Archive | December 30th, 2011

DOROTHY ONLINE NEWSLETTER

NOVANEWS

Dear All,

 

Just 3 additional items to the ones I sent earlier.

 

The first is a Haaretz editorial, brief and to the point: “Israel needs to listen to Hamas, and take notice.”  But of course Israel (i.e., the government) won’t,  just as Israel’s governments ignored the Arab League peace proposal which included recognition by all the countries in the League and normalization of relations in exchange for Israel going back to the 1967 line in the West Bank.  Israel ignored it when it was first made in 2002, and again when it was proposed once more in 2007.  No!  Israel’s governments prefer colonization and expansion to peace.

 

Item 2 tells us that Israel does not have the standing in world opinion that it once had.  Let’s see where this takes us to.

 

Item 3 is ‘Today in Palestine’ for December 29.

 

All the best,

Dorothy

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1 Haaretz  Editorial

December 29, 2011

 

Israel needs to listen to Hamas, and take notice

Israel must not ignore the declarations by the Hamas leadership and reject the chance of achieving a cease-fire with the organization, at the very least.

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/israel-needs-to-listen-to-hamas-and-take-notice-1.404256

Haaretz Editorial

Against the backdrop of the belligerent declarations by the IDF chief of staff, who is threatening that “Israel will have no choice other than another broad operation in Gaza,” it’s hard to understand the silence that followed Khaled Meshal’s historic statements. The Hamas leader declared this week that his movement is switching over from the armed struggle to a popular struggle, and that its agreement with Fatah includes the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, without renouncing the right of return.

 

A popular uprising, according to Meshal, means demonstrations and civil revolt without the use of arms. This doesn’t include recognition of Israel or abandonment of the option of an armed struggle, which remains “a right of the Palestinian people” – but after the establishment of a state.

 

According to Meshal, a rational reading of reality, including the situation in Syria and the achievements of the popular revolutions, led the organization to reassess its path, to sign the reconciliation deal with Fatah and change the struggle’s strategy. These are remarkable statements that highlight the extent that political events can bring about strategic turnarounds, even ideological ones.

 

But instead of encouraging Hamas’ new direction, expressing the hope that it will turn into a legitimate political party and supporting the establishment of a Palestinian unity government, Israel offered its routine response – silence and apathy toward the declarations and a threat of a military operation.

 

Thus, as the Palestinian leadership reads the regional political map correctly and plans for the next stage in its efforts to achieve international recognition for a Palestinian state, Israel persists with its timeworn concepts that have led to the rejection of every diplomatic move.

 

In the very near future, Palestine will be able to show the world a unified government that controls both parts of Palestine and is based on an agreed-on platform, which the Quartet countries won’t be able to reject. Israel, it can be assumed, will boycott that government and ensconce itself in its foxhole to evade the political process.

 

The government must not ignore the declarations by the Hamas leadership and reject the chance of achieving a cease-fire with the organization, at the least. In light of Hamas’ turnabout, the threat of a military operation sounds like a threat more to southern Israel than to the Gaza Strip.

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2 Haaretz

December 29, 2011

Envoys worldwide feel brunt of Israel’s worsening image

In annual meeting 100 Israeli diplomats discuss influence of contentious domestic legislation on Israel’s diplomatic standing; Foreign Ministry indicates an erosion in ‘special relationship’ with U.S.

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/envoys-worldwide-feel-brunt-of-israel-s-worsening-image-1.404380

By Barak Ravid

Tags: Benjamin Netanyahu Middle East peace Avigdor Lieberman

On Tuesday morning, 100 Israeli ambassadors gathered on Mount Scopus, and together with their host, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, looked out onto Silwan and the Temple Mount. Later they continued toward Abu-Dis, there they peered at the border area and the separation fence. Last year, Barkat and the city he manages caused many of these Israeli diplomats to work overtime, preparing explanations to foreign ministries or media outlets in the countries where they serve. It can be assumed that in 2012, their work will only get harder.

 

The annual ambassadors’ meeting is met with ambivalence by many Israeli diplomats. On the one hand, it provides an opportunity to visit the country for a week, and to be briefed on political matters, as well as internal ministry gossip. On the other hand, instead of a Christmas vacation, these sequestered ambassadors spend long days, from morning to night, inside the Foreign Ministry’s auditorium.

 

The atmosphere in the ambassadors’ gathering moved from depression to catharsis. On the one hand, they gripe about escalating international isolation, whereas on the other hand they congratulate one another upon the stopping of the Gaza flotilla sequel via diplomatic means, and upon the temporary derailing of the Palestinian statehood move in the United Nations, launched in September.

 

Ambassadors who arrived from European states and North America talked about how they are becoming increasingly hated and unwanted, while ambassadors from Asia and Africa spoke optimistically about new markets and opportunities for cooperation in areas such as agriculture and medicine. “Exports to China are at $2.5 billion a year; why isn’t this figure $10 billion?” asked one ambassador.

 

Yet, in contrast to past annual gatherings, one topic kept coming up during all the discussions, this being an understanding that developments in Israel’s domestic arena have a negative impact upon the country’s reputation overseas. Within hours, ultra-Orthodox men who spit at children in Beit Shemesh, or who threaten women bus passengers in Ashdod, cause huge diplomatic damage to Israel around the world. To garner the extent of such damage, it sufficed to read one of this week’s The New York Times editions, which carried three lengthy reports about discrimination of women in Israel, Egypt and Somalia.

 

Many ambassadors raised this issue during meetings with Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and in additional discussions. “Once, Israel’s democracy was our calling card around the world,” reflected one ambassador. “Today, there’s a feeling that this is no longer the case.”

 

The ambassadors noted that their workdays are filled up with efforts to explain legislative initiatives against left-wing organizations and mosques, and acts of religious and right-wing extremism. Overseas, these are not marginal subjects. Quite often, the ambassadors say, we don’t have answers to questions referred to us.

 

Nor did the ambassadors really come away from this annual meeting with answers. Netanyahu reiterated that steps must be taken against the exclusion of women, but in the same breath he points out that British critics who attack Israel for trends of right-wing violence, were not so successful in their dealings with rioters in London.

 

National security advisor Yaakov Amidror minimized the problem of religious extremism. “Portraying Israel as though it is represented by the Sicarri in Beit Shemesh is akin to depicting Americans as though they were the Amish from somewhere in the middle of the US,” he said.

 

Bleak Forecasts

 

Eran Etzion, head of the Foreign Ministry’s policy planning division, is known for his elaborately prepared power-point presentations. Months of analyses, arguments and discussions are packed densely into dozens of slides which present the ministry’s annual diplomatic assessment.

 

As was the case last year, Etzion’s presentation at this year’s gathering did not leave much room for optimism. One of the slides was particularly upsetting. A big “X” was drawn over the words “peace process;” and the explanation accompanying the slide declared that the process is dead. At least it will not come to life during the coming year.

 

The Foreign Ministry’s view is that developments in the region have foreclosed any prospect of renewed talks between Israel and the Palestinians during 2012. Despite this pessimistic forecast, a virtual consensus has congealed among the ambassadors and also Netanyahu aides Yaakov Amidror and Yitzhak Molcho, holding that the continued diplomatic impasse hurts Israel.

 

One slide pointed to an equally worrisome trend of “erosion in the special relationship with the U.S.” In a separate panel, Washington Ambassador Michael Oren spoke about how relations with the American government are strong and close, and even proudly divulged public opinion poll results which show that support for Israel is stable in the U.S. public.

 

Ido Aharoni, Israel’s Consul-General in New York, a wizard when it comes to polls, interrupted Oren and proposed that he look at the opinion surveys more closely. “Our image in America is worse than it was in the past, particularly among the young educated sectors,” stated Aharoni, and explained that once the data are broken down, it appears that entire sectors in the U.S. might not have transferred their allegiance to the Palestinians, yet have simply lost enthusiasm for Israel.

 

Another worrisome trend in Etzion’s presentation involved the European Union’s economic crisis. A third of Israel’s exports goes to EU countries and thus, Etzion stressed, Israel’s economy is bound to take a hit, even it is somewhat delayed. If anyone needed proof of the extent to which the economic crisis worries Israel’s political-security establishment, it was furnished in a briefing provided by Mossad chief Tamir Pardo to the ambassadors. For no less than 20 minutes, the Mossad director spoke about the threat to the economy. He devoted less than five minutes to the Iranian threat.

 

Why did Lieberman read from the written text?

 

On Sunday afternoon, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman strolled into the large auditorium on the basement floor of the Foreign Ministry building in Jerusalem. Waiting for him were more than 100 senior Israeli diplomats who came from around the world for this third annual ambassadorial gathering; 20 journalists were also in the auditorium.

 

Lieberman opened with a joke about his relations with Israel’s media and what he calls misunderstandings which occur in reports about his statements. “A woman phoned the Abu-Kabir forensic medicine institute and reported that her husband had been missing for four days,” Lieberman said. “She wanted to check whether he had, heaven forbid, found his way to the autopsy room. The doctor asked how he might be identified, and she replied, ‘he stutters.'”

 

After the joke, Lieberman delivered his speech. From his first day on the job, Lieberman’s style has been free, spontaneous and undiplomatic. “Whoever wants peace, should prepare for war,” he had a wont for saying. At the meeting two years ago he called on the ambassadors to stop abasing themselves to states around the world, and at last year’s gathering he called Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan a liar.

 

Surprisingly, on Sunday Lieberman pulled out a stash of papers and read his speech from a written text. The speech was thoughtful, orderly and even rather careful. Journalists who thirsted for screaming headlines went away disappointed. Some ambassadors attributed Lieberman’s uncharacteristic speech to criticism leveled against him as a result of praise he lavished upon Russia’s recent elections. “Perhaps had he read from the text during the photo opportunity in Moscow, his thoughts would have sounded different,” one ambassador mused.

 

On Wednesday Lieberman explained that there is no connection between his Putin remarks and the speech he delivered to the ambassadors. He recalled that he also read from a text during his speech at the UN; he said that his speech this week was of comparable significance. He believes that there is uncertainty surrounding Israel’s diplomatic situation, that Netanyahu is conducting one policy approach, Peres is upholding another policy outlook, and Barak maintains a third approach. He thought that a written speech might alleviate some of this uncertainty. This time, as in the past, he declared, his policy approach is the most realistic.

 

Lieberman’s source of inspiration: Golda Meir and Mapai

 

During his speech, Lieberman cited remarks made by then Prime Minister Golda Meir before the Mapai party’s main membership, in June 1969. Lieberman referred to Meir’s speech in an attempt to substantiate his own claims about the hopelessness of the peace process. “She said some things which were as correct in her day as they are now,” said Lieberman, and then quoted Meir:

 

“Our politicians argue about annexation or non-annexation, about occupied or liberated territories, about whether we are occupiers or liberators, as though the question of whether peace will come tomorrow depends upon this internal argument among us…I think that the tragic dispute between ourselves and the Arabs was never about territory, just as it is not about the territories today; then and now, the argument was about one thing: we want to live, and they don’t agree to out existence on any territory at all.”

 

Lieberman forgot to mention just one small detail. Four years after Meir made these remarks, enveloped by the post Six Day War euphoria, more than 2,200 Israelis were killed in a war that might have been prevented. But Golda preferred hanging on to the Sinai Peninsula and the settlements. It is to be hoped that Lieberman is mistaken, and that what was correct in 1969, does not hold true today.

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3. Today in Palestine

December 29, 2011

http://theheadlines.org/11/29-12-11.shtml

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THE UGLY TRUTH RADIO ” THE ARAB SPRING”

TUT Podcast Dec 29, 2011

by crescentandcross

 

The “Arab Spring” coming to a resource-rich/nuclear-armed Russia–the US and Israel are playing with a type of fire that could eventually consume the entire world.

We are joined by the ever-brilliant Keith Johnson of http://revoltoftheplebs.wordpress.com to discuss this and other items of equal importance.

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Download Here

THANK YOU FOR ASSISTING WITH THE COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH PRODUCING THIS PROGRAM


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Is UK “friends of IsraHell” group breaking law on political funding?

NOVANEWS

Submitted by david

Public anger over how members of parliament (MPs) were abusing their expenses system has helped usher in a little transparency to British politics over the past few years. Yet the Labor Friends of Israel (LFI), a powerful group within the country’s main opposition party, is still behaving like a secret society.

Unlike a similar “friends of Israel” group belonging to the Liberal Democrats – the junior party in the ruling coalition – the LFI does not appear to have supplied any information about the sources of its finances to the UK’s Electoral Commission. This lack of disclosure could be illegal. Legislation applying to “members’ associations” of political parties stipulates that all donations above £7,500 ($11,600) must be notified to the Commission within 30 days.

Today, I asked Ben Garrett, the LFI’s head of policy and research, why his organization seems to be breaking the law. “I am not willing to comment,” he replied.

Garrett repeated that answer when I asked for basic details of the LFI’s annual budget and who its largest contributors are. When I argued that it is undemocratic for the LFI to be seeking to influence British policies on the Middle East, without providing basic details about how it is financed, he said, “I am not willing to engage with The Electronic Intifada in a discussion on these issues.”

Admittedly, the information provided by the “friends of Israel” groups for the two other large parties is quite scanty. The Conservative Friends of Israel refused to tell me a few months ago if that group is being funded by the arms industry. The answer to this question cannot be found in the information it has given to the Commission, which mainly relates to visits to the Middle East by Conservative MPs. For its part, the Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel group appears to be more open, naming David Alliance, a textiles entrepreneur known to grace The Sunday Times list of Britain’s richest people, as one of its key donors.

Admiring Israel’s weapons

The LFI’s secrecy is all the more disturbing, given how some of its senior figures have recently been preparing a review of Britain’s defense policy and there is strong reason to suspect that their admiration for Israel is coloring their views.

A 96-page paper called “Ideas for Future UK Defense Equipment” was published by the Labor Party in September. Its preface was jointly signed by Michael Dugher, the LFI’s vice-chairman, and Jim Murphy, the shadow defense secretary.

As part of their deliberations, both men visited Israel in June. The bill for that trip was shared by the Britain Israel Research Center (BICOM) and the UK embassy in Tel Aviv. During it, the men held consultations with two of Israel’s leading arms makers, Elbit and Rafael. Their paper lauds the pilotless drones that Elbit has provided to the British Army for the war in Afghanistan, without acknowledging that they have been tested by spying on and murdering civilians in Gaza.

A few months ago, Dugher and Murphy both tried to make political capital out of a controversy in which Liam Fox, then the UK’s defense secretary, was embroiled. Fox had to resign because his close friend Adam Werritty was posing as his adviser, despite how Werritty had never been given any such job by the British government. While Dugher and Murphy were happy to censure Fox and Werritty for their shenanigans, they did not draw attention to how some of Werritty’s trips abroad were financed by BICOM.

Strong bonds to Zionist PR firm

Their reticence on that point is easy to understand. For BICOM is known to have solid bonds with the LFI, even though the center’s chief donor, Las Vegas casino magnate Poju Zabludowicz has helped fund the Conservatives. BICOM is registered as a private company, yet performs many of the functions that an embassy normally would by, for example, arranging for journalists to interview Israeli politicians.

At least three of BICOM’s team either remain involved with the LFI or have been in the recent past. Lorna Fitzsimons, the chief executive, was active in the LFI when she was a Labor member of parliament. Dermot Kehoe, BICOM’s press officer, was the partner of David Cairns, the LFI chairman who died in May. And Luke Akehurst, BICOM’s director of campaigns, is a Labor councillor in London who uses his blog to solicit recruits for the LFI.

Akehurst is also the quasi-official stenographer for the LFI. Last month, he wrote a glowing account of a speech given to the LFI by Ed Miliband, leader of the entire Labor Party.

Proving that he is little different to his predecessors Gordon Brown and Tony Blair, Miliband is more eager to placate the LFI’s hawks than follow the good example shown by his mother Marion Kozak , who has declared her support for the principled organization Jews for Justice for Palestinians. If Akehurst’s transcript is accurate, Miliband used his LFIaddress to malign the Palestinian-led campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel by implying that it had an anti-Semitic motive.

Sara Apps from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in London noted that the only information that the LFI seems to have provided to the Electoral Commission concerned trips that the LFI has financed, without revealing where the money for those trips originated. “According to the Electoral Commission website, LFI has spent at least £76,822 on overseas visits for Labor MPs since 2003,” she told me. “Add this to their office and employment costs, it is difficult to conceive they could survive without significant donations from funders.”

By refusing to reveal where they get their money, the Labor Friends of Israel prove that they are enemies of democracy.

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Crackdown: USA

NOVANEWS

by revoltoftheplebs

 

NOTE

A condensed version of this article was published in two parts in the November 21, 2011 print edition of American Free Press:

Part I: U.S. Military Believes National Debt Now Most Serious Threat to America

Part II: (which can be accessed online here) Will U.S. Army Be Used To Crush Public Resistance?

by Keith Johnson

    The United States is well on its way to becoming one giant third world country as insurmountable debt, depression level unemployment, and rising costs for basic necessities continue to crush the poor and middle class. It is now no longer a question as to if or when the economy will collapse, but rather how soon the American people will realize that it is already upon them.

    The Occupy Wall Street protests that have now spread to every major city in the nation is a good sign that some have finally begun to wake up. But many of them are still relying on the same government that created the problem to come up with a solution to it.

    Meanwhile, elected politicians and their faithful lackeys in the mainstream media continue to peddle lies and disinformation to those still living in denial. Using mathematical and linguistic trickery, they strive to convince the naïve that the current financial crisis is only temporary, cyclical, and well on its way to making a full recovery.

    Perhaps if the American people simply had the wherewithal to look over the shoulders of these talking heads, they might be surprised to learn that their government has already conceded that the end is nigh—and that behind the scenes—they have been bracing for the fallout of a large-scale economic breakdown for several years.

    The most recent evidence of this came in late October, when the U.S. Army sponsored their annual “Alternative Futures Symposium” in Chantilly, Virginia. This three-day session was covered in great detail by trade publication National Defense. According to their report, “The seminar included 85 experts from academia, industry, civilian government agencies, U.S. and foreign militaries” who concluded that the United States economy was on the verge of collapse, and that its burgeoning debt now took precedence as the most serious threat to national security.

    Speaking on behalf of the U.S. military, Brig. Gen. Patrick J. Donahue II conceded that bloated military budgets would likely be a thing of the past, and that branches of the armed services would have to learn to cope with less. “How are we going to come up with a military that [might be smaller but] is still effective?” he asked. “That is the big issue that the Army is facing.”

Among the other participants was Robert A. Weidermeier, author of the best-selling book “Aftershock: Protect Yourself and Profit in the next Global Financial Meltdown,” who told the group that starting in 2013 and through 2015 is “when we’re going to see bad things.”

    What is notable about Weidermeier’s prediction is that 2013 marks the 100-year anniversary of the Federal Reserve, whose liberal printing of paper currency has incrementally caused the dollar to lose more than 95% of it’s original purchasing power.

    Weidermeier says that things have not yet spiraled out of control because interest rates have been kept low, but that even a 1 percent increase could inflate the debt by $150 billion per year. “That’s about the same as the entire budget for the Army,” Weidermeier said. “When you hit 10 percent, all bubbles burst.”

    Although that assessment is dire, it may be an underestimation of the true severity of the impending crisis. Weidermeier bases his calculations on the supposition that the U.S. debt is somewhere in the neighborhood of $15 trillion, when in reality it may be well over a hundred times that amount. In August, economics professor Laurence J. Kotlikoff, who served as a senior economist on President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers, toldNational Public Radio that the U.S. ignores “unofficial” payment obligations like Medicare and Social Security when computing the national debt. “If you add up all the promises that have been made for spending obligations, including defense expenditures, and you subtract all the taxes that we expect to collect, the difference is $211 trillion. That’s the fiscal gap,” says Kotlikoff. “That’s our true indebtedness.”

    Frank Finelli, managing director of The Carlyle Group, a global asset management firm, was another speaker at the symposium who warned that the Federal Reserve was largely responsible for the crisis, noting that the Fed’s balance sheet had more than tripled since 2007 by $2.5 trillion. “Such tremendous increase in the money supply has not been accompanied by economic growth in the United States,” said Finelli.

    He went on to say that China would weather the financial crisis far better than the United States or Europe, and that its strength would not be exerted through missiles or submarines, but rather from its immense wealth. “China does view financial power as an exercise of power in a way that the United States does not,” says Finelli. “The United States only exercises financial power through its corporations.”

    This most recent symposium was part of the U.S. Army’s “Unified Quest 2012” exercise, the latest in a series of annual war games that—in recent years—has focused on America’s response to a global financial meltdown.

In November 2010, CNBC’s Eamon Javers had this to say about last year’s exercise: “Ever since the crash of 2008, the defense intelligence establishment has really been paying a lot of attention to global markets and how they can serve as a threat to U.S. national security interests.”

    Javers goes on to report, “The Army is having a very interesting yearlong exercise called Unified Quest 2011. In that war gaming series, the Army is looking at the implications of a large scale economic breakdown in the U.S. that would force the Army to keep domestic order amid civil unrest, and deal with global fragmented power and drastically lower budgets.”

    According to Javers, 30 military officials from the Marine Corps war colleges visited the trading floor of JP Morgan in October 2010 to study markets and the economy. “So you can see that all different parts of the Pentagon and defense intelligence establishment are looking at markets, and looking at ways they can present a new kind of threat to the United States,” says Javers. “These are the guys whose job it is to think of the very worst things that could possibly happen—and they’ve dreamed up some very scary scenarios here.”

     Inside Defense magazine also reported on Unified Quest 2011 in a November 2010 article entitled “Army Officials Think Through the What-If’s of a Global Economic Collapse,” where it was revealed, “Officials picked the scenario of a worldwide economic collapse because it was deemed a plausible course of events given the current global security environment. In such a future, the United States would be broke, causing a domino effect that would push economies across the globe into chaos.”

     According to Army Lt. Col. Mark Elfendahl, these were some of the conclusions drawn during a three-day session connected to that exercise: “The Army would have to significantly alter its investment portfolio, focusing on light and inexpensive forces” and that “an increased focus on domestic activities might be a way of justifying whatever Army force structure the country can still afford.”

    In an almost light hearted manner, the article concludes by saying, “The only silver lining: The Army would have an influx of qualified recruits as the result of an unemployment rate between 25 percent and 30 percent.”

Tracing the government’s contingency plans back even further—to 2008—we find a prominent American newspaper and a foreign news agency both reporting on the Pentagon’s plans to confront the repercussions of an economic meltdown in the not-so-distant future.

    According to a Russia Today report from 2008: “Twenty thousand additional U.S. uniformed troops, set to be trained by 2011, are to help as a response to the threat of a possible mass terror attack or civil unrest following an economic collapse.”

    And from the Washington Post: The U.S. military expects to have 20,000 uniformed troops inside the United States by 2011 trained to help state and local officials respond to a nuclear terrorist attack or other domestic catastrophe, according to Pentagon officials.”

    More recently, in a July 2011 article for the popular alternative news website The Intel Hub, Shepard Ambelas writes that the Pentagon’s 2008 announcement dovetails “into the current troop and equipment movements around the country reported by truckers as well as many troop sightings by everyday citizens.”

    Ambelas goes on to write, “The military is already taking an active role in numerous domestic policing activities in close to a dozen states including Florida, Tennessee, California, Alabama and Pennsylvania.”

    It may be no mere coincidence that the recent announcement by President Obama to have all troops return from Iraq by the end of 2011 coincides with the anticipated economic collapse. Will those troops now deployed on the streets of America? An even more relevant question might be: Will those troops exact the same toll on this nation as they did to the one they just left?

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The Empire Smokes Crack

NOVANEWS 

by revoltoftheplebs

by Keith Johnson

Some of you older readers may remember this public service announcement (PSA) from the late 1980’s:

The scene unfolds in a men’s restroom, where we find a young white urban professional snorting up a spoonful of cocaine.  He then looks into the camera and says, “I do coke…so I can work longer…so I can earn more money…so I can do more cokeso I can work longer…so I can earn more money…so I can do more coke…”

He begins to pace around in tight circles as he continues to recite those same three lines.  His pace picks up faster and faster until he spins into a blur that eventually fades away into nothingness.

Such is the insane life of an addict, caught in a vicious circle that compels them to do the same things over and over while expecting different results.

The same could be said for the addicts who have seized control of our nation’s monetary system.  If we were to produce a PSA to appeal to them, we’d probably have to change the lines to something like, “We print dollars…so we can pay for the budget…which puts us further in debt…so we print more dollars…so we can pay for the budget…which puts us further in debt…so we print more dollars…”

This is precisely the kind of thinking that prevails in the minds of those who occupy seats of power in places like the U.S. Department of Treasury and the privately owned Federal Reserve.  Unfortunately, nothing short of an intervention will ever put an end to theirinsanity.  Like the hardcore substance abuser, these money addicts have succumbed to a latter stage in their disease that renders them incapable of rational thought.  They cannot be reasoned with, they cannot be negotiated with, and they will not stop until they have consumed every last resource on the face of the earth.

Their drug of choice is currency, and they all picked up their habits on Wall Street.  But these are no small time junkies.  They’ve parlayed their dependencies into a lucrative criminal enterprise.  They are the kingpins of their trade, and their career paths are identical to any other successful drug lord.  They started out as pushers, became suppliers, and then eventually worked their way into the cartel itself.  Now they’re making the stuff, and there seems to be no earthly power capable of stopping them.

The word “addict” usually conjures up images of the weak lost souls who have alienated themselves from society. They cannot hide their disease for long, and soon begin their rapid spiral into total despair and ruin.  They lose their dignity, their homes, and eventually end up squatting behind a filthy dumpster with a glass pipe pursed between their lips.  This stereotypical perception often blinds us from identifying the well-groomed addicts in our midst.  They ride in limousines, spend holidays in the Hamptons, and are celebrated with awards and illustrious titles.  But they do not suffer the physical manifestations of their addiction.  Instead they transfer that pain and hardship upon the backs of those whom they have stolen from.  It is their victims who end up losing their homes, jobs, family—and eventually—their dignity.

Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go is a dystopian science fiction novel that follows the lives of three children as they grow into young adults. The story begins while they are schoolmates at the fictitious Hailsham boarding academy in East Sussex, England. According to a summary of the book from wikipedia:

It is clear from the peculiar way the teachers—known as “guardians”—treat the students, that Hailsham is not a normal boarding school. Eventually, it is revealed to the reader and to the students that the children are clones created to provide vital organs for non-clones (“originals”). The students are not taught any life skills, though the teachers encourage the students to produce various forms of art and poetry.

By the time the children transition into adulthood, the years of indoctrination renders them incapable of offering up any resistance to their ultimate fate. When called, they voluntarily take to the operating table so their vital organs can be removed. Some die of complications after the first surgery, but many more are capable of withstanding three operations before they ultimately expire. Most die before reaching the age of thirty, but their sacrifice allows their betters to live beyond the age of 100 despite their unhealthy lifestyles.

Are our lives really much different than those chronicled in Ishiguro’s book? Most of us  have attended public schools that do nothing but indoctrinate us to accept our fate as slaves to the power elite. We are trained to be good workers, but are denied the life skills and education that would make us capable of competing against—and ultimately defeating—this ruthless system of greed and corruption.

We have become the surrogate bodies of the money addicts. We toil in endless pursuit of a dream that has already been denied. The fruits of our labor are devoured by the elite, and the nectar that drips from their mouths is all we are afforded—just enough to provide for our basic necessities—so that we can continue to work and feed their insatiable appetites.

We must stop being “enablers” to these money junkies. This cycle of dependancy must stop. It’s time for an intervention.

Vote for Dr. Ron Paul and let him put this nation into rehab—and the drug lords behind bars!

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European imperialism tightens its grip

NOVANEWS

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 224

December 2011/January 2012

European imperialism tightens its grip

 

The sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone is spinning out of control. Having spread from the weaker eurozone countries to Italy and Spain, the euro crisis is now hitting the stronger core economies of the eurozone, threatening to drive the global economy into recession. Meanwhile continuing stalemate in the US Congress has prevented any resolution of its debt crisis. Divisions are developing not only between the major imperialist powers but also within the ruling class in every major country. At a fractious and totally unproductive G20 summit in early November, British Prime Minister David Cameron warned: ‘Every day the eurozone crisis continues and every day it is not resolved is a day that has a chilling effect on the rest of the world economy, including the British economy.’ He implied that there was worse to come with this being only ‘a stage of the global crisis’. DAVID YAFFE reports.

Political divisions within the eurozone to manage the debt crisis remain unresolved.1 The spreading of the crisis to Italy and Spain has exposed the limitations of the measures undertaken and agreed so far to deal with Greece, Ireland and Portugal. France and Germany are still divided on what must be done. These divisions among the European imperialists rest on disputes over how best to protect their own investments and limit the inescapable losses to their international financial institutions. They also have to respond to the political interests and divisions within their own countries. Yet they have little option but to overcome these divisions in their own ranks and between the main eurozone nations if European imperialism is to sustain its global challenge.

Time is not on their side. In mid-November yields on Spanish and Italian bonds reached unsustainable levels, beyond those that earlier had forced Ireland and Portugal to seek EU/IMF bail-outs. The premiums which France and Austria pay over Germany’s rate to borrow have risen to record euro-era levels, calling into question their AAA top credit ratings. France has around €300bn of Italian debt as well as the largest exposure to Greek debt. On 23 November a €6bn German bond sale ended in failure when the bond auction managed to raise only two-thirds of the amount targeted. This suggests that the eurozone debt crisis could be spreading to Germany, the eurozone’s largest economy and fundamental to the survival of the eurozone and European Union.

The eurozone crisis threatens to generate global instability by sucking liquidity out of financial markets worldwide. Crisis-hit banks in Europe have begun retreating into beggar-thy-neighbour lending policies, echoing the protectionist policies that affected Europe during the 1930s depression. Commerzbank, Germany’s second largest bank, is refusing any loans that do not help Germany or Poland. Its chief financial officer said: ‘we have to focus on supporting the German economy as other banks pull out’. Lloyds Banking Group admitted it had pulled back its exposure to the eurozone. The four largest UK banks have cut interbank loan volumes by 24% in the three months to the end of September – the sharpest reduction being to Greek and Spanish banks. HSBC cut its exposure most steeply with a 40% decline in loans to the region. City analysts have said that political and financial pressures would force European banks to retreat to domestic markets. Stuart Gulliver, CEO of HSBC, pointed out that Asia could suffer if European banks came under further pressure in what is being called a ‘mini-crunch’. European banks were responsible for 21% of the $2,560bn of international loans outstanding in Asia, excluding Japan, in the second quarter of 2011. At the height of the financial crisis in 2008 inter-bank lending almost ceased as trust between the banks evaporated.

‘More Europe, not less’

These developments will eventually force the protagonists to agree a more credible solution which can minimally contain the frenzied market pressures. In the meantime the dominant European countries will tighten their grip on those countries needing credit and aid, ruthlessly plundering their resources and wealth, and driving their populations into increasing poverty through imposed austerity programmes.

Underlying this process will be deeper European integration and moves towards fiscal and political union. The German and French ruling classes have made this unambiguously clear. Responding to the collapse in investor confidence in Italy, the eurozone’s third largest economy, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, said, at a conference in Berlin in early November, that the situation in Europe had become ‘unpleasant’ and the EU would not survive unless it could meet the challenge of the debt crisis that had intensified in recent weeks. What this required was acceleration in plans for deeper integration of the eurozone. ‘It is time for a breakthrough to a new Europe’. That will mean, she said, ‘more Europe, not less Europe’ calling for changes in the EU Treaty to make this possible. A few days later, European Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso, issued a new call for the EU ‘to unite or face irrelevance’ in the face of the mounting economic crisis in Italy. There is talk of one or more countries leaving the eurozone and it is said that France and Germany have had intense consultations on the issue over the last months.

A major spat between Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy took place at the inconclusive European Summit on the 22/23 October, after Cameron demanded an extra summit later in the week to resolve the disputes. Sarkozy responded sharply – ‘You don’t like the euro so why do you want to be in our meetings’ (Financial Times 25 October 2011). Sarkozy wants unfettered euro area cooperation while Cameron backs eurozone integration, as long as it does not involve Britain or affect Britain’s financial interests. Speaking later at the University of Strasbourg on 8 November, Sarkozy advocated a two-speed Europe made up of deeper integrated eurozone countries with a looser group outside.

Merkel, representing the interests of the dominant European capital, wants European fiscal union, which requires closer co-ordination and direct supervision of national economic and budgetary policies in the eurozone. Debt and deficit limits would be enforceable in the European Court of Justice and a European Commission minister with powers to demand changes in national budgets would impose automatic penalties if the countries do not fall into line (Financial Times 25 November 2011). Barroso demanded similar intrusive European Commission powers as part of a proposal from the Commission on 23 November for joint eurozone ‘stability’ bonds to replace, guarantee or cover national debt issuance. Merkel so far rejects such collectivisation of debt in the form of eurobonds, at least before fiscal union is in place.

The imposition of technocratic governments on Greece and Italy, led by the unelected prime ministers Lucas Papademos and Mario Monti, to implement drastic austerity programmes and structural reforms, shows the shape of things to come. Both prime ministers have solid neo-liberal and banking credentials. Papademos was Vice President of the European Central Bank 2002-2010 and former Governor of the Bank of Greece at the time Goldman Sachs was masking Greece’s debt so it could enter the eurozone. Monti was an international advisor to Goldman Sachs for six years and former European Competition Commissioner 1995-2004. Both countries have had to agree to IMF monitoring of their austerity programmes. Democratic accountability is desirable but necessarily expendable as the dominant European capital tightens it grip.

Rescuing the eurozone

The weekend of 22/23 October saw an EU summit intended to finalise a broad package agreed by Germany and France to deal with the eurozone sovereign debt crisis. It soon became clear that it would not be possible to complete an agreement that weekend as insufficient progress had been made with the negotiations to ensure it would be accepted by Merkel’s coalition in the Bundestag – Germany’s parliament. A further summit was called for later in the week – Wednesday 26 October. Broad outlines of this package were announced on 27 October with many of the specific details still to be clarified. The package included:

1. A 50% write down of Greece’s private sector debt to reduce its debt to 120% of GDP by 2020 as part of a new €130bn bail-out fund replacing the package of 21 July 2011.2

2. European banks to have a minimum capital buffer of 9% forcing them to find an extra €106bn by June 2012.

3. A fourfold increase to at least €1 trillion of the European Financial Stability Facility rescue fund designed to prevent the debt crisis spreading throughout the eurozone.

4. Italy to pledge to make structural reforms (ensure its austerity package was enacted) to insulate it from speculative attack.

The full details of this package are still being worked out. The initial market response to the package was positive with rising bank shares driving up stockmarkets. But this didn’t last long and the speculative attacks on the eurozone bond markets soon returned.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou then caused turmoil again in the markets by deciding on 31 October that first the Greek people had to vote for their own oppression by accepting the austerity package and so he called for a referendum. He was soon put right on this and shown who was calling the shots when he was summoned to a meeting with Sarkozy and Merkel before the G20 summit on 4/5 November. The €8bn Greek aid due from the May 2010 bail-out package, necessary for the Greek government to pay salaries and pensions and still not delivered, was once again suspended. A few days later the referendum was called off, Papandreou stepped down as Prime Minister and called for a government of national unity to force the austerity measures through. He said his country could not risk a ‘no’ vote on 4 December – the proposed date of the referendum.  Greece’s economy is expected to contract 5.5% this year and 2.8% in 2012.

Strikes, riots and demonstrations have become daily features of Greek political life. Wildcat strikes have prevented officials from finalising next year’s budget figures demanded by the EU-IMF before they will release the payments necessary to keep the government functioning. Striking civil servants blocked access to Greece’s statistical agency in Athens. Rubbish is piled up in the streets and ministers were locked out of their offices. The finance minister, Evangelos Venizelos, was prevented from entering his office. A two-day general strike on 19 and 20 October called by the unions to protest at the parliamentary debate and vote on the latest austerity measures exploded into violence and anger. One trade unionist died after being tear-gassed. As one of the 100,000 strong protesters gathered in Syntagma Square outside parliament put it: ‘The message we want to send both abroad and here at home is that we are not going to accept these policies lying down.’ The secretary general of the civil service union concurred: ‘Our European friends should know that our prime minister will go to the EU summit naked, because the promises he will make will have no backing in this country. The measures will be impossible to implement.’ (The Guardian 21 October 2011).

The battle over the property tax, expected to raise €2bn for the Greek government, continues.3 It has to be collected through electricity bills as tax workers refuse to collect it. Pressure from the militant ‘I won’t pay’ campaign forced the government to suspend plans to disconnect customers who refused to pay. Despite this Nikos Fotopoulos, the leader of Genop, the union of employees of the National Electric Power Corporation, said the union would not back down until the tax was got rid of. On 24 November he was one of 15 people arrested during a demonstration that blocked access to the Power Corporation. Genop responded by calling a two-day strike (The Guardian 25 November 2011).

The resistance in Greece is far more advanced than in other eurozone countries bailed-out by the EU-IMF. Portugal will not meet its fiscal targets agreed with the EU and IMF as part of its €78bn package unless it accepts further austerity measures. The economy is expected to contract 1.9% this year and a further 3% in 2012 – the worst recession since democracy was restored in 1974.  Unemployment will reach a record 13.4% next year. Public sector pay will be cut by 20% in 2012 compared with 2010. Social unrest in Portugal so far has remained relatively low key. 50,000 demonstrated in Lisbon and Porto in mid-October as part of a global day of protest. However, 24 November saw the biggest general strike for 20 years. Public sector workers led a nationwide walkout that paralysed transport in the capital, Lisbon. ‘The strike is general; the attack is global!’ chanted demonstrators.

Meanwhile Italy has become the focus of alarm. The G20 summit ended with little progress being made and disagreements over details of the package agreed at the EU summit. However Berlusconi was forced to agree to step down in favour of a new technocratic government to drive through the austerity measures to force down Italy’s public deficit. Thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets to protest against this ‘bankers’ government’.

Britain defends the City

On 21 November Cameron admitted that controlling Britain’s debt was ‘proving harder than expected’. He told the CBI conference that: ‘High levels of public and private debt are proving to be a drag on growth, which in turn makes it more difficult to deal with those debts.’ He now concedes what has been obvious for some time that eliminating the current structural deficit by 2014-15 is almost certainly impossible and even unlikely in the following year. According to the consultancy McKinsey, UK debt, at around 460% of GDP, is larger than that of any other country in Europe except Greece if household, business and bank debt are added to government borrowing. Nevertheless, as the government has made clear, there will be no let-up in the austerity measures. Low borrowing costs, corporate and banking interests have to be the government’s priority.

In all its dealings with the EU, the government has been centrally concerned with the impact of the package to rescue the eurozone on the City of London and Britain’s financial services sector. Typical is Britain’s response to the EU proposal of a financial transactions tax of 0.01% on bonds, securities and derivatives traded between financial institutions – the so-called Tobin tax. The chancellor George Osborne has called the tax ‘a bullet aimed at the heart of London’. Cameron complained that the City was a ‘key national interest’ under constant attack through Brussels directives’. The LibDem coalition business minister Vince Cable called the German position ‘completely unjustified’ and said it would simply divert revenues from Britain to the EU. The Labour Party, which has consistently befriended the City, shares this view. Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls said we must not throw the City ‘baby out with the bathwater’ and that the transactions tax risked ‘real damage to the City’.

In mid-November allies of Merkel claimed that she would not allow Britain to ‘get away’ with its refusal to back a European financial transaction tax. Volker Kauder, the parliamentary leader of Merkel’s party the CDU, said: ‘Britain has a responsibility to make Europe a success … Only going after their own benefit and refusing to contribute is not a message we’re letting the British get away with.’ He also claimed that Europe was embracing Merkel’s solution to the crisis by focusing on tougher financial discipline for indebted countries. In quite undiplomatic language he put the British government in its place when he said: ‘Now all of a sudden, Europe is speaking German’ (The Guardian 16 and 17 November 2011). This battle is set to run and run.

The crisis in Britain will intensify. Millions face a fall in living standards, growing unemployment, more oppressive conditions in the workplace and the loss of public services as the ruling class sustains the interests of the City of London, the financial arm of British imperialism. Resistance will inevitably emerge against this attack. On 30 November millions of public sector workers will take strike action against the attacks on their pensions. A one-day protest is not enough, unless it becomes a springboard for a massive resistance movement at every level. The ruling class will be ruthless. Greece shows the severity of the attack that will take place and also the determination and levels of organisation needed to resist.

26 November 2011

1 See David Yaffe ‘Capitalism fractures: no end to the global economic crisis’, FRFI 223 October/November 2011. See: http://tinyurl.com/bmgzguv

2 See James Martin ‘Euro crisis imperialists in conflict’, FRFI 222 August/September 2011, for a discussion of the 21 July package, at http://tinyurl.com/3veh2yn

3 See ‘Capitalism fractures’ op cit.

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Manchester: Farooqi family faces collective punishment

NOVANEWS

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism 224

December 2011/January 2012

 

At the beginning of September in Manchester, Munir Farooqi, Israr Malik and Matthew Newton were convicted under the Terrorism Act of attempting to recruit people to go to Afghanistan to fight for the Taliban against British and US occupation forces. Now, not only has Munir been given a life sentence, but his family is facing eviction from their home by the courts in an act of vindictive collective punishment.

Munir and his brothers ran Islamic information stalls in Manchester which distributed religious literature. The police operation that led to Munir and the two other men being convicted lasted for over a year and involved two undercover police officers joining the stalls and pretending to convert to Islam. At the end of the trial Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Porter of the North West Counter Terrorism Unit (NWCTU) admitted, ‘this was an extremely challenging case, both to investigate and successfully prosecute at court, because we did not recover any blueprint, attack plan or endgame for these men’. In other words it was the evidence of these two undercover cops that was crucial to the conviction of Munir and his brothers. Harris Farooqi, Munir’s son, was also on trial but was found not guilty; Harris has stated that the undercover cops had been engaged in a systematic attempt to entrap him.

After the guilty verdict for Munir was announced, the NWCTU and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) informed the Farooqi family that they were going to apply to the court to seize their family home in Longsight, Manchester. This is the first time that the state has attempted to seize property belonging to people convicted under the Terrorism Act. The announcement came just weeks after the Labour council declared it would evict families of people convicted of offences during the uprisings/riots in August.

This act of collective punishment against the family will affect seven people who live in the house including two children, one a baby. The police say that the home was the base for Munir’s ‘terrorist activity’ and is therefore liable for seizure. As Munir’s alleged crimes only involve discussing religious and ideological issues with members of the public, anybody who has a different political or ideological view from the state had better beware. According to the police the house was a store of terrorist-related propaganda but the report of the trial in The Guardian said that ‘Officers found three books and three DVDs that were considered terrorist publications at Farooqi’s home among more than 50,000 books and leaflets and more than 5,000 recordings.’

A campaign to ‘Save the family home’ www.savethefamilyhome.com has been set up and within four weeks 13,000 petition signatures supporting the family had been collected. These petitions were handed in to the CPS on 8 November. The next day in a show of contempt for the family and their supporters the CPS went ahead with their application to the court for the seizure of the family home. The case will probably come to court in March 2012. We cannot let the state get away with this act of collective punishment, and FRFI supporters in Manchester will be actively supporting the campaign.

Bob Derbyshire

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Palestine: UN statehood bid falters

NOVANEWS

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 224

December 2011/January 2012

 

After the fanfare accompanying the application to the United Nations for full Palestinian statehood by Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Abbas at the end of September there has been silence. There have been no mobilisations on Palestine’s streets, no international campaign and hardly a murmur of response from the UN. The application to the Security Council went immediately to its Committee on the Admission of New Members for ‘examination and report’ and on 11 November it became clear that out of the 15 states that make up the Security Council, Palestine could count on, at most, eight votes; one vote short of the nine needed for a Security Council majority which would force the US to use its veto. Britain indicated that it would abstain, which in practical terms is the same as opposing Palestinian statehood. BOB SHEPHERD reports.

 

The one glimmer of hope for Abbas’s strategy of UN recognition was the 31 October vote by UNESCO to admit Palestine as a full member. This small step was met with fury by the US and Israel. The next day Israel announced it was withholding paying $100 million a year tax and VAT revenue it collects from the PA and that it would fast-track construction of 2,000 new settlement units in East Jerusalem. The US said it was suspending its contribution of $60 million a year to UNESCO, 25% of UNESCO’s annual budget. Canada said it would cease its $10 million a year contribution. Withholding of the tax revenues will have an immediate effect on thousands of Palestinians as it is the main source of money used to pay the salaries of PA employees. It follows a decision by the US Congress to block nearly $200 million of humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people, intended for food, health care, and infrastructure projects.

As we pointed out in FRFI 223, ‘For Abbas and Fatah the decision to go to the UN is in effect the last throw of the dice for them, their strategy of “peace talks” and negotiations that stretch from the Oslo Accords in 1993 until today have been a disaster for the Palestinian masses and a growing humiliation for them. No matter what concessions Abbas and Fatah make to Israel the Zionist come back demanding more and at the same time the settlement construction advances across the West Bank and East Jerusalem.’ If Abbas and Fatah thought that in the political turmoil engulfing the region their bid for statehood at the UN would force the US to stop Israel from expanding settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem they were wrong. The only way the US could stop Israel from continuing to build the settlements would be through financial penalties but this would carry with it the possibility of destabilising Israeli society and imperialism will not allow this to happen. Imperialism’s political priority is the continuation of Israel as a stable military power able to defend imperialist interests in the region.

The strategy pursued by Abbas and Fatah stumbles from one humiliating failure to another, in contrast with the unprecedented prisoner swap organised by Hamas. This political victory saw them negotiate an agreement that will ultimately release over 1,000 Palestinian political prisoners in exchange for the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. That Israel agreed to the deal is of tremendous political significance for the Palestinian people, especially for those within the Palestinian movement who advocate a strategy of militant resistance. It seemed not long ago that the Arab Spring had passed the Palestinians by, but the prisoner release shows that Israel is being affected by the wider political changes in the region. Netanyahu, explaining the deal agreed with Hamas, placed it in the context of what he called the ‘storms’ sweeping the Middle East. ‘With everything that is happening in Egypt and the region I don’t know if the future would have allowed us to get a better deal – or any deal for that matter…this is a window of opportunity that might have been missed.’ The role played by the Egyptian regime in helping organise the deal highlights the changing political realities for Israel.

The first batch of 477 prisoners was freed on 18 October in return for the release of Shalit after over five years of captivity. The remaining 550 will be released by the end of 2011. Of these 477 prisoners, 110 were returned to their homes in the West Bank and 203 were deported to Jordan, Turkey, Qatar and Syria, countries which had agreed to take those whom Israel insisted must not be allowed to return home. The rest were transported to Gaza even if they were not originally from there. Although Hamas had to accept 203 deportees as part of the deal, Israel had to cross a number of what it had deemed to be ‘red lines’: freeing prisoners with ‘blood on their hands’ and prisoners from within both Israel and East Jerusalem. All women and child prisoners are also to be released under the deal. Approximately 5,300 Palestinian prisoners will remain in Israeli gaols.

The release of Shalit removes the excuse for the Zionists’ punitive blockade of Gaza and the isolation and inhuman conditions that Palestinian prisoners suffer, all of which were imposed on the pretext of forcing the Palestinians to release Shalit. As the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) puts it, ‘with the ending of Shalit’s case… PCHR calls for immediately lifting of the closure and an end to all collective punitive measures imposed on the civilian population. PCHR calls upon the international community to intervene in order to end the suffering of the Palestinian civilians and lift the closure of the Gaza Strip.’

End the Siege of Gaza!

Release all Palestinian political prisoners!

Boycott Israeli goods!

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Imperialist booty: how much does the United States loot from the rest of the world?

NOVANEWS

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism 224

December 2011/January 2012

Photo: US soldier harassing Iraqi workers in Fallujah, 2007

Imperialist booty: how much does the United States loot from the rest of the world?

 

Nearly five years ago, in FRFI 195, we discussed an article by Charles Post about the labour aristocracy. FRFI has repeatedly argued that, in the imperialist countries, there is a ‘labour aristocracy’ – a privileged section of the working class, enjoying some of the spoils of imperialist exploitation and which behaves as the political agent of the ruling class. We have shown how this section has consistently betrayed the interests of the US, British and international working class by its actions. Post attempted to demonstrate that there is no such section, mainly by claiming that imperialist booty – the swag looted by the US imperialists from the exploited nations – is an insignificant part of the income of US workers.

We argued that it is very significant and is quite sufficient to provide the privileges enjoyed by better-off US workers. Now Post has republished his article, with some minor modifications, in the academic journal Historical Materialism.1 Post’s absurd denial of the existence of a labour aristocracy undermines the struggle against racism and imperialism and covers up the betrayals of social democratic organisations like the Labour Party. We don’t have room to revisit our entire argument (see RCG website2), so we are going to bring the numbers up to date, correcting them and including all sources of booty. We believe FRFI readers will be interested in knowing the extent of US exploitation of oppressed nations. STEVE PALMER reports.

The first important mistake Post makes in counting imperialist booty is that he only includes ‘direct investment’. Yet, in 2010, total US direct investment abroad amounted to just $4.4 trillion, out of total US private assets abroad of $16.1 trillion3 – just 27% of total US private investment abroad! Why he does this is not explained.

What has he left out? US ‘portfolio investment’ abroad in 2010 included some $1.7 trillion in foreign bonds, $4.5 trillion of foreign corporate stocks, and $4.6 trillion of US banking and broking claims.4In short, he has ignored huge and growing sections of finance capital, in particular recent developments in the financial sphere. This omission is really quite extraordinary, given the massive expansion of financial capital in the recent period and its responsibility for precipitating the 2007-2008 financial crisis. Post asserts that ‘95% of total capitalist investment took place within the boundaries of each industrialised country’ (pp18-19). This is fantastic – Post means direct investment, in an attempt to minimise the significance of imperialist investment, leaving out portfolio investment. In fact, international investment amounts to around 150% of global GDP, a cool $100 trillion.5

The second significant error Post makes is in counting imperialist booty: he includes only profits. In addition to profits, there is interest, and a whole variety of rents of various kinds, extracted under the rubric of ‘services’: insurance and legal costs, royalties, licence and patent fees. These are official ruling class labels – more accurate descriptions would be ‘booty’, ‘swag’ or ‘extortion’.

In addition to these official categories, there are what the ruling class delicately refers to as ‘illicit financial flows’. These include the proceeds of smuggling, corruption and money laundering. They also include the fruit of ‘transfer pricing’ or ‘trade mispricing’. Transfer pricing is the practice of over-invoicing a subsidiary or affiliate for components, finished items or services. Instead of paying at cost, the subsidiary pays an extra amount above the cost to the parent company. In this way, profits can be moved around within a multinational enterprise to minimise tax payments and take advantage of beneficial accounting rules. Using transfer pricing, companies can repatriate booty to the US, as the ruling class puts it, ‘illicitly’. With 60% of world trade taking place within multinational enterprises, this practice has reached enormous proportions, as we shall show below.

Finally, quite apart from the flows recognized by the ruling class, there is the phenomenon, recognised by Marxist economists, of what has been called ‘unequal exchange’. Marx remarks in the Grundrisse:

‘Nations too may continuously exchange with one another, and continuously repeat the exchange of an ever-growing scale, without gaining equally thereby. One nation may continuously appropriate part of the surplus labour of the other and give nothing in exchange for it.’6

As part of the normal process of capitalist production and circulation, apparently equal exchanges between nations may result in a transfer of surplus labour, the source of profit, from one nation to another. This is not the place for a full discussion of this phenomenon.7 Suffice it to say that the great international differences in productivity of labour enable this to come about under capitalism. According to the United Nations agency UNCTAD, the productivity differential between the most developed capitalist countries and the least developed is as much as 100 to 1, so the scope of this form of exploitation is obviously enormous.

So how much loot does this all add up to? Let’s total it up for 2010. Post uses only profits from the rest of the world. In 2010, these came to $569.6 billion. Post then arbitrarily halves this to arrive at the amount coming from the exploited nations – which would be $284.8 billion. However, profits are only a tiny part of the overall total looted. First, we need to add interest payments, royalties and licensing fees, and other private services (legal, accounting etc). Altogether, these ‘legal’ forms of booty total $1,013.9 billion8 – over a trillion dollars! Post claims that the data ‘do not distinguish between investments in the global North and global South’ (p19).9 However, data on loot is available broken down by geographical area. If we consider just the exploited nations, the total booty is $459.4 billion – nearly $200 billion more than Post’s figure. But we are not finished yet!

Next we have to consider ‘illicit’ payments. Post ignores these completely. These are obviously difficult to obtain, but there have been attempts by well-meaning bourgeois do-gooders to estimate these. Global Financial Integrity (GFI) has estimated that total ‘illicit’ payments in 2009 from developing countries came to $1.3 trillion.10 Unfortunately, the report does not provide a geographical breakdown of the countries receiving these flows.

However, Christian Aid has estimated the flows of capital to the imperialist countries due to transfer pricing for the years 2005-2007.11 The total capital flow from non-EU countries to the US for these three years, due to transfer pricing, is $673.3 billion. Assuming that this source of booty is a constant proportion of ‘licit’ receipts, we have taken the average of these years, derived the proportion and applied it to other years. For 2010, we arrive at a sum of $231.7 billion. Since the GFI figures show that, on average, transfer pricing is half of ‘illicit’ financial flows, we will assume that total ‘illicit’ booty is twice transfer pricing – $463.5 billion for 2010 for the US.

What about ‘unequal exchange’? Post also ignores this apart from a brief dismissive footnote. Samir Amin has estimated the transfer from the Third World due to ‘unequal exchange’ amounted to 1.5% of the GDP of the imperialist countries in 1966.12 With the growing disparity in productivity over the past 45 years, this proportion has undoubtedly increased, but we will use it as a conservative basis for estimating ‘unequal exchange’. In 2010, 1.5% of US GDP was $217.9 billion.

When we add all three components of booty up for the US for 2010, we get a total of $1,140.8 billion from the exploited nations, four times Post’s total of $284.8 billion! A useful way of thinking about this booty is to understand that without its parasitic relationship to the exploited nations, the US would have to extort a further $1.1 trillion from its own working class to maintain its current level of profitability.

Once Post has his total, he tries to show that it is an insignificant proportion of the total annual wage bill. But there is a problem with this procedure, since the total annual wage bill includes the pay of workers on minimum pay – say $14,000 per year – and the pay of CEOs who may receive tens of millions of dollars – thousands of times as much. Clearly, including the CEOs and other capitalists grossly skews the numbers. A better alternative is to compare with the median. The median is the level midway between the two extremes – 50% receive more, and 50% receive less. In order to make our comparison more realistic, we will take the median of household income – half of all households receive more and half receive less. This will give us a good idea of the significance of this booty for working class household income.

Imperialist tribute from exploited nations to United States, 2000-2010, billions of current dollars13

Year    ‘Official’ booty           ‘Illicit’ booty   ‘Unequal Exchange’   Total

2000    204.323                       228.9               149.3                           582.5

2001    180.571                       203.1               154.3                           538.0

2002    170.261                       204.4               159.6                           534.3

2003    192.006                       227.8               167.1                           587.0

2004    244.547                       283.3               177.8                           705.6

2005    316.761                       305.2               189.3                           811.3

2006    397.297                       335.6               200.7                           933.6

2007    491.119                       705.2               210.4                           1,406.7

2008    491.561                       522.4               214.4                           1,228.4

2009    401.050                       423.5               209.1                           1,033.6

2010    459.400                       463.5               217.9                           1,140.8

In 2010, the median household income was $49,445 and the total number of households was 118,682 thousand.14 If we divide total booty from the exploited nations by the number of households, the share of booty per household is $9,612, or 19.4% of median household income. This is about £6,000 per year – hardly insignificant to most working class households!

After first claiming that ‘profits earned from investment in the global South make up a tiny fraction of the total wages of workers in the global North’ (p19), Post then asserts that ‘imperialist investment in the global South benefits all workers in the global North’ (p23) – however high or low their pay. This simply isn’t true: in 2010, 46.2 million people in the US were living below the official poverty level.15 Some 38 million people in 17.2 million households were experiencing hunger.16 The poorest 20% of households had incomes of $20,000 or less. Quite how these people benefit from imperialist investment, Post nowhere explains: quite clearly, they do not. Yet other sections of the working class do enjoy the benefits from imperialist booty. In short, there is a material division within the working class, created by imperialism.

We have carefully estimated US imperialist loot from the Third World, where billions endure appalling poverty, disease and hunger, thanks to this process of exploitation at the hands of the US and other imperialist nations. This has enabled the US ruling class to corrupt a whole section of the US working class into supporting imperialism. That is why socialist struggle in the US must be an anti-imperialist struggle and must fight the influence of this section if there is to be a revolution in the United States.


 

1 Charles Post ‘Exploring Working-Class Consciousness: A Critique of the Theory of the “Labour-Aristocracy”’, Historical Materialism, 18 (2010), pp3-38.

2 http://tinyurl.com/dy42q9p

3 Elena Nguyen, ‘The International Investment Position of the United States at Yearend 2010’,Survey of Current Business, July 2011, Table 1, lines 17, 18, p121.

4 Ibid, lines 20, 21, and 23.

5 For example, see Stephen Ceccetti, ‘Global Imbalances: Current Accounts and Financial Flows’, remarks prepared for the Myron Scholes Global Markets Forum, University of Chicago, 27 September 2011. Available at: www.bis.org. Cecchetti is Economic Advisor to the Bank of International Settlements.

6 Marx, Collected Works, 29, p244. See also Grundrisse (Penguin, London, 1993) p872.

7 See Henryk Grossman, The Accumulation and Breakdown of the Capitalist System, Pluto Press, London, 1992, pp169-172. For extensive reviews of the debate over ‘unequal exchange’, see Jan Otto Andersson, Studies in the Theory of Unequal Exchange between Nations (Abo Akademi, Helsinki, 1976) and Tamas Szentes, Theories of World Capitalist Economy (Akademiai Kiado, Budapest, 1985), pp83-293. These surveys have the merit of considering contributions of economists from the then socialist countries.

8 These figures are taken from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, NIPA tables 6.16D, International Transactions Table 1 and Table 12 regional tables.

9 We reject the description of imperialist countries as ‘global North’ and exploited nations as ‘global South’, since this suggests there is some kind of equality between the two groups, a merely geographical difference. This is an ideological concept and conceals the relationship of exploitation between the two groups of nations.

10 Dev Kar and Karly Curcio, Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries: 2000-2009, GFI, January 2011.

11 Christian Aid, False Profits, London, March 2009.

12 Unequal Development, Monthly Review Press, New York, 1976, p144.

13 Sources: Bureau of Economic Affairs tables cited above; Christian Aid, False Profits.

14 Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010 (United States Census Bureau, Washington, 2011), Table 1, p6.

15 Census Bureau, p14.

16 US Department of Agriculture, Household Food Security in the United States in 2010(Washington DC, 2011).

Posted in USAComments Off on Imperialist booty: how much does the United States loot from the rest of the world?

Libya: the vultures circle

NOVANEWS

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 224

December 2011/January 2012

 

NATO said it was going to stop a massacre and then committed one. It has left Libya torn apart between over 50 armed militias; gangs launch frenzied hunts for former government supporters. Black African men, women and children have been rounded up, imprisoned, lynched and disappeared. Meanwhile, the Financial Times devotes an entire page – ‘In a ruinous state: reconstructing Libya’ – to the business opportunities that the devastation offers (18 November 2011).

 

NATO flew approximately 28,000 sorties, averaging almost 133 a day for nearly eight months, and killed between 50,000 and 70,000 people. Sirte, a town of 100,000 people, is almost deserted and looks like Hamburg after the Allies’ firestorm bombing in July 1943. The murder of Colonel Gaddafi on 20 October was an act of depravity. In Socialist Worker (29 October 2011) the reactionary Alex Callinicos wrote, ‘the West’s role in the dictator’s downfall shouldn’t stop us celebrating.’ Callinicos compares Gaddafi to Mussolini, who like the Italian fascist, was, he says, killed by ‘popular militias’.

At least 13,000 people have been gaoled without trial or evidence by Libya’s supposed liberators. A UN report on Libya since the government’s fall, seen by The Independent, states, ‘Sub-Saharan Africans, in some cases suspected of being mercenaries, constitute a large number of the detainees. Some detainees have reportedly been subjected to torture and ill-treatment. Cases have been reported of individuals being targeted because of the colour of their skin.’ (24 November 2011). This is the work of those whom Callinicos calls ‘popular militias’.

The UN report describes towns and streets under the control of armed militias, settling internecine scores with gun battles and the National Transitional Council (NTC) powerless to intervene. The Zintani militia captured Saif Al Islam Gaddafi and, rather than turn him over to the interim government in Tripoli, they are bartering him in exchange for position and power.

On 31 October the NTC installed Abdurrahim Al Kreib as the new prime minister. He worked as a professor in the United Arab Emirates at the Petroleum Institute, funded by BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Total. The first British company to benefit from the NTC is Heritage Oil, headed by Tony Buckingham. In October Heritage bought a $19 million stake in Libya’s Sahara Oil, a Benghazi-based oil trading company. Buckingham worked as a mercenary in Angola and Sierra Leone, ploughing oil and diamond money into Heritage Oil, and last year donated £100,000 to the British Conservative Party. The NTC’s acting finance and oil chief, Ali Tarhouni, promised a ‘smaller government and a larger and freer private sector’, adding ‘the challenge here is that this is a welfare state’. The Financial Times lists health, education and public transport as among the targets for privatisation and for British companies to aim at.

It is a disgrace that Callinicos should serve as an apologist for NATO and join in the demonisation of Gaddafi that NATO used to justify the attack. Gaddafi was the leader of an oppressed nation, formerly colonised by Italy and then Britain and France. The Libyan state repressed internal opposition and collaborated with the US rendition programme against Islamists. However, it achieved the highest life expectancy and lowest infant mortality rate in Africa. It was for the Libyan people and them alone to deal with their government, not NATO and the British ruling class. The Libyan people have nothing to celebrate as they are preyed on by corporate vultures. They will regroup and resist.

 

Trevor Rayne

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