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Fifty Years of Imperial Wars: Results and Perspectives

By James Petras
March 2, 2015
Dissident Voice

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Regaining imperial dominance in Argentina involves: (1) promoting the electoral fortunes of the neoliberal governor of Buenos Aires Macri; (2) backing the pro-imperialist media conglomerate Clarin, facing legislation breaking up its monopoly; (3) exploiting the death of prosecutor and CIA-Mossad collaborator Alberto Nisman to discredit the Kirchner-Fernandez regime; (4) backing New York speculators’ (vulture) investment fund attempting to extract exorbitant interest payments and, with the aid of a dubious judicial ruling, blocking Argentina’s access to financial markets.

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

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

Theoretical Reflections on Empire Building in Latin America

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pivotal Year 2000: the Pinnacle and Decline of Empire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The centrality of wars of conquest, destroyed the economic foundations and institutional infrastructure necessary for MNC entry and profit.

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

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

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

Contemporary Imperialism: Present and Future Perspectives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The new militarist-power configuration’s conception of empire building required vast – trillion dollar – expenditures, without care or thought of returns to private capital. In contrast, under the hegemony of the MNCs, the imperial state, intervened to secure concessions of oil, gas and minerals in Latin America and the Middle East. The costs of military conquest were more than compensated by the returns to the MNC. The militarist imperial state configuration pillaged the US Treasury to finance its occupations, financing a vast army of corrupt colonial collaborators, private mercenary ‘military contractors’ and, soon to be millionaire, US military procurement (sic) officials.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

James Petras was Director of the Center for Mediterranean Studies in Athens (1981-1984) and adviser to Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou (1981-84). He resigned in protest over the PM expulsion of leading trade unionists from PASOK for organizing a general strike against his ‘stabilization program’. Petras is co-author of Mediterranean Paradoxes: The Politics and Social Structure of Southern Europe. His latest books include Extractive Imperialism in the Americas: Capitalism’s New Frontier (with Henry Veltmeyer) and The Politics of Empire: The US, Israel and the Middle East. Read other articles by James, or visit James’s website.

Financial Warfare, Geopolitics and Macro-Economic Agendas. What Happens Behind the Scenes

By Bill Holter
February 24, 2015
Global Research

 

money5So much is happening behind the scenes it’s mindboggling.  This past week we of course ended with “deal or no deal” over Greece.  The “deal” the markets were hoping for really was no deal at all, the markets were only hoping for more time and ONLY more time.  You see, Greece is broke.  They only have enough money for about another week, they don’t even have enough to make their early March debt payment.  The only possible “deal” from here on is to postpone reality.  Greece cannot be allowed to make any deal other than one that puts THE deal out into the future.  They cannot accept more “aid” because the markets will see through this.  They also cannot be allowed to exit because this would then be the thread which unravels the Eurozone.  The only deal acceptable to the markets will be one where THE deal is not “dealt with”.

Friday afternoon this very scenario was announced and of course the equity markets short squeezed higher in response.  A bit prematurely in my estimation because the newly elected Greek parliament will need to ratify any agreement.  A ratification will be in direct conflict with the election results of last month, what do you suppose the populace might do?  In my opinion, the Greek people are about to explode onto the streets no matter what deal is arranged and agreed to.  Broke is broke and no deal and no amount of newly borrowed money will fix this.  As my title suggested, I believe only something from “behind the scenes” will fix their problem.

The “fix” itself may end up being a geopolitical event that turns today’s perverted world on its head.  In my opinion, the very best fix for Greece is obvious and I believe is probably already in the works.  Before getting to this, it is important to understand how “gangs” are broken up.  “Gangs” can be broken in two ways.  You can either confront the leader and emerge victorious or, you can pick away at the weak sisters one by one.  Greece is obviously a weak sister but one very strategically located geographically and politically.  Greece is also a natural “bridge” from the Russia and the Middle East to Europe.  It is also part of the “old silk road” to China and will be part of trade in the new silk road.

It is my belief that negotiations have been going on behind the scenes between Greece and the Sino-Russian alliance.  Would it not make sense for Russia and China to try to woo Greece?  Greece could be offered a pipeline deal.  This would put people to work and Greece would actually receive an income royalty flow.  From a financial standpoint, this is the very best avenue for Greece because of the income aspect, they will actually get something rather than owe more.  For Russia and China not to be offering Greece a deal would be plain dumb in my estimation.  Think about it, if Russia does build a pipeline through Turkey, “someone” has to build a pipeline through Greece.  Why wouldn’t Russia want to be “the good guy” and to their own benefit?

Additionally, think about the benefits in relation to the costs in Russia and China “picking off” Greece?  In one single and inexpensive deal, they pull the thread on NATO and the Eurozone simultaneously.  This would obviously be problematic for the Eurozone financially as debt, derivatives, banks and central banks are all wobbled.  This would then expose all of the West including the U.S..  The U.S., should Greece turn to Eastern partners, will be seen as powerless!  So you see, the catch 22 is this, no real deal can be done by the West because Greece has already been bankrupted.  They cannot be allowed to default, they cannot be forced to take on more debt AND they cannot be allowed to do what is in their own best interest, form a new partnership Eastward.  The “offers” behind the scenes must truly be unbelievable!

One thing I believe is being totally missed here is the relations between Germany and the U.S..  What must Germany and Angela Merkel be thinking?  After she was spied on and hearing Victoria Nuland ‘s comment of “screw them”, how strong are the remaining bonds?  Wouldn’t it be easier …more profitable ,,,not to mention “warmer” if Germany were to pivot toward Russia and thus the Chinese?  They obviously know our credit line is nearly completely used up, doing business with Russia and the deep pocketed China only makes sense.  Any move like this will split the Euro yes, but there will be a point in time where nations will do what is best for them.  Moving away from hegemon and moving toward free commerce makes sense, will Germany remain silent as Greece does what is best for them?  A move Eastward may even be safer for Germany as she watches NATO hardware being moved into Ukraine.  Would it benefit Germany to aid in the fracture of NATO?  I think yes but time will tell.

Elsewhere behind the scenes, Ukraine is a basket case.  The cease fire never was and the U.S. began shipping hardware including “tank busting” planes.  Ukranian troops dropped their arms and folded by the hundreds and it looks like pro Russian forces will soon, probably this week attain two goals.  They will more than likely control a corridor all the way from their own border to Crimea.  More importantly, they will probably have proof, either dead or alive of Western, non Ukranian boots on the ground.  This is important because of the rhetoric war.  Mr. Putin will be able to point at direct proof showing possibly even U.S. mercenaries as being part of the fight.  This will be a very ugly back eye for Western propaganda(ists).  All the while, the U.S. response is …more sanctions  See NYT

Now for the stuff behind the scenes that has gotten almost no media attention whatsoever.  Individually, many of these could be huge on their own, collectively, could they somehow be connected?  What is really up with Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Congress?  Is he trying to garner support versus Iran, or Syria?  President Obama is refusing to meet with him, how does this look?  Never mind Mr. Obama claiming that U.S. presidents do not meet with ”candidates”, why would Mr. Netanyahu not have cancelled his trip before it was even announced?  Wouldn’t he have been told through back channels, “don’t come”?  But he is coming anyway?  Does this not show a split or at least “weakness” in our alliance?

Another area is the west coast port problems. tankers are lining up day by day with nothing being offloaded.  Is this really because of the unions?  Or is it because of the port owners and operators?  What will this do to our economy and distribution chain which has run so long on “just in time” inventories?  Are the Chinese somehow behind this?  Is this a way to ”stealth” pressure our economy and financial system?  They are actually scrapping some of their tankers, do they know something we don’t know…yet?  Other than alternative media, this has gotten virtually zero coverage, why?  Is this not huge news on its own?

A very strange one this past week was seeing Langley on lockdown.  What is up with this?  I don’t even care what the official story may or may not be, because of the source.  How is it they were locked down?  Has this ever happened before?  Were they after one guy?  Re there “factions” involved?  Infighting?  Who knows, but this is very strange indeed.

Then, there was 60 the nation “terrorist summit” in Washington, I could not find any U.S. coverage of this other than this link.  What was the outcome?  They apparently discussed ISIL among other terrorist groups.  Who is really funding them?  It is believed they were a creation of the CIA now run amok.  And what about 21 Christians being beheaded?  How much media coverage did this get?  Or is it not newsworthy or something our president should condemn.Speaking of the president, his immigration “stroke of the pen” was shot down in court, has he now been rendered completely lame?  Will he now be prevented from doing further damage?

Here is how I see all of this, the pot is boiling and the warring factions are making stands, everywhere.  When I say “warring factions”, I am talking about everything from hawks and doves in the military and in the financial markets to as grand as the East versus the West.  So many people have been conditioned that the can will always get kicked down the road and nothing bad will ever be allowed to happen.  I disagree.  There are just too many flash points in multiple areas for this to continue.  Markets have priced in nothing bad from here to as far as the eye can see.  Compensation for “risk” does not exist anywhere.

I stick to my guns and warn you as sternly as possible, the markets are about to “gap”.  Something is going to break very soon and when it does, we will go into a complete lockdown of everything.  You will not be able to alter anything or any position you own.  You will not be able to “trade around” what is coming.

Whatever you own going into this is all you will own.  You will not be allowed to “change” investments as very likely the banking system itself goes on a holiday.

It is what’s going on behind the scenes which is oh so important, but, we cannot be privy to it.  We can however put enough data points together to see that financial, economic and currency “war” has already begun.  Do not wait until the media announces this, by then it will be far too late even if timely and reported the following day!

 

 

Washington’s Not-So-Faulty Logic: Back al Qaeda-Linked Rebels in Libya, Crush Non-al-Qaeda-linked Rebels in Ukraine

By Robert Barsocchini
February 2, 2015
Washington’s Blog

 

Washington Times is reporting on new revelations about Obama/Clinton’s illegal decision to kill people in Libya.

US intelligence, the top human rights groups, and scholars say Obama/Clinton’s claims of an impending “genocide” in Libya, the pretext for US planting and detonation of explosives in Libya, were unfounded.

The Times notes that the false claims were partially “rooted in Gadhafi’s Feb. 22, 2011, speech in which he pledged to “sanitize Libya an inch at a time” and “clear them of these rats.”

However:

A month later, Gadhafi delivered another speech in which he made it clear that only those standing against him with arms would face reprisal.

“If you read [Gadhafi’s comments] closely, they were clearly directed only at the rebels who were going to stand and fight,” said Alan Kuperman, a public policy professor at the University of Texas who composed an exhaustive study on the Libyan civil war.

“If you threw down your weapons, you were considered harmless. If you ran away, you were considered harmless. And if you were just a civilian, you were considered harmless,” Mr. Kuperman said. “Rebels were going to be targeted, and those were the ‘rats’ he was talking about.”

The Times finally notes that “Mrs. Clinton’s defenders could argue that Americans will never know whether a genocide would have occurred because the U.S. did the right thing and intervened before it could happen.”

Anyone who has read widely on the current events of Ukraine knows that its government, updam1 to the highest levels, contains Nazi-influenced militarists who use terms such as “sub-humans” and “cleaning”, referring to ethnically cleansing Eastern Ukraine.  Easterners have been referred to as “beetles” and killed en masse.  The government has been bombing these “rebel” areas for months.  (See reports on Ukraine by Eric Zuesse of Washington’s Blog or Robert Parry of Consortium News, and this report regarding Poroshenko’s Nazi influence, for specific instances of the use of such language and on US-backed ethnic cleansing/borderline genocide operations against the East.)

What we aren’t supposed to notice is that Washington just claimed to attack a government (Libya) because it made “genocidal” statements (debunked as not genocidal) towards rebels (largely affiliated with al Qaeda), and now Washington is backing a government making actual genocidal statements towards and massacring rebels (indeed, Washington is an accomplice and aggressor, having helped overthrow Ukraine’s democracy, with a larger goal of general expansionism).

If Russia makes the same arguments the US made about Libya but applies them to the regime in Kiev, Ukraine, and decides to bomb Kiev, we aren’t supposed to accept those arguments, even though we were supposed to accept them when Washington made them about Libya, on weaker grounds.  Likewise, we would be chastised for granting credulity to Russia “defenders [who] argue[d] that [Russians] will never know whether a genocide would have occurred because [Russia] did the right thing and intervened before it could happen.”

In cases of US aggression, we aren’t supposed to call for international law to be applied and for Barack, Hillary, George, Bill, and all their minions to be put, no doubt kicking and screaming, before an international tribunal.

But if Russia uses Washington’s own arguments for bombing Libya, which work better in the case of Ukraine, to bomb Kiev, then we are supposed to call for international law to be applied.

One might be inclined to think there was no logic to this, but on second thought the logic is perfectly clear: criminals enriching and empowering themselves by looting and purging the world of deterrents don’t aid in their own trial and imprisonment.  They try to get away with everything they do.  Justice is left up to people who care about curbing ongoing and projected war crimes committed by the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world today”, our “own government”, which “test[s] out [its] latest weapons” on “peasants”, “just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe” (MLK, Jr.).

(Also see Why Libya?: “Human rights organisations … discovered that there was no evidence for several highly publicised atrocities supposedly carried out by Gaddafi’s forces…”)

Robert Barsocchini is an internationally published researcher and writer who focuses on global force dynamics and writes professionally for the film industry.  He is a regular contributor to  Washington’s Blog.  Follow Robert and his UK-based colleague, Dean Robinson, on Twitter.

Syrian Air Force Strikes Joint Meeting of US Sponsored Terrorist Leaders in Damascus Countryside

By Fars News Agency
January 26, 2015
FARS News

 

Syrian Air Force Strikes Joint Meeting of Terrorist Leaders in Damascus Countryside

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian air force staged a massive targeted attack on a joint meeting of two major terrorist groups in Damascus countryside early on Sunday, killing and injuring a large number of the terrorist leaders.

The army airstrike targeted a gathering of Al-Nusra Front and Ahrar Al-Sham commanders in Mazaya district in the town of Zabadani in Damascus countryside.

A sum of 27 commanders of the Al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham were killed in the air raid.

The leader of the Al-Nusra Front, Abdulrahman Nassif, was also wounded during the airstrike.

Earlier today, a large number of terrorists were killed in heavy fighting between the Syrian army and the Al-Nusra Front in Damascus province.

The army soldiers struck a heavy blow at the terrorists in the areas of Kfeir Yabous, al-Zabadani, Eastern Ghouta, Douma and al-Qalamoun in Damascus, killing and injuring scores of them.

Syria has been the scene of insurgency since 2011 when certain western powers and their regional allies voiced loudly that Syrian protests have no diplomatic solution and they started supplying the country’s opposition groups with their arms and funds.

In 2014, specially after victory of President Bashar al-Assad in the country’s presidential election, the army has gained upper hand in its anti-terrorism campaign, and has been partly successful in sealing borders with Turkey and Jordan.

Saudi king’s death threatens to deepen US crisis in Middle East

By Bill Van Auken
January 24, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

The death of Saudi Arabia’s 90-year-old King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, the head of one of the world’s last remaining absolute monarchies, has been met with profuse tributes and open mourning by Washington and its allies, along with the Western media.

Abdullah, who has effectively ruled Saudi Arabia since his predecessor and half-brother, Fahd, suffered a debilitating stroke in 1995—becoming king upon his death in 2005—has maintained the country’s theocratic dictatorship as a lynchpin of regional counterrevolution and US oil interests for the past two decades.

His death introduces another layer of uncertainty and potential crisis into a Middle East already reeling from political eruptions that are directly tied to the role of the US-Saudi axis in the region, from the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria to the collapse of the regime that they both backed in Yemen.

World leaders have rushed to the Saudi capital of Riyadh to participate in the three days of official mourning proclaimed by the monarchical regime, among them US Vice President Joe Biden, French President François Hollande, Britain’s Prince Charles, Turkish President Recep Tayyep Erdogan and many others. All of them are anxious to see their interests in the kingdom—which sits atop the second largest proven petroleum reserves in the world and is the number one producer of crude oil—preserved.

The tributes paid by Western government officials and the corporate media were nothing short of obscene.

Barack Obama praised Abdullah as a leader who “had the courage of his convictions.” The US president added, “One of those convictions was his steadfast and passionate belief in the importance of the US-Saudi relationship as a force for stability and security in the Middle East and beyond.”

The courage of Abdullah’s convictions—always essential for an absolute monarch—found its expression in his regime’s beheadings last year of at least 87 people, in some cases with their headless corpses publicly crucified after death. Among the crimes punished by beheading were “sorcery,” adultery, drug possession and political opposition to the ruling monarchy.

The Washington Post described Abdullah as “a master politician” who “gained a reputation as a reformer without changing his country’s power structure,” adding, with no substantiation, that he was “popular with his subjects.” The New York Times described him as a ruler who had “earned a reputation as a cautious reformer” and was, “in some ways, a force of moderation.”

It was this “moderation” that was on display, no doubt, in the postponing last week—for medical reasons—of the second round of 50 of the 1,000 lashes to which the Saudi blogger Raif Badawi was sentenced. He also received a 10-year jail term for the crimes of “adopting liberal thought” and “insulting Islam.”

The intimate US-Saudi relationship, which Obama praised Thursday as “a force for stability and security in the Middle East and beyond,” stands as an unanswerable indictment of the hypocrisy of US imperialism’s attempt to justify its predatory policies in the Middle East and internationally in the name of “democracy” and “human rights.”

The heart of this relationship has been US military protection of Saudi Arabia in return for tying its domination of the world oil markets to American interests. This was solidified in 1973 in a deal brokered by then US President Richard Nixon in which he pledged to ensure US defense of and arms sales to the Saudi monarchy in return for all of the kingdom’s oil sales being denominated in US dollars, giving rise to the recirculation of “petrodollars” into US financial markets and arms purchases.

With a population of 28 million—fully one third of it made up of migrant workers who do virtually all of the labor—Saudi Arabia has the fourth largest arms budget in the world.

US imperialism has likewise long relied on Saudi Arabia’s propagation of Wahhabi Islamic religious ideology as a counter to secular nationalist and socialist movements in the region. King Abdullah provided unstinting support to Hosni Mubarak against the Egyptian revolution of 2011 and then to the coup of Egyptian General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in 2013. He sent troops and tanks across the causeway into Bahrain to crush mass protests in that Gulf kingdom in 2011.

Significantly, among those praising Abdullah Thursday was Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who said he had “contributed greatly to Middle East stability.”

The Saudi succession has only underscored the sclerotic character of the ruling monarchy. The new king, Salman bin Abdulaziz, is 79 and reportedly in ill health, suggesting that real power will be wielded by others. His successor, the new crown prince Mugrin bin Abdul Aziz, at 69 is described as “relatively young” for a Saudi ruler.

The successor king and those behind him confront a series of deepening crises for the regime. Next door in Yemen, the unpopular regime that both Riyadh and Washington backed has collapsed in the face of a revolt by the Houthis, a population that Saudi Arabia had repeatedly attacked and which it sees as an ally of its regional rival, Iran.

In Syria, the monarchy’s bankrolling and arming of Islamist “rebels,” again in alliance with the US, has produced ISIS, which has overrun much of that country and Iraq, bringing its forces to Saudi Arabia’s own borders. The implications of this were driven home earlier this month in an ISIS suicide attack that claimed the lives of General Oudah al-Belawi, the commander of all Saudi forces in the northern part of the country, along with two border guards. Nurtured on Saudi money and Wahhabi ideology, ISIS is now turning its sights on its former patrons.

Meanwhile, there is the fall of oil prices, which, by refusing to cut production, the Saudis have promoted in a deal worked out with Washington with the aim of weakening both Russia and Iran. The halving of oil revenues as a result, however, has ominous implications for Saudi Arabia itself, which has used its petroleum export surpluses to pacify the population with public spending on housing, education, salary hikes and other forms of public welfare. Next year, it is projected to run a deficit of $39 billion, amounting to 5.2 percent of GDP—the largest in the kingdom’s history. Resulting cuts in salaries, benefits and public spending in a country where 40 percent of the population lives below the poverty line can spell social unrest.

There are also indications of strains in the relations with Washington, which have increased since Obama backed off his threat to bomb Syria in 2013 and moved instead toward a halting rapprochement with Iran. Abdullah, who was eulogized repeatedly Thursday as, in the words of US Secretary of State John Kerry, “a proponent of peace,” had called upon the US administration to “cut the head off the snake” by launching a military intervention against Iran.

Finally, the Saudi regime will undoubtedly face internal tensions as the struggle over succession and division of the spoils develops among the thousands of princes and princesses and their entourage. While Abdullah had based his rise to power on his role as commander of the National Guard, a post inherited by his son, the rival Sudairi faction of the ruling family, to which the new king belongs, will undoubtedly attempt to fill positions with their own supporters. How this faction fight works out will affect not only internal politics, but potentially the disposition of major contracts with the oil conglomerates, arms dealers and other transnational corporations.

The fact that US imperialism counts the Saudi regime as a key pillar of its interests in the Middle East only underscores the reactionary role that it plays throughout the region as well as the fundamental instability of the system of hegemony that it is attempting to impose there.

The Saudi Bait-and-Switch: Incurring Short-term Pain for Long-term Gain

By Matthew Crosston
January 6, 2015
New Eastern Outlook

 

78854444Western media members are currently basking in what to them seems to be a story of economic ‘come-uppance.’ Saudi Arabia announced that its 2015 budget will suffer from a significant economic shortage, resulting in a nearly $39 billion dollar deficit. Most in the West look at this fact curiously, mainly because it seems to be that Saudi Arabia is causing its own problem, by refusing to budge off of its own insistence at maintaining an oil production level of 30 million barrels per day. Saudi officials have vowed to not change their stance on this ceiling, thus guaranteeing its 2015 economic ‘problem.’ When you look deeper into the multiple foreign-policy, intelligence, and global political layers of this decision, however, you don’t find a country in trouble or even incompetent. Rather, you find a cunning sense of strategic analysis that is built more upon long-term economic and national security priorities, which is an approach that woefully few Western countries ever find themselves in a position to emulate.

First, let’s break down the simple economic numbers: the budget for next year sees spending at roughly 230 billion USD with expected revenues to only bring in 191 billion USD. This is the first projected budget deficit for the Kingdom since 2011 and the largest ever announced. But the reality of the Saudi welfare state and its own globalization strategies in terms of the world market show this to be much ado about nothing in real terms. Saudi society is built upon a massive welfare system for native Saudis. This has always been so. But given the non-democratic nature of the Saudi political system, it is not far-fetched or problematic for the government to cut back or tighten its belt if need be should a deficit ever become too problematic. Which of course leads to perhaps the most obvious and logical point as to why the Saudi Arabian government isn’t phased by this deficit despite even some of its own native economic forecasters being concerned: it has HUGE cash reserves which it rarely ever has to tap into. This time it intends to tap them so as to not move against its firm decision, for now, to not tamper with oil production.

So what is the bigger picture? Why tap the reserves? National security, regional hegemony, and long-term economic positioning explain most of it. With this one simple move of maintaining the barrel ceiling Saudi Arabia is basically outflanking regional and global challengers and also satisfying its main consumer ally (and banking on this ally’s own greed and gluttony, to be frank). On the regional level a low price on oil per barrel is an extreme hindrance on Saudi’s main challenger, Iran. There is no doubt that Saudi Arabia enjoys keeping Iran in check and does not wish to see the wanna-be regional hegemon ever truly compete for supremacy in the region. Keeping world oil prices low does this quite succinctly and efficiently, without even having to engage in any verbal or diplomatic animosity with the Shiite Republic. In addition, even though the United States is such a close economic and political ally, this decision is clearly aimed at destabilizing, at least for the time being, the massive technological and financial investment being pushed in the States with shale oil and natural gas as alternatives to Saudi energy dependence. When the price per barrel remains so low, these ‘alternative’ industries in America, which are still most of the main ‘traditional’ oil producers seeking to diversify future earnings potential, have no choice but to cash in on the opportunity and refocus on its traditional industrial models. This slows down advancement in alternative fuels and repositions the Saudi-American energy juggernaut back into a place of primacy.

So the simple willingness on the part of Saudi Arabia to carry a budget deficit next year and tap into mammoth cash reserves for the first time in quite a while has the dual effect of checking any Iranian economic/political advancement into what Saudis feel is their natural region of influence AND capitalizes on American industries’ own natural greed for short-term profit enlargement, even when that might be to the detriment of long-term economic fuel independence. When you get to play both adversary and ally to your own long-term benefit, without violence or hostility, it is really quite illogical to anticipate any decision beside the announcement made the other day out of Riyadh. Keep in mind that this $39 billion deficit is matched against a present reserve of over $750 billion. A one or two year hit to sustain a one or two decade energy dominance is a fair trade, wouldn’t you say?

One might be inclined to wonder why the United States would not be able to see this for what it is and strive to convince or cajole its own native industries to maintain passionate progress for alternative fuels and long-term economic independence. First, it is extremely difficult given the general non-interference policy both Democrat and Republican presidencies have had toward American business development over the last two generations to think any sitting President would dare try to make serious and explicit inroads against such tradition. It is simply political folly, especially when the American stock market continues to climb today to new heights, unemployment steadily slides downward, and the price of gas at the pump has ‘common folk’ literally jumping up and down for joy while filling their cars. But on top of all of these domestic reasons, there is one other significant foreign policy angle that makes this a uniquely American Faustian bargain: the oil price slide has clearly put greater teeth into the American sanctions imposed against Russia, as it has hurt the Russian ruble significantly. Sanctions alone for the first half of 2014 basically had no real impact on the Russian economy and the real lives of Russian citizens. It was only this Autumn as world markets saw the Saudi decision to let oil prices slide that suddenly American sanctions started gaining ‘effectiveness.’ It is a brilliant, if somewhat ruthless, master economic stroke, all hidden within Western media reports of ‘Saudi concern’ and so-called Western bemusement over impending budget deficits. So as you can see, nothing is ever as it seems in the world of high economic ‘political finance,’ especially in the Middle East when it comes to global energy markets. Saudi Arabia is ‘punishing’ itself for one year so as to reward itself for years to come. I imagine the Saudi royal family members will be able to laugh into their gold sipping cups. Just as soon as they stop purchasing new gold cups with their anticipated long-term success and dominance.

Dr. Matthew Crosston is Professor of Political Science and Director of the International Security and Intelligence Studies program at Bellevue University, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”

 

First appeared: http://journal-neo.org/2015/01/06/the-saudi-bait-and-switch-incurring-short-term-pain-for-long-term-gain/

Irreversible Decline?

Did the U.S. and the Saudis Conspire to Push Down Oil Prices?

By MIKE WHITNEY
December 29, 2014
Counter Punch

 

“Saudi oil policy… has been subject to a great deal of wild and inaccurate conjecture in recent weeks. We do not seek to politicize oil… For us it’s a question of supply and demand, it’s purely business.”

– Ali al Naimi, Saudi Oil Minister

“There is no conspiracy, there is no targeting of anyone. This is a market and it goes up and down.”

– Suhail Bin Mohammed al-Mazroui, United Arab Emirates’ petroleum minister

“We all see the lowering of oil prices. There’s lots of talk about what’s causing it. Could it be an agreement between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia to punish Iran and affect the economies of Russia and Venezuela? It could.”

– Russian President Vladimir Putin

Are falling oil prices part of a US-Saudi plan to inflict economic damage on Russia, Iran and Venezuela?

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro seems to think so. In a recent interview that appeared in Reuters, Maduro said he thought the United States and Saudi Arabia wanted to drive down oil prices “to harm Russia.”

Bolivian President Evo Morales agrees with Maduro and told journalists at RT that: “The reduction in oil prices was provoked by the US as an attack on the economies of Venezuela and Russia. In the face of such economic and political attacks, the nations must be united.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the same thing,with a slightly different twist: “The main reason for (the oil price plunge) is a political conspiracy by certain countries against the interests of the region and the Islamic world … Iran and people of the region will not forget such … treachery against the interests of the Muslim world.”

US-Saudi “treachery”? Is that what’s really driving down oil prices?

Not according to Saudi Arabia’s Petroleum Minister Ali al-Naimi. Al-Naimi has repeatedly denied claims that the kingdom is involved in a conspiracy. He says the tumbling prices are the result of “A lack of cooperation by non-OPEC production nations, along with the spread of misinformation and speculator’s greed.” In other words, everyone else is to blame except the country that has historically kept prices high by controlling output. That’s a bit of a stretch, don’t you think? Especially since–according to the Financial Times — OPEC’s de facto leader has abandoned the cartel’s “traditional strategy” and announced that it won’t cut production even if prices drop to $20 per barrel.

Why? Why would the Saudis suddenly abandon a strategy that allowed them to rake in twice as much dough as they are today? Don’t they like money anymore?

And why would al-Naimi be so eager to crash prices, send Middle East stock markets into freefall, increase the kingdom’s budget deficits to a record-high 5 percent of GDP, and create widespread financial instability? Is grabbing “market share” really that important or is there something else going on here below the surface?

The Guardian’s Larry Elliot thinks the US and Saudi Arabia are engaged a conspiracy to push down oil prices. He points to a September meeting between John Kerry and Saudi King Abdullah where a deal was made to boost production in order to hurt Iran and Russia. Here’s a clip from the article titled “Stakes are high as US plays the oil card against Iran and Russia”:

“…with the help of its Saudi ally, Washington is trying to drive down the oil price by flooding an already weak market with crude. As the Russians and the Iranians are heavily dependent on oil exports, the assumption is that they will become easier to deal with…

John Kerry, the US secretary of state, allegedly struck a deal with King Abdullah in September under which the Saudis would sell crude at below the prevailing market price. That would help explain why the price has been falling at a time when, given the turmoil in Iraq and Syria caused by Islamic State, it would normally have been rising.

The Saudis did something similar in the mid-1980s. Then, the geopolitical motivation for a move that sent the oil price to below $10 a barrel was to destabilize Saddam Hussein’s regime. This time, according to Middle East specialists, the Saudis want to put pressure on Iran and to force Moscow to weaken its support for the Assad regime in Syria… (Stakes are high as US plays the oil card against Iran and Russia, Guardian)

That’s the gist of Elliot’s theory, but is he right?

Vladimir Putin isn’t so sure. Unlike Morales, Maduro and Rouhani, the Russian president has been reluctant to blame falling prices on US-Saudi collusion. In an article in Itar-Tass, Putin opined:

“There’s a lot of talk around” in what concerns the causes for the slide of oil prices, he said at a major annual news conference. “Some people say there is conspiracy between Saudi Arabia and the US in order to punish Iran or to depress the Russian economy or to exert impact on Venezuela.”

“It might be really so or might be different, or there might be the struggle of traditional producers of crude oil and shale oil,” Putin said. “Given the current situation on the market the production of shale oil and gas has practically reached the level of zero operating costs.” (Putin says oil market price conspiracy between Saudi Arabia and US not ruled out, Itar-Tass)

As always, Putin takes the most moderate position, that is, that Washington and the Saudis may be in cahoots, but that droopy prices might simply be a sign of over-supply and weakening demand. In other words, there could be a plot, but then again, maybe not. Putin is a man who avoids passing judgment without sufficient evidence.

The same can’t be said of the Washington Post. In a recent article, WP journalist Chris Mooney dismisses anyone who thinks oil prices are the result of US-Saudi collaboration as “kooky conspiracy theorists”. According to Mooney:

“The reasons for the sudden (price) swing are not particularly glamorous: They involve factors like supply and demand, oil companies having invested heavily in exploration several years ago to produce a glut of oil that has now hit the market — and then, perhaps, the “lack of cohesion” among the diverse members of OPEC.” (Why there are so many kooky conspiracy theories about oil, Washington Post)

Oddly enough, Mooney disproves his own theory a few paragraphs later in the same piece when he says:

“Oil producers really do coordinate. And then, there’s OPEC, which is widely referred to in the press as a “cartel,” and which states up front that its mission is to “coordinate and unify the petroleum policies” of its 12 member countries…. Again, there’s that veneer of plausibility to the idea of some grand oil related strategy.” (WP)

Let me get this straight: One the one hand Mooney agrees that OPEC is a cartel that “coordinates and unify the petroleum policies”, then on the other, he says that market fundamentals are at work. Can you see the disconnect? Cartels obstruct normal supply-demand dynamics by fixing prices, which Mooney seems to breezily ignore.

Also, he scoffs at the idea of “some grand oil related strategy” as if these cartel nations were philanthropic organizations operating in the service of humanity. Right. Someone needs to clue Mooney in on the fact that OPEC is not the Peace Corps. They are monopolizing amalgam of cutthroat extortionists whose only interest is maximizing profits while increasing their own political power. Surely, we can all agree on that fact.

What’s really wrong with Mooney’s article, is that he misses the point entirely. The debate is NOT between so-called “conspiracy theorists” and those who think market forces alone explain the falling prices. It’s between the people who think that the Saudis decision to flood the market is driven by politics rather than a desire to grab “market share.” That’s where people disagree. No denies that there’s manipulation; they merely disagree about the motive. This glaring fact seems to escape Mooney who is on a mission to discredit conspiracy theorists at all cost. Here’s more:

(There’s) “a long tradition of conspiracy theorists who have surmised that the world’s great oil powers — whether countries or mega-corporations — are secretly pulling strings to shape world events.”…

“A lot of conspiracy theories take as their premise that there’s a small group of people who are plotting to control something, to control the government, the banking system, or the main energy source, and they are doing this to the disadvantage of everybody else,” says University of California-Davis historian Kathy Olmsted, author of “Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11″. (Washington Post)

Got that? Now find me one person who doesn’t think the world is run by a small group of rich, powerful people who operate in their own best interests? Here’s more from the same article:

(Oil) “It’s the perfect lever for shifting world events. If you were a mad secret society with world-dominating aspirations and lots of power, how would you tweak the world to create cascading outcomes that could topple governments and enrich some at the expense of others? It’s hard to see a better lever than the price of oil, given its integral role in the world economy.” (WP)

“A mad secret society”? Has Mooney noticed that — in the last decade and a half — the US has only invaded nations that have huge natural resources (mainly oil and natural gas) or the geography for critical pipeline routes? There’s nothing particularly secret about it, is there?

The United States is not a “mad secret society with world-dominating aspirations”. It’s a empire with blatantly obvious “world-dominating aspirations” run by political puppets who do the work of wealthy elites and corporations. Any sentient being who’s bright enough to browse the daily headlines can figure that one out.

Mooney’s grand finale:

“So in sum, with a surprising and dramatic event like this year’s oil price decline, it would be shocking if it did not generate conspiracy theories. Humans believe them all too easily. And they’re a lot more colorful than a more technical (and accurate) story about supply and demand.” (WP)

Ah, yes. Now I see. Those darn “humans”. They’re so weak-minded they’ll believe anything you tell them, which is why they need someone as smart as Mooney tell them how the world really works.

Have you ever read such nonsense in your life? On top of that, he gets the whole story wrong. This isn’t about market fundamentals. It’s about manipulation. Are the Saudis manipulating supply to grab market share or for political reasons? THAT’S THE QUESTION. The fact that they ARE manipulating supply is not challenged by anyone including the uber-conservative Financial Times that deliberately pointed out that the Saudis had abandoned their traditional role of cutting supply to support prices. That’s what a “swing state” does; it manipulates supply keep prices higher than they would be if market forces were allowed to operate unimpeded.

So what is the motive driving the policy; that’s what we want to know?

Certainly there’s a strong case to be made for market share. No one denies that. If the Saudis keep prices at rock bottom for a prolonged period of time, then a high percentage of the producers (that can’t survive at prices below $70 per barrel) will default leaving OPEC with greater market share and more control over pricing.

So market share is certainly a factor. But is it the only factor?

Is it so far fetched to think that the United States–which in the last year has imposed harsh economic sanctions on Russia, made every effort to sabotage the South Stream pipeline, and toppled the government in Kiev so it could control the flow of Russian gas to countries in the EU–would coerce the Saudis into flooding the market with oil in order to decimate the Russian economy, savage the ruble, and create favorable conditions for regime change in Moscow? Is that so hard to believe?

Apparently New York Times columnist Thomas Freidman doesn’t think so. Here’s how he summed it up in a piece last month: “Is it just my imagination or is there a global oil war underway pitting the United States and Saudi Arabia on one side against Russia and Iran on the other?”

It sounds like Freidman has joined the conspiracy throng, doesn’t it? And he’s not alone either. This is from Alex Lantier at the World Socialist Web Site:

“While there are a host of global economic factors underlying the fall in oil prices, it is unquestionable that a major role in the commodity’s staggering plunge is Washington’s collaboration with OPEC and the Saudi monarchs in Riyadh to boost production and increase the glut on world oil markets.

As Obama traveled to Saudi Arabia after the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis last March, the Guardian wrote, “Angered by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the Saudis turned on the oil taps, driving down the global price of crude until it reached $20 a barrel (in today’s prices) in the mid-1980s… [Today] the Saudis might be up for such a move—which would also boost global growth—in order to punish Putin over his support for the Assad regime in Syria. Has Washington floated this idea with Riyadh? It would be a surprise if it hasn’t.” (Alex Lantier, Imperialism and the ruble crisis, World Socialist Web Site)

And here’s an intriguing clip from an article at Reuters that suggests the Obama administration is behind the present Saudi policy:

“U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sidestepped the issue (of a US-Saudi plot) after a trip to Saudi Arabia in September. Asked if past discussions with Riyadh had touched on Russia’s need for oil above $100 to balance its budget, he smiled and said: “They (Saudis) are very, very well aware of their ability to have an impact on global oil prices.” (Saudi oil policy uncertainty unleashes the conspiracy theorists, Reuters)

Wink, wink.

Of course, they’re in bed together. Saudi Arabia is a US client. It’s not autonomous or sovereign in any meaningful way. It’s a US protectorate, a satellite, a colony. They do what they’re told. Period. True, the relationship is complex, but let’s not be ridiculous. The Saudis are not calling the shots. The idea is absurd. Do you really think that Washington would let Riyadh fiddle prices in a way that destroyed critical US domestic energy industries, ravaged the junk bond market, and generated widespread financial instability without uttering a peep of protest on the matter?

Dream on! If the US was unhappy with the Saudis, we’d all know about it in short-order because it would be raining Daisy Cutters from the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea, which is the way that Washington normally expresses its displeasure on such matters. The fact that Obama has not even alluded to the shocking plunge in prices just proves that the policy coincides with Washington’s broader geopolitical strategy.

And let’s not forget that the Saudis have used oil as a political weapon before, many times before. Indeed, wreaking havoc is nothing new for our good buddies the Saudis. Check this out from Oil Price website:

“In 1973, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat convinced Saudi King Faisal to cut production and raise prices, then to go as far as embargoing oil exports, all with the goal of punishing the United States for supporting Israel against the Arab states. It worked. The “oil price shock” quadrupled prices.

It happened again in 1986, when Saudi Arabia-led OPEC allowed prices to drop precipitously, and then in 1990, when the Saudis sent prices plummeting as a way of taking out Russia, which was seen as a threat to their oil supremacy. In 1998, they succeeded. When the oil price was halved from $25 to $12, Russia defaulted on its debt.

The Saudis and other OPEC members have, of course, used the oil price for the obverse effect, that is, suppressing production to keep prices artificially high and member states swimming in “petrodollars”. In 2008, oil peaked at $147 a barrel.” (Did The Saudis And The US Collude In Dropping Oil Prices?, Oil Price)

1973, 1986, 1990, 1998 and 2008.

So, according to the author, the Saudis have manipulated oil prices at least five times in the past to achieve their foreign policy objectives. But, if that’s the case, then why does the media ridicule people who think the Saudis might be engaged in a similar strategy today?

Could it be that the media is trying to shape public opinion on the issue and, by doing so, actually contribute to the plunge in oil prices?

Bingo. Alert readers have probably noticed that the oil story has been splashed across the headlines for weeks even though the basic facts have not changed in the least. It’s all a rehash of the same tedious story reprinted over and over again. But, why? Why does the public need to have the same “Saudis refuse to cut production” story driven into their consciousness day after day like they’re part of some great collective brainwashing experiment? Could it be that every time the message is repeated, oil sells off, and prices go down? Is that it?

Precisely. For example, last week a refinery was attacked in Libya which pushed oil prices up almost immediately. Just hours later, however, another “Saudis refuse to cut production” story conveniently popped up in all the major US media which pushed prices in the direction the USG wants them to go, er, I mean, back down again.

This is how the media helps to reinforce government policy, by crafting a message that helps to push down prices and, thus, hurt “evil” Putin. (This is called “jawboning”) Keep in mind, that OPEC doesn’t meet again until June, 2015, so there’s nothing new to report on production levels. But that doesn’t mean we’re not going to get regular updates on the “Saudis refuse to cut production” story. Oh, no. The media is going to keep beating that drum until Putin cries “Uncle” and submits to US directives. Either that, or the bond market is going to blow up and take the whole damn global financial system along with it. One way or another, something’s got to give.

Bottom line: Falling oil prices and the plunging ruble are not some kind of free market accident brought on by oversupply and weak demand. That’s baloney. They’re part of a broader geopolitical strategy to strangle the Russian economy, topple Putin, and establish US hegemony across the Asian landmass. It’s all part of Washington’s plan to maintain its top-spot as the world’s only superpower even though its economy is in irreversible decline.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

 

Israel: More than Murder

By Gordon Duff
December 22, 2014
New Eastern Outlook

 

75888Sweden has nixed allowing litigation against Israel for war crimes and piracy over the Gaza Flotilla massacre.  Their reason?  Sweden says though Israel is obviously guilty, they are unable to name a guilty party.  Perhaps the “commando’s” captured by Ken O’Keefe, whose tearful pleas plucked our heart strings are “non persons.”  Perhaps Swedes don’t know how to spell “netanyahu,” though that, in itself is an invented identity.

There is in fact no real person of that name.

Only a few short weeks ago, the ICC, the International Criminal Court at The Hague, one of the best running jokes on “Rock Number Three” did much of the same thing.  They can’t open a case against Israel, though they openly admit that Israel did in fact commit a wide series of war crimes during their recent genocide in Gaza because the court is too busy.

There are a few African leaders the court has yet to go after, part of the “busy work” they assign themselves to keep them distracted from reading the newspapers about the most recent revelations of CIA torture.  The current report is maybe the 8th or 9th such report, each one treated by the “press” as though it were a shocking discovery.  Yes, the NSA spies on everyone and the CIA runs drugs and catches innocent people, tortures them and then goes on running world terrorism on its own as it has for decades.

The ICC has always been a joke.  The Swedes, now that’s something else.  For sure they are afraid of the slaughter rained upon their Norwegian neighbors who decided to support a boycott on Israel.

Here is an interesting twist; quite recently Michael Shrimpton was convicted of making wild accusations regarding the existence of miniature submarines operating in the Baltic, in his case, delivering nuclear weapons as part of blackmail against the British government by Israel.  The Crown Prosecution Service found the idea of tiny little submarines steaming up the Thames estuary that they consider Shrimpton both delusional and dead serious as well.

You see, Shrimpton was convicted not of making crazy statements but quite the contrary.  Shrimpton’s tale of miniature subs has a strikingly coincidental ring about it.  During his trial, the Swedish Navy spent weeks hunting miniature submarines.  There are only two nations that possess such systems, Russia and Israel.

According to a source in Swedish Naval Intelligence, one terrorist team was captured and interrogated and returned to their host nation.  Was that Russia or Israel? The Naval captain, I will call him “Andy,” personally took part in the interrogation.

What we learned from Berwick/Breivik is that there are strong ties between pro-Israeli Freemason extremists within the counter-terrorist forces of the UK and Norway that work closely with their Polish counterparts, closely with rogue elements of the CIA that operated and may well operate secret prisons in Poland, such as we recently “relearned about” (for the 4th time).

The Poles, of course, are giving military support to Kiev junta backed genocide squads lead by Israeli trained specialists operating against the Eastern Ukraine.  Wayne Madsen claims they are planning to open a new “Holy Land” there, a Khazarian Judea where the grandparents of “Netanyahu” and others of his ilk are said to have their ethnic roots.  (See:  Jewish Genome/Dr. Erin Haik).

On the other hand, is this what it is really all about?  Did you know that friends of Erdogan, personal friends mind you, sent a fleet of trucks and technicians into Syria not long ago?  Working hand in hand with ISIS/ISIL, the “Islamic State” of Da’aish, the acting troop of a dozen names, our Turkish friends actually stole an entire automobile plant, driving it into Turkey in plain sight of pretty much everyone but the less than curious press.

The profits were split with Al Qaeda/ISIS, such that it might be considered material support for terrorism.  Yet, there the Turks are, unloading the machines, the truckloads of transmissions and axles, the office machines, the computers; in fact they stole everything but the dirt under the foundations.

Are we all going to run out and get one of those cars they make?  This is one factory, they have taken a dozen.  They looted banks, in fact, Turkey is looting occupied Syria and no one is saying a word.

When the world ignores Israel, finding them inconvenient or impossible to prosecute, a world afraid of nuclear weapons transported on tiny little submarines, a world afraid of a sea of dead children and missing airliners, that world not only ignores American torture, it ignores 200,000 Syrian dead.  It ignores looted temples, burned churches, entire regions sold into slavery and the tons of heroin and hashish being trafficked through the Islamic State as well.

Why would someone write about Turkey or ISIS and Poland?  What could the slaughter of children in Norway have to do with the trial of a “delusional barrister” in Britain?  Perhaps it is the things no one sees that stand to hurt us most.  Missing this “mosaic” is evidence of a shameful lack of curiosity on behalf, not only of the press but the world’s conspiracy addicts as well.

A mile of trucks and one stolen factory, or a dozen, missing things like this takes skill.  How can a NATO member like Turkey loot one of their neighbors in partnership with a terror organization while simultaneously negotiating to host military forces to fight that same group?  How is it no one notices?  Note these things; Turkey may steal the factories, ISIS may cut of a few heads but who controls the media?

Gordon Duff is a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War that has worked on veterans and POW issues for decades and consulted with governments challenged by security issues. He’s a senior editor and chairman of the board of Veterans Today, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook

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America’s Deadly Embrace

By Stephen Lendman
December 21, 2014
Global Research

 

cuba-usaForget about Greeks. Beware US normalization schemes. So-called rapprochement. Targeting unwary nations.  

Sucking them into its web. Like spiders overwhelming prey. Allegedly ending hostile relations. Imperialism 101 suggests otherwise.

US policies aren’t benign. America is a global predator. History’s worst ever. Wanting all sovereign independent states eliminated.

Replaced by stooge regimes. Ones it controls. Subservient to US interests. Their countries looted for profit. Their people exploited as serfs.

American/Russian post-Cold War rapprochement is instructive. US-instituted shock therapy wrecked the country. Irresponsibly. Willfully.  For profit. At the expense of vital people needs.

About 80% of Russian farmers went bankrupt. Around 70,000 state factories closed. An epidemic of unemployment followed.

Over half of all Russians became impoverished. A permanent underclass followed. Crime. Suicides. Mortality. Alcoholism. Drug abuse. HIV/AIDS. All soared to intolerable levels.

GDP plunged 50%. Life expectancy fell. An oligarch class accumulated enormous wealth. At the expense of millions grievously harmed.

Corruption flourished. Scandals repeated with disturbing regularity. Money-laundering became sport.

Multi-billions were stolen. Hidden in Western banks or offshore tax havens. Russia became a hollowed-out dystopian wasteland.

Post-apartheid South Africa was similar. A horrific toll accompanied a new era. Impoverishment doubled. Forcing millions to live on less than one dollar a day.

Unemployment soared to nearly 50%. Millions lost homes. Near one million lost farms. Shack dwelling grew by 50%.

HIV/AIDS infections increased dramatically. Average life expectancy fell below apartheid era levels.

Around 40% of schools have no electricity. Most with it can’t afford the cost. About 60% of South Africans have poor sanitation. Around 40% lack telephones.

Post-apartheid came at a high price. Millions of South Africans suffer horrifically. Out of sight and mind. Predatory capitalism works this way.

Obama’s Cuba gambit threatens its 11 million people. Hopefully Havana’s leadership remains wary.

Decades of revolutionary changes are on the line. Transformational differences too important to lose.

Changing Cuba from fascist dictatorship to model populism. A previous article said longstanding US policy calls for regime change.

Wanting Cuba returned to its bad old days. Social justice eliminated entirely. Corporate rapaciousness replacing it.

Colonizing the island state for profit. Destroying decades of beneficial social change. Including high-quality education and healthcare. Free to all Cubans.

Its Constitution was adopted in 1976. By national referendum. Overwhelmingly approved. Stating in Article 1:

“Cuba is an independent and sovereign socialist state of workers, organized with all and for the good of all as a united and democratic republic, for the enjoyment of political freedom, social justice, individual and collective well-being and human solidarity.”

Article 3 saying “sovereignty lies in the people, from whom originates all the power of the state. (Exercised) through assemblies of People’s Power and other state bodies…”

Article 9 guarantees “liberty (and) full dignity…(A)ssures educational, scientific, technical and cultural progress.

Guarantees everyone able to work the opportunity to do so. Assures no disabled person “left without adequate means of subsistence.”

“(N)o sick person…without medical care. (N)o child…without schooling, food and clothing. (N)o young person…without the opportunity to study.”

“(N)o one…without access to studies, culture an sports. (N)o family…without a comfortable place to live.” The Constitution contains 137 articles.

Revised in 1992. Again in 2002. According to historian Jorge Dominguez, it establishes a sovereign unicameral National Assembly. With no presidential veto.

Empowered to “instantly remove the president, all justices of the Supreme Court, and all top officials of the Office of the Public Prosecutor.”

Subordinates Cuba’s military to civilian authorities. “It creates no authoritarian enclaves or reserve domains to protect the military, privileged economic sectors, or the Castro brothers,” said Dominguez.

It facilitates political transition. National Assembly members act by simple majority. Except for constitutional amendments. Requiring a two-thirds majority.

It can “revoke all laws, decree-laws, decrees, and other regulations issued by any other public authority, including subnational assemblies,” Dominguez explained.

It’s an effective governing instrument. Cuba has no central bank. Or other independent entity authorized for economic or social decision-making.

In 2002, National Assembly members amended constitutional provisions. Guaranteeing permanent irrevocable “quality of the socialist system,” said Dominguez.

Changes sought to constrain future National Assemblies from  ”mak(ing) fundamental constitutional changes.”

Article 52 mandated the Ministry of Education’s budget to be larger than any other ministry. The 1992 Constitution doesn’t mention Fidel Castro by name.

Or afford him special rights and protections. Or grant blanket amnesties or pardons to officials guilty of crimes. Or halt prosecutions.

Cuba has no independent Supreme Court. National Assembly members elect justices. Without tenure. Those abusing their authority can be removed.

“All individual rights are subordinate to the interests of” state, said Dominguez. So are provincial and municipal governments. No “whiff” of federalism exists.

Cubans get essential social benefits. Constitutionally guaranteed. Including high-quality education and healthcare. The state commits full support.

Including for arts and sciences. Other forms of culture. Sports. Vacation opportunities. Day care centers. Full employment.

Unemployment compensation between jobs. Pensions and disability benefits.. Elder care. Organically grown non-GMO foods.

Subsidized food, housing an utilities. Market economy practices operate in tourist, international and export sectors. Separate from Cuba’s socialist economy. Substantially sustains it.

According to Dominguez, political transition in Cuba isn’t likely unless new governance continues providing constitutionally enshrined social rights.

In 2014, Cuba granted state-owned enterprises more autonomy. Freeing their managements. Vice President Marino Murillo saying:

“If we don’t transform the socialist state companies positively, we won’t be able to bring up to date the Cuban economic model.”

One change lifted limits on wages paid. State-owned companies can now use half their after-tax profit. For recapitalization and/or new investment.

Despite Cuba’s increasing private sector, state-owned enterprises remain the backbone of Cuba’s economic model.

In his 2008 inaugural address, Raul Castro said Cuba would “advance in an articulate, sound and well-thought out manner.”

Raising Cuba’s overall standard of living. Increasingly tying individual prosperity to initiative and work performance.

Farmers now work small portions of land on their own. Limited numbers of traders operate privately. Used cars are sold this way.

Access to consumer goods was expanded. Including computers. Cell phones. Home appliances. Greater private use of state land was authorized.

In 2010, new self-employment rules were established. Around 75,000 licenses were issued. Over 50% more than in 2009.

In 2011, purchase and sale of private property was authorized. Credit mechanisms for small businesses and cooperatives were established.

Instituted changes are measured. Limited. Short of Western rapaciousness. Key is keeping them this way.

Not easy with America’s dirty hands involved. Operating out of their Havana embassy. Targeting Cuba for regime change.

Perhaps by color revolution. A US speciality. Fascists replacing democrats.

Months earlier, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland said Washington spent around $5 billion sabotaging Ukrainian democracy over the past 20 years.

Calling it “democracy promotion.” Establishing a fascist dictatorship. Run by neo-Nazis.

How many billions has Washington spent over the past half century trying to transform Cuba the same way?

What’s ongoing now covertly? With diplomatic relations established, Cuba will be swarming with CIA and FBI operatives. US-funded anti-democracy agencies.

Right-wing think tanks will be involved. Corporate predators intend getting their dirty hands on Cuba’s economy. Raping it for profit.

Will Raul Castro’s government stop them? Will decisive action to taken to maintain Cuba’s core economic model?

Will its officials stay true to their roots? Will they prevent Cuba from becoming a hemispheric Ukraine?

Once America’s dirty hands get involved, will they be able to stop them? Cuba did for over half a century.

Will it stay resolute ahead? Social justice depends on it. Freedom from corporate rapaciousness.

Cuba’s existence as a free sovereign state is up for grabs. What’s too precious to lose.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Is NATO aiming at a No Fly Zone for Russia over the Baltic?

By Christof Lehmann
December 21, 2014
New Eastern Outlook

 

5345222On Friday, December 12, a Russian military jet has allegedly been involved in a near-mid-air- collision with a civilian airliner in Swedish airspace. Scandinavian and Russian officials have since been engaged in a barrage of claims and counterclaims. Some Scandinavian media provide detailed and sensationalized reports. Calls to Copenhagen Airport and the Danish and Swedish air traffic controllers led to the conclusion that these reports, in the absence of evidence, must be considered as being fabricated. Are some Scandinavian journalists and media complicit in a NATO propaganda campaign aimed at implementing a no fly zone for Russian military planes over the Baltic to further encircle Russia?

The Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hulquist responded to the alleged near-mid-air-collision on Swedish television. Hulquist accused the Russian Air Force for an alleged near-mid-air collision with a civilian airliner that had entered Swedish airspace immediately after takeoff from Kastrup airport, located near the Danish capital Copenhagen. Finland’s Transportation Minister Paula Risikko told Finland’s news agency STT on Sunday, that there was a need to discuss the Russian military planes and air safety over the Baltic. Hulquist would add that the Swedish Air Force has identified the Russian jet.

The Swedish daily Aftonbladed would quote the Swedish flight-leader and press spokesman Roland Sandelin as saying that the Russian plane was near invisible because it had turned off its transponder and that this suggested “secretiveness”. Denmark’s television channel TV-2 would quote Swedish Air Force Chief Micael Bydén as saying that the two planes would have come pretty close to each other had one of them not changed course. TV-2 would publish a sensationalized report on the TV-channel’s website, claiming that there were no more than 90 meters separation between a Scandinavian Airlines SAS jet and the Russian military jet.

The spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, Major General Igor Konashenkov refuted the allegations. The Russian Tass news agency quoted Konashenkov as saying: “No prerequisites existed for an accident related to the flight of a Russian war-plane in the international airspace over the Baltic Sea on Friday, December 12. .. The flight was strictly in compliance with international air space rules, not violating borders of other countries and at a safe distance from traffic routes of civilian aircraft. … Flights of NATO war-planes which have become more than threefold more intensive in the last few months are always made with switched-off transponder.” Later Russian reports would add that a NATO surveillance aircraft had flown between the civilian airliner and the Russian military jet.

Fabrication vs Investigation. In the absence of any evidence for media reports like the TV-2 report that alleged that there only were 90 meters separation, one could suspect that the report was fabricated, sensationalized journalism or propaganda.

The press office at Kastrup airport stated that they could not provide any information about the alleged incident and referred to NAVI AIR, which controls Danish airspace. The press spokesperson for NAVI air said that they didn’t have any information because the plane left Danish airspace and entered Swedish airspace immediately after takeoff. Kastrup airport is located at the coast, no more than 18 kilometers from the Swedish coastal town Malmø. Planes regularly leave Danish airspace immediately after takeoff. NAVI AIR could, however, not even tell which flight allegedly had been involved, from what airline, and when the civilian airliner took off. Instead, NAVI AIR referred to its Swedish counterpart Luftfartsvärket (LFV).

On Sunday, December 14, LFV press officer Per Fröberg could not identify the passenger jet’s flight number, tell the time of departure nor provide any other information other than that the incident had happened at about noon on Friday. When Fröberg was asked for his opinion about sensationalized reports in Scandinavian media he asserted that LFV hadn’t provided any information to other media, other than the information he provided to the author, who called on behalf of nsnbc international and New Eastern Outlook.

Asked whether LFV could release radar data to the newspaper Fröberg replied that LFV would not provide any further information to the public yet, so as “to avoid speculation”. He added that LFV was currently gathering all necessary data to launch an internal investigation which could take five to six weeks. Asked whether LFV would make the radar data available to the press after the investigation was concluded, Fröberg replied that it “depends on the outcome of the investigation” and that it was too early to tell.

It is noteworthy that the alleged near-mid-air collision incident comes against the backdrop of NATO’s increased presence in Poland, the Baltic and the Scandinavian countries as well as NATO’s eastwards expansion in Ukraine. Earlier this year NATO decided to increase its patrol flights over the Baltic. Considering the strategic vulnerability of Russia’s port and naval base in Kaliningrad, Russia has, much to the discomfort of the Scandinavian countries and NATO, increased its air patrols too. The political tensions and the strategic posturing does, indeed, pose an increased risk to civilian air-traffic in the region. Sensationalized reports about “invisible planes” and “no more than 90 meters separation” appear to be fabricated propaganda aimed at creating the political context for the implementation of a no fly zone for Russian military planes over the Baltic in violation of international law.

It is noteworthy that media as well as journalists, arguably, can be held personally and legally accountable for spreading propaganda, especially in a conflict situation. Contemporary NATO military doctrine considers absolute image and information control as an essential part of modern warfare.

The spreading of disinformation in a conflict situation is, however, considered a serious crime and violates UN General Assembly Resolutions 110, 381, and 819 as well as Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The three UN General Assembly Resolutions were adopted in response to the consequences of war propaganda during WW II. Arguably, journalists who are involved in the dissemination of “90 meters separation only” propaganda can be held accountable under the Nuremberg Principles.

Dr. Christof Lehmann an independent political consultant on conflict and conflict resolution and the founder and editor in chief of nsnbc, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

 

First appeared: http://journal-neo.org/2014/12/21/is-nato-aiming-at-a-no-fly-zone-for-russia-over-the-baltic/