Feb 192017
 

By James Petras99GetSmart

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Introduction

By the end of the first month of President Trump’s Administration we are in a better position to evaluate the policies and direction of the new President. An examination of foreign and domestic policy, particularly from a historical and comparative perspective will provide insights about whether America is heading for a catastrophe as the mass media claim or toward greater realism and rationality. We will proceed by examining whether Trump pursues diplomacy over warfare. We will evaluate the President’s efforts to reduce US foreign debt and trade burdens with Europe and Asia. We will follow with a discussion of his immigration and protectionist policies with Mexico. Finally we will touch on the prospects for democracy in the United States.

Foreign Policy

President Trump’s meeting with the leaders of Japan, the United Kingdom and Canada were largely successful. The Abe-Trump meeting led to closer diplomatic ties and a promise that Japan would increase their investment in automobile manufacturing in the US. Trump may have improved trade relations by reducing the trade imbalances. Trump and Abe adopted a moderate position on the North Korean missile test in the Sea of Japan, rejecting a further military build-up as the liberal-neo-con media demanded.

US-UK meeting, in the post-Brexit period, promised to increase trade.

Trump moved to improve relations with China, clearly backing the ‘single China’ policy and proceeding to re-negotiate and re-balance trade relations.

The US backed the unanimous UN Security Council vote to condemn North Korea’s missile launch. Trump did not consider it a military threat or rising to the level of additional sanctions.

Trump’s policy of reconciliation with Russia in order to improve the war against Islamist terrorism has been stymied. Led by the witch-hunting left liberal Senator Elizabeth Warren, neo-conservative militarists and Democrats pronounced Russia as the primary threat to US national security!

The rabid, ceaseless mass media blitz forced the resignation of Trump’s National Security Adviser, Ret. General Michael Flynn, on the basis of an 18th century law (the Logan Act) that prohibited private citizens from discussing policy with foreign leaders. This law has never been implemented. If it were enforced, hundreds of thousands of American citizens, most especially the big-wigs among the 51 ‘Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations’, as well as the foreign affairs editors of all major and minor US media outlets and foreign policy academics would be on the ‘chain-gangs’ with convicted drug dealers. Never embarrassed by absurdity or by trivializing tragedy, this recent ‘Tempest in the Teapot’ has whipped up passionate calls by the media and Democratic Party operatives for a new ‘Nine-Eleven Style Investigation’ into General Flynn talks with the Russians.

Trump’s setback on his National Security Adviser Flynn has put the prospects for improved, less bellicose foreign affairs in danger. It heightens the risk for a nuclear confrontations and domestic repression. These dangers, including a domestic anti-Russian McCarthy-style purge of foreign policy ‘realists’, are exclusively the responsibility of the ultra-militarist Democratic Party-Neo-Conservative alliance. None of this addresses the serious domestic socioeconomic problems.

Rebalancing Foreign Spending and Trade

Trump’s public commitment about rebalancing US relations with NATO, namely reducing the US share of funding, has already started. Currently only five NATO members meet the required contribution. Trump’s insistence on Germany, Italy, Spain, Canada, France and 18 other members fulfilling their commitments would add over $100 billion to NATO’s budget – reducing US foreign imbalances.

Of course, it would be far better for all if NATO was disbanded and the various nations re-allocate these many hundreds of billions of dollars for social spending and domestic economic development.

Trump has announced a major effort to reduce US trade imbalances in Asia. Contrary to the claims, often made by foreign trade ‘experts’ in the mass media, China is not the only, or even the largest, among the ‘offenders’ in exploiting unbalanced trade with the US.

China’s current account trade surplus is 5% of its GDP, while South Korea’s is 8%, Taiwan’s 15% and Singapore’s is 19%. Trump’s target is to reduce the US trade imbalances to $20 billion dollars with each country or 3% of GDP. Trump’s quota of $100 billion dollars stands in marked contrast to the ‘Asian Five’s’ (Japan, China, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore) current trade imbalance of $700 billion dollars in 2015, according to the International Monetary Fund.

In sum, Trump is moving to reduce external imbalances by 85% in order to increase domestic production and create jobs for US-based industries.

Trump and Latin America

Trump’s Latin America policy is focused primarily on Mexico and to a much lesser degree on the rest of the continent.

The White House’s biggest move has been to scuttle Obama’s Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership, which favored multi-national corporations exploiting Chile, Peru and Mexico’s work force, as well as attracting the neo-liberal regimes in Argentina and Uruguay. Trump inherits from President Obama numerous military bases in Colombia, Guantanamo, Cuba and Argentina. The Pentagon has continued Obama’s ‘cold war’ with Venezuela – falsely accusing the Venezuelan Vice President of drug trafficking.

Trump has promised to alter US trade and immigration policy with Mexico. Despite the widespread opposition to Trump’s immigration policy, he lags far behind Obama’s massive expulsion of immigrants from Mexico and Central America. America’s deportation champion was President Barack Obama, who expelled 2.2 million immigrants and their family members in eight years, or approximately 275,000 a month. In his first month in office, President Trump has deported just one percent of Obama’s monthly average.

President Trump promises to re-negotiate NAFTA, imposing a tax on imports and enticing US multinational corporations to return and invest in America.

There are numerous hidden advantages for Mexico if it responds to Trump’s policies with its own ‘reciprocal protectionist’ economic measures. Under NAFTA, 2 million Mexican farmers went into bankruptcy and billions of dollars have been spent importing (subsidized) rice, corn and other staples from the US. A ‘Mexico First’ policy could open the door for a revival of Mexican agriculture for domestic consumption and export; this would also decrease out-migration of Mexican farm workers. Mexico could re-nationalize its oil industry and invest in domestic refineries gaining billions of dollars and reducing imports of refined petroleum products from the US. With an obligatory import-substitution policy, local manufacturing could increase the domestic market and employment. Jobs would increase in the formal economy and reduce the number of unemployed youth recruited by the drug cartels and other criminal gangs. By nationalizing the banks and controlling capital flows, Mexico could block the annual outflow of about $50 billion dollars of illicit funds. National-popular policies, via reciprocity, would strengthen the election of new leaders who could begin to purge the corrupt police, military and political leadership.

In sum, while the Trump policies may cause some short-term losses, it can lead to substantial medium and long-term advantages for the Mexican people and nation.

Democracy

President Trump’s election has provoked a virulent authoritarian campaign threatening our democratic freedoms.

Highly coordinated and endless propaganda by all the major media and the two political parties have fabricated and distorted reports and encouraged elected representatives to savage Trump’s foreign policy appointees, forcing resignations and reversals of policy. The forced resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn highlights the Democratic Party’s pro-war agenda against nuclear-armed Russia. Liberal Senators, who once made grand speeches against ‘Wall Street’ and the ‘One Percent’, now demand Trump reject working with Russian President Putin against the real threat of ISIS while supporting the neo-Nazis in Ukraine. Liberal icons openly push for sending more US warships in Asia to provoke China, while opposing Trump’s policy of favorably re-negotiating trade deals with Beijing.

There are many hidden dangers and advantages in this partisan political warfare.

Trump has exposed the systemic lies and distortions of the mass media, confirming the distrust held by a majority of Americans for the corporate news media. The low opinion of the media, especially held by Americans in the economically devastated center of the country (those described by Hillary Clinton as the ‘deplorables’) is clearly matched by the media’s deep disdain for this huge portion of the electorate. Indeed, the constant media chatter about how the evil ‘Russians’ had hacked the US presidential elections giving the victory to Donald Trump, is more likely a ‘dog whistle’ to mask their unwillingness to openly denounce the ‘poor whites’– including workers and rural Americans – who overwhelmingly voted for Trump. This class and regional element goes a long way to explain the constant hysteria over Trump’s victory. There is widespread fury among the elites, intellectuals and bureaucrats over the fact that Clinton’s big ‘basket of deplorables’ rejected the system and rejected its coiffured and manicured media mouthpieces.

For the first time there is a political debate over freedom of speech at the highest levels of government. The same debate extends to the new President’s challenge from the enormous, uncontrolled police state apparatus (FBI, NSA, CIA, Homeland Security, etc..), which expanded massively under Barack Obama.

Trump’s trade and alliance policies have awakened the US Congress to debates over substantive issues rather than internal procedural quibbles. Even Trump’s rhetorical policies have aroused mass demonstrations, some of which are bona fide, while others are bankrolled by billionaire supporters of the Democratic Party and its neo-liberal expansionist agenda, like the ‘Grand Sugar Daddy of the Color Revolutions’ George Soros. It is a serious question whether this may provide an opening for genuine grass-roots democratic-socialist movements to organize and take advantage of the rift among the elite.

The bogus charges of ‘treasonous’ communication with the Russian Ambassador  against Trump’s National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, while still a civilian, and the convoking of the Logan Act against civilians discussing foreign policy with foreign governments, opens up the possibility of investigating legislators, like Charles Schumer and several hundred others, for discussing US strategic policy positions with Israeli officials…

Win or lose, the Trump Administration has opened a debate on the possibilities of peace with a nuclear superpower, a re-examination of the huge trade deficit and the necessity to stand-up for democracy against authoritarian threats from the so-called ‘intelligence community’ against an elected President.

Trump and the Class Struggle

The Trump socio-economic agenda has already set in motion powerful undercurrents of class conflict. The media and political class have focused on conflicts over immigration, gender issues, and relations with Russia, NATO and Israel as well as intra-party politics. These conflicts obscure deeper class antagonisms, which grow out of Trump’s radical economic proposals.

President Trump’s proposal to reduce the power of the federal regulatory and investigatory agencies, simplify and lower taxes, curtail spending on NATO, re-negotiate or scrap multilateral agreements and cut the budgets for research, health and education all seriously threaten the employment for millions of public sector workers and officials across the country. Many of the hundreds of thousands of protestors at the women’s rallies and marches for immigration and education are public employees and their family members who are under economic threat. What appears on the surface to be protests over specific cultural, identity or human rights issues are manifestations of a deeper and more extensive struggle between public sector employees and the agenda of a privatizing state, which draws its class support from small business people attracted by lower taxes and less regulatory burdens, as well as private ‘charter school’ officials and hospital administrators.

Trump’s protectionist measures, including export subsidies, pit the domestic manufacturers against multi-billion dollar importers of cheap consumer goods.

Trump’s proposals for deregulated oil, gas, timber, more agro-mineral exports and major infrastructure investments are supported by bosses and workers in those sectors. This has provoked a sharp conflict with environmentalists, community-based workers and producers, indigenous peoples and their supporters.

Trump’s initial effort to mobilize domestic class forces opposed to continued budget-draining overseas warfare and in support of market relations-based empire building has been defeated by the combined efforts of the military-industrial complex, the intelligence apparatus and their supporters in a liberal-neo-conservative-militarist political elite coalition and their mass supporters.

The evolving class struggle has deepened and threatens to tear apart the constitutional order in two directions: The conflict can lead to an institutional crisis and toward the forceful ouster of an elected president and the installation of a hybrid regime, which will preserve the most reactionary programs of both sides of the class conflict. Importers, investors and workers in extractive industries, supporters of privatized educations and healthcare, warmongers and members of the politicized security apparatus may take total control of the state. On the other hand, if the class struggle can mobilize the public sector workers, workers in the commercial sector, the unemployed, the anti-war democrats and progressive IT entrepreneurs and employers dependent on skilled immigrants, as well as scientists and environmentalists into a massive movement willing to support a living wage and unify around common class interests, deep systemic change becomes possible. In the medium term, the unification of these class movements can lead to a progressive hybrid regime.

Feb 112017
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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‘De Omnibus Dubitandum’

Everything is to be Doubted

Introduction

President Trump is deeply embedded in the politics of the deep state structure of American imperialism. Contrary to occasional references to non-intervention in overseas wars, Trump has followed in the footsteps of his predecessors.

While neoconservatives and liberals have raised a hue and cry about Trump’s ties to Russia, his ‘heresies’ over NATO and his overtures to peace in the Middle East, in practice, he has discarded his market humanitarian’ imperialism and engaged in the same bellicose policies of his Democratic Party presidential rival, Hillary Clinton.

Because he lacks the slick ‘demagogy’ of former-President Obama, and does not slather his actions with cheap appeals to ‘identity’ politics, Trump’s crude, abrasive pronouncements drive young demonstrators into the streets in mass actions. These demonstrations are not-so-discretely supported by Trump’s major opponents among the Wall Street bankers, speculators and mass media moguls. In other words, President Trump is an icon-embracer and follower, not a ‘revolutionary’ or even ‘change agent’.

We will proceed by discussing the historical trajectory, which gave birth to the Trump regime. We will identify ongoing policies and commitments determining the present and future direction of his administration.

We will conclude by identifying how current reaction can produce future transformations. We will challenge the current ‘catastrophic’ and apocalyptic delirium and offer reasons for an optimistic perspective for the future. In brief: This essay will point out how current negatives can become realistic positives.

Historical Sequences

Over the past two decades US presidents have squandered the financial and military resources of the country in multiple unending, losing wars, as well as in trillion dollar trade debts and fiscal imbalances. US leaders have run amok provoking major global financial crises, bankrupting the largest banks, destroying small mortgage holders, devastating manufacturers and creating massive unemployment followed by low-paid unstable jobs leading to collapse in living standards for the working and lower middle classes.

Imperial wars, trillion dollar bail-outs for the billionaires and unopposed flight of multinational corporations abroad, have vastly deepened class inequalities and given rise to trade agreements favoring China, Germany and Mexico. Within the US, the major beneficiaries of these crises have been the bankers, high-tech billionaires, commercial importers and agro-business exporters.

Faced with systemic crises, the ruling regimes have responded by deepening and expanding US Presidential powers in the form of presidential decrees. To cover-up the decades-long series of debacles, patriotic ‘whistle-blowers’ have been jailed and police-state style surveillance has infiltrated every sector of the citizenry.

Presidents Bush, Clinton and Obama defined the trajectory of imperial wars and Wall Street plunder. State police, military and financial institutions are firmly embedded in the matrix of power. Financial centers, like Goldman Sachs, have repeatedly set the agenda and controlled the US Department of Treasury and the agencies regulating trade and banking. The ‘permanent institutions’ of the state have remained, while Presidents, regardless of party, have been shuffled in and out of the ‘Oval Office’.

The ‘First Black’ President Barack Obama pledged peace and pursued seven wars. His successor, Donald Trump was elected on promises of ‘non-intervention’ and promptly picked up Obama’s ‘bombing baton’: tiny Yemen was attacked by US forces, Russia’s allies in the Donbas Region of Ukraine were savaged by Washington’s allies in Kiev and Trump’s ‘more realist’ representative, Nikki Haley, put on a bellicose performance at the UN in the style of ‘Madame Humanitarian Intervention’ Samantha Power, braying invectives at Russia.

Where is the change? Trump followed Obama by increasing sanctions against Russia, while threatening North Korea with nuclear annihilation in the wake of Obama’s major military build-up in the Korean peninsula. Obama launched a surrogate war against Syria and Trump escalated the air war over Raqqa. Obama encircled China with military bases, warships and warplanes and Trump goose-stepped right in with warmongering rhetoric. Obama expelled a record two million Mexican workers over eight years; Trump followed by promising to deport even more.

In other words, President Trump has dutifully picked up the march along his predecessors’ trajectory, bombing the same targeted countries while plagiarizing their maniacal speeches at the United Nations.

Obama increased the annual tribute (aid) to Tel Aviv to a whooping $3.8 billions while bleating a few pro-forma criticisms of expanding Israeli land-grabs in Palestine; Trump proposed to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem while blubbering a few of his own mini-criticisms of illegal Jewish settlements on stolen Palestinian land.

What is overwhelmingly striking is the similarity of Obama and Trump,’s policies and strategies in foreign policy, their means and allies. What is different is their style and rhetoric. Both ‘Change Agent’ Presidents immediately break the same phony pre-election promises and function well within the boundaries of the permanent state institutions.

Whatever differences they have are a result of contrasting historic contexts. Obama took over the collapse of the financial system and sought to regulate banks in order to stabilize operations. Trump took over after Obama’s trillion-dollar ‘stabilization’ and sought to eliminate regulations – in the footsteps of President Clinton! So ‘much ado’ about Trump’s ‘historic deregulation’!

The ‘winter of discontent’ in the form of mass protests against Trump’s ban against immigrants and visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries follows directly from Obama’s ‘seven deadly wars’. The immigrants and refugees are direct products of Obama’s invasions and attacks on these countries leading to murder, injury, forced displacement and misery for million of ‘predominantly’ (but not exclusively) Muslims. Obama’s wars have created tens of thousands of ‘rebels’, insurgents and terrorists. The refugees, fleeing for their lives, have been largely excluded from the US under Obama and most have sought safe havens in the squalid camps and chaos of the EU.

As terrible and illegal as Trump’s border closure to Muslims and as promising as the mass public protests seem, they are all the result of the near decade long policy of murder and mayhem under President Obama.

Following the policy trajectory – Obama shed the blood and Trump, in his vulgar racist style is left to ‘clean up the mess’. While Obama has been made into a ‘Nobel Peace Prize’ peace maker, grumpy Trump is soundly attacked for picking up the bloody mop!

Trump has chosen to tread the path of obloquy and faces the wrath of purgatory. Meanwhile, Obama is off playing golf, wind surfing and flashing his ‘devil may care’ smile to his adoring scribblers in the mass media.

As Trump stomps down the path laid out by Obama, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators fill the streets to protest the ‘fascist’, with scores of major mass media networks, dozens of plutocrats and ‘intellectuals’ of all genders, races and creeds writhing in moral outrage! One is left confused at the deafening silence of these same activists and forces when Obama’s aggressive wars and attacks led to the deaths and displacement of millions of civilians, mostly Muslim, and mostly women – as their homes, weddings, markets, schools and funerals were bombed.

So much for American muddle-headedness! One should try to understand the possibilities that arise from a massive sector finally breaking their silence as Obama’s glib warmongering has been transformed into Trump’s crude march to doomsday.

Optimistic Perspectives

There are many who despair but there are more who have become aware. We will identify the optimistic perspectives and realistic hopes rooted in current reality and trends. Realism means discussing contradictory, polarizing developments and therefore we accept no ‘inevitable’ outcomes. This means that outcomes are ‘contested terrain’ where subjective factors play a leading role. The interface of conflicting forces can result in an upward or downward spiral – toward more equality, sovereignty and liberation or greaterconcentration of wealth, power and privilege.

The most retrograde concentration of power and wealth is found in the oligarchic German-dominated European Union – a configuration which is under siege by popular forces. The United Kingdom voters chose to exit from the EU (Brexit). As a result, Britain faces a break-up with Scotland and Wales and an even greater separation from Ireland. Brexit will lead to a new polarization as London-based bankers depart to the EU and free market leaders confront workers, protectionists and the growing mass of the poor. Brexit fortifies nationalist-populists and leftist forces in France, Poland, Hungary and Serbia and shatters the neo-liberal hegemony in Italy, Spain,Greece, Portugal and elsewhere. The challenge to the EU oligarchs is that popular insurgency will intensify social polarization and can bring to the fore progressive class movements or authoritarian nationalist parties and movements.

Trumps ascent to power and his executive decrees have led to highly polarize electorates, increased politicization and direct action. The awakening of America deepens internal fissures between small ‘d’ democrats, progressive women, trade unionists, students and others against the big ‘D’ Democratic Party opportunists, speculators, life-long Democratic warmongers, bourgeois black ‘D’ Party hacks (the mis-leaders) and a small army of corporate-funded NGO’s.

Trumps embrace of the Obama-Clinton military and Wall Street agenda will lead to a financial bubble, bloated military spending and more costly wars. These will divide the regime from its trade union and working class supporters now that Trump’s cabinet is composed entirely of billionaires, ideologues, rabid zionists and militarists (as opposed to his promise to appoint ‘hard-nosed’ deal-making businessmen and realists). This could create a rich opportunity for movements to arise which reject the truly ugly face of Trump’s reactionary regime.

Trump’s animosity to NAFTA, and advocacy of protectionism and financial and resource exploitation will undermine the corrupt, murderous, narco-neoliberal regimes which have ruled Mexico for the past 30 years since the days of Salinas. Trump’s anti-immigration policy will lead to Mexicans choosing to ‘fight over flight’ in confronting the social chaos created by the narco-gangs and gangster police. It will force the development of Mexico’s domestic markets and industry. Mass domestic consumption and ownership will embrace national-popular movements. The drug cartel and their political sponsors will lose the US markets and face domestic opposition.

Trump’s protectionism will limit the illegal flow of capital from Mexico, which amounted to $48.3 billion in 2016 or 55% of Mexico’s debt.  Mexico’s transition from dependency and neo-colonialism will deeply polarize the state and society; the outcome will be determined by class forces.

Trump’s economic and military threats against Iran will strengthen nationalist, populist and collectivist forces over the neo-liberal ‘reformist’ and pro-Western politicians. Iran’s anti-imperialist alliance with Yemen, Syria and Lebanon will solidify against the US-led quartet of Saudi Arabia,Israel, Britain and the US.

Trump’s support for Israel’s massive seizure of Palestinian land and its ‘Jews-only’ ban against Muslims and Christians will lead to the ‘shaking off’ of the multi-millionaire Palestinian Authority quislings and the rise of many more uprisings and intifadas.

The defeat of ISIS will strengthen independent governmental forces in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, weaken US imperial leverage and open the door to popular democratic secular struggles.

China’s President Xi Jinping’s large-scale, long-term anti-corruption campaign has led to the arrest and removal of over a quarter-million officials and businesspeople, including billionaires and top Party leaders. The arrests, prosecution and jailing has reduced the abuse of privilege, but more important, it has improves the prospects for a movement to challenge vast social inequalities. What began from ‘above’ can provoke movements from ‘below’. The resurrection of a movement toward socialist values can have a major impact on US vassal states in Asia.

Russia’s support for democratic rights in Eastern Ukraine and the re-incorporation of Crimea via referendum can limit US puppet regimes on Russia’s southern flank and reduce US intervention. Russia can develop peaceful ties with independent European states with the break-up of the EU and the Trump electoral victory over the Obama-Clinton regime’s threat of nuclear war.

The world-wide movement against imperialist globalism isolates the US-backed right-wing power grab in South America. Brazil, Argentina and Chile’s pursuit of neo-liberal trade pacts are on the defensive. Their economies, especially in Argentina and Brazil, have seen a three-fold increase in unemployment, four-fold rise in foreign debt, stagnant to negative growth and now face mass-supported general strikes. Neo-liberal ‘toadyism’ is provoking class struggle. This can overturn the post-Obama order in Latin America.

Conclusion

Across the world and within the most important countries, the ultra-neoliberal order of the past quarter century is disintegrating. There is a massive upsurge of movements from above and below, from democratic leftists to nationalists, from independent populists to the right-wing reactionary ‘old guard’: A new polarized, fragmented political universe has emerged. The beginning of the end of the current imperial-globalist order is creating opportunities for a new dynamic democratic collectivist order. The oligarchs and ‘security’ elites will not easily give way to popular demands or step down. Knives will be sharpened, executive decrees will issue forth, and electoral coups will be staged to attempt to seize power. The emerging popular democratic movements need to overcome identity fragmentation and establish unified, egalitarian leaders who can act decisively and independently away from the existing political leaders who make dramatic, but phony, progressive gestures while seeking a return to the stench and squalor of the recent past.

Feb 032017
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

During his inaugural speech, President Trump clearly and forcefully outlined the strategic political-economic policies he will pursue over the next four years. Anti-Trump journalist, editorialists, academics and experts, who appear in the Financial TimesNew York TimesWashington Post and the Wall Street Journal have repeatedly distorted and lied about the President’s program as well as his critique of existing and past policies.

We will begin by seriously discussing President Trump’s critique of the contemporary political economy and proceed to elaborate on his alternatives and its weaknesses.

President Trump’s Critique of the Ruling Class

The centerpiece of Trump’s critique of the current ruling elite is the negative impact of its form of globalization on US production, trade and fiscal imbalances and on the labor market. Trump cites the fact that US industrial capitalism has drastically shifted the locus of its investments, innovations and profits overseas as an example of globalization’s negative effects. For two decades many politicians and pundits have bemoaned the loss of well-paid jobs and stable local industries as part of their campaign rhetoric or in public meetings, but none have taken any effective action against these most harmful aspects of globalization. Trump denounced them as “all talk and no action” while promising to end the empty speeches and implement major changes.

President Trump targeted importers who bring in cheap products from overseas manufacturers for the American market undermining US producers and workers. His economic strategy of prioritizing US industries is an implicit critique of the shift from productive capital to financial and speculative capital under the previous four administrations. His inaugural address attacking the elites who abandon the ‘rust belt’ for Wall Street is matched by his promise to the working class: “Hear these words! You will never be ignored again.” Trump’s own words portray the ruling class ‘as pigs at the trough’ (Financial Times, 1/23/2017, p. 11)

Trump’s Political-Economic Critique

President Trump emphasizes market negotiations with overseas partners and adversaries. He has repeatedly criticized the mass media and politicians’ mindless promotion of free markets and aggressive militarism as undermining the nation’s capacity to negotiate profitable deals.

President Trump’s immigration policy is closely related to his strategic ‘America First’ labor policy. Massive inflows of immigrant labor have been used to undermine US workers’ wages, labor rights and stable employment. This was first documented in the meat packing industry, followed by textile, poultry and construction industries. Trump’s proposal is to limit immigration to allow US workers to shift the balance of power between capital and labor and strengthen the power of organized labor to negotiate wages, conditions and benefits. Trump’s critique of mass immigration is based on the fact that skilled American workers have been available for employment in the same sectors if wages were raised and work conditions were improved to permit dignified, stable living standards for their families.

President Trump’s Political Critique

Trump points to trade agreements, which have led to huge deficits, and concludes that US negotiators have been failures. He argues that previous US presidents have signed multi-lateral agreements, to secure military alliances and bases, at the expense of negotiating job-creating economic pacts. His presidency promises to change the equation: He wants to tear up or renegotiate unfavorable economic treaties while reducing US overseas military commitments and demands NATO allies shoulder more of their own defense budgets. Immediately upon taking office Trump canceled the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and convoked a meeting with Canada and Mexico to renegotiate NAFTA.

Trump’s agenda has featured plans for hundred-billion dollar infrastructure projects, including building controversial oil and gas pipelines from Canada to the US Gulf. It is clear that these pipelines violate existing treaties with indigenous people and threaten ecological mayhem. However, by prioritizing the use of American-made construction material and insisting on hiring only US workers, his controversial policies will form the basis for developing well-paid American jobs.

The emphasis on investment and jobs in the US is a complete break with the previous Administration, where President Obama focused on waging multiple wars in the Middle East, increasing public debt and the trade deficit.

Trump’s inaugural address issued a stern promise: “The American carnage stops right now and stops right here!” This resonated with a huge sector of the working class and was spoken before an assemblage of the very architects of four decades of job-destroying globalization. ‘Carnage’ carried a double meaning: Widespread carnage resulted from Obama and other administrations’ destruction of domestic jobs resulting in decay and bankruptcy of rural, small town and urban communities. This domestic carnage was the other side of the coin of their policies of conducting endless overseas wars spreading carnage to three continents. The last fifteen years of political leadership spread domestic carnage by allowing the epidemic of drug addiction (mostly related to uncontrolled synthetic opiate prescriptions) to kill hundreds of thousands of mostly young American’s and destroy the lives of millions. Trump promised to finally address this ‘carnage’ of wasted lives. Unfortunately, he did not hold ‘Big Pharma’ and the medical community responsible for its role in spreading drug addiction into the deepest corners of the economically devastated rural America. Trump criticized previous elected officials for authorizing huge military subsidies to ‘allies’ while making it clear that his critique did not include US military procurement policies and would not contradict his promise to ‘reinforce old alliances’ (NATO).

Truth and Lies: Garbage Journalists and Arm Chair Militarists

Among the most outrageous example of the mass media’s hysteria about Trump’s New Economy is the systematic and vitriolic series of fabrications designed to obscure the grim national reality that Trump has promised to address. We will discuss and compare the accounts published by ‘garbage journalists (GJ’s)’ and present a more accurate version of the situation.

The respectable garbage journalists of the Financial Times claim that Trump wants to ‘destroy world trade’. In fact, Trumps has repeatedly stated his intention to increase international trade. What Trump proposes is to increase US world trade from the inside, rather than from overseas. He seeks to re-negotiate the terms of multilateral and bilateral trade agreements to secure greater reciprocity with trading partners. Under Obama, the US was more aggressive in imposing trade tariffs that any other country in the OECD.

Garbage journalists label Trump as a ‘protectionist’, confusing his policies to re-industrialize the economy with autarky. Trump will promote exports and imports, retain an open economy, while increasing the role of the US as a producer and exporter. The US will become more selective in its imports. Trump will favor the growth of manufacturing exporters and increase imports of primary commodities and advanced technology while reducing the import of automobiles, steel and household consumer products.

Trump’s opposition to ‘globalization’ has been conflated by the garbage journalists of the Washington Post as a dire threat to the ‘the post-Second World War economic order’. In fact, vast changes have already rendered the old order obsolete and attempts to retain it have led to crises, wars and more decay. Trump has recognized the obsolete nature of the old economic order and stated that change is necessary.

The Obsolete Old Order and the Dubious New Economy

At the end of the Second World War, most of Western Europe and Japan resorted to highly restrictive ‘protectionist’ industrial and monetary policies to rebuild their economies. Only after a period of prolonged recovery did Germany and Japan carefully and selectively liberalize their economic policies.

In recent decades, Russia was drastically transformed from a powerful collectivist economy to a capitalist vassal-gangster oligarchy and more recently to a reconstituted mixed economy and strong central state. China has been transformed from a collectivist economy, isolated from world trade, into the world’s second most powerful economy, displacing the US as Asia and Latin America’s largest trading partner.

Once controlling 50% of world trade, the US share is now less than 20%. This decline is partly due to the dismantling of its industrial economy when its manufacturers moved their factories abroad.

Despite the transformation of the world order, recent US presidents have failed to recognize the need to re-organize the American political economy. Instead of recognizing, adapting and accepting shifts in power and market relations, they sought to intensify previous patterns of dominance through war, military intervention and bloody destructive ‘regime changes’ – thus devastating, rather than creating markets for US goods. Instead of recognizing China’s immense economic power and seek to re-negotiate trade and co-operative agreements, they have stupidly excluded China from regional and international trade pacts, to the extent of crudely bullying their junior Asian trade partners, and launching a policy of military encirclement and provocation in the South China Seas. While Trump recognized these changes and the need to renegotiate economic ties, his cabinet appointees seek to extend Obama’s militarist policies of confrontation.

Under the previous administrations, Washington ignored Russia’s resurrection, recovery and growth as a regional and world power. When reality finally took root, previous US administrations increased their meddling among the Soviet Union’s former allies and set up military bases and war exercises on Russia’s borders. Instead of deepening trade and investment with Russia, Washington spent billions on sanctions and military spending – especially fomenting the violent putchist regime in Ukraine. Obama’s policies promoting the violent seizure of power in Ukraine, Syria and Libya were motivated by his desire to overthrow governments friendly to Russia – devastating those countries and ultimately strengthening Russia’s will to consolidate and defend its borders and to form new strategic alliances.

Early in his campaign, Trump recognized the new world realities and proposed to change the substance, symbols, rhetoric and relations with adversaries and allies – adding up to a New Economy.

First and foremost, Trump looked at the disastrous wars in the Middle East and recognized the limits of US military power: The US could not engage in multiple, open-ended wars of conquest and occupation in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia without paying major domestic costs.

Secondly, Trump recognized that Russia was not a strategic military threat to the United States. Furthermore, the Russian government under Vladimir Putin was willing to cooperate with the US to defeat a mutual enemy – ISIS and its terrorist networks. Russia was also keen to re-open its markets to the US investors, who were also anxious to return after years of the Obama-Clinton-Kerry imposed sanctions. Trump, the realist, proposes to end sanctions and restore favorable market relations.

Thirdly, it is clear to Trump that the US wars in the Middle East imposed enormous costs with minimal benefits for the US economy. He wants to increase market relations with the regional economic and military powers, like Turkey, Israel and the Gulf monarchies. Trump is not interested in Palestine, Yemen, Syria or the Kurds – which do not offer much investment and trade opportunities. He ignores the enormous regional economic and military power of Iran, Nevertheless Trump has proposed to re-negotiate the recent six-nation agreement with Iran in order to improve the US side of the bargain. His hostile campaign rhetoric against Tehran may have been designed to placate Israel and its powerful domestic ‘Israel-Firsters’ fifth column. This certainly came into conflict with his ‘America First’ pronouncements. It remains to be seen whether Donald Trump will retain a ‘show’ of submission to the Zionist project of an expansionist Israel while proceeding to include Iran as a part of his regional market agenda.

The Garbage Journalists claim that Trump has adopted a new bellicose stance toward China and threatens to launch a ‘protectionist agenda’, which will ultimately push the trans-Pacific countries closer to Beijing. On the contrary, Trump appears intent on renegotiating and increasing trade via bilateral agreements.

Trump will most probably maintain, but not expand, Obama’s military encirclement of China’s maritime boundaries which threaten its vital shipping routes. Nevertheless, unlike Obama, Trump will re-negotiate economic and trade relations with Beijing – viewing China as a major economic power and not a developing nation intent on protecting its ‘infant industries’. Trump’s realism reflect the new economic order: China is a mature, highly competitive, world economic power, which has been out-competing the US, in part by retaining its own state subsidies and incentives from its earlier economic phase. This has led to significant imbalances. Trump, the realist, recognizes that China offers great opportunities for trade and investment if the US can secure reciprocal agreements, which lead to a more favorable balance of trade.

Trump does not want to launch a ‘trade war’ with China, but he needs to restore the US as a major ‘exporter’ nation in order to implement his domestic economic agenda. The negotiations with the Chinese will be very difficult because the US importer-elite are against the Trump agenda and side with the Beijing’s formidable export-oriented ruling class.

Moreover, because Wall Street’s banking elite is pleading with Beijing to enter China’s financial markets, the financial sector is an unwilling and unstable ally to Trump’s pro-industrial policies.

Conclusion

Trump is not a ‘protectionist’, nor is he opposed to ‘free-trade’. These charges by the garbage journalists are baseless. Trump does not oppose US economic imperialist policies abroad. However, Trump is a market realist who recognizes that military conquest is costly and, in the contemporary world context, a losing economic proposition for the US. He recognizes that the US must turn from a predominant finance and import economy to a manufacturing and export economy.

Trump views Russia as a potential economic partner and military ally in ending the wars in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Ukraine, and especially in defeating the terrorist threat of ISIS. He sees China as a powerful economic competitor, which has been taking advantage of outmoded trade privileges and wants to re-negotiate trade pacts in line with the current balance of economic power.

Trump is a capitalist-nationalist, a market-imperialist and political realist, who is willing to trample on women’s rights, climate change legislation, indigenous treaties and immigrant rights. His cabinet appointments and his Republican colleagues in Congress are motivated by a militarist ideology closer to the Obama-Clinton doctrine than to Trumps new ‘America First’ agenda. He has surrounded his Cabinet with military imperialists, territorial expansionists and delusional fanatics.

Who will win out in the short or long term remains to be seen. What is clear is that the liberals, Democratic Party hacks and advocates of Little Mussolini black shirted street thugs will be on the side of the imperialists and will find plenty of allies among and around the Trump regime.

Jan 242017
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

The malady, common among political leaders who commit heartless crimes while craving popular adulation as heroes and misunderstood saints, is ‘Political Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy’ (PMSP).

PMSP best explains the pathologic drive of politicians and policy makers who inflict relentless, systematic mass destruction and then intervene in a most theatrical manner to save a few victims – thus drawing gratitude from the victim and public support for their ‘humanitarian intervention’ – ignorant of their fundamental role in creating the mayhem in the first place.

The actions of the outgoing President Barack Obama in the last three days of his administration present an example of PMSP on the domestic front.

Throughout his eight years as President of the United States, Obama exhibited many symptoms of PMSP – both abroad and in the US. For his cynical crimes, he was awarded the ‘Nobel Peace Prize’ among other honors.

PMSP: The Abuser as Savior

Each of Obama’s relentless military interventions, including Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan and especially Syria, were characterized by the deliberate and total destruction of the means of normal civilized social existence for defenseless civilians – the bombing of homes, factories, markets, weddings, funerals, schools, hospitals – leading to the deaths of many thousands and the uprooting of millions into desperate flight. In each case, Obama would proclaim that he was saving the victims from imminent genocide by an abusive ruler or ethnic group. He would rush in to provide a few baskets of relief and a few blankets to some bedraggled survivors of his own bombing campaigns and bask in the glowing praise of mass media propagandists and fellow imperialists. Choreographed applause and adulation would seem to follow America’s First Black President everywhere.

Obama’s bombs, arms and mercenaries drove hundreds of thousands of families into the streets, into the mountains and most horrifically onto rickety, overloaded boats on the seas. In each series of destruction and chaos, he would calculate the point at which his ‘humanitarian intervention’ would most effectively reflect on his heroism.

He destroyed the entire nation of Libya, shredded its institutions and infrastructure, bombed its cities and villages, even deliberately sending a deadly missile into the home sheltering a half dozen of President Muammar Gadaffi’s small grandchildren and finally ended up with the public death by torture of the wounded Libyan president sodomized by stakes documented in a imperial-pornographic snuff film that should have revolted the entire world. That the main victims of Obama’s ‘liberation of Libya’ were hundreds of thousands of black Libyan citizens and sub-Saharan African workers did little to detract from his public persona as the first ‘African American’ world hero. The capsized boatloads of fleeing black Libyans and the bloated bodies washing ashore on the beaches of Spain and Italy were never linked to the criminal policies of our Nobel Prize recipient! He even urged Europe to accept the miserable refugees fleeing his war – in a gesture of supreme PMSP. He could do no wrong. This serial political killer had an unquenchable thirst for sympathy and admiration – and a wholly corrupt propaganda machine to polish his halo.

Obama’s PMSP and Chelsea Manning

In his last few days in power, Obama turned his ‘heroic and humanitarian’ attention to individual American victims of grotesque injustice in our bloated and racist prison system – just to prove that the great man could ‘set up’ and then save individuals as well as nations.

The cold, calculus of the Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy President finally focused on the fragile form of the imprisoned and tortured Chelsea Manning – hero to millions and condemned traitor to the empire’s ruling elite. For eight years, Barack Obama pursued the arrest, torture, kangaroo court-martial, virtual life sentencing and prison mistreatment of the US soldier who had dared to expose large-scale war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and release thousands of damning documents of systematic political war crime hidden from her compatriots. She released videos of US pilots playing ‘execution games’ against a crowd of defenseless Iraqi civilians, including children, as well as equally egregious war crimes elsewhere.

Obama and his fellow war criminals were furious at Manning’s revelations – and approved of her sentence of 35 years, some of which had been served before her conviction in solitary confinement, often stripped naked – in a condition described by the United Nations as torture and inhumane treatment. After her conviction, she was harassed and driven to multiple attempts to take her life.

After seven years of brutal and degrading treatment, spanning almost the entire Obama Administration, the condition of the frail transgender soldier-hero, almost a martyr to truth and justice, her supporters and the world community were desperate with concern for her safety, survival and sanity. At this point, and in the last three days of her administration on January 17, 2017, Obama ‘commuted Manning’s sentence’ but left it to the incoming Trump Administration to free her five months later in May.

Instead of celebrating the liberation and vindication of the hero Chelsea Manning in May, the media drowned out the plight of the frail tortured whistleblower with its loud tributes to the mercy and heroism of the serial abuser – Barack Obama.

Conclusion

In his last days, Obama played the ‘Merciful Pasha’ commuting Manning’s virtual life sentence – which he still justified. Obama did so in a way that literally begged the incoming rabidly reactionary regime of Donald Trump to rescind the commutation or at least impose such levels of torture and pressure on Manning that her very survival and sanity in prison up to her scheduled release in May will be in grave jeopardy.

The most virulent militarists in the US Congress, including the war criminal John McCain, are howling for Manning’s head. While they will torture Manning during the next 5 months behind thick prison walls, the press will compare the vindictive Trump with the benevolent Obama. This is a cynical ‘set-up’ for our hero, Chelsea Manning to be driven to suicide by Trump while her ultimate persecutor, the ‘saintly’ Barack Obama will ‘shine’ for having issue the belated commutation. Obama could easily have released Manning earlier and spared her this mortal danger – but he chose to tie the poor prisoner to a stake – under the blood-lusting noses of our most sadistic militarists – and invite their public display of savagery.

In one very self-glorifying pronouncement, three days before leaving office, Obama has sanctified himself at Manning’s expense and insured Chelsea’s destruction. This is virtuosic Political Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy by a true master!

Jan 182017
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

CIA Has Interfered With Over 81 Foreign Elections in the Past Century

Introduction

The norms of US capitalist democracy include the election of presidential candidates through competitive elections, unimpeded by force and violence by the permanent institutions of the state. Voter manipulation has occurred during the recent elections, as in the case of the John F. Kennedy victory in 1960 and the George W. Bush victory over ‘Al’ Gore in 2000. But despite the dubious electoral outcomes in these cases, the ‘defeated’ candidate conceded and sought via legislation, judicial rulings, lobbying and peaceful protests to register their opposition.

These norms are no longer operative. During the election process, and in the run-up to the inauguration of US President-Elect Donald Trump, fundamental electoral institutions were challenged and coercive institutions were activated to disqualify the elected president and desperate overt public pronouncements threatened the entire electoral order.

We will proceed by outlining the process that is used to undermine the constitutional order, including the electoral process and the transition to the inauguration of the elected president.

Regime Change in America

In recent times, elected officials in the US and their state security organizations have often intervened against independent foreign governments, which challenged Washington’s quest for global domination. This was especially true during the eight years of President Barack Obama’s administration where the violent ousting of presidents and prime ministers through US-engineered coups were routine – under an unofficial doctrine of ‘regime change’.

The violation of constitutional order and electoral norms of other countries has become enshrined in US policy. All US political, administrative and security structures are involved in this process. The policymakers would insist that there was a clear distinction between operating within constitutional norms at home and pursuing violent, illegal regime change operations abroad.

Today the distinction between overseas and domestic norms has been obliterated by the state and quasi-official mass media. The US security apparatus is now active in manipulating the domestic democratic process of electing leaders and transitioning administrations.

The decisive shift to ‘regime change’ at home has been a continual process organized, orchestrated and implemented by elected and appointed officials within the Obama regime and by a multiplicity of political action organizations, which cross traditional ideological boundaries.

Regime change has several components leading to the final solution: First and foremost, the political parties seek to delegitimize the election process and undermine the President-elect. The mass media play a major role demonizing President-Elect Trump with personal gossip, decades-old sex scandals and fabricated interviews and incidents.

Alongside the media blitz, leftist and rightist politicians have come together to question the legitimacy of the November 2016 election results. Even after a recount confirmed Trump’s victory, a massive propaganda campaign was launched to impeach the president-elect even before he takes office – by claiming Trump was an ‘enemy agent’.

The Democratic Party and the motley collection of right-left anti-Trump militants sought to blackmail members of the Electoral College to change their vote in violation of their own mandate as state electors. This was unsuccessful, but unprecedented.

Their overt attack on US electoral norms then turned into a bizarre and virulent anti-Russia campaign designed to paint the elected president (a billionaire New York real estate developer and US celebrity icon) as a ‘tool of Moscow.’ The mass media and powerful elements within the CIA, Congress and Obama Administration insisted that Trump’s overtures toward peaceful, diplomatic relations with Russia were acts of treason.

The outgoing President Obama mobilized the entire leadership of the security state to fabricate ‘dodgy dossiers’ linking Donald Trump to the Russian President Vladimir Putin, insisting that Trump was a stooge or ‘vulnerable to KGB blackmail’. The CIA’s phony documents (arriving via a former British intelligence operative-now free lance ‘security’ contractor) were passed around among the major corporate media who declined to publish the leaked gossip. Months of attempts to get the US media to ‘take the bite’ on the ‘smelly’ dossier were unsuccessful. The semi-senile US Senator John McCain (‘war-hero’ and hysterical Trump opponent) then volunteered to plop the reeking gossip back onto the lap of the CIA Director Brennan and demand the government ‘act on these vital revelations’!

Under scrutiny by serious researchers, the ‘CIA dossier’ was proven to be a total fabrication by way of a former ‘British official – now – in – hiding…!’ Undaunted, despite being totally discredited, the CIA leadership continued to attack the President-Elect. Trump likened the CIA’s ‘dirty pictures hatchet job’ to the thuggish behavior of the Nazis and clearly understood how the CIA leadership was involved in a domestic coup d’état.

CIA Director John Brennan, architect of numerous ‘regime changes’ overseas had brought his skills home – against the President-elect. For the first time in US history, a CIA director openly charged a President or President-elect with betraying the country and threatened the incoming Chief Executive. He coldly warned Trump to ‘just make sure he understands that the implications and impacts (of Trump’s policies) on the United States could be profound…”

Clearly CIA Director Brennan has not only turned the CIA into a sinister, unaccountable power dictating policy to an elected US president, by taking on the tone of a Mafia Capo, he threatens the physical security of the incoming leader.

From a Scratch to Gangrene

The worst catastrophe that could fall on the United States would be a conspiracy of leftist and rightist politicos, the corporate mass media and the ‘progressive’ websites and pundits providing ideological cover for a CIA-orchestrated ‘regime change’.

Whatever the limitations of our electoral norms – and there are many – they are now being degraded and discarded in a march toward an elite coup, involving elements of the militarist empire and ‘intelligence’ hierarchy.

Mass propaganda, a ‘red-brown alliance, salacious gossip and accusations of treason (‘Trump, the Stooge of Moscow’) resemble the atmosphere leading to the rise of the Nazi state in Germany. A broad ‘coalition’ has joined hands with a most violent and murderous organization (the CIA) and imperial political leadership, which views overtures to peace to be high treason because it limits their drive for world power and a US dominated global political order.

Jan 092017
 

By James Petras99GetSmart

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Introduction

The global growth and survival of ISIS, in the face of opposition by governments, armies, intelligence agencies and police forces from nearly a hundred countries, requires analysis. We understand ‘ISIS’ as the organized, militant, violent Salafist movement sometimes funded by the royal family of Saudi Arabia.

The Opposition

Those generally opposed to ISIS, in many cases, have pursued a dual and contradictory approach. For example, the United States has, at different times and places, opposed or supported ‘ISIS’.

For example, Washington supported ISIS against the pro-Soviet regime in Afghanistan; the secular nationalist government of Libya guided by Muammar Gaddafi; Moscow in Chechnya; the Baathist government of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Bashar Assad in Syria; several Presidents of the Islamic Republic of Iran; Hezbollah in Lebanon; against the People’s Republic of China fighting Uighur terrorists in Xingjian; against the Houthi nationalists in Yemen.

At various times, and especially today, the US attacked ISIS when it moved against Washington’s allies and vassal regimes.

The US opposed ISIS attacks on its ‘clients and allies’ in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, and when it launched terrorist attacked against the European Union, Australia and Canada. The US opposed ISIS attacks against US-backed regimes in Somalia, Libya, Tunisia and Iraq.

ISIS has also provoked armed responses from other major powers: Russia has attacked ISIS-liked terrorists in the Caucuses, Syria and in its own cities.

Iran has waged war against ISIS in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon and within its own borders.

Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Israel, like the US, have pursued a dual approach to ISIS. On the one hand, they have financed and provided arms and medical treatment to ISIS as part of their ‘regime change’ strategy against President Assad in Syria, while waging war against ISIS when it threatened their own territorial or political ambitions in Syria.

Turkey found itself fighting ISIS when it sought to annex border regions of Syria in order to neutralize the national ambitions of the Kurds.

ISIS: A Global Power

ISIS, despite facing the world’s greatest powers and their allies, has managed to survive in a state of continuous warfare in five continents for nearly two decades. Despite lacking a single warplane or a navy, ISIS has threatened numerous regimes. ISIS attacks have forced NATO to spend tens of billions of dollars on security measures to protect its own citizens. ISIS brutality has contributed to the flood of hundreds of thousands of refugees into Europe, a major destabilizing factor for the European Union. In brief, ISIS has become a global power without a single airplane or submarine!

What Makes ISIS a Global Power?

Western analysts focus on ISIS terrorism, which is the tactical underpinnings of its power and global reach.

Terrorism is a major part of ISIS training, discipline and militant ideology. It is a system of political, economic, cultural and religious education which explains ISIS survival and expansion.

ISIS fuses a value system exalting ethno-religious supremacy with careful tactical regional alliances.

ISIS military leaders have forged alliances with an expansionist Turkey, trading oil for arms, financial resources and logistical support to further their advances in Iraq and Syria while fueling Ankara’s regional hegemonic ambitions. ISIS obtained extensive military and financial support from the Saudi monarchic dictatorship in exchange for ISIS waging terrorist wars against Riyadh’s regional rival Shia regimes.

ISIS pursued many forms of tactical alliance with the US, supporting Washington in its campaigns of ‘regime change’ in Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and Iraq, in exchange for arms, money and territory.

The tactical alliances have been transitory. In Iraq, ISIS switched from attacking Saddam Hussein to waging an unremitting terror campaign against the subsequent US vassals; from defeating Russians in Afghanistan to attacking the US and its local puppet regimes; from cooperating with the US and Turkey against President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, to absorbing or exterminating the so-called ‘moderate’ mercenaries openly backed by Washington and Ankara.

Tactical alliances have been unstable forms of mutual manipulation. They were terminated when ISIS gained the upper hand in the initial alliances. The US counterattacked with its US-Kurdish-Iraqi Regime alliance forcing ISIS to retreat in Iraq. In Syria, the alliance among Damascus, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah decimated ISIS. In Afghanistan, the Taliban has routed ISIS.

The retreat of ISIS in the Middle East has been relative. It has retained its leadership and battle hardened cadre. ISIS expanded with a series of individual terrorist attacks in the heart of the EU, US and Turkey. ISIS has lost only portions of its financial and military supply lines and has not suffered a strategic defeat. ISIS strength resides in its ideology and the quality of its leaders and members and their political-military commitments.

ISIS ideology is based on its belief in the superiority and exceptionality of its value system. ISIS ideology is, therefore, the mirror image of Western Imperialist and Israeli beliefs, which justify military conquests over vast populations of subjugated and degraded people.

Western and Israeli elites stress the superiority of their value systems and indoctrinate true believers into committing atrocities against all ‘others’.

ISIS’s ideology is backed by its members’ deep commitment to its goals and tactics. ISIS political strength is measured by the quality and depth of its supporters’ willingness to kill and die for its strategic goals.

It is the ISIS belief system, and not any cult of the personality, that drives hundreds of ISIS fighters and activists to engage in suicide bombings aimed at strategic military or ‘soft’ civilian targets with high publicity value.

While NATO and Russian powers have superior air and maritime bombing capacity, ISIS has unrivaled human suicide bomber power. ISIS suicide bombers match the high tech bombers of the West in their capacity to terrorize peaceful civilians and create chaos.

Conclusion

ISIS has converted its former tactical alliances with the West and Turkey into strategic weapons against them. ISIS terror bombings in the West are detonated by overseas sympathizers, ‘self-radicalized’ supporters or returning fighters. Decentralized terror is derived from commitments to the centralized battlefields.

ISIS borrowed its overseas operations from the well-documented practices of Western secret services. They place bombs in airplanes and other public venues while arranging the assassination of overseas officials. While ISIS does not have the global resources and complex organizational reach of the multiple intelligence and military structures of the West, it excels with its cadre of followers willing and able to engage in suicide missions – something only a few of their Western terrorist counterparts have been willing to pursue.

The worldwide war between ISIS and the major powers is likely to continue far beyond territorial victories and losses. The only hope of defeating ISIS lies in Western civilians successfully forcing their governments, namely the US and NATO, to end their invasions, occupations and withdraw from the Middle East.

Without Western armies of occupation and detested client regimes, ISIS could no longer claim to defend national and Islamic ideology. ISIS, in essence a foreign ideology, would face popular liberation armies, which draw their strength from the people’s commitments and beliefs in their historic nations, including secular and religious defenders of democratic rights and socialist values.

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

Jan 062017
 

By James Petras99GetSmart

blackrock-is-the-biggest-investor-in-the-world-is-its-dominance-a-problem

The secret of great fortunes without apparent cause is a crime forgotten, for it was properly done.

— Honoré de Balzac, Le Père Goriot, 1835

Among the current crop of Wall Street financiers, Laurence “Larry” Fink has received the greatest number of awards and plaudits. He is the CEO and Chairman of BlackRock (BR), the world’s largest multinational investment management corporation. By 2016, BR had over $5 trillion dollars under management with over 12,000 employees in 70 offices in 30 countries serving clients in 100 countries.

Fink has dominated Wall Street. He holds more assets than his biggest established competitors, because he had the political power to direct the enormous Washington bailout of Wall Street in 2009. He helped shape Hillary Clinton’s emerging Treasury Department team and policies, anticipating her presidential victory. Under a President Hillary Clinton, Fink’s political control would have matched his global economic empire. According to the Economist, Aladdin, the BlackRock electronic subsidiary, monitors 7% of the world’s 225 trillion dollar financial assets.

In the mass media and among the economic elite, Fink is a genius, a self-made empire builder, who has succeeded because he picks the winners and dumps the losers. He is a life-long Democratic Party contributor, although he works with and through both parties and a variety of high ranking government officials and financial CEOs.

As head of the most influential financial institution in the world, with institutional investors comprising over 65% of its assets, Laurence Fink controls the economic lives of many millions of pensioners, workers, employees and managers. Having risen to the pinnacle of financial power, he wields enormous political influence in shaping fundamental economic decisions. Fink’s economic empire is well-known: the financial elite and business publications are awed by his successes.

There is another side of the Rise of Fink. He has consistently cost his employers and clients millions of dollars in losses while never losing his aura of success! His economic empire is less a result of his economic skills and competitiveness and more a result of his political connections and trillion-dollar state contracts. Fink’s most famous financial product, mortgage-based securities led to the biggest collapse in world financial markets since the Great Depression.

Larry Fink is the best example of how an investment loser can become a ‘double’ W (Wall Street – Washington) emperor. Early on Larry Fink demonstrated his flair for incompetence. During his first position with the First Boston Corporation, Fink lost $100 million by betting the wrong way on interest rates.

After a ‘gentleman’s departure’ Fink co-founded BlackRock (BR) in 1988. He proceeded to grow BR by acquiring or merging with lucrative rivals – but not by investing in factories and productive employment. In 2003 Fink merged with Merrill Lynch, doubling BR asset management. The ‘Genius’ Fink, invested $5.4 billion dollars to purchase Peter Cooper Village in Manhattan, the massive residential complex, built by Metropolitan Life in the 1940s. It was heralded as the largest real estate deal in US housing history. The project ended in default, BR clients lost their money, and the California Pension and Retirement system (CALPERS) was out $500 million dollars under Larry’s stewardship. Undaunted, BR continued to grow by merging with PNC Financial Services Group, Barclay’s Global Investors and numerous other financial specialists in speculative ‘products’.

But the big deal propelling Fink into the ‘thirteen digits’ (trillions) occurred in 2009 when newly elected Barack Obama awarded BlackRock with the Government contract to direct the ‘three-trillion dollar’ bailout of big financial companies and to manage the bankruptcy of others. Perhaps because of Fink’s deep ties with top senior officials, the contract was awarded without competitive bidding. Equally important, because of Fink’s ties with the biggest bankers, he facilitated the flow of Treasury trillions to the banks to be ‘bailed out’ while allowing other smaller banks and investment houses to go ‘belly up’ in a process dubbed ‘the cleanup after the meltdown’. BR would naturally buyout these assets at ‘fire sale’ prices. Millions and billions led to trillions on the BR ledgers. By 2010, Fink’s genius status grew and so did the number of wealthy pension funds and major institutional investors in his portfolio – despite his major losses in the recent past – (as Balzac would note, memories do not include ‘crimes properly done’).

Thus, Larry Fink became the most prominent former deadhead turned trillion-dollar speculator. Despite the influx of trillions, BR faces a new, bigger and more dangerous ‘mistaken’ decision. Fink has ploughed hundreds of billions in client funds in Exchange Traded Funds (ETF), which are likely to take a dive as they overvalue and are under pressure to deflate.

Conclusion

BlackRock has been extraordinarily profitable because of Fink’s unique political, social and ethnic ‘identity’ ties to the US Treasury Department. In May 2009, the Fink-Treasury connection resulted in BlackRock receiving the ‘contract’ to manage the cleanup of ‘toxic’ mortgage assets amounting to an astronomical trillion-dollar chunk of business. In other words, Fink’s company would analyze, unwind and assign value onto billions of dollars of assets owned by Bear Stearns, AIG, Freddie Mac, Morgan Stanley and other lucrative firms. Fink would ‘unwind’ the assets and rewind them into his mega fund; he could set prices favoring BR’s market position.

Fink’s history of mediocre market performance was no obstacle to his success because the political links more than compensated – they guaranteed a bonanza for BR.

The business press provided a veneer of technological and mathematical competence, which they cited as the basis for Fink’s/BR trillion dollar success story.

But the historic and contemporary reality of the political-economic success of the big financial houses depends on their political control over the US Treasury. Their ability to trade and get rich depends on a system of favorable state and federal rules (deregulation, taxes, etc.), which establish the necessary framework for the paper economy. This system is light years away from the ‘real’ economy of factories and stable, well-paying jobs for the citizenry.

Fink has turned BR into an empire by spending his time and energy in the politics of controlling and milking the US Treasury. Controlling this activity is more influential than the President of the United States or Pentagon in deciding who among the elite wins and who loses!

Once at the top, legions of journalists and academic courtesans will busily polish the stars in the financial firmament, covering up their failures and turning their political connections into hymns of praise for the ‘hard work and commitment’ of the self-made genius. This spectacle indeed will dazzle the eyes and judgment of lesser speculators. While the same pundits write extensively about the political leaders and lesser economic titans, the more the Larry Finks of Wall Street remain invisible to the citizenry, the greater their political control over the trillion dollar Treasury!

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

Dec 282016
 

By James Petras99GetSmart

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Introduction

A coup has been underway to prevent President-Elect Donald Trump from taking office and fulfilling his campaign promise to improve US-Russia relations. This ‘palace coup’ is not a secret conspiracy, but an open, loud attack on the election. The coup involves important US elites, who openly intervene on many levels from the street to the current President, from sectors of the intelligence community, billionaire financiers out to the more marginal ‘leftist’ shills of the Democratic Party.

The build-up for the coup is gaining momentum, threatening to eliminate normal constitutional and democratic constraints. This essay describes the brazen, overt coup and the public operatives, mostly members of the outgoing Obama regime.

The second section describes the Trump’s cabinet appointments and the political measures that the President-Elect has adopted to counter the coup. We conclude with an evaluation of the potential political consequences of the attempted coup and Trump’s moves to defend his electoral victory and legitimacy.

The Coup as ‘Process’

In the past few years Latin America has experienced several examples of the seizure of Presidential power by unconstitutional means, which may help illustrate some of the current moves underway in Washington. These are especially interesting since the Obama Administration served as the ‘midwife’ for these ‘regime changes’.

Brazil, Paraguay, Honduras and Haiti experienced coups, in which the elected Presidents were ousted through a series of political interventions orchestrated by economic elites and their political allies in Congress and the Judiciary.

President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton were deeply involved in these operations as part of their established foreign policy of ‘regime change’. Indeed, the ‘success’ of the Latin American coups has encouraged sectors of the US elite to attempt to prevent President-elect Trump from taking office in January.

While similarities abound, the on-going coup against Trump in the United States occurs within a very different power configuration of proponents and antagonists.

Firstly, this coup is not against a standing President, but targets an elected president set to take office on January 20, 2017. Secondly, the attempted coup has polarized leading sectors of the political and economic elite. It even exposes a seamy rivalry within the intelligence-security apparatus, with the political appointees heading the CIA involved in the coup and the FBI supporting the incoming President Trump and the constitutional process. Thirdly, the evolving coup is a sequential process, which will build momentum and then escalate very rapidly.

Coup-makers depend on the ‘Big Lie’ as their point of departure – accusing President-Elect Trump of 1) being a Kremlin stooge, attributing his electoral victory to Russian intervention against his Democratic Party opponent, Hillary Clinton and 2) blatant voter fraud in which the Republican Party prevented minority voters from casting their ballot for Secretary Clinton.

The first operatives to emerge in the early stages of the coup included the marginal-left Green Party Presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein, who won less than 1% of the vote, as well as the mass media.

In the wake of her resounding defeat, Candidate Stein usurped authority from the national Green Party and rapidly raked in $8 million dollars in donations from Democratic Party operatives and George Soros-linked NGOs (many times the amount raised during her Presidential campaign). This dodgy money financed her demand for ballot recounts in selective states in order to challenge Trump’s victory. The recounts failed to change the outcome, but it was a ‘first shot across the bow’, to stop Trump. It became a propaganda focus for the neo-conservative mass media to mobilize several thousand Clintonite and liberal activists.

The purpose was to undermine the legitimacy of Trump’s electoral victory. However, Jill Stein’s $8 million dollar shilling for Secretary Clinton paled before the oncoming avalanche of mass media and NGO propaganda against Trump. Their main claim was that anonymous ‘Russian hackers’ and not the American voters had decided the US Presidential election of November 2016!

The Big Lie was repeated and embellished at every opportunity by the print and broadcast media. The ‘experts’ were trotted out voicing vitriolic accusations, but they never presented any facts and documentation of a ‘rigged election’. Everyday, every hour, the ‘Russian Plot’ was breathlessly described in the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Financial Times, CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, BBC, NPR and their overseas followers in Europe, Asia, Latin America, Oceania and Africa. The great American Empire looked increasingly like a ‘banana republic’.

Like the billionaire Soros-funded Color Revolutions, from Ukraine, to Georgia and Yugoslavia, the ‘Rainbow Revolt’ against Trump, featured grass-roots NGO activists and ‘serious leftists’, like Jill Stein.

The more polished political operatives from the upscale media used their editorial pages to question Trump’s illegitimacy. This established the ground work for even higher level political intervention: The current US Administration, including President Obama, members of the US Congress from both parties, and current and former heads of the CIA jumped into the fray. As the vote recount ploy flopped, they all decided that ‘Vladimir Putin swung the US election!’ It wasn’t just lunatic neo-conservative warmongers who sought to oust Trump and impose Hillary Clinton on the American people, liberals and social democrats were screaming ‘Russian Plot!’ They demanded a formal Congressional investigation of the ‘Russian cyber hacking’ of Hillary’s personal e-mails (where she plotted to cheat her rival ‘Bernie Sanders’ in the primaries). They demanded even tighter economic sanctions against Russia and increased military provocations. The outgoing Democratic Senator and Minority Leader ‘Harry’ Reid wildly accused the FBI of acting as ‘Russian agents’ and hinted at a purge.

The coup intensified as Trump-Putin became synonymous for “betrayal” and “election fraud”.

As this approached a crescendo of media hysteria, President Barack Obama stepped in and called on the CIA to seize domestic control of the investigation of Russian manipulation of the US election – essentially accusing President-Elect Trump of conspiring with the Russian government. Obama refused to reveal any proof of such a broad plot, citing ‘national security’.

President Obama solemnly declared the Trump-Putin conspiracy was a grave threat to American democracy and Western security and freedom. He darkly promised to retaliate against Russia, “…at a time and place of our choosing”.

Obama also pledged to send more US troops to the Middle East and increase arms shipments to the jihadi terrorists in Syria, as well as the Gulf State and Saudi ‘allies’. Coincidentally, the Syrian Government and their Russian allies were poised to drive the US-backed terrorists out of Aleppo – and defeat Obama’s campaign of ‘regime change’ in Syria.

Trump Strikes Back: The Wall Street-Military Alliance

Meanwhile, President-Elect Donald Trump did not crumple under the Clintonite-coup in progress. He prepared a diverse counter-attack to defend his election, relying on elite allies and mass supporters.

Trump denounced the political elements in the CIA, pointing out their previous role in manufacturing the justifications (he used the term ‘lies’) for the invasion of Iraq in 2003. He appointed three retired generals to key Defense and Security positions – indicating a power struggle between the highly politicized CIA and the military. Active and retired members of the US Armed Forces have been key Trump supporters. He announced that he would bring his own security teams and integrate them with the Presidential Secret Service during his administration.

Although Clinton-Obama had the major mass media and a sector of the financial elite who supported the coup, Trump countered by appointing several key Wall Street and corporate billionaires into his cabinet who had their own allied business associations.

One propaganda line for the coup, which relied on certain Zionist organizations and leaders (ADL, George Soros et al), was the bizarre claim that Trump and his supporters were ‘anti-Semites’. This was were countered by Trump’s appointment of powerful Wall Street Zionists like Steven Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary and Gary Cohn (both of Goldman Sachs) to head the National Economic Council. Faced with the Obama-CIA plot to paint Trump as a Russian agent for Vladimir Putin, the President-Elect named security hardliners including past and present military leaders and FBI officials, to key security and intelligence positions.

The Coup: Can it succeed?

In early December, President Obama issued an order for the CIA to ‘complete its investigation’ on the Russian plot and manipulation of the US Presidential election in six weeks – right up to the very day of Trump’s inauguration on January 20, 2017! A concoction of pre-cooked ‘findings’ is already oozing out of secret clandestine CIA archives with the President’s approval. Obama’s last-ditch effort will not change the outcome of the election. Clearly this is designed to poison the diplomatic well and present Trump’s incoming administration as dangerous. Trump’s promise to improve relations with Russia will face enormous resistance in this frothy, breathless hysteria of Russophobia.

Ultimately, President Obama is desperate to secure his legacy, which has consisted of disastrous and criminal imperial wars and military confrontations. He wants to force a continuation of his grotesque policies onto the incoming Trump Administration. Will Trump succumb? The legitimacy of his election and his freedom to make policy will depend on overcoming the Clinton-Obama-neo-con-leftist coup with his own bloc of US military and the powerful Wall Street allies, as well as his mass support among the ‘angry’ American electorate. Trump’s success at thwarting the current ‘Russian ploy’ requires his forming counter alliances with Washington plutocrats, many of whom will oppose any diplomatic agreement with Putin. Trump’s appointment of hardline economic plutocrats who are deeply committed to shredding social programs (public education, Medicare, Social Security) could ignite the anger of his mass supporters by savaging their jobs, health care, pensions and their children’s future.

If Trump defeats the avalanching media, CIA and elite-instigated coup (which interestingly lack support from the military and judiciary), he will have to thank, not only his generals and billionaire-buddies, but also his downwardly mobile mass supporters (Hillary Clinton’s detested ‘basket of deplorables’). He embarked on a major series of ‘victory tours’ around the country to thank his supporters among the military, workers, women and small business people and call on them to defend his election to the presidency. He will have to fulfill some of his promises to the masses or face ‘the real fire’, not from Clintonite shills and war-mongers, but from the very people who voted for him.

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

Dec 212016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

Introduction

There are deep flaws in the blogs, media reports, and official statements, which purport to describe world historic events and changes.

These so-called ‘up-to-date’ reports of major world events undergo repeated revisions in hours, days or weeks as the story is being ‘played out’. What might start out as a ‘scoop’ for the upwardly mobile journalist is transformed into a by-word for a ‘critical blogger’ rewriting mainstream reports by simply substituting negatives for pluses (or vice versa).

‘Immediacy’ trumps historical context and structural understanding. Protagonist or antagonists of the moment are demonized, slandered and scandalized, or lauded, praised and iconized.

The practice of deep falsification involves magnifying transient trivia and glossing over world-historic change. The false prophets substitute superficiality for deep understanding.

Soon after proclaiming a ‘major systemic transformation’, which fail to occur, a series of modifications or reversals take over, and the initial ‘great prophesy’ is forgotten – as if the readers of news were afflicted with an epidemic of dementia.

Most political parties, left, right and center, have their own unchanging warped world view to frame everyday minutiae.

For example, on the Left, it is the ‘imminent collapse of capitalism’ or the ‘perpetual stagnation of the capitalist state’, ‘the collapse of democracy’ or ‘the emergence of fascism’. In the absence of any real empirical or historical findings to support their hypotheses, they add escape clauses about ‘tendencies’.

The Center has its own historic narrative, which includes ‘threats from the Left and Right’, and the ‘dangers posed by populists to democratic values’. They cite the overwhelming responsibility to ‘defend Western values’ everywhere, from threats, past, present and future … and especially from independent nations, like Russia, China, Venezuela, Iran and other ‘emerging’ powers, as a pretext to escalate militarism and to bolster support for  vassal states.

The Center repeatedly point to the ‘resilience of Western liberal democratic institutions’ even as police state edicts are dictated to counter dissenting voices, while false prophets predict that China’s robust economy is on the verge of collapse; that democratic Russia is an unstable autocracy; and that the Ukraine is an emerging democracy – while its ‘Right Sector’ and ‘Azov Battalions’ runs amok amidst a kleptocratic, neo-fascist regime

The Right frames its world-historic ideology by stressing the need to (1) revive the Cold War to counter the US global decline; (2) confront the world-wide wave of ‘populism’ threatening ‘liberal’ democracies; (3) portray Brexit as a sign of the European Union’s collapse; (4) equate Trump’s victory with the rise of fascism in the US; (5) emphasize the ascent of bigotry, racism and anti-Semitism, based on the result of a single election; (6) denounce Leftists ‘conspiracy’ writers who ‘falsely’ blame rising class inequalities to free-market monopolies; and (7) explain that  cuts in social expenditures, tax cuts to big capital, increased work hours and decreased pensions are ultimately rewarding the masses.

These mega-narratives lead ‘prophetic academics’ to insist on their infallible insight into the future direction of the world economy, global politics and class relations.

False prophets maintain a veneer of authenticity, by presenting the future in unspecified, ambiguous, general and distant terms, to allow for any or all outcomes – like professional fortune tellers.

Academic and media prophets are enveloped in a mystique of expertise, which allows them to rehash yesterday’s news as deep strategic insights.

False Prophets: Trump

Contrary to the wailings of the Right, Center and Left, Donald Trump is not a fascist, or a nationalist or a populist. An objective assessment of his most recent policies and cabinet appointments show that he is a free-market politician with a propensity to appoint militarists to security positions.

Trump’s populist demagogy most closely resembles President Obama – although the appeal is to a different audience. Trump speaks to impoverished, displaced, skilled workers in the rust belt with campaign promises of a renaissance in manufacturing, upscale suburbanites, and downwardly mobile working women, while appointing billionaire bankers and global business executives to run the economy and set policy. Obama appealed to poor minorities, middle class urbanites and the same business elite.

Like Obama, Trump is an imperialist committed to protecting and projecting US global power. He differs from Obama in emphasis. Obama and his predecessors pursued a primarily military-driven imperialism while Trump will shift the emphasis to economic imperialism.

Trump’s ‘double discourse’, of talking to the masses during the campaign while working for the elite once in office, reflects a long-standing American Presidential tradition.

Editorial writers’ descriptions of Donald Trump lack historical and empirical depth.

Powerful systemic constraints define the rate and scope of any long-term, large-scale changes that Trump might propose. Trump can only introduce minor incremental changes in the behavior of the biggest banks and five hundred most powerful global multi-nationals. Trump might re-negotiate around the edges of some bilateral trade agreements, but he cannot convert the US into a closed self-sufficient economy.

Contrary to the ‘end of the world’ hysteria, promoted by the mass media, Trump has never made any pact with white racists and anti-Semites. There are no major Jewish organizations currently engaged in a struggle against Trump’s ‘fascist hordes’. The KKK is not preparing to burn Goldman Sachs. Since Trump’s election the stock market has jump over a thousand points. Like all of his predecessors from both parties, Trump appointed prominent Jews to key economic and policy positions, including Treasury Secretary. Many editorialists, who rely on selected excerpts of campaign rhetoric and gossip, have presented an unrealistic picture of the trajectory of the US state and economy.

False Prophets: China

The US prophets and self-described ‘experts’ describe China in inflated terms of either its impending doom or its relentless drive toward world supremacy. They rely on the minutiae of the moment or distorted extrapolations, uncertainties and contingent systemic changes. Rigorous analytical accounts are in short supply.

China, according to the free-market financial prophets of doom, suffers from a declining growth rate, shrinking work force, massive capital flight, deep-seated corruption and an impending intra-elite war. According to the prophets of doom, this sets the stage for an economic collapse and a military confrontation with the US empire.

Many of these pronouncements are easily dismissed. For the last 30 years, China’s economy has exceeded 6% and it is steadily developing its high technological work force and scientific innovations. China’s emphasis is on diversifying its production and consumption to domestic and overseas markets. The challenge of its aging work force is met by the increasing development of robotics and computerized productive systems.

China has applied capital controls and limits on capital flight. The national campaign against corruption and real estate speculation in real estate has led to the arrest of over 200,000 officials and executives for fraud, bribery and money laundering via overseas banks.

In other words, the false prophets, parading about as ‘China experts’, have consistently made nonsensical predictions of doom and collapse. Faced with factual refutations, they merely repeat and recycle their prophecies by projecting longer time frames, up to infinity, for the coming of the inevitable catastrophe.

On the other hand, some progressive writers peddle prophesies of China’s endless progress predicting its inevitable emergence as a supreme global power. They convert China’s 30-year pattern of economic growth into a formula guaranteeing ‘harmonious development’, which they claim is based on China’s correct handling of emerging challenges and contradictions. Their predictions of stable future growth assume ever-expanding markets while ignoring the threat of military confrontations with rival imperial powers.

China’s prophets of global power ignore contingencies: Skilled and innovative workers, who are necessary for economic growth, have their own vision of the social structure in which they play a leading role in advancing society.

While robots can substitute for human labor power, it is worker knowledge and initiative that design, produce and adjust the robotic manufacturing system.

Harmony, free markets and mutually beneficial trade alliances are relations that are always changing; only interests remain constant. As China moves from investing in commodities to manufacturing and technology, customers can turn into competitors.

As China emerges as a global power, the outflow of capital and arms and technology increases, and the risks of global rivalry and domestic instability, challenging the Chinese ruling class likewise increase.

Prophecies or predictions depend on (1) the stability of incremental changes in the structure of power; (2) the uncertainty of elite outcomes in world markets and (3) the volatility of domestic class relations.

False Prophets: Latin America

Latin America is almost universally regarded as unstable – a region, where revolutions and counter-revolutions alternate, and electoral regimes rise and fall among neo-liberal, populist and nationalist leaders.

The long-term reality is actually quite different. Latin America has been one of global capitalism’s most stable regions. With few exceptions, property-ownership has remained stable for decades, with entrenched oligarchical elite families enjoying wealth, multiple-luxury properties throughout the world and their own perpetuation.

Electoral regimes may frequently change but the underlying state structures endure for decades. Bureaucratic, military and financial institutions set the margins of change. Neo-liberal, post-neo-liberal and anti-neo-liberal policies come and go, but large-scale mining, export agricultural and banking structures ultimately set the conditions for the growth of economies and demise of governments.

There is a tendency for some academic prophets and writers to use metaphors from astronomy and geology to divide the world. They describe a ‘world-system’ composed of ‘a core, a semi-periphery and a periphery’. Adding and subtracting, multiplying and dividing quantities of productive resources, the false prophets solemnly predict how the entire world system will function ‘ad infinitum’.

While data, derived from observations in space, provide scientists with insights into the movements of distant galaxies and the fate of planets, extrapolation to socio-economic and political ‘bodies’ is risky.

On the real planet Earth, the so-called ‘periphery’ of the ‘world system’ subsumes countries, economies, social structures, states and inter-state relations with entirely distinct composition, behavior and histories. Cuba, a ‘peripheral state’, differs in every respect from Haiti, Guatemala and scores of other likewise categorized nations. And among the ‘core’ countries, the US invades, occupies and plunders dozens of countries every decade, while China engages in ‘trade’. Iran, among the ‘semi-peripherals’, has not invaded any neighbor for two centuries, while Israel, a fellow ‘semi-peripheral’, has ravaged a dozen countries in the past 50 years.

False Prophets: Russia

Western prophets on the right and left predicted that the break-up of the USSR would augur a period of harmony, democracy and widespread prosperity. The true believers claimed ‘anything was better than Stalinism’ while ignoring the fact that Stalin was dead for a half-century.

Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev oversaw the transformation of the USSR’s allied nations into pillaged satellites of the Western imperial powers. He blindly accepted US Presidents Bush and Ronald Reagan’s promises that the US would not expand NATO and would not transform the newly emerging post-Soviet nations into military bases. What emerged was a crippled and encircled Russia, which had been converted into a Beggar-State of oligarchs and swindlers who seized over a trillion dollars of public property, wealth, land and resources in less than ten years. Gangsters murdered their way into public office through US-manipulated sham elections, celebrated by the Western press. Living standards for millions of post-Soviet citizens collapsed, resulting in the greatest decline of life expectancy, health, culture, science and education in peacetime history.

Contrary to the predictions of Western prophets Russia rebuilt its state and economy. The new political leadership, headed by Vladimir Putin, replaced the dipsomaniac puppet President and mobsters favored by Washington. Living and health standards have vastly improved; production, agriculture, exports, national security, science and culture have recovered.

The angry  false prophets, then promoted a new pseudo-scientific assertion that the re-emergence of the Russian state and its recovering economy led inexorably to autocratic rule by a former KGB official, who violated ‘Western values’ by…. jailing swindler billionaires and self-made oil mobsters and re-appropriating vital national assets.

Western editorialists ceaselessly denounce the popularly elected President Putin for his crime … of refuting the bankruptcy of their prophecies.

Despite reams of reports by the ‘experts’, despite their wide circulation in the mass media and their citations by top Western officials, the Russian state and economy, just like the Chinese, are not on the verge of collapse nor are they declining or facing popular revolts.

False Prophets: The Left

The shallow, self-serving Left prophets of progressive governments in Latin America, as well as admirers of Putin’s Russia and Xi Jinping’s China, fail to recognize the structural, historical and class constraints that determine and limit policies.

First and foremost, they fail to recognize the socio-economic continuities within these states. In all three regions, elites and oligarchs continue to control the commanding heights of the economies, despite occasional expropriations and sporadic reforms.

Secondly, even the most ‘progressive’ regimes rely on Western markets and investors limiting their long-term growth.

Thirdly, the long-term dependence on extractive exports, global demand and fragile mono-culture economies weakens the long-term stability of Russia and Latin America.

The absence of a socialist democratic alternative to the brutal capitalist restoration in China undermines the optimistic perspective of progressive prophets.

Conclusion

The debate among experts, regarding the rise or decline of the Imperial West or the progressive forces in China, Russia and Latin America, fails to consider their ‘hidden resources and liabilities’. These include the untapped scientific discoveries, the failure to develop alternative resources and innovations, as well as the ongoing repression of skilled workers. The Western prophets underestimate how the reliance on the paper economy has squandered immense social and productive value.

The ongoing cultural deformations, perversions and falsifications of information and analysis at the behest of established power centers, has clouded any real understanding of everyday life and greatly reduced our chances for a future without barbaric wars and social exploitation.

Culture is an everyday phenomenon determining how economies and states, rulers and ruled see the world, exercise power or are forced to submit.

We have witnessed the spread of cultural squalor into language and life, with only an occasional respite, when people overcome their everyday stupor and create a momentary burst of creative political, economic, social and cultural energy, which can lead to transformations.

Humdrum incremental changes, left and right, and the reality of continuities, limit and ultimately reverse social reforms and corrupt language to serve the ruling powers. We must move forward against the flatulence of everyday life by rejecting the false prophets and by writing, speaking and acting against crackpot sages. Our progress toward a new order must be firmly rooted in our everyday struggles writ large.

Dec 142016
 

By James Petras99GetSmart

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Introduction

In recent times, and probably since the establishment of universal voting, presidents-elect have systematically violated or broken their promises to their supporters.

This essay begins with the campaign promises of the outgoing President Barack Obama and the President-Elect Donald Trump. We will then examine the reasons why rhetorical populist, peaceful and democratic promises always accompany campaigns and are immediately followed by the victor appointing cabinet members who are committed to elite-driven, militarist and authoritarian policies – so far from the expectations of the voters.

Obama: Style and Substance

Barack Obama, like all demagogues, promised American voters that he would end the US military occupation of Iraq, close the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, end torture and secrecy, defend civil liberties, protect mortgage holders swindled by Wall Street bankers, introduce a real health care reform and develop a path to citizenship for undocumented migrant workers and their families.

Above all, Obama promoted the notion that he was ‘the historic African-American President’ tasked with fulfilling the promises of the civil rights revolution. Obama spoke to civil and human rights activists, promising an end to racial violence and inequality. He promised to end state intrusion and violation of individual freedoms.

The ‘Historic Black President’: Unprecedented Number of Broken Promises

All Presidents, to a greater or lesser degree, have broken electoral pledges. But, far and away, President Barack Obama broke more and bigger promises over his two terms than any of his predecessors. His administration was one of making and then immediately revising and reversing promises to his supporters. Every one of his promises for social reform, health care and foreign policy based on diplomacy and respect merely served as a prelude to imposing new and more regressive policies and launching more wars.

The record is clear: Over the eight years of his presidency, Obama degraded the expectations of every popular constituency that he courted and won during the campaigns. Black Americans voted for Obama 10 to 1 during both campaigns! Despite the overwhelming support form African Americans, income inequalities between white and black workers increased, deadly police violence against Afro-Americans increased, and white vigilante assaults, including the torching of Afro-American churches, multiplied. Non-violent African-American drug offenders (dealers and users) were incarcerated at a rate far exceeding their white counterparts, while the giant pharmaceutical corporate elites and the doctors prescribing highly addictive narcotics and fueling the opioid addiction epidemic counted their mushrooming profits with total impunity.

Obama pursued seven wars and scores of violent covert operations, exceeding his predecessor, President George Bush, Jr. His wars led to the greatest combined numbers of dispossessed, wounded and murdered Africans, Arabs, South Asians and Eastern Europeans in world history.

Obama transferred $2 trillion dollars from the US Treasury to bail two dozen Wall Street banks, which then continued to foreclose on the homes of 3 million working class households – contrary to his campaign rhetoric.

Leading multi-national corporations successfully hid over $2 trillion dollars of profits in overseas tax havens. The President occasionally mouthed some ‘lollipop rhetorical criticism’ against the big corporate tax evaders while continuing to tax the over-worked working people – whose living standards steadily declined.

Militarists infected the entire Obama administration to an extent not seen since the warmongers Harry Truman and Winston Churchill cynically launched the Cold War.

Obama pursued a policy of encircling Russia with US and NATO military bases stationed from the new US’ Baltic satellites to the Balkans, from the Mediterranean to the Caucuses.

The Obama regime financed the violent putsches and bloody attempts at ‘regime change’ in Ukraine, Syria, Somalia, Libya, Honduras and Yemen – with devastating result to millions of displaced and destitute people. No other warlord, past or present, can match the Obama regime in sowing misery and mayhem.

Obama: Speaks in Tongues

Obama, ever the chameleon, spoke in different accents and cadences to different audiences: To the young, he jived with rappers, hoopsters, baseball stars and stage and screen celebrities. To black church ladies, this Honolulu-born and bred graduate of the elite Punahou academy and Harvard Law School, would adopt a southern Baptist drawl – completely foreign to the speech of his mother and grandmother. When he turned to his sophisticated white Chicago groomers and supporters in the finance sector, he reverted to speaking with a deep well-modulated gravitas.

His language was full of euphemisms: the famous ‘pivot to Asia’ meant an aggressive and dangerous maritime and aerial encirclement of China, with the aim of crippling Asia’s greatest economy.

While he spoke of ‘environmental protections and workers’ rights’, he pushed for a Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement giving multi-national corporations the power to gut labor rights and environmental regulations.

The Obama regime had loudly promised to protect Native-American access to their traditional water and land, as well as cultural, community and religious sites. In practice, he protected the big oil and gas pipelines projects infringing on native lands with brutal militarized police and private mercenary guards, beating and jailing social justice activists and threatening journalists.

Obama has strengthened the enforcement of existing police state surveillance operations despite their violations of constitutional freedoms and he imposed an extension of police state rule, especially against ‘whistle-blowers’. With one of the most secretive administrations in history, Obama has prosecuted, destroyed and imprisoned more heroic public servants – for the ‘crime’ of exposing state crimes to the citizenry. He actively flaunted Federal laws guaranteeing the protection of ‘whistle-blowers’ and has sent a chill throughout the public sector – demoralizing the best of our public servants.

Donald Trump: Electoral Promises and Post-Election Betrayals

Intent on surpassing the broken promises of President Obama, President-Elect Trump quickly reversed his rhetorical campaign promise to ‘drain the swamp’ of Washington and embraced his ‘sworn enemies’ with the fervor of a veteran courtesan. Traditional Republican politicians, business people and Wall Streeters, initially opposed to ‘The Donald’, have all jumped on the bandwagon and into Trump’s open arms.

Trump broke his main campaign promises to the electorate. Announcing he would not ‘jail’ Hillary Clinton for her activities concerning the Clinton Foundation while in office, Trump instead praised her courage and integrity. Upon his election, Trump even pandered to the former President Bill ‘Oval Office sex scandal’ Clinton. While Trump may have a change of heart regarding the sleaze and crimes of the Clintons, his mass supporters have not.

Trump openly praised Hillary Clinton in exchange for her initial decision not to challenge his election victory and ‘transition’. However her use of surrogate Green Party candidate Jill Stein to challenge the election count and the CIA/Democratic Party’s accusations of Russian-Trump-FBI collusion in influencing the campaign may force him to review his decision as the makings of a palace coup-d’etat seem to emerge from ‘the swamp’.

His ongoing private business dealings, which he promised to renounce, have continued – to the consternation of his loyal activist base.

Trump has sent mixed signals with his choices for senior cabinet officials: He broke his promises on economic, diplomatic and foreign policy by appointing or considering several mainstream Republicans for major positions, including a vocal critic for UN Representative. Mainstream Republicans were contemptuous of Trumps mass electoral support base. Nevertheless, Trump has appointed business CEO’s who were more market-oriented and less militaristic than the typical Republican and Democratic establishment politicians.

He also kept his his campaign promise to protect US commerce and industry, by favoring a trade-oriented policy with Russia. He wants to negotiate more advantageous trade agreements with the Chinese president. He has announced his appointment of Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, a very concrete move toward ending the sanctions against Russia, which have shut American businesses and energy giants out of that huge market.

Trump has appealed directly to the ‘Israel-Firster’ crowd, vowing to ‘tear up’ the nuclear agreement with Iran, which was so unpopular with militant American and Israeli Jews. Despite calling it the ‘worst agreement in US history’, he appears to have given ‘the nod’ to the big oil and gas interests who are happily signing multi-billion dollar deals with Tehran and to the aerospace giant Boeing to sell a new fleet of passenger jets to Iran.

Electoral demagoguery is not just an Obama affliction. Broken promises are ‘stock and trade’ for all Democratic and Republican Presidents. Deceit and phony populist language are standard fare because these are what capitalist democracy demands of its political representatives.

The Structural Basis of Capitalist Democracy

Under capitalist democracies, Presidents put on the appearance of ‘talking to real folks’ while skillfully working for the biggest capitalists and bankers.

When ‘capitalist democracy’ is under threat and discredited, the search for populist demagogues kicks in. While activists for peace and social justice were organizing huge masses of demonstrators against the banks during the ‘Occupy Wall Street Movement’, the Wall Streeters trotted out America’s “First Black President” to divert the anger of bankrupted mortgage holders, con the white students, fool Latino voters, charm the Black church-ladies and lead them all into the corrupt embrace of the Democratic Party.

When the economy forced millions of people into low-paying dead-end jobs and declining living standards, when globalization impoverished local small and middle business people and shop keepers, a loud mouth billionaire casino king appears on the scene to bark phony populist rhetoric denouncing Madame Secretary Hillary Clinton for her most carnal ties with Wall Street. And he gets elected President of the United States!.

In other words, when capitalism is in crisis the demagogues ‘come out of the woodwork’.

Flamboyant capitalist demagogues replace the normal deceitful standard bearers of corrupt electoral politics. Obama and Trump’s demagoguery won-out over Hillary Clinton’s and Mitt Romney’s boring speech-makers. No matter how outlandish their lies, Hillary and Mitt could not grab the voters’ imagination.

Capitalist democracies have become more fragile as economic crises become entrenched and recoveries are brief and weak. The frequent rise of presidential demagogues, from Obama to Trump, reflects the capitalist elites’ refusal to share any productivity gains with the workers or to pay taxes on overseas/imperial profits and thus lessen the tax burden on wage-earners, or to invest in a productive economy employing well-paid workers rather than engaging in speculation.

‘Capitalist democracy’ can no long deceive the voters. Half of eligible voters abstain from a process that does not reflect their interests. And half of the actual voters reject traditional politicians. To retain any veneer of electoral legitimacy and enable the capitalists to continue their rule, demagogues have to replace the ‘damaged goods’ politicians who have prostituted themselves too openly and too often.

Over eighty percent of voters know that their votes have no impact on political decisions regarding war and peace, domestic inequalities and income distribution – real issues.

Capitalism can no longer reproduce itself through a faux electoral machine. Were it not for the predictable emergence of novelties, like ‘America’s First Black’ Obama or the ‘Shock-Jock’ celebrity Trump to occupy the White House on waves of mass protest votes, tens of millions of absentee and discontented voters might fill the streets, boot out the phony union bosses who ‘speak for’ only 7% of wage earners, and reject the two political parties united ‘at the hip’ in their service to the elite one percent.

Conclusion

Let us imagine that the capitalist demagogues finally lose their mass appeal in the face of repeated broken promises. Let us assume there will be a temporary return to bland, reliable, everyday political hucksters, as this so-called cycle of ‘outsiders’ gets played out. The mass discontent will not go away. As the economic crisis and inequalities grow, extra-parliamentary public outbursts will are inevitable. With them, fear and uncertainty among bankers, speculators and billionaire electronic gadget makers will set in. The much ballyhooed ‘silicon architecture’ will crumble like sandcastles. The capitalist class may have to turn from ballots to bullets. At that point, can they entrust their wealth and status in the hands of thousands of soldiers and police ordered to gun down and round up millions of their fellow American workers? Or are they dreaming of robots…?

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