Dec 282015
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

predatorlender

Introduction

The IMF is the leading international monetary agency whose public purpose is to maintain the stability of the global financial system through loans linked to proposals designed to enhance economic recovery and growth.

In fact, the IMF has been under the control of the US and Western European states and its policies have been designed to further the expansion, domination and profits of their leading multi-national corporations and financial institutions.

The US and European states practice a division of powers: The executive directors of the IMF are Europeans; their counterparts in the World Bank (WB) are from the US.

The executive directors of the IMF and WB operate in close consultation with their governments and especially the Treasury Departments in deciding priorities, deciding what countries will receive loans, under what terms and how much.

The loans and terms set by the IMF are closely coordinated with the private banking system. Once the IMF signs an agreement with a debtor country, it is a signal for the big private banks to lend, invest and proceed with a multiplicity of favorable financial transactions. From the above it can be deduced that the IMF plays the role of general command for the global financial system.

The IMF lays the groundwork for the major banks’ conquest of the financial systems of the world’s vulnerable states.

The IMF assumes the burden of doing all the dirty work through its intervention. This includes the usurpation of sovereignty, the demand for privatization and reduction of social expenditures, salaries, wages and pensions, as well as ensuring the priority of debt payments. The IMF acts as the ‘blind’ for the big banks by deflecting political critics and social unrest.

Executive Directors as Hatchet Persons

What kind of persons do the banks support as executive directors of the IMF Whom do they entrust with the task of violating the sovereign rights of a country, impoverishing its people and eroding its democratic institutions?

They have included a convicted financial swindler; the current director is facing prosecution on charges of mishandling public funds as a Finance minister; a rapist; an advocate of gunboat diplomacy and the promotor of the biggest financial collapse in a country’s history.

IMF Executive Directors on Trial

The current executive director of the IMF (July 2011-2015) Christine Lagarde is on trial in France for misappropriation of a $400-million-dollar payoff to tycoon Bernard Tapie while she was Finance Minister in the government of President Sarkozy.

The previous executive director (November 2007-May 2011), Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was forced to resign after he was charged with raping a chambermaid in a New York hotel and was later arrested and tried for pimping in the city of Lille, France.

His predecessor, Rodrigo Rato (June 2004-October 2007), was a Spanish banker who was arrested and charged with tax evasion, concealing ϵ27 million euros in seventy overseas banks and swindling thousands of small investors who he convinced to put their money in a Spanish bank, Bankia, that went bankrupt.

His predecessor a German, Horst Kohler, resigned after he stated an unlikely verity – namely that overseas military intervention was necessary to defend German economic interests, such as free trade routes. It’s one thing for the IMF to act as a tool for imperial interests; it is another for an IMF executive to speak about it publicly!

Michel Camdessus (January 1987-February 2000) was the author of the “Washington Consensus” the doctrine that underwrote the global neoliberal counter-revolution. His term of office witnessed his embrace and financing of some of the worst dictators of the time, including his own photo-ops with Indonesian strongman and mass murderer, General Suharto.

Under Camdessus, the IMF collaborated with Argentine President Carlos Menem in liberalizing the economy, deregulating financial markets and privatizing over a thousand enterprises. The crises, which ensued, led to the worst depression in Argentine history, with over 20,000 bankruptcies, 25% unemployment and poverty rates exceeding 50% in working class districts . . . Camdessus later regretted his “policy mistakes” with regard to the Argentine’s collapse. He was never arrested or charged with crimes against humanity.

Conclusion

The criminal behavior of the IMF executives is not an anomaly or hindrance to their selection. On the contrary, they were selected because they reflect the values, interests and behavior of the global financial elite: Swindles, tax evasion, bribery, large-scale transfers of public wealth to private accounts are the norm for the financial establishment. These qualities fit the needs of bankers who have confidence in dealing with their ‘mirror-image’ counterparts in the IMF.

The international financial elite needs IMF executives who have no qualms in using double standards and who overlook gross violations of its standard procedures. For example, the current executive director, Christine Lagarde, lends $30 billion to the puppet regime in the Ukraine, even though the financial press describes in great detail how corrupt oligarchs have stolen billions with the complicity of the political class (Financial Times, 12/21/15, pg. 7). The same Lagarde changes the rules on debt repayment allowing the Ukraine to default on its payment of its sovereign debt to Russia. The same Lagarde insists that the center-right Greek government further reduce pensions in Greece below the poverty level, provoking the otherwise accommodating regime of Alexis Tsipras to call for the IMF to stay out of the bailout (Financial Times, 12/21/15, pg.1).

Clearly the savage cut in living standards, which the IMF executives decree everywhere is not unrelated to their felonious personal history. Rapists, swindlers, militarists, are just the right people to direct an institution as it impoverishes the 99% and enriches the 1% of the super-rich.

Dec 162015
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

hbfi2f6f_pxgen_r_630xa

What Makes Recep Run? The Making of a Modern Pasha

Erdoğan began his ascent to power as a social reformer in opposition to the power elite; he was a rabble-rouser for popular Islam and social welfare. Once he takes political power he enriches his family and the business elite and purges adversaries and rivals.

With political power and economic connections, he amasses personal wealth through illicit business transactions.

With political power and personal wealth, he seeks prestige and status among the Western elites by serving imperial interests: He shoots down a Russian military jet over Syrian territory and thereby threatens hundreds of Turkish businesses and loses a major source of personal enrichment. When the Russians threaten to cut off energy exports to Turkey, Erdoğan’s opponents suggest he heat his own palace and villas with cow dung this winter.

The Two Faces of Erdoğan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has a long and ignoble history of betraying political associates, trading partners and military allies; of pledging friendship and then bombing his ‘friends’ and murdering citizens; of negotiating ‘in good faith’ and then killing rivals; of playing democrat then behaving like an ordinary demagogic dictator.

Erdoğan appeals to the plebeian and austere values of the Anatolian provincial petty bourgeoisie, while building the largest luxurious presidential palace in the world – fit for a 21st century Pasha. He repeatedly pronounces his fealty to the ‘Turkish Nation’, while he robs the Turkish treasury by repeatedly accepting bribes and pay-offs from building contractors who then double charge for publicly-funded projects.

More recently, Erdoğan claims to oppose terrorism and fight ISIS, while the major Turkish and regional newspapers, journalists and most domestic observers document the massive flow of illegal arms across the Turkish-Syrian border to ISIS terrorists.

Erdoğan’s ‘Carnal Relation’ with ISIS

Erdoğan supports ISIS by bombing the Syrian Kurdish fighters who resist the jihadi mercenaries; by shooting down a Russian military jet defending the Damascus government against the terrorists; by smuggling and selling oil which ISIS had stolen from Iraq and Syria; by providing medical assistance to wounded ISIS fighters; and by training and arming ISIS terrorists in Turkish bases.

There is a reciprocal relationship: Erdoğan uses ISIS operatives to terrorize his own domestic opposition, including terror bombing a gathering of Kurdish ‘socialist youth’ in the town of Suruç on July 20, 2015, which killed 33 and the massive bombing in Ankara on October 10 of a ‘peace and justice’ march, which killed over 100, targeting trade unionists, leaders of professional associations, community activists and members of a democratic Kurdish electoral party and wounded many hundreds.

During the legislative election of 2015 ISIS terrorists and thugs from Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) attacked the offices, meetings and candidates of the opposition parties, especially of the Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), to ensure that Erdoğan secured a super-majority.

In other words, Erdoğan has three uses for ISIS serving his external and internal interests:

(1)  To attack and destroy secular Kurdish forces resisting ISIS in Syria and Iraq, thus preventing the formation of an independent Kurdish state on the Turkish border.

(2)  To attack and destroy Syria’s independent Baathist government under Bashar  Al-Assad, dismantle the multicultural secular state apparatus and install a Sunni Islamist client in Damascus subordinate to Erdoğan’s AKP.

(3)  To attack and terrorize the Turkish domestic opposition, including the broad-based Kurdish HDP, and the leftist trade union confederation (DISK).

Erdoğan has a decade-long strategic alliance with the militant Wahhabi terrorists who now make up ISIS. He intends to ‘remake’ the map of the Middle East to serve his own expansionist ambitions. In part this explains why Erdoğan has provided large-scale arms and material to the terrorists, trained thousands of mercenaries and provided medical aid to wounded ISIS fighters. It also explains why Erdoğan took the unprecedented and extremely provocative step of shooting down a Russian military jet over Syrian territory, which had been bombing Erdoğan’s ISIS allies. Russian and Syrian Army successes against ISIS have threatened his ambitions.

Erdoğan’s transformation from ‘Muslim democrat’ to bloody authoritarian Islamist ruler with pretensions of becoming the dominant Middle Eastern Pasha has to be seen in light of his rise to power over the past 40 years.

What Makes Recep Run?

Erdoğan, early on, showed his affinity for extremist Islamist politics. In the 1970’s he was head of the youth branch of the Islamist Salvation Party (MSP), a virulent anti-communist, anti-secular party committed to converting Turkey, a huge multi-ethnic secular state, into a theocratic regime (along the lines of contemporary ISIS).

After the military coup of 1980 the MSP was dissolved and reappeared as the Welfare Party. Erdoğan became a leader of the new (re-named) Islamist party.

Erdoğan and the Welfare Party exploited Turkish mass discontent with the corrupt and authoritarian military. The Welfare Party embraced a populist social welfare program with Islamist religious undertones in order to build a formidable grassroots organization in the working class neighborhoods in Istanbul. Erdoğan was elected mayor of Turkey’s largest city in 1994.

As Mayor, Erdoğan over-reached his power by preaching militant Islamism and was convicted in 1998 of sedition against the secular state. He served 4 months of a 10-month sentence.

Henceforth he changed tactics: His Islamist fanaticism was disguised. He changed the party name from Welfare to the modern sounding Justice and Development Party (AKP). Erdoğan then launched a series of political maneuvers, in which he cleverly manipulated adversaries to gain power and then … stabbed each of them in the back.

Erdoğan: Embrace and Back-Stab 

Despite his earlier conviction for sedition against the secular state, the ‘reformed’ Erdoğan allied with the Kemalist, secular Republican Peoples Party (CHP) to overturn the military’s ban on his participation in politics in 2002. He was elected Prime Minister in 2003. After the AKP won the general election it cut its ties with the CHP. Erdoğan was re-elected Prime Minister in 2007 and 2011.

Erdoğan allied with the pro-US Islamist leader Fethullah Gülen’s Hizmetor Cemaat Movement, which was influential within the judicial system, police and army. Together they launched a purge against secular military and judicial officials, journalists and media critics.

The Erdoğan – Gülenist state apparatus arrested and jailed 300 secular military officers, judges and journalists and replaced them with Erdođan and Gülen loyalists – all Islamists.

Dubbed “Operation Sledgehammer” the entire purge was based on fabricated charges of treason and conspiracy. Yet it was described by the Western media in terms that flattered Erdoğan’s democratic credentials, calling it an ‘effort to consolidate democracy’ against the military.

It had nothing to do with democracy: The purge consolidated Erdoğan’s personal power and allowed him to pursue policies that were more overtly neoliberal and Islamist. The purge of the judiciary further allowed Erdoğan to enrich crony capitalists and family members.

Erdoğan: The Birth of a Neoliberal Pasha

Erdoğan then embraced an IMF-designed ‘stabilization and recovery’ program, which reduced wages, salaries and pensions while privatizing public sector enterprises and activities. This attracted a large inflow of capital as foreign investors and cronies snapped up the goodies at bargain prices. Most emblematic of this ‘free-for-all cronies’ approach to the economy was the Soma coal mine disaster in May 2014 when over 300 miners were killed in a previously state-owned mine, which had suffered a breakdown of worker safety conditions after it had been privatized to an Erdoğan-crony. Despite local and international outrage, Recep ignored the scandal and unleashed police on the demonstrating miners.

Erdoğan’s combination of Islam with brutal neoliberalism attracted support from Brussels, Wall Street and the City of London. Large inflows of speculative foreign capital temporarily inflated Turkey’s GNP and Erdoğan’s wealth and ego!

In the beginning of his rule Erdoğan’s concessions, tax incentives, government contracts to big capital were broadly distributed to most sectors, but especially to his crony capitalists within the construction and real estate sectors.

As the capitalist boom continued and his power increased, Erdoğan became more obsessed with his role as the savior of Turkey. By 2010, a serious difference developed between Erdoğan and his Gülenist partners over the division of power. Erdoğan moved rapidly and brutally. He launched another massive purge of suspected ‘Gülenist officials’. He arrested, fired, jailed and relocated Gülen sympathizers among judges, police and civil servants despite the fact that these were officials who had served him well during the earlier purge of the secular military.

Erdoğan is not willing to share power with any other party, movement or group. Pasha Recep wanted to monopolize power. He has attacked critical newspapers, businesses and conglomerates claiming these were ‘Gülen controlled’. Erdoğan ensured that only capitalists completely loyal to him would receive regime patronage. In other words, he strengthened the size, strength and importance of crony capitalists: especially in the real estate and construction sector.

Pasha Recep’s Assault on Civil Society

Turkey, under Erdoğan’s absolute power, has seen a geometric increase in corruption and mindless ‘development projects’, leading to the degradation and usurpation of public spaces. His arbitrary and destructive policies have provoked sustained civil society protests, especially in the center of Istanbul – during the Gezi Park demonstrations, which began in May 2013.

In response to civil society demonstrations, Erdoğan shed all pretensions, ripping off his ‘modern democratic’ mask and brutally repressing the peaceful protestors in the heart of Istanbul– resulting in 22 deaths, hundreds wounded and more arrested and sentenced to long jail term. Erdoğan subsequently targeted liberal critics and business leaders, who had criticized his brutal use of force.

2013, the year of the Gezi Park Movement, was a turning point – Erdoğan and family members were implicated in a $100 million-dollar corruption scandal while liberal critics of the regime were purged.

Facing opposition from sectors of the elite as well as popular classes, Erdoğan became more rabidly ‘Islamist’, chauvinistic and megalomaniacal – ‘Neo-Ottoman’.

In short order, he re-launched his attack on the Turkish Kurds and increased his support to the Islamist terrorists in Syria, including what would become ISIS. These policies were designed to complement his ongoing war against the secular Kurds in Iraq and Syria.

Erdoğan: Backstabbing Secular Syria and “Best Friend” Russia

From the beginning of his rule, Erdoğan cultivated the ‘best of relations’ with Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin. He signed dozens of trade agreements with Damascus and Moscow. Putin was welcomed to Ankara and Erdoğan to Moscow where they signed billion-dollar energy deals and mutual co-operative agreements.

Up to 3 million Russian tourists visited Turkish resorts each year, a bonanza for one of Turkey’s major industries.

Erdoğan’s regime was ebullient, effusive, embracing Moscow and Damascus while systematically preparing the ground for more backstabbing!

By 2011, Erdoğan had been deeply involved in preparing the ground for what would become the bloody Islamist uprising in Syria. Early on, hundreds of armed foreign Islamist terrorists crossed the Turkish border into Syria. Their presence overwhelmed local Syrian dissidents. Armed Islamists seized villages and towns brutally purging them of Christians, Kurds, Alewives and secular Syrians. They took over the oil fields. From one day to the next, Erdoğan was transformed from loving friend to deadly foe of neighboring Syria demanding ‘regime change’ through terrorist sectarian violence.

Erdoğan embraced the most extreme, sectarian Wahhabi Islamist groups because they were committed to undermining the nationalist aspirations of the Syrian Kurds as well as overthrowing the secular Al-Assad government. Erdoğan’s covert alliance with ISIS and other Islamist terrorist groups was motivated by several strategic considerations, which are outlined below:

1)      The alliance serves to prevent the establishment of an autonomous Kurdish enclave on the Syrian-Turkish border in the event of a Damascus defeat, which Erdoğan fears would then link armed Syrian Kurds with the huge disaffected Kurdish population in southeastern Turkey and lead to the formation of an autonomous secular Kurdish state.

2)     Erdoğan’s alliance with jihadis in Syria has served Ankara’s ambition to impose a puppet Sunni-Islamist regime in Damascus.

3)     The ISIS regime controlling the Syrian and Iraqi oil fields provides Turkey with a source of cheap fuel and lucrative profits for the regime. Recep’s son, Necmettin Bilal Erdoğan owns and operates the BMZ Group which buys the contraband Syrian and Iraqi oil in Turkey and sells it overseas (especially to Israel) earning nearly a billion dollars a year for ‘the family’.

It is not surprise that the Erdoğan family directly financed ISIS, which uses the cash from contraband oil, pillaged antiquities and ‘tribute’ taxes, to purchase heavy and light arms, military and transport vehicles and communications equipment in Turkey and elsewhere to support its terror campaign in Syria and Iraq. Well-informed Turkish observers believe that Erdoğan’s intelligence officials are directly involved in recruiting ISIS terrorists to operate within Turkey and attack Erdoğan’s internal opposition, especially the Kurdish electoral party HDP and the broad-based Turkish left and trade union movements. Observers claim Turkish intelligence operations had a direct role in the ‘ISIS’ bomb attacks in Suruç and Ankara this year, which killed and maimed hundreds of Erdoğan opponents and civil society activists.

Erdoğan and ISIS developed a co-dependent relation, one of mutual manipulation. Each has publicly declared their tactical enmity to the other, while busily pursuing joint strategic aims.

Ankara uses the pretext of fighting ISIS in order to bomb the Kurds in Syria who are resisting the jihadis. ISIS uses the pretext of opposing the NATO member Turkey in order to cover its massive oil and weapons trade deals with Erdoğan’s family and crony business enterprises.

The Pasha Stabs the Bear and the Bear Bites Back – One Stab Too Many 

Russia’s highly effective aerial bombing campaign against the jihadi and ISIS terrorist networks in Syria was in response to a formal request for military intervention by the legitimate government of President Bashar Al-Assad. Russia has long-standing ties to the Baathist regime in Damascus. The intervention has threatened to undermine Erdoğan’s regional power ambitions and illicit business operations in Syria. First and foremost, it ended Erdoğan’s plan to annex a large swathe of Northern Syria and call it a ‘no fly zone’. The Turkish-controlled ‘no fly zone’ in Syria would  expand Turkish military training bases for ISIS and other jihadi terrorists and secure the transport routes for ISIS oil shipments smuggled out of Iraq and Syria.

Unlike the US, which had rarely bombed the strategic Erdoğan-ISIS oil smuggling operations, the Russians destroyed over a thousand oil trucks and numerous ISIS oil depots and logistical centers in the first month of its air campaign. By reducing the flow of smuggled oil, Russia cut off the main source of massive profit for Bilal Erdoğan’s BMZ Company as well as for Turkish arms dealers.

Like gangsters, Erdoğan, his family and cronies have been immersed in massive corrupt business activities at home and abroad; he can no longer operate within the context of the larger interests of the Turkish capitalist class with its $40 billion dollar annual trade and investment relations with Russia. Erdoğan’s decision to shoot down a Russian jet in Syrian territory, on November 24, 2015, was largely motivated by his fury at Russia’s successful interruption of the ISIS  oil convoys. By protecting his own family interests, Erdoğan stabbed more allies in the back: The Russians, as well as large sections of the Turkish capitalist class!

Up until Erdoğan’s act of war against Russia, he had publicly embraced Putin as an ally, friend and partner. The two leaders had cordial relations for over a decade. The Turkish military was fully informed about Russian military operations in Syria, including its flight paths. Then suddenly in November 2015 he risked a total rupture in relations and invited retaliation against Turkey from Russia by shooting down a Russian jet.

Russia immediately responded by upgrading its most advanced weapons systems to defend its operations and bases in Northern Syria and intensified its bombing of the ISIS – Turkish oil operations.

Russia retaliated by imposing visa restrictions and economic sanctions on Turkey, adversely affecting the multi-billion dollar tourist business. Strategic energy deals were terminated. Large-scale Turkish construction contracts were ended. Turkish agricultural exports to Russian markets virtually stopped.

The Pasha Bites His own Tail

Erdoğan’s unilateral actions were clearly against the broad interests of Turkey’s large export sector. From Gezi to Gülen, from one purge to another, Erdoğan, the former ‘poster boy’ of neoliberal Turkish capital, has become a self-centered despot, acting on behalf of a narrowing circle of corrupt family and crony capitalists. Erdoğan set himself up as a modern day pasha more in the image of the self-indulgent Ibrahim I (the Madman) than the far-seeing Suleyman I (the Wise).

Once Erdoğan realized the damage that his fit of egomaniac fury against the Russians had provoked abroad and his growing isolation within Turkey, he rushed to NATO on bended knee to beg for support. True to his authoritarian personality, Recep Erdoğan crawls on his knees before his ‘superiors’ (NATO-US) while grabbing the throats of his ‘inferiors’ (the Turkish people)!

Conclusion

Erdoğan’s road to absolutist power is strewn with indiscriminate purges, terror and deceit; violence against environmental and liberal protestors in Gezi Park and moderate Gülen Islamists; jail sentences and firing of journalists and publishers, military officials and judges; repression of workers and capitalists; terror bombing against activists and democrats; and war against Kurds and Syrians.

Erdoğan’s paranoid and greed-driven vision of politics precludes any trust and stable relations. He thinks he is very clever with his combination of charm and broken promises, but he fools nobody. He reignites the war against the Kurds in Turkey and Syria but they retaliate!

He attacks Russia and provokes a very costly retaliation so far limited to the Turkish economy.

He increases his personal power, but undermines the interests of the Turkish nation and its people. Erdoğan believes he is the rising regional hegemony, indispensable to the West. He blackmails the EU for billions of Euros to control the flood of refugees fleeing violence in Syria and Iraq with his promises to warehouse desperate refugees in Turkish concentration camps. But Europeans must know that their money can never buy trust and loyalty from the Pasha.

His oil deals with ISIS are in tatters. Russian bombs ensure that Erdoğan will have to find other sources of illicit profit. Worst of all, Erdoğan’s furious actions have lost markets, allies and domestic support. He faces enemies from all sides – liberal professors, students, big business owners and organized workers in Istanbul; small business people in the tourist trade; construction and oil companies in Ankara; farmers in Anatolia, and, above all, the coal miners in Soma Manis.

Who knows under what circumstances Pasha Recep (the ‘Megalomaniac’) will be replaced?

Dec 102015
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

venezuela-election15-47

Introduction

Pundits and commentators on the Left and Right are pronouncing ‘the end of the progressive cycle in Latin America’. They cite the recent presidential elections:

1. Argentina, where hard-right Mauricio Macri was elected;

2. Brazil, where President Dilma Rousseff has appointed a neo-liberal ‘Chicago Boy’ economist, Joaquin Levy, as Finance Minister and launched an IMF-style regressive structural adjustment policy designed to reduce social expenditures and attract financial speculators; and

3. Venezuela, where Washington channeled millions of dollars to far-right parties, as well as violent extra-parliamentary and paramilitary groups, to destabilize the center-left Maduro government; right-wing Democratic Unity Coalition  (MUD) won the legislative elections in December 2015 with more than 2:1 margin over the Chavista Venezuelan United Socialist Party (PSUV).

No doubt progressive social legislation has come to a virtual halt, even before the recent political advances of the US-backed right-wing parties with their neo-liberal economic agenda.

But paralysis, and even retreat and electoral defeats of the center-left regimes, do not mean the return to the neo-liberal 1990’s, a period of privatizations, pillage and plunder, which had plunged millions into poverty, unemployment and marginality.

Whatever the current voting results, the collective memory of mass hardship, resulting from ‘free market’ policies, is seared in the memory of the vast majority of the working population.

Any attempt by the newly elected officials to ‘unmake and reverse’ the social advances of the past decade will be met with (1) militant resistance, if not open class warfare; (2) institutional and political constraints; (3) and low commodity prices drastically limiting export revenues.

A careful analysis of the policies proposed by the neoliberal right, their implementation and impact will demonstrate their likely failure and the rapid demise of any new right-wing offensive. This will abort the neoliberal cycle.

Argentina: President Macri and Wall Street – Premature Ejaculation

In the upper income neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, there was singing and dancing in the streets as the Presidential election results rolled in and Mauricio Macri was pronounced the victor. Wall Street, the City of London and their financial mouthpieces, the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times, announced the coming of a new era and the end of ‘anti-investor, populism and nationalism, wasteful social spending’ referring to increases in pensions, family allowances and wages, approved by the previous center-left government.

Mauricio Macri does not merely represent the plutocracy; he is one of the richest plutocrats in Argentina. He not only boasts of a ‘carnal relationship’ with Washington in his acceptance speech, he pleasured US President Obama by announcing he would work to expel Venezuela from MERCOSUR, Latin America’s foremost regional economic integration organization.

Macri announced a cabinet made up of hard-core neoliberal economists, former supporters of the military dictatorship and even a rabid rightwing rabbi. He then spelled out his policy agenda, which had been cleverly hidden during his electoral campaign when his raucous rhetoric for ‘change’, spoke to everybody and nobody.

Macri promises to (1) end capital controls, export taxes and retentions on agro-business exports, (2) devaluate the peso, (3) pay over $1.2 billion dollars of Argentine public money to the Wall Street vulture-speculator, Paul Singer, who had bought $49 million dollars of old Argentine debt (a profit of astronomical proportions for buying paper), (4) privatize and de-nationalize the state-owned airline, oil company and pension funds (5)sign-off on  EU and US-centered free trade agreements, thus undermining Latin America integration projects like MERCOSUR; (6) tear up the joint memo of understanding with Iran regarding an investigation into a terror bombing as requested by Israel; and (7) expel Venezuela from MERCOSUR.

In a word, the multi-millionaire playboy President plans harsh austerity for the Argentine working class and bountiful handouts for the economic elite.

The day after the elections, local and overseas speculators boosted Argentine stocks 40% anticipating the free market bonanza. George Soros and hedge fund mogul, Daniel Loeb, ‘piled into Argentine assets’. Investment fund managers urged Macri to act swiftly in imposing his ‘sweeping reforms’  before Argentina’s famous capacity for mass popular resistance could be organized to resist his policies.

Macri’s Wall Street and Washington patrons are well aware that their clients’ boisterous big business bombast faces serious political obstacles because his policies will provoke severe economic hardships.

President Macri does not even have a majority in Congress to approve his radical proposals. The congress is controlled by a coalition of rightwing and center-left Peronist parties, which will need to be coaxed, bought or coerced.

The Argentine Congress will balk at supporting his entire neoliberal agenda. When he resorts to ‘executive decrees’ to bypass Congress, he will be contested in the courts, streets and legislature. It is doubtful he will be able to neutralize all his critics and implement his radical neoliberal agenda.

The head of the Central Bank, Alejandro Vanoli, who was appointed by the previous center-left Fernandez government, is not likely to go along with Macri’s tight money policy, radical devaluation and fiscal austerity. Marco will likely look for a pretext to purge the incumbent and nominate a free market crony. However, the institutional damage will increase the general sense of a lawless regime willing to trample the constitutional order to impose his free market dogma.

Macri’s promise to end the ‘tax’ retention on agro-exports will decrease government revenues, exacerbating the fiscal deficit and necessitating deeper reductions in social expenditures. The contrast between higher earnings for the agro-business elite and lower living standards for labor is an invitation to greater class hostility and strife. Even more decisive Macri’s “export strategy” will be undermined by the low world demand and prices of Argentine commodity exports.

Macri’s promise to end capital and price controls on his first day in office will provoke a major devaluation of the peso which may exceed 60%. This will automatically result in severe increases in the price of consumer goods and increased profits for the export elites, provoking mass unrest across the occupational spectrum.

Macri promises to meet with the 7% of speculator hold-outs of old Argentine debt (from the pillage years of the 1990’s) demanding full payment with interest, especially the ‘vulture funds’ led by Wall Street’s Paul Singer of Elliott Capital Management. Pay-offs of over $1.3 billion on an original $49 million purchase of Argentine debt to Wall Street speculators will provoke fury among Argentine workers and nationalists who will shoulder the added burden on top of austerity and cuts in social welfare. Moreover, the 93% of debt holders, who had agreed to the ‘financial haircut’ and discounted the debt at 70% will now demand full payment multiplying tenfold the demands on the Treasury with disastrous consequences.

The devaluation and decline of purchasing power will not attract the ‘tidal wave of foreign investment’ to lift the economy and provide jobs and general prosperity as Macri had promised during his campaign. Foreign capital will not create new enterprises; they will concentrate on buying  existing privatized public enterprises at fire-sale prices. Incoming capital will not increase the productive forces; it will only shift the direction of the flow of profits from public coffers to private pockets, from the domestic economy to overseas investors.

Neoliberalism: Then and Now

The general foreign and domestic political climate is vastly different today from the 1990’s when the previous neoliberal experiment was launched with such disastrous consequences. In the late 1980’s, Argentina was suffering from acute inflation, stagnation and declining income. The working class organizations were still recovering from the murderous decade of military rule. Moreover, in the 1990’s the US was at the pinnacle of imperial power in Latin America. China was only beginning its dynamic growth cycle. The USSR had disintegrated and Russia was a struggling vassal state. Latin America was ruled by a motley collection of neo-liberal clones under the thumb of the IMF.

Today Macri faces an organized working class. The trade unions and militant popular movements are intact and have experienced a decade of substantial gains under a center-left government. The IMF experience remains a poisonous memory for hundreds of thousands of Argentines. Hundreds of military officials responsible for crimes against humanity have been arrested, tried and prosecuted under the out-going regime. The threat of a military coup, ever-present in the 1980’s and 90’s, is non-existent. China has become the key market for Argentine agro exports (soya). Macri, despite his declared passion to serve Washington, is obligated to accommodate to the Chinese market.

Any moves out of MERCOSUR and into the arms of the Transpacific Trade Agreement will prejudice Argentina’s strategic trade links with Brazil, Venezuela, Uruguay and Paraguay. Today Macri will find a hostile climate in Latin America for his proposed embrace of the US. His promise to ‘expel Venezuela from MERCOSUR’ has already been rejected by its members.

In summary, Macri will find it impossible to replicate the neoliberal policies of the 1990’s for all the above reasons. There is one additional factor to consider: The earlier version of the ‘free-market experiment’ led to the most severe economic depression in Argentine history with double-digit negative growth, unemployment exceeding 50% in working class districts (and 25% nationally) and poverty and extreme misery in some Argentine provinces exceeding Sub-Sahara Africa.

If Macri believes he can rush through the “harsh medicine” – and avoid the inevitable mass protest – while attracting a massive inflow of capital with which to rapidly grow the economy, he is gravely mistaken. After the initial giveaways and uptake of the stock market, the Soros and Loeb speculators will grab their profits and run. Weakened domestic consumption and the depressed global commodity market do not attract long term, large-scale capital.

The real question is not (as the financial pundits claim) whether Macri will ‘seize the opportunity’ but how soon after he tries to impose his free market model his regime will crash amid the ruins of a depressed economy, raging inflation and general strikes.

Brazil: Right Turn or a Left Opportunity

Commentators left and right cite the vertical decline of support for President
Dilma Rousseff from over 50% to less than 10% as a sign of the ‘decline of the left’. Judicial investigations have led to the arrest and prosecution of dozens of Congressional leaders of the so-called ‘Workers Party”’(PT) for wholesale bribery, money laundering and illicit transfers of millions of dollars!

Prosecutors have jailed scores of PT officials, legislators and senior executives of the giant public petroleum company, Petrobras, the directors of the biggest construction companies and investment banks who were partners in crime with former PT President Lula Da Silva. The one-time trade union leader, President Lula, turned into a poster boy for Wall Street and more recently a notorious influence peddler for Brazilian big businesses.

Prosecutors have arrested 117 officials from Petrobras, the giant state oil corporation, and Brazil’s biggest company. They have arrested two of Brazil’s most powerful capitalists: Marcelo Odebrecht, president of Constructora Norberto Odebrecht, and Octavio Marquez de Acevedo of the Andrade Gutierrez Corporation. Both contributed to the Workers Party electoral campaign of ex-President Lula Da Silva and current President Dilma Rousseff.

Big business contributors, currently under investigation or jailed, had received forty-times the value of their political donations in terms of lucrative PT government contracts (a 4000% return on investment!).

Criminal cases and arrests for ‘bribes for contracts’ schemes have affected the financial sector, including the billionaire financier Andre Esteves, founder-President of BTG Pactual , a close friend and associate of Lula Da Silva.

The entire elite of Brazil’s capitalist and financial class has been indicted, jailed or is under investigation. The Treasurer of the PT, Senate and Congressional leaders and Presidential advisers of the ‘Workers’ Party have been arrested and jailed for bribes, money laundering and fraud, in connection with the Petrobras and other corporate corruption scandals.

The judicial investigation demonstrates that the PT had become a party of the corporate elite. PT leaders and officials work closely with business elites in channeling billions to corporate treasuries. In contrast, the PT’s so-called “poverty program” donated $60 a month to poor families, just above subsistence level. This poverty program was part of a vast patronage machine designed to secure votes to elect corrupt officials embedded with big capital and financiers!

While the prosecutors are not explicitly anti-capitalist, the investigations have exposed the corrupt basis of capitalist rule. In the course of one year Brazilian prosecutors have conducted deeper and more thorough research on the power elite and determined how it rules, exploits and pillages the wealth of the country than any analysis by the vast majority of ‘leftist’ academics and journalists over the fifteen years of PT mis-governance.

The prosecutors have acted against the entire class of capitalist executives and their political partners in the PT with greater force and integrity than the major ‘left’ trade union (the CUT) and social movement (Landless Rural Workers (MST) leaders. The CUT and MST leaders secured minor regime concessions, in exchange for ignoring the large-scale, long-term criminal links between bankers, agro-businesspeople, industrialists and the PT.

While leaders of the MST, the CUT and the National Union of Students gave ‘critical’ support to Presidents Lula and Dilma and their entourage of corrupt Congresspeople, the prosecutors exposed years of endemic fraud, swindles and bribes which had enabled the PT leaders to buy luxury BMWs, Rolex watches and million-dollar villas and luxury condos in exclusive neighborhoods.

Deltan Dallagnol, one of the prosecutors leading the investigation, has demonstrated that the PT works for the rich and powerful, foreign and domestic capitalists and deceives the poor. His investigations demonstrate that the PT is not a ‘center-left’ party – it is a party of kleptocrats working for capitalists.

One thing is sure:  the PT is not a party embracing diverse popular classes; it is not an arena for popular struggle. It is a party that serves diverse capitalist sectors, including finance, construction, petroleum and agro business.

Because of corruption, the cost of government projects doubled and tripled. As a result vital social services were starved of funds and deteriorated and public transport construction was delayed for years.

In summary, the decline and discredit of the PT is not a defeat for the Left  because the PT regime never was on the left. On the contrary, the discredit of the PT is a positive victory for anti-capitalist forces struggling against the ruling class and political elite.

Conclusion

The victory of hard right neoliberal Mauricio Macri in Argentina and the disintegration of the PT do not augur a new rightwing cycle in Latin America. Marco’s economic team will quickly confront mass opposition and, outside the upper class neighborhoods, they lack any political mass support. Their policies will polarize the country and undermine the stability, which investors require. Brutal devaluations and the end of capital controls are formulas, not for economic development, but for inciting general strikes. Conflict, stagnation and hyperinflation will put an end to the enthusiasm of local and foreign investors.

Moreover, Macri cannot embrace Washington’s entire agenda because Argentina’s natural trading partner is China.

Macri’s regime is the beginning and the end of a reversion to the neo-liberal disaster, similar to what took place at the end of the 1990’s.

The fall of the PT, more a product of conscientious prosecutors than the action of trade unions and social movements, opens political space for new working class struggles, free from the constraints of corrupt leaders and bureaucrats.

Even if the Right returns to power in Brazil – it is tainted with the same stench of corruption; its capitalist partners are in jail or facing prosecution. In other words, the fall of the PT is only part of the decline and decay of all the capitalist parties.

Over time, soon after the collapse of the ‘New Right’, a new authentic left may emerge, free of corruption and links to big business. Hopefully, an authentic working class party will form, which can pursue socio-economic policies to end exploitation of labor, the pillage of the public treasury and the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. This should be a left, which sustains the environment, respects nature and upholds the rights of Afro-Brazilians, indigenous people and women.

Dec 012015
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

11_Pollard-Freed-300x231

‘We work so hard to establish ourselves and to get where we are and to have somebody (Jonathan Pollard) screw it up…and then have Jewish organizations line up behind this guy and try to make him out a hero of the Jewish people, it bothers the hell out of me…’  Admiral Sumner Shapiro, US Navy Rear Admiral who served as Director of the Office of Naval Intelligence (1978-82) Washington Post 6/16/2008

We … feel obligated to go on record with the facts regarding Pollard in order to dispel the myths that have arisen from the clever public relations campaign…aiming at transforming Pollard from greedy, arrogant betrayer of the American national trust into Pollard committed Israeli patriot” Sumner Shapiro, William Studeman, John Butts and Thomas Brooks, former Directors of Naval Intelligence cited in Ronald Olive, Capturing Jonathan Pollard: How one of the Most Notorious Spies in American History Was Brought to Justice, Annapolis Maryland: Naval Institute Press . 248.

Introduction

Over two decades ago, Harvard political science professor, Samuel Huntington, argued that global politics would be defined by a ‘clash of civilizations’. His theories have found some of the most aggressive advocates among militant Zionists, inside Israel and abroad.

During the past month, the Israeli regime has been slaughtering and wounding thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and Israel. The Israeli state terrorists, who commit mass murder in Palestine, are part of a movement that sees an inevitable mortal final battle between Zionism and the Moslem and Western world.

Many Western democratic leaders have questioned Huntington’s prognosis and discreetly refuted the Zionist belief that different faiths and cultures cannot live and work together.

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, leading Western Zionist ideologues have argued that, while liberal values should be reaffirmed, the US and EU leaders must recognize ‘malign global Islamic trends’. Influential Western Zionist journalists and ideologues, who dominate the mass media, argue that ‘hardline Islamism’ is on the rise, even in previously moderate Muslim countries like Turkey, Malaysia and Bangladesh… These ideologues (for example Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times) systematically avoid commenting on the rise of hardline Zionism in its most racist form in Israel and the conversion of formerly moderate Zionist organizations into willing accomplices of Israeli state terror against a captive people.

Together, these developments in Israel and among the major Zionist organizations in the US and the European Union have limited the space for critics of the ‘clash of civilizations’ dogma.

State terror assaults, such as those taking place daily in Palestine, incite tensions between Zionists and non-Zionists – and that is their intent. Larger structural and systemic forces are at work and are driving Zionist radicalization. One of the most pernicious is the way in which wealthy US and EU Zionist individuals and organizations, in particular the Presidents of the 52 Major American Jewish Organizations, have used their economic power to spread the most intolerant forms of Judaism into the rest of the Western World.

The effects are now visible in the major political institutions and media of the US, England and the Continent. Previously, France was held up as an example of a successful multi-cultural nation – a dubious assumption as any historian of colonial France can testify. But that image is rapidly changing. Influential Zionists have fomented widespread Islamophobia and authored legislation restricting free speech which has outlawed criticism of Israel as ‘anti-Semitism’.

French civil libertarians have noted that political and social space has increasingly narrowed for ‘non-Zionists’, especially for anyone critical of Israel’s state terrorism. In other words, there is immense pressure in France to ‘keep quiet’ or self-censor in the face of Zionist racist brutality – so much for Les Droits de L’Homme et Du Citoyen.

For over a decade, Zionist influence, especially from Israel’s far-right Netanyahu regime, has eroded the French version of ‘moderate Zionism’, replacing it with a more doctrinaire, exclusivist and authoritarian version. World-wide condemnation of Israel’s massacre of over 4,000 entrapped Palestinians in Gaza, the world largest prison camp, led the Netanyahu regime to resort to a virulent Zionist version of ‘identity politics’ to rally support for the slaughter – or enforce silence among the horrified. Israeli Cabinet ministers recently denounced US President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry as ‘anti-Semites’ for their administration’s negotiations over Iran. Numerous prestigious rabbis have blessed the killing of unarmed Palestinians. A prominent Israeli jurist, Justice Minister Eyelet Shaked, urged the killing of Arab women so they would not give birth to ‘little snakes’. Israeli- Jewish judges have exonerated IDF soldiers, police and settlers for killing Palestinian children – even unarmed teenaged Arab girls hysterical over their brutal humiliation. And world public opinion is ordered to ‘move along, look away, nothing for you to see here…’

All the major overseas Jewish organizations have marched in step. In the United States, a country with a democratic constitution and centuries-old Bill of Rights, self-styled ‘mainstream Zionists’ have defended Israeli spies and criminals, as well as un-extraditable swindlers, and organized nation-wide networks of university, professional and business organizations to demand the firing of colleagues and to suppress free speech and free assembly of Israel’s critics.

First and foremost, major Zionist organizations and leaders have stoked the fire of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab racist rhetoric, which has become commonplace in the mass media and among Republican candidates engaged in the current Presidential nomination campaign.

The convergence of these developments in Israel and among the Zionist power configuration in North America, Europe and the Middle East is fueling the idea of a ‘clash of civilizations’.

The ideological marriage of Herzl and Huntington is fast eroding the former reality of Jewish and non-Jewish integration and intermingling across the globe. The alternative to a plural civilization is more primitive and brutal injustice, violence and death.

Contemporary Manifestations of Zionist Power: The Release of the Most Damaging Spy-Traitor in US History

On November 20, 2015, former Naval Intelligence Analyst, Jonathan Pollard, the American-Jewish spy for Israel, was freed by the Obama regime under Zionist pressure after repeated refusals by three Republican and one Democratic President and over the objections of the heads of all 27 major US intelligence agencies. The significance of this release has to be viewed against the history of Pollard’s crimes.

Fabricating Lies to Justify Obama’s Release of Pollard

The mass media and the 52 Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations (AIPAC, ADL, etc…), claim that 1) Pollard committed espionage against US security for ‘altruistic reasons’  – a deep concern for Israel’s security and because US intelligence agencies had refused to share crucial information with Israel’s intelligence counterparts (out of anti-Semitism), 2) the information Pollard handed over had no lasting harm and did not endanger US security, and 3) Pollard’s punishment was ‘excessive’, his ‘repentance’ was sincere and his example precluded any future Israeli espionage activity against the US. These assertions are completely false.

Pollard was a mercenary, spying against the US out of greed. He lived a decadent, expensive lifestyle and had demanded the Israelis pay him a total package of over $250,000 for his work. The Israeli Embassy was known to have paid Pollard, a US Naval Analyst, to spy against the United States government. Court records reveal that he collected over $50,000 for ‘expenses’ during his espionage career, including expensive jewelry, and a monthly stipend of $2500. Court records furthermore reveal that he offered to sell additional secret documents to Pakistan, Apartheid South Africa, Australia, Russia and some Middle East countries. He collected dozens of box-loads of confidential documents, many of which had nothing to do with the ‘security of Israel’, but were deemed essential to US global security, including a top secret ten volume set of National Security Agency high level codes exposing the  most advanced means and methods of espionage and the  main targets of intelligence collection. Some of his ‘vacuumed-up’ treasure trove included the identity of US intelligence operatives and assets in Warsaw pact countries and the Soviet Union. The 27 US intelligence agencies have consistently opposed Pollard’s release because his sale of this information to the Israelis led to the capture and execution of US operatives after Israel handed over this top-secret information to the Soviet Union in exchange for allowing Soviet Jews to immigrate to Israel in massive numbers. Needless to say, this treason crippled US intelligence operations and led to deaths. US military and intelligence officials view Pollard as having ‘blood on his hands’. So much for the ‘altruistic American Zionist keen on helping insecure, little Israel.’ Years of Zionist propaganda and lobbying have obscured this aspect of Pollard’s crimes.

‘Excessive Punishment’ or ‘Excessive Leniency?’

Far right Israeli Cabinet Ministers and liberal American Jews, supporters and opponents of Pollard, pundits and editorialists argue that the life imprisonment given to Pollard was out of proportion to the crime of treason. They claim that, after 30 years, he was ‘overdue’ for release.

The severity of the punishment is determined by the crime and the damage caused. In case of treason and espionage committed by US officials, (especially for money), the sentence is always severe. The leaders of the John Anthony Walker Naval spy ring were given multiple life sentences in 1985 and there are many other similar cases.

Among the documents Pollard handed over to his Israeli handlers (operating out of the Israeli Embassy), was US intelligence on strategic installations in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. No doubt, this provided Israel with strategic coordinates to bomb major security facilities in those countries as well as facilitated their brutal invasion and occupation of Lebanon in the 1980s. Pollard’s treachery led to the death of thousands of civilian lives in Lebanon and facilitated the wars in Iraq and Syria. The damage to those countries and to innocent people would not have been considered by the judge in Pollard’s life sentence – but it must be considered here, in understanding the enormity of his crimes. Pollard has boasted that he was operating out of a ‘racial imperative’ to protect Israel.

Pollard did not serve a life sentence. In fact, while in prison he became an Israeli citizen, a salaried officer in the Israeli armed forces and, after divorcing his American wife (who had also engaged in espionage for pay and served several years in prison), he re-married a Canadian-Israeli woman. This sheds a different light on the ‘severity’ of a life sentence for treason.

Pollard did not serve this ‘life sentence’. He was paroled in November 2015 (to the cheers of his adoring Jewish –American fans) demonstrating the wealth and power of American Zionists and their ability to buy the support of US politicians, domestic and foreign notables and the entire Israeli-Jewish political spectrum-and push aside the objections of the heads of the three major US armed services and intelligence agencies.

Israeli public opinion overwhelmingly supports Pollard and regards him  as a ‘role model’ for other US Zionists in official positions. Contrary to Israeli lies, several other major Israeli spy operations occurred in the US after Pollard, including the case involving AIPAC officials, Rosen and Weissman, and Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin during George W. Bush’s administration.

In stark contrast to the freeing of an Israeli spy responsible for endangering the security of thousands of US operatives abroad and millions of innocent civilians, two authentic American political prisoners, who have fought for the rights of minorities, rot in jail with no prospect of freedom. Leonard Peltier, a Native American leader  has spent 38 years in the highest security prison and Mumia Abu-Jamal, an African-American leader from Philadelphia, whose 33 years in prison have been on death row or brutal solitary confinement. Both were framed by perjured evidence in a parody of justice, which has revolted millions around the world. Neither threatened US security. Over the years, numerous witnesses, legal authorities and academics have testified regarding the miscarriage of justice that characterized their ‘show trials’ and have pleaded for their humanitarian release.

Unlike Pollard, and despite decades of worldwide campaigns for their release, Peltier and Abu-Jamal will probably die entombed in prison. Unlike Pollard, their cases were never about treason, selling information and greed. They have worked hard for justice within their communities, hence earning the hatred of the police state. They  fought to serve their oppressed American communities, rather than an oppressive and racist Israeli elite – determined to oppress and erase the native Palestinian population.

The decisive factor has been the political power of Pollard’s supporters, the US Zionist Power Configuration, which leads President Obama and 430 US members of Congress (to quote Ariel Sharon)…’by the nose!’ Through their media connections, they can lie about Pollard’s case and his motives. They can minimize the consequences of his treason and twist the arms of obedient politicians to support a traitor. Despite the fact that scores of high-ranking US intelligence and military officials have repeatedly attested to the damage inflicted by Pollard on the US, campaign finance hungry politicians recite the Zionist line that Pollard’s treason did not warrant a harsh sentence!

Beyond the immediate shame of a US president caving in to Israeli pressure with regard to this spy, there is the issue of the flagrant double standard:

Why do Israeli spies (or American Zionist traitors) evoke the unconditional support of the entire US Zionist apparatus? Why do thousands of rabbis, hundreds of movie executives and media moguls and scores of billionaires (talk about the 0.01%!) campaign on behalf of this arrogant, greedy thief? Why does Pollard merit a totally different standard of justice, in stark contrast to the vast majority of American minorities – who can rot in dungeons even when clearly innocent? Why does a self-described Israeli (who renounced his US citizenship in jail), who sold vital national secrets to fund a decadent life-style and for what he described as a ‘race imperative’ merit such favors while hundreds of thousands of poor US citizens are routinely denied leniency – let alone mercy? Clearly, the interests of Israel, a foreign regime, carry much greater weight within the US judicial system than millions of American minorities…

Cyber Crimes of Our Times: Billionaire Israeli Swindlers and the Chinese Military

For over three years, the Obama administration, the NSA and the Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter have fed their media mouthpieces breathless denunciations against China for cyber-theft. Ever week, there are lurid stories about the theft of confidential US industrial, military and political intelligence committed by the Chinese. The Obama regime has followed up his charges of ‘cybertheft” by threatening to confront China in the South China Sea, apply sanctions and raise the military ante in the Pacific against the world’s most dynamic economic superpower.

Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland (Nudelman-Kaplan) has claimed that Chinese cyber theft is a top national security threat requiring an immediate military-security response. US officials have provided no evidence that Chinese officials, at any level, are involved in espionage. Moreover they have presented no proof that cyber theft is a policy of the Chinese government! There has been no evidence that these alleged thefts have damaged US companies or security interests. Nevertheless US hostility toward China has been justified by unproven accusations and are used to increase the possibility of a major confrontation.

Contrasted with the ‘allegations’ against the Chinese, three ‘Israeli businessmen’ have been officially charged by US prosecutors with running a multi-billion dollar cyber-hacking scam within the US over the past 5 years. Dubbed the biggest financial hack in US history, the story hardly made headlines in the US media and was conveniently buried by subsequent ‘terror attacks’ in Europe.

The case is instructive. Three Israelis (one a US-Israeli dual citizen) hacked- attacked ten of the largest US financial institutions, including JP Morgan Chase and Fidelity Investments, as well as the Wall Street Journal… downloading protected information on over 100 million Americans – the biggest hack-attack in US history. Gery Shalon, Ziv Orenstein and Joshua Samuel Aaron employed hundreds of employees in Israel and elsewhere running a mega-cybercriminal enterprise.

According to the Financial Times (11/11/2015, p1), “the hacks took place from 2012 to mid-2015 and were aimed at aiding stock market manipulation that generated tens of millions of dollars.” In addition to selling ‘pumped-up’ stocks to millions of customers of the companies they had hacked, Shalom et al launched cyber attacks to launder millions (more likely billions) for illegal drug and counterfeit software dealers, malicious malware distributers, illegal online casinos and an illegal ‘bitcoin exchange’ known as ‘Coin.mx.’ Someone within the financial security apparatus of the US government (white collar crime unit) must have tipped them off. They are safe in Israel; the Netanyahu regime has yet to act on a US extradition order, although they are reportedly under ‘house arrest’ in their villas.

In contrast to the on-going bellicose rhetoric, which Washington has directed against China’s alleged hackers, Washington has been ‘very reluctant’ to press the issue of extraditing the cyber-thieves with its ‘special partner’ in Tel Aviv.

Israeli super-hackers launched virulent attacks against major US financial institutions and American investors with apparent impunity, following the practice of Israeli info-tech operatives who have raided US military, technology and industrial sites for years.

While the US sends air squadrons and an armada of warships to Chinese waters over a few sand-bars, and brays about arresting Chinese researchers (who it later released with no charges) for alleged cyber-theft, it cannot persuade its ‘closest strategic ally’, Israel, to hand over a trio of formally charged swindlers. Instead, the US increased its annual $3 billion in military aid and provides an open market for Israeli ‘security’ products based on stolen US technology!

The reason for the differential response is not the nature of the ‘crimes’ – it is who commits the crimes! Israeli dominance of US politics via the unconditional support of its US Zionist power configuration ensures impunity for Israeli citizens, including the ability to delay or postpone the extradition of notorious multi-billion cyber thieves! Washington feels free to accuse China, without proof of official Chinese complicity, despite overwhelming evidence, while it cannot persuade its close ‘friend’ Israel to extradite criminals. Netanyahu, backed by his Israeli-Jewish public will decide if, when and where to extradite. When it comes to shielding Israeli or American-Israeli criminals from American justice, Israel treats its ally in Washington like an enemy.

Zionist political clout is evident in Washington’s judicial leniency toward other mega-swindlers with ties to Israel. Michael Milken contributed millions of (swindled) dollars to Israeli and US Zionist programs and won a ‘get out of jail’ card despite his conviction for major financial scams. He served 2 years out of a 10-year sentence and was granted a ‘humanitarian release’ because he was ‘dying’ of extensive terminal metastatic prostate cancer. So far, Michael’s quarter century of miraculous remission from ‘terminal metastatic prostate cancer’ constitutes a first in the annals of urologic cancer! He has gone on to re-constitute his fortune and prominence, while welfare mothers who took a few extra dollars rot in jail.

Ivan Bosky, another uber-Zionist and mega-donor to Israel was a swindler of gargantuan proportions. He raked in hundreds of millions a year. He was tried, convicted and sentenced to a mere 42 months in prison.He was out in less than 24 months, thanks to the support of ….

Marc Rich, a mega- billionaire rogue trader who broke US sanctions against trading with enemies, was also a self-described agent for the Israeli Mossad. Despite having been convicted in absentia in US courts for fraud, (he had skipped bail for Switzerland), President ‘Bill’ Clinton pardoned the ‘absentee felon’ in abstention – a historical first for a criminal who had never spent a day in the jail. Mrs. Rich’s $100,000 donation to the Hilary  Clinton New York senatorial campaign probably did little to influence the President’s sense of mercy…..

However, ‘Bernie’ Madoff, a $50 billion dollar swindler’ who gave huge amounts of illicit earnings to Zionist charities and projects in Israel was convicted and sentenced to over 100 years in prison.  Unlike the above mentioned ‘untouchables’, Madoff will never breathe free again because he made the unforgivable mistake of mostly swindling other Jews, ardent Zionists and even ripping off a number of pro-Israel foundations. His differential treatment stems from his poor choice of victims rather than the crimes…  Otherwise he might now be enjoying a comfortable villa in Israel than a cold cell in Pennsylvania.

Conclusions

Israeli capacity to manipulate and influence the American judicial process is based on 52 powerful front organizations – organized in the Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations. This situation has made a mockery of the American court system and feeds the cynicism and bitterness of the average American. Zionist officials and allies occupy strategic position within the White House and judiciary.

Through their influence in the mass media, they converted a grotesque mercenary spy, like Jonathan Pollard, into an altruistic, Israeli-Jewish patriot, celebrated throughout Israel and within US Zionist circles. Veteran American intelligence and military official who opposed his release have been painted with the broad brush of ‘anti-Semite’. The formidable Zionist power configuration, nurtured and financed  by mega-swindlers, successfully secured his release. Zionist dominance essentially guarantees that the US will treat an indicted Israeli cyber-thief with extreme tact, supplicating the Israeli government for their extradition, while going ballistic over an alleged Chinese hacker.

Few progressive web sites or even the micro-Marxist journals confront these issues, more out of moral cowardice (self-censorship) than ignorance. Instead they bleat general clichés and ‘radical rhetoric’ about ‘US imperialism’ and the ‘rise of the right’ without identifying the precise social and political identity of the forces who move national policy. In a word, the Zionist Power Configuration gets more than a ‘free ride’. Across the political spectrum it continues to campaign on behalf of Israeli spies and Zionist financial swindlers. This corruption of the American judicial system and the betrayal of American trust have far-reaching consequences and undermine efforts to effectively address major national problems.

Nov 212015
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

flag-bombs47

Introduction

Over the past 15 years the US has been engaged in a series of wars, which has led many writers to refer to the ‘rise of militarism’ – the growth of an empire, built primarily by and for the projection of military power – and only secondarily to advance economic imperialism.

The rise of a military-based empire, however, does not preclude the emergence of competing, conflicting and convergent power configurations within the imperial state. These factions of the Washington elite define the objectives and targets of imperial warfare, often on their own terms.

Having stated the obvious general fact of the power of militarism within the imperial state, it is necessary to recognize that the key policy-makers, who direct the wars and military policy, will vary according to the country targeted, type of warfare engaged in and their conception of the war. In other words, while US policy is imperialist and highly militaristic, the key policymakers, their approach and the outcomes of their policies will differ. There is no fixed strategy devised by a cohesive Washington policy elite guided by a unified strategic vision of the US Empire.

In order to understand the current, seemingly endless wars, we have to examine the shifting coalitions of elites, who make decisions in Washington but not always primarily for Washington. Some factions of the policy elite have clear conceptions of the American empire, but others improvise and rely on superior ‘political’ or ‘lobbying’ power to successfully push their agenda in the face of repeated failures and suffer no consequences or costs.

We will start by listing US imperial wars during the last decade and a half. We will then identify the main policy-making faction which has been the driving force in each war. We will discuss their successes and failures as imperial policy makers and conclude with an evaluation of “the state of the empire” and its future.

Imperial Wars: From 2001 – 2015

The current war cycle started in late 2001 with the US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. This was followed by the invasion and occupation of Iraq in March 2003, the US arms support for Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 2006, the proxy invasion of Somalia in 2006/7; the massive re-escalation of war in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007 – 2009; the   bombing, invasion ‘regime change’ in Libya in 2011; the ongoing proxy-mercenary war against Syria (since 2012), and the ongoing 2015 Saudi-US invasion and destruction of Yemen. In Europe, the US was behind the 2014 proxy putsch and violent ‘regime change’ in Ukraine which has led to an ongoing war against ethnic Russian speakers in south-east Ukraine, especially the populous industrial heartland of the Donbas region.

Over the past 15 years, there have been overt and covert military interventions, accompanied by an intense, provocative military build-up along Russia’s borders in the Baltic States, Eastern Europe (especially Poland), the Balkans (Bulgaria and Romania) and the mammoth US base in Kosovo; in Central Europe with nuclear missiles in Germany and, of course, the annexation of Ukraine and Georgia as US-NATO clients.

Parallel to the military provocations encircling Russia, Washington has launched a major military, political, economic and diplomatic offensive aimed at isolating China and affirming US supremacy in the Pacific.

In South American, US military intervention found expression via Washington-orchestrated business-military coup attempts in Venezuela in 2002 and Bolivia in 2008, and a successful ‘regime change’ in Honduras in 2009, overthrowing its elected president and installing a US puppet.

In summary, the US has been engaged in two, three or more wars since 2001, defining an almost exclusively militarist empire, run by an imperial state directed by civilian and military officials seeking unchallenged global dominance through violence.

Washington: Military Workshop of the World

War and violent regime change are the exclusive means through which the US now advances its foreign policy. However, the various Washington war-makers among the power elite do not form a unified bloc with common priorities. Washington provides the weapons, soldiers and financing for whichever power configuration or faction among the elite is in a position, by design or default, to seize the initiative and push their own war agenda.

The invasion of Afghanistan was significant in so far as it was seen by all sectors of the militarist elite, as the first in a series of wars. Afghanistan was to set the stage for the launching of higher priority wars elsewhere.

Afghanistan was followed by the infamous ‘Axis of Evil’ speech, dictated by Tel Aviv, penned by presidential speech-writer, David Fromm and mouthed by the brainless President Bush, II. The ‘Global War on Terror’ was the thinly veiled slogan for serial wars around the world. Washington measured the loyalty of its vassals among the nations of Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America by their support for the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. The Afghan invasion provided the template for future wars. It led to an unprecedented increase in the military budget and ushered in  ‘Caesar’-like dictatorial presidential powers to order and execute wars, silencing domestic critics and sending scored of thousands of US and NATO troops to the ‘Hindu Kush’.

In itself, Afghanistan was never any threat and certainly no economic prize for plunder and profit. The Taliban had not attacked the US. Osama Bin Laden could have been turned over to a judicial tribunal – as the governing Taliban had insisted.

The US military (with its ‘Coalition of the Willing’ or COW) successfully invaded and occupied Afghanistan and set up a vassal regime in Kabul. It built scores of military bases and attempted to form an obedient colonial army. In the meantime, the Washington militarist elite had moved on to bigger and, for the Israel-centric Zionist elite, higher priority wars, namely Iraq.

The decision to invade Afghanistan was not opposed by any of Washington’s militarist elite factions. They all shared the idea of using a successful military blitz or ‘cake-walk’ against the abysmally impoverished Afghanistan as a way to rabble rouse the American masses into accepting a long period of intense and costly global warfare throughout the world.

Washington’s militarist elites fabricated the link between the attacks on 9/11/2001 and Afghanistan’s governing Taliban and the presence of the Saudi warlord Osama Bin Laden. Despite the ‘fact’ that most of the ‘hijackers’ were from the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and none were Afghans, invading and destroying Afghanistan was to be the initial test to gauge the highly manipulated and frightened American public’s willingness to shoulder the burden of a huge new cycle of imperial wars. This has been the only aspect of the invasion of Afghanistan that could be viewed as a policy success – it made the costs of endless wars ‘acceptable’ to a relentlessly propagandized public.

Flush with their military victories in the Hindu Kush, the Washington militarists turned to Iraq and fabricated a series of increasingly preposterous pretexts for war: Linking the 9/11 ‘jihadi’ hijackers with the secular regime of Saddam Hussein, whose intolerance for violent Islamists (especially the Saudi variety) was well documented, and concocting a whole fabric of lies about Iraqi ‘weapons of mass destruction’ which provided the  propaganda basis for invading an already disarmed, blockaded and starved Iraq in March 2003.

Leading the Washington militarists in designing the war to destroy Iraq were the Zionists, including Paul Wolfowitz, Elliot Abrams, Richard Perle, and a few Israel-centric Gentile militarists, such as Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. The Zionists had a powerful entourage in key positions in the State Department, Treasury and the Pentagon.

There were ‘outsiders’ – non-Zionists and militarists within these institutions, especially the Pentagon, who voiced reservations – but they were brushed aside, not consulted and ‘encouraged’ to retire.

None of the ‘old hands’ in the State Department or Pentagon bought into the hysteria about Sadaam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, but to voice reservations was to risk one’s career. The manufacture and dissemination of the pretext for invading Iraq was orchestrated by a small team of operatives linking Tel Aviv and  Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz’s “Office of Special Plans”, a tight group of Zionists and some Israelis headed by Abram Shulsky (Sept. 2002 – June 2003).

The US war on Iraq was an important part of Israel’s agenda to ‘re-make the Middle East’ to establish its unchallenged regional hegemony and execute a ‘final solution’ for its own vexing ‘Arab (native Palestinian) problem’: It was made operational by the powerful Zionist faction within the Executive (White House), which had assumed almost dictatorial powers after the attack on 9/11/2001. Zionists planned the war , designed the ‘occupation policy’ and ‘succeeded wildly’ with the eventual dismemberment of a once modern secular nationalist Arab state.

In order to smash the Iraqi state – the US occupation policy was to eliminate (through mass firings, jailing and assassination) all high level, experienced Iraqi civil, military and scientific personnel – down to high school principals. They dismantled any vital infrastructure (which had not been already destroyed by the decades of US sanctions and bombing under President Clinton) and reduced an agriculturally advanced Iraq to a barren wasteland which would take centuries to recover and could never challenge Israel’s colonization of Palestine, let alone its military supremacy in the Middle East. Naturally, the large Palestinian Diaspora refugee population in Iraq was targeted for ‘special treatment’.

But Zionist policymakers had a much larger agenda than erasing Iraq as a viable country: They had a longer list of targets: Syria, Iran, Lebanon and Libya, whose destructions were to be carried out with US and NATO blood and treasure (and not a single Israeli soldier).

Despite the fact that Iraq did not even possess a functioning air force or navy in March 2003 and Afghanistan in late 2001 was rather primitive, the invasions of both countries turned out to be very costly to the US.  The US completely failed to benefit from its ‘victory and occupation’, despite Paul Wolfowitz’ boasts that the pillage of Iraq’s oil fields would pay for the entire project in a ‘few months’. This was because the real Zionist plan was  to destroy these nations – beyond any possibility for a quick or cheap imperialist economic gain. Scorching the earth and salting the fields is not a very profitable policy for empire builders.

Israel has been the biggest winner with no cost for the ‘Jewish State’. The American Zionist policy elite literally handed them the services of the largest and richest armed forces in history: the US. ‘Israel-Firsters’ played a decisive role among Washington policy-makers and Tel Aviv celebrated in the streets! They came, they dominated policy and they accomplished their mission: Iraq (and millions of its people) was destroyed.

The US gained an unreliable, broken colony, with a devastated economy and systematically destroyed infrastructure and without the functioning civil service needed for a modern state. To pay for the mess, the American people faced a spiraling budget deficit, tens of thousands of American war casualties and massive cuts in their own social programs. Crowning the Washington war-makers’ victory was the disarticulation of American civil and constitutional rights and liberties and the construction of a enormous domestic police state.

After the Iraq disaster, the same influential Zionist faction in Washington lost no time in demanding a new war against Israel’s bigger enemy – namely Iran. In the ensuing years, they failed to push the US to attack Teheran but they succeeded in imposing crippling sanctions on Iran. The Zionist faction secured massive US military support for Israel’s abortive invasion of Lebanon and its devastating series of blitzkriegs against the impoverished and trapped people of Gaza.

The Zionist faction successfully shaped US military interventions to meet Israel’s regional ambitions against three Arab countries: Yemen, Syria and Libya. The Zionists were not able to manipulate the US into attacking Iran because the traditional militarist faction in Washington balked: With instability in Afghanistan and Iraq, the US was not well positioned to face a major conflagration throughout the Middle East, South Asia and beyond – which a ground and air war with Iran would involve. However, the Zionist factions did secure brutal economic sanctions and the appointment of key Israel-Centric officials within the US Treasury. Secretary Stuart Levey, at the start of the Obama regime, and David Cohen afterwards, were positioned to enforce the sanctions.

Even before the ascendency of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Tel Aviv’s military objectives after Iraq, including Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Libya and Yemen had to be spaced over time, because the non-Zionist factions among Washington’s elite had been unable to  integrate occupied Afghanistan and Iraq into the empire.

Resistance, armed conflict and military advances in both Afghanistan and Iraq never ceased and are continuing into their 2nddecade. As soon as the US would withdraw from a region, declaring it ‘pacified’, the armed resistance would move back in and the local sepoys would defect to the rebels or take off for London or Washington with millions in pillaged loot.

‘Unfinished wars’, mounting casualties and spiraling costs, with no end in sight, undermined the agreement between the militarist and the Zionist factions in the Executive branch. However, the massively powerful Zionist presence in the US Congress provided a platform to bray for new and even bigger wars.

Israel’s vicious invasion of Lebanon in 2006 was defeated despite receiving massive US arms supplies, a US funded ‘Iron Dome’ missile defense system and intelligence assistance. Tel Aviv could not defeat the highly disciplined and motivated Hezbollah fighters in South Lebanon  despite resorting to carpet bombing of civilian neighborhoods with millions of banned cluster munitions and picking off ambulances and churches sheltering refugees. Israelis have been much more triumphal murdering lightly armed Palestinian resistance fighters and stone-throwing children.

Libya: A Multi-faction War for the Militarists (without Big Oil)

The war against Libya was a result of multiple factions among the Washington militarist elite, including the Zionists, coming together with French, English and German militarists to smash the most modern, secular, independent state in Africa under President Muammar Gaddafi.

The aerial campaign against the Gaddafi regime had virtually no organized support within Libya with which to reconstruct a viable neocolonial state ripe for pillage. This was another ‘planned dismemberment’ of a complex, modern republic which had been independent of the US Empire.

The war succeeded wildly in shredding Libya’s economy, state and society. It unleashed scores of armed terrorist groups, (who appropriated the modern weapons of Gaddafi’s army and police) and uprooted two million black contract workers and Libyan citizens of South Saharan origin forcing them to flee the rampaging racist militias to the refugee camps of Europe. Untold thousands died in rickety boats in the Mediterranean Sea.

The entire war was carried out to the publicly giddy delight of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her ‘humanitarian interventionist’ lieutenants (Susan Rice and Samantha Power), who were utterly ignorant as to who and what the Libyan “opposition” represented. Eventually, even  Hillary’s own Ambassador to Libya would be slaughtered by . . . the same victorious US-backed ‘rebels’ (sic) in the newly liberated Benghazi!

The Zionist faction destroyed Gaddafi (whose capture, grotesque torture and murder was filmed and widely disseminated), eliminating another real adversary of Israel and supporter of Palestinian rights. The US militarist faction, which led the war, got nothing positive – not even a secure naval, air or training base – only a dead Ambassador, millions of desperate refugees flooding Europe and thousands of trained and armed jihadists for the next target: Syria.

For a while Libya became the main supply-line for Islamist mercenaries and arms to invade Syria and fight the secular nationalist government in Damascus.

Once again the least influential faction in Washington turned out to be the oil and gas industry, which lost lucrative contracts it had already signed with the Gaddafi regime. Thousands of highly trained foreign oil workers were withdrawn. After Iraq, it should have been obvious that these wars were not ‘for oil’!

Ukraine: Coups, Wars and Russia’s ‘Underbelly’

With the US-orchestrated coup and intervention in Ukraine, the militarist factions once again seized the initiative, establishing a puppet regime in Kiev and targeting Russia’s strategic ‘soft underbelly’. The plan had been to take over Russia’s strategic military bases in Crimea and cut Russia from the vital military-industrial complexes in the Donbas region with its vast iron and coal reserves.

The mechanics of the power grab were relatively well planned, the political clients were put in power, but the US militarists had made no contingencies for propping up the Ukrainian economy, cut loose from its main trading partner and oil and gas supplier, Russia.

The coup led to a ‘proxy war’ in the ethnic-Russian majority regions in the south east (the Donbas) with four ‘unanticipated consequences’. 1) a country divided east and west along ethno-linguistic lines, (2) a bankrupt economy made even worse by the imposition of an IMF  austerity program, (3) a corrupt crony capitalist elite, which was ‘pro-West by bank account’, (4) and, after two years, mass disaffection among voters toward the US puppet regime.

The militarists in Washington and Brussels succeeded in engineering the coup in Ukraine but lacked the domestic allies, plans and preparations to run the country and successfully annex it to the EU and NATO as a viable country.

Apparently the militarist factions in the State Department and Pentagon are much more proficient in stage managing coups and invasions than in establishing a stable regime as part of a New World Order. They succeed in the former and fail repeatedly in the latter.

The Pivot to Asia and the Pirouette to Syria

During most of the previous decade, traditional global strategists in Washington increasingly objected to the Zionist faction’s domination and direction of US war policies focused on the Middle East for the benefit of Israel, instead of meeting the growing challenge of the new world economic superpower in Asia, China.

US economic supremacy in Asia had been deeply eroded as China’s economy grew at double digits. Beijing was displacing the US as the major trade partner in the Latin American and African markets. Meanwhile, the top 500 US MNC’s were heavily invested in China. Three years into President Obama’s first term the ‘China militarist faction’ announced a shift from the Middle East and the Israel-centric agenda to a ‘pivot to Asia’, the source of 40% of the world’s industrial output.

But it was not profits and markets that motivated Washington’s Asia faction among the militarist elites – it was military power. Even trade agreements, like the TransPacific Partnership (TPP), were viewed as tools to encircle and weaken China militarily and undermine its regional influence.

Led by the hysterical Pentagon boss Ashton Carter, Washington prepared a series of major military confrontations with Beijing off the coast of China.

The US signed expanded military base agreements with the Philippines, Japan and Australia; it participated in military exercises with Vietnam, South Korea and Malaysia; it dispatched battleships and aircraft carriers into Chinese territorial waters.

The US confrontational trade policy was formulated by the Zionist trio: Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzer, Trade Negotiator, Michael Froman (who works for both the Asia militarist and Zionist factions) and Treasury Secretary, Jake Lew. The result was the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), involving 12 Pacific countries while deliberating excluding China. Washington’s Asian militarist faction planned to militarize the entire Pacific Basin, in order to dominate the maritime trade routes and, at a moment’s notice, choke off all of China’s overseas markets and suppliers – shades of the series of US provocations against Japan leading up to the US entering WW2.

The ‘Asia-militarist faction’ successfully demanded a bigger military budget to accommodate its vastly more aggressive  posture toward China.

Predictably, China has insisted on defending its maritime routes and has increased its naval and air base building and sea and air patrols. Also, predictably, China has countered the US-dominated TPP by setting-up a one hundred billion dollar Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), while contributing to the multi-billion dollar BRICS Bank. Meanwhile, China even signed a separate $30 billion dollar trade agreement with Washington’s strategic ‘partner’, Britain. In fact, Britain followed the rest of the EU and joined the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank – despite objections from Washington’s “Asia faction”.

While the US depends heavily on its military pacts with South Korea and Japan, the latter nations have been meeting with China – their most significant trading partner – to work on expanding and deepening economic ties.

Up until 2014, the “business-with-China faction” of the Washington elite played a key role in the making of US-Asia policy. However, they have been eclipsed by the Asia militarist-faction, which is taking US policy in a totally different direction: Pushing China out as Asia’s economic superpower and escalating military confrontation with Beijing now heads Washington’s agenda.

Ashton Carter, the US Defense Secretary, has China, the second most important economy in the world in the Pentagon’s ‘cross-hairs’. When the TPP failed to curtail China’s expansion, the militarist faction shifted Washington toward a high risk military course, which could destabilize the region and risk a nuclear confrontation.

The Pirouette: China and Syria

Meanwhile in the Levant, Washington’s Zionist faction has been busy running a proxy war in Syria. The pivot to Asia has had to compete with the pirouette to Syria and Yemen.

The US joined Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the Gulf Emirates and the EU in sponsoring a replay of the Libyan ‘regime change’ – sponsoring proxy terrorists from around the globe into invading and devastating Syria. Damascus has been attacked from all sides for the ‘crime’ of being secular and multi-ethnic; for being pro-Palestinian; for being allied with Iran and Lebanon; for having an independent foreign policy; and for maintaining a limited representative (but not necessarily democratic) government. For these crimes, the West, Israel and the Saudis would have Syria fractured into ethnically cleansed ‘tribal state’ – something they had accomplished in Iraq and Libya.

The US militarist faction (personified by Secretary of Defense Carter and Senators McCain and Graham) have funded, trained and equipped the terrorists, whom they call ‘moderates’ and had clearly expected their progeny to follow Washington’s directions. The emergence of Isis showed just how close these ‘moderates’ stuck to Washington’s script.

Initially, the traditional militarist wing of Washington’s elite resisted the Zionist faction’s demand for direct US military intervention (American ‘boots on the ground’). That is changing with recent (very convenient) events in Paris.

Warfare: From Piecemeal Interventions to Nuclear Confrontation

The Washington militarists have again committed more US soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan; American fighter planes and Special Forces are in Syria and Yemen. Meanwhile, US naval armadas aggressively patrol the coasts of China and Iran. The militarist – Zionist ‘compromise’ over Syria was comprised of an initial contingent of 50 US Special Forces to join in ‘limited’ combat roles with (“loyal” sic) Islamist mercenaries – the so-called ‘moderates’. There are commitments for greater and heavier weaponry to come, including ground to air missiles capable of shooting down Russian and Syrian military jets.

Elite Factional Politics: An Overview

How does the record of these competing factions, formulating US imperial war policies in the Middle East over the past 15 years stack up? Clearly there has been no coherent imperial economic strategy.

The policy toward Afghanistan is remarkable for its failure to end the longest war in US history – over 14 years of occupation! The recent attempts by US-led client NATO forces to withdraw have been immediately followed by military advances by the nationalist-Islamist resistance militia – the Taliban, which controls much of the countryside. The possibility of a collapse of the current puppet in Kabul has forced the militarists in Washington to retain US bases – surrounded by completely hostile rural populations.

The Afghan war’s initial appearance of success triggered new wars – inter alia Iraq. But taking the long view, the Afghan war, has been a miserable failure in terms of the stated strategic goal of establishing a stable client government. The Afghan economy collapsed: opium production (which had been significantly suppressed by the Taliban’s poppy eradication campaign in 2000-2001) is the now predominant crop – with cheap heroin flooding Europe and beyond. Under the weight of massive and all pervasive corruption by ‘loyal’ client officials – the Afghan treasury is empty. The puppet rulers are totally disconnected from the most important regional, ethnic, religious and family clans and associations.

Washington could not ‘find’ any viable economic classes in Afghanistan with which to anchor a development strategy. They did not come to terms with the deep ethno-religious consciousness rooted in rural communities and fought the most popular political force among the majority Pashtu, the Taliban, which had no role in the attack on ‘9/11’.

They artificially slapped together a massive army of surly illiterates under Western imperial command and watched it fall apart at the seams, defect to the Taliban or turn their own guns on the foreign occupation troops. These “mistakes”, which accounted for the failure of the militarist faction in the Afghanistan war were due, in no small part, to the pressure and influence of the Zionist faction who wanted to quickly move on to their highest priority, a US war against Israel’s first priority enemy – Iraq – without consolidating the US control in Afghanistan. For the Zionists, Afghanistan (envisioned as a ‘cake-walk’ or quick victory) was just a tool to set the stage for a much larger sequence of US wars against Israel’s regional Arab and Persian adversaries.

Before the militarists could establish any viable order and an enduring governmental structure in Afghanistan, attention shifted to a Zionist-centered war against Iraq.

The build-up for the US war against Iraq has to be understood as a project wholly engineered by and for the state of Israel, mostly through its agents within the US government and Washington policy elite. The goal was to establish Israel as the unchallenged political-military power in the region using American troops and money and preparing the ground for Tel Aviv’s “final solution” for the Palestinian ‘problem’; total expulsion…

The US military and occupation campaign included the wholesale and systematic destruction of Iraq: Its law and order, culture, economy and society – so there would be no possibility of recovery. Such a vicious campaign did not resonate with any productive sector of the US economy (or for that matter with any Israeli economic interest).

Washington’s Zionist faction set about in a parody of ‘Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge’ to identify and destroy any competent, experienced Iraqi professional, civil servant, scientist, intellectual, or military official capable of re-organizing and re-building the county and war-battered society. They were assassinated, arrested, tortured or driven into exile. The occupation deliberately encouraged religious parties and traditional tribes to engage in inter-communal massacres and ethnic cleansing. In other words, the Zionist faction did not pursue the traditionally understood policy of empire building which would incorporate the second tier functionaries of a conquered state to form a competent client regime and use Iraq’s great oil and gas wealth to build its economy. Instead they chose to impose a scorched earth policy; setting loose organized sectarian armies, imposing the rule of grotesquely corrupt ex-pats and placing the most venal, sectarian clients in positions of power. The effect has been to transform the most advanced, secular Arab country into an ‘Afghanistan’ and in less than 15 years destroying centuries of culture and community.

The goal of the ‘Zionist strategy’ was to destroy Iraq as Israel’s regional rival. The cost of over a million Iraqi dead and many million refugees did not prick any conscience in Washington or Tel Aviv.

After all, Washington’s traditional ‘militarist faction’ picked up the bill (costing hundreds of billions) which they passed on to the American taxpayers (well over one trillion dollars) and used the deaths and suffering of tens of thousands of American troops to provide a pretext for spreading more chaos. The result of their mayhem includes the specter of ‘Isis’, which they may consider to be a success – since hysteria over ‘Isis’ pushes the West ‘closer to Israel’.

The sheer scale of death and destruction inflicted on the Iraqi population by the Zionist faction led to thousands of highly competent Ba’athist officers, who had survived ‘Shock and Awe’ and the sectarian massacres, to join armed Islamist Sunnis and eventually form the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This group of experienced Iraqi military officers formed the strategic technical core of Isis which launched a devastating offensive in Iraq in 2014 – taking major cities in the north and completely routing the US-trained puppet armies of the ‘government’ in Baghdad. From there they moved into Syria and beyond. It is fundamental to understanding the roots of ISIS: The Zionist faction among US militarist policymakers imposed a deliberate ‘scorched earth’ occupation policy, which united highly trained nationalist Baathist military officers with young Sunni fighters, both locals and increasingly foreign jihadist mercenaries. These deracinated members of the traditional Iraqi nationalist military elite had lost their families to the sectarian massacres; they were persecuted, tortured, driven underground and highly motivated. They literally had nothing left to lose!

This core of the Isis leadership stands in stark contrast to the colonial, corrupt and demoralized army slapped together by the US military with more cash than morale. ISIS quickly swept through half of Iraq and came within 40 miles of Baghdad.

The US militarist faction faced military defeat after eight years of war. They mobilized, financed and armed their client Kurdish mercenaries in northern Iraq and recruited the Shia Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to appeal to the Shia militia.

ISIS exploited the Western-backed Islamist uprising in Syria – and extended their sweep well across the border. Syria had accepted a million Iraqi refugees from the US invasion, including many of Iraq’s surviving experienced nationalist administrative elite. The US militarists are in a dilemma – another full-scale war would not be politically feasible, and its military outcome uncertain. Moreover the US was aligned with dubious allies  – especially the Saudis – who had their own regional ambitions

Turkey and Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Kurds were each eager to expand their power territorially and politically.

In the midst of this, the traditional Washington militarists are left with no overall viable imperialist strategy. Instead they improvise with faux ‘rebels’, who claim to be moderates and democrats, while taking US guns and dollars and ultimately joining the most powerful Islamist groups – like Isis.

Throwing a wrench into the machinery of Israeli-Saudi hegemonic ambitions, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah have sided with the secular Syrian government. Russia finally moved to bomb Isis strongholds – after identifying a significant Isis contingent of militant Chechens whose ultimate aims are to bring war and terror back to Russia.

The US-EU war against Libya unleashed all the retrograde mercenary forces from three continents (Africa, Asia and Europe) and Washington finds itself with no means to control them. Washington could not even protect its own consulate in their “liberated” regional capital of Benghazi – the US ambassador and two intelligence aides were killed by Washington’s own ‘rebels’. The competing and cooperating factions of the Washington militarist elite placed Libya on a steaming platter: Serving up invasion, regicide and hundreds of thousands of refugees, which they did not bother to even ‘season’ with any plan or strategy – just  unadulterated scorched earth against another opponent of Zionism. And a potentially lucrative strategic neo-colony in North Africa has been lost with no accountability for the Washington architects of such barbarism.

Latin America: The Last Outpost of the Multi-Nationals

As we have seen, the major theaters of imperial policy (the Middle East and Asia) have been dominated by militarists, nonprofessional diplomats-linked to the MNCs. Latin America stands as something of an exception. In Latin America, US policymakers have been guided by big business interests. Their main focus has been on pushing the neoliberal agenda. Eventually this has meant promoting the US-centered ‘free trade’ agreements, joint military exercises, shared military bases, and political backing for the US global military agenda.

The ‘militarist faction’ in Washington worked with the traditional business faction in support of  the unsuccessful military coups in Venezuela (2002 and 2014), the attempted coup in Bolivia 2008, and a successful regime change in Honduras (2010).

To harass the independent Argentine government which was developing closer diplomatic and trade ties with Iran, a sector of the US Zionist financial elite (the ‘vulture fund’ magnate Paul Singer) joined forces with the Zionist militarist faction to raise hysterical accusations against President Cristina Kirchner over the ‘mysterious’ suicide of a Israel-linked Argentine prosecutor. The prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, had devoted his career to ‘cooking up a case’ against Iran with the aid of the Mossad and CIA for the unsolved, bombing the Buenos Aires Jewish community center in 1994. Various investigations had exonerated Iran and the “Nisman Affaire” was an intense effort to keep Argentina from trading with Iran.

The Washington business faction operated in a mildly hostile Latin America for most of the past decade. However, it was able to recover influence, via a series of bilateral free trade agreements and took advantage of the end of the commodity cycle. The latter weakened the center-left regimes and moved them closer to Washington.

The ‘excesses’ committed by the US backed military dictatorships during the nineteen sixties through eighties, and the crisis of the neoliberal nineties, set the stage for the rise of a relatively moderate business-diplomatic faction to come to the fore in Washington. It is also the case that the various militarist and Zionist factions in Washington were focused elsewhere (Europe, Middle East and Asia). In any case the US political elite operates in Latin America mostly via political and business proxies, for the time being.

Conclusion

From our brief survey, it is clear that wars play a key role in US foreign policy in most regions of the world. However, war policies in different regions respond to different factions in the governing elite.

The traditional militarist faction predominates creating confrontations in Ukraine, Asia and along the Russian border. Within that framework the US Army, Air Force and Special Forces play a leading, and fairly conventional, role. In the Far East, the Navy and Air Force predominate.

In the Middle East and South Asia, the military (Army and Air Force) factions share power with the Zionist faction. Fundamentally, the Zionist dictate policy on Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine and the militarists follow.

Both factions overlapped in creating the debacle in Libya.

The factions form shifting coalitions, supporting wars of interest to their respective power centers. The militarists and Zionists worked together in launching the Afghan war; but once launched, the Zionists abandoned Kabul and concentrated on preparing for the invasion and occupation of Iraq, which was of far greater interest to Israel.

It should be noted that at no point did the oil and business elite play any significant role in war policy. The Zionist faction pushed hard to secure direct US ground intervention in Libya and Syria, but was not able to force the US  to send large contingents of ground troops due to opposition from the Russians as well as a growing sector of the US electorate. Likewise, the Zionists played a leading role in successfully imposing sanctions against Iran and a major role in prosecuting banks around the world accused of violating the sanctions. However, they were not able to block the military faction from securing a diplomatic agreement with Iran over its uranium enrichment program – without going to war.

Clearly, the business faction plays a major role in promoting US trade agreements and tries to lift or avoid sanctions against important real and potential trade partners like China, Iran and Cuba.

The Zionists faction among the Washington elite policymakers take positions which consistently push for wars and aggressive policies against any regime targeted by Israel. The differences between the traditional militarist and Zionist factions are blurred by most writers who scrupulously avoid identifying Zionist decision-makers, but there is no question of who benefits and who loses.

The kind of war which the Zionists promote and implement – the utter destruction of enemy countries – undermines any plans by the traditional militarist faction and the military to consolidate power in an occupied country and incorporate it into a stable empire.

It is a serious error to lump these factions together: the business, Zionist and various militarist factions of the Washington policy making elite are not one homogeneous group. They may overlap at times, but they also differ as to interests, liabilities, ideology and loyalties. They also differ in their institutional allegiances.

The overarching militarist ideology, which permeates US imperial foreign policy obscures a deep and recurrent weakness – US policymakers master the mechanics of war but have no strategy for ruling after intervening. This has been glaringly evident in all recent wars: Iraq, Syria, Libya, Ukraine etc. Improvisation has repeatedly led to monumental failures: from financing phantom armies to bleeding billions to prop-up incompetent, kleptocratic puppet regimes. Despite the hundreds of billions of public money wasted in these serial disasters, no policymaker has been held to account.

Long wars and short memories are the norm for Washington’s militarist rulers who do not lose sleep over their blunders. The Zionists, for their part, do not even need a strategy for rule. They push the US into wars for Israel, and once having destroyed “the enemy country” they leave a vacuum to be filled by chaos. The American public provides the gold and blood for these misadventures and reaps nothing but domestic deterioration and greater international strife.

Nov 092015
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

موافقان-و-مخالفان-اردوغان-در-لحظه-بازگشت-به-ترکیه-2

Introduction

Incumbent politicians and parties, both center-left and right, have suffered serious defeats in recent elections. The principal beneficiary has been the extreme right. Nowhere did the ‘consequential left’ register a victory, although in a few instances it marginally increased its vote. The one major exception has been Turkey, where the incumbent Erdogan regime scored a ‘victory’ on November 1, 2015 by resorting to widespread violence during the general election campaign to intimidate and silence his opposition after having suffered a sharp (and surprise) defeat five months earlier in June 2015 when secular civil groups, leftists and Kurdish linked parties upset Erdogan’S parliamentary majority. During the recent campaign, Erdogan resumed bombing of Kurdish regions, both inside Turkey and across the border in Syria and Iraq. He shut down opposition newspapers and TV stations, and imprisoned hundreds of secular, leftist activists. Scores of opposition party regional offices were firebombed and wrecked. Most ominously, Erdogan and Turkish intelligence operatives have been implicated in the horrific massacre of scores of opposition peace marchers, leftists, trade unionists and Kurdish political party activists in the capital Ankara on October 10 and elsewhere. In other words, Erdogan prevented the electoral decline of his incumbent right-wing regime through terror, purges and mob violence. Washington and the EU promptly congratulated the Erdogan regime for its blood-stained ‘victory’.

This essay will address the reasons why incumbents lost worldwide. We will examine social policies, economic crises, personalities, corruption scandals, commodity cycles and growing class inequalities – and a combination of all of the above.

Secondly, we will discuss why the alternatives oscillate between the ‘center-left’ and the hard right and not the ‘consequential left (for lack of a better term)’ – the CL.

Thirdly, we will explore the historical and external and internal contemporary factors limiting the CL’s growth, and why the Left does not attract the mass of voters as an alternative to the Right and Center-left.

Center-Left and Right Incumbents in Retreat

This year, center-left and rightwing incumbents have suffered major defeats in elections in Poland, Canada, Portugal, Ukraine, Turkey, Spain, Colombia, Argentina and France. According to reliable polls, incumbent regimes in Venezuela and Brazil are expected to suffer serious losses in coming elections.

Moreover, center-left incumbents in Bolivia, Ecuador, Greece and El Salvador have secured their re-election by shifting to the right. For example, Bolivia’s President Evo Morales asked the Financial Times to organize a meeting on Wall Street inviting the CEO’S from 130 of the biggest multi-nationals. In this imperial ‘love-fest’, Evo offered every kind of economic inducement imaginable – outperforming the most openly neoliberal client rulers. Across the ‘pond’, Greek Prime Minister Tsipras turned over his nation’s sovereignty to the financiers of the European Union, promising to ‘privatize’ $50 billion worth of valuable public assets, while cutting salaries and pensions and ending state subsidies for family farmers.

Why Do Incumbents Lose?

What is striking about the near universal defeat of center-left and rightwing incumbents across the political spectrum is the fact that their regimes have identical policies which have worsened inequalities, reversed 70 years of social welfare legislation, concentrated wealth and imposed regressive class-based “austerity” on their populations.

Having weakened trade unions and undermined collective action, wage and salaried workers can only protest by voting out the incumbents. However, as class-based struggles decline, so does class-consciousness. As a result, ‘alternatives’, which are only minimally different from the incumbents, are elected.

Voters have another option: abstention from the polls. Voter turnout has plummeted. The uncounted ‘none of the above’ vote has increased significantly across the globe with few political consequences.

Impoverishment and growing popular discontent is exacerbated by the world economic crisis, the sharp decline in commodity prices (especially in agro-mineral export countries) and the regressive fiscal policies and cutbacks adopted by incumbents.

Most workers, especially those employed in the more vulnerable private sectors, are rarely organized or politically conscious. The loss of stable wage employment results in the growth of self-employment (street vendors, domestic servants and private contractors) and the loss of collective organizations. This makes them especially prone to the appeal of clientelistic politics from the right and center-left.

Moreover, EU dominance of its ‘vassal-members’ has awakened ‘nationalist’ political consciousness rather than class-consciousness, with the result that the alternative to neoliberal regimes is increasingly the hard nationalist-paternalistic right.

The paradox is that, the worse the capitalist crisis grows, the weaker the collective response from working class organizations and the more severe the austerity measures imposed by international financial-capital, the more likely the hard nationalist right will emerge as the principle alternative.

Intensification and Spread of Class Struggle… from Above:  ‘Austerity’

The reason for the growth of the hard right is clear: ‘Austerity’, a misnomer on all counts. First and foremost, the primary purpose of ‘austerity’ is to advance bourgeois class warfare in every sense of the word. Regressive economic policies grew out of a series of successful legislation designed to dismantle the legal and organizational institutions of the working class (portrayed as ‘flexibility’ and ‘labor reforms’). ‘Austerity’, the next phase in class warfare, encompasses far more than regressive socio-economic policies. It involves wholesale changes facilitating (1) capitalist firing of workers arbitrarily; (2) drastic changes in labor contracts including multi-tiered wages and the replacement of long-term employees with short-term contingent workers, (3) elimination of severance pay; (4) the power to ‘fire on the spot’; (5) and rotating employment.

Austerity’ measures are designed to undermine collective organization and encourage divisive competition among workers for jobs and scarce benefits.

Austerity leads to the replacement of senior, stable, class-experienced workers in favor of young vulnerable workers, refugees, and immigrants who are willing to work long hours, for lower pay with fewer benefits, while tolerating outright theft of their wages and other illegal practices.

The class warfare provisions accompanying ‘austerity’ are the essential political foundations for implementing these regressive socio-economic measures.

Since both center-left and rightwing regimes impose austerity policies, the working class, which has been weakened, threatened and fragmented, lacks a political basis for launching a class-wide offensive. Instead we find occasional instances of local direct action and, more rarely, national one-day protests.

Why the Consequential Left is Not an Alternative

The defeat and decay of incumbent regimes of both the neo-liberal right and center-left should have benefited the ‘consequential left’ (CL) — by which we mean political leaders and parties, which have been consistently opposed to capitalism and imperialism in all of its forms and structures.

That has not happened for several obvious reasons, which need to be examined in some detail. First of all, the CL has given ‘critical support’  to the center-left in various campaigns and, in the process, surrendered its identity, restrained the class struggle and, in some cases, even accepted ‘decorative’ positions (like ‘Secretary for Cultural Affairs’) within center-left regimes.

As a result, the CL provided a left veneer for the center-left regime in power and has not been able to capitalize on its demise in subsequent elections.

Secondly, where the CL managed to retain its independence and engage in frontal attacks on the center-left, it often happened in the context of a center-left regime still enjoying popular credibility based on ‘redistributive’ policies and anti-net-liberal rhetoric. As a result the CL was not able to attract the mass following that brought the center-left to power.

Thirdly, the CL was badly hit by the regressive socio-economic changes that the rightwing regimes implemented. The loss of trade union rights, the changes in labor contracts and the growth of temporary workers weakened the social base for the CL and undermined its capacity for direct action and class struggle – essential elements in building grassroots organization.

In contrast to the CL, the center-left relies on election appeals to discontented voters and attracts their votes through the political mass media without needing to organize them in any collective movement.

When the incumbent neo-liberal right or center-left regimes fall from power, they leave in place a political, social and economic framework, which inhibits collective organization and struggle.

The neo-liberal right consistently dismantles working class organizations, whereas the ‘hard right’ diverts the working class to nationalist-chauvinist and anti-immigrant consciousness.

Beyond these external factors weakening the CL, there is the problem of the social composition of its leadership, which is ‘top-heavy’ with academics and ‘intellectuals’ – journalists, lawyers and professionals.

These leaders are the most vehement critics of capitalism when they are in opposition, but they are submissive, impotent and incapable of confronting the hard right and the international financial institutions of the neo-liberal right when they occupy positions of power.

Moreover the intellectual left is used to addressing self-generating ‘socialist forums’, writing for small journals produced by and for the same intellectuals, and have no experience in direct face-to-face long-term, large-scale worker education.

Most have engaged, at some point, in student academic struggles – but have episodic or no experience in working class or community organizations. In many cases, their idea of ‘class struggle’ is linking up with the center-left and providing a ‘radical’ rationale, justifying co-habitation between the CL in ‘critical’ opposition and the center-left in power.

Over time the academic left is either absorbed by the center-left or they are marginalized, expelled, or defect when the center-left moves right. The academic left intellectuals, well situated in comfortable life-time academic or institutional appointments, have no direct contact or intimate knowledge or existential awareness of the political explosiveness of unemployed and contract workers, low paid, immigrant and female workers.

If and when the struggle turns militant, with a hard right crackdown, they fashion elaborate ideological justifications for retiring to academia.

Strong academic and professional class representation among the Censures its isolation from mass struggle; perpetuates internal “conversations”, paralyzes direct action and relies on unintelligible ‘narratives’ to insure popular incomprehension and discredit.

The Right Surges; the Left Recedes

In contrast, the hard right has gained mass support by relying on plebian language, direct action, popular nationalism, opposition to oligarchical international organizations and ethno-clerical chauvinism.

The single most important insight, which the hard right exploits, is the fear, loathing and resentment accompanying the real and clearly perceived downward mobility of vast sectors of the working and lower middle class.

Neo-liberalism has not only smashed the trade unions but it has severely torn the social safety net for unorganized workers and employees. The hard right has no truck for trade unions, but is deeply involved in restoring a vision of a ‘safety-net’ via  corporatist social organizations involving employer, employees and state social pacts.

The hard right has gained influence by opposing the neoliberal policies that raised the retirement age, reduced health coverage, undermined job security and block social advancement (blaming these losses on ‘immigrants and minorities’). They blame the neo-liberal immigration policies, which have increased the reserve army of unemployed and underemployed workers.

The hard right responds by launching racist attacks on the immigrants, and not on the capitalists who hire and exploit immigrant workers to increase profits. As multi-national corporations close factories and move to off-shore, cheap labor, low corporate tax sites, the hard right denounces globalization and calls for a national industrial policy. While the trade unions march in protest and shop delegates confront bosses, the far right reaps the electoral votes.

The hard right in France, Poland, Greece, Hungary, Austria and elsewhere has captured the support of discontented workers by attacking the neoliberal right and center-left. They take advantage of the self-marginalized left. They have pre-empted class polarization by a kind of ersatz ‘nationalist polarization’. Their opposition to the EU, IMF and WTO is directed against the economic dominance of blatant neo-liberalism not capitalism, against the European Union, but not against US-dominated NATO militarism (which has exacerbated the flood of refugees and migrants).

The decline of the center-left throughout Latin America, namely in Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela and Ecuador, is partly due to the corruption of high officials, which alienates the middle class as well as high inflation and unemployment, which erode living standards of the non-unionized majority of workers and informal sector self-employed. The center-left’s embrace of an agro-mineral export strategy and its recent collapse with the ‘end of the commodity boom’, has provoked mass discontent. State concessions to extractive capital (including the shredding of environmental protections laws) have alienated progressives, ecologists and indigenous communities. The neo-liberal right, in opposition, has gained the mass anti-incumbent vote by denouncing and mass organizing against corruption and by disguising their regressive socio-economic agenda.

The neoliberal right has capitalized on the pervasive corruption among top center-left politicians in Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela to win back the middle class. Its promise to reduce inflation wins popular support. Its free market and pro-imperialist policies attract large-scale financial and media backing.

The consequential left, marginalized or embedded within the center-left regimes, is discredited. When it joins the attacks on the center-left, the right is in the best position to harvest the votes.

Sectors of the popular classes who want to preserve their hard-won gains and resent inflation-induced downward mobility have turned to the right.

Middle class resentment at the loss of their status does not augur well for solidarity with marginal groups, indigenous peoples, immigrants and the dispossessed and displaced from the countryside.

Declining living standards and rising inequality, economic crisis and the end of the commodity cycle, in the present conjuncture, has radicalized popular sectors – but not in a leftward direction.

Rightwing demagogies link phony populist critiques of liberalism with militarist tub thumping and increased prerogatives for capitalism.

Eventually this rightwing turn will end in further mass disenchantment and a new round of mass protests. However, unless the left takes the lead, sheds its ‘professional’ mentors and engages in direct action, the pendulum may return the center-left to power once again!

Nov 062015
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

lies_deception_propaganda

Introduction

With the collapse of the Communist countries in the 1990’s and their conversion to capitalism, followed by the advent of neoliberal regimes throughout most of Latin America, Asia, Europe and North America, the imperial regimes in the US and EU have established a new political spectrum, in which the standards of acceptability narrowed and the definition of adversaries expanded. Over the past quarter century, the US and EU turned their focus from systemic adversaries (anti-capitalist and anti-imperial states and movements) to attacking capitalist regimes, which (1) had adopted nationalist, re-distributive and Keynesian policies; (2) had opposed military interventions, coups and bases; (3) had aligned with non-Western capitalist powers; (4) had opposed Zionist colonization of Palestine and Gulf State-financed Islamist terrorists; (5) and had refuse to follow the financial agendas dictated by Wall Street and the City of London investment houses, speculators and vulture funds.

The Western imperial regimes (by which we mean the US, Canada and the EU) have exercised their political, military, economic and propaganda powers to (1) eliminate or limit the variety of capitalist options; (2) control the kinds of market-state relations; and (3) secure compliance through punitive military invasions, occupations and economic sanctions against targeted adversaries.

The ‘Media Troika’: the Financial Press and Political Warfare

The major financial newspapers of record in the United States have played a key role in disseminating the post-communist political line regarding what are acceptable capitalist policies: The Wall Street Journal, (WSJ), the New York Times (NYT), and the Financial Times (FT) – the ‘Troika’ – have systematically engaged in political warfare acting as virtual propaganda arms of the US and EU imperialist governments in their attempts to impose and/or maintain vassal state status on countries and economies, ‘regulated’ according to the needs of Western financial institutions.

The propaganda Troika not only reflects the interests and policies of the ruling elites, but their editors, journalists and commentators shape policies through their reportage, analyses and editorials.

The Troika’s methods of political operation and the substance of their policies preclude any kind of balanced reportage.

Day in and day out, the Troika (1) fabricates ‘crises’ for adversaries and illusory promises of ‘recovery’ for vassals; (2) distorts and/or omits favorable information regarding adversaries, dismissing targeted regimes as  ‘authoritarian’and ‘corrupt’. In contrast, obedient and submissive rulers are described as ‘pragmatic’ and ‘realist’. The Troika attributes ‘military threats’ and ‘aggressive behavior’ to adversaries engaged in defensive policies, while labeling vassal state invasions or aggression as  justified, retaliatory or defensive.

A close reading of the reportage by the stable of Troika scribes over the past 2 years reveals the repeated use of vitriolic and highly charged terms in describing adversarial leaders. This prepares the reader for the one-sided, negative assessment of past, present and future policies adopted by the targeted regime.

Once the imperial states and the Troika decide on targeting a government and its leaders, all the subsequent ‘news’ is designed to present the motives of these leaders as ‘perfidious’ and the economic and social impact of their policies as ‘catastrophic’.

And whenever the ‘Troika’s’ analyses or predictions or prognostications turned out to be blatantly wrong – there are never corrections. Brazen lies are glossed over with nary a ripple in their smooth fabric of propaganda.

Once a government is designated as ‘enemy’ (ripe for ‘regime change’), the Troika recycles the same hostile messages almost daily. The readers, upon viewing Troika headlines, already know at least three quarters of the content of the ‘article’. A small portion of a report may refer tangentially to some particular event or policy decision for which the diatribe launched.

Working hand-in-hand with Western imperial regimes, the Troika targets the same regimes, using the exact same terms dished out by imperial policy spokesmen and women.

In this essay, we will discuss the main regimes and policies targeted by the Troika and its Western imperial state partners. We will then proceed to evaluate Troika facts, interpretations and their track record from the beginning of the onslaught to the present. We will conclude by examining the conversion of the mainstream ‘serious’ financial press into a triumvirate of tub-thumping warmongers.

The Troika’s Targeted Regimes: Trumpeting Their Sins and Denying Their Successes

The Troika’s propaganda war not only converges with the imperial states’ destabilization policies (‘regime change’) but also is aimed at specific policies and agreements among supposed allies, partners and even vassal states.

The intensity of vitriol and the frequency of hostile articles vary according to the level of conflict between the imperial regime and its target for ‘regime change’. The greater the conflict the more violent the language.

We find intense Troika hostility, in the form of frequent, hysterical attacks, directed against Russia, China, Venezuela, Argentina and Palestine. Even any suspected ‘deviations’ by vassals, like Chile or Brazil, in the form of popular domestic social legislations, are subjected to stern scolding and warnings of dire consequences.

The Troika Maligns Russia

The Troika’s attacks vary to some degree with each target. In the case of Russia, the Troika routinely denounces President Vladimir Putin as an authoritarian ruler who has undermined Russian democracy. They claim Russia’s economy is in crisis and facing imminent collapse. They vilify Russia’s military assistance to the Syrian government of Bashar Assad. They question the viability of Russia’s military treaties and economic agreements with China. In sum, the Troika portrays Russia as a once peaceful, democratic law-abiding country (during the kleptocratic years of Boris Yeltsin in the 1990’s), which has been taken over by former secret KGB officials who have embarked on reckless overseas military adventures, while repressing their own ethnic Muslim populations (in Chechnya and Dagestan) and which is being run into the ground because of mismanagement and Western economic sanctions. They never bother to explain why the ‘authoritarian’ Putin maintains a consistently high citizen approval despite the Troika’s litany of evils…

Troika-Backed Ukrainian Puppet Secures 1% Approval

In December 2013, US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, the foul mouth diplomat, puppet dominatrix and austerity zealot, bragged that Washington had poured $5 billion dollars into Ukraine in order to pursue ‘regime change ‘and install a puppet regime headed by President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister (‘Our Man Yats’) Arseniy Yatsenyuk as Prime Minister. Obedient to his Western sponsors and the Troika, Yatsenyuk proceeded to sign off on an IMF bailout and austerity program slashing salaries and pensions of Ukrainian citizens by half, reducing GNP by 25%, ending fuel and food subsidies and tripling unemployment. These policies brought windfall profits for his billionaire crony capitalists and intensified corruption. The Troika labelled the Nuland’s putsch a ‘democratic revolution’, applauding Yastenyuk for vigorously applying the IMF dictated program and predicted a prosperous future…

As discontent spread and anger mounted among Ukrainian citizens, Yatsenyuk continued to feed his own ego by reading the Troika’s puff-piece editorials lauding his courage for staying the course of austerity and ignoring his compatriots’ opinion polls, up until the October 25, 2015 elections.

As the elections neared, opinion polls revealed that 99% of the electorate (which excluded millions of restive citizens of the Donbas region) completely rejected Arseniy (now known as ‘Nolan’s arsehole’) Yatsenyuk. Faced with the universal rejection of his starvation policies and crony capitalism, he withdrew his party (the Popular (sic) Front) from the election, but not from the ‘democratic’ government…

For two years the Troika had praised the Kiev junta, fabricating ‘reports’ about Kiev’s positive economic ‘reforms’ … which had benefited the 1% corrupt oligarchs while impoverishing the masses. The Western propaganda mills systematically distorted popular reaction among the Ukrainian citizens, citing imaginary ‘anonymous experts’ and phantom ‘men in the street’ in praise of the debacle. Never had the Troika engaged in such blatantly deceptive ‘journalism’ as its account of the two years of pillage and mass immiseration under Prime Minister Yatsenyuk. And when ‘Yats’ was faced with total repudiation, he blithely dismissed Ukrainian public opinion, claiming he was ‘not concerned by temporary (sic) political party ratings’. His indifference with an electoral repudiation of 99% is rooted in a delusion that he will remain Prime Minister because he is widely praised by the EU, the US, the IMF … and the media Troika.

The Troika and China: Here Comes the Crash . . .?

In its ‘journalistic pivot to Asia’, the Troika deprecates China’s high-growth economy by questioning its data and by repeatedly predicting the impending crisis, breakdown and mass disaffection.

The Troika describes China’s defense policy as a ‘military threat to its neighbors’ and labels its overseas trade and investment policies as ‘neo-colonial exploitation’.

China’s national campaign against corruption and its prosecution of corrupt officials is dismissed by the Troika as a ‘political purge by a power-hungry president’.

The Troika attributes Chinese advances in science and technology as mere ‘cyber-theft of Western innovations’.

The movement of Chinese workers (internal migration) to areas with better paying jobs and investments is called ‘colonization’.

The Chinese government’s response to terrorism and armed separatists from Tibet and the Western Uighur regions is denounced as “Beijing’s systematic violation of the human rights of minorities”.

The Troika Castigates Capitalist Argentina (for a Decade of Growth)

Argentina has been on the Troika’s radar for a decade, despite the fact that it has a center-left government, which rescued capitalism from a total collapse (the Crisis of 1998-2002) restoring the growth of profits. Multi-nationals, like Monsanto and Chevron, enjoy huge returns on their investments in Argentina.

The Troika denounces the government for running up budget deficits while ignoring the impact of a Manhattan court judgement to award a group of Wall Street ‘vulture fund’ speculators ‘interest payments’ of one-thousand percent on old pre-crisis debt.

The Troika claims the regime engages in populist excesses, which prevent large-scale inflows of investment capital.

The Troika describes the recent slowdown in the economy as a ‘deep crisis’, which requires ‘deep structural changes’ (namely the elimination of social funding for pensioners, low income wage earners and school children).

The Troika paints a catastrophic picture of Argentina: a decaying economy run by a demagogic political leadership engaged in falsifying data … to mask an imminent collapse …

Troika and its ‘Hate Venezuela’ Campaign

The Troika’s journalists and editorial writers, portray Venezuela as an unmitigated disaster: a stagnant and collapsing economy, ruined by an authoritarian populist regime repressing peaceful opposition dissenters.

According to the Troika, Venezuela is incapable of providing basic goods to consumers. Instead it resorts to draconian confiscation of goods from honest businesses – unjustly accused of hoarding and profiteering. The daily reality of manufactured ‘shortages’ is consistently ignored.

When the Venezuelan government attempts to stop violent cross border raids by Colombian paramilitary gangs and smugglers it is denounced as arbitrarily repressing Colombian immigrants.

When Caracas arrests opposition leaders because of their well-documented involvement in violent street demonstrations, promoting the sabotage of power plants and clinics and for planning coups, they are portrayed as violating the ‘human rights of legitimate dissidents.’.

The Troika never mentions the tens of millions of US dollars provided by Washington to opposition NGOs to pursue its destabilization campaign against Venezuela. It labels US-funded opposition NGO’s as  “independent civil society organizations” (just like Ukraine before the putsch).

For almost 2 decades, the Troika has praised Venezuelan opposition groups as formidable critics of the Chavez-Maduro government, but has never explained to their readers why such ‘formidable’ groups have been soundly defeated in 14 of the 15 elections.

The Troika and Palestine: In Defense of Israeli Terror

In its Middle East coverage, the Troika consistently depicts the Palestinians as violent terrorists and aggressors while describing Israelis as their victims. According to the Troika, the Israeli army is engaged in justifiable ‘reprisals’ when they bomb and slaughter Palestinian civilians trapped in Gaza. The endless dispossession of Palestinians of their homes, farms and rights and the violent settler occupation by Israeli Jewish colonists is presented as the just settlement of Jews escaping persecution.

No mention or little importance is given to:

(1)   Israeli-Jewish desecration of Islamic and Christian religious sites;

(2)   Israeli systematic terror and mass jailing of peaceful protesters.

Palestinian resistance is described as ‘incendiary, irrational violence’.

The Troika journalists produce ‘articles’ which are virtually indistinguishable from the press handouts of the Zionist Power Configuration in the US. The Troika even chastises their partner US-EU regimes for their bland criticism or expression of shock at Israel’s most egregious crimes.

The Troika echoes Israeli and Zionist attacks on international tribunals charging Israeli officials with crimes against humanity. The Troika claims they lack ‘balance’.

The Troika and Syria: Armchair Generals

The Troika has demonized the Syrian government of Bashar Assad while backing jihadi terrorists dubbed ‘rebels or ‘moderates’. It has long argued for greater direct military intervention by NATO armies to overthrow the government in Damascus.

The Troika, masquerading as an independent ‘financial press’ publishes scores of articles by dozens of ‘armchair generals’ who concoct military strategies against Damascus while ignoring heavy economic costs, the social catastrophe of 4 million internal and external Syrian war refugees and the grave consequences of the splitting up a once-unified secular nation-state.

The Troika and Wayward Neo-Liberals

The Troika even chastises states and governments which have adopted ‘free market policies’ but maintained or introduced moderate social palliatives. For example, the Chilean regime of Michelle Bachelet fell victim to Troika criticism for promoting a mild increase in corporate taxes and implementing trade union legislation allowing for greater workers’ rights. According to the Troika, these mild reforms have led to economic stagnation, a decline in investment and greater social polarization.

Evaluation: Unmasking the Troika’s Distortions, Fabrications and Falsifications

The Troika’s ‘journalism and editorializing’ on Russia has totally distorted its recent political and economic history. Like all confidence men, Troika journalists and editors mix a few threads of facts with patent falsehoods, magnifying defects and minimizing achievements, ignoring positive long-term trends and emphasizing episodic negatives.

The Troika’s accounts of Russia’s recent military and diplomatic assistance to the Syrian government’s struggle against Islamist terrorists, ignores the achievement in reversing IS advances and stabilizing the central government.

The Troika paints a specter of Great Russian geopolitical expansion and ignores the long-standing political partnerships and alliances between Russia and major countries in the region, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.

With matters ‘economic’, the Troika describes the ‘catastrophic’ impact of US-EU sanctions against Russia over Ukraine, while ignoring the positive long-term results for Russia’s economy – greater self-reliance and investment in manufacturing and agriculture as a stimulus to local producers and the emergence of alternative overseas suppliers and markets, especially China and Iran.

The Troika highlights Russia’s two-year recession while ignoring a decade and a half of substantial growth after the catastrophic ‘Yeltsin’ years.

The Troika falsifies past and present political developments. They discretely praise the Western-backed violent gangster-oligarchs who ruled Russia during the pillage years of the 1990’s as a democracy while denouncing the relatively peaceful and competitive elections under the Putin Presidency as ‘authoritarian’.

The Troika resorts to similar propaganda ploys with China. Any slowdown from China’s three decades of double digit growth gets spun as an imminent collapse, ignoring the fact that the US-European business community can only dream of China’s still robust growth rate of 7%.

The allegations of Chinese cyber theft of Western science and technology ignore the obvious fact that China’s enormous public investment in basic and applied science and technology in dozens of centers of excellence has produced stunning achievements and levels of scholarship. A review of the international scientific literature and journals – paints an entirely different picture of Chinese advances from that described by the Troika.

Chinese economic growth through seaborne exports requires major investment and commitment to its maritime routes and security. To counter Chinese growth and assert US supremacy, Washington has signed new, provocative military pacts with Japan, Australia and the Philippines and escalated the intrusion of its planes and ships into Chinese waters and airspace. The Troika labels China’s defense of its waterways as an “aggressive” military threat to its regional neighbors, while US military investments in bases in Asia and constant intelligence gathering exceed Beijing’s five- fold. US warships brazenly violate China’s 12 mile maritime boundary.

Troika scribes completely ignore the recent history of US and Japanese empires invading dozens of Asian countries, establishing colonies, and killing scores of millions of people. In contrast to the enormous US strategic ring of military bases and communications outposts throughout the Asia-Pacific region, China has no foreign bases or overseas troops – a fact one will never learn from the ‘Troika’

The Troika’s campaign against Argentina, permeating its pages, minimizes the role of a short-term contemporary slow-down in international demand for commodities and attributes Argentina’s problems to its welfare programs, capital controls and state regulation. The Troika fails to acknowledge the past decade of growth, prosperity and rising living standards among the people in Argentina.

The source of Argentine stagnation is not because of a lack of free market policies but the Fernandez regime’s accommodation and promotion of  the interests of international bankers, virtually all foreign debt holders (except one notorious ‘vulture’!) and extractive capitalists (agribusiness, Monsanto, Barrack Gold etc.).

The Troika ignores ‘the decade of infamy’ – the 1990’s – during which Argentina served as a bargain bazaar for the privatization of lucrative public enterprises and eventually collapsed in the 2001 crash with major bank closings, one hundred thousand bankruptcies and five million unemployed (30% of the labor force) – a thoroughly pillaged economy. Instead the Troika fabricates an ideal world of past free market prosperity in order to condemn contemporary Argentina, ignoring the real historical record of a liberal debacle and Keynesian recovery.

Venezuela is currently in a severe crisis, as the Troika scribes remind us in their shrill reports – blaming it entirely on ‘populist’ (i.e. public spending on social welfare) and ‘nationalist’ policies.

The Troika ignores the well-documented sabotage by the importers and distributers in the private business community, hoarding, excess profiteering and currency speculation. These problems are exacerbated by the sharp decline of oil revenues resulting from international market forces, and not merely government mismanagement.

The Troika tells their readers that the Chavez and Maduro governments are authoritarian, ignoring the dozen and a half free and competitive elections since Chavez’ ascent to power. Moreover, the Troika has remained rather quiet over their verbally violent editorial support for the opposition business-led and US embassy-backed military coup in 2002 and an aborted coup in 2014.

Conclusion

The Troika: the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and the Financial Times have repeatedly made false prognoses regarding the economic performances of governments targeted for ‘regime change’. Their economic predictions were repeatedly wrong and their readers among the investor public would have lost their shirts if they had taken their cues from the Troika’s editorial pages and bet ‘short’ against China and the rest…

Their perverse denunciations of Russian and Chinese military defense activities are sharpening world tensions. Their support for ethnic separatists in the Russian Caucuses and western China has encouraged acts of terrorism leading to the deaths of hundreds of Chinese workers murdered by Uighur and Tibetan terrorists, hundreds of Russians at hands of Chechen terrorists and thousands of Russian-speakers in Ukraine’s Donbas region.

The Troika cannot be relied on for reliable information, especially regarding the economic, political and foreign policies of US and EU adversaries (those targets for ‘Regime change’).

At most their polemical screeds give the discerning reader an insight into the propaganda line promoted by the Western powers.

Moreover in recent times, the Troika has become even more strident and militaristic than the ruling elites. The Troika’s armchair generals mocked Obama for not sending ground troops into Syria; chastised the US and EU for signing the nuclear agreements with Iran; and embraced Israel’s systematic murder of Palestinians.

Unreliable and more given to strident invective than reporting the facts in a balanced way, the Troika has lost credibility for intelligent, serious readers who strain to ‘read between the lines’ when they write that a government is ‘unpopular’ during elections. More likely than not, the incumbents sweep the elections and retain popular majorities as has been the case so far in Russia, Argentina, Venezuela and elsewhere.

If and when the Troika succeeds in promoting more wars, as it has been doing in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia, each and every militaristic adventure will lead to economic and social disasters spawning millions more refugees.

When imperial governments, like England, adopt conciliatory policies toward China, eschewing zero sum confrontations, in favor of win-win cooperation, the Troika’s armchair generals are sure to mock and accuse the conservative government of ‘kowtowing’ to authoritarians – dismissing the $30 billion dollar investment deals.

The Troika has gone far beyond its earlier role of presenting the line of imperial regimes. They now march, rather independently, to the military drum of real and imagined nuclear warriors and terrorists. Welcome to the “free press”.

Oct 232015
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Introduction

Democratic critics of military seizures of power commonly refer to them as military coups. They adopt a very narrow and misleading conception of what is taking place.

Likewise, human rights activists and progressive analysts who conceptualize the reign of violence which follows, a ‘coup’ as state terror fail to take account of the systemic forces – the capitalist social order and class relations – which determine the classes which wield state power. They ignore the specific classes and groups which are targeted and which classes direct and benefit from terror.

Concepts like ‘state terror’ and ‘military coup’ obscure as much as enlighten. Moreover, the narrow focus on the military limits the political changes in the class structure required to avoid the repetition of the violent overthrow of democratic governments.

In this essay we will focus on the case of Argentina, where the Central Bank has opened its archives to judicial investigators looking into the relationship between the military dictatorship (1976-83) and major capitalist enterprises.

We will also cite the empirical research of Professor Juan Carlos “Lito” Marin, one of Argentina’s leading scholars on the violent overthrow of the elected government. His specialty was on the social relations and class context of the killing of 30,000 Argentines during the military dictatorship.

We will especially draw on his statistical analysis of the victims found in his book (“Lucha de calles, lucha de clase’ –  Street struggles, class struggle).

Capitalist and Military Rule

According to the documentary evidence presented by the Argentine Central Bank, immediately after the military seized power, the leading manufacturers presented the military with a comprehensive list of all the trade union leaders, delegates and activists to be eliminated. In other words the capitalist class give the military their ‘marching orders’. They dictated who was to be arrested, tortured, killed and/or disappeared. The military executed the orders of the capitalist class – of the 30,000 Argentines who were murdered, the vast majority were unarmed industrial workers involved in workplace industrial action.

The Central Bank documents confirm the earlier detailed study of Professor Marin. He found that over eighty percent of the ‘disappeared’, the victims of the military regime, were trade unionists, urban neighborhood activists and rural organizers. Less than twenty percent were in any way affiliated with the urban or rural guerrillas.

In other words it was not state terror in the abstract – but violent class struggle organized according to the priorities and demands of the capitalist class which accounted for the vast majority of killings. And the massacre set the stage for the second priority of the capitalist class, the introduction of the neo-liberal economy. The mass slaughter allowed the military to hand-over lucrative public enterprises to the capitalist class who proceeded to fire large number of employees without the problem of worker opposition.

The intellectual authors and beneficiaries of the mass murder were not a band of power hungry military officials; but highly respectable leaders and upholders of the capitalist social order.

In the run-up to the coup the capitalist class, for the better part of a decade, was engaged in a bitter class struggle with militant trade unions, which organized several successful general strikes in Cordoba (the ‘Cordobazo’, el ‘Viborazo’), Rosario, and greater Buenos Aires.

Between 1970-71, some 5 years before the military takeover, I conducted interviews with leaders of Argentina’s principle industrial association (Argentine Industrial Union). Without exception they looked at the “Brazilian example” as a model for Argentina. Brazil was ruled by a business-military regime resulting from the overthrow of a democratic government in1964. In other words, the strategic decision to seize power was taken by the capitalist class; the military made the tactical decision of when and how, in consultation with US military attaches at the Embassy

The capitalist class set several tasks for the military, according to the Central Bankdocuments.

First and foremost, the capitalist class demanded a comprehensive and violent purge of all levels of leaders of the working class, at work and in the neighborhoods. But the largest percentage of killings affected militant grass roots leaders, especially shop floor delegates.

Secondly, the capitalists demanded the expropriation and dispossession of enterprises and farms owned by sectors of the nationalist, “Keynesian”, bourgeoisie and their handover to the neo-liberal business elite. This led to the concentration and centralization of ownership and capital. Among the beneficiaries was a powerful media conglomerate (the Clarin group) which served as a propaganda megaphone in favor of the dismantling of labor and social legislation and the privatization of public enterprises.

Thirdly, the capitalist class demanded and secured the military purge of the judiciary, police and civil service of independent voices and the appointment of  hard right officials.

In other words the capitalist social order supported and directed the military seizure of government; dictated the transformation of state institutions and targeted the social class representatives to be eliminated.

The Capitalist Coup ad the Transition to Democracy

Subsequent to the so-called “transition to democracy”, when the military ceded governance to civilian electoral parties and politicians, the entire judicial, police and administrative structure organized to promote neoliberalism and defend the power, privileges and prerogatives of the capitalist class, remained intact.

Even more important, up until the present, the capitalist class which actively participated in the identification, purge and murder of the vast majority of workers killed by the military, was never brought to trial. In some cases, the military executioners were tried for crimes against humanity, and in Argentina (but not elsewhere), some were jailed.

The social order, the capitalist system, which presided over  mass murder was never called into question. The whole issue of class violence was reduced to an issue of “human rights” violations committed by the military elite.

The larger context of class conflict and class struggle, which precipitated the violent seizure of power which culminated in mass murder was obfuscated.

The key to understanding why the capitalist class prospered during the dictatorship and escaped any punishment and prosecution afterwards is found in the fact that the vast majority of worker and community leaders who would have led the majority in the quest for justice were murdered.

In other words the capitalist class’s violent political power grab and mass murder ensured the growth of profits and the consolidation of growth during the military regime, and the obfuscation of their role in the mass killings secured their illicit property grab and wealth with the restoration of electoral politics.

Conclusion

Labeling the violent seizure of power as a military coup is to adopt a one-dimensional view. Instead, if we examine the coup as an integral element of the internal dynamics of the class struggle, which allowed the capitalist class to deepen and extend its power, we have a fuller understanding of its deeper meaning. The continuation of capitalist power within the electoral political system allowed the bourgeoisie to continue organizing and promoting profoundly anti-democratic, anti-working class activity.

Not all military coups or reigns of state terror are linked to class struggle between capitalists and workers. Even in Argentina, the coup served to resolve intra-capitalist conflicts between neo-liberal and nationalist-protectionist business elites.

In Africa, Asia and in nineteenth and early twentieth century Latin America, military coups were largely elite shifts in power. However, with the growth and emergence of capitalist class relations and class conflict, the military’s role as an autonomous force diminished, as it became integrated and subordinated to the emerging capitalist order.

By the middle of the twentieth century onward, especially as class conflict intensified and class polarization deepened, the military coup became a strategic weapon of the capitalist class to advance its class interests. This was especially the case where they could no longer retain their profits and prerogatives in a democratic electoral framework.

In other words as capitalism expands and defines the nature of the social order, the military coup is redefined as capitalist coup; and state violence deepens and expands to encompass larger sectors of the working population.

In each and every capitalist coup and in each example of organized state terror, the US imperial state is directly involved at the behest and on behalf of the capitalist class – be they multi-national corporations or banks. The US imperial state coordinates with their multinational corporations and the Latin American capitalist class the objects and targets of the capitalist coup as well as the composition of the post-coup regime. The US military influenced the political timing of the Argentine coup – as a former US military official operating out of the Argentine embassy once told me. The US CIA compiled lists of working class and social activist to be targeted (murdered) in Chile after the 1973 coup, especially of those employed by US multi-nationals, as was revealed by US Senator Church’s Congressional investigation between 1974-76.

In other words, the capitalist coup and terror state has a strategic international character. It is also an integral part of imperialist conquest and anti-imperialist struggles. The class struggle and the anti-imperialist struggles are two sides of the same process.

Oct 212015
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

b6xrv24iyaemxqs

Introduction

The October 12, 2015 terror bombing in Ankara, resulting in the death of 127 trade unionists, peace activists, Kurdish advocates and progressives, has been attributed either to the Recep Tayyip Erdoğan regime or to ISIS terrorists.

The Erdoğan regime’s ‘hypothesis’ is that ISIS or the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) was responsible for the terrorist attack, a position echoed by all of the NATO governments and dutifully repeated by all of the Western mass media. Their most recent claim is that a Turkish member of ISIS carried out the massacre – in a ‘copy-cat action’ after his brother, blamed by the Turkish government for an earlier bombing which left 33 young pro-Kurdish activists dead in July in Suruc, on the Syrian border.

The alternative hypothesis, voiced by the majority of the Turkish opposition, is that the Erdoğan regime was directly or indirectly involved in organizing the terrorist attack or allowing it to happen.

In testing each hypothesis it is necessary to examine which of the two best accounts for the facts leading up to the killing and who benefits from the mayhem.

Our approach is to examine those behind various acts of violence preceding, accompanying and following the massacre in Ankara. We will examine the politics of both the victims and the Erdoğan regime, and their conception of political governance, especially in light of the forthcoming November 2015 national elections.

Antecedents to the Ankara Terror Bombing

Over the past several years the Erdoğan regime has been engaged in a violent crackdown of civil society activity. In 2013, massive police action broke-up a major social protest in the center of Istanbul, killing 8 demonstrators and injuring 8500 environmental and civil society activists defending Taksim Gezi Park from government-linked ‘developers’. In May 2014, over 300 Turkish coal miners in Soma were killed in an underground explosion in a mine owned by an Erdoğan supporter. Subsequent demonstrations were brutally suppressed by the state. The formerly state-owned mine had been privatized by Erdoğan in 2005 – many questioned the legality of the sale to regime cronies.

Prior to and after these violent police actions against civilian demonstrators, thousands of officials and public figures were arrested, fired and investigated by the Erdoğan regime for allegedly being supporters of a legal Islamic social organization – the so-called Gülen movement.

Hundreds of journalists, human rights activists, publishers and other media workers were arrested, fired and blacklisted at the behest of the Erdoğan regime, for criticizing high level corruption in the Erdoğan cabinet.

The Erdoğan regime escalated its domestic repression of the secular opposition in order to concentrate power in the hands of an Islamist cult-ruler. This was particularly the case after the government deepened its support of thousands of foreign jihadi extremists and mercenaries streaming into Turkey on their way to the Syrian jihad.

From the beginning of the armed uprising in Syria, Turkey became the main training ground, arms depot  and entry-point for armed Islamist terrorists (AIT) entering Syria. The Erdoğan regime directed the AIT to attack, dispossess and destroy the Syrian and Iraqi Kurds whose fighters had liberated a significant section of northern Syria and Iraq and served as an ‘example of self-government’ for Turkish Kurds.

The Erdoğan regime has joined the brutal Saudi monarchy in financing and arming AIT groups and especially training them in urban terror warfare against the secular government in

Damascus and the Shiite regime in Baghdad. They specialized in bombing populated sites occupied by Erdoğan’s enemies or the Saudi targets especially secular Kurds, leftists, trade unionists  and Shiites allied with Iran.

The Erdoğan regime’s intervention in Syria was motivated by its desire to expand Turkish influence (neo-Ottomanism) and to destroy the successful Kurdish autonomous government and movement in Northern Syria and Iraq.

To those ends, Erdoğan combined four policies:

(1) He vastly expanded Turkish support for and recruitment of Islamic terrorists from around the world, including Libya and Chechnya.

(2) He facilitated their entry into Syria, and encouraged them to attack villages and towns in the ethnic Kurdish regions.

(3) He broke off peace negotiations with the PKK and re-launched a full-scale war against the militant Kurds.

(4) He organized a covert terrorist campaign against the legal, secular, pro-Kurdish electoral party, the People’s Democratic Party (HDP).

The Erdoğan regime sought to consolidate dictatorial powers to pursue and deepen its ‘Islamization’ of Turkish society and to project his version of Turkish hegemony over Syria and the Kurdish regions inside and outside Turkey. To accomplish these ambitious and far reaching goals, Erdoğan needed to purge his Administration of any rival power centers.

He started with the jailing and expulsion of secular, nationalist Kemalist military figures. He continued with a purge of his former supporters in the Gülen organization.

Failing to gain a majority in national elections because of the growth of the HDP, he proceeded with a systematic terror campaign: organizing street mobs made up of his followers in the ‘Justice and Development Party’, who burned and wrecked HDP offices and beat up activists. Erdoğan’s terror campaign culminated with the July 2015 bombing of a leftist youth meeting in Suruc whose activists were aiding Syrian Kurdish refugees and the beleaguered fighters resisting Islamist terrorists in Korbani, a large Syrian town across the border controlled by the Erdoğan-backed ISIS. Over 33 activists were murdered and 104 were wounded. Two Turkish covert intelligence officers or ‘policemen’, who knew in advance of the bombing, were captured, interrogated and executed by the PKK. This retaliation for what was widely believed to be a state-sponsored massacre provided Erdoğan with a pretext to re-launch his war on the Kurds. Erdoğan immediately declared war on both the armed and unarmed Kurdish movements.

The Erdoğan regime trotted out the claim that the Suruç terrorist attack was committed by ISIS suicide bombers, ignoring the regime’s ties to ISIS. He announced a large-scale investigation. In fact it was a perfunctory round up and release of suspects of no consequence.

If ISIS was involved in this and the Ankara massacres, it did so at the command and direction of Turkish Intelligence under orders of President Erdoğan.

The Suruç Massacre: A Dress Rehearsal for Ankara

Suruç was a ‘dress rehearsal’ for Erdoğan’s terrorist attack in Ankara, three months later.

Once again the main target was the Kurdish opposition electoral party (the HDP) as well as the major progressive trade unions, professional associations, and anti-war activists.

Once again Erdoğan blamed ISIS, without acknowledging his ties to ISIS. Certain facts point to Turkish state complicity:

1)      Why were the bombs placed in the midst of the unarmed demonstrators and not next to the police and intelligence headquarters within a block of the carnage?

2)      Why did Erdoğan’s police attack and prevent emergency medical assistance to the demonstrators in the immediate aftermath of the bombing?

3)      Why did he block popular leaders, independent investigators and representatives from targeted groups from examining the bombing site?

4)      Why did Erdoğan immediately reject a cease-fire offer from the PKK and launch a vast military operation while promoting rabidly chauvinistic street demonstrators against Kurds engaged in legal political campaigning?

5)      Why did the police attack mourners at the subsequent funerals?

Who Benefited from the Terror Attacks?

The terror attacks benefited Erdoğan’s immediate and long-range strategic political goals – and no one else!

First and foremost, they killed activists from the HDP party, anti-war leftists and trade unionists. The violent government attacks against the HDP in the aftermath of the massacre has increased Erdoğan’s chances of securing the electoral majority that he needs in order to change the Turkish constitution so he can assume dictatorial powers.

Secondly, it was aimed at (1) reducing the ties between the Turkish and Syrian Kurds; (2) breaking the ties between progressive Turkish trade unions, secular professionals ,peace activists and the Kurdish Democratic Party; (3) mobilizing the rightwing ultra-nationalist Turkish street mobs to attack and destroy the electoral offices of the HDP; (4) intimidating pro-democracy activists and progressives and silencing dissent to Erdoğan’s domestic power grab and intervention in Syria.

To the question of who is responsible for serial violent attacks on civil society organizations, opposition political parties, and purges and arrests of independent officials in the lead-up to the terror attack? The answer is Erdoğan.

Who was behind the campaign of violence and bombing in Kurdish neighborhoods in Istanbul and elsewhere leading up to the Suruç and Ankara terrorist attacks? The answer is Erdoğan.

Conclusion

We originally counter -posed two hypotheses regarding the terrorist attack in Ankara: The Erdoğan regime’s hypothesis that ISIS – as a force independent of the Turkish government – or even the PKK were responsible for brutally killing key activists in Turkish and Kurdish civil organizations; and the opposite hypothesis that the Erdoğan regime was the mastermind.

After reviewing the motives, actions, beneficiaries and interests of the two hypothetical suspects, the hypothesis, which most elegantly and thoroughly accounts for and makes sense of the facts is that the Erdoğan regime was directly responsible for the planning and organization of the massacres through its intelligence operatives.

A subsidiary hypothesis is that the execution – the placing of the bombs – may have been by an ISIS terrorist, but under the control of Erdoğan’s police apparatus.

Oct 192015
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

vietnam-1

Introduction

In 1975 the people of Vietnam successfully ended one of the longest and bloodiest anti-colonial wars in world-history – defeating the US, the world’s biggest imperial power, after 20 years of struggle.

Barely forty years later the Vietnamese regime signed off on the US-Japanese dominated Trans-Pacific Free Trade Agreement (TPFTA), which essentially converted Vietnam into a vassal state.

Vietnam has gone full circle: From a neo-colony ruled by puppet dictators backed by an American occupation army involving 500,000 troops from 1955-1975, to its current ‘Communist’ rulers who have turned-over its markets, industries, ports, resources and labor to the 500 largest Western and Asian multi-national corporations.

Contrasting Historical Moments: 1975 and 2015

In 1975, the revolutionary government closed all US military bases and expelled all US military personnel. Today the Vietnam ‘vassal regime’ allows US naval visits and signs military agreements to tighten the imperialist military encirclement of China.

In 1975, the revolutionary leaders promised to end imperial exploitation of plantation and factory labor; today the vassal rulers offer the imperial states cheap labor, at wages less than half that paid to Chinese workers to ‘entice’ multi-nationals.

In 1975, the government intervened in favor of workers, taking over plantations and factories; today the vassal state savagely represses striking workers and outlaws class-based unions.

In 1975, the revolutionary government declared its solidarity with workers’ and peasants’ struggles around the world; today the vassals declare their unconditional support of all of the major imperial organizations – from the World Trade Organization to the Trans-Pacific Treaty organization.

What explains this total reversal of politics and allegiances? What accounts for the transformation from revolutionary vanguard to submissive vassal of imperial powers? What factors led to the degeneration and decay of a revolutionary movement of millions and the ascendancy of a corrupt and servile political and socio-economic elite? Why did this counter-revolution occur without any major mass popular upheaval?

Stages and Circumstances of Vietnam’s Degeneration

Liberated Vietnam facing Military Siege

Internal and external events and forces played a major role in undermining the promise of social transformation proclaimed by the Vietnamese revolutionaries.

Beginning with the US destruction of the economy and Washington’s subsequent refusal to pay reparations and vindictive policy of post-war boycott and sanctions, the Vietnamese faced monumental tasks with few financial resources.

The US ground and air war devastated the infrastructure and productive enterprises of the country. Napalm and chemical warfare (Agent Orange) devastated villages and poisoned the rice fields, water and soil. Millions of cluster bombs maimed scores of thousands of peasants.

The US secretly supported the Khmer Rouge, the Cambodian terror regime, in its war on liberated Vietnam. This further damaged Vietnam’s shattered economy and diverted scarce resources needed for peacetime reconstruction to military operations.

China launched a border war on Vietnam’s northern frontier, increasing the burden on the depleted resources of the Vietnamese state.

The Difficult Transition

The Vietnamese revolutionary government, during the first decade of its existence, struggled to make the transition from a war to a peace economy

Given the scarcity of resources, skilled manpower and revenues, and under stress to protect its borders, the Vietnamese government attempted to ‘socialize’ the economy with few personnel and limited external support from the Soviet Union and its allies.

Power was concentrated, political militants and loyalists took command, although many lacked experience or expertise in economic development. Economic recovery was understandably dictated by political and military priorities. Politics was in command – trained orthodox economists were in retreat. The choice was ‘red’ over ‘expert’.

After decades of deprivation and sacrifice, many cadres sought and obtained access to scarce resources. A privileged elite emerged, especially in South Vietnam, where the US military occupation had spawned a huge black-market economy, and a large stratum of wealthy ‘middlemen’ who acted as ‘brokers’ with wealthy overseas Chinese businesspeople, especially in Hong Kong and beyond.

The Vietnamese defeated the Pol Pot terrorist regime at a heavy cost and backed a friendly client regime.

By 1980, China began its transition to capitalism and showed no interest in  providing aid or investment to hasten Vietnam’s socialist reconstruction. By the mid 1980’s, with the ascendance of Gorbachev, Russia cut off its economic assistance to Vietnamese state enterprises, denigrated socialist planning and backed ‘market solutions’.

External ‘Allies’ Promote Internal Enemies

In sum, Vietnam’s external allies were moving in a direction, which favored Vietnamese technocrats and ‘capitalist holdovers’ from the colonial and neo-colonial period.

The ‘new rich’, including privileged sectors of the revolutionary regime, took advantage of the ‘shortage of capital flows’ and the years of shortages and sacrifices to advocate an ‘opening to the market’ and to promote the entry of foreign capital. This was accompanied by the privatization of public enterprises (dubbed ‘joint ventures’) and ‘incentives’ (high profits) to manufacturers, especially from Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan.

Internal Factions and the Victory of the Capitalist Technocrats

By the late 1980’s, four tendencies competed for influence in the Communist Party:

(1) A revolutionary faction, including some of the historic leaders of the Liberation struggle.

(2) A centrist or reformist faction of privileged officials who sought to protect and promote state enterprises – a source of their own enrichment. They supported the “partnership” with foreign private capital supposedly as a supplement to the so-called “socialist sector”’

(3) A third faction of technocrats, who favored the gradual conversion to a private capitalist economy, except in some ill-defined ‘strategic sectors’.

(4) A fourth faction, composed of Western educated and connected economists, who sought and secured submission to overseas capitalist and international financial institutions. They joined forces with the technocrats and privileged, corrupt Party elite and became the eventual rulers of Vietnam.

The Counter-revolutionary ‘Unholy’ Alliance

In the course of the following decade, an alliance of technocrats, corrupt and enriched officials (with their families), who had become business partners, and pre-revolutionary elites took control of the economy. By the middle of the 1990’s, Vietnam could no longer ‘balance’ between the USSR and China on the one-hand and Western capitalists on the other. The USSR had disappeared. Russia was in chaos. China was in headlong pursuit of capitalist growth at any cost, through any means, especially via the privatization of major enterprises and  stripping workers of all labor and welfare rights.

The Vietnam revolutionaries were ‘retired’ or relegated to the historical museum as respected but impotent figureheads. They were trotted out on special ‘national’ occasions.

The ‘statists’ - the Party CEOs fought rearguard struggles trying to retain lucrative  fiefdoms in public enterprises, but lacked any strategic allies abroad or internally. They had immobilized the working class and had themselves embraced the privileges of power, luxury and corruption – (with few notable exceptions).

By the turn of the millennium, the technocrats and capitalist ideologues had taken full command of economic decision-making. They embraced the politics and economics of ‘globalization’ and the insertion of Vietnam into the World Trade Organization (WTO). They cited Vietnam’s rapid growth, lauding its abundant disciplined, cheap labor, kept in line by the centralized Party. Communist Party leaders exhibited all the features of the authoritarian personality: arrogant and abusive to the workers under them, submissive and servile to the foreign investors above them.

The Party had become the instrument for repressing outbreaks of industrial strikes, rural protests and public disaffection.

Many of the corrupt officials embraced the ‘free market’ to legitimate their corrupt appropriation of public goods and the laundering of illicit earning.

The ideology “getting rich is good” pervaded the top and middle echelons of the Party, which was ‘Communist’ in name only.

The party-state lost its legitimacy along with its revolutionary legacy. The former colonial enemies, Japan, the US and their allies were eagerly courted as the Vietnamese elite’s new ‘partners’ and mentors for the upwardly mobile technocrats and economists who served them.

With the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), US imperialism easily secured in luxury conference rooms what they had failed to achieve in twenty years on the battlefield: Total access to all of Vietnam’s major economic sectors, a captive labor force without rights or protection and a ruling elite willing to serve as an accomplice to its militarist policy of encircling  China.

Imperial Dominance by Invitation

The US political-economic conquest of Vietnam was accomplished by the invitation and complicity of the Vietnamese ruling Communist Party and not by the force of arms, not by a puppet ruler or a bought and bound ‘Generalissimo’.

The main beneficiaries of its vassalage are the Vietnamese collaborators, intermediaries, importers, exporters and labor contractors, who  receive legal and illicit commissions for selling out the nation’s wealth. This includes a small army of ‘service operators’, embedded in IT start-ups, Chinese-Vietnamese business associates of Hong Kong sweatshop manufacturers, new university graduates turned business consultants and public officials who ‘sign-off’ on tax exemptions, and  fabricate compliance with labor and environmental protection laws. These are the ones who grow rich in the new ‘market economy’.

As the major US, Japanese and overseas Chinese corporations take control of Vietnam’s manufacturing, banking, retail and wholesale sectors and local and overseas trade, small-scale local businesspeople will go bankrupt. State enterprise will be sold or closed. Small farmers and peasants will a lose access to credit while cheap imported rice will flood the market and bankrupt local farmers.

Vietnamese workers and peasants, once heralded as the vanguard of the liberation struggle, will be savagely  exploited by the Communist – capitalist ‘partnership’. They are now among the poorest of the poor in all of Asia.

Conclusion

The ascendancy of a pro-imperialist collaborator elite in Vietnam was not inevitable; it was a relatively gradual process, in which the negative external environment gradually eroded the will and capacity of Vietnam’s heroic and historic leaders to combine the revolutionary reconstruction with popular democratic institutions following the defeat of the US military. In a repeat of the Imperial Roman scorched and salted earth policy, the US took revenge for its humiliating defeat by leaving a devastated country, refusing reparations and imposing vindictive economic sanctions on the Vietnamese people and nation. The demise of the USSR and China’s turn to capitalism forced Vietnam to look for alternative sources of external finance.

Added to these harsh external conditions, difficult internal problems complicated the transition: Vietnam’s revolutionary leaders, who were magnificent and victorious strategists of politico-military struggle, were mediocre economic strategists. They turned to the pre-revolutionary Chinese-Vietnamese business elite, linked to Hong Kong, Taiwan, and mainland business families, to navigate the economy.

The young, educated post-revolutionary generation was drawn heavily from privileged families, especially from Saigon; they inexorably adapted and imposed their neo-liberal ideology on the regime.

The marriage of corrupt repressive statist officials to the traditional privileged clans and classes brought the new post-revolutionary educated technocrats to power.

The authoritarian Party elite ensured the de-radicalization of the workers and peasants, the exclusion and repression of leftwing activists and the unhindered application of neo-liberal, pro-imperial economic policies.

The Vietnam experience provides us with several important historical lessons:

The first lesson is the importance of democratizing and socializing production, distribution and culture following national liberation to check against the post-revolutionary seizure of power by Party and military leaders and to limit the advance of the old privileged classes.

Secondly, the educated classes must serve the interests of the revolutionary masses, and admission to institutes of higher education should favor the sons and daughters of the working class, not the children of the traditional comprador elite.

University students should be integrated into democratic class organization to further and deepen their links to the past and present revolutionary heritage

Public resources should be concentrated on economic and social programs that improve the lives of wage and salaried workers and local producers. The presence of private, local and foreign investors should be rigorously controlled via time- bound agreements.

The administration and decision-making in cooperative, self-managed and local enterprises should be decentralized.

Political education should be based on egalitarian ethics. Anti-corruption, disciplinary committees, elected by workers, peasants, employees, accountants, consumers and environmentalists should be established throughout the economy.

State expenditures on social and private consumption should be balanced with emphasis on public transport, health, education and leisure facilities.

Solidarity and support for on-going liberation struggles around the world should be the rule. Social practice in everyday life should be combined with individual and collective learning of technical, historical, social and literary subjects, which enrich and deepen understanding of the revolutionary roots of contemporary society.

The state should combat the tendency of organized local ethnic groups to serve as agents loyal to foreign regimes. Material and symbolic rewards for excellence should be combined and lifetime accomplishments recognized. Those guilty of illicit economic and social activities, especially those related to nepotism or kin/clan enrichment, should be marginalized and punished.

The post-liberation defeat and reversal of Vietnam’s revolutionary gains was not inevitable. Negative lessons should be studied and serve as guidelines for future revolutions. There are grounds to believe that the Vietnamese revolutionary legacy is not dead. The revolutionary grandparents in ‘retirement’ can and will transmit their vision and experience of  an alternative class struggle to their grandchildren, who are going to suffer savage exploitation, dispossession and de-nationalization following Vietnam’s entry into the imperialist Transpacific Partnership Agreement.

Leaders, who have grown rich from the TPP, will face anger and revolt by the Vietnamese masses who are destined to pay heavily for their leaders’ sell-out.

The Vietnam’s leaders have embraced the aggressive US-Japanese militarist policy against China; this betrayal of the people’s struggle will have long-lasting negative consequences.

Once against external and domestic developments will converge – hopefully, this time ushering in a new phase of revolutionary change.