Mar 022015
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

Over the past 50 years the US and European powers have engaged in countless imperial wars throughout the world. The drive for world supremacy has been clothed in the rhetoric of “world leadership”, the consequences have been devastating for the peoples targeted.  The biggest, longest and most numerous wars have been carried out by the United States.  Presidents from both parties direct and preside over this quest for world power.  The ideology which informs imperialism varies from “anti-communism”in the past to “anti-terrorism”today.

Washington’s drive for world domination has used and combined many forms of warfare, including military invasions and occupations; proxy mercenary armies and military coups; financing political parties, NGO’s and street mobs to overthrow  duly constituted governments. Thedriving forces in the imperial state , behind the  quest for world power,vary with the geographic location and social economic composition of the targeted countries.

What is clear from an analysis of US empire building over the last half century is the relative decline of economic interests, and the rise of politico-military considerations.  In part this is because of the demise of the collectivist regimes (the USSR and Eastern Europe) and the conversion of China and the leftist  Asian, African and Latin American regimes to capitalism.  The decline of economic forces as the driving force of imperialism is a result of the advent of global neoliberalism.  Most US and EU multi-nationals are not threatened by nationalizations or expropriations, which might trigger imperial state  political intervention.  In fact, MNC are invited to invest,trade and exploit natural resources even by post-neoliberal regimes .  Economic interests come into play in formulating imperial state policies, if and when nationalist regimes emerge and challenge US MNC as is the case in Venezuela under President Chavez.

The key to US empire building over the past half-century is found in the politicalmilitary and ideological power configurations which have come to control the levers of the imperial state.  The recent history of US imperial wars has demonstrated that strategic military priorities – military bases, budgets and bureaucracy – have expanded far beyond any localized economic interests of MNC.  Moreover, the vast expendituresand long term and expensive military interventions of the US imperial state in the Middle East has been at the behest of Israel.  The take-over of strategic political positions in the Executive branch and Congress by the powerful Zionist power configuration within the US has reinforced the centrality of military over economic interests

The ‘privatization’ of imperial wars – the vast growth and use ofmercenaries contracted by the Pentagon- has led to the vast pillage of tens of billions of dollars from the US Treasury.  Large scale corporations which supply mercenary military combatants have become a very ‘influential’ force shaping the nature and consequences of US empire building.

Military strategists, defenders of Israeli colonial interests in the Middle East, mercenary military and intelligence corporations are central actors in the imperial state and it is their decision-making influence which explains why US imperial wars do not result in a politically stable, economic prosperous empire.  Instead their policies have resulted in unstable, ravaged economies, in perpetual rebellion..

We will proceed by identifying the changing areas and regions of US empire building from the mid 1970’s to the present.  We then examine the methods, driving forces and outcomes of imperial expansion.  We will then turn to describe the current ‘geo-political map of empire buildingand the varied nature of the anti-imperialist resistance.  We will conclude by examining the why and how of empire building and more particularly, the consequences, and results of a half century of US imperial expansion.

Imperialism in the post Vietnam Period:  Proxy Wars in Central America, Afghanistan and Southern Africa

The US imperialist defeat in Indo-China marks the end of one phase of empire building and the beginning of another:  a shift fromterritorial invasions to proxy wars.  Hostile domestic opinion precluded large scale ground wars.  Beginning during the presidencies of Gerald Ford and James Carter, the US imperialist state increasingly relied onproxy clients.  It recruited, financed and armed proxy military forces to destroy a variety of nationalist and social revolutionary regimes and movements in three continents.  Washington financed and armed extremist Islamic forces world-wide to invade and destroy the secular, modernizing, Soviet backed regime in Afghanistan, with logistical support from the Pakistan military and intelligence agencies, and financial backing from Saudi Arabia.

The second proxy intervention was in Southern Africa, where the US imperial state financed and armed proxy forces against anti-imperialist regimes in Angola and Mozambique, in alliance with South Africa.

The third proxy intervention took place in Central America, where the US financed, armed and trained murderous death squad regimes in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to decimate popular movements and armed insurgencies resulting in over 300,000 civilian deaths.

The US imperial state’s ‘proxy strategy’ extended to South America:  CIA and Pentagon backed military coups took place in Uruguay (General Alvarez), Chile (General Pinochet) Argentina (General Videla), Bolivia (General Banzer) and Peru (General Morales).  Empire building by proxy, was largely at the behest of US MNC which were the principal actors in setting priorities in the imperial state throughout this period.

Accompanying proxy wars, were direct military invasions:  the tiny island of Grenada (1983) and Panama (1989) under Presidents’ Reagan and Bush, Sr.  Easy targets, with few casualties and low cost military expenditures:  dress rehearsals for re-launching major military operations in the near future.

What is striking about the ‘proxy wars’ are the mixed results.The outcomes in Central America, Afghanistan and Africa did not lead to prosperous neo-colonies or prove lucrative to US multi-national corporations. In contrast the proxy coups in South America led to large scale privatization and profits for US MNC.

The Afghan proxy war led to the rise and consolidation of the Taliban “Islamic regime” which opposed both Soviet influence and US imperial expansion.  The rise and consolidation of Islamic nationalism in turn challenged US allies in South Asia and the Gulf region and subsequently led to a US military invasion in 2001 and a prolonged (15 year) war (which has yet to conclude), and most probably to a military retreat and defeat.  The main economic beneficiaries were Afghan political clients, US mercenary military “contractors”, military procurement officers and civilian colonial administrators who pillagedhundreds of billions from the US Treasury in illegal and fraudulent transactions.

Pillage of the US Treasury in no way benefited the non-military MNC’s.  In fact the war and resistance movement undermined  any large scale, long-term entry of US private capital in Afghanistan and adjoining border regions of Pakistan.

The proxy war in Southern Africa devastated the local economies, especially the domestic agricultural economy, uprooted millions of laborers and farmers and curtailed US corporate oil  penetration for over two decades.  The ‘positive’ outcome was the de-radicalization of the former revolutionary nationalist elite.  However, the political conversion of the Southern African “revolutionaries” to neo-liberalism did not benefit the US MNC as much as the rulers turned kleptocratic oligarchs who organized patrimonial regimes in association  with a diversifiedcollection of MNC, especially from Asia and Europe.

The proxy wars in Central America had mixed results.  In Nicaragua the Sandinista revolution defeated the US-Israeli backed Somoza regime but immediately confronted a US financed, armed and trained counter-revolutionary mercenary army (the “Contras”) based in Honduras.  The US war destroyed, many of the progressive economic projects,undemined the economy and eventually led to an electoral victory by the US backed political client  Violeta Chamorro. Two decades later the US proxies were defeated by a de-radicalized Sandinista led political coalition.

In El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, the US proxy wars led to the consolidation of client regimes presiding over the destruction of the productive economy,and the flight of millions of war refugees to the United States.  US imperial dominance eroded the bases for a productive labor market which spawned the growth of murderous drug gangs.

In summary, the US proxy wars succeeded, in most, cases inpreventing the rise of nationalist-leftist regimes, but also led to thedestructive of the economic and political bases of a stable and prosperous empire of neo-colonies.

US Imperialism in Latin America:  Changing Structure, External and Internal Contingencies, Shifting Priorities and Global Constraints.

To understand the operations,  structure and performance of US imperialism in Latin America, it is necessary to recognize the specificconstellation of competing forces which shaped imperial state policies.  Unlike the Middle East where the militarist-Zionist faction has established hegemony, in Latin America the MNC have played a leading role in directing imperial state policy.  In Latin America, the militarists played a lesser role, constrained by (1)the power of the MNC, (2) the shifts in political power in Latin America from right to center-left (3) the impact of economic crises and the commodity boom.

In contrast to the Middle East, the Zionist power configuration has little influence over imperial state policy, as Israel’s interests are focused on the Middle East and, with the possible exception of Argentina, Latin America is not a priority.

For over a century and a half, the US MNC and banks dominated and dictated US imperial policy toward Latin America.  The US armed forces and CIA were instruments of economic imperialism via direct intervention (invasions), proxy ‘military coups’, or a combination of both.

US imperial economic power in Latin America ‘peaked’ between 1975-1999.  Vassal states and client rulers were imposed via proxy military coups, direct military invasions (Dominican Republic ,Panama and Grenada) and military-civilian controlled elections.

The results were the dismantling of the welfare state and the imposition of neo-liberal policies.  The MNC led imperial state and its international financial appendages (IMF, WB, IDB) privatized lucrative strategic economic sectors, dominated trade and projected a regional integration scheme which would codify US imperial dominance.

Imperial economic expansion in Latin America was not simply a result of the internal dynamics and structures of the MNC but depended on (1) the receptivity of the ‘host’ country or more precisely the internal correlation of class forces in Latin America which in turn revolvedaround (2) the performance of the economy – its growth or susceptibility to crises.

Latin America demonstrates that contingencies such as the demise of client regimes and collaborator classes can have a profound negative impact on the dynamics of imperialism, undermining the power of the imperial state and reversing the economic advance of the MNC.

The advance of US economic imperialism during the 1975-2000 period was manifest in the adoption of neo-liberal policies, the pillage of national resources, the increase of illicit debts and the overseas transfer of billions of dollars However, the concentration of wealth and property, precipitated a deep socio-economic crises throughout the region which eventually led to the overthrow or ouster of the imperial collaborators in Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Nicaragua.  Powerful anti-imperialist social movements especially in the countryside emerged in Brazil and the Andean countries.  Urban unemployed workers  movements and public employees unions in Argentina and Uruguay spearheaded electoral changes, bringing to power center-left regimes which‘re-negotiaed’ relations with the US imperial state.

US  MNC influence in Latin America waned.  They could not count on the full battery of military resources of the imperial state tointervene and re-impose neo-liberal clients because of its militarypriorities elsewhere:  the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa.

Unlike the past, the US MNC in Latin America lacked two essential props of power:  the full backing of the US armed forces and powerful civilian-military clients in Latin America.

The US MNC’s plan for US centered integration was  rejected by the center-left regimes.  The imperial state turned to bilateral free trade agreements with Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Panama and Peru.  As a result of the economic crises and collapse of most Latin American economies, “neo-liberalism” ,the ideology of imperial economic penetration, was discredited. Neo-liberal  advocates marginalized.

Changes in the world economy had a profound impact on US – Latin America trade and investment relations.  The dynamic growth of China and the subsequent boom in demand and the rising prices of commodities, led to a sharp decline of US dominance of Latin American markets.

Latin American states diversified trade, sought and gained new overseas markets, especially in China.  The increase in export revenues created greater capacity for self-financing.  The IMF, WB and IDB, economic instruments for leveraging US financial impositions (“conditionality”), were sidelined

The US imperial state faced Latin American regimes who embraced diverse  economic options, markets and sources of financing.  With powerful domestic popular support and unified civilian-military command, Latin America moved tentatively out of the US sphere of imperialist domination.

The imperial state and its MNC , deeply influenced by their “success” in the 1990’s, responded to the decline of influence by proceeding by ‘trial and error’, in the face of the negative constraints of the 21st century.  The MNC backed policymakers in the imperial state continued to back the collapsing neo-liberal regimes, losing all credibility in Latin America.  The imperial-state failed to accommodate changes – deepening popular and center-left regime opposition to “free markets” and the deregulation of banks.  No large scale economic aid programs, like Presideny Kennedy’s effort to counter the revolutionary appeal of the Cuban revolution by promoting social reforms via the  ‘Alliance for Progress”, were fashioned to win over the center-left,probably because of budget constraints resulting from costly wars elsewhere.

The demise of neo-liberal regimes, the glue that held the different factions of the imperial state together, led to competing proposals of how to regain dominance.   The ‘militarist faction’ resorted to and revived the military coup formula for restoration:  coups were organized in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Honduras and Paraguay . . .  all were defeated, except the latter two.  The defeat of US proxies led  to the consolidation of the independent, anti-imperialist center-left regimes.Even the “success”of the US coup in Honduras resulted in a major diplomatic defeat,as every Latin American government condemned it and the US role,further isolating Washington in the region.

The defeat of the militarist strategy strengthened the political-diplomatic faction of the imperial state.  With positive overtures toward ostensibly ‘center-left regimes’, this faction gained diplomatic leverage, retained military ties and deepened the expansion of MNC in Uruguay, Brazil, Chile and Peru.  With the latter two countries the economic imperialist faction of the imperial state secured bilateral free trade agreements.

A third MNC – military faction, overlapping with the previous two, combined diplomatic-political accommodations toward Cuba, with an aggressive political destabilization strategy aimed at “regime change” (coup) in Venezuela.

The heterogeneity of imperial state factions and their competing orientations, reflects the complexity of interests engaged in empire building in Latin America and results in seemingly contradictory policies, a phenomenon less evident in the Middle East where the militarist -zionist power configuration dominates imperial policymaking.

For example the promotion of military bases and counter-insurgency operations in Colombia (a priority of the militarist faction) is accompanied by bilateral free market agreements and peace negotiations between the Santos regime and the FARC armed insurgency (a priority of the MNC faction).

Regaining imperial dominance in Argentina involves, (1) promoting the electoral fortunes of the neo-liberal governor of Buenos Aires Macri, (2) backing the pro- imperial media conglomerate , Clarin, facing legislation breaking up its monopoly (3) exploiting the death of prosecutor and CIA-Mossad collaborator, Alberto Nisman to discredit the Kirchner-Fernandez regime(4)backing   NewYork speculaters’ (vulture)investment fund attempting to

extract  exorbitant interest payments and, with the aid of a dubious judicial ruling, blocking Argentina’s access to financial markets

Both the militarist and MNC factions of the imperial state converge in backing a multi-pronged electoral – and coup approach, which seeks to restore a US controlled neo-liberal regimes to power.

The contingencies which forestalled the recovery of imperial power over the past decade are now acting in reverse.  The drop in commodity prices has weakened post neo-liberal regimes in Venezuela, Argentina and Ecuador.  The ebbing of anti-imperialist movementsresulting from center-left co-optation tactics has strengthened imperial state backed right-wing movements and street demonstrators.  The decline in Chinese growth has weakened the Latin American market diversification strategies.  The internal balance of class forces has shifted to the Right, toward US backed political clients in Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Paraguay.

Theoretical Reflections on Empire Building in Latin America

US empire building in Latin America is a cyclical process, reflecting the structural shifts in political power, and the restructuring of the world economy – forces and factors which ‘override’ the  imperial state and capital’s drive to accumulate.Capital accumulation and expansion does not depend merely on the impersonal forces of “the market” – because the social relations under which the “market” functions, operate under the constraints of the class struggle.

The centerpiece of imperial state activities-namely the prolonged territorial wars in the Middle East – are absent in Latin America.  The driving force of US imperial state policy is the pursuit of resources (agro-mining), labor power ( low paid autoworkers), markets (size and purchasing power of 600 million consumers).  The economic interests of the MNC are the motives for imperial expansion.

Even as, from a geo-strategic vantage point, the Caribbean, Central America as well as South America are located most proximate to the US, economic not military objectives predominate.

However, the militarist-Zionist faction in the imperial state, ignore these traditional economic motives and deliberately choose to act on other priorities – control over oil producing regions, destruction of Islamic nations or movements or simply to destroy anti-imperialist adversaries.  The militarists-Zionist faction counted the “benefits” to Israel, its Middle East military supremacy, more important than the  US securing economic supremacy in Latin America.  This is clearly the case if we measure imperial priorities by state resources expended in pursuit of political goals.

Even if we take the goal of “national security”, interpreted in the broadest sense, of securing the safety of the territorial homeland of the empire, the US military assault of Islamic countries driven by accompanying Islamophobic ideology and the resulting mass killings and uprooting a millions of Islamic people, has led to “blowback”: reciprocal terrorism.  US “total wars” against civilians has provoked Islamic assaults against the citizens of the West.

Latin America countries targeted by economic imperialism are less belligerent than Middle Eastern countries targeted by US militarists.  A cost/benefits analysis would demonstrate the totally “irrational” nature of militarist strategy.  However,if we take account   of the specific composition and interests that motivate particularly imperial state policymakers, there is a kind of perverse “rationality”.  The militarists defend the “rationality” of costly and unending wars by citing the advantages of seizing the ‘gateways to oil’ and the Zionists cite their success in enhancing Israel’s regional power.

Whereas Latin America, for over a century was a priority region of imperial economic conquest, by the 21st century it lost  primacy  to the Middle East.

The Demise of the USSR and China’s conversion to Capitalism

The greatest impetus to successful US imperial expansion did not take place via proxy wars or military invasions.  Rather, the US empire achieved its greatest growth and conquest, with the aid of client political leaders, organizations and vassal states throughout the USSR, Eastern Europe, the Baltic States the Balkans and the Caucuses.  Long term, large scale US and EU political penetration and funding succeeded inoverthrowing the hegemonic collectivist regimes in Russia and the USSR, and installing  vassal states. They would soon serve NATO and be incorporated in the European Union.  Bonn annexed East Germany anddominated the markets of Poland,the Czech Republic and other Central European states.  US and London bankers collaborated with Russian-Israeli gangster-oligarchs in joint ventures plundering resources, industries, real estate and pension funds.  The European Union exploited tens of millions of highly trained scientists, technicians and workers – by importing them or stripping them of their welfare benefits and labor rights and exploiting them as cheap labor reserves in their own country.

“Imperialism by invitation” hosted by the  vassal Yeltsin regime, easily appropriated Russian wealth.  The ex-Warsaw Pact military forces were incorporated into a foreign legion for US imperial wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.  Their military installations were converted into military bases and missile sites encircling Russia.

US imperial conquest of the East, created a “unipolar world” in which Washington decision-makers and strategists believed that, as the world’s supreme power, they could intervene in every region withimpunity.

The scope and depth of the US world empire was enhanced by China’s embrace of capitalism and its ruler’s  invitation to US and EU MNC to enter and exploit cheap Chinese labor.  The global expansion of the US empire, led to a sense of unlimited power, encouraging its rulers’  to exercise power against any adversary or competitor.

Between 1990 and 2000,the US expanded its military bases to the borders of Russia.  US MNC expanded into China and Indo-China.  US backed client regimes throughout Latin America dismantled the nationaleconomies, privatizing and denationalizing over five thousand lucrative strategic firms.  Every sector was affected- natural resources, transport, telecommunications and finance.

The US proceeded throughout the 1990’s to expand via politicalpenetration and military force.  President George H. W. Bush launched a war against Iraq.  Clinton bombed Yugoslavia and Germany and the EU joined the US in dividing Yugoslavia into ‘mini states’

The Pivotel Year 2000:  the Pinnacle and Decline of Empire

The very rapid and extensive imperial expansion, between 1989-1999, the easy conquests and the accompanying plunder, created the conditions for the decline of the US empire.

The pillage and impoverishment of Russia led to the rise of a new leadership under President Putin intent on reconstructing the state and economy and ending vassalage.

The Chinese leadership harnessed its dependence on the West for capital investments and technology, into instruments for creating a powerful export economy and the growth of a dynamic national public-private manufacturing complex.  The imperial centers of finance which flourished under lax regulation crashed.  The domestic foundations of empire were severely strained.  The imperial war machine competed with the financial sector for federal budgetary expenditures and subsidies.

The easy growth of empire, led to its over-extension.  Multiple areas of conflict, reflected world-wide resentment and hostility at the destruction wrought by bombings and invasions.  Collaborative imperial client rulers were weakened.  The world-wide empire exceeded the capacity of the US to successfully police its new vassal states.  The colonial outposts demanded new infusions of troops, arms and funds at a time when countervailing domestic pressures were demanding retrenchment and retreat.

All the recent conquests – outside of Europe – were costly.  The sense of invincibility and impunity led imperial planners to overestimate their capacity to expand, retain, control and contain the inevitable anti-imperialist resistance.

The crises and collapse of the neo-liberal vassal states in Latin America accelerated.  Anti-imperialist uprisings spread from Venezuela (1999), to Argentina (2001), Ecuador (2000-2005) and Bolivia (2003-2005).  Center-left regimes emerged in Brazil, Uruguay and Honduras.  Mass movements, in rural regions,among Indian and mining communities gained momentum. Imperial plans formulated to secure US centered integration were rejected.  Instead multiple regional pacts excluding the US proliferated-ALBA,UNASUR,CELAC.  Latin America’s domestic rebellion coincided with the economic rise of China.  A prolonged commodity boom severely weakened US imperial supremacy.  The US had few local allies in Latin America and over ambitious commitments to control the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa.

Washington lost its automatic majority in Latin America:  its backing of coups in Honduras and Paraguay and its intervention in Venezuela (2002) and blockade of Cuba was repudiated by every regime, even by conservative allies.

Having easily established a global empire, Washington found it was not so easy to defend it.  Imperial strategists in Washington viewed the Middle East wars through the prism of the Israeli military priorities ,ignoring the global economic interests of the MNC.

Imperial military strategists overestimated the military capacity of vassals and clients, ill-prepared by Washington to rule in countries with growing armed national resistance movements.  Wars, invasions and military occupations were launched in multiple sites. Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Syria, Pakistan were added to Afghanistan and Iraq.  US imperial state expenditures far exceeded any transfer of wealth from the occupied countries.

A vast civilian – military – mercenary bureaucracy pillaged hundreds of billions of dollars from the US Treasury.

The centrality of wars of conquest, destroyed the economic foundations

and institutional infrastructure necessary for MNC entry and profit.

Once entrenched in strategic military conceptions of empire, the military-political leadership of the imperial state  fashioned a global ideology to justify and motivate a policy of permanent and multiple warfare. The doctrine of the ‘war on terror’ justified war everywhere and nowhere.  The doctrine was ‘elastic’ – adapted to every region of conflict and inviting new military engagements:  Afghanistan, Libya, Iran and Lebanon were all designated as war zones.  The ‘terror doctrine’, global in scope, provided a justification for multiple wars and the massive destruction (not exploitation) of societies and economic resources.  Above all the “war on terrorism” justified torture (Aba Gharib) and concentration camps (Guantanamo), and civilian targets (via drones)anywhere. Troops were withdrawn and returned to Afghanistan and Iraq as the nationalist resistence advanced..  Thousands of Special Forces in scores of countries were active, purveying death and mayhem.

Moreover, the violent uprooting, degradation and stigmatization of entire islamic people led to the spread of violence  in the imperial centers of Paris, New York, London, Madrid and Copenhagen. Theglobalization of imperial state terror  led to individual terror.

Imperial terror evoked domestic terror:  the former on a massive, sustained scale encompassing entire civilizations and conducted and justified by elected  political officials and military authorities.  The latter by a cross section  of ‘internationalists’ who directly identified with the victims of imperial state terror.

Contemporary Imperialism:  Present and Future Perspectives

To understand the future of US imperialism it is important to sum up and evaluate the experience and policies of the past quarter of a century.

If we compare, US empire building between 1990 and 2015, it is clearly in decline economically, politically and even militarily in most regions of the world, though the process of decline is not linear and probably not irreversible.

Despite talk in Washington of reconfiguring imperial priorities to take account of MNC economic interests, little has been accomplished… Obama’s so-called “pivot to Asia” has resulted in new military base agreements with Japan, Australia and the Philippines surrounding China and reflects an inability to fashion free trade agreements that exclude China.  Meantime, the US has militarily re-started the war and reenteredIraq and Afghanistan in addition to launching  new wars in Syria and the Ukraine.  It is clear that the primacy of the militarist faction is still the determinant factor in shaping imperial state policies.

The imperial military drive is most evident in the US intervention in support of the coup in the Ukraine and subsequent financing and arming of the Kiev junta.  The imperial takeover of the Ukraine and plans to incorporate it into the EU and NATO, represents military aggression in its most blatant form: The expansion of US military bases and installations and military maneuvers  on Russia’s borders and the US initiated economic sanctions, have severely damaged EU trade and investment with Russia.. US empire building continues to prioritize military expansion even at the cost of Western imperial economicinterests in Europe.

The US-EU bombing of Libya destroyed the burgeoning trade and investment agreements between imperial oil and gas MNC and the Gadhafi government… NATO air assaults destroyed the economy, society and political order, converting Libya into a territory overrun by warring clans, gangs, terrorists and armed thuggery.

Over the past half century, the political leadership and strategies of the imperial state have changed dramatically.  During the period between 1975 – 1990, MNC played a central role in defining the direction of imperial state policy:  leveraging markets in Asia; negotiating market openings with China; promoting and backing neo-liberal military and civilian regimes in Latin America; installing and financing pro-capitalist regimes in Russia, Eastern Europe, the Baltic and Balkan states.  Even in the cases where the imperial state resorted to military intervention, Yugoslavia and Iraq, , the bombings led to favorable economic opportunities for US MNC .The Bush Sr regime promoted US oil interests via an oil   for food agreement with Saddam Hussein Iin Iraq

Clinton promoted free market regimes in the mini-states resulting from the break-up of socialist Yugoslavia .

However, the imperial state’s leadership and policies shifted dramatically during the late 1990’s onward.  President Clinton’s imperial state was composed of  long-standing MNC represntatives , Wall Street bankers and newly ascending militarist Zionist officials.

The result was a hybrid policy in which the imperial state actively promoted MNC opportunities under neo-liberal regimes in the ex-Communist countries of Europe and Latin America,and expanded MNC ties with China and Viet Nam while launching destructive military interventions in Somalia, Yugoslavia and Iraq.

The ‘balance of forces’ within the imperialist state shifted dramatically in favor the militarist-Zionist faction with 9/11:the terrorist attack of dubious origens  and  false flag demolitions in New York and Washington served to entrench the militarists in control of a vastly expanded  imperial state apparatus.  As a consequence of 9/11 the militarist-Zionist faction of the imperial state  subordinated the interests of the MNC to its strategy of total wars.  This in turn led to the invasion, occupation and destruction of civilian infrastructure in Iraq and Afghanistan (instead of harnessing it to MNC expansion).  The US colonial regime dismantled the Iraqui state (instead of re-ordering it to serve the MNC).  The assassination and forced out -migration of millions of skilled professionals, administrators, police and military officials crippled any economic recovery (instead of their incorporation as servants of the colonial state and MNC).

The militarist-Zionist ascendancy in the imperial state introduced major changes in policy, orientation , priorities and the modus operandi of US imperialism.  The ideology of the “global war on terror” replaced the MNC doctrine of promoting “economic globalization”.

Perpetual wars (“terrorists” were not confined to place and time) replaced limited wars or interventions directed at opening markets or changing regimes which would implement neo-liberal policies benefiting US MNC.

The locus of imperial state activity shifted from exploiting economic opportunities, in Asia, Latin America and the ex-Communist countries of Eastern Europe to wars in the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa – targeting Moslem countries which opposed Israel’s colonial expansion in Palestine, Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere.

The new militarist – power configuration’s conception of empire building required vast – trillion dollar – expenditureswithout care or thought of returns to private capital.  In contrast, under the hegemony of the MNC, the imperial state, intervened to secure concessions of oil, gas and minerals in Latin America and the Middle East.The costs of military conquest were more than compensated by the returns to the MNC.  The militarist imperial state configuration pillaged the US Treasury to finance its occupations, financing a vast army of corrupt colonial collaborators, private mercenary ‘military contractors’and,soon to be millionaire, US military procurement (sic) officials.

Previously, MNC directed overseas exploitation led to healthy returns to the US Treasury both in terms of direct tax payments and via the revenues generated from trade and the processing of raw materials.

Over the past decade and a half, the biggest and most stable returns to the MNC take place in regions and countries where the militarized imperial state is least involved – China, Latin America and Europe.  The MNC’s have profited least and have lost most in areas ofgreatest imperial state involvement.

The ‘war zones’ that extend from Libya, Somalia, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, Iran and Afghanistan and Pakistan are the regions where imperial MNC have suffered the biggest decline and exodus.

The main “beneficiaries” of the current imperial state policies are the war contractors and the security-military-industrial complex in the US.Oversees the state beneficiaries include Israel and Saudi Arabia…In addition Jordanian, Egyptian, Iraqui , Afghani and Pakistani client rulers have squirreled away tens of billions in off-shore private bank accounts.

The “non-state” beneficiaries include mercenary, proxy armies .In Syria, Iraq, Libya, Somalia and the Ukraine , tens of thousands ofcollaborators in self-styled “non-governmental” organizations  have also profited.

The Lost-Benefit Calculus or Empire-Building under the Aegeus of the Militarist-Zionist Imperial State

Sufficient time has passed over the past decade and a half of militarist-Zionist dominance of the imperial state to evaluate their performance.

The US and its Western European allies, especially Germanysuccessfully expanded their empire in Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the Baltic regions without firing a shot.  These countries were converted into EU vassal states.  Their markets dominated and industries denationalized.  Their armed forces were recruited as NATO mercenaries. West Germany annexed the East.  Cheap educated labor, as immigrants and as a labor reserve, increased profits for EU and US MNC. Russia was temporarily reduced to a vassal state between 1991 – 2001.  Living standards plunged and welfare programs were reduced.  Mortality rates increased.  Class inequalities widened.  Millionaires and billionaires seized public resources and joined with the imperial MNC in plundering the economy.  Socialist and Communist leaders and parties were repressed or co-opted.In contrast imperial military expansion of the 21stcentury, was a costly failure.  The ‘war in Afghanistan’ was costly in lives and expenditures and led to an ignominious retreat.  What remained was a fragile puppet regime and an unreliable mercenary military.  The US-Afghanistan war was the longest war in US history and one of the biggest failures.  In the end the nationalist-Islamist resistance movements – the so-called “Taliban” and allied ethno-religious and nationalist anti-imperialist resistance groups- dominate the countryside, repeatedly penetrate and attack urban centers and prepare to take power.

The Iraq war and the imperial state’s invasion and decade long occupation decimated the economy .  The occupation fomented ethno religious warfare.  The secular Ba’thist officers and military professionals joined with Islamist-nationalists and subsequently formed a powerful resistance movement (ISIS) which defeated the imperial backed Shia mercenary army  during the second decade of the war.  The imperial state was condemned to re-enter and engage directly in a prolonged war.  The cost of war spiraled to over a trillion dollars.  Oil exploitation was hampered and the US Treasury poured tens of billions to sustain a “war without end’.

The US imperial state and the EU, along with  Saudi Arabia and Turkey financed armed Islamic mercenary militias to invade Syria and overthrow the secular, nationalist, anti-Zionist Bashar Assad regime.  The imperial war opened the door for the expansion of the Islamic –Ba’thist forces—ISIS– into Syria .  The Kurds and other armed groups seized territory, fragmenting the country.  After nearly 5 years of warfare and rising military costs the US and EU MNC have been cut off from the Syrian market.

US support for Israeli aggression against Lebanon has led to the growth in power of the anti-imperialist Hezbollah armed resistance.  Lebanon, Syria and Iran now represent a serious alternative to the US,EU, Saudi Arabia, Israeli axis.

The US sanctions policy toward Iran has failed to undermine the nationalist regime and has totally undercut the economic opportunities of all the major US and EU oil and gas MNC as well as US manufacturing exporters.China has replaced them

The US-EU invasion of Libya led to the destruction of the economy and the flight of billions in MNC investments and the disruption of exports.

The US imperial states’ seizure of power via a proxy coup in Kiev, provoked a  powerful anti-imperialist rebellion led by armed militia in the East (Donetsk and Luhansk) and the decimation of the Ukraine economy.

In summary, the military-Zionist takeover of the imperial state has led to prolongedunwinnable costly wars which have undermined markets and investment sites for US MNC.  Imperial militarism has undermined the imperial economic presence and provoked long-term, growing anti-imperialist resistance movements, as well as chaotic, unstable and unviable countries out of imperial control.

Economic imperialism has continued to profit in parts of Europe, Asia , Latin America and Africa despite the imperial wars and economic sanctions pursued by the highly militarized imperial state elsewhere.

However, the US militarists’ seizure of power in the Ukraine and the sanctions against Russia have eroded EU’S profitable trade and investments in Russia.  The Ukraine under IMF-EU-US tutelage has become a heavily indebted , broken  economy run by kleptocrats who are  totally dependent on foreign loans and military intervention.

Because the militarized imperial state prioritizes conflict and sanctions with Russia, Iran and Syria, it has failed to deepen and expand  its economic ties with Asia, Latin America and Africa.  The political and economic conquest of East Europe and parts of the USSR has lost significance.  The perpetual, lost wars in the Middle East, North Africa and the Caucuses have weakened the imperial state’s capacity for empire building in Asia and Latin America.

The outflow of wealth, the domestic cost of perpetual wars haseroded the electoral foundations of empire building.  Only a fundamental change in the composition of the imperial state and a reorientation of priorities toward centering on economic expansion can alter the current decline of empire.  The danger is that as the militarist Zionist imperialist state pursues losing wars, it may escalate and  raise the ante ,and move toward a major nuclear confrontation:  an empire amidst nuclear ashes!

Feb 212015
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

Yánis Varoufákis and Aléxis Tsípras

Yánis Varoufákis and Aléxis Tsípras

Introduction

The Greek government is currently locked in a life and death struggle with the elite which dominate the banks and political decision-making centers of the European Union. What are at stake are the livelihoods of 11 million Greek workers, employees and small business people and the viability of the European Union. If the ruling Syriza government capitulates to the demands of the EU bankers and agrees to continue the austerity programs, Greece will be condemned to decades of regression, destitution and colonial rule. If Greece decides to resist, and is forced to exit the EU, it will need to repudiate its 270 billion Euro foreign debts, sending the international financial markets crashing and causing the EU to collapse.

The leadership of the EU is counting on Syriza leaders abandoning their commitments to the Greek electorate, which as of early February 2015, is overwhelmingly (over 70%) in favor of ending austerity and debt payments and moving forward toward state investment in national economic and social development (Financial Times 7-8/2/15, p. 3). The choices are stark; the consequences have world-historical significance. The issues go far beyond local or even regional, time-bound, impacts. The entire global financial system will be affected (FT 10/2/15, p. 2).

The default will ripple to all creditors and debtors, far beyond Europe; investor confidence in the entire western financial empire will be shaken. First and foremost all western banks have direct and indirect ties to the Greek banks (FT 2/6/15, p. 3). When the latter collapse, they will be profoundly affected beyond what their governments can sustain. Massive state intervention will be the order of the day. The Greek government will have no choice but to take over the entire financial system . . . the domino effect will first and foremost effect Southern Europe and spread to the ‘dominant regions’ in the North and then across to England and North America (FT 9/2/15, p. 2).

To understand the origins of this crises and alternatives facing Greece and the EU, it is necessary to briefly survey the political and economic developments of the past three decades. We will proceed by examining Greek and EU relations between 1980 – 2000 and then proceed to the current collapse and EU intervention in the Greek economy. In the final section we will discuss the rise and election  of Syriza, and its growing submissiveness in the context of EU dominance, and intransigence, highlighting the need for a radical break with the past relationship of ‘lord and vassal’.

Ancient History: The Making of the European Empire

In 1980 Greece was admitted to the European Economic Council as a vassal state of the emerging Franco-German Empire. With the election of Andreas Papandreou, leader of the Pan-Hellenic Socialist Party, with an absolute majority in Parliament, hope arose that radical changes in domestic and foreign policy would ensue. 1 In particular, during the election campaign, Papandreou promised a break with NATO and the EEC, the revoking of the US military base agreement and an economy based on ‘social ownership’ of the means of production. After being elected, Papandreou immediately assured the EEC and Washington that his regime would remain within the EEC and NATO, and renewed the US military base agreement. Studies in the early 1980’s commissioned by the government which documented the medium and long-term adverse results of Greece remaining in the EEU, especially the loss of control of trade, budgets and markets, were ignored by Papandreou who chose to sacrifice political independence and economic autonomy in favor of large scale transfers of funds, loans and credit from the EEC. Papandreou spoke from the balcony to the masses of independence and social justice while retaining ties to the European bankers and Greek shipping and banking oligarchs. The European elite in Brussels and Greek oligarchs in Athens retained a stranglehold on the commanding heights of the Greek political and economic system.

Papandreou retained the clientelistic political practices put in place by the previous right-wing regimes – only replacing the rightist functionaries with PASOK party loyalists.

The EEC brushed off Papandreou’ phony radical rhetoric and focused on the the fact they were buying control and subservience of the Greek state by financing a corrupt, clientelistic regime which was deflecting funds for development projects to upgrade Greek economic competitiveness into building a patronage machine based on increased consumption.

The EEC elite ultimately knew that its financial stranglehold over the economy would enable it to dictate Greek policy and keep it within the boundaries of the emerging European empire.

Papandreou’s demagogic “third world” rhetoric notwithstanding, Greece was deeply ensconced in the EU and NATO. Between 1981-85, Papandreou discarded his socialist rhetoric in favor of increased social spending for welfare reforms, raising wages, pensions and health coverage, while refinancing bankrupt economic firms run into the ground by kleptocratic capitalists. As a result while living standards rose, Greece’s economic structure still resembled a vassal state heavily dependent on EEC finance, European tourists and a rentier economy based on real estate, finance and tourism.

Papandreou solidified Greece’s role as a vassal outpost of NATO; a military platform for US military intervention in the Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean; and market for German and northern European manufactured goods.

From October 1981 to July 1989 Greek consumption rose while productivity stagnated; Papandreou won elections in 1985 using EEC funds. Meanwhile Greek debt to Europe took off . . . EEC leaders chastised the misallocation of funds by Papandreou’s vast army of kleptocrats but not too loudly. Brussels recognized that Papandreou and PASOK were the most effective forces in muzzling the radical Greek electorate and keeping Greece under EEC tutelage and as a loyal vassal of NATO.

Lessons for Syriza: PASOK’s Short-term Reforms and Strategic Vassalage

            Whether in government or out, PASOK followed in the footsteps of its rightwing adversary (New Democracy) by embracing the NATO-EEC strait-jacket. Greece continued to maintain the highest per capita military expenditure of any European NATO member. As a result, it received loans and credits to finance short-term social reforms and large scale, long-term corruption, while enlarging the party-state political apparatus.

With the ascent of the openly neoliberal Prime Minister Costas Simitis in 2002, the PASOK regime “cooked the books”, fabricated government data on its budget deficit, with the aid of Wall Street investment banks, and became a member of the European Monetary Union. By adopting the euro, Simitis furthered deepened Greece’s financial subordination to the non-elected European officials in Brussels, dominated by the German finance ministry and banks.

The oligarchs in Greece made room at the top for a new breed of PASOK kleptocratic elite, which skimmed millions of military purchases, committed bank frauds and engaged in massive tax evasion.

The Brussels elite allowed the Greek middle class to live their illusions of being ‘prosperous Europeans’ because they retained decisive leverage through loans and accumulating debts.

Large scale bank fraud involving three hundred million euros even reached ex-Prime Minister Papandreou’s office.

The clientele relations within Greece were matched by the clientele relations between Brussels and Athens.

Even prior to the crash of 2008 the EU creditors, private bankers and official lenders, set the parameters of Greek politics.  The global crash revealed the fragile foundations of the Greek state – and led directly to the crude, direct interventions of the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission – the infamous “Troika”. The latter dictated the ‘austerity’ policies as a condition for the “bail-out” which devastated the economy, provoking a major depression; impoverishing over forty percent of the population, reducing incomes by 25% and resulting in 28% unemployment.

Greece: Captivity by Invitation

Greece as a political and economic captive of the EU had no political party response. Apart from the trade unions which launched thirty general strikes between 2009 – 2014, the two major parties, PASOK and New Democracy, invited the EU takeover. The degeneration of PASOK into an appendage of oligarchs and vassal collaborator of the EU emptied the ‘socialist’ rhetoric of any meaning. The right wing New Democracy Party reinforced and deepened the stranglehold of the EU over the Greek economy. The troika lent the Greek vassal state funds (“bail-out”) which was used to pay back German, French and English financial oligarchs and to buttress private Greek banks. The Greek population was ‘starved’ by ‘austerity’ policies to keep the debt payments flowing - outward and upward.

Europe: Union or Empire?

The European economic crash of 2008/09 resounded worst on its weakest links – Southern Europe and Ireland.  The true nature of the European Union as a hierarchical empire, in which the powerful states – Germany and France – could openly and directly control investment, trade, monetary and financial policy was revealed. The much vaunted EU “bailout” of Greece was in fact the pretext for the imposition of deep structural changes. These included the denationalization and privatization of all strategic economic sectors; perpetual debt payments; foreign dictates of incomes and investment policy. Greece ceased to be an independent state: it was totally and absolutely colonized.

Greece’s Perpetual Crises: The End of the “European Illusion”

The Greek elite and, for at least 5 years, most of the electorate, believed that the regressive (“austerity”) measures adopted – the firings, the budget cuts, the privatizations etc. were short-term harsh medicine, that would soon lead to debt reduction, balanced budgets, new investments, growth and recovery. At least that is what they were told by the economic experts and leaders in Brussels.

In fact the debt increased, the downward economic spiral continuedunemployment multiplied, the depression deepened.  ‘Austerity’ was a class based policy designed by Brussels to enrich overseas bankers and to plunder the Greek public sector.

The key to EU pillage and plunder was the loss of Greek sovereignty. The two major parties, New Democracy and PASOK, were willing accomplices. Despite a 55% youth (16 – 30 years old) unemployment rate, the cut-off of electricity to 300,000 households and large scale out-migration (over 175,000), the EU (as was to be expected) refused to concede that the ‘austerity’ formula was a failure in recovering the Greek economy. The reason the EU dogmatically stuck to a ‘failed policy’ was because the EU benefited from the power, privilege and profits of pillage and imperial primacy.

Moreover, for the Brussels elite to acknowledge failure in Greece would likely result in the demand to recognize failure in the rest of Southern Europe and beyond, including in France, Italy and other key members of the EU (Economist 1/17/15, p. 53). The ruling financial and business elites in Europe and the US prospered through the crises and depression, by imposing cuts in social budgets and wages and salaries. To concede failure in Greece, would reverberate throughout North America and Europe, calling into question their economic policies, ideology and the legitimacy of the ruling powers. The reason that all the EU regimes back the EU insistence that Greece must continue to abide by an obviously perverse and regressive ‘austerity’ policy and impose reactionary “structural reforms” is because these very same rulers have sacrificed the living standards of their own labor force during the economic crises (FT 2/13/15, p. 2).

The economic crises spanning 2008/9 to the present (2015), still requires harsh sacrifices to perpetuate ruling class profits and to finance state subsidies to the private banks. Every major financial institution – the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the IMF – toes the line: no dissent or deviation is allowed. Greece must accept EU dictates or face major financial reprisals. “Economic strangulation or perpetual debt peonage” is the lesson which Brussels tends to all member states of the EU. While ostensibly speaking to Greece – it is a message directed to all states, opposition movements and trade unions who call into question the dictates of the Brussels oligarchy and its Berlin overlords.

All the major media and leading economic pundits have served as megaphones for the Brussel oligarchs. The message, which is repeated countless times, by liberals, conservatives and social democrats to the victimized nations and downwardly mobile wage and salaried workers, and small businesspeople, is that they have no choice but to accept regressive measure, slashing living conditions (“reforms”) if they hope for ‘economic recovery’ – which, of course, has not happened after five years!

Greece has become the central target of the economic elites in Europe because, the Greek people have gone from inconsequential protests to political powers. The election of Syriza on a platform of recovering sovereignty, discarding austerity and redefining its relations with creditors to favor national development has set the stage for a possible continent-wide confrontation.

The Rise of Syriza: Dubious Legacies, Mass Struggles and Radical (Broken) Promises

The growth of Syriza from an alliance of small Marxist sects into a mass electoral party is largely because of the incorporation of millions of lower middle class public employees, pensioners and small businesspeople. Many previously supported PASOK. They voted Syriza in order to recover the living conditions and job security of the earlier period of “prosperity” (2000-2007) which they achieved within the EU. Their radical rejection of PASOK and New Democracy came after 5 years of acute suffering which might have provoked a revolution in some other country. Their radicalism began with protests, marches and strikes were attempts to pressure the rightwing regimes to alter the EU’s course, to end the austerity while retaining membership in the EU.

This sector of SYRIZA is ‘radical’ in what it opposes today and conformist with its nostalgia for the past – the time of euro funded vacation trips to London and Paris, easy credit to purchase imported cars and foodstuffs, to ‘feel modern’ and ‘European’ and speak English!

The politics of Syriza reflects, in part, this ambiguous sector of its electorate. In contrast Syriza also secured the vote of the radical unemployed youth and workers who never were part of the consumer society and didn’t identify with “Europe”.  Syriza has emerged as a mass electoral party in the course of less than five years and its supporters and leadership reflects a high degree of heterogeneity.

The most radical sector, ideologically, is drawn mostly from the Marxist groups which originally came together to form the party. The unemployed youth sector joined, following the anti-police riots, which resulted from the police assassination of a young activist during the early years of the crisis. The third wave is largely made up of thousands of public workers, who were fired, and retired employees who suffered big cuts in their pensions by order of the troika in 2012. The fourth wave is ex PASOK members who fled the sinking ship of a bankrupt party.

The Syriza Left is concentrated at the mass base and among local and middle level leaders of local movements.  The top leaders of Syriza in power positions are academics, some from overseas. Many are recent members or are not even party members. Few have been involved in the mass struggles – and many have few ties with the rank and file militants. They are most eager to sign a “deal” selling out the impoverished Greeks

As Syriza moved toward electoral victory in 2015, it began to shed its original program of radical structural changes (socialism) and adopt measures aimed at accommodating Greek business interests. Tsipras talked about “negotiating an agreement” within the framework of the German dominated European Union. Tsipras and his Finance Minister proposed to re-negotiate the debt, the obligation to pay and 70% of the “reforms”! When an agreement was signed they totally capitulated!

For a brief time Syriza maintained a dual position of ‘opposing’ austerity and coming to agreement with its creditors. It’s “realist” policies reflected the positions of the new academic ministers, former PASOK members and downwardly mobile middle class. Syriza’s radical gestures and rhetoric reflected the pressure of the unemployed, the youth and the mass poor who stood to lose, if a deal to pay the creditors was negotiated.

EU – SYRIZA: Concessions before Struggle Led to Surrender and Defeat

The “Greek debt” is really not a debt of the Greek people. The institutional creditors and the Euro-banks knowingly lent money to high risk kleptocrats, oligarchs and bankers who siphoned most of the euros into overseas Swiss accounts, high end real estate in London and Paris, activity devoid of any capacity to generate income to pay back the debt. In other words, the debt, in large part, is illegitimate and was falsely foisted on the Greek people.

Syriza, from the beginning of ‘negotiations’, did not call into question the legitimacy of the debt nor identified the particular classes and enterprise who should pay it.

Secondly, while Syriza challenged “austerity” policies it did not question the Euro organizations and EU institutions who impose it.

From its beginning Syriza has accepted membership in the EU. In the name of “realism” the Syriza government accepted to pay the debt or a portion of it, as the basis of negotiation.

Structurally, Syriza has developed a highly centralized leadership in which all major decisions are taken by Alexis Tsipras. His personalistic leadership limits the influence of the radicalized rank and file. It facilitated “compromises” with the Brussels oligarchy which go contrary to the campaign promises and may lead to the perpetual dependence of Greece on EU centered policymakers and creditors.

Moreover, Tsipras has tightened party discipline in the aftermath of his election, ensuring that any dubious compromises will not lead to any public debate or extra-parliamentary revolt.

The Empire against Greece’s Democratic Outcome

The EU elite have, from the moment in which Syriza received a democratic mandate, followed the typical authoritarian course of all imperial rulers. It has demanded from Syriza (1) unconditional surrender (2) the continuation of the structures, policies and practices of the previous vassal coalition party-regimes (PASOK-New Democracy) (3) that Syriza shelve all social reforms, (raising the minimum wage, increasing pension, health, education and unemployment spending  (4) that SYRIZA follow the strict economic directives and oversight formulated by the “troika” (the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund) (5) that SYRIZA retain the current primary budget surplus target of 4.5 percent of economic output in 2015-2017.

To enforce its strategy of strangulating the new government, Brussels threatened to abruptly cut off all present and future credit facilities, call in all debt payments, end access to emergency funds and refuse to back Greek bank bonds – that provide financial loans to local businesses.

Brussels presents Syriza with the fateful “choice”, of committing political suicide by accepting its dictates and alienating its electoral supporters. By betraying its mandate, Syriza will confront angry mass demonstrations. Rejecting Brussels’ dictates and proceeding to mobilize its mass base, Syriza could seek new sources of financing, imposing capital controls and moving toward a radical “emergency economy”.

Brussel has “stone-walled” and turned a deaf ear to the early concessions which Syriza offered. Instead Brussels sees concessions as ‘steps’ toward complete capitulation, instead of as efforts to reach a “compromise”.

Syriza has already dropped calls for large scale debt write-offs, in favor of extending the time frame for paying the debt. Syriza has agreed to continue debt payments, provided they are linked to the rate of economic growth. Syriza accepts European oversight, provided it is not conducted by the hated “troika”, which has poisonous connotations for most Greeks. However, semantic changes do not change the substance of “limited sovereignty”.

Syriza has already agreed to long and middle term structural dependency in order to secure time and leeway in financing its short-term popular impact programs. All that Syriza asks is minimum fiscal flexibility under supervision of the German finance minister-some “radicals”!

Syriza has temporarily suspended on-going privatization of key infrastructure (sea- ports and airport facilities) energy and telecommunication sectors. But is has not terminated them, nor revised the past privatization. But for Brussels “sell-off” of Greek lucrative strategic sectors is an essential part of its “structural reform” agenda.

Syriza’s moderate proposals and its effort to operate within the EU framework established by the previous vassal regimes was rebuffed by Germany and its 27 stooges in the EU.

The EU’s dogmatic affirmation of extremist, ultra neo-liberal policies, including the practice of dismantling Greece’s national economy and transferring the most lucrative sectors into the hands of imperial investors, is echoed in the pages of all the major print media. The Financial TimesWall Street JournalNew York TimesWashington PostLe Monde are propaganda arms of EU extremism. Faced with Brussel’s intransigence and confronting the ‘historic choice’ of capitulation or radicalization, Syriza tried persuasion of key regimes. Syriza  held numerous meetings with EU ministers. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Finance Minister Yanis Vardoulakis traveled to Paris, London, Brussels, Berlin and Rome seeking a “compromise” agreement. This was to no avail. The Brussels elite repeatedly insisted:

Debts would have to be paid in full and on time.

Greece should restrict spending to accumulate a 4.5% surplus that would ensure payments to creditors, investors, speculators and kleptocrats.

The EU’s lack of any economic flexibility or willingness to accept even a minimum compromise is a political decision: to humble and destroy the credibility of SYRIZA as an anti-austerity government in the eyes of its domestic supporters and potential overseas imitators in Spain, Italy, Portugal and Ireland (Economist1/17/15, p. 53).

Conclusion

The strangulation of Syriza is part and parcel of the decade long process of the EU’s assassination of Greece. A savage response to a heroic attempt by an entire people, hurled into destitution, condemned to be ruled by kleptocratic conservatives and social democrats.

Empires do not surrender their colonies through reasonable arguments or by the bankruptcy of their regressive “reforms”.

Brussel’s attitude toward Greece is guided by the policy of “rule or ruin”. “Bail out” is a euphemism for recycling financing through Greece back to Euro-controlled banks, while Greek workers and employees are saddled with greater debt and continued dominance. Brussel’s “bail out” is an instrument for control by imperial institutions, whether they are called “troika” or something else.

Brussels and Germany do not want dissenting members; they may offer to make some minor concessions so that Finance Minister Vardoulakis may claim a ‘partial victory’ – a sham and hollow euphemism for a belly crawl.

The “bail out” agreement will be described by Tsipras-Vardoulakis as ‘new’ and “different’ from the past or as a ‘temporary’ retreat. The Germans may ‘allow’ Greece to lower its primary budget surplus from 4.5 to 3.5 percent ‘next year’ – but it will still reduce the funds for economic stimulus and “postpone” raises in pensions, minimum wages etc.

Privatization and other regressive reforms will not be terminated, they will be “renegotiated”. The state will retain a minority “share”.

Plutocrats will be asked to pay some added taxes but not the billions of taxes evaded over the past decades.

Nor will the PASOK – New Democracy kleptocratic operatives be prosecuted for pillage and theft.

Syriza’s compromises demonstrate that the looney right’s (the Economist, Financial Times, NY Times, etc.) characterization of Syriza as the “hard left” or the ultra-left have no basis in reality. For the Greek electorate’s “hope for the future” could turn to anger in the present. Only mass pressure from below can reverse Syriza’s capitulation and Finance Minister Vardoulakis unsavory compromises. Since he lacks any mass base in the party, Tsipras can easily dismiss him, for signing off on “compromise” which sacrifices the basic interests of the people.

However, if in fact, EU dogmatism and intransigence forecloses even the most favorable deals, Tsipras and Syriza, (against their desires) may be forced to exit the Euro Empire and face the challenge of carving out a new truly radical policy and economy as a free and independent country.

A successful Greek exit from the German – Brussels empire would likely lead to the break-up of the EU, as other vassal states rebel and follow the Greek example. They may renounce not only austerity but their foreign debts and eternal interest payments. The entire financial empire – the so-called global financial system could be shaken . . . Greece could once again become the ‘cradle of democracy’.

Post-Script:   Thirty years ago, I was an active participant and adviser for three years (1981-84) to Prime Minister Papandreou. He, like Tsipras, began with the promise of radical changes and ended up capitulating to Brussels and NATO and embracing the oligarchs and kleptocrats in the name of “pragmatic compromises”.  Let us hope, that facing a mass revolt, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Syriza will follow a different path. History need not repeat itself as tragedy or farce.

[1] The account of the Andreas Papandreou regime draws on personal experience, interviews and observations and from my co-authored article “Greek Socialism: The Patrimonial State Revisited” in James Kurth and James Petras, Mediterranean Paradoxes:  the Politics and Social Structure of Southern Europe (Oxford:  Berg Press 1993/ pp. 160 -224)

James Petras was Director of the Center for Mediterranean Studies in Athens (1981-1984) and adviser to Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou (1981-84). He resigned in protest over the PM expulsion of leading trade unionists from PASOK for organizing a general strike against his ‘stabilization program’.

Petras is co-author of Mediterranean ParadoxesThe Politics and Social Structure of Southern Europe. His latest books include Extractive Imperialism in the Americas (with Henry Veltmeyer); and The Politics of Empire:  the US, Israel and the Middle East.

Jan 052015
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

2015

Introduction

The balance sheet for 2014 and the prospects for 2015 provide us with a complex panorama of negative and positive outcomes. In most cases theadvances, are not earth-shattering but open possibilities for further progress.  The negative developments, however, have greater and more threatening systemic outcomes.

We will proceed in a telegraphic fashion to outline the positive and negative developments in 2014 and their real and potential symbolic and substantive impacts. In the second part of the essay we will sketch out some of the most important events and the way in which the positive and negative outcomes of 2014 will play out in 2015.

Positive Developments in 2014

While most leftist and progressive writers have emphasized the negative events of 2014, a more nuanced analysis will reveal ten important positive outcomes.

(1)   The revelations that the US National Security Agency was engaged in a world-wide long-standing and continuous spying operations against hundreds of millions of Americans, allies and adversaries, citizens and leaders provoked deep distrust and questioning of Washington’s claims of upholding democracy and respecting the sovereignty of nations. The revelations led to greater vigilance among countries and domestic demands for reform.

(2)   The US Senate revelations that the CIA engaged in widespread and repeated torture of political suspects, documented the growth of a police state apparatus and provoked a world-wide demand to prosecute prominent US leaders for crimes against humanity.

(3)   The growth of economic, political and military ties between Russia and China augurs a rebalancing of global power – fostering a multi-polar world, which can act as a deterrent to future western imperial aggression.

(4)   China’s President Xi’s deepening anti-corruption campaign has led to the arrest of leading business and political leaders and has encouraged  popular denunciations and demands for ‘good government’ and greater attention to social demands.

(5)   President Putin’s support for the Eastern Ukraine resistance to the Kiev puppet regime and for Crimean separatists, and his moves to restrict and, in some cases, prosecute criminal behavior among oligarchs has successfully countered Western efforts to encircle, undermine and revert Russia to a vassal state.  US-NATO backed neo-liberals within Russia have been severely weakened Western sanctions may strengthen efforts  to socialize the economy.

(6)   The opening of a dialogue with Cuba, and Washington’s recognition that its half century blockade has only isolated the US in Latin America, is a step in the right direction. The increase in tourism and economic missions may increase demands for the end of the blockade.

(7)   The growth and spread of the  Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) against the Israeli occupation of Palestine has reached major trade unions, student and religious organizations, which in turn has influenced numerous political leaders to recognize Palestine, overcoming massive opposition from the Presidents of the 52 Major American Jewish organizations in the US and their counterparts overseas.

(8)   The Iranian – US peace and nuclear negotiations have lessened the prospect of an Israeli promoted regional war. The ongoing negotiations have led to some advances, mostly concessions by Iran, but, at least, have favored diplomacy over US military aggression.

(9)   Latin America witnessed a near sweep by ‘left of center’ regimes against US backed ‘hard right’ neo-liberals, in Brazil, Venezuela, Chile, Uruguay, Ecuador and Bolivia. While these election outcomes will not in any way challenge capitalism or lead to the expropriation of the agro-mineral and financial elite, they do indicate a relative degree of independence from US militarist foreign policy. The election of President Santos in Colombia, and the defeat of the far right opposition candidate, allowed for the peace negotiations with the FARC, the popular insurgency, to proceed toward a definitive agreement.

(10)     The widespread dissemination of multi-media recordings of prominent scientists testifying to and documenting the evidence demonstrating that the collapse of the World Trade Center could only be a controlled demolition and not a result of the plane crashes, has led to widespread calls for a new investigation of 9/11.

Negative Events in 2014

Major events and policies in 2014 which have had a profoundly negative effect on the prospects for peace and social justice are equally numerous.

(1)    The US and EU installation of a puppet regime in the Western Ukraine (Kiev) and its conversion into an economic vassal state of the European Union and NATO outpost on Russia’s border is a major blow against democracy and boost to Ukrainian neo-fascist political leaders. The militarization of the Ukraine, as an adversary of Russia, threatens a global nuclear war.

(2)   The military coup in Egypt and the violent purge, jailing and torture of elected officials and secular dissidents, ensures the return of US influence in North Africa and reinforces Israel’s blockade of Gaza and  colonization over the West Bank. Food and transport subsidies were ended in accord with the IMF. In 2014 as a result of the military dictatorship’s pro-business policies, the Egyptian stock market index returned 30% to foreign and domestic speculators. Between the coup in mid-2013 to the end of 2014, the M5CI stock index of Egypt doubled.

(3)   The US re-entry in the Iraq civil war, its air war in Syria to counter the advance of ISIS, and the decision to retain thousands of troops in Afghanistan means that the militarist policies of the past decade continue to define US foreign policy in the Middle East. Civilian casualties are mounting and the wars are showing no signs of ending. The devastation wrought by the US-NATO military intervention in Libya continues to provoke Islamic extremism and civilian flight.

(4)   US repeatedly supported Israeli seizures and colonization of Palestinian land in the West Bank and Jerusalem and Israel’s  savage murder of 2000 Palestinians and 5 billion dollar devastation of property in Gaza. Under the prodding of Zionist multi-billionaires and AIPAC, the US blocked the PLOs effort to gain UN membership via arm-twisting of African representatives in the Security Council.

(5)   The President and Congress’s defense of NSA spying and CIA responsibility for torture has further weakened residual constitutional guarantees.

(6)   The electoral victories by the hard right in the US legislative elections will present major problems in proceeding with peace negotiations with Iran, in ending the economic blockade of Cuba and lessening the Government’s purge of immigrants.

(7)   The Ferguson protest against the police assassination of a young black man grew into a nationwide protest (“black lives matter”) against the police impunity and violence, and had all the makings of a popular movement to democratize the state. Instead the police officials and police unions launched a massive counter-attack and mobilization, defending police power, by exploiting the killing of two policemen in New York City by a deranged individual.

(8)   The US success in imposing sanctions against Russia, with the backing of the European Union, the escalation of military exercises on Russia’s Baltic frontiers and in the Caucuses, threaten a nuclear confrontation.

(9)   Washington’s promotion of Asian-Pacific economic pacts excluding China, the military base agreements with Japan, Australia and the Philippines, and the expansion of provocative air and sea surveillance of China’s coastlines, has dimmed any prospect that Washington is willing to accommodate China’s ascent as a world power.

(10)   Economic policies continue to concentrate wealth in the upper 1%, while investment bankers escape jail sentences for on-going multi-billion dollar swindles and illicit operations, laying the bases for a new financial crisis.

Looking Toward the New Year

The prognosis for 2015 is not promising. For one thing the positive changes that took place in 2014 are not sustainable and will be under threat by the further rightward shift in US policy.

The likelihood is that the new rightwing majority in Congress will do everything possible to prevent the ending of the US economic blockade of Cuba. The powerful Israel power configuration in the Congress, mass media and in the Treasury will likely impose such onerous and unilateral demands on Iran as to undermine any meaningful agreement. In Israel far right neo-fascist parties are likely to take power, early in 2015, and accelerate the seizure and colonization of Palestinian land foreclosing any prospects of a negotiated agreement. The Zionist power configuration in Washington will guarantee continued US backing.

The Obama Administration, blinded by its success in securing EU support for sanctions against Russia, will push harder for a full scale economic war, in hopes of overthrowing the Putin government.

Incremental increases in troops and military commitments in South Asia, the Middle East and the Baltic regions will further heighten economic tensions with China and North Korea as well as Russia.

Obama will work with the new rightwing Congress to lower corporate taxes, to secure fast track passage of free trade agreements with Europe(excluding Russia) and Asia (excluding China) and to strengthen the arbitrary police power of the CIA, NSA, and FBI.

The police, organized and mobilized, will further subordinate civilian authorities, and launch a full scale war on the movement to curtail police violence against Afro-Americans. New York City’s giant pro-police show of force is a dress rehearsal for 2015.

The US economy will become even more lopsided, unequal and subject to financial volatility. Middle and working class Americans will become further alienated from the parties, legislature and executive – abstention will increase. However, many Americans will struggle to elect popular representatives in local elections and initiatives.

Overseas the US will fail to secure any decisive military victory in any major theater of war. ISIS in Syria and Iraq is likely to continue to occupy wide swaths of territory and to sustain a long term war. The Taliban will eventually surround the big cities and garrisons in which US advisers are holed up. Libya will continue to be a failed state. The Ukraine will likely descend into economic bankruptcy. In southern Europe the left-socialist party SYRIZA will probably win the elections and attempt to impose a moratorium on debt payments and stimulate the economy. The neo-liberal political regimes in Italy, Spain and Portugal will continue to deteriorate. In France the Socialist regime’s embrace of a pro-business agenda will provoke major conflicts with trade unions and may fracture. The National Front may become the leading party, adopting positions on the Right (anti-immigrant) and Left (anti EU austerity). Leftist, populist and far –right parties and movements are likely to increase support in eight scheduled elections in the EU this year.

Turmoil, wars, and sanctions will lead to new political alignments. Just as Russia and China move to realign, so too, political forces in North and South America, Asia and the Middle East may find new de facto alignments. Saudi and Israel, Iran and Iraq, Turkey and Russia, Brazil and Venezuela . . .

Unpredictable challenges may emerge from minor and major players: Greece’s new Syriza government, by refusing to abide by Berlin’s austerity agenda, may provoke a major crises in the EU. China’s anti-corruption campaign could lead to heighten mass protests. North and South Korea may open long sought negotiations – excluding the US.

With the beginning of 2015 we enter a journey to the end of the night…

Dec 182014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

The US Senate Report documenting CIA torture of alleged terrorist suspects raises a number of fundamental questions about the nature and operations of the State, the relationship and the responsibility of the Executive Branch and Congress to the vast secret police networks which span the globe – including the United States.

CIA:  The Politics of a Global Secret Police Force

The Senate Report’s revelations of CIA torture of suspects following the 9/11 bombing is only the tip of the iceberg. The Report omits the history and wider scope of violent activity in which the CIA has been and continues to be involved. CIA organized large scale death squad activities and extreme torture in Vietnam (Phoenix Project); multiple assassinations of political leaders in the Congo, Chile, Dominican Republic, Vietnam, the Middle East, Central America and elsewhere; the kidnapping and disappearance of suspected activists in Iraq and Afghanistan; massive drug-running and narco-trafficking in the “Golden Triangle” in Southeast Asia and Central America (the Iran-Contra war).

The Senate Report fails to locate the current acts of CIA terror and torture in a broader historical context – one which would reveal the systematic use of torture and violence as a ‘normal instrument of policy.  Contrary to White House and Senate claims that torture was a “policy error” committed by “incompetent” (or deranged) operatives, the historical record demonstrates that the long term extensive and intensive use by the CIA of torture, assassinations, kidnappings are planned and deliberate policies made by highly qualified, and experienced policymakers acting according to a global strategy approved by both Executive and Congressional leaders.

The Report treats torture as a “localized” set of events, divorced from the politics of empire building. In point of fact, torture is and always has been an integral part of imperial wars, colonial military occupations and counter-insurgency warfare.

Imperial wars and occupations provoke widespread opposition and nearly unanimous hostility. ‘Policing’ the occupied country cannot rely on community-wide support, least of all providing voluntary ‘intelligence’ to the imperial officials. The imperial armed forces operate out of fortresses surrounded by a sea of hostile faces. Bribes and persuasion of local collaborators provides limited information, especially regarding the operations of underground resistance movements and clandestine activists. Family, neighborhood, religious, ethnic and class ties provide protective support networks. To break this web of voluntary support network, the colonial powers resort to torture of suspects, family members and others. Torture becomes “routinized” as part and parcel of policies sustaining the imperial occupation. Extended occupation and intensive destruction of habitation and employment, cannot be compensated by imperial “aid” – much of which is stolen by the local collaborators. The latter, in turn, are ostracized by the local population, and, therefore, useless as a source of information. The “carrot” for a few collaborators is matched by torture and the threat of torture for the many in opposition.

Torture is not publicized domestically even as it is ‘understood’ by ‘knowing’ Congressional committees. But among the colonized, occupied people, through word and experience, CIA and military torture and violence against suspects, seized in neighborhood round-ups, is a weapon to intimidate a hostile population. The torture of a family member spreads fear (and loathing) among relatives, acquaintances, neighbors and colleagues. Torture is an integral element in spreading mass intimidation – an attempt to minimize co-operation between an active minority of resistance fighters and a majority of passive sympathizers.

The Senate Report claims that torture was “useless” in providing intelligence. It argues that victims were not privy to information that was useful to imperial policymakers.

The current head of the CIA, John Brennan rejects the Senate claim, while blithely admitting “some errors” (underwater submergence lasted a minute too long, the electric currents to the genitals were pitched to high?), heargues that “torture worked”. Brennan argues that his torturer colleagues did obtain “intelligence” that led to arrests of militants, activists and “terrorists”.

If torture “works” as Brennan claims, then presumably the Senate and the President would approve of its use. The brutalization of human life, of family members and neighbors is not seen as, in principle, evil and morally and politically repugnant.

According to the explicit rules of conduct of Brennan and the implicit beliefs of the Senate, only “useless” torture is subject to censure – if an address is obtained or a torture victim names a colleague a ‘terrorist’ to avoid further pain, then by the criteria of the Senate Report  torture is justified.

According to the operational code of the CIA, international law and the Geneva Conventions have to be modified: torture should not be universally condemned and its practioners prosecuted. According to the Senate only torture that “doesn’t work” is reprehensible and the best judge of that is the head of the torturers, the CIA director.

Echoing Brennan, President Obama, leaped to the defense of the CIA, conceding that only some ‘errors’ were committed. Even that mealy mouth admission was forcibly extracted after the President spent several years blocking the investigation and months obstructing its publication and then insisting on heavily editing out some of the most egregious and perverse passages implicating NATO allies

The Senate Report fails to discuss the complicity and common torture techniques shared between Israel’s Mossad and the CIA and Pentagon. In defense of torture, the CIA and White House lawyers frequently cited Israel’s Supreme Court ruling of 1999 which provided the “justification “for torture. According to Israel’s Jewish judges, torturers could operate with impunity against non-Jews (Arabs) if they claimed it was out of “necessity to prevent loss of or harm to human life”. The CIA and Harvard law professor and uber-Zionist zealot, Alan Dershowitz echoed the Israeli Mossad “ticking time bomb” justification for torture, according to which “interrogators can employ torture to extract information if it prevents a bombing”. Dershowitz cited the efficiency of Israel’s torturing a suspect’s children.

The CIA officials frequently cited the Israeli ‘ticking bomb’ justification for torture in 2007, at Congressional hearings in 2005, and earlier in 2001 and 2002. The CIA knows that the US Congress, under the control of the Zionist power configuration, would be favorably disposed to any official behavior, no matter how perverse and contrary to international law, if it carried an Israeli mark of approval or ‘logo’.

The US CIA and Israeli’s Mossad share, exchange and copy each other’s’ torture methods. The US torturers studied and applied Israel’s routine use of sexual torture and humiliation of Muslim prisoners. Racist colonial Israeli tracts about techniques on destroying the ‘Arab Mind’ were used by US intelligence. Israeli officials borrowed US techniques of forced feeding hunger strikers. Mossad’s technique of ‘Palestinian hanging’ was adopted by the US. Above all, the US copied and amplified Israel’s extra-judicial ‘targeted’ killings – the center piece of Obama’s counter-terrorism policy. These killings included scores of innocent bystanders for every ‘successful target’.

The Senate Report fails to identify the intellectual authors, the leading officials who presided over and who ultimately bear political responsibility for torture.

Top leaders, Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and Senate Intelligence Committee chairperson, Diane Feinstein, resort to the Nazi war criminals plea “we didn’t know”, “we were misled” and “the CIA didn’t tell us”.

No judge at the Nuremberg Trials believed them. Nor will any international court of law believe US political leaders’ pleas of ignorance of the CIA’s decade-long practice of torture – especially after former Vice President Cheney lauded the practice on US television and boasted he would implement the same policies again. (One has to wonder about the ‘source’ of Cheney’s transplanted heart…)

During the administration of President Bush, Jr., CIA leaders submitted detailed reports on intelligence, including the sources and the methods of obtaining the information, on a routine basis – with videos and ‘live feeds’ for the politicians to view. Nothing was ‘held back’ then and now, as current CIA head John Brennan testifies. From 2001 onward torture was the method of choice, as testimony from top military officials revealed during the Abu Ghraib investigation.

National Security Agency (NSA) meetings, attended by the President, received detailed reports extracted from CIA “interrogations”. There is every reason to believe that every NSA attendee ‘knew’ how the ‘intelligence’ was obtained. And if they failed to ask it was because torture was a ‘normal, routine operating procedure’.

When the Senate decided to investigate the “methods of the CIA”, half a decade ago, it was not because of the stench of burning genitals. It was because the CIA exceeded the boundaries of Senate prerogatives –it had engaged in pervasive and hostile spying against US Senators, including the Uber-Senator Feinstein herself; CIA crimes were compromising client regimes around the world; and most of all because their orgy of torture and dehumanization had failed to defeat the armed resistance in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Syria.

The Senate Report is an exercise in institutional power – a means for the Senate to regain political turf, to rein in CIA encroachment. The Report goes no further than to chastise “inappropriate” techniques: it does not proceed from crimes of state to prosecute officials responsible for crimes against international and domestic laws.

We know, and they know, and as every legal authority in the world would know, that without the punishment of political leaders, torture will continue to be an integral part of US imperial policy: Impunity leads to recidivism.

Richard Cheney, Vice-President under President George W. Bush, notorious war criminal on many counts, and prime advocate of torture, publicly declared on December 10, 2014 that President Bush specifically authorized torture. He bragged that they were informed in detail and kept up to date.

In the political world of torture, practiced by Islamic extremists and US imperialists, how does the decapitation of non-combatant prisoners, match up with the CIA’s refrigeration of naked political suspects?  As for “transparency”, the virtue claimed by the Senate Report publicists in publishing the CIA’s crimes, as “refurbishing the US image”, the Islamists went one step further in “transparency”: they produced a video that went global, revealing their torture by beheading captives.

The Senate Report on CIA torture will not result in any resignations, let alone prosecutions or trials, because over the past two decades, war crimes, police crimes, spy crimes, and financial swindles have not been prosecuted. Nor have any of the guilty officials spent a day in court. They are protected by the majority of political leaders who are unconditional defenders of the CIA, its power, techniques and especially its torture of captives. The vast majority of Congress and the US President repeatedly approve over $100 billion annual budgets for the CIA and its domestic counterpart, Department Homeland Security. They approved the annual budget voted on December 10, 2014, even as the “revelations” rolled in. Moreover, as the tempest over CIA torture proceeds, Obama continues to order the assassination by drone of US citizens “without ever crossing the door of a judge”.

Despite over 6,000 pages of documents and testimony, recording crimes against humanity, the Senate Report is unlikely to trigger any reforms or resignations. This is not because of the actions of some mysterious “deep state” or because a ballooning national security apparatus has taken power. The real problem is that the elected officials, Presidents and Congress people, Democrats and Republicans, neo-liberals and neo-conservatives, are deeply embedded in the security apparatus and they share the common quest for world supremacy. If Empire requires wars, drones, invasions, occupations and torture, so be it!

Torture will truly disappear and the politicians will be put on trial for these crimes, only when the empire is transformed back to a republic: where impunity ends justice begins.

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James Petras latest book, The Politics of Imperialism: The US, Israel and the Middle East (Atlanta:  Clarity Press 2014)

Dec 152014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

The Brazilian working class is facing the most savage assault on its living standards in over a decade. And it is not just the industrial workers who are under attack. The landless rural workers, public and private salaried employees, teachers and health professionals, the unemployed and the poor are facing massive cuts in income, jobs and welfare payments.

Whatever gains were made between 2003 – 2013 will be reversed. Brazilian workers face a ‘decade of infamy’. The Rousseff regime has embraced the politics of “savage capitalism” as personified in the appointment of two of the most extreme advocates of neo-liberal policies.

The “Workers Party” and the Ascendancy of Finance Capital

In early December 2014, President Rousseff appointed Joaquin Levy as the new Finance Minister –  in effect the new economic czar to run the Brazilian economy. Levy is a leading member of the Brazilian financial oligarchy. Between 2010-2014 he was president of Bradesco Asset Management, an asset arm of the giant conglomerate Bradesco, with more than $130 billion dollars under management. Since his doctoral days at the U of Chicago, Levy is a loyal follower of neo-liberal supremo Professor Milton Friedman, former economic adviser to Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet. As a former top official in the International Monetary Fund (1992 – 1999), Levy was a strong advocate of the harsh austerity programs which a decade later impoverished southern Europe and Ireland. During the Presidency of Henrique Cardoso, Levy served as a top economic strategist, directly involved in the massive privatization of lucrative public enterprises – at bargain basement prices – and the liberalization of the financial system which facilitated the illicit financial outflow of $15 billion a year. Levy’s presence as a prominent member of Brazil’s financial oligarchy and his deep, longstanding ties to international financial institutions is precisely the reason President Rousseff put him in charge of the Brazilian economy. Levy’s appointment is part and parcel of Rousseff’s embrace of a new strategy of vastly increasing the profits of foreign and domestic finance capital, in the hope of attracting large scale investments to end economic stagnation.

For President Rousseff and her mentor, ex-President Lula DaSilva, the entire economy must be directed to gaining the “confidence” of the capitalist class.

The social policies which were implemented earlier are now subject to elimination or reduction, as the new financial czar Joaquin “Jack the Ripper” Levy, moves forward to implement his “shock therapy”. Deep and comprehensive cuts in labor’s share of national income is at the top of his agenda. The objective is to concentrate wealth and capital in the upper ten percent in hopes that they will  invest and increase growth.

While Levy’s appointment represents a decidedly turn to the extreme right, the economic policies and practices of the previous twelve years laid the foundations for the return of a virulent version of neo-liberal orthodoxy.

The Economic Foundations for the Return of Savage Capitations

During the electoral campaign in 2002, Lula DaSilva signed off on an economic agreement with the IMF which guaranteed a budget surplus of 3%. Lula sought to reassure bankers, international financiers and multi-nationals that Brazil would pay its creditors, increase foreign reserves for profit remittance and illicit financial flows overseas.

The Lula regime’s adoption of conservative fiscal policies, was accompanied by his austerity policies, reducing public employees’ salaries and pensions and providing only marginal increases in the minimum wage. Most of all, Lula supported all of the corrupt privatizations which took place under the preceding Cardoza regime. At the end of Lula’s first year in office, 2003, Wall Street hailed Lula as the “Man of the Year” for his “pragmatic policies” and his demobilization and de-radicalization of the major trade unions and social movements. In January 2003, President Lula Da Silva appointed Levy as Treasury Secretary, a position he held until 2006 – the most socially regressive period of the Da Silva Presidency. This period also coincided with a series of enormously lucrative multi-billion dollar corruption scandals involving dozens of top PT officials in the Lula regime receiving kickbacks from leading construction companies

Two events in the middle 2000’s allowed Da Silva to moderate his policies and introduce limited social reforms. The commodity boom – a sharp increase in the demand and prices of afro-mineral exports filled the coffers of Treasury. And increased pressure from the trade unions, rural movements and the poor for a share in the economic bonanza led to increases in social spending,  wages, salaries and easy credit without affecting the wealth, property and privileges of the elite.  With the economic boom, Lula could also satisfy the IMF, the financial sector and the business elite with subsidies, tax breaks, low interest loans and lucrative “overpriced” state contracts. The poor received 1% of the budget via a “family allowance” a $60 dollar a month handout and low paid labor received a higher minimum  wage. The cost of social welfare was a fraction of the 40% of the budget that the banks received in payments of principle and interest payments on dubious public debt incurred by previous neo-liberal regimes.

With the end of the boom, the government of Rousseff has reverted back to Lula’s orthodox policies of 2003 – 2005 and re-appointed Levy to carry them out.

Levy’s Shock Therapy and Its Consequences

Levy’s task of re-concentrating income, raising profits and revertng social policies is much harder in 2014 – 2015 than it was in 2003 – 2005. Mainly because, earlier, he was merely continuing the policies of the Cardoso regime – and Lula promised the workers it was only temporary. Today Levy must cut and slash gains that workers and the poor take for granted. In fact in 2013 – 2014 mass urban movements pressed for greater social expenditures for transport, education and health.

To advance Levy’s shock therapy, at some point, repression will be necessary, as was the case in Chile and Southern Europe when similar austerity policies depressed incomes and multiplied unemployment.

Levy proposes to rescue the interests of finance capital by taking several crucial measures which will be in line with the agenda of Wall Street, City of London and the Brazilian financial moguls. Taken in their entirety, Levy’s financial policies amount to “shock treatment” – harsh, rapid economic measures applied against workers living standards, equivalent to electric shocks to patients with disorders, applied by deranged psychologists who claim that “pain is gain”, but more frequently than not, turn patients into zombies or worse.

Levy’s first priority is to cut and slash public investments, pensions, unemployment payments and public sector salaries. Under the pretext of “stabilizing the economy” (for the financial groups) he will destabilize the household economy of tens of millions. He will rescind tax breaks for the mass of consumers buying cars, household appliances and ‘white goods’, thus increasing the costs to millions of working class households or pricing them out of the market. Levy’s purpose is to unbalance household budgets (increase debt over income) in order to increase the state budget surplus and ensure full and prompt debt payments to creditors like his own Bradesco conglomerate.

Secondly, Levy will “adjust” prices. More specifically end price controls on fuel, energy and transport so that the financial oligarchs with millions of shares in those sectors can jack-up prices and “adjust” their wealth upward into the billions of dollars. As a result, the working and middle class will have to spend a greater share of their declining income for fuel, transport and energy.

Thirdly, Levy will probably let the currency weaken to promote afro-mineral exports under the guise of greater “competiveness”. But a cheaper currency will increase the cost of imports, especially, of basic foodstuffs and manufactured goods.The de facto devaluation will hit hardest the millions who cannot hedge their savings and favors the financial speculators who will capitalize on currency movements. And comparative studies demonstrate that a cheaper currency doesn’t necessarily increase  productive investments.

Fourthly, Levy is likely to claim that energy shortfalls due to drought, which has reduced Brazil’s hydropower dams, requires “reform” of the energy sector, Levy’s euphemism for privatization. He will propose to sell-off  the semi-public billion dollar petroleum giant Petrobras, and accelerate the privatization of offshore exploitation sites, at terms favorable to big investment banks.

Fifthly, Levy is likely to slash and burn environmental and business regulations, including those affecting the rain-forest, labor and Indian rights, to facilitate the easy entry and fast exit of financial capital.

Levy’s “shock therapy” will have a profound social and economic impact on Brazilian society. Every indication, from past and present experiences, is that  in every country “Chicago Boys”, like Levy, have applied their “shock” formula, has resulted in profound economic recession, social regression and political unrest.

Contrary to the expectations of President Rousseff, cuts in credit, salaries and public investment will depress the economy – and send it from stagnation into recession. Retrograde budget balancing lessens demand and does not induce productive capital flows. The most dynamic growth sectors in manufacturing, the car industry, will be sharply and adversely affected by the increase in taxes on purchases. And the same goes for appliances.

Heretofore the expansion of public investment has been the main driving force of even the current meagre growth. There is no rational reason to believe that vast flows of private capital will suddenly take up the slack, especially in a shrinking market. This is especially true, if as is likely to happen, class conflict intensifies from across the board reductions in wages, salaries and living standards.

Levy, like all free market fanatics, will argue that recession and regression are short-term, necessary and, will succeed “in the long run”. But   in all contemporary countries pursuing his shock formula, the result has been prolonged regression. Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal are in the seventh year of austerity induced depression and their public debt is growing.

The Real Effective Consequences of Shock Therapy

We have to discard the ideological “stability and growth” claims of the Levyites and look at the real results of the policies he promises.

First and foremost, inequalities will increase because whatever income gains ensue will be concentrated at the top. Government deregulation and fiscal and exchange rate policies, will deepen the imbalances in the economy, favoring creditors over debtors, foreign finance over local manufacturers, owners of capital over wage workers, the private sector over the public.

Levy will indeed “secure the confidence of capital” because what is dubbed as “investor confidence” rests on an unimpeded license to plunder the environment, reduce  wages and eploit a growing reserve army of unemployed.

Conclusion

Levy’s shock therapy will heighten class tension and inevitably result in the break-down of the social pact between the so-calledWorkers Party regime and the trade unions, the landless rural workers and the urban social movements.

Rousseff and the leadership of the self-styled “Workers’ Party” regime, faced with economic stagnation resulting from the decline in commodity prices and the  decision of private capital to withhold investments, could have chosen to socialize the economy, end crony capitalism and increase public investment. Instead it capitulated. Rousseff has recycled the orthodox neo-liberal policies which Lula implemented during the first two years of his regime.

Instead of mobilizing workers and professionals for deeper structural changes, Rousseff and Lula Da Silva are counting on the “left-wing” of the PT to complain, criticize and conform. They are counting on the co-opted leaders of the trade union confederation (CUT), to hyperventilate and confine themselves to inconsequential symbolic protests which will not disrupt Levy’s “shock therapy”. However, the scope, depth and extremism of Levy’s so-called adjustment and stabilization program will provoke general strikes, first and foremost in the public sector. The cutbacks in the auto industry and rise in unemployment, will result in job action in the manufacturing sector. The cuts in public investment and rise in the costs of transport, health care and education will revive the mass urban movements.

Within a year, Rousseff and Levy’s shock policies will convert Brazil into a boiling cauldron of social discontent. Lula’s pseudo-populist gestures and empty rhetoric will have no effect. Rousseff will not be able to convince working people to accept Levy’s class biased “austerity” program, his incentives “to gain the confidence of international markets” and his incomes policies shrinking incomes of the vast majority of working people.

Levy’s policies will deepen the recession, not “re-awaken the animal spirits of entrepreneurs”. After a year of  “more pain and no gain” (except for higher profits for financiers and afro-mineral exporters), President Rousseff will face the inevitable negative political outcome of having lost the support of the workers, middle class and rural poor without gaining the support of the business and financial elite – they have their own reliable party leaders. Once having put in place his radically regressive free market policies, and having provoked massive popular discontent, Levy will  resign and return to the presidency of Bradesco, the multi-billion dollar investment fund, claiming “mission accomplished”

Rousseff might replace Levy and try to ‘moderate’ his ‘shock therapy’. But by then it will be too little too late. The Workers’ Party will end up in the dust bin of history. Rousseff’s decision  to appoint Levy as economic czar is a declaration of class war. And in order to win the class war, we cannot exclude that the radically regressive policies will be enforced by state violence – the repression of mass urban protests, the savage dislodgement of peaceful landless rural workers occupying fallow lands.

The “Workers’ Party” regime’s turn from “inclusive neo-liberalism” to Friedmanite free market extremism will radicalize and polarize Brazilian society. The oligarchy will push to remilitarize civil society. This in turn, will spur the growth of class conscious social movements, like those that ended twenty years of military rule. Perhaps this time, the social upheaval may not end in a liberal-democracy; perhaps the coming struggle will bring Brazil closer to a socialist republic.

Dec 042014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

Over the past 30 years, wealth has grown exponentially and has become increasingly concentrated foremost in the upper .01%, then the .1%, followed by the 1% and the upper 10% – 20%.

The large scale, long-term concentration of wealth has continued through booms and busts of the real economy, the financial and IT crises. Wealth grew despite long-term economic recessions and stagnation, because the so-called recovery programs imposed austerity on  80% of the households while transferring public revenues to the rich.

The so-called ‘crises of capitalism’ has neither reversed nor prevented the emergence of an international class of billionaires who acquire, merge and invest in each other’s activities. The growth of wealth has been accompanied by the pillage of accumulated profits from productive sectors which are stored as wealth not investment capital.

The dispossession of capital and its conversion to private wealth subsequently led to the rapid expansion of the financial and real estate sector. Capital accumulation of profits has been the source of private accumulation of wealth at the expense of wages, salaries, public welfare, and state revenues.

The growth of private wealth at the expense of productive investments is a world-wide phenomenon which has been facilitated by an international network of banks, political leaders and ‘regulators’ centered in the United States and England.

The single most important aspect of private wealth accumulation on a world-scale is criminal behavior by the elites in multiple locations and involves the violation of multiple laws and regulations.

The Chain of Illegality: From Exploitation of Labor to the Pillage of the Nation

The original source of private wealth is the exploitation of labor by capital,of which a small percentage of the profits are reinvested in expanding production in the ‘home market’ or overseas. The bulk of the profits are transferred into financial networks which in turn illicitly channel the funds into overseas accounts.

The movements of profits ‘overseas’ takes multiple forms (transfer pricing, phony invoices, etc.) and  they are primarily converted to private wealth. These ‘international movements’ of profits are largely composed of mega-thievery or plunder by political and business leaders from ‘developing countries’. According to the Financial Times (17/11/14, p2).  “Up to $1 trillion (dollars) is being taken out of developing countries every year through a web of corrupt activities involving anonymous shell companies that typically hide the identity of their true owners”. (my emphasis)

The $1 trillion of stolen profits and revenues from the ‘developing countries’ (Africa, Asia, South America) are part of a “corruption chain” which is organized, managed and facilitated by the major financial institutions in the US and UK. According to a World Bank report in 2011 “70 percent of the biggest corruption cases between 1980 and 2010 involved anonymous shell companies. The US and UK were among the jurisdictions most frequently used to incorporate legal entities that held proceeds of corruption” (Financial Times, 17/11/14, p2.).

This process of “taking out” or pillage of developing countries feeds into rent seeking, conspicuous consumption and other non-productive activity in the ‘developed countries’ or more accurately the imperialist states.  The principle beneficiaries of the pillage of ‘developing countries’ by the local elites are their counterparts in the top 1% of the imperial countries, who control, direct and manage the financial, real estate and luxury sectors of their economies.

The very same financial institutions in the imperial countries (and their related accountancy, legal and consultancy arms) facilitate the pillage of trillions from the ‘developed’ countries to offshore sites, via massive tax evasion operations, hoarding wealth instead of investing profits or paying taxes to the public treasury.

Long-term, large scale pillage and tax evasion depends on the central role, at both ends of the world economy, of the financial sector. This results in the ‘imbalance of the economy’ – predominance of finance capital as the final arbiter on how ‘profits’ are disposed.

The extremely narrow membership in the dominant financial sectors means that its growth will result in greater inequalities between classes. A disproportionate share of wealth will accrue to those who pillage the revenues and profits of the productive sector. As a result so-called ‘productive capitalists’ hasten to join and lay claims to membership in the financial sector.

The links between ‘productive’ and ‘fictitious’ capital or financial swindle capital, defy any attempt to find a progressive sector within the dominant classes. But the effort to enter the charmed circle of the dominant financial 1% is fraught with dangers and risks . . . because the financial sector has a very dynamic and super-active capacity for swindles.

The entire process of de-capitalizing the economy is underwritten in the US by the financial elite’s controls over the executive branch of government, especially the ‘regulatory’and enforcement agencies -Security Exchange Commission, the Treasury and Justice Departments.

Financial institutions facilitate the inflow of trillions of dollars from the kleptocrats in the developing countries as well as the outflow of trillions of dollars by multi-nationals to off-shore tax havens. In both instances the banks are key instruments in the process of dis-accumulation of capital by dispossessing nations and treasuries of revenues and productive investments.

The ‘hoarding’ of MNC profits in offshore shell companies does not in any way prevent speculative activity and large scale swindles in the for-ex, equity and real estate markets. On the contrary, the boom in high-end real estate in London, New York and Paris, and the high growth of luxury goods sales, reflects the concentration of wealth in the top .01%, .1% and 1%. They are the beneficiaries of ‘no risk’ pillage of wealth in developing countries, receiving lucrative commissions and fees in laundering the illicit inflows of wealth and outflows by tax dodging multi-nationals.

The Inverted Pyramid of Wealth

A small army of accountants, political fixers, corporate lawyers, publicists, financial scribblers, consultants and real estate promoters make-up the next 15% of the beneficiaries of the pillage economies. Below them are the 30% upper and lower middle classes who experience tenuous affluence subject to the economic shocks, ‘market volatility and risks of downward mobility. Below them, the majority of wage, salaried and small business classes experience declining incomes, downward mobility, rising risks of mortgage foreclosure,  job-loss and destitution among the bottom 30%.

Despite wide variations in the class structure between ‘developing’ neo-colonial and developed imperial states, the top 1% across national boundaries has forged economic, personal, educational, and social ties. They attend the same elite schools, own multiple private residences in similar high end neighborhoods, and share private bankers, money launderers and financial advisors. Each elite group has their own national police and military security systems, as well as political influentials who also co-operate and collaborate to ensure  impunity and to  defend the illegal financial flows for a cut of the wealth….

The investigatory authorities of each developed country tend to specialize in prosecuting rival financial institutions and banks, occasionally levying fines – never imprisonment – for the most egregious swindles that threatens the ‘confidence’ of the defrauded investors.

Yet the basic structure of the pillage economy, continues unaffected – in fact thrives – because the ‘show’ of ‘oversight’ and judicial ‘charges’ neutralizes public indignation and outrage.

The Decisive Role of Dis-Accumulation in the World Economy

While orthodox economists elaborate mathematical models that have no relationship to the operations, agencies and performance of the economy and ignore the real elite actors which operate the economy, Leftist economists similarly operate with theoretical premises about capital and labor, profits and capital accumulation, crises and stagnation, which ignore the centrality of pillage, dis-accumulation, and the dynamic growth of wealth by the international 1%.

The research center, the Capital Financial Integrity Group provides a vast array of data documenting the trillion dollar illicit financial flows which now dominate the world economy.

US MNCs have ‘hoarded’ over $1.5 trillion dollars in overseas shell companies, ‘dead capital’, to avoid taxes and to speculate in stocks, bonds and real estate.

Mexico’s ruling elite organizes massive illicit financial flows, mostly laundered by US banks, ranging from $91 billion in 2007 to $68.5 billion in 2010. The massive increase in illicit financial flows is greatly facilitated by the de-regulation of the economy resulting from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Contrary to most leftist critics the main beneficiaries of NAFTA are not Canadian mine owners or US agro-business or auto manufacturers – it is the US and Canadian financial and real estate money launderers.

From 1960 to 2010 the Brazilian 1% pillaged over $400 billion dollars. These illicit financial flows are laundered in New York, Miami, London, Switzerland and Montevideo. In recent years the rate of pillage has accelerate:  between 2000 -2012 illicit financial flows averaged $14.7 billion a year. And under the self-styled ‘Worker’s Party” (PT) regime of Lula DaSilva and Dilma Rousseff, $33.7 billion in illicit outflows were laundered annually – 1.5% of the GDP. Much of the pillage is carried out by private and public “entrepreneurs” in the so-called “dynamic” economic sectors of agro-minerals, energy and manufacturing via ‘trade mispricing’, import overpricing and export underpricing invoices.

According to a study published in the Wall Street Journal, (10/15/12), China’s elite’s illicit financial flows top $225 billion a year – 3% of national economic output. China’s 1%, the business-political elite, finance their children’s overseas private education, providing them with half million dollar condos. Illicit flows allow Chinese ‘investors’ to dominate the luxury real estate markets in Toronto, Vancouver, New York and London. They hoard funds in overseas shell companies. The Chinese corporate kleptocrats are the leaders in the drive to deregulate China’s financial markets – to legalize the outflows.

The scale and scope of China’s elite pillage has provoked popular outrage that threatens the entire capitalist structure – provoking a major anti-corruption campaign spearheaded by China’s President Xi Jinping. Thousands of millionaire officials and business people have been jailed, causing a sharp decline in the sales of the world’s luxury manufacturers.

India’s capitalists- as kleptocrats – have long played a major role in de-capitalizing the economy.  According to the Financial Times (11/24/14, p3) the Indian elite’s illicit financial flows totaled $343 billion dollars from 2002 to 2011. The Indian Finance Ministry immediately threw up a smoke screen on behalf of the 1%, claiming the Indian elite had only $1.46 billion in Swiss accounts. Most of India’s wealthy have taken up with holing their illicit wealth to  Dubai, Singapore, the Cayman and Virgin Islands as well as London

India’s neo-liberal policies eased the illegal outflows. Massive corruption accompanied the privatization of public firms and the allocation of multi-billion dollar assets such as mobile phones, coal fields and energy.

Indonesia, – percentage-wise is the leader in the outflow of illicit flows – fully 23% of annual output. The 1% elite of foreign and domestic capitalists, plunders natural resources, timber, metals, agriculture and dis-accumulates. Profits flow to foreign accounts in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, Los Angeles, London and Amsterdam.

Ethiopia, with per-capita income of $365 dollars, is the site of vast pillage by its ruling elite. From 2000 to 2009, over $11.7 billion dollars in illicit financial flow was laundered mostly by US banks. These outflows enriched the Ethiopian and the US 1% and provoked famine for Ethiopia’s 90%.

Conclusion

The illicit financial flows surpass the capital invested in productive activity. The process of dis-accumulation of capital through relocation is channeled to overseas shell corporations and private bank accounts and beyond into financial holdings and real estate. The accumulation of private wealth exceeds the sums invested in productive activity generating investments and wages. Massive perpetual tax evasion means higher regressive taxes on consumers (VAT) and wage and salaried workers, reductions in social services, and austerity budgets targeting food, family and fuel subsidies

The past thirty years of deregulated capitalism and financial liberalization, is a product of the financial takeover of state regulatory agencies. The signing of free trade agreements has provided the framework for large scale long-term illicit financial flows.

While illicit financial flows have financed some productive activities, the bulk has vastly expanded the financial sector. The absorption of illicit flows by the financial elite has led to greater inequalities of wealth between the 1% – 10% and the rest of the labor force.

Illicit earnings via mega swindles among the largest and most respected US and EU banks, has curtailed the amount of capital which is available for production, profits, wages and taxes. The circuits of illicit capital flows militate against any form of long-term economic development – outside of the wealth absorbing elites which control both the financial and political centers of decision-making.

The growth and ascendancy of financial elites which pillage public treasuries, resources and productive activity, is the result of an eminently political process. The origins of de-regulation, free trade and the promotion of illicit flows are all made possible by state authorities.

First and foremost, finance capital conquered state power – with the cooperation of “productive capital”. The peaceful transition reflected the interlocking directorates between banks and industry, aided and abetted by public officials rotating between government and investment houses.

The entire African continent was pillaged by billionaire rulers, many former nationalist politicians (South Africa), ex-guerilla and ‘liberation leaders’ (Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau), in collaboration with US, EU, Chinese, Russian and Israeli oligarchs. Trillions of dollars were laundered by bankers in London, New York, Zurich, Tel Aviv and Paris. Growth of the commodity sector bolstered Africa’s decade long expanding GDP – and the mega-outflows of illicit earnings.

World-wide, billionaires multiplied profits ‘received’, but wages, salaries, pensions and health coverage declined! Swindles multiplied as outflows accelerated in both directions. The higher the growth in China, India, Indonesia and South Korea the bigger and more pervasive the corruption and outflows of wealth-led by “Communist” neo-liberals in China, Indian “free marketers” and Russian “economic reformers”.

The World Bank’s and IMF’s proposed “economic reforms”  ‘freed’ the incipient political kleptocrats of controls and unleashed two-sided illicit financial flows – laundering funds from abroad and establishing trillion dollar offshore tax dodging citadels.

Illicit swindles dwarfed earnings from ‘capital accumulation’. The relations between capital and labor were framed by the organization and policies dictated by the directors and operators of the trillion-dollar financial networks based on the pillage of treasuries and the wealth of nations.

The center of China’s growth is shifting from manufacturing and the exploitation of labor, to real estate and “financial services”, as worker’s demand and secure double-digit increases in wages. The exploiters of labor turned predators of the national treasury.  Under the pretext of “stimulating” the construction sector, real estate speculators in tow with Communist Party officials, absconded with over a trillion dollars from 2009 to 2014. According to Jonathan Anderson of the Emerging Advisors Group “over a trillion dollars” has gone missing in China in the past five years (Financial Times, 28/11/14, p 1.).

Factories still produce, agro-business still exports, the paper value of high tech companies has risen into the high billions, but the ruling 1% of the system stands or falls with the illicit financial flows drawn from the pillage of treasuries. To replenish pillaged treasuries, regimes insist on perpetual ‘austerity’ for the 90%: greater pillage for the 1%, less public revenues for health care which results in more epidemics. Less funds for pensions means later retirement — work till you die.

The plunder of the economy is accompanied by unending wars – because war contracts are a major source of illicit financial flows. Plunder oligarchs share with militarists a deep and abiding belief in pillage of countries and destruction of productive resources.  The one reinforces the other in an eternal embrace – defied only by insurgents who embrace a moral economy and who proclaim the need for a total change – a new civilization.

Nov 212014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

There are clear signs that a major war is about to break out in Ukraine: A war actively promoted by the NATO regimes and supported by their allies and clients in Asia (Japan) and the Middle East (Saudi Arabia). The war over Ukraine will essentially run along the lines of a full-scale military offensive against the southeast Donbas region, targeting the breakaway ethnic Ukraine-Russian Peoples Republic of Donetsk and Lugansk, with the intention of deposing the democratically elected government, disarming the popular militias, killing the guerrilla resistance partisans and their mass base, dismantling the popular representative organizations and engaging in ethnic cleansing of millions of bilingual Ukraino-Russian citizens. NATO’s forthcoming military seizure of the Donbas region is a continuation and extension of its original violent putsch in Kiev, which overthrew an elected Ukrainian government in February 2014.

The Kiev junta and its newly ‘elected’ client rulers, and its NATO sponsors are intent on a major purge to consolidate the puppet Poroshenko’s dictatorial rule. The recent NATO-sponsored elections excluded several major political parties that had traditionally supported the country’s large ethnic minority populations, and was boycotted in the Donbas region. This sham election in Kiev set the tone for NATO’s next move toward converting Ukraine into one gigantic US multi-purpose military base aimed at the Russian heartland and into a neo-colony for German capital, supplying Berlin with grain and raw materials while serving as a captive market for German manufactured goods.

An intensifying war fever is sweeping the West; the consequences of this madness appear graver by the hour.

War Signs: The Propaganda and Sanctions Campaign, the G20 Summit and the Military Build Up

The official drum- beat for a widening conflict in Ukraine, spearheaded by the Kiev junta and its fascist militias, echoes in every Western mass media outlet, every day. Major mass media propaganda mills and government ‘spokesmen and women’ publish or announce new trumped-up accounts of growing Russian military threats to its neighbors and cross-border invasions into Ukraine. New Russian incursions are ‘reported’ from the Nordic borders and Baltic states to the Caucuses. The Swedish regime creates a new level of hysteria over a mysterious “Russian” submarine off the coast of Stockholm, which it never identifies or locates – let alone confirms the ‘sighting’. Estonia and Latvia claim Russian warplanes violated their air space without confirmation. Poland expels Russian “spies” without proof or witnesses. Provocative full-scale joint NATO-client state military exercises are taking place along Russia’s frontiers in the Baltic States, Poland, Romania and Ukraine.

NATO is sending vast arms shipments to the Kiev junta, along with “Special Forces” advisers and counter-insurgency experts in anticipation of a full-scale attack against the rebels in the Donbas.

The Kiev regime has never abided by the Minsk cease fire. According to the UN Human Rights office 13 people on average – mostly civilians – have been killed each day since the September cease fire. In eight weeks, the UN reports that 957 people have killed – overwhelmingly by Kiev’s armed forces.

The Kiev regime, in turn, has cut all basic social and public services to the Peoples’ Republics’, including electricity, fuel, civil service salaries, pensions, medical supplies, salaries for teachers and medical workers, municipal workers wages; banking and transport have been blockaded.

The strategy is to further strangle the economy, destroy the infrastructure, force an even greater mass exodus of destitute refugees from the densely populated cities across the border into Russia and then to launch massive air, missile, artillery and ground assaults on urban centers as well as rebel bases.

The Kiev junta has launched an all-out military mobilization in the Western regions, accompanied by rabid anti-Russian, anti-Eastern Orthodox indoctrination campaigns designed to attract the most violent far right chauvinist thugs and to incorporate the Nazi-style military brigades into the frontline shock troops. The cynical use of irregular fascist militias will ‘free’ NATO and Germany from any responsibility for the inevitable terror and atrocities in their campaign. This system of ‘plausible deniability’ mirrors the tactics of the German Nazis whose hordes of fascist Ukrainians and Ustashi Croats were notorious in their epoch of ethnic cleansing.

G20-plus-NATO: Support of the Kiev Blitz

To isolate and weaken resistance in the Donbas and guarantee the victory of the impending Kiev blitz, the EU and the US are intensifying their economic, military and diplomatic pressure on Russia to abandon the nascent peoples’ democracy in the south-east region of Ukraine, their principle ally.

Each and every escalation of economic sanctions against Russia is designed to weaken the capacity of the Donbas resistance fighters to defend their homes, towns and cities. Each and every Russian shipment of essential medical supplies and food to the besieged population evokes a new and more hysterical outburst – because it counters Kiev-NATO strategy of starving the partisans and their mass base into submission or provoking their flight to safety across the Russian border.

After suffering a series of defeats, the Kiev regime and its NATO strategists decided to sign a ‘peace protocol’, the so-called Minsk agreement, to halt the advance of the Donbas resistance into the southern regions and to protect its Kiev’s soldiers and militias holed-up in isolated pockets in the East. The Minsk agreement was designed to allow the Kiev junta to build up its military, re-organize its command and incorporate the disparate Nazi militias into its overall military forces in preparation for a ‘final offensive’.  Kiev’s military build-up on the inside and NATO’s escalation of sanctions against Russia on the outside would be two sides of the same strategy: the success of a frontal attack on the democratic resistance of the Donbas basin depends on minimizing Russian military support through international sanctions.

NATO’s virulent hostility to Russian President Putin was on full display at the G20 meeting in Australia: NATO-linked presidents and prime ministers, especially Merkel, Obama, Cameron, Abbott, and Harper’s political threats and overt personal insults paralleled Kiev’s growing starvation blockade of the besieged rebels and population centers in the south-east. Both the G20’s economic threats against Russia and the diplomatic isolation of Putin and Kiev’s economic blockade are preludes to NATO’s Final Solution – the physical annihilation of all vestiges of Donbas resistance, popular democracy and cultural-economic ties with Russia.

Kiev depends on its NATO mentors to impose a new round of severe sanctions against Russia, especially if its planned invasion encounters a well armed and robust mass resistance bolstered by Russian support. NATO is counting on Kiev’s restored and newly supplied military capacity to effectively destroy the southeast centers of resistance.

NATO has decided on an ‘all-or-nothing campaign’: to seize all of Ukraine or, failing that, destroy the restive southeast, obliterate its population and productive capacity and engage in an all-out economic (and possibly shooting) war with Russia. Chancellor Angela Merkel is on board with this plan despite the complaints of German industrialists over their huge loss of export sales to Russia. President Hollande of France has signed on dismissing the complaints of trade unionists over the loss of thousands French jobs in the shipyards. Prime Minister David Cameron is eager for an economic war against Moscow, suggesting the bankers of the City of London find new channels to launder the illicit earnings of Russian oligarchs.

The Russian Response

Russian diplomats are desperate to find a compromise, which allows Ukraine’s ethnic Ukraine- Russian population in the southeast to retain some autonomy under a federation plan and regain influence within the ‘new’ post-putsch Ukraine. Russian military strategists have provided logistical and military aid to the resistance in order to avoid a repeat of the Odessa massacre of ethnic Russians by Ukrainian fascists on a massive scale. Above all, Russia cannot afford to have NATO-Nazi-Kiev military bases along its southern ‘underbelly’, imposing a blockade of the Crimea and forcing a mass exodus of ethnic Russians from the Donbas. Under Putin, the Russian government has tried to propose compromises allowing Western economic supremacy over Ukraine but without NATO military expansion and absorption by Kiev.

That policy of conciliation has repeatedly failed.

The democratically elected ‘compromise regime’ in Kiev was overthrown in February 2014 in a violent putsch, which installed a pro-NATO junta.

Kiev violated the Minsk agreement with impunity and encouragement from the NATO powers and Germany.

The recent G20 meeting in Australia featured a rabble-rousing chorus against President Putin. The crucial four-hour private meeting between Putin and Merkel turned into a fiasco when Germany parroted the NATO chorus.

Putin finally responded by expanding Russia’s air and ground troop preparedness along its borders while accelerating Moscow’s economic pivot to Asia.

Most important, President Putin has announced that Russia cannot stand by and allow the massacre of a whole people in the Donbas region.

Is Poroshenko’s forthcoming blitz against the people of southeast Ukraine designed to provoke a Russian response – to the humanitarian crisis? Will Russia confront the NATO-directed Kiev offensive and risk a total break with the West?

James Petras latest book is THE POLITICS OF IMPERIALISM: THE US, ISRAEL AND THE MIDDLE EAST (CLARITY PRESS:ATLANTA)

Nov 142014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

The meteoric rise to power of Barack Obama in 2008 was propelled by one of the greatest demagogic US Presidential campaigns of all time: To millions of young Americans, he promised to end the US wars in the Middle East. To millions of working and middle class voters, he promised to end the economic crisis by confronting Wall Street. To women, he promised to protect and expand their social rights and end the gender gap in wages and salaries. To human rights and civil liberties activists, he promised to end police state surveillance and torture, and to close the Guantanamo concentration camp, which had denied political prisoners a fair and open trial. To blacks, he promised higher living standards and greater racial equality in income. To Latino-Americans, he promised immigration reform facilitating a path to citizenship for long-term residents. Overseas he spoke in Cairo of a “new chapter” in US policy toward the Muslim world. To Russia, he promised President Putin he would ‘reset relations’ – toward greater co-operation.

Obama’s rhetorical flourishes attracted millions of young activists, women and minority voters  and leaders to work for his election and the Democratic Party. He won a resounding victory! And the Democrats took control of the House and Senate.

Obama Embraces the Rightwing Agenda

The rhetorical exercise was a massive smoke screen. For his electoral campaign Obama raised over one billion dollars from the ‘1%’ – Wall Street bankers, Hollywood media moguls, Silicon Valley venture capitalists, Chicago Zionists and the Mid-Western business elite. Obama was clearly playing a double game – talking to “the people” and working for ‘the bosses’.

A few analysts cut through the demagogy and identified Obama as the ‘Greatest Con-Man of recent times”, the Washington counterpart of the great contemporary Wall Street swindler Bernard ‘Bernie’ Madoff.

According to the somewhat more skeptical liberals and progressives, Obama would have to ‘choose’ between those who elected him and those who groomed and bankrolled him.

Obama quickly and decisively resolved the progressives’ ‘dilemma’. He re-appointed the two central officials who designed disgraced President Bush Jr’s war policy and Wall Street bailout: Robert Gates was confirmed as Secretary of Defense and Timothy Geithner was renewed as Treasury Secretary. Obama followed by teaming up with the head of the Federal Reserve, Benjamin Shalom Bernacke and Treasury Secretary Geithner to launch a multi-year trillion dollar bailout of Wall Street, while hundreds of thousands of Obama voters had their mortgages foreclosed and millions of workers, who voted Democratic were fired and remained unemployed, because Washington prioritized Wall Street recovery of profitability over funding job-creating public works.

In response, millions of indignant citizens repudiated the Washington bailout and Congress temporarily shelved approval. However, the White House and the Democratic majority in both Houses, reversed course and approved the biggest State –to- Bankers handout in US – or for that matter, world – history.

If the Obama’s ‘First Wave of Reaction’ appointed powerful Wall Street clones and Pentagon war hawks to his cabinet and the ‘Second Wave of Reaction’ led to sacrificing workers’ incomes, employment and living standards, so that Wall Street could return to profitability, and the ‘Third Wave of Reaction’ was the escalation of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama has dispatched tens of thousands of US combat troops to ‘end the war by expanding the war’!

The Democratic Electorate Strikes Back: 2010

By the end of 2010, sufficient masses of Obama and Democratic voters were disenchanted to the point of notvoting in the Congressional elections: The Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives.

The most lucid and clearheaded progressives understood that nothing more was to be gained by waiting patiently ‘at the gate, like benighted pilgrims’ for their president Obama’s gaze to ‘turn left’ or for the Democrats to reverse course in Congress. Hundreds of thousands of citizens shook off the trickster’s spell and took to the streets blocking financial districts. ‘Occupy Wall Street’ – direct action in the streets, citizens clearly targeted the principle source of the economic crisis and the real power behind the demagogic rhetoric of the White House confidence man.

Federal, state and local police broke up, arrested and incarcerated the peaceful activists. The Occupy Wall Street movement, under massive and coordinated police-state siege, and without political direction, dispersed and disintegrated.

The ‘Fourth Wave of reaction’ was illuminated by the Snowden revelations of National Security Agency (NSA) intrusive spying into the lives of hundreds of millions of Americans as well as allied leaders in four continents – and unimaginable numbers of citizens in countries around the world. The White House gave unconditional backing to the entire, gargantuan police state apparatus and its unconstitutional intervention into everyday life of individuals and their families. Hundreds of thousands of civil libertarians, human rights activists and attorneys and millions of liberal democrats were shocked by Obama’s blatant refusal to rein-in or even acknowledge the enormous scope of illegal domestic spying.

The ‘Fifth Wave of Reaction’ was the cumulative impact of five years of nurturing Wall Street profits and ignoring working and middle class income and declining living standards. Thanks to virtually free federal ‘bailout’ money, Wall Street borrowed and invested overseas  -reaping returns triple the miniscule interest rates in the US. They speculated on the stock market. The ‘D-J boom’ continued for five years while real incomes of most Americans continued to decline. Young Democratic voters, who had believed the con-man, remained mired at entry level jobs barely paying room and board. The ‘Audacity of Hope’ became the ‘Humiliation of Return’ into their parents’ homes for millions of young workers unable to support themselves…

Disenchantment Deepens

            Millions of Latino citizens, who were conned into believing that Obama would provide a ‘road-map to citizenship’ for twelve million fellow immigrants, discovered that the real Obama  policy toward immigrants was a ‘road map to violent arrest, incarceration and deportation’: A record two million immigrants were expelled in five years, exceeding the totals of all previous Presidents, even the most rabid rightwing Republicans.

Probably the most egregious and cynical con-job of all was the mega-con Obama perpetrated on Afro-Americans. More than any other group in the US, Afro-Americans have supported Barack Obama:  Ninety-five percent voted for the ‘First Afro-American President’.

Under President Obama, Afro-Americans have lost more personal wealth than under any president since the Great Depression. Many key indicators show that the economic conditions of Afro-Americans have worsened dramatically under Obama.

According to the US Federal Reserve’s survey of consumer finances, between 2009-2014, non-white household incomes have declined by nearly a tenth to $33,000 a year. Median incomes fell by five percent.  Data on net wealth – assets minus liabilities – tells an even more brutal story. The median non-white family today has a net worth of just $18,100 – almost a fifth lower than it was when Obama took office. In contrast, white median wealth increased by one percent to $142,000. In 2009 white households were seven times richer than blacks; that gap is now eightfold. Both in relative and absolute terms, black Americans are doing much worse under President Obama. His ‘Wall Street First’agenda (bailing out the banksters and mortgage swindlers) has relegated Afro-Americans to last place. Racial inequalities have deepened because Obama, who may have ‘shot some hoops’ on an urban ghetto playground and dressed up as a  ‘black role model’, in fact, oversaw an increasingly segregated and deteriorating school system. In Washington, he marginalized African-American concerns about double digit rates of unemployment in Detroit and other urban centers, while offering pompous, stern ‘moral’ lectures to unemployed blacks about their ‘family responsibilities’.

Obama’s demagogy and deceptive populist posturing  bamboozled most progressive voters for a period of time, but after five waves of reaction, many of the activists ‘wised up’ – first in the streets and then in the elections – by refusing to vote for Democrats running in the Congressional elections of 2014.

The Democratic Debacle of 2014

The major reason for the Democrat’s debacle in the ‘mid-term elections’ was the high rate of abstention and lack of activists getting out the vote.In many states, where the Democrats lost, the overall rate of abstention among eligible voters approached seventy percent. And there is reason to believe that the vast majority of non-voters (aka – the ‘none of the above’ voters) were Democrats, people disenchanted or hostile to Obama’s betrayals and, in particular, voters who believed that he had deceived or ‘conned them’.

Young people’s participation in this election, a major factor in mobilizing voters for Obama in 2008 and 2012 and doubly deceived, were notable by their absence: Young voters’ share of the electorate declined from 19% in 2012 to 13% in 2014. Parallel declines were documented in Latino-American and Afro-American turn-outs.

For those who voted, nearly half (45%) said that the ‘economy was the key consideration’ and by economy they didn’t mean Wall Street’s booming profits, or record high Dow Jones Stock quotes, which White House Democrats had hailed as their ‘economic success’. For the American middle and working class voters ‘ the economy’ that drove some to vote on November 4, 2014, was measured in the deterioration of affordable health insurance coverage and pension plans, the decline of living standards and the growth of ‘dead-end’ low-paid, contingent employment that rendered the lives and future increasingly unstable.

Most former Obama voters did not defect to the Republicans: They realized that both Democrats and Republicans were responsible for the domestic economy-busting decade-long wars and Wall Street hand-outs. They didnot vote: Most abstained!  Some former Democrats and Independents, and not a few Republicans, turned their anti-Obama animus into a rabid racist rant against the black President and extended their anger toward people of color in generalObama’s con game has aroused deep racist undercurrents in US politics.

If his image as the first African-American President inspired a moment of hope and promise for greater racial equality in this country, his reactionary economic policies in practice allowed rightwing politicians to divert white worker and middle class economic discontent away from the criminals and swindlers on Wall Street to racist hostility toward the beleaguered black communities.

Post-Elections:  The Con-Man is Cornered

The new Republican Congressional majorities will continue to implement the fundamental economic and foreign policies of the Obama regime. Wall Street profits will continue to grow, income disparities between capital and labor will continue to sharpen and the highly militarized foreign policy of the last six years will become more overtly bi-partisan. The Democratic President will join with the Republican Congress in pursuing military confrontations in the Ukraine and in sending more US troops to Syria and Iraq.  Under pressure from Israel and its powerful US supporters, increased sanctions against Iran will scuttle US negotiations with Tehran. Obama’s blockade of Cuba will continue, as will bi-partisan hostility to center-left governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil and Argentina. The grotesque narco-state terror and mass murder in Mexico and Central America will continue to fuel the massive refugee pressure on the US border and expose the hypocrisy of Washington’s humanitarian military missions in the Middle East.

The Republicans rode to power by exploiting discontent with Obama’s ‘Five Waves’ of reactionary policies; they will now co-operate with him in launching a ‘6th Wave’. The Republican Congressional majority will embraceObama’s proposal to ‘fast-track’ free trade treaties covering Asia and Europe, currently blocked by House Democrats and opposed by US trade unions.

The Republicans will join with Obama in backing corporate tax ‘reform’, which substantially reduces the tax on US multinational corporations’ overseas earnings in order to end the hoarding of profits in low tax countries – while intensifying austerity on American workers and the poor.

In other words, Obama will now openly coordinate with his Republican counterparts on an agenda they have shared from the first day he took office. This time Barack Obama, the Con-Man, will have to play it straight and cut the populist palaver –  Republicans and their business partners demand economic payoffs and overseas military victories. Obama, the ‘cowering Con-Man’, has been unmasked by progressives and is cornered by the Republicans … and they have no further use for his confab

James Petras latest book is the Politics of Empire:The U.S, Israel and the Middle East @ claritypress@usa.net

Nov 042014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Washington escalates its military interventions abroad, launching simultaneous air and ground attacks in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan; multiplying drone attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia; training, arming and financing proxy mercenaries in Jordan, the Gulf States and Iraq; and dispatching National Guard battalions to West Africa, ostensibly to combat the Ebola epidemic, though they lack the most elementary public health capabilities. All in all the US spent $3.5 trillion for military invasions over 6 years.

At the same time, the US domestic public health services have deteriorated. At the state and local level, like Dallas, Texas and at the national level, officials and major institutions demonstrate an inability to effectively detect and manage cases of Ebola infections among the general population in a timely manner. An infected Liberian immigrant was not diagnosed correctly when he presented to a major Dallas hospital emergency room. Instead he received irrelevant and unnecessary ‘imaging studies’ and was sent home with oral antibiotics. This confirmed the widespread belief that Emergency Room physicians and nurses are under pressure from their administration to order costly CT scans and MRI’s on patients as a way to make money for the hospital and to cover-up their incompetence at basic patient history and physical examination. Despite the patient’s informing hospital workers of his recent arrival from Liberia, an Ebola outbreak hot-spot, personnel did not put on basic protective gowns, gloves, hoods and masks and they allowed the febrile, vomiting, desperately sick man to contaminate large areas of the emergency department, waiting room and MRI suite. Quarantine was not even considered. . . .

The director of the Dallas hospital covered up for his organization’s incompetence by a series of victim blaming – the patient, the computer system, the nurses …  National health guidelines may have been inadequate at the time, but Ebola was clearly on the national radar and the CDC had provided basic guidelines and measures. All hospitals have infectious control committees, disaster preparedness committees and receive state and national alerts.

As the crisis and public panic deepened, President Obama engaged in vigorous political fund-raising.  Meanwhile, Vice President Biden was preoccupied by his 40+ year-old son’s expulsion from the Navy Reserve for cocaine use. The Defense Secretary was busy picking targets to bomb in Syria and Iraq …

The Cabinet met over ‘National Security’ issues like ISIS, expanding military interventions around the world, while US medical personnel, international travelers and their family members, as well as average American citizens felt more threatened by the apparent breakdown of the public health system, both at the local and national levels, in the face of a deadly viral infection.

The inadequacy, indeed breakdown, of the US public health system as it confronts the first cases of Ebola in the US and the simultaneous escalation of military intervention in Syria and Iraq typifies, in microcosm, the demise of the US republic accompanying the rise of the US military empire.

The Dallas hospital, which had at first turned a desperately sick Liberian immigrant away, was run as a for-profit enterprise, directed by business managers eager for high returns and dismissive of basic health procedures and even more  of the advice of competent, experienced health workers: They had made their biggest investments in high technology and multi-million dollar equipment, irrelevant to the diagnosis and treatment of tropical and infectious diseases. The pressure to use the most expensive technology inappropriately and recoup the corporate investment, resulted in a deadly delay in diagnosis and contaminated at least a dozen health care workers. The corporate hospital director eventually apologized for their ‘mistakes’.  But the fault goes far beyond “bad decisions”: The procedures and protocols are built into the ‘for profit’ model emphasizing the need show a healthy ‘return’ on multi-million dollar advanced technological investments. There is a stark contrast between the high tech advances in imaging and surgery in a modern American hospital and the regressive, socially backward ignorance of the socio-medico context in which critically ill, infectious patients are embedded. It is as if such patients are not supposed to enter the techno-medical world where only the most highly remunerative procedures and protocols are available for those … who can pay.

At the deeper level, the entire national public health system is increasingly dependent on the formulation of rules and flows of information, corrupted and distorted by ‘market demands’ and political priorities heavily weighted toward  expanding the police state at home and militarism abroad. These political priorities in turn, are influenced by the massive shift in resources to support the permanent war policies of the Obama regime and the US Congress.

The proliferation and escalation of military interventions dominates the Obama Administration’s real agenda. According to Assistant Secretary of State for Eastern European Affairs, Victoria Nuland, six billion dollars of public money was spent on subverting the elected government of the Ukraine – $6 billion shifted from US domestic sectors, like health care and real disaster preparedness. Meanwhile hundreds of hospitals have been closed in most major US cities and rural clinics abandoned for lack of personnel. The entire health care system, in its current ‘for profit’ corporate form is devoid of competent, effective leadership. On the other hand, the US military is seen as the solution to the world’s (and increasingly domestic) problems, while the social roots of conflict and disaster are ignored with contempt.

The militarization of the minds of our political leaders has led to the most grotesque decisions: In the face of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, the Obama regime has sent 2000 National Guard combatants to Africa. These are soldiers who lack the most elementary knowledge, skill, capability and training to deal with the complexities of a major public health crisis in a devastated, war torn part of the world. One must recall how Washington pressured the United Nations to send ‘Peace-keepers’ to Haiti after the earthquake – UN soldiers from Nepal, who brought not peace but an epidemic of cholera killing additional tens of thousands of Haitian civilians. The immediate question regarding US National Guard troops in West Africa is not whether they can build rural clinics or maintain camps of quarantined Africans, the real concern is whether these heavily armed ‘health aides’ can avoid being infected and bringing Ebola home. This concern has now led the Pentagon to impose mandatory quarantine on its own soldiers returning from West Africa – a knee-jerk reaction motivated more by fear-mongering than science.

In contrast, Cuba has sent hundreds of highly skilled health workers, who form teams with proven track records in confronting public health crises in the tropics and elsewhere. Cuban teams include skilled epidemiologists who develop effective local programs, based on real-time, on-the-ground fact-finding and assessment of available resources. The enormous differences between the Cuban and US responses to the Ebola crisis reflects the profound contrast in their social and health systems: Cuba has a free national health system and strong public health and civil defense structures using rigorous procedures and effective guidelines to set up clinics and camps appropriate to the objective conditions. They emphasize the social context of disease and are not invested in expensive high tech medical equipment and tests irrelevant to the challenges at hand. Their budget is not skewed toward promoting imperial wars: for the Cubans health and welfare is an integral political priority.

In contrast ‘health care’ in the US has become big business while military metaphysics dominate the minds and policies of the political and business elite. The deterioration of basic health care delivery in general and the public health sector in particular is not only a consequence of a failure of political leadership, it also reflects the recurring and deepening economic crises. Under the ‘War on Terrorism’ fear-mongering over bio-weapons, namely threatened Anthrax attacks, tens of billions of public money was diverted from public health at the national and state level and the corrupted, crippled system has never recovered.

The economic crisis, gripping the US, the European Union (EU) and beyond, is clearly manifested in the stagnation of the US economy. The private corporate elite, who form the ruling class, are unable to sustain growth without massive US Treasury subsidies ($4.5 trillion dollars, according to the Financial Times (10/14/14). The US has experienced extreme volatility in its stock market, together with the impoverishment of its working class and diminution of its middle class. Heightened social inequalities are everywhere, especially in access to decent, effective health care. In the EU, Germany’s economy is plunging from zero to negative growth, while France, Italy and Holland are in deep recession. Greece, Spain and Portugal are in a prolonged depression, burdened by unpayable debts and unable to escape the downward social and economic spiral because of austerity programs imposed by Brussels.

Washington’s war policies, the concentration of state resources on financing military invasions and subsidizing the grossly inflated financial sector, account for the fatal deterioration of health and welfare services in the US. Growing majorities feel the pain, and many more are alienated from the Presidential and Congressional elite – as well as from their own corrupt, incompetent local elected officials.

To safeguard the power of the military-financial elite, the political rulers have resorted to a series of “Horror Shows” – orchestrating vast propaganda spectacles designed to strike fear and loathing of ‘external enemies’ among the American public, in order to secure their submission and obedience to police state policies.

Recently, there was the lurid media shock of the Muslim terrorists in ‘ISIS’ beheading two American captives. The public ‘horror’ was manipulated to justify the large-scale US military re-entry in Iraq and the air war against Syria – policies largely opposed by the war-weary US citizenry.

Close on the heels of the ‘beheading’ atrocities, came the spectacle of a fearsome African “Ebola” epidemic, spreading to the US and threatening Americans with brutally painful deaths … This was used to justify Obama’s sending of thousands of US National Guard to West Africa to act as “health workers”.

The total collapse of the public health systems throughout Africa follows decades of civil wars, fomented by US and EU military policies, in order to plunder Africa’s economies and rich natural resources – while marketing Western arms and mercenaries. Militarizing the problems of Africa and creating millions of refugees has naturally led to plagues – Ebola today, malaria yesterday and other infectious diseases and miseries tomorrow.

The immensely complex and catastrophic health crisis in West Africa is the stark backdrop to years of western propaganda hailing the massive growth of foreign investment in Africa’s extractive sectors – notably energy and mining. The business press (Financial Times, Economist, Wall Street Journal…) featured images of “Africa; the Sleeping Giant Awakes”, describing of emergence of wealthy mineral enclaves powered by large-scale foreign investments, creating vast private foreign and local fortunes while ignoring the sea of massive poverty, broken public health clinics, non-existent schools and devastating living conditions, as well as the war-lord ravaged masses of refugees fleeing the fights over mineral-rich lands. This created the ‘perfect storm’ for the emergence and spread of epidemics – like Ebola.

In Africa, under IMF and Western corporate dictates, entire budgets and foreign aid programs were channeled to finance infrastructure (roads, transport, ports, etc.) for extractive imperialism – while virtually nothing, in terms of public policy, was or is allocated to basic public health and preventative medicine. The ‘focused’ programs of the ‘Gates Foundation’ and others served to divert African health workers and resources to the ‘NGO’s, rather than national, priorities and encouraged the flight of African doctors and nurses to the West.

The recent cases of Ebola in the US highlight the deterioration of national and local public health systems – the result of deregulation, privatization and corporatization of the medicine. The ‘profit ethos’ permeates medical care in the US. Cutbacks in preventive medicine, divorcing medical care from the social context of illness, as well as the lack of accountability and transparency in the face of erroneous diagnoses and inappropriate or incompetent care are consequences of the larger failures in public policy. This also explains the emergence and rampant spread of multi-drug resistant bacterial infections within the hospitals and out in the communities. The preference for expensive, profitable techno-medicine (marketed as ‘personalized’ health care) over competent ‘hands on’, science-based medicine rooted in an understanding of objective social conditions, has fueled the crisis and spread mass confusion among the public.

When the government engages in long-term, large-scale wars abroad, when the Treasury allocates trillions of public dollars to Wall Street for the better part of a decade, when the government secures submission (“consent”) via horror scenarios that replace public accountability with fear and loathing, we, the US public pay a steep price in public health under autocratic elite rule.

The recent ‘police-state’ response to an American nurse, Kaci Hickox, highlights the corrupt arrogance of US politicians and opinion leaders, long accustomed to control via fear-mongering and criminalizing dissent. The fact that Nurse ‘Kaci’ arrived at ‘Liberty’ International Airport in perfect health from her months of heroic work in West Africa where she set up clinics and hospitals to help stem the Ebola crisis at its sources, did not dissuade the thuggish governor of New Jersey from confining her, like an animal, in a clear plastic cage in the parking lot of a Newark hospital. Her successful fight for freedom against this arbitrary confinement exposed Governor Cristie and his side-kick, New York Governor Cuomo, as ignorant bellowing thugs, intent on making her ‘an example’. Nurse Kaci Hickox’ victory of science and civil rights over brutal scare-mongering may be temporary – as the tendency has long been to militarize crises and erode citizen rights.

The American public is beginning to understand the relationship between this policy of scaremongering, the bail-out of billionaires and rampant militarism with the daily erosion of their standard of living, health and security and civil rights.It will take more than a Nurse ‘Kaci’ to reverse the tide, but one tough competent nurse has set a glorious example.

Nov 022014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

open-up-democracys-coming

Introduction

The principal reason why Washington engages in military wars, sanctions and clandestine operations to secure power abroad is because its chosen clients cannot and do not win free and open elections.

A brief survey of recent election outcomes testify to the electoral unattractiveness of Washington backed clients. The majority of  democratic electorates rejects candidates and parties which back the US global agenda: neo-liberal economic policies; a highly militarized foreign policy; Israeli colonization and annexation of Palestine; the concentration of wealth in the financial sector; the military escalation against China and Russia. While the US policy attempts to re-impose the pillage and dominance of the 1990’s via recycled client regimes the democratic electorates want to move on toward less bellicose, more inclusive governments, which restore labor and welfare rights.

The US seeks to impose the unipolar world, of the Bush Sr. and Clinton era, failing to recognize the vast changes in the world economy, including the rise of China and Russia as world powers, the emergence of the BRIC and other regional organizations and above all the growth of popular democratic consciousness.

Failing to convince electorates by reason or manipulation, Washington has opted to intervene by force, and to finance organizations to subvert the democratic electoral process. The frequent resort to bullets and economic coercion when ballots fail to produce the “appropriate outcome testifies to the profoundly reactionary nature of US foreign policy. Reactionary in the double sense of ends and means. Progmatically, the imperial centered socio-economic policies deepen inequalities and depress living standards. The means to achieve power, the instruments of policy, include wars, intervention, covert operations, are more akin to extremists, quasi-fascist, far right regimes.

Free Elections and the Rejection of US Clients

US backed electoral parties and candidates have suffered defeats throughout most of the world, despite generous financial backing and international mass media propaganda campaigns. What is striking about the negative voting outcomes is the fact that the vast majority of adversaries are neither anti-capitalist nor ‘socialist’. What is equally striking is that all of the US clients are rightist or far-rightist parties and leaders. In other words the polarization is usually between center-left and rightist parties; the choice is between reform or reaction, between an independent or satellite foreign policy.

Washington and Latin America:  Masters of Defeats

Over the past decade, Washington has backed losing neo-liberal candidates throughout Latin America and then sought to subvert the democratic outcome.

Bolivia

Since 2005, Evo Morales the center left leader favoring social reforms and an independent foreign policy has won three Presidential elections against Washington backed rightist parties, each time by a greater margin. In 2008, he ousted the US ambassador for intervening, expelled the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in 2008, USAID in 2013 and the Military Mission after foiling an aborted coup in Santa Cruz.

Venezuela

The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and its predecessor have won every Presidential and Congressional election (over a dozen) except one over the past 15 years despite US multi-million dollar funding of neo-liberal opposition parties. Unable to defeat the Chavez led radical-reform government, Washington backed a violent coup (2002), a boss’s lockout (2002/3), and decade’s long paramilitary attacks of pro-democracy leaders and activists.

Ecuador

The US has opposed the center-left government of President Correa for ousting it from the military base in Manta, renegotiating and repudiating some of its foreign debt and backing regional pacts which exclude the US. As a result Washington backed an abortive police led coup in 2010 that was quickly defeated.

Honduras

During democratically elected President Manual Zelaya’s tenure in office, a center-left President, Honduras sought to pursue closer relations with Venezuela in order to receive greater economic aid and to shed its reputation as a US dominated “banana republic”. Washington unable to defeat him at the ballot box, responded by supporting a military coup (2009) which ousted Zelaya and returned Honduras to the US fold. Since the coup Honduras has experienced more killings of popular leaders -200- than any country in Latin America.

Brazil

The center-left Workers Party has won four straight elections against US backed neo-liberal candidates beginning in 2002 and continuing through the 2014 elections. The US propaganda machine, including NSA’s spying on President Rousseff and the strategic state petrol company, Petrobras, and the international financial press went all out to discredit the reformist center-left government. To no avail! The voters preferred an ‘inclusive’ social liberal regime pursuing an independent foreign policy to an opposition embedded in the discredited socially regressive neo-liberal politics of the Cardoso regime (1994-2002). In the run-up to the 2014 elections Brazilian and US financial speculators attempted to strike fear in the electorate by betting against the currency (real) and driving the stock market into a precipitous fall. To no avail. Rousseff won with 52% of the vote.

Argentina

In Argentina a massive popular revolt overthrew the US backed neo-liberal regime of De la Rua in 2001. Subsequently, the electorate elected the center-left Kirchner government over the rightist, US backed  Menem candidacy in 2003. Kirchner pursued a reformist agenda imposing a moratorium on the debt and combining high economic growth with large scale social expenditures and an independent foreign policy. US opposition escalated with the election of his wife Cristina Fernandez. Financial elites, Wall Street, the US judiciary and Treasury intervened to destabilize the government, after failing to defeat Fernandez’s re-election. Extra-parliamentary financial pressures were matched by political and economic support for rightist politicians in preparation for the 2015 elections.

Earlier, in 1976, the US backed the military coup and political terror that led to the murder of 30,000 activists and militants. In 2014 the US backed a “financial coup” as a federal judge sided with vulture funds, sowing financial terror in international markets against a democratically elected government.

Paraguay

President Fernando Lugo was a moderate former Bishop who pursued a watered-down center-left agenda. Nevertheless, he raised issues that conflicted with Washington’s extremist agenda, including Paraguay’s membership in regional organizations that excluded the US (MERCOSUR). He appealed to the landless rural workers and he retained ties to other Latin American center-left regimes. He was deposed by Congress in 2012 in a highly dubious ‘institutional coup’, quickly supported by the White House and replaced by a straight-line neo-liberal, Federico Franco with tight links to Washington and hostile to Venezuela.

Globalizing US Threats to Democracy

US subversion of democracy when center-left political formations compete for power is not confined to Latin America – it has gone ‘global’.

Ukraine

The most egregious example is the Ukraine, where the US spent over $6 billion in over a decade and a half. Washington financed, organized, and promoted pro NATO shock troops to seize power against an elected regime (President Yevtushenko) which tried to balance ties between the West and Russia. In February 2014, an armed uprising and mob action led to the overthrow of the elected government and the imposition of a puppet regime totally beholden to the US. The violent putschists met resistance from a large swathe of pro-democracy activists in the Eastern region. The Kiev junta led by oligarch Petro Poroshenko dispatched air and ground troops to repress the popular resistance with the unanimous backing of the US and EU. When the rightist regime in Kiev moved to impose its rule over the Crimea and to break its military base treaty with Russia, the Crimean citizens voted, by a large margin (85%), to separate and merge with Russia.

In both the Ukraine and Crimea, US policy was directed toward imposing by force, the subordination of democracy to NATO’s drive to encircle Russia and undermine its democratically elected government.

Russia

Following the election of Vladimir Putin to the Presidency, the US organized and financed a large number of opposition “think tanks”, and NGO’s, to destabilize the government. Large scale demonstrations by well-funded NGO’s were given wide play by all the Western mass media.

Failing to secure an electoral majority and after suffering electoral defeats in the executive and legislative elections, Washington and the EU, using the pretext of Russian “intervention” in the Ukraine, launched a full scale economic war on Russia. Economic sanctions were enforced in the hopes of provoking economic collapse and a popular upheaval. Nothing of the sort occurred. Putin gained greater popularity and stature in Russia and consolidated its ties with China and the other BRIC countries.

In sum in the Ukraine, Crimea and Russia, facing independent elected governments, Washington resorted to a mob uprising, military encirclement and an escalation of economic sanctions.

Iran

Iran has periodic elections in which pro and anti-western parties compete. Iran has drawn the wrath of Washington because of its support for Palestinian liberation from the Israeli yoke; its opposition to the Gulf absolutist states; and its ties to Syria, Lebanon (Hezbollah) and post- Saddam Hussain Iraq. As a result, the US has imposed economic sanctions to cripple its economy and finances and has funded pro-Western neo-liberal opposition NGO’s and political factions. Unable to defeat the Islamist power elite electorally, it chooses to destabilize via sanctions in order to disrupt its economy and assassinations of scientists and cyber warfare.

Egypt

Washington backed the Hosni Mubarak dictatorship for over three decades. Following the popular uprising in 2011, which overthrew the regime, Washington retained and strengthened its ties to the Mubarak police, military and intelligence apparatus. While promoting an alliance between the military and the newly elected President Mohammed Morsi, Washington funded NGO’s, who acted to subvert the government through mass demonstrations. The military, under the leadership of US client General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, seized power, outlawed the Moslem Brotherhood and abolished democratic freedoms.

Washington quickly renewed military and economic aid to the Sisi dictatorship and stregthened its ties with the authoritarian regime. In line with US and Israeli policy, General Sisi tightened the blockade of Gaza, allied with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf despots, strengthened its ties with the IMF and implemented a regressive neo-liberal program by eliminating fuel and food subsidies and lowering taxes on big business. The US backed coup and restoration of dictatorship was the only way Washington could secure a loyal client relationship in North Africa.

Libya

The US and NATO and Gulf allies launched a war (2011) against the independent, nationalist Libyan government, as the only way to oust the popular, welfare government of Colonel Gadhafi. Unable to defeat him via internal subversion, unable to destabilize the economy, Washington and its NATO partners launched hundreds of bombing missions accompanied by arms transfers to local Islamic satraps, tribal, clan and other violent authoritarian groups. The subsequent ‘electoral process” lacking the most basic political guarantees, fraught by corruption, violence and chaos, led to several competing power centers. Washington’s decision to undermine democratic procedures led to a violent Hobbesian world, replacing a popular welfare regime with chaos and terrorism.

Palestine

Washington has pursued a policy of backing Israeli seizures and colonization of Palestinian territory, savage bombings and the mass destruction of Gaza. Israel determined to destroy the democratically elected Hamas government has received unconditional US backing. The Israeli colonial regime has imposed racist, armed colonies throughout the West Bank, financed by the US government, private investors and US Zionist donors. Faced with the choice between a democratically elected nationalist regime, Hamas, and a brutal militarist regime, Israel, US policymakers have never failed to back Israel in its quest to destroy the Palestinian mini-state.

Lebanon

The US, along with Saudi Arabia and Israel, has opposed the freely elected Hezbollah led coalition government formed in 2011. The US backed the Israeli invasion in 2006, which was defeated by the Hezbollah militias. Washington backed the rightwing Hariri led coalition (2008 – 2011) which was marginalized in 2011. It sought to destabilize the society by backing Sunni extremists especially in Northern Lebanon. Lacking popular electoral support to convert Lebanon into a US client state, Washington relies on Israeli military incursions and Syrian based terrorists to destabilize Lebanon’s democratically elected government.

Syria

Syria’s Bashar Assad regime has been the target of US, EU, Saudi and Israeli enmity because of its support for Palestine, its ties with Iraq, Iran, Russia and Hezbollah. Its opposition to the Gulf despotism and its refusal to become a US client state (like Jordan and Egypt) has been another source of NATO hostility. Under pressure from its internal democratic opposition and its external allies, Russia and Iran, the Bashar Assad regime convoked a conference of non-violent opposition parties, leaders and groups to find an electoral solution to the ongoing conflict. Washington and its NATO allies rejected a democratic electoral road to reconciliation. They and their Turkish and Gulf allies financed and armed thousands of Islamic extremists who invaded the country. Over a million refugees and 200,000 dead Syrians were a direct result of Washington’s decision to pursue “regime change” via armed conflict.

China

China has become the world’s largest economy. It has become a leading investment and trading country in the world. It has replaced the US and the EU in Asian, African and Latin American markets. Faced with peaceful economic competition and offers of mutually beneficial free trade agreements, Washington has chosen to pursue a policy of military encirclement, internal destabilization and Pan Pacific integration agreements that excludes China. The US has expanded military deployments and bases in Japan, Australia and the Philippines. It has heightened naval and air force surveillance just beyond China’s limits. It has fanned rival maritime claims of China’s neighbors, encroaching on vital Chinese waterways.

The US has supported violent Uighur separatists, Tibetan terrorists and protests in Hong Kong in order to fragment and discredit China’s rule over its sovereign territory. Fomenting separation via violent means results in harsh repression, which in turn can alienate a domestic constituency and provide grist for the Western media mills. The key to the US countering China’s economic ascent is political: fomenting domestic divisions and weakening central authority. The democratization which Chinese citizens favor has little resonance with US financed ‘democracy’ charades in Hong Kong or separatist violence in the provinces.

Washington’s effort to exclude China from major trade and investment agreements in Asia and elsewhere has been a laughable failure. The principle US “partners”, Japan and Australia are heavily dependent on the Chinese market. Washington’s (free trade) allies in Latin America, name Colombia, Peru, Chile and Mexico are eager to increase trade with China. India and Russia are signing off on multi-billion dollar trade and investment deals with China! Washington’s policy of economic exclusion miscarried in the first month!

In sum, Washington’s decision to pursue confrontation over conciliation and partnership; military encirclement over co-operation; exclusion over inclusion, goes counter to a democratic foreign policy designed to promote democracy in China and elsewhere. An authoritarian choice in pursuit of unachievable Asian supremacy is not a virtue; it is a sign of weakness and decay.

Conclusion

In our global survey of US policy toward democracy, center-left governments and free elections we find overwhelming evidence of systematic US hostility and opposition. The political essence of the “war on terrorism” is Washington’s world-wide long-term pernicious assault on independent governments, especially center-left democratic regimes engaged in serious efforts to reduce poverty and inequality.

Washington’s methods of choice range from financing rightist political parties via USAID and NGO’s, to supporting violent military coups; from backing street mobs engaged in destabilization campaigns to air and ground invasions. Washington’s animus to democratic processes is not confined to any region, religious, ethnic or racial group. The US has bombed black Africans in Libya; organized coups in Latin America against Indians and Christians in Bolivia; supported wars against Muslims in Iraq, Palestine and Syria; financed neo-fascist “battalions”and armed assaults against Orthodox Christians in the Eastern Ukraine; denounced atheists in China and Russia.

Washington subsidizes and backs elections only when neo-liberal client regimes win. It consistently destabilizes center-left governments which oppose US imperial policies.

None of the targets of US aggression are strictly speaking anti-capitalist. Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina are capitalist regimes which attempt to regulate, tax and reduce disparities of wealth via moderate welfare reforms.

Throughout the world, Washington always supports extremist political groups engaged in violent and unconstitutional activity that have victimized democratic leaders and supporters. The  coup regime in Honduras has murdered hundreds of rank and file democratic activists, farm workers, and poor peasants.

The US armed Islamic jihadist and ex-pat allies in Libya have fallen out with their NATO mentors and are at war among themselves, engaging in mutual bloodletting.

Throughout the Middle East, South Asia, North Africa, Central America and the Caucuses wherever US intervention has taken place, extreme right-wing groups have served, at least for a time, as Washington and Brussels principal allies.

Pro EU-NATO allies in the Ukraine include a strong contingent of neo-Nazis, paramilitary thugs and “mainstream” military forces given to bombing civilian neighborhoods with cluster bombs.

In Venezuela, Washington bankrolls terrorist paramilitary forces and political extremists who murdered a socialist congressional leader and dozens of leftists.

In Mexico the US has advised, finances and backs rightist regimes whose military, paramilitary and nacro-terrorist forces recently murdered and burned alive 43 teachers’ college students and are deeply implicated in the killing of 100,000 “other” Mexicans, in less than a decade.

Over the past eleven years the US has pumped over $6 billion dollars in military aid to Colombia, funding its seven military bases and several thousand special operations forces and doubling the size of the Colombian military. As a result thousands of civil society and human rights activists, journalists, trade union leaders and peasants, have been murdered. Over 3 million small land -holders have been dispossessed.

The mass media cover-up the US option for right wing extremism by describing ruling mass murderers as “center-right regimes” or as “moderates”: linguistic perversions and grotesque euphemisms, are as bizarre as the barbarous activities, perpetrated by the White House.

In the drive for world power, no crime is left undone; no democracy that opposes it is tolerated. Countries as small and marginal as Honduran or Somalia or as great and powerful as Russia and China cannot escape the wrath and covert destabilization efforts of the White House.

The quest for world domination is driven by the subjective belief in the “triumph of the will”. Global supremacy depends entirely on force and violence: ravaging country after country, from carpet bombing of Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya to proxy wars in Somalia, Yemen, Ukraine to mass killings in Colombia, Mexico and Syria.

Yet there are limits to the spread of the “killing fields”. Democratic processes are defended by robust citizens’ movements in Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia. The spread of imperial backed terrorist seizures of power are stymied by emergence of global powers, China in in the Far East and Russia in Crimea and eastern Ukraine have taken bold steps to limit US imperial expansion.

In the United Nations, the President of the United States and his delegate Samantha Powers rant and rave, in a fit of pure insanity, against Russia as “the greatest world terrorist state” for resisting military encirclement and the violent annexation of the Ukraine.

Extremism, authoritarianism and political insanity know no frontiers. The massive growth of the secret political police, the National Security Agency, the shredding of constitutional guarantees, the conversion of electoral processes into elite controlled multi-billion dollar charades, the growing impunity of police involved in civilian murders, speaks to an emerging totalitarian police – state inside the US as a counterpart to the violent pursuit of world power.

Citizens’ movements, consequential center-left parties and governments, organized workers, in Latin America, Asia and Europe have demonstrated that authoritarian extremist proxies of Washington can be defeated. That disastrous neo-liberal policies can be reverted. That welfare states, reductions in poverty, unemployment and inequalities can be legislated despite imperial efforts to the contrary.

The vast majority of the Americans, here and now, are strongly opposed to Wall Street, big business and the financial sector. The Presidency and the Congress are despised by three quarters of the American public. Overseas wars are rejected. The US public, for its own reasons and interests, shares with the pro-democracy movement’s world-wide, a common enmity toward Washington’s quest for world power. Here and now in the United States of America we must learn and build our own powerful democratic political instruments.

We must through the force of reason contain and defeat “the reason of force”: the political insanity that informs Washington’s ‘will to power’. We must degrade the empire to rebuild the republic. We must turn from intervening against democracy abroad to building a democratic welfare republic at home.