Many analysts find it hard to believe that the Quds force would behave as the case documents suggest

We need to worry. What  is this a pretext for? http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tehranbureau/2011/10/post-6.html There is a small chance that some rogue elements in the Revolutionary Guards decided to carry out such a plot. There is precedence for such an operation. During Akbar … Continue reading

We need to worry. What  is this a pretext for?

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tehranbureau/2011/10/post-6.html

There is a small chance that some rogue elements in the Revolutionary Guards decided to carry out such a plot. There is precedence for such an operation. During Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s second term as president, rogue elements of the Ministry of Intelligence led by Saeed Emami — leader of the gang that assassinated numerous dissidents in what is now known as the infamous Chain Murders – tried to smuggle missiles out of Iran to Brussels to attack the NATO headquarters. The plot was discovered, and Rafsanjani later acknowledged it. Its discovery set back relations between Iran and the European Union for several years.

Given the power struggle pitting Khamenei and his supporters against Ahmadinejad and his camp, and given the extreme hostility that some former Ahmadinejad supporters have toward him and their fear that he might be able to establish some form of diplomatic relations with the United States, the possibility of such a rogue operation cannot be discarded. But the indictment against Arbabsiar and Shakuri claims that they are members of the Quds force, and given the discipline that the Quds force has demonstrated in its operations throughout the Middle East, I still find it difficult to believe that they would embark on what seems to be a useless, dangerous, and relatively easy-to-discover operation.

Thus, at this point, I find the claim that the IRI was involved in the plot highly unlikely. The more information that becomes available, the more it appears like a frame-up of Manssor Arbabsiar, a classic case of entrapment. But, once again, there is nothing the IRI might do that would surprise me.

Read more: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tehranbureau/2011/10/post-6.html#ixzz1aiKULJZg

http://www.juancole.com/2011/10/wagging-the-dog-with-irans-maxwell-smart.html

The DOJ complaint says that Arbabsiar boasted that his cousin (Gholam Shakuri) was a “general” in Iran but did plainsclothes work abroad and “had been on CNN.”

Since two out of three of these allegations are obvious falsehoods, why should we believe anything else Arbabsiar said about his cousin? Note that it is the speculation of the DOJ that Arbabsiar’s description of his cousin suggests that Shakuri is a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. He is not so identified by Arbabsiar, who simply says he is a general who travels in civilian clothes. There is no such general.

Since Arbabsiar clearly does not have a firm grasp on reality, to indict the IRGC with these rambling and preposterous claims would be highly unwise.

I am frankly shocked that Eric Holder should have brought us this steaming crock, which is now being used to make policy at the highest levels. That a Mexican former drug runner being paid by the US taxpayers might have thought he could advance his career by playing mind games with a somewhat crazy Iranian expatriate is no surprise. That you could put fantastic schemes in Arbabsiar’s mind if you worked at it seems obvious. That anyone in the DOJ or the US foreign policy establishment would take all this seriously is not plausible. I conclude that they are being dishonest, and that this is Obama’s turn to wag the dog as he faces defeat at Romney’s well-manicured hands next year this time.

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – If the United States has evidence and plays its cards right, history shows that it can win the powerful U.N. Security Council to its side in the case of Iran’s alleged plot to assassinate a Saudi ambassador.

The United States has accused Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps elite Quds Force of orchestrating a plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s envoy to Washington and suggested it could push for council action against Iran.

Iran denies the U.S. allegations, which Tehran’s U.N. Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee said in a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council was U.S. “warmongering” and an “evil plot” against Tehran.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice forwarded details of the case against Iran to Ban, telling him that Tehran’s actions were “a serious threat to international peace and security.” She said Washington was speaking with council members about the case and asked Ban to forward the case details to the General Assembly.
The U.S. delegation has not made up its mind whether to approach the council with the Iranian case. But diplomats say that Washington is considering it.
“They haven’t settled on a game plan yet,” a council ambassador told Reuters. “They’re considering all options. More sanctions, a resolution, a condemnation, it’s all possible.”
If the United States follows the example of previous U.S. administrations and presents its case at a public meeting of the 15-nation Security Council, it might be able to galvanize public support against doubters and critics who have suggested that the new charges against Iran border on the preposterous
.
That was the case during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, when U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Adlai Stevenson unveiled during a televised council meeting photos taken by U-2 spy planes of Soviet missiles and launch pads on Cuba and confronted Soviet Ambassador Valerian Zorin with the charges.
“Do you, Ambassador Zorin, deny that the U.S.S.R. has placed and is placing medium- and intermediate-range missiles and sites in Cuba? Yes or no?”
The Soviet envoy refused to give a definite answer, telling Stevenson: “I am not in an American courtroom.”
“You are in the courtroom of world opinion right now, and you can answer yes or no,” Stevenson responded. He never got a clear answer from Zorin, and the Soviet veto power made it impossible to get any formal Security Council action against the Soviets.
But Washington did win in the “courtroom of world opinion.” On that same day, October 23, 1962, the Organization of American States unanimously backed the U.S. plan to impose a naval blockade around Cuba to stop further missile shipments.
In 1983, U.S. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick played an audio recording of a Soviet interceptor pilot involved in the shooting down of Korean Airlines flight 007 over the Sea of Japan, which killed all 269 passengers and crew. Afterwards, it was impossible for the Soviets to deny their involvement.
‘GOOD THEATER’
But recent history also shows that if the evidence is weak, skeptics on the Security Council — the only U.N. body with the power to impose sanctions or authorize military force — will prevail and Washington will be unable to bring it around.
That was the case with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell’s February 2003 speech to the Security Council in which he presented U.S. intelligence on Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s alleged nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs.
Perhaps attempting to follow in Stevenson’s and Kirkpatrick’s footsteps, Powell’s speech had visual aids — images, audio recordings, even a small vial of white powder that was intended to look like enough deadly anthrax to kill off the entire U.S. Senate.
That speech, based on evidence that is now known to have been erroneous, did nothing to sway the skeptical French, Russians and Germans, who eventually forced the frustrated United States and Britain to abandon their efforts to secure a U.N. green light for their March 2003 invasion of Iraq.
David Bosco, a professor at American University in Washington, said using the council can be good “public theater” but may not convince doubting council members.
“Dramatic public presentations are usually more effective at swaying domestic public opinion than other states,” he said. “Powell’s speech didn’t change the dynamic on the council in terms of support for the war, but it was a major hit at home.”
U.N. diplomats said that Washington was already doing the preliminary work to persuade council members of the strength of a case that a number of analysts have raised questions about. Many analysts say they find it hard to believe that the Quds force would behave as stupidly as the case documents suggest.
Envoys said a team of experts from the Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration and State and Justice Departments joined Rice and her Saudi counterpart on Wednesday to brief council members on the details of the plot.
The allegations against Iran made a strong impression on some diplomats but clearly did not sway all of them.
French Ambassador Gerard Araud described the allegations as “credible and very convincing,” adding that France would be “very supportive” of any U.S. initiative at the council.
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Moscow would “look at it very, very seriously.” Chinese envoy Li Baodong said only that he had “sent it back to Beijing.”
Council diplomats said that Washington had dispatched teams of CIA, FBI and DEA experts to Moscow and Beijing, which are among the council’s most skeptical members and hold a veto.
Brazil’s U.N. Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti appeared less than convinced, however, suggesting to reporters the U.S. judicial process should be allowed to play out first.
Council envoys say the other two members of the five-nation “BRICS” club of powerful emerging market nations — India and South Africa — might also be hard sells for Washington. The BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China and the South Africa — have resisted Western efforts on Syria and other issues.
(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)


Is the world too big to fail?

Noam Chomsky explains how the global order of power has been created and describes the mechanisms behind its continuity. The democracy uprising in the Arab world has been a spectacular display of courage, dedication, and commitment by popular forces – … Continue reading

Noam Chomsky explains how the global order of power has been created and describes the mechanisms behind its continuity.

The democracy uprising in the Arab world has been a spectacular display of courage, dedication, and commitment by popular forces – coinciding, fortuitously, with a remarkable uprising of tens of thousands in support of working people and democracy in Madison, Wisconsin, and other US cities. If the trajectories of revolt in Cairo and Madison intersected, however, they were headed in opposite directions: in Cairo toward gaining elementary rights denied by the dictatorship, in Madison towards defending rights that had been won in long and hard struggles and are now under severe attack.

Each is a microcosm of tendencies in global society, following varied courses. There are sure to be far-reaching consequences of what is taking place both in the decaying industrial heartland of the richest and most powerful country in human history, and in what President Dwight Eisenhower called “the most strategically important area in the world” – “a stupendous source of strategic power” and “probably the richest economic prize in the world in the field of foreign investment,” in the words of the State Department in the 1940s, a prize that the US intended to keep for itself and its allies in the unfolding New World Order of that day.

Despite all the changes since, there is every reason to suppose that today’s policy-makers basically adhere to the judgment of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s influential advisor A.A. Berle that control of the incomparable energy reserves of the Middle East would yield “substantial control of the world.” And correspondingly, that loss of control would threaten the project of global dominance that was clearly articulated during World War II, and that has been sustained in the face of major changes in world order since that day.

‘Grand Area’

NATO troops have to guard pipelines that transport oil and gas that is directed for the West.

- Jaap De Hoop, former NATO Secretary-General

From the outset of the war in 1939, Washington anticipated that it would end with the US in a position of overwhelming power. High-level State Department officials and foreign policy specialists met through the wartime years to lay out plans for the postwar world. They delineated a “Grand Area” that the US was to dominate, including the Western hemisphere, the Far East, and the former British empire, with its Middle East energy resources. As Russia began to grind down Nazi armies after Stalingrad, Grand Area goals extended to as much of Eurasia as possible, at least its economic core in Western Europe. Within the Grand Area, the US would maintain “unquestioned power,” with “military and economic supremacy,” while ensuring the “limitation of any exercise of sovereignty” by states that might interfere with its global designs. The careful wartime plans were soon implemented.

It was always recognised that Europe might choose to follow an independent course. NATO was partially intended to counter this threat. As soon as the official pretext for NATO dissolved in 1989, NATO was expanded to the East in violation of verbal pledges to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. It has since become a US-run intervention force, with far-ranging scope, spelled out by NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who informed a NATO conference that “NATO troops have to guard pipelines that transport oil and gas that is directed for the West,” and more generally to protect sea routes used by tankers and other “crucial infrastructure” of the energy system.

Grand Area doctrines clearly license military intervention at will. That conclusion was articulated clearly by the Clinton administration, which declared that the US has the right to use military force to ensure “uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies, and strategic resources,” and must maintain huge military forces “forward deployed” in Europe and Asia “in order to shape people’s opinions about us” and “to shape events that will affect our livelihood and our security.”

The same principles governed the invasion of Iraq. As the US failure to impose its will in Iraq was becoming unmistakable, the actual goals of the invasion could no longer be concealed behind pretty rhetoric. In November 2007, the White House issued a Declaration of Principles demanding that US forces must remain indefinitely in Iraq and committing Iraq to privilege American investors. Two months later, President Bush informed Congress that he would reject legislation that might limit the permanent stationing of US Armed Forces in Iraq or “United States control of the oil resources of Iraq” – demands that the US had to abandon shortly after in the face of Iraqi resistance.

In Tunisia and Egypt, the recent popular uprisings have won impressive victories, but as the Carnegie Endowment reported, while names have changed, the regimes remain: “A change in ruling elites and system of governance is still a distant goal.” The report discusses internal barriers to democracy, but ignores the external ones, which as always are significant.

The US and its Western allies are sure to do whatever they can to prevent authentic democracy in the Arab world. To understand why, it is only necessary to look at the studies of Arab opinion conducted by US polling agencies. Though barely reported, they are certainly known to planners. They reveal that by overwhelming majorities, Arabs regard the US and Israel as the major threats they face: the US is so regarded by 90 per cent of Egyptians, in the region generally by over 75 per cent. Some Arabs regard Iran as a threat: 10 per cent. Opposition to US policy is so strong that a majority believes that security would be improved if Iran had nuclear weapons – in Egypt, 80 per cent. Other figures are similar. If public opinion were to influence policy, the US not only would not control the region, but would be expelled from it, along with its allies, undermining fundamental principles of global dominance.

The invisible hand of power

Support for democracy is the province of ideologists and propagandists. In the real world, elite dislike of democracy is the norm. The evidence is overwhelming that democracy is supported insofar as it contributes to social and economic objectives, a conclusion reluctantly conceded by the more serious scholarship.

Elite contempt for democracy was revealed dramatically in the reaction to the WikiLeaks exposures. Those that received most attention, with euphoric commentary, were cables reporting that Arabs support the US stand on Iran. The reference was to the ruling dictators. The attitudes of the public were unmentioned. The guiding principle was articulated clearly by Carnegie Endowment Middle East specialist Marwan Muasher, formerly a high official of the Jordanian government: “There is nothing wrong, everything is under control.” In short, if the dictators support us, what else could matter?

The Muasher doctrine is rational and venerable. To mention just one case that is highly relevant today, in internal discussion in 1958, president Eisenhower expressed concern about “the campaign of hatred” against us in the Arab world, not by governments, but by the people. The National Security Council (NSC) explained that there is a perception in the Arab world that the US supports dictatorships and blocks democracy and development so as to ensure control over the resources of the region. Furthermore, the perception is basically accurate, the NSC concluded, and that is what we should be doing, relying on the Muasher doctrine. Pentagon studies conducted after 9/11 confirmed that the same holds today.

It is normal for the victors to consign history to the trash can, and for victims to take it seriously. Perhaps a few brief observations on this important matter may be useful. Today is not the first occasion when Egypt and the US are facing similar problems, and moving in opposite directions. That was also true in the early nineteenth century.

Economic historians have argued that Egypt was well-placed to undertake rapid economic development at the same time that the US was. Both had rich agriculture, including cotton, the fuel of the early industrial revolution – though unlike Egypt, the US had to develop cotton production and a work force by conquest, extermination, and slavery, with consequences that are evident right now in the reservations for the survivors and the prisons that have rapidly expanded since the Reagan years to house the superfluous population left by deindustrialisation.

One fundamental difference was that the US had gained independence and was therefore free to ignore the prescriptions of economic theory, delivered at the time by Adam Smith in terms rather like those preached to developing societies today. Smith urged the liberated colonies to produce primary products for export and to import superior British manufactures, and certainly not to attempt to monopolise crucial goods, particularly cotton. Any other path, Smith warned, “would retard instead of accelerating the further increase in the value of their annual produce, and would obstruct instead of promoting the progress of their country towards real wealth and greatness.”

Having gained their independence, the colonies were free to ignore his advice and to follow England’s course of independent state-guided development, with high tariffs to protect industry from British exports, first textiles, later steel and others, and to adopt numerous other devices to accelerate industrial development. The independent Republic also sought to gain a monopoly of cotton so as to “place all other nations at our feet,” particularly the British enemy, as the Jacksonian presidents announced when conquering Texas and half of Mexico.

For Egypt, a comparable course was barred by British power. Lord Palmerston declared that “no ideas of fairness [toward Egypt] ought to stand in the way of such great and paramount interests” of Britain as preserving its economic and political hegemony, expressing his “hate” for the “ignorant barbarian” Muhammed Ali who dared to seek an independent course, and deploying Britain’s fleet and financial power to terminate Egypt’s quest for independence and economic development.

After World War II, when the US displaced Britain as global hegemon, Washington adopted the same stand, making it clear that the US would provide no aid to Egypt unless it adhered to the standard rules for the weak – which the US continued to violate, imposing high tariffs to bar Egyptian cotton and causing a debilitating dollar shortage. The usual interpretation of market principles.

It is small wonder that the “campaign of hatred” against the US that concerned Eisenhower was based on the recognition that the US supports dictators and blocks democracy and development, as do its allies.

In Adam Smith’s defence, it should be added that he recognised what would happen if Britain followed the rules of sound economics, now called “neoliberalism.” He warned that if British manufacturers, merchants, and investors turned abroad, they might profit but England would suffer. But he felt that they would be guided by a home bias, so as if by an invisible hand England would be spared the ravages of economic rationality.

The passage is hard to miss. It is the one occurrence of the famous phrase “invisible hand” in The Wealth of Nations. The other leading founder of classical economics, David Ricardo, drew similar conclusions, hoping that home bias would lead men of property to “be satisfied with the low rate of profits in their own country, rather than seek a more advantageous employment for their wealth in foreign nations,” feelings that, he added, “I should be sorry to see weakened.” Their predictions aside, the instincts of the classical economists were sound.

The Iranian and Chinese ‘threats’

The democracy uprising in the Arab world is sometimes compared to Eastern Europe in 1989, but on dubious grounds. In 1989, the democracy uprising was tolerated by the Russians, and supported by western power in accord with standard doctrine: it plainly conformed to economic and strategic objectives, and was therefore a noble achievement, greatly honoured, unlike the struggles at the same time “to defend the people’s fundamental human rights” in Central America, in the words of the assassinated Archbishop of El Salvador, one of the hundreds of thousands of victims of the military forces armed and trained by Washington. There was no Gorbachev in the West throughout these horrendous years, and there is none today. And Western power remains hostile to democracy in the Arab world for good reasons.

Grand Area doctrines continue to apply to contemporary crises and confrontations. In Western policy-making circles and political commentary the Iranian threat is considered to pose the greatest danger to world order and hence must be the primary focus of US foreign policy, with Europe trailing along politely.

Had the Iranians not tried to build nuclear weapons, they would be crazy

- Martin van Creveld, Israeli military historian

What exactly is the Iranian threat? An authoritative answer is provided by the Pentagon and US intelligence. Reporting on global security last year, they make it clear that the threat is not military. Iran’s military spending is “relatively low compared to the rest of the region,” they conclude. Its military doctrine is strictly “defensive, designed to slow an invasion and force a diplomatic solution to hostilities.” Iran has only “a limited capability to project force beyond its borders.” With regard to the nuclear option, “Iran’s nuclear programme and its willingness to keep open the possibility of developing nuclear weapons is a central part of its deterrent strategy.” All quotes.

The brutal clerical regime is doubtless a threat to its own people, though it hardly outranks US allies in that regard. But the threat lies elsewhere, and is ominous indeed. One element is Iran’s potential deterrent capacity, an illegitimate exercise of sovereignty that might interfere with US freedom of action in the region. It is glaringly obvious why Iran would seek a deterrent capacity; a look at the military bases and nuclear forces in the region suffices to explain.

Seven years ago, Israeli military historian Martin van Creveld wrote that “The world has witnessed how the United States attacked Iraq for, as it turned out, no reason at all. Had the Iranians not tried to build nuclear weapons, they would be crazy,” particularly when they are under constant threat of attack in violation of the UN Charter. Whether they are doing so remains an open question, but perhaps so.

But Iran’s threat goes beyond deterrence. It is also seeking to expand its influence in neighbouring countries, the Pentagon and US intelligence emphasise, and in this way to “destabilise” the region (in the technical terms of foreign policy discourse). The US invasion and military occupation of Iran’s neighbours is “stabilisation.” Iran’s efforts to extend its influence to them are “destabilisation,” hence plainly illegitimate.

Such usage is routine. Thus the prominent foreign policy analyst James Chace was properly using the term “stability” in its technical sense when he explained that in order to achieve “stability” in Chile it was necessary to “destabilise” the country (by overthrowing the elected government of Salvador Allende and installing the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet). Other concerns about Iran are equally interesting to explore, but perhaps this is enough to reveal the guiding principles and their status in imperial culture. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s planners emphasised at the dawn of the contemporary world system, the US cannot tolerate “any exercise of sovereignty” that interferes with its global designs.

The US and Europe are united in punishing Iran for its threat to stability, but it is useful to recall how isolated they are. The nonaligned countries have vigorously supported Iran’s right to enrich uranium. In the region, Arab public opinion even strongly favours Iranian nuclear weapons. The major regional power, Turkey, voted against the latest US-initiated sanctions motion in the Security Council, along with Brazil, the most admired country of the South. Their disobedience led to sharp censure, not for the first time: Turkey had been bitterly condemned in 2003 when the government followed the will of 95 per cent of the population and refused to participate in the invasion of Iraq, thus demonstrating its weak grasp of democracy, western-style.

After its Security Council misdeed last year, Turkey was warned by Obama’s top diplomat on European affairs, Philip Gordon, that it must “demonstrate its commitment to partnership with the West.” A scholar with the Council on Foreign Relations asked, “How do we keep the Turks in their lane?” – following orders like good democrats. Brazil’s Lula was admonished in a New York Times headline that his effort with Turkey to provide a solution to the uranium enrichment issue outside of the framework of US power was a “Spot on Brazilian Leader’s Legacy.” In brief, do what we say, or else.

An interesting sidelight, effectively suppressed, is that the Iran-Turkey-Brazil deal was approved in advance by Obama, presumably on the assumption that it would fail, providing an ideological weapon against Iran. When it succeeded, the approval turned to censure, and Washington rammed through a Security Council resolution so weak that China readily signed – and is now chastised for living up to the letter of the resolution but not Washington’s unilateral directives – in the current issue of Foreign Affairs, for example.

While the US can tolerate Turkish disobedience, though with dismay, China is harder to ignore. The press warns that “China’s investors and traders are now filling a vacuum in Iran as businesses from many other nations, especially in Europe, pull out,” and in particular, is expanding its dominant role in Iran’s energy industries. Washington is reacting with a touch of desperation. The State Department warned China that if it wants to be accepted in the international community – a technical term referring to the US and whoever happens to agree with it – then it must not “skirt and evade international responsibilities, [which] are clear”: namely, follow US orders. China is unlikely to be impressed.

There is also much concern about the growing Chinese military threat. A recent Pentagon study warned that China’s military budget is approaching “one-fifth of what the Pentagon spent to operate and carry out the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” a fraction of the US military budget, of course. China’s expansion of military forces might “deny the ability of American warships to operate in international waters off its coast,” the New York Times added.

Washington has converted the island into a major military base in defiance of vehement protests by the people of Okinawa.

Off the coast of China, that is; it has yet to be proposed that the US should eliminate military forces that deny the Caribbean to Chinese warships. China’s lack of understanding of rules of international civility is illustrated further by its objections to plans for the advanced nuclear-powered aircraft carrier George Washington to join naval exercises a few miles off China’s coast, with alleged capacity to strike Beijing.

In contrast, the West understands that such US operations are all undertaken to defend stability and its own security. The liberal New Republic expresses its concern that “China sent ten warships through international waters just off the Japanese island of Okinawa.” That is indeed a provocation – unlike the fact, unmentioned, that Washington has converted the island into a major military base in defiance of vehement protests by the people of Okinawa. That is not a provocation, on the standard principle that we own the world.

Deep-seated imperial doctrine aside, there is good reason for China’s neighbours to be concerned about its growing military and commercial power. And though Arab opinion supports an Iranian nuclear weapons programme, we certainly should not do so. The foreign policy literature is full of proposals as to how to counter the threat. One obvious way is rarely discussed: work to establish a nuclear-weapons-free zone (NWFZ) in the region. The issue arose (again) at the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) conference at United Nations headquarters last May. Egypt, as chair of the 118 nations of the Non-Aligned Movement, called for negotiations on a Middle East NWFZ, as had been agreed by the West, including the US, at the 1995 review conference on the NPT.

International support is so overwhelming that Obama formally agreed. It is a fine idea, Washington informed the conference, but not now. Furthermore, the US made clear that Israel must be exempted: no proposal can call for Israel’s nuclear programme to be placed under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency or for the release of information about “Israeli nuclear facilities and activities.” So much for this method of dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat.

Privatising the planet

While Grand Area doctrine still prevails, the capacity to implement it has declined. The peak of US power was after World War II, when it had literally half the world’s wealth. But that naturally declined, as other industrial economies recovered from the devastation of the war and decolonisation took its agonising course. By the early 1970s, the US share of global wealth had declined to about 25 per cent, and the industrial world had become tripolar: North America, Europe, and East Asia (then Japan-based).

There was also a sharp change in the US economy in the 1970s, towards financialisation and export of production. A variety of factors converged to create a vicious cycle of radical concentration of wealth, primarily in the top fraction of 1 per cent of the population – mostly CEOs, hedge-fund managers, and the like. That leads to the concentration of political power, hence state policies to increase economic concentration: fiscal policies, rules of corporate governance, deregulation, and much more. Meanwhile the costs of electoral campaigns skyrocketed, driving the parties into the pockets of concentrated capital, increasingly financial: the Republicans reflexively, the Democrats – by now what used to be moderate Republicans – not far behind.

Elections have become a charade, run by the public relations industry. After his 2008 victory, Obama won an award from the industry for the best marketing campaign of the year. Executives were euphoric. In the business press they explained that they had been marketing candidates like other commodities since Ronald Reagan, but 2008 was their greatest achievement and would change the style in corporate boardrooms. The 2012 election is expected to cost $2bn, mostly in corporate funding. Small wonder that Obama is selecting business leaders for top positions. The public is angry and frustrated, but as long as the Muasher principle prevails, that doesn’t matter.

While wealth and power have narrowly concentrated, for most of the population real incomes have stagnated and people have been getting by with increased work hours, debt, and asset inflation, regularly destroyed by the financial crises that began as the regulatory apparatus was dismantled starting in the 1980s.

None of this is problematic for the very wealthy, who benefit from a government insurance policy called “too big to fail.” The banks and investment firms can make risky transactions, with rich rewards, and when the system inevitably crashes, they can run to the nanny state for a taxpayer bailout, clutching their copies of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman.

That has been the regular process since the Reagan years, each crisis more extreme than the last – for the public population, that is. Right now, real unemployment is at Depression levels for much of the population, while Goldman Sachs, one of the main architects of the current crisis, is richer than ever. It has just quietly announced $17.5bn in compensation for last year, with CEO Lloyd Blankfein receiving a $12.6m bonus while his base salary more than triples.

It wouldn’t do to focus attention on such facts as these. Accordingly, propaganda must seek to blame others, in the past few months, public sector workers, their fat salaries, exorbitant pensions, and so on: all fantasy, on the model of Reaganite imagery of black mothers being driven in their limousines to pick up welfare checks – and other models that need not be mentioned. We all must tighten our belts; almost all, that is.

Teachers are a particularly good target, as part of the deliberate effort to destroy the public education system from kindergarten through the universities by privatisation – again, good for the wealthy, but a disaster for the population, as well as the long-term health of the economy, but that is one of the externalities that is put to the side insofar as market principles prevail.

Another fine target, always, is immigrants. That has been true throughout US history, even more so at times of economic crisis, exacerbated now by a sense that our country is being taken away from us: the white population will soon become a minority. One can understand the anger of aggrieved individuals, but the cruelty of the policy is shocking.

Targeting immigrants

Who are the immigrants targeted? In Eastern Massachusetts, where I live, many are Mayans fleeing genocide in the Guatemalan highlands carried out by Reagan’s favourite killers. Others are Mexican victims of Clinton’s NAFTA, one of those rare government agreements that managed to harm working people in all three of the participating countries. As NAFTA was rammed through Congress over popular objection in 1994, Clinton also initiated the militarisation of the US-Mexican border, previously fairly open. It was understood that Mexican campesinos cannot compete with highly subsidised US agribusiness, and that Mexican businesses would not survive competition with US multinationals, which must be granted “national treatment” under the mislabeled free trade agreements, a privilege granted only to corporate persons, not those of flesh and blood. Not surprisingly, these measures led to a flood of desperate refugees, and to rising anti-immigrant hysteria by the victims of state-corporate policies at home.

Much the same appears to be happening in Europe, where racism is probably more rampant than in the US One can only watch with wonder as Italy complains about the flow of refugees from Libya, the scene of the first post-World War I genocide, in the now-liberated East, at the hands of Italy’s Fascist government. Or when France, still today the main protector of the brutal dictatorships in its former colonies, manages to overlook its hideous atrocities in Africa, while French President Nicolas Sarkozy warns grimly of the “flood of immigrants” and Marine Le Pen objects that he is doing nothing to prevent it. I need not mention Belgium, which may win the prize for what Adam Smith called “the savage injustice of the Europeans.”

The rise of neo-fascist parties in much of Europe would be a frightening phenomenon even if we were not to recall what happened on the continent in the recent past. Just imagine the reaction if Jews were being expelled from France to misery and oppression, and then witness the non-reaction when that is happening to Roma, also victims of the Holocaust and Europe’s most brutalised population.

In Hungary, the neo-fascist party Jobbik gained 17 per cent of the vote in national elections, perhaps unsurprising when three-quarters of the population feels that they are worse off than under Communist rule. We might be relieved that in Austria the ultra-right Jörg Haider won only 10 per cent of the vote in 2008 – were it not for the fact that the new Freedom Party, outflanking him from the far right, won more than 17 per cent. It is chilling to recall that, in 1928, the Nazis won less than 3 per cent of the vote in Germany.

In England the British National Party and the English Defence League, on the ultra-racist right, are major forces. (What is happening in Holland you know all too well.) In Germany, Thilo Sarrazin’s lament that immigrants are destroying the country was a runaway best-seller, while Chancellor Angela Merkel, though condemning the book, declared that multiculturalism had “utterly failed”: the Turks imported to do the dirty work in Germany are failing to become blond and blue-eyed, true Aryans.

Those with a sense of irony may recall that Benjamin Franklin, one of the leading figures of the Enlightenment, warned that the newly liberated colonies should be wary of allowing Germans to immigrate, because they were too swarthy; Swedes as well. Into the twentieth century, ludicrous myths of Anglo-Saxon purity were common in the US, including among presidents and other leading figures. Racism in the literary culture has been a rank obscenity; far worse in practice, needless to say. It is much easier to eradicate polio than this horrifying plague, which regularly becomes more virulent in times of economic distress.

I do not want to end without mentioning another externality that is dismissed in market systems: the fate of the species. Systemic risk in the financial system can be remedied by the taxpayer, but no one will come to the rescue if the environment is destroyed. That it must be destroyed is close to an institutional imperative. Business leaders who are conducting propaganda campaigns to convince the population that anthropogenic global warming is a liberal hoax understand full well how grave is the threat, but they must maximize short-term profit and market share. If they don’t, someone else will.

This vicious cycle could well turn out to be lethal. To see how grave the danger is, simply have a look at the new Congress in the US, propelled into power by business funding and propaganda. Almost all are climate deniers. They have already begun to cut funding for measures that might mitigate environmental catastrophe. Worse, some are true believers; for example, the new head of a subcommittee on the environment who explained that global warming cannot be a problem because God promised Noah that there will not be another flood.

If such things were happening in some small and remote country, we might laugh. Not when they are happening in the richest and most powerful country in the world. And before we laugh, we might also bear in mind that the current economic crisis is traceable in no small measure to the fanatic faith in such dogmas as the efficient market hypothesis, and in general to what Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, 15 years ago, called the “religion” that markets know best – which prevented the central bank and the economics profession from taking notice of an $8tn housing bubble that had no basis at all in economic fundamentals, and that devastated the economy when it burst.

All of this, and much more, can proceed as long as the Muashar doctrine prevails. As long as the general population is passive, apathetic, diverted to consumerism or hatred of the vulnerable, then the powerful can do as they please, and those who survive will be left to contemplate the outcome.

Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor emeritus in the MIT Department of Linguistics and Philosophy. He is the author of numerous bestselling political works, including 9-11: Was There an Alternative? (Seven Stories Press), an updated version of his classic account, just being published this week with a major new essay – from which this post was adapted – considering the 10 years since the 9/11 attacks.

A version of this piece was originally published on TomDispatch.com.


Monsanto often got its way

There’s nothing they are leaving untouched: the mustard, the okra, the bringe oil, the rice, the cauliflower. Once they have established the norm: that seed can be owned as their property, royalties can be collected. We will depend on them … Continue reading

There’s nothing they are leaving untouched: the mustard, the okra, the bringe oil, the rice, the cauliflower. Once they have established the norm: that seed can be owned as their property, royalties can be collected. We will depend on them for every seed we grow of every crop we grow. If they control seed, they control food, they know it — it’s strategic. It’s more powerful than bombs. It’s more powerful than guns. This is the best way to control the populations of the world. The story starts in the White House, where Monsanto often got its way by exerting disproportionate influence over policymakers via the “revolving door”. One example is Michael Taylor, who worked for Monsanto as an attorney before being appointed as deputy commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1991. While at the FDA, the authority that deals with all US food approvals, Taylor made crucial decisions that led to the approval of GE foods and crops. Then he returned to Monsanto, becoming the company’s vice president for public policy.

Thanks to these intimate links between Monsanto and government agencies, the US adopted GE foods and crops without proper testing, without consumer labeling and in spite of serious questions hanging over their safety. Not coincidentally, Monsanto supplies 90 percent of the GE seeds used by the US market. Monsanto’s long arm stretched so far that, in the early nineties, the US Food and Drugs Agency even ignored warnings of their own scientists, who were cautioning that GE crops could cause negative health effects. Other tactics the company uses to stifle concerns about their products include misleading advertising, bribery and concealing scientific evidence.

Kelowna Organic Festival had guest Percy Schmeiser, a Canadian Farmer. He related his experience with Corporation Monsanto Canada Inc. and The Canadian justice system. It’s frightening. See if you agree with what’s going on with our food supply!
This is Part 1
Music: by Elixirion http://www.elixirion.com

Learning to ‘Live Free’ comes from experience and personal growth … Lets break our conditioning!
http://www.livefreerevolution.com/
http://livefreerevolution.blogspot.com


Bush’s legacy

Published on Dec 13, 2015 Abby Martin interviews retired U.S. Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former national security advisor to the Reagan administration, who spent years as an assistant to Secretary of State Colin Powell during both Bush administrations. Today, he … Continue reading

Published on Dec 13, 2015
Abby Martin interviews retired U.S. Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former national security advisor to the Reagan administration, who spent years as an assistant to Secretary of State Colin Powell during both Bush administrations. Today, he is honest about the unfixable corruption inside the establishment and the corporate interests driving foreign policy.

Hear a rare insider’s view of what interests are behind U.S. wars, the manipulation of intelligence, the intertwining of the military and corporate world, and why the U.S. Empire is doomed.

The plans to implement martial law in America have been taking shape for decades, hidden behind “Continuity of Government” contingency planning. Now, with public outcry over the banker bailout bill at fever pitch, all of the pieces are in place for the U.S. Army to start policing American citizens.

U.S. Marine Jon Turner strips his medals at the “Winter Soldier” hearings


Occupy Wall Street

https://occupywallst.org/ http://www.adbusters.org/   On 13 Jul 2011, the group Adbusters released this call: Occupy Wall Street! In Solidarity, and as a response to this call, a planning group was formed [occupywallst.org], and an info sharing site established. The participation of every … Continue reading

https://occupywallst.org/

http://www.adbusters.org/

 

On 13 Jul 2011, the group Adbusters released this call: Occupy Wall Street!

In Solidarity, and as a response to this call, a planning group was formed [occupywallst.org], and an info sharing site established. The participation of every person, and every organization, that has an interest in returning the US back into the hands of it’s individual citizens is required.

Our nation, our species and our world are in crisis. The US has an important role to play in the solution, but we can no longer afford to let corporate greed and corrupt politics set the policies if our nation.

We, the people of the United States of America, considering the crisis at hand, now reassert our sovereign control of our land.

Solidarity Forever!

A Modest Call to Action on this September 17th

Published 2011-09-18 01:46:38 UTC by agnosticnixie

This statement is ours, and for anyone who will get behind it. Representing ourselves, we bring this call for revolution.

We want freedom for all, without regards for identity, because we are all people, and because no other reason should be needed. However, this freedom has been largely taken from the people, and slowly made to trickle down, whenever we get angry.

Money, it has been said, has taken over politics. In truth, we say, money has always been part of the capitalist political system. A system based on the existence of have and have nots, where inequality is inherent to the system, will inevitably lead to a situation where the haves find a way to rule, whether by the sword or by the dollar.

We agree that we need to see election reform. However, the election reform proposed ignores the causes which allowed such a system to happen. Some will readily blame the federal reserve, but the political system has been beholden to political machinations of the wealthy well before its founding.

We need to address the core facts: these corporations, even if they were unable to compete in the electoral arena, would still remain control of society. They would retain economic control, which would allow them to retain political control. Term limits would, again, not solve this, as many in the political class already leave politics to find themselves as part of the corporate elites.

We need to retake the freedom that has been stolen from the people, altogether.

  1. If you agree that freedom is the right to communicate, to live, to be, to go, to love, to do what you will without the impositions of others, then you might be one of us.
  2. If you agree that a person is entitled to the sweat of their brows, that being talented at management should not entitle others to act like overseers and overlords, that all workers should have the right to engage in decisions, democratically, then you might be one of us.
  3. If you agree that freedom for some is not the same as freedom for all, and that freedom for all is the only true freedom, then you might be one of us.
  4. If you agree that power is not right, that life trumps property, then you might be one of us.
  5. If you agree that state and corporation are merely two sides of the same oppressive power structure, if you realize how media distorts things to preserve it, how it pits the people against the people to remain in power, then you might be one of us.

And so we call on people to act

  1. We call for protests to remain active in the cities. Those already there, to grow, to organize, to raise consciousnesses, for those cities where there are no protests, for protests to organize and disrupt the system.
  2. We call for workers to not only strike, but seize their workplaces collectively, and to organize them democratically. We call for students and teachers to act together, to teach democracy, not merely the teachers to the students, but the students to the teachers. To seize the classrooms and free minds together.
  3. We call for the unemployed to volunteer, to learn, to teach, to use what skills they have to support themselves as part of the revolting people as a community.
  4. We call for the organization of people’s assemblies in every city, every public square, every township.
  5. We call for the seizure and use of abandoned buildings, of abandoned land, of every property seized and abandoned by speculators, for the people, for every group that will organize them.

We call for a revolution of the mind as well as the body politic.

LiveStream of Wall St. Occupation

Published 2011-09-17 05:27:47 UTC by OccupyWallSt

Click Here to view a LiveStream of Occupy Wall Street.

Please use our chatroom instead of LiveStream which has been having problems with spammers.


The hunger emergency facing the Horn of Africa right now is a reminder that we always need to be prepared for any type of disaster

If you have trouble reading , click here. The hunger emergency facing the Horn of Africa right now is a reminder that we always need to be prepared for any type of disaster, whether it’s a hurricane, earthquake, or flood. Our … Continue reading

If you have trouble reading , click here.

World Food Programme

The hunger emergency facing the Horn of Africa right now is a reminder that we always need to be prepared for any type of disaster, whether it’s a hurricane, earthquake, or flood.

Our Heroes Fighting Hunger — a special group of monthly donors — help us do just that. Thanks to their steady support, we’re able to respond when we’re needed the most.

When a mother can’t feed her baby and doesn’t have a day to spare, Heroes help us make sure both mother and child are fed. When families walk for miles fleeing famine looking for hope, Heroes allow us to greet them with a warm meal.

Will you become a Hero today by making a monthly donation to our Emergency Fund?
Can we count on you to be a Hero?

As long as there are still millions of people in need in the Horn of Africa, that’s where your donation will go. When disaster strikes elsewhere and we need to rapidly respond, we’ll be able to rely on your monthly donation to do so.

By becoming a Hero today, you’ll know that you’re helping the most vulnerable around the world get back on their feet — month after month. WFP doesn’t simply distribute food and move on. We ensure that communities recover and rebuild so that they’re better prepared to weather the next emergency and won’t require food assistance in the long term.

I hope you’ll be a part of this critical emergency response every month. Join the Heroes Fighting Hunger today with a monthly donation.

I’m deeply grateful for your support of WFP. As you read this, your contribution is making a real difference in the Horn of Africa where we’re reaching around 7.4 million drought-affected people and aiming to feed more than 9.6 million. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Nancy

Nancy Roman
Director of Communications and Private Partnerships
World Food Programme

 

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