Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart
* THE RED LINE AND THE RAT LINE
By Seymour M. Hersh, London Review of Books
In 2011 Barack Obama led an allied military intervention in Libya without consulting the US Congress. Last August, after the sarin attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, he was ready to launch an allied air strike, this time to punish the Syrian government for allegedly crossing the ‘red line’ he had set in 2012 on the use of chemical weapons. ＊ Then with less than two days to go before the planned strike, he announced that he would seek congressional approval for the intervention. The strike was postponed as Congress prepared for hearings, and subsequently cancelled when Obama accepted Assad’s offer to relinquish his chemical arsenal in a deal brokered by Russia. Why did Obama delay and then relent on Syria when he was not shy about rushing into Libya? The answer lies in a clash between those in the administration who were committed to enforcing the red line, and military leaders who thought that going to war was both unjustified and potentially disastrous.
Obama’s change of mind had its origins at Porton Down, the defence laboratory in Wiltshire. British intelligence had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didn’t match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army’s chemical weapons arsenal. The message that the case against Syria wouldn’t hold up was quickly relayed to the US joint chiefs of staff. The British report heightened doubts inside the Pentagon; the joint chiefs were already preparing to warn Obama that his plans for a far-reaching bomb and missile attack on Syria’s infrastructure could lead to a wider war in the Middle East. As a consequence the American officers delivered a last-minute caution to the president, which, in their view, eventually led to his cancelling the attack.
For months there had been acute concern among senior military leaders and the intelligence community about the role in the war of Syria’s neighbours, especially Turkey. Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan was known to be supporting the al-Nusra Front, a jihadist faction among the rebel opposition, as well as other Islamist rebel groups. ‘We knew there were some in the Turkish government,’ a former senior US intelligence official, who has access to current intelligence, told me, ‘who believed they could get Assad’s nuts in a vice by dabbling with a sarin attack inside Syria – and forcing Obama to make good on his red line threat.’ […]
* ALL THE PRESIDENTS’ BANKERS: THE WORLD BANK AND THE IMF
By Nomi Prins, zerohedge
The following is an excerpt from ALL THE PRESIDENTS’ BANKERS: The Hidden Alliances that Drive American Power by Nomi Prins (on sale April 8, 2014). Nomi Prins is a former managing director at Goldman Sachs.
The World Bank and the IMF: Expanding Wall Street’s Reach Worldwide
Just after the United States entered World War II, two simultaneous initiatives unfolded that would dictate elements of financing after the war, through the joint initiatives of foreign policy measures and private banking whims. Plans were already being formulated to navigate the postwar peace, especially its international power implications for finance and politics, in the background. American political leaders and scholars began considering the concept of “one world” from an economic perspective, void of divisions and imbalances. Or so the theory went.
The original plans to create a set of multinational entities that would finance one-world reconstruction and development (and ostensibly balance the world’s various economies) were conceived by two academics: John Maynard Keynes, an adviser for the British Treasury, and Harry Dexter White, an economist in the Division of Monetary Research of the US Treasury under Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau.
By the spring of 1942, White had drafted plans for a “stabilization fund” and a “Bank for Reconstruction and Development.” His concept for the fund became the seed for the International Monetary Fund. The other idea became the World Bank. But before those entities would come to life through the Bretton Woods conferences, many arguments about their makeup would take place, and millions of lives would be lost. […]
* EURODAD REPORT SHOWS HOW IMF LENDING OFTEN MAKES CRISIS COUNTRIES’ SITUATION WORSE
Source: Eurodad, CADTM
IMF loans come with conditions which are often highly controversial, for example influencing taxes and cutting spending; freezing or reducing public sector wages; and mandating cutbacks in welfare programmes, including pensions. There are also conditions on the restructuring and privatisation of public enterprises, and conditions that reduce minimum wage levels.
Although the IMF has said it has tried to “streamline” its conditional lending, Eurodad counted an average of 19.5 structural conditions per programme – a sharp increase since 2005-7 when Eurodad found an average of 13.7 conditions. The biggest loans had the heaviest conditions, with exceptionally high numbers in Cyprus, Greece and Jamaica – which totalled an average of 35 structural conditions per programme.
Almost all the countries were repeat borrowers from the IMF, suggesting that it is propping up governments with unsustainable debt levels, not lending for a temporary balance of payments problems – its true mandate. Developing countries have a limited voice and minority vote at the IMF, and so these developments are especially worrying for them.
The Ukraine is the latest country to have been in negotiations with the IMF, with conditions attached to their proposed loan reported to include a cut in energy subsidies for consumers and a rise in gas prices by 50 per cent. […]
* WHITEWASHING THE UGLY FACE OF CAPITALISM
By Patrice Greanville, Greanville Post
(NOTE: This essay is a revised version of the original first published in the fall of 1982 in the premiere edition of Cyrano’s Journal, America’s First Radical Media Review. )
GLOSSARY OF MAJOR DISTORTIONS
1 Capitalism = human nature
This propaganda equation is one of the oldest and most effective ideological weapons utilized in defense of capitalism. It pays off handsomely in a number of important ways. First, if capitalism is congruent with “human nature,” then the capitalist system must be the most “natural” and “logical” form of social organization, as people will have a built-in tendency to observe its basic rules. Second, “human nature,” as defined in bourgeois terms (which the press of course follows) is characterized by two significant traits: immutability and unalterable egoism.
The first “fact” automatically discourages most efforts at seriously reforming, let alone revolutionizing, society. Why should anyone bother if in the end the stubborn intractability of human nature will render all schemes for change and improvement of social conditions worthless and utopian? It’s evident that when sufficient numbers of people are made to believe that an eternal, immutable and invincible “human nature” will time and again scuttle the best-laid plans and the costliest sacrifices for change, then most threats to the status quo will be defanged at the outset.
The second “fact,” addressing the supposed individualistic nature of people, provides a convenient justification for the harsh, dog-eat-dog conditions that prevail under the so-called free-enterprise system. In this vision, all human motivation is supposed to flow from the desire for pecuniary gain and self-aggrandisement. Individuals are perceived uni-dimensionally as simple atoms of unrelenting hedonism, constantly pursuing the calculus of profit and loss, pain and pleasure, as they irrepressibly “maximize” their options to fulfill the dictates of hopelessly greedy natures. This is the fabled “homo economicus” of free market literature; the heroic “rugged individualist” so dear to conservatives, and supposedly the creature on which all human progress and wealth depend. But why do the media–and especially the wilier corporate apologists– embrace this tack with so much fervor? As suggested above, the very possibility of changing things is a highly contested ideological area. Radicals argue that society can and should be drastically changed. Conservatives (and the media, which incorporates the mildly reformist liberal viewpoint) contend that nothing basic can or should be changed because our behavior is rooted in an unchanging human nature true for all epochs, systems, and states of human evolution, and, besides, the system is quite sound as it is. History, however, when properly read, is not very kind to conservative social science. As economists E.K. Hunt and Howard Sherman have pointed out, “human nature” seems quite adept at changing to reflect each new set of prevailing social circumstances.
Thus, “it’s no coincidence that the dominant view or ideology under slavery supports slavery; that under serfdom [it] supports serfdom; and that under capitalism [it] supports capitalism. (…) Since our ideology is determined by our social environment, radical economists contend that a change in our socioeconomic structure will eventually change the dominant ideology. Before the Civil War most Southerners (including their social scientists and religious leaders) believed firmly that slavery, an essentially pre-capitalist, agricultural system, was natural and good; but after 100 years of dominance by capitalist socioeconomic institutions, most Southerners (including their social scientists and religious ministers) now declare that capitalism is “natural and good”. So the dominant ideas of any epoch are not determined by “human nature” but by socioeconomic relations and can be changed by changes in these underlying relationships. There is thus hope for a completely new and better society with new and better views by most people.” (F.K. Hunt and Howard J. Sherman, Economics, Harper & Row, 1978, p. xxviii.)
Further, if “human nature” is inherently greedy, competitive and egoist, how do we explain altruism, sharing, selflessness and social cooperation, which can be readily observed to this day in many human institutions and societies throughout the world? It should be borne in mind that class-divided societies and private property made their appearance barely 10,000 years ago, roughly congruent with the rise of agriculture, food surpluses, sedentarism and animal-domestication, while the bulk of our time on earth as a species has been spent under tribal or primitive communitarianism which stressed familial bonds and a sharing of the commonwealth.Question for our pro-capitalist theoreticians: Did native Americans have a human nature?