Archive | October 23rd, 2017

Great Powers and Global Politics

NOVANEWS

Terminology

A meaning of the term Great Power(s) (GP) in global politics from the beginning of the 16th century onward refers to the most power and therefore top influential states within the system of the international relations (IR). In other words, the GP are those and only those states who are modelling global politics like Portugal, Spain, Sweden, France, the United Kingdom, united Germany, the USA, the USSR, Russia or China. During the time of the Cold War (1949−1989) there were superpowers[1] as the American and the Soviet administrations referred to their own countries and even a hyperpower state – the USA, after the Cold War as it is called in the academic literature.[2] A focal characteristic of any GP is to promulgate its own national (state’s) interest within a global (up to the 20th century European) scope by applying a „forward“ policy.

A term global politics (or world politics) is related to the IR which are of the worldwide nature or to the politics of one or more actors who are having global impact, influence and importance. Therefore, global politics can be understood as political relations between all kinds of actors in the politics, either non-state actors or sovereign states, that are of global interest. In the broadest sense, global politics is a synonym for global political system that is “global universe of actors such as nation-states, international organizations, and transnational corporations and the sum of their relationships and interactions“.[3]

Characteristics

Originally, in the 18th century, the term GP was related to any European state that was, in essence, a sovereign or independent. In practice, it meant, only those states that were able to independently defend themselves from the aggression launched by another state or group of states. Nevertheless, after the WWII, the term GP is applied to the countries that are regarded to be of the most powerful position within the global system of IR. Those countries are only countries whose foreign policy is “forward“ policy and therefore the states like Brasil, Germany or Japan, who have significant economic might, are not considered today to be the members of the GP bloc for the only reason as they lack both political will and the military potential for the GP status.[4]

One of the fundamental characteristics and historical features of any member state of the GP club was, is and will be to behave on the international arena according to its own adopted geopolitical concept(s) and aim(s). In other words, the leading modern and postmodern nation-states are “geopolitically“ acting in the global politics that makes a crucial difference between them and all other states. According to the realist viewpoint, global or world politics is nothing else than a struggle for power and supremacy between the states on different levels as the regional, continental, intercontinental or global (universal). Therefore, the governments of the states are forced to remain informed upon the efforts and politics of other states, or eventually other political actors, for the sake, if necessary, to acquire extra power (weapons, etc.) which are supposed to protect their own national security (Iran) or even survival on the political map of the world (North Korea) by potential aggressor (the USA).

Competing for supremacy and protecting the national security, the national states will usually opt for the policy of balancing one another’s power by different means like creating or joining military-political blocs or increasing their own military capacity. Subsequently, global politics is nothing else but just eternal struggle for power and supremacy in order to protect self-proclaimed national interest and security of the major states or the GP.[5] As the major states regard the issue of power distribution to be fundamental in international relations and as they act in accordance to the relative power that they have, the factors of internal influence to states, like type of political government or economic order, have no strong impact on foreign policy and international relations. In other words, it is of „genetic nature“ of the GP to struggle for supremacy and hegemony regardless on their inner construction and features. It is the same „natural law“ either for democracies or totalitarian types of government or liberal (free-market) and command (centralized) economies.

Categorization

Power differs very much from one state to another likewise of the same state from historic perspective. Generally, the most powerful states enjoy and the most influential impact on international affairs either regional or global and control the majority of the power resources in the world. In practice, only several states have any real influence on global IR while the other states can have an influence just beyond their immediate locality. These two categories of states are named as the GP and the Middle Powers (MP) in the international system of intra-state relations.[6] A status of the GP can be formally given and to some supranational structures like in the 19th century to the Concert of Europe or in the 20th century to the UNO, the NATO or the Warsaw Pact.

Nevertheless, the fundametal division of the world states according to their impact on global affairs is just into two basic categories:

  1. The category of the GP (several top-powerful states).
  2. The category of non-GP (MP and low- or non-influential states).

A GP state is such state that is considered to be a member of the most powerful and influential group of states in a hierarchical order of the world state-system. Today, this term is related to the state that is regarded to be among the most powerful states in the global political system.[7]

The most problematic issue in categorization of the states within the world state-system is applied criteria. Nevertheless, the criteria which define one state to be or not to be a great power is usually, at least from the academic point of view, of the following basic ten-point conditions:

  1. A GP state is such state that is on the top-rank level of military power, having the real capacity to protect and maintain its own security and to influence the politics of other states or other actors in international relations.
  2. A GP state is a state that can be defeated militarily only by another member of GP club or by alliance of some of the states coming from this club.
  3. A GP state is from the economic perspective a powerful state. This condition is a necessary but, however, in some cases (like today Japan or the USA at the time of its isolationist period of foreign policy) is not and sufficient condition for the GP status. This is a quantitative condition for the status of a GP. The other quantitative conditions are certain level of GDP, GNP or GNI[8] or the size of its armed forces. The economic conditions can be and of qualitative nature like a high level of industrialization or the capability to make and to use nuclear weapons.
  4. A GP state has rather global, but not merely regional or continental, spheres of influence and interest. It means that a GP is such state that possesses, exercises as well as defends its own whatever interest throughout the globe.
  5. A GP state has to be at the front rank in regard to its military power and therefore it has to enjoy both certain privileges and duties dealing with global peace and international security.
  6. What is probably the most important, a GP state adopt and apply a “forward“ foreign policy having rather actual but not only potential impact on international affairs and other states or group of them. It practically means that a GP state can not adopt a foreign policy of isolationism.[9]
  7. The members of the GP club tend to share a global outlook that is founded on their own national interests far from their homes.
  8. The GP have strongest military forces and strongest economies to support their GP status.[10]
  9. The GP cannot easily lost its status in IR even after heavy military defeat due to its size, manpower and long-term economic potentials.
  10. The GP form alliances with smaller and weaker client (quisling) states.[11]

A GP status to some state can be and formally recognized by the international community as it was the case by the League of Nations in the interwar time or by the United Nations Organization (UNO) after the WWII up today (five veto-rights permanent member states of the Security Council – China, Russia, France, the USA and the United Kingdom). A GP status of these five “extraordinary“ members of the UNSC is guaranteed by their practice of unanimity. In other words, a concept of the GP unanimity holds that on all resolutions and/or proposals before the UNSC, a veto by any one of these five (privileged) states can be used that practically means that one GP state can block further work of the UNSC on certain issue.[12] Undoubtedly, one of the critical features of any GP state is its power projection that is a considerable influence, by force or not, beyond state’s borders, i.e. abroad, that less powerful countries could not match (for instance, the NATO military aggression against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999 conducted in fact by the USA).

The GP states are inter-connected within a Great-Power System that is the set of special relationships between and among this privileged club of the post powerful global actors in IR. Those special relations are conducted by their own rules and patterns of interaction as the GP have very extraordinary way of behaving and treating each other. This special way is, however, not applied to other states or other actors in global politics and system of IR.

History

Historically, a time of the GP started in the 18th century when five European strongest states (the United Kingdom, France, Prussia, the Habsburg Monarchy and Russia) were competing against one another. Until the WWI the GP club was exclusively reserved for the European states[13] while after 1918 two non-European states joined this club – the USA and Japan. China became after the Cold War strongly incorporated into the concert of global GP. The existence of a GP system requires that the international system of foreign affairs has to be of a multipolar nature that actually means to be composed at least by three major actors in international politics. A GP state can not be dependent on other state for security issue and it has to be militarily and economically stronger than other countries who are not members of a GP system of states. In fact, a security issue of those other states depends on one or more GP states.

In addition, those other states are also usually depended politically, financially and economically on one or more GP states. The security calculations of a GP state can be threatened only by other GP member state(s) who can challenge it politically and/or militarily. It is generally understood that to play a role of a GP, one state needs a large territory and population followed by well organized army and military system that is not possible without a strong, functional and above all a successful economy.

A historical experience shows clearly that to possess only one out of all necessary GP attributes means that the state cannot maintain its influence on the international arena for some very longer period of time. That is now exactly, for instance, the case of decreasing international influence and domestic power by the USA. Sweden lost its status of a major European power in the 18th century mainly due to its small number of population or Holland in the 17th century primarily due to its  smaller territory in comparison to neighboring France followed by English supremacy in oversea trade. Contrary, a state which is possessing all of the necessary factors of GP is in a real position to successfully exercise its own political and other influences on the others for a longer period of time. The process of passing from regional isolation to the status of European GP can be well seen on the example of the Russian Empire in the 18th century. The country was at the beginning of the century isolated and underdeveloped but due to a general progress during the whole century Russia was finally in 1792 by the Jassi Peace Treaty with the Ottoman Sultanate and in 1795 by the Third division of Poland-Lithuania recognized by the other European GP as a member of their club. As a consequence, Russia was in the following period from 1798 to 1815 directly involved in the games of European GP regarding the confrontation of the French Revolution and revolutionary armies of Napoléon Bonaparte.[14]

Nevertheless, as the 18th century was progressing, Russia was becoming gradually more stronger and influential in the international relations due to three crucial factors: a size of the land, its huge population and reach natural resources. All of these factors directly participated to the process of creation of the mighty Russian military land-force which became in 1815 strongest in continental Europe. In this year the Russian army entered Paris by crossing the whole Europe and winning battles from Leipzig (1813) to Waterloo (1815).

Contrary to the Russian case, the United Kingdom at the end of the same century became a global GP mainly due to its powerful navy[15] that was backed by its strong economy which was very much founded on direct exploitation of the British oversea colonies. In the next century, the Brits succeeded to establish an extensive oversea empire and to became a major player in the world politics at the time of Queen Victoria[16] but very much due to their geopolitical position as an „island nation“ whose security and colonial expansion was well protected by a powerful Royal Navy that was practically playing the role of protection wall around the United Kingdom.

Several theories of the Cold War argue, like the so-called “Freezer Theory“ for instance, that during that historical period of time both domestic and international conflicts were the products of the superpower competition in global politics. However, when the competition ended in 1989, the local and/or regional histories absorbed these conflicts where they became left transforming themselves into the territorial disputes, conflicts and open wars between the regional powers for the sake to settle historical accounts. Probably the best examples are the conflict over Nagorno Karabakh, destruction of ex-Yugoslavia, the conflicts over South Ossethia and Abkhazia or the Ukrainian crisis. All of those conflicts from the Adriatic to the Caucasus have been at the same time both the destabilizing factors of and challenge for the European integration and continental security.[17] For the realists, post-Cold War conflicts in a new power context is simply returning back of the international relations to the normal geopolitical reality of global politics as inescapable power policy. International system once again after the Cold War became the GP state system based on the “Westphalian Order“ as the states of the GP bloc are still the key factors and actors in both their own domestic areas and international politics as it was the case from 1648 to 1945.

Zero-Sum Game

The primary organizing principle of IR and global politics once again became after 1989 the “sacrosanct“ principle of a state sovereignty[18] that is only valid for the GP but not for the ordinary states (“small fishes“) like for Serbia in 1999 or Libya in 2011. State-centric model of the international politics that is currently on global politics’ agenda is known in theory as “Billiard Ball Model“ which suggests that states, at least those having a rank of the GP, are as billiard (snooker) balls impermeable and self-contained actors. The model tells that the GP influence each other through external pressure either by diplomacy or direct military action. The survival is the prime concern of any state but struggling for power on global scene is the concern of only those states which are considered to be the GP. The “Billiard Ball Model“ of global politics has two fundamental implications:

  1. Clear difference between domestic and international politics.
  2. Conflict and cooperation in global politics is primarily determine by the distribution of economic, political and military power among states.[19]

The crucial characteristics of contemporary GP state are:

  1. To maintain order and carrying out regulations within its own borders only by itself without interference from outside (ex. Russia and the Chechen rebels in the 1990s) that is a focal feature of a real sovereignty status.[20]
  2. To promulgate its own policy of interest in international relations by all „allowed“ means that is proving a real GP status in IR.

Therefore, it is in essence unavoidable that the state-system of international policy and relations is operating in a context of anarchy what means that external politics operates as an international “state of nature“.

A basic principle of any GP state is the principle of self-help that means as possible as a reliance on inner resources which are understood as the crucial reason that state prioritize survival and security from the outside world.

Therefore, the establishment and exploitation of all kinds of colonies or/and territorial expansion of the motherland in order to obtain natural resources, labor force, market or better security conditions are seen as quite necessary imperialistic practice. If the GP state is unable to establish its own global, continental or regional hegemony, it seeks to activate a concept of balance of power that is a condition in which no one state has a predominance over others at the same time tending to create general equilibrium and prevent the hegemonic ambitions of other states.

Nevertheless, in the case that IR of the GP work on the background of a self-help principle, the power-seeking inclination of one state is a result of competing tendencies in other state(s). That is exactly how we can explain the reason of the policy of Russia’s economic, military and political inclination on the global level during the presidency of Vladimir Putin as an atavistic reaction to the US unscrupulous and Russophobic policy of a global hyper-hegemony in the 1990s after the dissolution of the USSR and disappearance of the Cold War’s bipolar world.[21] Unfortunately, most often, in such cases of the IR system, conflicts and even direct wars are inevitable between the GP as the examples of both world wars are clearly manifesting.

One of the fundamental rules of the realistic view of global politics and foreign affairs is that any gain, especially territorial, by one state or side is equivalent to the loss by another competition state or enemy bloc. This is the so-called “Zero-Sum Game“ as it is added the winner’s gains and the loser’s losses the total equals zero. That was the case, for instance, with Kosovo independence in 2008 (the US victory and Russia’s loss) related to Crimean reintegration into Russia in 2014 (Russian gain and the US/NATO/EU defeat).

Nevertheless, in a global struggle for power, Realpolitik [22] is an unavoidable instrument for realisation of national goals what means that the use of power, even in the most brutal way, is quite necessary and understandable as it is an optimal mean to accomplish foreign policy’s aims. That was, for instance, clearly expressed in 1999 during the NATO aggression on Serbia and Montenegro (from 24th of March to 10th of June).

Future

All the post-Cold War American imperialistic wars of aggression had the same formal ideological justification which was composed by mixture of elements drawn from the Cold War time (“Communist violations of human rights“) and after that. The cliché was and still is that the US as a leader of a “liberal democratic world“ is fighting against “new Hitlers“ and all other “dictators“ and “butchers“ (from S. Hussein to V. Putin) for the sake to “liberate“ the rest of the world that cannot progress under such monstrous rulers.[23] A regional variations of the US imperialism policy explanations after 1945 are visible as, for instance, in the case of the Latin America (“Wars against Drugs“) or in the case of the Middle East and Arab/Muslim world in general (“War on Terror“).

Such US foreign policy, however, created many ambivalent attitudes towards the American empire by many states, movements, parties or individuals around the world including and existing feelings of embarrassment that other GP have to be essentially dependent on the USA. For instance, many Europeans are convinced that the US cannot any more act in global policy like it was at the time of the Cold War as it has to closely operate with the others. Today, it seems to be unlikely that the US will be able to keep its post-Cold War status of a hyperpower and global policeman. Surely, other GP will became more stronger and influential in IR and global politics primarily China and Russia. It only remains to be seen whether they will co-operate or not in ways that promote or undermine world order.

This article was originally published by The Global Politics where all images were sourced.

Feature image: Source: One World of Nations

Sources

Alan Isaacs et al (eds.), Oxford Dictionary of World History, Oxford−New York: 2001.

Andrew Heywood, Global Politics, London−New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

Bear F. Braumoeller, The Great Powers and the International System: Systemic Theory in Empirical Perspective, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Georges Castellan, History of the Balkans From Mohammed the Conqueror to Stalin, New York: Columbia University Press, 1992.

Jeffrey Haynes, Peter Hough, Shahin Malik, Lloyd Pettiford, World Politics, New York: Routledge, 2013.

Joshua S. Goldstein, International Relations, Fifth edition, New York: Longman, 2003.

Martin Griffiths, Terry O’Callaghan, Steven C. Roach, International Relations: The Key Concepts, Second edition, London−New York, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2008.

Paul M. Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery, Second edition, New York: Humanity Books, 1983.

Paul M. Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Books, 1987.

Richard W. Mansbach, Kirsten L. Taylor, Introduction to Global Politics, Second edition, London−New York: Routledge, 2012.

Stefano Bianchini (ed.), From the Adriatic to the Caucasus. The Dynamics of (De)Stabilization, Ravenna: Longo Editore, 2001.

Steven L. Spiegel et al, World Politics in a New Era, Third edition, Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2004.

Tim Dunne, Milja Kurki, Steve Smith (eds.), International Relations Theories. Discipline and Diversity, Third edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Vladan Dinić, Tito (ni)je TITO: Konačna istina, Beograd: Novmark, 2013.

Zbignew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives, New York: Basic Books, 1997.

Иванка Ћуковић Ковачевић, Историја Енглеске. Кратак преглед, Београд: Научна књига, 1991.

Перо Симић, Звонимир Деспот (уредници), Тито: Строго поверљиво. Архивски документи, Службени гласник: Београд, 2010.

Перо Симић, Тито: Феномен 20. века, Треће допуњено издање, Службени гласник: Београд, 2011.

Славољуб Шушић, Пробни камен за Европу. Војно-политички коментари, Београд: Војна књига, 1999.

Notes

[1] The term superpower was originally coined by William Fox in 1944 for whom such state has to possess great power followed by great mobility of power. At that time, he argued that there were only three superpower states in the world: the USA, the USSR and the UK (the “Big Three”). As such, they fixed the conditions of Nazi Germany’s surrender, took the focal role in the establishing of the UNO and were mostly responsible for the international security immediately after the WWII (Martin Griffiths, Terry O’Callaghan, Steven C. Roach, International Relations: The Key Concepts, Second edition, London−New York, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2008, 305).

[2] China, with its enormous economic and man-power potentials followed by its rising military capability, will soon emerge as the most influential GP in global politics overtaking a role of a sole hyperpower from the USA. The 21st century is already a century of China but not of the USA as it was the 20th century.

[3] Richard W. Mansbach, Kirsten L. Taylor, Introduction to Global Politics, Second edition, London−New York: Routledge, 2012, 577.

[4] Israel is the only exception from this definition as this state has as its “West Bank” the USA. In other words, when we speak about the USA in IR, we speak de facto about Israel and the Zionist loby in the USA.

[5] The European Union (the EU, est. 1992/1993) with its central motor, the French-German axis, became a new GP in global politics. Therefore, the USA is not anymore in a position to dictate and implement global policies like at the time of the Cold War. After the creation of the EU, the US administration seeks a multilateral action with the EU in several hot-spot areas of the conflics in Europe as ex-Yugoslavia or Ukraine.

[6] Today, a formal GP status have the USA, Russia, China, France and Britain and MP status arguably have Canada, Italy, Brasil, Japan, Germany, Argentina, Turkey, India and/or Iran. However, if we consider the USA as a West Bank of Israel then the later is the only hyperpower in the world.

[7] Richard W. Mansbach, Kirsten L. Taylor, Introduction to Global Politics, Second edition, London−New York: Routledge, 2012, 578.

[8] Gross domestic product (GDP) is the total sum of goods and services that is produced by one state in a given year but not including goods and services that are produced abroad by domestic individuals or companies. Gross national product (GNP) is a total value of all goods and services produced by a country in a year, whether within the state’s borders or abroad. Gross national income (GNI) is measuring the market value of goods and services which are produced during a certain time period (usually within one calender year) and provides an estimate of a state’s total agricultural, industrial and commercial output.

[9] Martin Griffiths, Terry O’Callaghan, Steven C. Roach, International Relations: The Key Concepts, Second edition, London−New York, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2008, 134−135; Andrew Heywood, Global Politics, London−New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, 7. On the GP, see more in (Paul M. Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Books, 1987). On the historical role of the GP in international relations, see in (Bear F. Braumoeller, The Great Powers and the International System: Systemic Theory in Empirical Perspective, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012).

[10] However, their strongest economic status is guaranted by combination of several inter-related factors: 1. Their large population, 2. Rich natural resources, 3. Most advanced technology, and 4. Highly educated labor force (Joshua S. Goldstein, International Relations, Fifth edition, New York: Longman, 2003, 95).

[11] In the Ancient World two the most prominent examples of client-system alliances have been Athens-led Arhe and Sparta-led Peloponnesian Alliance. These two political-military alliances fought the Peloponnesian War from 431 to 404 with the final victory of Sparta with crucial support by Persia (Alan Isaacs et al (eds.), Oxford Dictionary of World History, Oxford−New York: 2001, 486). In the contemporary history two the most prominent formal alliances to dominate the international security scene were the US-led NATO (est. 1949) and the USSR-led Warsaw Pact (est. 1955) during the Cold War. The NATO was a clear expression of the American post-WWII global imperialism when the US had “more than 300.000 troops in Europe, with advanced planes, tanks, and other equipment” (Joshua S. Goldstein, International Relations, Fifth edition, New York: Longman, 2003, 105). Its imperialistic role continued and after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact in 1991 and the formal, but not essential, end of the Cold War.

[12] Steven L. Spiegel et al, World Politics in a New Era, Third edition, Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2004, 696.

[13] Italy and Germany became the members of the GP system after their unifications in 1861, 1871 respectively.

[14] Georges Castellan, History of the Balkans From Mohammed the Conqueror to Stalin, New York: Columbia University Press, 1992, 213.

[15] On the British navy, see in (Paul M. Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery, Second edition, New York: Humanity Books, 1983).

[16] Иванка Ћуковић Ковачевић, Историја Енглеске. Кратак преглед, Београд: Научна књига, 1991, 64; Alan Isaacs et al (eds.), Oxford Dictionary of World History, Oxford−New York: 2001, 646−647.

[17] On this issue, see more in (Славољуб Шушић, Пробни камен за Европу. Војно-политички коментари, Београд: Војна књига, 1999; Stefano Bianchini (ed.), From the Adriatic to the Caucasus. The Dynamics of (De)Stabilization, Ravenna: Longo Editore, 2001).

[18] A concept of sovereignty refers to a status of legal autonomy (independence) that is enjoyed by states what means in practice that the government has a sole authority within its borders and enjoys the rights of the membership of the international political community. Therefore, the terms sovereignty, autonomy and independence can be used as the synonyms.

[19] Andrew Heywood, Global Politics, London−New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, 6, 7f, 113, 215.

[20] The Chechen Wars in the 1990s were inspired by the Islamic religious nationalism and separatism by the Chechen extremists and have been the first serious post-Cold War test for Russia to prove or not her status of the GP in the new world order created and dictated by the US. Religius nationalism is a political doctrine in which religion and nationalism have synonymous relationship (Jeffrey Haynes, Peter Hough, Shahin Malik, Lloyd Pettiford, World Politics, New York: Routledge, 2013, 52).

[21] An ideological architect of the post-Cold War US hyper-dominance in global politics was an US extreme Russophobe Zbignew Brzezinski who is of the Jewish origin from Poland (Zbignew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives, New York: Basic Books, 1997). His doctrinal ideology of the US global hyper-dominance became the foundation of “Clinton Doctrine” that is the US foreign policy initiative under the Presidency of Bill Clinton (1993−2001), to promote democracy and human rights by using diplomatic means but in fact military aggressions, bombing (the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999), “coloured revolutions” (Serbia in October 2000) and all other non-democratic means in order to accomplish the crucial Washington’s political goal – global dominance.

[22] This is a German term that became widespread from the time of the German Chancellor (PM) Otto von Bismarck. The term means in IR studies a cold calculation of state’s national interests regardless on the human or moral aspects of its realization. The term is usually understood as a core essence of Realism theories on global politics based on “ruthlessness” (Jeffrey Haynes, Peter Hough, Shahin Malik, Lloyd Pettiford, World Politics, New York: Routledge, 2013, 713). Realism is a political view which operates with power as the fundamental point of politics claiming, therefore, that the international politics is in essence power politics behind which is a principle of Realpolitik. The advocates of Realism argue that international politics is a struggle for power for the sake to deny other states the capacity to dominate. Subsequently, a balancing of power became a central concept in IR developed by the realists. If there is a single world hegemon, global politics is going to be just a struggle between the GP in seeking both political, military, economic, financial, etc. domination and preventing other states or actors from dominating (Tim Dunne, Milja Kurki, Steve Smith (eds.), International Relations Theories. Discipline and Diversity, Third edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013, 59−93).

[23] Such cliché was used during the Cold War, for instance, against the Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser (President of Egypt in 1956−1970) but not against the Yugoslav real dictator and the “Butcher of the Serbs” of the Croat-Slovenian origin, Josip Broz Tito (dictator of Yugoslavia in 1945−1980). The reason for such US policy on J. B. Tito was that he became the US client politician, as many dictators all over the world, after 1948 and therefore was simply “intangible” in home affairs. On J. B. Tito biography, see in (Перо Симић, Звонимир Деспот (уредници), Тито: Строго поверљиво. Архивски документи, Службени гласник: Београд, 2010; Перо Симић, Тито:Феномен 20. века, Треће допуњено издање, Службени гласник: Београд, 2011; Vladan Dinić, Tito (ni)je TITO: Konačna istina, Beograd: Novmark, 2013).

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Madrid Imposes Direct Rule Over Catalonia

NOVANEWS

 

As expected, Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy suspended Catalan self-governance after a Saturday morning cabinet meeting.

A regime statement said

“(a)t an emergency meeting on Saturday, the cabinet will approve measures to be put before the senate to protect the general interest of Spaniards, including the citizens of Catalonia, and to restore constitutional order in the autonomous community.”

It criticized Catalan officials for “deliberately and systematically seeking institutional confrontation, despite the serious damage it is causing to coexistence and Catalonia’s economy.”

Ahead of Saturday’s action, a regime spokesman lied, claiming Catalan autonomy won’t be suspended.

Its officials will be replaced by Madrid “administrators,” its powers stripped once Rajoy’s-controlled Senate ratifies his diktat next week – despotically usurping power over Catalan self-governance.

He called for snap elections “in a maximum of six months.” President Puigdemont alone has this authority, stripped from him once Madrid’s Senate acts.

Puigdemont, Vice President Oriol Junqueras, and 12 Catalan ministers will be dismissed, Rajoy usurping power over the region, intending elections “as soon as institutional normality is restored,” he said, turning truth on its head adding:

“The Catalan self-rule is not suspended, but its legality is being restored” – by despotically replacing it with Madrid rule until snap elections install regime puppet governance to do its bidding.

Measures to be imposed also apply to Catalan parliamentarians, its legislative powers stripped.

Actions they wish to vote on require approval from a “designated” Madrid official. Catalan public radio and television are affected, their programming requiring permission from Rajoy appointed “administrators.”

Catalan Vice President Junqueras urged independence supporters to rally later on Saturday in Barcelona “against totalitarianism,” tweeting:

“Today more than ever, let’s defend democracy and civil and political rights.”

Puigdemont is expected to address the rally. Earlier he vowed to formally declare independence if Madrid imposed rule over the region.

Spain’s opposition PODEMOS party called for Rajoy’s ouster. Spaniards are ill-served by his repressive government.

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Washington’s Design is to Fracture Syria: US-backed Militia Says Raqqa to be Part of ‘Federal Syria’

NOVANEWS

Raqqa will be part of a decentralized federal Syria after the city has been freed from Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), the US-backed militias that captured it said on Friday.

The Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said the people of the majority Arab city and surrounding province would decide their own future “within the framework of a decentralized, federal, democratic Syria,” Reuters reports. In a declaration announcing Raqqa’s liberation after four months of battles, the SDF pledged “to protect the frontiers of the province against all external threats,” and to hand control to a civil council.

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Korean War: 600,000 Tons of American Bombs on the North. Every City was Destroyed ‘Video’ 

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Part 22

This episode details the UN bombing campaign over North Korea and the results for the people on the ground.

The majority of civilians killed in the Korean War were killed in North Korea by air attack. (This segment on the bombing of North Korea was censored from the US version of this documentary.).

Extensive war crimes committed by the United States. 

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What We Still Haven’t Learned from the Vietnam War

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Featured image: Vietnam War protestors march at the Pentagon in Washington, DC on October 21, 1967. (Photo credit: Frank Wolfe / LBJ Library / Wikimedia)

Fifty years ago today, in 1967, nearly 100,000 Americans marched on Washington, DC, to protest the Vietnam War. In those days there was a mandatory draft in place, and the risk was very real that a young man just out of high school could quickly wind up 13,000 miles away, fighting an unseen enemy in jungles that didn’t need tanks or B-52 bombers to inflict fear. Worse yet was the possibility of going MIA or coming home in a body bag — just another expendable statistic in the great fight against communism. But even many of those who made it back left part of their souls in that war zone.

Today there is no longer a mandatory draft. And neither is there any anti-war movement to speak of.

If you ask young people today why the United States joined the fight in WWII, many could probably tell you that we were bombed by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor. Or perhaps they would say we had to fight Hitler and the Nazis. But what about Vietnam? Why did we go to war there? What were we fighting for? How did we become involved in that conflict? My guess is that most couldn’t tell you — just as it became unclear to that generation in 1967, who were fighting and dying.

This contrast between clarity and ambiguity is reflected in popular cinema — take WWII films like Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, Pearl Harbor, and Sands of Iwo Jima that reflect the essential righteousness of the American cause. Yet classic Vietnam War films like Apocalypse Now, Full Metal JacketPlatoon, and Hamburger Hill reflect the uncertainty, misery, barbarity, and psychosis of the GI experience.

But this split perception took time. The truth is that the US had been in Vietnam since the mid-1950s. Since the turn of the century, America had been slowly developing into an imperial power to rival the British and the French. WWII had solidified it as the inheritor of the British Empire — the only imperial power left standing.

The whole of Vietnam had been a colony of the French since the 1890s, but after WWII an uprising occurred, led by Ho Chi Minh — inspired by Marxist-Leninism and a nationalist fervor to regain control of their own country. By 1954 the French were out, and two Vietnams, north and south, formed in an uneasy proximity.

The US inherited the imperial project from the French — gradually sending in military “advisors” to the south. President John F. Kennedy had continued that project by backing the south Vietnamese government with military assistance and equipment. The stated reason for this intervention was to prevent the spread of communism throughout southeast Asia — the infamous “domino theory.”

But by 1963, Kennedy had come to see the futility of this endeavor. He gave orders to begin withdrawing troops, and planned to have all military personnel out of Vietnam by the end of 1965.

But on November 22, 1963 President Kennedy was assassinated, and President Lyndon B. Johnsontook the helm. He immediately reversed Kennedy’s orders. The Gulf of Tonkin incident in August 1964, in which a group of North Vietnamese torpedo boats allegedly fired on a US Navy ship (it turned out to be false — and the administration knew it), gave Congress the incentive to give Johnson the authority he needed to dramatically escalate troop deployment and to begin a new bombing campaign.

By 1968, over 500,000 American soldiers were stationed in Vietnam.

In the mid-60s, young people began questioning why their friends and family members were being sent thousands of miles away to fight in another country they’d never heard of before. The rock n’ roll revolution was in full swing, and the hippie movement, dope, and acid were fueling a counter-culture movement that questioned the establishment and their rules of conformity — instead pushing the mantra “make love, not war.”

Not only was Johnson feeling the heat from student protesters, but even Wall Street and Big Finance were beginning to express doubts about the feasibility of winning the war. The debt was piling up and America was at that point still under the Bretton-Woods gold standard.

In March of 1968, less than a year after the protest march on D.C., Johnson announced he would not seek reelection.

Senator Robert Kennedy, brother of JFK, had thrown his hat in the race, running as a peace candidate who would bring the troops home from Vietnam. He was assassinated several months afterMartin Luther King, Jr. The Republican candidate Richard Nixon won the election, and the war continued another seven years, taking us off the gold standard in the process. It ended in US defeat in 1975, shortly after Nixon resigned from office in shame after the Watergate scandal.

By the war’s end the US had lost 58,000 troops — the Vietnamese somewhere between one and three million.

So why was America in the Vietnam war for so long? What was it really about?

We might as well ask why we have been in Afghanistan for 16 years with no end in sight. Or why did we invade Iraq? Why did we overthrow Libya? Why are we involved in a civil war in Syria? Why are we backing a genocidal war in Yemen? Why did we invade Grenada? Why did we conduct covert warfare in a dozen different Central and South American countries over the past 60 years? Why are we still in Korea 70 years after the fact, now on the verge of a renewed conflict? Why have we come to the very threshold of nuclear annihilation more than once?

What happened to the citizens, community leaders, institutions, and politicians that we would allow this endless warfare to continue? And where is the anti-war movement? Why are they MIA?

These questions are all related. Perhaps if we were to solve the riddle of Vietnam, we would solve these other questions as well. Perhaps those 100,000 students and protesters 50 years ago solved it — and decided to do something about it. Maybe we can too.

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World Food Prize: Feeding the World a Slick Campaign of Lies

NOVANEWS

The Industrial Food Chain uses at least 75 percent of the world’s agricultural resources and is a major source of GHG emissions, but provides food to less than 30 percent of the world’s people.

Tonight (October 19, 2017), the World Food Prize will be ceremoniously bestowed on yet another cheerleader for degenerative agriculture.

This year’s award goes to Dr. Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina of Nigeria, president of the African Development Bank, and a proud supporter of Big Ag and Biotech. In his words, Adesina says he works to “help farmers rise to the top of the value chain by industrializing agriculture.”

In the lead-up to World Food Day (October 16) and tonight’s ceremony, I’ve received, from an enthusiastic marketing person who mistakenly thinks I’d be interested in attending tonight’s events, a series of emails all with the subject line “How Iowa is feeding the world.”

The email invitations contain glowing praise for industrial, degenerative agriculture—the type that kills healthy soil life, has ruined Iowa’s water and produces pesticide-contaminated food. In one email, she wrote:

But in Iowa, solving global hunger is business as usual, from being the #1 producer of pork, soy beans and eggs, to the cutting-edge bioscience research being conducted at the state’s universities, to groundbreaking technological innovations applied in the farms and fields – Iowa has a long legacy of feeding the world.

Iowa is in fact home to many good farmers. Farmers who work with nature, not against it. Farmers who—without benefit of the huge taxpayer-funded subsidies granted to their GMO monoculture counterparts—steward their lands, and grow nutrient-rich, uncontaminated food.

But those aren’t the farmers who are ever awarded a $250,000 World Food Prize. Because those farmers aren’t generating big profits for corporations like Monsanto.

No, the farmers and “thinkers, scientists and advocates of global food security” who are gathered in Des Moines this week aren’t so interested in regenerative agriculture. And, as one new report after another reveal, the only thing they’re feeding the world is a slick PR campaign, founded in lies.

The truth about who’s really feeding the world (spoiler alert: it’s not industrial ag) was published this week by the nonprofit ETC Group in its latest edition of “Who will Feed us?” But before we get to that, it’s worth pointing out, again, that lack of food isn’t the root cause of world hunger. According to multiple sources, including Mercy Corps:

There is now 17 percent more food available per person than there was 30 years ago. If all the world’s food were evenly distributed, there would be enough for everyone to get 2,700 calories per day—even more than the minimum 2,100 requirement for proper health.

So why do 795 million people (one in nine) go to bed hungry every night? Because the food being produced doesn’t get distributed to them—and even if it did, they couldn’t afford it.

Poverty and distribution are the root causes of hunger. And as Pope Francis said this week, the link between climate change (of which industrial agriculture is a major contributor) and hunger is “undeniable.

What exactly is the World Food Prize?

In 1986, U.S. packaged food conglomerate General Foods Corporation launched the “General Foods World Food Prize” to celebrate advances in industrial food production.

Today, the “World Food Prize” is a public-private partnership between the state of Iowa and numerous multinational agrichemical corporations, including Bayer, Dow, Dupont, Monsanto and Syngenta. World Food Prize events happen on or around October 16, to coincide with World Food Day, the annual celebration of the founding in 1945 of the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO). The FAO uses World Food Day as a call-to-action for countries to meet Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #2: Achieve Zero Hunger by 2030.

According to its official website, the World Food Day Prize is “the most significant observance of World Food Day anywhere around the globe.” Yet interestingly, there’s no mention of the prize on the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) website, where you think something so “significant” would bear mention by the originators of World Food Day?

Who really feeds the world?

At a recent dinner party, the subject of Monsanto and GMOs came up. Several of the well-educated and well-read guests asked: But without GMOs, how will we feed the world?

Clearly, Monsanto has excelled at getting its (false) message out. Which means that we have to work harder at getting out the facts—many of which are laid out, and meticulously researched and documented, in ETC Group’s latest publication.

In honor of the real World Food Day, please share some of the facts, brought to you by ETC Group:

1.  Peasants are the main or sole food providers to more than 70 percent of the world’s people,and peasants produce this food with less (often much less) than 25 percent of the resources—including land, water, fossil fuels—used to get all of the world’s food to the table.

2.  The Industrial Food Chain uses at least 75 percent of the world’s agricultural resources and is a major source of GHG emissions, but provides food to less than 30 percent of the world’s people.

3.  For every $1 consumers pay to Chain retailers, society pays another $2 for the Chain’s health and environmental damages. The total bill for the Chain’s direct and indirect cost is five times governments’ annual military expenditure.

4.  The Chain lacks the agility to respond to climate change. Its R&D is not only distorted but also declining as it concentrates the global food market.

5.  The Peasant Food Web nurtures nine -100 times the biodiversity used by the Chain, across plants, livestock, fish and forests. Peasants have the knowledge, innovative energy and networks needed to respond to climate change; they have the operational scope and scale; and they are closest to the hungry and malnourished.

6.  There is still much about our food systems that we don’t know we don’t know. Sometimes, the Chain knows but isn’t telling. Other times, policymakers aren’t looking. Most often, we fail to consider the diverse knowledge systems in the Peasant Food Web.

The bottom line? According to ETC Group, at least 3.9 billion people are either hungry or malnourished because the Industrial Food Chain is too distorted, vastly too expensive, and—after 70 years of trying—just can’t scale up to feed the world.

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Syria: Egregious Lies and Crimes Are The Foundation of Western Foreign Policy

NOVANEWS

This article was first published by GR on May 2017.

Syrians are just like you and me.

They seek to live happy, secure lives, in which they can thrive and prosper.

NATO terrorists are destroying Syria, and they have been destroying Syria for about six years.  Infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, water supplies, electric plants, roads and bridges have been and continue to be targeted and destroyed.

Video by Pierre Le Corf

Syrian resident and documentary film maker Tom Duggan bears witness to the terrorists’ willful destruction of schools and school infrastructure throughout Syria as well as the theft of factory equipment and the willful destruction of factories in Aleppo.

NATO terrorists deny Syrians safety, and the means to earn a living. They seek the complete destruction of Syria, its history, and its secular identity.

The real, evidence-based account of Syria’s plight is obliterated by the West’s criminal mainstream media complex, which serves as an appendage of the warmongering elites.

Humanitarian Pierre Le Corf demonstrates that the sources for the Western news stories are not only embedded with the terrorists, but that, in some instances, as is the case with the infamous White Helmets, the sources are the terrorists.

Evidence from the liberation of Aleppo reveals that the White Helmets are FSA, that they are al Qaeda/al Nusra, and that they are Daesh/ISIS.

Video by Pierre Le Corf

Prof. Tim Anderson compiles the evidence from the above video in the photo montage below.

Western governments have lost their legitimacy.  They do not represent the informed will of the people whom they claim to represent.  They conduct their criminal foreign policy based on a foundation of lies.

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60 Parliamentarians Urge UK Government Action on Gaza Emergency

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Posted by: Kitty Moses

WHY AFTER 7 YEARS OF NAZI DAILY BLACKOUTS ?    ‘Shoah’

A group of 60 British MPs and Peers have this week written to Minister Alistair Burt (Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development) to call on the UK Government to take urgent action to address Gaza’s continuing humanitarian emergency.

In August, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) warned of Gaza’s humanitarian emergency, amid a deepening electricity crisis, medical shortages, and increased restrictions on exit for treatment faced by patients.  In 2012, the UN warned that Gaza could be unliveable by 2020. For patients now unable to access the care they need inside or get out for treatment elsewhere, Gaza is already unliveable.

In the letter sent this week, parliamentarians – many of them members of the Britain-Palestine All-Party Parliamentary Group – urged the UK Government to provide additional humanitarian funding to Gaza, and to “use all diplomatic means – including multilateral forums such as the UN Human Rights Council and bilateral relations with Israel and the Palestinian Authority – to pursue accountability for all violations of international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territory and bring an end to the closure of Gaza.”

You can read the letter in full below and here.


Dear Alistair

Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza

As a group of cross-party MPs and Peers, we are writing to express our deep concern regarding the current and worsening humanitarian emergency in Gaza, and to urge the government to take urgent action to address this situation.

As you are aware, Gaza’s already-dire humanitarian situation has been exacerbated by an electricity crisis since April 2017, which has resulted in daily blackouts of up to 20 hours. This has, in turn, seriously affected livelihoods and caused cuts to the provision of healthcare. A chronic lack of infrastructure development to meet the needs of Gaza’s growing population, as well as lack of power for water treatment, has now resulted in two thirds of Gaza’s shoreline being polluted by untreated sewage.

In 2012, the UN warned that Gaza would be ‘unliveable’ by 2020, though the seriousness of the current crisis has caused Save the Children to declare Gaza unliveable now. Likewise, UN Secretary-General António Guterres recently stated that Gaza is experiencing “one of the most dramatic humanitarian crises that [he has] seen in many years working as a humanitarian in the United Nations.”

Nevertheless, UN OCHA’s appeal for US$25 million urgent humanitarian funding appeal to stabilise Gaza, announced this summer, remains largely unmet. US$14 million is still urgently needed for non-fuel related requirements within the water and sanitation, health and food security sectors. As winter approaches, needs are expected to increase as demand for electricity increases and further stretches Gaza’s already-overloaded water, sanitation and health service systems.

Israel continues to be the occupying power in Gaza, as it has been now for 50 years, and as such holds primary responsibility for addressing the humanitarian needs of the population of Gaza. Israel has furthermore imposed a closure on Gaza since 2007 which the International Committee of the Red Cross has termed a “collective punishment imposed in clear violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law”. People in Gaza cannot wait for the resolution of a decades-long peace process to release them from this violation and the humanitarian crisis they face.

Similarly, though greater political integration between the West Bank and Gaza would be a welcome forward step, a reconciliation between Fatah and the de-facto authorities in Gaza cannot alone address the humanitarian needs of Gaza’s beleaguered residents.

We therefore urge you to use your joint FCO-DfID brief to help bring relief to Gaza in two ways:

  • Provide urgent relief to the people of Gaza, by both supporting UN OCHA’s US$25 million urgent humanitarian funding appeal for Gaza, and ensure that the UK’s aid funding to the occupied Palestinian territory invests in the long-term development of essential infrastructure and services such as water treatment, education, and healthcare; and
  • Use all diplomatic means – including multilateral forums such as the UN Human Rights Council and bilateral relations with Israel and the Palestinian Authority – to pursue accountability for all violations of international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territory and bring an end to the closure of Gaza.

Furthermore, though the UK already provides some support to the people of Gaza through DfID-funded projects and initiatives, as parliamentarians we face challenges to accessing Gaza to visit these and provide necessary democratic oversight of this aid spending and assess the situation for ourselves as you have recently done. We also therefore ask that you make representations to the Government of Israel to ask them to facilitate the unhindered entry of British parliamentarians to Gaza, and remove any unnecessary bureaucratic barriers to entry through the Erez crossing. It is vital that British parliamentarians bear witness to the current humanitarian disaster in Gaza and how UK taxpayers’ money is being used in terms of aid.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Burden MP (Chair, Britain-Palestine All-Party Parliamentary Group)

Co-signed by:

Grahame Morris MP (Chair, Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East)
Rt Hon Hugo Swire, KCMG, MP (Chairman, Conservative Middle East Council)
Debbie Abrahams MP
Lord Ahmed
Rushanara Ali MP
Hilary Benn MP
Clive Betts MP
Baroness Blackstone
Crispin Blunt MP
Sir Peter Bottomley MP
Ben Bradshaw MP
Tom Brake MP
Alan Brown MP
Karen Buck MP
Liam Byrne MP
Alistair Carmichael MP
Sarah Champion MP
Joanna Cherry MP
Ann Clywd MP
Julie Cooper MP
Alex Cunningham MP
Lord Dubs
Julie Elliott MP
Lilian Greenwood MP
Louise Haigh MP
David Hanson MP
Mark Hendrick MP
Kate Hollern MP
Lord Hylton
Dan Jarvis MP
Lord Kilclooney
Stephen Kinnock MP
Afzal Khan MP
Jeremy Lefroy MP
Baroness Lister of Burtersett
Tony Lloyd MP
Caroline Lucas MP
Gordon Marsden MP
Kerry McCarthy MP
Baroness Meacher
Ian Murray MP
Lisa Nandy MP
Yasmin Qureshi MP
Faisal Rashid MP
The Earl of Sandwich
Tommy Sheppard MP
Baroness Sheehan
Paula Sherriff MP
Andy Slaughter MP
Cat Smith MP
Sir Nicholas Soames MP
Wes Streeting MP
Rt Hon Sir Desmond Swayne MP
Stephen Timms MP
Kelly Tolhurst MP
Stephen Twigg MP
Lord Tyler
Lord Warner
Philippa Whitford MP

Posted in Palestine Affairs, Gaza, UKComments Off on 60 Parliamentarians Urge UK Government Action on Gaza Emergency

Capturing the Wisdom and Beauty of Donald J. Trump. “The American Military has Never been Stronger”

NOVANEWS

Capturing the wisdom and the beauty of Donald J. Trump in just one statement escaping from his charming mouth:

“Our military has never been stronger. Each day, new equipment is delivered; new and beautiful equipment, the best in the world – the best anywhere in the world, by far.” 1

Here the man thinks that everyone will be impressed that the American military has never been stronger.

And that those who, for some unimaginable reason, are not impressed with that will at least be impressed that military equipment is being added EACH DAY. Ah yes, it’s long been a sore point with most Americans that new military equipment was being added only once a week.

And if that isn’t impressive enough, then surely the fact that the equipment is NEW will win people over. Indeed, the newness is important enough to mention twice. After all, no one likes USED military equipment.

And if newness doesn’t win everyone’s heart, then BEAUTIFUL will definitely do it. Who likes UGLY military equipment? Even the people we slaughter all over the world insist upon good-looking guns and bombs.

And the best in the world. Of course. That’s what makes us all proud to be Americans. And what makes the rest of humanity just aching with jealousy.

And in case you don’t fully appreciate that, notice that he adds that it’s the best ANYWHERE in the world.

And in case you still don’t fully appreciate that, notice that he specifies that our equipment is the best in the world BY FAR! That means that no other country is even close! Just imagine! Makes me choke up.

Lucky for the man … his seeming incapacity for moral or intellectual embarrassment.

He’s twice blessed. His fans like the idea that their president is no smarter than they are. This may well serve to get the man re-elected, as it did with George W. Bush.

The strange world of Russian trolls

Webster’s dictionary: troll – verb: To fish by running a baited line behind a moving boat; noun: A supernatural creature of Scandinavian folklore.

Russian Internet trolls are trying to stir up even more controversy over National Football League players crouching on one knee (“taking a “knee”) during the national anthem, said Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), warning that the United States should expect such divisive efforts to escalate in the next election.

“We watched even this weekend,” Lankford said, “the Russians and their troll farms, and their Internet folks, start hash-tagging out ‘take a knee’ and also hash-tagging out ‘Boycott NFL’.” The Russians’ goal, he said, was “to try to raise the noise level in America to try to make a big issue, an even bigger issue as they’re trying to just push divisiveness in the country. We’ve continued to be able to see that. We will see that again in our election time.” 2

Russia “causing divisiveness” is a common theme of American politicians and media. Never explained is WHY? What does Russia have to gain by Americans being divided? Do they think the Russians are so juvenile? Or are the Americans the childish ones?

CNN on October 12 claimed that Russia uses YouTube, Tumblr and the Pokemon Go mobile game “to exploit racial tensions and sow discord among Americans,” while the Washington Post (October 12) reported that “content generated by Russian operatives was not aimed only at influencing the election. Many of the posts and ads intended to divide Americans over hot-button issues such as immigration or race.”

Imagine … the American public being divided over immigration and race … How could that be possible without Russian trolls?

The Post (October 9) reported that the Russian trolling operation resides “in a large gray building north of the St. Petersburg city center … There, young people work 12-hour shifts and make between $800 and $1,000 a month, “an attractive wage for former students and young people. It is impossible to get inside the building, and there are multiple entrances, making it hard to tell who is a troll and who is not.”

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest are amongst the many Internet sites that we are told have been overrun by Russian trolls. The last named is a site that specializes in home decor, fashion and recipes. Have the Russians gone mad? Or are the American accusations the kind of stuff that is usually called – dare I say it? – “propaganda”?

“How much the trolls affected the outcome of the U.S. election is unclear,” the Post had to admit. “But their omnipresence is evident on Twitter and in the comments section of publications like the Washington Post, where trolls can be found criticizing news stories, lambasting other posters and accusing one another of being trolls.”

Are you starting to chuckle?

At one point the Post reported that Facebook “identified more than 3000 advertisements purchased in a Russian-orchestrated campaign to influence the American public’s views and exploit divisions around contentious issues.” And Congressional investigators said that some of the Facebook ad purchases had “obvious Russian fingerprints, including Russian addresses and payments made in rubles”, and that “accounts traced to a shadowy Russian Internet company had purchased at least $100,000 in ads during the 2016 election season.”

However, at other times the Post told us that Facebook had pointed out that “most of the ads made no explicit reference in favor of Trump or Clinton,” and that some ads were purchased after the election. We’ve been told, moreover, that Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos’s team “had searched extensively for evidence of foreign purchases of political advertising but had come up short.” 3

In any event, we have to wonder: What political savvy concerning American elections and voters do the Russians have that the Democratic and Republican parties don’t have?

I have read numerous references to these ads but have yet to come across a single one that quotes the exact wording of even one advertisement. Is that not odd?

To add to the oddness, in yet another Washington Post article (September 28) we are informed that “some of the ads promoted African American rights groups, including Black Lives Matter, while others suggested those same groups posed a growing political threat, according to people familiar with the material.”

Politico, a Democratic-Party-leaning journal, reports that Russian-funded Facebook ads backed Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Democrat Bernie Sanders, and Republican Donald Trump.

Who and what is behind these peculiar goings-on?

More fun and games: the Department of Homeland Security in September notified Virginia and 20 other states about Russian efforts to hack their election systems in 2016.

Earlier this year, UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson declared, apparently without embarrassment:

“We have no evidence the Russians are actually involved in trying to undermine our democratic processes at the moment. We don’t actually have that evidence. But what we do have is plenty of evidence that the Russians are capable of doing that.” 4

At a September 27 Congressional hearing, FBI Director Christopher Wray joined this proud chorus, testifying:

“One of the things we know is that the Russians and Russian state actors are trying to influence other elections in other countries.”

Mr. Wray forgot to name any of the other countries and the assembled Congressmembers forgot to ask him for any names.

Perhaps the main reason for questioning charges of Russian interference in the 2016 US election is that Russian President Putin would have been risking that the expected winner, Hillary Clinton, would have been handed a personal reason to take revenge on him and his country. But that’s just being logical and rational, two qualities Cold War II has no more use for than Cold War I did.

Know thine enemy

The Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency issued a report in June entitled “Russia: Military Power: Building a military to support great power aspirations”. Here’s an excerpt:

Moscow seeks to promote a multi-polar world predicated on the principles of respect for state sovereignty and non-interference in other states’ internal affairs, the primacy of the United Nations, and a careful balance of power preventing one state or group of states from dominating the international order. To support these great power ambitions, Moscow has sought to build a robust military able to project power, add credibility to Russian diplomacy, and ensure that Russian interests can no longer be summarily dismissed without consequence. … Russia also has a deep and abiding distrust of U.S. efforts to promote democracy around the world and what it perceives as a U.S. campaign to impose a single set of global values. 5

Great power aspirations, indeed. How dare those Russkis promote a multi-polar world, respect for state sovereignty, non-interference, the United Nations, and balance of power? It’s all straight out of Lenin’s playbook, 100th anniversary edition.

As to the US promoting democracy around the world … Oh right, that’s what the Pentagon calls Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, the Philippines, Honduras, Turkey, et al.

Like the southern gentlemen who agreed that it was right to free the slaves, but did so only in their wills

“Hypocrisy is anything whatever may deceive the cleverest and most penetrating man, but the least wide-awake of children recognizes it, and is revolted by it, however ingeniously it may be disguised.” – Leo Tolstoy, Russian writer (1828-1910)

An anti-abortion congressman asked a woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair to get an abortion when he thought she might be pregnant. A Pittsburgh newspaper said it had obtained text messages between Republican Rep. Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania and Ms. Shannon Edwards, a divorcée. A message from Edwards said the congressman had “zero issue posting your pro-life stance all over the place when you had no issue asking me to abort our unborn child just last week when we thought that was one of the options.” It turned out that she wasn’t pregnant.

The revelation came as the House approved Republican legislation that would make it a crime to perform an abortion after 20 weeks of fetal development. Murphy, a member of the House Pro-Life Caucus, and popular among anti-abortion groups, is among the bill’s co-sponsors. He subsequently announced that he will not seek re-election next year.  6

Our beloved president at one time clearly supported a woman’s right to abortion. In recent times he has once again exhibited his high (double) standards by speaking, just as clearly, against abortion.

Anti-abortion activists like to speak of saving the lives of “unborn children”, of how the fetus is fully a human being deserving of as much love and respect and legal protection as any other human being. But does anyone know cases of parents grieving over an aborted fetus the way we have often read or heard of parents, as well as their friends, grieving over the death of a three-year-old child or a teenager? Of course not. If for no other reason than the parents choose to have an abortion.

Does anyone know of a case of the parents of an aborted fetus tearfully remembering the fetus’s first words, or high school graduation or wedding or the camping trip they all took together? Or the fetus’s smile or the way it laughed? Of course not. Because the fetus is not a human being in a sufficiently meaningful physical, social, intellectual, and emotional sense. But the anti-abortion activists – often for reasons of sexual prudishness, anti-feminism, religion (the Catholic members of the Supreme Court have been very consistent in their anti-abortion votes), or other personal or political prejudices – throw a halo around the fetus, treat the needs and desires of the parents as nothingness, and damn all those who differ with them as child murderers. Unfortunately, with many of these activists, their perfect love for human beings does not extend to the human beings of Iraq or Afghanistan or any other victims of their government’s warfare.

Notes

1. Washington Post, September 8, 2017

2. Washington Post, September 28, 2017

3. Ibid. September 18, 19, 24, and October 13, 2017

4. The Guardian (London), March 14, 2017

5. “Russia Military Power,” Defense Intelligence Agency, pages 14-15

6. Associated Press, October 4, 2017

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EU Summit Endorses Spain’s Threat of Police-Military Occupation of Catalonia

The two-day European Union (EU) summit of heads of state that ended yesterday in Brussels unambiguously endorsed Madrid’s plans to invoke Article 155 of the Spanish constitution, imposing a new Catalan regional government backed by Spanish police and army units.

The Catalan crisis was not formally on the summit agenda. Nonetheless, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was allowed to give an address to justify invoking Article 155, the so-called “nuclear option,” after the vicious police crackdown on the October 1 Catalan independence referendum. Rajoy’s brief for the occupation of Catalonia, based on a systematic falsification of the crisis in Spain, received the enthusiastic support of the EU’s major powers.

“Article 155 will be applied tomorrow,” Rajoy declared, effectively ruling out further talks with the Catalan government of premier Carles Puigdemont. Rajoy nonetheless proceeded to place full blame for the crisis on the supposed obstinacy of the Catalan government and of so-called “radicals” in Catalonia:

“They are the ones responsible for what is happening today. Frankly, the government of Catalonia defended its positions badly, despite the assistance they were given.”

Rajoy continued,

“We have been very cautious, we tried not to create a difficult situation, but it is hard when people liquidate the law and the rule of law … when laws are ignored and referendums are held without guarantees. We have arrived at a borderline situation. If you accept the demands of the radicals, what occurs is what is happening right now.”

Rajoy’s arguments are a pack of bald-faced lies, concocted to justify an aggressive military-police intervention in Catalonia. Madrid and the EU overwhelmingly bear responsibility for provoking this crisis, and the EU powers are backing Rajoy’s drive for a crackdown and a turn to deal with growing political opposition in the population with authoritarian measures.

The crisis provoked by the October 1 referendum is the outcome of the deep crisis of European capitalism, after nearly a decade of savage EU austerity devastated social conditions and left tens of millions of workers unemployed across the continent.

The referendum was called amid a growing conflict between Madrid and Barcelona over how to implement social cuts that the EU had negotiated with Madrid since the 2008 financial crisis. While similar Catalan referendums had been held peacefully before, as recently as November 2014, Madrid reacted violently this year. It seized ballots, tried to arrest hundreds of mayors as well as other officials, and launched a campaign of political intimidation to crush the October 1 vote.

When, on October 1, 16,000 Guardia Civil were stunned by a mass mobilization of the Catalan population to defend polling places, they responded with a brutal assault on peaceful voters. Millions of people worldwide were shocked and appalled by videos of Guardia Civil breaking into schools, kicking people sitting on the ground waiting to vote, and even attacking elderly women in a brutal onslaught that sent over 800 people to the hospital.

Despite the 90 percent vote for independence, Puigdemont suspended a declaration of independence in a speech on October 10 and has, since then, been appealing for dialogue with Madrid, to no avail. Madrid, on the other hand, has escalated the situation—shutting down Catalan web sites, arresting Catalan nationalist politicians, and threatening to impose emergency rule. This has provoked mass protests by hundreds of thousands of people in the Catalan capital, Barcelona.

Speaking in Brussels yesterday, Rajoy tried to downplay the dictatorial character of his policy and counteract entirely justified fears of an even bloodier crackdown to come. “Using Article 155 does not presuppose the use of force,” he claimed, adding that his government would decide on measures to be taken in joint talks with the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) and the right-wing Citizens party, as well as Rajoy’s own Popular Party (PP).

Rajoy made clear that, however, the Madrid ruling establishment is in fact contemplating mass repression against the Catalan population. Asked if he feared violence as on October 1, Rajoy refused to comment but handed a blank check to the police for more violence, saying:

“The security forces have the full support of Spain and its prime minister.”

Applying Article 155 entails launching a confrontation with Catalan workers and youth unprecedented since 1978 and the collapse—amid mass struggles of the working class—of the Spanish fascist regime set up by Francisco Franco. It means suspending Catalonia’s elected government and forcibly installing a new one dictated by Madrid, backed by Guardia Civil and army units. Some of the army units to be mobilized in a crackdown—motorized infantry battalions in Barcelona and Sant Climent Sescebes—have already been named in Spanish media.

With mass protests already erupting in Barcelona, Spanish media are discussing a dictatorial agenda for Madrid’s un-elected regime in Catalonia that would provoke even more opposition: austerity, shutting down Catalan public television, and removing Catalan-language items from the schools. In the Spanish security and armed forces, repression even bloodier than the October 1 crackdown is doubtless being actively planned and prepared. Madrid is also discussing invoking Article 116 and setting up a state of emergency across Spain.

A crisis with revolutionary implications is emerging in Catalonia, and in Spain and all of Europe. There is deep, historically-rooted opposition in the European working class to a return to dictatorship, and an attempt by Madrid to maintain an illegitimate stooge regime in Barcelona by mass repression would provoke enormous anger across Europe. The only way to oppose Madrid’s drive to impose dictatorial rule in Catalonia and throughout Spain is the mobilization of the working class across Europe in a politically independent, revolutionary struggle against the EU and the crackdown in Catalonia.

Arguments advanced by forces like Spain’s Podemos party, that the population can wait for the EU to intervene and peacefully resolve the conflict between Madrid and Barcelona, are false and must be rejected. In a statement for Público, the secretary of Podemos for the Madrid region, Ramón Espinarhailed “broad international consensus … on the need for mediation and dialogue” that he saw as key to resolving the crisis.

Such illusions serve no other purpose than to lull masses of people to sleep. The EU—consisting of bankrupt regimes in which the police and army play enormous roles after nearly two decades of the “war on terror” and a decade of deep austerity—is itself rapidly moving to abrogate basic democratic rights, with regimes such as the French state of emergency. It is signaling its support for the attack on the Catalan population, because it is preparing similar attacks on the working class across Europe.

The major European heads of state at the Brussels summit all backed Rajoy’s dictatorial agenda.

“We back the position of the Spanish government,” declared German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who later on echoed Rajoy’s calls for an outcome of the crisis “on the grounds of the Spanish constitution.”

Similarly, British Prime Minister Theresa May said yesterday,

“I have spoken to Mariano Rajoy this morning as I did earlier this week and made clear that the United Kingdom’s position is very clear. We believe that people should be abiding by the rule of law and uphold the Spanish constitution.”

While Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte called the Catalan crisis “an internal Spanish matter,” French President Emmanuel Macron held a private meeting with Rajoy after declaring on Thursday that EU leaders would “send a message of unity around Spain.”

In an extraordinary gesture of support to Madrid, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, EU Council President Donald Tusk, and European Parliament President Antonio Tajani all traveled to Oviedo in Spain yesterday after the summit, to attend as Spanish King Felipe VI awarded the EU a Princess of Asturias prize. They listened as the king declared that Catalonia was an “essential part” of Spain—a remark that provoked sustained applause from the audience.

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