Nov 292016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Left-wing academics, writers and journalists have written tendentious articles where they manage to transform reactionary political leaders into working class heroes and present their dreadful policies as progressive advances.

Recently, leftist pundits throughout US and Latin America have plagued the reading public with gross distortions of historical events contributing, in their own way, to the demise of the left and the rise of the right.

The leading international figures in this deceptive left-wing punditry include the famous Noam Chomsky, once eulogized by the New York Times (NYT) as ‘America’s most important public intellectual’. Such effusion is not surprising: Professor Chomsky and the NYT both supported the presidential candidacy of the warmongering Hillary Clinton, the perpetrator of seven wars that uprooted 20 million people from Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, sub-Sahara Africa (Is this any different from Stalin in the ‘30s?) and author/supporter of numerous coups and attempted ‘regime changes’ in Brazil, Honduras, Venezuela, Paraguay and Ukraine.

The same MIT intellectual turned his prestige-laden ire on the authors of the definitive critique of the pro-Israel lobby (The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt (2007)) and slandered the most effective activist group against Israeli colonial land grabbers – the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). So much for America’s most ‘prominent intellectual’ – a crypto-warmonger, who not only supported the candidacy of the blood-gorged war goddess Clinton, but has become a leader of the post-election propaganda and ‘regime change’ campaign to overthrow the buffoonish President-Elect Donald Trump. Chomsky’s diatribe against Trump claimed nothing less than the world now faced the gravest danger in all its history with the election of the real estate-casino King Donald. Noam deftly papered over his defeated candidate Hillary’s vow to unleash possible nuclear war by shooting down Russian planes over Syria – in opposition to Trump’s reasoned proposal to work with Putin in ending the brutal war in Syria.

There are different versions of the ‘leftist’-imperial-collaborator apologist Chomsky throughout Latin America. One is Emir Sader.

Emir Sader, professor of Political Science at the University of Rio de Janeiro and author of the book celebrating the first ‘workers’ President of Brazil, Lula DaSilva (Without Fear of Being Happy: Lula, The Workers Party and Brazil(1991)) is a frequent contributor to the leading ‘progressive’ daily newspapers throughout Latin America, including La Jornada of Mexico, as well as the influential bi-monthly The New Left Review in Great Britain.

Lula
Lula

Needless to say, Sader never cited any inconvenient facts when praising the leadership of Lula Da Silva and Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s last two elected presidents from the Workers Party. For example, Sader omitted the fact that President Da Silva implemented an IMF-mandated austerity program upon taking office. He tiptoed around the Wall Street Bankers’ awarding Lula a “Man of the Year” prize. Professor Sader forgot to cite the abrupt drop in farmland expropriations (guaranteed under Brazil’s Constitution) for rural landless workers movement (MST) – leaving hundreds of thousands of landless peasant families under thin plastic tents. His ‘Worker President’ Lula appointed neo-liberal economists and central bank directors to his cabinet. Lula supported the interests of big agro-business, big oil and big mining oligarchs who slashed and burned the Amazon rain forest murdering indigenous leaders, peasants and ecologists who resisted the devastation and displacement.

Sader lauded, as ‘generous’, the monthly ‘food baskets’, equivalent to $60 dollars, which the local Workers Party operative passed out to about 30 million destitute families to create a rural client-base. Sader and his string of leftist followers in North and South America, England and France never attacked the high level bribery, fraud and corruption linking Workers Party leaders to construction multi-nationals and Petrobras, the state oil company and billions of state contracts.

Sader and his international acolytes celebrated Brazil’s ascent to world power as a member of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) with Lula as a leader in bringing the poor into the ‘middle class’. He never stopped to analyze how Lula managed to balance the interests of the IMF, Wall Street, agro-business, bankers while enticing a huge voting majority among the poor and workers.

Lula’s ‘miracle’ was a temporary mirage, its reality evident to only a few critics who pointed to the reliance on a prolong commodity export boom. The business elites backed Lula because of state subsidies and tax incentives. Hundreds of right-wing Congress people and cabinet members jumped on the Workers Party bandwagon to enjoy the payola payoffs from contractors. But by the end of Lula’s eight year term, exports of primary commodities to China sharply declined, commodity prices collapsed and the business elites and bankers turned their backs on the ‘Worker President’ as they looked for a new regime to rescue them by sacrificing the poor.

The rest of the story is well known: Former PT allies launched corruption investigations to pull down the PT government. Twice-elected President Dilma Rouseff was impeached in a bizarre legislative coup, orchestrated by a corrupt PT ally from a right-wing party, Congressional head Eduardo Cunhal; Rouseff’s corrupt Vice President Temer took over and Lula was indicted for corruption by right-wing prosecutors appointed by the PT. The House of Cards in Brasilia became a grotesque comic opera with all the major players waltzing in and out of jail (except the impeached Rouseff).

But Professor Sader did not looked back in contemplation, let alone class analysis, at the 13 years of Worker Party power in coalition with the worst of Brazil’s crooks. Instead, he bellowed that Lula’s former allies, the corrupt politicians from the right-wing parties, had unjustly ousted the PT. These ‘traitors’ were the same politicians that Professor Sader embraced as ‘strategic allies’ from 2003 to 2014. Any serious observer could understand why Lula’s was first embraced and then divorced by the financial elite – for its own class interest.

Lula and Dilma’s ‘Three-Cornered Ménage’ with Bankers

Contrary to Sader’s PT propaganda and the predictably ill-informed kudos of Chomsky, et al, the Workers Party policies benefited the banks and the agro-business elites above all others, to the detriment of the popular movements and the Brazilian people. Brazilian investment bank revenues rose from $200 million dollars in 2004 to $1.6 billion dollars in 2007 and remained close to the peak until the commodity crash reduced bank revenues drastically. Likewise, the financial speculators and corporate monopolies took part in the capitalist bonanza under Presidents Lula and Dilma. Merger and acquisitions (M&As) rose from $40 billion in 2007 to $140 billion in 2010 but then sharply declined with the drop in world commodity prices down to $25 billion in 2015. The banks made billions of dollars in management fees for arranging the M&A’s over the eight-year period (2007-2015).

The Fall of Banking Revenues and the Rise of Corporate Activists

If we examine Brazilian merger and acquisitions activity and investment bank revenues, one sees a close correlation with the rise and fall of the PT regime. In other words, when the bankers, speculators and monopolists flourished under the PT policies, they supported the government of Lula and Dilma. When the export agro-mining commodity boom collapsed, slashing profits, management fees and interest, the financial sector immediately mobilized their right-wing allies in congress, allied prosecutors and judges and successfully pushed for Dilma’s impeachment, Lula’s indictment, the arrest of former PT allies and the appointment of Vice President Temer to the Presidency.

With the recession fully underway, the business and banking elite demanded large-scale, long-term cuts in public expenditures, slashing budgets for the poor, education, health, housing and pensions, severe wage reduction and a sharp limit on consumer credit. At the same time they pushed through the privatization of the multi-billion dollar petroleum industry (Petrobras) and related state industries, as well as public ports, airlines and airfields, highways and whatever else among Brazil’s public jewels could compensate for their drop in investment bank revenues and management fees for M&As.

For the finance sector, Lula and Dilma’s main crime lay in their reluctance to impose the brutal ‘new austerity policies’ fast enough or totally privatize public enterprises, reverse subsidies to the destitute, freeze wages and slash social budgets for the next two decades.

As soon as the economic elite successfully ousted President Dilma Rousseff through a legislative ‘coup’, their newly enthroned (Vice) President Michel Temer rose to the task: He immediately announced the privatization of Petrobras and froze health and educational budget for the next twenty years. Instead of recognizing the true nature of the ruling class interests behind the coup against Dilma and the arrest of Lula, the PT party hacks and writers denounced political ‘plotters’ and “traitors” and imperialist agents … puppets who were only following orders from the banking and export elite.

After the fall of Dilma and faced with resounding defeats in the 2016 municipal elections wiping out almost all of the PT big city mayors and city officials, Lula finally called for a ‘Left Front’ – fifteen years after having pursued an allied bankers’ front!

Reflections on a Debacle

What stands out is how pro-PT intellectuals and writers have failed to understand that the party’s vulnerability, opportunism and corruption were present early on and reflected the class composition, policy decisions and lack of ethical principles among the PT leadership. Wide-eyed and seduced at their warm reception at PT functions and international conferences, the ill-informed US, Canadian and European intellectuals understood nothing about the real structural and strategic flaws within the party and instead published hundreds of shallow ‘puff pieces’ about Lula’s poverty reduction, minimum wage increases, and consumer credit – ignoring the real nature of class power in Brazil.

Apparently, they threw out two centuries of even the most basic grammar school level history lessons describing the cyclical boom and bust nature of commodity export economies. They ignored a half-century of left-right ‘populist front’ governments, which collapsed into coups once bourgeois support was withdrawn – and instead whined about ‘betrayals’ – as if the elite were capable of anything else.

The fundamental problem was not the stratospheric intellectual pronouncements – the key was the economic and political strategies and policies under Lula and Dilma

The PT Presidents failed to diversify the economy, institute an industrial program, impose content regulations on foreign producers, nationalize the banks and monopolies, prosecute corrupt political officials (including PT leaders) and stop the practice of funding political campaigns through kick-back rewards for rotten deals with construction contractor-cronies.

Once in power, the PT ran expensive campaigns with heavy mass media saturation, while rejecting their own twenty years of effective class struggle that had built the political party with a strong working class cadre.

By the time it was elected to the presidency, the PT membership had shifted dramatically – from workers to middle class professionals. By 2002, 70% of active party members were professionals. They formed the leadership base running for office, designed the new strategies and forged new allies.

The PT discarded its popular class allies in order to gain short-term capitalist alliances based on the export commodity boom economy. During the height of the ‘boom’ they managed to satisfy the bankers and stockbrokers, while providing some subsidies to workers and the poor. When the budgets and the boom economy crashed, the business allies turned against the PT. Meanwhile, the PT had also lost its mass base, which was experiencing double-digit unemployment. The once reliable PT voters knew that, while they suffered, some of their ‘Workers Party’ leaders had become millionaires through corruption and were living in ‘soap-opera’-style luxury. They could imagine them consulting their gold Rolex watches so not to miss an appointment with the corrupt contractors…

Lacking critical and knowledgeable advisers, depending on allies and ministers from the capitalist elite, abandoning the politics of class struggle, and failing to implement any national industrial strategy – including the most basic processing of Brazil’s agro-mineral products, the Left disintegrated losing Latin America’s historic best opportunity to build a workers’ and peasant government from below.

The fiasco of left intellectuals and politicos is not confined to the case of Brazil. The same capitulation to the hard-right keeps happening: In the US, France, England, Greece and Portugal, there were the Bernie Sanders, Noam Chomskys and a small army of left journalists and identity activists rushing to support the candidacy of Hillary Clinton — the most bellicose imperial politician in recent memory. Despite her record of supporting or launching seven wars, creating twenty-million refugees and over one million deaths, despite her reckless advocacy of nuclear war with Russia over Syria, the self-declared ‘anti-fascists’ joined hands to support a recidivist catastrophe-candidate, whose only real success would be her million-dollar speeches before the financial elite and speculators! But then again, the famously furious Greek Left voted for Syriza’s Alexis Tsipras who then imposed history’s worst peacetime austerity program on the people of Greece. It must console Lula and Dilma to know they have plenty of company among the left politicians who speak to the workers and work for the bankers.

James Petras is author of  The End of the Republic and the Delusion of EmpireExtractive Imperialism in the Americas: Capitalism’s New Frontier (with Henry Veltmeyer), and The Politics of Empire: The US, Israel and the Middle EastRead other articles by James, or visit James’s website.

 

Nov 242016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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US officialdom and their media megaphones have systematically concocted narratives having less to do with political reality and more with their hallucinogenic world view. Pre-election and post-election reportage weaves a tapestry of fiction and fantasy.

We will discuss the most pernicious of these remarkable foibles and fables and their predictable failures.

The pundits, prestigious editorialists and ‘economists with gravitas’, have convinced themselves that the election of Donald Trump would ‘lead to the Collapse of Capitalism (COC)’. They cited his campaign attacks of globalization and trade agreements, as well as his ‘reckless’ swipes at speculators. In reality, Trump was criticizing a specific kind of capitalism. The pundits overlooked the variety of capitalisms that constitute the US economy. With their snouts deep in the trough, their own vision was limited; their curly tails blindly twirled meaningless formulae on blackboards; their ample backsides flapping away in place of their mouths. Thus occupied, they easily ignored Trump’s glorification of national capitalism.

Trump followed the legacy of protectionism in US policies established by George Washington and Alexander Hamilton and carried into the administrations of Franklin Roosevelt and others. Capitalism comes in various forms and is promoted by different protagonists at different times in our history. Some leaders have championed such economic sectors as domestic energy production, manufacturing, mining and agriculture and depended largely on the local labor markets. Nevertheless, the pundits’ dream of a final collapse of capitalism with the rise of Trump turned into a real stock market bonanza, the ‘DOW’ boomed to record levels, and monopolists rubbed their hands in anticipation of larger and more lucrative merger and acquisitions.

The world’s largest billionaire bankers had bankrolled Secretary Hillary Clinton, the ‘million-dollar-a-speech’ War Goddess. Blankfein, Soros and the dirty dozen had bet heavily against the populist-nationalist Donald Trump and they lost. Their pre-paid political manifestos, addressed to the readers of the NY Times, flopped and sputtered: Most readers and investors in domestic markets had placed their bets on ‘The Donald’. Their domestic celebrations pumped up the market after the election. The unimaginable had happened: George Soros had bet and lost! The ‘deplorable’ electorate preferred the obnoxious nationalist to the obnoxious speculator. ‘Who’d a thunk it?’

From electoral losers to street putschists, the speculators and their whiny media mouthpieces strive to overthrow the election process. Against the tens of millions of free voters, the speculators bankrolled a few thousands demonstrators, drunk with their own delusions of starting a color-coded ‘Manhattan Spring’ to overthrow the elected President. Decked out in black ‘anarchist chic’, the window vandals and historically illiterate students were energized by George Soros’ promise to replicate the putsches in Kiev and Tbilisi. They took to the streets, cracked a few some windows and signed thousands of ‘on-line petitions’ (while denouncing Trump as the ‘Second Coming of Kristalnacht’). The media magnified the theatrics as a sort of uprising to restore their loser-emancipator to the throne – the bleery-eyed Jean D’Arc of the Hedge Funds. The losers lost and Hillary will hopefully retire to count her millions. The stock market soared to record heights.

The four most influential financial newspapers, the Wall Street Journal(WSJ), the Financial Times (FT), the New York Times (NYT) and the Washington Post (WP) had deeply mourned their Paradise Lost: Long-gone was the rotting vassal-state of Russia under Boris Yeltsin 1991-2000, source of so much Western pillage. Their bile turned to venom, directed at the new Nemesis: Putin. The election of Vladimir Putin led to a remarkable economic and social recovery for Russia. From a Western controlled gangster-capitalist ‘thug-ocracy’, Russia has become a modern global power asserting its own sovereignty and national interests.

Gone are the days when Harvard economists could sack Russia of millions through their various ‘democracy’ foundations and Wall Street bankers could launder billions from the criminal oligarchs. Pentagon planners had dismantled Russian bases throughout its previous Warsaw Pact neighbors and set up NATO bases on Russia’s borders. State Department functionaries had overthrown elected pro-Russian regimes in the Ukraine, Georgia and as far afield as Libya. These were the unfettered joys of the US unipolar rulers and their stable of prestigious press pimps and academics, until Putin arrived to spoil the party. And in the run-up to the US election, the Clintonites and their Democratic entourage in the media launched the most frenzied demonic attack accusing Vladimir Putin of financing Trump’s campaign, of hacking Clinton’s messy, unsecured e-mail messages to undermine elections, of bombing Syrian hospitals full of children, of preparing to invade Latvia and Poland etc., etc. If there is one sliver of truth in the vassal press, it is that the demonic charges made against Putin reflected the gory reality of Hillary Clinton’s well-documented policies.

Clinton’s model for a democratic Russia was the drunken President Yeltsin, bankrolled by thugs as they gorged themselves on the corpse of the USSR. But Vladimir Putin was elected repeatedly by huge majorities and his governance has been far more representative of the Russian electorate than those of the recidivist loser, Hillary Clinton. Russia didn’t ‘invade’ the Ukraine or Crimea. It was the ‘potty-mouthed’ Victoria Nuland, US Undersecretary of State for European Affairs, who boasted of having tossed a mere 5 billion dollars into neo-fascist–kleptocratic putsch that took over Ukraine and who famously dismissed the concerns of the European Union with her secretly recorded ‘F— the EE’ comment to the US Ambassador!

At some point, reality has to bubble up through the slime: Putin never financed Trump – the billionaire financed his own campaign. On the other hand, Clinton was bankrolled by Saudi despots, Zionist billionaires and Wall Street bankers. The mass media, the WSJ, FT, NYT and the WP, dutifully served the same stale, old sexist gossip about Trump in support of the sweet and sour, wide-eyed Madam Strangelove, who never hesitated to rip the lives out of thousands of Muslim women in their own countries. The media celebrated Madame Clinton’s nuclear option for Syria (the No-Fly Zone) while it ridiculed Trump’s proposal to negotiate a settlement with Putin.

The media accused Trump of being a sexist, racist, anti-immigrant villain, all the while ignoring Secretary of State Clinton’s blood-soaked history of bombs and destruction, of killing of tens of thousands women in the Middle East and Africa and driving hundreds of thousands among the two million sub-Sahara Africans formerly employed in Libya under Gaddafi’s rule onto rotting ships in the Mediterranean Sea. Who in Madame’s media count the millions of people dispossessed or the 300,000 killed by the US-promoted mercenary invasion of Syria? Where were the feminists, who now dredge up Trump’s crude ‘crotch talk’, when millions of women and children of color were killed, injured, raped, and dispossessed by Madame Clinton’s seven wars? Given the choice, most women would prefer to defend themselves from the stupid words of a vulgar misogynist over the threat of a Clinton-Obama predator drone ripping their families to shreds. Nasty, juvenile words do not compare with a history of bloody war crimes.

It is much easier to denounce Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, and Donald Trump than to analyze the consequences of Madame Candidate Clinton’s policies. The mass media, subservient to Clinton, wave the flag of ‘worker struggles’ and highlight ‘capitalist exploitation’ when they describe China, Russia and the businesses of US President-Elect Trump. But their perspective is that of the Uni-Polar Empire. They cite non-unionized worker protests in Chinese factories and peasants fighting the rapacious developers. They cite corrupt oil sales in Russia. They find cheap immigrant labor employed on Trump’s building projects. The media describe and defend Hong Kong separatists. They heap praise on the Uighur, Chechen and Tibetan terrorists as “freedom fighters” and “liberators”. They fail to acknowledge that, as bad as worker exploitation is in these examples, it is far less horrific than the suffering experienced by millions of local and immigrant peasants and workers who have been injured, killed and rendered jobless and homeless by US bombing campaigns in Libya and US invasion-destruction of Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. The imperial media’s phony ‘anti-capitalist-exploiter stories’ against Trump, Putin and the Chinese are mere propaganda rhetoric designed to entice leftists, influence liberals and reinforce conservatives by playing on workers’ plight inflicted by national adversaries instead of imperial conquests and egregious crimes against humanity.

These financial scribes are very selective in their critique of economic exploitation: They denounce political adversaries while churning out vapid cultural stories and reports on the ‘eclectic tastes’ of the elite. Their weekend cultural pages may occasionally contain a critique of some predatory financiers next to a special feature on an unusual sculptor or successful upwardly mobile immigrant writer. Day after day, the same financial media publishes predictable ‘bootlickeries’ masquerading as reports on vulture capitalists, warmongers and imperial warlords. They court and offer advice to Wall Street, the City of London and Gulf State sheikdoms. They write in blubbering awe at the bold multi-billion dollar mergers and acquisitions, which eliminate competitive prices and establish effective monopolies. Then they deftly turn to rant against President-Elect Donald Trump’s pronouncements on workers’ rights – he is ‘the demagogue threatening free-market capitalism’.

The fear and loathing of the ‘Wildman’ Trump, so evident in the four most prestigious English language newspapers, is nowhere to be found in reference to Secretary Clinton’s pathological glee over the gruesome torture-murder of the injured President Gaddafi by her allied jihadi tribesmen. The global and domestic implications of the US Secretary of State expressing glee and high pitched squeals on viewing the filmed torture and final ‘coup de grace’ on the wounded head of the Libyan President was never analyzed in the respectable press. Instead, the press superficially covers the plight of millions of immigrants and refugees who would never have left their jobs and homes were it not for the US destruction of the Middle East and North Africa. The respectable media defend the US officials directly responsible for the plight of these migrants flooding and threatening to destabilize Europe.

The same newspapers defend the ‘human rights’ of Chinese workers in local and US-owned factories who out-competed domestic American factories, but ignore the plight of millions of unemployed and destitute workers trying to survive in the US war zones and Israeli-occupied territories.

The Presidential elections made millions of American voters starkly aware of the mendacity of the mass media and the corruption of the Clinton political elite.

The media and the Clinton-elite denounced the Trump voters as ‘deplorables’ and totally mischaracterized them. They were not overwhelmingly unemployed, bitter former industrial workers or minimum wage, uneducated racists from the gutted ‘heartland’. ‘Angry white male workers’ constituted only a fraction of the Trump electorate. Trump received the vote of large sections of suburban middle class professionals, managers and local businesspeople; joined by downwardly mobile Main Street shopkeepers, garage owners and construction contractors. A majority of white women voted for Trump. City household residents, still trying to recover from the Obama-Clinton era mortgage foreclosures, formed an important segment of the Trump majority, as did underpaid university and community college graduates – despairing of ever finding long-term stable employment. In short, low-paid, exploited and precarious business owners and service sector employees formed a larger section of the Trump majority than the stereotyped ‘deplorable angry white racists’ embedded in the media and Clinton-Sanders propaganda.

Post-election media has magnified the political significance and size of the anti-Trump demonstrations. Altogether the demonstrators barely surpassed a hundred thousand in a country of 100 million voters. Most have been white students, Democratic Party activists and Soros-financed NGOs. Their demonstrations have been far smaller than the huge pro-Trump public rallies during the campaign. The pro-Clinton media, which consistently ignored the size of Trump’s rallies, doesn’t bother to make any comparison. They have focused exclusively on the post-election protest, completely papering over the outrageous manipulation by which the Democratic National Committee under ‘Debbie’ Wasserman Schultz cheated Clinton’s wildly popular left-wing rival, Bernie Sanders, during the primaries.

Instead, the media has been featuring Clintonesque ‘feminist’ professionals and ‘identity’ political activists, ignoring the fact that a majority of working women voted for Trump for economic reason. Many politically conscious African-American and Latino women knew that Clinton was deeply involved in policies that deported 2 million immigrant workers and family members between 2009-2014 and destroyed the lives of millions of women of color in North and Central Africa because of her war against the government of Libya. For millions of female and male workers, as well as immigrants – there was a ‘lesser evil’ – Trump. For them, the Donald’s nasty remarks about women and Mexicans were less disturbing than the real history of Hillary Clinton’s brutal wars destroying women of color in Africa and the Middle East and her savage policies against immigrants.

The more bizarre (but transient) aspect of the anti-Trump smear campaign came from a hysterical section of the pro-Hillary Zionist Power Configuration (ZPC) and ‘Israel-First’ crackpots who accused him and some of his appointees of anti-Semitism. These venomous propagandists slapped the Manhattan real-estate mogul Trump with an odd assortment of labels: ‘fascist’, ‘misogynist’, ‘anti-Israel’, Ku Klux Klan apologist and White Nationalist. The Minnesota Senator and former comedian Al Franken described Trump’s critique against Wall Street Bankers and finance capital as ‘dog whistles’ for anti-Semites, labeling the candidate as a 21st century disseminator of the ‘Protocols of Zion’. Senator Franken darkly hinted that ‘rogue’ (anti-Semitic) agents had infiltrated the FBI and were working to undermine Israel’s favorite, Clinton. He even promised to initiate a post-election purge of the FBI… upon Clinton’s victory… Needless to say, the Senator’s own rant, published (and quickly buried) two days before the election in the Guardian, did not help Madame Hillary with the security apparatus in the United States. History has never been a strong point with the comedian Senator Al Franken, who should have know better than to threaten the deep security state: his Mid-West predecessor Senator Joseph McCarthy quickly deflated after he threatened the generals.

The accusations of anti-Semitism against Trump were baseless and desperate: The Trump campaign team has prominently included Jews and Israel-Firsters and secured a minority of Jewish votes, especially among smaller businesspeople supporting greater protectionism. Secondly, Trump condemned anti-Semitic acts and language and did not appeal to any of the extremist groups – let alone ‘cite the Protocols of Zion’.

Thirdly (and predictably) the Zionist Anti-Defamation League (ADL) slapped an anti-Semitic ‘guilt by association’ label on Donald Trump because of his consistent criticism of US wars and occupations in the Middle East, which Trump had correctly pointed out cost the US over two trillion dollars – money that would have totally rebuilt the failing US infrastructure and created millions of domestic jobs. For the loony ADL, the US wars in the Middle East have enhanced Israel’s security and thus any opposition to these wars is anti-Semitic or ‘guilt by association’.

The ADL directors, who have raked in over $3 million dollar salaries over the past 5 years ‘protecting’ US Jews, objected to Trump because Hillary Clinton was the darling of the pro-war Israel-First lobbies and Obama-Clinton appointees.

Trump’s daughter Ivanka (a convert to Judaism) is married into a prominent Orthodox Jewish family with strong ties to Israel; the Trump clan is close to elements among the Israeli elite, including the uber-racist Netanyahu. These hysterical slanders against ‘Trump the Anti-Semite’ reflect the fact that the most prominent domestic Jewish power bloc, ‘the 52 Presidents of American Jewish Organization’ had invested heavily in Hillary Clinton. No matter what the cost, no matter what the land grab, no matter how many Palestinians were ‘killed or maimed by Jewish settler-vigilantes’; the State of Israel could always count on Clinton’s unconditional support. The Lobby would not need to ‘petition’ their ‘First Woman’ President; Madame Hillary would have anticipated Israel’s every desire and even embellished their rhetoric.

In the end, Senator Al Franken’s rabid anti- Trump rant went too far — vanishing from the Guardian website in less than one day. Influential Zionist organizations turned their backs on the Senator Comedian; the Zionist Organization of America reprimanded the ADL for its intemperate slanders – sensing that Clinton could lose.

The Franken-Zionist power structure’s last-ditch efforts to attack Trump must have provoked a very negative response within the US ‘deep state’. There can be no doubt that the entire intelligence, military and security elites struck back and put their organizational ‘thumb on the scale’. The FBI’s release of damaging documents related to Secretary Clinton undermined the ADL’s candidate in the run-up to the election and hinted at an interesting power struggle behind the curtains.

The FBI’s release of confidential documents, likely including epistles from Chappaqua to and from Tel Aviv, linked tangentially to the pedophilic crimes of the disgraced Congressman (and former Clinton ally) Anthony Weiner was a heavy blow. The Netanyahu Cabinet put distance between themselves and their favorites, probably telling AIPAC leaders to muzzle Al Franken and pretend his threats to purge the FBI had never been launched. They were clearly worried that their lunatic attack dogs could set the entire US Security State on a hostile track against Israel.

The Franken-ADL trial balloon fizzled and disappeared. The intelligence establishment pounded the final nail into the coffin of Hillary Clinton’s Presidential aspirations. She even briefly accused the FBI of ruining her candidacy – hinting at some partial but oversimplified truth. A Zionist darling to the end, Hillary would never dare to identify and castigate the crazy and incompetent Zionist provocateurs that had helped to turn the Deep State against Madame Secretary.

A last note: Once Clinton lost and Trump took ‘the prize’, the Zionist Power Structure deftly switched sides: the former ‘Anti-Semite’ candidate Trump became ‘Israel’s Best Friend in the White House’. None of the 52 leading Zionist organizations would join the street protests. Only vulture-speculator George Soros (who had bet heavily on the wrong horse) would finance the motley group of goys marching in the streets and collecting on-line petitions for ‘democracy’.

The foibles, fables, and failure of the financial press and their keepers lost the elections but are back, hard at work, remaking President-Elect Trump into a global free marketer.

James Petras is author of  The End of the Republic and the Delusion of EmpireExtractive Imperialism in the Americas: Capitalism’s New Frontier (with Henry Veltmeyer), and The Politics of Empire: The US, Israel and the Middle EastRead other articles by James, or visit James’s website.

Nov 192016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

Every aspect of this year’s US Presidential election has been fraught with myths, distortions, fabrications, wishful thinking and invented fears.

We will proceed to discuss facts and fictions.

Electoral Participation

The mass media, parties and candidates emphasized the ‘unprecedented voter turnout’ in the elections. In fact, 48% of the eligible voters abstained.

In other words, nearly half of the electorate did not vote. There were many reasons, including widespread disgust at both major party candidates and the weakness of ‘third parties’. This includes disappointed Bernie Sanders supporters angry over the Democratic Party’s cynical manipulation of the primary nomination process. Others were unable to vote in their neighborhoods because US elections are held on a regular workday, unlike in other countries. Others cast protest votes against economic programs or candidates reflecting their distrust and sense of impotence over policy. Eligible voters generally expressed reservations over the gap between campaign promises and post campaign policies. These political attitudes toward elections and candidates are deep-seated among those who ‘stayed home’.

In contrast among registered voters (53% of the electorate) over 90% cast their ballot. Ultimately, the presidential elections were decided by just half of the eligible voters with the winning candidate receiving about 25% eligible votes. This is not a robust mandate. Furthermore, Clinton may have ‘lost’ with the plurality of popular votes, since the US Presidency is ultimately decided by the ‘Electoral College’. In this case, Trump secured more states earning substantially more Electoral College votes, while the losing candidate’s votes were more concentrated in big cities and large coastal states.

The Myth of the Trump Revolution

Trump’s campaign displayed the typical demagogy of US politicians. In previous campaigns Barak Obama’s promised to work for peace, domestic prosperity, social justice and immigration reform. Once elected, Obama reneged on his pledge and continued to wage the old wars and launched new ones (seven altogether for the ‘peace candidate’). He approved a $2 trillion dollars Wall Street and bank ‘bailout’, while leaving over 3 million family home mortgages in foreclosure. He rounded up and deported two million immigrant workers. Meanwhile wage inequality between black and white workers actually widened; and overt police violence against black youth increased. We can expect Trump to follow Obama’s pattern of double speak and reverse his campaign promises.

So far, Trump seems to have appointed conventional Republicans to his Cabinet posts. Treasury and Commerce Secretaries will remain in the hands of Wall Street insiders. Prominent Republican warmongers will manage foreign policy.

Meanwhile, Trump has been on a post-election charm offensive to woo traditional conservative Republican Congressional leaders who had opposed his candidacy during the primaries. They will work with Trump in lowering taxes while eliminating government regulations and environmental controls – policies that have long been on their agenda. On the other hand, Trump’s populist pledge to ‘reindustrialize’ America will be opposed by Congressional Republicans with ties to Wall Street and financial speculators. Trump’s promise to persuade US multi-nationals to repatriate their billions and headquarters to the US will be opposed by the majority Republican Congressional leadership. Even a Trump Republican majority on the Supreme Court, will veto any Trump initiative to ‘force’ big business to sacrifice its tax-free overseas profits to come home and ‘Make America Great Again’.

In other words, Trump will implement only policies that coincide with the traditional Republican agenda and will continue some version of Obama’s pro-Wall Street policy. Instead of Obama’s executive tax loopholes benefiting big business, Trump will do it through legislation. Where Obama made pronouncement about supporting Civil rights and justice for African-Americans but actually ended up increasing police power and impunity, Trump will simply make modifications directly favoring the police state via Congressional legislation or Presidential decree. Whereas Obama rounded up and expelled 2 million immigrant workers, Trump will go after an additional 2 million Latinos on the basis of ‘criminality’. Obama relied on border police; Trump will beef up border patrols and concoct some agreement with Mexico’s conservative counterpart – short of erecting ‘the Great Wall’.

Obama and his Democratic predecessor, President ‘Bill’ Clinton cut the proportion of unionized workers in the private sector to 8%, through economic and labor policies backed by millionaire trade union bureaucrats. Trump, on the other hand, will crudely dismiss these impotent ‘union’ functionaries and hacks while slashing whatever remains of worker rights.

Presidents Obama and Clinton linked ‘identity groups’ with the interests of bankers, billionaires and militarists, but Trump will toss out ‘identity politics’ in favor of populist appeals to construction workers and infrastructure contractors while attracting the same Wall Street executives, billionaires and militarists that had worked closely with previous administrations.

Trump’s Wall Street appeal was clear after his victory when the stock market broke new highs, jumping 1,000 points between November 4 and 10th.

The pro-Clinton Wall Streeter boosters were smartly outflanked by the ‘silent majority’ of financial CEO’s who applauded Trump’s promises of deregulation and corporate tax cuts.

Despite the certainty of President Trump’s reneging on all his promises to American workers, he will still retain the support of small and medium businesses and professionals, who outnumber and outvote the so-called ‘white worker vote’.

Trump Complies with Right-wing Republican Agenda

To unify the Republican Party and gratify the right-wing electoral base Trump will offer up some symbolic gratification, such as:

1. Increase frontier security — He will triple the number of border patrol officers and extend the Obama-Clinton’s search and expel formula. His PR machines will crank out timely reports of mass deportations of Latino workers to titillate the Anglo voters – while reassuring agribusiness and other industries that their access to cheap imported labor will continue.

2. He will appoint a right-wing WASP (first in a long time) to the Supreme Court after decades of ‘identity appointments’. His court will try to reverse Roe versus Wade on access to abortion– satisfying Catholics, fundamentalists, orthodox Jews and Protestants – sending the issue back to the reactionary states. Women in the urban centers and large population coastal states will retain reproductive health rights while poor and rural women will see significant regression.

3. Trump will ‘renegotiate NAFTA’ without reversing current free trade provisions, offering tax incentives and tax penalties to discourage future flight but with little effect.

4. Trump will force a repeal of the multi-party nuclear agreement with Iran, but he will not re-impose international sanctions because of Russian and Chinese vetoes in the UN Security Council and the lucrative billion-dollar trade deals signed between Iran and Germany and France. Trump’s Iran caper may pleasure Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli lobby, but this would force him to violate his own stated pledge to avoid more Middle East entanglements.

5. Trump’s anti-Muslim policy will be reduced to writing tighter immigration rules for Muslims from the Middle East and South Asia, but not include total exclusion. These watered-down policies will quell opposition and satisfy Islamophobes.

6. President Trump’s deregulation of environmental protections will alienate ecologists and the science community but will appeal to big energy corporations and their employees, workers and gas property leasers. However, the rest of the world will continue to treat climate change as real and Trump will end up isolated in a climate-denial corner with the reactionary presidents of Poland and kleptocratic-Ukraine.

7. Trump will face stiff opposition when he tries to break the newly restored diplomatic and economic relations with Cuba to please his right-wing Cuban exile supporters. But the deals will go through: On December 1, 2016 Delta Airlines will begin three daily flights, joining a dozen other airlines to the delight of thousands of travel agency owners and employees as well as tens of thousands of tourists and visitors. US business and agro exporters will object to any re-imposition of trade sanctions. Trump will probably end up tossing some bones to the right-wing exile community in the way of rhetoric while maintaining diplomatic ties and Obama’s embargo. He may expand the US base in Guantanamo.

8. Trump will continue to support the right-wing ‘golpistas’ in Venezuela but will not commit US troops for an invasion. He will make deals with right-wing and center-left regimes in the Latin America without pushing for coups or exclusionary regional trade pacts.

9. Trump will end economic sanctions against Russia and then negotiate some cooperation agreement with Putin to bomb Syria’s Islamist terrorists ‘into the stone age’ and withdraw US commitments to the Saudis, Gulf Monarchies and its jihadi mercenaries on regional ‘regime change’. He will renegotiate trade relations with China to encourage greater reciprocity, investments and exchange rates (if necessary).

Conclusion

On vital economic policies, Trump will pursue traditional Republican business policies – the linchpin being lower taxes and fewer regulations.

On identity politics (as well as human rights), Trump will tighten restrictions on access to abortion and immigration to satisfy the right-wing moralists and religious fundamentalists.

Trump will not confront Wall Street, the multi-nationals, the military industrial complex or the pro-Israel billionaires and lobbies. US workers will find very few new well- paying jobs except in select infrastructure projects. The industrial rust belt will continue to rust. The tens of thousands of public sector workers and professional slashed by Trump’s pledge to cut government will not find decent jobs in the private sector. Over time, Trump supporters who flocked to his promises for economic change will be replaced by a motley collection of Bible thumpers of all colors and faiths. There will emerge a new groundswell of frustrated workers, employees and professionals — but where will they turn? Certainly they must not return to the increasingly discredited ‘progressive’ Bernie Sander, who perfected his role as political ‘Judas Goat’ herding his reluctant supporters into the blood-stained Wall Street Corral of the War Goddess Hillary Clinton – known as the Democratic Party.

James Petras is author of  The End of the Republic and the Delusion of EmpireExtractive Imperialism in the Americas: Capitalism’s New Frontier (with Henry Veltmeyer), and The Politics of Empire: The US, Israel and the Middle EastRead other articles by James, or visit James’s website.

Nov 152016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Castigating the US electorate as accomplices and facilitators of wars, or, at best, dismissing the voters as ignorant sheep-people (‘sheeple’) herded by political elites, describes a partial reality. Public opinion polls, even the polls overwhelmingly slanted toward the center-right, consistently describe a citizenry opposed to militarism and wars, past and present.

Both the Right and Left have failed to grasp the contradiction that defines US political life: Namely, the profound gap between the American public and the Washington elite on questions of war and peace within an electoral process that consistently leads to more militarism.

This is an analysis of the most recent US public opinion polls with regard to outcome of the recent elections. The essay concludes with a discussion of the deep-seated contradictions and proposes several ways in which these contradictions can be resolved.

Method

A major survey of public opinion, sponsored by the Charles Koch Institute and the Center for the National Interest, conducted by the Survey Sampling International, interviewed a sample of one thousand respondents.

The Results: War or Peace

More than half of the American public oppose any increase is the US military role overseas while only 25% back military expansion.

The public has expressed its disillusionment over Obama’s foreign policy, especially his new military commitments in the Middle East, which have been heavily promoted by the state of Israel and its US domestic Zionist lobby.

The US public shows a deep historical memory with regard to the past military debacles launched by Presidents Bush and Obama. Over half of the public (51%) believe that the US has become less safe over the past 15 years (2001-2015), while one eighth (13%) feel they are more secure.

In the present period, over half of the public opposes the deployment of ground troops to Syria and Yemen and only 10% favor continued US support for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

With regard to specific US wars, over half believe that Bush’s invasion of Iraq made the US homeland less secure, while only 25% believe it didn’t increase or decrease domestic security. Similar responses were expressed with regard to Afghanistan: 42% believe the Afghan War increased insecurity and about a third (34%) felt it did not affect US security.

In terms of future perspectives, three quarters (75%) of the American public want the next President to focus less on the US military operations abroad or are uncertain about its role. Only 37% are in favor of increased spending for the military.

The mass media and the powerful financial backers of the Democratic Presidential candidate have focused on demonizing Russia and China as ‘the greatest threats in our time’. In contrast, almost two thirds (63.4%) of Americans believe the greatest threat comes from terrorism both foreign and domestic. Only 18% view Russia and China as major threats to their security.

In regard to the Pentagon, 56% want to reduce or freeze current military spending while only 37% want to increase it.

Wars and Peace: The Political Elites

Contrary to the views of a majority of the public, the last four US Presidents, since the 1990s, have increased the military budget, sending hundreds of thousands of US troops to launch wars in three Middle Eastern countries, while promoting bloody civil wars in three North African and two European countries. Despite public opinion majorities, who believe that the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq have increased threats to the US security, Obama kept ground troops, air and sea forces and drone operations in those countries. Despite only 10% public approval for his military policies, the Obama regime has sent arms, advisors and Special Forces to support the Saudi dictatorship’s invasion of tiny Yemen.

Obama and the Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton pushed a policy of encircling Russia and demonizing its President Putin as the greatest threat to the US in contrast to US opinion, which considers the threat of Islamist terrorism as five times more serious.

While the political elite and the leading Presidential candidates promise to expand the number of US troops abroad and increase military spending, over three quarters of the American public oppose or are uncertain about expanding US militarism.

While candidate Clinton campaigned for the deployment of the US Air Force jets and missiles to police a ‘no fly zone’ in Syria, even shooting down Syrian and Russian government planes, the majority of US public opposed it by 51%.

In terms of constitutional law, fully four-fifths (80%) of the US public believes the President must secure Congressional approval for additional military action abroad. Nevertheless, Presidents from both parties, Bush and Obama launched wars without Congressional approval, creating a precedent which the next president is likely to exploit.

Analysis and Perspectives

On all major foreign policy issues related to waging war abroad, the political elite is far more bellicose than the US public; they are far more likely to ignite wars that ultimately threaten domestic security; they are more likely to violate the Constitutional provisions on the declaration of war; and they are committed to increasing military spending even at the risk of defunding vital domestic social programs.

The political elites are more likely to intervene in wars in the Middle East, without domestic support and even in spite of majoritarian popular opposition to war. No doubt the executives of the oligarchical military-industrial complex, the pro-Israel power configuration and the mass media moguls are far more influential than the pro-democracy public.

The future portends a continuation of militarism by the political elites, and increase in domestic security threats and even less public representation.

Some Hypothesis on the Contradiction between Popular Opinion and Electoral Outcomes

There is clearly a substantial gap between the majority of Americans and the political elite regarding the role of the military in overseas wars, the undermining of constitutional prerogatives, the demonization of Russia, the deployment of US troops to Syria and deeper US entanglement in Middle East wars for the benefit of Israel.

Yet it is also a fact that the US electorate continue to vote for the two major political parties which have consistently supported wars, formed military alliances with warring Middle East states, especially Saudi Arabia and Israel and aggressively sanctioned Russia as the main threat to US security.

Several hypotheses regarding this contradiction should be considered:
1. Close to 50% of the eligible voters abstain from voting in Presidential and Congressional elections. This most likely includes many among the majority of Americans who oppose the expansion of the US military role overseas. In fact, the war party ‘winner’ typically claims victory with less than 25% of the electorate – and threats this as a mandate to launch more wars.

2. The fact that the mass media vehemently supports one or the other of the two war parties probably influences a minority of the electorate who decide to actually participate in the elections. However, critics have exaggerated the mass media’s influence and fail to explain why the majority of the American public disagree with the mass media and oppose the militarist propaganda.

3. Many Americans, while opposed to militarism, vote for the ‘lesser evil’ between the two war parties. They may believe that there are greater and lesser ‘degrees’ of war mongering and choose the less strident.

4. Americans, who consistently oppose militarism, may decide to vote for militarist politicians for reasons besides those of overseas wars. For example, majoritarian Americans may support a militarist politician who has secured funding for local infrastructure programs, or protected farm and dairy subsidies, or who promises jobs programs, lowers public debt or opposes corrupt incumbents.

5. Americans, opposed to militarism, may be deceived by the pronouncements of a demagogic presidential candidate from one of the war parties, whose promise of peace will give way to escalating wars.

6. Likewise, the emphasis on ‘identity politics’ can deceive anti-war voters into supporting a proven militarist because of issues related to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual preferences or loyalties to overseas states.

7. The war parties work together to block mass media access for anti-militarist parties, especially preventing their participation in national electoral debates viewed by tens of millions of voters. War parties collude to set impossible restrictions against anti-militarist party participation in national level elections, banning citizens with non-violent police records or former convicts who have served their sentences from voting. They reject poor citizens who lack photo identification, limit access to transport to voting sites, limit the number of polling places in poor or minority neighborhoods and deny time-off for workers to vote. Unlike other countries, US elections are held on a work day and many workers are unable to vote.

In other words the electoral process is ‘rigged’ and imposes ‘forced voting’ and abstention: Collusion between the two war parties limits voter choice to abstention or casting a ballot for the ‘lesser evil’ among the militarists.

Only if elections were open and democratic, where anti-militarist parties were allowed equal rights to register, participate and debate in the mass media, and where campaign financing were made equal would the contradictions between the wishes of the anti-militarist majorities and votes cast for pro-war elites be resolved.

James Petras is author of  The End of the Republic and the Delusion of EmpireExtractive Imperialism in the Americas: Capitalism’s New Frontier (with Henry Veltmeyer), and The Politics of Empire: The US, Israel and the Middle EastRead other articles by James, or visit James’s website.

 

Nov 072016
 

By James Petras99GetSmart

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Seven is a winning throw of the dice. But in our civil society, seven now signifies the multi-thong scourge, the whip used by the Western world as its instrument of punishment and, in response; seven signifies Nemesis and her sisters, the inescapable agents of the West’s downfall.

The seven scourges of the Western world are used against the people of Asia, Africa, Latin and North America. These whips are constructed, wielded and unleashed especially by the US and the UK.

The seven sisters of Nemesis, the Erinyes, are the Furies who pursue the injustices committed by the Western world against Asia, Latin America, Africa and Europe. Those holding the scourge detest and fear Nemesis and the Furies, but are incapable of destroying them. Try as they might, their whip is in corrupt and feeble hands and, of course, it can only follow their orders: Otherwise, it just twitches and remains immobile, while Nemesis pursues the scourgers of humanity.

The Seven-Tailed Scourge of the Western World

The ‘whip’ wielded by the Western world, is used to punish disobedient, ‘rebellious’ people, movements and states. Their multiple lashes have bloodied countless generations and buried millions.

The seven scourges against humanity are unrepentant in their promotion of ‘Western values’ – visible to the terrified world on the red raw backs of oppressed people, their wounds flayed open by the faceless drones proclaiming their gifts of freedom and democracy.

Let us go forward now and describe the pillars holding up the Western empire, the seven-tailed scourge of humanity.

1. Mexico: The Cartel, the Narco-State, US Bankers and Death Squads

Over the last two decades, over a quarter million Mexicans have been murdered by the joint forces of the drug cartels, the Mexican State and its death squads, presided over by the US state and backed by its rapacious financial sector. Cartels and complicit Mexican officials prosper because US banks launder their narco-dollars by the billions. On their part, US corporations grow even richer by relocating their plants to Mexico where terrorized workers can be exploited for 1/5 the cost. Amidst the terror and exploitation, over 11 million Mexican workers and family members have fled to the US running from their local scourges, only to confront the US scourge of deportation. Over 2 million have been imprisoned and expelled under Obama.

2. Honduras and Guatemala: Imperial Wars, Drug Gangs and Narco-Oligarchs

Destitution and state terror are direct products of US–installed regimes in Honduras and Guatemala. Guatemala’s indigenous majority was ravaged by US and Israeli-trained military battalions and death squads. In their wake, scores of narco-gangs, sponsored by local oligarchs and their own private death squads, have emerged. The Honduran people attempted to elect an enlightened liberal President, and were ‘rewarded’ for their peaceful democratic election with a military coup orchestrated by the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. They further underscore the lesson of ‘Western values’: Scores of human rights activists and peasant leaders have been murdered and the scourges continue unabated.

3. Colombia: Nobel Prize for Death Squad President

For the past fifteen years, (2001-2016), the Clinton-Bush-Obama regimes launched the seven-billion-dollar ‘Plan Colombia’ terror campaign against the Colombian people. This scourge was so powerful that over two and a half million peasants, Indigenous peoples, and Afro-Colombians have been driven from their homes and villages while, tens of thousands of peasants, trade unionists, human rights activists and civic leaders have been killed. The notorious narco-President Alvaro Uribe and his Vice President Santos worked with the death squads and the Colombian military under the instruction of over one thousand US military advisers and contract mercenaries as they imposed a scorched earth policy – to consolidate a ‘reign of Western values’.

In Colombia, the three-tailed scourge of narco-presidents, death squads and the military decimated rural communities throughout that large and populous nation. They finally induced the FARC guerrillas to submit to a ‘peace’ agreement, which perpetuated the oligarchy. The US remains free to exploit Colombia for its military bases against the rest of Latin America, while foreign corporations exploit its mineral riches. For his part in promoting the ‘peace of the dead’, Colombian President Santos received the Nobel ‘Peace’ Prize.

4. Saudi Arabia: A Household Name Among the Middle East Scourges

No country in the Middle East has financed, organized and directed terrorism in the Middle East, South Asia, North and East Africa, the former Soviet Union and even North America, than the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It currently scourges the tiny nation of Yemen. Using its ISIS mercenaries, backed by jets, missiles, and logistical support from the UK and the USA, the Saudi despots has invaded maimed and murdered tens of thousands of Yemenis, while hundreds of thousands face starvation in a Saudi-imposed blockade.

The Saudi billionaire regime bankrolled thousands of terrorists in Syria and Iraq, giving billions of dollars of business to US and UK arms manufacturers. Saudi monarchs and their extended clans form a parasitic rentier regime unique in the world. They rely on the skills and labor of imported professionals, workers, household servants, mercenary solders, financial managers and even their praetorian guards. They confine their women behind the veil and closed doors, under the absolute rule of male relatives. They chop off the hands, feet and heads of foreign workers and their own citizens for minor offenses, including ‘blasphemy’, criticism of the king or resisting an employer’s abuse. Saudi Arabia, which is totally dependent on Washington’s protection, has become a scourge especially against Muslim people throughout the Middle East and beyond.

5. Israel: The Scourge of Palestine and Free People Near and Far

The Israeli State is the head commanding the tentacles of a far-reaching Zionist Power Configuration operating in the US, Canada, England, France and, to a less degree, in satellite states and institutions. Israel was established on the dispossession and ethnic cleansing of millions of Palestinians from their homes and villages since 1948. For almost 50 years, 600,000 ‘Israeli’ Jews (immigrants given automatic ‘citizenship’ and stolen property based solely on their ‘ethno-religious’ identity) have illegally moved into what remained of historical Palestine, building exclusive ‘Jews-only’ colonial towns on land ripped from its original inhabitants. The Palestinians are herded into apartheid militarized enclaves and squalid camps. Israel invaded and devastated large parts of Lebanon, Egypt and Syria. They have bombed other nations, like Jordan and Iraq, with impunity. The Israeli state uses a virtual fifth column of loyalist organizations and billionaire financiers in the US and EU who ultimately dictate Middle East policy to the ‘elected’ Western politicians. Presidents and Prime Ministers, Cabinet members and legislators must publicly bow to the increasing demands of the overseas Zionist power structure. This has undermined the will and interests of national electorates and democratic procedures. All public discourse on this vital issue has been censored because critics of Israel’s influence are subjected to unremitting campaigns of overt coercion, threats, jailing on trumped up charges, vilification and job loss – within their own countries in the ‘democratic’ West. Meanwhile, Israel has sold its much-vaunted expertise in surveillance, torture and counter-insurgency to its fellow scourgers in Guatemala, Colombia, Mexico and even Afghanistan.

6. Egypt: Modern Scourges of an Ancient People

For decades, Egyptian military dictators have served the Anglo-American Empire and Israel’s ruling colonists in the Middle East, North and East Africa. Generals-turned-‘Presidents’ Hosni Mubarak and Abdel Fattah al-Sisi specialized in murdering, torturing and jailing thousands of Egyptian trade unionists, dissident activists, peasant leaders and the restless urban poor. These violently installed Egyptian rulers are expected to collaborate with Israel and trap millions of desperate Palestinians in the world’s largest open air prison: Gaza. Cairo actively collaborates with the US and Israel in subverting the people and institutions of Gaza, Libya, Somalia and Sudan – guaranteeing that none will be functioning, independent modern states. Egypt’s first and only elected president Mohamed Morsi was overthrown by General Sisi and sentenced to twenty years in a military torture dungeon (a virtual death sentence for a 65 year old) by a kangaroo court under the direction of Washington and Tel Aviv. Egypt, once the epicenter for civil democratic expression — ‘the Arab Spring’ — has become the a major staging area for US-backed jihadi terrorists entering Syria.

7. ISIS, NUSRA Front, Ukraine and Syria: Puppets, Kleptocrats, Fascists and Terrorists

In this very modern Western world, where democratic values are sold to the cheapest buyer, the US, the UK and the EU shop for mercenaries and puppet regimes in order to scourge their critics and adversaries.

The West, led by the Grand Scourger Hillary Clinton, bombed Libya and destroyed its entire modern state apparatus. They opened the floodgates to thousands of mercenaries and terrorist-thugs of all colors and stripes to feed off the carcass of what Mouammar Gaddafi and the modern Libyan state had built over the past 40 years. These criminals, draped in the banners of ‘humanitarian intervention’ or ‘mission civilisatice’, ran amok, killing and ravaging tens of thousands of Libyan citizens and contract workers of sub-Saharan African origin. The tens of thousands of Africans desperately fleeing each year into the Mediterranean are the result of this Western rampage against the Libyan state. The jihadis have moved on… by those who forgot to distinguish between terrorists who support our ‘democratic values’ and those who would attack the West. The West can’t be blamed: Mercenaries change sides so often.

The ethnic cleansing scourges of the past returned to the Ukraine: as (neo) fascists took power in Kiev, storming the Parliament and forcing the President to flee. Nazi-era banners decorated the streets of Kiev under the approving gaze of the US State Department. Neo-Nazi thugs massacred scores of unarmed ethnic Russian citizens in the port city of Odessa when they set fire to the main trade union hall where the trapped men, women and youths were burned alive or bludgeoned while fleeing the flames. The US State Department had spent a $5 billion dollars to replace an elected government with a pliant regime in Kiev while large parts of the country fell into civil war. The ethnic Russian populations of the industrialized Donbas region resisted and were invaded by an ethnically cleansed and neo-fascist putschist Ukrainian army – under US-EU supervision. The war has cost tens of thousands of lives, a million refugees fled to Russia and a divided failing state now festers in the heart of Europe. Kleptocrats and Fascists in Kiev oversee an utterly bankrupt economy. The destitute citizens abandon the towns and cities; some fleeing to Poland to pick potatoes as their serf ancestors did a century ago.

Syria has been ravaged by an immense army of mercenary scourges, financed and supplied by the US, EU, Turkey and, of course, Saudi Arabia. Al Qaeda had merely to change its battle flags to NUSRA and receive the US benediction as ‘moderate pro-Western democrats’ resisting a Baathist dictatorship in Damascus. In the course of their ‘democratic’ mission they destroyed the ancient, critical cultural and economic center of Aleppo – scourging the Christians and non-jihadi Muslims and other ancient minorities. Over two million Syrians have died or fled the fiery scourge of Anglo-American and Saudi-Turkish terror.

The Seven Sisters: Nemesis and the Furies Confront the Western World

The scourges are falling on hard times: East and West, North and South they face their inescapable Nemesis. Their exposed injustices, crimes and grotesque failures herald their inevitable downfall. The seven furies are even emerging in unusual places:

1. The economic and trade power of China challenges the West throughout world, expanding even into the heartland of the empire. The West’s fear over China’s peaceful economic expansion has led Western political leaders to revive protectionist policies, claiming that barriers against Chinese investors must be raised to prevent takeovers by Beijing. From July 2015 to September 2016, the West blocked nearly $40 billion in productive Chinese investment. This comes after decades of preaching the virtues of foreign investment and the universal benefits of ‘globalization’. Suddenly Western leaders claim that Chinese investment is a ‘threat to national security’ and ‘profits Chinese businesses over Western-owned enterprises.’

Meanwhile, far from this Sino-phobic hysteria, the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America actively seek greater economic ties with China to the detriment of US-EU multinationals. Once servile Asian countries, like the Philippines, have declared unfettered US access to frontline imperial military bases in doubt, as they sign favorable multi-billion trade and investment agreements with China. Western imperial ideology about investment and globalization has boomeranged and met its Nemesis.

2. The Russian Furies: Vladimir Putin

During the 1990s, the US plundered Russia at will. Washington imposed a unipolar world, celebrated as the New World Order. They bombed and devastated former Russian allies like Yugoslavia and Iraq, setting up ethnically cleansed rump states like Kosovo for their huge military bases. Meanwhile, Washington reduced Russia, under the inebriate Yeltsin regime, to a backwater vassal stripped of its resources, its institutions, scientists, and research centers. In the absence of war, the Russian economy declined by 50% and life expectancy fell below that of Bangladesh. The US celebrated this ‘victory of democracy’ over a helpless, deteriorating state by welcoming the most obscene new gangster oligarchs and pillagers and laundering their bloodstained loot.

The door slammed shut on the pillage with the election of Vladimir Putin and the demise of the Yeltsin gangster-government. Russia was transformed. Putin reversed Russia’s demise: the economy recovered, living standards rose abruptly, employment in all sectors increased, and cultural, educational and scientific centers were restored. Vladimir Putin was elected and re-elected by overwhelming majorities of the Russian electorate despite huge sums of Western money going to his opponents. Russia systematically recovered many strategic sectors of the economy illegally seized by Western-backed Israeli-Russian oligarchs Even more important, Putin restored Russian statecraft and diplomacy – formulating a strategy for an independent, democratic foreign policy and restoring Russia’s defense capability. The loss of this critical vassal state under its dipsomaniacal Boris Yeltsin shook the US EU-NATO alliance to its very core.

In the beginning President Putin did not oppose the US-NATO military invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. It went along with the economic sanctions imposed on Iran. It even maintained its cooperation despite a US-sponsored attack by the government of Georgia against South Ossetia killing scores of Russian peacekeepers. In the wake of those destabilizing disasters, what finally led the Russian government to reverse its complicity with the West was the horrific US-financed invasion of Syria where Russian jihadis from the Caucasus were playing an important role as mercenaries, threatening to return and undermine the stability of Russia. This was quickly followed by the US-sponsored putsch in Ukraine, fomenting a civil war on Russia’s frontiers, threatening is vital naval base in Crimea and repressing millions of ethnic Russian-Ukrainian citizens in the industrialized Donbas region. These blatant aggression finally pushed Putin to challenge the expansionist policies of Washington and the EU.

Putin backed a plebiscite in Crimea and won when its citizens voted overwhelmingly to re-join and preserve the Russian bases. Putin has backed the rebel defense of the Donbas against a NATO-neo-fascist Kiev invasion.

Putin accepted a request for aid from the Syrian government as it battled mercenaries and jihadis to preserve its national integrity. The Russians sent arms, troops and air support for the Syrian Arab Army, rolling back the Western and Saudi armed terrorists.

In response to the Washington-EU economic sanctions against Russia over the Crimean plebiscite, Putin signed multi-billion-dollar trade and investment agreements and joint defense pacts with China – mitigating the impact of the sanctions.

Wherever Washington seeks to seize and control territory and regimes in Eurasia, it now faces the Putin nemesis. In Russia and overseas, in the Middle East and the Caucuses, in the Persian Gulf and Asia, the US meets stalemates at best, and roll-back at worst.

The CIA-stooge Yeltsin and his cronies were evicted from the Kremlin to the indignation of Washington and the EU. Many of the kleptocrats, politicos, thugs and swindlers fled to their new homes in Langley, on Wall Street, in Washington or set up talk-shops at Harvard. Even the gruesome Chechens had their ‘color-coded’ support center (the CIA-American Committee for Peace in Chechnya) based in Boston. Never in modern history has a country so rapidly transformed from degraded vassalage to a dynamic global power as Russia. Never has the US seen its grand imperial design so successfully challenged in so many places at the same time.

The Putin Nemesis has become the inescapable agent of the downfall of the US Empire.

3. The Islamic Republic of Iran became a Muslim-nationalist alternative to the US-Israeli dominated Muslim dictatorships and monarchies in the Middle East. The Iranian Revolutions inspired citizens throughout Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Iraq and Yemen. As a result of its growing influence, Iran was punished by the US and EU with crippling economic sanctions pushed especially by Tel Aviv and its Western agents. Fearful that the Iran’s example would destabilize its control, the US invaded Lebanon, promoted the Israeli invasion and occupation of Lebanon and has backed the terrorist campaign to dismember Syria. The results have been dismal for Washington: Iran continues to support the powerful Hezbollah, a major political and military power in Lebanon. The Saudi’s war against Yemen is largely an ethno-religious campaign to destroy Yeminis who favor independence over Saudi-US control and have Iran’s support. Iraq’s Shia resistance forces are leading the attack against the Saudi-funded ISIS terrorists, with Iranian commanders playing a significant role.

Hezbollah, Iran’s ally in Lebanon, drove out the Israeli occupation forces and raised the cost of another invasion by Tel Aviv.

Against all the impotent, corrupt Arab puppets in the Middle East, only Iran has supported the Palestinians. It is the only force capable of retaliating against an Israeli sneak attack – which is why it is demonized.

Iran is the Nemesis against US plans to conquer and dismember Syria. It has provided arms and volunteers on the battlefield against terrorist mercenaries.

Iran effectively negotiated a partial lifting of Western sanctions, overcoming Israeli intransigence and securing billion-dollar trade agreements with Germany, Russia and China. It holds the prospects for productive trade and diplomatic deals in the near future – to the howling consternation of its enemies in Washington, Riyadh, London and Tel Aviv.

For all the efforts by the tentacles of Israel’s fifth column, Iran has survived and emerged as the Nemesis of Anglo-American and Israeli ambitions in the Middle East.

4. Venezuela became the leading proponent for an independent foreign policy in Latin America. For almost twenty years, US tried repeatedly to overthrow the government in Caracas. They failed. By ballot or by bullet, despite slapping economic sanctions on Venezuela, the US suffered humiliating defeats and failed coups and aborted uprisings. Venezuela remains Washington’s principal Nemesis, thwarting its efforts to make ‘free trade’ pacts and deepen military alliances in Latin America.

5. Upon taking office in June 2016, the Philippines new president Rodrigo Duterte assumed the lead role of Washington’s most colorful ‘Nemesis’ in Southeast Asia. Under his widely popular presidency, he pivoted to China, promising to sharply reduce joint Philippine-US military exercises in the South China Sea directed against Beijing and, in return, he secured the co-operation of several hundred leading Philippine entrepreneurs in winning an initial $13 billion dollar public-private Chinese investment package for critical infrastructure and trade development..

President Duterte has frequently denounced Washington’s interference in his domestic war on drug traffickers – citing the US hypocrisy in its criticism of his human rights record. He has personally held President Obama responsible for meddling in Philippine affairs. Drawing on the history of the bloody US colonial war against the Philippine people in 1898, he holds the US responsible for inciting ethno-religious conflicts in the southern island of Mindanao – Duterte’s home region.

President Duterte’s declaration of independence from Washington (“I am no one’s ‘tuta’ [puppy dog]”)and his foreign policy priority of ‘pivoting’ from US military domination to regional economic co-operation with Beijing has turned the Philippines into Washington’s prime Nemesis in Southeast Asia.

6. The resistance of the Yemeni people, mainly ethnic Houthi freedom fighters, against the onslaught of bombing and missile strikes by the Saudi-US-UK air force, has aroused widespread solidarity throughout the Middle East.

Despite the ongoing massacre of over 10,000 Yeminis, mostly civilians, the Saudi ‘alliance’ has failed to impose a puppet regime. US links with the Saudi dictatorship have undermined its claims of humanitarian concerns for the people of Yemen. The embattled Houthi rebels have secured the support of Iran, Iraq and the majority of people in the Persian Gulf countries. As the war continues, the Saudi’s increasingly rely on military trainers, fighter bombers and logistical experts from the US, UK and NATO to pick the targets and maintain the starvation blockade. Sooner or later the courageous and tenacious resistance of the free people of Yemen against the Saudi overlords will inspire a domestic Saudi uprising against its grotesque and decrepit theocratic-monarchist state. The fall of the Royal House of Saud will bury a major scourge in the Middle East. In a word, the battle for Yemen has become the Nemesis of US-Saudi domination.

7. Everywhere in the Western world the ruling classes and their media outlets fear and loath ‘populists’ – leaders, movements, electorates – who reject their austerity programs designed to deepen inequalities and further enrich the elite. Throughout the European Union and in North and South America, workers and middle class majorities are on the march to oust the ‘free market’ regimes and restore the ‘populist’ welfare state, with its emphasis on social services, living wages and humane working conditions.

From the UK to France, Poland to Portugal, China to North America, Mexico to Argentina, the Nemesis and Furies of populist rollbacks threaten to dislodge the scourge held by the bankers, conglomerates and billionaires. Scattered populists may hold diverse ideologies; some may be nationalists, leftists, workers, farmers, petit bourgeois and public employees, indebted students, ecologists or protectionists. All are both united and divided by disparate interests and beliefs. And all are preparing for the inevitable downfall of the empire of the free market and wars.

Conclusion

Today the world’s greatest global conflicts have lined up the Imperial West and its frontline scourging allies against the Furies and Nemesis emerging on all continents. These are the inescapable agents of the Empire’s downfall.

The scourges of the West have been free to plunder the wealth of subject peoples and launch wars, which ravage both ancient and modern states and cultures while slaughtering and dispossessing scores of millions. The West derives its lifeblood through its seven-tailed scourge. Western elites rule through a chain of scourging puppet states with their bloody accomplices, from narco-murderers, Islamists terrorists, death squads to ordinary ‘piecework’ torturers.

Without resorting too much to the wisdom of the ancient Greek myths, we have come to believe that states, regimes, movements and people finally will emerge to act as the inescapable agents of the justice leading to the downfall of the Western empire. Modern Nemesis and Furies have a dual existence: While bringing down the old order they seek to create alternatives.

The ‘scourgers’ are by their nature specialists in wanton crimes against humanity. Nemesis and her sisters challenge and oust the latter as they construct their own new centers of wealth and power. China, Russia and Iran have gone beyond the role of Nemesis to the West – they are poised to build a new civilization on its ruins.

It remains an open question whether they can avoid becoming the new scourge against the people and nations who have risen in revolt.

James Petras is author of  The End of the Republic and the Delusion of EmpireExtractive Imperialism in the Americas: Capitalism’s New Frontier (with Henry Veltmeyer), and The Politics of Empire: The US, Israel and the Middle EastRead other articles by James, or visit James’s website.

Nov 032016
 

By James Petras99GetSmart

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Introduction

Wall Street and the Pentagon greeted the onset of 2016 as a ‘banner year’, a glorious turning point in the quest for malleable regimes willing to sell-off the most lucrative economic resources, to sign off on onerous new debt to Wall Street and to grant use of their strategic military bases to the Pentagon.

Brazil and Argentina, the most powerful and richest countries in South America and the Philippines, Washington’s most strategic military platform in Southeast Asia, were the objects of intense US political operations in the run-up to 2016.

In each instance, Wall Street and the Pentagon secured smashing successes leading to premature ejaculations over the ‘new golden era’ of financial pillage and unfettered military adventures. Unfortunately, the early ecstasy has turned to agony: Wall Street made easy entries and even faster departures once the ‘honeymoon’ gave way to reality. The political procurers persecuted center-left incumbents but, were soon to have their turn facing prosecution. The political prostitutes, who had decreed the sale of sovereignty, were replaced by nationalists who would turn the bordello back into a sovereign nation state.

This essay outlines the rapid rise and dramatic demise of these erstwhile ‘progeny’ of Wall Street and the Pentagon in Argentina and Brazil, and then reviews Washington’s shock and awe as the newly elected Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte embraced new ties with China while proclaiming, ‘We are no one’s ‘tuta’ (puppy dog)!’

Argentina and Brazil: Grandiose Schemes and Crapulous Outcomes

The international financial press was ecstatic over the election of President Mauricio Macri in Argentina and the appointment of former Wall Street bankers to his cabinet. They celebrated the ouster of the ‘evil populists’, accusing them of inflating economic results, reneging on debt obligations and discouraging foreign lenders and investors. Under the Macri regime all market obstacles were to be removed and all the bankers trembled with anticipation at the ‘good times’ to come.

After taking office in December 2015, President Macri unleashed the ‘animal instincts’ of the market and the carrion birds flocked in. US ‘vulture funds’ scooped up and demanded payment for on old Argentine debt ‘valued’ at $3.5 billion — constituting a 1,000% return on their initial investment. A devaluation of the peso of 50% tripled inflation and drove down wages by 20%.

Firing over 200,000 public sector employees, slapping 400% price increases on utilities and transport, driving small and medium size firms into bankruptcy and enraged consumers into the streets ended the honeymoon with the Argentine electorate quite abruptly. This initial massive dose of free enterprise ‘medicine’ was prescribed by the local and Wall Street bankers and investors who had promised a new golden era for capitalism!

Now that he had banished the ‘populists’, Macri was free to tap into the international financial markets. Argentina raised $16.5 billion from a bond sale taken up by the big bankers and speculators, mostly from Wall Street, who were eager to cash in on the high rates in the belief that there was no risk with their champion President Macri at the helm. Wall Street based its giddy predictions on a mere three-month experience with Mauricio!

But then … some of the hedge fund managers began to raise questions about the viability of Mauricio Macri’s presidency. Instead of reducing the fiscal deficit, Macri began to increase public spending to offset mass discontent over his triple digit increases in utility fees and transportation, the mass layoffs in the public sector and the slashing of pension funds.

The major banks had counted on the abrupt devaluation of the currency to invest in the export sector, but instead they were confronted with a sudden 11% appreciation of the peso and a skyrocketing inflation of 40% leading to high interest rates. As a result, the economy fell even deeper in recession exceeding minus 3% for the year.

While most Wall Street bankers still retain some faith in the Macri regime, they are not willing to fork-over the kind of cash that might allow this increasingly unpopular regime to survive. What keep Wall Street on board the sinking ship are the political and ideological commitments rather than any objective assessment of their protégée’s dismal economic performance. Wall Street counts on free market bankers appointed to the ministries, the massive purge of social services (health and education) personnel and the lucrative bond sales to cover the burgeoning deficit. They hope the vast increase in profits resulting from increased utility fees and the sharp cuts in salaries, pensions and subsidies will ultimately lead them into the promised land.

Wall Street has expressed dismay over Macri’s failure to stimulate growth – in fact GDP is falling. Furthermore, their ‘golden boy’ failed to attract productive investments. Instead thousands of Argentine small and medium businesses have ‘gone under’ as consumer spending tanked and extortionate tariffs were slapped on vital public utilities and transport – devastating profits. Inflation has undermined the purchasing power of the vast majority of households. Wall Street speculators, concentrating on fixed-rate peso denominated debt, are at risk of losing their shirts.

In other words, the administration’s ‘free enterprise’ regime is based largely on attracting foreign loans, plundering the national treasury, firing tens of thousands of public sector workers and slashing spending on social services and business-friendly subsidies. Macri has yet to generate any large-scale investment in new innovative productive sectors, which might sustain long-term growth.

Already facing growing discontent and a general strike of private and public sector workers, the ‘bankers’ regime’ lacks the political links with the trade unions to neutralize the growing opposition.

To hold back the growing tidal wave of discontent, President Macri had to betray his overseas investors by boosting fiscal spending, which has had little or no impact on the national economy.

Wall Street’s hopes that President Mauricio Macri would inaugurate a ‘golden era’ of free market capitalism lasted less than a year and is turning into a real fiasco. Rising foreign debt, economic depression and class warfare ensures Macri’s rapid demise.

Brazil: Wall Street’s Three Month ‘Whirl-Wind’ Honeymoon

Most of the current elected members of the Brazilian Congress, Senate and the recently-installed (rather than elected) President, as well as his cabinet, are in trouble: The hero, Michael Temer and his argonauts, chosen by Wall Street to privatize the Brazilian economy and usher in another ‘golden dawn’ for finance capital, now all face criminal changes, arrest and long prison sentences for money laundering, bribery, fraud, tax evasion and corruption.

In less than four months, the entire political edifice constructed to impeach the elected President Dilma Rousseff and then de-nationalize key sectors of the economy, is shaking. So much for the financial press’s proclamation of a new era of “business friendly” policies in Brazilia.

The pundits, politicians, journalists and editors, who prematurely celebrated the appointment of Michael Temer to the Presidency by legislative coup, now have to face a new reality. The key to understanding the rapid collapse of the New Right project in Brazil lies in the growing ‘rap sheets’ of the very same politicians who engineered the ouster of Rousseff.

Eduardo Cunha, the ex-president of the Congress in Brasilia, used his influence to ensure the super majority of Congressional votes for the impeachment. Cunha was godfather to ensuring the appointment of Michael Temer as interim president.

Cunha’s influence and control over the Congress was based on his wide network of bribes and corruption involving over a hundred members of congress, including the newly anointed President Temer.

Once Cunha secured the ouster of Rousseff, the Brazilian elite washed their collective hands of the ‘fixer’, overwhelmed by the stench of his corruption. In September 2016, Cunha was suspended from Congress and lost his immunity. One month later, he was arrested on over a dozen charges, including fraud and tax evasion. It was public knowledge that Cunha had squirreled away a ‘tidy nest’ of over $70 million in Swiss banks.

Cunha directed (extorted) public and private firms to finance the campaigns of many of his political colleagues. He had intervened to secure bribes for President Temer, his foreign minister and even the next presidential hopeful, Jose Serra. One of the most powerful representatives of the new regime, Moreira Franco, Grand Wizard of the Privatization Program, was ‘in hock’ to Cunha.

As all this has come to light, Cunha has been negotiating a plea bargain with the prosecutor and judges in return for his ‘singing’ a few arias. He is facing over a hundred years in jail; his wife and daughter face trial; Eduardo Cunha is prepared to talk and finger political leaders to save his own neck. Most knowledgeable observers and judicial experts fully expect Cunha to bring down the Temer Administration with him and devastate the leadership of Temer’s Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, as well as ex-president Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s Brazilian Social Democratic Party.

The Brazilian elite, Wall Street bankers and their mass media propagandists, who wrote and directed the impeachment plot scenario are now discredited and bereft of political front men. Their expectations of a new ‘golden era of free market capitalism’ in Brazil has turned into a political mad scramble with every politico and corporate leader desperate to save his own skin and illicit fortune by denouncing each other.

With the demise of the ‘Brazilian takeover’, Wall Street and Washington are bereft of key markets and allies in Latin America.

The Philippines: The Duterte turn from the US to China

In April 2014, Washington ‘secured’ an agreement granting access to five strategic military bases in the Philippines critical to its ‘pivot to target’ China. Under the outgoing President ‘Noynoy’ Aquino, Jr. the Pentagon believed it had an ‘iron-clad’ agreement to organize the Philippines as its satrap and military springboard throughout Southeast Asia. Washington even prodded the Aquino government to bring its Spratly Island dispute with China before the obscure Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague. Washington anticipated using the Court’s ‘favorable’ ruling as a pretext to confront the Chinese.

All this has changed with the June 2016 ascent to the Presidency of Rodrigo Duterte: In only four months, all Washington’s imperial designs had been swept off the table. By October 21, 2016 President Duterte announced he would end military exercises with Washington because they threatened Philippine sovereignty and made his country vulnerable to a military confrontation with China. He promised to end sea patrols of disputed waters that the US uses to harass China in the South China Sea.

In advance of the Philippines President’s meeting with China, he had already declared that he would not press the Dutch-based ruling over the South China Sea island dispute against Beijing but rely on diplomacy and compromise. During the China meeting President Duterte declared that the two countries would engage in a constructive dialogue to resolve the Spratly Islands as well as other outstanding issues. The ‘agreement’ over US access to bases in the Philippines was put in doubt as the President declared “a separation from the US” and promised long-term, large scale economic and investment ties with China. Undergirding the Philippines pivot to China were 13 trade and investment agreements worth more than $20 billion, covering financing of infrastructure, transport, social projects, tourism, industry and agriculture.

The military base agreement, signed by the notoriously servile ex-President Aquino without Congressional approval, was review by the Philippine Supreme Court and can be revoked by the new President Duterte by decree.

Inside of four months, the US strategy of armed encirclement and intervention against China has been dealt a major blow. The newly emerging China-Philippines linkage strikes a fatal blow to Washington’s overtly militarist ‘pivot’ against China.

Conclusion

2016 opened with great fanfare: The defeat of the two major center-left governments (Argentina and Brazil) and the advent of hard-right US-backed regimes would inaugurate a ‘golden era of free market capitalism’. This promised to usher in a prolonged period of profit and pillage by rolling back ‘populist’ reforms and creating a bankers paradise. In Southeast Asia, US officials and pundits would proclaim another ‘golden era’, this time of rampant militarism, encircling and provoking China on its vital sea lanes, and operating from five strategic military bases obtained through a Philippine Presidential decree by an unpopular and recently replaced puppet, ‘Noynoy’ Aquino, Jr.

These dreams of ‘golden eras’ lasted a few months before objective reality intruded.

By the autumn of 2016 the rightist regimes had been replaced in the Manila by a colorful ardent nationalist, while the ‘banker boys’ in Brasilia faced prison, and the ‘Golden Boys’ of Buenos Aires were mired in deep crisis. The notion of an easy Rightist restoration was based on several profound misunderstandings:

1) The belief that the reversal of social reforms and denial of popular demands would smoothly give way to an explosion of foreign financing and investment was shattered when private bond purchases profited the financial sector but did not bring in large-scale productive investment. Devaluation of the currency was followed by skyrocketing inflation, which led to fiscal deficits and the loss of business confidence.

2) Washington’s promotion of ‘corruption investigations’ started with prosecuting democratically elected center-left politicians and ended up with the arrest of Wall Street’s own protégés encompassing the entire right-wing political class and decimating the ‘Golden’ regimes.

3) The belief that long-term hegemonic relations, based on client regimes in Asia, could resist the attraction of signing trade and investment agreements with the rising Chinese mega-economy, while sacrificing vital economic development, and relegating their masses to more stagnation and unemployment, collapsed with the massive electoral of nationalist Rodrigo Duterte as President of the Philippines.

In fact, these and other political assessments among the decision makers in Washington and on Wall Street were proven wrong leading to a strategic retreat of the empire in both Latin America and Asia. The policy failures were not merely ‘mistakes’ but the inevitable results of changing structural conditions embedded in a declining empire.

These decisions were based on a calculus of power, rooted in class and national relations that may have held true two decades ago. At the dawn of the new millennium the US still dominated Asia and China was not yet an economic alternative for its neighbors eager for investment. Washington could and did dictate policy in Southeast Asia.

Twenty years ago, the US had the economic leverage to sustain the neoliberal policies of the Washington Consensus throughout Latin America.

Today the US continues to pursue policies based on anachronistic power relations, seeming to ignore the fact that China is now a world power and a viable economic trade and investment alternative successfully competing for markets and influence in Asia. Washington is failing to compete in that marketplace and, therefore, can no longer rely on docile client state.

Washington cannot effectively control and direct large-scale capital flows to shore-up its newly installed rightist regimes in Argentina and Brazil as they crumble under their own corruption and incompetence. Meanwhile the world is watching a domestic US economy, mired in stagnation with its own political elites torn by corruption and scandals at the highest level, and staging the most bizarre presidential campaign in its history. Corruption has become the mode of governing under conditions of deregulation and rule by political warlords. Political allegiance to the empire and open doors to foreign pillage do not attract capital when those making political decisions are facing prison and the business ‘doormen’ are busy stuffing their suitcases with cash and making a mad-dash for the airports!

For Wall Street and the Pentagon, Latin America and Asia are lost opportunities – betrayals to be mourned at the officers clubs and exclusive Manhattan restaurants. For the people in mass social movements these are emerging opportunities for struggle and change.

The strenuous US effort to rebuild its empire in Latin America and Southeast Asia has suffered a rapid succession of blows. Washington can still seize power but it lacks the talent and the favorable conditions to hold it.

The vision of a Brazilian state, build on the edifice of the privatized oil giant, Petrobras, and the political incarceration of its left adversaries, with foreign capital attracted and seduced by political procurers, pimps and prostitutes, has ended in a debacle.

In this vacuum, it will be up to the new governments and peoples’ movements to seize the opportunity to advance their struggles and explore political and economic alternatives. The aborted rightist power grab inadvertently has done the peoples’ movements a great favor by exposing and ousting the corrupt and compromised center-left regimes opening the door for a genuine anti-imperialist transformation.

James Petras is author of  The End of the Republic and the Delusion of EmpireExtractive Imperialism in the Americas: Capitalism’s New Frontier (with Henry Veltmeyer), and The Politics of Empire: The US, Israel and the Middle EastRead other articles by James, or visit James’s website.

Oct 282016
 

By James Petras99GetSmart

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In 2012 President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter launched a new chapter in their quest for global dominance: a realignment of policies designed to shift priorities from the Middle East to Asia. Dubbed the ‘pivot to Asia’, it suggested that the US would concentrate its economic, military and diplomatic resources toward strengthening its dominant position and undercutting China’s rising influence in the region.

The ‘pivot to Asia’ did not shift existing resources from the Middle East, it added military commitments to the region, while provoking more conflicts with Russia and China.

The ‘pivot to Asia’ meant that the US was extending and deepening its regional military alliances in order to confront and encircle Russia and China. The goal would be to cripple their economies and foster social unrest leading to political instability and regime change.

The US onslaught for greater empire depended on the cooperation of proxies and allies to accomplish its strategic goals.

The so-called ‘pivot to Asia’ had a two-pronged approach, based on an economic trading pact and various military treaty agreements. The entire US strategy of retaining global supremacy depended on securing and enhancing its control over its regional allies and proxies. Failure of the Obama regime to retain Washington’s vassal states would accelerate its decline and encourage more desperate political maneuvers.

Strategic Military Posturing

Without a doubt, every military decision and action made by the Obama Administration with regard to the Asia-Pacific Region has had only one purpose – to weaken China’s defense capabilities, undermine its economy and force Beijing to submit to Washington’s domination.

In pursuit of military supremacy, Washington has installed an advanced missile system in South Korea, increased its air and maritime armada and expanded its provocative activities along China’s coastline and its vital maritime trade routes. Washington has embarked on a military base expansion campaign in Australia, Japan and the Philippines.

This explains why Washington pressured its client regime in Manila under the former President ‘Nonoy’ Aquino, Jr., to bring its territorial dispute with China over the Spratly Islands before a relatively obscure tribunal in Holland. The European ruling, unsurprisingly in favor of Manila, would provide the US with a ‘legal’ cover for its planned aggression against China in the South China Sea. The Spratly and Paracel Islands are mostly barren coral islands and shoals located within the world’s busiest shipping trade routes, explaining China’s (both Beijing and Taipei) refusal to recognize the ‘Court of Special Arbitration’.

Strategic Economic Intervention: The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

The US authored and promoted Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) is a trade and investment agreement covering 12 Pacific countries designed to ensure US regional dominance while deliberately cutting out China. The TPP was to be the linchpin of US efforts to promote profits for overseas US multi-nationals by undercutting the rules for domestic producers, labor laws for workers and environmental regulations for consumers. As a result of its unpopular domestic provisions, which had alienated US workers and consumers, the electorate forced both Presidential candidates to withdraw their support for the TPP – what one scribbler for the Financial Times denounced as “the dangers of popular democracy”. The Washington empire builders envisioned the TPP as a tool for dictating and enforcing their ‘rules’ on a captive Asia-Pacific trading system. From the perspective of US big business, the TPP was the instrument of choice for retaining supremacy in Asia by excluding China.

The Eclipse of Washington’s “Asian Century”

For over seventy years the US has dominated Asia, ravaging the continent with two major wars in Korea and Indo-China with millions of casualties, and multiple counter-insurgency interventions in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Timor, Myanmar, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The strategic goal has been to expand its military and political power, exploit the economies and resources and encircle China and North Korea.

Under the Obama-Clinton-Kerry Regime, the imperial structures in Asia are coming apart.

Washington’s anti-China TPP is collapsing and has been replaced by the Chinese sponsored Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) with over fifty member countries worldwide, including the ten nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASAEN), plus Australia, India, South Korea and New Zealand. Of course, China is funding most of the partnership and, to no one’s surprise, Washington has not been invited to join…

As a result of the highly favorable terms in the RCEP, each and every current and former US ally and colony has been signing on, shifting trade allegiances to China, and effectively changing the configuration of power.

Already Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Indonesia have formalized growing economic ties with China. The debacle of the TPP has just accelerated the shift toward China’s new trade pact (RCEP). The US is left to rely on its ‘loyalist four’, a stagnant Japan, Australia, South Korea and its impoverished former colony, Philippines, to bolster its quest to militarily encircle China.

The Dangers of Popular Democracy: President Duterte’s Pivot to China and the End of US Supremacy in SE Asia

For over a century (since the invasion of the Philippines in 1896), especially since the end of WWII, when the US asserted its primacy in Asia, Washington has used the strategic Philippine Archipelago as a trampoline for controlling Southeast Asia. Control of the Philippines is fundamental to US Imperialism: Washington’s strategic superiority depends on its access to sea, air, communications and ground bases and operations located in the Philippines and a compliant Philippine ruling class.

The centerpiece of US strategy to encircle and tighten control over China’s maritime routes to and from the world-economy is the massive build-up of US military installations in the Philippines.

The US self-styled “pivot to Asia” involves locating five military bases directed at dominating the South China Sea. The Pentagon expanded its access to four strategic air and one military base through the ‘Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement’ signed by the Philippine President Aquino in 2014 but held up by the Philippine Courts until April 2016. These include:

(1) Antonio Bautista Airbase on the island of Palawan, located near the contested Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

(2) Basa Airbase 40 miles northwest of the Philippines capital of Manila, overlooking the South China Sea.

(3) Lumbia Airbase located in the port of Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao, a huge US facility under construction.

(4) Mactan – Benito Ebuen airbase located on Mactan Island off the coast of Cebu in the central Philippines.

(5) Fort Magsaysay located in Nueva Ecija, on Luzon, the Philippine Army’s Central Training and command center, its largest military installation which will serve the US as the training and indoctrination base for the Philippine army.

Pentagon planners had envisioned targeting Chinese shipping and air bases in the South China Sea from its new bases on western shores of the Philippines. This essentially threatens the stability of the entire region, especially the vital Chinese trade routes to the global economy.

Washington has been intensifying its intervention in the South China Sea relying on decrees issued by its previous proxy President Benigno (Noynoy) Aquino, III (2010-2016). These, however, were not ratified by the Congress and had been challenged by the Philippine Supreme Court.

Washington’s entire ‘pivot to Asia’ has centered its vast military build-up on its access to the Philippines. This access is now at risk. Newly elected President Rodrigo Duterte, who succeeded Aquino in June 2016, is pursuing an independent foreign policy, with the aim of transforming the impoverished Philippines from a subservient US military colony to opening large-scale, long-term economic trade and development ties with China and other regional economic powers. Duterte has openly challenged the US policy of using the Philippines to encircle and provoke China.

The Philippine ‘pivot to China’ quickly advanced from colorful rhetoric to a major trade and investment meeting of President Duterte and a huge delegation of Philippine business leaders with his Chinese counterparts in Beijing in late October 2016. During his first 3 months in office Duterte blasted Washington for meddling in his ongoing campaign against drug lords and dealers. Obama’s so-called ‘concerns for human rights’ in the anti-drug campaign were answered with counter-charges that the US had accommodated notorious narco-politician-oligarchs to further its military base expansion program. President Duterte’s war on drugs expanded well beyond the alleged US narco-elite alliance when he proposed two strategic changes: (1) he promised to end the US-Philippine sea patrols of disputed waters designed to provoke Beijing in the South China Sea; and (2) President Duterte announced he would end military exercises with Washington, especially in Mindanao, because they threatened China and undermined Philippine sovereignty.

President Duterte, in pursuit of his independent nationalist-agenda, has moved rapidly and decisively to strengthen the Philippines ‘pivot’ toward China, which in the context of Southeast Asia is really ‘normalizing’ trade and investment relations with his giant neighbor. During the third week of October (2016) President Duterte, his political team and 250 business leaders met with China’s leaders to discuss multi-billion-dollar investment projects and trade agreements, as well as closer diplomatic relations. The initial results, which promise to expand even more, are over $13 billion dollars in trade and critical infrastructure projects. As the Philippine’s pivot to China advances, the quid pro quo will lead to a profound change in the politics and militarization of Southeast Asian. Without total US control over the Philippines, Washington’s strategic arc of encirclement against China is broken.

According to a recent ruling by the Philippine Supreme Court, the controversial US military base agreement (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement) imposed by the former President Aquino by fiat without congressional ratification can be terminated by the new President by executive order. This ruling punches some major holes in what the Pentagon had considered its ‘ironclad’ stranglehold on the strategic Philippine bases.

The Duterte government has repeatedly announced its administration’s commitment to a program of economic modernization and social reconstruction for Philippine society. That agenda can only be advanced through changes that include multi-billion dollar infrastructure investments, loans and technical cooperation from China, whereas remaining a backward US military colony will not only threaten their Asian economic partners, but will condemn the Philippines to yet another generation of stagnation and corruption. Unique in Southeast Asia, the Philippines has long been mired in underdevelopment, forcing half of its qualified workforce to seek contract servitude abroad, while at home the society has become victims of drug and human trafficking gangs linked to the oligarchs.

Conclusion

Washington’s ‘pivot to Asia’, enshrined in its effort to corral the Asian countries into its anti-China crusade is not going as the Obama-Clinton-Kerry team had envisioned. It is proving to be a major foreign policy debacle for the outgoing and (presumably) incoming US presidential administrations. Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton has been forced to denounce the Transpacific Trade Partnership (TPP), one of her own pet projects when she was Secretary of State. The Pentagon’s military base strategy stuck in a 1980’s time-warped vision of Southeast Asia is on the verge of imploding. The Philippines, its former colony and vassal state, is finally turning away from its total subservience to US military dictates and toward greater independence and stronger regional ties to China and the rest of Asia. Southeast Asia and the South China Sea are no longer part of a grand chessboard subject to Pentagon moves for domination.

In desperation, Washington may decide to resort to a military power grab – a coup in the Philippines, backed by a coalition of Manila-based oligarchs, narco-bosses and generals. The problem with a precipitate move to ‘regime change’ is that Rodrigo Duterte is immensely popular with the Philippine electorate – precisely for the reasons that the Washington elite and Manila oligarchs despise him. The mayor of Manila, Joseph Estrada, himself a former victim of a Washington-instigated regime change, has stated that any US backed coup will face a million-member mass opposition and the bulk of the nationalist middle and powerful Chinese-oriented business class. A failed coup, like the disastrous coup in Venezuela in 2002 against Hugo Chavez could radicalize Duterte’s policy well beyond his staunchly nationalist agenda and further isolate the US.

___________________________

See James Petras latest book from Clarity Press: ISBN: 978-0-9972870-5-9, $24.95 / 252 pp. / 2016
http://www.claritypress.com/PetrasVIII.html

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Oct 192016
 

By James Petras99GetSmart

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During most of the past two decades Washington has aggressively launched military and economic wars against at least nine countries, either directly or through its military aid to regional allies and proxies. US air and ground troops have bombed or invaded Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon.

More recently Washington has escalated its global economic war against major economic rivals as well as against weaker countries. The US no longer confines its aggressive impulses to peripheral economic countries in the Middle East, Latin America and Southern Asia: It has declared trade wars against world powers in Asia, Eastern and Central Europe and the Gulf states.

The targets of the US economic aggression include economic powerhouses like Russia, China, Germany, Iran and Saudi Arabia, as well as Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, Cuba, and the Donbas region of Ukraine.

There is an increasingly thinner distinction between military and economic warfare, as the US has frequently moved from one to the other, particularly when economic aggression has not resulted in ‘regime change’ – as in the case of the sanctions campaign against Iraq leading up to the devastating invasion and destruction.

In this essay, we propose to examine the strategies and tactics underlying Washington’s economic warfare, their successes and failures, and the political and economic consequences to target nations and to world stability.

Washington’s Economic Warfare and Global Power

The US has used different tactical weapons as it pursues its economic campaigns against targeted adversaries and even against its long-time allies.

Two supposed allies, Germany and Saudi Arabia, have been attacked by the Obama Administration and US Congress via ‘legal’ manipulations aimed at their financial systems and overseas holdings. This level of aggression against sovereign powers is remarkable and reckless. In 2016 the US Justice Department slapped a $14 billion dollar penalty on Germany’s leading international bank, Deutsche Bank, throwing the German stock market into chaos, driving the bank’s shares down 40% and destabilizing Germany’s financial system. This unprecedented attack on an ally’s major bank was in direct retaliation for Germany’s support of the European Commission’s $13 billion tax levy against the US-tax evading Apple Corporation for its notorious financial shenanigans in Ireland. German political and business leaders immediately dismissed Washington’s legalistic rhetoric for what it was: the Obama Administration’s retaliation in order to protect America’s tax evading and money laundering multinationals.

The chairman of the German parliament’s economic committee stated that the gross US attempt to extort Deutsche Bank had all the elements of an economic war. He noted that Washington had a “long tradition of using every available opportunity to wage what amounted to a trade war if it benefits their own economy” and the “extortionate damages claim” against Deutsche Bank were a punitive example. US economic sanctions against some of Germany’s major trade partners, like Russia, China and Iran, constitute another tactic to undermine Germany’s huge export economy. Ironically, Germany is still considered “a valued ally” when it comes to the US wars against Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, which have driven millions of refugees to Europe creating havoc with Germany’s political, economic and social system and threatening to overthrow the government of ‘ally’ Angela Merkel.

The US Congress launched an economic-judicial war against its closest ally in the Gulf region when it approved legislation granting US victims of Islamist terrorism, especially related to the attacks on September 11, 2001 the right to sue the government of Saudi Arabia and seize its overseas assets. This included the Kingdom’s immense ‘sovereign funds’ and constitutes an arbitrary and blatant violation of Saudi sovereignty. This opens the Pandora’s Box of economic warfare by allowing victims to sue any government for sponsoring terrorism, including the United States! Saudi leaders immediately reacted by threatening to withdraw billions of dollars of assets in US Treasuries and investments.

The US economic sanctions against Russia are designed to strengthen its stranglehold on the economies of Europe which rely on trade with Russia. These have especially weakened German and Polish trade relations with Russia, a major market for German industrial exports and Polish agriculture products. Originally, the US-imposed economic sanctions against Moscow were supposed to harm Russian consumers, provoke political unrest and lead to ‘regime change’. In reality, the unrest it provoked has been mainly among European exporters, whose contracts with Russia were shredded and billions of Euros were lost. Furthermore, the political and diplomatic climate between Europe and Russia has deteriorated while Washington has ‘pivoted’ toward a more militaristic approach.

Results in Asia have been even more questionable: Washington’s economic campaign against China has moved awkwardly in two directions: Prejudicial trade deals with Asian-Pacific countries and a growing US military encirclement of China’s maritime trade routes.

The Obama regime dispatched Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to promote the Trans- Pacific Partnership (TPP) among a dozen regional governments, which would blatantly exclude China, Asia’s largest economic power. In a slap to the outgoing Obama Administration, the US Congress rejected his showpiece economic weapon against China, the TPP.

Meanwhile, Obama ‘encouraged’ his erstwhile ‘allies’ in the Philippines and Vietnam to sue China for maritime violations over the disputed ‘Spratly Islands’ before the Permanent Court of Arbitration. Japan and Australia signed military pacts and base agreements with the Pentagon aimed at disrupting China’s trade routes. Obama’s so-called ‘Pivot to Asia’ is a transparent campaign to block China from its markets and trading partners in Southeast Asia and Pacific countries of Latin American. Washington’s flagrant economic warfare resulted in slapping harsh import tariffs on Chinese industrial exports, especially steel and tires. The US also sent a ‘beefed up’ air and sea armada for ‘joint exercises’ along China’s regional trade routes and its access to critical Persian Gulf oil, setting off a ‘war of tension’.

In response to Washington’s ham-fisted aggression, the Chinese government deftly rolled out the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) with over fifty countries eagerly signing on for lucrative trade and investment deals with Beijing. The AIIB’s startling success does not bode well for Obama’s ‘Pivot to Pacific Hegemony’.

The so-called US-EU-Iran accord did not end Washington’s trade war against Tehran. Despite Iran’s agreement to dismantle its peaceful uranium enrichment and nuclear research programs, Washington has blocked investors and tried to undermine trade relations, while still holding billions of dollars of Iranian state assets, frozen since the overthrow of the Shah in 1979. Nevertheless, a German trade mission signed on a three billion trade agreement with Iran in early October 2016 and called on the US to fulfill its side of the agreement with Tehran – so far to no avail.

The US stands alone in sending its nuclear naval armada to the Persian Gulf and threatens commercial relations. Even the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the longstanding enemy of the Iranian Islamic Republic, has agreed to a cooperative oil production arrangement at a recent OPEC meeting.

Washington’s declaration of economic warfare against two of its most strategic powerful allies, Germany and Saudi Arabia and three rising competitor world powers, has eroded US economic competitiveness, undermined its access to lucrative markets and increased its reliance on aggressive military strategies over diplomacy.

What is striking and perplexing about Washington’s style of economic warfare is how costly this has been for the US economy and for US allies, with so little concrete benefit.

US oil companies have lost billions in joint exploitation deals with Russia because of Obama’s sanctions. US bankers, agro-exporters, high-tech companies are missing out on lucrative sales just to ‘punish’ Russia over the incredibly corrupt and bankrupt US coup regime in Ukraine.

US multi-national corporations, especially those involved in Pacific Coast transport and shipyards, Silicon Valley high tech industry and Washington State’s agro-export producers are threatened by the US trade agreements that exclude China.

Iran’s billion dollar market is looking for everything from commercial airplanes to mining machinery. Huge trade deals have has been lost to US companies because Obama continues to impose de facto sanctions. Meanwhile, European and Asian competitors are signing contracts.

Despite Washington’s dependence on German technical knowhow and Saudi petro-dollar investments as key to its global ambitions, Obama’s irrational policies continue to undermine US trade.

Washington has engaged in economic warfare against ‘lesser economic powers’ that nevertheless play significant political roles in their regions. The US retains the economic boycott of Cuba; it wages economic aggression against Venezuela and imposes economic sanctions against Syria, Yemen and the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. While these countries are not costly in terms of economic loss to US business interests, they exercise significant political and ideological influence in their regions, which undermine US ambitions.

Conclusion

Washington’s resort to economic warfare complements its military fueled empire building.

But economic and military warfare are losing propositions. While the US may extract a few billion dollars from Deutsch Bank, it will have lost much more in long-term, large-scale relations with German industrialists, politicians and financiers. This is critical because Germany plays the key role in shaping economic policy in the European Union. The practice of US multi-national corporations seeking off-shore tax havens in the EU may come to a grinding halt when the European Commission finishes its current investigations. The Germans may not be too sympathetic to their American competitors.

Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has not only collapsed, it has compelled China to open new avenues for trade and cooperation with Asian-Pacific nations – exactly the opposite of its original goal of isolating Beijing. China’s Asia Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) has attracted 4 time more participants than Washington’s TPP and massive infrastructure projects are being financed to further bind ASEAN countries to China. China’s economic growth at 6.7% more than three times that of the US at 2%. Worse, for the Obama Administration, Washington has alienated its historically most reliable allies, as China, deepens economic ties and cooperation agreements with Thailand, Philippines, Pakistan, Cambodia and Laos.

Iran, despite US sanctions, is gaining markets and trade with Germany, Russia, China and the EU.

The Saudi-US conflict has yet to play-out, but any escalation of law suits against the kingdom will result in the flight of hundreds of billions of investment dollars from the US.

In effect, Obama’s campaign of economic warfare may lead to the infinitely more costly military warfare and the massive loss of jobs and profits for the US economy. Washington is increasingly isolated. The only allies supporting its campaign of economic sanctions are second and third rate powers, like Poland and current corrupt parasites in Ukraine. As long as the Poles and Ukrainians can ‘mooch’ off of the IMF and grab EU and US ‘loans’, they will cheerlead Obama’s charge against Russia. Israel, as long as it can gobble up an additional $38 billion dollars in ‘aid’ from Washington, remains the biggest advocate for war against Iran.

Washington spends billions of US tax-payer dollars on its military bases in Japan, Philippines and Australia to maintain its hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region. Its allies, though, are salivating at the prospect for greater trade and infrastructure investment deals with China.

Economic warfare doesn’t work for the Washington because the US economy cannot compete, especially when it attacks its own allies and traditional partners. Its regional allies are keen to join the ‘forbidden’ markets and share in major investment projects funded by China. Asian leaders increasingly view Washington, with its ‘pivot to militarism’ as politically unreliable, unstable and dangerous. After the Philippine government economic mission to China, expect more to ‘jump ship’.

Economic warfare against declared adversaries can only succeed if the US is committed to free trade with its allies, ends punitive sanctions and stops pushing for exclusive trade treaties that undermine its allies’ economies. Furthermore, Washington should stop catering to the whims of special domestic interests. Absent these changes, its losing campaign of economic warfare can only turn into military warfare – a prospect devastating to the US economy and to world peace.

James Petras is author of  The End of the Republic and the Delusion of EmpireExtractive Imperialism in the Americas: Capitalism’s New Frontier (with Henry Veltmeyer), and The Politics of Empire: The US, Israel and the Middle EastRead other articles by James, or visit James’s website.

Oct 112016
 

By James Petras99GetSmart

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Introduction

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was removed from office through a well-organized, carefully planned operation among the corrupt Brazilian political elite, closely linked to the stock-market, financial institutions and foreign energy companies. This ‘legislative coup d’état ’eliminated the democratically-elected ‘political intermediaries’ and installed a regime directly controlled by the CEOs of leading multi-nationals. The corporate composition of the post-coup regime insured there would be a radical restructuring of the Brazilian economy, with a massive shift from wage support, social spending and public ownership toward profits, a foreign capital take-over of strategic sectors and foreign-domestic elite dominance over the entire economy.

This paper will describe the socio-economic dynamics of the coup and its aftermath, as well as the strategy and program that Brazil’s new rulers will pursue. In the second half of the paper, we will discuss the Workers Party regimes’ policies (under Lula and Rousseff) that prepared the political and economic ground-work for the right-wing seizure of power.

Socio-Economic Dynamics of the Coup

The overthrow of President Rousseff was organized and implemented by Brazil’s capitalist class for its benefit, even though it had the superficial appearance of a power grab by corrupt politicians.

Rousseff’s Vice-President, Michel Temer, acted as the front-man on behalf of the major investment banks: They set the agenda; he played his part.

Moreover, the principal beneficiaries of the economic giveaways under ‘President’ Temer, most notably the privatization of the energy sector, are clearly foreign capitalists. Once the coup makers lined up the votes among Brazil’s notoriously corrupt Congressmen to oust Rousseff, the multinational corporations emerged from the shadow of the stock market to take control over the levers of power.

In the run-up to the coup, when the so-called ‘impeachment’ was gaining momentum, the shares of the largely state-owned oil company sky-rocketed by 70%. In anticipation of the privatization and sell-off of assets, leading speculators and overseas investment houses seized the moment.

The ‘coup’ was no ‘secretive conspiracy’ – it was an overt, direct capitalist seizure of power. Once installed, it proceeded to dismantle the public sector economy and transfer the jewels of Brazil’s economy to foreign multi-nationals.

Master of Pillage

To ensure that the coup would not deviate from the course set by the capitalist coup-masters, Pedro Parente, ‘one of their own’ and the former head (CEO) of the giant agricultural trader, Bunge, was put in charge of the economy. With dizzying speed, Parente imposed the New Order onto the puppet Temer coup regime. He used a set of phony ‘technocratic’ euphemisms to explain the ongoing plunder of Petrobras, the state oil company.

Parente lowered Petrobras’ public investment sector by 25%, which he called ‘debt reduction’. The brutal programed sell-off of Petrobras’ most valuable assets was described as a ‘deleverage timetable’.

The unelected ‘Privatization Czar Parente’, in effect, ended the state’s role in the Brazilian economy by placing it under the exclusive dictates of private capitalist. The primary beneficiaries will prove to be foreign over national capital.

Parente has undermined the competitiveness of the national manufacturing sector and transport system with a hefty increase in domestic fuel prices. On the surface, he claimed the price increase would ‘raise profits for Petrobras’, obscuring the fact that the oil giant’s public assets had been given over to private capitalists. Meanwhile, Parente privatized the gas stations, ethanol production and distribution, as well as the billion-dollar fertilizer and petro chemical industry. Over $15 billion worth of Brazilian prime public assets were sold off to private, mostly foreign capital, in 2015-2016.

Parente’s onslaught deepened. The ‘grand prize’ was access to its rich off-shore oil fields. By the middle of 2016, a large-scale offshore oil license was sold to the Norwegian multi-national, Statoil, for a mere $2.5 billion.

With Parente in command, the ruling elite is on track to sell-off an additional $20 billion worth of Petrobras assets to foreign capital in 2017-18. The key goal has been to replace the state sector as lead operator in the deep water oil and gas fields.

The ongoing pillage of the Brazil’s huge state energy sector, is only the first course in an orgy of privatization: Infrastructure, transport, utilities and basic state-protected industries are on the chopping block. This private plunder of the state economic jewels accompanies a brutal slashing of public pensions, salaries and wages guarantees as well as public sector budgets for health and education and public workers. In order to reduce corporate taxes, increase profits and attract capital, the coup regime has ordered the cuts by fiat.

Conclusion: Challenges to Capitalist Power

The capitalist class seized state power through the corrupt political and judicial machinations of Brazil’s Vice President and Congressional cronies. The take-over was based on a series of alleged corruption scandals by the Workers Party. The fact that the entire Brazilian congress, most notably the capitalist operatives behind the coup, has been deeply immersed in the scandal over an alleged $15 billion looted from Petrobras, undermines their credibility. In fact, the ousted President Rousseff was cleared of all charges of corruption, while her successor faces ongoing investigations. This tragic comedy exposes that some members of the Workers Party are tiny amateurs in this orgy of capitalist plunder.

The current President Michel Temer is charged with receiving bribes from private contractors. If these investigations undermine his already dubious leadership, the capitalist coup-masters will be forced to call for early election. This will introduce considerable uncertainty about the viability of Privatization Czar Parente’s capitalist power grab.

The regime’s ‘slash and burn’ campaign against wages and pensions has heightened class conflicts within Brazil. The three major labor confederations are preparing for major strikes against a regime of questionable legitimacy.

The business coup has allowed the capitalist class to seize state power and decree its agenda. However it has yet to show it can directly impose its draconian polices aimed at reconcentrating wealth and income for the top five percent while repressing scores of millions of industrial workers, rural landless laborers and the urban poor.

In addition, while the rulers can offer the jewels of Brazil’s economy to foreign capital, the current low oil prices, ongoing corruption trials at the highest level of elite power and intensifying class conflicts will undermine their ability to implement their agenda. Indeed the prospect of escalating state repression and criminal gang violence may persuade foreign capitalists to skim off the top of Brazil’s most profitable assets and abandon the ensuing chaos.

Epilogue

After 13 years of Workers Party control of the Brazilian presidency, how did the coup-masters rise so quickly and decisively? The political leader of the coup was Vice President Michel Tener, who had been selected by the Workers Party (PT) leadership as part of their ‘coalition strategy’ of working with the most corrupt elements of the Brazilian capitalist class. The members of the Congressional majority, which voted to impeach President Rousseff, were in partnership with the PT, elected in joint election platforms. The economic decline and recession, which undermined public support for the PT government, was a result of its emphasis on the ‘boom and bust’ commodity strategy. The strategic role played by the private banking and business sector in the ‘legislative coup’ resulted from the PT’s decision to implement the privatizations started by the previous regime of President Cardoso, thus strengthening this parasitic class.

Above all, it was the PT’s new reliance on financing their political campaigns through the donation of contractors and the business elites, instead of combining electoral politics with class warfare and mass struggle that opened the Party to the everyday corrupt practices of the capitalist parties. It is a perverse justice that only the PT newcomers to political corruption would be caught and prosecuted!

In other words’ the PT continued to win elections by becoming a normal bourgeois party with its social welfare agenda reliant on an unstable capitalist growth cycle of commodity exports. The PT were profoundly mistaken when they saw their alliance with the capitalist class as something permanent rather than an ‘alliance of convenience’ where the business elite would tolerate them until it was in a position to overthrow them.

Oct 052016
 

By James Petras99GetSmart

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“What Russia is sponsoring and doing [in Syria] is not counter-terrorism it is barbarism” – Samantha Power, US Representative to the United Nations

Introduction

The US representative to the United Nations, Ambassador ‘Ranting Sam’ Samantha Power, accused the Russian and Syrian governments of ‘barbarism’, claiming Moscow or Damascus had attacked an unarmed United Nations humanitarian convoy delivering aid to civilians in Aleppo. No evidence was presented. Rants and threats do not require facts or proof; they only require vehement emotional ejaculations and compliant mass propaganda organs.

‘Barbarians’, to be clear, evoke images of leaders and groups, which abjure all civilized norms and laws. They only respond to armed force.

In the present context Power’s charges of barbarism against Russia and Syria was used to justify the US aerial bombardment of a Syrian army outpost, which killed and maimed almost 200 government troops engaged in combating ISIS terrorists and jihadi invaders.

In other words, accusing Syrian soldiers of ‘barbarism’ was Ambassador Power’s cynical way of dehumanizing the young victims of an earlier and deliberate US war crime.

Let’s analyze the appropriate context for the use and abuse of the language of ‘barbarism’ – and its rightful application.

Barbarism: The Deed

Over the past decade and a half, the US and its allies have invaded, occupied, killed, wounded and dispossessed over ten million people, in countries from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon. Military and civilian officials have systematically destroyed entire economies, fostered ethno-religious wars, undermined ancient community and family ties and placed corrupt political puppets in power.

Promoted by the US, torture, arbitrary arrest and incarceration have become the norm creating lawless and chaotic societies, which had once been productive and stable. The shredding of  social structures has provokes massive population flight, with millions of desperate refugees fleeing invasions, wars and total society breakdown. The result of these deliberate imperial policy decisions has been emptied cities and neighborhoods, broken families, destroyed lives and futures for many millions of young Arabs and Muslims.

As the human toll mounts and Western Europe is flooded with the results of US aggressive wars, the imperialists have sharpened their shrill rhetoric, labeling all of their adversaries and critics as ‘accomplices in war crimes’, and ‘barbarians’.

The greater and more sustained the policy of wanton imperial pillage, the more intense the frustration of its leaders over its ultimate failures, and the greater the recourse of its ‘diplomats’ to vituperative language.

Barbarism in Search of Barbarians

The barbarism underlying the US and EU imperial wars of conquest in the Middle East is unmatched. The principal adversaries to US aggression, Russia, China and Iran, have not invaded any sovereign countries, nor have they provoked the desperate flight of millions of refugees. Russia was invited to aid its Syrian government ally confronting an invasion of terrorist mercenaries who are intent on dividing the country. Crimea peacefully re-joined Russia via elections. Moscow rejected playing any military role in support of Western wars against Iraq, Yemen and Libya. None of this rose to the level of US-EU barbarism.

In Asia, the West has invaded and devastated Viet Nam, the Philippines and Afghanistan. Japan, now a US ally, had invaded China, Korea and Southeast Asia. China for its part has not engaged in any imperial war of conquest for centuries.

Iran has not invaded any country in modern times. On the contrary, Iraq invaded Tehran in the 1980’s with US support and waged a decade-long war which caused millions of casualties.

In truth, if waging wars, staging invasions, destroying whole societies and causing millions of deaths are the measure of barbarism, then the US, Europe and Japan have been clearly barbaric.

To claim otherwise and follow the ranting script of Ambassador Samantha Power is to enter into a tunnel of hallucinations where the language of liberal values embellishes truly barbarian acts.

The entire language of politics has been perverted and converted into an artifice of self-delusion. Terrorist militias are re-packaged as ‘rebels’ and ‘moderates’, spreading barbarism from the imperial Western center to the periphery. The deliberate spread of terrorism is itself a barbaric deed, which degrades the status of Western powers.

Conclusion

In ancient Greece, the barbarians were those outside of the empire who did not speak the language of civilization. They were savage invaders seeking to pillage the wealth and culture of the empire. Today the barbarians emerge from inside the empire and spread outward. The imperial leaders have engaged in serial wars of destruction and pillage, even as their own societies and economies wallow in ignorance, misery, debt, addiction and criminality. Imperial barbarians devastate whole cultures, erasing the great historical legacy of ancient civilizations like Iraq and Syria, while imposing their culture of morons, drugs and electronic gadgets, which has already infantilized its own population.

The empire of barbarians is infested with moneychangers and corrupt speculators. They have debased the entire legal system and legislative bodies. The public space has become a private latrine for the elite, closed to any real public discourse and debate.

Electoral spectacles, rather than reasoned debates, undermine republican principles. Imperial conquerors, enmeshed in a military metaphysic, cannot reconstruct a devastated society into a productive colony, nor can they learn or benefit from the best and brightest among its captives, as Rome did with Greece, because it has sown such destruction and salted the very soil under the feet of its conquered peoples.

The barbarian-imperial world order is constantly at war with ‘others’ and can never assimilate and learn from the precious human treasures it has so wantonly destroyed. It rules by terror abroad and deceit at home. As so crudely displayed by the imperial rants of Ambassador Samantha Power, its oratory at international forums reflect the hysteria of mediocre functionaries: mindless barbarians raving among themselves in marbled echo chambers.

In the end, the imperial barbarians will be besieged by their own fleeing vassals and puppets. When they finally confront their own decay and internal dissolution they have to decide whether to engage in a last global conflagration or dismantle the imperial barbaric order and choose justice, law and civilization.