Sep 302014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

war-statue-of-liberty-350-1241540195

Introduction

Despite vast amounts of imperial data to the contrary, the great majority of writers on imperialism continue to describe and analyze US imperialism strictly in economic terms, as an expansion of “capital accumulation”, “accumulation on a world scale”.

In fact the major and minor US imperial wars have more to do with “capital dis-accumulation”, in the sense that trillion dollar flows have gone out from the US, hundreds of billions of dollars in profits from resource sites have been underminedmarkets for exports have been severely weakened and exploitable productive labor has been uprooted.  At the same time US imperialist state ‘dis-accumulates capital’, multi-national corporations, especially in the extractive sector are expanding, “accumulating capital” throughout Latin America.

This new configuration of power, the conflicting and complementary nature of 21st century US imperialism, requires that we anchor our analysis in the real, existing behavior of imperial state and extractive capitalist policymakers.  The basic premise informing this essay is that there are two increasingly divergent forms of imperialism:  military driven intervention, occupation and domination; and economic expansion and exploitation of resources, markets and labor by invitation of the ‘host country’.

We will proceed by examining the choices of imperial strategy, in a historical – comparative framework and the alternatives which were selected or rejected.  Through an analysis of the practical decisions taken regarding ‘imperial expansion’ we can obtain insights into the real nature of US imperialism.  The study of imperial strategic choices, past and present, state and corporate, requires three levels of analysis: global, national and sectoral.

Global Strategies:  US Imperial State and the MNC

US imperial state invested trillions of dollars in military expenditures, hundreds of thousands of military personnel into wars in the Middle East (Iraq, Yemen, and Syria), North and East Africa (Libya, Somalia), South Asia (Afghanistan) and imposed sanctions on Iran costing the US hundreds of billions in “capital dis-accumulation”.

The US corporate elite, driven out of Iraq, Syria, Libya and elsewhere where US military imperialism was engaged, chose to invest in manufacturing in China and extractive sectorsthroughout Latin America.

In other words the US imperial state strategists either chose to expand in relatively backward areas (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen) or imposed under-development by  destroying or sanctioning lucrative extractive economies (Iraq, Libya, Iran).

In contrast the MNC chose the most dynamic expanding zones where militarist imperialism was least engaged – China and Latin America.  In other words “capital did not follow the flag” – it avoided it.

Moreover, the zones where extractive capital was most successful in terms of access, profits and stability were those where their penetration was based on negotiated contracts between sovereign nations and CEO’s – economic imperialism by invitation.

In contrast in the priority areas of expansion chosen by imperial state strategists, entry and domination was by force, leading to the destruction of the means of production and the loss of access to the principle sites of extractive exploitation.  US military driven imperialism undermined  energy companies’ agreements in Iraq and Libya.  Imperial state sanctions in Iran designed to weaken its nuclear and defense capabilities undercut US corporate extractive, public-private contracts with the Iranian state oil corporations. The drop in production and supply in oil in Iraq, Iran and Libya raised energy prices and had a negative impact on the “accumulation of capital on a world scale”.

If imperial state decision-makers had followed the direction of economic rather than military driven policymakers they would have pivoted to Asia and Latin America rather than the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa. They would have channeled funds into economic imperialist strategies, including joint ventures, high and medium tech trade agreements, and expanded exports by the high-end manufacturing sector, instead of financing 700 military bases, destabilization campaigns and costly military exercises.

Twentieth century military imperialism stands in stark contrast to late twentieth century economic imperialism.  In the mid 1960’s the US announced a vast new economic program in Latin America – the Alliance for Progress which was designed to finance economic opportunities in Latin America via joint ventures, agrarian reform and investments in the extractive sector.  The imperial state’s military policies and interventionist policies were designed to secure US business control over mines, banks, factories and agro-business. US backing for the coups in Chile, Bolivia, Brazil, Uruguay and Peru led to the privatization of key resource sectors and the imposition of the neo-liberal economic model.

US policy in Asia under Nixon was directed first and foremost to opening economic relations with China, expanding trade agreements with Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.  The ‘pivot from war’ to free trade led to a boom in US exports as well as imports, in private investments and lucrative profits.  Military expenditures declined even as the US engaged in covert operations in Afghanistan, Angola, Nicaragua and El Salvador.

Imperial intervention combined military and economic expansion with the latter dictating policy priorities and the allocation of resources.

The reversal set in with the US military backing of the jihadist extremists in Afghanistan and the demise of the USSR.  The former set the stage for the rise of the Taliban to power and the emergence of the Al Qaeda terrorist organization. The latter led US imperial strategists to pursue wars of conquest with impunity – Yugoslavia and Iraq during the 1990’s.

Easy military conquests and visions of a ‘unipolar’ world dominated by US military supremacy, encouraged and fostered the emergence of a new breed of imperial strategists – the neo-conservative militarists with closer ties to Israel and its military priorities than to the US   extractive petrol capitalists in the Middle East.

Military versus Economic Imperialist at the ‘National Level’

In the post-Cold War period, the competition between the two variants of imperialism was played out in all the nation subject  to US intervention.

During the first Iraq war the balance between militarists and economic imperialists was in play.  The US defeated Iraq but did not shred the state, nor bomb the oil fields.  Sanctions were imposed but did not paralyze oil deals.  The US did not occupy Iraq; it partioned the north –so-called“Kurdish” Iraq but left the secular state intact.  Extractive capital was actively in competition with the militarist neo-conservatives over the future direction of imperial policy.

The launch of the second Iraq war and the invasion of Afghanistan marked a decisive shift toward military imperialism:  the US ignored all economic considerations.  Iraq’s secular state was destroyed; civil society was pulverized; ethno-religious, tribal and clan warfare was encouraged.  US colonial officials ruled by military fiat; top policymakers with links to Israel replaced oil-connected officials. The militarist “war on terror” ideology replaced free market, free trade imperialism. Afghanistan killing fields replaced the China market as the center of US imperial policy.  Billions were spent, chasing evasive guerrillas in the mountains of a backward economy while US lost competitive advantages in the most dynamic Asian markets.

Imperial policymakers chose to align with sectarian warlords in Iraq over extractive technocrats. In Afghanistan they chose loyal ex-pat puppets over influential Taliban leaders capable of pacifying the country.

Extractive versus Military Imperialism in Latin America

Latin American neo-liberalism went from boom to bust in the 1990’s.  By the early 2000’s  crisis enveloped the region.  By the turn of the century US backed rulers were being replaced by popular nationalist leaders.  US policymakers stuck by their neoliberal clients in decline and failed to adapt to the new rulers who pursued modified socially inclusive extractivism.  The US military imperialists longed for a return of the neo-liberal backers of the “war on terrorism”.  In contrast, international multinational extractive corporations were realists – and adapted to the new regimes.

On a global scale, at the beginning of the new millennium, two divergent tendencies emerged.  US military imperialism expanded throughout the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and the Caucuses, while Latin American regimes turned in the opposite direction – toward moderate nationalism, and populism with a strong emphasis on poverty reduction via economic development in association with imperial extractive capital

In the face of these divergent and conflicting trends, the major US extractive multi-national corporations chose to adapt to the new political realities in Latin America.  While Washington, the imperial state, expressed hostility and dismay toward the new regimes refusal to back the “war on terror” (military imperialism) the major MNCs, robust embrace of economic imperialism, took advantage of the investment opportunities opened by the new regimes’ adoption of a new extractivist model, to pour billions into the mining, energy and agricultural sectors.

The Specificities of Extractive Imperialism in the Era of “Post Neo-Liberalism”

Extractive imperialism in Latin America has several specific characteristics that sharply demark it from earlier forms agro-mineral imperialism.

(1)   Extractive capital is not dominated by a single imperial country-like the Spanish in the 18t century, the British in the 19th century or the US in the 20th century. Imperial extractive capital is very diverse:  Canadian, US, Chinese, Brazilian, Australian, Spanish, Indian and other MNCs are deeply involved.

(2)   The imperial states of the diverse MNC do not engage in “gun boat diplomacy” (with the exception of the US). The imperial states provide economic financing and diplomatic support but are not actively involved in subverting Latin American regimes.

(3)   The relative weight of US MNCs, in the new imperial extractivism is much less than it was a half century earlier.  The rise of diverse extractive MNC and dynamism of China’s commodity market and deep financial pockets have displaced the US, the IMF and WB and established new terms of trade with Latin America.

(4)   Probably the most significant aspect of the new imperial extractivism is that its entryand expansion is by invitation. The Latin American regimes and the extractive MNCsnegotiate contracts – MNC entry is not unilaterally imposed by an imperial state.  Yet the ‘contracts’ may result in unequal returns; they  provide substantial revenues and profits to the MNC; they grant large multi –million acre tracts of land for mining or agriculture exploitation; they  obligate the national state to dispossess local communities and police/repress the displaced. But they also have allowed the post-neo-liberal state to expand their social spending, to increase their foreign reserves, to eschew relations with the IMF, and to diversify their markets and trading partners.

In regional terms extractive imperialism in Latin America has “accumulated capital” by diverging from the military imperialism practiced by the US in other regions of the world political- economy.  Over the past decade and a half, extractive capital has been allied with and relyies both on post-neoliberal and neoliberal regimes against petty commodity producers, indigenous communities and other anti-extractive resistance movements. Extractive imperialists do not rely on ‘their’ imperial state to quell resistance- they turn to their national political partners.

Extractive imperialism by invitation also diverges from the military imperial state in its view toward regional organizations.  US military imperialism placed all its bets on US centered economic integration which Washington could leverage to political, military and economic advantage.  Extractive capital, in the great diversity of its ‘national identity’, welcomed Latin American centered integration which did not privilege US markets and investors.

The predominance of economic imperialism, in particular the extractive version, however, needs to be qualified by several caveats.

US military imperialism has been present in several forms. The US backed the military coup in Honduras overthrowing the post neo-liberal Zelaya government; likewise it supported an “institutional coup” in Paraguay.

Secondly, even as MNC corporations poured capital into Bolivian mining and energy sectors, the US imperial state fomented destabilization activity to undermine the MAS government. And was defeated and the agencies and operatives were expelled.  The crucial issue in this, as well as other, instances is the unwillingness of the MNC’s to join forces with the military imperialists, via boycotts, trade embargoes or disinvestment. Clearly the stability, profitability and long-term contracts between the Bolivian regime and the extractive MNC counted for more than their ties to the US imperial state.

US military imperialism has expanded its military bases and increased joint military exercises with most Latin American armed forces. Indoctrinated military officials can still become formidable potential allies in any future ‘coup’, if and when the US “pivots” from the Middle East to Latin America.

US military imperialism in its manifest multiple forms, from bankrolling NGO’s engaged in destabilization and street riots in Venezuela, to its political support of financial speculators in Argentina and rightwing parties and personalities in Brazil, has a continuous presence alongsideextractive imperialism. The success of the latter and the eclipse of the former are based in part on two contingent circumstances. The US serial wars in the Middle East divert attention away from Latin America; and the commodity boom fuels the growth of extractive capital.  The economic slowdown in China and the decline of commodity prices may weaken the regimes in opposition to US military imperialism.

Paradoxically the weakening of the ties between the post-neo-liberal regimes and extractive imperialism resulting from the decline of commodity prices is strengthening the  neo-liberal socio-political forces allied with US military imperialism.

Latin America’s Right Turn:  The Co-Habitation of Extractive and Military imperialism?

Throughout Latin America the post-neoliberal regimes which ruled for the better part of a decade and a half face serious challenges – from consequential social opposition at the micro-leveland from aggressive political-economic elites at the macro-level.  It is worthwhile to survey the prospects for a return to power of neo-liberal regimes allied with military imperialism in several key countries.

Several factors are working in favor of a return to power of political parties and leaders who seek to reverse the independent and inclusive policies of the post neoliberal power bloc.

First the post-neo-liberal regimes development strategy of depending on foreign extractive capital, perpetuated and strengthened the economic basis of imperialism:  the ‘colonial style’ trade relation, exporting primary commodities and importing finished goods, allowed the agro-mineral elites to occupy key positions in the politico-social structure.  With the decline in commodity prices, some post-neoliberal regimes are experiencing fiscal and balance of payments shortfalls.  Inflation and cuts in social expenditures adversely affect the capacity of the post-neo-liberal regimes to retain popular and middle class electoral support.

The divergences between post-neoliberals and economic imperialism are accentuating with return of the neoliberal right.  The agro-mineral sectors perceive an opportunity to rid themselves of their power and revenue sharing agreements with the state and to secure even more lucrative arrangements with the advance of the neo-liberal right which promises tax and royalty reductions, deregulation and lower wage and pension payments.

Secondly, the post-neo-liberal regimes’ alliances with the building , construction, and other bourgeois sectors, was accompanied by corruption involving  pay-offs, bribes and other illicit financial transactions designed to finance their mass media based electoral campaigns and  patronage system which ensured electoral majorities.  The neo-liberal right is exploiting these corruption scandals to erode the middle class electoral base of the post -neo-liberal regimes.

Thirdly, the post-neo-liberal regimes increased the quantity of social services, but ignored their quality – provoking widespread discontent with the inadequate public educational, transport, and health services.

Fourthly, inflation is eroding the decade long advance of wage, pension and family allowances.  The post-neo-liberal regimes are caught between the pressures to “adjust” –to devalueand impose fiscal ‘austerity’ as proposed by the international bankers and lose mass support, or to engage in deeper structural changes which require among other things, changes in the extractive dependence model and greater public ownership.  The crises of the post-neo-liberal regimes is leading to irresolution and opening political space for the neo-liberal right which is allied to military and economic imperialism.

Military imperialism, which was weakened by the popular uprisings at the turn of 20thcentury is never absent.  US military imperialism is first and foremost powerfully entrenched in two major countries:  Mexico and Colombia.  In both countries neo-liberal regimes bought into themilitarization of their societies, including the comprehensive and deep presence of US military-police officials in the structures of the state.

In both states, US military and economic imperialism operates in alliance with paramilitary death squads, even as they proclaimed “a war on drugs”.  The ideology of free market imperialism was put into practice with the elimination of trade barriers, widespread privatization of resources and multi-million acre land grants to MNC.

Through its regional clients, US imperialism has a springboard to extend its influence.  Mexican style ‘militarized imperialism’ has spread to Central America; Colombia serves as a launch-pad to subvert Venezuela and Ecuador.

Where dissident regimes emerged in regions claimed by militarized imperialism, Honduras and Paraguay, military and civilian coups were engineered. However because of the regional concentration of US military imperialism in the Middle East it relies heavily on local collaborators, political, military and economic elites as vehicles for “regime change”.

Extractive imperialism is under siege from popular movements in many countries in Latin America.  In some cases, the political elites have increasingly militarized the contested terrain.  Where this is the case, the regimes invite and accept an increased imperial military presence, asadvisers, and embrace their militarist ideology, thus fostering a “marriage” between extractive and military imperialism.  This is the case in Peru under President Humala and Santos in Colombia.

In Argentina and Brazil, the moderate reformist policies of the Kirchner and Lula/Rousseff regimes are under siege.  Faltering export earnings, rising deficits, inflationary pressures have fueled a neo-liberal offensive, which takes a new form:  populism at the service of neo-liberal collaboration with military imperialism.  Extractive capital has divided -some sectors retain ties with the regime, others, the majority are allied with rising power of the right.

In Brazil, the Right has promoted a former environmentalist (Silva) to front for the hardline neo-liberal financial sector – which has received full support from local and imperial mass media.  In Argentina, the imperial state and mass media have backed hedge fund speculators and have launched a full scale economic war, claiming default, in order to damage  Buenos Aires’ access to capital markets in order  to increase its investments in the extractive sector.

In contrast Bolivia, the extractive model par excellence, has moved successfully to oust and weaken the military arm of imperialism, ending the presence of US military advisers and DEA officials, while deepening and strengthening its ties with diverse extractive MNCs on the one hand, and on the other consolidating support among the trade unions and peasant-Indian movements.

In Ecuador the extractive regime of Correa has diversified the sources of imperial capital from the US to China, and consolidated his power via effective patronage machinery and socio-economic reforms.

The US-Colombian military threat to Venezuela and Ecuador has diminished, peace negotiations with the FARC are advancing and the regime now faces trade union and Indian-peasant opposition with regard to its extractive strategy and corporatist labor reforms.

In both Ecuador and Bolivia, imperial militarism appears to lack the vital strategic military-civilian allies capable of engineering a regime change.

The case of Venezuela highlights the continuing  importance of imperial militarism in shaping US policy in Latin America.  The  pivot to a military policy, was taken by Washington prior to any basic social reforms or economic nationalist measures.  The coup of 2001 and lockout of 2002 were backed by the US in response to President Chavez forceful rejection of the “War on Terrorism”.  Washington jeopardized its important economic stake, petrol investments,  in order to put in place a regime in conforming to its global military strategy.

And for the next decade and a half, the US imperial strategy totally ignored investment, trade and resource opportunities in this wealthy petrol state; it chose to spend hundreds of millions in financing opposition NGO, terrorists, electoral parties, mass media and military officials to effect a regime change.  The extractive sector in the US simply became a transmission belt for the agencies of the militarized imperial state.  In its place, Russia and China, interested especially extractive sector signed multi-billion dollar  contracts with the Venezuelan state: a case of extractive imperialism by invitation – for economic and security reasons.

Apart from the ideological conflict over US militarist expansion, Venezuela’s promotion of Latin American centered regional integration, weakened US leverage and control in the region.  In its struggle against Latin American centered regional organizations  and  to regain its dominance,  US imperialism has upgraded its economic profile via the Trans-Pacific Alliance, which includes its most loyal neo-liberal allies – Chile, Peru, Colombia and Mexico.  The global eclipse of  economic – driven imperial expansion in favor of the military has not totally displaced several key economic advances in strategic countries and sectors in Mexico, Colombia and Peru.

The privatization and denationalization of the biggest and most lucrative public petrol company in Latin America, PEMEX, the Mexican giant, opens up enormous profitable opportunities for US MNC.  The rapid appropriation of oil fields by US MNC will enhance and compliment the militarization of Mexico undertaken by the US military-security apparatus.

The Mexican example highlights several features of US imperialism in Latin America.

Imperial militarization does not necessarily preclude economic imperialism if it takes placewithin an existing stable state structure.  Unlike the imperial wars in Iraq and Libya, the military imperialist policies in Mexico advanced via powerful local political clients willing and able to engage in bloody civil wars costing over 100,000 civilian deaths in over a decade.  Under the aegus and guidance of US imperial rulers, the US and Mexican military devastated civil society, but safeguarded and expanded the huge mining and manufacturing enclaves open to economic imperialist exploitation.  Militarization contributed to weakening the bargaining rights of labor – wages have declined in real terms over the decades and the minimum wage is the lowest in the hemisphere.

Mexico highlights the crucial role that collaborator elites play in imperial capital accumulation. Mexico is an excellent example of ‘imperialism by invitation’ – the political agreements at the top impose ‘acquiescence’ below.  The extraordinary levels of corruption which permeates the entire political class, solidifies the longstanding links between Mexican political-business elite, the MNC and the security apparatus of the imperial state.  Extractive imperialism is the principal beneficiary of this “triple alliance”.

In the case of Mexico, militarized imperialism laid the groundwork for the expansion of economic imperialism.

A similar process, involving ‘triple alliances’ is operative in Colombia.  For the past decade and a half, militarized-imperialism poured over $6 billion in military aid(Plan Colombia) to finance the dispossession, assassination, arrest and torture and of over 4 million Colombians, including the killing of thousands of trade union and social movement leaders.

The scorched earth policy, backed by a substantial US military mission operated through the existing state apparatus and with the active support of the agro-mineral and banking elite ,aided by nearly 40,000 member paramilitary death squads and drug traffickers laid the groundwork for the large scale entry of extractive capital – particularly mining capital.

Military imperialism preceded the long-term, large scale ‘invasion’ by economic imperialism in the form of a free trade agreement and multi-million acre land grants to mining MNC.

This general pattern was repeated in Peru.  The ‘war on terror” under Fujimori and the subsequent liberalization of the economy, under three subsequent Presidents, culminated in the massive primarization of the economy under President Humala – who deepened and extended the expansion of imperial extractive capital.

The economic downturn in some of the post-neo-liberal economies, namely Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela, and the rightward moving political spectrum, has opened a window of opportunity for US economic imperialism to work in tandem with the rising neo-liberal politicalopposition.  The military option, a military coup or US military intervention is not on the horizon for the present time.  The central focus of imperial state decision makers regarding regime change is a combination of overt electoral and covert ‘street intervention’:  adopting ‘populist’, moralist and technocratic rhetoric to highlight  corruption in high offices, inefficiency in the delivery of social services with claims of bureaucratic interference in the operations of the market.  Business disinvestment, financial speculation on the currency and negative mass media propaganda has coincided strikes and protests against shortages and lag between wage and price increases.

Despite costly and failed imperial wars in the Middle East, despite a decade of military retreat in Latin America, economic imperialism is advancing via the electoral route; it already has established a formidable array of allies among the political regimes in Mexico, Colombia and Peru and is posed to re-establish neo-liberal allies in Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela.

Conclusion

Imperialism as it has evolved over the past quarter of a century cannot be understood as a ‘unified whole’ in which the two basic components, military and economic are always complimentary.  Divergences have been graphically illustrated by the imperial wars in the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa.  Convergences are more obvious in Latin America, especially in Mexico, Colombia and Peru, where ‘militarization’ facilitated the expansion of extractive capital.

The theoretical point is that the nature of the political leadership of the imperial state has a high degree of autonomy in shaping the predominance of one or another strand of the imperial expansion.  The capacity for imperial capital to expand is highly contingent on the strength and structure of the collaborator state: militarized imperialism that invades and destroys states and the fabric of civil society has led to disinvestment; in contrast economic imperialism by invitation in neo-liberal collaborator states has been at the center of successful imperial expansion.

The ambiguities and contradictions intrinsic to the post-neo-liberal extractivist based development model have both constrained the military component of imperialism while expanding opportunities for economic imperial accumulation.  Accumulation by invitation, and accumulation by dispossession are simply ‘moments’ in a complex process in which political regime changes intervene and establish the locations and timing for refluxes and influxes of capital.

The rise of new economic imperialist powers like China competing with established imperial powers like the US, has led to alternative markets and sources of financing, which erodes the effectiveness political, military and diplomatic instruments of imperial coercion.

Regional variations in political configurations, imperial priorities and choice of instruments of power, have deeply influenced the nature and structure of imperialism.  And as the world historic record seems to argue, military driven empire building in the Middle East has been a disaster while economic driven imperialism shows signs of rapid recovery and successes in Latin America.

Sep 282014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

isistroops-400x225

Introduction

In order to overcome massive US and world public opposition to new wars in the Middle East, Obama relied on the horrific internet broadcasts of ISIS slaughtering two American hostages, the journalists James Foley and Steve Sotloff, by decapitation.  These brutal murders were Obama’s main propaganda tool to set a new Middle East war agenda – his own casus belli bonanza!  This explains the US Administration’s threats of criminal prosecution against the families of Foley and Stoloff when they sought to ransom their captive sons from ISIS.

With the American mass media repeatedly showing the severed heads of these two helpless men, public indignation and disgust were aroused with calls for US military involvement to stop the terror.  US and EU political leaders presented the decapitations of Western hostages by the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) as a direct and mortal threat to the safety of civilians in the US and Europe.  The imagery evoked was of black-clad faceless terrorists, armed to the teeth, invading Europe and the US and executing innocent families as they begged for rescue and mercy.

The problem with this propaganda ploy is not the villainy and brutal crimes celebrated by ISIS, but the fact that Obama’s closest ally in his seventh war in six years is Saudi Arabia, a repugnant kingdom which routinely decapitates its prisoners in public without any judicial process recognizable as fair by civilized standards – unless tortured ‘confessions’ are now a Western norm.  During August 2014, when ISIS decapitated two American captives, Riyadh beheaded fourteen prisoners. Since the beginning of the year the Saudi monarchy has decapitated more than 46 prisoners and chopped off the arms and limbs of many more.  During Obama and Kerry’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia, horrendous decapitations were displayed in public.  These atrocities did not dim the bright smile on Barak Obama’s face as he strolled with his genial royal Saudi executioners, in stark contrast to the US President’s stern and angry countenance as he presented the ISIS killing of two Americans as his pretext for bombing Syria.

The Western mass media are silent in the face of the Saudi Kingdom’s common practice of public decapitation.  Not one among the major news corporations, the BBC, the Financial Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post, NBC, CBS and NPR, have questioned the moral authority of a US President who engages in selective condemnation of ISIS while ignoring the official Saudi state beheadings and the amputations.

Decapitation and Dismemberment:  By Dagger and Drones

The ISIS internet videos showing gaunt, orange-suited Western prisoners and their lopped-off heads have evoked widespread dismay and fear.  We are repeatedly told: ‘ISIS is coming to get us!’  But ISIS is open and public about their criminal acts against helpless hostages.  We cannot say the same about the decapitations and dismemberments of the hundreds of victims of US drone attacks.  When a drone fires its missiles on a home, a school, wedding party or vehicle, the bodies of living people are dismembered, macerated, decapitated and burned beyond recognition – all by remote control.  The carnage is not videoed or displayed for mass consumption by Obama’s high commend.  Indeed, civilian deaths, if even acknowledged, are brushed off as ‘collateral damage’ while the vaporized remnants of men, women and children have been described by US troops as ‘pink foam’.

If the brutal decapitation and dismemberment of innocent civilians is a capital crime that should be punished, as I believe it is, then both ISIS and the Obama regime with his allied leaders should face a people’s war crimes tribunal in the countries where the crimes occurred.

There are good reasons to view Washington’s close relation with the Saudi royal beheaders as part of a much broader alliance with terror-evoking brutality.  For decades, the US drug agencies and banks have worked closely with criminal drug cartels in Mexico while glossing over their notorious practice of decapitating, dismembering and displaying their victims, be they local civilians, courageous journalists, captured police or migrants fleeing the terror of Central America.  The notorious Zetas and the Knights Templar have penetrated the highest reaches of the Mexican federal and local governments, turning state officials and institutions into submissive and obedient clients. Over 100,000 Mexicans have lost their lives because of this ‘state within a state’, an ‘ISIS’ in Mexico – just ‘South of the Border’.  And just like ISIS in the Middle East, the cartels get their weapons from the US imported right across the Texas and Arizona borders.  Despite this gruesome terror on the US southern flank, the nation’s principle banks, including Bank of America, CitiBank, Wells Fargo and many others have laundered billions of dollars of drug profits for the cartels.  For example, the discovery of 49 decapitated bodies in one mass in May 2014 did not prompt Washington to form a world-wide coalition to bomb Mexico, nor was it moved to arrest the Wall Street bankers laundering the ‘beheaders bloody booty’.

Conclusion

Obama’s hysterical and very selective presentation of ISIS crimes forms the pretext for launching another war against a predominantly Muslim country, Syria, while shielding his close ally, the royal Saudi decapitator from US public outrage.  ISIS crimes have become another excuse to launch a campaign of ‘mass decapitation by drones and bombers’.  The mass propaganda campaign over one crime against humanity becomes the basis for perpetrating even worse crimes against humanity.  Many hundreds of innocent civilians in Syria and Iraq will be dismembered by ‘anti-terrorist’ bombs and drones unleashed by another of Obama’s ‘coalition’.

The localized savagery of ISIS will be multiplied, amplified and spread by the US-directed ‘coalition of the willing decapitators’. The terror of hooded beheaders on the ground will be answered and expanded by their faceless counterparts in the air, while delicately hiding the heads rolling through the public squares of Riyadh or the headless bodies displayed along the highways of Mexico …  and especially ignoring the hidden victims of US-Saudi aggression in the towns and villages of Syria.

Sep 262014
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

* INSIDE THE KOCH BROTHERS’ TOXIC EMPIRE

By Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone

1401x788-20140923_kotch_x1401

Together, Charles and David Koch control one of the world’s largest fortunes, which they are using to buy up our political system. But what they don’t want you to know is how they made all that money

The enormity of the Koch fortune is no mystery. Brothers Charles and David are each worth more than $40 billion. The electoral influence of the Koch brothers is similarly well-chronicled. The Kochs are our homegrown oligarchs; they’ve cornered the market on Republican politics and are nakedly attempting to buy Congress and the White House. Their political network helped finance the Tea Party and powers today’s GOP. Koch-affiliated organizations raised some $400 million during the 2012 election, and aim to spend another $290 million to elect Republicans in this year’s midterms. So far in this cycle, Koch-backed entities have bought 44,000 political ads to boost Republican efforts to take back the Senate.

What is less clear is where all that money comes from. Koch Industries is headquartered in a squat, smoked-glass building that rises above the prairie on the outskirts of Wichita, Kansas. The building, like the brothers’ fiercely private firm, is literally and figuratively a black box. Koch touts only one top-line financial figure: $115 billion in annual revenue, as estimated by Forbes. By that metric, it is larger than IBM, Honda or Hewlett-Packard and is America’s second-largest private company after agribusiness colossus Cargill. The company’s stock response to inquiries from reporters: “We are privately held and don’t disclose this information.”

But Koch Industries is not entirely opaque. The company’s troubled legal history – including a trail of congressional investigations, Department of Justice consent decrees, civil lawsuits and felony convictions – augmented by internal company documents, leaked State Department cables, Freedom of Information disclosures and company whistle­-blowers, combine to cast an unwelcome spotlight on the toxic empire whose profits finance the modern GOP. […]

READ @ http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/inside-the-koch-brothers-toxic-empire-20140924#ixzz3EQmZoQCC

—————————————————————–

* CHRIS HEDGES: THE COUP D’ ETAT IS OVER, THE CORPORATIONS WON

Source: ReasonTV

Chris Hedges talks with the libertarians at ReasonTV about capitalism, from Aristotle to AIG.

VIDEO @ http://youtu.be/61ZjXsDKDHQ

—————————————————————–

* AGE OF IGNORANCE

By Charles Simic, NYRBlog

images

Widespread ignorance bordering on idiocy is our new national goal. It’s no use pretending otherwise and telling us, as Thomas Friedman did in the Times a few days ago, that educated people are the nation’s most valuable resources. Sure, they are, but do we still want them? It doesn’t look to me as if we do. The ideal citizen of a politically corrupt state, such as the one we now have, is a gullible dolt unable to tell truth from bullshit.

An educated, well-informed population, the kind that a functioning democracy requires, would be difficult to lie to, and could not be led by the nose by the various vested interests running amok in this country. Most of our politicians and their political advisers and lobbyists would find themselves unemployed, and so would the gasbags who pass themselves off as our opinion makers. Luckily for them, nothing so catastrophic, even though perfectly well-deserved and widely-welcome, has a remote chance of occurring any time soon. For starters, there’s more money to be made from the ignorant than the enlightened, and deceiving Americans is one of the few growing home industries we still have in this country. A truly educated populace would be bad, both for politicians and for business.

It took years of indifference and stupidity to make us as ignorant as we are today. Anyone who has taught college over the last forty years, as I have, can tell you how much less students coming out of high school know every year. At first it was shocking, but it no longer surprises any college instructor that the nice and eager young people enrolled in your classes have no ability to grasp most of the material being taught. Teaching American literature, as I have been doing, has become harder and harder in recent years, since the students read little literature before coming to college and often lack the most basic historical information about the period in which the novel or the poem was written, including what important ideas and issues occupied thinking people at the time. […]

READ @ http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2012/mar/20/age-of-ignorance/

—————————————————————–

* HOW POLITICS MAKES US STUPID

By Erza Klein, Vox

Large Storm System From Midwest Makes Its Way East

There’s a simple theory underlying much of American politics. It sits hopefully at the base of almost every speech, every op-ed, every article, and every panel discussion. It courses through the Constitution and is a constant in President Obama’s most stirring addresses. It’s what we might call the More Information Hypothesis: the belief that many of our most bitter political battles are mere misunderstandings. The cause of these misunderstandings? Too little information — be it about climate change, or taxes, or Iraq, or the budget deficit. If only the citizenry were more informed, the thinking goes, then there wouldn’t be all this fighting.

It’s a seductive model. It suggests our fellow countrymen aren’t wrong so much as they’re misguided, or ignorant, or — most appealingly — misled by scoundrels from the other party. It holds that our debates are tractable and that the answers to our toughest problems aren’t very controversial at all. The theory is particularly prevalent in Washington, where partisans devote enormous amounts of energy to persuading each other that there’s really a right answer to the difficult questions in American politics — and that they have it.

But the More Information Hypothesis isn’t just wrong. It’s backwards. Cutting-edge research shows that the more information partisans get, the deeper their disagreements become. […]

READ @ http://www.vox.com/2014/4/6/5556462/brain-dead-how-politics-makes-us-stupid

Sep 242014
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

* BREAD, CIRCUSES AND BOMBS – THE DECLINE OF THE AMERICAN EMPIRE

By JimQ, Washington’s Blog

imperium

“Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: Bread and Circuses.”Juvenal – Satire (100 A.D.)

Roman satirist and poet Juvenal was displaying contempt for a degraded Roman citizenry that had shunned civic responsibility, shirked their duties of citizenship within a republic, and had chosen to sell their votes to feckless politicians for assurances of bread and circuses. Rather than govern according to noble principles based upon reason, striving for public policies that led to long term sustainability and benefitting the majority of citizens, politicians chose superficial displays and appeasing the masses utilizing the lowest common denominator of “free” food and bountiful spectacles, pageants, and ceremonies in order to retain power.

The Roman Empire’s decline stretched across centuries as the gradual loss of civic virtue among its citizenry allowed demagogues to gain power and barbarians to eventually overrun the weakened empire. While the peasants were distracted with shallow exhibitions of palliative pleasures, those in power were debasing the currency, enriching themselves, and living pampered lives of luxury. The Roman leaders bought public approval and support, not through exemplary public service, but through diversion, distraction, and the satisfaction of base immediate needs and desires of the populace. Satisfying the crude motivations of the ignorant peasants (cheap food and entertainment) is how Roman politicians bought votes and retained power. Free wheat, circus games, and feeding Christians to lions kept the commoners from focusing on politicians pillaging and wasting the empire’s wealth.

History may not repeat exactly because technology, resource discoveries, and political dynamics change the nature of society, but it does rhyme because the human foibles of greed, lust for power, arrogance, and desire for conquest do not vary across the ages. The corruption, arrogance, hubris, currency debasement, materialism, imperialism, and civic decay that led to the ultimate downfall of the Roman Empire is being repeated on an even far greater scale today as the American Empire flames out after only two centuries. The pillars of western society are crumbling under the sustained pressure of an immense mountain of debt, created by crooked bankers and utilized by corrupt politicians to sustain and expand their welfare/warfare state. Recklessness, myopia, greed, willful ignorance, and selfish disregard for unborn generations are the earmarks of decline in this modern day empire of debt, delusion and decay. […]

READ @ http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/09/bread-circuses-bombs-decline-american-empire.html

—————————————————————–

* SPEAKING THE TRUTH: JOE ROGAN “THE AMERICAN WAR MACHINE”

Source: youtube

VIDEO @ http://youtu.be/w-TDwtt013I

—————————————————————–

* WHO PROFITS FROM OUR NEW WAR? INSIDE NSA AND PRIVATE CONTRACTORS’ SECRET PLANS

By Tim Shorrock, Salon

Dave Lorenz, Bruce McFadden

A massive, $7.2 billion Army intelligence contract signed just 10 days ago underscores the central role to be played by the National Security Agency and its army of private contractors in the unfolding air war being carried out by the United States and its Gulf States allies against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

That war was greatly expanded Monday night when U.S. forces launched a “mix of fighter, bomber, remotely-piloted aircraft and Tomahawk” cruise missiles against ISIS targets in Syria. The Central Command said the strikes were led by the United States with support from Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

INSCOM’s “global intelligence support” contract will place the contractors at the center of this fight. It was unveiled on Sept. 12 by the U.S. Army’s Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), one of the largest military units that collects signals intelligence for the NSA.

Under its terms, 21 companies, led by Booz Allen Hamilton, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, will compete over the next five years to provide “fully integrated intelligence, security and information operations” in Afghanistan and “future contingency operations” around the world. […]

READ @ http://www.salon.com/2014/09/24/heres_who_profits_from_our_new_war_inside_nsa_and_an_army_of_private_contractors_plans/?source=newsletter

—————————————————————–

* CUBA SEES A CRISIS, AND SENDS DOCS; THE US SEES AN OPPORTUNITY AND SENDS TROOPS

By Dave Llindorff, Nation of Change

ebola91814

How’s this for a juxtaposition on how nations respond to a global health catastrophe. Check out these two headlines from yesterday’s news:

Cuba to Send Doctors to Ebola Areas

US to Deploy 3000 Troops as Ebola Crisis Worsens

Reading these stories, which ran in, respectively, the BBC and Reuters, one learns that the Cuban government, which runs a small financially hobbled island nation of 11 million people, with a national budget of $50 billion, Gross Domestic Product of 121 billion and per capita GDP of just over $10,000, is dispatching 165 medical personnel to Africa to regions where there are ebola outbreaks, while the US, the world’s wealthiest nation, with a population of close to 320 million, a national budget of $3.77 trillion, GDP of $17 trillion, and per capita GDP of over $53,000, is sending troops — 3000 of them– to “fight” the ebola epidemic. […]

READ @ http://www.nationofchange.org/cuba-sees-crisis-and-sends-docs-us-sees-opportunity-and-sends-troops-1411139654

—————————————————————–

* SNOWDEN DOCUMENTS REVEALED: ISIS CALIPHATE WORKING FOR AMERICA AND ISRAEL

By Anas Chihab, MorroccanTimes

LiveLeak-dot-com-76b_1406255768-10478165_10203437163264005_1659256337688_1406255770.jpg.resized

The former NSA and CIA agent Edward Snowden revealed that the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi was trained in Israel, various Iranien sources reported.

Snowden added that the American CIA and the British Intelligence collaborated with the Israeli Mossad to create a terrorist organization that is able to attract all extremists of the world to one place, using a strategy called “the hornet’s nest”.

The “Hornet’s nest’’ strategy aims to bring all the major threats to one place in order to track them, and mostly to shake the stability of the Arab countries. The NSA agent revealed that the ISIS “Calif”,  Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi went trough intense military training in the Israeli intelligence “Mossad”. […]

READ @ http://moroccantimes.com/2014/07/nsa-documents-reveal-isis-leaderabu-bakr-al-baghdadi-trained-israeli-mossad/

—————————————————————–

* OBAMA BOMBS 7th COUNTRY IN 6 YEARS

Source: RT

American jets hit targets in Syria on Tuesday in the US-led fight against Islamic State. Although the US has not declared war since 1942, this is the seventh country that Barack Obama, the holder of the Nobel Peace Prize, has bombed in as many years.

Syria has become the latest country to have been openly targeted by the US, with Washington predictably not seeking the approval of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The US and NATO started a bombing campaign in the north of the country on Tuesday against Islamic State militants, who have taken over parts of the north and east of the country. The death toll from Tuesday’s campaign was put at 120, though this figure could rise, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, who also said that eight civilians had lost their lives. […]

READ @ http://rt.com/usa/190048-usa-bombing-six-country/

—————————————————————–

* KEN O’KEEFE ON THE SYRIAN CONFLICT. HARD TRUTHS.

Source: youtube

 VIDEO @ http://youtu.be/st05PWCypLQ

—————————————————————–

* RAPTORS, BOMBERS AND DRONES: HOW US-LED ISIS STRIKES CAUSED CARNAGE IN SYRIA

Source: RT

syria-map

The US and five Arab states launched airstrikes in eastern Syria for the first time, targeting Islamic State militants. Around two dozen sites were targeted, with more than 200 airstrikes conducted. Reuters say 70 IS fighters were killed in the attacks.

Washington was aided by Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates in carrying out the airstrikes, with Qatar in a supporting role. The US-led coalition used a wide array of methods of attack, which included launching guided missiles from cruisers and destroyers in the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf.

The US and its allies had previously conducted airstrikes in Iraq to try and halt the gains made by IS, as well as providing support to Kurdish and Iraqi government forces. However, Tuesday’s attacks in Syria were the first time the US-led forces had bombed Syria. Washington went ahead with the plan despite not consulting with Syrian President Bashar Assad beforehand. […]

READ / VIDEOS @ http://rt.com/news/190188-video-airstrikes-syria-islamicstate/

Sep 172014
 

By William Blum, 99GetSmart

From Clipboard

Ever since serious protest broke out in Ukraine in February the Western mainstream media, particularly in the United States, has seriously downplayed the fact that the usual suspects – the US/European Union/NATO triumvirate – have been on the same side as the neo-Nazis. In the US it’s been virtually unmentionable. I’m sure that a poll taken in the United States on this issue would reveal near universal ignorance of the numerous neo-Nazi actions, including publicly calling for death to “Russians, Communists and Jews”. But in the past week the dirty little secret has somehow poked its head out from behind the curtain a bit.

On September 9 NBCnews.com reported that “German TV shows Nazi symbols on helmets of Ukraine soldiers”. The German station showed pictures of a soldier wearing a combat helmet with the “SS runes” of Hitler’s infamous black-uniformed elite corps. (Runes are the letters of an alphabet used by ancient Germanic peoples.) A second soldier was shown with a swastika on his helmet. 1

On the 13th, the Washington Post showed a photo of the sleeping quarter of a member of the Azov Battalion, one of the Ukrainian paramilitary units fighting the pro-Russian separatists. On the wall above the bed is a large swastika. Not to worry, the Post quoted the platoon leader stating that the soldiers embrace symbols and espouse extremist notions as part of some kind of “romantic” idea.

Yet, it is Russian president Vladimir Putin who is compared to Adolf Hitler by everyone from Prince Charles to Princess Hillary because of the incorporation of Crimea as part of Russia. On this question Putin has stated:

The Crimean authorities have relied on the well-known Kosovo precedent, a precedent our Western partners created themselves, with their own hands, so to speak. In a situation absolutely similar to the Crimean one, they deemed Kosovo’s secession from Serbia to be legitimate, arguing everywhere that no permission from the country’s central authorities was required for the unilateral declaration of independence. The UN’s international court, based on Paragraph 2 of Article 1 of the UN Charter, agreed with that, and in its decision of 22 July 2010 noted the following, and I quote verbatim: No general prohibition may be inferred from the practice of the Security Council with regard to unilateral declarations of independence. 2

Putin as Hitler is dwarfed by the stories of Putin as invader (Vlad the Impaler?). For months the Western media has been beating the drums about Russia having (actually) invaded Ukraine. I recommend reading: “How Can You Tell Whether Russia has Invaded Ukraine?” by Dmitry Orlov 3

And keep in mind the NATO encirclement of Russia. Imagine Russia setting up military bases in Canada and Mexico, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Remember what a Soviet base in Cuba led to.

Has the United States ever set a bad example?

Ever since that fateful day of September 11, 2001, the primary public relations goal of the United States has been to discredit the idea that somehow America had it coming because of its numerous political and military acts of aggression. Here’s everyone’s favorite hero, George W. Bush, speaking a month after 9-11:

“How do I respond when I see that in some Islamic countries there is vitriolic hatred for America? I’ll tell you how I respond: I’m amazed. I’m amazed that there’s such misunderstanding of what our country is about that people would hate us. I am – like most Americans, I just can’t believe it because I know how good we are.” 4

Thank you, George. Now take your pills.

I and other historians of US foreign policy have documented at length the statements of anti-American terrorists who have made it explicitly clear that their actions were in retaliation for Washington’s decades of international abominations. 5 But American officials and media routinely ignore this evidence and cling to the party line that terrorists are simply cruel and crazed by religion; which many of them indeed are, but that doesn’t change the political and historical facts.

This American mindset appears to be alive and well. At least four hostages held in Syria recently by Islamic State militants, including US journalist James Foley, were waterboarded during their captivity. The Washington Post quoted a US official: “ISIL is a group that routinely crucifies and beheads people. To suggest that there is any correlation between ISIL’s brutality and past U.S. actions is ridiculous and feeds into their twisted propaganda.”

The Post, however, may have actually evolved a bit, adding that the “Islamic State militants … appeared to model the technique on the CIA’s use of waterboarding to interrogate suspected terrorists after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.” 6

Talk given by William Blum at a Teach-In on US Foreign Policy, American University, Washington, DC, September 6, 2014

Each of you I’m sure has met many people who support American foreign policy, with whom you’ve argued and argued. You point out one horror after another, from Vietnam to Iraq. From god-awful bombings and invasions to violations of international law and torture. And nothing helps. Nothing moves this person.

Now why is that? Are these people just stupid? I think a better answer is that they have certain preconceptions. Consciously or unconsciously, they have certain basic beliefs about the United States and its foreign policy, and if you don’t deal with these basic beliefs you may as well be talking to a stone wall.

The most basic of these basic beliefs, I think, is a deeply-held conviction that no matter what the United States does abroad, no matter how bad it may look, no matter what horror may result, the government of the United States means well. American leaders may make mistakes, they may blunder, they may lie, they may even on the odd occasion cause more harm than good, but they do mean well. Their intentions are always honorable, even noble. Of that the great majority of Americans are certain.

Frances Fitzgerald, in her famous study of American school textbooks, summarized the message of these books: “The United States has been a kind of Salvation Army to the rest of the world: throughout history it had done little but dispense benefits to poor, ignorant, and diseased countries. The U.S. always acted in a disinterested fashion, always from the highest of motives; it gave, never took.”

And Americans genuinely wonder why the rest of the world can’t see how benevolent and self-sacrificing America has been. Even many people who take part in the anti-war movement have a hard time shaking off some of this mindset; they march to spur America – the America they love and worship and trust – they march to spur this noble America back onto its path of goodness.

Many of the citizens fall for US government propaganda justifying its military actions as often and as naively as Charlie Brown falling for Lucy’s football.

The American people are very much like the children of a Mafia boss who do not know what their father does for a living, and don’t want to know, but then wonder why someone just threw a firebomb through the living room window.

This basic belief in America’s good intentions is often linked to “American exceptionalism”. Let’s look at how exceptional US foreign policy has been. Since the end of World War 2, the United States has:

  1. Attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically-elected.
  2. Dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries.
  3. Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders.
  4. Attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 countries.
  5. Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries.
  6. Led the world in torture; not only the torture performed directly by Americans upon foreigners, but providing torture equipment, torture manuals, lists of people to be tortured, and in-person guidance by American teachers, especially in Latin America.

This is indeed exceptional. No other country in all of history comes anywhere close to such a record.

So the next time you’re up against a stone wall … ask the person what the United States would have to do in its foreign policy to lose his support. What for this person would finally be TOO MUCH. If the person mentions something really bad, chances are the United States has already done it, perhaps repeatedly.

Keep in mind that our precious homeland, above all, seeks to dominate the world. For economic reasons, nationalistic reasons, ideological, Christian, and for other reasons, world hegemony has long been America’s bottom line. And let’s not forget the powerful Executive Branch officials whose salaries, promotions, agency budgets and future well-paying private sector jobs depend upon perpetual war. These leaders are not especially concerned about the consequences for the world of their wars. They’re not necessarily bad people; but they’re amoral, like a sociopath is.

Take the Middle East and South Asia. The people in those areas have suffered horribly because of Islamic fundamentalism. What they desperately need are secular governments, which have respect for different religions. And such governments were actually instituted in the recent past. But what has been the fate of those governments?

Well, in the late 1970s through much of the 1980s, Afghanistan had a secular government that was relatively progressive, with full rights for women, which is hard to believe, isn’t it? But even a Pentagon report of the time testified to the actuality of women’s rights in Afghanistan. And what happened to that government? The United States overthrew it, allowing the Taliban to come to power. So keep that in mind the next time you hear an American official say that we have to remain in Afghanistan for the sake of women’s rights.

After Afghanistan came Iraq, another secular society, under Saddam Hussein. And the United States overthrew that government as well, and now the country is overrun by crazed and bloody jihadists and fundamentalists of all kinds; and women who are not covered up are running a serious risk.

Next came Libya; again, a secular country, under Moammar Gaddafi, who, like Saddam Hussein, had a tyrant side to him but could in important ways be benevolent and do marvelous things for Libya and Africa. To name just one example, Libya had a high ranking on the United Nation’s Human Development Index. So, of course, the United States overthrew that government as well. In 2011, with the help of NATO we bombed the people of Libya almost every day for more than six months. And, once again, this led to messianic jihadists having a field day. How it will all turn out for the people of Libya, only God knows, or perhaps Allah.

And for the past three years, the United States has been doing its best to overthrow the secular government of Syria. And guess what? Syria is now a playground and battleground for all manner of ultra militant fundamentalists, including everyone’s new favorite, IS, the Islamic State. The rise of IS owes a lot to what the US has done in Iraq, Libya, and Syria in recent years.

We can add to this marvelous list the case of the former Yugoslavia, another secular government that was overthrown by the United States, in the form of NATO, in 1999, giving rise to the creation of the largely-Muslim state of Kosovo, run by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). The KLA was considered a terrorist organization by the US, the UK and France for years, with numerous reports of the KLA being armed and trained by al-Qaeda, in al-Qaeda camps in Pakistan, and even having members of al-Qaeda in KLA ranks fighting against the Serbs of Yugoslavia. Washington’s main concern was dealing a blow to Serbia, widely known as “the last communist government in Europe”.

The KLA became renowned for their torture, their trafficking in women, heroin, and human body parts; another charming client of the empire.

Someone looking down upon all this from outer space could be forgiven for thinking that the United States is an Islamic power doing its best to spread the word – Allah Akbar!

But what, you might wonder, did each of these overthrown governments have in common that made them a target of Washington’s wrath? The answer is that they could not easily be controlled by the empire; they refused to be client states; they were nationalistic; in a word, they were independent; a serious crime in the eyes of the empire.

So mention all this as well to our hypothetical supporter of US foreign policy and see whether he still believes that the United States means well. If he wonders how long it’s been this way, point out to him that it would be difficult to name a single brutal dictatorship of the second half of the 20th Century that was not supported by the United States; not only supported, but often put into power and kept in power against the wishes of the population. And in recent years as well, Washington has supported very repressive governments, such as Saudi Arabia, Honduras, Indonesia, Egypt, Colombia, Qatar, and Israel.

And what do American leaders think of their own record? Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was probably speaking for the whole private club of our foreign-policy leadership when she wrote in 2000 that in the pursuit of its national security the United States no longer needed to be guided by “notions of international law and norms” or “institutions like the United Nations” because America was “on the right side of history.” 7

Let me remind you of Daniel Ellsberg’s conclusion about the US in Vietnam: “It wasn’t that we were on the wrong side; we were the wrong side.”

Well, far from being on the right side of history, we have in fact fought – I mean actually engaged in warfare – on the same side as al Qaeda and their offspring on several occasions, beginning with Afghanistan in the 1980s and 90s in support of the Islamic Moujahedeen, or Holy Warriors.

The US then gave military assistance, including bombing support, to Bosnia and Kosovo, both of which were being supported by al Qaeda in the Yugoslav conflicts of the early 1990s.

In Libya, in 2011, Washington and the Jihadists shared a common enemy, Gaddafi, and as mentioned, the US bombed the people of Libya for more than six months, allowing jihadists to take over parts of the country; and they’re now fighting for the remaining parts. These wartime allies showed their gratitude to Washington by assassinating the US ambassador and three other Americans, apparently CIA, in the city of Benghazi.

Then, for some years in the mid and late 2000s, the United States backed Islamic militants in the Caucasus region of Russia, an area that has seen more than its share of religious terror going back to the Chechnyan actions of the 1990s.

Finally, in Syria, in attempting to overthrow the Assad government, the US has fought on the same side as several varieties of Islamic militants. That makes six occasions of the US being wartime allies of jihadist forces.

I realize that I have fed you an awful lot of negativity about what America has done to the world, and maybe it’s been kind of hard for some of you to swallow. But my purpose has been to try to loosen the grip on your intellect and your emotions that you’ve been raised with – or to help you to help others to loosen that grip – the grip that assures you that your beloved America means well. US foreign policy will not make much sense to you as long as you believe that its intentions are noble; as long as you ignore the consistent pattern of seeking world domination, which is a national compulsion of very long standing, known previously under other names such as Manifest Destiny, the American Century, American exceptionalism, globalization, or, as Madeleine Albright put it, “the indispensable nation” … while others less kind have used the term “imperialist”.

In this context I can’t resist giving the example of Bill Clinton. While president, in 1995, he was moved to say: “Whatever we may think about the political decisions of the Vietnam era, the brave Americans who fought and died there had noble motives. They fought for the freedom and the independence of the Vietnamese people.” Yes, that’s really the way our leaders talk. But who knows what they really believe?

It is my hope that many of you who are not now activists against the empire and its wars will join the anti-war movement as I did in 1965 against the war in Vietnam. It’s what radicalized me and so many others. When I hear from people of a certain age about what began the process of losing their faith that the United States means well, it’s Vietnam that far and away is given as the main cause. I think that if the American powers-that-be had known in advance how their “Oh what a lovely war” was going to turn out they might not have made their mammoth historical blunder. Their invasion of Iraq in 2003 indicates that no Vietnam lesson had been learned at that point, but our continuing protest against war and threatened war in Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, and elsewhere may have – may have! – finally made a dent in the awful war mentality. I invite you all to join our movement. Thank you.

Notes

  1. NBC News, “German TV Shows Nazi Symbols on Helmets of Ukraine Soldiers”, September 6 2014
  2. BBC, March 18, 2014
  3. Information Clearinghouse“How Can You Tell Whether Russia has Invaded Ukraine?”, September 1 2014
  4. Boston Globe, October 12, 2001
  5. See, for example, William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower (2005), chapter 1
  6. Washington Post, August 28, 2014
  7. Foreign Affairs magazine (Council on Foreign Relations), January/February 2000
Sep 162014
 

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

2009 Protest against Internet Censorship Bill 5651 Revisions

2009 Protest against Internet Censorship Bill 5651 Revisions

Just days after Turkey hosted thousands of delegates from around the world for the Internet Governance Forum in Istanbul and boasted about policing and pressuring Internet freedoms in the country, a law has been passed in urgency, almost like escaping from fire. The new law allows the Telecommunications Directorate (TIB) – which consists mainly of former spies and about which there was talk of disbanding it to make it an office under the national secret service – to carry out surveillance operations and block access to Web sites without a court order. The law now includes the clauses that were rejected by President Gül when the last update was made in February 2014.

The bill came at a surprise moment when it was not being talked of in the media and was definitely not debated at all. Just days before it was passed at 4 a.m., there was criticism of Turkey’s approach to digital rights and liberties, and while activists were expecting a loosening of censorship, surveillance, and profiling activities by the government and secret service, it just happened to get even worse.

Concerns and worries were expressed by an anonymous EU diplomat based in Ankara, and the Turkish EU minister criticized him/her saying “this is not that person’s business.” The minister continued his remarks, saying “This is only in times of national security, not on a regular basis,” referring to the clause of the new bill that states that “this bill can be applied in matters related to national security, public order, and prevention of crimes” yet failed to address exactly what constitutes a breach of national security. One can remember the 2013 Gezi Uprising and how it was labeled a “coup attempt,” activists were declared “traitors,” and the millions who supported the uprising were called “terrorists.”

From Miners to Censorship

ace7d-w28129

Drafting of the reform package began upon the death of 302 miners in a terrible mining tragedy, due to lack of security precautions; yet the draft bill evolved to address censorship, surveillance, and profiling cases. President Erdoğan approved the bill on the 34th anniversary of the 1980  military coup, Friday September 12 – thus initiating a new level of obstacles to rights and liberties.

Raiding of the TIB

The TIB was raided last February and several top managers were replaced after some phone conversations were leaked on the Internet revealing the biggest corruption scandal in history involving the Turkish government. Now the new team will probably be using the “server-ville” facilities just nearby the capital city, where all telecommunications data are being stored. When combined with the plans to install the NetClean and Procera software throughout the country’s telecommunications backbone, this new bill allows the Turkish secret service to become nothing less than a digital Gestapo. It may be legal to carry out such actions in Turkey, but for sure it is not lawful.

Russian-Style Tight Control

Turkey now prepares for yet another stranglehold on digital rights and freedoms. In October there will be a new bill in the parliament which will address Internet and press publishers. The new law is much like the Russian bloggers’ bill, requiring all digitally published content creators to reveal their names, addresses, and contact details on the Web site, make all content available for at least a year without the possibility of deletion, and comply with already tightened media laws in the country. The new bill is set to mainly target citizen journalism platforms, including bloggers.

handcuffed-blogger

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

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

Sep 152014
 

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

unnamed

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

On the 34th  anniversary of the September 12th,  1980 military coup, young liberal Turkish activists organized a protest rally against the retrogression in democratic values and democratization of the country. They got together in Taksim’s Galatasaray Square, wore their white T-shirts, on which were printed “No U Turn” signs, read out a press statement against the undemocratic implementation of laws in the country, and started their march. Unlike all protest rallies beforehand, they were walking backwards as a sign of the Turkish democracy going the same way.

Only a few steps behind them were located riot police and water cannon, aka TOMA, and the group had to divert their path in order not to run into them, but this seemed like another significant coincidence. Members of the “Democracy Watch” and “Law, Liberty, Tolerance” foundations and voluntary activists participated in the protest and recalled the initial steps taken against the coup legacy, back in 2010 during the Constitutional Reform referendum.

The Press Statement reads as follows:

“We have just observed yet another anniversary of the September 12th military coup which has had a significant role in our political and democratic lives and continues to be a bleeding wound. The system that has replaced the rule of law with law of the powerful, has installed a network of bans and prohibitions on individual and social liberties even after the 34 years. In the recent years, we have also observed quite a few positive steps in terms of our democracy and freedoms. One of them was the constitutional reform referenda on September 12th 2010. Even though we had imagined this referenda to be a beginning, it was forgotten before even the end of the year. The militaristic constitution of 1980 continues to be an obstacle in the face of civilian thinking and liberties. Universities continue to graduate uniform persons with the help of Higher Authority for Education. The legal institutions which are supposed to spread justice, get shaped with power-relations and interest struggles. The media which should be independent and unbiased revolve around interest relations. Our people and cities turn paler just like the democratic promises of the government. In Turkey, which has a ranking of 154 in press freedom, 90 in human development index and 88 in international democratic index, all these are announced as “New Turkey”. We the youth of Turkey who wish to see our liberties and democracy among the level of developed countries, refuse to act as three monkeys against all these going on. We do not approve of the backlash in democracy’s basic principles such as basic rights and freedoms, separation of powers. Yet, in order to protest against the backlash and backwardness we have been experiencing as a society and country, we will march backwards. We hereby set a note in history in terms of our values and principles by taking a step back, and continue to walk towards a much brighter future for Turkey.”

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

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

Sep 132014
 

Posted by James Petras, 99GetSmart

kiev-trojan44

Introduction

The NATO proxy war in the Ukraine started with the violent US-EU-sponsored overthrow of the elected government via a mob putsch in February 2014.  This was well financed at $5 billion, according to President Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland.

The result was a junta, composed of neo-liberal puppets, rightist nationalists and fascists, which immediately proceeded to purge the Ukrainian legislature of any politicians opposed to the coup and Kiev’s submission to the European Union and NATO.  The NATO-sponsored client regime then moved swiftly to extend its control by centralizing power and overturning the official policy of bilingualism (Russian and Ukrainian) in the southeastern regions.   It was preparing to break its long-standing agreement over the huge Russian naval base in Crimea and renege on its massive debts to Russia for gas and oil imports.

These extremist measures by a violent coup regime amounted to a radical break with existing economic, cultural and political institutions and, naturally, provoked a robust response from large sectors of the population.  The overwhelmingly Russian speaking majority in Crimea convoked a referendum with 90% voter participation:  89% voted to secede and rejoin Russia.  The ethnic Russian and bilingual, industrialized southeast regions of Ukraine organized their own referenda, formed popular militias and prepared for an armed response from what they viewed as an illegal junta in Kiev. Threatened by the new measures against their language and traditional and economic ties with Russia, the resistance drew its fighters from the vast reservoir of skilled industrial workers, miners and local business people who understood that they would lose thousands of jobs and access to the Russian markets as well as cultural and family links under the boot of the EU-NATO puppet in Kiev.

For critical sections of Ukraine, the Kiev junta was illegitimate, so the NATO overseers, cooked up an election with a pre-selected candidate, Petro Poroshenko, a millionaire oligarch, willing to serve as a ‘reliable’ proxy, despite his history of dubious ‘business’ deals, who would implement the Euro-US agenda.  Despite large sectors boycotting the sham elections, the ‘victorious President’ Poroshenko immediately joined the EU, shredding the heavily subsidized and generous gas and oil agreements with Russia as well as cutting Ukraine off from its main export markets.  He proposed to join NATO and convert Ukraine into a launching pad aimed at Russia.  He eagerly signed an IMF agreement ending critical subsidies for low income Ukrainians, privatizing public enterprises and raising the cost of basic public services and food.  He launched an all-out military campaign against the Donbass region, using missiles, air strikes, artillery and ground forces while assuring his masters in Washington and Brussels that he could easily smash all resistance to his dictatorial fiats and impose their radical retrograde agenda.

The scope and depth of the changes and the unilateral manner in which they were formulated and implemented provoked a widespread popular uprising in the southeast that cut across the entire social spectrum.  The popular democratic nature of the opposition in the east attracted support throughout the region, reaching beyond the borders of Ukraine.  The resistance easily captured Ukrainian military outposts while conscripted soldiers, ex-soldiers and local police units joined the resistance, bringing their arms with them.

The Kiev regime and its increasingly fascist shock troops responded with terror tactics, bombing civilian infrastructure and neighborhoods. In the ethnically-mixed city of Odessa, with its substantial Russian-speaking population, Kiev-based fascists torched the city’s main trade union building where civilian protesters had sought refuge, burning alive or later slaughtering over 40 trapped citizen demonstrators.

The terrorist tactics of the Kiev government spurred thousands more to join the resistance. Horrified and demoralized Ukrainian conscripts, who had been told they were fighting ‘Russian invaders’ defected or surrendered in large numbers.  The spectacle of surrender and demoralization among its armed forces and police undermined this phase of Kiev’s offensive and led to a ‘legitimacy’ crisis.

The US-EU propaganda campaign intensified denying civilian resistance in the southeast any authenticity as an independent, democratic, national force by labeling them as ‘Russian separatists’ and ‘invaders’.  Together with their puppet-‘President’ Petro Poroshenko, the US-EU tried to discredit the popular resistance via a major provocation:  Ukrainian government air controllers in Kiev re-directed a civilian air liner, Malaysian Airlines Flt. 17, to fly directly over the war zone, shot it down killing almost 300 passengers and crew.  The puppet in Kiev and their masters in Brussels and Washington then blamed the resistance, as well as Russia, for the crime!

The NATO-backed proxy regime’s tactic of terror boomeranged and caused even more outrage!  More Ukrainian troops refused to fire on the own compatriots .The puppet regime in Kiev had to rely on the special fascist battalions eager to kill ‘Russians’.  Many ordinary soldiers deserted rather than obey orders to fire heavy artillery shells into densely populated urban neighborhoods full of trapped civilians.  Other troops crossed over into the safety of neighboring Russia where they surrendered and turned their arms over to the resistance.

The incredible strength of the southeast regional resistance came from several sources: First and foremost, they were defending home turf:  their families, relatives, friends, neighbors, homes, workplaces, transport systems, hospitals and schools and they increasingly saw themselves as a nation confronting the ravages of a foreign-imposed dictatorship arbitrarily selling their principle economic enterprises and means of livelihood while submitting to the dictates of the US-EU controlled International Monetary Fund.  This popular resistance was bolstered morally and materially by pro-democracy activists and militants from Euro-Asia, who understood that a NATO victory in Ukraine would lead to more coups in sovereign countries, more civil wars and brutal conquests throughout the region – a formula for economic and social disaster affecting tens, if not hundreds, of millions of people.

NATO’s heavy-handed presence behind the putsch in Kiev spurred a national liberation struggle in Ukraine and the growth of anti-NATO internationalism regionally.  The battle was joined.  The Kiev blitzkrieg halted in confusion.  The battles for Donetsk and Lugansk turned the tide.  The Resistance went on the offensive.  Over 800 Kiev soldiers were killed.  Thousands more were wounded, captured or deserted.

The Resistance was advancing westward and to the south threatening to create a land bridge to the Crimea and encircle an entire regiment.  The puppet regime in Kiev panicked and pleaded for its EU and US patrons to intervene directly.  Divisions within the junta deepened: the fascists demanded an all-out war against the Russian-speaking population and total mobilization.  The neo-liberals, for their part, begged for direct NATO intervention.

Meanwhile, the EU and US imposed wide economic sanctions against Russia, unwilling to believe that the citizens in the Donbass region of southeast Ukraine would successfully resist their puppet in Kiev.  They drank their own propaganda swill and blamed ‘Putin’, the Russian President, for the debacle.   The increasing economic sanctions against Russia had no effect on the popular resistance in Ukraine as it took on the character of a national liberation struggle.  However, the sanctions did provoke painful counter-measures from Russia, which slapped major embargos on EU and US agricultural products, deepening Europe’s economic recession.  And there was a build up of NATO troops and joint military exercises on Russia’s borders in Poland, the Baltic States and over the Black Sea.

Finally the NATO powers realized that their puppet’s military conquest of the East was not going to be another ‘cake walk’, indeed it was turning into a brutal farce.  From top to bottom, the junta’s armed forces were in shambles.  The continued advance of the popular resistance and the onset of winter without Russian oil and gas could topple the regime in Kiev and force new elections free from NATO, the CIA and the machinations of US Assistant Secretary ‘F… the EU’ Victoria Nuland, Obama’s key strategist for Eastern Europe.

With NATO’s and Washington’s fears in mind, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed a ‘compromise’ for Poroshenko, an immediate ceasefire and negotiations leading to a political settlement between Kiev and the rebels.  In the face of a military debacle in the East and growing internal fissures, the puppet in Kiev agreed to the ceasefire.

Prospects for Peace with Justice

Poroshenko and his NATO overseers eagerly grabbed onto Putin’s peace plan to stave off the advance of the popular resistance and gain time to re-group, rebuild and re-supply Kiev’s armed forces.  NATO leaders are counting on a ‘political’ settlement where they trade easily-broken political promises in exchange for the resistance demobilizing and disarming under Kiev’s authority. There is no indication that the NATO-Kiev axis intends to abandon their strategic goal of turning Ukraine into a NATO base and vassal state of the EU.

As the cease fire comes into effect, the NATO powers have organized two sets of military exercises within Ukraine and on its immediate border – clearly undermining Russia’s strategic interests. The ongoing military build-up is a sign that NATO intends to participate directly in crushing the popular resistance in the next round.  It is just a matter of time for NATO and Kiev to trot out some pretext to end the ceasefire.   Meanwhile, NATO is increasing the flow of arms, advisers and contract mercenaries to Kiev.  The oligarch in Kiev, Poroshenko is attempting to bolster his ground forces by imposing a highly unpopular universal conscription.  Even the citizens in the west of Ukraine can see the war is going badly with the return of wounded soldiers and caskets holding their sons and brothers.

Tactically Poroshenko/NATO may offer paper concessions, greater ‘autonomy’ . . . under the rule of the Kiev junta, and the acceptance of bilingualism, but political, administrative, legal and fiscal powers will not devolve to the democrats in Donesk and Lugansk to design and implement their own policies and protect their rights.  The regime will demand the re-entry of ‘its army’ on the pretext of guarding borders against Russia.  There will be no reparations for the massive loss of life and infrastructure in the region.  Kiev will seek to surround and fragment the Resistance and eliminate the key cross-border sanctuary with Russia.  The ultimate goal would be to squeeze and oust resistance-led regional self-government.

The prolongation of negotiations will be used to build-up Kiev’s military capabilities.  Meanwhile more US-imposed EU economic sanctions against Russia give Washington greater power to expand its influence in Europe and deepen political and trade polarization between the EU and Moscow.  The Ukraine crisis is only one part of the Obama regime’s strategy of global military escalation, which includes re-entry into Iraq, direct bombing of Syria (including Damascus) and increased sanctions against companies and banks trading with Iran and Cuba, as well as the encirclement and provocation of China.

An independent Russia is the real target and the annexation of the Ukraine is a mere stepping stone on the way to Moscow.  Under this strategic (and insane) vision, the US and EU will never accept a neutral (NATO-free), independent, democratic Ukraine.  The popular resistance in the country’s southeast must clearly understand this strategic vision and continue the fight.  They must recognize that the only means to establish democracy and self-rule, free from NATO and  IMF dominance, and free from the marauding gangs of  Kiev-led Nazi thugs – the terrorist Azov, Aidar and Donbass battalions – is via a plebiscite for total national independence.

The current cease fire is a Trojan horse:  within the bowels of these negotiations, Kiev warlords are busily preparing to unleash more of their military excrement – fascist hordes and the oligarchs’ private armies, the monstrous spawn of the NATO-armed Azov battalion under Nazi banners, sporting swastika tattoos and hate-filled insignias.  The choice is clear.

Sep 112014
 

Posted by James Petras, 99GetSmart

image010

Introduction

To the growing army of critics of US military intervention, who also reject the mendacious claims by American officials and their apologists of ‘world leadership’, Washington is engaged in ‘empire-building”.

But the notion that the US is building an empire, by engaging in wars to exploit and plunder countries’ markets, resources and labor, defies the realities of the past two decades.  US wars, including invasions, bombings, occupations, sanctions, coups and clandestine operations have not resulted in the expansion of markets, greater control and exploitation of resources or the ability to exploit cheap labor.  Instead US wars have destroyed enterprises, reduced access to raw materials, killed, wounded or displaced productive workers around the world, and limited access to lucrative investment sites and markets via sanctions.

In other words, US global military interventions and wars have done the exact opposite of what all previous empires have pursued:  Washington has exploited (and depleted) the domestic economy to expand militarily abroad instead of enriching it.

Why and how the US global wars differ from those of previous empires requires us to examine (1) the forces driving overseas expansion; (2) the political conceptions accompanying the conquest, the displacement of incumbent rulers and the seizure of power and; (3) the reorganization of the conquered states and the accompanying economic and social structures to sustain long-term neo-colonial relations.

Empire Building: The Past

Europe built durable, profitable and extensive empires, which enriched the ‘mother country’, stimulated local industry, reduced unemployment and ‘trickled down’ wealth in the form of better wages to privileged sectors of the working class.  Imperial military expeditions were preceded by the entry of major trade enterprises (British East India Company) and followed by large-scale manufacturing, banking and commercial firms.  Military invasions and political takeovers were driven by competition with economic rivals in Europe, and later, by the US and Japan.

The goal of military interventions was to monopolize control over the most lucrative economic resources and markets in the colonized regions. Imperial repression was directed at creating a docile low wage labor force and buttressing subordinate local collaborators or client-rulers who facilitated the flow of profits, debt payments, taxes and export revenues back to the empire.

Imperial wars were the beginning, not the end, of ‘empire building’.  What followed these wars of conquest was the incorporation of pre-existing elites into subordinate positions in the administration of the empire.  The ‘sharing of revenues’, between the imperial economic enterprises and pre-existing elites, was a crucial part of ‘empire building’.  The imperial powers sought to ‘instrumentalize’ existing religious, political, and economic elites’ and harness them to the new imperial-centered division of labor.  Pre-existing economic activity, including local manufacturers and agricultural producers, which competed with imperial industrial exporters, were destroyed and replaced by malleable local traders and importers (compradors).  In summary, the military dimensions of empire building were informed by economic interests in the mother country.  The occupation was pre-eminently concerned with preserving local collaborative powers and, above all, restoring and expanding the intensive and extensive exploitation of local resources and labor, as well as the capture and saturation of local markets with goods from the imperial center.

“Empire-building” Today

The results of contemporary US military interventions and invasions stand in stark contrast with those of past imperial powers.  The targets of military aggression are selected on the basis of ideological and political criteria.  Military action does not follow the lead of ‘pioneer’ economic entrepreneurs – like the British East India Company.  Military action is not accompanied by large-scale, long-term capitalist enterprises.  Multi-national construction companies of the empire, which build great military bases  are a drain on the imperial treasury.

Contemporary US intervention does not seek to secure and take over the existing military and civilian state apparatus; instead the invaders fragment the conquered state, decimate its cadres, professionals and experts at all levels, thus providing an entry for the most retrograde ethno-religious, regional, tribal and clan leaders to engage in intra-ethnic, sectarian wars against each other, in other words – chaos.  Even the Nazis, in their expansion phase, chose to rule through local collaborator elites and maintained established administrative structures at all levels.

With US invasions, entire existing socio-economic structures are undermined, not ‘taken over’:  all productive activity is subject to the military priorities of leaders bent on permanently crippling the conquered state and its advanced economic, administrative, educational, cultural and social sectors.  While this is militarily successful in the short-run, the medium and long-term results are non-functioning states, not a sustained inflow of plunder and expanding market for an empire. Instead what we have is a chain of US military bases surrounded by a sea of hostile, largely unemployed populations and warring ethno-religious groups in decimated economies.

The US claims to ‘world leadership’ is based exclusively on failed-state empire building.  Nevertheless, the dynamic for continuing to expand into new regions, to militarily and politically intervene and establish new client entities continues.  And, most importantly, this expansionist dynamic further undermines domestic economic interests, which, theoretically and historically, form the basis for empire.  We, therefore, have imperialism without empire, a vampire state preying on the vulnerable and devouring its own in the process.

Empire or Vampire: The Results of US Global Warfare

Empires, throughout history, have violently seized political power and exploited the riches and resources (both material and human) of the targeted regions.  Over time, they would consolidate a ‘working relation’, insuring the ever-increasing flow of wealth into the mother country and the expanding presence of imperial enterprises in the colony.  Contemporary US military interventions have had the opposite effect after every recent major military conquest and occupation.

Iraq: Vampires Pillage

Under Saddam Hussein, the Republic of Iraq was a major oil producer and profitable partner for major US oil companies, as well as a lucrative market for US exports.  It was a stable, unified secular state.  The first Gulf War in the 1990’s led to the first phase of its fragmentation with the de facto establishment of a Kurdish mini-state in the north under US protection.  The US withdrew its military forces but imposed brutal economic sanctions limiting economic reconstruction from the devastation of the first Gulf War.  The second US-led invasion and full-scale occupation in 2003 devastated the economy and  dismantled the state dismissing tens of thousands of experienced civil servants, teachers and police. This led to utter social collapse and fomented ethno-religious warfare leading to the killing, wounding or displacement of millions of Iraqis.  The result of GW Bush’s conquest of Baghdad was a ‘failed state’.  US oil and energy companies lost billions of dollars in trade and investment and the US economy was pushed into recession.

Afghanistan: Endless Wars, Endless Losses

The US war against Afghanistan began with the arming, financing and political support of Islamist jihadi-fundamentalists in 1979. They succeeded in destroying and dismantling a secular, national government.  With the decision to invade Afghanistan in October 2001 the US became an occupier in Southwest Asia.  For the next thirteen years, the US-puppet regime of Hamad Karzai and the ‘NATO coalition’ occupation forces proved incapable of defeating the Taliban guerrilla army.  Billions of dollars were spent devastating the economy and impoverishing the vast majority of Afghans.  Only the opium trade flourished.  The effort to create an army loyal to the puppet regime failed.  The forced retreat of US armed forces beginning in 2014 signals the bitter demise of US ‘empire building’ in Southwest Asia.

Libya: From Lucrative Trading Partner to Failed State

Libya, under President Gadhafi, was evolving into a major US and European trading partner and influential power in Africa.  The regime signed large-scale, long-term contracts with major international oil companies which were backed by a stable secular government.  The relationship with the US and EU was profitable.  The US opted to impose a ‘regime change’ through massive US-EU missile and bombing strikes and the arming of a motley collection of Islamist terrorists, ex-pat neo-liberals and tribal militias.  While these attacks succeeded in killing President Gadhafi and most of his family (including many of his grandchildren) and dismantling the secular Libyan government and administrative infrastructure, the country was ripped apart by tribal war-lord conflicts, political disintegration and the utter destruction of the economy.  Oil investors fled.  Over one million Libyans and immigrant workers were displaced.  The US and EU ‘partners-in-regime-change’ have even fled their own embassies in Tripoli – while the Libyan ‘parliament’ operates off-shore from a casino boat.  None of this devastation would have been possible under President Gadhafi.  The US vampire bled its new prize, Libya, but certainly could not incorporate it into a profitable ‘empire’.  Not only were its oil resources denied to the empire, but even oil exports disappeared.  Not even an imperial military base has been secured in North Africa!

Syria: Wars on Behalf of Terrorists not Empire

Washington and its EU allies backed an armed uprising in Syria hoping to install a puppet regime and bring Damascus into their “empire”.  The mercenary assaults have caused the deaths of nearly 200,000 Syrians, the displacement of over 30% of the population and the seizure of the Syrian oil fields by the Sunni extremist army, ISIS.  ISIS has decimated the pro-US mercenary army, recruiting and arming thousands of terrorists from around the world It invaded  neighboring Iraq conquering the northern third of that country.  This was the ultimate result of the deliberate US dismantling of the Iraqi state in 2003.

The US strategy, once again, is to arm Islamist extremists to overthrow the secular Bashar Assad regime in Damascus and then to discard them for a more pliable client.   The strategy ‘boomeranged’ on Washington.  ISIS devastated the ineffective Iraqi armed forces of the Maliki regime in Baghdad and America’s much over-rated Peshmerga proxy ‘fighters’ in Iraqi ‘Kurdistan’.  Washington’s mercenary war in Syria didn’t expand the ‘empire’; indeed it undermined existing imperial outposts.

The Ukrainian Power Grab, Russian Sanctions and Empire Building

In the aftermath of the collapse of the USSR, the US and EU incorporated the Baltic, Eastern European and Balkan ex-communist countries into their orbit.  This clearly violated    major agreements with Russia, by incorporating most of the neo-liberal regimes into NATO and bringing NATO forces to the very border of Russia. During the corrupt regime of Boris Yeltsin, the ‘West’ absolutely looted the Russian economy in co-operation with local gangster – oligarchs, who took up EU or Israeli citizenship to recycle their pillaged wealth.  The demise of the vassal Yeltsin regime and the ascent and recovery of Russia under Vladimir Putin led the US and EU to formulate a strategy to deepen and extend its ‘empire’ by seizing power in the Caucuses and the Ukraine.  A power and land grab by the puppet regime in Georgia attacking Russian forces in Ossetia in 2012 was decisively beaten back.  This was a mere dress rehearsal for the coup in Kiev.  In late 2013-early 2014, the US financed a violent rightwing putsch ousting the elected government and imposing a hand-picked  pro-NATO client to assume power in Kiev.

The new pro-US regime moved quickly to purge all independent, democratic, federalist, bilingual and anti-NATO voices especially among the bi-lingual citizens concentrated in the South-Eastern Ukraine.  The coup and the subsequent purge provoked a major armed uprising in the southeast, which successfully resisted the invading NATO-backed neo-fascist armed forces and private armies of the oligarchs.  The failure of the Kiev regime to subdue the resistence fighters of the Donbass region resulted in a multi-pronged US-EU intervention designed to isolate, weaken and undermine the resistance.  First and foremost they attempted to pressure Russia to close its borders on the eastern front where hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian civilians eventually fled the bombardment.  Secondly, the US and EU applied economic sanctions on Russia to abandon its political support for the southeast region’s democratic and federalist demands.  Thirdly, it sought to use the Ukraine conflict as a pretext for a major military build-up on Russia’s borders, expanding NATO missile sites and organizing an elite rapid interventionist military force capable of bolstering a faltering puppet regime or backing a future NATO sponsored putsch against any adversary.

The Kiev regime is economically bankrupt.  Its war against its own civilians in the southeast has devastated Ukraine’s economy.  Hundreds of thousands of skilled professionals, workers and their families have fled to Russia. Kiev’s embrace of the EU has resulted in the breakdown of vital gas and oil agreements with Russia, undermining the Ukraine’s principle source of energy and heating with winter only months away. Kiev cannot pay its debts and faces default.  The rivalries between neo-fascists and neo-liberals in Kiev will further erode the regime.  In sum, the US-EU power grab in the Ukraine has not led to the effective ‘expansion of empire’; rather it has ushered in the total destruction of an emerging economy and precipitated a sharp reversal of financial, trade and investment relations with Russia and Ukraine.  The economic sanctions against Russia exacerbate the EU current economic crisis.  The belligerent posture of military confrontation toward Russia will result in an increase in military spending among the EU states and further divert scarce economic resources form job creation and social programs.  The loss by significant sectors of the EU of agricultural export markets, as well as the loss of several billion-dollar military-industrial contracts with Russia, certainly weakens, rather than expands, the ‘empire’ as an economic force

Iran: 100 Billion Dollar Punitive Sanctions Don’t Build Empires

The US-EU sanctions on Iran carry a very high political, economic and political price tag.  They do not strengthen empire, if we understand ‘empire’ to mean the expansion of multi-national corporations, and increasing access to oil and gas resources to ensure stable, cheap energy for strategic economic sectors within the imperial center.

The economic war on Iran has been at the behest of US allies, including the Gulf Monarchies and especially Israel.  These are dubious ‘allies’ for US ‘empire’ . . . widely reviled potentates and a racist regime which manage to exact tribute from the imperial center!

In Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, Iran has demonstrated its willingness to co-operate in power sharing agreements with US global interest.  However, Iran is a regional power, which will not submit to becoming a vassal state of the US.  The sanctions policy has not provoked an uprising among the Iranian masses nor has it led to regime change.  Sanctions have not weakened Iran to the extent of making it an easy military target.  While sanctions have weakened Iran’s economy, they has also worked against any kind of long-range empire building strategy, because Iran has strengthened its economic and diplomatic ties with the US’ rivals, Russia and China.

Conclusion

As this brief survey indicates, US-EU wars have not been instruments of empire-building in the conventional or historical sense. At most they have destroyed some adversaries of empire.  But these have been pyrrhic victories.  Along with the overthrow of a target regime, the systematic break-up of the state has unleashed powerful chaotic forces, which have doomed any possibility of creating stable neo-colonial regimes capable of controlling their societies and securing opportunities for imperialist enrichment via economic exploitation.

At most the US overseas wars have secured military outposts, foreign islands in seas of desperate and hostile populations.  Imperial wars have provoked continuous underground resistance movements, ethnic civil wars and violent terrorist organizations which threaten ‘blowback’ on the imperial center.

The US and EU’s easy annexations of the ex-communist countries, usually via the stage-managed ballot-box or ‘color revolutions’, led to the take-over of great national wealth and skilled labor.  However, Euro-American empires bloody campaigns to invade and conquer the Middle East, South Asia, North Africa and the Caucuses have created nightmarish ‘failed states’ – continuously draining imperial coffers and leading to a state of permanent occupation and warfare.

The bloodless takeover of the Eastern European satellites with their accommodating, corrupt elites has ended. The 21st century reliance on militarist strategies contrasts sharply with the successful multi-pronged colonial expansions of the 19th – 20th century, where economic penetration and large scale economic development accompanied military intervention and political change.  Today’s imperial wars cause economic decay and misery within the domestic economy, as well as perpetual wars abroad, an unsustainable drain.

The current US/EU military expansion into Ukraine, the encirclement of Russia, NATO missiles aimed at the very heart of a major nuclear power and the economic sanctions may lead to a global nuclear war, which may indeed put an end to militarist empire-building… and the rest of humanity.

Sep 102014
 

Posted by SouperSistas, 99GetSmart

1504059_277244149066989_708693454_n

As Summer quickly departs, the Souper Sistas are preparing for the cold months ahead.

Many have asked us where they can make monetary donations to help us feed houseless/homeless and low income communities in Long Island areas of need.

Though we do not take monetary donations, nor are we a registered 501c3, we are asking for donations other than money to help communities.

Please see our WishList, these items will distributed during our soup shares on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

If you are not in a position to do so, please consider making a warm pot of soup and sharing it with others.

Solidarity,
Shari and Suz (and the Souper Sistas Family)

DONATIONS / WISH LIST @ http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/29I7VKV8Z0BPC/ref=cm_wl_rlist_go_o?

Follow SouperSistas on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/soupersistas