Nov 042014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov 022014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

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

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

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

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

Free Elections and the Rejection of US Clients

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

Washington and Latin America:  Masters of Defeats

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

Bolivia

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

Venezuela

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

Ecuador

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

Honduras

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

Brazil

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

Argentina

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

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

Paraguay

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

Globalizing US Threats to Democracy

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

Ukraine

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

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

Russia

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

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

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

Iran

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

Egypt

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

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

Libya

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

Palestine

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

Lebanon

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

Syria

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

China

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov 012014
 

By Eric Toussaint and Tassos Tsakiroglou, CADTM

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• Manuel Valls and Matteo Renzi are asking for more time to reduce their countries’ deficits, offering in exchange reforms that would make their countries more competitive. Is this a real challenge to the European austerity consensus? Can this bring about some advantages?

I think their request will be refused. The European Commission wants to continue to apply its brutal austerity policies over the whole of the European Union, in particularly to the peripheral countries (Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and the central and eastern European countries), but also to countries like France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria and Germany. If the French and Italian governments managed to persuade the European Commission to abandon austerity policies, that would be welcome, but it’s impossible. Even as they are making these requests to the European Commission, Mr. Hollande and Mr. Renzi are keeping up the pressure on the labour market, making it more precarious. In Italy, for example, Mr. Renzi is attacking the remaining social achievements that Mr. Berlusconi failed to destroy. What’s more, we know that the Valls government in France is favourably inclined towards the big corporations, banks and insurance companies.

• Alexis Tsipras has called for an international conference for the abolition of the debt of the Southern European countries that are affected by the crisis, similar to what was done for Germany in 1953, when 22 countries, including Greece, cancelled a large part of the German debt. Is this a realistic possibility today?

This is a legitimate demand. Unlike Nazi Germany, Greece has not caused any conflict on European soil. The Greek people can strongly insist that the Greek debt is illegal or illegitimate and should be cancelled, just as the German debt was in 1953. |2| However, I don’t think that SYRIZA and other European political forces can convince the European institutions to get together around a table to do the same as was done for Germany in 1953. Although this request is legitimate, and this is why I have supported the Tsipras candidature to the Presidency of the European Commission |3|, it will not be possible to bring the governments of the main European economies and the EU institutions to the table on this agenda.

The experience of the last ten years has shown that unilateral sovereign acts can get results. The creditors that reclaim the payment of an illegitimate debt and impose violent measures that attack fundamental human rights, including economic and social rights, must be refused. I think that Greece has strong arguments for forming a government that would have popular support for working in this direction. Such a popular leftist government could establish a debt audit committee that would include a large popular democratic participation. This audit committee would unilaterally suspend repayments and finally repudiate the part of the debt that it identifies as illegal and/or odious.

• In Greece, SYRIZA is topping all the polls and several of its leaders have declared that any debt negotiation will be done within the Eurozone context and will not be a unilateral decision. What do you have to say about this?

Yes, I know the official SYRIZA position. Personally, I try to show that another way is possible. It’s clear that most of the Eurozone governments and the ECB will not agree to an important reduction of Greek debt. So, in spite of SYRIZA’s willingness to negotiate, I think it will be impossible to come to terms with all. This requires a more radical approach – there is no other possibility – just as was done by Iceland after 2008, Ecuador in 2007 – 2009 and Argentina between 2001 and 2005.

Since then, those governments have made a series of mistakes and abandoned their radical positions. This why they are in great difficulty today, as is the case of Argentina, that I have recently visited. The Argentine parliament has passed a law that means Argentina must, from now on, act in a sovereign fashion in the management of its debt. It was agreed to create a Congressional Audit Committee that will sit for three months; we will see whether this does come about.

• You have said that reducing public debt is necessary, but not sufficient to bring the EU countries out of the crisis, that other strong measures will be necessary in different sectors. Can you, briefly, tell us more?

First of all, nationalize the banks – I prefer to use the term socialization. I think that the Greek banks, and the banks of other countries, should become public and be put to the service of the population, in a framework of strict regulations imposing the rules and the objectives fixed by the population. Controlling the circulation of capital is also essential, in particularly that made by the big financial institutions. I am not talking about remittances of 1,000 or 2,000 euros, but large sums, which would require authorization by controlling authorities, without which a guilty bank would be sanctioned by heavily dissuasive fines and the revocation of its banking licence. This measure must be seriously applied. It would be a protection for ordinary users who make reasonably-sized international transfers of money. Tax reform is also very important: reduce taxes paid by the majority of the population and greatly increase, on a progressive scale, those imposed on the richest households and international companies, whether national or foreign.

• And for Greece?

SYRIZA made interesting propositions during the 2012 elections. If there is a SYRIZA government the unjust laws (in particular, those that abolished collective bargaining between labour and employers) that were passed under pressure from the Troika must be repealed. Other necessary measures would include: radical tax reform favouring social justice and redistribution of the country’s wealth; the abolition of the most unfair taxes paid by the poor and increased taxation of the rich; an audit of the debt and the repudiation of the part identified as illegal and/or odious; socialization of the banks and control of the movement of capital.

• As Naomi Klein has said, “Neoliberal capitalism is fundamentally at war with life on Earth”. Recently, hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets in many countries to protest against climate change. What does this mean?

This very important because, worldwide, more and more people are becoming aware that we are facing global problems: global inequalities damage the climate, push people to migrate, and cause wars. International protest movements are fundamental and essential. Nevertheless, they need to be strengthened. I am impatient to see greater, and stronger, worldwide mobilisation of the peoples.

Translated from French to English by Snake Arbusto, Vickie Briault and Mike Krolikowski.

The original Greek version is available here : http://www.efsyn.gr/?p=245093
Translated by Christian Haccuria, from Greek to French.

Footnotes

|1| The original version appeared on Sunday, 20 October 2014 in the Greek centre-Left daily Εfimerida ton Syntakton (Journal of Editors): http://www.efsyn.gr/?p=245093, «Νόμιμο το αίτημα Τσίπρα για διεθνή διάσκεψη για το χρέος». The French version was reviewed by Éric Toussaint.

|2| See the article: Eric Toussaint, “The cancellation of German debt in 1953 versus the attitude to the Third World and Greece”, published 18 August 2014.

|3| In 2014, when the new President of the EU Commission was designated, the European Left parliamentary group had nominated Alexis Tsipras as a candidate against Jean-Claude Juncker (supported by the European People’s Party and the European Socialist group) and a liberal.

Oct 312014
 

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

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Activists and young intellectuals from across Europe came from all directions and gathered in the heart of Europe, at a centuries-old castle near Berlin, Schloss Wartin, for the #FixEurope Autumn Campus. European Alternatives, who organized the meeting, set up the agenda to discuss problems that Europe faces and find possible “solutions” that might bring about a better future for all of us. We shared, we learned, we explored, and most importantly, we discussed all kinds of issues that Europe is facing today.

Dozens of people gathered around a table of vegetarian grill raised their glasses to a better future in the hopes of a more complete Europe. People seemed eager to discuss matters that they think are vital for the future of the continent, and suddenly it seemed to become much easier to solve any problem the old continent might have. Once the path to discussion and dialogue is open, rational people should be able to find a way to overcome whatever problems are affecting the whole area and be able to give an answer to those who claim that there can never be an answer.

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When participants were asked to simply note down the things they think need fixing in Europe, the list just went on and on. The list was getting almost as long as the history of the castle. Yet in fact this should not discourage any Europhile. It is merely an opportunity to see what happens when there is a very unilateral understanding of integration and of the European unification plan.

Our delightful host’s food was served in the main hall, and as we waited impatiently while enjoying tunes from the piano, one wondered at how many new ideas were popping up in everyone’s head at that moment. Every single minute was inspirational among this group of creative and impressive people in a calm and quiet atmosphere, without an Internet connection. Ideas actually got jotted down and new ones spread around on the tables – faster than the circulation of the food, I must say.

Issues that are swept from attention, things that people perhaps had not paid enough attention to previously, were brought up on the agenda. For once we could spare all the time in the world for a few days, as there was no WiFi zone to bring us the distraction of the “unread 666 messages.” Glasses and bottles clinked, new ideas kept popping up right in the middle of the sounds of nature. Much-needed peace and tranquility surrounded the activists. In the darkness and cold of the night, old projects were talked of, bringing about new project proposals.

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The premiere of the Transeuropa Caravan took place at the castle with the participation of all the activists on the campus. There’s no need to add that it was inspirational, revealing certain local problems that parts of Europe experience and that most other parts would not even hear of were it not for such initiatives for bringing Europe closer to all its citizens.

We had gathered in Berlin with one major aim: to target and tackle problems that affect Europe in general. We left Schloss Wartin with thousands of new ideas and a great deal of inspiration and motivation to get to work. The end of the Campus was a joyful ride back to the Berlin city center, where we had the chance to attend a conference at the Heinrich Böll Stiftung, which opened with a keynote speech by Saskia Sassen. She talked about all the crisis moments that we can see very clearly all around us, especially the housing bubble and gentrification tactics in most major cities. Sustainability has become one of the primary topics for us all.

After all the talks and discussions, we the activists of European Alternatives at the #FixEurope Campus meeting, can agree with the slogans of the streets “this is still the beginning…”

More stories by Gürkan Özturan http://theradicaldemocrat.wordpress.com

More stories about Turkey @ http://99getsmart.com/category/turkey/

Oct 262014
 

Posted by James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

There is no question that, in the immediate aftermath and for several years following US military conquests, wars, occupations and sanctions, US multi-national corporations lost out on profitable sites for investments.  The biggest losses were in the exploitation of natural resources – in particular, gas and oil – in the Middle East, the Persian Gulf and South Asia.

As a result some observers speculated that there were deep fissures and contradictory interests within the US ruling class.  They argued that, on the one hand, political elites linked to pro-Israel lobbies and the military industrial power configuration, promoted a highly militarized foreign policy agenda and, on the other hand, some of the biggest and wealthiest multi-national corporations sought diplomatic solutions.

Yet this seeming ‘elite division’ did not materialize.  There is no evidence for example that the multi-national oil companies sought to oppose the Iraq, Libyan, Afghan, Syrian wars.  Nor did the powerful 10 largest oil companies with a net value of over $1.1 trillion dollars mobilize their lobbyists and influentials in the mass media to the cause of peaceful capital penetration and domination of the oil fields via neo-liberal political clients.

In the run-up to the Iraq war, the three major US oil companies, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, eager to exploit the third largest oil reserves in the world, did not engage in Congressional lobbying or exert pressure on the Bush or later Obama Administration for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.  At no point did the Big Ten challenge the pro-war Israel lobby and its phony arguments that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction with an alternative policy.

Similar “political passivity” was evidenced in the run-up to the Libyan war.  Big Oil was actually signing off on lucrative oil deals, when the militarists in Washington struck again – destroying the Libyan state and tearing asunder the entire fabric of the Libyan economy.

Big oil may have bemoaned the loss of oil and profits but there was no concerted effort, t before or after the Libyan debacle, to critically examine or evaluate the loss of a major oil producing region.  In the case of economic sanctions against Iran, possessing the second largest oil reserves, the MNC again were notable by their absence from the halls of Congress and the Treasury Department where the sanctions policy was decided.  Prominent Zionist policymakers, Stuart Levey and David Cohen designed and implemented sanctions which prevented US (and EU) oil companies from investing or trading with Teheran.

In fact, despite the seeming divergence of interest between a highly militarized foreign policy and the drive of MNC to pursue the global accumulation of capital, no political conflicts erupted.  The basic question that this paper seeks to address is:  Why did the major MNC submit to an imperial foreign policy which resulted in lost economic opportunities?

Why the MNC Fail to Oppose Imperial Militarism

There are several possible hypotheses accounting for the MNC accommodation to a highly militarized version of imperial expansion.

In the first instance, the CEO’s of the MNC may have believed that the wars, especially the Iraq war, would be short-term, and would lead to a period of stability under a client regime willing and able to privatize and de-nationalize the oil and gas sector.  In other words, the petrol elites bought into the arguments of Rumsfeld, Chaney, Wolfowitz and Feith, that the invasion and conquest would “pay for itself”.

Secondly, even after the prolonged-decade long destructive war and the deepening sectarian conflict, many CEO’s believed that a lost decade would be compensated by “long term” gain.  They believed that future profits would flow, once the country was stabilized.  The oil majors entry after 2010; however, was immediately threatened by the ISIS offensive.  The ‘time frame’ of the MNC strategic planners was understated if not totally wrong headed.

Thirdly, most CEO’s believed that the US-NATO invasion of Libya would lead to monopoly ownership and greater profits than what they received from a public-private partnership with the Gadhafi regime.  The oil majors believed that they would secure total or majority control.  In other words the war would allow the oil MNC to secure monopoly profits for an extended period.  Instead the end of a stable partnership led to a Hobbesian world in which anarchy and chaos inhibited any large scale, long-term entry of MNC.

Fourthly, the MNC, including the big oil corporations, have invested in hundreds of sites in dozens of countries.  They are not tied to a single location.  They depend on the militarized imperial state to defend their global interests.  Hence they probably are not willing to contest or challenge the militarists in, say Iraq, for fear that it might endanger US imperial intervention in other sites.

Fifthly, many MNC interlock across economic sectors: they invest in oil fields andrefineries; banking, financing and insurance as well as extractive sectors.  To the degree that MNC capital is diversified they are less dependent on a single region, sector, or source for profit.  Hence destructive wars, in one or several countries, may not have as great a prejudicial effect as in the past when “Big Oil” was just ‘oil’.

Six, the agencies of the US imperial state are heavily weighted to military rather than economic activity.  The international bureaucracy of the US is overwhelmingly made up of military, intelligence and counter-insurgency officials.  In contrast, China, Japan, Germany and other emerging states (Brazil, Russia and India) have a large economic component in their overseas bureaucracy.  The difference is significant.  US MNC do not have access to economic officials and resources in the same way as China’s MNC.  The Chinese overseas expansion and its MNC, is built around powerful economic support systems and agencies.  US MNC have to deal with Special Forces, spooks and highly militarized ‘aid officials’.  In other words the CEO’s who look for “state support” perforce have mostly ‘military’ counterparts who view the MNC as instruments of policy rather than as subjects of policy.

Seventh, the recent decade has witnessed the rise of the financial sector as the dominant recipient of State support.  As a result, big banks exercise major influence on public policy.  To the extent that is true, much of what is ‘oil money’ has gone over to finance and profits accrue by pillaging the Treasury.  As a result, oil interests merge with the financial sector and their ‘profits’ are as much dependent on the state as on exploiting overseas sites.

Eighth, while Big Oil has vast sums of capital, its diverse locations, multiple activities and dependence on state protection (military), weaken its opposition to US wars in lucrative oil countries.  As a result other powerful pro-war lobbies which have no such constraints have a free hand.  For example the pro-Israel power configuration has far less ‘capital’ than any of the top ten oil companies.  But it has a far greater number of lobbyists with much more influence over Congress people.  Moreover, it has far more effective propaganda – media leverage- than Big Oil.  Many more critics of US foreign policy, including its military and sanctions policies, are willing to criticize “Big Oil” than Zionist lobbies.

Finally the rise of domestic oil production resulting from fracking opens new sites for Big Oil to profit outside of the Middle East – even though the costs may be higher and the duration shorter.  The oil industry has replaced losses in Middle East sites (due to wars) with domestic investments.

Nevertheless, there is tension and conflict between oil capital and militarism.  The most recent case is between Exxon-Mobil’s plans to invest $38 billion in a joint venture in the Russian Arctic with the Russian oil grant Rosneft. Obama’s sanctions against Russia is scheduled to shut down the deal much to the dismay of the senior executives of Exxon Mobil, who have already invested $3.2 billion in an area the size of Texas.

Conclusion

The latent conflicts and overt difference between military and economic expansion may eventually find greater articulation in Washington.  However, up to now, because of the global structures and orientation of the oil industry, because of their dependence on the military for ‘security’, the oil industry in particular, and the MNC in general, have sacrificed short and middle term profits for “future gains” in the hopes that the wars will end and lucrative profits will return.

Oct 202014
 

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

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Draconian Internet laws in Turkey are deepening yet once again with a new reform package that will bring new measures against freedom of speech in the country. Previously, the government had already tried to silence the masses through censorship measures, surveillance of Netizens, blocking access to Web sites, or even raids on online news portals’ headquarters. The most recent development concerning the laws against online free speech is the most recent bill that provides for up to five years’ imprisonment for tweeps (Twitter users) who criticize the government online.

The signatories of the infamous censorship law – or as the official name refers to it, “5651: Regulation on the Publications on the Internet” – have drafted a new bill and presented it on the parliament floor on the evening of October 14th. The new bill will allow all the possible suspects that have so far been declared “traitors, enemies, coup-plotters” to be put under full surveillance with just an order from a judge. The requirement of “tangible evidence” that has been required by the courts so far is no longer on the books, which allows the judges to give the order upon “reasonable doubt.” The new law also allows the property of the government-critical suspects to be confiscated, if the accusation is “criminal activity” or “organizing a gang.”

What is “criminal”?

What comprises criminal activity in Turkey has long been a problematic issue and the new bill is no different from any previous one. The main excuse in suppressing free speech in the country so far has been “national-security concerns.” Crimes against the state include plans to end the unity and integrity of the state, cooperation with enemies, propagating war against the state, actions against the basic national benefits, conscripting soldiers for a foreign nation, harming military premises and agreements in favor of foreign soldiers, and economical and financial contributions to enemies.

If one is only a little obsessive, any attempt to strengthen the regional governments and the Europeanization process, which requires that, can in fact be declared a crime against the state. And the witch hunt trials that have been going after hundreds of military officers over the years would definitely be a type of harm against the military.

Less urgent crimes that have been cited in the bill include violation of the constitution, crimes against the legislative body, armed uprising against the government, and assembling and organizing for these crimes. Even though armament had been previously mentioned as a crime in another law, this time the new bill seems to reflect more onto the protection of government against all types of possible criticism. And of course the government would be exempt from the crime of violating the constitution when citizens’ basic rights and liberties are being violated, even though those rights are guaranteed under the constitution.

Social media targeted

“Threat” as a crime is considered to be a much greater fault with the new law and will be punishable by a prison sentence. The new bill suggests that the citizens who criticize government harshly on social-media platforms are included within the scope of threat crimes. Under the current laws, threats bring about imprisonment only for crimes that result in two years and more of prison sentence. For that reason, the government has updated the prison sentence to two years minimum. The new bill also includes clauses that state that those who criticize the president, prime minister, ministers, or security forces openly or over social media will be considered guilty of “threats” and face possible arrest. The new bill also targets the prosecutor who conducted the graft probe of 17-25 December last year that revealed the greatest corruption scandal in Turkey’s history.

Not only the Internet but also the streets…

The new bill’s scope is not limited to digital public spaces but also makes opposition movements’ visibility on the streets problematic. The slogans that have been adopted by critical groups during street protests had already drawn many frowning faces so far; with the new bill they will be considered a crime. The new law also breaches the diplomatic immunity of politicians, allowing them to be put on trial as well in case of threats against public officers, soldiers, police, governors etc. The prison sentence will possibly go up to 5 years depending on the intensity of the “criminal activity.”

No right to defense

Moreover, the new bill also attacks the right to a fair hearing and the principle of defense. Lawyers will have harder time accessing their clients’ files in order to defend them fairly. The bill states that lawyers’ involvement in disclosing defendants’ files would breach the investigation and thus should be limited on a judge’s orders.

Reversal of improvement

The draft bill will be reversing the improvements that have been achieved in the last year with regards to legal procedure, and the few positive remarks in the European Union accession progress report are being met with counter-developments that will present a much graver situation in the coming period. Combined with the intentions to arm the police forces with greater authority to “shoot to kill” in times of protests and plans to multiply the number of water cannons five/tenfold as the Prime Minister has stated, the new bill is just another obstacle created against any kind of free speech, right to assembly, right to access information and many other rights and liberties. It seems and feels like the road to illiberal democracy – if it is democracy at all – is being traveled faster than expected.

More stories by Gürkan Özturan @ http://theradicaldemocrat.wordpress.com

More stories about Turkey @ http://99getsmart.com/category/turkey/

Oct 182014
 

By William Blum, 99GetSmart

The Islamist State

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You can’t believe a word the United States or its mainstream media say about the current conflict involving The Islamic State (ISIS).

You can’t believe a word France or the United Kingdom say about ISIS.

You can’t believe a word Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, or the United Arab Emirates say about ISIS. Can you say for sure which side of the conflict any of these mideast countries actually finances, arms, or trains, if in fact it’s only one side? Why do they allow their angry young men to join Islamic extremists? Why has NATO-member Turkey allowed so many Islamic extremists to cross into Syria? Is Turkey more concerned with wiping out the Islamic State or the Kurds under siege by ISIS? Are these countries, or the Western powers, more concerned with overthrowing ISIS or overthrowing the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad?

You can’t believe the so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels. You can’t even believe that they are moderate. They have their hands in everything, and everyone has their hands in them.

Iran, Hezbollah and Syria have been fighting ISIS or its precursors for years, but the United States refuses to join forces with any of these entities in the struggle. Nor does Washington impose sanctions on any country for supporting ISIS as it quickly did against Russia for its alleged role in Ukraine.

The groundwork for this awful mess of political and religious horrors sweeping through the Middle East was laid – laid deeply – by the United States during 35 years (1979-2014) of overthrowing the secular governments of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. (Adding to the mess in the same period we should not forget the US endlessly bombing Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.) You cannot destroy modern, relatively developed and educated societies, ripping apart the social, political, economic and legal fabric, torturing thousands, killing millions, and expect civilization and human decency to survive.

Particularly crucial in this groundwork was the US decision to essentially throw 400,000 Iraqis with military training, including a full officer corps, out onto the streets of its cities, jobless. It was a formula for creating an insurgency. Humiliated and embittered, some of those men would later join various resistance groups operating against the American military occupation. 1 It’s safe to say that the majority of armored vehicles, weapons, ammunition, and explosives taking lives every minute in the Middle East are stamped “Made in USA”.

And all of Washington’s horses, all of Washington’s men, cannot put this world back together again. The world now knows these places as “failed states”.

Meanwhile, the United States bombs Syria daily, ostensibly because the US is at war with ISIS, but at the same time seriously damaging the oil capacity of the country (a third of the Syrian government’s budget), the government’s military capabilities, its infrastructure, even its granaries, taking countless innocent lives, destroying ancient sites; all making the recovery of an Assad-led Syria, or any Syria, highly unlikely. Washington is undoubtedly looking for ways to devastate Iran as well under the cover of fighting ISIS.

Nothing good can be said about this whole beastly situation. All the options are awful. All the participants, on all sides, are very suspect, if not criminally insane. It may be the end of the world. To which I say … Good riddance. Nice try, humans; in fact, GREAT TRY … but good riddance. ISIS … Ebola … Climate Change … nuclear radiation … The Empire … Which one will do us in first? … Have a nice day.

Is the world actually so much more evil and scary today than it was in the 1950s of my upbringing, for which I grow more nostalgic with each new horror? Or is it that the horrors of today are so much better reported, as we swim in a sea of news and videos?

After seeing several ISIS videos on the Internet, filled with the most disgusting scenes, particularly against women, my thought is this: Give them their own country; everyone who’s in that place now who wants to leave, will be helped to do so; everyone from all over the world who wants to go there will be helped to get there. Once they’re there, they can all do whatever they want, but they can’t leave without going through a rigorous interview at a neighboring border to ascertain whether they’ve recovered their attachment to humanity. However, since very few women, presumably, would go there, the country would not last very long.

ISIS training camp

ISIS training camp

The Berlin Wall – Another Cold War Myth

November 9 will mark the 25th anniversary of the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. The extravagant hoopla began months ago in Berlin. In the United States we can expect all the Cold War clichés about The Free World vs. Communist Tyranny to be trotted out and the simple tale of how the wall came to be will be repeated: In 1961, the East Berlin communists built a wall to keep their oppressed citizens from escaping to West Berlin and freedom. Why? Because commies don’t like people to be free, to learn the “truth”. What other reason could there have been?

First of all, before the wall went up in 1961 thousands of East Germans had been commuting to the West for jobs each day and then returning to the East in the evening; many others went back and forth for shopping or other reasons. So they were clearly not being held in the East against their will. Why then was the wall built? There were two major reasons:

1) The West was bedeviling the East with a vigorous campaign of recruiting East German professionals and skilled workers, who had been educated at the expense of the Communist government. This eventually led to a serious labor and production crisis in the East. As one indication of this, the New York Times reported in 1963: “West Berlin suffered economically from the wall by the loss of about 60,000 skilled workmen who had commuted daily from their homes in East Berlin to their places of work in West Berlin.” 2

It should be noted that in 1999, USA Today reported: “When the Berlin Wall crumbled [1989], East Germans imagined a life of freedom where consumer goods were abundant and hardships would fade. Ten years later, a remarkable 51% say they were happier with communism.” 3 Earlier polls would likely have shown even more than 51% expressing such a sentiment, for in the ten years many of those who remembered life in East Germany with some fondness had passed away; although even 10 years later, in 2009, the Washington Post could report: “Westerners [in Berlin] say they are fed up with the tendency of their eastern counterparts to wax nostalgic about communist times.” 4

It was in the post-unification period that a new Russian and eastern Europe proverb was born: “Everything the Communists said about Communism was a lie, but everything they said about capitalism turned out to be the truth.”

It should be further noted that the division of Germany into two states in 1949 – setting the stage for 40 years of Cold War hostility – was an American decision, not a Soviet one. 5

2) During the 1950s, American coldwarriors in West Germany instituted a crude campaign of sabotage and subversion against East Germany designed to throw that country’s economic and administrative machinery out of gear. The CIA and other US intelligence and military services recruited, equipped, trained and financed German activist groups and individuals, of West and East, to carry out actions which ran the spectrum from juvenile delinquency to terrorism; anything to make life difficult for the East German people and weaken their support of the government; anything to make the commies look bad.

It was a remarkable undertaking. The United States and its agents used explosives, arson, short circuiting, and other methods to damage power stations, shipyards, canals, docks, public buildings, gas stations, public transportation, bridges, etc; they derailed freight trains, seriously injuring workers; burned 12 cars of a freight train and destroyed air pressure hoses of others; used acids to damage vital factory machinery; put sand in the turbine of a factory, bringing it to a standstill; set fire to a tile-producing factory; promoted work slow-downs in factories; killed 7,000 cows of a co-operative dairy through poisoning; added soap to powdered milk destined for East German schools; were in possession, when arrested, of a large quantity of the poison cantharidin with which it was planned to produce poisoned cigarettes to kill leading East Germans; set off stink bombs to disrupt political meetings; attempted to disrupt the World Youth Festival in East Berlin by sending out forged invitations, false promises of free bed and board, false notices of cancellations, etc.; carried out attacks on participants with explosives, firebombs, and tire-puncturing equipment; forged and distributed large quantities of food ration cards to cause confusion, shortages and resentment; sent out forged tax notices and other government directives and documents to foster disorganization and inefficiency within industry and unions … all this and much more. 6

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, of Washington, DC, conservative coldwarriors, in one of their Cold War International History Project Working Papers (#58, p.9) states: “The open border in Berlin exposed the GDR [East Germany] to massive espionage and subversion and, as the two documents in the appendices show, its closure gave the Communist state greater security.”

Throughout the 1950s, the East Germans and the Soviet Union repeatedly lodged complaints with the Soviets’ erstwhile allies in the West and with the United Nations about specific sabotage and espionage activities and called for the closure of the offices in West Germany they claimed were responsible, and for which they provided names and addresses. Their complaints fell on deaf ears. Inevitably, the East Germans began to tighten up entry into the country from the West, leading eventually to the infamous wall. However, even after the wall was built there was regular, albeit limited, legal emigration from east to west. In 1984, for example, East Germany allowed 40,000 people to leave. In 1985, East German newspapers claimed that more than 20,000 former citizens who had settled in the West wanted to return home after becoming disillusioned with the capitalist system. The West German government said that 14,300 East Germans had gone back over the previous 10 years. 7

Let’s also not forget that while East Germany completely denazified, in West Germany for more than a decade after the war, the highest government positions in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches contained numerous former and “former” Nazis.

Finally, it must be remembered, that Eastern Europe became communist because Hitler, with the approval of the West, used it as a highway to reach the Soviet Union to wipe out Bolshevism forever, and that the Russians in World War I and II, lost about 40 million people because the West had used this highway to invade Russia. It should not be surprising that after World War II the Soviet Union was determined to close down the highway.

For an additional and very interesting view of the Berlin Wall anniversary, see the article “Humpty Dumpty and the Fall of Berlin’s Wall” by Victor Grossman. Grossman (née Steve Wechsler) fled the US Army in Germany under pressure from McCarthy-era threats and became a journalist and author during his years in the (East) German Democratic Republic. He still lives in Berlin and mails out his “Berlin Bulletin” on German developments on an irregular basis. You can subscribe to it at wechsler_grossman@yahoo.de. His autobiography: “Crossing the River: a Memoir of the American Left, the Cold War and Life in East Germany” was published by University of Massachusetts Press. He claims to be the only person in the world with diplomas from both Harvard University and Karl Marx University in Leipzig.

Al Franken, the liberal’s darling

I receive a continuous stream of emails from “progressive” organizations asking me to vote for Senator Franken or contribute to his re-election campaign this November, and I don’t even live in Minnesota. Even if I could vote for him, I wouldn’t. No one who was a supporter of the war in Iraq will get my vote unless they unequivocally renounce that support. And I don’t mean renounce it like Hillary Clinton’s nonsense about not having known enough.

Franken, the former Saturday Night Live comedian, would like you to believe that he’s been against the war in Iraq since it began. But he went to Iraq at least four times to entertain the troops. Does that make sense? Why does the military bring entertainers to soldiers? To lift the soldiers’ spirits of course. And why does the military want to lift the soldiers’ spirits? Because a happier soldier does his job better. And what is the soldier’s job? All the charming war crimes and human-rights violations that I and others have documented in great detail for many years. Doesn’t Franken know what American soldiers do for a living?

A year after the US invasion in 2003, Franken criticized the Bush administration because they “failed to send enough troops to do the job right.” 8 What “job” did the man think the troops were sent to do that had not been performed to his standards because of lack of manpower? Did he want them to be more efficient at killing Iraqis who resisted the occupation? The volunteer American troops in Iraq did not even have the defense of having been drafted against their wishes.

Franken has been lifting soldiers’ spirits for a long time. In 2009 he was honored by the United Service Organization (USO) for his ten years of entertaining troops abroad. That includes Kosovo in 1999, as imperialist an occupation as you’ll want to see. He called his USO experience “one of the best things I’ve ever done.” 9 Franken has also spoken at West Point (2005), encouraging the next generation of imperialist warriors. Is this a man to challenge the militarization of America at home and abroad? No more so than Barack Obama.

Tom Hayden wrote this about Franken in 2005 when Franken had a regular program on the Air America radio network: “Is anyone else disappointed with Al Franken’s daily defense of the continued war in Iraq? Not Bush’s version of the war, because that would undermine Air America’s laudable purpose of rallying an anti-Bush audience. But, well, Kerry’s version of the war, one that can be better managed and won, somehow with better body armor and fewer torture cells.” 10

While in Iraq to entertain the troops, Franken declared that the Bush administration “blew the diplomacy so we didn’t have a real coalition,” then failed to send enough troops to do the job right. “Out of sheer hubris, they have put the lives of these guys in jeopardy.” 11

Franken was implying that if the United States had been more successful in bribing and threatening other countries to lend their name to the coalition fighting the war in Iraq the United States would have had a better chance of WINNING the war.

Is this the sentiment of someone opposed to the war? Or in support of it? It is the mind of an American liberal in all its beautiful mushiness.

Notes

  1. Derived from William Astore, “Investing in Junk Armies”, TomDispatch, October 14, 2014
  2. New York Times, June 27, 1963, p.12
  3. USA Today, October 11, 1999, p.1
  4. Washington Post, May 12, 2009; see a similar story November 5, 2009
  5. Carolyn Eisenberg, “Drawing the Line: The American Decision to Divide Germany, 1944-1949” (1996); or see a concise review of this book by Kai Bird in The Nation, December 16, 1996
  6. See William Blum, “Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II”, p.400, note 8, for a list of sources for the details of the sabotage and subversion.
  7. The Guardian (London), March 7, 1985
  8. Washington Post, February 16, 2004
  9. Star Tribune, Minneapolis, March 26, 2009
  10. Huffington Post, June 2005
  11. Washington Post, February 16, 2004
Oct 112014
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

* HOPE AND DESPAIR GRIPS KURDS AS KOBANE CONTINUES TO RESIST

By Joris Leverink, RoarMag

With fighter jets flying overhead and fierce clashes breaking out between Turkish police and Kurdish protesters, Joris Leverink reports from Kurdistan.

With fighter jets flying overhead and fierce clashes breaking out between Turkish police and Kurdish protesters, Joris Leverink reports from Kurdistan.

ROAR editor Joris Leverink is in North Kurdistan on the Turkish-Syrian border to report on the battle for Kobanê and the Kurdish struggle for democratic autonomy. This is the first in a series of firsthand reports that will be published over the coming days.

After a couple of days in North Kurdistan, having spoken to a lot of people and having seen and heard more than my head can reasonably process, it’s time to share some observations and experiences. Two days ago, on Tuesday October 7, Kurds across Turkey, but especially in the country’s southeastern region, took to the streets in protest against Turkey’s role in the looming massacre of Kobanê. The size and intensity of the protests were unprecedented (at least since the violence of the 1990s), as was the reaction of the state. The opinion shared by most people I have met over the past few days is that this is the beginning of a new Kurdish uprising.

Before anything else, what has to be made absolutely clear is that the Kurds are not protesting to demand a military intervention by Turkey, as has been presented in several mainstream media outlets. Instead, the protesters — Kurds and sympathizers alike — demand an end to Turkey’s covert support for ISIS and for the border at Kobanê to be opened in order to let refugees out, and humanitarian aid and weapons in. Every single person I spoke to in Diyarbakır, Urfa, Suruç and in the villages at the border agree about one thing: ISIS could never have grown as big as it did, and conquer as much of Rojava as it has done, were it not for the material, financial and logistical support the extremists received from the Turkish state. […]

READ @ http://roarmag.org/2014/10/kurdistan-kobane-turkey-isis/

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* US EYES ‘BUFFER ZONE’ IN SYRIA ‘VERY VERY CLOSELY’

By Brandon Turberville, ActivistPost

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As if any reasonably informed observer would be surprised, the United States is now eying the possibility of implementing a buffer zone in Syria “very very closely.”

On Wednesday, October 8, 2014, U.S. Secretary of State and Skull and Bones member John Kerry stated that “The buffer zone is an idea that has been out there. It is worth examining, it’s worth looking at very, very closely.”

The statement, demonstrating that the United States is edging ever closer toward the goal it has desired since the beginning of the Syrian crisis – a buffer zone – comes only days after Turkey’s parliament passed a resolution to allow the Turkish military to enter the sovereign territory of Iraq and Syria under the pretext of battling Western-backed IS militants.

The resolution also allowed foreign troops to use Turkish territory for the same purpose suggesting that the Incirlik air base may soon be used by the United States for its airstrikes against Syria.

Kerry’s statements echo those of other American officials such as General Martin Dempsey and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

According to the New York Times , Hagel stated that “We’ve discussed all these possibilities and will continue to talk about what the Turks believe they will require.”

Dempsey added that “a buffer zone might at some point become a possibility” although he also stated that it should not be considered imminent. […]

READ @ http://www.activistpost.com/2014/10/right-on-schedule-us-eyes-buffer-zone.html

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* POLISH DEATH SQUADS FIGHTING IN UKRAINE. CIA COVERT OPERATION?

By Nikolai Malishevski, Global Research

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On May 11 a plane arrived at Kiev’s airport in strict secrecy; it was met by the airport’s military personnel rather than the civilian staff. NATO military uniforms, 500 packages of amphetamines, and containers marked as poisonous substances were unloaded from the plane. By order of the Kiev directorate of the SBU, the fighters, the cargo and the containers of poison were not inspected and left the airport in cars with tinted windows. The cargo was accompanied by CIA agent Richard Michael. Aboard the plane were also fighters from the Right Sector and the Polish private military company ASBS (Analizy Systemowe Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz) Othago, created several years ago by Poland’s current Minister of the Interior, B. Sienkiewicz.

According to available data (5), this Polish PMC lost 6 men during a punitive operation in Eastern Ukraine (the remaining casualties among foreign mercenaries working for the junta came from the American PMC Academi and its subsidiary PMC Greystone Limited, which lost 50 and 14 fighters, respectively, as well as the CIA and the FBI, with 25 casualties, 13 of whom were killed).

The Poles have been participating actively in the formation of death squads in Ukraine since September 2013, when Foreign Minister R. Sikorski invited 86 members of the Right Sector to train at the police training center in Legionowo, 23 km from Warsaw. The fighters, who came on the pretext of a university exchange program, were mostly men of around 40; they received a month-long training course in organizing mass protests, erecting barricades, seizing government buildings, street fighting tactics, shooting techniques, including from sniper rifles, etc. The Polish weekly Nie published a photo from Legionowo showing Ukrainian fascists dressed in Nazi uniforms alongside their Polish instructors in civilian clothing. […]

READ @ http://www.globalresearch.ca/polish-death-squads-fighting-in-ukraine-cia-covert-operation/5384210

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* THE TRUTH ABOUT CAPITALISM

By Atilio A. Boron, GreanvillePost

Chile’s Augusto Pinochet: the natural terminal for any challenged capitalist “democracy”.

Chile’s Augusto Pinochet: the natural terminal for any challenged capitalist “democracy”.

Not long ago the celebration of capitalist democracies, as if they constituted the crowning achievement of every democratic aspiration, found legions of adepts in Latin America, where the phrase was pronounced with a solemnity usually reserved for the greater achievements of mankind. But now that more than a quarter of a century has elapsed since the beginnings of the process of re-democratization in Latin America, the time seems appropriate to look at its shortcomings and unfulfilled promises. Do capitalist democracies deserve the respect so widely accorded them? In the following pages we intend to explore what democracy means, and then, on the basis of some reflections on the limits of democratization in a capitalist society, go on to examine the performance of ‘actually existing’ democracies in Latin America, looking behind external appearances to see their narrow scope and limits.

DEMOCRACY

Let us begin by remembering Lincoln’s formula: democracy as the govern- ment of the people, by the people and for the people. Today this looks like the expression of an unreconstructed radical, especially in light of the political and ideological involution brought about by the rise of neoliberalism as the official ideology of globalized capitalism.

Well before this, democracy had already become completely detached from the very idea, not to mention the agency, of the people. Lincoln’s formula had long since been filed away as a dangerous nostalgia for a state of things irreversibly lost in the past.

What replaced it was the Schumpeterian formula, whose deplorable consequences are still strongly felt in mainstream social sciences: democracy as a set of rules and procedures devoid of specific content related to distributive justice or fairness in society, ignoring the ethical and normative content of the idea of democracy and disregarding the idea that democracy should be a crucial component of any proposal for the organization of a ‘good society’, rather than a mere administrative or decisional device.

Thus for Schumpeter it was possible to ‘democratically’ decide if, to take his own example, Christians should be persecuted, witches sent to the stake or the Jews exterminated. Democracy becomes simply a method and, like any other method, ‘cannot be an end in itself’.1 At the extreme, this approach turns democracy into a set of procedures independent of ends and values and becomes a pure decision-making model, like those which Peter Drucker proposes for the management of successful capitalist enterprises. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that democracy is much more than that. […]

READ @ http://www.greanvillepost.com/2014/10/09/the-truth-about-capitalist-democracy/

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* AN EBOLA OUTBREAK WOULD BE ADVANTAGEOUS FOR GLOBALISTS

By Brandon Smith, Alt-Market

grim reapers

t’s sad to say with such finality, but a universal fact of existence is that most of the people you meet in this life are fundamentally and functionally ignorant. Not necessarily stupid, but certainly ignorant. Ignorance comes not from a lack of intelligence, but from a denial of knowledge and truth. That is to say, ignorance takes hold when people decide to act as though they know and understand a thing, even if they do not. Ignorance prevails when a society or nation chooses to value the appearance of expertise, to value the theater of overconfidence, and to cheer for the bluster of morons rather than admit that they have unanswered questions on subjects they do not yet grasp. For nothing is worse for the self absorbed than to acknowledge that they do not know.

Entire nations have fallen throughout history because of this terrible weakness…

By extension, such ignorance is not just an inherent disease but also an easily exploitable disease. When we refuse to think critically and examine our surroundings thoroughly, we become like grazing gazelles oblivious to the predators encircling us in the tall grass. And, just as there are predatory individuals that hide amongst us, there are are also predatory oligarchs that camouflage themselves as benevolent politicos and financial professionals standing above us. Normal predators we fear, establishment predators we invite into our homes as protectors, saviors, and partners.

The disease of ignorance leaves us vulnerable to many other plagues, including literal plagues like the Ebola virus. When we take the establishment at its word concerning the threat of Ebola outbreak, we make ourselves vulnerable. When people assume that the worst could never happen to them, history shows us that it inevitably does. […]

READ @ http://www.alt-market.com/articles/2354-an-ebola-outbreak-would-be-advantageous-for-globalists