“Russia reinforced what Western and Ukrainian officials described as a stealth invasion on Wednesday [August 27], sending armored troops across the border as it expanded the conflict to a new section of Ukrainian territory. The latest incursion, which Ukraine’s military said included five armored personnel carriers, was at least the third movement of troops and weapons from Russia across the southeast part of the border this week.”
None of the photos accompanying this New York Times story online showed any of these Russian troops or armored vehicles.
“The Obama administration,” the story continued, “has asserted over the past week that the Russians had moved artillery, air-defense systems and armor to help the separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk. ‘These incursions indicate a Russian-directed counteroffensive is likely underway’, Jen Psaki, the State Department spokeswoman, said. At the department’s daily briefing in Washington, Ms. Psaki also criticized what she called the Russian government’s ‘unwillingness to tell the truth’ that its military had sent soldiers as deep as 30 miles inside Ukraine territory.”
Thirty miles inside Ukraine territory and not a single satellite photo, not a camera anywhere around, not even a one-minute video to show for it. “Ms. Psaki apparently [sic] was referring to videos of captured Russian soldiers, distributed by the Ukrainian government.” The Times apparently forgot to inform its readers where they could see these videos.
“The Russian aim, one Western official said, may possibly be to seize an outlet to the sea in the event that Russia tries to establish a separatist enclave in eastern Ukraine.”
This of course hasn’t taken place. So what happened to all these Russian soldiers 30 miles inside Ukraine? What happened to all the armored vehicles, weapons, and equipment?
“The United States has photographs that show the Russian artillery moved into Ukraine, American officials say. One photo dated last Thursday, shown to a New York Times reporter, shows Russian military units moving self-propelled artillery into Ukraine. Another photo, dated Saturday, shows the artillery in firing positions in Ukraine.”
Where are these photographs? And how will we know that these are Russian soldiers? And how will we know that the photos were taken in Ukraine? But most importantly, where are the fucking photographs?
Why am I so cynical? Because the Ukrainian and US governments have been feeding us these scare stories for eight months now, without clear visual or other evidence, often without even common sense. Here are a few of the many other examples, before and after the one above:
- The Wall Street Journal (March 28) reported: “Russian troops massing near Ukraine are actively concealing their positions and establishing supply lines that could be used in a prolonged deployment, ratcheting up concerns that Moscow is preparing for another [sic] major incursion and not conducting exercises as it claims, US officials said.”
- “The Ukrainian government charged that the Russian military was not only approaching but had actually crossed the border into rebel-held regions.” (Washington Post, November 7)
- “U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove told reporters in Bulgaria that NATO had observed Russian tanks, Russian artillery, Russian air defense systems and Russian combat troops enter Ukraine across a completely wide-open border with Russia in the previous two days.” (Washington Post, November 13)
- “Ukraine accuses Russia of sending more soldiers and weapons to help rebels prepare for a new offensive. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied aiding the separatists.” (Reuters, November 16)
Since the February US-backed coup in Ukraine, the State Department has made one accusation after another about Russian military actions in Eastern Ukraine without presenting any kind of satellite imagery or other visual or documentary evidence; or they present something that’s very unclear and wholly inconclusive, such as unmarked vehicles, or unsourced reports, or citing “social media”; what we’re left with is often no more than just an accusation. The Ukrainian government has matched them.
On top of all this we should keep in mind that if Moscow decided to invade Ukraine they’d certainly provide air cover for their ground forces. There has been no mention of air cover.
This is all reminiscent of the numerous stories in the past three years of “Syrian planes bombing defenseless citizens”. Have you ever seen a photo or video of a Syrian government plane dropping bombs? Or of the bombs exploding? When the source of the story is mentioned, it’s almost invariably the rebels who are fighting against the Syrian government. Then there’s the “chemical weapon” attacks by the same evil Assad government. When a photo or video has accompanied the story I’ve never once seen grieving loved ones or media present; not one person can be seen wearing a gas mask. Is it only children killed or suffering? No rebels?
And then there’s the July 17 shootdown of Malaysia Flight MH17, over eastern Ukraine, taking 298 lives, which Washington would love to pin on Russia or the pro-Russian rebels. The US government – and therefore the US media, the EU, and NATO – want us all to believe it was the rebels and/or Russia behind it. The world is still waiting for any evidence. Or even a motivation. Anything at all. President Obama is not waiting. In a talk on November 15 in Australia, he spoke of “opposing Russia’s aggression against Ukraine – which is a threat to the world, as we saw in the appalling shoot-down of MH17”. Based on my reading, I’d guess that it was the Ukranian government behind the shootdown, mistaking it for Putin’s plane that reportedly was in the area.
Can it be said with certainty that all the above accusations were lies? No, but the burden of proof is on the accusers, and the world is still waiting. The accusers would like to create the impression that there are two sides to each question without actually having to supply one of them.
The United States punishing Cuba
For years American political leaders and media were fond of labeling Cuba an “international pariah”. We haven’t heard that for a very long time. Perhaps one reason is the annual vote in the United Nations General Assembly on the resolution which reads: “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”. This is how the vote has gone (not including abstentions):
|Year||Votes (Yes-No)||No Votes|
|1993||88-4||US, Israel, Albania, Paraguay|
|1995||117-3||US, Israel, Uzbekistan|
|1996||138-3||US, Israel, Uzbekistan|
|1997||143-3||US, Israel, Uzbekistan|
|2000||167-3||US, Israel, Marshall Islands|
|2001||167-3||US, Israel, Marshall Islands|
|2002||173-3||US, Israel, Marshall Islands|
|2003||179-3||US, Israel, Marshall Islands|
|2004||179-4||US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau|
|2005||182-4||US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau|
|2006||183-4||US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau|
|2007||184-4||US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau|
|2008||185-3||US, Israel, Palau|
|2009||187-3||US, Israel, Palau|
|2012||188-3||US, Israel, Palau|
This year Washington’s policy may be subject to even more criticism than usual due to the widespread recognition of Cuba’s response to the Ebola outbreak in Africa.
Each fall the UN vote is a welcome reminder that the world has not completely lost its senses and that the American empire does not completely control the opinion of other governments.
Speaking before the General Assembly before last year’s vote, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez declared: “The economic damages accumulated after half a century as a result of the implementation of the blockade amount to $1.126 trillion.” He added that the blockade “has been further tightened under President Obama’s administration”, some 30 US and foreign entities being hit with $2.446 billion in fines due to their interaction with Cuba.
However, the American envoy, Ronald Godard, in an appeal to other countries to oppose the resolution, said:
The international community … cannot in good conscience ignore the ease and frequency with which the Cuban regime silences critics, disrupts peaceful assembly, impedes independent journalism and, despite positive reforms, continues to prevent some Cubans from leaving or returning to the island. The Cuban government continues its tactics of politically motivated detentions, harassment and police violence against Cuban citizens.
So there you have it. That is why Cuba must be punished. One can only guess what Mr. Godard would respond if told that more than 7,000 people were arrested in the United States during the Occupy Movement’s first 8 months of protest in 2011-12 ; that many of them were physically abused by the police; and that their encampments were violently destroyed.
Does Mr. Godard have access to any news media? Hardly a day passes in America without a police officer shooting to death an unarmed person.
As to “independent journalism” – What would happen if Cuba announced that from now on anyone in the country could own any kind of media? How long would it be before CIA money – secret and unlimited CIA money financing all kinds of fronts in Cuba – would own or control most of the media worth owning or controlling?
The real reason for Washington’s eternal hostility toward Cuba has not changed since the revolution in 1959 – The fear of a good example of an alternative to the capitalist model; a fear that has been validated repeatedly over the years as many Third World countries have expressed their adulation of Cuba.
How the embargo began: On April 6, 1960, Lester D. Mallory, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, wrote in an internal memorandum: “The majority of Cubans support Castro … The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship. … every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba.” Mallory proposed “a line of action which … makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.”
Later that year, the Eisenhower administration instituted its suffocating embargo against its everlasting enemy.
The United States judging and punishing the rest of the world
In addition to Cuba, Washington currently is imposing economic and other sanctions against Burma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iran, China, North Korea, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Turkey, Germany, Malaysia, South Africa, Mexico, South Sudan, Sudan, Russia, Syria, Venezuela, India, and Zimbabwe. These are sanctions mainly against governments, but also against some private enterprises; there are also many other sanctions against individuals not included here.
Imbued with a sense of America’s moral superiority and “exceptionalism”, each year the State Department judges the world, issuing reports evaluating the behavior of all other nations, often accompanied by sanctions of one kind or another. There are different reports rating how each lesser nation has performed in the previous year in areas such as religious freedom, human rights, the war on drugs, trafficking in persons, and sponsors of terrorism. The criteria used in these reports are often political. Cuba, for example, is always listed as a sponsor of terrorism whereas anti-Castro exile groups in Florida, which have committed literally hundreds of terrorist acts over the years, are not listed as terrorist groups or supporters of such.
Cuba, which has been on the sponsor-of-terrorism list longer (since 1982) than any other country, is one of the most glaring anomalies. The most recent State Department report on this matter, in 2012, states that there is “no indication that the Cuban government provided weapons or paramilitary training to terrorist groups.” There are, however, some retirees of Spain’s Basque terrorist group ETA (which appears on the verge of disbanding) in Cuba, but the report notes that the Cuban government evidently is trying to distance itself from them by denying them services such as travel documents. Some members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have been allowed into Cuba, but that was because Cuba was hosting peace talks between the FARC and the Colombian government, which the report notes.
The US sanctions mechanism is so effective and formidable that it strikes fear (of huge fines) into the hearts of banks and other private-sector organizations that might otherwise consider dealing with a listed state.
Some selected thoughts on American elections and democracy
In politics, as on the sickbed, people toss from one side to the other, thinking they will be more comfortable.
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)
- 2012 presidential election:
223,389,800 eligible to vote
128,449,140 actually voted
Obama got 65,443,674 votes
Obama was thus supported by 29.3% of eligible voters
- There are 100 million adults in the United States who do not vote. This is a very large base from which an independent party can draw millions of new votes.
- If God had wanted more of us to vote in elections, he would give us better candidates.
- “The people can have anything they want. The trouble is, they do not want anything. At least they vote that way on election day.” – Eugene Debs, American socialist leader (1855-1926)
- “If persons over 60 are the only American age group voting at rates that begin to approximate European voting, it’s because they’re the only Americans who live in a welfare state – Medicare, Social Security, and earlier, GI loans, FHA loans.” – John Powers
- “The American political system is essentially a contract between the Republican and Democratic parties, enforced by federal and state two-party laws, all designed to guarantee the survival of both no matter how many people despise or ignore them.” – Richard Reeves (1936- )
- The American electoral system, once the object of much national and international pride, has slid inexorably from “one person, one vote”, to “one dollar, one vote”.
- Noam Chomsky: “It is important to bear in mind that political campaigns are designed by the same people who sell toothpaste and cars. Their professional concern in their regular vocation is not to provide information. Their goal, rather, is deceit.”
- If the Electoral College is such a good system, why don’t we have it for local and state elections?
- “All the props of a democracy remain intact – elections, legislatures, media – but they predominantly function at the service of the oligarchy.” – Richard Wolff
- The RepDem Party holds elections as if they were auctions; indeed, an outright auction for the presidency would be more efficient. To make the auction more interesting we need a second party, which must at a minimum be granted two privileges: getting on the ballot in all 50 states and taking part in television debates.
- The US does in fact have two parties: the Ins and the Outs … the evil of two lessers.
- Alexander Cockburn: “There was a time once when ‘lesser of two evils’ actually meant something momentous, like the choice between starving to death on a lifeboat, or eating the first mate.”
- Cornel West has suggested that it’s become difficult to even imagine what a free and democratic society, without great concentrations of corporate power, would look like, or how it would operate.
- The United States now resembles a police state punctuated by elections.
- How many voters does it take to change a light bulb? None. Because voters can’t change anything.
- H.L. Mencken (1880-1956): “As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”
- “All elections are distractions. Nothing conceals tyranny better than elections.” – Joel Hirschhorn
- In 1941, one of the country’s more acerbic editors, a priest named Edward Dowling, commented: “The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion among the poor that we have a democracy, and second, the chronic terror among the rich, lest we get it.”
- “Elections are a necessary, but certainly not a sufficient, condition for democracy. Political participation is not just a casting of votes. It is a way of life.” – UN Human Development Report, 1993
- “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain!” I reply, “You have it backwards. If you DO vote, you can’t complain. You asked for it, and they’re going to give it to you, good and hard.”
- “How to get people to vote against their interests and to really think against their interests is very clever. It’s the cleverest ruling class that I have ever come across in history. It’s been 200 years at it. It’s superb.” – Gore Vidal
- We can’t use our democracy/our vote to change the way the economy functions. This is very anti-democratic.
- What does a majority vote mean other than that the sales campaign was successful?
- Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius: “The opinion of 10,000 men is of no value if none of them know anything about the subject.”
- We do have representative government. The question is: Who does our government represent?
- “On the day after the 2002 election I watched a crawl on the bottom of the CNN news screen. It said, ‘Proprietary software may make inspection of electronic voting systems impossible.’ It was the final and absolute coronation of corporate rights over democracy; of money over truth.” – Mike Ruppert, RIP
- “It’s not that voting is useless or stupid; rather, it’s the exaggeration of the power of voting that has drained the meaning from American politics.” – Michael Ventura
- After going through the recent national, state and local elections, I am now convinced that taxation without representation would have been a much better system.
- “Ever since the Constitution was illegally foisted on the American people we have lived in a blatant plutocracy. The Constitution was drafted in secret by a self-appointed elite committee, and it was designed to bring three kinds of power under control: Royalty, the Church, and the People. All were to be subjugated to the interests of a wealthy elite. That’s what republics were all about. And that’s how they have functioned ever since.” – Richard K. Moore
- “As demonstrated in Russia and numerous other countries, when faced with a choice between democracy without capitalism or capitalism without democracy, Western elites unhesitatingly embrace the latter.” – Michael Parenti
- “The fact that a supposedly sophisticated electorate had been stampeded by the cynical propaganda of the day threw serious doubt on the validity of the assumptions underlying parliamentary democracy as a whole.” – British Superspy for the Soviets Kim Philby (1912-1988), explaining his reasons for becoming a Communist instead of turning to the Labour Party
- US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis (1856-1941): “We may have democracy in this country, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.”
- “We don’t need to run America like a business or like the military. We need to run America like a democracy.” – Jill Stein, Green Party presidential candidate 2012
- Democracy Now!, October 30, 2013
- Huffingfton Post, May 3, 2012
- Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958-1960, Volume VI, Cuba(1991), p.885 (online here)
- For the complete detailed list, see U.S. Department of State, Nonproliferation Sanctions
- U.S. Department of State, “Country Reports on Terrorism 2012, Chapter 3: State Sponsors of Terrorism,” May 20, 2013
Ever since serious protest broke out in Ukraine in February the Western mainstream media, particularly in the United States, has seriously downplayed the fact that the usual suspects – the US/European Union/NATO triumvirate – have been on the same side as the neo-Nazis. In the US it’s been virtually unmentionable. I’m sure that a poll taken in the United States on this issue would reveal near universal ignorance of the numerous neo-Nazi actions, including publicly calling for death to “Russians, Communists and Jews”. But in the past week the dirty little secret has somehow poked its head out from behind the curtain a bit.
On September 9 NBCnews.com reported that “German TV shows Nazi symbols on helmets of Ukraine soldiers”. The German station showed pictures of a soldier wearing a combat helmet with the “SS runes” of Hitler’s infamous black-uniformed elite corps. (Runes are the letters of an alphabet used by ancient Germanic peoples.) A second soldier was shown with a swastika on his helmet.
On the 13th, the Washington Post showed a photo of the sleeping quarter of a member of the Azov Battalion, one of the Ukrainian paramilitary units fighting the pro-Russian separatists. On the wall above the bed is a large swastika. Not to worry, the Post quoted the platoon leader stating that the soldiers embrace symbols and espouse extremist notions as part of some kind of “romantic” idea.
Yet, it is Russian president Vladimir Putin who is compared to Adolf Hitler by everyone from Prince Charles to Princess Hillary because of the incorporation of Crimea as part of Russia. On this question Putin has stated:
The Crimean authorities have relied on the well-known Kosovo precedent, a precedent our Western partners created themselves, with their own hands, so to speak. In a situation absolutely similar to the Crimean one, they deemed Kosovo’s secession from Serbia to be legitimate, arguing everywhere that no permission from the country’s central authorities was required for the unilateral declaration of independence. The UN’s international court, based on Paragraph 2 of Article 1 of the UN Charter, agreed with that, and in its decision of 22 July 2010 noted the following, and I quote verbatim: No general prohibition may be inferred from the practice of the Security Council with regard to unilateral declarations of independence.
Putin as Hitler is dwarfed by the stories of Putin as invader (Vlad the Impaler?). For months the Western media has been beating the drums about Russia having (actually) invaded Ukraine. I recommend reading: “How Can You Tell Whether Russia has Invaded Ukraine?” by Dmitry Orlov
And keep in mind the NATO encirclement of Russia. Imagine Russia setting up military bases in Canada and Mexico, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Remember what a Soviet base in Cuba led to.
Has the United States ever set a bad example?
Ever since that fateful day of September 11, 2001, the primary public relations goal of the United States has been to discredit the idea that somehow America had it coming because of its numerous political and military acts of aggression. Here’s everyone’s favorite hero, George W. Bush, speaking a month after 9-11:
“How do I respond when I see that in some Islamic countries there is vitriolic hatred for America? I’ll tell you how I respond: I’m amazed. I’m amazed that there’s such misunderstanding of what our country is about that people would hate us. I am – like most Americans, I just can’t believe it because I know how good we are.”
Thank you, George. Now take your pills.
I and other historians of US foreign policy have documented at length the statements of anti-American terrorists who have made it explicitly clear that their actions were in retaliation for Washington’s decades of international abominations. But American officials and media routinely ignore this evidence and cling to the party line that terrorists are simply cruel and crazed by religion; which many of them indeed are, but that doesn’t change the political and historical facts.
This American mindset appears to be alive and well. At least four hostages held in Syria recently by Islamic State militants, including US journalist James Foley, were waterboarded during their captivity. The Washington Post quoted a US official: “ISIL is a group that routinely crucifies and beheads people. To suggest that there is any correlation between ISIL’s brutality and past U.S. actions is ridiculous and feeds into their twisted propaganda.”
The Post, however, may have actually evolved a bit, adding that the “Islamic State militants … appeared to model the technique on the CIA’s use of waterboarding to interrogate suspected terrorists after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.”
Talk given by William Blum at a Teach-In on US Foreign Policy, American University, Washington, DC, September 6, 2014
Each of you I’m sure has met many people who support American foreign policy, with whom you’ve argued and argued. You point out one horror after another, from Vietnam to Iraq. From god-awful bombings and invasions to violations of international law and torture. And nothing helps. Nothing moves this person.
Now why is that? Are these people just stupid? I think a better answer is that they have certain preconceptions. Consciously or unconsciously, they have certain basic beliefs about the United States and its foreign policy, and if you don’t deal with these basic beliefs you may as well be talking to a stone wall.
The most basic of these basic beliefs, I think, is a deeply-held conviction that no matter what the United States does abroad, no matter how bad it may look, no matter what horror may result, the government of the United States means well. American leaders may make mistakes, they may blunder, they may lie, they may even on the odd occasion cause more harm than good, but they do mean well. Their intentions are always honorable, even noble. Of that the great majority of Americans are certain.
Frances Fitzgerald, in her famous study of American school textbooks, summarized the message of these books: “The United States has been a kind of Salvation Army to the rest of the world: throughout history it had done little but dispense benefits to poor, ignorant, and diseased countries. The U.S. always acted in a disinterested fashion, always from the highest of motives; it gave, never took.”
And Americans genuinely wonder why the rest of the world can’t see how benevolent and self-sacrificing America has been. Even many people who take part in the anti-war movement have a hard time shaking off some of this mindset; they march to spur America – the America they love and worship and trust – they march to spur this noble America back onto its path of goodness.
Many of the citizens fall for US government propaganda justifying its military actions as often and as naively as Charlie Brown falling for Lucy’s football.
The American people are very much like the children of a Mafia boss who do not know what their father does for a living, and don’t want to know, but then wonder why someone just threw a firebomb through the living room window.
This basic belief in America’s good intentions is often linked to “American exceptionalism”. Let’s look at how exceptional US foreign policy has been. Since the end of World War 2, the United States has:
- Attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically-elected.
- Dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries.
- Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders.
- Attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 countries.
- Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries.
- Led the world in torture; not only the torture performed directly by Americans upon foreigners, but providing torture equipment, torture manuals, lists of people to be tortured, and in-person guidance by American teachers, especially in Latin America.
This is indeed exceptional. No other country in all of history comes anywhere close to such a record.
So the next time you’re up against a stone wall … ask the person what the United States would have to do in its foreign policy to lose his support. What for this person would finally be TOO MUCH. If the person mentions something really bad, chances are the United States has already done it, perhaps repeatedly.
Keep in mind that our precious homeland, above all, seeks to dominate the world. For economic reasons, nationalistic reasons, ideological, Christian, and for other reasons, world hegemony has long been America’s bottom line. And let’s not forget the powerful Executive Branch officials whose salaries, promotions, agency budgets and future well-paying private sector jobs depend upon perpetual war. These leaders are not especially concerned about the consequences for the world of their wars. They’re not necessarily bad people; but they’re amoral, like a sociopath is.
Take the Middle East and South Asia. The people in those areas have suffered horribly because of Islamic fundamentalism. What they desperately need are secular governments, which have respect for different religions. And such governments were actually instituted in the recent past. But what has been the fate of those governments?
Well, in the late 1970s through much of the 1980s, Afghanistan had a secular government that was relatively progressive, with full rights for women, which is hard to believe, isn’t it? But even a Pentagon report of the time testified to the actuality of women’s rights in Afghanistan. And what happened to that government? The United States overthrew it, allowing the Taliban to come to power. So keep that in mind the next time you hear an American official say that we have to remain in Afghanistan for the sake of women’s rights.
After Afghanistan came Iraq, another secular society, under Saddam Hussein. And the United States overthrew that government as well, and now the country is overrun by crazed and bloody jihadists and fundamentalists of all kinds; and women who are not covered up are running a serious risk.
Next came Libya; again, a secular country, under Moammar Gaddafi, who, like Saddam Hussein, had a tyrant side to him but could in important ways be benevolent and do marvelous things for Libya and Africa. To name just one example, Libya had a high ranking on the United Nation’s Human Development Index. So, of course, the United States overthrew that government as well. In 2011, with the help of NATO we bombed the people of Libya almost every day for more than six months. And, once again, this led to messianic jihadists having a field day. How it will all turn out for the people of Libya, only God knows, or perhaps Allah.
And for the past three years, the United States has been doing its best to overthrow the secular government of Syria. And guess what? Syria is now a playground and battleground for all manner of ultra militant fundamentalists, including everyone’s new favorite, IS, the Islamic State. The rise of IS owes a lot to what the US has done in Iraq, Libya, and Syria in recent years.
We can add to this marvelous list the case of the former Yugoslavia, another secular government that was overthrown by the United States, in the form of NATO, in 1999, giving rise to the creation of the largely-Muslim state of Kosovo, run by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). The KLA was considered a terrorist organization by the US, the UK and France for years, with numerous reports of the KLA being armed and trained by al-Qaeda, in al-Qaeda camps in Pakistan, and even having members of al-Qaeda in KLA ranks fighting against the Serbs of Yugoslavia. Washington’s main concern was dealing a blow to Serbia, widely known as “the last communist government in Europe”.
The KLA became renowned for their torture, their trafficking in women, heroin, and human body parts; another charming client of the empire.
Someone looking down upon all this from outer space could be forgiven for thinking that the United States is an Islamic power doing its best to spread the word – Allah Akbar!
But what, you might wonder, did each of these overthrown governments have in common that made them a target of Washington’s wrath? The answer is that they could not easily be controlled by the empire; they refused to be client states; they were nationalistic; in a word, they were independent; a serious crime in the eyes of the empire.
So mention all this as well to our hypothetical supporter of US foreign policy and see whether he still believes that the United States means well. If he wonders how long it’s been this way, point out to him that it would be difficult to name a single brutal dictatorship of the second half of the 20th Century that was not supported by the United States; not only supported, but often put into power and kept in power against the wishes of the population. And in recent years as well, Washington has supported very repressive governments, such as Saudi Arabia, Honduras, Indonesia, Egypt, Colombia, Qatar, and Israel.
And what do American leaders think of their own record? Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was probably speaking for the whole private club of our foreign-policy leadership when she wrote in 2000 that in the pursuit of its national security the United States no longer needed to be guided by “notions of international law and norms” or “institutions like the United Nations” because America was “on the right side of history.”
Let me remind you of Daniel Ellsberg’s conclusion about the US in Vietnam: “It wasn’t that we were on the wrong side; we were the wrong side.”
Well, far from being on the right side of history, we have in fact fought – I mean actually engaged in warfare – on the same side as al Qaeda and their offspring on several occasions, beginning with Afghanistan in the 1980s and 90s in support of the Islamic Moujahedeen, or Holy Warriors.
The US then gave military assistance, including bombing support, to Bosnia and Kosovo, both of which were being supported by al Qaeda in the Yugoslav conflicts of the early 1990s.
In Libya, in 2011, Washington and the Jihadists shared a common enemy, Gaddafi, and as mentioned, the US bombed the people of Libya for more than six months, allowing jihadists to take over parts of the country; and they’re now fighting for the remaining parts. These wartime allies showed their gratitude to Washington by assassinating the US ambassador and three other Americans, apparently CIA, in the city of Benghazi.
Then, for some years in the mid and late 2000s, the United States backed Islamic militants in the Caucasus region of Russia, an area that has seen more than its share of religious terror going back to the Chechnyan actions of the 1990s.
Finally, in Syria, in attempting to overthrow the Assad government, the US has fought on the same side as several varieties of Islamic militants. That makes six occasions of the US being wartime allies of jihadist forces.
I realize that I have fed you an awful lot of negativity about what America has done to the world, and maybe it’s been kind of hard for some of you to swallow. But my purpose has been to try to loosen the grip on your intellect and your emotions that you’ve been raised with – or to help you to help others to loosen that grip – the grip that assures you that your beloved America means well. US foreign policy will not make much sense to you as long as you believe that its intentions are noble; as long as you ignore the consistent pattern of seeking world domination, which is a national compulsion of very long standing, known previously under other names such as Manifest Destiny, the American Century, American exceptionalism, globalization, or, as Madeleine Albright put it, “the indispensable nation” … while others less kind have used the term “imperialist”.
In this context I can’t resist giving the example of Bill Clinton. While president, in 1995, he was moved to say: “Whatever we may think about the political decisions of the Vietnam era, the brave Americans who fought and died there had noble motives. They fought for the freedom and the independence of the Vietnamese people.” Yes, that’s really the way our leaders talk. But who knows what they really believe?
It is my hope that many of you who are not now activists against the empire and its wars will join the anti-war movement as I did in 1965 against the war in Vietnam. It’s what radicalized me and so many others. When I hear from people of a certain age about what began the process of losing their faith that the United States means well, it’s Vietnam that far and away is given as the main cause. I think that if the American powers-that-be had known in advance how their “Oh what a lovely war” was going to turn out they might not have made their mammoth historical blunder. Their invasion of Iraq in 2003 indicates that no Vietnam lesson had been learned at that point, but our continuing protest against war and threatened war in Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, and elsewhere may have – may have! – finally made a dent in the awful war mentality. I invite you all to join our movement. Thank you.
- NBC News, “German TV Shows Nazi Symbols on Helmets of Ukraine Soldiers”, September 6 2014
- BBC, March 18, 2014
- Information Clearinghouse, “How Can You Tell Whether Russia has Invaded Ukraine?”, September 1 2014
- Boston Globe, October 12, 2001
- See, for example, William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower(2005), chapter 1
- Washington Post, August 28, 2014
- Foreign Affairs magazine (Council on Foreign Relations), January/February 2000
Ever wonder why nobody (except Kareem Serageldin) went to jail for all the crimes committed during the financial bubble that popped in 2008?
If you think back to the 2000-era bubble, lots of people went to jail for the fraud perpetuated at Enron, Tyco, Adelphia, and other firms. Plus, the law back then destroyed a whole accounting firm — Arthur Andersen, you may remember — and 28,000 jobs along with it, in the wake of the bust.
Yet post-2000, firms with far more brazen crimes got off by paying a mere fine.
Its U.S. subsidiary committed, as Taibbi writes, “an astonishing list of crimes — a laundry list that included pretty much every kind of crime a bank can possibly be charged with.”
- Laundering billions of dollars for drug cartels in Mexico and Colombia
- Washing money for terrorist-connected organizations in the Middle East
- Allowing “rogue states” under formal sanctions by the U.S. to move billions freely through the bank
- Helping Russian mobsters wash money under an elaborate traveler’s check scheme
And what was the penalty for all this?
At the time, it was the biggest fine in history. But in context, for a firm that made $22 billion per year, it was not much at all. In fact, looked at in a cold calculating light, the message clearly is: Crime pays.
Note there was no jail time for anybody. Everybody at HSBC got paid. Well, HSBC agreed to partially — partially, mind you – defer (!) bonus payments to its top executives.
Oh, and HSBC had to say it was sorry. “We are profoundly sorry,” said CEO Stuart Gulliver.
But how did we get here?
Matt Taibbi explores the reasons in his book The Divide. Taibbi used to write for Rolling Stone. He was the guy who famously called Goldman Sachs a “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.” (I wish I had written that line.)
He’s a very good investigative reporter and a fine writer. He’s mellowed out a bit in this book and you won’t find much of the usual Taibbi name-calling and profanity. Taibbi, for good or ill, plays this one straight.
He covers a lot of ground, but the central thesis is one most people will intuitively grasp: If you are rich and powerful, you can get away with almost anything. Rights exist on a sliding scale. And if you are on the bottom, you can do time for loitering.
“The cleaving of the country into two completely different states — one a small archipelago of hyper acquisitive untouchables, the other a vast ghetto of expendables with only theoretical rights — has been in the works a long time.”
But to answer the question posed up top about why nobody’s going to jail, there’s more to the story. You have to go back to a memo written by Eric Holder, the current attorney general, back in 1999, when he was an official in the Clinton White House.
He articulated a concept called “collateral consequences.”
It meant, in essence, that the government could take into account all kinds of factors like job losses and such in deciding whether to press criminal charges against a big company. “If the math isn’t there,” Taibbi writes summing things up, “hold the charges. Seek other forms of justice instead. Fines. Civil sanctions. Cease and desist orders. Deferred prosecutions. There are other ways, Holder wrote, to get the job done.”
In other words, there would never be another Arthur Andersen. Firms had new ways to wiggle out of criminal charges. Hence, we have the monster we have today. Companies too big to jail.
Meanwhile, in other aspects of life, a culture approximating a police state grows apace. Taibbi points to the record levels of incarcerations in the U.S. “Our prison population, in fact, is now the biggest in the history of human civilization,” Taibbi writes. The U.S. has more people behind bars today “than there were at any time in Stalin’s gulags.”
The story here is nasty. He tells the story of private prisons, such as those of Corrections Corp. of America. They get, “depending on whom you believe,” upward of $166 per day from the federal government per inmate. This is four times what it cost back when the government took care of its own detainees.
“The big influx of cash impressed investors on Wall Street,” Taibbi writes. From 2000-2011, CCA’s stock went up 34-fold. Sales went from $300 million to $1.7 billion by 2011. “Overall, the corrections industry is one of the soundest stock/equity bets in the world, with soaring revenues — the industry as a whole pulled in more than $5 billion in America in 2011.”
Needless to say, that didn’t just happen. CCA and others donate generously to politicians. They support anything that might lead to more people spending time in their cells. They particularly like anti-immigrant bills. And Taibbi has harrowing tales about the mistreatment of immigrants in this country. He calls Hispanic immigrants “one of America’s last great cash crops.”
“And someone else wins, too,” Taibbi writes. “Wall Street. Some of the biggest investors in private prison companies are, you guessed it, the too-big-to-fail banks.”
Taibbi writes about an analysis from Zacks that gleefully revels in the lack of economic sensitivity in the business. And then cites a chart with shows a hockey stick increase in the number of incarcerated Americans.
So the country is turning more and more into a dragnet… but only for the poorest. There is no HSBC banker sitting in a CCA cell. It is symbolic of the kind of economy we have today:
“Like too-big-to-fail banking itself, private prisons are an industry that depends not on the unpredictable economy but upon political connections. It’s the perfect kind of business in the oligarchical capitalism age, with guaranteed profits to provide a low-cost public insurance against the vagaries of the market.”
The economy is riddled with corruption like this, a marriage between big business and Big Government. And a recurring theme in this book is the offspring this marriage creates: a relentless, insatiable bureaucratic force that grinds up individuals fed into its maw.
“These bureaucracies accomplish just two things,” Taibbi writes. “They make small piles of money smaller and big piles of money bigger… It just relentlessly creates and punishes losers, who get to sit beneath an ever-narrowing group of winners, who may or may not stay on top for long.”
Legal rights are not absolute. Those with money who can tirelessly throw lawyers and lawsuits and counterlawsuits at any problem can survive almost anything. For the rest, it’s a matter of attrition. And those at the bottom have no chance.
I can’t do justice to all the journalistic fieldwork and stories Taibbi has put in his 416-page book. It is a gripping read and will infuriate you and frighten you, and maybe even make you sad for what’s happened to the “Land of the Free.”
The book does not have a happy ending. The good guys don’t win in the end. But I encourage you give it a read. What it describes is life in these United States. Those of us who cherish liberty have quite a job ahead of us.
Chris Mayer studied finance at the University of Maryland, graduating magna cum laude. He went on to earn his MBA while embarking on a decade-long career in corporate banking. Chris is the editor of Capital and Crisis and Mayer’s Special Situations, a monthly report that unearths unique and unconventional opportunities in smaller-cap stocks. In 2008, Chris authored Invest Like a Dealmaker: Secrets From a Former Banking Insider.
Source: Laissez Faire
Previous articles discussed Obama’s rogue agenda in detail. His destructive pattern continues unabated. Throughout his tenure, he did what supporters thought impossible.
He exceeded the worst of George Bush. His policies replicate Republican hardliners. Neocons infest his administration.
He’s waging war on humanity. He’s doing at home and abroad.
He wrecked America’s economy. He looted the nation’s wealth. He handed Wall Street crooks multi-trillions of dollars. He gave trillions more to war profiteers.
Other corporate favorites benefitted hugely. So did super-rich elites. Ordinary Americans struggle through protracted Depression level conditions.
Hard times keep getting harder. They persist. They show no signs of ending. Growing millions face impoverishment without jobs or futures.
Freedoms are disappearing in plain sight. Police state ruthlessness targets dissent. Abuse of power is institutionalized.
Multiple regime change fronts target foreign leaders. Independent ones aren’t tolerated. Obama wants Syria’s Assad replaced.
He’s waging proxy to oust him. He’s responsible for three years of bloody conflict. Mass slaughter, destruction and unspeakable human misery define it.
Millions of internally and externally displaced Syrians attest to his ruthlessness. War rages without end.
Peace talks are more pretense than real. Full-scale US intervention may follow their failure. They’re currently deadlocked. They’re going nowhere.
Syrians want their sovereign rights protected. Obama wants unconditional surrender. He wants pro-Western puppet governance replacing Assad. He wants similar stooges in charge elsewhere.
So-called Iranian nuclear talks may fail. Pursuing them is red herring cover for regime change.
Iran’s nuclear program is entirely peaceful. It has no military component. Washington hardliners claim otherwise. So does Obama.
Saying so flies in the face of hard evidence. Annual US intelligence assessments affirm Iran’s peaceful program. So do IAEA inspectors.
Regime change matters more. So does eliminating an Israeli rival. Perhaps Obama plans more war to do it. Maybe he intends manipulating nuclear talks to fail as pretext.
Maybe he’ll attack Iran jointly with Israel. Maybe he’ll risk regional war doing it. Imagine the unthinkable.
Imagine humanity threatening nuclear war. Bush administration’s 2001 Nuclear Policy Review asserted first strike nuclear policy strategy.
His 2002 and 2006 National Security Strategies reaffirmed it. In 2010, Obama’s Nuclear Posture Review was old wine in new bottles.
Rhetoric changed, not policy. Obama “reserves the right” to use nuclear weapons preemptively. He does so based on real or invented threats.
He does it against non-nuclear power states. His land/sea/air triad offensive can be activated on his call alone.
He can order bombs away against any country. He can claim preemptive defense against a nonexistent existential threat. He can risk mushroom-shaped cloud denouement doing so.
Total war risks what no responsible leader would dare. Obama waged multiple direct and proxy wars throughout his entire tenure.
He’s got other targets in mind. How many more millions will suffer on his watch? How many more will perish? How much more human suffering is too much?
America’s super-weapons include the Mother of All Bombs. It has globe-circling delivery systems. It has arsenal strength able to extinguish human life in hours. Days at most.
It’s perhaps lawless enough to try. Evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr (1904 – 2005) said human intelligence doesn’t guarantee survival.
Beetles and bacteria stand a better chance than humans. They may become the only species ever to self-destruct.
Hubris produces bad endings. America faces the same fate as all previous empires. None survived.
America’s denouement may take humanity with it. Imagine having leaders willing to risk it. Imagine ending life on earth.
Waging war on Syria risks regional war. Attacking Iran risks the unthinkable. Plans were readied years ago. Updating followed.
Bombs away could happen with push button ease. Is Obama foolhardy enough to risk it?
Ukraine is targeted for regime change. The battle for its soul continues. Same old, same old reflects US policy.
Obama wants another independent leader toppled. He wants pro-Western stooge governance replacing him.
He wants opposition leader Arseny Yatsenyuk leading it. On Sunday, he addressed supporters publicly. He did so in Ukraine’s Independence Square.
President Viktor Yanukovych extended an olive branch earlier. Yatsenyuk rejected his offer to become prime minister. He’s forming his own government, he said.
He wants Ukraine’s 2004 constitution reinstated. It calls for combined parliamentary/presidential rule.
Obama wants Ukraine colonized for profit. He wants its resources plundered. He wants ordinary Ukrainians turned into serfs. He wants Russia increasingly weakened and isolated.
He’s in league with ultranationalist extremists. He’s involved in inciting continuing violent clashes.
He wants all former Soviet republics transformed into subservient US satellites. He wants America’s war machine encroaching on Russia’s borders.
Imagine challenging the only other nation able to match America’s nuclear might blow for blow.
Imagine the potential mother of all conflicts. Imagine the possible mother of all bad endings.
Imagine an irresponsible US leader willing to risk the unthinkable. Imagine bipartisan complicity doing nothing to stop him. Imagine strong anti-war sentiment absent on streets protesting.
Imagine America again getting away with mass murder. Imagine it on the most unspeakable of ugly scales.
Imagine risking humanity’s survival in the process. Imagine imperial madness exceeding everything preceding it.
Imagine targeting Venezuela at the same time. Imagine wanting Bolivarian social justice destroyed.
Imagine trying for the past 15 years to extinguish it. Imagine new schemes following failed ones.
Imagine wanting control of Venezuela’s vast oil reserves. They’re the world’s largest. Big Oil has its eye on the prize it covets.
Obama killed Chavez. He was either poisoned or infected with cancer causing substances.
Maduro believes he’s targeted the same way. He knows Obama wants him ousted. He wants fascist governance replacing him.
US manipulated violence continues on Venezuelan streets. On Sunday, President Nicolas Maduro addressed thousands of supporters.
“You want to see people in the streets? We’ll give you people in the streets,” he said. Thousands cheered him.
“I’m not going to give one millimeter of the power the Venezuelan people have given me.”
“Nothing will stop me from building this revolution which comandante Chavez left us.”
Maduro denounced protesters as coup d’etat fascists. Responsible parties will be prosecuted according to the full letter of the law, he said.
He accused former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe of fomenting unrest. He called him an “enemy of Venezuela.”
So is anti-Bolivarian fascist politician Leopoldo Lopez. He heads
Venezuela’s hard-right Voluntad Popular (Popular Will) party.
He incited violence. “There cannot be peace,” he said. A warrant was issued for his arrest.
He’s charged with murder, terrorism, conspiracy, incitement to crime, setting fire to a public building, damaging public property, public intimidation, and inflicting serious injuries.
Maduro called him “the face of fascism.” He threatens Venezuelan freedom. He’s against Bolivarian fairness. So are other likeminded extremists.
On Sunday, Venezuelan Minister of Interior and Justice Miguel Rodriguez Torres spoke publicly. He condemned opposition-provoked street violence.
“(V)andalism protests, he called them. Popular Will party extremists incite them. John Kerry issued an outrageous one-sided statement. In didn’t surprise. In part, he said:
“We are particularly alarmed by reports that the Venezuelan government has arrested or detained scores of anti-government protestors and issued an arrest warrant for opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.”
“These actions have a chilling effect on citizens’ rights to express their grievances peacefully.”
He ignored Washington’s role in inciting violence. He condemned what he supports.
Doublespeak duplicity defines US policy. Kerry called on Venezuela’s government “to provide the political space necessary for meaningful dialogue with the Venezuelan people…”
He urged restoration of calm. He called “(f)reedoms of expression and peaceful assembly…universal rights.”
Venezuela “has an obligation to protect” them,” he said.
Bolivarian principles champion them. America systematically trashes rule of law principles. It’s waging economic, political and street clash war on Venezuela. Don’t expect Kerry to explain.
Obama has three years left in office. How many more independent governments does he plan to target?
How much more street violence will he cause? How many more wars will he wage? How much more carnage will follow?
How much longer will Americans tolerate his lawlessness? The only solution is nonviolent revolution.
Resisting tyranny is a national imperative. America’s Declaration of Independence endorsed it, saying:
“(W)hever any form of government (threatens) life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government.”
Jefferson, Madison and other notable Americans supported doing so. Tyranny is too unjust to tolerate. Good people are obligated to resist.
It’s a noble tradition. It’s a universal right for justice. It’s high time Americans got some. The alternative is perhaps perish.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Unless you’ve been in an underground bunker for the last month, you’d have heard that the Ukraine has gone topsy-turvy lately.
They seem to have escaped one old Soviet Union, only be reeled in by a new Soviet in the EU. There is also the problem of organized crime syndicates who have overrun the country.
Understanding the country’s recent history and following the money is important if you want to see which way the wind is blowing in Kiev…
Stalin and Krushchev Wanted Ukraine
For most Europeans, Ukraine is a gas transport corridor for bringing expensive Russian gas to Europe and Ukraine either overcharges Gazprom for gas transit fees, or does not pay Gazprom for the gas it takes for national consumption.
This Russian-Ukrainian gas game occasionally tips into gas embargoes – hitting consumers further down the line. As a geopolitical bargaining chip, conversely, Ukraine had considerable import – and weight – during the Cold War period which tapered off in 1989-91. Relatively quickly, Russia withdrew “nearly all” of its nuclear-tipped missiles, atomic warheads and nuclear military equipment and component inventories from Ukraine, in the 1990s.
That said, Ukraine is listed by human rights and corruption watchdog NGOs as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, tied with Bangladesh, Cameroon, the Central African Republic and Syria. Its postwar history following the defeat of Nazi Germany is a tragic story of Soviet megalomania, paranoia and oppression. The Nazi Germans probably killed about 15% of the total population, but about another 600,000 Western Ukrainians were arrested between 1944 and 1952, one-third executed and the remainder imprisoned in Soviet gulags or exiled to the eastern Soviet empire. Among their crimes was “non-performance” in agricultural output.
Administered by the rising political star and soon-to-be rival of Joseph Stalin, Nikita Khruschev, firstly in eastern Russian-speaking Ukraine, the kolkhoz collective-farm system was operated by chiefs selected by Khruschev. He empowered them to expel residents who “under-performed”. The kolkhoz chiefs quickly turned this into a racket protection and vendetta system for expelling their personal enemies, and the weak, the old and other “misfits”. Well over 10,000 were exiled to the eastern parts of the Soviet Union. For Khruschev, this was a highly effective policy which he recommended it for adoption across the USSR to Stalin, despite it periodically resulting in wide-area famines.
Similar to the “agro-towns” attempted by Ceaucescu of Romania, Khrushchev further destabilized Ukraine’s slowly recovering agricultural output with his scheme for population regrouping, which he later applied in Russia when he became Praesidium chief on the death of Stalin, following a classic Mafia-style power struggle with NKVD chief Beria. Beria was shot and killed with five of his associates by order of Khrushchev in Dec 1953. One of Beria’s proposed post-Stalin reform ideas was to liberate either or both East Germany and Ukraine, in exchange for cash payment by the West
Crime Syndicates want Ukraine
On the surface, mainstream media tells us today’s conflict in the Ukraine pitches the Russian-speaking half of the country in the east (where ailing president Yanukovich’s main support base is) against the more pro-Western, and alleged pro-EU, Ukrainian-speaking half in the west (where imprisoned Yulia Tymoshenko’s main support base is). More precisely, the Ukraine’s rapidly-deteriorating economic situation reflected by rapidly-rising interest rates on its sovereign debt bonds and Fitch’s recent downgrade, and its near-civil war street rebellion have reinforced its organized crime syndicates. Its organized criminals, and their enemies-and-allies in Russian, Bulgarian, Romanian and other east European organized crime syndicates, are vying for control of the State itself, to widen and deepen their lucrative activity.
The past week has seen President Yanukovych accept the resignation of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his cabinet, repeal anti-protest laws, provide an amnesty to detained protesters, and offer senior government jobs to the opposition – offers that were rejected. Moscow for its part has threatened it may hold back some or all of a promised Ukrainian bond-bailout package and a promised cut in gas prices for Ukraine until a new government is formed. The gas price cut and the loans, totalling $15bn (11 bn euros) were agreed in December, and widely seen as rewarding Yanukovich for Kiev’s rejection of an EU associate country deal for Ukraine.
Ukraine is one of six post-Soviet nations – along with Belarus, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia – to be invited to cooperate with the EU within a new ‘multilateral’ framework that is high on promises but slim on content. The framework seeks visa-free travel, better human rights, more democracy, and respect for the principles of the market economy and sustainable development – so say the EU websites, but the single most important economic content is a trade pact aimed at cutting tariffs and taxes, which are in any case decreasing on the Ukrainian side due to its membership of the WTO since 2009. Main EU exports to Ukraine include medicine, motor vehicles, mobile phones and other manufactured goods, while main EU imports were of low to mid-value: iron and steel products, vegetable oils, ferro-nickel ores, iron ores and crude oil.
Acting long before the Ukraine’s membership of the WTO, or the 2008 financial crisis – both of which spurred and favoured crime syndicate integration in east Europe, Russia and the EU – the present number of organized crime groups operating in eastern Europe is estimated at about 3,600 with each profiting from such prosaic products as household detergents, to fake medecines, human trafficking, prostiution and the Ukrainian favorites of hard drugs and firearms.Rob Wainwright, director of the EU’s crime-fighting agency, told the Financial Times in June 2013 that only concerning Europe’s black market in counterfeit foodstuffs, fake pharmaceuticals and substandard machine parts, this doubled in value to about €2bn since 2008.
Arms for Drugs and Arms for Cash
From, at latest 2002, US drug enforcement and security agencies warned the Bush administration of the Kiev-Tel Aviv-New York “Axis” of organized crime operating drugs-for-arms trades worldwide. This syndicate particularly focuses South American-source cocaine supplied by Colombia’s FARC and other Andean country crime entities, and Ukraine-source weapons and military equipment. Ukraine’s geographic role and location as a “window to the southern states” of the ex-USSR, makes it highly favoured for operating drugs-for-arms trades, today. Land-route heroin from Afghanistan, South American cocaine and Russian AK47s are the hard currencies featured by this trade.
Godfather of the AK47: Ukrainian Mikhail Kalashnikov.
Ukraine’s front-line status in the Cold War and its own arms-making industries made the country a major source for Russian licit and illicit arms exports, and Soviet-era materiel is still widely available. This ranges from the “iconic” AK47 rifle through to mines, grenades and military explosive-pyrotechnic devices, to night-sighting and communications equipment, and artillery pieces through the low-end range of 35mm-105mm, to also-iconic Soviet 72-ton T72 tanks, a highly depressed market where prices can be as low as scrap value only – about $3.50 per kilogram of weight.
Western security analysts, preferring not to have their names published, also point out that Ukraine is a “wonderland” of nuclear civil-military crossover materials and ordnance. Following the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown, then the collapse and break up of the USSR in 1989-91, they say that large amounts of unaccounted-for nuclear fuel rods, wastes and nuclear military components exist in the country. They also underline the increased technological sophistication of ex-Soviet national mafias and their Middle Eastern opposite numbers, able to produce “binary nuclear” weapons, from nuclear and non-nuclear components, transported separately to reduce detection for final re-assembly when required.
Ukraine’s now accelerating political destabilization creates a classic poker-game challenge for Vladimir Putin at this time. He can act to prevent the country “seceding to the West’, or being partitioned into its western and eastern parts.
Whether Putin clamps down or lets the country fall apart, or the domestic power struggle inside Ukraine continues with no clear winner, the transition interval will certainly feature action by organized crime to further and deepen its already-strong foothold.
Can the sharing economy movement address the root causes of the world’s converging crises? Unless the sharing of resources is promoted in relation to human rights and concerns for equity, democracy, social justice and sustainability, then such claims are without substantiation – although there are many hopeful signs that the conversation is slowly moving in the right direction.
In recent years, the concept and practice of sharing resources is fast becoming a mainstream phenomenon across North America, Western Europe and other world regions. The internet is awash with articles and websites that celebrate the vast potential of sharing human and physical assets, in everything from cars and bicycles to housing, workplaces, food, household items, and even time or expertise. According to most general definitions that are widely available online, the sharing economy leverages information technology to empower individuals or organisations to distribute, share and re-use excess capacity in goods and services. The business icons of the new sharing economy include the likes of Airbnb, Zipcar, Lyft, Taskrabbit and Poshmark, although hundreds of other for-profit as well as non-profit organisations are associated with this burgeoning movement that is predicated, in one way or another, on the age-old principle of sharing.
As the sharing economy receives increasing attention from the media, a debate is beginning to emerge around its overall importance and future direction. There is no doubt that the emergent paradigm of sharing resources is set to expand and further flourish in coming years, especially in the face of continuing economic recession, government austerity and environmental concerns. As a result of the concerted advocacy work and mobilisation of sharing groups in the US, fifteen city mayors have now signed the Shareable Cities Resolution in which they officially recognise the importance of economic sharing for both the public and private sectors. Seoul in South Korea has also adopted a city-funded project called Sharing City in which it plans to expand its ‘sharing infrastructure’, promote existing sharing enterprises and incubate sharing economy start-ups as a partial solution to problems in housing, transportation, job creation and community cohesion. Furthermore, Medellin in Colombia is embracing transport-sharing schemes and reimagining the use of its shared public spaces, while Ecuador is the first country in the world to commit itself to becoming a ‘shared knowledge’-based society, under an official strategy named ‘buen saber’.
Many proponents of the sharing economy therefore have great hopes for a future based on sharing as the new modus operandi. Almost everyone recognises that drastic change is needed in the wake of a collapsed economy and an overstretched planet, and the old idea of the American dream – in which a culture that promotes excessive consumerism and commercialisation leads us to see the ‘good life’ as the ‘goods life’, as described by the psychologist Tim Kasser – is no longer tenable in a world of rising affluence among possibly 9.6 billion people by 2050. Hence more and more people are rejecting the materialistic attitudes that defined recent decades, and are gradually shifting towards a different way of living that is based on connectedness and sharing rather than ownership and conspicuous consumption. ‘Sharing more and owning less’ is the ethic that underlies a discernible change in attitudes among affluent society that is being led by today’s young, tech-savvy generation known as Generation Y or the Millennials.
However, many entrepreneurial sharing pioneers also profess a big picture vision of what sharing can achieve in relation to the world’s most pressing issues, such as population growth, environmental degradation and food security. As Ryan Gourley of A2Share posits, for example, a network of cities that embrace the sharing economy could mount up into a Sharing Regions Network, then Sharing Nations, and finally a Sharing World: “A globally networked sharing economy would be a whole new paradigm, a game-changer for humanity and the planet”. Neal Gorenflo, the co-founder and publisher of Shareable, also argues that peer-to-peer collaboration can form the basis of a new social contract, with an extensive sharing movement acting as the catalyst for systemic changesthat can address the root causes of both poverty and climate change. Or to quote the words of Benita Matofska, founder of The People Who Share, we are going to have to “share to survive” if we want to face up to a sustainable future. In such a light, it behoves us all to investigate the potential of sharing to effect a social and economic transformation that is sufficient to meet the grave challenges of the 21st century.
Two sides of a debate on sharing
There is no doubt that sharing resources can contribute to the greater good in a number of ways, from economic as well as environmental and social perspectives. A number of studies show the environmental benefits that are common to many sharing schemes, such as the resource efficiency and potential energy savings that could result from car sharing and bike sharing in cities. Almost all forms of localised sharing are economical, and can lead to significant cost savings or earnings for individuals and enterprises. In terms of subjective well-being and social impacts, common experience demonstrates how sharing can also help us to feel connected to neighbours or co-workers, and even build community and make us feel happier.
Few could disagree on these beneficial aspects of sharing resources within communities or across municipalities, but some controversy surrounds the broader vision of how the sharing economy movement can contribute to a fair and sustainable world. For many advocates of the burgeoning trend towards economic sharing in modern cities, it is about much more than couch-surfing, car sharing or tool libraries, and holds the potential to disrupt the individualist and materialistic assumptions of neoliberal capitalism. For example, Juliet Schor in her book Plenitude perceives that a new economics based on sharing could be an antidote to the hyper-individualised, hyper-consumer culture of today, and could help rebuild the social ties that have been lost through market culture. Annie Leonard of the Story of Stuff project, in her latest short video on how to move society in an environmentally sustainable and just direction, also considers sharing as a key ‘game changing’ solution that could help to transform the basic goals of the economy.
Many other proponents see the sharing economy as a path towards achieving widespread prosperity within the earth’s natural limits, and an essential first step on the road to more localised economies and egalitarian societies. But far from everyone perceives that participating in the sharing economy, at least in its existing form and praxis, is a ‘political act’ that can realistically challenge consumption-driven economics and the culture of individualism – a question that is raised (although not yet comprehensively answered) in a valuable think piece from Friends of the Earth, as discussed further below. Various commentators argue that the proliferation of new business ventures under the umbrella of sharing are nothing more than “supply and demand continuing its perpetual adjustment to new technologies and fresh opportunities”, and that the concept of the sharing economy is being co-opted by purely commercial interests – a debate that was given impetus when the car sharing pioneers, Zipcar, were bought up by the established rental firm Avis.
Recently, Slate magazine’s business and economics correspondent controversially reiterated the observation that making money from new modes of consumption is not really ‘sharing’ per se, asserting that the sharing economy is therefore a “dumb term” that “deserves to die”. Other journalists have criticised the superficial treatment that the sharing economy typically receives from financial pundits and tech reporters, especially the claims that small business start-ups based on monetised forms of sharing are a solution to the jobs crisis – regardless of drastic cutbacks in welfare and public services, unprecedented rates of income inequality, and the dangerous rise of the precariat. The author Evgeny Morozov, writing an op-ed in the Financial Times, has gone as far as saying that the sharing economy is having a pernicious effect on equality and basic working conditions, in that it is fully compliant with market logic, is far from valuing human relationships over profit, and is even amplifying the worst excesses of the dominant economic model. In the context of the erosion of full-time employment, the assault on trade unions and the disappearance of healthcare and insurance benefits, he argues that the sharing economy is accelerating the transformation of workers into “always-on self-employed entrepreneurs who must think like brands”, leading him to dub it “neoliberalism on steroids”.
Problems of definition
Although it is impossible to reconcile these polarised views, part of the problem in assessing the true potential of economic sharing is one of vagueness in definition and wide differences in understanding. The conventional interpretation of the sharing economy is at present focused on its financial and commercial aspects, with continuous news reports proclaiming its rapidly growing market size and potential as a “co-commerce revolution”. Rachel Botsman, a leading entrepreneurial thinker on the potential of collaboration and sharing through digital technologies to change our lives, has attempted to clarify what the sharing economy actually is in order to prevent further confusion over the different terms in general use. In her latest typology, she notes how the term ‘sharing economy’ is often muddled with other new ideas and is in fact a subset of ‘collaborative consumption’ within the entire ‘collaborative economy’ movement, and has a rather restricted meaning in terms of “sharing underutilized assets from spaces to skills to stuff for monetary or non-monetary benefits” [see slide 9 of the presentation]. This interpretation of changing consumer behaviours and lifestyles revolves around the “maximum utilization of assets through efficient models of redistribution and shared access”, which isn’t necessarily predicated on an ethic of ‘sharing’ by any strict definition.
Other interpretations of the sharing economy are far broader and less constrained by capitalistic assumptions, as demonstrated in the Friends of the Earth briefing paper on Sharing Cities written by Professor Julian Agyeman et al. In their estimation, what’s missing from most of these current definitions and categorisations of economic sharing is a consideration of “the communal, collective production that characterises the collective commons”. A broadened ‘sharing spectrum’ that they propose therefore not only focuses on goods and services within the mainstream economy (which is almost always considered in relation to affluent, middle-class lifestyles), but also includes the non-material or intangible aspects of sharing such as well-being and capability [see page 6 of the brief]. From this wider perspective, they assert that the cutting edge of the sharing economy is often not commercial and includes informal behaviours like the unpaid care, support and nurturing that we provide for one another, as well as the shared use of infrastructure and shared public services.
This sheds a new light on governments as the “ultimate level of sharing”, and suggests that the history of the welfare state in Europe and other forms of social protection is, in fact, also integral to the evolution of shared resources in cities and within different countries. Yet an understanding of sharing from this more holistic viewpoint doesn’t have to be limited to the state provision of healthcare, education, and other public services. As Agyeman et al elucidate, cooperatives of all kinds (from worker to housing to retailer and consumer co-ops) also offer alternative models for shared service provision and a different perspective on economic sharing, one in which equity and collective ownership is prioritised. Access to natural common resources such as air and water can also be understood in terms of sharing, which may then prioritise the common good of all people over commercial or private interests and market mechanisms. This would include controversial issues of land ownership and land use, raising questions over how best to share land and urban space more equitably – such as through community land trusts, or through new policies and incentives such as land value taxation.
The politics of sharing
Furthermore, Agyeman et al argue that an understanding of sharing in relation to the collective commons gives rise to explicitly political questions concerning the shared public realm and participatory democracy. This is central to the many countercultural movements of recent years (such as the Occupy movement and Middle East protests since 2011, and the Taksim Gezi Park protests in 2013) that have reclaimed public space to symbolically challenge unjust power dynamics and the increasing trend toward privatisation that is central to neoliberal hegemony. Sharing is also directly related to the functioning of a healthy democracy, the authors reason, in that a vibrant sharing economy (when interpreted in this light) can counter the political apathy that characterises modern consumer society. By reinforcing values of community and collaboration over the individualism and consumerism that defines our present-day cultures and identities, they argue that participation in sharing could ultimately be reflected in the political domain. They also argue that a shared public realm is essential for the expression of participatory democracy and the development of a good society, not least as this provides a necessary venue for popular debate and public reasoning that can influence political decisions. Indeed the “emerging shareability paradigm”, as they describe it, is said to reflect the basic tenets of the Right to the City (RTTC) – an international urban movement that fights for democracy, justice and sustainability in cities and mobilises against the privatisation of common goods and public spaces.
The intention in briefly outlining some of these differing interpretations of sharing is to demonstrate how considerations of politics, justice, ethics and sustainability are slowly being allied with the sharing economy concept. A paramount example is the Friends of the Earth briefing paper outlined above, which was written as part of FOEI’s Big Ideas to Change the World series on cities that promoted sharing as “a political force to be reckoned with” and a “call to action for environmentalists”. Yet many further examples could also be mentioned, such as the New Economics Foundation’s ‘Manifesto for the New Materialism’ which promotes the old-fashioned ethic of sharing as part of a new way of living to replace the collapsed model of debt-fuelled overconsumption. There are also signs that many influential proponents of the sharing economy – as generally understood today in terms of new economic models driven by peer-to-peer technology that enable access to rather than ownership of resources – are beginning to query the commercial direction that the movement is taking, and are instead promoting more politicised forms of social change that are not merely based on micro-enterprise or the monetisation/branding of high-tech innovations.
Janelle Orsi, a California-based ‘sharing lawyer’ and author of The Sharing Solution, is particularly inspirational in this regard; for her, the sharing economy encompasses such a broad range of activities that it is hard to define, although she suggests that all its activities are tied together in how they harness the existing resources of a community and grow its wealth. This is in contradistinction to the mainstream economy that mostly generates wealth for people outside of people’s communities, and inherently generates extreme inequalities and ecological destruction – which Orsi contends that the sharing economy can help reverse. The problem she recognises is that the so-called sharing economy we usually hear about in the media is built upon a business-as-usual foundation, which is privately owned and often funded by venture capital (as is the case with Airbnb, Lyft, Zipcar, Taskrabbit et cetera). As a result, the same business structures that created the economic problems of today are buying up new sharing economy companies and turning them into ever larger, more centralised enterprises that are not concerned about people’s well-being, community cohesion, local economic diversity, sustainable job creation and so on (not to mention the risk of re-creating stock valuation bubbles that overshadowed the earlier generation of dot.com enterprises). The only way to ensure that new sharing economy companies fulfil their potential to create economic empowerment for users and their communities, Orsi argues, is through cooperative conversion – and she makes a compelling case for the democratic, non-exploitative, redistributive and truly ‘sharing’ potential of worker and consumer cooperatives in all their guises.
Sharing as a path to systemic change
There are important reasons to query which direction this emerging movement for sharing will take in the years ahead. As prominent supporters of the sharing economy recognise, like Janelle Orsi and Juliet Schor, it offers both opportunities and reasons for optimism as well as pitfalls and some serious concerns. On the one hand, it reflects a growing shift in our values and social identities as ‘citizens vs consumers’, and is helping us to rethink notions of ownership and prosperity in a world of finite resources, scandalous waste and massive wealth disparities. Perhaps its many proponents are right, and the sharing economy represents the first step towards transitioning away from the over-consumptive, materially-intense and hoarding lifestyles of North American, Western European and other rich societies. Perhaps sharing really is fast becoming a counter-cultural movement that can help us to value relationships more than things, and offer us the possibility of re-imagining politics and constructing a more participative democracy, which could ultimately pose a challenge to the global capitalist/consumerist model of development that is built on private interests and debt at the cost of shared interests and true wealth.
On the other hand, critics are right to point out that the sharing economy in its present form is hardly a threat to existing power structures or a movement that represents the kind of radical changes we need to make the world a better place. Far from reorienting the economy towards greater equity and a better quality of life, as proposed by writers such as Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, Tim Jackson, Herman Daly and John Cobb, it is arguable that most forms of sharing via peer-to-peer networks are at risk of being subverted by conventional business practices. There is a perverse irony in trying to imagine the logical conclusion of these trends: new models of collaborative consumption and co-production that are co-opted by private interests and venture capitalists, and increasingly geared towards affluent middle-class types or so-called bourgeois bohemians (the ‘bobos’), to the exclusion of those on low incomes and therefore to the detriment of a more equal society. Or new sharing technology platforms that enable governments and corporations to collaborate in pursuing more intrusive controls over and greater surveillance of citizens. Or new social relationships based on sharing in the context of increasingly privatised and enclosed public spaces, such as gated communities within which private facilities and resources are shared.
This is by no means an inevitable outcome, but what is clear from this brief analysis is that the commercialisation and depoliticisation of economic sharing poses risks and contradictions that call into question its potential to transform society for the benefit of everyone. Unless the sharing of resources is promoted in relation to human rights and concerns for equity, democracy, social justice and sound environmental stewardship, then the various claims that sharing is a new paradigm that can address the world’s interrelated crises is indeed empty rhetoric or utopian thinking without any substantiation. Sharing our skills through Hackerspaces, our unused stuff through GoodShuffle or a community potluck through mealshare is, in and of itself, a generally positive phenomenon that deserves to be enjoyed and fully participated in, but let’s not pretend that car shares, clothes swaps, co-housing, shared vacation homes and so on are going to seriously address economic and climate chaos, unjust power dynamics or inequitable wealth distribution.
Sharing from the local to the global
If we look at sharing through the lens of just sustainability, however, as civil society organisations and others are now beginning to do, then the true possibilities of sharing resources within and among the world’s nations are vast and all-encompassing: to enhance equity, rebuild community, improve well-being, democratise national and global governance, defend and promote the global commons, even to point the way towards a more cooperative international framework to replace the present stage of competitive neoliberal globalisation. We are not there yet, of course, and the popular understanding of economic sharing today is clearly focused on the more personal forms of giving and exchange among individuals or through online business ventures, which is mainly for the benefit of high-income groups in the world’s most economically advanced nations. But the fact that this conversation is now being broadened to include the role of governments in sharing public infrastructure, political power and economic resources within countries is a hopeful indication that the emerging sharing movement is slowly moving in the right direction.
Already, questions are being raised as to what sharing resources means for the poorest people in the developing world, and how a revival of economic sharing in the richest countries can be spread globally as a solution to converging crises. It may not be long until the idea of economic sharing on a planetary scale – driven by an awareness of impending ecological catastrophe, life-threatening extremes of inequality, and escalating conflict over natural resources – is the subject of every dinner party and kitchen table conversation.
Agyeman, Julian, Duncan McLaren and Adrianne Schaefer-Borrego, Sharing Cities, Friends of the Earth briefing paper, September 2013.
Bollier, David, Bauwens Joins Ecuador in Planning a Commons-based, Peer Production Economy, 20th September 2013, bollier.org
Botsman, Rachel, The Sharing Economy Lacks a Shared Definition: Giving Meaning to the Terms, Collaborative Lab on Slideshare.net, 19th November 2013.
Childs, Mike, The Power of Sharing: A Call to Action for Environmentalists, Shareable.net, 5th November 2013.
Daly, Herman and John Cobb, For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future, Beacon Press, 1991.
Eberlein, Sven, Sharing for Profit – I’m Not Buying it Anymore, Shareable.net, 20th February 2013.
Enright, Michael in interview with Benita Matofska and Aidan Enns, Sharing, Not Buying at Christmas (Hr. 1), CBC Radio, 16th December 2012.
Friends of the Earth, Big Idea 2: Sharing – a political force to be reckoned with?, 26th September 2013.
Gaskins, Kim, The New Sharing Economy, Latitude, 1st June 2010.
Gorenflo, Neal, What’s Next for the Sharing Movement?, Shareable.net, 31st July 2013.
Grahl, Jodi (trans.), World Charter for the Right to the City, International Alliance of Inhabitants et al, May 2005.
Griffiths, Rachel, The Great Sharing Economy, Co-operatives UK, London UK, 2011.
Grigg, Kat, Sharing As Part of the New Economy: An Interview with Lauren Anderson, The Solutions Journal, 20th September 2013.
Heinberg, Richard, Who knew that Seoul was a leader in the sharing economy?, Post Carbon Institute, 12th November 2013.
Herbst, Moira, Let’s get real: the ‘sharing economy’ won’t solve our jobs crisis, The Guardian, 7th January 2014.
Jackson, Tim, Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet, Routeledge, 2011.
Johnson, Cat, From Consumers to Citizens: Welcome to the Sharing Cities Network, Shareable.net, 9th January 2014.
Kasser, Tim, The High Price of Materialism, MIT Press, 2003.
Kisner, Corinne, Integrating Bike Share Programs into a Sustainable Transportation System, National League of Cities, City Practice Brief, Washington D.C., 2011.
Martin, Elliot and Susan Shaheen, The Impact of Carsharing on Household Vehicle Ownership, Access (UCTC magazine), No. 38 Spring 2011.
Matofska, Benita, Facing the future: share to survive, Friends of the Earth blog, 4th January 2013.
Morozov, Evgeny, The ‘sharing economy’ undermines workers’ rights, Financial Times, 14th October 2013.
Olson. Michael J. and Andrew D. Connor, The Disruption of Sharing: An Overview of the New Peer-to-Peer ‘Sharing Economy’ and The Impact on Established Internet Companies, Piper Jaffray, November 2013.
Opinium Research and Marke2ing, The Sharing Economy An overview with special focus on Peer-to-Peer Lending, 14th November 2012.
Orsi, Janelle and Doskow, Emily, The Sharing Solution: How to Save Money, Simplify Your Life and Build Community, Nolo, May 2009.
Orsi, Janelle et al, Policies for Shareable Cities: A Sharing Economy Policy Primer for Urban Leaders, Shareable / The sustainable Economics Law Centre, September 2013.
Orsi, Janelle, The Sharing Economy Just Got Real, Shareable.net, 16th September 2013.
Quilligan, James B., People Sharing Resources: Toward a New Multilateralism of the Global Commons, Kosmos Journal, Fall/Winter 2009.
Schor, Juliet, Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth, Tantor Media, 2010.
Simms, Andrew and Ruth Potts, The New Materialism: How our relationship with the material world can change for the better, New Economics Foundation, November 2012.
Standing, Guy, The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class, Bloomsbury Academic, 2011.
Tennant, Ian, What’s in it for me? Do you dare to share?, Friends of the Earth blog, 8th January 2014.
Wiesmann, Thorsten, Living by the Principle of Sharing – an interview with Raphael Fellmer, Oiushare.net, February 2013.
Wilkinson, Richard and Kate Pickett, The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone, Penguin, 2010.
Yglesias, Matthew, There Is No “Sharing Economy”, Slate.com, 26th December 2013.
“At last the world knows America as the savior of the world!” – President Woodrow Wilson, Paris Peace Conference, 1919
The horrors reported each day from Syria and Iraq are enough to make one cry; in particular, the atrocities carried out by the al-Qaeda types: floggings; beheadings; playing soccer with the heads; cutting open dead bodies to remove organs just for mockery; suicide bombers, car bombs, the ground littered with human body parts; countless young children traumatized for life; the imposition of sharia law, including bans on music … What century are we living in? What millennium? What world?
People occasionally write to me that my unwavering antagonism toward American foreign policy is misplaced; that as awful as Washington’s Museum of Horrors is, al-Qaeda is worse and the world needs the United States to combat the awful jihadists.
“Let me tell you about the very rich,” F. Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote. “They are different from you and me.”
And let me tell you about American leaders. In power, they don’t think the way you and I do. They don’t feel the way you and I do. They have supported “awful jihadists” and their moral equivalents for decades. Let’s begin in 1979 in Afghanistan, where the Moujahedeen (“holy warriors”) were in battle against a secular, progressive government supported by the Soviet Union; a “favorite tactic” of the Moujahedeen was “to torture victims [often Russians] by first cutting off their nose, ears, and genitals, then removing one slice of skin after another”, producing “a slow, very painful death”.
With America’s massive and indispensable military backing in the 1980s, Afghanistan’s last secular government (bringing women into the 20th century) was overthrown, and out of the victoriousMoujahedeen arose al Qaeda.
During this same period the United States was supporting the infamous Khmer Rouge of Cambodia; yes, the same charming lads of Pol Pot and The Killing Fields.
President Carter’s National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, was a leading force behind the US support of both the Moujahedeen and the Khmer Rouge. What does that tell you about that American leader? Or Jimmy Carter – an inspiration out of office, but a rather different person in the White House? Or Nobel Peace Laureate Barack Obama, who chose Brzezinski as one of his advisers?
Another proud example of the United States fighting the awful jihadists is Kosovo, an overwhelmingly Muslim province of Serbia. The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) began an armed conflict with Belgrade in the early 1990s to split Kosovo from Serbia. The KLA was considered a terrorist organization by the US, the UK and France for years, with numerous reports of the KLA having contact with al-Qaeda, getting arms from them, having its militants trained in al-Qaeda camps in Pakistan, and even having members of al-Qaeda in KLA ranks fighting against Serbia. But Washington’s imperialists, more concerned about dealing a blow to Serbia, “the last communist government in Europe”, supported the KLA.
The KLA have been known for their torture and trafficking in women, heroin, and human body parts (sic). The United States has naturally been pushing for Kosovo’s membership in NATO and the European Union.
More recently the US has supported awful jihadists in Libya and Syria, with awful consequences.
It would, moreover, be difficult to name a single brutal dictatorship of the second half of the 20th Century that was not supported by the United States; not only supported, but often put into power and kept in power against the wishes of the population. And in recent years as well, Washington has supported very repressive governments, such as Saudi Arabia, Honduras, Indonesia, Egypt, Colombia, Qatar, and Israel.
Not exactly the grand savior our sad old world is yearning for. (Oh, did I mention that Washington’s policies create a never-ending supply of terrorists?)
And what do American leaders think of their own record? Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was probably speaking for the whole private club when she wrote that in the pursuit of its national security the United States no longer needed to be guided by “notions of international law and norms” or “institutions like the United Nations” because America was “on the right side of history.”
If you’ve never done anything you wouldn’t want the government to know about, you should re-examine your life choices.
“The idea is to build an antiterrorist global environment,” a senior American defense official said in 2003, “so that in 20 to 30 years, terrorism will be like slave-trading, completely discredited.”
One must wonder: When will the dropping of bombs on innocent civilians by the United States, and invading and occupying their country become completely discredited? When will the use of depleted uranium, cluster bombs, CIA torture renditions, and round-the-world, round-the-clock surveillance become things that even men like George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Barack Obama, and John Brennan will be too embarrassed to defend?
Last month, a former National Security Agency official told the Washington Post that the Agency’s workers are polishing up their résumés and asking that they be cleared – removing any material linked to classified programs – so they can be sent out to potential employers. He noted that one employee who processes the résumés said, “I’ve never seen so many résumés that people want to have cleared in my life.”
Morale is “bad overall”, said another former official. “The news – the Snowden disclosures – it questions the integrity of the NSA workforce,” he said. “It’s become very public and very personal. Literally, neighbors are asking people, ‘Why are you spying on Grandma?’ And we aren’t. People are feeling bad, beaten down.”
President Obama was recently moved to declare that he would be proposing “some self-restraint on the NSA” and “some reforms that can give people more confidence.” He also said “In some ways, the technology and the budgets and the capacity [at NSA] have outstripped the constraints. And we’ve got to rebuild those in the same way that we’re having to do on a whole series of capacities … [such as] drone operations.”
Well, dear readers and comrades, we shall see. But if you’re looking for a glimmer of hope to begin a new year, you may as well try grabbing onto these little offerings. When the American Empire crumbles, abroad and at home, as one day it must, Edward Snowden’s courageous actions may well be seen as one of the key steps along that road. I’ve long maintained that only the American people have the power to stop The Imperial Machine – the monster that eats the world’s environment, screws up its economies, and spews violence on every continent. And for that to happen the American people have to lose their deep-seated, quasi-religious belief in “American Exceptionalism”. For many, what they’ve been forced to learn the past six months has undoubtedly worn deep holes into the protective armor that has surrounded their hearts and minds since childhood.
A surprising and exhilarating example of one of these holes in the armor is the New Year’s day editorial in the New York Times that is now well known. Entitled “Edward Snowden, Whistle-blower” – itself a legitimation of his actions – its key part says: “Considering the enormous value of the information he has revealed, and the abuses he has exposed, Mr. Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight. He may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done his country a great service.”
The president has been moved to appoint a committee to study NSA abuses. This of course is a standard bureaucratic maneuver to keep critics at bay. But the committee – Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies – did come up with a few unexpected recommendations in its report presented December 13, the most interesting of which perhaps are these two:
“Governments should not use surveillance to steal industry secrets to advantage their domestic industry.”
“Governments should not use their offensive cyber capabilities to change the amounts held in financial accounts or otherwise manipulate the financial systems.”
The first recommendation refers to a practice, though certainly despicable, that is something the United States has been doing, and lying about, for decades. Just this past September, James Clapper, Director of US National Intelligence, declared: “What we do not do, as we have said many times, is use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies.”
Clapper is the same gentleman who told Congress in March that the NSA does not intentionally collect any kind of data on millions of Americans; and, when subsequently challenged on this remark, declared: “I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful, manner by saying ‘no’.”
The second recommendation had not been revealed before, in a Snowden document or from any other source.
“That was a strangely specific recommendation for something nobody was talking about,” observed the director of a government transparency group.
ABC News reported that “A spokesperson for the NSA declined to comment on the issue of bank account hacking, and a representative for U.S. Cyber Command did not immediately return an emailed request for comment.”
Manipulating bank records is about as petty and dishonorable as a superpower can behave, and could conceivably, eventually, lead to the end of the NSA as we’ve all come to know and love it. On the other hand, the Agency no doubt holds some very embarrassing information about anyone in a position to do them harm.
The bombing of Flight 103 – Case closed?
When the 25th anniversary of the 1988 bombing of PanAm Flight 103 occurred on December 21 I was fully expecting the usual repetitions of the false accusation against Libya and Moammar Gaddafi as being responsible for the act which took the lives of 270 people over and in Lockerbie, Scotland. But much to my surprise, mingled with such, there were a rash of comments skeptical of the official British-US version, made by various people in Scotland and elsewhere, including by the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom and Libya.
In a joint statement the three governments said they were determined to unearth the truth behind the attack. “We want all those responsible for this brutal act of terrorism brought to justice, and to understand why it was committed”, they declared.
Remarkable. In 1991, the United States indicted a Libyan named Adelbaset al-Megrahi. He was eventually found guilty of being the sole perpetrator of the crime, kept in prison for many years, and finally released in 2009 when he had terminal cancer, allegedly for humanitarian reasons, although an acute smell of oil could be detected. And now they speak of bringing to justice “those responsible for this brutal act of terrorism”.
The 1988 crime was actually organized by Iran in retaliation for the American shooting down of an Iranian passenger plane in July of the same year, which took the lives of 290 people. It was carried out by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC), a 1968 breakaway from a component of the Palestine Liberation Organization, with some help from Syria. And this version was very widely accepted in the Western world, in government and media circles. Until the US buildup to the Gulf War came along in 1990 and the support of Iran and Syria was needed. Then, suddenly, we were told that it was Libya behind the crime.
If the US and UK now wish to return to Iran, and perhaps Syria, as the culprits, they will have a lot of explaining to do about their previous lie. But these two governments always have a lot of explaining to do. They’re good at it. And the great bulk of their indoctrinated citizens, with little resistance, will accept the new/old party line, and their mainstream media will effortlessly switch back to the old/new official version, since Iran and Syria are at the top of the current list of Bad Guys. (The PFLP-GC has been quiescent for some time and may scarcely exist.)
If you’re confused by all this, I suggest that you start by reading my detailed article on the history of this case, written in 2001 but still very informative and relevant. You may be rather surprised.
The UK, US and Libyan governments have now announced that they will co-operate to reveal “the full facts” of the Lockerbie bombing. And Robert Mueller, the former head of the FBI, said he believes more people will be charged. This could be very interesting.
Free books of historical value
- The complete set, less one volume, of the 15 Church Committee (1975-6) volumes. Lacking only Final Report, book 6: “Congressional Research Service. Supplementary Reports on Intelligence Activities.”
- The complete set, less one volume, of the 6 Pike Committee volumes. Lacking only volume 6: “Committee Proceedings, part II”
- The Rockefeller Commission Report, one volume.
- Hearings on FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) before Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (same as Church Committee), one volume.
Total of 21 volumes, all from 1975-1976, all in good condition. Either pick them up in Washington, DC or send me $10 for postage.
- Washington Post May 11, 1979; New York Times, April 13 1979
- William Blum, “Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower” (2005), chapter 10
- RT TV (Russia Today, Moscow), May 4, 2012
- Associated Press, December 14, 2010
- Foreign Affairs (Council on Foreign Relations), January/February 2000 issue
- New York Times, January 17, 2003
- Washington Post, December 7, 2013
- Washington Post, December 18, 2013
- Washington Post, December 7, 2013
- “Liberty and Security in a Changing World”, p.221
- See Anti-Empire Report, #118, June 26, 2013, second part
- Statement by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper on Allegations of Economic Espionage, September 8, 2013
- NBC News, June 9, 2013
- Kel McLanahan, executive director of National Security Counselors, speaking to ABC News Radio, December 23, 2013
- ABC News Radio, December 23, 2013
- Reuters news agency, December 22, 2013
I do not want to pretend that this is an impartial investigation. Instead I am now fully convinced that most diseases are indeed caused by the medical system, and in the following I want to state my reasons for this conclusion.
Increasingly over the years my health beliefs have been turned around. I started out by working as a biochemist and toxicologist in university medical departments fully believing that all these chronic and incurable diseases are indeed incurable and generally of unknown origin, but that pharmaceutical drugs made life easier for patients and often were even curative. My re-education started after immigrating to New Zealand and learning about natural healing and living; this made me realize that disease is mainly caused by unnatural living conditions and can be overcome by natural methods of living and healing.
While I learned about the harmful nature of drug treatment, I was still thinking of it as being ineffective and causing side-effects rather than as a main cause of our diseases. Diseases caused by medical treatment are called iatrogenic diseases. The total number of iatrogenic deaths in the USA for 2001 is estimated to be 783,936. These were due to fatal drug reactions, medical error and unnecessary medical and surgical procedures. With this, the medical system is the leading cause of death and injury in the United States. In comparison the 2001 heart disease death rate was 699,697 and the annual cancer death rate 553,251 (1).
This is also the reason why it is so beneficial for patients when doctors go on strike. Statistics show that whenever there was a strike by doctors, the death rate in the affected population fell dramatically. In 1976 the death rate fell by 35 per cent in Bogotá, Colombia. In Los Angeles County,California, it fell by 18 per cent during a strike in the same year, while in Israel it fell by 50 per cent during a strike in 1973. Only once before was there a similar drop in the death rate in Israel and that was during another doctors’ strike 20 years earlier. After each strike the death rate jumped again to its normal level (2).
However these figures of iatrogenic deaths do not take into account iatrogenic diseases from the long-term harm done by medical treatments where patients survive but with a chronic disease. My real awakening to this problem started when I became aware of the story of Orion Truss who discovered the Candidiasis-causing potential of antibiotics.
Dr Orian Truss
In 1953 Dr Orian Truss discovered the devastating effects of antibiotics in an Alabama (USA) hospital (3). During a ward round Truss was intrigued by a gaunt, apparently elderly man who was obviously dying. However, he was only in his forties and in hospital for four months. No specialist had been able to make a diagnosis. Out of curiosity Truss asked the patient when be was last completely well.
The man answered that he was well until six months before when he had cut his finger. He had received antibiotics for this. Shortly afterwards he developed diarrhoea and his health deteriorated. Truss had seen before how antibiotics cause diarrhoea. It was known that Candida was opportunistic and thrived in debilitated patients, but now Truss wondered if it might not be the other way round, that Candida actually caused the debilitated condition.
He had read that potassium iodide solution could be used to treat Candida infestation of the blood. So he put the patient on six to eight drops ofLugol’s solution four times a day for 3 weeks and soon the patient was again completely well.
Soon afterwards he had a female patient with a stuffy nose, a throbbing headache, vaginitis and severe depression. To his amazement all her problems immediately cleared with Candida treatment. Some time later he saw a female patient who had been schizophrenic for six years with hundreds of electroshock treatments and massive drug dosages. He started treating the woman for sinus allergies with a Candida remedy. Soon she had recovered mentally and physically, and remained well.
From then on he treated his patients against Candida at the slightest indication of its presence. Many of his patients made remarkable recoveries from most unusual conditions, including menstrual problems, hyperactivity, learning disabilities, autism, schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis and auto-immune diseases such as Crohn’s disease and lupus erythematosus.
Every experienced naturopath can relate similar success stories. Also some alternative medical practitioners have realized the curative potential of anti-Candida therapy, as for instance Dr William Crook who wrote several books about the successful treatment of allergies and hyperactive children (4).
The Antibiotic Syndrome
Candidiasis is not the only side-effect of antibiotic treatment, and antibiotics are not the only drugs that cause such problems. Drugs used in chemotherapy, anti-inflammatory steroidal drugs and other long-term drug therapies tend to kill or suppress the natural intestinal bacteria, and yeast, parasites and harmful bacteria start taking over. This is then called dysbiosis. Most patients receive such drugs in hospitals and can be expected todevelop systemic Candida overgrowth as a result.
Our natural intestinal flora, mainly based on lactobacteria, not only helps to digest and absorb food, it also protects us against ingested harmful bacteria that otherwise may cause food poisoning. With a healthy intestinal flora millions of salmonella bacteria may be needed to cause an infection but with dysbiosis only tens of salmonella would be required.
With chronic dysbiosis the intestinal wall becomes inflamed, causing ulcers, appendicitis, malabsorption and Crohn’s disease, and as the intestinal membrane erodes we develop multiple food allergies, arthritis and autoimmune diseases. In addition to Candida also other pathogens and parasites now invade the bloodstream and various organs. With live cell analysis natural therapists can see and show their patients the fungi in their blood. This invasion greatly weakens the immune system so that people now become susceptible to frequent or chronic infections. Commonly this is then treated with more antibiotics, which continues to intensify the symptoms.
Actually, the problem is not with the antibiotics. You can take a course if you feel it is needed, provided that you take a fungicide, such as fresh garlic, at the same time, and have some probiotics after the antibiotic and before you ingest any carbohydrates. This will prevent most diseases that are caused by the careless medical method of using antibiotics. For more details see Candida and the Antibiotic Syndrome.
Autoimmune Diseases and Asthma
Autoimmune diseases, including psoriasis, lupus erythematosus and pancreatitis, have been linked to dysbiosis. When remedies are given that bind bacterial endotoxins, these conditions usually improve. In addition autoimmune diseases have been shown to be linked to mycoplasmas ornanobacteria which start to develop from diseased red blood cells in the presence of toxic chemicals and systemic Candida. The weaker our immune system becomes, the more these mycoplasms start to develop into bacterial and finally fungal forms. They have been found in all autoimmune diseases, cancers and AIDS (5).
Antibiotics are also a major contributing cause of asthma. Children who received broad-spectrum antibiotics were about 9 times more likely to suffer from asthma (6). A recent research paper confirmed dysbiosis as a main cause of asthma (7)
In the 1980’s New Zealand had the highest rate of asthma deaths in the world. This was drastically reduced when in 1991 the inhaler drug Fenoterolwas banned as it caused a 13 times higher risk of dying (8). This reduction in the asthma death rate was generally hailed as a great triumph for medical science. Other studies revealed that asthmatics using more than one bronchodilator inhaler a month had a fifty-fold increased risk of suffering a fatal asthma attack.
In addition to asthma, I also see the combination of pasteurized cow’s milk with antibiotic-induced dysbiosis in babies and infants as the main cause of their frequent infections, glue ear and greatly contributing to cot or crib death. Because health authorities insist on pasteurizing milk, and doctors prescribe antibiotics without the most basic precautions, I regard asthma and most childhood infections as predominantly iatrogenic diseases.
In the ‘good old days’ people ingested a lot of lactic acid fermented foods and raw milk products that replenished our ‘good’ bacteria, and because antibiotics had not been invented, dysbiosis and therefore chronic diseases were rare. Instead people mainly died from acute infections due to unhygienic living conditions, and in the slums also from malnutrition.
Staphylococcus aureus or golden staph causes serious infections in hospital patients. It has been found that not only golden staph but also other infections are greatly potentized when they occur combined with Candida overgrowth. As Candida overgrowth is a natural outcome of the standard hospital treatment, it is easy to see why golden staph is so deadly in hospitals.
A similar picture emerges with AIDS. People do not die from the AIDS virus but from Candida or fungal-potentized bacterial and mycoplasmainfections. The end stage of AIDS is the same as the end stage of cancer. It is called cachexia, a wasting condition mainly caused by fungal overgrowth. Lugol’s iodine solution and other systemic fungicides should do wonders for it. Presently also MMS, a 28% solution of sodium chlorite, is gaining acceptance as an effective antimicrobial remedy (see http://miraclemineral.org).
All of this shows that antibiotic-induced dysbiosis and Candida are not isolated and relatively harmless problems as the medical profession prefers to believe, but rather the underlying cause of most of our modern diseases.
Cancer and Leukemia
One hundred years ago the rate of cancer was very low. I have no doubt that the phenomenal increase in the use of agricultural and industrial chemicals as well as pharmaceutical drugs has greatly accelerated the increase in the rate of cancer, and there is also a link to the consumption of sugar. Even stronger is the link to dysbiosis and Candida.
Chemotherapy commonly leads to systemic Candida infections, which greatly limit the success rate of the treatment. Long-term follow-up studies show that children develop 18 times more secondary malignant tumors later in life, girls face a 75 times higher risk of breast cancer by the time they are 40 (9), while the risk of developing leukemia after chemotherapy for ovarian cancer increased 21-fold. Also other tumors commonly develop after treating malignancies with chemotherapy (10). A main problem appears to be the development of deep or systemic Candida infections shortly after starting chemotherapy (11).
Only recently have oncologists started to acknowledge what patients called “chemo-brain”, a distressing loss of memory and other cognitive functions. Psychiatrists have now found that the conventional treatment of cancer causes serious depression in 15 to 25 percent of patients. “The depression itself can often be worse than the disease” they say (12). Brain fog and depression are common with systemic Candida.
All of this shows that chemotherapy tends to cause leukemia and cancer many years later mainly as a result of dysbiosis and systemic Candida. The reason for the widespread use of chemotherapy despite its lack of effectiveness, severe side effects, and long-term cancer promotion can be seen in the fact that private-practice oncologists (in the US) typically derive two-thirds of their income from selling chemotherapy to patients (13).
This chemotherapy connection makes it very likely that dysbiosis and systemic Candida can also cause cancer and leukemia when they are caused as a result of antibiotic treatment. The rate of cancer really accelerated only after the use of antibiotics became widespread.
There is also more direct evidence that Candida and other fungi are a cause of leukemia. Meinolf Karthaus, MD, reported several children with leukemia going into remission upon receiving antifungal remedies for their ‘secondary’ fungal infections (14). In his lifetime work Milton White, MD, was able to find fungal spores in every sample of cancer tissue he studied (15).
Fungal infections have been diagnosed and treated as leukemia, and leukemia has disappeared on grain-free diets, presumably because of the high content of mycotoxins in grains (16).
The Italian oncologist Dr. Tullio Simincini claims a success rate of up to 90% by treating cancer as a fungus. He infuses tumors with sodium bicarbonate solution and recommends taking bicarbonate in water to get rid of gastro-intestinal tumors (17).
Recently I received a personal communication that a large stomach tumor had unexpectantly shrunk after swallowing some mouthwash for a few weeks for a different problem. The main ingredient of this mouthwash was benzoic acid, a strong fungicide that inhibits the metabolism of fungal cells. Cancer cells have the same fungal-type metabolism which thrives on high levels of glucose and insulin, and they may therefore be regarded as a kind of fungal cells.
While the work of the German Dr Ryke Geerd Hamer (18) shows that emotional shock is a major trigger for the development of cancer, a weak immune system as caused by intestinal dysbiosis, systemic Candidiasis, toxic chemicals, and root canal treatments appears to be an essential co-factor. After all, a century ago people must have had a similar number of emotional shocks as at present, but cancer was very rare. Conversely, there are lots of people with dysbiosis and root canals that do not have cancer, but add emotional shock, and voilà!
Root-canal filled teeth are a variation of the theme of intestinal dysbiosis. They, too, appear to be a major contributing factor in many health problems, not only cancer but also heart disease, arthritis, kidney disease and auto-immune diseases. This is due to microbes that multiply in the multitude of tiny canals or tubules in the dentine and gradually leach out into the lymph system. Even normally harmless microbes become very dangerous and more virulent and toxic under the anaerobic conditions in dead teeth.
Dr Weston Price (19), a former Director of Research for the American Dental Association, observed that the removal of root-filled teeth from patients with kidney or heart disease would in most cases lead to an improvement. When he then inserted a removed root-filled tooth under the skin of a rabbit it would die within 2 days. When he implanted normal teeth there was no adverse health effect. In some experiments he implanted the same fragments of root-filled teeth in succession under the skins of up to 100 rabbits and they all died within 2 weeks of the same disease that the human donor had!
Dr Price conducted about 5,000 experiments over 25 years. He did not find a reliable method to disinfect dead teeth and make them safe. His research has been suppressed, and if at all mentioned by our dental associations then they are described as “dated” because this research was conducted and published over 70 years ago but it has never been repeated or otherwise investigated, or root canals shown to be safe.
The main argument for their supposed safety is that millions of people have them and are still alive many years later. The question of root canals causing widespread degenerative diseases is not discussed or researched. Price found that about 30% of individuals have such a strong immune system that they do not develop problems from root canals until they become old but the remaining 70% develop problems much sooner.
I regard root canals, even more so then intestinal dysbiosis, as a major cause of autoimmune diseases. In 1993 George E. Meinig, DDS, a formerUS root canal specialist, re-published the dental research of Dr Price in a popular version, and included his own experiences (20).
Iatrogenic Heart Attacks
One hundred years ago heart attacks were almost unknown despite diets generally being high in saturated fats. The ascent of heart attacks began with the pasteurization of milk and the use of chlorine to kill bacteria in public water supplies. This began around 1900 and was generally accepted in Western countries in the l920’s. From 1920 onwards the explosive increase in the incidence of cardiovascular disease and fatal heart attacks began, but only in countries that chlorinated their water supplies. These diseases remained unknown, for instance, in Africa, China, Japan, and other parts of ASIA. However, when Japanese citizens immigrated to Hawaii where water was chlorinated, they suffered the same rate of heart attacks as the Americans, and the black population in the US have the average US rate of heart attacks but not their brothers in Africa. Inhabitants of the non-chlorinated Roseto in Pennsylvania remained free of heart attacks unless they moved to a chlorinated area (21).
Some of the chlorine reacts with organic impurities in water to form organochlorins (DDT is an Organo-chlorine) while the rest remains as residual free chlorine in the water. It may then react either with food chemicals or with parts of our digestive tract. In 1967 a Dr J. Price in the US performed a decisive experiment. With one group of 50 three-month-old chickens (cockerels) he added one third of a teaspoon of chlorine bleach to about one litre of water whilst another group of 50 chickens served as controls. Seven months later over 95 per cent of the chlorinated group had advanced atherosclerosis, yet none of the control group showed any such evidence.
In the following years Dr Price repeated his experiment many times, always with the same results, and more recently even researchers funded by the US Environmental Protection Agency have confirmed atherosclerotic type changes in other animals, including monkeys, when exposed to chlorinated water (22).
Drugs and Chemicals
Basically all drugs are more or less toxic, the more so, the more ‘powerful’ they are. Natural remedies cannot be patented, therefore in order to maximize profits the pharmaceutical industry routinely makes and sells synthetic versions of effective natural remedies. Synthetic substances are usually more difficult to detoxify than natural remedies and tend to create more problems the longer they are taken. Often they become highly addictive and after some time may cause the symptoms that they originally alleviated. This, however, is rarely acknowledged by drug companies or medical practitioners, instead when a problem arises simply alternative or additional drugs are prescribed.
A main problem is that drugs are tested individually for relatively short periods, but are then prescribed as drug cocktails for very long periods. Drugs have not been tested under these conditions, and therefore all drug use, except as individual drugs for short periods, is unscientific and unsafe. As a result of this, there are countless dangerous and fatal drug interactions and side-effects as reported in numerous books, articles and statistics.
It is similar with the thousands of synthetic chemicals and heavy metals that are allowed by health authorities to contaminate our living space. These are even less tested than drugs but also react with each other and with drugs in a brew that is impossible to disentangle.
I want to mention just one instance of such a combination. The herbicide paraquat and the fungicide maneb are widely used in farming and may remain present as crop residues. Each on its own did not cause a problem but if rats and mice were exposed to both together, even at very low rates, they developed symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The leader of the research team said: “No one has looked at the effects of studying together some of these compounds that, taken by themselves, have little effect. This has enormous implications,” and “it’s a huge problem to start thinking about a nearly infinite array of mixtures of chemicals, instead of the risk that a single chemical might pose” (23).
We have similar problems with fluoride and chlorine as well as mercury, aluminium, nickel and other heavy and toxic metals being deliberately put into vaccines and used in dentistry. For a detailed documentation of the problems associated with heavy metals and endocrine disrupting chemicals see Bernard Windham (24).
Health authorities and medical associations have campaigned strongly to avoid sun exposure of the skin. Presumably this causes skin cancer, including melanoma that can kill. However, the vast majority is normal skin cancer that almost never kills, and there is widespread doubt that melanomas are really caused by normal sun exposure, although there seems to be a link with sunburn. Generally outdoor workers with the most sun exposure had the lowest rates of skin cancer and melanoma, while melanomas often show up in office workers. Melanoma often occurs on areas of the skin that had not been exposed to sunlight. Other studies show a strong link between long-term exposure to fluorescent lighting and melanoma (25). With the present campaign to replace all incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent ones, I expect a melanoma epidemic in ten to twenty years (26).
Now more and more research papers show that a vast number of diseases, and especially cancer, could be avoided by greatly increasing our levels of vitamin D with suitable foods, supplements, and frequent or daily short sun exposure of the skin. Sunlight is our main source of vitamin D. Research shows that there is a strong negative correlation between available sunlight and breast cancer death rates – living in a sunny area is associated with lower cancer rates. Even skin cancer is inhibited by regular low-level sun exposure; only sunburn is a strong skin cancer promoter. It has now been calculated that with these measures worldwide about 600,000 cases of colon and breast cancer could be prevented (27).
Furthermore, the researchers pointed out that by increasing levels of vitamin D3 by regular sun exposure and other measures we could prevent diseases that claim nearly 1 million lives throughout the world each year (28, 29).
The irony of all this is that the present skin cancer epidemic has, in my opinion, been manufactured by our health authorities and medical experts. There are three conditions that make us susceptible to develop skin cancers with high sun exposure. These are overacidity, a high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, and a lack of antioxidants. The most common cause of overacidity is Candida overgrowth, especially in combination with the officially recommended diet high in cereals. Our omega-6 to omega-3 ratio was always somewhat too high but it went off the chart when our health authorities recommended replacing saturated fats with seed oils high in omega-6 fatty acids. This increased inflammatory conditions of all kinds, including tumors and skin cancers. To make matters worse, health authorities also discourage and legally minimize the use of antioxidant nutrients.
With these measures health authorities created the conditions for an epidemic of skin cancers. Then they tried to prevent skin cancers by recommending complete avoidance of sun exposure, which in turn caused large-scale vitamin D deficiency with an estimated loss of 1 million lives each year. I sometimes ask myself if it is simply ignorance and incompetence or if there is something more sinister to it.
The Obesity epidemic
I could write a book about all the health problems caused by the medical-pharmaceutical complex and the neglectful way in which health authorities contribute to our diseases. In addition to directly causing diseases, these same forces also prevent the healing of these same diseases by restricting, suppressing and persecuting the practitioners of natural medicine as well as giving disease-causing nutritional advice.
Until 1980 the rate of obesity and Type 2 diabetes was fairly stable. However, when health authorities in the U.S.A. started vilifying foods containing fats and cholesterol, and recommended eating more carbohydrates instead, obesity increased from 15% of the adult U.S. population to 25% within one decade and continued to rise to 32.9% in 2003-2004 (30). Type 2 diabetes became an epidemic as well. In addition, for the first time in history a large number of obese children developed Type 2 diabetes. Since then it is no longer called maturity-onset diabetes. Also children start now developing Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes simultaneously (31, 32, 33). All of these are iatrogenic diseases, caused by the medical system.
Natural practitioners are experts in preventing and successfully treating chronic diseases with nutrition and other natural methods. This includes the metabolic syndrome which leads to diabetes, heart disease and overweight. It is routinely and quickly remedied with proper nutrition, but with accepted medical practice it becomes a life-long condition managed with more or less toxic drugs. Surgery is used for a wide range of conditions, and patients are severely traumatized or mutilated for life when these problems could be successfully treated with natural therapies.
Vaccinations are the proud showpiece of drug medicine in eliminating the dreaded childhood infections of previous centuries. However, long-term statistics and diagrams tell a different story. Starting between 1850 and 1900 scarlet fever, diphtheria, whooping cough, and measles had declined by about 90% by the time general vaccination was introduced for each disease. While statistics vary between different countries, this is generally true for England, the United States and Australia. Whooping cough had declined in England by about 98.5% before a vaccine became generally available, and measles had declined by over 99%. Tuberculosis had declined by 87% when antibiotics first became available and by 93% before the introduction of the BCG vaccine. The death rate from rheumatic fever had declined by 86% when penicillin was introduced (34). All of this has obviously more to do with better plumbing than with vaccinations.
There are also statistics showing that death rates from targeted diseases rose with the introduction of vaccines. Other side-effects ascribed to modern vaccines are cot or crib death (SIDS), a strong rise in autism and ADHD, and shaken baby syndrome (spot bleeding in the brain) which apparently landed innocent parents in jail. Experts strongly deny that there is a connection between vaccines and autism, but it is strange nevertheless that the rates of autism have suddenly exploded after greatly increased numbers of vaccinations in recent decades, and there is no obvious alternative reason. Also autism is absent in Amish children who are generally not vaccinated. Vaccinated children are reported to have about 150% more neurological disorders such as ADHD and autism compared to unvaccinated children (35).
Another curios aspect of vaccine safety statistics was highlighted by Dr Archie Kalokerinos. Working in the remote Australian outback with Aboriginals he found that every second child died as a result of vaccinations. Because deaths commonly occurred about 3 weeks later, they were not recorded as vaccine-related; officially reactions were limited to occur only for up to 2 weeks after vaccination. However, eventually Dr Kalokerinossolved the problem by giving babies high doses of vitamin C before vaccinations, and no more vaccination deaths occurred. Also SIDS disappeared. Naturally he encountered ridicule and hostility from his medical colleges, and babies are still dying needlessly (36).
Deliberate Bias Against Natural Therapies
It has become a habit that any successful natural cancer remedy or treatment is quickly outlawed by our health authorities. Many natural health practitioners have been dragged before the courts and often imprisoned, especially in the area of cancer treatment (37). This is especially regrettable because there is no evidence that the methods of orthodox cancer therapy are in any way successful (38).
One of the methods increasingly used to denigrate natural therapies is for the pharmaceutical industry to finance shoddy research on natural remedies and then proclaim them to be ineffective or harmful. This is only partly intended to influence the general public but mainly to provide the justification for health authorities to outlaw and greatly restrict natural remedies (39).
Another strategy is not to list favorable vitamin studies in the MEDLINE database. This is taxpayer-funded and operated by the US National Library of Medicine. It lists all articles by medical research journals, including Time magazine and Readers’ Digest, but not the peer-reviewed Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine (http://www.orthomed.org/jom/jomlist.htm) which specializes in vitamin research. Now the British Medical Journal has published a letter about Medline bias (40) and this has forced Medline to index articles on Medline bias.
Because all these favorable vitamin studies are not indexed by Medline, proponents of drug medicine can claim that there are no studies that show that vitamins are useful in the treatment of diseases or that they are safe in high doses, and therefore should be restricted to very low doses. Of course, world-wide yearly fatalities due to vitamins are zero; in comparison drug fatalities are infinitely higher.
30 years ago Linus Pauling showed that high doses of vitamin C are beneficial in cancer treatment. This has been ‘disproved’ by the orthodoxy ever since. But now a study by conventional Johns Hopkins scientists has shown that he was right (41). In addition, the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine has just published a double-blind, randomized clinical trial showing that HIV-positive patients given supplemental nutrients can stop their decline into AIDS (42). This would pose a big threat to the medical-pharmaceutical complex and is one more reason not to index this journal on Medline.
There exists a systemic culture of suppression of dissenting views in science and medicine, and frequently a vicious persecution with “Gestapo-like” methods (43, 44). Recently in the US even a mother has been jailed and brutalized for “illegally” using natural methods to cure her son of malignant melanoma (45).
Of course, this assault of the medical-pharmaceutical complex on natural healing methods is not illegal. On the contrary, in a capitalist system it is their duty to maximize profits by eliminating the competition and generating a steady supply of patients with chronic diseases who can be managed indefinitely with drugs. The question is just why do government health authorities make and enforce laws on behalf of drug medicine and against natural medicine?
Theoretically they should be impartial and ensure the best outcome for the population. I believe the answer can be found in some good lateral thinking by the pharmaceutical industry. By paying for and influencing much of the medical education (46, 47, 48), they automatically produce health officials and government advisers who are steeped in pharmaceutical thinking and biased against natural medicine. No bribery is needed, but health officials always know that there is a well-paid job waiting if and when they want to retire from government service, simple!
Natural Medicine to the Rescue
Health authorities so far have ignored the claims and evidence of natural medicine that it is the superior form of treatment for chronic and medically incurable diseases. The very fact of a high rate of chronic disease in our society attests to the inability of the medical profession to successfully treat these diseases. I have no doubt that natural medicine could eliminate most chronic diseases within a decade, needing only a few percent of the money that is spent on conventional medicine. The knowledge is already available; no expensive high-tech research is needed that may or may not give results sometime in the future.
There is a simple low-cost solution for bringing about the healing of our society:
1. Phase out public assistance for pharmaceutical companies and their research, and require research to show that a drug is safe with long-term use in combination with other common drugs and chemicals and with old or fragile patients, or alternatively that it is superior in the long-term to available natural treatments
2. Make it illegal for pharmaceutical companies to fund medical education or provide drug information, marketing or incentives directly to the public or to medical practitioners, or to employ former health officials. Information to medical practitioners should be provided by an independent and impartial body
3. Except for unethical conduct according to general society standards, make it illegal for medical associations to restrict the therapies used by their members
4. Afford qualified practitioners of natural medicine the same recognition and opportunities as those of drug medicine, including in hospitals, rehabilitation, research and publications, health departments and regulating authorities
So far our medical and economic leaders do not want to face reality. They brainwash the public into believing that the present health situation is completely normal. Importantly, the whole economic structure of Western civilization is based on the production and distribution of goods and services that are contributing to poor health. These include chemicalized agriculture and food processing, the pharmaceutical industry, technological medicine and the petrochemical and plastics industries.
The guiding motto for industry is ‘profit’, while for the consumer it is ‘convenience’. The price for all to pay is the loss of health. This situation is the natural outcome of a society based on selfish motivation. A change for the better can only come when more and more people realize that ultimately they harm themselves with selfish attitudes, and start electing leaders who are prepared to act in a compassionate and cooperative way in the interest of the whole society. We get what we choose: natural health or enduring drug management.
(1) Null, G, Dean, C. et al.: Death by Medicine. Nutrition Institute of America, Nov 2003, www.NutritionInstituteOfAmerica.org
(2) Mendelsohn, R.S. Confessions of a Medical Heretic. McGraw-Hill 1990, first published Contemporary Books, Chicago, 1979
(3) Truss, C.O.: The Missing Diagnosis. Truss, Birmingham, AL, 1983
(4) Crook, W.G.: The Yeast Connection. Vintage Books, N.Y. 1986
(5) Cantwell, A.” The Cancer Microbe. Aries Rising Press, Los Angeles, 1990. http://ariesrisingpress.com/ is Alan Cantwell’s website
(6) Motluk, Alison, “Baby study links antibiotics to asthma” New Scientist 30 September 2003
(7) G. Huffnagle and M.C. Noverr in the January 2005 issue of Infection & Immunity
(8) Crane J, Pearce N. et al: Prescribed fenoterol and death from asthma in New Zealand, 1981-83: case-control study. Lancet 1989, Apr 29; 1 (8644):917-22
(9) Bhatia, S., Robison, L.L. et al.: Breast cancer and other second neoplasms after childhood Hodgkin’s disease. N Engl J Med. 1996 Mar 21;334(12):745-51.
(10) Klein-Szanto, A.J.P.: Carcinogenic effects of chemotherapeutic compounds. Progress in Clinical and Biological Research, 374, 167-74, 1992.
(11) Klingspor, L., Stintzing, G., Tollemar, J. Deep Candida infection in children with leukaemia. Acta Paediatr 86 (1) 30-6, 1997
(12) Moss, R.W.: THE MOSS REPORTS Newsletter #128 April 11/04
(13) Reynolds T.: Salary a major factor for academic oncologists, study shows. J Natl Cancer Inst 2001;93(7):491. Retrieved March 12, 2004 from:http://jncicancerspectrum.oupjournals.org/cgi/content/full/jnci;93/7/491 and Abelson, Reed. Drug sales bring huge profits, and scrutiny to cancer doctors. New York Times. January 26, 2003, page A1. Cancer scare tactics: New York Times editorial March 22, 2004
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/22/opinion/22MON2.html. Also in THE MOSS REPORTS Newsletter #126 03/28/04
(14) Karthaus, M. Treatment of fungal infections led to leukemia remissions. Sept. 28, 1999
(15) White, M.W. Medical Hypotheses. 1996;47,35-38
(16) Etzel, R.A. Mycotoxins. Jan 23, 2002. 387(4). Journal of the American Medical Association
(17) Simoncini, T.: Is the Cause of Cancer a Common Fungus? Nexus Magazine Vo. 14/5, 2007, also www.cancerfungus.com
(19) Price, Weston A., Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Price–Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, first published 1939, http://www.ppnf.org/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=226
(20) Meinig, G.E: Root Canal Cover-Up. Bion Publ. 1993 www.ppnf.org/catalog/ppnf/Articles/Rootcanal.htm
(21) Price, Joseph M: Coronaries/Cholesterol/Chlorine. Jove Books, New York, 1981
(23) Comments by Prof. Deborah Cory-Slechta, Ph.D. reported at http://www.mindfully.org/Pesticide/Paraquat-Maneb-Parkinsons.htm
(25) Walter S.D., Marrett L.D., Shannon H.S.,From L. and Hertzman C.: The Association of Cutaneous Malignant Melanoma and Fluorescent Light Exposure. Am J Epidemiol 1992; 135:749–62; http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/135/7/749
(27) Press Release: Study shines more light on benefit of vitamin D in fighting cancer: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2007-08/uoc–ssm082107.php
(28) Dr Mercola: Lack of Sunshine Causes One Million Deaths a Year. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2007/08/24/lack-of-sunshine-causes-600-000-cancers-a-year.aspx
(29) Garland C.F., Grant W.B. et al: What is the Dose-Response Relationship between Vitamin D and Cancer Risk? Nutrition Reviews, Volume 65, Supplement 1, August 2007 , pp. 91-95(5)
(30) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Overweight and Obesity”, http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/obesity/index.htm
(31) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Number (in Millions) of Persons with Diagnosed Diabetes, United States, 1980–2005″, http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/statistics/prev/national/figpersons.htm
(32) Yale Medical Group, “Type 2 Diabetes Tough on Teens”, August 2007, http://www.yalemedicalgroup.org/news/diabetes_807.html
(33) Thompson, Dennis, “‘Double Diabetes’ a New Threat”, 3 December 2006, http://www.livescience.com/healthday/534999.html
(35) Generation Rescue Press Release 25 September 2007, http://www.generationrescue.org/survey_pr.html
(36) Archie Kalokerinos: Every Second Child. Thomas Nelson (Australia) Melbourne1974 and Keats Publishing New Canaan CT 1981
(37) Walter Last: Persecution of Natural Cancer Therapists. www.health-science-spirit.com/cancerpersecution.html
(38) Walter Last: How Scientific are Orthodox Cancer Treatments? NEXUS 2004; 11(4); also at www.health-science-spirit.com/cancerscience.html
(39) For details see Alliance for Natural Health http://www.alliance-natural-health.org/
(41) Science Blog 2007-09-10: How vitamin C stops the big ‘C’ http://scienceblog.com/14162/how-vitamin-c-stops-the-big-c/
(42) Namulemia, Edith; Sparling, James; Foster, Harold D. Nutritional supplements can delay the progression of AIDS in HIV-infected patients: results from a double-blinded, clinical trial at Mengo Hospital, Kampala, Uganda. Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine 2007; 22(3), 129-136.
(43) James DeMeo: The Suppression of Dissent and Innovative Ideas In Science and Medicine; http://www.orgonelab.org/suppression.htm
(44) Brian Martin, “Suppression of Dissent in Science“, Research in Social Problems and Public Policy, Volume 7, edited by William R. Freudenburg and Ted I. K. Youn (Stamford, CT: JAI Press, 1999), pp. 105-135. Available on-line: http://www.uow.edu.au/arts/sts/bmartin/pubs/99rsppp.html
(46) New Scientist 19 October 2007: Scale of pharma payments to med schools revealed http://www.newscientist.com/channel/opinion/mg19626263.500
(47) Professor Christopher Nordin: The pharmaceutical industry and doctors’ prescribing habits. http://www.abc.net.au/rn/ockhamsrazor/stories/2007/2056879.htm
(48) Campbell, E.G. et al: Institutional Academic – Industry Relationships. JAMA 2007, 298:1779-1786. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/86180.php?nfid=44282Heath Science Spirit
“V For Vendetta,” a film that portrays evil in a futuristic England as a proxy for the evil that exists today in America, ends with the defeat of evil. But this is a movie in which the hero has super powers. If you have not seen this film, you should watch it. It might wake you up and give you courage. The excerpts below show that, at least among some filmmakers, the desire for liberty still exists.
Whether the desire for liberty exists in America remains to be seen. If Americans can overcome their gullibility, their lifelong brainwashing, their propensity to believe every lie that “their” government tells them, and if Americans can escape the Matrix in which they live, they can reestablish the morality, justice, peace, freedom, and liberty that “their” government has taken from them. It is not impossible for Americans to again stand with uplifted heads. They only have to recognize that “their” government is the enemy of truth, justice, human rights and life itself.
Can mere ordinary Americans triumph over the evil that is “their” government without the aid of a superhero? If ideas are strong enough and Americans can comprehend them, good can prevail over the evil that is concentrated in Washington. What stands between the American people and their comprehension of evil is their gullibility.
If good fails in its battle with Washington’s evil, our future is a boot stamping on the human face forever.
If you, an American, living in superpower America lack the courage to stand up to the evil that is “your” government, perhaps the courage of Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, and tiny Ecuador will give you heart.
A US senator from New Jersey, Robert Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told the Ecuadoran government that he would block the import of vegetables and flowers from Ecuador if Ecuador gives asylum to Edward Snowden. The cost to Ecuador would be one billion dollars in lost revenues.
Menendez’s statement–”Our government will not reward countries for bad behavior”–is ironic. It equates bad behavior with protecting a truth-teller and good behavior with betraying a truth-teller. Menendez’s statement is also a lie. The US government only rewards bad behavior. The US government consistently rewards those who conspire against the elected governments of their own countries, setting them up as dictators when Washington overthrows the elected governments.
Menendez’s threat did not work, but the senator did succeed in delivering yet another humiliating blow to Washington’s prestige. The Ecuadoran President, Rafael Correa, beat Menendez to the punch and cancelled the trade pact with the US on the grounds that the pact was a threat to the sovereignty of Ecuador and to moral principles and was being used by Washington to blackmail Ecuador. “Ecuador doesn’t accept pressure or threats from anyone,” added Communications Secretary Fernando Alvarado who then offered Washington foreign aid to provide human rights training to combat torture, illegal executions and attacks on peoples’ privacy.
Washington, exposed with its hand in the cookie jar devouring the privacy of the entire world and prevented by its hubris from acknowledging its illegal behavior and apologizing, has so mishandled the Snowden affair that Washington has done far more damage to itself than occurred from Snowden’s revelations. Washington has proven conclusively that it has no respect for anyone’s human rights, that it has no respect for any country’s sovereignty, that it has no respect for any moral principles, especially those it most often mouths, and that it relies on coercion and violence alone. The rest of the world now knows who its enemy is.
Washington’s presstitutes, by helping Washington demonize Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, Manning, Assange, and Ecuador, have demonstrated to the world that the US media is devoid of integrity and that nothing it reports can be believed. The US print and TV media and NPR comprise a ministry of propaganda for Washington’s immoral agendas.
On June 24, the Stasi State’s favorite whore, the Washington Post, denounced three times democratically-elected Rafael Correa as “the autocratic leader of tiny, impoverished Ecuador,” without realizing that the editorial not only demonstrated the Washington Post’s lack of any ethics whatsoever but also showed the entire world that if “tiny, impoverished Ecuador” can stand up to Washington’s threats, so can the rest of the world.
President Correa replied that the Washington Post “managed to focus attention on Snowden and on the ‘wicked’ countries that support him, making us forget the terrible things against the US people and the whole world that he denounced.” Correa added that Washington’s “world order isn’t only unjust, it’s immoral.”
The reason Washington hates Correa has nothing to do with Snowden. That Ecuador is considering asylum for Snowden is just an excuse. Correa is hated, because in the second year of his first term he repudiated the $3 billion dollar foreign debt that corrupt and despotic prior regimes had been paid to contract with international finance. Correa’s default threat forced the international financial gangsters to write down the debt by 60 percent.
Washington also hates Correa because he has been successful in reducing the high rates of poverty in Ecuador, thus building public support that makes if difficult for Washington to overthrow him from within.
Yet another reason Washington hates Correa is because he took steps against the multinational oil companies’ exploitation of Ecuador’s oil resources and limited the amount of offshore deposits in the country’s banks in order to block Washington’s ability to destabilize Ecuador’s financial system.
Washington also hates Correa for refusing to renew Washington’s lease of the air base in Manta.
Essentially, Correa has fought to take control of Ecuador’s government, media and national resources out of Washington’s hands and the hands of the small rich elite allied with Washington. It is a David vs. Goliath story.
In other words, Correa, like Venezuela’s Chevez, is the rare foreign leader who represents the interests of his own country instead of Washington’s interest.
Washington uses the various corrupt NGOs and the puppet government in Colombia as weapons against Correa and the Ecuadoran government. Many believe that it is only a matter of time before Washington succeeds in assassinating Correa.
American patriots, who feel that they should be on “their” government’s side regardless of the facts, would do well to remember what true patriotism is. For Americans, patriotism has always meant allegiance to the Constitution, not to the government. The oath is to defend the Constitution against enemies domestic and foreign. The Bush and Obama regimes have proven themselves to be the Constitution’s worst enemies. It is not possible for a true patriot to support a government that destroys the Constitution. The United States is the Constitution. Our country is not the Obama regime, the Bush regime, or some other administration. Our country is the Constitution. The Constitution is our country.
Beyond obligations to one’s own country, all humans have a responsibility to human life itself. Washington’s puppet states, such as the NATO countries, Japan, and Colombia, by providing cover and support for Washington’s aggression are enabling Washington to drive the world into World War III.
The temptation of Washington’s money easily overwhelms weak characters such as Tony Blair and David Cameron. But the governments of NATO countries and other accommodating states are not only selling out their own peoples by supporting Washington’s wars of aggression, they are selling out humanity. Washington’s hubris and arrogance grow as Washington bumps off country after country. Sooner or later Russia and China, will realize that they themselves are targets and will draw firmer lines. Arrogance will prevent Washington from acknowledging the lines, and the final war will be launched.
Washington’s hegemonic impulse is driving the world to destruction. The peoples of the world should realize this and force their governments to stop enabling Washington’s aggression.
Source: Paul Craig Roberts
In the course of his professional life in the world of national security Edward Snowden must have gone through numerous probing interviews, lie detector examinations, and exceedingly detailed background checks, as well as filling out endless forms carefully designed to catch any kind of falsehood or inconsistency. The Washington Post (June 10) reported that “several officials said the CIA will now undoubtedly begin reviewing the process by which Snowden may have been hired, seeking to determine whether there were any missed signs that he might one day betray national secrets.”
Yes, there was a sign they missed – Edward Snowden had something inside him shaped like a conscience, just waiting for a cause.
It was the same with me. I went to work at the State Department, planning to become a Foreign Service Officer, with the best – the most patriotic – of intentions, going to do my best to slay the beast of the International Communist Conspiracy. But then the horror, on a daily basis, of what the United States was doing to the people of Vietnam was brought home to me in every form of media; it was making me sick at heart. My conscience had found its cause, and nothing that I could have been asked in a pre-employment interview would have alerted my interrogators of the possible danger I posed because I didn’t know of the danger myself. No questioning of my friends and relatives could have turned up the slightest hint of the radical anti-war activist I was to become. My friends and relatives were to be as surprised as I was to be. There was simply no way for the State Department security office to know that I should not be hired and given a Secret Clearance. 1
So what is a poor National Security State to do? Well, they might consider behaving themselves. Stop doing all the terrible things that grieve people like me and Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning and so many others. Stop the bombings, the invasions, the endless wars, the torture, the sanctions, the overthrows, the support of dictatorships, the unmitigated support of Israel; stop all the things that make the United States so hated, that create all the anti-American terrorists, that compel the National Security State – in pure self defense – to spy on the entire world.
Eavesdropping on the planet
The above is the title of an essay that I wrote in 2000 that appeared as a chapter in my book Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower. Here are some excerpts that may help to put the current revelations surrounding Edward Snowden into perspective …
Can people in the 21st century imagine a greater invasion of privacy on all of earth, in all of history? If so, they merely have to wait for technology to catch up with their imagination.
Like a mammoth vacuum cleaner in the sky, the National Security Agency (NSA) sucks it all up: home phone, office phone, cellular phone, email, fax, telex … satellite transmissions, fiber-optic communications traffic, microwave links … voice, text, images … captured by satellites continuously orbiting the earth, then processed by high-powered computers … if it runs on electromagnetic energy, NSA is there, with high high tech. Twenty-four hours a day. Perhaps billions of messages sucked up each day. No one escapes. Not presidents, prime ministers, the UN Secretary-General, the pope, the Queen of England, embassies, transnational corporation CEOs, friend, foe, your Aunt Lena … if God has a phone, it’s being monitored … maybe your dog isn’t being tapped. The oceans will not protect you. American submarines have been attaching tapping pods to deep underwater cables for decades.
Under a system codenamed ECHELON, launched in the 1970s, the NSA and its junior partners in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada operate a network of massive, highly automated interception stations, covering the globe amongst them. Any of the partners can ask any of the others to intercept its own domestic communications. It can then truthfully say it does not spy on its own citizens.
Apart from specifically-targeted individuals and institutions, the ECHELON system works by indiscriminately intercepting huge quantities of communications and using computers to identify and extract messages of interest from the mass of unwanted ones. Every intercepted message – all the embassy cables, the business deals, the sex talk, the birthday greetings – is searched for keywords, which could be anything the searchers think might be of interest. All it takes to flag a communication is for one of the parties to use a couple or so of the key words in the ECHELON “dictionary” – “He lives in a lovely old white house on Bush Street, right near me. I can shoot over there in two minutes.” Within limitations, computers can “listen” to telephone calls and recognize when keywords are spoken. Those calls are extracted and recorded separately, to be listened to in full by humans. The list of specific targets at any given time is undoubtedly wide ranging, at one point including the likes of Amnesty International and Christian Aid.
ECHELON is carried out without official acknowledgment of its existence, let alone any democratic oversight or public or legislative debate as to whether it serves a decent purpose. The extensiveness of the ECHELON global network is a product of decades of intense Cold War activity. Yet with the end of the Cold War, its budget – far from being greatly reduced – was increased, and the network has grown in both power and reach; yet another piece of evidence that the Cold War was not a battle against something called “the international communist conspiracy”.
The European Parliament in the late 1990s began to wake up to this intrusion into the continent’s affairs. The parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee commissioned a report, which appeared in 1998 and recommended a variety of measures for dealing with the increasing power of the technologies of surveillance. It bluntly advised: “The European Parliament should reject proposals from the United States for making private messages via the global communications network [Internet] accessible to US intelligence agencies.” The report denounced Britain’s role as a double-agent, spying on its own European partners.
Despite these concerns the US has continued to expand ECHELON surveillance in Europe, partly because of heightened interest in commercial espionage – to uncover industrial information that would provide American corporations with an advantage over foreign rivals.
German security experts discovered several years ago that ECHELON was engaged in heavy commercial spying in Europe. Victims included such German firms as the wind generator manufacturer Enercon. In 1998, Enercon developed what it thought was a secret invention, enabling it to generate electricity from wind power at a far cheaper rate than before. However, when the company tried to market its invention in the United States, it was confronted by its American rival, Kenetech, which announced that it had already patented a near-identical development. Kenetech then brought a court order against Enercon to ban the sale of its equipment in the US. In a rare public disclosure, an NSA employee, who refused to be named, agreed to appear in silhouette on German television to reveal how he had stolen Enercon’s secrets by tapping the telephone and computer link lines that ran between Enercon’s research laboratory and its production unit some 12 miles away. Detailed plans of the company’s invention were then passed on to Kenetech.
In 1994, Thomson S.A., located in Paris, and Airbus Industrie, based in Blagnac Cedex, France, also lost lucrative contracts, snatched away by American rivals aided by information covertly collected by NSA and CIA. The same agencies also eavesdropped on Japanese representatives during negotiations with the United States in 1995 over auto parts trade.
German industry has complained that it is in a particularly vulnerable position because the government forbids its security services from conducting similar industrial espionage. “German politicians still support the rather naive idea that political allies should not spy on each other’s businesses. The Americans and the British do not have such illusions,” said journalist Udo Ulfkotte, a specialist in European industrial espionage, in 1999.
That same year, Germany demanded that the United States recall three CIA operatives for their activities in Germany involving economic espionage. The news report stated that the Germans “have long been suspicious of the eavesdropping capabilities of the enormous U.S. radar and communications complex at Bad Aibling, near Munich”, which is in fact an NSA intercept station. “The Americans tell us it is used solely to monitor communications by potential enemies, but how can we be entirely sure that they are not picking up pieces of information that we think should remain completely secret?” asked a senior German official. Japanese officials most likely have been told a similar story by Washington about the more than a dozen signals intelligence bases which Japan has allowed to be located on its territory.
In their quest to gain access to more and more private information, the NSA, the FBI, and other components of the US national security establishment have been engaged for years in a campaign to require American telecommunications manufacturers and carriers to design their equipment and networks to optimize the authorities’ wiretapping ability. Some industry insiders say they believe that some US machines approved for export contain NSA “back doors” (also called “trap doors”).
The United States has been trying to persuade European Union countries as well to allow it “back-door” access to encryption programs, claiming that this was to serve the needs of law-enforcement agencies. However, a report released by the European Parliament in May 1999 asserted that Washington’s plans for controlling encryption software in Europe had nothing to do with law enforcement and everything to do with US industrial espionage. The NSA has also dispatched FBI agents on break-in missions to snatch code books from foreign facilities in the United States, and CIA officers to recruit foreign communications clerks abroad and buy their code secrets, according to veteran intelligence officials.
For decades, beginning in the 1950s, the Swiss company Crypto AG sold the world’s most sophisticated and secure encryption technology. The firm staked its reputation and the security concerns of its clients on its neutrality in the Cold War or any other war. The purchasing nations, some 120 of them – including prime US intelligence targets such as Iran, Iraq, Libya and Yugoslavia – confident that their communications were protected, sent messages from their capitals to their embassies, military missions, trade offices, and espionage dens around the world, via telex, radio, and fax. And all the while, because of a secret agreement between the company and NSA, these governments might as well have been hand delivering the messages to Washington, uncoded. For their Crypto AG machines had been rigged before being sold to them, so that when they used them the random encryption key could be automatically and clandestinely transmitted along with the enciphered message. NSA analysts could read the messages as easily as they could the morning newspaper.
In 1986, because of US public statements concerning the La Belle disco bombing in West Berlin, the Libyans began to suspect that something was rotten with Crypto AG’s machines and switched to another Swiss firm, Gretag Data Systems AG. But it appears that NSA had that base covered as well. In 1992, after a series of suspicious circumstances over the previous few years, Iran came to a conclusion similar to Libya’s, and arrested a Crypto AG employee who was in Iran on a business trip. He was eventually ransomed, but the incident became well known and the scam began to unravel in earnest.
In September 1999 it was revealed that NSA had arranged with Microsoft to insert special “keys” into Windows software, in all versions from 95-OSR2 onwards. An American computer scientist, Andrew Fernandez of Cryptonym in North Carolina, had disassembled parts of the Windows instruction code and found the smoking gun – Microsoft’s developers had failed to remove the debugging symbols used to test this software before they released it. Inside the code were the labels for two keys. One was called “KEY”. The other was called “NSAKEY”. Fernandez presented his finding at a conference at which some Windows developers were also in attendance. The developers did not deny that the NSA key was built into their software, but they refused to talk about what the key did, or why it had been put there without users’ knowledge. Fernandez says that NSA’s “back door” in the world’s most commonly used operating system makes it “orders of magnitude easier for the US government to access your computer.”
In February 2000, it was disclosed that the Strategic Affairs Delegation (DAS), the intelligence arm of the French Defense Ministry, had prepared a report in 1999 which also asserted that NSA had helped to install secret programs in Microsoft software. According to the DAS report, “it would seem that the creation of Microsoft was largely supported, not least financially, by the NSA, and that IBM was made to accept the [Microsoft] MS-DOS operating system by the same administration.” The report stated that there had been a “strong suspicion of a lack of security fed by insistent rumors about the existence of spy programs on Microsoft, and by the presence of NSA personnel in Bill Gates’ development teams.” The Pentagon, said the report, was Microsoft’s biggest client in the world.
Recent years have seen disclosures that in the countdown to their invasion of Iraq in 2003, the United States had listened in on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, UN weapons inspectors in Iraq, and all the members of the UN Security Council during a period when they were deliberating about what action to take in Iraq.
It’s as if the American national security establishment feels that it has an inalienable right to listen in; as if there had been a constitutional amendment, applicable to the entire world, stating that “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of the government to intercept the personal communications of anyone.” And the Fourth Amendment had been changed to read: “Persons shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, except in cases of national security, real or alleged.” 2
The leading whistleblower of all time: Philip Agee
Before there was Edward Snowden, William Binney and Thomas Drake … before there was Bradley Manning, Sibel Edmonds and Jesselyn Radack … there was Philip Agee. What Agee revealed is still the most startling and important information about US foreign policy that any American government whistleblower has ever revealed.
Philip Agee spent 12 years (1957-69) as a CIA case officer, most of it in Latin America. His first book, Inside the Company: CIA Diary, published in 1974 – a pioneering work on the Agency’s methods and their devastating consequences – appeared in about 30 languages around the world and was a best seller in many countries; it included a 23-page appendix with the names of hundreds of undercover Agency operatives and organizations.
Under CIA manipulation, direction and, usually, their payroll, were past and present presidents of Mexico, Colombia, Uruguay, and Costa Rica, “our minister of labor”, “our vice-president”, “my police”, journalists, labor leaders, student leaders, diplomats, and many others. If the Agency wished to disseminate anti-communist propaganda, cause dissension in leftist ranks, or have Communist embassy personnel expelled, it need only prepare some phoney documents, present them to the appropriate government ministers and journalists, and – presto! – instant scandal.
Agee’s goal in naming all these individuals, quite simply, was to make it as difficult as he could for the CIA to continue doing its dirty work.
A common Agency tactic was writing editorials and phoney news stories to be knowingly published by Latin American media with no indication of the CIA authorship or CIA payment to the media. The propaganda value of such a “news” item might be multiplied by being picked up by other CIA stations in Latin America who would disseminate it through a CIA-owned news agency or a CIA-owned radio station. Some of these stories made their way back to the United States to be read or heard by unknowing North Americans.
Wooing the working class came in for special treatment. Labor organizations by the dozen, sometimes hardly more than names on stationery, were created, altered, combined, liquidated, and new ones created again, in an almost frenzied attempt to find the right combination to compete with existing left-oriented unions and take national leadership away from them.
In 1975 these revelations were new and shocking; for many readers it was the first hint that American foreign policy was not quite what their high-school textbooks had told them nor what theNew York Times had reported.
“As complete an account of spy work as is likely to be published anywhere, an authentic account of how an ordinary American or British ‘case officer’ operates … All of it … presented with deadly accuracy,” wrote Miles Copeland, a former CIA station chief, and ardent foe of Agee. (There’s no former CIA officer more hated by members of the intelligence establishment than Agee; no one’s even close; due in part to his traveling to Cuba and having long-term contact with Cuban intelligence.)
In contrast to Agee, WikiLeaks withheld the names of hundreds of informants from the nearly 400,000 Iraq war documents it released.
In 1969, Agee resigned from the CIA (and colleagues who “long ago ceased to believe in what they are doing”).
While on the run from the CIA as he was writing Inside the Company – at times literally running for his life – Agee was expelled from, or refused admittance to, Italy, Britain, France, West Germany, the Netherlands, and Norway. (West Germany eventually gave him asylum because his wife was a leading ballerina in the country.) Agee’s account of his period on the run can be found detailed in his book On the Run (1987). It’s an exciting read.
- To read about my State Department and other adventures, see my book West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold war Memoir (2002) ↩
- See Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, chapter 21, for the notes for the above. ↩
If there was any lingering doubt about the supremacy of the internationalist banker over the canons of law, the latest HSBC exemption from criminal charges proves that the real masters of the planet are the criminal banksters. If this settlement was an abnormality and not the rule, one might argue the expediency for pragmatism, while deployable, is necessary. Unfortunately, for the financial elites, the facts tell a very different story.
The Associated Press reports in Government outlines HSBC ties to drug money laundering.
“In court papers filed in federal court in Brooklyn, the federal government said the case against HSBC is related to the laundering of proceeds from narcotics trafficking via the Black Market Peso Exchange, a method by which money launderers convert cash narcotics dollars into Colombian pesos by buying and re-selling wholesale consumer goods.
“The lack of an effective anti-money laundering program at HSBC Mexico and HSBC Bank USA, N.A. contributed to the conduct charged” in the money-laundering case against narcotics traffickers, Justice Department prosecutors said in court papers.”
Published in the Globe and Mail account, HSBC failed to control drug-money laundering, Senate finds, indicates the political nature of this investigation.
“A year-long investigation by a Senate committee uncovered that HSBC acted as a conduit for drug money, disguised the sources of funds to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran, and included among its clients businesses with alleged ties to terrorism. HSBC’s internal culture has been “pervasively polluted for a long time,” said Carl Levin, a senator from Michigan, who helped lead the investigation.”
Instead of prosecuting criminal charges, the U.S. Department of Justice slaps a fine and demands stricter but inadequate regulations. Some of the details are provided inBanks on alert as regulators step up pressure on HSBC. The facade of accountability is insulting. Ian Fraser presents a correct assessment. HSBC’s $1.9 Billion Settlement Sets (Another) Dangerous Precedent.
“Sending executives to prison has far more deterrent value that bringing a company down, since many will argue that employees who had nothing to do with the criminal activity would also be harmed.”
The muckraker Matt Taibbi gives a sober overview in a video that deserves watching,After Laundering $800 Million in Drug Money. His observations parallel that of Mr. Fraser.
“You can do real time in jail in America for all kinds of ridiculous offenses,”Taibbi says. “Here we have a bank that laundered $800 million of drug money, and they can’t find a way to put anybody in jail for that. That sends an incredible message, not just to the financial sector but to everybody. It’s an obvious, clear double standard, where one set of people gets to break the rules as much as they want and another set of people can’t break any rules at all without going to jail.”
The risk of going to jail for managing the enormous sums from the illicit drug trade is small, when governments are beholding for their contrived power to the banking cabals, which control the apparatus of fiat money.
In the seminal study by John Hoefle coming out of the Executive Intelligence Research,HSBC: Flagship Bank Of Britain’s Dope, Inc., the historic composition of dishonest business dealings that transcend even shady banking is documented.
“It should come as no surprise that British banking giant HSBC was caught laundering money for drug cartels and terrorist groups. HSBC, as we shall show, is the kingpin bank of the global drug trade, a bank which, since its founding in 1865, has been devoted to financing drug crops and laundering the proceeds. HSBC is, in fact, one of the key controlling institutions of the global illicit drug cartel we call Dope, Inc.
If you think that is an outlandish claim, consider the fact that EIR, through its book Dope, Inc., and in its affilicated War on Drugs magazine, published in the early 1980s by the National Anti-Drug Coalition, have made this charge for over 30 years, and have never been sued or challenged by the bank.”
Once a drug launderer it is an easy step to institutionalized money laundering.
Now watch the interview with Jeffrey Robinson on HSBC fine for money-laundering. Mr. Robinson’s appraisal rings similar with that of Fraser and Taibbi. This picture becomes clearer as more information becomes available. Even the establishment journal The Economist must conclude that Too big to jail is the reality in the world of international banking.
“The agreements put an end to uncertainty over the banks’ ability to operate within America, a key link in their global networks; their share prices both rose on the day the fines were announced. And the penalties are, in effect, levied on shareholders; not one corporate employee faces charges (although HSBC, at least, has clawed back payments to those responsible). Indeed, at a news conference this week Lanny Breuer, head of the Justice Department’s criminal division, suggested that an outright prosecution of HSBC was considered and rejected because of how damaging the impact could be on the bank’s viability, and thus on jobs and the American economy. Has a handful of banks become not too big to fail, but too big to jail?”
The significance of rejecting criminal pursuance of HSBC, and the long list of other mega banks is Prima Facie validation that the global economy operates under the self-serving guidance and often the practical permission of the largest international banking organizations.
The pattern of selective prosecution by the Injustice Department is no revelation, when the war on drugs is so profitable for the diabolic alliances that run the drug trade. Banking and government by acquiesce is a historic construct that hide behinds the law, while dealing in bribes, payoffs and hidden offshore accounts. Drug trafficking continues to prosper because government needs the threat of an evil enemy, while the agencies charged with its eradication are often corrupt game players.
The HSBC’s of this world are dirty participants in the real drug triangle; namely, drug traffickers, crooked government elements and complicit moneychangers.
It is the nature of men to create monsters, says virtual counter-hero Harlan Wade of F.E.A.R., and it is the nature of monsters to destroy their makers. Mary Shelley and the Golem come to mind, but what happened in Benghazi on Tuesday is more reminiscent of Bram Stoker. U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens did not create it, but he was directly involved in helping unleash the dormant monster which destroyed him. His death is the paradigm for the U.S. policy vis-à-vis the world of Islam since 9-11.
“In the early days of the Libyan revolution, I asked Chris to be our envoy to the rebel opposition,” Hillary Clinton said in her eulogy. “He arrived on a cargo ship in the port of Benghazi and began building our relationships with Libya’s revolutionaries.” As an American liaison to insurgents who had just started to fight Qadafy’s forces, Stevens was instrumental in turning a local revolt into a fully-fledged rebellion. As ABC News notes, he was “literally on the rebels’ side while the revolution was at its most vulnerable.” Introducing himself as ambassador in a State Department video four months ago, Stevens said that he “was thrilled to watch the Libyan people stand up and demand their rights” during the uprising.
A remarkable aspect of Mrs. Clinton’s statement is that in her scheme of things, it is perfectly normal for U.S. Government agents to sneak into a foreign country that the United States recognizes as a sovereign state and with which it has normal diplomatic relations in order to incite rebellion against that country’s government. Let us imagine for a moment her reaction, and that of the U.S. media, to the news that Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has sent one of his diplomats to help the Sunni rebellion against al-Maliki in Iraq or FARC insurgents in Colombia. That man’s death at the hands of his protégés would prompt a deluge of Schadenfreude; a smiling Mrs. Clinton could gloat that “he came, he saw, he died.”
More significant is the cowering reaction to the outrage in Libya from the American officialdom. The assault on the U.S. compound in Cairo came first with the frenzied Muslim mob scaling the walls, tearing down and burning the American flag, and raising the inscribed black banner of jihad in its place. The Embassy responded with a statement, which is indicative of the State Department esprit de corps: “The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.”
Not a word of reproach for the rioting mob inside the gates. Condemnation was reserved solely for the makers of an obscure and poorly produced video allegedly insulting the prophet of Islam, Muhammad. Available on Youtube for months, it merely provided an excuse to perpetuate the attack on the Embassy.
President Obama’s reaction to the carnage in Libya a day later was worthy of his middle name: “While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants.” His Secretary of State followed up in the same vein, reassuring the murderers that we feel any pain they might be enduring from the “insult”: “The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.”
It is striking that in both cases an apologetic condemnation of the video came first, thus implying that the mob had a valid cause to be enraged.
It is equally striking that when three Russian women blasphemed at the altar of Christ the Savior cathedral in Moscow, denigrating the religious beliefs of hundreds of millions of Christians, the only words of condemnation coming from Washington—and from its media chorus—were reserved for the two-year prison sentence they received. (As it happens, that sentence was far more lenient than the one likely to be passed in an American court on a trio of Aryan Brothers acting in a similar manner in a mosque, or a synagogue, or a Black church.)
The media reaction to the bloodshed in Benghazi did not deviate from the Obama-Clinton line. “Islam’s answer to the killing of US envoys in Libya,” an editorial in the Christian Science Monitor on September 12, called on Muslims to “assert their faith’s teachings of peace and mercy as the answer to such hate”:
While Muslims worldwide may be angered by acts of religious bigotry, most know that killing in the name of Islam is hardly favorable to Islam… Yet Muslim fears of blasphemy remain strong… Each violent response should compel Muslims to assert Islam’s teaching of tolerance… Until enough peace-minded Muslims stand up for an interpretation of Islam that sees freedom as necessary for the flourishing of faith, these governments will continue their campaigns of intolerance or wink approval at mobs of zealots….
This article is full of nonsense parroted in other MSM organs. It is taken as axiomatic that Islam teaches peace, mercy and tolerance. Writing seven decades ago, Arthur Jeffery dismissed as “the sheerest sophistry” the same tendency apparent among some Western scholars in his own time. He understood that the “peace” that Muslim believers are called upon to implement is impossible unless it is established under an all-pervasive Islamic rule. Such “peace,” resulting from jihad, does not merely have the meaning of the absence of war: it is also a state of security that is attainable only once Islam defeats all infidels and conquers their lands. Contemporary apologists for Islam have moved on, however: in our time, not accepting their “Islam is peace” mantra is in itself deemed “Islamophobic” and “intolerant.”
CSM editorialist asserts that Muslims fear blasphemy, without explaining what Muslims mean by that word. Their definition of “blasphemy” is any irreverent behavior toward persons, objects, rites, and beliefs that Muslims revere. To put it succinctly, being non-Sharia compliant is blasphemous. Not accepting the divine origin of the Quran is blasphemous. Applying the standards of natural morality to Muhammad’s illustrious career is blasphemous. Resisting the imposition of Sharia is blasphemous. In the end, being a non-Muslim is blasphemous.
The expectation that “enough peace-loving Muslims” will stand up “for an interpretation of Islam that sees freedom as necessary for the flourishing of faith” is absurd. Orthodox, mainstream Islam demands total, abject submission to the word of Allah and to the example of his prophet. Such submission is the only true freedom in the world of Ummah. Any other “interpretation of Islam” is heresy and disbelief. But willful self-deception continues. A stream of Western media calls on “peace-loving Muslims” to stand up to their murderous coreligionists started right after 9-11, and it will continue even if Manhattan is vaporized in a mushroom cloud.
In the video made to introduce himself to Libyans shortly before he took up his post as ambassador last spring, Christopher Stevens said he was looking forward to his assignment “as we work together to build a free, democratic, prosperous Libya.” As a fluent Arabic speaker with two previous tours of duty in Libya, if he believed what he said, he was an imprudent man. The Arab Spring has shown its true face, as we have known all along that it would. The monster is unleashed. Every person in our foreign policy-making establishment is responsible for the bloodshed in Benghazi, not least the victims themselves.
From protests in Chile to a “coup” in Paraguay, the worrying signs come across Latin America that it may have an Arab Spring of its own, but in fact those are the signs of a new form of war waged against the region.
A specter haunts Latin America
Latin America is undergoing increasingly violent turmoil on many fronts. This often makes it difficult to distinguish between spontaneous, bona fide social protest and covert foreign intervention, just as we see today throughout the Arab world.
In spite of Latin America’s decades of experience with foreign-orchestrated military coups, in today’s world the local military are no longer an option. They were necessary proxies acting as local cops for the US during the Cold War, until they became a redundant embarrassment.
So just as the ’60s and ’70s saw a domino effect of “anti-communist military coups” – graciously applauded by the US and UK – the ’80s and ’90s saw a comeback of “democracy”, riding on the wave of “human rights”. In short: military boots were “out”; corrupt controllable “democratic” politicians were “in”.
Nominally “democratic” governments mean local power no longer managed by guns and bayonets but by tons of money. As the Global Power Masters execute a highly complex planet-wide strategic reset, Latin America is ripe for another turn of the screw: a new bout of “Spring” treatment.
It would, however, be a mistake to think this will be a copy of the Arab Spring, because a key factor behind today’s global Machtpolitik lies in understanding prevailing local conditions, which in Latin America are very different from those of the Arab world.
What makes each country tick?
Last year’s lighting of the Arab Spring fuse depended very much on understanding that fact huge sectors of the local populations – particularly the young – were fed up with authoritarian, long-entrenched regimes: whether Mubarak’s 31 years in Egypt, Gaddafi’s 42 years in Libya or the al-Assads’ 40 years in Syria.
But there’s no way this can be done in Latin America, because all governments here are nominally “democratic”, with corrupt politicians taking turns in mismanaging their countries.
On the religious front, Islam demands active militancy from its followers to defend the Faith, so an important dividing line for the Arab Spring is the centuries-old conflict between Shiites and Sunnis, plus the modern struggle between clerical and secular regimes.
Such highly complex issues have thwarted the Muslim world’s ability to unite under one solid and strong leadership, so fundamental to neutralize decades – centuries! – of Western interference and intervention in that region. Divide and conquer has always been imperialism’s leitmotiv.
By playing one side against the other; by appealing to the naïve young yearning for change whose paradigms are (de)formed by Western pop “culture”, last year’s triggering of social and generational conflict was really a “piece of cake”: from Tunisia to Egypt; from Libya to Syria; from Sudan to Iran.
At most, the tricky part was keeping FOW’s (Friends of the West) like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain isolated from this process. The West’s ability to slosh trillions of Petro-Dollars, plus the Western Media’s extreme discretion towards “friendly countries”, the ominous presence of the US Fifth Fleet and a little help from our (Israeli) friends seems to have done the trick. So far, anyway…
Latin America is not at all like this. Not a chance of violently pitting Catholics against Protestants…and since all countries are formally “democratic”, people won’t readily take to the streets to get rid of any authoritarian regimes because, officially, there are none. Maybe a Monsanto-coup in Paraguay or an electoral money-for-your-vote hiccup in Mexico, but the US is too busy looking at Chavez in Venezuela to bother.
Where, then, is the war front in Latin America?
War in ‘Spring’ time
When we talk of war, we normally think in terms of World War II-like invading armies. But war has become far more covert and far less overt. Today, more subtle forms are used like engineering financial or social coups or – as Libya and now Syria learned – engineering civil war.
In traditional war, the focus is on military hardware, strategy and territorial logistics. ‘Spring’ wars, however, are remote-planned, and then deployed inside the target country. First you identify dividing lines in local society: what are people’s grievances, which religious fervors and ethnic hatreds are ripe for stirring.
Then comes PsyWar channeling through NGO’s, local militants and lobbies, opposition politicians, paid journalists and, of course, yours truly “The Embassy”. Throughout Latin America, “la Embajada” is an ominous phrase pointing to US, UK and Israeli embassy meddling.
And if they can’t get their desired “Regime Change”, there’s always “Plan B”: escalate to blatant financing, training and arming of local subversives, terrorists and gangs as in Libya and Syria.
Latin America’s war front
The real war in Latin America, where deadly shots are fired and people get killed and maimed, lies in the increasingly huge gap pitting the rich (small numbers, huge power) against the poor (huge numbers, small power).
Latin America’s war is fought in the “villa miseria” slums of Buenos Aires, Bogotá and México; in the “favelas” of Rio de Janeiro; in the shanty towns of Caracas, Guayaquil and every single city in our region.
The poor are becoming increasingly aware of just how poor they are. In today’s global consumer society the rich slap them on the face through TV, the internet and “entertainment” media. The corporate overworld constantly reminds them of just how wonderful life can be if you’re rich and buy their cars, laptops, cell phones, houses, holiday packages. Too poor to enjoy that? Alas, too bad!
Mass social frustration lies at the root of Latin American war. It branches out into street crime, prostitution, drugs, alcohol, gang warfare, pornography. It physically, intellectually and spiritually annihilates untold millions of people in the streets of Mexico, Brazil, Colombia or Argentina.
In contrast to the Muslim world, where religious fervor keeps the rich-versus-poor divide in check, Latin American Catholic and Protestant churches have lost their social appeal and strength. The spiritual vacuum they left has been filled with greedy striving for material wealth.
Not that this is anything new. The big difference now is the unprecedented technological capability available to trigger and control social wars; escalating them to outright insurrection and civil war when it suits the global power masters’ objectives.
But that works both ways, because that same technology is making people more and more politically aware and active. As Trilateral Commission ideologue and former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski recently lamented, “people’s growing political awareness” is a threat… to the global elites.
The whole world is being pushed into war mode, where every victory or defeat in one region has far-reaching consequences for the rest of the world. We The People suffered defeat in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan. In Syria, Iran and Venezuela, We The People fight ongoing battles.
Given the colossal economic crisis affecting the US, Europe, UK – even Israel – if a “Latin Spring” is unleashed on the Rich-versus-the-Poor Front, then Latin America’s ability to fight back intelligently and effectively could have dramatic and positive global consequences.
Adrian Salbuchi is a political analyst, author, speaker and radio/TV commentator in Argentina.www.asalbuchi.com.ar
Source: Adrian Salbuchi | RT
“Steal a little,” wrote Bob Dylan, “they throw you in jail; steal a lot and they make you a king.” These days, he might recraft the line to read: deal a little dope, they throw you in jail; launder the narco billions, they’ll make you apologise to the US Senate.
Two months ago in Washington DC, a poor black man called Edward Dorsey Sr was convicted of peddling 5.5 grams of crack cocaine. Because he was charged before a recent relative amelioration in sentencing, he was given a mandatory 10 years in jail.
Last week, managers from Britain’s biggest bank, HSBC, lined up before the Senate’s permanent sub-committee on investigations – just across the Potomac river from the scene of Dorsey’s crime – to be asked questions such as: “It took three or four years to close a suspicious account. Is there any way that should be allowed to happen?”
The “suspicious account” was that of a “casa de cambio”, a currency exchange house operated in Mexico on behalf of the largest criminal syndicate in the world and one of the most savage, the Sinaloa drug-trafficking cartel. The dealings had been flagged up to HSBC bosses by an anti-money laundering officer, but to no avail – the dirty business continued. “No, senator,” came the reply from a bespectacled Brit called Paul Thurston, chief executive, retail banking and wealth management, HSBC Holdings plc.
The same casa de cambio, called Puebla, was known to be under investigation in another case involving the Wachovia bank during the time HSBC was entertaining its money. US authorities had seized $11m from Wachovia’s Miami office, on the way to securing the biggest settlement in banking history with Wachovia in March 2010, detailed in this newspaper last year.
Wachovia was fined $50m and made to surrender $110m in proven drug profits, but was shown to have inadequately monitored a staggering $376bn through the casa de cambio over four years, of which $10bn was in cash. The whistleblower in the case, an Englishman working as an anti-money laundering officer in the bank’s London office, Martin Woods, was disciplined for trying to alert his superiors, and won a settlement after bringing a claim for unfair dismissal.
No one from Wachovia went to jail – and, said Woods at the time of the settlement: “These are the proceeds of murder and misery in Mexico, and of drugs sold around the world. But no one goes to jail. What does the settlement do to fight the cartels? Nothing. It encourages the cartels and anyone who wants to make money by laundering their blood dollars.”
HSBC has been found to have handled $7bn in narco cash, “and this is the starter for 10″, Woods now says. “We’ll get the full picture over time. But what’s the sanction on these banks? What’s their risk? The cartels should renegotiate their charges with the banks. They’re being priced for a risk element that isn’t there.”
Wachovia was not the first, neither will HSBC be the last. Six years ago, a subsidiary of Barclays – Barclays Private Bank – was exposed as having been used to launder drug money from Colombia through five accounts linked to the infamous Medellín cartel. By an ironic twist, Barclays continued to entertain the funds after British police had become involved after a tip-off, from HSBC.
And the issue is wider than drug-money. It is about where banks, law enforcement officers and the regulators – and politics and society generally – want to draw the line between the criminal and supposed “legal” economies, if there is one.
Take the top-drawer bank to the elite and Her Majesty the Queen, Coutts, part of the bailed-out Royal Bank of Scotland. On 23 March, the UK Financial Services Authority issued a final notice to Coutts, fixing a penalty of £8.75m for breach of its money-laundering code.
The FSA reviewed 103 “high-risk customer files” and “identified deficiencies in 73 files”, showing “failure to conduct appropriate ongoing monitoring” over three years. In two cases, private bankers involved had “failed to identify serious criminal allegations against those customers”. Rory Tapner, chief executive of the wealth division of RBS said that “since concerns were first identified by the FSA, Coutts & Co has enhanced its client relationship management process”. The refrain was the same from HSBC last week, and every other bank after every other shameful revelation: we went awry, but we’ve fixed it.
Wouldn’t it be interesting, though, to know Coutts’s private view of Wachovia’s case – or, at least of people such as Woods who do root out criminal laundering?
As it happens, through a rare glimpse, we do. Last year, the Wachovia whistleblower was offered a job at Coutts. But the bank suddenly withdrew its job offer. An internal email sent by the interviewer to a director of Coutts’s wealth management programme explained the bank had “a very generic reason for our decision, citing the fact that we had become aware of an incident at Wachovia, one of Martin Woods’s previous employers, and that Coutts was keen to avoid any risk of reputational damage that might relate to the incident”.
The thought occurs to Woods, who is taking legal action against Coutts for mistreatment of a whistleblower, that he was too tenacious at Wachovia. Coutts declined to comment.
No one at Coutts was called to account for the FSA’s alarming findings. No one was sanctioned under criminal law last month when the ING bank was fined $619m for illegally moving billions of dollars into the US banking system, in breach of sanctions – as HSBC has done with money from North Korea and Iran. Neither were they in 2009, when Lloyds TSB – 43% owned by the British taxpayer – was fined $350m for whitewashing Iranian money into the US. The fines seem huge to us, but banks pay them from petty cash.
If there is a prosecution, it is always “deferred”, as with Wachovia, and a Californian bank called Sigue used by HSBC to receive the Mexican drug money. Be good for a year, and we’ll forget about it. Since when did the likes of Edward Dorsey of Washington enjoy that kind of leniency?
A foremost trainer of anti-money laundering officers in the US is Robert Mazur, who infiltrated the Medellín cartel during the prosecution and collapse of the BCCI bank in 1991, and who tells the Observer that “the only thing that will make the banks properly vigilant to what is happening is when they hear the rattle of handcuffs in the boardroom”.
It remains to be seen whether HSBC’s barons will, like Wachovia’s, avoid Dorsey’s fate.
“People don’t like to ask how close the banker’s finger is to the trigger of the killer’s gun,” says Woods.
But in this newspaper – when we revealed the original “cease and desist” order against HSBC – the former head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, posited that four pillars of the international banking system are: drug-money laundering, sanctions busting, tax evasion and arms trafficking.
The response of politicians is to cower from any serious legal assault on this reality, for the simple reasons that the money is too big (plus consultancies to be had after leaving office). The British government recruits a former chairman of HSBC as trade secretary just as the drug-laundering scandal breaks.
Herein, along with Dylan’s dictum, lies the problem. We don’t think of those banking barons as the financial services wing of the Sinaloa cartel.
The stark truth is that the cartels’ best friends are those people in pin-stripes who, after a rap on the knuckles, return to their golf in Connecticut and drinks parties in Holland Park.
The notion of any dichotomy between the global criminal economy and the “legal” one is fantasy. Worse, it is a lie. They are seamless, mutually interdependent – one and the same.
Source: The Guardian
Have you ever wondered why things have been going so badly for the United States in recent years? Our economy is falling apart, we have been plagued with heat, drought and endless natural disasters, our cities are absolutely crumbling, we just keep getting involved in even more wars and Americans are more anxious and more overweight than ever before. So why are so many bad things happening to America? Why do we lead the world in so many bad categories? Why does nothing seem to be going right? Are we under some kind of a curse? It is almost as if we have entered a “perfect storm” that just keeps getting worse. In the old days it would seem like something bad would happen to the United States every once in a while, but now massive problems seem to be hitting us in rapid fire fashion. At this point, many Americans have “crisis fatigue” because our problems never seem to end. Each new crisis just seems to overlap with all of the other problems that are still going on. So why is this happening, and what is our country going to look like if our problems continue to multiply at this rate?
The following are some of the bad things that are happening to America right now….
Heat And Drought
This summer, thousands of new high temperature records have been set all over the country, and weather conditions are much drier than normal in most of the nation.
In fact, the drought that we are experiencing right now is being called the worst drought in more than 50 years. More than 1,000 counties in the United States have already been declared to be official disaster areas, and there is no end to the drought in sight.
Chicago Board of Trade corn for December delivery has soared 54% since mid-June, reaching a contract high of US$7.78 on Monday and approaching its record price near US$8.
Soybeans for November delivery soared to a new contract high of US$15.97 before slipping back a few cents.
Crop watchers were alarmed that corn rated poor-to-very poor jumped to 38%, versus 30% last week and 11% a year ago.
The record high for the price of corn is just $7.99 a bushel. Many believe that the price of corn will soon blow well past that price and could eventually reach $10 a bushel.
Unfortunately, there is not much hope on the horizon. It is being projected that these very hot and very dry conditions will persist well into August.
The extreme heat has also been responsible for an unusual number of wildfires in the western United States this year. The recent horrific wildfires in Colorado made headlines all over the nation.
Sadly, these wildfires are part of a rising trend. The truth is that the 6 worst years for wildfires in the United States ever recorded have all happened since the year 2000.
So what is causing this to happen?
What is causing so much of the country to go up in flames?
Earlier this year, many areas of the heartland of America were absolutely ripped to shreds by very powerful tornadoes.
More tornadoes happen in the United States than anywhere else in the world, and unfortunately we have seen a tremendous amount of tornado activity in this country in recent years.
In 2009, there were 1146 tornadoes in the United States.
In 2010, there were 1282 tornadoes in the United States.
In 2011, there were 1691 tornadoes in the United States.
Overall, 2011 was the worst year for natural disasters in U.S. history.
So where will 2012 rank when everything is all said and done?
Radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster will be affecting Americans for many years to come.
Most Americans do not think much about Fukushima anymore, but the truth is that Fukushima is still putting out a tremendous amount of radiation, and that radiation travels eastward towards us.
A couple of months ago, one reporter discovered that radiation levels in rain falling on Los Angeles were five times above normal.
But we don’t hear about this in the mainstream media, do we?
One recent study concluded that the highest concentration of Fukushima radiation in the Pacific Ocean will eventually be just off the west coast of the United States.
But our “authorities” tell us that there is no reason to be concerned, so most Americans will continue to ignore the incredible tragedy that continues to unfold at Fukushima.
If you are not sure what to think about what is going on at Fukushima, perhaps the following statistic will get your attention….
Recent tests have shown that 36 percent of all children living in the Fukushima Prefecture in Japan have abnormal growths on their thyroid glands. After the Chernobyl disaster, less than 2 percent of all children living in the area surrounding Chernobyl were found to have abnormal growths on their thyroid glands.
The last recession was the worst economic crisis that America has faced since the Great Depression, and our economy has never even come close to recovering from it.
Now we are on the verge of another global financial meltdown that appears likely to be even worse than the last one.
Peter Schiff, the president of Euro Pacific Capital, says that the U.S. economy is headed for a crisis that will make the recession of 2008 and 2009 look like a walk in the park.
So what is going to happen if the economy goes into the toilet and unemployment skyrockets much higher than it is now?
That is frightening to think about.
Even during this “economic recovery”, poverty in America continues to soar.
For example, since Barack Obama has been president the number of Americans on food stamps has risen from 32 million to 46 million.
Overall, 49 percent of all Americans live in a home where at least one person receives benefits from the federal government according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That is an all-time record high.
The Death Of American Cities
The United States once had dozens of great manufacturing cities that were the envy of the entire globe.
Today, many of those cities have degenerated into crime-ridden, drug infested hellholes.
Things have gotten so bad in Detroit that thousands of homes are literally being torn down in an effort to “make the city safer”….
As the next step in an April deal between financially strapped Detroit and the state of Michigan, Governor Rick Snyder is finalizing a plan to tear down thousands of abandoned houses in a bid to make the city safer.
Detroit has been hard-hit over the past four decades by a steep drop in population, a steadily eroding tax base and crippling budget deficits, resulting in countless barren streets punctuated by vacant lots and burned-out buildings.
Increase In Crime
Have you noticed that crime is on the rise in many of our communities?
Criminals are getting bolder and are doing things that we have not seen before.
For example, on Saturday night a mob of 300 teens invaded a Wal-Mart in Jacksonville, Florida and went absolutely wild. They started stealing stuff, breaking stuff and throwing food at each other without any concern for what the security guards would do.
When have we ever seen stuff like this happen in America before?
How many more people do we plan to lock up?
Meanwhile, even many Americans that are not considered to be “criminals” are becoming very cold-hearted. Just check out what happened in Arlington, Virginia recently. A video surveillance camera captured footage of numerous people walking right past a man that had just been hit by a car and was dying on the sidewalk. He was lying face down and bleeding and nobody even went up to him to see if he was okay.
If you were in a similar situation, would you stop to help that man?
All over America gangs are taking over local communities.
According to the FBI, there are now a total of 1.4 million gang members living in America. Just since 2009, that number has risen by 40 percent.
To get an idea of how deeply Mexican drug cartels have infiltrated our cities, just check out the maps on this article.
With numbers such as those, it is easy to see how violence in many of our cities could spiral out of control very, very quickly.
The United States continues to get pulled into more wars, and the conflicts that we are already involved in never seem to end.
Just today, 22 NATO supply trucks were destroyed in Afghanistan. The war in Afghanistan has already lasted much longer than World War II did, and there is no end in sight.
Meanwhile, Barack Obama has gotten the U.S. military involved in conflicts in Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan and a whole bunch of other places. The following is from a recent Wired article….
The center of the US drone war has shifted to Yemen, where 23 American strikes have killed an estimated 155 people so far this year. But you wouldn’t know about it — or about the cruise missile attacks, or about the US commando teams in Yemen — by reading the report the White House sent to Congress about US military activities around the globe. Instead, there’s only the blandest acknowledgement of “direct action” in Yemen, “against a limited number of [al-Qaida] operatives and senior leaders.”
The report, issued late Friday, is the first time the United States has publicly, officially acknowledged the operations in Yemen and in nearby Somalia that anyone with internet access could’ve told you about years ago. But the report doesn’t just fail to admit the extent of the shadow war that America is waging in the region. It’s borderline legal — at best. The War Powers Resolution of 1973 requires the president to inform Congress about any armed conflicts America is engaged in. Friday’s report isn’t just uninformative about Yemen. It doesn’t even mention the US campaign in Pakistan, even though the Defense Secretary says America is “at war” there.
So what is next?
Well, there are endless headlines warning that war with Syria is coming.
Other headlines warn that war with Iran is coming.
Where will this all end?
Americans today are more unhappy and more anxious than ever before.
The following is from a recent Business Insider article….
According to a recent World Health Organization study, 31 percent of Americans are likely to suffer from an anxiety problem at some point during their lifetimes — compared to 25.3 percent of those in Colombia, and 24.6 percent in New Zealand, the countries that rank second and third. You’d think people in developing or unstable states — those preoccupied with concerns farther down on the Maslow Scale — would be more anxious than we are. Not so. “According to the 2002 World Mental Health Survey, people in developing-world countries such as Nigeria are up to five times less likely to show clinically significant anxiety levels than Americans, despite having more basic life-necessities to worry about,” writes Taylor Clark, author of Nerve: Poise Under Pressure, Serenity Under Stress, and the Brave New Science of Fear and Cool. “What’s more, when these less-anxious developing-world citizens emigrate to the United States, they tend to get just as anxious as Americans.
“The United States has transformed into the planet’s undisputed worry champion,” Clark adds.
And nobody can deny that we are getting fatter.
Back in 1962, only 13 percent of all Americans were obese.
Today, approximately 36 percent of all Americans are obese.
Drug Addiction Epidemic
The United States has a higher percentage of drug addicts than any other major industrialized nation does.
We love to escape the pain of our every day lives.
At this point, the United States has the highest rate of illegal drug use in the entire world.
The United States also has a higher percentage of people addicted to prescription drugs than anyone else does.
So what does that say about us exactly?
Child Abuse Epidemic
In the United States, we treat our children very badly.
Teen Pregnancy Epidemic
When our kids grow up they tend to be very sexually active as teens.
Amazingly, the United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate on the entire planet.
And all of this sexual activity is rapidly spreading disease among our teens. According to one study, one out of every fourteen girls in the United States has at least one sexually transmitted disease.
We like to make movies and television shows about families, but the truth is that the family structure in the United States has been breaking down for a very long time.
Today, the United States has the highest divorce rate in the world by a very wide margin.
Some example for the rest of the world we are, eh?
16 Trillion Dollar National Debt
Right now the U.S. national debt is $15,884,155,929,632.05.
We will shortly cross the 16 trillion dollar mark.
This is the greatest debt in the history of the world and it is beyond criminal that we plan to pass this debt on to future generations.
Our greed has destroyed the future for our children and our grandchildren and yet we continue to borrow trillions more because we just can’t help ourselves.
On top of everything else, we have a horrifying lack of leadership here in America.
Our last four presidents have been four of the worst presidents in U.S. history, and in 2012 we are faced with an incredibly depressing choice at the polls.
Is Barack Obama really the best that the Democrats can do?
The American people elected an incompetent con man to the highest office in the land. Virtually every decision that he makes is wrong and virtually everything that he has tried to do while in office has been a failure.
The Republicans dislike Barack Obama so much that they picked the candidate most like Obama out of the entire Republican field to go up against Obama.
What kind of sense does that make?
Is Mitt Romney really the best that the Republicans can do?
Right now the best selling point that Republicans have for Romney is this….
“You better vote for him or you will get another four years of Obama”.
But Mitt Romney would certainly also be a bad president and would lead us down the exact same road that Obama has.
This fall, Americans will either get to vote for the worst president in U.S. history or another guy who will almost certainly be one of the worst presidents in U.S. history.
How depressing is that?
So as this nation continues to fall apart, we are guaranteed to have an absolutely horrible leader in the White House.
Perhaps we are really cursed.
So do you have an opinion about why so many bad things are happening to America?
Source: The American Dream
During the week of July 1st – 7th an international cabal of corporate lobbyists will be meeting behind closed doors in San Diego. Their aim is moving the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) towards completion. For over two years TPP negotiations have been in process, yet the proposals and agreements made so far have been carefully kept from public view, until recently.
A leaked TPP document, published at Public Citizen, has revealed what the 600 corporate advisers involved in the negotiations, including representatives from Verizon, FedEx, and Walmart, have been up to. Considering the contents of this document, it is no wonder why the public and even elected representatives have been kept in the dark.
Publicly the TPP is being described as a Free Trade Act (FTA). This understates its scope. While the FTAs already in existence have raked in giant profits for the corporate elite, for workers internationally they have resulted in lay offs and a race to the bottom in terms of living conditions and rights. The big business tops have been working hard to enhance the power of their moneymaking weapons of mass destruction. If NAFTA was a hand grenade, the TPP is a bunker buster.
What is perhaps most astonishing about the TPP is its architects’ disregard for the consequences of its destructive potential. Their greed has blinded them to the political instability and popular revolt the consequences of the TPP will create. The corporate elite imagines their rule to be absolute and eternal. Sheltered by these illusions and goaded on by the need to increase their riches regardless of social costs, they are creating a bomb that could blow them up as well.
Currently the countries in on the TPP are the United States, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. These countries alone are a combined market of 658 million people worth $20.5 trillion annually. (1) Canada, Japan, and Mexico are also expected to get on board. The TPP also has built in mechanisms to allow other nations to join after its ratification.
While China could theoretically become a member, there can be little doubt that part of the intention of this pact is for the United States to build a coalition, in which its big business interests dominate, to compete against China’s economic might. This ratcheting up of competition will result in greater political animosity. In turn, these consequences will contribute to a course towards greater conflict, including the possibility of war. This is because international capitalist competition is not determined by gentlemanly agreements, but by the law of the jungle and, frequently, brute force. While it may be a relatively simple matter for the United States to bully its economically weaker TPP partners into line, China is not so easily dominated. Other more crude and costly measures than diplomacy will be required to get the competitive upper hand and the TPP is laying the foundation for this possibility.
What all FTAs share in common, including the TPP, is how they open up doors for multi-national corporations to transfer operations to other nations where labor is cheaper and the profit rate is greater. In the first 10 years of NAFTA this outsourcing resulted in the net loss of 879,280 U.S. jobs. (2) Considering the greater number of countries involved in the TPP, this number of lost jobs will be all the greater.
In addition, for the nations these jobs are outsourced to, the results are even more devastating. The dislocation of local economies by the larger scale corporations moving in also results in greater unemployment. For instance, NAFTA resulted in the loss of 1.3 million Mexican farm jobs as U.S. agribusiness moved in (3), leaving the farmers to toil for a living in the brutal Maquiladoras or move to the U.S. for jobs where they have been persecuted as “illegal” immigrants. Even more damaging was how NAFTA accelerated the privatization of Mexico’s once strong public sector resulting in huge layoffs, wage cuts, and a dramatic drop in the countries unionization rate. Other than for a well-connected few within the developing nations signing onto the TPP, there is nothing to gain and much to lose for these countries’ citizens if this agreement is enacted.
Where the TPP departs from past FTAs is in the range of issues it covers and the degree it flagrantly defies national sovereignty in favor of multi-national corporate interests. Only two of the TPP’s 26 chapters have to do with trade. The rest are focused on new corporate rights, privileges and tools to override local government interests.
Perhaps the most controversial of these tools would be the setting up of a three attorney tribunal, with no checks on conflicts of interest, to judge foreign corporate complaints regarding government regulations in the countries they are setting up operations in. If, for instance, a foreign owned corporation argues it is losing profits because of its host nation’s overtime laws, this tribunal could rule that the country’s taxpayers owe that corporation compensation for this loss. Such costly judgments could result from any regulations including labor law, local environmental standards, financial rules, etc. In short, the TPP’s tribunal would act as the hammer of multi-national corporate interests above the power of the states’ governments they do business in. While, because of their size, U.S. based corporations have the most to gain from this arrangement, it will result in not only a greater deterioration of the living standards of those working in the U.S. but also any semblance of democracy as well.
As negotiated under the Obama administration by U.S. trade representative Ron Kirkland, the TPP is extremist. Public interest and national sovereignty are sacrificed on the altar of a corporate agenda to a degree that it is doubtful a Republican president could get away with. Should it be passed into law, revolts against its effects are likely. This will set into motion events that will not go as planned by the 1% behind the measure.
The time is now to start trying to defeat the TPP. Currently, many of the organizations expressing concerns about it, including the AFL-CIO leadership, are limiting the fightback to pressuring the Obama administration to amend or drop the TPP. It should first be demanded that the agreements and proposals regarding the TPP are open for all to see. The public needs to be educated about its effects. If such efforts are linked to a mass action campaign for jobs – not cuts, it would go a long way towards creating a grass roots political movement that could take on this extremist 1 percent agreement.
Such a movement cannot afford to counter the TPP with an equally reactionary protectionist program. Currently, this is the position put forward by the AFL-CIO leadership and their “buy America made” slogan. At first glance, it appears to be common sense for many rank and file U.S. workers. “If we want to prevent the off shoring of American jobs we should only buy products made at home” goes the reasoning. However, there are several problems with this line that undercut our ability to combat the TPP.
One problem is that there are very few products that are made exclusively in the U.S. The division of labor to produce even most “American made” commodities is international in scale. Otherwise, few if any of the corporations that make them would be able to survive. Therefore, the logic behind this protectionist slogan is utopian, harking back to a long gone time before the economy became such a globally dependent system.
There are other more pernicious consequences to protectionism, however. It fosters jingoistic “America first” attitudes that, as political tensions increase between economically competing nations, can easily be manipulated into support for military adventures that are against the 99% interests. In addition, even if U.S. jobs are being protected by such measures as tariffs against foreign competitors, this, in effect, exports unemployment and divides the working class by nationality. If extremist 1% measures are to be defeated, it can only be done by a political policy that unites the 99% across national boundaries. Protectionism creates just the opposite.
Workers need their own international campaign to fight the TPP. The labor movement in the U.S. could begin by linking up with other union and community groups from the nations signing onto it. An international conference could be set up to share information, assist one another in their efforts to combat the TPP, and plan for joint actions. However, in order for such a conference to not be limited to purely symbolic value, serious efforts must be dedicated towards turning the ideas coming out of it into a physical force through mass organizing.
The passage of NAFTA was a defeat for workers that we are still suffering from in a big way. Labor and its allies were unprepared to effectively fight it, though there were notable solidarity efforts between U.S. and Mexican unions. The stakes are even higher with the TPP. Statesman like appeals to President Clinton by labor to drop or, at least, reform NAFTA did no good. Likewise, similar appeals to President Obama, especially after the passage of the Korean, Colombian, and Panama FTAs, will leave us saddled with the TPP. Workers need leverage to defeat the TPP, and that leverage comes from mass organizing and action.
For further reading check out the leaked document at http://www.citizenstrade.org/ctc/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/tppinvestment.pdf
For “Controversial Trade Pact Text Leaked, Shows U.S. Trade Officials Have Agreed to Terms That Undermine Obama Domestic Agenda go to http://www.citizen.org/documents/release-controversial-trade-pact-text-leaked-06-13.pdf
For Public Interest Analysis of Leaked Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Investment text go to http://www.citizen.org/documents/Leaked-TPP-Investment-Analysis.pdf
1.) Trans-Pacific Partnership decoded: Canada lobbied to be part of trade talks. Now what? By Madhavi Achar-Tom Yew for Business Reporter. http://www.thestar.com/business/article/1214595–trans-pacific-partnership-decoded-canada-lobbied-to-be-part-of-trade-talks-now-what
2.)See “NAFTA – Related Job Losses Have Piled Up Since 1993″ by Robert E. Scott for the Economic Policy Institute.
3.) Disadvantages of NAFTA By Kimberly Amadeo for About.Com US Economy.