanctions would hurt the corrupt Russian oligarchs who have stashed away tens of billions of Euros and Pounds in European real estate, business investments, sport teams and financial institutions.  Sanctions and a real freeze on the overseas assets of the Russian billionaires would curtail all those profitable transactions for major Western financial institutions, such as Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan-Chase and other “giants of Wall Street” as well as in the ‘City of London’.  (FT 03/05/2014 p.2)  In “punishing” Putin, the EU would also be “spiting on itself”.  Sanctions might weaken Russia but they would also precipitate an economic crisis in the EU and end its fragile recovery.

Russia’s Response to Sanctions

Essentially the Putin Administration can take one of two polar responses to the US-EU sanctions:  It can capitulate and withdraw from Crimea, sign an agreement on its military base (knowing full well that NATO will not comply), and accepts its own international status as a quasi-vassal state incapable of defending its allies and borders; or the Putin Administration can prepare a reciprocal set of counter-sanctions, confiscate Western investments, freeze financial assets, renege on debt payments and re-nationalize major industries.  The Russian state would be strengthened at the expense of the neo-liberal and pro-Western oligarchical sectors of Russia’s policy elite. Russia could terminate its transport and base agreements with the US, cut off the Pentagon’s Central Asian supply routes to Afghanistan.  President Putin could end sanctions with Iran, weakening  Washington’s negotiating position.  Finally, Russia could actively support dissident anti-imperialist movements in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America while strengthening its support for the Syrian government as it defends itself from US-supported violent jihadists.

In other words, US-EU sanctions while attempting to undermine Russia could actually radicalize Moscow’s domestic and foreign policy and marginalize the currently pro-Western oligarchs who had influenced the heretofore conciliatory policies of the Putin and Medvedev Administrations.

The EU and Obama might consolidate their hold over the Ukraine but they have plenty to lose on a global scale.  Moreover, the Ukraine will likely turn into a highly unstable vassal state for the NATO planners.  EU, US and IMF loans for the bankrupt regime are conditional on (1) 40% cutbacks on energy and gas subsidies, (2) 50% cuts in public sector pension payments, (3) major increases in consumer prices and (4) the privatization (plunder) of public firms.  The result will be large-scale job loss and a huge jump in unemployment.  Neo-liberal austerity programs will further erode the living standards of most wage and salaried workers and likely antagonize the neo-Nazi ‘popular base’ provoking new rounds of violent mass protests.  The West would move forward with ‘agreements’ with their Ukraine clients ‘at the top’ but face bitter conflicts ‘below’.  The prospect of Brussels and the IMF dictating devastating economic policies as part of an austerity program on the masses of Ukrainian citizens will make a mockery of the puffed-up nationalist slogans of the far Right putschists.  Economic collapse, political chaos and a new round of social upheaval will erode the political gains assumed in the power grab of February 2014.

Conclusion

The unfolding of the US-EU-Russian conflict over the Ukraine has far-reaching consequences, which will define the global configuration of power and foster new ideological alignments

Western sanctions will directly hit Russian capitalists and strengthen a ‘collectivist turn’.  The Western power grab of the ‘soft underbelly of Russia’ could provoke greater Russian support for insurgent movements challenging Western hegemony.  Sanctions could hasten greater Sino-Russian trade and investment ties, as well as military cooperation agreement.

Much depends on Obama and the EU’s calculation of another weak and pusillanimous response from the Russian government.  They are confidant that the Russian Federation will once again, as in the past, ‘bluster and object’ to Western expansionist moves but will ultimately capitulate.  If these calculations are wrong,  if the West goes through with financial and energy sanctions and President Putin makes a robust riposte, we are heading into the eye of a new political storm in which a polarized world will witness new class, national and regional conflicts.

 

[1] The pro EU-US putsch regime in Kiev is a product of nearly 25 years of planning and enormous funding by political agencies of the US government.  According to William Blum (Anti-Empire Report#126, 03/07/2014), the self-styled National Endowment for Democracy bankrolled 65 projects involving political indoctrination and the formation of political action groups.  Under-Secretary of State Victoria Nuland boasted that the US government had spent over $5 billion dollars preparing the ground for the putsch in Kiev.

[2]  The Crimean people had excellent reasons for organizing self –defense militias and calling for Russian military aid.  According to analyst Brian Becker(“Who’s Who in Ukraine’s New Semi-Fascist Government”, Global Research 05/09/2014), prominent neo-Nazis and right-wing extremists occupy key positions in the Kiev junta.  Fascists hold the two top positions in the National Defense Council (controlling the army, police, intelligence and the judiciary); head the Ministry of Defense; control the Prosecutor General; and include one of the Vice Presidents.  The Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk (‘Yats’), was ‘hand-picked’ by Washington, (as revealed by a secretly recorded conversation between US Under-Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the US Ambassador to Kiev).  He is the ‘front man’ of Ukrainian fascism and NATO penetration.

[3]  ’News’ reporting became indistinguishable from editorials in all the major media outlets.  The corporate and state media’s rabid support of the violent seizure of power in Kiev by US-funded clients was equaled by their hysterical claims of a Russian “take-over” of Crimea.  See the coverage from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times , Financial Times , Washington Post, BBC News and CNN from  03/01/014 to 03/10/2014.

Mar 102014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

b52democracy

Introduction

The Obama regime, in coordination with its allies and proxies, has re-launched a virulent world-wide campaign to destroy independent governments, encircle and ultimately, undermine global competitors, and establish a new US – EU centered world order.

We will proceed by identifying the recent ‘cycles’ of US empire-building; the advances and retreats; the methods and strategies; the results and perspectives.  Our main focus is on the imperial dynamics driving the US toward greater military confrontations, up to and including conditions which can lead to a world war.

Recent Imperial Cycles

US empire-building has not been a linear process.  The recent decades provide ample evidence of contradictory experiences.  Summarily we can identify several phases in which empire-building has experienced broad advances and sharp setbacks – with certain caveats.  We are looking at global processes, in which there are also limited counter-tendencies:  In the midst oflarge-scale imperial advances, particular regions, countries or movements successfully resisted or even reversed the imperial thrust.  Secondly, the cyclical nature of empire-building in no way puts in doubt the imperial character of the state and economy and its relentless drive to dominate, exploit and accumulate.  Thirdly, the methods and strategy directing each imperial advance differ according to changes among targeted countries.

Over the past thirty years we can identify three phases in empire-building.

Imperial Advance 1980’s to 2000

In the period roughly from the mid-1980’s to the year 2000, empire-building expanded on a global scale.

            (A). Imperial Expansion in the former Communist regions

The US and EU penetrated and hegemonized Eastern Europe; disintegrated and pillaged Russia and the USSR; privatized and denationalized hundreds of billions of dollars worth of public enterprises, mass media outlets and banks;  incorporated military bases throughout Eastern Europe into NATO and established satellite regimes as willing accomplices in imperial conquests in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

            (B). Imperial Expansion in Latin America

Beginning from the early 1980’s to the end of the century, empire-building advanced throughout Latin America under the formula of “free markets and free elections”.

From Mexico to Argentina, empire-centered, neo-liberal regimes privatized and denationalized over 5,000 public enterprises and banks, benefiting US and European multi-nationals.  Political leaders lined up with the US in international forums.  Latin American generals responded favorably to US-centered military operations.  Bankers extracted billions in debt payments and laundered many billions more in illicit money.  The US-centered, continent-wide “North American Free Trade Agreement” appeared to advance according to schedule.

(C).Imperial Advances in Asia and Africa

Communist and nationalist regimes shed their leftist and anti-imperialist policies and opened their societies and economies to capitalist penetration. In Africa, two key “leftist” countries, Angola and post-apartheid South Africa adopted “free market policies”.

In Asia, China and Indo-China moved decisively toward capitalist development strategies; foreign investment, privatizations and intense exploitation of labor replaced collectivist egalitarianism and anti-imperialism.  India, and other state-directed capitalist countries, like South Korea, Taiwan and Japan, liberalized their economies.  Imperial advances were accompanied by greater economic volatility, a sharpening of the class struggle and an opening of the electoral process to accommodate competing capitalist factions.

Empire-building expanded under the slogan of “free markets and fair elections” – markets dominated by giant multi-nationals and elections, which assured elite successes.

Imperial Retreat and Reverses: 2000-2008

The brutal costs of the advance of empire led to a global counter-tendency, a wave of anti-neoliberal uprisings and military resistance to US invasions.  Between 2000 – 2008 empire-building was under siege and in retreat.

Russia and China Challenge the Empire

US empire-building ceased to expand and conquer in two strategic regions:  Russia and Asia.  Under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin, the Russian state was reconstructed; pillage and disintegration was reversed.  The economy was harnessed to domestic development.  The military was integrated into a system of national defense and security.  Russia once again became a major player in regional and international politics.

China’s turn toward capitalism was accompanied by a dynamic state presence and a direct role in promoting double digit growth for two decades:  China becoming the second largest economy in the world, displacing the US as the major trading partner in Asia and Latin America.  The US economic empire was in retreat.

Latin America:  The End of the Neo-Liberal Empire

Neo-liberalism and US-centered ‘integration’ led to pillage, economic crises and major popular upheavals, leading to the ascendancy of new center-left and left regimes. ‘Post neo-liberal’ administrations emerged in Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, Central America and Uruguay.  US empire-builders suffered several strategic defeats.

The US effort to secure a continent-wide free trade agreement fell apart and was replaced by regional integration organizations that excluded the US and Canada.  In its place, Washington signed bi-lateral agreements with Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Panama and Peru.

Latin America diversified its markets in Asia and Europe:  China replaced the US as its main trading partner.  Extractive development strategies and high commodity prices financed greater social spending and political independence.

Selective nationalizations, increased state regulation and debt renegotiations weakened US leverage over the Latin American economies. Venezuela, under President Hugo Chavez successfully challenged US hegemony in the Caribbean via regional organizations. Caribbean economies achieved greater independence and economic viability through membership inPETROCARIBE, a program through which they received petrol from Venezuela at subsidized prices. Central American and Andean countries increased security and trade via the regional organization, ALBA.  Venezuela provided an alternative development model to the US-centered neo-liberal approach, in which earnings from the extractive economy financed large-scale social programs.

From the end of the Clinton Administration to the end of the Bush Administration, the economic empire was in retreat.  The empire lost Asian and Latin American markets to China.  Latin America gained greater political independence.  The Middle East became ‘contested terrain’.  A revised and stronger Russian state opposed further encroachments on its borders.  Military resistance and defeats in Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq and Lebanon challenged US dominance.

Imperial Offensive:  Obama’s Advances the Empire

The entire period of the Obama regime has been taken up with reversing the retreat of empire-building.  To that end Obama  has developed a primarily military strategy (1) confrontation and encircling China and Russia, (2) undermining and overthrowing independent governments in Latin America and re-imposing neo-liberal client regimes, and (3) launching covert and overt military assaults on  independent regimes everywhere.

The empire-building offensive of the 21st century differs from that of the previous decade in several crucial ways:  Neo-liberal economic doctrines are discredited and electorates are not so easily convinced of the beneficence of falling under US hegemony.  In other words, empire-builders cannot rely on diplomacy, elections and free market propaganda to expand their imperial reach as they did in the 1990’s.

To reverse the retreat and advance 21st century empire-building, Washington realized it had to rely on force and violence.  The Obama regime allocated billions of dollars to finance arms for mercenaries, salaries for street fighters and campaign expenses for electoral clients engaged in destabilization campaigns. Diplomatic duplicity and broken agreements replaced negotiated settlements – on a grand scale.

Throughout the Obama period not a single imperial advance was secured via elections, diplomatic agreements or political negotiations.  The Obama Presidency sought and secured the massification of global spy network (NSA) and the almost daily murder of political adversaries via drones and other means.  Covert killer operations under the US Special Forces expanded throughout the world.  Obama assumed dictatorial prerogatives, including the power to order the arbitrary assassination of U.S. citizens.

The unfolding of the Obama regime’s global effort to stem the imperial retreat and re-launch empire-building “pivoted” almost exclusively on military instruments: armed proxies, aerial assaults, coups and violent putschist power grabs. Thugs, mobs, Islamist terrorists, Zionist militarists and a medley of retrograde separatist assassins were the tools of imperial advance.  The choice of imperial proxies varied according to time and political circumstances.

Confronting and Degrading China:  Military Encirclement and Economic Exclusion

Faced with the loss of markets and the challenges of China as a global competitor, Washington developed two major lines of attack: 1. An economic strategy designed to deepen the integration of Asian and Latin America countries in a free trade pact that excludes China (theTrans Pacific Trade Agreement); and 2.  Pentagon-designed military plan Air-Sea Battle , which targets China’s mainland with a full-scale air and missile assault if Washington’s current strategy of controlling China’s  commercial maritime lifeline fails (FT, 2/10/14).  While an offensive military strategy is still on the Pentagon’s drawing board, the Obama regime is building up its maritime armada a few short miles off China’s coast , expanding its military bases in the Philippines, Australia and Japan and tightening the noose around China’s strategic maritime routes for vital imports like oil, gas and raw materials.

The US is actively promoting an Indo-Japanese military alliance as part of its strategy of military encirclement of China.  Joint military maneuvers, high-level military coordination and meetings between Japanese and Indian military officials are seen by the Pentagon as strategic advances in isolating China and reinforcing the US stranglehold on China’s maritime routes to the Middle East, Southeast Asia and beyond.  India, according to one of India’s leading weeklies, is viewed “as a junior partner of the US.  The Indian Navy is fast becoming the chief policeman of the Indian Ocean and the Indian military’s dependence on the U.S. military-industrial complex is increasing…” (Economic and Political Weekly (Mumbai), 2/15/14, p. 9.  The US is also escalating its support for violent separatist movements in China, namely the Tibetans, Uighurs and other Islamists.  Obama’s meeting with the Dali Lama was emblematic of Washington’s efforts to foment internal unrest.

The gross political intervention of outgoing U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke in domestic Chinese politics is an indication that diplomacy is not the Obama regime’s prime policy instrument when it comes to dealing with China.  Ambassador Locke openly met with Uighur and Tibetan separatists and publicly disparaged China’s economic success and political system while openly encouraging opposition politics (FT, 2/28/14, p. 2).

The Obama regime’s attempt to advance empire in Asia via military confrontation and trade pacts, which exclude China, has led China to build-up its military capacity to avoid maritime strangulation.  China answers the US trade threat by advancing its productive capacity, diversifying its trade relations, increasing its ties with Russia and deepening its domestic market.

To date, the Obama regime’s reckless militarization of the Pacific has not led to an open break in relations with China, but the military road to advancing empire at China’s expense threatens a global economic catastrophe or worse, a world war.

Imperial Advance:  Isolating, Encircling and Degrading Russia

With the advent of President Vladimir Putin and the reconstitution of the Russian state and economy, the U.S. lost a vassal client and source of plundered wealth.  Washington’s empire-builders continued to seek Russian ‘cooperation and collaboration’ in undermining independent states, isolating China and pursuing its colonial wars.  The Russian state, under Putin and Medvedev, had sought to accommodate U.S. empire builders via negotiated agreements, which would enhance Russia’s position in Europe, recognize Russian strategic borders and acknowledge Russian security concerns. However, Russian diplomacy secured few and transitory gains while the US and EU made major gains with Russian complicity and passivity.

The un-stated agenda of Washington, especially with Obama’s drive to re-launch a new wave of imperial conquests, was to undermine Russia’s re-emergence as a major player in world politics.  The strategic idea was to isolate Russia, weaken its growing international presence and return it to the vassal status of the Yeltsin period,  if possible.

From the US -  EU takeover of Eastern Europe , the Balkans and Baltic states, and their transformation into NATO military bases and capitalist vassal states in the early 1990’s, to the penetration and pillage  of Russia during the Yeltsin years, the prime purpose of Western policy has been to establish a unipolar empire under US domination.

The EU and the US proceeded to dismember Yugoslavia into subservient mini-states.  They then bombed Serbia in order to carve off Kosovo, destroying one of the few independent countries still allied with Russia.  The U.S. then moved on to foment uprisings in Georgia, Ukraine and Chechnya.  They bombed, invaded and later occupied Iraq – a former Russian ally in the Gulf region.

The driving strategy of US policy was to encircle and reduce Russia to the status of a weak, marginal power, and to undermine Vladimir Putin’s efforts to restore Russia’s position as a regional power.  In 2008 Washington’s puppet regime in Georgia, tested the mettle of the Russian state by launching an assault on South Ossetia, killing at least 10 Russian peacekeepers and wounding hundreds (not to mention thousands of civilians).  Then-Russian President Medvedev responded by sending the Russian armed forces to repel Georgian troops and support the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

U.S. diplomatic agreements with Russia had been asymmetrical – Russia was to acquiesce in Western expansion in exchange for ‘political acceptance’.  Duplicity trumped open-diplomacy.  Despite agreements to the contrary, U.S. bases and missile installations were established throughout Eastern Europe, pointing at Russia, under the pretext that they were “really targeting Iran”.  Even as Russia protested that post-Cold War agreements were breached, the Empire ignored Moscow’s complaints and encirclement advanced.

In a further diplomatic disaster, Russia and China signed off on a U.S.-authored United Nations Security Council agreement to allow NATO to engage in “humanitarian overflights” in Libya. NATO immediately took this as the ‘green light’ for attack and converted ‘humanitarian intervention’ into a devastating aerial bombing campaign that led to the overthrow of Libya’s legitimate government and the destruction of Libya as viable, independent North African state.  By signing the ‘humanitarian’ UN agreement, Russia and China lost a friendly government and trading partner in Africa!  Even earlier, the Russians had agreed to allow the US to transport weapons and troops through Russian Federation territory to support the US invasion of Afghanistan … with no reciprocal gain (except perhaps an even greater flood of Afghan heroin).

Russian diplomats agreed to US (Zionist)-authored UN economic sanctions against Iran’snon-existent nuclear weapons program … undermining a political ally and lucrative market.  Moscow believed that by backing US sanctions on Iran and granting transport routes to Afghanistan in late 2001 they would receive some ‘security guarantees’ from the Americans regarding the separatist movements in the Caucuses.  The U.S. ‘reciprocated’ by further backing Chechen separatist leaders exiled in the US despite the on-going terror campaigns against Russian civilians – up to and even after the Chechen slaughter of hundreds of school children and teachers in Beslan in 2004….

With the US under Obama advancing its encirclement of Russia in Eurasia and its isolationin North Africa and the Middle East, Putin finally decided to draw a line by backing Russia’s only remaining ally in the Middle East, Syria.  Putin sought to secure a negotiated end to the Western-Gulf Monarchist-backed mercenary invasion of Damascus. To little avail: The US and EU increased arms shipments, military trainers and financing to the 30,000 Islamist mercenaries based in Jordan as they engaged in cross-border attacks to overthrow the Syrian government.

Washington and Brussels continued their imperial push toward the Russian heartland by organizing and financing a violent seizure of power (putsch) in western Ukraine.  The Obama regime financed a coalition of armed neo-Nazi street fighters and neo-liberal politicos, to the tune of $5 billion dollars, to overthrow the elected regime.  The putschists then moved to end Crimean autonomy and break long-standing military treaty agreements with Russia.  Under enormous pressure from the autonomous Crimean government and the vast majority of the population and facing the critical loss of its naval and military facilities on the Black Sea, Putin, finally, forcefully moved Russian troops into a defensive mode in Crimea.

The Obama regime launched a series of aggressive moves against Russia to isolate it and to buttress it faltering puppet regime in Kiev:  economic sanctions and expulsions were the order of the day … Obama’s seizure of the Ukraine signaled the start of a ‘new Cold War’.  The seizure of the Ukraine was part of Obama’s grand ongoing strategy of advancing empire.

The Ukraine power grab signaled the biggest geo-political challenge to the continued existence of the Russian state.  Obama seeks to extend and deepen the imperial sweep across Europe to the Caucuses: the violent regime coup and subsequent defense of the puppet regime in Kiev are key elements in undermining a key adversary– Russia.

After pretending to ‘partner’ with Russia, while slicing off Russian allies in the Balkans and Mid-East over the previous decades, Obama made his most audacious and reckless move.  Casting off all pretexts of peaceful co-existence and mutual accommodation, the Obama regime broke a power-sharing agreement with Russia over Ukrainian governance and backed the neo-Nazi putsch.

The Obama regime assumed that having secured Russia’s earlier acquiescence in the face of advancing US imperial power in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and the Gulf region, Washington’s empire-builders made the fateful decision to test Russia in its most strategic geopolitical region, one directly affecting the Russian people and its most strategic military assets.  Russia reacted in the only language understood in Washington and Brussels:  with a major military mobilization.  Obama’s advance of ‘empire-building via salami tactics’ and duplicitous diplomacy was nearing an end.

Advancing Empire in the Middle East and Latin America

The imperial advance of the 1990’s came to an end by the middle of the first decade of the new millennium.  Defeats in Afghanistan, withdrawal from Iraq, the demise of puppet regimes in Egypt and Tunisia, election losses in the Ukraine and the defeat and demise of pro-U.S. neo-liberal regimes in Latin America were exacerbated by a deepening economic crisis in the imperial centers of Europe and Wall Street.

Obama had few economic and political options to advance the empire. Yet his regime was determined to end the retreat and advance the empire; he resorted to tactics and strategies more akin to 19th century colonial and 20th century totalitarian regimes.

The methods were violent- militarism was the policy pivot.  But at a time of domestic imperial exhaustion, new military tactics replaced large-scale ground force invasions.  Proxy-armed mercenaries took center stage in overthrowing regimes targeted by the US.  Political and ideological affinities were subsumed under the generic euphemism of “rebels”.  The mass media alternated between pressuring for greater military escalation and endorsing the existing level of imperial warfare.  The entire political spectrum in Europe and the US shifted rightward – even as the majority of the electorate rejected new military engagements, especially ground wars.

Obama escalated troops in Afghanistan, launched an air war that overthrew President Gadhafi and turned the Libya into a broken, failed state.  Proxy wars became the new strategy to advance imperial empire-building.  Syria was targeted – tens of thousands of Islamist extremists were recruited and funded by imperial regimes and despotic Gulf monarchies.  Millions of refugees fled, tens of thousands were killed

In Latin America, Obama backed the military coup in Honduras overthrowing the elected Liberal government of President Manuel Zelaya, he recognized a congressional coup ousting the elected center-left government in Paraguay while refusing to recognize the election victory of President Maduro in Venezuela.  In the face of Maduro’s win in Venezuela, Washington backed several months of mob street violence in an attempt to destabilize the country.

In the Ukraine, Egypt, Venezuela and Thailand, ‘the street’ replaced elections.  Obama’s strategic imperial goals have focused on the re-conquest and pillage of Russia and its return to the vassal status of the Boris Yeltsin years, Latin America’s return to the neo-liberal regimes of 1990’s and China to the submissiveness of the 1980’s.  The imperial strategy has been ‘to conquer from within’ setting the stage for domination from the outside.

Advancing Empire:  Israel and the Middle East Detour

One of the great historical paradoxes of the U.S. imperial retreat of the 21st century has been the role played by influence of Israel and its Zionist Fifth Column embedded within the U.S. political power structure.  Washington’s wars and sanctions in the Middle East have been largely at the behest of influential ‘Israel Firsters’ in the White House, Pentagon, Treasury and National Security Council and Congress.

It was largely because the US was engaged in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that Washington “neglected” China’s growing economic prowess.  By concentrating on ‘wars for Israel’ in the Middle East, the U.S. has not been in a position to challenge the rise of nationalism and populism in Latin America.  Protracted ‘wars for Israel’ have exhausted the US economy and the American public’s enthusiasm for new ground wars elsewhere.

Zionist ideologues, dubbed “neo-conservatives”, were instrumental in shaping the globalmilitarist approach to empire-building and marginalizing the market-driven empire building, favored by the multi-nationals and giant extractive industry.

Obama’s attempt to halt the retreat of empire caused by Zionist militarism has not borne fruit:  His effort to co-opt Zionists and pressure Israel to stop fomenting new wars in the Middle East is a failure.  His ‘pivot to Asia’ has turned into a strategy of brute military encirclement of China. His overtures to Iran have been stymied by the Zionist power bloc in Congress and the imposition of Israeli-dictated terms of negotiations.  The entire “advance of the empire-building project”, which was to define the Obama legacy, has been weakened by the enormous cost of heeding the advice and directives of the Israel-loyalists within his Administration.  Israel, one of the most brutal colonial powers, has paradoxically and unintentionally played a major role in undermining Obama’s efforts to reverse the decline of empire and advance the U.S. diplomatic and economic dimensions of empire-building

Results and Perspectives:  Advancing Empire in the Post Neo-Liberal Period

Obama’s reckless effort to advance empire in the second decade of the 21st century is far more dangerous than his predecessors in the late 20th century.  Russia has recovered.  It is not the disintegrating state that Bush and Clinton dismembered and pillaged.  China is no longer a risingmarket economy so eager to trade with the US while overlooking American incursions into Chinese territorial waters.  Today China is a major economic power, wielding economic leverage in the form of $3 Trillion in U.S. Treasury notes.  China no longer tolerates U.S. interference in its domestic politics- it is willing to crack down on U.S.-backed ethnic separatists and terrorists.

Latin America, including Venezuela, have developed autonomous regional organizations, diversified their markets to Asia and established a powerful post-neoliberal consensus.  Venezuela has turned its military, once the favorite instrument of US-engineered coups, into a bulwark of the existing democratic order.

The electoral road to US empire-building has been closed or requires tight imperial “supervision” to secure “favorable outcomes”. Washington’s new policy of choice is violence: enlisting mob action, mercenary extremists, Islamists and Uighur terrorists, neo-Nazis and the riff raff of the world in its service.

The balance sheet of six years of “advancing empire” under Obama is in doubt.  The violent overthrow of President Gadhafi did not lead to a stable client regime:  the utter destruction and chaos in Libya has undercut the imperial presence.  Syria is under attack but by anti-Western Islamist fanatics.  The defeat of Assad will not ‘advance empire’ as much as it will expand radical Islamist (including Al Qaeda) power.

The Ukraine puppet regime of neo-liberals and neo-Nazis is literally bankrupt, riven with internal conflicts and facing profound regional divisions.  Russia is threatened, but their leaders have taken decisive military action to defend their Crimean allies and strategic military bases.

Obama has provoked and threatened adversaries but has not secured much in terms of valuable allies or clients.  His effort to replicate the imperial advances of the 1990’s has failed because the relationships of power between Europe and Russia, Japan and China, and Venezuela and Colombia have changed.  Proxies, predator drones and the US Special Forces are not able to reverse the retreat.  The economic crisis has cut too deep; the domestic exhaustion with empire is too pervasive.  The cost of sustaining Israel is too high.  Advancing empire in these circumstances is a dangerous game:  it risks a larger nuclear war to overcome adversity and retreat.