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.

Dec 062016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

With a few notable exceptions, political leaders are chosen by political leaders, and not by electorates or community-based organizations or popular assemblies. Popular media figures and the so-called ‘pundits’, including academics and self-declared experts and ‘think-tank’ analysts reinforce and propagate these choices.

A collection of terms and pseudo concepts are essential in validating what is really an oligarchical process. These concepts are tagged onto whoever is chosen by the elite for electoral candidates or for the seizure of political power. With this framework in mind, we have to critically analyze the symbols and signs used by popular opinion-makers as they promote political elites. We will conclude by posing an alternative to the ‘propaganda of choice’, which has so far resulted in broken pre-election promises and political debacles.

Language and Pseudo-Concepts: Subterfuges for Manipulated Choices

The usual suspects in the business of mass-manipulation describe their political leaders in the same folksy or pseudo-serious terms that they attribute to themselves: Experts/ intuitive improvisers/ trial and error ‘muddlers’. The ‘experts’ often mean wrong-headed policymakers and advisers whose decisions usually reflect the demands of their current paymasters. Their stated or unstated assumptions are rarely questioned and almost never placed in the context of the contemporary power structures. The experts determine the future trajectory for their political choices. In this way, the views expressed by ‘experts’ are primarily ideological and not some disembodied scholarly entity floating in an indeterminate space and time.

Pundits often promote ‘experience’ in describing the ‘experienced’ leader, adviser or cabinet member. They denigrate the opposition candidate adversary as ‘lacking experience’. The obvious questions to this platitude should be: ‘What kind of experience? What were the political results of this experience? Who did this experience serve?

We know that Secretaries of Defense William Gates and Donald Rumsfeld and their leading assistants, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith were appointed to their high positions and praised for their ‘experience’. This ‘experience’ drove the country into repeated disastrous military engagements, political debacles and unending wars. It would be better to reject officials who are highly ‘experienced’ in creating disasters and appoint those officials experienced in conciliation and reconciliation. Unfortunately the ‘experts’ never discuss these matters in any historical context.

Many political choices are adorned with ‘titles’, such as ‘successful entrepreneur’ and/or ‘prize winning journalist’. This ignores the fact that those ‘bestowing titles’ come from a narrow band of inbred organizations with financial, military or ideological interests looking for near-future rewards from their now titled, prize winning political choice.

Highly certified candidates, we are told, are those eminently qualified to lead, whether they are university academics with prestigious degrees, or doctors, lawyers, or investors who work for leading groups. The most highly vetted officials coming from Harvard University have implemented economic policies leading to the worst crises in the shortest time in world history.

Lawrence Summers, PhD and Harvard University President-turned Treasury Secretary participated in the pillage of Russia in the 1990s and then brought his talent for sowing international chaos home by joining Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. These two ‘experts’ promoted enormous financial swindles, which led to the worst economic crash in the US in seven decades.

Money laundering by the big banks flourished under Princeton Summa Cum Laude and US Treasury ‘Under-Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence’, Stuart Levey. Levey concentrated on implementing brutal economic sanctions against Iran shutting US businesses out of multi-billion-dollar oil deals with Tehran, promoting a huge annual $4 billion-dollar giveaway to Israel and a granting a uniquely privileged trade status for the Jewish state – which cost the US taxpayers additional billions.

Receiving ‘prestigious awards’ does not predict a successful policymaker in contemporary US politics. The underlying ideological commitments and political allegiances determine the appointment of these ‘prize-winning’ leaders. From an objective perspective, any obscure college economics graduate, eager to increase high tech US exports and sign profitable trade agreements with Iran, would have been far more successful political choice as Secretary of Treasury.

Frequently ‘identity’ colors the choice of appointees, especially favoring an ‘oppressed’ minority, even if their field of competence and their political allegiances run counter to the real interests and political needs of the vast majority of American citizens. Some ‘ethnic’ groups wear their identity on their shirt sleeves as a point of entry into lucrative or influential appointments: “Hello, I’m a Jewish graduate of Yale Law school, which makes me the best choice for an appointment to the Supreme Court … where there are already three Jews out of the ten Justices… and only an anti-Semite would consider a fourth to be an ‘over-representation’ of our tiny national minority… whereas the total absence of any WASPs (white Anglo-Protestants) on ‘The Court’ only confirms their historical degeneracy…” Who could object to that?

‘Identity’ appointees are not reluctant to employ scare tactics, including citing old historical grievances and claiming special suffering unique to their heritage, to justify their appointment to privileged, lucrative positions. Their identity also seems to insulate them from any fall-out from their policy catastrophes such as disastrous wars and economic crises, as well as providing impunity for their personal involvement in financial mega-swindles.

Race and claims of victimization often serves as a justification for being a political ‘chosen one’. We are told repeatedly that some appointee, even with a tangential link to skin color, must have suffered past indignities and is therefore uniquely qualified to represent the aspirations of an entire group, promising to eliminate all inequality, right injustices and promote peace and prosperity. Racial identity never prevented three of the worst Caribbean tyrants from robbing and torturing their people: The two Haitian dictators, ‘Papa Doc’ and ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier murdered tens of thousands Haitians, especially among mixed race educated elites. Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista had to slaughter hundreds of Afro-Caribbean sugar workers in Santiago de Cuba before he could enter the exclusive ‘whites only’ Havana Golf and Country Club.

In the United States, it was a ‘man of color’, General Colin Powell, Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, who bombed and invaded black African Somalia and implemented the policy of invading and destroying Iraq and Afghanistan. The carefully groomed ‘First Black President-To-Be’ Barack Obama, was the protégé of a Chicago-based millionaire lobby led by the fanatical ‘Israel-First’ mob, to bring ‘identity’ to its highest level. This charade culminated in the ‘First Black President’ and promoter of seven devastating wars against the poorest people of the world receiving the Nobel Peace Prize from the he Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee in the presence of the King of Norway and a committee composed of five members appointed by the Storting (Norwegian Parliament). Such is the power of identity. It was of little comfort to the hundreds of thousands of Libyans and South Sahara Africans murdered, pillaged, raped and forced to flee in rotting boats to Europe, that the NATO bombs destroying their country had been sent by the ‘Historic Black US President and Nobel Peace Prize Winner’. When the wounded, captive President of Libya, Muammar Gadaffi, the greatest proponent of Pan-African integration, was brutalized and slaughtered, was he aware that his tormentors were armed and supported by ‘America’s First Black President’? A video of Gadaffi’s gruesome end became a source of gleeful entertainment for the ‘Feminist’ US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who would go on to cite her ‘victory’ over the Libyan President in her bid to become ‘The First Female President of the US”.

The question is not about one’s race or identity, but whose interests are served by the Afro-American leader in question. US President Barack Obama served Wall Street and the Pentagon, whereas Malcolm X and Martin Luther King had a long and arduous history of leading peoples’ movements. MLK joined the striking Afro-American garbage workers in Memphis and the autoworkers in Detroit. Malcolm X organized and spoke for the Harlem community – while inspiring millions.

Gender labels covered the fact that a politically chosen woman ruled on behalf of a family-led tyranny, as in the case of Indira Gandhi in India. The financial lords of the City of London financiers, and the mining and factory bosses in Great Britain chose the very female Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who launched multiple wars abroad and smashed trade unions at home. Madame Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who promoted seven wars resulting in the deaths, injuries, displacement and rape of 5 million African and Middle Eastern women and destruction of their families, had the unconditional support of the top 20 Wall Street banks when she ran to become the ‘First Woman President of the United States’.

In other words, political appointments chosen for their ‘gender identity’ bring no special qualities or experience that would recommend them as progressive. When political and business elites choose a female for a high political office, they do so because it serves their interests to put a progressive political gloss on their reactionary policies. The ‘gender emphasis’ is most effective on liberals and the advocates of ‘identity over class politics’. In reality it is a vacuous symbol rather than real power and highlights elite upward mobility.

Often media moguls, publicists and corporate leaders laud the ‘social background’ of a candidate. They use such criteria to groom and co-opt upwardly mobile workers, trade union officials and community militants. ‘Chosen leaders’ from minority or oppressed backgrounds are put in charge of discipline, work-place speed-ups and lay-offs. They sometimes adopt ‘workers’ language, splicing rough anti-establishment curses with their abuses as they fire workers and cut wages. One’s past social background is a far less useful criterion than current social commitments. As Karl Marx long ago noted, the ruling class is not a closed caste: It is always open to co-opting bright and influential new members among upwardly mobile labor leaders and activists.

Labor leaders receive ‘special favors’, including invitations to political inaugurations and corporate meetings with all the travel and luxury accommodations paid. Elites frequently transform past militant leaders into corporate policemen, ready to identify, exclude and expel any genuine emerging local and shop floor militants. Public and private labor relations experts frequently describe a labor militant’s ascent to the elite as an ‘up by his own bootstraps operation’ – putting a virtuous gloss on the ‘self-made worker’ ready to serve the interests of the corporate elite! The primary feature that characterizes these ‘boot-strappers’ is how their sense of ‘solidarity’ turns upward and forward toward the bosses, and not backward and downward toward the working masses, as they transform into ‘boot-lickers’.

Many examples of these ‘upward and forward’-looking political choices are found among entertainment celebrities, sports heroes, media figures and pop musicians. Rap singers become ghetto millionaires. And ‘working-class hero’ rock musicians, the well-wrinkled as well as the young, charge hundreds of dollars a seat for their rasping and grasping performances while refusing to play on behalf of striking workers.

The popular music, promoted by the elite, contain country and working class lyrics, sung with phony regional twangs to entertain mass audiences even as the successful performers flaunt their Presidential awards, luxury mansions and limos. The political and corporate elite frequently choose phony working class or ethnic identity celebrities to endorse their products, as the gullible public is encouraged to purchase useless commodities, electronic gadgets and gimmicks, and to support reactionary politicians and politics. There are a few celebrities who protest or maintain real mass solidarity but they are blacklisted, ostracized or past their peak earning power. Most celebrities prefer to shake their backsides, mouth raunchy language, snort or smoke dope and slum a bit with their bodyguards, but the political elite have chosen them to distract and depoliticize the young and discontented. They are paid well for their services.

Conclusion

The concepts, symbols and signs of the ruling class determine who will be the political ‘choices’ for leaders and officials. Political elites co-opt upwardly mobile ‘identities’, among minorities and workers, carefully assessing which of their qualities will contribute to the desired elite outcomes. This is how working class and community-based electorates are seduced into voting against their real class, national, community, gender and racial economic interests.

Renegades, demagogues, soothsayers and other charlatans of many races, ethnicities, genders and proclivities run for office and win on that basis.

The elite pay a relatively small fee for procuring the services of prestigious, certified, titled and diversified candidates to elect or appoint as leaders.

Elite power only partially depends on the mass media, money and power. It also needs the services of the concept and language masters, identity promoters and propagandists of the embellished deed.

Stripping away the phony veneer of the ‘chosen’ politicians requires a forceful critique of the signs and symbols that cloak the real identity of the makers and breakers of these leaders. And it requires that they be exposed for their proven failures and disasters, especially their role in leading America into an unending series of political, military and economic debacles.

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

Nov 292016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lula
Lula

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fall of Banking Revenues and the Rise of Corporate Activists

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

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

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

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

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

Reflections on a Debacle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Nov 242016
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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