May 092017
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

For almost 50 years, the US economy and society has taken a great leap backward — accelerating during the past three Presidencies. Not only have we experienced the reversal of past socio-economic legislation, but also our presidents and Congress have dragged us into multiple aggressive wars. Now, the threat of a nuclear attack against our ‘declared enemies’ is ‘on the table’.

Since the end of the Viet Nam war, US military ‘interventions’ have become wars of long duration. These have cost millions of lives overseas, tens of millions of refugees and scores of thousands of American soldier deaths, permanent injury and serious mental and neuropsychiatric damage. There is no ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, to quote the US General William Westmoreland.

In retrospect, and after 50 years of decline, the much-maligned Presidency of Richard Milhous Nixon now stands out as a golden age of social, environmental and inter-racial advances, as well as an era of successful peace negotiations and diplomacy. President Nixon, never an ideologue, accepted the reality of a multi-polar world.

Of course, the Nixon Presidency was characterized by serious crimes against humanity, such as the CIA-sponsored coup d’état against the democratically elected Chilean President Allende, the bombing of Cambodia and the genocidal invasion of the newly independent country of East Timor.

Today, he is best known for the far-less consequential events around the ‘Watergate’ scandal and related domestic civil rights abuses and corruption. It was the mass media and Democratic Party politicos who have grossly inflated the election campaign chicanery, leading up to the bungled break-in of the Watergate Hotel headquarters of the Democratic Party, which led to Nixon’s impeachment and resignation. To today’s media spin-masters, ‘Watergate’ was the defining event of President Nixon’s Presidency.

Ironically, after Nixon resigned from office even greater disasters occurred. This paper will enumerate these and compare them with the Nixon presidency.

Far from pursuing diplomacy and peace, subsequent presidents, both ‘liberal’ Democrats and ‘conservative’ Republicans, invaded Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Panama, Grenada, and Angola and initiated a dozen other highly destructive and economically devastating wars. The two oligarchic parties took turns in shredding Nixon’s comparatively peaceful legacy.

President Nixon, under the advice of National Security adviser, Henry Kissinger, supported Israel’s invasion of the Arab countries in 1973 as well as the bloody Chilean military coup in 1973.

President Nixon cynically designed the ‘Southern Strategy’, which transformed the Democratic Party-controlled racist fiefdoms of the US South into racist Republican-controlled states.

Progressives, liberals and self-styled democratic-socialists have played a leading role in ignoring Nixon’s ‘golden years’ in terms of domestic and international policy achievements. Instead they focused on inane and infantile name-calling, like “Tricky Dick”, to describe the man. By doing so, they have failed miserably to discuss national and international issues of historic importance. They have deliberately fabricated a distorted picture of the Nixon era to cover-up for the gross failures of subsequent Democratic Party controlled Congresses and Democratic Presidents.

In this essay, we will briefly outline Richard Nixon’s policies and executive initiatives, which justify our designation of the Nixon’s ‘golden years’, especially in comparison to what has followed his era.

President Nixon: The Great Leap Forward

In the sphere of political, economic and social life, President Nixon pursued policies, which ultimately advanced peace in the world and social welfare in the United States.

In foreign policy and diplomacy, Richard Nixon ended both the draft of young Americans into the armed forces, as well as the decade-long US military occupation of Indo-China, effectively ending the war — and acknowledging the hard victory of the Vietnamese National Liberation Front. The war had cost millions of Southeast Asian lives.

Nixon visited Beijing and recognized the ‘existence’ of the People’s Republic of China, effectively ending a quarter century of economic blockades and military threats against the billion-plus population of the PRC under three Democratic (Truman, Kennedy and Johnson) and one Republican  (Eisenhower) Presidential Administrations. He established full diplomatic relations with China.

Nixon initiated the Security Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) agreements with the USSR and developed diplomatic policies, which recognized the possibility and necessity of peaceful co-existence between different social systems.

On the domestic front, President Nixon established the Clean Water Act and established the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with a Federal Government mandate to fight polluters and hold them accountable for the ‘cleanup’ of the environment.

Nixon proposed a National Health Insurance Program — an expansion of Medicare to cover the health needs of all Americans. This radical proposal (a version of ‘single payer’) was attacked and defeated by the Democratic Party, led by Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy who was backed by ‘Big Pharma’, the AMA and the growing corporate ‘health’ industry.

Nixon imposed price and wage controls that constrained inflation and price gouging and actively punished commodity ‘hoarding’. This was a time of rapid inflation and shortages due to the ‘Oil Embargo’. With these measures, he incurred the wrath of Wall Street, big business and the financial press.

Nixon promoted consumer rights, supplemental legislation to expand Social Security, especially for the handicapped, while defending the retirement age for pension eligibility.

Under Nixon, union membership rose to 30% of the workforce — its high point before its precipitous decline to 12% under subsequent US Presidents.

Nixon increased salaries of federal employees and real wages rose. In the following half-century real wages have declined to only 10% of their Nixon era value!

Nixon indexed Social Security to the real rate of inflation.

The Nixon Presidency initiated the Affirmative Action program and used the Federal Government to push for the desegregation of schools, leading to the first large-scale integration of public education in the South. President Nixon created the Office of Minority Business Enterprises (OMBE); the Occupation Safety and Health Agency (OSHA); and the Legacy of Parks Programs.

Nixon proposed a guaranteed annual wage for American workers, which both Democrats and Republicans rejected and defeated! He promoted Keynesian industrial policies against the financial elites with their mania for speculation.

President Nixon appointed four Supreme Court Justices during his term. Three of his appointees supported the groundbreaking ‘Roe versus Wade’ decision protecting women’s reproductive rights.

Under Nixon the voting age was reduced from twenty-one to eighteen years — giving millions of young Americans a greater political voice.

When Nixon spoke in favor of gun control, both the Republican and Democratic Parties opposed his proposals.

President Nixon supported the Equal Employment Opportunity Act and the Endangered Species Act, which have remained critical to social and environmental justice.

Richard Nixon was not a ‘single issue’ President. The span and depth of his progressive agenda, included fundamental changes in favor of environmental and racial justice, working class economic security and broad-ranging health issues, peace and co-operation with China and the USSR, women’s rights through Supreme Court decisions; pensioners’ rights, and animal rights advocacy. He reduced economic inequalities between the richest 1% of capitalists and the working class. Under President Nixon inequality and the concentration of wealth in the US were far less than they became with subsequent US Presidents and especially during the Obama Administration.

No President, with the possible exception of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Great Depression Era legislation, even remotely achieved Nixon’s domestic socio-economic successes. President Roosevelt, one must not forget, operated under the immense pressure of massive working class strikes and in preparation for World War II, while President Nixon achieved his policy advances during a time of relative ‘peace’.

The Post-Nixon Bi-Partisan Regression

In the 41 years since Nixon’s resignation (1976-2017) there has been a systematic rollback of virtually all of the Nixon agenda. Congress, the liberals, the mass media and Wall Street immediately switched from denigrating Nixon, to praising Democratic President ‘Jimmy’ Carter’s reversal of Nixon’s foreign policy achievements.

Contrary to his media-polished image as a ‘Bible-thumping champion of human rights’, President Carter dismantled Nixon’s policies promoting peace with the USSR and China, especially when he appointed the rabidly anti-Russian, anti-communist Zbigniew Brzezinski for National Security Adviser. The duet created the public image of Carter mouthing human rights rhetoric while Brzezinski formulated a policy of backing dictators and funding Islamist (jihadi) terrorists to undermine Soviet allies. The two-faced ‘Evangelical Christian’ Carter sent confidential letters of US support for the brutal dictator Somoza to prevent the Sandinista victory in Nicaragua, while issuing platitudes about peace in Central America.

Carter worked closely with the military dictatorship in Pakistan and the ‘head chopping’ monarchs in Saudi Arabia to launch the bloody forty-year war in Afghanistan, a Soviet Ally. The Carter-Brzezinski-promoted mujahidin war against secularism in Afghanistan led directly to the rise of Islamist terrorism, the Taliban and al Qaeda. Carter’s ‘freedom fighters’ systematically massacred secular schoolteachers for ‘the crime’ of educating Afghan girls in the countryside.

In order to undermine the USSR and other socialist or independent secular countries with Muslim populations, the Carter-Brzezinski duet financed and trained the Saudi-indoctrinated Al-Qaeda terrorists.  They were delighted when it spread its poison across the Middle East, Asia, Africa, the Balkans and the Soviet Union promoting separatism and ethnic cleansing. Their cheers ceased somewhat on 9/11/2001.

Domestically, Carter’s deregulation of price controls led to double-digit inflation and set in motion the long-term decline in wages and salaries, which still plagues the American lower middle and working classes.

Carter appointed Chairman of the Federal Reserve Paul Volcker, who implemented draconian anti-inflationary ‘austerity’ policies reducing domestic consumption and opening the way for the de-industrialization of the economy.

The seismic change in the US, the ‘financialization’ of the domestic economy started under Jimmy Carter and was deepened and expanded under the subsequent Presidents Ronald Regan, George H W Bush, Sr., ‘Bill’ Clinton, George W. Bush (Jr) and Barack Obama. Poverty and permanent unemployment followed.

With deindustrialization, labor union membership declined from 30% of the private labor force under Nixon to less than 7% today. Organizing workers was no longer a priority: The AFL-CIO leaders were too busy chasing after the Democrats for handouts (and get-out-of jail passes).

After Carter, the Republican President Ronald Reagan doubled military spending, brutally broke the strike of the Air Controller’s union by jailing its leaders, whipped up the revival of US interventionism by invading Grenada and sending Special Forces to join the death squads murdering tens of thousands of peasant activists in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

President Reagan’s ‘free market’ polices encouraged US multinational corporations to relocate their factories overseas to Mexico, the Caribbean and Asia, costing millions of US workers well-paying jobs and reducing the number of unionized jobs. The stock markets and profits rose while the ‘American Dream’ of lifetime stable employment in industry began to fade.

Reagan’s threats and his huge military build-up forced the USSR to overspend in arms and strangle its growing domestic consumer economy.

The Reagan-Thatcher (British PM) era marked the demise of social welfare. They imposed the doctrine of ‘globalization’ — in essence, the bellicose revival of Anglo-American imperialism and the end of domestic industrial prosperity.

George HW Bush ‘negotiated’ with Russian President Gorbachev the break-up of the USSR. Despite Bush’s promises not to place US-NATO forces in former Soviet-allied countries, the following period saw the huge US-NATO expansion into Eastern Europe, the Balkans and Baltic states. President Bush (Sr.) invaded and savaged both Panama and Iraq, restarting the epoch of permanent US wars.

President George HW Bush promulgated the unipolar doctrine of US world domination, known as the ‘Bush Doctrine’.

The Reagan-Bush regimes emptied the content of the Nixon-era progressive agencies in terms of civil rights, consumer and environmental protection, and wage protection. Unionization declined by over a third.

After ‘war-monger’ President ‘Papa’ Bush, the Saxophone-playing President ‘Bill’ Clinton was elected. While crooning the words, ‘I feel your pain’, to American workers and racial minorities, Clinton unleashed Wall Street, ending regulation of banks and investment houses. He re-appointed Alan Greenspan to head the Federal Reserve, a proven master of grotesque financial speculation and the godfather of economic crisis (2007-2009).

President Clinton, passions aroused by the animal spirits on Wall Street (and inside his White House office), launched a vicious assault on the social welfare state, and in particular, low-income working families, single parents and African-Americans. Clinton’s promotion of “Workfare” forced single mothers to accept unsustainable minimum wage jobs under the threat of ending any welfare support, while not providing any mechanism for child care! This one policy savaged hundreds of thousands of vulnerable families. Under Clinton, the prison industry exploded as a multi-billion dollar business.

During the 1990’s, Clinton backed the most retrograde pro-business, debt-ridden regimes in Latin America. Hundreds of billions of dollars of Latin American wealth was transferred to the US. Clinton’s ‘Golden Years for Wall Street’ were a decade of infamy for Latin Americans and led directly to major leftist revolts by the end of the Clinton era.

President Clinton deepened and widened the US military drive for domination in Europe and the Middle East. Clinton bombed and invaded Yugoslavia, especially Serbia — destroying large parts of its capital Belgrade. He bombed Iraq on a daily basis and increased the starvation blockade of that nation. He invaded Somalia and backed Israeli land grabbing-settlement expansion in Palestine. He supported the Israeli savaging of Lebanon. He committed treason by submitting to Israeli blackmail over his sex-capers with Monica Lewinsky and trying to release Israeli spy-US Naval analyst Jonathan Pollard. It was only after an open threat of wholesale resignations by the CIA and other security agencies that Clinton withdrew his proposal to free the traitor Pollard.

Finance capital flourished as Clinton repealed the venerable Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 against bank speculation. He promoted the hugely unpopular NAFTA, (North American Free Trade Agreement) leading to the loss of over two million industrial jobs, as US multinationals absconded to Mexico, where wages were less than one-fifth of the US. NAFTA’s savaging of the Mexican agricultural sector and massive bankruptcies of small producers led directly to the flood of desperate Mexican migrants looking for work in the US.

The Georgetown-Harvard-Oxford trained ‘Bill’ Clinton was the grand wizard of talking like a ‘black preacher’ in southern churches while smoothly pursuing the ‘big bucks’ on Wall Street.

After Clinton, regressive policies increased sharply: President George W Bush (Jr), ‘First Black President’ Barack Obama and ‘First Billionaire President’ Donald Trump all supported the most virulent imperial war policies.

The two terms of President George (Jr) Bush (2001 – 2008) saw unending multi-trillion dollar wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which have destabilized two continents. Junior Bush presided over the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression. His anti-Muslim ‘global wars on terror (GWOT)’ was launched under the influence of ‘Israel-First’ militarists who had inundated the Defense Department, National Security staff and Middle East policy and advisory staff in the State Department. Meanwhile, GW Bush deepened unemployment and allowed the mortgage foreclosure on millions of homeowners. The domestic economy was in severe crisis.

By the end of the George W. Bush Presidency, reinvigorated anti-war and social justice movements were gaining strength throughout the country. Arriving on the scene of growing social unrest and with perfect timing, the ‘community organizer’ presidential candidate Barack Obama won the presidency by promising a progressive agenda to undermine the mass popular radicalization against Bush’s unpopular wars, growing inequalities, endless bank swindles, foreclosures and blatant racist policies against Afro-Americans and Hispanics.

Once elected, the ‘First Black’ US President Obama immediately increased Bush’s militarism and handed the criminals on Wall Street a record two-trillion-dollar bailout, ripped out of what remained of public social programs. Elected on a pledge to overhaul the ridiculously inefficient, pro-profit, private health care system, Obama gave the electorate a program of greater complexity and rapidly increasing insurance premiums (‘Obama Care’ or the ‘Affordable Care Act’), which ended with a negative impact on the nation’s health.

Under Obama, life expectancy, as well as, the income gaps between the rich and the poor grew at an alarming rate. Inequalities increased with a historic shift of national wealth to the top 1%. The class and health apartheid sharpened in the US. The transfer of jobs abroad accelerated. Multinational corporate tax evasion rose by hundreds of billions of dollars. The gap between African-American wages and white workers increased. Obama deported more immigrants, especially workers from Mexico and Central America, than all four previous presidents combined!

Elected on a pledge to ‘bring the troops home’, President Obama broke the record for waging simultaneous wars of all previous presidents! Obama launched or backed US wars and coups (‘regime changes’) in Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Honduras and Somalia. After receiving the Nobel ‘Peace’ Prize, President Obama provided advanced weapons to Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Egypt. Obama financed and armed tens of thousands of mercenary terrorists who savaged the secular multiethnic Syrian republic. Furthermore, his administration cynically backed the separatist Kurds occupying Northern Iraq.

Hawaii born and bred, Harvard-educated President Obama had mastered the deep-voiced Southern preacher rhetoric to corrupt the leadership of the social justice and anti-war movements. He coopted the leaders of the mass popular movements to their eternal shame and the movements died. Even the short-lived anti-Wall Street ‘Occupy Movement’ received Obama’s expressions of ‘sympathy’ as he backed the unleashing of police dogs and tear gas on the activists!

Obama’s reactionary military encirclement of Russia and China influenced the foreign policy views of a majority of US liberals as well as the mass media — turning them into ‘humanitarian interventionists’ and tools for empire.

Ever duplicitous, Obama signed a ‘unilateral nuclear disarmament agreement with Iran’ and then immediately broke the agreement by imposing new sanctions on Tehran’s banking and oil transactions.

There was great media fanfare when Obama re-established diplomatic relations with Cuba. This move facilitated the entry and funding of pro-imperialist NGO’s committed to ‘regime change’ along the same line as other ‘color revolutions’. Despite the photo-ops with the Cuban leadership, the US trade embargo against the Cuban people remained in place.

Obama’s State Department and Treasury were tasked with sabotaging and overthrowing the elected Chavez-Maduro governments in Venezuela promoting acts of violence, which have thrown the country into chaos. His Secretary of State Clinton orchestrated the violent removal of the presidents of Libya and Honduras and the installation of rabidly reactionary governments whose policies have created hundreds of thousands of refugees and the assassinations of tens of thousands of citizens, human rights and environmental activists.

Obama’s much-promoted corporate for-profit health program brought some degree of insurance coverage to just half of the uninsured poor within its first year. However, after the first year health premiums rose by 25% while deductibles increased beyond the capacity of many working families. Since then, premiums have risen astronomically and coverage is unaffordable or unavailable in many areas of the country. The debt burden of ill health or a sudden medical emergency has increased for the middle and working class under Wall Street’s ‘First Black’ President. No demographic measures of improvement, in terms of life expectancy or life quality, have been documented since the implementation of ‘Obama Care’. Indeed, these public health measures have deteriorated with an epidemic of suicides, opioid-related deaths and premature deaths of all types among the working and rural classes.

After 8 years, the core of the nation, the so-called ‘Flyover States’, where the downwardly mobile working and lower middle class white majority live, was fed up with Obama’s cant and blatantly elitist policies. In was in this context that the distasteful billionaire buffoon Donald Trump capitalized on mass popular discontent and rallied a populace in revolt against the previous ‘war and bankers’ presidents, by promising to end corporate export of jobs, Wall Street corruption, ‘Obama Care’, competition for jobs with undocumented cheap labor and endless overseas wars. Trump hit a raw nerve among scores of millions of voters when he accused the earlier Bush Administration of fabricating the pretexts for the invasion of Iraq as well as for security failures in the 9/11 attacks on New York City and the Pentagon.

Within weeks after taking office President Trump gracefully performed an Obama-style ‘about-face’ and emerged a re-anointed warmonger of the Hillary Clinton variety: He celebrated his transformation by bombing Syria, Afghanistan and the defenseless, starving people of Yemen. He sent warships off the coast of North Korea, placed advanced missile installations in South Korea and threatened nuclear war in Asia.

Trump miserably failed to ‘reform’ the corporate health plan concocted by his smirking predecessor. He shed his promise to seek peaceful relations with Moscow and embraced the policies of the worst anti-Russian liberal warmongers groomed by Clinton and Obama. Obama’s overt war posturing had so deeply influenced African-American politicians that they loudly accused Trump of being ‘too soft on Russia’! Former civil rights leaders-turned politicians were calling for greater US military interventions — a spectacle what would have made our sacred civil rights martyrs rolling in their graves.

Trump, building on the immense power already entrenched in Washington, reinforced and expanded the role of finance capital and the Pentagon in determining US policy. Trump pledged to exceed Obama’s arrest and expulsion of immigrants — from 2.5 million workers in eight years to an additional 5 million in his first four-year term.

The US corporate mass media and the liberal left have been pushing the pro-business President Trump even further to the right — demanding the US escalate its nuclear threat against North Korea, mount a full invasion of Syria (for its ‘crimes against humanity’) and, above all, ‘tighten the military noose’ around Russia and China.

Conclusion

By any measure, the policies of President Richard Milhous Nixon were more socially progressive, less militarist and less servile to Wall Street than any and all of the subsequent US Presidents. This assessment is heresy to the current historical narratives promoted by both political parties and the corporate media-academic nexus.

But even during the Nixon Presidency there were already signs of an allied liberal-rightist attack on his progressive ‘conservative’ agenda. Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy blocked Nixon’s proposal for a universal national health system built on an expansion of the highly successful ‘Medicare Program’. Nixon’s proposal (a ‘Medicare For All’) would have been far more comprehensive, effective and affordable than the corporate boondoggles cooked up by the Clinton and Obama Administrations.

What accounts for the dramatic shift from the center left to the far right among US Presidents after the 1970’s? What explains the rise and demise of ‘Nixonian’ progressivism and the great leap backward in the subsequent four and half decades?

Personality and personal background are not irrelevant: Nixon’s class and work background and personal experience with the Great Depression framed some of his outlook despite his ‘conservative’ credentials. However, the social and political balance of forces played the decisive role. Richard Nixon came to national attention as a rightwing militarist and aggressive attack dog for Senator Joesph McCarthy during the 1950s and at the beginning of his Presidential term in the late 1960’s. However, the reality of the multi-million-person anti-war movement challenged American society and influenced the armed forces from within. Even sectors of the mass media became highly critical of the permanent war state. This movement filled the streets, divided families and influenced the institutions and communities leading to a dramatic change in Nixon’s politics toward peace and even toward social and racial justice. Nixon truly became a ‘realist’.

In those days, the industrial trade unions were powerful. Manufacturing formed the basis of the economy and determined the direction of the banking-finance sector. Wall Street played ‘second fiddle’ to production.

Fed up with the lack of social progress and opportunity in their communities, African American revolts in the streets were far more effective than the tame black Democratic Party politicos in Congress.

The decline of the social movements and militant labor unions, as well as the retreat to electoral politics among the African American and anti-war movements, ended the independent popular pressure and facilitated the rising power of the pro-war, Wall Street-controlled parties linked to money and speculation. Labor unions became the fiefdoms of corrupt millionaire union bosses who bought protection from prosecution with multi-million dollar campaign donations to both Democrats and Republican politicians. They discarded the Nixon’s social agenda, using the ‘Watergate Scandal’ as a pretext to dismantle his advanced programs.

Presidents and Congresses became beholden to the bankers. The rise, dominance and deep corruption of the Wall Street speculators realigned the economy away from domestic manufacturing to international finance — leading to the great relocation of US factories abroad and the permanent marginalization of the once-organized American working class.

Voters were marginalized as active participants in their own public affairs. They alternated their disaffection between parties and candidates, between big and small spenders, indicted and unindicted swindlers, and exposed and unpunished perverts.

The domestic changes in the economy and social structure were the direct outcome of these shifts in the social and political struggles and organizations.

There is a dialectical relationship between socio-economic changes and the rise and fall of socio-political struggles.

These domestic shifts of power and policy were influenced by the major changes in global power, namely the demise of the USSR, the decline of secular-nationalist regimes in the Middle East, the defeat of the left in Latin America and, above all, the rise of the US imperial doctrines of unipolar power and the globalization. The ‘changing times’ explains everything and nothing! While the objective world determines politics, so do the subjective responses of Presidents.

President Richard Nixon could have escalated the Vietnam War up to a nuclear attack on Hanoi: This is what the current Obama-Trump militarist advisors now recommend for the North Koreans. Nixon could have followed the rightwing ‘free market’ ideology of the Republican-Goldwater faction. However, Nixon took a pragmatic, peace and social reformist position — which have brought us some of our most cherished programs — EPA, OSHA, SALT disarmament, relations with China, even Roe versus Wade, and an end to the military draft.

Subsequent Presidents, faced with the shifts in political, social and economic power, chose to re-direct the nation toward greater militarism and the domination of finance capital. They have systematically attacked and dismantled the social welfare programs, environmental protection, pro-industry legislation, diplomacy and peace pacts initiated by Nixon.

The aphorism, ‘man makes history but not of his own doing’, is central to our discussion of the Nixon legacy. The process of regression is a cumulative process, of leaps and steps. In recent years, regression has accelerated with devastating results for the domestic and world populations. Social power, concentrated at the top, weakens but also alienates power at the bottom and middle. The current configuration of power and policies cannot be permanent, even if the trajectory so far has favored the elite. Social classes and groups are not fixed in their orientations.

Twice in recent years, significant majorities voted for jobs, justice and peace (Obama and Trump) and instead got charlatans bringing greater inequality, injustice and endless wars.

Deception and deep commitments to reactionary politics have penetrated widely among the ‘discontented classes’. African-American political leaders and pundits now demand war against Russia following the pronouncements of their ‘Black President’, Barack Obama. Poor marginalized white workers still support their billionaire leader Donald Trump as he waltzes down Wall Street and into possible nuclear war.

The dialectic of discontent and resentment can lead to progressive or reactionary political and social alignments, even, or especially, in the face of history’s great leap backwards!

May 012017
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

While the Right faithfully supports the policies and interests of its ruling class supporters, the Left has systematically betrayed their political platform promises and deceived its working class, salaried employees, small business and regional supporters.

Historic reversals have happened in rapid succession by Leftist leaders, including greater oligarch control over the economy, more dictatorial political domination by imperial powers (US,EU), increasing inequalities and poverty, and ‘Leftist’ support for imperial wars.

In some cases leftist leaders have gone beyond their rightist opponents by passing even more extreme reactionary policies upon assuming power.

In this essay, we will identify some of the turncoat leftists: The ‘Champions of Betrayal’.

Secondly we will review their policy reversals and the consequences for their working class and rural supporters.

Thirdly, we will present a case study of the world’s worst ‘Left’ traitor today: Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister of Greece.

In the final section, we will discuss some of the possible explanations for the trend of political reversals by left leaders.

Turncoat ‘Leftists’ of the Early 21st Century

There are numerous examples of former guerrilla movements, leftist regimes and political leaders who gained mass popular support on the promise of radical structural transformations and who turn around to embrace the interests of their oligarchical and imperial adversaries.

An entire generation of radicals from the 1960’s and ‘70’s started on the left and, by the ‘80’s and 90’s ended up in ‘centrist’ and rightwing regimes – even becoming collaborators with the extreme right and the CIA.

Former guerrilla fighters, who turned centrist and rightwing, became Cabinet Ministers or Presidents in Uruguay, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and Chile.

El Salvadoran guerrilla commander, Joaquin Villalobos, later collaborated with the CIA and provided ‘advice’ to the ‘death squad’ President of Colombia.

The list of late 20th century traitors is long and dismal. Their policy betrayals have caused great hardship for their mass supporters who suffered socio-economic losses, political repression, arrests, torture, death and a profound distrust toward ‘left’ intellectuals, political leaders and their ‘promises’.

The 21st Century: Starting on the Left and Ending on the Right

The first decade of the 21st century witnessed a revival of left regimes and political parties in Europe and Latin America.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), led by the great peasant leader Manual Marulanda, had 20,000 fighters and millions of supporters. In 1999, it had advanced to the outskirts of the Capital, Bogota. The reality today is a dramatic reversal.

In France, the Socialist Party adopted a left program and elected Francois Hollande as President in 2012. He promised to raise taxes on the rich to 75% in order to finance a massive jobs program. He promised to extend progressive labor legislation and to defend national industries. Today his credibility is near zero.

Throughout Latin America, Leftists were elected to head governments, including Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Uruguay, Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador and El Salvador. With the possible exception of Bolivia and Ecuador, they have been ousted by their rightwing partners or opponents.

In Spain, Portugal and Greece, new radical leftist parties emerged with promises to end the brutal European Union-imposed austerity programs, and launch profound, class-based, structural transformations. Here history is repeating itself with another series of betrayals.

The Revolutionary Armed of Forces of Colombia (FARC): From Revolution to Surrender

By June 2017, the FARC leadership had disarmed its fighters, abandoning millions of peasant supporters in regions formerly under their control. The FARC’s signing of the Peace Pact with the Santos regime led to neither peace nor a real pact. Dozens of activists are already being murdered and hundreds of leftists and peasants are fleeing for their lives from death squads connected to the Santos regime. Assassinations occurred throughout the negotiation process and afterwards. Guerrilla fighters, who turned in their arms, now face kangaroo trials, while peasants who apply for agrarian reform are driven from their farms. Rank and file FARC fighters and militants are abandoned with their families in the jungle without homes, jobs and security from the death squads. US military bases and advisers remain. The entire socio-economic system is unchanged. Only the Cuba-based guerrilla ‘leaders’ are guaranteed security, two comfortable seats in Parliament — which has been denied — and the praise of the US government!

FARC leaders and chief negotiators, Ivan Marquez and Timoleon Jimenez, are clear contenders for the ‘Traitor of the Year Award’.

France’s President Hollande: An Imperial Collaborator Flushed down the Toilet

President Francois Hollande’s tenure was not far behind the FARC’s betrayal. Elected President of France in 2012 under the Socialist Party, he promised to ‘tax the rich’ by 75%, extend and deepen workers’ rights, reduce unemployment, revive bankrupt industries, prevent capitalist flight and end France’s military intervention in Third World countries.

After a brief flirtation with his campaign rhetoric, President Hollande went on a pro-business and militarist rampage against his voters:

First, he deregulated business relations with labor, making it easier and quicker to fire workers.

Second, he reduced business taxes by $40 billion Euros.

Third, he imposed and then extended a draconian state of emergency following a terrorist incident. This included the banning of strikes by workers protesting his anti-labor legislation and the double-digit unemployment rate.

Fourth, Hollande launched or promoted a series of imperial wars in the Middle East and North and Central Africa.

France under Francois Hollande initiated the NATO bombing of Libya, the murder of President Gadhafi, the total destruction of that nation and the uprooting of millions of Libyans and sub-Saharan African workers. This led to a massive flood of terrified refugees across the Mediterranean and into Europe with tens of thousands drowning in the process.

President Holland’s neo-colonial project oversaw the expansion of French troops into Mali (destabilized by the destruction of Libya) and the Central African Republic.

A clear promoter of genocide, Hollande sold arms and sent ‘advisers’ to support Saudi Arabia’s grotesque war against impoverished Yemen.

President Hollande joined the US mercenary invasion of Syria, allowing some of France’s finest nascent jihadis to join in the slaughter. His colonial ambitions have resulted in the flight of millions of refugees into Europe and other regions.

By the end of his term of office in 2017, Holland’s popularity had declined to 4%, the lowest level of electoral approval of any President in French history! The only rational move he undertook in his entire regime was to not seek re-election.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras: ‘Traitor of the Year’

Despite the stiff competition from other infamous leftist traitors around the world, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras wins the ‘Global Traitor of the Year’ award.

Tsipras deserves the label of ‘Global Traitor’ because:

1)       He made the quickest and most brutal turn from left to right than any of his venal competitors.

2)      He supported Greece’s subjugation to the dictates of the Brussels oligarchs privatization demands, agreeing to sell its entire national patrimony, including its infrastructure, islands, mines, beaches, museums, ports and transports etc.

3)      He decreed the sharpest reduction of pensions, salaries and minimum wages in European history, while drastically increasing the cost of health care, hospitalization and drugs. He increased VAT, (consumer taxes) and tax on island imports and farm income while ‘looking the other way’ with rich tax evaders.

4)      Tsipras is the only elected leader to convoke a referendum on harsh EU conditions, receive a massive mandate to reject the EU plan and then turn around and betray the Greek voters in less than a week. He even accepted more severe conditions than the original EU demands!

5)      Tsipras reversed his promises to oppose EU sanctions against Russia and withdrew Greece’s historic support for the Palestinians. He signed a billion-dollar oil and gas  deal with Israel which grabbed oil fields off the Gaza and Lebanon coast. Tsipras refused to oppose the US – EU bombing of Syria, and Libya — both former allies of Greece.

Tsipras, as the leader of the supposedly ‘radical left’ SYRIZA Party, leaped from left to right in the wink of an eye.

The first and most revealing indication of his turn to the right was Tsipras’ support for Greece’s continued membership in the European Union (EU) and NATO during the formation of SYRIZA (2004).

SYRIZA’s ‘left’ mouthed the usual platitudes accompanying EU membership, raising vacuous ‘questions’ and ‘challenges’ while talking of ‘struggles’. None of these ‘half pregnant’ phrases made sense to any observer who understood the power of the German-led oligarchs in Brussels and their strict adherence to ruling-class imposed austerity.

Secondly, SYRIZA had played a minor role, a best, in the numerous trade union general strikes and worker and student led direct action in the run-up to its electoral victory in 2015.

SYRIZA is an electoral party of the lower middle and middle class, led by upwardly mobile politicos who had few if any ties to shop-floor factory and agrarian struggles. Their biggest struggles seemed to revolve around internal factional wars over seats in Parliament!

SYRIZA was a loose collection of squabbling groups and factions, including, ‘ecology movements’, Marxist sects and traditional politicos who had floated over from the moribund, and corrupt PanHellenic Socialist Party (PASOK). SYRIZA expanded as a party at the beginning of the 2008 financial crisis when the Greek economy collapsed. From 2004 to 2007 SYRIZA increased its presence in Parliament from 3.5% to only 5%. Its lack of participation in the mass struggles and its internal squabbles led to a decline in the 2009 legislative elections to 4.6% of seats.

Tsipras ensured that SYRIZA would remain in the EU, even as its self-styled ‘left wing’, the Left Platform, led by ‘Marxist academic’ Panagiotis Lafazanis, promised to “keep an open door to leaving the EU”. Alexis Tsipras was first elected to the Athens city council, where he publicly attacked corrupt and demagogic rightwing colleagues while taking private lessons in power from the oligarchy.

In 2010, the rightwing PASOK and far right New Democracy agreed to an EU dictated debt bail-out leading to massive job losses and the slashing of wages and pensions. SYRIZA, while outside of power, denounced the austerity program and gave lip-service to the massive protests. This posturing allowed SYRIZA to quadruple its representation in parliament to 16% in the 2012 election.

Tsipras welcomed corrupt ex-PASOK members and financial advisers into SYRIZA, including Yanis Varoufakis, who spent more time motorcycling to upscale bars then supporting the unemployed workers in the streets.

EU ‘memorandums’ dictated the privatization of the economy, as well as deeper cuts in education and health. These measures were implemented in shock waves from 2010 through 2013. As an opposition party, SYRIZA increased its seats 27% in 2013 … a scant 3% behind the ruling rightwing New Democracy. In September 2014, SYRIZA approved the Thessalonika Program promising to reverse austerity, rebuild and extend the welfare state, restart the economy, defend public enterprises, promote tax justice, uphold democracy (direct democracy no less!) and implement a ‘national plan’ to increase employment.

The entire debate and all the resolutions turned out to be a theatrical farce! Once in power, Tsipras never implemented a single reform promised in the Program. To consolidate his power as head of SYRIZA, Tsipras dissolved all factions and tendencies in the name of a ‘unified party’ —  hardly a step toward greater democracy!

Under ‘Dear Uncle Alexis’ control, SYRIZA became an authoritarian electoral machine despite its left posturing. Tsipras insisted that Greece would remain within the EU and approved a ‘balanced budget’ contradicting all his phony campaign promises of public investments to ‘extend the welfare state’!

A new EU bailout was followed by a jump in unemployment to over 50% among youth and 30% of the entire labor force. SYRIZA won the January 25, 2015 parliamentary elections with 36.3% of the electorate. Lacking a single vote to secure a majority in parliament, SYRIZA formed an alliance with the far-right ANEL party, to which Tsipras gave the Defense Ministry.

Immediately upon taking office, Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras announced his plans to renegotiate Greece’s bailout and ‘austerity program’ with the EU oligarchy and the IMF. This phony posturing could not hide his impotence: Since SYRIZA was committed to staying in the EU, austerity would continue and another onerous ‘bailout’ would follow. During ‘internal meetings’, members of SYRIZA’s ‘Left Platform’ in the Cabinet called for leaving the EU, reneging the debt and forging closer ties with Russia. Despite being totally ignored and isolated, they stayed on as impotent ‘token leftist’ Cabinet Ministers.

With Tsipras now free to impose neo-liberal market policies, billions of Euros flowed out of Greece and its own banks and businesses remained in crisis. Both Tsipras and the ‘Left Platform’ refused to mobilize SYRIZA’s mass base, which had voted for action and demanded an end to austerity. The media’s gadfly, Finance Minister Varoufakis, put on a sideshow with grand theatrical gestures of disapproval. These were openly dismissed by the EU-IMF oligarchy as the antics of an impotent Mediterranean clown.

Superficial as ever, the Canadian, US, European left-wing academics were largely unaware of SYRIZA’s political history, its opportunist composition, electoral demagogy and total absence from real class struggle. They continued to blather about SYRIZA as Greece’s ‘radical left’ government and attended its PR functions. When SYRIZA flagrantly embraced the EU’s most savage cutbacks against Greek workers and their living standards affecting everyday life, the highly paid, distinguished professors finally spoke of SYRIZA’s ‘mistakes’ and ladled the ‘radical left’ from this stew of opportunists! Their grand speaking tours to Greece were over and they flitted off to support other ‘struggles’.

As the summer of 2015 approached, Prime Minister Tsipras moved ever closer to the entire EU austerity agenda. ‘Dear Alexis’ dumped Finance Minister Varoufakis, whose histrionics had irked Germany’s Finance Minister. Euclid Tsakalotos , another ‘radical’ leftist, took over as Finance Minister, but turned out to be a malleable lieutenant for Tsipras, willing to implement any and all EU-imposed austerity measures without the antics.

By July 2015, Tsipras and SYRIZA accepted a harsh austerity program dictated by the EU. This rejected SYRIZA’s entire Thessalonika Program proclaimed a year earlier. The entire population, and SYRIZA’s rank and file members grew angrier, demanding an end to austerity. While approving a ‘belt tightening’ austerity program for his electoral mass base throughout the summer of 2015, Tsipras and his family lived in luxury in a villa generously loaned by a Greek plutocrat, far from the soup lines and hovels of the unemployed and destitute.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras implemented policies earning him the ‘Traitor of the Year Award’. His was a duplicitous strategy: On July 5, 2015, he convoked a referendum on whether to accept the EU’s bailout conditions. Thinking his ‘pro-EU’ supporters would vote ‘Yes’, he intended to use the referendum as a mandate to impose new austerity measures. Tsipras misjudged the people: Their vote was an overwhelming repudiation of the harsh austerity program dictated by the oligarchs in Brussels.

Over 61% of the Greek people voted ‘no’ while merely 38% voted in favor of the bailout conditions. This was not limited to Athens: A majority in every region of the country rejected the EU dictates — an unprecedented outcome! Over 3.56 million Greeks demanded an end to austerity. Tsipras was ‘admittedly surprised’ . . . and disappointed! He secretly and stupidly thought the referendum would give him a free hand to impose austerity. He put on his usual grin as the voting results were announced.

Less than a week later, on July 13, Tsipras renounced the results of his own referendum and announced his government’s support for the EU bailout. Perhaps to punish the Greek voters, Tsipras backed an even harsher austerity scheme than the one rejected in his referendum! He drastically slashed public pensions, imposed massive regressive tax hikes and cut public services by $12 billion euros. Tsipras agreed to the infamous ‘Judas memorandum’ of July 2015, which increased the regressive general consumer tax (VAT) to 23%, a 13% food tax, a sharp increase in medical and pharmaceutical costs and tuition fees, and postponed the retirement age by five years to 67.

Tsipras continued on his ‘historic’ rampage over the suffering Greek people throughout 2016 and 2017. His regime privatized over 71,500 public properties, including the historic patrimony. Only the Acropolis was spared the auction block … for now! The resulting unemployment drove over 300,000 skilled and educated Greeks to migrate. Pensions slashed to 400 Euros led to malnutrition and a three-fold rise in suicides.

Despite these grotesque social consequences the German bankers and the regime of Angela Merkel refused to reduce the debt payments. Prime Minister Tsipras’ groveling had no effect.

Sharp tax hikes on farm fuels and transport to tourist islands led to constant marches and strikes in cities, factories, fields and highways.

By January 2017 Tsipras had lost half of his electorate. He responded with repression: gassing and beating elderly Greeks protesting their poverty pensions. Three-dozen trade unionists, already acquitted by the courts, were re-tried by Tsipras’ prosecutors in a vicious ‘show trial’. Tsipras supported the US-NATO attacks on Syria, the sanctions against Russia and the billion-dollar energy and military agreements with Israel.

Short of the Nazi occupation (1941-44) and Anglo-Greek civil war of (1945-49), the Greek people had not experienced such a precipitous decline of their living standards since the Ottomans. This catastrophe occurred under the Tsipras regime, vassal to the Brussels oligarchy.

European, Canadian and US leftist academic tourists had ‘advised’ SYRIZA to remain in the EU. When the disastrous consequences of their ‘policy advice’ became clear … they merely turned to advising other ‘struggles’ with their phony ‘socialist forums’.

Conclusions

The betrayals by ‘Leftist’ and ‘radical leftist’ leaders are partly due to their common practices as politicians making pragmatic deals in parliament. In other cases, former extra-parliamentary and guerrilla leaders were faced with isolation and pressure from neighboring ‘left’ regimes to submit to imperial ‘peace accords’, as in the case of the FARC. Confronting the massive build-up of the US supplied and advised armies of the oligarchs, they folded and betrayed their mass supporters.

The electoral framework within the EU encouraged leftist collaboration with class enemies – especially German bankers, NATO powers, the US military and the IMF.

From its origins SYRIZA refused to break with the EU and its authoritarian structure. From its first day of government, it accepted even the most demonstrably illegal private and public debts accumulated by the corrupt right-wing PASOK and New Democracy regimes. As a result SYRIZA was reduced to begging.

Early on SYRIZA could have declared its independence, saved its public resources, rejected its predecessors’ illegal debts, invested its savings in new jobs programs, redefined its trade relations, established a national currency and devalued the drachma to make Greece more flexible and competitive. In order to break the chains of vassalage and foreign oligarch imposed austerity, Greece would need to exit the EU, renounce its debt and launch a productive socialist economy based on self-managed co-operatives.

Despite his electoral mandate, the Greek Prime Minister Tsipras followed the destructive path of Soviet leader Michel Gorbachev, betraying his people in order to continue down the blind ally of submission and decay.

While several leaders offer stiff competition for the ‘Traitor of the Year Award’, Alexis Tsipras’ betrayal has been longer, more profound and continues to this day. He broke more promises and reversed more popular mandates (elections and referendums) more quickly than any other traitor. Moreover nothing short of a generation will allow the Greeks to recover left politics. The left has been devastated by the monstrous lies and complicity of Tsipras’ former ‘left critics’.

Greece’s accumulated debt obligations will require at least a century to play out — if the country can even survive. Without question, Alexis Tsipras is the ‘Traitor of the Year’ by unanimous vote!!!

Apr 112017
 

By James Petras99GetSmart

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Introduction

Every day and throughout the world we read and hear of turmoil, of threats, violence, divisions, wars for peace and peace for wars, freedom as oppression and oppression as freedom.

In a world where words have lost their meanings and meanings have no words, how do we go about understanding turmoil?

Surely, economies rise and decline, new empires become dominant and old powers attempt to regain their power.

Does global turmoil ‘up end’ the established order?  Or does it add up to hot air, flatulence, loud, smelly, empty and of short duration?

Is turmoil more than gaseous air, an after-dinner deep throated salute to the cook? Or is it a result of transformations of substance, albeit piles of broken societies stacked as precisely located horse buns?

In plain English: we experience turmoil … but we struggle to understand its significance. We ask: who benefits? And the quacks answer: Everybody, nobody and somebody.

We will argue that most turmoil receives grave attention but is of little consequence.

Turmoil has many facets and is expressed by many voices, but it seldom leads to substantive outcomes.

A caveat: I am not a Burkean conservative fearful of turmoil, nor a modern version of Candide finding a silver earring in every cauliflower ear.

Turmoil does, on rare occasion, result in greater freedom and justice, but certainly not as a product of a unipolar world.

Turmoil ‘Turmoil’ Everywhere You Turn

The United States faces ‘unprecedented turmoil’. The chattering classes debate with fervor and solemnity questions of momentous importance.

The two major parties arouse passions over whether one hundred million votes were tampered by a feisty bear, hacking a national committee of garrulous roosters, changing the voting result.

A world historic event! Crowing arouses world attention.

The snoopy bear, or so we are told, was investigated by the former President’s staff, men and women.  One million security officials studied, in great depth, untold number of rumors. They scrutinized the dinner tables with high-powered secret cameras to find if the bear chose to sit next to US officials eager for cash and access to honey pots.

Turmoil spread to the stock market and the Federal Budget, facing a shut-down, which will close government offices, stops pensions and salaries. Rumors have it that the Interior Department will lose control of federal lands and the crafty bear will exploit it.

As the clock ticks to doomsday – utter turmoil lurks in the hearts and minds of Congress. The White House gloats, the media points to the Bear in the White House.

Wall Street worries not, since it buys and owns both Parties: It will tell them when to end the Kabuki strife. The turmoil will conclude with an amicable agreement. The budget turmoil was only a scare: flatulence without ‘substance’.

Global Turmoil

Turmoil reigns across the globe because adversaries near and far resist the overtures of an endearing missile up their orifices.

We mean war! This is no idle congressional chatter and boisterous bursts of military clap trap. The US sends bombs and missiles to defeat our adversaries by killing civilians. We empty the cities to capture the terrorists.

Wars become ‘Historical ’ because they are of long duration leading to relentless defeats!

Turbulence goes on because of oil, Israel and terrorists (proximity is an unintended coincidence!).

When turmoil ends, we may inherit a land without people and a people with depleted uranium – to paraphrase the modern philosopher queen, Golda Meir.

Turmoil Strikes the Heartland of Our Unipolar World

Let us be absolutely clear: We are not always pointing our middle finger at the US as the root of turmoil. If we go beyond roots and examine branches and falling, dying leaves, millions are involved in the turmoil. It is the joint responsibility of our living and their dead.

Syria is a case in point. We have only killed less than a million, and then ten million abandoned their land and chose our liberty over our terrorists. By the way, how can our terrorists be call terrorists if, with our guns in hand, they stave off the greedy bear — the very same bear who stole our election.

Syria is in turmoil because as Henry Kissinger wisely noted: “If a people is foolish enough to vote for a government that has failed to understand our unipolar world, they deserve their fate”.

Turmoil: Turkey

Turkey is rife with turmoil because it refused to surrender to a false coup by a false leader named Gulan. He happens to live and plot in the US. He was hoping to repay our hospitality with expanded Turkish air bases and open highways for our mercenaries, arms and funds to liberate civilians and recover headless cadavers in Syria.

When the Turkish Sultan dared to imitate our leaders by extending imprisonment to all who opposed him, we denounced him for not consulting us on whom to jail or not jail.

Ankara now threatens our Kurds, who use our arms and Special Forces to liberate the Syrian borders along southeastern Turkey (Kurdistan).

The Turks claim to see a conspiracy to unify the secessionist Turkish Kurds with our freedom-loving annexationist Syrian Kurds. United Kurdistan may be a true ally for now, but who’s to say that in our game of unipolar chess we could turn the Kurds back into pawns if they become unruly under independence and fall prey to the appeals of the roaming Bear.

Turmoil in Korea

In Korea, turmoil is rife! But is it a tempest in a teapot, or a nuclear pressure cooker ready to explode?

We are there. We allowed the North to exist.  We only bombed four million of their citizens and limited our defenses to stationing our navy, air force, army and missiles along the North Korean border.

They had the effrontery to seek negotiations for a peace treaty, disarmament and a neutralized Korea. Some quasi-traitors from our side, who deviated from our unipolar mission, had almost reached an agreement.  Our President Obama slapped them back and pursued missiles, sanctions and visions of mushroom clouds to bring them under our heel.

President Kim Jong-Un played deaf and blind to our requests for surrender. So when we engaged in a full dress rehearsal for war off their coast – avoiding any incident – the roly-poly Kim Jong-Un shot four fearful missiles into the Sea of Japan, a mere five thousand miles from Silicon Valley and Hollywood , an existential threat.

Our experts detected turmoil: a wider and deeper threat to our respected and long-standing supremacy in Asia.

Turmoil in China

China is fomenting turmoil by supplying our importers with consumer goods; buying our debts, spending only $3 trillion of our T notes; grabbing our markets with their exports while we pursue peaceful wars.

China has stirred our pot, over there and even here. They teamed up with Vlad the Snooping Bear, the same one who fooled 50 million voters to elect Trump, the protectionist. Sly Chinese now entice our Asian trading partners. They close huge trade deals while we openly proclaim that the Pacific Ocean is an American lake –though it’s not on any map. Chinese rock piles in the South China Sea are global threats, pirate lairs, missile and mussel hangouts.

We reject the One-Party State in China. In America, we have two parties. Bi-Partisan leaders propose that China end the turmoil by closing their labs, research centers, factories and universities and open wide their door with a sign on the entrance of the Forbidden Kingdom: “OxyContin for Sale: Discounted Prices from our Billionaire Pain-killer Partners.”

Yemen in Turmoil

Turmoil in Yemen exists only because the people want to be free of our ‘dear friends, the hand-chopping and head-chopping Saudi Monarchs.

We are for diversity! We fraternize with Saudi-funded mercenary terrorists, Jewish land-grabbers, Egyptian tyrants and Libyan tribal allies, who blend with all of the above!

As our President tells it: “If the Yemenis don’t recognize that they are the poorest country in the Middle East and choose instead to resist the richest tyrants in the region, who are allied with the US, British and French arms merchants. Then the Yemenis, facing our precision bombs, which never miss a school, hospital or food warehouse, must be embracing a ‘death wish’.”

These stubborn Yemenis fighters should stop and study the US Marine Corp porno-website, whose once famous motto has morphed from Semper Fideles to ‘Just lay back and enjoy the violation!’

Truth from the Trump Tower

Turmoil is not necessary if the other side does not provoke our unipolar visionaries and our unsavory allies.

Turmoil in Iran

Iran must be our biggest threat – after Russia, China and others among our ‘biggest enemies of the moment’ – because the Iranians haven’t started a war in the last 200 years. But according to Israeli intelligence who pass their secret information while staying at the Trump Towers, the Persians are preparing secret nuclear weapons, sending secret agents, operating out of secret mosques, run by secret mullahs to launch invasions … while hiding behind their history of non-aggression.

The devious Iranians are sending food and medicine to starving Yemen: This is a Shia plot to infiltrate the Sunni Saudi oil fields to measure if the size of oil wells matter.

We signed fake nuclear pacts with Iran to increase sanctions in order to clear the Straits of Hormuz to allow our Hebrew brethren to breathe freely when Tehran is bombed!

Turmoil in Latin America

Turmoil is a Latin American phase borrowed from overhearing conversations between the Pentagon and Bankers regarding how to topple unfriendly democratic demagogues.

Friendly turmoil allowed us to pre-empt a coup against an incompetent elected regime in Brazil, which committed a stupid bookkeeping error. We put in its place a mega corrupt President who was our man to hand over the jewels of their economy to the people who will make America strong again.

We don’t select individuals — we shepherd flocks, led astray by center-left turmoil, by promoting  peace-loving and dynamic wolves. From Mexico to Patagonia, oil giveaways are common currency that surely activate the economy – our economy.

Argentina led the way. The ‘vulture’ speculator, Paul Singer, didn’t have to raise a peep or pick a pocket: Five billion in cash just jumped from their pocket into his.

Turmoil returned as Argentina’s workers failed to find jobs in closed factories, and they couldn’t afford to buy newspapers to look for the want ads; besides these ‘deplorables’ can’t read them because the lights are turned off for not paying the one hundred percent increase in the electrical bill.

The general strike of millions of Argentine workers is just a Latin expression of ‘blowing off steam’ whispered a clever New York professor into the ear of a Wall Street broker.

She received tenure because she always looked through the wrong end of the telescope, to study their turmoil.

We mainly fleece the big Latin sheep first, but we do not neglect the lesser Andean herd. Peru and Chile elected presidents who will shear their people, not of  bags of wool, but of tons of copper from their mines.

Turmoil in Dissenting Countries

We may occasionally welcome, and even promote, turmoil if it turns out the oil fields have passed to greedy elected Presidents who claim that petroleum is part of their national patrimony. We generously passed a hundred million dollars to a diverse group of generals, bankers, upscale street thugs and NGOers who seized the Presidential palace and in a fit of wrong-headed compassion merely kidnapped (but did not kill) the greedy elected President. One million slum dwellers, fooled by fake solidarity, protested the regime change. The elected demagogue was reinstated.

The oil-greedy president was re-elected a dozen times.

We were not discouraged because the president foolishly freed our leaders, in a fit of compassion, so they could pursue a coup replay.

We promoted turmoil in phases, with material incentives. We dubbed our coup-masters, “democrats”, and helped them launder billions from the Treasury, hoard food in private warehouses and smuggle contraband to free markets in Colombia in exchange for sending cocaine to our markets via Venezuelan airports.

We don’t rely on coups, until we are forced to, since we finally won two elections; One in Venezuela and the other in the Organization of American Colonies. Any act in defense of the elected president is a gross violation of the Democratic Chatter-Charter, which we wrote in English and procured a translation by our Secretary General Luis Almagro. We mispronounced his name as “El Amargo” – the ‘bitter one’ – which is dead wrong, as he fawns over us while attacking Latinos who resist us.

The United Kingdom: Turmoil of ‘Great Historic Consequences’

We are told that Brexit (the UK departure from the European Union) has created turmoil around the world. In the City of London and the European Union, among bankers, investors and overseas professionals in Great Britain and pensioners in Southern France and Spain, there are cries of despair and regret: What idiot allowed a free and popular vote over the EU?

Turmoil, Prime Minister Theresa May tell us, is ‘all for the best in the best of all worlds’. We are closing our doors to foreign interlopers without shedding our moneylenders and money launderers. We will no longer act as vassals to serve the oligarchs of Brussels; we got better oligarchs at home with a long tradition of training our vassals to serve our empire.

We need not share our export profits with the greedy Germans, nor the tourist markets with pompous French; nor slight our ale-swillers at the Brighton shore for the warm beer at crowded Benidorm.

Once free of the turmoil, our monarchy will sign off lucrative arms agreements with its counterpart in Saudi Arabia. The EU will have to absorb all the Yemeni refugees fleeing the Anglo-Saudi bombardments. We will keep our banks in the City and every ruler with his secret swindle will still come to us.

The United Kingdom will experience a rebirth of an English-speaking free market empire! The Commonwealth will continue to look to us for football scores even if we recruit half our teams from the former colonies.

Of course, English society will change a bit if we leave the EU. We will slow the flow of immigrants but we will not raise wages. Immigration is about ‘values’ not jobs and wages! We will let our workers know who is boss, lest some turmoil results in a united front between departing speculators and our knighted trade union officials.

There is no turmoil in the City over Brexit. Some critics claim that investors and money managers will move to the Continent because they now will have to carry their passports to travel to and fro between each transaction. It’s hard to believe that a mere flash of a passport could be such a nuisance!

The EU real estate accountants claim that England must pay back $80 billion euros for joint holdings in property and cash. An entirely outrageous divorce settlement given the intangible gains the Brussels crowd received from using the British name in  overseas transactions or imperial endeavors.

UK will experience some initial turmoil when the foreign and our unpatriotic speculators depart. But we can easily replace them with our highly competent English lads and lasses.

We may experience some initial discomfort if Scotland votes to skip off to the EU and the Northern Irish decide to fall in line with the Popish bunch in the South and sign off with the EU.

There are some rumors that Wales, provoked by the extremist Language Society, might jump ship to the EU, angry over the English buying farming cottages for summer homes – “They denounce them as illegal immigrants”!

We have already announced that we may lose half our kingdom to the EU shortly, but we have given notice that we are ready to defend our rock of Gibraltar and the seaweed stalwarts at our Malvinas Island. Let some Wall Street idlers josh about our empire amounting to a rock-island, they should think twice about its significant. China has colonized unpopulated rocks, which are a fraction the size of our rock! And no one dares to joke about China’s rock island empire building!

The EU is stirring turmoil by insisting that the political divorce precedeour trade agreements: This is an unprecedented step according to our respected High Courts of Justice.

Brussels wants to monopolize trade and investment transactions among their vassal member states. We say we will keep to free trade and let their banks go in order to free our financial institutions. We will tell them to keep their refugees and immigrants!

England will be smaller but better! We will deepen our ties with Anglo-speaking nations!

There might be some turmoil in convincing the other Anglophones to join a sterling zone and to revise their trade ties with China, the US and other regions.

Scoffers may say the ‘Brexiters’ are hallucinating sentimentalists who believe that  Merry Old England can refashion  a great ‘global union of states’, a ‘union’ of London – New York – Toronto – Canberra – Johannesburg – Buenos Aires .

But there might be some misunderstandings … New York’s Wall Street competes with the City; it poaches high-powered bankers and is advising its subsidiaries to hold out on the high-end rentals at Canary Wharf. Can the City of London build a trans-Atlantic oil pipeline from Canada in order to compete with Keystone pipeline between Alberta and New Orleans?

The sad fact is that the US has already replaced the British Empire and is highly unlikely to share any markets with an isolated and fragmented UK converted into “Merry Old England” – an England which faces turmoil between the workers of the Midlands, the City bankers and the rentiers in the South.

The best bet is for the City of London  to secede and become an independent City State and long for the success of Venice several centuries past.

Conclusion: Their Turmoil and Ours

Turmoil is everywhere but some turbulence is better than others. When the US-EU provokes turmoil – wars against adversaries in the Middle East, North and Central Africa, Asia and Latin America– it is a bitter pill necessary to cure the disease of disobedient regimes, which had sought to go their own wrong way.

The turmoil, which destabilizes us and our allies and vassal regions, is putting a spanner in the wheels of progress and development.

Turmoil is part of our changing reality.  We are neither rigid nor dogmatic; we are pragmatic. We promote progressive turmoil, so when democratic Turkey overthrows the Syrian regime we can incite a turbulent coup to replace the dictator of Ankara.

To be scientifically correct we must start from the assumption that turmoil, big or small, national or international, a rock pile or a continent, is a class question!  Which classes are behind or in front of the turmoil and which classes benefit!

Apr 082017
 

By James Petras99GetSmart

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Introduction

Over the past two decades hundreds of thousands of Americans have died prematurely because of irresponsibly prescribed narcotic ‘pain killers’ and other central nervous system depressants, like tranquillizers and their deadly interactions. The undeniable fact is that they have been mostly from the white working and lower middle class from rural and deindustrialized regions. The governing elite and oligarch macro-decision makers have quietly dismissed this sector of the country as ‘surplus’. The victims or their surviving family members have no chance of redress for the widespread malpractice and greed that led to their addiction or death. The government as a whole and the oligarch-controlled mass media have deliberately failed to document and investigate the deep causes for the epidemic, except to spout the usual superficial ‘clichéd explanations’.

We will proceed to discuss the scope and depth of the epidemic and to identify the primary causes. We will then proceed to offer alternatives.

Comparative Data

The US can claim the dubious distinction of having highest rate of growth of premature deaths among its young and middle age working and lower middle class citizens among the the advanced countries of Europe and Asia. Even most not-so-advanced countries have been spared such an increase in pre-mature mortality, outside of war. This uniquely American devastation is concentrated among the poorer, less educated whites living in small cities, towns and rural areas.

The trends are no longer deniable: Over the last sixteen years (2000-2016), the death rate among US workers between ages 50 – 54 doubled from 40 to 80 per 100,000[1]. In contrast, the mortality rate in Germany among a similar demographic declined from 60 to 42/100,000 and in France from 55 to 40 per 100,000[2]. Moreover within the US, the mortality rate for marginalized white workers has increased compared to that of African Americans and Hispanics. This upward shift in pre-mature death indicates significant deterioration in living standards for a huge slice of the US population. The main causes of death include a dramatic increase in suicide, complications of obesity and diabetes, and especially ‘poisoning’ – a broad term to include alcohol, illegal drugs, and, especially, prescribed opioid pain medications and an array of mixed drug interactions.

Some self-described ‘experts’ in addiction claim that the increasing mortality rates among US workers are due to ‘globalization and automation’[3]. This is an example of what we mean by ‘superficial’ or ‘fake explanations. This is because this phenomenon has not occurred elsewhere in other industrialized countries. Even though countries, like Japan, Canada and the United Kingdom, have seen their economies shift with ‘globalization’ and advanced automation, none have experienced declining mortality among their core population.

Mortality in the UK, Canada and Australia among workers remains at about 40 deaths per 100,000 – half the rate of the US, despite similar demographics and participation in the global market. The key to understanding this phenomenon lies in how American capital and the ruling structure have responded to the needs of its labor force, made redundant by shifts in the economy.

Within the United States, low wage young and middle age white workers with only high school education and less, especially those engaged in manual labor, experience four times higher mortality compared to college graduates. The dramatic increase in the mortality within this demographic corresponds to the increasing proportion of American workers and their families who no longer have access to adequate employer-provided health care. Premature deaths have risen with the demise of well-paid, secure manufacturing jobs for this sector of society.

In other words, as big corporate capitalism enjoys an ever-rising rate of profit through relocation of factories abroad, through automation, or by contracting immigrant and part-time uninsured US workers and therefore eliminating comprehensive health coverage for US workers, preventable worker deaths increase. Other advanced capitalist market economies in Europe and Asia have maintained intact universal national health and social welfare systems, which effectively serve to mitigate the damage that increasing job insecurity and falling living standards have on worker health. These systems continue to save millions of lives. This is one of the starkest contrasts between the US health care system and the systems operating in the rest of the industrialized world!

‘Oxycontin’, the White Plague

The root cause for the astronomical rise of worker mortality in the US is first and foremost the decision of the capitalist class to drop comprehensive, quality health coverage for its workers while lowering wages and shipping many jobs abroad. As a result, US workers, struggling with declining incomes, cannot afford to pay the astronomical insurance premiums, co-pays and high deductible for themselves or their family members. They cannot pay for expensive ‘physical therapy and rehabilitation’ after an injury and often opt for a prescription narcotic to deal with chronic pain while they continue to work.

Secondly, medical ‘providers’ (physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants) are under intense pressure from their employers to spend as little time as possible with patients suffering from chronic pain or injuries, especially those with limited resources. Their salaries and bonuses often depend on the number of patients they can see in a day. Writing prescriptions, especially narcotics, sedatives, anxiolytics and sleep aids save doctors and corporate-run hospitals time and money. Careful history taking, skillful physical examinations, experienced insights and long-term, supportive treatment plans with effective follow-up for an injured worker or chronic pain sufferer are rare indeed (and big money losers)!

Billions of synthetic opioid narcotics have been cheaply manufactured and prescribed at extraordinary levels of profits – far exceeding those of the so-called ‘block-buster’ drugs. The billionaire owners of pharmaceutical companies specializing in narcotic pain medications have hired legions of drug salespeople to work with doctors and pain clinics in a largely unregulated field, without any intervention or oversight form the capitalist state. The lobbyists for the pharmaceutical industry spent hundreds of millions of dollars on politicians and bureaucrats to protect their profits even as the number of overdose deaths among prescription opioid addicts grew. The total absence of any state intervention in this epidemic is unique in the industrialized world. This malevolent indifference proves that there is an unstated, but official, Social Darwinism operating at the highest levels, an ideology and practice once relegated to ardent fascists and eugenicists.

What Gives Big Capital Impunity for Murder?

Poisoning from prescribed narcotics, or fatal drug-alcohol-tranquilizer mixtures, comprise the single most important and preventable cause of early death among workers. Those workers, who have graduated from prescription drug addiction to street drugs, should still be included in this group of growing overdose deaths – because their addictions ultimately started in their local clinic. Although they have never met, the street dealers have their business affiliates in the corporate world and neatly scrubbed pain clinics.

While these early deaths by overdose cause incredible suffering to friends and family members of the victims, they are seen as a positive trend for ‘big capital’ – which is why the epidemic has remained largely hidden for almost two decades. Small town newspapers routinely devote long, loving paragraphs to describe a departed octogenarian, including tender references to their final illnesses, while the overdose death of a middle-aged father or mother laid off from a job is mourned in anonymity and silence.

Premature worker deaths by overdose mean higher profits on a grand scale because they lower the overall corporate cost for severance, pensions, worker safety measures and whatever health coverage the employer might provide. Unemployment benefits are cut, and local taxes for schools and services are lowered as the working class population declines. Demand for social services decline with the drop in population. It is no coincidence that the sharp increase in premature deaths among workers in the US coincides with the incredible concentration of wealth among the country’s top oligarchs.

In this climate, tight corporate control over wages, benefits and increasing job insecurity has spread deep fear among workers. Terrified of the poverty that would devastate their families with the loss of a decent job, most workers continue to work despite injuries and illness, often by taking prescription and other narcotics just to get through the day. Their insecurity, anxieties and insomnia are treated with other pharmaceuticals that compound the danger of overdose. Theirs fears and the poisonous workplace environment discourage them from taking any sick leave or demanding effective physical or rehabilitative therapy through their employer’s health plans.

The most ‘effective’ and heavily promoted painkillers, like Oxycontin, happen to be most rapidly addictive and deadly. The pharmaceutical industry deliberately glossed over the dangerously addicting nature of these ‘wonder drugs’ through their drug representative visits to hospitals and clinics. Most of the victims of these addicting drugs have been low wage or unemployed workers, while the medical prescribers are subservient to their capitalist employers and big pharmaceutical companies. The pharmaceutical industries are protected by the State at the top. Corporate hospital and pain clinic directors and providers are protected in the ‘middle’.

The perpetrators of mass murder by overdose have profited immensely and with total impunity for the ensuing havoc – unlike the small street pushers who crowd the huge industrial-size prisons. No security, police or federal agency would ever dare prosecute the directors of these big pharmaceutical corporations. Indeed, the security and justice arm of the state act as accomplice to addiction, although police are no more immune to prescription drug addiction than are nurses and other health providers with access or on-the-job injuries. In fact, the problem of addiction overdose death among security and health care personnel (often victims of suicide by overdose after having lost their jobs to drug dependency) constitutes an undocumented and un-mourned public tragedy. This problem also extends to soldiers returning from imperial wars in the Middle East and South Asia.

The contradictions of a society granting impunity for the corporate perpetrators of this epidemic of death, the ‘opioid war’ against the surplus working class, while spending billions of public money to incarcerate petty street dealers and users, describes a federal and state government in disarray and denial and unable to effectively intervene on behalf of its citizens.

Last year’s presidential primary races and the election campaign broadcast (for the first time) many national politicians being confronted by small town citizens alarmed by the devastation of drug addiction and overdoses in their communities. Candidate Trump made several highly emotional statements about this issue. Interestingly, the Democratic Party presidential candidate Clinton totally failed to ever mention this crisis in her campaign despite touting her ‘record on health care’.

In recent months, the scale of drug overdose deaths in the rural and small town communities led to popular demands for government action. And as predictable as summer mosquitos, a small armies of academics, experts and NGOers buzzed in to plead for greater funding for ‘research, education and treatment’. The same owners of pain clinics, that produced so many addicts, now expanded their business horizons by setting themselves up as ‘Addiction Treatment Centers’ to complement the Community Addict support groups, which have popped up like mushrooms.

None of these arguably opportunist ventures are inclined to engage in political ‘education’ to mobilize the worker-victims of addiction and other citizens to demand a universal national health system like other countries where the prescription addiction problem does not exist. They don’t even address the problem of workplace injury and the workers’ lack of access to effective rehab and physical therapy facilities rather than treatment with opioids. The medical community would rather send their patients to these treatment centers – where more addictive drugs, like methadone, are used to treat addiction – than face the real devastating consequences of the broken profit-mad US private insurance-controlled health care system and organize to truly serve their patients.

By the same token, the nation’s labor departments and labor unions at the federal and state levels have studiously ignored the toll that this has taken on the labor force. A New York Times editorial (October 16, 2016) pointed out that millions of working age men are totally out of the job market due to ‘pain and disability’ and a substantial proportion are on prescription narcotics.The long-term effect is clear: These addictions have destroyed internal worker discipline, essential for productive industry. It would be unimaginable for the German or Chinese industrialists and policy makers to accept the long-term consequences of such a phenomenon. This is just one glaring example of how cavalier the American oligarch and political classes view their native work force.

Murderers and their victims have come to be defined by their social class and not by their ‘education’ or access to ‘technology’. The capitalists of the pharmaceutical industry produce deadly products and distribute them at huge mark-ups to tens of thousands of for-profit pharmacies. The working and lower middle class recipients are the addicted victims.

For their part, capitalists and oligarchs have absolutely no need for any health insurance. They have their own exclusive boutique clinics and stables of elite doctors and nurses to provide them with the highest standards of care. They would never dream of allowing their family members to be prescribed the addicting products that have devastated so many millions of lesser citizens and made them such enormous profits. Although we may never see, let alone visit, these elite clinics, the deadly consequences of the medical-health care apartheid are not hard to fathom.

With predictable optimism, the US mass media reported that the drug overdose crisis has provided the organ transplantation industry with many needed body parts. Such silver linings!

As a group, the capitalist perpetrators of this ‘opioid war against the working class’ can easily donate tens of millions of dollars to presidential candidates and other political leaders to ensure that appointees to the so-called regulatory bodies will work hard to protect their profits rather than the health of the citizens. These oligarchs enjoy near total and eternal immunity from government regulators. If any outrage over the immense human losses to addiction ever manage to filter into their rarified lives of fine art philanthropy and other elite activities, they can rely on legions of public and media ‘moralists’ to blame the victims for their life destroying habits.

One such company is Purdue Pharmaceuticals, the maker of OxyContin. It is owned by the oligarch Sackler Family, whose founders are among the most elite high cultural philanthropists in the country. Since entering the unimaginably lucrative US ‘pain’ market in 1995, OxyContin has earned Purdue over $35 billion dollars and brought the Sacklers into the Olympian heights of the America’s ‘Uber-rich’. None of curators in the Sackler Galleries or the Sackler Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art would dream of displaying any ‘social realist’ depiction of the immense human suffering and loss caused by the drugs their bosses have peddled to millions of low-income Americans. But then tastes have changed: ‘Social realism’ is obsolete in the class-apartheid America that the Sacklers and their friends enjoy.

Quality research and investigation into major demographic changes is also obsolete. Describing the promiscuous dissemination of prescription opioids as one of the ‘biggest mistakes in the history of modern medicine’, a former FDA commissioner, did nothing to curtail the epidemic during his tenure (1990-1997) or to draw attention to the devastation after stepping down until just recently. Dr. David Kessler joined the chorus bemoaning the opioid epidemic after the highly publicized overdose death of the rock star Prince, writing an Op-Ed in the New York Times on May 6, 2016.

Academics receive grants from big national foundations to ‘study addiction’, focusing on the individual psychological disorders affecting the victims of overdose and the social pathologies of the street dealers.  This deflects attention from the corporations, which profit from, and the capitalist decision makers, who set the stage for, massive deadly addiction on a national scale. But university careers, peer recognition and fat research grants are not awarded to anyone foolish enough to identify the killer corporations, or the dangerous work conditions, the overtime, low pay, and increasing rates of injuries and despair which send the workers from one killer employer to ‘Big Daddy Pharma’, and the doctors who encourage them to rely on addictive pain killers rather than demand better pay, better health care, better work conditions and a real future for their families.

There is a crying need for effective action. The reality of hundreds of thousands of ‘deaths by prescription’ and millions of addicts should call for a special national prosecutor and body of dedicated, independent investigators who are willing to identify the profit motive among the country’s highest elite as the underlying basis for this continuing crisis. Any investigation should pursue the wide net of racketeers and enablers, ranging from lobbyists and corrupt bureaucrats and regulators to doctors and publicists, because this epidemic has touched tens of millions of working Americans, their families and friends, workmates and communities. And where are the child advocates to represent the interests of the thousands of addicted infants born to rural ‘Oxy-Moms’ and whose neonatal withdrawal crises have overwhelmed the capacity of rural and small city hospitals?

Alternatives

Ending the cycle of addiction and overdose deaths requires more than just making photo-ops at small town treatment centers. It requires focusing on the role of prescription opioids and the prosecution of corporate criminals. This includes prosecuting capitalists who exploit vulnerable workers, denying them protection, safe working conditions and access to quality health care. What is required is a fundamental change in capital-worker relations in this country.

Corporate economic strategies, which undermine wages and security, require an expanding reserve army of low paid or unemployed workers. With so many American workers disabled or dropped from the work force because of addiction, many temporary replacement workers are immigrant, who have been raised, trained and educated at the expense of their own country or society. This was once called the ‘brain drain’, but now includes the ‘brain and skilled brawn drain’. The fact that other societies have spent their resources to raise and educate these workers who then immigrate has allowed US capitalists and political decision makers to drastically cut social spending for education and health for American workers.

To counter this trend, a rational immigration policy in this country should address this issue and be calibrated to the size, scope and security of the domestic labor force. It must limit the power of capital to freely hire and fire American workers – and devastate entire communities.

The lobbyists of ‘Big Pharma’ and the state regulators, who profited from or just ignored the growing problem of drug addiction and overdose deaths should be treated like any other criminal charged with causing death or injury.

Doctors, who have decided to prescribe highly addictive narcotics in large quantities leading to addiction and fatal overdose, should be re-educated and monitored or face the loss of their license and prosecution. Early on in the epidemic, they knew about the addictive nature of these drugs. Not a few doctors and other medical personnel found themselves ‘hooked’. Recidivist operators of ‘pill mills’ should face serious penalties, including long incarceration. Health care providers could have decided to fight to secure their injured patients’ access to effective rehabilitation and physical therapy. Their easy mercenary choices have facilitated a disaster. How are they different from the notorious consultant psychologists, hired by the US government, to devise system of torture against detainees?

But others tried to raise the alarm: Pharmacists, doctors, nurses, and government regulators who resisted the pressure to prescribe or promote opioids for profit and instead tried to intervene to protect vulnerable patients or raise the alarm should be recognized and rewarded. Many faced professional retaliation for as ‘whistle-blowers’. The US, with its  ‘profit over patient’ ethos in health care, is the only industrialized nation to witness these demographic trends. This should be a cautionary tale to any country considering adopting US style health care and its lucrative but deadly approach to chronic ‘pain’. A recent investigation in the Los Angeles Times, entitled ‘OxyContin goes global – “We’re only just getting started” (December 18, 2016) details the mega-million dollar campaign of multinational opioid producers to break into other markets and documents an abrupt increase in overdose deaths.

An essential component to solving this huge crisis would be for the country to adopt a universal, publically funded, national health program. This could be funded by eliminating the cap on social security taxes and repatriating and taxing the trillions of overseas US corporate profits in tax havens; as well as by taxing big inheritance as a social redistributive remedy for immense wealth accumulation. This would open up opportunities in education, social mobility and careers. Only then will we see a decrease opioid addiction among the downwardly mobile workers and overdose deaths and reverse the trend of increasing mortality.

Taxes should be levied on corporations relocating abroad to combat capital flight. Speculative financial transactions, like stock trading, should be subject to a 1% sales tax.

A comprehensive national health system would drastically reduce the high administrative overhead. Unethical and unnecessary treatments and procedures and other scams endemic in our current ‘for profit’ health care system would be dramatically reduced. The resources, thus saved would go to effective health care and related services.

These financial, judicial and social services reforms would support a universal national health system expanded right on the existing Medicare structure, which has effectively served the older population for decades. This would help promote the growth a robust domestic labor market of secure, healthy and productive and well-paid workers.

Previous and current US Presidential Administrations and other political leaders have wasted trillions of public dollars on ‘multiple foreign wars on terror’ and ‘regimes change’ and financed the largest prison-industrial complex in human history, while ignoring the pre-mature death and destruction of their own citizens due to ‘legal’ pharmaceutical and medical practices. Alternatives have been left to future generations to ponder. Today there is a growing grass-root demand to end this crisis. The marginalized workers and rural poor who massively voted for the first time against ‘Big Pharma’s Candidate’ Hillary Clinton and elected the opportunist ‘billionaire’ Donald Trump were concentrated in the same areas devastated by the opioid (and worker suicide) epidemic. This marginalized sector, long scorned by the traditional politicians and dismissed by Candidate Clinton as ‘deplorables’, would require very little convincing to support a national health system as a first step to addressing the life and death crisis facing working Americans.

Furthermore the global trends toward implementing technological innovations, such as robots, automation and artificial intelligence, currently serve capitalist profits by making workers redundant and easier to exploit, as well as cutting out expensive health care and pensions. This change in capital-labor relations can and should be replaced with one, which uses technology to benefit the workers by improving the conditions of works and reducing the work week from 40 to 30 hours at the same pay (a once widespread worker demand during the 1950’s).

But these changes will not come from the ‘classless’ research projects of corporate-funded academics, or from the vacuous educational seminars given by NGO ‘experts’.

Meaningful battles against this ‘class war by prescription’ will depend on sustained solidarity and struggle. Workers will have to shake off this scourge. They have nothing to lose but their degrading and dangerous addictions. They have a world and a real future to win. Only they can ‘make America great again!’

[1] Shawn Donnan, “White ‘deaths of despair’ surge in US”, Financial Times, 3/24/2017

[2] ibid

[3] ibid

Mar 252017
 

By James Petras99GetSmart

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Introduction

From their dismal swamps, US academic and financial journal editorialists, the mass media and contemporary ‘Asia experts’, Western progressive and conservative politicians croak in unison about China’s environmental and impending collapse.

They have variably proclaimed (1) China’s economy is in decline; (2) the debt is overwhelming; a Chinese real estate bubble is ready to burst; (3) the country is rife with corruption and poisoned with pollution; and (4) Chinese workers are staging paralyzing strikes and protests amid growing repression – the result of exploitation and sharp class inequality. The financial frogs croak about China as an imminent military threat to the security of the US and its Asian partners. Other frogs leap for that fly in the sky – arguing that the Chinese now threatens the entire universe!

The ‘China doomsters’ with ‘logs in their own eyes’ have systematically distorted reality, fabricated whimsical tales and paint vision, which, in truth, reflect their own societies.

As each false claim is refuted, the frogs alter their tunes: When predictions of imminent collapse fail to materialize, they add a year or even a decade to their crystal ball. When their warnings of negative national social, economic and structural trends instead move in a positive direction, their nimble fingers re-calibrate the scope and depth of the crisis, citing anecdotal ‘revelations’ from some village or town or taxi driver conversation.

As long-predicted failures fail to materialize, the experts re-hash the data by questioning the reliability of China’s official statistics.

Worst of all, Western ‘Asia’ experts and scholars try ‘role reversal’: While US bases and ships increasingly encircle China, the Chinese become the aggressors and the bellicose US imperialists whine about their victim-hood.

Cutting through the swamp of these fabrications, this essay aims to outline an alternative and more objective account of China’s current socio-economic and political realty.

China: Fiction and Fact

We repeatedly read about China’s ‘cheap wage’ economy and the brutal exploitation of its slaving workers by billionaire oligarchs and corrupt political officials. In fact, the average wage in China’s manufacturing sector has tripled during this decade. China’s labor force receives wages which exceed those of Latin America countries, with one dubious exception. Chinese manufacturing wages now approach those of the downwardly mobile countries in the EU. Meanwhile, the neo-liberal regimes, under EU and US pressure, have halved wages in Greece, and significantly reduced incomes in Brazil, Mexico and Portugal. In China, workers wages now surpass Argentina, Colombia and Thailand. While not high by US-EU standards, China’s 2015 wages stood at $3.60 per hour – improving the living standards of 1.4 billion workers. During the time that China tripled its workers ‘wages, the wages of Indian workers stagnate at $0.70 per hour and South African wages fell from $4.30 to $3.60 per hour.

This spectacular increase in Chinese worker’s wages is largely attributed to skyrocketing productivity, resulting from steady improvements in worker health, education and technical training, as well as sustained organized worker pressure and class struggle. President Xi Jinping’s successful campaign for the removal and arrest of hundreds of thousands of corrupt and exploitative officials and factory bosses has boosted worker power. Chinese workers are closing the gap with the US minimum wage. At the current rate of growth, the gap, which had narrowed from one tenth to one half the US wage in ten years, will disappear in the near future.

China is no longer merely a low-wage, unskilled, labor intensive, assembly plant and export-oriented economy. Today twenty thousand technical schools graduate millions of skilled workers. High tech factories are incorporating robotics on a massive scale to replace unskilled workers. The service sector is increasing to meet the domestic consumer market. Faced with growing US political and military hostility, China has diversified its export market, turning from the US to Russia, the EU, Asia, Latin America and Africa.

Despite these impressive objective advances, the chorus of ‘crooked croakers’ continue to churn out annual predictions of China’s economic decline and decay. Their analyses are not altered by China’s 6.7% GNP growth in 2016; they jump on the 2017 forecast of ‘decline’ to 6.6% as proof of its looming collapse! Not be dissuaded by reality, the chorus of ‘Wall Street croakers’ wildly celebrate when the US announces a GNP increase from 1% to 1.5%!

While China has acknowledged its serious environmental problems, it is a leader in committing billions of dollars (2% of GNP) to reduce greenhouse gases – closing factories and mines. Their efforts far exceed those of the US and EU.

China, like the rest of Asia, as well as the US, needs to vastly increase investments in rebuilding its decaying or non-existent infrastructure. The Chinese government is alone among nations in keeping up with and even exceeding its growing transportation needs – spending $800 billion a year on high speed railroads, rail lines, seaports, airports subways and bridges.

While the US has rejected multi-national trade and investment treaties with eleven Pacific countries, China has promoted and financed global trade and investment treaties with more than fifty Asia-Pacific (minus Japan and the US), as well as African and European states.

China’s leadership under President Xi Jinping has launched an effective large-scale anti-corruption campaign leading to the arrest or ouster of over 200,000 business and public officials, including billionaires, and top politburo and Central Committee members. As a result of this national campaign, purchases of luxury items have significantly declined. The practice of using public funds for elaborate 12 course dinners and the ritual of gift giving and taking are on the wane.

Meanwhile, despite the political campaigns to ‘drain the swamp’ and successful populist referenda, nothing remotely resembling China’s anti-corruption campaign have taken root in the US and the UK despite daily reports of swindles and fraud involving the hundred leading investment banks in the Anglo-American world. China’s anti-corruption campaign may have succeeded in reducing inequalities. It clearly has earned the overwhelming support of the Chinese workers and farmers.

Journalists and academics, who like to parrot the Anglo-American and NATO Generals, warn that China’s military program poses a direct threat to the security of the US, Asia and indeed the rest of world.

Historical amnesia infects these most deep diving frogs. Forgotten is how the post WW2 US invaded and destroyed Korea and Indo-China (Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia) killing over nine million inhabitants, both civilian and defenders. The US invaded, colonized and neo-colonized the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century, killing up to one million inhabitants. It continues to build and expand its network of military bases encircling China, It recently moved powerful, nuclear armed THADD missiles to the North Korean border, capable of attacking Chinese and even Russian cities. The US is the world’s largest arms exporter, surpassing the collective production and sale of the next five leading merchants of death.

In contrast, China has not unilaterally attacked, invaded or occupied anyone in hundreds of years. It does not place nuclear missiles on the US coast or borders. In fact, it does not have a single overseas military base. Its own military bases, in the South China Sea, are established to protect its vital maritime routes from pirates and the increasingly provocative US naval armada. China’s military budget, scheduled to increase by 7% in 2017, is still less than one-fourth of the US budget.

For its part, the US promotes aggressive military alliances, points radar and satellite guided missiles at China, Iran and Russia, and threatens to obliterate North Korea. China’s military program has been and continues to be defensive. Its increase is based on its response to US provocation. China’s foreign imperial thrust is based on a global market strategy while Washington continues to pursue a militarist imperial strategy, designed to impose global domination by force.

Conclusion

The frogs of the Western intelligentsia have crocked loud and long. They strut and pose as the world’s leading fly catchers – but producing nothing credible in terms of objective analyses.

China has serious social, economic and structural problems, but they are systematically confronting them. The Chinese are committed to improving their society, economy and political system on their own terms. They seek to solve immensely challenging problems, while refusing to sacrifice their national sovereignty and the welfare of their people.

In confronting China as a world capitalist competitor, the US official policy is to surround China with military bases and threaten to disrupt its economy. As part of this strategy, Western media and so-called ‘experts’ magnify China’s problems and minimize their own.

Unlike China, the US is wallowing at less than 2% annual growth. Wages stagnate for decades; real wages and living standards decline. The costs of education and health care skyrocket, while the quality of these vital services decline dramatically. Costs are growing, unemployment is growing and worker suicide and mortality is growing. It is absolutely vital that the West acknowledge China’s impressive advances in order to learn, borrow and foster a similar pattern of positive growth and equity. Co-operation between China and the US is essential for promoting peace and justice in Asia.

Unfortunately, the previous US President Obama and the current President Trump have chosen the path of military confrontation and aggression. The two terms of Obama’s administration present a record of failing wars, financial crises, burgeoning prisons and declining domestic living standards. But for all their noise, these frogs, croaking in unison, will not change the real world.

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

Mar 192017
 

By James Petras99GetSmart

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Introduction

Over thirty year ago a savvy Colombian peasant leader told me, “Whenever I read the word ‘peace accords’ I hear the government sharpening its knives”.

In recent times, ‘peace accords’ (PAs) have become a common refrain across the world. In almost every region or country, which are in the midst of war or invasion, the prospects of negotiating ‘peace accords’ have been raised. In many cases, PA’s were signed and yet did not succeed in ending murder and mayhem at the hands of their US-backed interlocutors.

We will briefly review several past and present peace negotiations and ‘peace accords’ to understand the dynamics of the ‘peace process’ and the subsequent results.

The Peace Process

There are several ongoing negotiations today, purportedly designed to secure peace accords. These include discussions between (1) the Kiev-based US-NATO-backed junta in the west and the eastern ‘Donbas’ leadership opposed to the coup and NATO; (2) the Saudi US-NATO-armed terrorists in Syria and the Syrian government and its Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah allies; (3) the US-backed Israeli colonial regime and the Palestinian independence forces in the West Bank and Gaza; and (4) the US-backed Colombian regime of President Santos and the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC).

There are also several other peace negotiations taking place, many of which have not received public attention.

Past and Present Outcomes of Peace Accords

Over the past quarter century several PAs were signed – all of which led to the virtual surrender of armed anti-imperialist protagonists and popular mass movements.

The Central-American PA’s, involving Salvador and Guatemala, led to the unilateral disarmament of the resistance movement, the consolidation of oligarchical control over the economy, the growth and proliferation of narco-gangs and unfettered government-sponsored death squads. As a consequence, internal terror escalated. Resistance leaders secured the vote, entered Congress as politicians, and, in the case of El Salvador, were elected to high office. Inequalities remained the same or worsened, and murders matched or exceeded the numbers recorded during the pre-Peace Accord period. Massive numbers of immigrants, often of internal refugees fleeing gang violence, entered the US illegally. The US consolidated its military bases and operations in Central America while the population continued to suffer.

The Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations did not lead to any accord. Instead ‘negotiations’ became a thin cover for increasing annexation of Palestinian land to construct racists ‘Jews-Only’ enclaves, resulting in the illegal settlement of over half a million Jewish settlers. The US-backed the entire farcical peace process, financing the corrupt Palestinian vassal-leaders and providing unconditional diplomatic, military and political support to Israel.

US-Soviet Union: Peace Accord

The Reagan/Bush-Gorbachev ‘peace accords’ were supposed to end the Cold War and secure global peace. Instead the US and the EU established military bases and client regimes/allies throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic and Balkans, pillaged the national assets and took over their denationalized economies. US-based elites dominated the vassal Yeltsin regime and virtually stripped Russia of its resources and wealth. In alliance with gangster-oligarchs, they plundered the economy.

The post-Soviet Yeltsin regime ran  elections, promoted  multiple parties and presided over a desolate, isolated and increasingly surrounded  nation – at least until Vladimir Putin was elected to ‘decolonize’ the State apparatus and partially reconstruct the economy and society.

Ukraine Peace Negotiations

In 2014 a US-sponsored violent coup brought together fascists, oligarchs, generals and pro-EU supporters seizing control of Kiev and the western part of Ukraine. The pro-democracy Eastern regions of the Donbas and Crimean Peninsula organized resistance to the putsch regime. Crimea voted overwhelmingly to re-unite Russia. The industrial centers in Eastern Ukraine (Donbas) formed popular militias to resist the armed forces and neo-Nazi paramilitaries of the US backed-junta. After a few years of mayhem and stalemate, a ‘negotiation process’ unfolded despite which the Kiev regime continued to attack the east. The tentative ‘peace settlement” became the basis for the ‘Minsk agreement’, brokered by France, Russia and Germany, where the Kiev junta envisioned a disarming of the resistance movement, re-occupation of the Donbas and Crimea and eventual destruction of the cultural, political, economic and military autonomy of the ethnic Russian East Ukraine. As a result, the “Minsk Agreement” has been little more than a failed ploy to secure surrender. Meanwhile, the Kiev junta’s massive pillage of the nation’s economy has turned Ukraine into a failed state with 2.5 million fleeing to Russia and many thousands emigrating to the West to dig potatoes in Poland, or enter the brothels of London and Tel Aviv. The remaining unemployed youth are left to sell their services to Kiev’s paramilitary fascist shock troops.

Colombia: Peace Accord or Graveyard?

Any celebration of the Colombian FARC – President Santos’ ‘Peace Accord’ would be premature if we examine its past incarnations and present experience.

Over the past four decades, Colombian oligarchical regimes, backed by the military, death squads and Washington have invoked innumerable ‘peace commissions’, inaugurated negotiations with the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) and proceeded to both break off negotiations and relaunch full-scale wars using ‘peace accords’ as a pretext to decimate and demoralize political activists.

In 1984, then-President Belisario Betancur signed a peace accord with the FARC, known as the ‘Uribe Agreement’. Under this agreement, thousands of FARC activists and supporters demobilized, formed the Patriotic Union (UP), a legal electoral party, and participated in elections. In the 1986 Colombian elections, the UP candidates were elected as Senators, Congress people, mayors and city council members, and their Presidential candidate gained over 20% of the national vote. Over the next 4 years, from 1986-1989, over 5,000 UP leaders, elected officials and Presidential candidates were assassinated in a campaign of nationwide terror. Scores of thousands of peasants, oil workers, miners and plantation laborers were murdered, tortured and driven into exile. Paramilitary death squads and landlord-backed private armies, allied with the Colombian Armed Forces, assassinated thousands of union leaders, workers and their families members. The Colombian military’s ‘paramilitary strategy’ against non-combatants and villagers was developed in the 1960’s by US Army General William Yarborough, Commandant, US Army Special Warfare Center and ‘Father of the Green Beret’ Special Forces.

Within five years of its formation, the Patriotic Union no longer existed: Its surviving members had fled or gone into hiding.

In 1990, newly-elected President Cesar Gaviria proclaimed new peace negotiations with the FARC. Within months of his proclamation, the president ordered the bombing of the ‘Green House’, where the FARC leaders and negotiating team were being lodged. Fortunately, they had fled before the treacherous attack.

President Andrés Pastrana (1998-2001) called for new peace negotiations with the FARC to be held ‘in a demilitarized zone’. Peace talks began in the jungle region of El Caguan in November 1998. President Pastrana had made numerous pledges, concessions and reforms with the FARC and social activists, but, at the same time he had signed a ten-year multi-billion dollar military aid agreement with US President Clinton, known as ‘Plan Colombia’. This practice of ‘double-dealing’ culminated with the Colombian Armed Forces launching a ‘scorched earth policy’ against the ‘demilitarized zones’ under the newly elected (and death-squad linked) President Alvaro Uribe Velez. Over the next eight years, President Uribe drove nearly four million Colombian peasants into internal exile. With the multi-billion dollar funding from Washington, Uribe was able to double the size of the Colombian Armed Forces to over 350,000 troops, incorporating members of the death squads into the military. He also oversaw the formation of new paramilitary armies. By 2010 the FARC had declined from eighteen thousand to under ten thousand fighters – with hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties and millions rendered homeless.

In 2010 Uribe’s former Minister of Defense, Juan Manual Santos was elected President. By 2012 Santos initiated another “peace process” with the FARC, which was signed by the end of 2016. Under the new ‘Peace Accord’, signed in Cuba, hundreds of officers implicated in torture, assassinations and forced relocation of peasants were given immunity from prosecution while FARC guerillas were to face trial. The government promised land reform and the right to return for displaced farmers and their families. However, when peasants returned to claim their land they were driven away or even killed.

FARC leaders agreed to demobilize and disarm unilaterally by June 2017. The military and their paramilitary allies would retain their arms and gain total control over previous FARC- liberated zones.

President Santos ensured that the ‘Peace Accord’ would include a series of Presidential Decrees – privatizing the country’s mineral and oil resources and converting small family farms to commercial plantations. Demobilized peasant-rebels were offered plots of infertile marginal lands, without government support or funding for roads, tools, seed and fertilizer or even schools and housing, necessary for the transition. While some FARC leaders secured seats in Congress and the freedom to run in elections unmolested, the young rank and file FARC fighters and peasants were left without many alternatives but to join paramilitary or ‘narco’ gangs.

In summary, the historical record demonstrates that a series of Colombian presidents and  regimes have systematically violated all peace agreements and accords, assassinated the rebel signees and retained elite control over the economy and labor force. Before his election, the current President Santos presided over the most deadly decade when he was Uribe’s Defense Minister.

For brokering the peace of the graveyard for scores of thousands of Colombian peasants and activists, President Santos was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

In Havana, FARC leaders and negotiators were praised by Cuban President Raul Castro, President Obama, Venezuelan President Maduro and the vast majority of ‘progressives’ and rightists in North and South America and Europe.

Colombia’s bloody history, including the widespread murder of Colombian civil rights activists and peasant leaders, has continued even as the documents finalizing the Peace Accords were being signed. During the first month of 2017, five human right activists were murdered by death squads – linked to the oligarchy and military. In 2015, while the FARC was negotiating over several clauses in the agreement, over 122 peasant and human rights activists were murdered by paramilitary groups who continued to operate freely in areas controlled by Santos’ army. The mass media propaganda mills continue to repeat the lie that ‘200,000 people were killed by the guerillas (FARC) and the government’ when the vast majority of the killings were committed by the government and its allied death squads; a calumny, which guerilla leaders fail to challenge. Prominent Jesuit researcher Javier Giraldo has provided a detailed factual account documenting that over three quarters of the killings were committed by the Army and paramilitary.

We are asked to believe presidential regimes that have murdered and continue to murder over 150,000 Colombian workers, peasants, indigenous leaders and professionals are suddenly transformed into justice-loving partners in peace. During the first three months of this year, activists, sympathetic to the peace agreement with the FARC, continue to be targeted and killed by supposedly demobilized paramilitary murderers.

Social movement leaders report rising political violence by military forces and their allies. Even peace monitors and the UN Human Rights Office admit that state and paramilitary violence are destroying any structure that President Santos could hope to implement the reforms. As the FARC withdraws from regions under popular control, peasants seeking land reform are targeted by private armies. The Santos regime is more concerned with protecting the massive land grabs by big mining consortiums.

As the killing of FARC supporters and human rights activists multiply, as President Santos and Washington look to take advantage of a disarmed and demobilized guerilla army, the ‘historic peace accord’ becomes a great deceit designed to expand imperial power.

Conclusion: Epitaph for Peace Accords

Time and again throughout the world, imperial-brokered peace negotiations and accords have served only one goal: to disarm, demobilize, defeat and demoralize resistance fighters and their allies.

‘Peace Accords’, as we know them, have served to rearm and regroup US-backed forces following tactical setbacks of the guerrilla struggle. ‘PA’s are encouraged to divide the opposition (‘salami tactics’) and facilitate conquest. The rhetoric of ‘peace’ as in ‘peace negotiations’ are terms which actually mean ‘unilateral disarmament’ of the resistance fighters, the surrender of territory and the abandonment of civilian sympathizers. The so-called ‘war zones’, which contain fertile lands and valuable mineral reserves are ‘pacified’ by being absorbed by the ‘peace loving’ regime. This serves their privatization programs and promote  the  pillage of the ‘developmental state’. Negotiated peace settlements are overseen by US officials, who praise and laud the rebel leaders while they sign agreements to be implemented by US vassal regimes . . . The latter will ensure the rejection of any realignment of foreign policy and any structural socio-economic changes.

Some peace accords may allow former guerilla leaders to compete and in some cases win elections as marginal representatives, while their mass base is decimated.

In most cases, during the peace process, and especially after signing ‘peace accords’, social organizations and movements and their supporters among the peasantry and working class, as well as human rights activists, end up being targeted by the military and  para-military death-squads operating around government military bases.

Often, the international allies of resistance movements have encouraged them to negotiate PAs, in order to demonstrate to the US that ‘they are responsible’ — hoping to secure improved diplomatic and trade relations. Needless to say, ‘responsible negotiations’ will merely strengthen imperial resolve to press for further concessions, and encourage military aggression and new conquests.

Just ‘peace accords’ are based on mutual disarmament, recognition of territorial autonomy and the authority of local insurgent administration over agreed upon land reforms, retaining mineral rights and military-public security.

PA’s should be the first step in the political agendas, implemented under the control of independent rebel military and civil monitors.

The disastrous outcome of unilateral disarmament is due to the non-implementation of progressive, independent foreign policy and structural changes.

Past and present peace negotiations, based on the recognition of the sovereignty of an independent state linked to mass movements, have always ended in the US breaking the agreements. True ‘peace accords’ contradict the imperial goal of conquering via the negotiating table what could not be won through war.

Mar 122017
 

By James Petras99GetSmart

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US militarism expanded exponentially through the first two decades of the Twenty-First Century, and was embraced by both Democratic and Republican Presidents. The mass media’s hysteria towards President Trump’s increase in military spending deliberately ignores the vast expansion of militarism, in all its facets, under President Obama and his two predecessors, Presidents ‘Bill’ Clinton and George Bush, Jr.

We will proceed in this essay to compare and discuss the unbroken rise of militarism over the past seventeen years. We will then demonstrate that militarism is an essential structural feature of US imperialism’s insertion in the international system.

Militarism

Vast increases in military spending have been a constant regardless of who was President of the United States, and regardless of their popular campaign rhetoric to curb military spending in favor of the domestic economy.

Under ‘Bill’ Clinton, the war budget increased from $302 billion in 2000 to $313 billion in 2001. Under President George W. Bush (Jr.), military spending jumped from $357 billion in 2002 to $465 billion in 2004, to $621 billion in 2008. Under President Obama (the ‘Peace Candidate’), military spending soared from $669 billion in 2009 to $711 billion in 2011 and then apparently declined to $596 billion in 2017. Currently, the newly installed President Trump is asking for an increase to $650 billion for 2018.

Several observations are in order: Obama’s military budget in 2017 excluded spending in several ‘Defense-related’ departments of government, including a $25 billion increase for the Energy Department’s nuclear weapons program. Obama’s total for military spending for 2017 adds up to $623 billion or $30 billion less than Trump’s proposal. Moreover, Obama’s military spending for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), which is not listed in the annual budget proposals, included the cost of US wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya and numerous other countries and had skyrocketed during his term. Indeed, Obama’s eight years in office exceeded George W. Bush’s military spending by over $816 billion dollars.

President Trump’s proposed increase in military spending is in line with the Democratic President’s trajectory – contrary to the claims of the mass media. Clearly both Republicans and Democrats have massively increased their reliance on the US military as the driving force of world power. While Obama’s 2017 budget included $7.5 billion for ‘ISIS operations’ (an increase of 50%) and $8 billion for cyber warfare and (counter) terrorism, the largest increase was for stealth warplanes, nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers, clearly aimed at Russia, China and Iran. The Navy and Air Force got three quarters of the budget.

Under Obama, the US escalation of weaponry was not directed at ‘terrorist groups’ but, instead, at Russia and China. Washington has been intent on bankrupting Russia –in order to return it to the vassalage of the pre-Putin decade. The CIA, Obama, and the Republican Partys’ ferocious campaign against Trump is based on his overtures toward Russia. The centerpiece of the decades-long US quest for unipolar domination now depends on stripping Trump of his power and appointments, which in part or whole, are seen as undermining the entire structure of US military-driven imperialism as had been pursued by the previous four administrations.

Trump’s increase in military spending is apparently intended to be a ‘bargaining chip’ in his plan to expand US economic opportunities – cutting deals with Russia, renegotiating trade with China, East Asia (Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea) and Germany, all of which comprise the bulk of the US trillion-dollar annual trade deficit.

Trump’s repeated setbacks, the constant pressure on his appointees and the toll inflicted by the mass media on every aspect of his persona and personal life, even in the face of a historic increase in the stock market across the board, indicates a deep division among US oligarchs over power and ‘who governs’. Not since the onset of WWII have we witnessed fundamental cleavages over foreign policy. Previous conceptions of partisan debates are out of date. The financial press (the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal) is openly aligned with the militarists, while the financial marketers on Wall Street support Trump’s pro-business domestic policies and conciliatory overtures to Russia and China. Most of the propaganda mills, dubbed ‘think tanks’, with their stables of academics, ‘experts’, editorialists, and liberal and neoconservative ideologues promote military aggression against Russia. Meanwhile, the populist social media, grass roots Trump supporters, domestic manufacturers and the nation’s Chambers of Commerce press for domestic tax cuts and protectionist measures.

The Army is pro-Trump and favors his concept of regional wars for economic gains. In contrast, the CIA, the Navy and Air Force, which benefited significantly from Obama’s lopsided war budgets, pursue a policy of global military confrontations with Russia and China and multiple wars against their allies, such as Iran, regardless of the devastation such a policy will have on the domestic economy.

Donald Trump’s concept of imperialism is based on exporting products and capturing markets while attracting multinational corporation capital back to the US for re-investing their profits (currently over one trillion held overseas)in the domestic market. He opposes economic and military alliances that have increased US trade deficits and debt in contrast to the previous administrations of militarists who accepted crippling trade deficits and disproportionate US spending on military intervention, bases and sanctions against Russia and its allies.

President Trump’s goal of making Western Europe pay a greater share of NATO (and thus reduce Europe’s dependence on US military spending) has been rejected by both political parties. Every one of Trump’s small steps toward improving relations to Russia has aroused the ire of the unipolar military imperialists who control the leadership of the Democrats and the Republicans.

Militarist imperialism has offered a few tactical concessions to Russia’s allies – the unstable agreements with Iran and Lebanon and the flimsy peace accords in Ukraine. At the same time Washington is expanding its military bases from the Nordic-Baltic regions to Asia. It threatens support for military coups in Brazil, Venezuela and Ukraine.

The strategic purpose of these bellicose moves is to encircle and destroy Russia as a potential independent counter-weight to US global dominance.

President Trump’s initial policy has been to build ‘fortress America’: Increasing the military budget, building up police and military power along the Mexican border and within the oil rich Gulf States. Trump’s agenda would strengthen the military in Asia and elsewhere in order to enhance the US’ economic bargaining position in bilateral negotiations with the aim of enlarging its export markets.

Conclusion

The United States is witnessing a deadly confrontation between two sharply polarized imperialisms.

Militarism, the established form of US imperialism is deeply entrenched within the permanent state apparatus. This includes the 17 intelligence agencies, the propaganda departments, the Air Force and Navy, as well as the high tech sector and the commercial capitalist elites who have benefited from foreign imports and foreign low cost skilled labor at the expense of US workers. Their record is one of disastrous wars, lost markets, declining wages, deteriorating living standards and the relocation of well-paid jobs abroad. At best, they have secured a few, weak vassal regimes at an enormous cost.

The Trump regime’s attempt to fashion a strategic imperialist alternative revolves around a more nuanced approach: He seeks to use military power to enhance the domestic labor market and secure mass support for overseas economic intervention.

First and foremost, Trump realizes that Russia cannot be isolated from its markets in Europe and defeated by sanctions. This led him to propose negotiating a global agreement for large-scale trade deals, which would favor US banks, oil, agriculture and upscale industries. Secondly, Trump supports ‘social imperialism’, whereby US exports markets, based on local US industries, labor and banks, would lead to higher wages and profits for American businesses and workers. US imperialism would not depend on costly and failed military invasions, but on overseas ‘invasions’ by US industries and banks who would then return their profits to the US for investment and further boost the stock market already stimulated by his stated plans for deregulation and tax cuts.

President Trump’s transition to this new imperial paradigm faces a formidable adversary which has so far succeeded in blocking his agenda and threatens to overthrow his regime.

From the beginning, Trump’s failed to consolidate state power, an error which undermined his administration. While his election victory gave him the Office of the Presidency, his regime is only one aspect of state power, which is vulnerable to immediate erosion and ouster by the independent coercive and legislative branches, intent on his political demise. The other government branches are filled with holdovers from the Obama and previous regimes – and are deeply committed to militarism.

Secondly, Trump failed to mobilize his elite supporters and mass base around an alternative media. His ‘early morning Tweets’ are a flimsy counter-weight to the concentrated mass media attack on his governance.

Thirdly, while Trump moved successfully to secure international support with Japan and England, he backed off from dealing with Russia — which will be central to undermining his imperial adversaries.

Fourthly, Trump has failed to connect his immigration policies with an effective new program of domestic employment and he failed to expose and capitalize on the draconian anti-immigrant policies waged under the Obama administration, during which millions were imprisoned and expelled.

Fifthly, Trump failed to clarify the link between his pro-market economic policies and military spending and how they are linked to a totally different paradigm.

As a consequence, the success of the liberal-neo-conservative militarist assault on the new president has put his central strategy in retreat. Trump is under siege and on the defensive. Even if he survives this concentrated onslaught, his original conception of ‘re-making’ American imperial and domestic policy is in tatters and the pieces will blend the worst of both worlds: Without expanding overseas markets for American products and a successful domestic jobs program, the prospects are for President Donald Trump to revert to overseas wars and usher in a market collapse.

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

Feb 252017
 

By James Petras99GetSmart

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The Financial Times’ Special Report (2/16/2017) published a four-page spread on the ‘use and possible dangers of artificial intelligence (AI)’. Unlike the usual trash journalists who serve as Washington’s megaphones on the editorial pages and political columns, the Special Report is a thoughtful essay that raises many important issues, even as it is fundamentally flawed.

The writer, Richard Walters, cites several major problems accompanying AI from ‘public anxieties, to inequalities and job insecurity’. Walters pleads with those he calls the ‘controllers of autonomous systems’ to heed social and ‘political frictions’ or face societal ‘disruption’. Experts and journalists, discussing the long-term, large-scale destruction of the working class and service jobs, claim that AI can be ameliorated through management and social engineering.

This essay will proceed to raise fundamental issues, questions leading to an alternative approach to AI relying on class analysis. We will reject the specter of AI as a ‘Frankenstein’ by identifying the social forces, which finance, design and direct AI and which benefit from its negative social impact.

Basic Questions: Demystifying AI

The best and the worst of the experts reporting on AI assert that it is an autonomous system, devoid of any link to the class structure within which it operates. Their version of technological determinism, above and beyond the needs and demands of capitalists, fits neatly with the corporate ideology of the trash journalists and pundits.

The fundamental questions that must be raised include: 1) AI, for whom?; 2) How are the productivity gains of AI to be distributed between capital and labor? 3) How are work time, income and pensions distributed between the owners of technology and the labor force?; and 4) What kinds of socio-economic activity does AI serve?

Artificial Intelligence and related technological innovations are financed, designed, controlled and ultimately applied by the major corporations and financial institutions in order to reduce the cost of labor and to enhance profits and competitiveness between capitalist rivals.

AI and similar capitalist technological changes, along with the overseas relocation of information technology and manufacturing production are the principal destroyers of workers’ employment and living standards in the US.

AI technology, alongside vast spending for imperial wars and military procurement, multi-billion dollar bank-bailouts and the promotion of finance-over-productive capital represent the forces driving down wages, salaries, living standards, pensions and, lately, life expectancy for the marginalized working class and rural population.

The innovators and promoters of AI, whether individuals or small groups, seek capitalist support to finance, market and ‘acquire’ their ‘discoveries’. In fact, the entire industry has been built upon large-scale, tax-funded public research centers and university laboratories, which have paid for the buildings as well as the scientists’ and professors’ salaries.

Most of IT and AI related profits are distributed among the military-industrial complex, the chemical agro-industrial monopolies and the transport and consumer goods manufacturing elites. While garbage journalists and experts cite ‘AI’s contribution to health, education and social services, they forget to clarify that these ‘innovations’ are controlled by private health corporations, private ‘charter’ schools and public sector education elites intent on increasing profits, lowering teachers’ salaries, slashing programs and undermining student learning. The dismal, fragmented and mal-distributed state of healthcare and education in the United States are never seriously discussed because they put the lie to the absurd claims made about the benefits of AI and IT for the broader population.

Far from being ‘autonomous’ and subject to abstract ‘controllers’, AI, IT, and high technology serve to concentrate wealth, power and profits for multiple sectors of the ruling class who determine how such technologies will be used.

The financiers of AI and their partners direct the scientists, engineers and marketers. The garbage journalists are paid to proclaim the arrival of ‘history-making’ innovations. The media describe AI as ‘machine learning, a form of advanced pattern recognition technology to make judgments by analyzing large amounts of data (which) could supplement human thought’ (FT Special Report, 2/17/2017).

Contrary to the above-mentioned assumptions, the ‘judgments’ are made by the ruling class, using parameters and metrics determined by the elite, deciding on what kinds of ‘patterns are to be recognized’ in order that they can derive the kind of information they need to enhance profits, make war, maximize killing and engineering massive layoffs of workers. In a word, class assumptions dictate AI, IT, and the use of these innovations.

Conclusion: Alternatives

If class determines AI, and in present-day America that means the ruling class, then only changes in the class structure can pose different questions and answers to our originally stated problems. Only by sharpening the class struggle, which changes who rules the banks, factories and social institutions, will new assumptions direct AI and IT and other innovations.

Only workers, professionals and scientists, who replace the prioritizing of profits with meeting social needs, can produce an AI that lowers the retirement age, increases national health care, facilitates workers’ decision making, distributes high quality education and information to the citizenry, reduces inequalities and shifts earnings from capital to labor.

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

Feb 192017
 

By James Petras99GetSmart

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Introduction

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

Foreign Policy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rebalancing Foreign Spending and Trade

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

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

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

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

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

Trump and Latin America

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

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

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

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

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

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

Democracy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump and the Class Struggle

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feb 112017
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

clinton_bush_obama_trump

‘De Omnibus Dubitandum’

Everything is to be Doubted

Introduction

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

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

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

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

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

Historical Sequences

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Optimistic Perspectives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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