Jan 022018
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

Trump-Netanyahu

Introduction

The Trump regime proclaimed that the vote in the General Assembly of the United Nations regarding the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was a strategic US decision.

Both President Trump and his bombastic UN Ambassador Nikki Haley threatened that all decisions and agreements regarding alliances, loans, aid and diplomatic relations were at stake.

Moreover, the Trump regime clearly defined the style and substance of US imperial dictates: All UN member nations (large and small) must grovel in the most abject manner to his orders. Ambassador Haley demanded that each nation on earth accept Trump’s and the racist-Zionist Netanyahu’s declaration that the ancient city of Jerusalem is the eternal, undivided and ethnically managed capital of the Jews. Trump’s message was loud and clear – he was the great ‘decider’ and the UN votes would identify America’s true friends and enemies. “We are making a list … and there will be consequences …”

Clearly Trump’ boast of US power and Haley’s assumption that her terrifying threats would ensure that Washington had a majority vote on the ‘gifting’ of Jerusalem to Zio-fascism. They believed that US dominance and global hegemony was absolute and unassailable. The vote proved something else, something very new was happening.

The US suffered an overwhelming and humiliating defeat, one that kept Ambassador Haley dexterous fingers busy ‘taking notes’: 128 nations demanded that the Trump regime withdraw its declaration that Jerusalem was Israel’s undivided capital for Jews. Only 9 micro-nations (some mere postage stamps and a few death-squad banana-stans) voted with the Trump-Haley decision, 35 mendicant-states put their heads down and abstained while 21 timorous ambassadors chose to hide their shamelessness in the toilet stalls rather than show up for this important vote.

Political Context

First and foremost it is important to discuss the steps leading up to the US suffering such a crushing debacle. In other words, who was responsible for leading the Trump Administration by the nose down the blind alley of submission to the dictates of Zio-fascism.

The leader and driving force behind the UN disaster was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu whose quest to seize Jerusalem and convert it into the ‘eternal’ capital of the Jews was his top priority. For decades the entire world has rejected Israel’s seizure of Jerusalem and its conversion into an ethnically cleansed capital for the ‘Jewish’ state. The UN and international jurists denounced Israel’s colonial conquest and ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

Netanyahu took charge with the election of Donald Trump as President. Operation Jerusalem was his first order to Puppet Donald. A number of Israel-First multi-billionaires, who financed Trump’s electoral campaign, demanded an immediate pay-off from their puppet: The Administration’s unconditional support for Netanyahu’s agenda. Despite protests from the rest of the world, especially the US closest European allies, Trump plunged the nation right into the Zionist soup: a Jewish Jerusalem; the systematic eviction of all Arabs, Christian, Muslim and secular, and the eventual annexation of all of Palestine; as well as an increasing military confrontation with Iran.

Real estate speculator, Jared Kushner, Trump’s pampered son-in- law, and a complete Netanyahu flunky, became the senior advisor for the Middle East.  Kushner pressured Trump’s National Security Advisor General Michael Flynn to intervene with Russia on behalf of Israel’s take-over of Jerusalem. Flynn was subsequently prosecuted for discussing global US Russian relations and the ‘good soldier’ is falling on his sword on behalf of the Zionists. Not surprising, the Congressional Democrats, the FBI and the Special Prosecutor found it easier to prosecute Flynn for his discussion regarding de-escalating the tense US-Russian relations provoked by the Obama administration than his discussions with the Kremlin in support of Israel’s seizure of Jerusalem!

Netanyahu’s operational weapons in manipulating US policy involved Jared Kushner, the billionaire Israel-First donors, the AIPAC and UN Ambassador  Nikki Haley. Tel Aviv succeeded in securing Trump’s commitment to the Israeli agenda, despite opposition from the entire UN National Security Council and the overwhelming majority of the General Assembly. In the style of a typical authoritarian, US President Trump grovels at the feet of his ‘superior’, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while tearing at the throats of his ‘inferiors’, the 193 member nations of the UN General Assembly.

Netanyahu’s vitriolic bar room threats against the entire membership of the UN prior to the vote ensured the repudiation of all Security Council representatives with the exception of his South Carolina puppet, Ambassador Nikki Haley. Trump and Haley backed the blustering Netanyahu by issuing gangland threats to all UN representatives who dared to oppose Washington’s dictates.

In this way, Prime Minister Netanyahu secured the greatest diplomatic and political success of his career – the total submission of the US to his agenda, at the risk of a major humiliation in the UN. This, in effect, formalized Israeli hegemony over Washington, for the world to see.

In contrast to Netanyahu’s beaming success, the US suffered a historic diplomatic defeat: Fourteen times as many nations voted against the demands of the US President over – Netanyahu’s grab of Jerusalem.

What makes the defeat even more striking is the fact that all major allies and most of the biggest aid recipients openly defied the US threats. Eight of the ten biggest US aid recipients voted against Trump–Netanyahu–Haley. This bizarre troika is now left with an enemy list circling the entire globe, and a few timorous allies in the South Pacific and among the death squads of Guatemala.

Trump’s total and puerile embrace of the raving Netanyahu has exposed and widened fissures in US global hegemony.

Apart from ‘capturing’ Netanyahu’s vote, the other pro Trump nations included a handful of insignificant Pacific islands (Marshall Islands, Palau, Micronesia), Togo, a corrupt African mini-state and two banana-sized ‘death squad democracies’, Honduras and Guatemala. The latter two regimes hold power via stolen elections backed by narco-thugs in the pay (dubbed ‘foreign aid’) of the US.

All of the leading Asian and Western European countries voted against Trump. They openly rejected the crude blackmail of the US-Israel duet. Subservient regimes in Eastern Europe, corrupt regimes in Latin America and some horrifically impoverished nations in Africa and Asia chose to abstain or excuse themselves to the toilet stalls of Times Square. Narco-neo-liberal regimes in Mexico, Colombia, Paraguay, Panama and the Dominican Republic abstained. Even rightwing Eastern European regimes, which usually give unquestioned support to all US demands, like Romania, Bosnia, Poland and Latvia defied Nikki Haley’s ‘name taking’ by abstaining. The ‘no-shows’ (hiding in the toilets) included US puppets like Georgia, Samoa, St Kitts and Tonga.

An openly humiliated UN Ambassador Haley was left with the task of thanking the abstainers and ‘no-shows’ for their courage and preparing a few bags of goodies (matzos, Mogan David wine and discounts to the brothels of Tel Aviv) for the torturers of Honduras and half-drowned ‘leaders’ of Palau in gratitude for such loyalty.

Conclusion

Clearly Trump’s championing of a racist, colonialist, ethnic cleansing state like Israel may come to be viewed as a strategic diplomatic disaster. The Manhattan egomaniac has tied the US fortunes to the whims of a pariah state led by a complete lunatic.

Trump’s decision to demonstrate total loyalty to his Zionist billionaire campaign ‘donor-owners’ and his Israel-First son-in-law in his first major foreign policy decision failed to impress any of the influential nations of the world – East or West. Indeed, it showed how fractured and dangerously dysfunctional the US Administration had become.

Most important, Trump’s proclamation of a unipolar world, based on his notion of the US’s economic power, has collapsed. Israel, despite Haley’s bluster and list-taking, has no legitimacy. The continued Mossad assassinations of leading Palestinians and others and the increasing IDF slaughter of the spontaneous Palestinian civilian resistance have failed to improve Israel’s international standing – except among Guatemalan torturers.

However, it is not clear that the US has lost its big power influence regarding other regional conflicts. The subsequent UN Security Council vote in favor of Washington’s demands for added sanctions against North Korea demonstrated Trump’s power to intimidate the oligarchs and leaders of China and Russia.

In other words, limits on US power still depend on the issues, the allies, the diplomatic appeals, the adversaries and the distribution of benefits and costs.

In the case of Jerusalem, Real Estate Mogul Trump’s bizarre decision to hand an entire city over to the Zionists alienated all Muslims and Christians the world over, as well as the secular Western liberal nations and emerging powers, like Russia and China. The US tied its prestige to the whims of a paranoid nation arrogantly flaunting its racist superiority complex, backed by groups of immensely wealthy overseas dual citizens.

Diplomatically, Israel’s vituperative response to any legitimate criticism from world bodies undermines its chances of coalition building.

Finally, Washington’s support for Israel’s perpetual and overt violation of international law and its bombing of humanitarian missions makes Israel a very costly ally.

Dec 232017
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

congressional-sexual-harassment-slush-funds

In accordance with the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 (CAA) the Office of Compliance (OC) compiled and published shocking statistics listing (1) the number of settlements paid to its employees and interns after allegations of abuse by legislators; (2) the total amount of dollars paid by US Treasury to the victims of Congressional workplace abuse.

The US taxpayers were made to pay millions of dollars in financial settlements for hundreds of incidents of Congressperson abuse, including gross sexual harassment, against interns, staff and office employees, of both sexes. This ‘slush and shush’ fund was hidden from the American people. Many abused victims were paid-off and intimidated into silently watching the elected officials parade themselves as paragons of virtue and champions of their voters.

The data, published by Congressional Office of Compliance, covered a period starting in 1997 to November 2017. In that period, 264 victims of abuse, some by a number of Congresspersons, came forward with their complaints. The US Treasury secretly paid over $17 million dollars to the victims while the identities of the abusing Congresspersons are not identified and are protected under the 1995 statute.

In other words, the members of the US Congress, including serial sexual abusers and uncontrolled bullies, have shielded themselves from public exposure, so they could continue preying on their employees with impunity and without any personal material loss or humiliating exposure to their families. Thus protected, they could expect to be re-elected to abuse again and the taxpayers would pay their secret ‘pay-offs’!

Political Party Leadership in Congress and the Protected Abusers

An examination of the political party affiliation of the Congressional leaders and the Presidents during this 20-year period of abuse reveals that both parties were engaged in shielding offenders and perverts among their ranks.

During the first 10 years (1997-2007), Congress was controlled by the Republican Party. Under their leadership, the Treasury secretly paid over $11 million in compensation to the victims.

Democrats controlled the ‘House’ during the next three years (2008-2011) when the Treasury paid over $2.5 million dollars. As a result of this perverse form of ‘bipartisan cooperation’, abusive officials from both parties were free to abuse, humiliate and exploit their employees and young interns with impunity.

In the last five years (2012-2017), Republicans, once again, controlled the House and oversaw the secret payout of over $3.5 million for ‘bipartisan’ abuse.

Moving from monetary payment to the number of abused employees, we find 133 were subjected to abuse under the Republicans (1997-2007), 48 under the Democrats between (2008-2011) and another 73 victims under the latest period of Republican control (2012-2017). All victims, who came forward with their complaints, faced a gauntlet of procedural intimidation, ‘counseling’, ‘cooling off’ periods and legal restraint to remain silent.

If we examine Congressional abuse on a per capita basis, Republicans abused on an average, 13 victims a year while the Democrats harassed 12 victims a year. There is a comforting level of uniformity and continuity of abuse in the US political system under both Republican and Democratic control of Congress. This indicates a shared political culture and practice among America’s ‘Solons’. Whatever wild-eyed rhetorical ideological differences, both parties cooperate with great civility in the abuse of their employees.

Indeed, the sense of feudal privilege over employees, viewing workers and interns as peasants, invoking the once outlawed ‘droit de seigneur’, pervades the Halls of Congress. This culture of feudal abuse, so common in the private sector, in giant corporations, Hollywood and the media, has metastasized to the centers of US political power, leaving untold thousands of brutalized victims and their helpless loved ones to deal with the long-term effects of humiliation, bitterness and injustice. For every abused young employee, treated like a serf by an all powerful legislator, there are dozens of helpless family members, fathers, brothers, mothers, sisters and spouses, who must deal with decades of silent resentment against these abusers.

None of this is surprising given how both parties have been financed and controlled by corporate leaders, Hollywood moguls and Wall Street speculators, who have exploited and abused their employees with impunity until the recent ‘Me-Too’ movement erupted spontaneously. Given the transformation of the workplace into a kind of neo-feudal estate, the ‘Me-Too’ movement may be seen as a latter-day ‘Peasant Revolt’ against the overlords.

Presidential Leadership and Abuse in the Workplace

Several Presidents have been accused of gross sexual abuse and humiliation of office staff and interns, most ignobly William Jefferson Clinton. However, the Congressional Office of Compliance, in accord with the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 does not collect statistics on presidential abuses and financial settlements. Nevertheless, we can examine the number of Congressional victims and payments during the tenures of the various Presidents during the past 20 years. This can tell us if the Presidents chose to issue any directives or exercise any leadership with regard to stopping the abuses occurring during their administrations.

Under Presidents William Clinton and Barack Obama we have data for 12 years 1997-2000, and 2009-2016. Under President George W Bush and Donald Trump we have data for 9 years 2001-2008 and 2017.

Under the two Democratic Presidents, 148 legislative employees were abused and the Treasury paid out approximately $5 million dollars and under the Republican Presidents, 116 were abused and Treasury and over $12 million dollars was paid out.

Under the Democratic Presidents, the average number of abuse victims was 12 per year; under the Republicans the average number was 13 per year. As in the case of Congressional leadership, US Presidents of both parties showed remarkable bipartisan consistency in tolerating Congressional abuse.

Congressional Abuse: The Larger Meaning

Workplace abuse by elected leaders in Washington is encouraged by Party cronyism, loyalties and shameless bootlicking. It is reinforced by the structure of power pervasive in the ruling class. Congress people exercise near total power over their employees because they are not accountable to their peers or their voters. They are protected by their financial donors, the special Congressional ‘judicial’ system and by the mass media with a complicity of silence.

The entire electoral system is based on a hierarchy of power, where those on the top can demand subordination and enforce their demands for sexual submission with threats of retaliation against the victim or the victim’s outraged family members. This mirrors a feudal plantation system.

However, like sporadic peasant uprisings in the Middle Ages, some employees rise up, resist and demand justice. It is common to see Congressional abusers turn to their office managers, often female, to act as ‘capos’ to first threaten and then buy off the accuser – using US taxpayer funds. This added abuse never touches the wallet of the abuser or the office enforcer. Compensation is paid by the US Treasury. The social and financial status of the abusers and the abusers’ families remain intact as they look forward to lucrative future employment as lobbyists.

This does not occur in isolation from the broader structure of class and power.

The sexual exploitation of workers in the Halls of the US Congress is part of the larger socio-economic system. Elected officials, who abuse their office employees and interns, share the same values with corporate and cultural bosses, who exploit their workers and subordinates. At an even larger level, they share the same values and culture with the Imperial State as it brutalizes and rapes independent nations and peoples.

The system of abuse and exploitation by the Congress and the corporate, cultural, academic, religious and political elite depends on complicit intermediaries who frequently come from upwardly mobile groups. The most abusive legislators will hire upwardly mobile women as public relations officers and office managers to recruit victims and, when necessary, arrange pay-offs. In the corporate sphere, CEOs frequently rely on former plant workers, trade union leaders, women and minorities to serve as ‘labor relations’ experts to provide a progressive façade in order to oust dissidents and enforce directives persecuting whistleblowers. On a global scale, the political warlords work hand in glove with the mass media and humanitarian interventionist NGO’s to demonize independent voices and to glorify the military as they slaughter resistance fighters, while claiming to champion gender and minority rights. Thus, the US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan was widely propagandized and celebrated as the ‘liberation of Afghan women’.

The Congressional perverts have their own private, secret mission: to abuse staff, to nurture the rich, enforce silence and approve legislation to make taxpayers pay the bill.

Let us hope that the current ‘Me Too!’ movement against workplace sexual abuse will grow to include a broader movement against the neo-feudalism within politics, business, and culture and lead to a political movement uniting workers in all fields.

Dec 212017
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

Latin-America

Introduction

Clearly the pendulum has swung to the right in the past few years. Numerous questions arise. What kind of right? How far right? How did they gain power? What is their appeal? How sustainable are the right wing regimes? Who are their international allies and adversaries? Having taken power, how have the rightist regimes performed and by what criteria is success or failure measured?

While the left has been in retreat, they still retain power in some states. Numerous questions arise. What is the nature of the left today? Why have some regimes continued while others have declined or been vanquished? Can the left recover its influence and under what conditions and with what programmatic appeal.

We will proceed by discussing the character and policies of the right and left and their direction. We will conclude by analyzing the dynamics of right and left policies, alignments and future perspectives.

Right-Radicalism: The Face of Power

The right wing regimes are driven by intent to implement structural changes: they look to reordering the nature of the state, economic and social relations and international political and economic alignments.

Radical right regimes rule in Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Paraguay, Guatemala, Honduras and Chile.

In several countries extreme right regimes have made abrupt changes, while in others they build on incremental changes constituted over time.

The changes in Argentina and Brazil represent examples of extreme regressive transformations directed at reversing income distribution, property relations, international alignments and military strategies. The goal is to redistribute income upwardly, to re-concentrate wealth, property-ownership upward and externally and to subscribe to imperial doctrine. These pluto-populist regimes are run by rulers, who openly speak to and for very powerful domestic and overseas investors and are generous in their distribution of subsidies and state resources – a kind of ‘populism for the plutocrats’.

The rise and consolidation of extremist right regimes in Argentina and Brazil are based on several decisive interventions, combining elections and violence, purges and co-optation, mass media propaganda and deep corruption.

Mauricio Macri was backed by the major media, led by the Clarin conglomerate, as well as by the international financial press (Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, etc.). Wall Street speculators and Washington’s overseas political apparatus subsidized his electoral campaign.

Macri, his family, cronies and financial accomplices, transferred public resources to private accounts. Provincial political bosses and their patronage operations joined forces with the wealthy financial sectors of Buenos Aires to secure votes in the Capital.

Upon his election, the Mauricio Macri regime transferred five billion dollars to the notorious Wall Street speculator, Paul Singer, signed off on multi-billion dollar, high interest loans, increased utility fees six fold, privatized oil, gas and public lands and fired tens of thousands of public sector employees.

Macri organized a political purge and arrest of opposition political leaders, including former President Cristina Fernandez Kirchner. Several provincial activists were jailed or even assassinated.

Macri is a success story from the perspective of Wall Street, Washington and the Porteño business elite. Wages and salaries have declined for Argentine workers. Utility companies secured their highest profits ever. Bankers doubled interest rate returns. Importers became millionaires. Agro-business incomes skyrocketed as their taxes were reduced.

From the perspective of Argentina’s small and medium business enterprises President Macri’s regime has been a disaster: Many thousands have gone bankrupt because of high utility costs and harsh competition from cheap Chinese imports. In addition to the drop in wages and salaries, unemployment and under employment doubled and the rate of extreme poverty tripled

The economy, as a whole, floundered. Debt financing failed to promote growth, productivity, innovation and exports. Foreign investment experienced easy entry, big profits and fast departure. The promise of prosperity was narrowly based around a quarter of the population. To weaken the expected public discontent – the regime shut down independent media voices, unleashed thugs against critics and co-opted pliable gangster trade union bosses to break  strikes.

Public protests and strikes multiplied but were ignored and repressed. Popular leaders and activists are stigmatized by the Macri-financed media hacks.

Barring a major social upheaval or economic collapse, Macri will exploit the fragmentation of the opposition to secure re-election as a model gangster for Wall Street. Macri is prepared to sign off on US military bases, EU free trade agreements, and greater police liaison with Israel’s sinister secret police, Mossad.

Brazil has followed Macri’s far right policies.

Seizing power through a phony impeachment operation, the mega-swindler Michel Temer immediately proceeded to dismantle the entire public sector, freeze salaries for twenty years, and extend retirement age for pensioners by five to ten years. Temer led over a thousand bribe-taking elected officials in the multi-billion dollar pillage of the state oil company and every major public infrastructure project.

Coup, corruption and contempt were hidden by a system granting Congressional impunity until independent prosecutors investigated, charged and jailed several dozen politicians, but not Temer. Despite 95% public disapproval, President Temer remains in power with the total backing of Wall Street, the Pentagon and Sao Paolo bankers.

Mexico, the long-standing narco-assassin state, continues elect one thieving PRI-PAN political regime after another. Billions in illicit profits flows to the overseas tax havens of money laundering bankers, US and Canadian mine owners. Mexican and international manufacturers extracted double digit profits sent, to overseas accounts and tax havens. Mexico broke its own miserable record in elite tax avoidance, while extending low wage-tax ‘free trade zones’. Millions of Mexicans have fled across the border to escape predatory gangster capitalism. The flow of hundreds of millions of dollars of profits by US and Canadian multi-nationals were a result of the ‘unequal exchange’ between US capital and Mexican labor, held in place by Mexico’s fraudulent electoral system.

In at least two well-known presidential elections in 1988 and 2006, left of center candidates, Cuahtemoc Cardenas and Manuel Lopez Obrador, won with healthy margins of victory, only to have their victories stolen by fraudulent vote counts.

Peru’s rightist mining regimes, alternated between the overtly bloody Fujimori dictatorship and corrupt electoral regimes. What is consistent in Peruvian politics is the handover of mineral resources to foreign capital, pervasive corruption and the brutal exploitation of natural resources by US and Canadian mining and drilling corporations in regions inhabited by Indian communities.

The extreme right ousted elected left-of-center governments, including President Fernando Lugo in Paraguay (2008-2012) and Manuel Zelaya in Honduras (2006-2009), with the active support and approval of the US State Department. Narco-presidents now wield power by means of repression, including violence against popular movements and the killing of scores of peasant and urban activists. This year, a grossly rigged election in Honduras ensured the continuity of narco-regimes and US military bases.

The spread of the extreme right from Central America and Mexico to the Southern Cone provides the groundwork for the re-assertion of US centered military alliances and regional trade pacts.

The rise of the extreme right ensures the most lucrative privatizations and the highest rates of return on overseas bank loans. The far right is quick to crack down on popular dissent and electoral challenges with violence. At most the far right allows a few rotating elites with nationalist pretensions to provide a façade of electoral democracy.

The Shift from the Center-Left to the Center-Right

The political swings to the far right have had profound ripple effects – as nominal center-left regimes have swung to the center-right.

Two regimes have moved decisively from the center-left to the center-right: Uruguay under Tabare Vazquez of the ‘Broad Front’ and Ecuador with the recent election of Lenin Moreno of PAIS Alliance. In both cases the groundwork was established via accommodations with oligarchs of the traditional right parties. The previous center-left regimes of Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa and Uruguayan President Jose Mujica succeeded in pushing for public investments and  social reforms. They combined their leftist rhetoric while capitalizing on the global high prices and high demand for agro-mineral exports to finance their reforms. With the decline in world prices and the public exposure of corruption, the newly elected center-left parties nominated and elected center-right candidates who turned anti-corruption campaigns into vehicles for embracing neoliberal economic policies. The center-right presidents rejected economic nationalism, encouraged large scale foreign investment and implemented fiscal austerity programs appealing to the upper middle class and ruling class.

The center-right regimes marginalized the leftist sectors of their parties. In the case of Ecuador, they split the party, with the newly elected president realigning international policies away from the left (Bolivia, Venezuela) and toward the US and the far right — while shedding the legacy of their predecessor in terms of popular social programs.

With the decline in export prices the center-right regimes offered generous subsidies to foreign investors in agriculture and forestry in Uruguay,  and mine owners and exporters in Ecuador.

The newly converted center-right regimes joined with their established counterparts in Chile and joined the Trans Pacific Partnership with Asian nations, the EU and the US.

The center-right sought to manipulate the social rhetoric of the previous center-left regimes in order to retain popular voters while securing  support from the business elite.

The Left Moves to the Center Left

Bolivia, under Evo Morales, has demonstrated an exceptional capacity for sustaining growth, securing re-election and neutralizing the opposition by combining a radical left foreign policy with a moderate, mixed public-private export economy. While Bolivia condemns US imperialism, major oil, gas, metals and lithium multi-nationals have invested heavily in Bolivia. Evo Morales has moderated his ideological posture shifting from revolutionary socialism to a local version of liberal democratic cultural politics.

Evo Morales’ embrace of a mixed economy has neutralized any overt hostility from the US and the new far-right regimes in the region

Though remaining politically independent, Bolivia has integrated its  exports with the far right neoliberal regimes in the region. President Evo Morales’s moderate economic policies, diversity of mineral exports, fiscal responsibility, incremental social reforms, and support from well-organized social movements has led to political stability and social continuity despite the volatility of commodity prices.

Venezuela’s left regimes under President Hugo Chavez and Maduro have followed a divergent course with harsh consequences. Totally dependent on extraordinary global oil prices, Venezuela proceeded to finance generous welfare programs at home and abroad. Under President Chavez leadership, Venezuela adopted a consequential anti-imperialist policy successfully opposing a US centered free trade agreement (LAFTA) and launching an anti-imperialist alternative, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA).

Advancing social welfare and financing overseas allies without diversifying the economy and markets and increasing production was predicated on continuous high returns on a single volatile export – oil.

Unlike Bolivia under President Evo Morales, who built his power with the support of an organized, class conscious and disciplined mass base, Venezuela counted on an amorphous electoral alliance, which included slum dwellers, defectors from the corrupt traditional parties (across the spectrum) and opportunists intent on grabbing office and perks. Political education was reduced to mouthing slogans, cheering the President and distributing consumer goods.

Venezuelan technocrats and political loyalists occupied highly lucrative positions, especially in the petroleum sector and were not held to account by workers’ councils or competent state auditors.  Corruption was rampant and billions of dollars of oil wealth was stolen. This pillage was tolerated because of the huge influx of petro-dollars due to historic high prices and high demand. This led to a bizarre situation where the regime spoke of socialism and funded massive social programs, while the major banks, food distributers, importers and transportation operators were controlled by hostile private oligarchs who pocketed enormous profits while manufacturing shortages and promoting inflation. Despite the problems, the Venezuelan voters gave the regime a series of electoral victories over the US proxies and oligarch politicians. This tended to create overconfidence in the regime that the Bolivarian socialist model was irrevocable.

The precipitous drop of oil prices, global demand, and export earnings led to the decline of imports and consumption. Unlike Bolivia, foreign reserves declined, the rampant theft of billions was belatedly uncovered and the US-backed rightwing opposition returned to violent ‘direct action’ and sabotage while hoarding essential food, consumer goods and medicine. Shortages led to widespread black marketeering. Public sector corruption and hostile opposition control of the private banking, retail and industrial sectors, backed by the US, paralyzed the economy. The economy has been in a free-fall and electoral support has eroded. Despite the regime’s severe problems, the majority of low income voters correctly understood that their chances of surviving under the US-backed oligarchic opposition would be worse and the embattled left continued to win gubernatorial and municipal elections up through 2017.

Venezuela’s economic vulnerability and negative growth rate led to increased indebtedness. The opposition of the extreme right regimes in Latin America and Washington’s economic sanctions has intensified food shortages and increased unemployment.

In contrast, Bolivia effectively defeated US-elite coup plots between 2008-10. The Santa Cruz-based oligarchs faced the clear choice of either sharing profits and social stability by signing off on social pacts (workers/peasants, capital and state) with the Morales government or facing an alliance of the government and the militant labor movement prepared to expropriate their holdings. The elites chose economic collaboration while pursuing low intensity electoral opposition.

Conclusion

Left opposition is in retreat from state power. Opposition to the extreme right is likely to grow, given the harsh, uncompromising assault on income, pensions, the rise in the cost of living, severe reductions in social programs and attacks on private and public sector employment. The extreme right has several options, none of which offer any concessions to the left. They have chosen to heighten police state measures (the Macri solution); they attempt  to fragment the opposition by negotiating with the opportunist trade union and political party bosses; and they reshuffle degraded rulers with new faces to continue policies (the Brazilian solution).

The formerly revolutionary left parties, movements and leaders have evolved toward electoral politics, protests and job action. So far they do not represent an effective political option at the national level

The center-left, especially in Brazil and Ecuador, is in a strong position with dynamic political leaders (Lula DaSilva and Correa) but face trumped up charges by right-wing prosecutors who intend to exclude them from running for office. Unless the center-left reformers engage in prolonged large-scale mass activity, the far right will effectively undermine their political recovery.

The US imperial state has temporarily regained proxy regimes, military allies and economic resources and markets. China and the European Union profit from optimal economic conditions offered by the far right regimes. The US military program has effectively neutralized the radical opposition in Colombia, and the Trump regime has intensified and imposed new sanctions on Venezuela and Cuba.

The Trump regimes ‘triumphalist’ celebration is premature – no decisive strategic victory has taken place, despite important short term advances in Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. However large outflows of profits, major transfers of ownership to foreign investors, favorable tax rates, low tariff and trade policies have yet to generate new productive facilities, sustainable growth and to ensure economic fundamentals.  Maximizing profits and ignoring investments in productivity and innovation to promote domestic markets and demand has bankrupted tens of thousands of medium and small  local commercial and manufacturing firms. This has led to rising chronic unemployment and underemployment. Marginalization and social polarization without political leadership is growing. Such conditions led to ‘spontaneous’ uprisings in Argentina 2001, Ecuador 2000 and Bolivia 2005.

The far right in power may not evoke a rebellion of the far left but its policies can certainly undermine the stability and continuity of the current regimes. At a minimum, it can lead to some version of the center left and restoration of the welfare and employment regimes now in tatters.

In the meantime the far right will press ahead with their perverse agenda combining deep reversals of social welfare, the degradation of national sovereignty and economic stagnation with a formidable profit maximizing performance.

Dec 122017
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

shutterstock_237229381-600x455

Introduction

The American welfare state was created in 1935 and continued to develop through 1973. Since then, over a prolonged period, the capitalist class has been steadily dismantling the entire welfare state.

Between the mid 1970’s to the present (2017) labor laws, welfare rights and benefits and the construction of and subsidies for affordable housing have been gutted. ‘Workfare’ (under President ‘Bill’ Clinton) ended welfare for the poor and displaced workers. Meanwhile the shift to regressive taxation and the steadily declining real wages have increased corporate profits to an astronomical degree.

What started as incremental reversals during the 1990’s under Clinton has snowballed over the last two decades decimating welfare legislation and institutions.

The earlier welfare ‘reforms’ and the current anti-welfare legislation and austerity practices have been accompanied by a series of endless imperial wars, especially in the Middle East.

In the 1940’s through the 1960’s, world and regional wars (Korea and Indo-China) were combined with significant welfare program – a form of ‘social imperialism’, which ‘buy off’ the working class while expanding the empire. However, recent decades are characterized by multiple regional wars and the reduction or elimination of welfare programs – and a massive growth in poverty, domestic insecurity and poor health.

New Deals and Big Wars

The 1930’s witnessed the advent of social legislation and action, which laid the foundations of what is called the ‘modern welfare state’.

Labor unions were organized as working class strikes and progressive legislation facilitated trade union organization, elections, collective bargaining rights and a steady increase in union membership. Improved work conditions, rising wages, pension plans and benefits, employer or union-provided health care and protective legislation improved the standard of living for the working class and provided for 2 generations of upward mobility.

Social Security legislation was approved along with workers’ compensation and the forty-hour workweek. Jobs were created through federal programs (WPA, CCC, etc.). Protectionist legislation facilitated the growth of domestic markets for US manufacturers. Workplace shop steward councils organized ‘on the spot’ job action to protect safe working conditions.

World War II led to full employment and increases in union membership, as well as legislation restricting workers’ collective bargaining rights and enforcing wage freezes. Hundreds of thousands of Americans found jobs in the war economy but a huge number were also killed or wounded in the war.

The post-war period witnessed a contradictory process: wages and salaries increased while legislation curtailed union rights via the Taft Hartley Act and the McCarthyist purge of leftwing trade union activists. So-called ‘right to work’ laws effectively outlawed unionization mostly in southern states, which drove industries to relocate to the anti-union states.

Welfare reforms, in the form of the GI bill, provided educational opportunities for working class and rural veterans, while federal-subsidized low interest mortgages encourage home-ownership, especially for veterans.

The New Deal created concrete improvements but did not consolidate labor influence at any level. Capitalists and management still retained control over capital, the workplace and plant location of production.

Trade union officials signed pacts with capital: higher pay for the workers and greater control of the workplace for the bosses. Trade union officials joined management in repressing rank and file movements seeking to control technological changes by reducing hours (“thirty hours work for forty hours pay”). Dissident local unions were seized and gutted by the trade union bosses – sometimes through violence.

Trade union activists, community organizers for rent control and other grassroots movements lost both the capacity and the will to advance toward large-scale structural changes of US capitalism. Living standards improved for a few decades but the capitalist class consolidated strategic control over labor relations. While unionized workers’ incomes, increased, inequalities, especially in the non-union sectors began to grow. With the end of the GI bill, veterans’ access to high-quality subsidized education declined.

While a new wave of social welfare legislation and programs began in the 1960’s and early 1970’s it was no longer a result of a mass trade union or workers’ “class struggle”. Moreover, trade union collaboration with the capitalist regional war policies led to the killing and maiming of hundreds of thousands of workers in two wars – the Korean and Vietnamese wars.

Much of social legislation resulted from the civil and welfare rights movements. While specific programs were helpful, none of them addressed structural racism and poverty.

The Last Wave of Social Welfarism

The 1960’a witnessed the greatest racial war in modern US history: Mass movements in the South and North rocked state and federal governments, while advancing the cause of civil, social and political rights. Millions of black citizens, joined by white activists and, in many cases, led by African American Viet Nam War veterans, confronted the state. At the same time, millions of students and young workers, threatened by military conscription, challenged the military and social order.

Energized by mass movements, a new wave of social welfare legislation was launched by the federal government to pacify mass opposition among blacks, students, community organizers and middle class Americans. Despite this mass popular movement, the union bosses at the AFL-CIO openly supported the war, police repression and the military, or at best, were passive impotent spectators of the drama unfolding in the nation’s streets. Dissident union members and activists were the exception, as many had multiple identities to represent: African American, Hispanic, draft resisters, etc.

Under Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, Medicare, Medicaid, OSHA, the EPA and multiple poverty programs were implemented. A national health program, expanding Medicare for all Americans, was introduced by President Nixon and sabotaged by the Kennedy Democrats and the AFL-CIO. Overall, social and economic inequalities diminished during this period.

The Vietnam War ended in defeat for the American militarist empire. This coincided with the beginning of the end of social welfare as we knew it – as the bill for militarism placed even greater demands on the public treasury.

With the election of President Carter, social welfare in the US began its long decline. The next series of regional wars were accompanied by even greater attacks on welfare via the “Volker Plan” – freezing workers’ wages as a means to combat inflation.

Guns without butter’ became the legislative policy of the Carter and Reagan Administrations. The welfare programs were based on politically fragile foundations.

The Debacle of Welfarism

Private sector trade union membership declined from a post-world war peak of 30% falling to 12% in the 1990’s. Today it has sunk to 7%. Capitalists embarked on a massive program of closing thousands of factories in the unionized North which were then relocated to the non-unionized low wage southern states and then overseas to Mexico and Asia. Millions of stable jobs disappeared.

Following the election of ‘Jimmy Carter’, neither Democratic nor Republican Presidents felt any need to support labor organizations. On the contrary, they facilitated contracts dictated by management, which reduced wages, job security, benefits and social welfare.

The anti-labor offensive from the ‘Oval Office’ intensified under President Reagan with his direct intervention firing tens of thousands of striking air controllers and arresting union leaders. Under Presidents Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush and William Clinton cost of living adjustments failed to keep up with prices of vital goods and services. Health care inflation was astronomical. Financial deregulation led to the subordination of American industry to finance and the Wall Street banks. De-industrialization, capital flight and massive tax evasion reduced labor’s share of national income.

The capitalist class followed a trajectory of decline, recovery and ascendance. Moreover, during the earlier world depression, at the height of labor mobilization and organization, the capitalist class never faced any significant political threat over its control of the commanding heights of the economy.

The ‘New Deal’ was, at best, a de facto ‘historical compromise’ between the capitalist class and the labor unions, mediated by the Democratic Party elite. It was a temporary pact in which the unions secured legal recognition while the capitalists retained their executive prerogatives.

The Second World War secured the economic recovery for capital and subordinated labor through a federally mandated no strike production agreement. There were a few notable exceptions: The coal miners’ union organized strikes in strategic sectors and some leftist leaders and organizers encouraged slow-downs, work to rule and other in-plant actions when employers ran roughshod with special brutality over the workers. The recovery of capital was the prelude to a post-war offensive against independent labor-based political organizations. The quality of labor organization declined even as the quantity of trade union membership increased.

Labor union officials consolidated internal control in collaboration with the capitalist elite. Capitalist class-labor official collaboration was extended overseas with strategic consequences.

The post-war corporate alliance between the state and capital led to a global offensive – the replacement of European-Japanese colonial control and exploitation by US business and bankers. Imperialism was later ‘re-branded’ as ‘globalization’. It pried open markets, secured cheap docile labor and pillaged resources for US manufacturers and importers.

US labor unions played a major role by sabotaging militant unions abroad in cooperation with the US security apparatus: They worked to coopt and bribe nationalist and leftist labor leaders and supported police-state regime repression and assassination of recalcitrant militants.

Hand in bloody glove’ with the US Empire, the American trade unions planted the seeds of their own destruction at home. The local capitalists in newly emerging independent nations established industries and supply chains in cooperation with US manufacturers. Attracted to these sources of low-wage, violently repressed workers, US capitalists subsequently relocated their factories overseas and turned their backs on labor at home.

Labor union officials had laid the groundwork for the demise of stable jobs and social benefits for American workers. Their collaboration increased the rate of capitalist profit and overall power in the political system. Their complicity in the brutal purges of militants, activists and leftist union members and leaders at home and abroad put an end to labor’s capacity to sustain and expand the welfare state.

Trade unions in the US did not use their collaboration with empire in its bloody regional wars to win social benefits for the rank and file workers. The time of social-imperialism, where workers within the empire benefited from imperialism’s pillage, was over. Gains in social welfare henceforth could result only from mass struggles led by the urban poor, especially Afro-Americans, community-based working poor and militant youth organizers.

The last significant social welfare reforms were implemented in the early 1970’s – coinciding with the end of the Vietnam War (and victory for the Vietnamese people) and ended with the absorption of the urban and anti-war movements into the Democratic Party.

Henceforward the US corporate state advanced through the overseas expansion of the multi-national corporations and via large-scale, non-unionized production at home.

The technological changes of this period did not benefit labor. The belief, common in the 1950’s, that science and technology would increase leisure, decrease work and improve living standards for the working class, was shattered. Instead technological changes displaced well-paid industrial labor while increasing the number of mind-numbing, poorly paid, and politically impotent jobs in the so-called ‘service sector’ – a rapidly growing section of unorganized and vulnerable workers – especially including women and minorities.

Labor union membership declined precipitously. The demise of the USSR and China’s turn to capitalism had a dual effect: It eliminated collectivist (socialist) pressure for social welfare and opened their labor markets with cheap, disciplined workers for foreign manufacturers. Labor as a political force disappeared on every count. The US Federal Reserve and President ‘Bill’ Clinton deregulated financial capital leading to a frenzy of speculation. Congress wrote laws, which permitted overseas tax evasion – especially in Caribbean tax havens. Regional free-trade agreements, like NAFTA, spurred the relocation of jobs abroad. De-industrialization accompanied the decline of wages, living standards and social benefits for millions of American workers.

The New Abolitionists: Trillionaires

The New Deal, the Great Society, trade unions, and the anti-war and urban movements were in retreat and primed for abolition.

Wars without welfare (or guns without butter) replaced earlier ‘social imperialism’ with a huge growth of poverty and homelessness. Domestic labor was now exploited to finance overseas wars not vice versa. The fruits of imperial plunder were not shared.

As the working and middle classes drifted downward, they were used up, abandoned and deceived on all sides – especially by the Democratic Party. They elected militarists and demagogues as their new presidents.

President ‘Bill’ Clinton ravaged Russia, Yugoslavia, Iraq and Somalia and liberated Wall Street. His regime gave birth to the prototype billionaire swindlers: Michael Milken and Bernard ‘Bernie’ Madoff.

Clinton converted welfare into cheap labor ‘workfare’, exploiting the poorest and most vulnerable and condemning the next generations to grinding poverty. Under Clinton the prison population of mostly African Americans expanded and the breakup of families ravaged the urban communities.

Provoked by an act of terrorism (9/11) President G.W. Bush Jr. launched the ‘endless’ wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and deepened the police state (Patriot Act). Wages for American workers and profits for American capitalist moved in opposite directions.

The Great Financial Crash of 2008-2011 shook the paper economy to its roots and led to the greatest shakedown of any national treasury in history directed by the First Black American President. Trillions of public wealth were funneled into the criminal banks on Wall Street – which were ‘just too big to fail.’ Millions of American workers and homeowners, however, were ‘just too small to matter’.

The Age of Demagogues

President Obama transferred 2 trillion dollars to the ten biggest bankers and swindlers on Wall Street, and another trillion to the Pentagon to pursue the Democrats version of foreign policy: from Bush’s two overseas wars to Obama’s seven.

Obama’s electoral ‘donor-owners’ stashed away two trillion dollars in overseas tax havens and looked forward to global free trade pacts – pushed by the eloquent African American President.

Obama was elected to two terms. His liberal Democratic Party supporters swooned over his peace and justice rhetoric while swallowing his militarist escalation into seven overseas wars as well as the foreclosure of two million American householders. Obama completely failed to honor his campaign promise to reduce wage inequality between black and white wage earners while he continued to moralize to black families about ‘values’.

Obama’s war against Libya led to the killing and displacement of millions of black Libyans and workers from Sub-Saharan Africa. The smiling Nobel Peace Prize President created more desperate refugees than any previous US head of state – including millions of Africans flooding Europe.

Obamacare’, his imitation of an earlier Republican governor’s health plan, was formulated by the private corporate health industry (private insurance, Big Pharma and the for-profit hospitals), to mandate enrollment and ensure triple digit profits with double digit increases in premiums. By the 2016 Presidential elections, ‘Obama-care’ was opposed by a 45%-43% margin of the American people. Obama’s propagandists could not show any improvement of life expectancy or decrease in infant and maternal mortality as a result of his ‘health care reform’. Indeed the opposite occurred among the marginalized working class in the old ‘rust belt’ and in the rural areas. This failure to show any significant health improvement for the masses of Americans is in stark contrast to LBJ’s Medicare program of the 1960’s, which continues to receive massive popular support.

Forty-years of anti welfare legislation and pro-business regimes paved the golden road for the election of Donald Trump

Trump and the Republicans are focusing on the tattered remnants of the social welfare system: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security. The remains of FDR’s New Deal and LBJ’s Great Society – are on the chopping block.

The moribund (but well-paid) labor leadership has been notable by its absence in the ensuing collapse of the social welfare state. The liberal left Democrats embraced the platitudinous Obama/Clinton team as the ‘Great Society’s’ gravediggers, while wailing at Trump’s allies for shoving the corpse of welfare state into its grave.

Conclusion

Over the past forty years the working class and the rump of what was once referred to as the ‘labor movement’ has contributed to the dismantling of the social welfare state, voting for ‘strike-breaker’ Reagan, ‘workfare’ Clinton, ‘Wall Street crash’ Bush, ‘Wall Street savior’ Obama and ‘Trickle-down’ Trump.

Gone are the days when social welfare and profitable wars raised US living standards and transformed American trade unions into an appendage of the Democratic Party and a handmaiden of Empire. The Democratic Party rescued capitalism from its collapse in the Great Depression, incorporated labor into the war economy and the post- colonial global empire, and resurrected Wall Street from the ‘Great Financial Meltdown’ of the 21st century.

The war economy no longer fuels social welfare. The military-industrial complex has found new partners on Wall Street and among the globalized multi-national corporations. Profits rise while wages fall. Low paying compulsive labor (workfare) lopped off state transfers to the poor. Technology – IT, robotics, artificial intelligence and electronic gadgets – has created the most class polarized social system in history. The first trillionaire and multi-billionaire tax evaders rose on the backs of a miserable standing army of tens of millions of low-wage workers, stripped of rights and representation. State subsidies eliminate virtually all risk to capital. The end of social welfare coerced labor (including young mother with children) to seek insecure low-income employment while slashing education and health – cementing the feet of generations into poverty. Regional wars abroad have depleted the Treasury and robbed the country of productive investment. Economic imperialism exports profits, reversing the historic relation of the past.

Labor is left without compass or direction; it flails in all directions and falls deeper in the web of deception and demagogy. To escape from Reagan and the strike breakers, labor embraced the cheap-labor predator Clinton; black and white workers united to elect Obama who expelled millions of immigrant workers, pursued 7 wars, abandoned black workers and enriched the already filthy rich. Deception and demagogy of the labor-liberals bred the ugly and unlikely plutocrat-populist demagogue: labor voted for Trump.

The demise of welfare and the rise of the opioid epidemic killing close to one million (mostly working class) Americans occurred mostly under Democratic regimes. The collaboration of liberals and unions in promoting endless wars opened the door to Trump’s mirage of a stateless, tax-less, ruling class.

Who will the Democrats choose as their next demagogue champion to challenge the ‘Donald’ – one who will speak to the ‘deplorables’ and work for the trillionaires?

Dec 042017
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

Major changes are roiling the states, societies and ruling classes of the biggest industrial economies, oil regimes and military complexes.

China is re-allocating its economic wealth toward building the most extensive modern infrastructure system in history, linking four continents.

Saudi Arabia is transferring a trillion dollars of pillage from princes to princes, from old business parasites to up-to-date versions, from austere desert mirages to fantasies of new mega-cities.

The United States is emptying the swamp of the Capital’s corruption and immediately replenishing it with the scandal of the day.

One Cabinet Secretary is fired; another Secretary is hired; one enemy is embraced; an ally denounced; the stock market flourishes and trade agreements are abandoned. One tax is sliced and pleases the powerful; another is spliced and chokes the consumers.

Turmoil, some would say; chaos, others would claim. And the stouthearted argue, that’s the way the world turns round.

But for all the world’s current ‘shaking’, there is substance and direction: There are models for the shaking-up and paradigms for the shaking down.

Shaking up’ occurs where visions of wealth and prosperity accompany science and discovery.

Shaking down’ is where the science of palace coups and the art of bloody intrigues fleece the poor while enriching and amusing the powerful.

The Art and Artist of the Shake Down

The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), pursues a new policy of scientific, systematic, large-scale and long-term shakedown (SD). Science is evident in these procedures, in their rigorous identification of targets and their efficient methodology of securing subjects and achieving success.

MBS and his associates launched their policy of SD in several well-planned stages.

First, they cloaked the entire SD operation as part of the vast transformation of the Kingdom, accompanied by a string of Western buzzwords: modernization of a traditional society; cleansing the suites of corruption; diversifying the oil dependent economy; privatizing ARAMCO; and replacing camels and tents with a state-of-the-art mega city in the desert.

MBS thus moved to seize state power as the final act in an operation starting with a wave of shakedowns.

The Princes-in-waiting experienced the initial shakedown.

In orderly fashion, MBS wielded his royal sword on behalf of righteousness (according to his adoring fans in the Western press, like Thomas Friedman): Scores of corrupt princes and hundreds of the business and military elite were arrested (or abducted for ransom . . . and safe keeping).

The ‘shakedown’ was underway, but the captives were held in circumstances worthy of their status. The abduction, imprisonment and plea-bargaining for ransom and release took place in the 5-star Riyadh Ritz-Hilton.

The MBS meritocratic modernizers (MM) held the highest degrees in finance and accounting and were adept at calculating appropriate ransoms from each and every captive. The MM demanded hundreds of millions from the billionaires while the generals settled for an early retirement, stripped of pensions and commands. Upon payment and release, the newly fleeced Saudi Princelings fled to the brothels of Beirut to receive un-brotherly comfort. They were freed on one condition: They would return some of the Kingdom’s pillage to fund a ‘New Class’ in a ‘New Arabia’ under the Crown Prince MBS.

However, Western investors, who quietly kept their snouts in the ‘traditional trough’ of Saudi wealth, were not sure where they stood with MBS and his meritocratic modernizers. They needed to know, for the sake of their stockholders: Were they victims or beneficiaries of the big shakedown? Were they condemned to suffer among the corrupt billionaires or granted entry into the new realm of the virtuous Prince?

MBS may have carried out the largest shakedown in recent times, in the name of justice, but there are still no signs of a diversified, modern and prosperous society arising on the Arabian Peninsula. In some places, there rose a more diverse variety of shakedown artists and plotters: Many, who applaud the Crown Prince, await their share the loot. In other parts of the peninsula, MBS continues to deliver famine, cholera and desperation and rain down bombs on the people of Yemen. If Israel could turn the remnant of Palestine into an open-air prison for periodic slaughter, MBS could find his own ‘Palestinians’ in Yemen for target practice.

China: The Shake Up

China is in the throes of one, two, many upheavals: Over one million high and low ranking officials and millionaires, who levied their own ‘private tax’ on the public treasury, will celebrate another Chinese New Year – in jail.

Meanwhile, over 25 billion dollars has been spent on innovative high tech projects, reshaping the economy, reducing pollution and expanding the welfare state.

Over one trillion dollars is being spent on huge global infrastructure projects linking China to four continents in an integrated network of trade – The One Road-One Belt Network.

China is the polar-opposite of Saudi Arabia: In place of state-sponsored ransom and blackmail (the ‘shakedown’) China is experiencing a monumental ‘shake-up’ – spending money in multiple directions. There are overseas projects to promote trade relations; upward projects linking business to high technology and greater profits; downward projects to train and expand the skilled labor force, reduce pollution, increase social welfare, save lives and increase productivity.

Unlike the US, China has nourished its manufacturing sector, and not starved it of investment. The average factory in the US is twice as old as those in China. To even dream of catching up with Chinese production, the US would have to invest over $115 billion a year in manufacturing for the next three decades.

Limited access to investment capital will condemn the tens of thousands of small and medium size manufacturing enterprises in the US to low productivity and reduced exports.

In contrast, the Chinese government directs investment capital widely to manufacturers of all sizes and shapes. Moreover, local Chinese manufacturers connect readily to the supply chain with big exporters. China provides explicit incentives to exporters to work with local suppliers to ensure that profits are re-invested in the home market.

In the US, the multinational suppliers are located out of the country and their earnings are hoarded overseas. Whenever profits return to the US, these are directed into buybacks of shares and dividends for the stockholders — not into new production.

Beijing manages debt, raising and limiting it to promote dynamic development with a level of efficiency unmatched in the US.

China keeps a close eye on excessive debt, speculation and investment, in contrast to the unrestrained chaos of the so-called ‘free market’ of the US and its parasitical allies, the Saudi coupon–clipping shakedown artists.

The US: The Political Economy of Scandalous Conspiracies and ‘Flight Capitalism’

The chaotic free-for-all in the US political economy is manipulated by scandalmongers, conspirators and flight capitalists. Instead of preparing an economic plan to ‘make America great again’, they have embraced the political blackmailers and intriguers of Saudi Arabia in a sui-generis global political alliance. Both countries feature purges, resignations and pugnacious politicos who have never been weaned from the destructive bosom of war.

As a point of history, the United States didn’t start out as a bloated, speculative state of crony capitalists and parasitical allies: The US was once a powerful industrial country, harnessing finance and overseas investments to securing raw materials for domestic industries and directing profits back into industry for higher productivity.

Fake, or semi-fake, political rivalries and electoral competition counted little as incumbents retained their positions most of the time, and bi-partisan agreements ensured stability through sharing the spoils of office.

Things have changed. Overseas neo-colonies started to offer more than just raw materials: They introduced low-tax manufacturing sites promising free access to cheap, healthy and educated workers. US manufacturers abandoned Old Glory, invested overseas, hoarded profits in tax havens and happily evaded paying taxes to fund a new economy for displaced US workers. Simultaneously, finance reversed its relation to industry: Industrial capital was now harnessed to finance, speculation, real estate, insurance sectors and electronic gadgets/play-by-yourself ‘i-phones’promoting isolated ‘selfies’ and idle chatter.

Wall Street, Silicon Valley and Hollywood replaced Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Chicago. Stockbrokers proliferated, while master tool-and-die makers disappeared and workers’ children overdosed on ‘Oxy’.

In the transition, politicians, who had no connection to domestic industry, found a powerful niche promoting overseas wars for allies, like Saudi Arabia and Israel, and disseminating domestic spats, intrigues and conspiracies to the voters. Vietnam and Watergate, Afghanistan and Volker, Iran-Contra and Reaganomics, Yugoslavia and Iraq, daily drone strikes and bombings and Bill Clinton’s White House sex scandals giving salacious birth to Special Prosecutors . . .

In this historic transformation, American political culture put on a new face: perpetual wars, Wall Street swindles and Washington scandals. It culminated in the farcical Hillary Clinton – Donald Trump presidential election campaign: the war goddess-cuckquean of chaos versus the crotch-grabbing real-estate conman.

The public heard Secretary of State Clinton’s maniacal laugh upon her viewing the ‘snuff-film’ torture and slaughter of the wounded Libya’s President Gadhafi: She crowed: ‘We came, we saw …a nd he died’ with a sword up his backside. This defined the Clinton doctrine in foreign affairs, while slaughter of the welfare state and the bloated prison industry would define her domestic agenda.

Trump’s presidential election campaign went about the country pleasuring the business and finance elite (promises of tax cuts, deregulations, re-contamination and jacking up the earth’s temperature with a handful of jobs), and successfully pushed aside the outrage over his crude rump grabbing boasts.

Wars, Wall Street, Silicon Valley and Hollywood all gathered to set the parameters of the United States’ political economy: The chase was on!

The Clinton sleuths uncovered an army of Russian conspirators running Trump’s electoral campaign, writing his speeches, typing his ‘Tweets’, designing his tactics and successfully directing the votes of millions of duped ‘deplorables’ – the rural and rust-belt poor.

The entire media world auto-pleasured their friends and allies with the Trump Administration’s political strip tease, shedding appointees, dumping nominees and misdirecting policies with a string of revelations. According to dubious anecdotes, the Special Prosecutor uncovered Russian conspiracies to enlist Salvation Army bell ringers and Washington lobbyists. The ‘deplorables’ meanwhile tuned out in disgust.

Trump retaliated with midnight Tweets and appointed a clutch of retired Generals, who had been battle-seasoned in Obama’s seven losing wars and even found a loudmouth South Carolina belle to evoke visions of mushroom clouds in the United Nations. Naturally, there was the coterie of Zionist advisers from the ‘think tanks’ and from his own family working double time to set US-Middle East policy on the road to new wars.

Trump’s Generals and Zionists on the one hand and the Democrats, liberals, anti-fascists and leftists formed the ‘resistance’ and fought fiercely for freedom: Freedom to direct the state to censor alternative news or informed discussion debunking the canard about Russian meddling, exposing Ukraine’s land grabs, proving Iran’s compliance to the nuclear deal and Tel Aviv’s baseless warnings about Tehran. Bolstered by the President’s Chief Advisor Son-in-Law, Jared Kushner, the Saudi Crown Prince was praised for kidnapping the Lebanese Prime Minister and forcing his resignation. Everyday there was a new scandal, conspiracy upon conspiracy and, of course, fake news blaring out from all sides of corporate media and NPR.

The threat of war spreads across the Middle East: How many families would the unholy trinity of Saudi Arabia-US-Israel slaughter, starve or incarcerate in Yemen, Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan? Drowned out by domestic scandals and conspiracies – this carnage did not happen – in the news. While scores of thousands in Yemen suffered from cholera amidst a brutal Saudi blockade, The Washington Post – NY Times CBS-NBC-ABC published the same front-page photo of Trump’s clumsy handshake at the APEC Conference. At least, the trillion-dollar corporate-oligarch tax cut merited a jolly Tweet from the Donald.

The Big Shakedown is all about the swindles and the sex designed to keep Wall Street safe, the Pentagon at war and the public distracted.

Conclusion

Three countries are shaking the world in different directions:

In Saudi Arabia, MBS is engaged in a region-shattering shakedown, picking the pockets of Princes for a trillion dollars of unearned and pilfered oil rents to finance more cholera, starvation and mass murder in Yemen and beyond.

Through China, there is a Eurasian ‘shakeup’ as Beijing expands modern Silk-Roads everywhere and with everyone to connect markets, develop supply chains and increase prosperity at home and among its trade partners.

And the US just shakes . . . and trembles as its leaders rush to further enrich the ultra-rich, conspire to uncover conspiracies upon plot, scandalize the scandalmongers and tell us that freedom really means the freedom to expose and gnaw over the sordid acts of petty perverts while hiding much greater truths and reality. Official truth has become a stinking mound of offal.

One can only hope for a great ‘shaking off’.

Nov 292017
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

The US political and economic elites have always bragged that capitalism is far superior to socialism in terms of providing people’s personal welfare. They claim that citizens live longer, healthier and happier lives under capitalism.

The debate between the supporters of the US Affordable Care Act or ‘Obamacare’ and its most vehement opponents under President Trump is not part of any larger system debate since both ‘sides’ base their vision and plans for medical care on private, for-profit corporate insurance schemes. This source of funding would ‘harness market forces’ to deliver quality medical care … in a marketplace of ‘free competition’, in which every American, even the most fragile, cancer-ridden patient, would be an engaged stakeholder, weighing a huge menu of free choices …

The real comparison of how these economic systems provide basic health care should be based on showing which provides the best population outcomes, personal satisfaction and community security across national boundaries. National health systems top the chaotic private system in these parameters.

On the other hand, the US tops all European countries in terms of the percentage of workers and family members who avoid necessary trips to the doctor because they fear financial ruin from the inflated costs of their private health care. In other words, majorities of people, dependent on private for-profit insurance schemes to provide health care, cannot afford to visit a medical facility, doctor or clinic even to treat a significant illness. The type of economic system funding health services determines the likelihood of a patient actually going to seek and receive important medical care that will preserve life, one’s ability to work and enjoy some level of satisfaction.

This essay will include a brief discussion of the social and political conditions, which gave rise to the socialized, and clearly more effective, health care system. And we will touch on the consequences the two health systems in terms of people’s life expectancy and quality of life.

Comparing Costs of Medical Visitation by Economic System

The US is the only developed country relying on a private, for-profit insurance system to fund and deliver medical care for its working age population. In contrast, all countries in the European Union have some form of publicly funded and delivered health plans for its workers.

One of the key quality measures of a health care system is a patient’s access to timely competent medical care.

The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OCECD) recently conducted a systematic comparison of seven countries, with different levels of GDP, and the percentage of people in each country who are able to afford medical consultations for necessary medical care.

The European countries all have established national public health programs with clear goals and measures in terms of outcomes. The US is the only nation to rely on privately administered and funded health care systems for its working age population.

The Results

Over one-fifth (22%) of the US working age population believe they cannot afford to consult a doctor or medical clinic – in the event of an illness or accident. In contrast, less than eight percent of European workers view themselves as unable to afford necessary medical care. For the largest EU nations, less than 5% of the working population avoids care because of a perceived inability to pay for essential services. US workers are five times more likely to voluntarily forego health care, often with disastrous long-term consequences.

If we compare the US with its ‘free market’ private insurance run system with any EU nation, we find consistent results: Access to competent, essential medical services in the US is far worse!

In Germany and France, the EU’s most developed nations, working age citizens and their family members have three to ten times better access to health care than the US. 8% of workers in France and 2% in Germany postpone necessary visits to the doctor because of a perceived inability to pay. Among middle developed EU nations, 4% in the UK and 4.5% in Italy cite financial reasons for skipping essential medical care – compared to 22% of working age Americans.

Even in the least developed EU nations, Spain and Portugal, with the highest unemployment rates and lowest per capita income, workers have greater access to health care. Only 2.5% of workers in Spain and 7.5% in Portugal view costs as a reason to avoid visiting their doctor.

High Tech Billionaires Speak of ‘Values’ while Maximizing Profits

Protecting our community is more important than maximizing our profits’, the multi-billionaire Mark Zuckerberg opined this month, after his company, Facebook posted its first ever $10 billion quarterly earnings result. (FT 11/16/17 P 8)

Zuckerberg and entourage had apparently ventured into Middle America discovering to their shock that American communities were in the midst of a narcotic addiction crisis, which had caused hundreds of thousands of deaths and disrupted the lives of millions of addicts’ family members. The natives of Middle America were more concerned about access to effective addiction treatment than their access to Facebook! Zuckerberg, with his legions of highly educated foreign workers on the West Coast, conveniently missed the chance to identify the source of the American addiction crisis: The over-prescription of opioid pain medications by tens of thousands of private US medical practitioners, pushed by the giant US pharmaceutical industry in a 2 decades-long medical genocide that the nations of Europe had so ‘miraculously’ avoided because of their centralized, regulated, socialized health systems.

While the US may have the least available and least affordable health care for working people, it can certainly boast about producing the highest number of super-rich in the world. Five of the world’s largest companies are US-owned with a combined market capitalization of $3.3 trillion for the top US tech giants. Europe’s largest tech company, SAP, is sixty notches below.

The US giant mega-billion dollar tech companies and CEO’s are also mega-billion dollar tax-evaders who stash their fortunes overseas and avoid the inconvenience of having to contribute to any national health programs for workers – whether in the US or elsewhere. The monopoly tech corporations’ wealth and power are one important reason why over a fifth of working age Americans cannot afford necessary medical care. As one acute observer noted, ‘The new high tech elite tend to cloak their self interest by talking about values which has the collateral benefit of avoiding talk about wealth.’(FT 11/17/17 P9)

The scarcity of European multi-billion dollar tech CEOs, like the American Zuckerberg and Gates, is linked to the domestic tax systems that provide public financing and management of effective medical service serving hundreds of millions of European workers.

In other words, the US, with its far more extreme concentration of wealth and social inequality, continues to have the greatest level of health care inequality among industrialized nations.

Europe is not without inequalities, monopolies and underfunded health programs but it delivers far better and more accessible care to its citizens than the private capitalist health system promoted in the US.

Historical Roots of the Superior European Health Care System

The power of monopoly capital is one of the key factors resulting in the deteriorating quality of health care for the US working population. Another factor is the lack of consistent working class struggle in the US compared to Europe. After the Second World War, there were huge waves of working class strikes across France, Italy and the UK. Various communist parties in continental Europe played a leading role within the trade unions demanding for publicly funded, national health care. In the UK, Socialists and the Labor Governments were pushed by their trade union members to craft a national health system to meet the needs of workers and their families. While Germany had a basic national health system dating from the time of Bismarck in the late 19th century, the socialist economy and public services developing in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) after the Second World War provided an alternative for West German workers who then successfully pushed for the implementation of an advanced welfare state, including a socialized medical care system, within the thoroughly capitalist German Federation.

In the 1970’s Spain and Portugal shed their fascist past and post-war dictatorships. The militant trade unions and leftist parties ascended to power on promises to implement social-welfare programs, which, even with their economic limitations, included highly effective national health programs. Life expectancies rose dramatically.

The US has neither welfare nor national medical programs for its working population. Despite a brief interlude of American workers’ strikes shortly after WWII, leftist militants, communists and socialists were purged and corrupt business-linked trade union leaders took over. Rather than struggle for an effective national system of publicly funded medical care, the trade unions, linked to the Democratic Party, pushed their membership to struggle for ‘nickel and dime’ wage increases – accepting a system of the most expensive, and unaccountable private health care in the world.

The capitalist US has been the only country to deprive its working age citizens and their family members of an effective national health system. After over 60 years, the results are damning. Providing essential medical care for American workers, through the various forms of private, for-profit insurance schemes, has resulted in an uncontrolled health care cost inflation making manufacturing in the US far more expensive than its European, Japanese or Canadian competitors.

From 2001 up to 2018, under Presidents Bush, Obama and Trump, the US taxpayers have spent $5.6 trillion dollars on privately delivered, for-profit medical care with unimpressive results in terms of population health and life expectancy. On a per-capita basis, this is twice the amount spent on citizens of the EU who have consistently enjoyed rising life expectancy and improving health parameters. Despite this enormous investment of money in a chaotic, ineffective private system, the US Treasury has steadfastly maintained it could not finance a National Health Program for the population.

Present and Future Consequence of a Capitalist ‘Health System’

Today millions of US wage earners can expect to suffer shorter and less healthy lives than their counterparts in other industrialized countries in Europe and Japan. The opioid addiction epidemic among US workers, caused entirely by uncontrolled prescription of highly addictive narcotics by private practitioners and pushed by the profit-hungry US pharmaceutical industry, has led to over 600,000 deaths by overdose and millions of lives shortened by the brutal realities of addiction and degradation. This legally prescribed epidemic is unique to the United States where an estimated 15% of construction workers need treatment for addiction, millions have dropped out of the labor market due to addiction and the medical plans of numerous US building trade unions are facing bankruptcy because of the cost of addition-treatment for its members. The anti-addiction drug, Suboxone, is the most expensive and heavily prescribed medication for some union health plans. The reasons for this atrocity are clear: Injured American workers were being prescribed long courses of cheap, but highly addictive opioids to address their pain during cursory visits to ‘medical clinics’, rather than providing them with the more expensive but appropriate post-trauma care involving physical therapy and rest. The bosses and supervisors, who just wanted ‘warm bodies’ back on the job, were oblivious to the impending disaster.

Mega billion dollar private drug companies manufactured and promoted highly addictive prescription narcotics and paid ‘lobbyists’ to persuade US politicians and regulators to ‘look the other way’ as the addiction epidemic unfolded. Corporate hospitals and for-profit physicians, nurses, dentists and others participated in a historic catastrophe of medical irresponsibility that ended up addicting millions of American workers and their family members and killing hundreds of thousands. A huge proportion of prescription narcotic addicts are white workers in poorly protected manual jobs (construction, factories, farms, mines etc.). They lack access to effective, responsible medical care. In new millennium America, their jobs would not provide for ‘time off’ or physical therapy following injury and they unwittingly resorted to the ‘miracle’ of prescription opioids to get back to work. In many cases, their private medical insurance plans blatantly refused to pay for more expensive non-addictive alternatives and would insist the workers receive the cheap opioids instead. The rare worker, who demanded to take time off to seek effective medical and physical therapy for an injury, would be fired. US capitalists could easily ignore the growing shortage of healthy American construction and other workers by importing cheap, skilled labor from abroad and sanctimoniously blame American workers for their disabilities.

Conclusion

Workers in even the poorest European Union countries have greater access to better, more effective medical care then their US counterparts. They continue to enjoy rising life expectancies and longer lives without disability. Their injuries are treated appropriately with rest and physical therapy. Injured European or Japanese workers are never prescribed ridiculously long courses of highly addictive narcotics given to Americans. Certainly any increase in overdose deaths from prescribed opioids in the European Union or Japan would have generated rapid public health investigations and corrective action – a marked contrast to the two decades of callous indifference within the US medical community that bordered on Social Darwinism considering the working class identity of most victims. In Europe and Japan, long-term narcotic therapy is reserved for terminal cancer patients suffering from intractable pain. It would never have been offered to rural or working class teenagers for sports injuries – a common practice in the US!

The European public medical care systems are the product of class struggle and socially conscious mass movements and political parties that produced welfare states where improving population health was a central goal of its social compact. In contrast, the private-for-profit health system in the US is the shining example of the triumph of capitalism – the consolidation and further enrichment of capitalist control and the subordination of labor in each of its phase – from low to high tech business. In this ultimate triumph of capitalism, the old class struggle slogans were revised – becoming – Long live the bosses! Early death to the workers!

Private health care and the drive for higher profits provided enormous benefits for the pharmaceutical industry, making billionaires out of the owners and CEOs. This spawned the ‘ultra-philanthropic’ billionaire Sackler family whose Purdue Pharmaceuticals peddled the deadly Oxycontin to tens of millions of Americans. For profit-hospitals, private medical practices and rapacious insurance companies all reaped the bounty of mismanaging a bloated, unaccountable system that has provided the American worker with an early death by overdose or a shortened life of despair and disability.

Private capitalist employers and insurance companies continue to benefit from the epidemic of pre-mature deaths of their former employees: Pension costs and health care liabilities are slashed because of the decreasing life expectancy – Wall Street is jubilant. There will be fewer communities to educate and protect and this will lower taxes. Cheap imported replacement workers (educated or trained on their own societies’ dime) can conventiently be deported or replaced.

It is undeniable: increasing life expectancy and a decent life free of disability has disappeared for the American worker. With poor health and inadequate care, maternal and infant mortality are on the rise especially in rural and de-industrialized areas.

By every health and living standard indicator, the history of successful class struggle led to the implementation of effective national welfare and health programs. Their societies have reaped benefits for their citizens that were clearly superior to corrupt boss-worker class collaboration under private capitalism in the US.

Nov 252017
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

For almost two decades, the US pursued a list of ‘enemy countries’ to confront, attack, weaken and overthrow. This imperial quest to overthrow ‘enemy countries’ operated at various levels of intensity, depending on two considerations: the level of priority and the degree of vulnerability for a ‘regime change’ operation.

The criteria for determining an ‘enemy country’ and its place on the list of priority targets in the US quest for greater global dominance, as well as its vulnerability to a ‘successfully’ regime change will be the focus of this essay. We will conclude by discussing the realistic perspectives of future imperial options.

Prioritizing US Adversaries

Imperial strategists consider military, economic and political criteria in identifying high priority adversaries.

The following are high on the US ‘enemy list’:

1) Russia, because of its military power, is a nuclear counterweight to US global domination. It has a huge, well-equipped armed force with a European, Asian and Middle East presence. Its global oil and gas resources shield it from US economic blackmail and its growing geo-political alliances limit US expansion.

2) China, because of its global economic power and the growing scope of its trade, investment and technological networks. China’s growing defensive military capability, particularly with regard to protecting its interests in the South China Sea serve to counter US domination in Asia.

3) North Korea, because of its nuclear and ballistic missile capability, its fierce independent foreign policies and its strategic geo-political location, is seen as a threat to the US military bases in Asia and Washington’s regional allies and proxies.

4) Venezuela, because of its oil resources and socio-political policies, challenge the US centered neo-liberal model in Latin America.

5) Iran, because of its oil resources, political independence and geo-political alliances in the Middle East, challenge US, Israeli and Saudi Arabia domination of the region and present an independent alternative.

6) Syria, because of its strategic position in the Middle East, its secular nationalist ruling party and its alliances with Iran, Palestine, Iraq and Russia, is a counterweight to US-Israeli plans to balkanize the Middle East into warring ethno-tribal states.

US Middle-level Adversaries

1) Cuba, because of its independent foreign policies and its alternative socio-economic system stands in contrast to the US-centered neo-liberal regimes in the Caribbean, Central and South America.

2) Lebanon, because of its strategic location on the Mediterranean and the coalition government’s power sharing arrangement with the political party, Hezbollah, which is increasingly influential in Lebanese civil society in part because of its militia’s proven capacity to protect Lebanese national sovereignty by expelling the invading Israeli army and helping to defeat the ISIS/al Queda mercenaries in neighboring Syria.

3) Yemen, because of its independent, nationalist Houthi-led movement opposed to the Saudi-imposed puppet government as well as its relations with Iran.

Low Level Adversaries

1) Bolivia, because of its independent foreign policy, support for the Chavista government in Venezuela and advocacy of a mixed economy; mining wealth and defense of indigenous people’s territorial claims.

2) Nicaragua, because of its independent foreign policy and criticism of US aggression toward Cuba and Venezuela.

US hostility to high priority adversaries is expressed through economic sanctions military encirclement, provocations and intense propaganda wars toward North Korea, Russia, Venezuela, Iran and Syria. Because of China’s powerful global market linkages, the US has applied few sanctions. Instead, the US relies on military encirclement, separatist provocations and intense hostile propaganda when dealing with China.

Priority Adversaries, Low Vulnerability and Unreal Expectations

With the exception of Venezuela, Washington’s ‘high priority targets’ have limited strategic vulnerabilities. Venezuela is the most vulnerable because of its high dependence on oil revenues with its major refineries located in the US, and its high levels of indebtedness, verging on default. In addition, there are the domestic opposition groups, all acting as US clients and Caracas’ growing isolation within Latin America due to orchestrated hostility by important US clients, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico.

Iran is far less vulnerable: It is a strong strategic regional military power linked to neighboring countries and similar religious-nationalist movements. Despite its dependence on oil exports, Iran has developed alternative markets, like China, free from US blackmail and is relatively safe from US or EU initiated creditor attacks.

North Korea, despite the crippling economic sanctions imposed on its regime and civilian population, has ‘the bomb’ as a deterrent to a US military attack and has shown no reluctance to defend itself. Unlike Venezuela, neither Iran nor North Korea face significant internal attacks from US-funded or armed domestic opposition.

Russia has full military capacity – nuclear weapons, ICBM and a huge, well-trained armed force – to deter any direct US military threat. Moscow is politically vulnerable to US-backed propaganda, opposition political parties and Western-funded NGOs. Russian oligarch-billionaires, linked to London and Wall Street, exercise some pressure against independent economic initiatives.

To a limited degree, US sanctions exploited Russia’s earlier dependence on Western markets, but since the imposition of draconian sanctions by the Obama regime, Moscow has effectively countered Washington’s offensive by diversifying its markets to Asia and strengthening domestic self-reliance in its agriculture, industry and high technology.

China has a world-class economy and is on course to become the world’s economic leader. Feeble threats to ‘sanction’ China have merely exposed Washington’s weakness rather intimidating Beijing. China has countered US military provocations and threats by expanding its economic market power, increasing its strategic military capacity and shedding dependence on the dollar.

Washington’s high priority targets are not vulnerable to frontal attack: They retain or are increasing their domestic cohesion and economic networks, while upgrading their military capacity to impose completely unacceptable costs on the US for any direct assault.

As a result, the US leaders are forced to rely on incremental, peripheral and proxy attacks with limited results against its high priority adversaries.

Washington will tighten sanctions on North Korea and Venezuela, with dubious prospects of success in the former and a possible Pyrrhic victory in the case of Caracas. Iran and Russia can easily overcome proxy interventions. US allies, like Saudi Arabia and Israel, can badger, propagandize and rail the Persians, but their fears that an out-and-out war against Iran, could quickly destroy Riyadh and Tel Aviv forces them to work in tandem to induce the corrupt US political establishment to push for war over the objections of a war-weary US military and population. Saudi and Israelis can bomb and starve the populations of Yemen and Gaza, which lack any capacity to reply in kind, but Tehran is another matter.

The politicians and propagandists in Washington can blather about Russia’s interference in the US’s corrupt electoral theater and scuttle moves to improve diplomatic ties, but they cannot counter Russia’s growing influence in the Middle East and its expanding trade with Asia, especially China.

In summary, at the global level, the US ‘priority’ targets are unattainable and invulnerable. In the midst of the on-going inter-elite dogfight within the US, it may be too much to hope for the emergence of any rational policymakers in Washington who could rethink strategic priorities and calibrate policies of mutual accommodation to fit in with global realities.

Medium and Low Priorities, Vulnerabilities and Expectations

Washington can intervene and perhaps inflict severe damage on middle and low priority countries. However, there are several drawbacks to a full-scale attack.

Yemen, Cuba, Lebanon, Bolivia and Syria are not nations capable of shaping global political and economic alignments. The most the US can secure in these vulnerable countries are destructive regime changes with massive loss of life, infrastructure and millions of desperate refugees … but at great political cost, with prolonged instability and with severe economic losses.

Yemen

The US can push for a total Saudi Royal victory over the starving, cholera-stricken people of Yemen. But who benefits? Saudi Arabia is in the midst of a palace upheaval and has no ability to exercise hegemony, despite hundreds of billions of dollars of US/NATO arms, trainers and bases. Colonial occupations are costly and yield few, if any, economic benefits, especially from a poor, geographically isolated devastated nation like Yemen.

Cuba

Cuba has a powerful highly professional military backed by a million-member militia. They are capable of prolonged resistance and can count on international support. A US invasion of Cuba would require a prolonged occupation and heavy losses. Decades of economic sanctions haven’t worked and their re-imposition by Trump have not affected the key tourist growth sectors.

President Trump’s ‘symbolic hostility’ does not cut any ice with the major US agro-business groups, which saw Cuba as a market. Over half of the so-called ‘overseas Cubans’ now oppose direct US intervention.

US-funded NGOs can provide some marginal propaganda points but they cannot reverse popular support for Cuba’s mixed ‘socialized’ economy, its excellent public education and health care and its independent foreign policy.

Lebanon

A joint US-Saudi economic blockade and Israeli bombs can destabilize Lebanon. However, a full-scale prolonged Israeli invasion will cost Jewish lives and foment domestic unrest. Hezbollah has missiles to counter Israeli bombs. The Saudi economic blockade will radicalize Lebanese nationalists, especially among the Shia and the Christian populations. The Washington’s ‘invasion’ of Libya, which did not lose a single US soldier, demonstrates that destructive invasions result in long-term, continent-wide chaos.

A US-Israeli-Saudi war would totally destroy Lebanon but it will destabilize the region and exacerbate conflicts in neighboring countries – Syria, Iran and possibly Iraq. And Europe will be flooded with millions more desperate refugees.

Syria

The US-Saudi proxy war in Syria suffered serious defeats and the loss of political assets. Russia gained influence, bases and allies. Syria retained its sovereignty and forged a battle-hardened national armed force. Washington can sanction Syria, grab some bases in a few phony ‘Kurdish enclaves’ but it will not advance beyond a stalemate and will be widely viewed as an occupying invader.

Syria is vulnerable and continues to be a middle-range target on the US enemy list but it offers few prospects of advancing US imperial power, beyond some limited ties with an unstable Kurd enclave, susceptible to internecine warfare, and risking major Turkish retaliation.

Bolivia and Nicaragua

Bolivia and Nicaragua are minor irritants on the US enemy list. US regional policymakers recognize that neither country exercises global or even regional power. Moreover, both regimes rejected radical politics in practice and co-exist with powerful and influential local oligarchs and international MNC’s linked to the US.

Their foreign policy critiques, which are mostly for domestic consumption, are neutralized by the near total US influence in the OAS and the major neo-liberal regimes in Latin America. It appears that the US will accommodate these marginalized rhetorical adversaries rather than risk provoking any revival of radical nationalist or socialist mass movements erupting in La Paz or Managua.

Conclusion

A brief examination of Washington’s ‘list of enemies’ reveals that the limited chances of success even among vulnerable targets. Clearly, in this evolving world power configuration, US money and markets will not alter the power equation.

US allies, like Saudi Arabia, spend enormous amounts of money attacking a devastated nation, but they destroy markets while losing wars. Powerful adversaries, like China, Russia and Iran, are not vulnerable and offer the Pentagon few prospects of military conquest in the foreseeable future.

Sanctions, or economic wars have failed to subdue adversaries in North Korea, Russia, Cuba and Iran. The ‘enemy list’ has cost the US prestige, money and markets – a very peculiar imperialist balance sheet. Russia now exceeds the US in wheat production and exports. Gone are the days when US agro-exports dominated world trade including trade with Moscow.

Enemy lists are easy to compose, but effective policies are difficult to implement against rivals with dynamic economies and powerful military preparedness.

The US would regain some of its credibility if it operated within the contexts of global realities and pursued a win-win agenda instead of remaining a consistent loser in a zero-sum game.

Rational leaders could negotiate reciprocal trade agreements with China, which would develop high tech, finance and agro-commercial ties with manufacturers and services. Rational leaders could develop joint Middle East economic and peace agreements, recognizing the reality of a Russian-Iranian-Lebanese Hezbollah and Syrian alliance.

As it stands, Washington’s ‘enemy list’ continues to be composed and imposed by its own irrational leaders, pro-Israel maniacs and Russophobes in the Democratic Party – with no acknowledgement of current realities.

For Americans, the list of domestic enemies is long and well known, what we lack is a civilian political leadership to replace these serial mis-leaders.

Nov 172017
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

Saudi Arabia has built a powerful network of regional and local political, military and economic relationships incorporating a shared extremist-religious affiliation. As a result, despite its reputation as a backward despotic clerico-monarchy with an extreme dependency on oil sales, it has become a deadly political force in the Middle East and beyond.

To understand the dynamics and projections of Saudi power it is important to identify and analyze how it uses its use military, religious and economic weapons.

Saudi Arabia: Senility and Mercenary Protection

Saudi Arabia has bankrolled and supplied violent mercenary armies in Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Philippines, Malaysia and several other Asian and African countries.

The Saudi’s intolerant Wahhabi branch of Sunni Islam and its commercial mercenaries act to overthrow and shatter Arab regimes and societies that have independent modern, nationalist and secular leadership or practice multi-ethnic or multi-religious tolerance. They also target republics with Shia-majority governments opposed to Saudi-Wahhabi domination in the Middle East.

Saudi’s goal has been to shred modern, multi-ethnic societies and impose brutal ‘follower’ regimes, which will shield the senile Arab monarchs from overthrow by internal and external popular, nationalist and democratic forces.

Saudi Arabia’s Purchase of Global and Regional “Allies”

The Saudis monarchy finances and props up unpopular, anti-democratic regimes in order to secure military allies and sources of mercenaries: Saudi oil wealth has paid for military officers and troops from Pakistan, Egypt, Yemen and Jordan to impose its hegemonic ambitions.

Saudi Arabia has longstanding economic and military ties with the US, UK, France and other NATO countries. US military bases and arms, as well as British and French arms sales, serve as payments for praetorian guards of the narrowly based despotism.

Saudi oil wealth has financed thousands of overseas religious schools and cultural centers to teach the most intolerant form of Wahhabi Islam. They award scholarships to talented young Muslims willing to spread Wahhabi propaganda and recruit mercenaries and political activists to advance the Saudi Monarch’s projections of global power.

Saudi Arabia has long established de facto linkages with Israel, despite their superficial religious differences, based on their intense racist tribalism and common opposition to independent Iran and secular, nationalist Arab states, like Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, and popular liberation movements in the Middle East.

In large part, the Saudi Monarchy survives on ‘borrowed power’ – trading oil wealth for military and financial advisers. The fundamental Saudi weakness and political pathology become clear when they choose to attack and blockade the militarily weakest and most vulnerable countries in the Middle East: Yemen and Qatar.

Despite billions of dollars spent in dropping thousands of tons of bombs on Yemen and arming thousands of mercenaries, the Saudi-proxies have at most conquered a third of that devastated country and less than a quarter of its starving population. The Saudi ‘princes’ have committed the most vicious war crimes in the course of their war on Yemen: destroying most of the vital infrastructure, killing thousands, spreading cholera by bombing the water treatment system and starving millions of civilians in its attempt to force submission. Nevertheless, Saudi Arabia has suffered numerous cross border attacks and even a recent Yemeni rebel missile strike against its main airport.

Qatar aroused Saudi wrath for its independent regional oil diplomacy – including seeking friendly relations with its huge neighbor, Iran. The furious Saudis financed three regional dictatorships, Egypt, Jordan and the UAE, to join a boycott against tiny Qatar. These actions have boomeranged on the Saudis, leading to increased Qatari trade deals with Iran and Iraq, effectively by-passing the mighty Saudi king’s sanctions. It is increasing obvious that the decrepit Saudi monarchy cannot effectively flex its flabby muscles against its own backwater neighbors.

Saudi projections of power beyond its immediate neighborhood have equally failed to enhance the monarchy’s image as a global power. Saudi-funded ISIS mercenaries have been decisively defeated, destroyed by Iraq-Shia forces and by the Syrian government-Russian-Iranian-Hezbollah alliance in Syria. As a result the volunteer mercenaries have grabbed their salaries and fled back to their home countries to create mischief.

Saudi-backed mercenary terrorists in Afghanistan are being marginalized by the Taliban, who may still enjoy some residual Saudi largesse but pursue their own nationalist agenda.

The Saudis signs off on covert operations with Israel, a case of mutual manipulation based on their common enmity to Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas and Yemen. This has resulted in a strange marriage of Saudi Wahhabis, Wall Street Zionists and fanatical Israeli militarists.

Donald Trump’s ‘Saudi’ Moment: Waltzing with Mohamed bin Salman

In early November 2017, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), arrested 30 ministers and generals, an ‘Arab Warren Buffet’ billionaire and 11 bloated princes, seizing nearly a trillion dollar in assets. This was the biggest purge in Saudi history. A few more disposable princes met early deaths in the process.

MBS cloaked his power grab as part of an ‘anti-corruption’ campaign to cleanse the state bureaucracy and replace them with appointments directly loyal to MBS. The Crown Prince has packaged his coup as a ‘historic transformation’ – purging the old guard to bring about the monarchy’s modernization. Most observers dismiss MBS’s ‘good government’ rhetoric as ‘BS’ and a thin cloak for his consolidation of a personal dictatorship.

The Crown Prince’s idea of ‘modernization’ has been accompanied by regional military provocations, threats, and domestic factional wars. MBS’s blueprint for the ‘transformation’ of Saudi Arabia may not attract the kind of foreign investment he needs. MBS’ move to blockade tiny Qatar, where a strategic US airbase and thousands of American troops are stationed, provoked Pentagon disapproval.

MBS ordered the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al Hariri, a puppet of the Saudi monarchy and a dual Lebanese-Saudi citizen, to fly to Riyadh and announce his resignation on Saudi TV. He read a script denouncing Iran and Hezbollah (member of the current Lebanese governing coalition) as plotting Hariri’s assassination. So that no one would fail to catch the connection with MBS, Hariri has gone into hiding in Saudi Arabia and refuses or is unable to fly home.

MBS’s plan to seize power was first cleared with the US following a mid-year meeting with President Trump. The impending purge was signed off with a two billion dollar oil deal between Washington and Riyadh.

The despotic, but ‘visionary’, Crown Prince offered Wall Street the Saudi ‘crown jewels’, promising to privatize ARAMCO the trillion dollar state oil company. He offered multi-billion deals to US and EU investors to build modern megacities for Saudi citizens to replace the lethargic corrupt oil-based Princes, bureaucrats and holy men.

Saudi regional war maneuvers and the ongoing domestic coup provoke fear of greater regional instability among investors. MBS’s anti-Iranian rhetoric and wild threats to attack Teheran may have excited Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and his new White House poodle, US President Donald Trump, but this has not impressed the Generals in Trump’s Cabinet or the Wall Street bankers.

MBS’s unstable regime, his war mongering and the sell off of oil does not add-up to the kind of political and economic foundations necessary for a modern, sophisticated diversified economy. Most observers conclude that the sale of ARAMCO is a one-off deal with few spin-offs in terms of skilled jobs, local enterprises and economic diversification.

At present, MBS has ‘won over’ the deposed and highly unpopular former ruler of Yemen, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. His powers of persuasion have worked their magic on the elusive or ‘self-exiled’ former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri and the geographically befuddled American President Trump. MBS hires the most senior ex-pat executives from the US and UK to run the oil sell off. He intends to market himself as a ‘modernizing despot’ – at least until the next princely intrigue boots him from power. Meanwhile he settles back as a ‘modern’ Middle East potentate, protected by tribal clans, despised by his people, privately ridiculed by his overseas flatterers and expertly ‘serviced’ by expats-on-the-make. No doubt he would be humored by any clown occupying the US White House.

For now, the Saudis can still attract mercenaries, beat up and starve millions of Yemenis, sell oil and continue to finance terrorist bombings in Beirut, Baghdad, Paris and . . . New York!

Conclusion

Saudi Arabia and Israel play the key roles in anchoring the ‘arc of reaction and terror’ in the Middle East. Both foment wars, finance terrorism and spread ethno-religious fragmentation leading to millions of refugees.

Saudi Arabia’s ‘Crown Prince MBS’ competes with Israel’s Netanyahu in concocting the most outrageous warmongering slander against Iran, preparing the world for global conflagration.

MBS is actively serving the Israelis by fomenting sectarian divisions in Lebanon to provide Israel with an excuse to attack Hezbollah and millions of Lebanese civilians. MBS claims that a single missile from Yemen that hit the Riyadh airport was a full declaration of war by Teheran . . . as if the Saudis’ starvation blockade and daily bombing of Yemeni cities would not warrant any counter-attack.

The war fever in Riyadh is a cover for MBS’s political impotence and a ‘clever ploy’ to distract from the infantile game of rotating princes and clan intrigues.

MBS, for all his modernizing clichés and carefully groomed public relations persona, circulated by the corrupt Western media, is still the aspiring head of a tribal army, dependent on a fragile alliance with unreliable allies: The Egyptian high command and troops despise the bloated Saudis; Bahrain’s ruler is propped up by Saudi mercenary forces; the Saudi masses are held in check by tribal warlords and their torturers; and the imported workforce and armies of foreign domestic servants are brutalized, raped and cheated. Hardly an inspiring leader of Saudi Arabia’s emergence from the Middle Ages.

The Crown Prince is sitting on a powder keg threatening to shatter the political alignments in the Middle East and the global financial and oil markets. Saudi Arabia is a fragile regime with a long and scrawny reach. The current rulers imagine their borrowed power and palace intrigues can flourish on such rotten foundations and with a despised oligarchy.

The first missile that MBS dares to direct at Teheran will mark the downfall of the House of Sand. The entire Middle East and global markets will plunge into a profound crisis. Oil prices will soar, stock markets will crash and Israel will go to war against Hezbollah. Donald Trump will send US forces to confront with the well-armed and highly patriotic Iranians on their soil. Iraq and Syria will confront the US regional puppets, the Kurds. China, Russia and India wait to sign on huge oil deals. The US fracking industry will celebrate as oil prices set new highs.

Saudi Princes will flee to Europe, leaving hundreds of thousands of servants in the lurch. Perhaps they will have to prepare their own coffee! Trump will issue a ‘Tweet to Action to All Americans’ – Marines to the oil wells! Makes America Great Again on the tired backs of  our GIs! AIPAC will secure a unanimous vote in the American Congress declaring that Saudi Arabia’s oil fields are really part of the Greater Israel.

With historic high oil prices, Venezuela will recover, pay its debts, finance its social agenda, re-open its schools and clinics and re-elect a socialist president.

A consortium of western investors will take over, after the Saudis have folded their tents and fled to Central London, and flood the oil markets. But that is a long-term scenario . . . or is it?

Nov 152017
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

USA-China-caricature-400x295

The US selection of leaders has virtually nothing to do with democratic processes and outcomes. It is useful to contrast this with the process in China. In most instances, China’s selection of leaders is far more meritocratic, successful and performance-based. In both the US and China, the process lacks transparency.

US Economic, Political and Cultural Leadership

The selection of US economic, political and cultural leaders is based on several undemocratic procedures.

  1. Inheritance via family ties
  2. Personal access to credit and financing
  3. Political patronage
  4. Lobby and elite sale and purchase of office and favors
  5. Media links
  6. Political repression and manipulation of electoral procedures
  7. Incumbency and use of state resources
  8. Ethno-religious nepotism
  9. Internal party hierarchy
  10. Closed party decisions (opacity)
  11. Ability to keep secrets

Leaders, whether appointed, self-appointed and selected through money, media, elite networks, turn the electoral process into virtual afterthoughts in the US system. US economic leaders have increased the flow from productive profits and investments upward to the financial sector and/or outwardly overseas to tax havens.

US political leaders have increased military expenditures and wars, diverting public funds from domestic social services and welfare, diminishing domestic economic growth and markets for investment and trade.

US cultural leaders have been rewarded for defending, promoting and embellishing imperial conquests and denigrating independent nations and leaders. They have also been rewarded for promoting the most degrading and frivolous consumerism, undermining social and community cohesion.

The lack of transparency in the US selection process of leaders in major investment banks, political parties, legislative and executive offices and academia is growing at an alarming rate and with significant negative consequences: US leaders do not have to pass rigorous exams nor do they face interviews with peers with competence in their fields of work.

US business leaders are not judged by their economic and political performance. Responsibility for disastrous wars, corrupt bank bailouts, financial crises and skyrocketing health care costs do not disqualify a candidate for leadership positions.

Documented performance criteria are not the basis for selecting Congressional and Presidential leaders. The decisive factors influencing political selection are the capacity to promote elite interests, pursue imperial wars to gratify the ambitions and greed of civilian militarists and mask widespread corruption to grease the wheels of speculation.

China: Consultation, Meritocracy and Performance

Chinese leaders are selected on the basis of multi-level consultation, meritocracy and performance in office.

China’s recent Party Congress highlighted three areas of vital concern: reducing inequalities, addressing environmental degradation and health care.

In contrast, last year’s US Congressional elections focused on its pledge to reduce corporate taxes for the super-rich despite the increasing social and economic inequality, removal of state and federal regulation protecting the population and environment from corporate polluters, and reducing public funding for access to competent health care, undermining citizen well-being and exacerbating the rise in premature deaths and decreased life expectancy for the poor and working class.

The American political elite is full of ‘climate change’ deniers and promoters of the worst kinds of pollution.

The US Congress spent an enormous amount of time and energy pursuing partisan conspiracies while refusing to address the raging epidemic of prescription narcotic addiction, which has killed over 600,000 Americans in 15 years.

President Xi Jinping demanded that Chinese leaders direct their efforts to correct the ‘unbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s ever growing needs for a better life’. President Xi emphasized the goal of ‘greening the economy’, mentioning it 15 times in his address to the Party Congress- compared to only once in the previous Party meeting (FT 11/1/17, p 11).

Chinese public and private investors have responded to health and environmental priorities set by President Xi – stock indexes spiraled in those sectors (FT 11/11/17, p. 11).

At the top level, leadership engages in consultations and debates among competing elites, discussing past and present outcomes in developing current and future policies.

At the middle levels, ultra-competitive public service examinations are determinant in the selection and appointment of Chinese officials.

At the top and middle levels of leadership job performance is one of the leading factors determining selection. The four decades of spectacular economic growth that has lifted 500 million Chinese people out of poverty is a reflection of the effective system for selection and promotion of leaders.

Maintaining peace and friendship with other countries for over forty years — except for a brief border conflict with Vietnam in 1979 — has been a major factor influencing leadership selection. In contrast, despite multiple disastrous and brutal wars, Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama were re-elected to office in a two-party ‘duopoly’ system universally regarded as ‘rigged’. The effect of these wars on the deterioration of US domestic economy is not reflected in the candidate selection or in the outcome of the presidential or congressional elections.

China has selected leaders who have demonstrated ability and seriousness in investigating and punishing over one million corrupt public officials and plutocrats. Anti-corruption crime-fighters have been promoted as ‘clean and hardworking’ leaders.

In contrast, the US Administration has repeatedly appointed Wall Street criminals to senior positions in Treasury, the Federal Reserve and the IMF with disastrous results for the citizenry, with no capacity for analyses or correction.

One of the most selective and prestigious Party mechanisms is found in the Organization Department (OD) of the Chinese Communist Party (FT10/30/17, p. 9). The OD meets privately and reviews selections for leadership on the basis of a ‘complex combination of nominations, written and oral exams and investigations, and a majority vote among ministers. Leaders, thus selected, assume collective responsibility – and they do not position themselves by ‘leaking decisions’ (FT ibid).

Conclusion

In both the US and China the selection of leaders are not based on elections or consultations with the citizens. However, there are vast differences in the process and procedures of leader selection resulting in vast differences in the outcomes.

China is largely a meritocracy, with vestiges of family nepotism, especially with reference to some business-state appointments.

Performance counts a lot, and most citizens credit the leadership of the Chinese Party for China’s long-term, large-scale socio-economic success. In contrast, the vast majority of US citizens are cynical and dissatisfied with top economic appointments because of their documented past and present socio-economic failures. The citizens direct their greatest dismay at the top financial leaders (whom they view as corrupt oligarchs) for plunging our country into repeated crises, perpetual wars, growing inequalities and deep, widespread poverty. The loss of stable, well-paying jobs and the deterioration of community and family cohesion has outraged the citizens because these are in stark contrast with pervasive, deep-seated corruption in high places and almost total judicial impunity for high officials, politicians and oligarchs alike.

China’s on-going prosecution of corrupt leaders has no counterpart in the US.

Business-politician bribes are legalized in the US when they are termed ‘campaign financing’ or ‘consultant fees’. One has only to consider the half-million dollar lecture fees paid to the Clintons by grateful Wall Street financiers for their 30 minute recitations of platitudes and influence peddling.

In the field of foreign policy, China’s leaders defend their national interest. US leaders shamelessly kowtow to Israeli lobbyists, promoting Tel Aviv’s interests.

Chinese leaders marginalize critics in the name of harmony, stability, peace and growth.

US leaders marginalize, imprison and brutalize Afro-Americans, immigrants, environmentalists and anti-war activists, as well as Wall Street and government whistle blowers, in the name of free markets and nebulous liberal democratic ‘values’.

China, with all of its drawbacks in terms of democratic procedures and rights, is moving toward a less corrupt, less bellicose and more accountable dynamic society with carefully vetted and developed leadership.

The US is moving toward a more corrupt, crime ridden and despotic (‘police state’) society with unaccountable leaders, warmongers and criminal at the helm.

The gap between promise and performance is widening in the US, while it narrows in China.

China’s rigorous, meritocratic selection process has demonstrated greater capacity to respond to new challenges and majority needs than the dysfunctional and corrupt US electoral charade, which cannot even address the addiction crisis brought on by unregulated over-prescription of opiates, let alone respond to the environmental crises of climate change and mega-storms ravaging US communities.

Nov 052017
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

US journalists and commentators, politicians and Sinologists spend considerable time and space speculating on the personality of China’s President Xi Jinping and his appointments to the leading bodies of the Chinese government, as if these were the most important aspects of the entire 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (October 18-24, 2017)[2].

Mired down in gossip, idle speculation and petty denigration of its leaders, the Western press has once again failed to take account of the world-historical changes which are currently taking place in China and throughout the world.

World historical changes, as articulated by Chinese President Xi Jinping, are present in the vision, strategy and program of the Congress. These are based on a rigorous survey of China’s past, present and future accomplishments.

The serious purpose, projections and the presence of China’s President stand in stark contrast to the chaos, rabble-rousing demagogy and slanders characterizing the multi-billion dollar US Presidential campaign and its shameful aftermath.

The clarity and coherence of a deep strategic thinker like President Xi Jinping contrasts to the improvised, contradictory and incoherent utterances from the US President and Congress. This is not a matter of mere style but of substantive content.

We will proceed in the essay by contrasting the context, content and direction of the two political systems.

China: Strategic Thinking and Positive Outcomes

China, first and foremost, has established well-defined strategic guidelines that emphasize macro-socio-economic and military priorities over the next five, ten and twenty years.

China is committed to reducing pollution in all of its manifestations via the transformation of the economy from heavy industry to a high-tech service economy, moving from quantitative to qualitative indicators.

Secondly, China will increase the relative importance of the domestic market and reduce its dependence on exports. China will increase investments in health, education, public services, pensions and family allowances.

Thirdly, China plans to invest heavily in ten economic priority sectors. These include computerized machinery, robotics, energy saving vehicles, medical devices, aerospace technology, and maritime and rail transport. It targets three billion (US) dollars to upgrade technology in key industries, including electrical vehicles, energy saving technology, numerical control (digitalization) and several other areas. China plans to increase investment in research and development from .95% to 2% of GDP.

Moreover, China has already taken steps to launch the ‘petro-Yuan’, and end US global financial dominance.

China has emerged as the world’s leader in advancing global infrastructure networks with its One Belt One Road (Silk Road) across Eurasia. Chinese-built ports, airports and railroads already connect twenty Chinese cities to Central Asia, West Asia, South-East Asia, Africa and Europe. China has established a multi-lateral Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (with over 60 member nations) contributing 100 billion dollars for initial financing.

China has combined its revolution in data collection and analysis with central planning to conquer corruption and improve the efficiency in credit allocation. Beijing’s digital economy is now at the center of the global digital economy. According to one expert, “China is the world leader in payments made by mobile devices”, (11 times the US). One in three of the world’s start-ups, valued at more than $1 billion, take place in China (FT 10/28/17, p. 7). Digital technology has been harnessed to state-owned banks in order to evaluate credit risks and sharply reduce bad debt. This will ensure that financing is creating a new dynamic flexible model combining rational planning with entrepreneurial vigor (ibid).

As a result, the US/EU-controlled World Bank has lost its centrality in global financing. China is already Germany’s largest trading partner and is on its way to becoming Russia’s leading trade partner and sanctions-busting ally.

China has widened and expanded its trade missions throughout the globe, replacing the role of the US in Iran, Venezuela and Russia and wherever Washington has imposed belligerent sanctions.

While China has modernized its military defense programs and increased military spending, almost all of the focus is on ‘home defense’ and protection of maritime trade routes. China has not engaged in a single war in decades.

China’s system of central planning allows the government to allocate resources to the productive economy and to its high priority sectors. Under President Xi Jinping, China has created an investigation and judicial system leading to the arrest and prosecution of over a million corrupt officials in the public and private sector. High status is no protection from the government’s anti-corruption campaign: Over 150 Central Committee members and billionaire plutocrats have fallen. Equally important, China’s central control over capital flows (outward and inward) allows for the allocation of financial resources to high tech productive sectors while limiting the flight of capital or its diversion into the speculative economy.

As a result, China’s GNP has been growing between 6.5% – 6.9% a year – four times the rate of the EU and three times the US.

As far as demand is concerned, China is the world’s biggest market and growing. Income is growing – especially for wage and salaried workers. President Xi Jinping has identified social inequalities as a major area to rectify over the next five years.

The US: Chaos, Retreat and Reaction

In contrast, the United States President and Congress have not fashioned a strategic vision for the country, least of all one linked to concrete proposals and socio-economic priorities, which might benefit the citizenry.

The US has 240,000 active and reserve armed forces stationed in 172 countries. China has less than 5,000 in one country – Djibouti. The US stations 40,000 troops in Japan, 23,000 in South Korea, 36,000 in Germany, 8,000 in the UK and over 1,000 in Turkey. What China has is an equivalent number of highly skilled civilian personnel engaged in productive activity around the world. China’s overseas missions and its experts have worked to benefit both global and Chinese economic growth.

The United States’ open-ended, multiple military conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Niger, Somalia, Jordan and elsewhere have absorbed and diverted hundreds of billions of dollars away from productive investments in the domestic economy. In only a few cases, military spending has built useful roads and infrastructure, which could be counted a ‘dual use’, but overwhelmingly US military activities abroad have been brutally destructive, as shown by the deliberate dismemberment of Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya.

The US lacks the coherence of China’s policy making and strategic leadership. While chaos has been inherent in the politics of the US ‘free market’ financial system, it is especially widespread and dangerous during the Trump regime.

Congressional Democrats and Republicans, united and divided, actively confront President Trump on every issue no matter how important or petty. Trump improvises and alters his policies by the hour or, at most, by the day. The US possesses a party system where one party officially rules in the Administration with two militarist big business wings.

US has been spending over 700 billion dollars a year to pursue seven wars and foment ‘regime changes’ or coups d’état on four continents and eight regions over the past two decades. This has only caused disinvestment in the domestic economy with deterioration of critical infrastructure, loss of markets, widespread socioeconomic decline and a reduction of spending on research and development for goods and services.

The top 500 US corporations invest overseas, mainly to take advantage of low tax region and sources of cheap labor, while shunning American workers and avoiding US taxes. At the same time, these corporations share US technology and markets with the Chinese.

Today, US capitalism is largely directed by and for financial institutions, which absorb and divert capital from productive investments, generating an unbalanced crisis-prone economy. In contrast, China determines the timing and location of investments as well as bank interest rates, targeting priority investments, especially in advanced high-tech sectors.

Washington has spent billions on costly and unproductive military-centered infrastructure (military bases, naval ports, air stations etc.) in order to buttress stagnant and corrupt allied regimes. As a result, the US has nothing comparable to China’s hundred-billion-dollar ‘One Belt-One Road’ (Silk Road) infrastructure project linking continents and major regional markets and generating millions of productive jobs.

The US has broken global linkages with dynamic growth centers. Washington resorts to self-defecating, mindless chauvinistic rhetoric to impose trade policy, while China promotes global networks via joint ventures. China incorporates international supply linkages by securing high tech in the West and low cost labor in the East.

Big US industrial groups’ earnings and rising stock in construction and aerospace are products of their strong ties with China. Caterpillar, United Technologies 3M and US car companies reported double-digit growth on sales to China.

In contrast, the Trump regime has allocated (and spent) billions in military procurement to threaten wars against China’s peripheral neighbors and interfere with its maritime commerce.

US Decline and Media Frenzy

The retreat and decline of US economic power has driven the mass media into a frenzy of idiotic ad hominem assaults on China’s political leader President Xi Jinping. Among the nose pickers in print, the scribes of the Financial Times take the prize for mindless vitriol. Mercenaries and holy men in Tibet are described as paragons of democracy and ‘victims’ of a …flourishing modernizing Chinese state lacking the ‘western values’ (sic) of floundering Anglo-American warmongers!

To denigrate China’s system of national planning and its consequential efforts to link its high tech economy with improving the standard of living for the population, the FT journalists castigate President Xi Jinping for the following faults:

1.)    For not being as dedicated a Communist as Mao Zedong or Deng Xiaopeng

2.)    For being too ‘authoritarian’ (or too successful) in his campaign to root out corrupt officials.

3.)    For setting serious long-term goals while confronting and overcoming economic problems by addressing the ‘dangerous’ level of debt.

While China has broadened its cultural horizon, the Anglo-Saxon global elite increases possibility of nuclear warfare. China’s cultural and economic outreach throughout the world is dismissed by the Financial Times as ‘subversive soft power’. Police-state minds and media in the West see China’s outreach as a plot or conspiracy. Any serious writer, thinker or policymaker who has studied and praised China’s success is dismissed as a dupe or agent of the sly President Xi Jinping. Without substance or reflection, the FT  (10/27/17) warns its readers and police officials to be vigilant and avoid being seduced by China’s success stories!

China’s growing leadership in automobile production is evident in its advance towards dominating the market for electric vehicles. Every major US and EU auto company has ignored the warnings of the Western media ideologues and rushed to form joint ventures with China.

China has an industrial policy. The US has a war policy. China plans to surpass the US and Germany in artificial intelligence, robotics, semi-conductors and electric vehicles by 2025. And it will — because those are its carefully pronounced scientific and economic priorities.

Shamelessly and insanely, the US press pursues the expanding stories of raging Hollywood rapists like the powerful movie mogul, Harvey Weinstein, and the hundreds of victims, while ignoring the world historic news of China’s rapid economic advances.

The US business elites are busy pushing their President and the US Congress to lower taxes for the billionaire elite, while 100 million US citizens remain without health care and register decreased life expectancy! Washington seems committed to in State-planned regression.

As US bombs fall on Yemen and the American taxpayers finance the giant Israeli concentration camp once known as ‘Palestine’, while China builds systems of roads and rail linking the Himalayas and Central Asia with Europe.

While Sherlock Holmes applies the science of observation and deduction, the US media and politicians perfect the art of obfuscation and deception.

In China, scientists and innovators play a central role in producing and increasing goods and services for the burgeoning middle and working class. In the US, the economic elite play the central role in exacerbating inequalities, increasing profits by lowering taxes and transforming the American worker into poorly-paid temp-labor – destined to die prematurely of preventable conditions.

While Chinese President Xi Jinping works in concert with the nation’s best technocrats to subordinate the military to civilian goals, President Trump and his Administration subordinate their economic decisions to a military-industrial-financial-Israeli complex.

Beijing invests in global networks of scientists, researchers and scholars. The US ‘opposition’ Democrats and disgruntled Republicans work with the giant corporate media (including the respectable Financial Times) to fund and fabricate conspiracies and plots under Trump’s Presidential bed.

Conclusion

China fires and prosecutes corrupt officials while supporting innovators. Its economy grows through investments, joint ventures and a great capacity to learn from experience and powerful data collection. The US squanders its domestic resources in pursuing multiple wars, financial speculation and rampant Wall Street corruption.

China investigates and punishes its corrupt business and public officials while corruption seems to be the primary criteria for election or appointment to high office in the US. The US media worships its tax-dodging billionaires and thinks it can mesmerize the public with a dazzling display of bluster, incompetence and arrogance.

China directs its planned economy to address domestic priorities. It uses its financial resources to pursue historic global infrastructure programs, which will enhance global partnerships in mutually beneficial projects.

It is no wonder that China is seen as moving toward the future with great advances while the US is seen as a chaotic frightening threat to world peace and its publicists as willing accomplices.

China is not without shortcomings in the spheres of political expression and civil rights. Failure to rectify social inequalities and failure to stop the outflow of billions of dollars of illicit wealth, and the unresolved problems with regime corruption will continue to generate class conflicts.

But the important point to note is the direction China has chosen to take and its capacity and commitment to identify and correct the major problems it faces.

The US has abdicated its responsibilities. It is unwilling or unable to harness its banks to invest in domestic production to expand the domestic market. It is completely unwilling to identify and purge the manifestly incompetent and to incarcerate the grossly corrupt officials and politicians of both parties and the elites.

Today overwhelming majorities of US citizens despise, distrust and reject the political elite. Over 70% think that the inane factional political divisions are at their greatest level in over 50 years and have paralyzed the government.

80% recognize that the Congress is dysfunctional and 86% believe that Washington is dishonest.

Never has an empire of such limitless power crumbled and declined with so few accomplishments.

China is a rising economic empire, but it advances through its active engagement in the market of ideas and not through futile wars against successful competitors and adversaries.

As the US declines, its publicists degenerate.

The media’s ceaseless denigration of China’s challenges and its accomplishments is a poor substitute for analysis. The flawed political and policy making structures in the US and its incompetent free-market political leaders lacking any strategic vision crumble in contrast to China’s advances.

[1] Lumpen Capitalism refers to an economic system in which the financial and military sector exploits the state treasury and productive economy for the 1% of the population.

[2] The 19th National Congress was attended by 2,280 delegates representing 89 million members.