Archive | February 2nd, 2018

Liberal Totalitarianism and the Trump Diversion

NOVANEWS
 

The ongoing political circus in the capital of the world’s most powerful empire opens almost daily  with a new act each day showcasing an even more bizarre and more revealing display of the internal rot of a culture and a political system in decline.

The day before Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address, the Russia-gate drama took an unexpected and dangerous turn with the vote by the House Intelligence Committee to release a now classified memo that alleges that senior members of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) may have misled the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA court) in order to secure a warrant to engage in what Republicans assert is a politically motivated effort that spied on the Trump campaign before he won the 2016 election and attempted to undermine his presidency.

Right-wing neoliberal Democrats who have engaged in a vigorous defense of the intelligence agencies of the U.S. state are concerned about the possible fallout with the public. They argue Republicans are deliberately undermining confidence in U.S. institutions by irresponsibly hurling allegations that support a growing public perception that the government and the individuals who populate governmental institutions are inherently corrupt.

Republicans now refer to this as “FBI-gate” and Democrats counter by appealing to the dubious belief that the FBI is some kind of neutral political force populated by people of unreproachable character—those who would never engage in the kind of crass partisanship being alleged by Republicans in Congress.

Even members of the Congressional Black Caucus — the one caucus that traditionally has always been wary of the FBI because of its history abuse against Black activists, including the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — joined in the effort to prop up this institution and its former director Robert Mueller.

This new narrative of FBI integrity and neutrality is predicated on the assumption that most of the public has forgotten or is unaware of the notorious history of the FBI and its founder, J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover was a racist anti-Semite and fascist sympathizer. He shared his obsessive anti-communism and anti-Semitism with Heinrich Himmler, Hitler’s Gestapo chief, who Hoover corresponded with personally and kept on the FBI’s mailing list right up until the eve of the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939.

As the nation’s political police, the FBI has been at the center of domestic repression and political manipulation for decades. From Hoover’s early career working as special assistant to Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, when Hoover was given the responsibility to plan and execute the infamous “Palmer raids” in which thousands were arrested in twenty-three states for “subversive activities,” to his and the FBI’s role in the first McCarthy period of repression in the 1950s through to the COINTELPRO program against the anti-war, Black Liberation and Civil Rights movement. The intelligence gathering, counter-insurgent role of the FBI has been consistent.

When the history and role of the FBI is objectively understood as a central component of the repressive state apparatus, it is not farfetched to accept the meaning of the August 2016 message Peter Strzock, the director of the FBI’s counter-intelligence division, sent to Lisa Page, a high-level official with whom he was romantically involved. In that message, it is clear that Strzock thought it prudent to develop a strategy to undermine a Trump presidency, even when the chance of Trump getting elected seem impossible to many.

Strzock is quoted as texting to Page over a secure device:

I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office—that there’s no way he [Trump] gets elected—but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event that you die before you’re 40.

This quote reveals two things: (1) the thinking of individuals who hold institutional power and are well versed in the exercise of “extra-democratic” institutional power, or what some refer to as the power of the Deep State; and (2) the specific rationale for implementing what appears to have been a classic counter-intelligence project to influence, manipulate and control a political process, in this case the election for the presidency of the United States.

In response to the information coming out about the memo and the explosive allegations of governmental malfeasance, Rep. Adam Schiff, ranking Democratic member of House Intelligence Committee made the laughable statement that the vote to release the memo “politicize(s) intelligence process.” Perhaps Schiff hoped that the public had forgotten all of the instances of politicized intelligence from the manufactured data supporting the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution to the manufactured data about the existence of weapons of mass destruction that justified the disastrous attack on Iraq.

But what Schiff, as well as some Republicans, are concerned with is how the public will process and respond to the existence of a massive, coordinated effort to exercise unelected political power.

They are concerned the extent of the coordination between the state and elements of financial and corporate sectors exposes the hidden reality of how real power is exercised in Washington and the financial center in New York, the power behind the reach of the atrophied mechanisms of democratic accountability and control.

Beyond the Circus: Strengthening the Ideological and Political Mechanisms of Domination

It’s ironic, or perhaps just a reflection of the power of propaganda, that it is now just becoming apparent that while the attention of the people was mobilized and directed to fictitious external sources of electoral interference by the Russians, the real culprits working to undermine the limited democracy that does exist were always in the United States and in plain sight.

They are the ones who re-authorized extending FISA section 702 that allows the state to collect communications from U.S. citizens and even tap into communications databases of companies like Google to collect information without a warrant. They supported inserting provisions of the “Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act” into the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) as one of Obama’s last legislative acts. They were silent as the government prosecuted whistleblowers under the Espionage Act, which justified expanded National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance and called for the head of former federal contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden. They think it is a good idea for Facebook to establish “counter speech” controls and for Google to adjust its algorithms to bury alternative news sites and sources of “radical” analysis.

And while Trump has been a useful idiot for the Deep State, it is important to clearly identify the forces driving this process and giving it political legitimacy–liberal Democrats!

Despite the phony news of economic prosperity that came out of Trump’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday night, the more insightful and “responsible” members of the ruling elite recognize the explosive potential of real opposition to the elite agenda and understand the crisis of confidence in and legitimacy of the system will continue to deepen.

The recognition of that has resulted in ruling-class elements being united in one very important area– “domestic national security.” That is to say not the threat of “terror attacks” or other physical threats, but the security that the ruling class is attempting to acquire for itself by strengthening the repressive state apparatus against the people. Using the gift of “Russia-gate” given to it by the Democrats, the state, in collaboration with the capitalist communication sector, has attempted to tighten its ideological grip on the public by limiting the range of information available to the public.

The neo-liberal right has always understood much better than many elements of the left what Cuba revolutionary Jose Marti meant when he said that “trenches of ideas are more powerful than weapons.”

So, while we are entertained by the theatrics of Trump and shudder with horror after his latest antic, the real forces of totalitarianism are working right under our noses, normalizing the capitalist dictatorship in the name of upholding freedom.

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The Nuclear Posture Review: The World Will Not Survive the American Neoconservatives’ Doctrine of US World Hegemony

NOVANEWS
 

The government of the United States is clearly in demonic hands.  We are overflowing with proof.  Take today (2-2-18) for example.  A report from the House Intelligence Committee was released that is proof that the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice (sic), and the Democratic National Committee are engaged in a conspiracy against American democracy and the President of the United States with the full support of the presstitute media.

As if that is not enough, also released today is the Pentagon’s new Nuclear Posture Review.  A nuclear posture review specifies a country’s attitude toward nuclear weapons and their use. In past posture reviews, nuclear weapons were regarded as unusable except in retaliation for a nuclear attack.  The assumption was that no one would use them.  There was always the possibility that false warnings of incoming ICBMs would result in the nuclear button being pushed, thus setting off Armageddon.  There were many false warnings during the Cold War. President Ronald Reagan was very concerned about a false warning resulting in mass death and destruction. This is why his principal goal was to end the Cold War, which he succeeded in doing. 

The new US nuclear posture is a reckless, irresponsible, and destabilizing departure from the previous attitude toward nuclear weapons.  The use of even a small part of the existing arsenal of the United States would be sufficient to destroy life on earth.  Yet, the posture review calls for more weapons, speaks of nuclear weapons as “usable,” and justifies their use in First Strikes even against countries that do not have nuclear weapons.

This is an insane escalation.  It tells every country that the US government believes in the first use of nuclear weapons against any and every country.  Nuclear powers such as Russia and China must see this to be a massive increase in the threat level from the United States. Those responsible for this document should be committed to insane asylums, not left in policy positions where they can put it into action.

President Trump is being blamed for the aggressive US nuclear posture announced today.  However, the document is a neoconservative product.  Trump, perhaps, could have prevented the document’s release, but under pressure as he is by the accusation that he conspired with Putin to steal the US presidential election from Hillary, Trump cannot afford to antagonize the neoconized Pentagon.

The neoconservatives are a small group of conspirators.  Most are Zionist Jews allied with Israel.  Some are dual-citizens. They created an ideology of American world hegemony, specifying that the chief goal of US foreign policy is to prevent the rise of any other power that could serve as a constraint on US unilateralism.  As neoconservatives control US foreign policy, this explains US hostility toward Russia and China and also the neoconservatives’ use of the US military to remove governments in the Middle East regarded by Israel as obstacles to Israeli expansion. For two decades the US has been fighting wars for Israel in the Middle East.  This fact proves the power and influence of the insane neoconservatives.  It is certain that people as insane as the neoconservatives would launch a nuclear attack on Russia and China.  The Russian and Chinese governments seem to be completely unaware of the threat that the neoconservatives pose to them.  I have never experienced in my interviews with Russians and Chinese any awareness of the neoconservative ideology. Possibly, it is too insane for them to grasp.

Ideologues such as the neoconservatives are not fact-based.  They are chasing their dream of world hegemony.  Russia and China are in the way of this hegemony. Having learned the limits of US conventional military power, or lack thereof—after 16 years the US “superpower” has been unable to defeat a few thousand lightly armed Taliban in Afghanistan—the neoconservatives know that conventional invasions of Russia or China would lead to the total defeat of US forces.  Therefore, the neoconservatives have elevated nuclear weapons to a First Strike, usable, arsenal that in the neoconservative dream of world hegemony can be used to destroy Russia and China.  

Ideologues who divorce themselves from the facts create a virtual world for themselves.  Their belief in their ideology blinds them to the risks for themselves and others that they impose on the world.  

It is clear enough that without the utterly corrupt Obama Department of Justice (sic) and FBI, the utterly corrupt Clinton-controlled Democratic National Committee, and the utterly corrupt American and European presstitute media working to destroy Trump’s presidency by framing him up as “a Russian agent,” President Trump, understanding that the Pentagon’s posture review would worsen, not normalize, relations with Russia, would have deep-sixed the demonic document that threatens all life on earth.

Thanks to the American liberal/progressive/left, the entirely of the world is faced with a far more likely nuclear demise than ever threatened us during the Cold War with the Soviet Union.  

By its collaboration with the military/security complex and the corrupt Hillary DNC, the liberal/progressive/left has forever discredited itself.  It is now seen by every thinking person worldwide as an insane propaganda ministry for the neoconservatives’ plan to use nuclear weapons to eliminate constraints on US unilateralism.  The liberal/progressive/left has endorsed “hegemony or death.”  

They will get death.  For all of us.

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Trump’s Hypocritical Concern on Heroin Addiction, Sustained by US-led War on Afghanistan

NOVANEWS

In 2016, we lost 64,000 Americans to drug overdoses:  174 deaths per day.  Seven per hour.  We must get much tougher on drug dealers and pushers if we are going to succeed in stopping this scourge.

My Administration is committed to fighting the drug epidemic and helping get treatment for those in need.  The struggle will be long and difficult — but, as Americans always do, we will prevail. (Trump State of the Union, emphasis added)

Trump brings to the forefront the story of the Holets family of New Mexico:

“Ryan Holets is 27 years old, and an officer with the Albuquerque Police Department.  He is here tonight with his wife Rebecca.  Last year, Ryan was on duty when he saw a pregnant, homeless woman preparing to inject heroin.  When Ryan told her she was going to harm her unborn child, she began to weep.  She told him she did not know where to turn, but badly wanted a safe home for her baby.

In that moment, Ryan said he felt God speak to him:  “You will do it — because you can.”  He took out a picture of his wife and their four kids.  Then, he went home to tell his wife Rebecca.  In an instant, she agreed to adopt.  The Holets named their new daughter Hope.

Ryan and Rebecca:  You embody the goodness of our Nation.  Thank you, and congratulations. (Trump State of the Union, emphasis added)

Beautiful narrative. The Nation weeps, Ryan is interviewed on CNN. While he and his family expressed compassion, taking a courageous stance against heroin addiction,  Trump confirmed his resolve by sending more troops to Afghanistan. 

What the media reports fail to mention is that the surge in heroin addiction was spearheaded by the US led invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001.

Why? Because Afghanistan under US military occupation happens to produce approximately 90% of the World’s illegal supply of opium which is used to produce heroin.

The Taliban Opium Eradication Program

Barely acknowledged by the mainstream media, in 2000-2001 the Taliban government with the support of the United Nations (UNODC) –  implemented a successful ban on poppy cultivation. Opium production which is used to produce grade 4 heroin and its derivatives declined by more than 90 per cent in 2001. The production of opium in 2001 was of the order of a meagre 185 tons.

It is worth noting that the UNODC congratulated the Taliban Government for a successful opium eradication program.

This year’s production [2001] is around 185 tons. This is down from the 3300 tons last year [2000], a decrease of over 94 per cent. Compared to the record harvest of 4700 tons two years ago, the decrease is well over 97 per cent.

Any decrease in illicit cultivation is welcomed, especially in cases like this when no displacement, locally or in other countries, took place to weaken the achievement”

(Remarks on behalf of UNODC Executive Director at the UN General Assembly, Oct 2001, http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/speech_2001-10-12_1.html )

Immediately following the invasion (October 7, 2001) and occupation of Afghanistan by US-NATO troops, the production of opium regained its historical levels. (a more than nine fold increase in 2002). Since 2001, according to UNODC, the production of opium has increased 49 fold, reaching 9000 metric tons in 2017. (See Figure 1 below)

Heroin Addiction in the US

There were 189,000 heroin users in the US in 2001, before the US-NATO invasion of Afghanistan. By 2012-13, there are 3.8 million heroin users in the US according to a study by Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. By 2016, there were an estimated 4.5 million heroin users (including addicts and casual users).

In 20o1, 1,779 Americans were killed as a result of heroin overdose. By 2016, the number of Americans killed as a result of heroin addiction shot up to 15,446. (see graph below)

“My Administration is committed to fighting the drug epidemic” says Donald Trump.

My message to Donald Trump: Those lives would have been saved had the US and its NATO allies NOT invaded and occupied Afghanistan.  

Since 2001, the use of heroin in the US has increased 23 times. 

Is there a correlation between heroin addiction in America and the dramatic increase in opium production which occurred in the immediate wake of the US-NATO October 2001 invasion?

Who is protecting opium exports out of Afghanistan?

Amply documented, the opium economy in Afghanistan was set up by the CIA in 1979.

As revealed in the Iran-Contra and Bank of Commerce and Credit  International (BCCI) scandals, CIA covert operations in support of the Afghan Mujahideen had been funded through the laundering of drug money.  “Dirty money” was recycled –through a number of banking institutions (in the Middle East) as well as through anonymous CIA shell companies–, into  “covert money,” used to finance various insurgent groups during the Soviet-Afghan war, and its aftermath. According to a 1991 Time Magazine report:

“Because the US wanted to supply the Mujahideen rebels in Afghanistan with stinger missiles and other military hardware it needed the full cooperation of Pakistan. By the mid-1980s, the CIA operation in Islamabad was one of the largest US intelligence stations in the World. `If BCCI is such an embarrassment to the US that forthright investigations are not being pursued it has a lot to do with the blind eye the US turned to the heroin trafficking in Pakistan’, said a US intelligence officer. (“The Dirtiest Bank of All,” Time, July 29, 1991, p. 22. emphasis added)

Alfred McCoy’s study confirms that within two years of the onslaught of the CIA’s covert operation in Afghanistan in 1979,

“the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderlands became the world’s top heroin producer, supplying 60 per cent of U.S. demand. In Pakistan, the heroin-addict population went from near zero in 1979  to 1.2 million by 1985, a much steeper rise than in any other nation.”

“CIA assets again controlled this heroin trade. As the Mujahideen guerrillas seized territory inside Afghanistan, they ordered peasants to plant opium as a revolutionary tax. Across the border in Pakistan, Afghan leaders and local syndicates under the protection of Pakistan Intelligence operated hundreds of heroin laboratories. During this decade of wide-open drug-dealing, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in Islamabad failed to instigate major seizures or arrests. (Alfred McCoy, Drug Fallout: the CIA’s Forty Year Complicity in the Narcotics Trade. The Progressive, 1 August 1997).

Heroin: “Supply Creates its Own Demand”?

In 2001, resulting from the Taliban’s drug eradication program supported by the United Nations, production of opium had fallen to 183 metric tons.

While the number of heroin users has increased about 20 times (2001-2016), the cultivation and production of opium which is used to produce heroin increased approximately 25 fold: 8000 hectares in 2001 rising to 201,000 in 2016).

In 2017, ironically coinciding with the influx of more US troops into Afghanistan, the areas under opium poppy cultivation according to UNODC increased by 63 percent in a single year, reaching 328,000 hectares in 2017, i.e. a 41 fold increase in poppy cultivation in relation to 2001.  (see Figure 1 above)

While the supply-demand relationship is complex: the dramatic increase in the consumption of heroin would not have been possible without a concurrent increase in the production of opium from 183 metric tons in 2001 to an estimated 9000 metric tons in 2017 (a 49 fold  increase in relation to 2001).

It stands to reason that the dramatic increase in heroin usage could not have occurred without a corresponding surge in opium production.

Needless to say, the drug trade is a multibillion dollar operation which has been supported by successive US administrations. The unspoken truth is that US foreign policy is supporting this lucrative trade:

The heroin business is not  “filling the coffers of the Taliban” as claimed by US government and the international community: quite the opposite! The proceeds of this illegal trade are the source of wealth formation, largely reaped by powerful business/criminal interests within the Western countries. …

Decision-making in the US State Department, the CIA and the Pentagon is instrumental in supporting this highly profitable multibillion dollar trade, third in commodity value after oil and the arms trade.( Michel Chossudovsky,The Spoils of War, Afghanistan’s Multibillion Dollar Heroin Trade, Global Research, May 2005)

The UNODC confirms in its 2017 Report that: “Only a small share of the revenues generated by the cultivation and trafficking of Afghan opiates reaches Afghan drug trafficking groups. Many more billions of dollars are made from trafficking opiates into major consumer markets, mainly in Europe and Asia.” The earnings generated by 9000 metric tons of opium are colossal, in the hundreds of billions. 9000 tons produces 900 tons of pure heroin.

These global proceeds accrue to business syndicates, intelligence agencies, organized crime, financial institutions, wholesalers, retailers, etc. involved directly or indirectly in the drug trade.  Moreover, a large share of global money laundering as estimated by the IMF is linked to the trade in narcotics.

Drug trafficking constitutes “the third biggest global commodity in cash terms after oil and the arms trade.”

Are US military planes being used to export opioids out of Afghanistan? According to Abby Martin:

“…there is no conclusive proof that the CIA is physically running opium out of Afghanistan. However, it’s hard to believe that a region under full US military occupation – with guard posts and surveillance drones monitoring the mountains of Tora Bora – aren’t able to track supply routes of opium exported from the country’s various poppy farms (you know, the ones the US military are guarding).”

In the words of researcher Timothy Alexander Guzman: “who owns the planes and the ships that transport 90% percent of the world’s heroin from Afghanistan to the rest of the world in the first place? It sure isn’t the Taliban”.

Posted in USA, Afghanistan0 Comments

Is It Even Possible to “Betray” the Kurds?

“Betrayal” implies that there must have been sincere trust in the relationship, which was never the case with any of the Kurds’ extra-regional Great Power partners, nor will there ever be because of pure Neo-Realist considerations that even they themselves should surely be aware of by now.  

Every so often one stumbles upon a statement by a Kurdish official alleging that one or another Great Power “betrayed” the Kurds, such as what Russia has recently been accused of after giving Turkey the green light for “Operation Olive Branch”, and these claims frequently pop up at a dizzying pace all across social media whenever a Neo-Marxist supporter of “Kurdistan” is trying to make a point and win sympathy for their “cause”. Never mind that there’s no such thing as “Kurdistan” in the first place and that it’s much more accurate to refer to this ultra-diverse sub-state region as the “Kurdish Cultural Space” (KCS) instead, but the idea being conveyed is that its people have repeatedly been let down by anyone who they’ve been made to believe ever gave them any hope at achieving their demagogues’ dreams of “independence”.

The First Western “Betrayal”

The origin of the “betrayal” concept stretches back a century to the end of World War I and Woodrow Wilson’s “Fourteen Points” of geopolitically weaponized “democracy”, but ironically overlooks the fact that the Kurdish “bashi-bazouk” who contributed to the Ottomans’ wartime actions against the Armenians were essentially ‘rewarded’ with that group’s newly depopulated territory anyhow, thus making the concept of “Kurdistan” at the very dawn of its inception more like a “proto-Israel” than the “proto-Palestine” that it’s nowadays popularly and wrongly presented as. Anyhow, the Turkish War of Independence against the European colonial forces quashed any hope that the extra-regional powers would succeed in carving out this proxy state, and the Kurds didn’t give their “nation-building” mission a second shot until immediately after the end of World War II when they received Soviet military assistance in briefly proclaiming the “Republic of Mahabad” in northwestern Iran.

Soviet “Betrayal”

The USSR’s pragmatic decision to withdraw support for their envisioned communist puppet state was similarly condemned as a “betrayal” by the independence-seeking Kurds because they didn’t understand the larger geopolitics at play. The “Iran Crisis”, as it has since been referred to, has its roots in Imperial Russia’s desire to incorporate the northern part of the country into its sphere of influence and potentially even include it as part of the Empire itself just like they did with what is nowadays the independent Republic of Azerbaijan (itself the northern part of the transnational Azerbaijan region, of which the southern Iranian component is much more populous). The USSR invaded the northern half of Iran together with the British in 1941 under the pretext of safeguarding the transit of vital wartime materials from what was publicly presented to the world as a “fascist”-sympathizing Shah.

This was exploited by Stalin right after Hitler’s defeat in order to de-facto revive his country’s historical claims to a regional sphere of influence under the cover of a clandestinely supported “communist revolution” in the Kurdish-populated regions of Iran that Soviet troops had previously occupied. It ultimately failed because he decreed that the USSR should stop supporting the insurgency after coming under intense global pressure in what has in hindsight been regarded as one of the first real episodes of the Cold War, thus dooming the rebellious Kurds to suffer the Shah’s wrath even though some of them did indeed manage to escape to Iraq and the Soviet Union. Russia’s interest in the Kurds has always been geostrategic, just like every other Great Power that understood the powerful utility of playing the “Kurdish Card” in the quadri-national sub-state KCS,  though in keeping with “tradition” and the zeitgeist of “comradeship and solidarity”, this was never openly admitted, whether by Moscow or anyone else then or afterwards.

Psychological Predispositions And Neo-Realist Rationale

It’s because of the “convincing” soft power assertions by the Soviet Union and later on Western-based states and activists that the myth of “sincere external support for the Kurds” arose, both within the KCS and abroad, though nobody should have been fooled, not least of all the Kurds themselves. The entire world was duped for decades to a degree in speculating about the scenarios that could have arisen had Wilson’s geopolitical weaponization of “democracy” through the “Fourteen Points” been completely fulfilled in neo-colonially dividing and ruling the entire Eastern Hemisphere via a checkerboard of America’s identity-centric “states”, and this curiosity was driven of course by the natural human inclination to wonder “what if?” especially after the horrors of World War I and II.

Had anyone conducted a sober reading of enduring International Relations thought, however, then it would have been revealed that the Kurds have always been seen as Neo-Realist tools of whichever patron was courting them at the time.

There’s an innate tendency in every person to disillusion themselves with the more “comforting” idea that morals, ethics, and principles have a place in global politics, but the ‘inconvenient’ truth is that such arguments are almost always used as tools for cultivating support for Neo-Realist agendas such as the ones that were described above in reference to the extra-regional Great Powers of the US, Europe, and the USSR. The diverse and (sometimes violently) divided Kurdish people are more susceptible to being deceived than anyone else because the KCS’ demagogues abuse the concept of “Kurdistan” in order to rally the public’s support for their political and/or militant quest to become what de-facto amounts to local “warlords”, and emotional pitches playing to people’s fantasies are much more appealing than rational ones that temper or outright debunk them.

Backstabbing One’s Brothers

Baghdad Nuclear Research Facility – 10 March 1991. The Tuwaythah Nuclear Research Facility, Baghdad, Post-strike. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The only true partners that the Kurds ever had and could hope to have are the national governments of which they’re legally a part and those states’ constituent peoples that are technically their fellow compatriots, though the problem has continuously arisen where Kurdish demagogues are cajoled by the Great Powers (and sometimes even the neighboring states) with the promise of “independence” into launching insurgencies against the only forces realistically capable of genuinely allying with them and assisting with their development. This doesn’t justify the excessive and inhumane response by Saddam Hussein when he used Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) against them, but is intended to explain how and why the Kurds always “go wrong” and are repeatedly exploited as geopolitical instruments of others despite the drastically low odds that they’ll ever succeed in their campaign, let alone have their foreign patron of the moment fully honor their previous pledge to recognize their “independence” in the unlikely event that they do.

The American And Russian “Betrayals”

Over the past couple of years, much has been said about the US’ geostrategic plans for the Kurds in the New Cold War, which don’t differ whatsoever from what the USSR intended for them during the Old Cold War. Back then, Moscow wanted to utilize the Kurds and their transnational KCS as a powerful pivot for exerting influence in the four countries that they reside in, some of which had at times been American allies such as NATO-member Turkey. The communist-era “revolutionary” crusade to “break and then rebuild” has a certain ‘logic’ to it, but Russia and the US’ roles switched after 1991 when Washington realized that it could weaponize chaos theory to indefinitely prolong, geographically expand, and ultimately further entrench its global unipolar influence. This explains why it “poached” the USSR’s former Kurdish allies as well as its Baloch and Uighur ones too, as these sub-state groups are nowadays collectively much more useful in coordinating American-backed “Lead From Behind” Hybrid Wars against the New Silk Roads than they are in spreading the now-defunct ideology of Soviet communism.

At the same time and returning back to the Kurdish focus of this analysis, however, the US shrewdly understands that it doesn’t have to dogmatically cling to whatever words it promises this landlocked people if its grand strategic interests could be better served by reneging on its earlier implied or secretly agreed commitmentsin cutting deals with the four targeted national governments involved and/or dramatically downscaling the level of “sovereignty” that it supports for the Kurds in an effort to cynically implement a “strategy of tension” in the region that it can continuously manage to its advantage. Russia, which is also playing by the rules of the “19th-Century Great Power Chessboard”, does the same thing as the US but is less capricious and actually seems to have a “balanced” long-term vision of “decentralization” in mind that might present  the only realistic “solution” to countering the regional instability that Washington has masterminded.

Kurd Betrays Kurd (And This Time It’s A Real Betrayal)

Regardless of how their geopolitical future unfolds, it can be certain that the Kurds have already wised up to their ultra-strategic role in the world vis-à-vis the Great Powers and neighboring states, and it’s condescending to imply that their people and especially their demagogic decision makers have yet to recognize this enduring century-long mainstay of International Relations. It’s certainly the case that the Kurds’ leaders regularly mislead their people and abuse their “messianic” dream of “Kurdistan” within the highly diverse transnational KCS, but this also provides them with a backup “insurance plan” to rely on whenever it fails by “playing the victim” of a conspiratorial “betrayal” by a “trusted ally” for soft power purposes and to consequently prompt an outpouring of sympathy from their domestic and international supporters. It’s also an expedient means to deflect any responsibility for the disasters that they cause in pursuit of this goal, but nowadays that trend might be changing as the Kurdish people figure out that they’re being manipulated by their own leaders more than by any foreign power.

Masoud Barzani (Source: The Kurdish Project)

To the credit of the Kurds in Northern Iraq, they brought their chieftain Barzani to account and compelled him to finally step down after the trilateral blockade of their autonomous region following the “independence” referendum that they themselves took part in. Overcome by what they were misled into believing was ‘irreversible’ historic inertia, they were guided like sheep by their “president” into voting to secede from Iraq, only to immediately suffer the crushing economic consequences and the impending threat of a military one as well. The real “betrayal”, as they soon came to understand, was that of their top Kurdish demagogue against his own people when he deceived them into voting for an outcome that he never had any intention of implementing. The principled example set by the Iraqi Kurds in rebelling against their leadership might one day be replicated in “Rojava” if the Syrian Kurds realize that President Erdogan is punishing their warlords for implementing the Yinon Plan and dangerously trying to play Damascus like a fiddle to this end.

Only when the people of the KCS come to grips with the reality that the only betrayal that they’ve ever truly experienced is that of Kurd against Kurd can the never-ending cycle of their peoples’ instrumentalization by foreign powers come to an end and their transnational region begin to serve as the pivotal center of Mideast stability that it’s more than capable of being in the emerging Multipolar World Order.

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African Americans, National Liberation and the Vietnamese Revolution

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African Americans, National Liberation and the Vietnamese Revolution, Reject the Pentagon War Machine

Five decades ago global struggles against imperialism united peoples throughout the world

During the height of the genocidal war waged by the United States against the people of Vietnam during the 1960s and early 1970s, African Americans were involved in a life and death campaign aimed at reclaiming their national identity, human rights and racial dignity.

January 30 represented the fiftieth anniversary of the Tet Offensive which shook the foundation of the U.S. war strategy in Vietnam. In a surprise move, the forces of the National Liberation Front (NLF) and the People Army of Vietnam (PAVN) attacked over 100 cities and towns across the country.

Although the anti-war movement during this period is often portrayed as an effort initiated and led by white university students with left wing political leaning and that African Americans were almost exclusively pre-occupied with Civil Rights and Black Power demands within a domestic framework, the reality of the period proves to be quite to the contrary of such false assertions. From the early 1960s, leading figures within the Civil Rights and Black Nationalists movements expressed their opposition to the American role in Vietnam.

Moreover, the most advanced elements offered concrete acts of solidarity with the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in the North and the National Liberation Front (NLF) operating in the South which was occupied by the Pentagon. Both Vietnamese and the African American people were subjected to imperialism and national oppression by an enemy which sought to crush their respective entitlements to peace, social justice, self-determination and sovereignty.

In fact dating back to at least 1924, the man who became known as Ho Chi Minh (Nguyen Ai Quoc) had lived in upper Manhattan as an activist among the African American community during the period known as the Harlem Renaissance. Reports indicate that Ho had worked with the organization led by Marcus Garvey known as the Universal Negro Improvement Association—African Communities League (UNIA-ACL), headquartered in New York City at its zenith in the early 1920s.

Reflecting on his observations conducted just six decades after the conclusion of the U.S. Civil War and the legal dissolution of chattel slavery in a period of extreme state repression, widespread institutional racism and arbitrary violence, Ho published a pamphlet in 1924 labeled ”On Lynching and the Ku Klux Klan.” The work documents various aspects of social conditions prevailing in African American communities throughout the country.

Ho noted in this important work that:

“It is well-known that the Black race is the most oppressed and the most exploited of the human family. It is well-known that the spread of capitalism and the discovery of the New World had as an immediate result the rebirth of slavery. What everyone does not perhaps know is that after sixty-five years of so-called emancipation, American Negroes still endure atrocious moral and material sufferings, of which the most cruel and horrible is the custom of lynching.”

This same publication goes on to chronicle the history of racial terror against African people from the end of the war between the states over the future of slavery to the burgeoning resistance of the people in the aftermath of World War I. During the war and afterward, African Americans migrated in the millions to Northern, Midwestern and Western municipalities, becoming a social force in the struggle for freedom and democratic rights whose impact extended beyond their own population.

This same pamphlet emphasized the significance of this transformation saying:

“The victory of the Federal Government had just freed the Negroes and made them citizens. The agriculture of the South – deprived of its Black labor, was short of hands. Former landlords were exposed to ruin. The Klansmen proclaimed the principle of the supremacy of the white race. Anti-Negro was their only policy. The agrarian and slaveholding bourgeoisie saw in the Klan a useful agent, almost a savior. They gave it all the help in their power. The Klan’s methods ranged from intimidation to murder…. The Klan is for many reasons doomed to disappear. The Negroes, having learned during the war that they are a force if united, are no longer allowing their kinsmen to be beaten or murdered with impunity. They are replying to each attempt at violence by the Klan. In July 1919, in Washington, they stood up to the Klan and a wild mob. The battle raged in the capital for four days. In August, they fought for five days against the Klan and the mob in Chicago. Seven regiments were mobilized to restore order. In September the government was obliged to send federal troops to Omaha to put down similar strife. In various other states the Negroes defend themselves no less energetically.”

The Vietnamese Revolution and the Challenge to Western Imperialism

Ho left the U.S. traveling to other parts of the world including Europe. In 1930, the Indochinese Communist Party was formed encompassing revolutionaries from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia who were battling French colonialism. Later Vietnam was occupied by both Paris and Japan.

Consequently, the struggle for national liberation and unity took on an international character. After the defeat of Japan, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam was proclaimed in September 1945 prompting another guerrilla war against French imperialism. By 1954, France had been humiliated at the battle of Dien Bien Phu. Ho had become a hero within the international movement for independence and socialism.

Nonetheless, U.S. imperialism took over the war of domination from France and by the early 1960s President John F. Kennedy was deploying “advisors” in the form of military personnel in South Vietnam still under occupation. France and the U.S. refused to allow free elections and the war continued.

With specific reference to African American opposition to the Vietnam War and solidarity with the NLF and the government in Hanoi, Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam had been against the involvement of the U.S. since the early 1960s. After leaving the NOI, Malcolm X (El Hajj Malik El-Shabazz) adopted a decisively revolutionary position related to world revolution speaking frequently in solidarity with the People’s Republic of China and the Vietnamese Revolution.

One of the earliest developments in the Civil Rights Movement in the South related to Vietnam was a campaign by the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) in the summer of 1965 when a flyer and petition was circulated calling for African Americans to refuse induction into the military to fight in Vietnam since they were not given equal rights in the U.S. Later leaders of the MFDP clarified their stance after much adverse press attention saying that these views were not the official position of the MFDP. They did reiterate the rationale behind African American opposition to the war based upon the continuing problems of racism. (Source)

During the same year, Detroit activist General Gordon Baker, Jr. wrote a letter to the draft board articulating why he would reject induction. Baker stated to the board that:

“when the call is made to free the black delta areas of Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina; when the call is made to FREE 12Th STREET HERE IN DETROIT, when these calls are made, send for me, for these shall be Historical Struggles in which it shall be an honor to serve!”

By early January 1966, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) issued an official statement opposing the war and the draft. This intervention took place in the immediate aftermath of the racist murder of SNCC member Sammy Younge, Jr. for his defiance of segregation laws in Alabama.

The SNCC statement read in part:

“The murder of Samuel Younge in Tuskegee, Alabama, is no different than the murder of peasants in Vietnam. For both Younge and the Vietnamese sought and are seeking to secure the rights guaranteed them by law. In each case, the United States government bears a great part of the responsibility for these deaths. Samuel Younge was murdered because United States law is not being enforced. Vietnamese are murdered because the United States is pursuing an aggressive policy in violation of international law. The United States is no respecter of persons or law when such persons or laws run counter to its needs or desires.” (Source)

Julian Bond, a longtime SNCC organizer, had run successfully for the state legislature in late 1965. However, the authorities denied him the right to take his seat after he said publically that the SNCC position on Vietnam was his own as well.

Later in August 1966, the SNCC chapter in Atlanta embarked upon a campaign to expose the racist character of the Vietnam War both domestically and within Southeast Asia. Women and men organizers in and around SNCC set up picket lines outside the induction center located near the heart of the African American community.

These demonstrations soon prompted attacks by hostile mobs of whites along with police officers. Protesters were called racist slurs, had cigarettes dropped out of windows by military personnel onto the picket lines, there was water and other objects thrown as well combined with outright physical assaults. Demonstrators then attempted to occupy a space in the induction center to demand a halt to the racist attacks. (Source)

An ensuing struggle led to arrests and terms in prison. SNCC organizers Michael Simmons and Larry Fox wrote a report summing up their experiences. They discussed a tour after being released from jail which visited cities such as Detroit in an effort to build an alliance of draft resisters, lawyers and political activists working on other related issues. (Source)

1966 was the year that there was a radical change in the character of SNCC’s leadership with the takeover by Stokely Carmichael (later known as Kwame Ture) as chairman who had direct organizing experience in Mississippi in 1964 and Alabama in 1965-66, where the Lowndes Country Freedom Organization (LCFO) was formed and became known as the Black Panther Party. There was an intensification of anti-war work and the linking of the African American liberation struggle with global developments in Vietnam, notwithstanding events in other regions of Asia along with Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean and Latin America.

Gwen Patton of SNCC speaking at the University of Havana in Cuba during the 1960s

SNCC activists such Diane Nash, a veteran of the Nashville Civil Rights Movement and the freedom rides of 1960-61, traveled to North Vietnam in 1966 to call for the end of U.S. aggression through addresses over Radio Hanoi. Gwen Patton, graduate of Tuskegee University, was instrumental as well in organizing efforts to build the antiwar movement among African Americans.

According to a report by Ashley Farmer on Patton’s contributions, the writer notes that:

“After leaving Tuskegee, she helped organize the National Black Antiwar Antidraft Union (NBAWADU), designed to develop a black-centered anti-war and anti-imperialist front. As the Executive Secretary of the group, Patton penned some of the black freedom movement’s foundational anti-war documents, including speeches on the ‘Role of Women in Revolution.’ She also developed a bevy of position papers that connected American imperialist atrocities abroad with the state’s treatment of black Americans at home. Patton constantly centered black women within her pro-black, anti-imperialist politics, making her a foundational figure in late 1960s black feminist theorizing. Living and working alongside SNCC organizers like Faye Bellamy and Ethel Minor foregrounded the importance of developing emancipatory projects that were gender-inclusive. Patton was largely responsible for creating the Black Women’s Liberation Committee (BWLC), a women’s collective within SNCC. This group engaged in central questions about the ideological underpinnings of women, gender roles, and revolution. The philosophical foundations that Patton developed in BWLC documents became the ideological scaffolding for the Third World Women’s Alliance, or TWWA, one of the first groups to formally organize around an intersectional platform. Patton also authored many articles addressing the complex gender politics embedded in Black Power organizing. She was one of the activists who contributed to Toni Cade Bambara’s now classic The Black Woman: An Anthology. Her article about the ‘Victorian Ethos’ was an early take on the pitfalls of respectability politics in political organizing.”

SNCC viewed the struggle for Black Liberation as part and parcel of the revolutionary movements sweeping Asia, Africa and other areas of the world. An International Section was created and directed by James Forman, the former executive secretary. By 1967, Forman would be presenting papers in national and international forums expressing solidarity with the Vietnamese and independence movements in Southern Africa, among other geo-political areas.

By early 1967, Dr. King was rapidly becoming outspoken about his opposition to the Vietnam War through a series of newspaper columns, speeches in California, an anti-war march in Chicago in late March and the famous Riverside Church address, dubbed Beyond Vietnam on April 4, just one year-to-date before his assassination in Memphis. On April 15, King spoke alongside Carmichael outside the United Nations in New York to thousands of opponents of the war.

Muhammad Ali, the heavyweight champion of the world, was one of the most widely known personalities internationally. Ali had changed his name from Cassius Clay to an Islamic one when he went public with his conversion to the NOI after winning the championship in early 1964. During this period in early 1964, Ali was close to Malcolm X who later left the NOI by late March causing an irreparable breech between the two men, with the heavyweight champion remaining with Elijah Muhammad.

However, after Malcolm X’s assassination on February 21, 1965 in New York, SNCC and other organizations moved more in the ideological direction of the former national spokesman for Elijah Muhammad. By 1966, Ali was being hounded by the draft board. He officially refused induction in early 1967 citing religious grounds. Ali also emphasized that he did not feel obligated to wage war against the Vietnamese people based upon the lack of freedom for the Black man in the U.S.

Both Dr. King and SNCC supported Ali in his decision. This opened the way for broader alliances in opposition to the Vietnam War.

By May 1967, Stokely Carmichael had completed one year as chair of SNCC turning over the reign of leadership to H. Rap Brown (later known as Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin). Carmichael visited England for a conference on the Dialectics of Liberation. He would later go to Cuba and address a summit of Latin American liberation organizations, attracting the attention through his speech of Premier Fidel Castro. During his time outside the U.S., Carmichael also visited Guinea, Egypt, Algeria, Tanzania and other states.

He also traveled to Hanoi and met with Ho Chi Minh. Carmichael subsequently reported that Ho encouraged him to focus more attention on the African Revolution. While in Hanoi, the former SNCC chairman requested a seminar on the building of a united front such as the NLF.

In recounting this event, Carmichael revealed that after the seminar started the U.S. began bombing Hanoi. The Vietnamese party leaders then moved Carmichael into a bunker in order to continue the course. One bomb struck near the location of the session causing some debris to fall on the notes of the instructor. Carmichael recounted how the dust was wiped away quickly and the class continued without interruption.

“When I saw this I knew that the Americans would be defeated“, he jovially said. (Lecture delivered at Wayne State University in Detroit, March 13, 1992)

Robert F. Williams in solidarity with Cuba

Robert F. Williams had been the president of the NAACP chapter in Monroe, North Carolina when he advocated and practiced armed self-defense against the Ku Klux Klan. Williams’ refusal to categorically accept the nonviolent approach to civil rights later resulted in his expulsion from the NAACP in 1961. Eventually he was forced to leave North Carolina amid an attempt to frame him on false kidnapping charges of a white couple.

After being transported out of North Carolina by supporters, Williams eventually settled in Cuba and later the People’s Republic of China. He spent time as well in North Vietnam addressing radio broadcasts to African American GIs, exposing the racist and imperialist character of the war.

Perhaps the apex of solidarity between African Americans and the Vietnamese Revolution emerged when the Black Panther Party leader Bobby Seale attended a conference in Montreal, Quebec in late 1968 where the NLF representatives recognized the party as the vanguard of the revolutionary movement in the U.S. The BPP in return pledged their full recognition of the NLF as the legitimate government of South Vietnam.

The following year saw efforts at deeper cooperation when the North Vietnamese government offered to release American POWs in exchange for the freedom of BPP leaders Chairman Bobby Seale and Minister of Defense Huey P. Newton. This offer was immediately rejected by the administration of then President Richard M. Nixon.

However, in August 1970, after the release of Huey P. Newton on appeal bond related to charges of murdering and wounding two white Oakland police officers, the BPP Minister of Defense pledged to send some of his members to join the armed wing of the Vietnamese Revolution as an act of solidarity. In 1971, Newton and Elaine Brown, Central Committee members of the BPP, visited China where they met with Premiere Chou En Lai.

Burgeoning opposition to the Vietnam War among African American liberation organizations inspired resistance within the armed forces. Groups such as the GIs United Against the War and the Malcolm X Society posed a challenge to the largely white officers’ corps which utilized discrimination as a means of intimating African Americans and controlling discord within the ranks.

Black Panther newspaper in solidarity with DPRK, China and North Vietnam

Black soldiers grew Afro hairstyles and beards as acts of protest and defiance. Many were radicalized through their experience in Vietnam swelling the ranks of groups such as the BPP and the Black Liberation Army (BLA) upon their discharge.

Although the U.S. announced its withdrawal of ground forces from Vietnam in late 1972 after a horrendous round of bombings that December, the war continued until the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975. After a decade of continuing defeats and Vietnamese advances, the U.S. Congress halted the funding of the war resulting in the collapse of the puppet regime in Saigon.

Contrastingly in the U.S., the political toll of state repression and cooptation from Washington and Wall Street severely derailed the revolutionary wing of the African American movement by the early 1970s. Robert F. Williams returned to the U.S. in late 1969. The BPP was wracked by an internal split in 1971 from which either faction was able to fully recover.

The onset of the restructuring of the world economy in 1975, coinciding with the defeat of imperialism in Southeast Asia, led to massive capital flight and disinvestment from American municipalities resulting in structural unemployment, deepening poverty among the working class reinforced by the rapid expansion of the prison-industrial-complex. A greater emphasis on electoral politics and business development could not fulfill the national aspirations of the African American people.

Some four decades or more since the end of the Vietnam War the African American people are still fighting against national oppression, class exploitation and government repression. The experience acquired during the successive administrations of the likes of Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Sr. through Bill Clinton, George Bush, Jr. to Barack Obama and now Donald Trump, necessitates a renewed effort to overcome the ruling class and its state apparatuses.

Lessons from the African American and Vietnamese Liberation Struggles

These events during the period of the 1950s through the mid-1970s are important to recount in light of the revisionist history surrounding the role of both white radicals and African Americans during the Vietnam War. Absent the persistent military and political fortitude of the Vietnamese people along with resistance from African Americans, both outside and inside the military, victory against imperialism would not have been possible without additional years of fighting.

The selective service system in the U.S. suffered a monumental setback when the draft was abolished in 1973. Later in 1980, registration was reinstituted while the draft has not been fully reinstated. However, there is an economic draft due to poverty and joblessness that has fueled the war machine through the wars launched by Washington in Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti and the present targeted attacks, deployment and commando operations prevalent in Somalia, Niger, Yemen, Syria and Iraq.

In the first year of the administration of Trump, tensions have escalated with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) whose nuclear program has served as a pointed warning to the Pentagon and other potential adversaries. People’s China has developed into the second largest economy in the world while its conventional military forces total more than three million well-trained and armed soldiers.

Expenditures by the taxpayers in the U.S. to the military and security apparatus totals at least $1trillion annually when the funding for both the Pentagon and intelligence services are taken into account. Washington’s defense budget is larger than all other states combined although it cannot create a sense of sustainable security for the ruling class.

Despite all of its rhetoric and sloganeering, the U.S. ruling class remains insecure. The advent of Trump is a manifestation of the paranoid atmosphere existing among the imperialists in the Western capitalist nations.

African Americans have no other choice than to reject the Pentagon war machine since it has only resulted in their underdevelopment, displacement and ongoing national oppression. The eventual demise of U.S. imperialism can only strengthen the struggle for liberation and social emancipation of the oppressed.

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The Defining Year Was 1991: The Demise of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union

NOVANEWS

Whilst there are no golden ages, it is abundantly clear that the world today is in a very unhealthy state. From Eastern Europe to North Africa to the Middle East, countries, in recent years, have been severely destabilised, resulting in carnage and the destruction of hundreds of thousands of lives.

And at the heart of that destabilisation is American and British foreign policy.

But how have we arrived at this situation in the world today? And what are the roots of America and Britain’s ‘humanitarian intervention’?

A lot of people answer the above questions by citing the illegal American and British invasion of Iraq. Well, they are emphatically wrong.

What we are seeing today in, for example, Syria, has its origins in 1991. Because that year was a turning-point in geo-politics. It was the year that saw the dismemberment of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Yugoslavia was the first step in a series of Western interventions in the world, including Iraq, Libya, Syria and Ukraine, and the West was able to successfully intervene in those countries because the Soviet Union is no more.

At the beginning of 1991, Yugoslavia found itself in a precarious and what proved to be a deadly situation for it. Yugoslavia was alone in Europe. The Yugoslav authorities were facing a US, UK, Germany and Austria which no longer needed Yugoslavia (as they had during the Cold War, when Yugoslavia pursued a policy of non-alignment), who did not want a socialist country in the new Europe, and who wanted to prevent Russian influence in the Balkans from potentially being established in the future. And owing to the Soviet Union being in its death throes, Moscow was unable to assist the Yugoslav government.

Yugoslavia was where the West/NATO’s policy of intervention was born, where international law would be completely sidelined and where alleged acts of genocide would provide NATO, under American leadership, with a pretext to intervene in, under the banner of humanitarianism. Western intervention in Yugoslavia would subsequently provide the catalyst for future western intervention elsewhere in the world in order for the US to strengthen its global hegemony. And it was in Yugoslavia where the American and British establishments would employ one of their most formidable weapons to justify their new interventionist policy: mainstream media. And US and UK mainstream media would subsequently take its new-found experiences and successes from Yugoslavia to new fronts – Iraq, Libya, Syria and Ukraine.

Peter Carington 1984.jpg

The Lord Carrington

Despite Yugoslavia having been a founding member of the United Nations, and despite its borders having been internationally recognised under international law, Germany and Austria encouraged secessionist movements in Slovenia and Croatia to declare independence from Yugoslavia, while America did the same in regard to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Those actions by Berlin, Vienna and Washington were a serious violation of international law, completely undermined the UN charter and destroyed the sanctity of internationally recognised borders. Furthermore, the illegal actions of those Western powers ignited the terrible wars which would follow in Croatia and Bosnia. As Lord Peter Carrington, the former chairman of the peace conference on Yugoslavia, argued: The actions of the American, German and certain other European governments “made it sure there was going to be a conflict” in the Balkans.

But breaking up Yugoslavia was not enough for the West; it wanted to ensure that the successor states would become its client states hence it began providing weapons to the illegally armed groups in Croatia and Bosnia to bring about their victories on the battlefield.

In Croatia, the West armed what was, essentially, a fascist movement which glorified the Ustase, a Croatian fascist organisation which had ruled the pro-Nazi Independent State of Croatia during World War Two and which had committed genocide against the Serbian people at that time, murdering approximately 700,000 Serbs, some of whom were murdered at Jasenovac concentration camp, known as the Yugoslav Auschwitz. Returning to the 1990s, the largest act of ethnic cleansing during the Yugoslav civil wars was carried out by the Croats, when they executed the US-planned Operation Storm, resulting in the expulsion of over 250,000 Krajina Serbs from their ancestral homes.

In Bosnia, the Americans not only armed the secessionist Muslim forces there but also facilitated the transportation of Mujahideen fighters from Afghanistan to Bosnia to fight alongside Bosnian Muslim forces. Those Mujahideen fighters, who had previously fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan, not only committed some of the most sickening crimes of the Bosnian war but they also began to use their new-found presence in Europe to lay the foundation for the spread of Islamism and Islamism terrorism on the continent and beyond. Islamist fighters now enjoyed a forward-base in Europe. One of the Mujahideen fighters whom the Americans brought to Bosnia was Osama bin Laden, who was given a Bosnian passport by the Muslim authorities and, according to a Der Spiegel journalist, was seen at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Sarajevo in 1994.

The Serbs – who opposed the breakup of Yugoslavia and who did not want to be ruled by Croatian fascists and Muslim fundamentalists, terrified of their experiences during World War Two – were singled out by the West as the barrier to achieving its objectives in the Balkans. Enter Western mainstream media.

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General MacKenzie in 2010

The Serbian people, who throughout their history have fought against foreign oppression (the Ottomans, the Austro-Hungarians, Imperial and then Nazi Germany), were depicted by Western media as mass murderers, mass rapists and perpetrators of genocide. Whilst those allegations were fabrications, they, nonetheless, paved the way for NATO to start bombing the Serbs in Bosnia, an act which had no basis under international law. As Major General Lewis MacKenzie, who was the United Nations Protection Force Chief of Staff and Commander of the Sarajevo Sector, said:

“Those of us who served as UN commanders in Bosnia realised the majority of the media reports were biased, to say the least. Whenever we tried to set the record straight we were – and continue to be – accused of being ‘Serbian agents’.”

So, NATO began bombing the Bosnian Serbs in 1994. However, the Americans and the British needed a far more intensive campaign not just to achieve their geo-strategic aims in Bosnia but to establish a precedent for future Western/NATO intervention in other regions of the world, and to also show off NATO’s prowess and thereby intimidate countries which followed an independent foreign policy. And the alleged genocide at Srebrenica, in July 1995, would provide Washington and London with what they were looking for. To this day, Srebrenica remains the foundation of the West’s ‘humanitarian intervention’, and it is what American and British politicians and journalists cite when they call for military intervention in a country, as they did in Libya and Syria.

But what happened at Srebrenica, in the summer of 1995, was not as clear-cut as Western politicians and journalists would have us believe. Let me quote you the words of Dr Efraim Zuroff, the Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Jerusalem:

“As far as I know, what happened there [at Srebrenica] does not fit the description or definition of genocide. I think the decision to call it genocide was made for political reasons.”

Now, let me now quote you the words of General Major Carlos Martins Branco, of the Portuguese Armed Forces, and who served as a UN military observer in Bosnia in 1995:

“Srebrenica was portrayed – and continues to be – as a premeditated massacre of innocent Muslim civilians. As a genocide! But was it really so? A more careful and informed assessment of those events leads me to doubt it.”

Delegates of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) examine an exhumed mass grave of victims of the July 1995 Srebrenica massacre, outside the village of Potocari, Bosnia and Herzegovina. July 2007. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The story of Srebrenica did not, in fact, begin in 1995; rather, it began in 1992, when Muslim forces, operating from Srebrenica, under the leadership of the infamous Naser Oric, started a three year orgy of massacres against Serb civilians in adjacent Serbs villages. In a period of three years, over 3,000 Serbs were murdered by Muslim forces in some of the most barbarous ways imaginable.

In the summer of 1995, the Bosnian Serb army was presented with an opportunity to conquer Srebrenica and end the massacring of Serbs villagers. But it was a trap set by Bill Clinton and the Bosnian Muslim leader, Alija Izetbegovic, who were both looking for “genocide” so that NATO would have the “justification” to extensively intervene in Bosnia.

Incidentally, allow me to quote part of an interview that Bernard Kouchner, a former French Foreign Minister, had with Izetbegovic, when the Muslim leader was on his deathbed. Kouchner said to Izetbegovic:

“They [the camps in Bosnia] were horrible places, but people were not systematically exterminated. Did you know that?”, asked Kouchner, to which Izetbegovic replied: “Yes. I thought that my revelations could precipitate bombings.The assertion was false. There were no extermination camps.”

What happened at Srebrenica in the summer of 1995 was, in my opinion, a war crime, not genocide. A war crime because some Serb soldiers, not acting under orders, took it upon themselves to exact revenge against Muslim soldiers. Perhaps around 800 Muslim soldiers were executed by those Serbs. A terrible act but one that was a war crime, not genocide.

Furthermore, thousands of Muslim soldiers were killed in combat with the Serbs, mainly during their retreat from Srebrenica through the forests to Tuzla.

Now, what is genocide? Genocide is the systematic extermination of an entire people based on their ethnicity.So, for example, the genocide committed against the Jews in World War Two, resulting in the deaths of six million Jewish people, and the genocide committed against the Armenians in World War One, resulting in the deaths of one million Armenian people.

But at Srebrenica, in the summer of 1995, the Serbs, according to a UN document, allowed 35,632 Muslim elderly, women, children and young boys to leave Srebrenica, most of whom went to Tuzla. Now, let me again quote Major General Lewis MacKenzie:

“It’s a distasteful point, but it has to be said that, if you’re committing genocide, you don’t let the women go since they are key to perpetuating the very group you are trying to eliminate.”

And that is why Dr Efraim Zuroff said that:

“I wish the Nazis moved aside Jewish women and children before their bloody rampage, instead of murdering them, but that, as we know, did not happen [at Srebrenica].”

The reason why the governments and mainstream media in the US and the UK will viciously denigrate any discussion questioning their official narrative of Srebrenica is because the very basis of the West’s ‘humanitarian intervention’ is built upon the alleged Srebrenica genocide.

Wall of names at the Potočari genocide memorial near Srebrenica. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

By the end of the wars in Croatia and Bosnia, international law had been left reeling, while the US reigned supreme in the world. The path to future intervention in the region and elsewhere in the world was now open to the West.

But the US and the UK were not quite finished in the Balkans. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, comprising Serbia and Montenegro, and which emerged from the ashes of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, was a socialist-run country, albeit with elements of a free market economy in it, and which had close relations with Russia (and China, to an extent). To complete their hold over the Balkans, the Americans were intent on destroying the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, imposing a pro-Western government in Belgrade and commencing with the colonisation of Serbia and Montenegro. But Washington needed a pretext. And in 1999, the Americans found it: Kosovo.

Kosovo and Metohija is the cradle of Serbian civilisation and the soul of the Serbian identity. This land is the Serbs’ Jerusalem. As a result of demographic changes, especially because of huge Serb fatalities in World War One and World War Two, Serbs are a minority in Kosovo and Metohija today, with the majority of the population being Albanian. In 1998, the Kosovo Liberation Army, an Albanian terrorist and organised crime group, with links to Islamist terrorism, began a murderous campaign in Kosovo and Metohija against Serb and Albanian civilians and police and military personnel, with the aim of making the province independent.

Washington, which had previously designated the KLA a terrorist organisation, began giving political and military assistance to the KLA. But, by the beginning of 1999, the Yugoslav military had all but destroyed the KLA. So the US realised that in order to achieve its goal in colonising Serbia and Montenegro, it had to directly intervene in Kosovo and Metohija, on the side of the KLA. However, the Americans needed a pretext. So US and UK journalists began alleging that the Serbs were carrying out genocide against the Albanians in Kosovo and Metohija, citing numbers of 500,000 Albanians murdered.

Then, following a battle between Yugoslav soldiers and KLA terrorists at a place called Racak, the Americans and the British claimed that they had found a ‘smoking gun’ to justify NATO intervention, claiming that Albanian civilians had been murdered there, something that was subsequently proved to be false. After Belgrade refused an ultimatum from the US, NATO began a brutal 78 day air campaign against Yugoslavia, including striking civilian targets across the country and dropping depleted uranium shells on civilian areas, an act which, subsequently, caused a massive increase in cancer rates amongst the Serbian population.

NATO’s air campaign against a sovereign country and a member of the UN, without the permission of the United Nations Security Council, remains the most atrocious attack on international law to this day and has left the international rules-based system impaired ever since. What the Americans and the British did to Serbia set the precedent for the invasion of Iraq, the bombing of Libya and American direct military intervention in Syria.

In 2008, Washington and London encouraged and recognised the unilateral declaration of independence by Albanians in Kosovo, a flagrant violation of international law and the internationally recognised borders of Serbia.

Regarding American and British allegations of genocide in Kosovo and Metohija, in 2000, a UN pathologist team, comprising of Spanish doctors, unearthed approximately 2,000 bodies in the Serbian province, both Serbs and Albanians, most of whom had died in combat. Like the West’s allegation of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, its allegation of genocide in Kosovo and Metohija was a lie.

So the actions of the West in the former Yugoslavia set the precedent for what the West would later on do in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Ukraine. The concept of independent, sovereign states, enshrined in international law, was destroyed by the West in the former Yugoslavia.

Now, I said, at the beginning of this piece, that 1991 was also a defining year for the international arena because this was the year in which the USSR ceased to exist.

From 1945 until 1991, the Soviet Union constituted a formidable counter-balance to the US on the international stage.

But with the weakening and dissolution of the Soviet colossus, this paved the way for the West to achieve global dominance and to bomb and/or invade sovereign countries, in geo-strategic parts of the world, to get its way.

The Russian Federation was incapable of preventing the dismemberment of Yugoslavia, the bombing of Serbia, the invasion of Iraq, the bombing of Libya and the fermenting of the conflict in Syria. It is a moot point but had the Soviet Union not been dissolved, then I believe that the aforementioned events would not have occurred, mainly because the US and its allies would not have tried it on in the first place because of the deterrence that was the USSR.

Because of the catastrophe that was Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin, the US and the UK were provided with a golden opportunity to do as they pleased in the world…and they gleefully took this opportunity.

Now, Russia, in 2018, under the strong leadership of Vladimir Putin, has regained a lot of its lost superpower status. But Russia is still in the shadow of the Soviet Union in terms of power. I believe that that situation will change in the future but it will take considerable time.

Vladimir Putin must sit in his office lamenting that had Mikhail Gorbachev been an effective leader, then he, Vladimir Vladimirovich, would today be the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and in charge of a superpower. The year 1991 changed the course of history. The destruction of Yugoslavia and the death of the Soviet Union brought about the carnage which the world has witnessed ever since then. For the West, 1991 was a glorious year as it heralded the beginning of Western global mastery. But for countries in geo-strategic parts of the world which pursued independent foreign policies, 1991 would constitute a fatal year, both literally and metaphorically speaking.

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Development Under the Threat of War in the Arab World

NOVANEWS
 

“A State in the grip of neo-colonialism is not master of its own destiny. It is this factor which makes neo-colonialism such a serious threat to world peace.”[1] – Kwame Nkrumah

On any indicator one wishes to use, mainstream or alternative, there is a development crisis in the Arab world.

We must understand this crisis as an outcome of the ways this region is woven into the global economy. The oil and war economies, the destruction and waste side of capital accumulation, are the main channels by which the region is articulated with the global market. Waste and militarism are principal elements in an accumulation regime that produces value by consuming not only the value of labor-power, but also the value inherent in human lives.  Accumulation by waste, realized through encroachment wars and environmental degradation, is constant under capitalism.

Capitalism as a historical stage is not solely about the production of trousers, laptops and chewing gum, things whose consumption satisfies social needs. It is also, in great part, about the production of waste and harmful things like bombs. Capitalism differs from past modes of production. It is a predominantly a market economy in which the production of waste itself is at the same time intrinsic to capital and alienated from social control. Waste, its war side, does not serve a function that resolves a problem facing society, it serves its own end and, more pertinently, it is itself a domain of accumulation. It is this negative dialectic that steadies the rate of capital accumulation, not only because it metabolizes socially necessary labor time at a higher rate, but also because it redresses real and ideological power balances at the level of the labor process and the state, which in turn ascertain the rule of capital.

This negative dialectic, the barbaric side of capital, begins the moment labor-power sells as a commodity – this point is said to be Marx’s greatest discovery. The reproduction of such commodity (labor-power), which is itself value, entails the consumption or the setting aside of the sources of such value. People are the sources of value stored/delivered in and through labor power. Humans are both subject and object of value: they produce commodities and are consumed by the things they produce: dying in wars is the extreme example. In this loop, the production of labor power, including its reproduction, is the first and last stage of realization in the cycle of value formation.

Just because value formation is an unending cyclical process, where one begins or ends to assess the accounts of surplus value becomes a choice that answers to ideological inclination. Measuring value in terms of Western devised dollar-productivity and dollar-price value forms is never innocent. Power, the colonialism of the past and the many US military bases of today, decides the value of the dollar. To measure value in terms of dollars, without quantifying the dimension of power and the commodities serving as inputs and/or produced by waste and militarism, shortchanges the third world.

It makes Arabs and Africans trivial in value terms to global accumulation because they do not possess the ‘right machines.’Apart from the difficulty of segregating absolute from relative surplus value, or in pinpointing whose class values the demarcation between productive/unproductive labor or absolute/relative surplus value serves, one must posit that value is first and a social and a historical relationship. The assessment of historical surplus value, as per Abdel Malik (1981), becomes identified with a production cycle that roughly begins in the long sixteenth century.

Whereas the globe has long been a single factory, limiting our understanding to what is abstract and concrete to developments in the western factory and its machines, omits war as a domain of accumulation, a sphere of production and simultaneously, as a manifestation of the class struggle. Value theory does not explain everything, and no theory does. However, what to include in it and what to leave out, must obey the method of ascent from the abstract to the concrete in Marx.

How private labor, the abstract category transforms into social labor, the concrete category, is not an issue of ideas auto-negating in logical space, it is about the mediation of the very object of study, that is labor, as it proletarianizes by the class struggle. Such incident is global, and therefore the concrete category of value as value relationship is also global, as in the world becomes a single factory blighted by the production of waste.

Illustratively, as the sale of chewing gum in the metropolis of empire dwindles (civil-end use commodity realization), the tendency to bomb rises not only to realize the bomb itself, but also to realize the lives of humans. Capital regulates the production of labor-power by measures of depopulation. Formulaically, the more the civilian-end use commodity realization falters, the more one witnesses production by means of waste and imperialist wars;hence, the distinctive feature of the permanence of war under capitalism.

Just as in any production process, waste qua militarism realizes a commodity as an object and reconstitutes the subject. It consumes humans, the environment, and war materiel, and it shapes the ideas that promote its own expansion. Imperialist wars enhance the power of imperialism or tip the balance in the class struggle – history –in its favor. Just as it colonized and enslaved people in the past, imperialism in its neocolonial mode raises the intensity by which it rips apart states and commands their sovereignty.

To take away the will of peoples, their sovereignty, is to enslave them partially or totally. Exploitation assuming forms of slavery, that is commercial exploitation, generates high rates of surplus-value, which in turn undergird high profit rates. There is not an immediate interface between prices and values. Class power, of which imperialism is the cornerstone, mediates the unequal exchange wrought from value in the form of price.  A stronger imperialism accrues value for low or even negative price formation, the latter arising by the exercise of genocide across history.

The Arab region is subject to a dynamic of commercial exploitation by wars of encroachment that consistently break apart attempts by nations to undertake state-led development projects.

Although the strategic control of oil is cause for imperialist war, war for war’s sake is no less a factor in the propagation of regional violence. Wars that set back development efforts in a short time span represent more than just actuarial risk factors; they are complete historical uncertainties. Instead of hedging the shocks of future violence, the Arab macroeconomic setup has exaggerated the negative shocks attendant upon a business cycle largely determined by oil and wars. It has thus worsened an Arab development performance whose success may have been a partial antidote to war. In the following, I discuss how some key macroeconomic economic mechanisms have worked against development.

To begin with, the Arab countries are either in conflict – Syria, Yemen, Palestine, Libya, Iraq, Somalia and several Gulf states – or near-to-conflict either spatially or temporally. The constant prospect of war compounds the fragility of their developmental processes, even when they are not in conflict. From smaller oil exporters like Yemen or Syria, to say nothing of massive ones such as Iraq, these countries still depend on the export earnings from a primary product for economic growth. When oil prices fall, economic growth stumbles. An already poor development showing suffers yet another setback, thereby further denying Arab development.

Arab oil is definitively more bane than boon. It is the major flow tying most of the Arab countries into global commodity and financial spaces. It is mixed up with ongoing military interventions from outside the region, principally by U.S.-led imperialism. Meanwhile, minor oil exporters– for example, Tunisia and Yemen – have historically exported labor to the major oil-states, thereby making remittance flows and thus capital availability dependent on oil prices (remittances are part of geopolitical rents).

Thus, we might note that for the underachieving Arab countries, which is in fact the overwhelming majority of them, the crunch on their course of development is fourfold.

First, the determining undercurrent in their development is the fact that the decision-making circles often involve powerful external forces, who do not want another small country developing its productive capabilities in a world already drowning in overproduction. Furthermore, the leading global external forces, namely the ruling classes in the United States and the European Union, extract value and derive benefit from war and its social, political, and financial impact. The historical agency in this case is the capital class and not the European nation state in which class demarcations disappear. Refugees, militarism, value destruction, etc., are an immense source of surplus value to the globally interconnected capital class.

As I have extensively argued elsewhere, the rate of surplus-value undergirding higher profit rates in the West is not related to higher productivity.[1] Technological and war-technology progress are objective or independent of social control. Productivity, which necessarily arises from such technical progress,only presupposes accumulation; accumulation understood as the class or social process, otherwise the law of value, which dictates societal reproduction.

Moreover, surplus-value cannot be quantified by the prices that imperialist powers impose upon the developing world – such a reconciliation of price with value, or appearance with essence (the dialectical categories), is after all alien to historical materialism. The rate of surplus-value is determined by the degree to which imperialism consumes the living laborer and labor-power in a globally integrated production process. Therefore, quantification of value is not about the quantification of the commodity in terms of its dollar price, which is (the dollar that is) ex-post-facto the result of various imperialist suppression mechanisms.

Value is a relationship, and for that relationship to be quantified, it is best gauged in terms of the power that capital and, its more ferocious side, imperialism, exercise in order to expropriate the direct producers. Because war as production and a form of class struggle is a furnace of surplus-value creation, the imperialist historical bent is to envisage the sort of development that leads to more war. In the Arab world, there has been negative investment rates since the 1980s in long-term gestating agricultural or industrial capital, which are the sectors that impart living wage autonomy to the working class.

Second, the immediate damages of war or the prospects thereof impose a drag on economic, social, and institutional development. In many cases, imperialist war reinforces commercial exploitation and acts as a massive primitive accumulation measure. It disengages labor and other resources from productive linkages, necessarily but not exclusively, in sync with the depth of the overproduction crisis. Once uprooted due to war – for example in Lebanon and Iraq – most people and resources remain so. Post-war development is a chimera.

Third, although economic growth, rapid industrialization, and technological advancement are touted as indispensable conditions for development, they are pointless when governments constrain popular participation or the capabilities of people to achieve different valuable human functionings (as per the salient conventions on the right to development), or achieve meaningful participation in social life as producers. For development to occur, working people have to be represented in the state.[2]Overwhelmingly, regional governments are not internally democratic.

They effectively exclude large portions of the population from participation in decision-making. Furthermore, because the share of de-industrializing or merchant-comprador capital rises more as it dips into the share of labor than by productivity, the consequence is for lower wages to prevail. The familiar specter of a bloated tertiary sector, poverty employment, and endemic and undercounted unemployment abounds.

Fourth, the Arab World is a region with acute income inequality.[3] Without more evenly distributed income and wealth among different classes of society, the demand component that would drive the momentum for auto-generated and knowledge-infused growth slows down. There is a demand crisis. Demand-led growth is impossible in the current context, and without the social struggles that would expand the social power, and thus purchasing power, of the region’s poorer working layers.

Since the beginning of the neoliberal era, Arab economies have mostly grown from “without.” The incongruous forces of war prospects, commodity prices, and geopolitical rents, taking the form of aid infusions, are largely exogenous. Put differently, external forces have determined the region’s fate to an unusual degree.

Hollow growth has generated very low employment rates and a poor development experience over the past three decades. Despite that, Arab macroeconomic structures, insofar as the crucial mechanisms of resource allocation and income distribution favoring the private sector, remained unchanged. The historical agency, or social class, in charge of development – which is also the class manning the state – has repeatedly reproduced the same policies and meagre outcomes. Pattern reflects purpose.

A slow rise or even decrease in productivity indicates a near absence of “growth from within,” or growth based on the infusion of national research-and-development and knowhow in production.[4] Because of labor’s weakness vis-à-vis the imperialist class consortium, there are no rising living standards tailing productivity growth or virtuous circles of development. The productivity imbroglio is more severe in the Gulf states. Only around a decade ago, Gulf states formulated budgets based on around $20-30 per barrel oil price. In 2015, budgets required around $80-100 per barrel to be balanced.[5] Social welfare compacts adjusted for high oil prices, and oil dependency grew at very high rates. Vulnerability increased, and budgets slid into deficit once oil prices fell in 2014. State budgets are acutely vulnerable to oil price movements which are outside of local states’ control and are arguably under the stewardship of the imperial core.

In times of high oil prices, output per worker growth appears positive and unusually high. But when oil revenues are deducted from total income, output per worker growth is more often negative than positive. This is a pernicious result that pertains mostly to the Gulf states, and less so for others. It means that the productive capital stock per worker, or equipment of the modern technology type that grows from the need to capitalize both capital and labour to meet demand, is not rising.[6] It also reasserts the failure of diversification policies. To re-emphasize: such an outcome is due to the institutional decisions of the regional ruling classes. As is the case with all social classes from subjugated social formations, these are by definition part of a global hierarchy in which the final strategic decision lies with American-led imperialism. As part-and-parcel of that decision apparatus, they (the regional classes) refuse to set in motion developmental processes involving improved agricultural and industrial output, which are foundational to an autonomous nationalist reproduction process. As a rule of thumb, a development that imparts relative security to the working class, also substantiates the anti-imperialist sovereignty.

It is true, but more so a truism, to assert that reviving these debilitated economies requires an end to conflicts and the creation of a politically stable environment conducive to both domestic and foreign investment – investment of the higher output to capital ratio type. Along with rising internal demand, this would entail job creation. This job creation is not on a one to one basis: more capital and hence more jobs. It occurs as a result of the reassignment of moneyed form of value to socially relevant jobs. Such outcomes would almost certainly and solely be the fruit of state planning decisions, or some form of dirigisme under value retaining trade and capital accounts. Yet as true as this assertion may seem, the regional security arrangement, heavily based on accumulation by means of war and U.S. support for Israel and only secondarily on Gulf arms purchases from the United States, is now anchored in a continuous war condition emerging from acute international divisions, especially the wars to contain the influence of China. This may further inhibit any serious investment over the long run, unless of course reconstruction plans proceed in times of conflict, tie development to war effort, and strengthen states.

It would be practical to develop macroeconomic policies that envisage development even while accounting for ambient risks, namely those which external violence has imposed at an increasing rate since the early 1990s. However, the current policy interface between external shocks-conflicts and the national economy under the state of tensions is based almost entirely on the non-existent assumption of an even-playing field, a risk-free environment, and a market that works best with little government intervention.

Demanding a limited role for the government in the economy would not necessarily be of efficacy anywhere. But to propose small government under war or war-like conditions, as have the International Financial Institutions (IFIs), is beyond the pale. When the cross-national agencies and institutions that could spur development processes overlook the elephant in the room, the wars or their reverberations and the lopsided institutional context, then it is no longer myopia that is causing the repetition of past errors. Instead, there is a rather marked lack of will to develop. It is at this juncture, one may add, where reverse development transforms the region into a cradle of militarism and commercial exploitation. It is exactly this ongoing regional destructiveness of lives, assets and states as a money-making business for global capital that many fail to see.

Because of declining industrialization and a deliberately low indigenous industrial supply capacity, that is the missing production that issues from a multi-layered and nationally-based supply chain, Arab countries have remained dependent on raw material exports. Their value chains are more extreme and lie elsewhere in militarism. For fast neoliberal reformers and slow reformers alike, the present condition of low oil price and steep deficits-cum-low output growth is telling of how past and present parochial policies failed or were uninterested in identifying the principal conduit of regional maldevelopment. To reiterate, that conduit has historically been overdetermination by their mode of integration with the global economy through the intertwined channels of oil and war, as opposed to civilian-end use commodity trade.

This is not to say that that there have been no exceptions to the rule of development failures. But in case there is an odd but mild achiever, such as Jordan, the explanation of developmental success ought to be chalked up to geopolitics, or a result of geopolitical rents, rather than on “indigenous economic performance” grounds. The regional cordon sanitaire is a primary explanatory variable of development. Certain countries are permitted to partially develop (to stabilize only) or to be spared the wrath of Islamist terror, at times indirectly sponsored by the U.S. state, due to their geopolitical alliances. But one thing is for sure, region-wide prosperity cannot occur under the prevailing institutional arrangements and externally-imposed wars ripping across the region.

The refrain that one often heard as of the early 1980s was that development required diversification away from primary products – essentially, oil. However, diversification requires infrastructures, legal, social and physical that expand markets with non-predatory and similarly developed regional partners. Regionalism and/or transforming countries into regional building-blocs to combine domestic markets or entice economies of scale requires, in turn, the promotion of investment in intraregional infrastructure. Given the low rate of regional integration –intra-regional trade and investment are quite low in global standards (UN 2011)[2]–and that the Arab cooperation treaties are meaningless non-binding accords, the region’s countries have not seriously pursued moving away from oil.[8]

Once a merchant-comprador mode of accumulation takes hold, based on profiting through imports and extractive industries, as opposed to an industrial mode, exploitation shifts from value-added production and market expansion of civilian-end use commodities to variants or sub-components of commercial exploitation. The destitution of lowly paid Asian domestics and service sector employees in the Gulf and elsewhere is an example of the latter case.

However, the historical end of such merchant mode of accumulation is for the reigning comprador classes, whose assets are dollarized, to form subordinate inter-conflicting ruling classes and to partake with imperialism in warring against their own social formations.

Oil extraction requires little labor, and its productive linkages quickly lead to production chains or processes external to the producing country. Exchange-based trade of primary products alone creates little added value. Historically, rather than opting for a policy of increasing market size to increase the number of consumers, regional entrepreneurs became sort of economic introverts.

Their spoils arose from liquidating national assets and raising their shares of national income within their own fiefs at high turnover rates and, subsequently, storing their wealth in the more stable dollar form. The central banks subsidized the rich as it supported the dollar peg of the national currency with taxes drawn from the working class. The emergence of a Yemeni elite maneuvering amidst constant war, profiting from brokering grain commodity imports and hydrocarbon exports, is a crucial example.

When addressing the macro allocation frameworks in a class of war-risk-exposed countries, such as Iraq and Lebanon in the past and present, and now a suite of states sweeping clear across the Arab and African regions, we must pose questions differently. There is already the inherited weakness of being born a colonially-bred “late-developer,” in which every regional economy entered their post-colonial era with extremely small industrial bases and, often, internal markets stunted by colonial underdevelopment. Their development had been stunted and they thus came small and insecure into a world where size and security matter in the race for development. Meanwhile, it is not only the weight of colonialism that these countries have to grapple with.

The post-colonial imperialist assaults never ceased, whether militarily, as Israel either bulldozes through the region or creates an uneven power platform that drains resources, or in the imposition of terms of exchange and austerity policies that underprice labor and other resources. It is not solely in the Sykes-Picot demarcation lines that the causes of underdevelopment are to be sought – such lines are representation of power and can be changed. It is in the necessity of war as instrument of historical surplus-value and power creation that the causes of underdevelopment rest. Imperialist assaults cannot come to rest and the historical surplus-value of which I speak and was earlier defined by Abdel Malik (1981) is more than just the pile of commodities, it is also the pile of ideas corresponding to expanding capital, which for instance includes the acquiescence of Western feminism to the American bombing of Iraq, Syria, and Libya, states where women enjoyed relatively expansive rights.

Regarding the run of the mill drainage of resources, consider why when revenues from the export of primary commodities have risen regionally, the rate of retained savings dwindles afterwards, just as in the aid syndrome where imperialist aid targets poor investment or consumption, which later lowers the saving rate. As the composition of Arab consumption shifts to affluence and rises, steadily drawing on national savings and reserves, less and less savings are left for investment in productive activity when oil revenues fall.

Moreover, less oil-endowed countries, such as Egypt, Syria, and Yemen, do not secure enough foreign exchange reserves to smooth out the externally-determined fluctuations imposed by oil markets. With investment lodged in short term gestating capital and deficits in the current account frequently mounting, these countries experience prolonged economic contraction. In point of fact, Arab countries exhibit a one percent real GDP per capita growth on average between 1980 and 2010, (WDI, various years).[3] It is important to note that shifting away from the so-called white elephant investment projects of the post-independence period worsened economic performance. Nkrumah’s and the Arab socialist mega projects did not fail on their own. It is the implicit and explicit imperialist war and sanctions that shut them down.

Another crucial piece of evidence regarding imperialistically sponsored economic collapse is that the governing institutions had foreknowledge that they had to diversify and support national industry, and yet for nearly four decades there was no learning curve. They persistently failed to implement such a project. Such path dependence cannot be haphazard and must be relegated to the ideology of the dominant class, which is subordinately tied with imperialism.

The Arab world freed the environment to invest, but the results were repeatedly disastrous. Investment rates fell from over 30 percent in 1980 to less than 20 percent in 2010 (WDI various years). Without an investment guiding institution and an insurance framework underwriting war-like contingencies or force majeure attributed losses, small, risky, and fragmented markets cannot promote productive investment. As mentioned above, the merchant-comprador class channeled investment into short gestating capital, speculative or non-productive activity; however, it particularly decimated investment in the subsistence sectors, especially agriculture, the sector most required for national wealth to incubate. Of course, neoliberal or speculative type investment entailed low productivity service-sector jobs or informal sector poverty employment.

To boot, reducing the public sector’s job creation rate and spending did not better employment conditions. Alongside public-sector cuts under the region-wide dictate of the IFIs, from Egypt to Iraq, austerity and deindustrialization reduced the rate of decent job creation far below the rate of new entrants into the labor force.

One must keep in mind that population growth rates tapered down steadily as of 1960. Unemployment cannot be attributed to rising population levels. Resource usurpation and the neoliberal prescription reduced the rate of job supply to below to below the rate of decent job seekers. The emphasis on rates as opposed to levels is crucial in understanding the labor problematic. Macroeconomic rates must grow together to redress unemployment. The demographic argument for unemployment is only supply-sided. And at any rate, when everyone must work at poverty wages when wealth declines, the unemployment rate fallaciously appears small.

The macro policies adopted, since circa 1980, have lowered the growth rate, changed its input composition (more growth from the commerce side) and relied either on deskilling or disengaging national labor. Hence, rising unemployment and poverty were the necessary outcomes of unconditional liberalization policy.

It seems unlikely that the social forces that have captured the state across the region, including to a large extent the Arab republics, would have developed welfare policies in which private interests are entrusted with the fulfillment of public interests – the so-called trickle-down effect. In a situation in which extra-national, and subordinately national, decision-making class actors seek the immiseration of the region, Milton Friedman’s “bang for buck” proposition appears to hold, but in reverse. He argued for cuts in public spending because much of it is purportedly wasteful and generates no tangible returns. He wanted to halt the buildup of value that supports the agility and autonomy of labor as a political power. That is also why he did not object to direct or ephemeral cash handouts that regiment and under-valorize labor. Hence, his famous there is no bang for buck from social investment.

In the reality of the Arab world, the infusion of wars of depopulation and environmental decay, the waste side of accumulation that is so relevant to capital, turned out to be quite a shrewd imperialist investment which more than paid off the initial costs. There is more bang for buck from imperialist wars.

Over the long term – that is, the long-term planning horizon of the nationalist period, roughly the mid-to-late 1950s until the early 1980s, when state-directed economies reigned roughly from Algeria and Tunisia to Egypt and on to the Mashreq states of Syria and Iraq – there were higher developmental returns from social investment, so-called market rigidities and government intervention. Until today, all such spending has continued to impart a modicum of institutional integrity. Even in the ongoing neoliberal period, state-owned companies and bureaucracies have continued to contribute to planning and coordinate some economic growth. In that sense, they have more than paid back their initial costs. Yet, one is awfully aware of their increasingly diminishing size.

In implementation, macro issues are interrelated and inextricable from one another. Questions about their efficacies beg their own answers. For instance, to what extent is the problem of unemployment in some of these countries an outcome of monetary policy that targets low rates of inflation with no regard to unemployment? To what extent is the problem of stagflation in some countries an outcome of a policy-mix of increasing short-term interest rates along with national currency devaluations? To what extent has the adverse impact of a chronically high rate of unemployment aggravated the contraction triggered by an external shock (falling oil price) and thus created a debilitating path dependence?

The mechanisms behind these questions and the policy decisions that underlie them can be seen as various irrigation valves channeling resources between various nationally based strata and internationally based financial interests.

Put another way, they are about who – which class – has enough power to get a higher share of income, and how much. The decline of state intervention in the economy and the retooling of state monetary and fiscal policies have not been class-blind decisions. They have reflected an ascendant bourgeoisie pushing back against labor. A consequence is that labor share from total income fell to the lowest global ranks due to inflation and wage compression.

That meant in country after country, more of the locally-denominated wealth concentrated in fewer hands – for example in Egypt and Syria. In turn, the steadying of the national currency against the dollar – that is, currency pegs – meant more of the that locally-denominated wealth could then be converted into the reserve currency, the dollar, at the expense of the resources destined to the working population. The pegged exchange rate ceased to be a mechanism for preventing hot currency flows and turned into a means to channel wealth not only up within the same society, but also abroad.[9]

Indeed, a country cannot peg to the dollar under an open capital account and still hold on to an effective monetary policy. However, it is not the effectiveness of monetary policy that matters first. It is the ownership of policy or policy autonomy emanating from the margin of state sovereignty. The sovereignty of Arab states has been less and less marked by developmental capabilities, human well-being, and proletarian participation. Put differently, sovereignty inevitably has a class component.

In times of war or war-like conditions, such as clearly prevail in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and thus in the Arab World more broadly, the ultimate sovereign may be allegorically drawn from the inscription on the side of Louis XIV’s cannon: ultima ratio regum (the final argument of kings). The military balance of forces, including Israel and America’s military bases, has become the broker of sovereignty; it has decided on what terms countries can be sovereign. The invasion of Iraq is a telling example. Along with the ideological avalanche of neoliberalism, external violence can explain much of the lost policy autonomy since 1980.

Regaining development means regaining policy autonomy, or the capacity for local states to act in the interests of the popular strata. The positive relationship between policy space and positive developmental outcome is a straightforward question. Many have stressed its significance.

UNCTAD, for instance, says

“the idea of policy space refers to the freedom and ability of governments to identify and pursue the most appropriate mix of economic and social policies to achieve equitable and sustainable development.”[10]

Image result for unctad

Yet, in a patronizing tone, UNCTAD would also attribute the shrinkage of policy space to causes devoid of real forms of power – as if state sovereignty for the neediest countries is a by-product of a universally democratic international law. What purpose would it serve UNCTAD to attribute loss of policy space to “various legal obligations emerging from multilateral, regional and bilateral agreements,” other than to obscure the truth?[11]

The higher rate of real value and resource dislocation resulting from violence, overwhelmingly caused or lubricated by foreign actors such as the United States and European Union, contravenes all the covenants of international law. There is in such half-truth an effort to conceal the hierarchically articulated social power structures, cutting across national boundaries, whose ideology targets a higher input metabolism of the developing social order (the consumption of humans and nature), often by ferocious means, as a necessary precursor to global economic growth.

We simply cannot drop the study of social relations, violent social restructuring, and their accumulated historical effect to decimate and reconstitute value in the developing world. History matters, and sidestepping the constitutive history of external violence is not social science. It is science fiction.

*

This article was originally published by Viewpoint Magazine.

Professor Ali Kadri  teaches at the National University of Singapore (NUS). He was previously a  visiting fellow at the Centre for Human Rights, London School of Economics. He is the author of The Cordon Sanitaire: A Single Law Governing Development in East Asia and the Arab World, Palgrave, 2017.

Notes

[1] Ali Kadri, The Cordon Sanitaire: A Single Law Governing Development in East Asia and the Arab World (Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018).

[2] United Nations General Assembly, 97th plenary meeting, A/RES/41/128, December 4, 1986.

[3] University of Texas Inequality Project, Estimated Household Income Inequality Data Set, 2008.

[4] Ali Kadri, “Productivity decline in the Arab world,” real-world economics review, no. 70 (February 2015): 140–60.

[5] Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA), TABLE (2): Annual Government Revenues and Expenditures.

[6] Ali Kadri, “A pre Arab Spring Depressive Business Cycle,” in The New Middle East: Protest and Revolution in the Arab World, ed. Fawaz Gerges (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014).

[7] John Everington and Shereen El Gazzar, Consumers hit hard as Egypt subsidy cuts send fuel prices soaring 78%,” The National, July 5, 2014.

[8] United Nations Survey of Economic and Social Developments in Western Asia, 2007–2008 (New York: United Nations, 2011).

[9] Countries with balance of payment constraints are short leashed by institutional lenders who can wreak havoc on the nation-states by simply delaying disbursements to support the national currency (if national currency devalues, inflation rises).

[10] UNCTAD, Trade and Development Report, 2014.

[11] Ibid.

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Prospects of Return to El Salvador Pose Difficult Choice

NOVANEWS

The Trump administration’s decision to rescind Temporary Protected Status for people from El Salvador (as well as Nicaragua, Sudan and Haiti) is confronting migrants with a terrible choice, explained Ramon Cardona in an interview with Dennis J. Bernstein.

By Dennis J. Bernstein

On January 8, the Trump administration abruptly put an end to Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Salvadorans now living and working in the US. Many have been in the country for 15 or 20 years, and have established jobs and families. Nearly 200,000 Salvadorans now living in the U.S. may be affected. According to the the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Salvadorans, who account for about 60% of TPS recipients, will have until Sept. 9, 2019 to either adjust their status if eligible, make plans to return to El Salvador, or face deportation.

Artists work on a sign that reads “Deport Trump” during the presidential inauguration. January 20, 2017. (Photo: Chelsea Gilmour)

According to many immigrant and human rights groups, those being sent back will face harsh economic conditions and will probably end up unemployed. Some will be physically brutalized and possibly murdered in what has become one of the most violent countries in the world.

The following interview with Ramon Cardona, a former U.S.-based government official of the FMLN in El Salvador, and director of Centro Latino Cuzcatlan in Northern California, is part of a series for Consortiumnews.com on the multiple issues surrounding the battle for truly fair and humane immigration reform. “It’s shocking,” Cardona said. “It’s news that we kind of expected, but now that it’s official, it hurts.”

I spoke to Cardona on January 9th, 2018.

Dennis Bernstein: I think it would be good for you to tell us a little bit about your history, and how TPS came to pass and the impact of its sudden spiking by President Trump.

Ramon Cardona: I am an immigrant from El Salvador. I was brought to the United States as a teenager. Currently I run Centro Latino Cuzcatlan, a community-based agency providing immigration services mainly to the Latino community.

I have been involved with the Salvadoran solidarity movement since my university years back in the 1970s. I witnessed the first fight in Congress for protective status, which we eventually won in 1990 when Congress was made aware that Salvadoran deportees were being systematically labeled as subversives and murdered by the National Guard. Later, in 1997, the Nicaraguan and Central American Relief Act was passed which made these people legal permanent residents.

Today, the Salvadoran community receives shocking news when Homeland Security stated that TPS will no longer continue for Salvadorans, who are being given an 18-month reprieve to “put their things in order” and return home.

On average, these people have been living over twenty years in the United States. They have made their homes here, their children were born on U.S. territory. They contribute some $4.5 billion in remittances, which is nearly equal to the national budget of El Salvador last year. What they basically need is for their temporary status to be made permanent.

DB: How many people are affected and could you tell us about some of the people you know who will be directly impacted?

RC: 188,000 Salvadorans are TPS recipients and another 192,000 are U.S.-born children. By September 2019, many thousands of families have to make a horrendous decision, whether to revert back to undocumented status, lose their work permits and be vulnerable to deportation or return to a country rife with violence of every form, rampant unemployment and a dire lack of public services.  How will such a country be able to integrate tens of thousands of Salvadorans?

This decision by Homeland Security is based on the false claim that the conditions that prompted Temporary Protected Status back in 2001 have been overcome and the government is capable of integrating these people back into society. People are coming to us and asking us what they should do now, what is going to happen. Will they be able to obtain permanent legal residence? We are telling people to seek proper legal advice and find out what other immigration laws apply to their situation.

And we are advising them to join the struggle to pressure the U.S. Congress to once and for all recognize these people as productive members of society in the United States. A third of these people are paying on home mortgages. Many are business owners providing jobs in their communities. Every 18 months they have to pay a substantial amount of money to continue getting benefits and have to go through FBI background checks. Anyone who is found to have committed a crime loses all their benefits. It would be to everyone’s benefit for Congress to adopt a solution for permanent residency.

DB: Please take a moment to remind people of the conditions which forced this massive migration to the United States from El Salvador and the role that the United States played.

RC: The first large migration from El Salvador took place in the late 1970’s when the US-backed military government carried out a program of terror and repression in answer to a revolutionary pro-democracy movement. Military death squads went after union people, university students, teachers, organized public employees. Many people took to the mountains and joined the FMLN and many sought refuge outside El Salvador’s borders. This was in the late seventies and throughout the 1980’s.

A settlement was reached with the INS [Immigration and Naturalization Service] to address the fact that Salvadoran and Guatemalan refugees were soliciting political asylum and seeing only one or two percent approval rates, while others coming from Poland or claiming to be fleeing the Sandinistas in Nicaragua were seeing upwards of 70% approval rates.

DB: This was at a time when priests were being killed, when Archbishop Oscar Romero was shot through the throat while saying mass. We saw nuns beaten, raped and killed. The U.S. government didn’t want people coming to the US and telling this story.

RC: That time was a part of our collective history. Many, many families had members who were murdered or disappeared.

DB: While the U.S. government was perpetrating this violence, we saw the emergence of the sanctuary movement here. The number of people coming across the border was a direct barometer of the intensity of the wars that the U.S. was prosecuting in El Salvador and Guatemala. This is the dirty history that the United States is still trying to cover up.

RC: And then we have to ask how the high levels of generalized violence in El Salvador today got started. It began with mass deportations of youngsters who grew up in Los Angeles, went to jail there, joined gangs there, and then got deported to a hopeless existence in El Salvador. All they could do was join a gang.

Again, this last year, El Salvador was the most violent country in Central America and one of the most violent countries throughout the world. Anyone coming to El Salvador from the United States is an automatic target because it is assumed they have money.

DB: Are you getting any support from members of Congress or the administration who oppose what Homeland Security is doing?

RC: There are two legislative initiatives, one presented by New York Congresswoman Lydia Velazquez, which already has the support of nearly 100 representatives, most of them Democrats. There is also a bipartisan initiative that was started by Carlos Curbelo, a Republican representative from Florida.

But we know that both initiatives are up against very powerful anti-immigrant forces in Congress and we also have a president who ran for office calling Latin American immigrants rapists and criminals.

DB: As regards El Salvador, there is a lot of blood on the hands of U.S. politicians and they have a responsibility now to act. What do you think is the best way for people to get involved now? I imagine you want the support of as many people as possible.

RC: One of our challenges is to reach out to all TPS’s and make sure they get proper legal counsel. When a U.S.-born child becomes 21 years of age, they can seek access to permanent residency. We have to speak directly to people to make sure they understand that there are legal options, even if they have already been charged with deportation orders.

There is also a national campaign that people can link to at www.savetps.com. We are going to Washington, D.C. between the 4th and the 6th of February, not just Salvadorans, but Nicaraguans and Haitians, who also benefit from TPS.  And of course we continue to lobby Congress to take responsibility for this situation.

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The Struggle Against Honduras’ Stolen Election

NOVANEWS

Last year’s disputed elections in Honduras continue to present a struggle for grassroots activists in the country, who face harsh police and military crackdowns in response to protests, reports Dennis J. Bernstein in the following interview.

By Dennis J. Bernstein

The latest tragedy of misguided U.S. foreign policy in Central America is the tacit support for another stolen presidential election in Honduras. The new right-wing renegade government there is inflicting terrible violence upon people who refuse to accept the election results from Last November’s election between extreme right-wing parliamentary dictator, Juan Orlando Hernandez, the current president, and progressive reformer, Salvador Nasralla.

A map of Honduras.

To get a clearer picture as to what is happening on the ground in Honduras–which includes dozens of murders of street activists–I spoke to Sandra Cuffe. Based in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Cuffe has resided for many years in Central America and writes for several online publications.

Cuffe also expressed deep concern for the safety of Edwin Espinal, a noted activist and ally to many movements in Honduras, including COPINH. COPINH is the group founded by the late Berta Caceres, who it is believed was assassinated by right-wing forces affiliated with the Honduran government. Espinal has now been arrested and is being held under difficult circumstances at a Honduran military base.

“The current government has arrested, beaten Espinal many times,” said one friend and co-worker of Espinal. “His body has been beaten and broken repeatedly. Now he is a political prisoner, held in leg chains, for having exercised his right to free speech and free assembly”.

I spoke to Cuffe on January 24 in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

Dennis Bernstein: Could you remind people what happened in terms of recent elections in Honduras, and give us a sense of the atmospheric pressure right now?

Sandra Cuffe: Last November 26 there were general elections in Honduras.  It was a fiercely contested election between Juan Orlando Hernandez, the current president, and Salvador Nasralla, who was the candidate for the oppositional alliance against the dictatorship.

According to the Honduran constitution, re-election for the office of president is not allowed but the right wing has been concentrating power to the point where the executive branch controls basically all branches of government and a supreme court ruling allowed for the president’s re-election.

On the other side, the Libre Party grew out of resistance to the 2009 coup d’etat that was supported by the United States.  For these elections, it formed an alliance with a smaller party, as well as with Salvador Nasralla.

After more than half the votes had been counted, preliminary results had Nasralla in the lead by five points, which was considered irreversible.  The computer system then mysteriously crashed and when it came back online that lead began to rapidly disappear.

That was the earliest indication that fraud was involved.  The official results took another few weeks to come out. The Organization of American States found serious irregularities in the voting and numerous indications of fraud.

Meanwhile, there were massive protests and all kinds of actions going on across the country. At least 35 people have been killed, with the actual number being probably much higher. Most were killed when security forces opened fire on protests around the country. Hundreds have been wounded and well over a thousand have been detained. Many have been released but some are still being held as political prisoners. The inauguration is set for January 27 so we are now in the middle of a week of action leading up to that.

DB: Please say a little more about what is at stake here and why people are willing to put their lives on the line.

SC: What is at stake is democracy.  Since the 2009 coup, people have organized, formed political parties and alliances. A lot of people who hadn’t been politically active before are now starting to take action in an attempt to change what is going on.

The ruling National Party has been in power since 2010. They have concentrated power to an extreme degree. There has been a huge rise in militarization, including the creation of a military police which has been responsible for the majority of the deaths of protesters.

Salvador Nasralla in 2013.

Even aside from this current crisis since the election, Honduras has long been one of the most violent countries in the world, one of the most dangerous for environmental defenders as well as for journalists. Healthcare and education are in shambles. Corruption is rampant. So really the future of the country is at stake.

But despite the repression, people are not backing down. There have been massive marches, especially last December in the capital, with tens of thousands of people in the streets. The opposition alliance has its strongest base in the northwest of the country, where resistance has always been strongest. Tire blockades have been used in a lot of places. There was at first some limited dialogue with police, but recently it has mainly been military forces showing up, opening fire or using tear gas.

DB: What has the U.S. government said about the killing of protesters?  Do they continue to support the coup?

SC: For decades, Honduras has been a key ally of the U.S. in Central America. There is a huge military base there. It is home to the U.S. Southern Command Joint Task Force Bravo. In the 1980s it was the training ground and launching pad for counterinsurgency operations throughout Central America. The United States is in the background of everything that goes on politically in Honduras.

The U.S. and the OAS disagreed on whether to recognize the election results. Two days after the election and just before soldiers started opening fire on protesters, the U.S. State Department certified the election, which freed up military aid to the Honduran government.

DB: The important activist Edwin Espinal is now in custody.  What is going on there now with his case?

SC: Edwin is a longtime activist in Honduras. He was extremely active in the movement in the streets after the coup. His wife was actually killed in the context of the protests. There have been around a thousand detentions. Most of those detained were released soon afterwards, but there are at least a couple dozen people still in jail. The charges are mainly related to property destruction.

In Edwin’s case, in response to tear gas attacks, protesters broke the windows of a Marriot Hotel next to the Presidential Palace. Several police stations have been burned down after police opened fire on protesters. Edwin was arrested last Friday and he faces three charges related to property destruction. He is under investigation for terrorism and criminal association. Edwin’s case has been placed in a special court system, with his hearings taking place on a military base. There is virtually no public access. This Monday he had his initial hearing.

DB: Has anyone been able to talk to him directly? And how do you think he will be treated while in custody?

SC: People were able to visit him after his arrest when he was being held in a police cell. They were able to see him very briefly going to and from hearings. However, he has lawyers from a prominent human rights organization so there has been some communication with the outside. Visits are very difficult to arrange. Reading materials are forbidden. In terms of safety, because there have been so many incidents of intimidation and threats by security forces against Edwin dating back to right after the coup, the government has implemented “protective measures” in his case under orders of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

DB: Has Edwin’s case received any support from members of the U.S. Congress?

SC: I don’t know the answer to that yet. There is a very active Honduran solidarity network in the US and Canada who have been very involved since the coup.

DB: In terms of U.S. policy toward Honduras, this is actually what we like to see, isn’t it? It is like one big free-trade zone with a few military bases thrown in. We can also expect a flood of more Hondurans and other Central Americans to the U.S.

SC: I know that when you talk to most young people, they no longer see a future for themselves here.They organized and went to the polls and the signs of clear victory were simply wiped out two days later. People are outraged and many of them will leave the country.

 

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Unpacking the Shadowy Outfit Behind 2017’s Biggest Fake News Story

NOVANEWS

In late 2016, about 200 websites – including Consortiumnews.com – were identified as “Russian propaganda outlets” by the dubious website PropOrNot, hiding behind a cloak of anonymity. Now, journalist George Eliason peels back some of that anonymity in this article originally posted at Washington’s Blog.

Editor’s note: In November 2016, Consortiumnews.com was listed with about 200 other websites at the shadowy “PropOrNot” website, which was claiming to serve as a watchdog against undue “Russian influence” in the United States. The PropOrNot blacklist was elevated by the Washington Post as a credible source, despite the fact that the neo-McCarthyites who compiled the list hid behind a cloak of anonymity. As an article at Consortiumnews explained at the time, the Post granted PropOrNot anonymity “to smear journalists who don’t march in lockstep with official pronouncements from the State Department or some other impeccable fount of never-to-be-questioned truth.”

The PropOrNot logo

Now, George Eliason, an American journalist living in Ukraine, has published an article at Washington’s Blog – one of the other 200 blacklisted websites – examining the cast of characters who may be behind the PropOrNot endeavor. As explained in a disclaimer at the original article at Washington’s Blog: “A leading cybersecurity expert has publicly said that Mr. Eliason’s research as presented in this article does not violate the law. Washington’s Blog does not express an opinion about whether or not the claims set forth in this article are accurate or not. Make up your own mind.”

By George Eliason

A little over a year ago, the deep state graced the world with PropOrNot. Thanks to them, 2017 became the year of fake news. Every news website and opinion column now had the potential to be linked to the Steele dossier and Trump collusion with Russia. Every journalist was either “with us or against us.” Anyone who challenged the Russiagate narrative became Russia’s trolls.

Fortunately for the free world, the anonymous group known as PropOrNot that tried to “out” every website as a potential Russian colluder, in the end only implicated themselves. Turnabout is fair play and that’s always the fun part, isn’t it? With that in mind, I know the dogs are going to howl this evening over this one.

The damage PropOrNot did to scores of news and opinions websites in late 2016-2017 provides the basis of a massive civil suit. I mean huge, as in the potential is there for a tobacco company-sized class-action sized lawsuit. I can say that because I know a lot about a number of entities that are involved and the enormous amount of money behind them.

How serious is this? In 2016, a $10,000 reward was put out for the identities of PropOrNot players. No one has claimed it yet, and now, I guess no one will. There are times in your life that taking a stand has a cost. To make sure the story gets out and is taken seriously, this is one of those times.

In this article, you’ll meet some of the people staffing PropOrNot. You’ll meet the people and publications that provide their expenses and cover the logistics. You’ll meet a few of the deep state players. We’ll deal with them very soon. They need to see this as the warning shot over the bow and start playing nice with regular people. After that, you’ll meet the NGOs that are funding and orchestrating all of it. How am I doing so far?

The image above is the clincher or game winner that supplies the necessary proof up front and the direct path to PropOrNot. This was a passive scan of Propornot.com showing the administrative dashboard belongs to the InterpreterMag.com as shown on the left of the image. On the right, it shows that uploads to Propornot.com come from InterpreterMag.com and is a product of that publication.

Now we have the first layer of PropOrNot and our first four contestants. We have a slew of new media organizations that are influenced by, or feeding PropOrNot. Remember, fake news got off the ground and got its wings because of the attention this website received from the Washington Post in Dec. 2016.

At the Interpreter Mag level, here are the people:

  • Michael Weiss is the Editor-in-Chief at the InterpreterMag.com. According to his Linkd profile, he is also a National Security Analyst for CNN since July 2017 as well as an Investigative Reporter for International Affairs for CNN since April 2017. He has been a contributor there since 2015. He has been a Senior Editor at The Daily Beast since June 2015.
  • Catherine A. Fitzpatrick is a Russian translator and analyst for the Interpreter. She has worked as an editor for EurasiaNet.org and the former Cold War project funded by the CIA, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).
  • Pierre Vaux is an analyst and translator for the Interpreter. He’s also an intern. He is a contributor to the Daily Beast, Foreign Policy, RFE/RL and Left Foot Forward and works at Dataminr Inc.
  • James Miller’s bio at the InterpreterMag.com includes Managing Editor of The Interpreter where he reports on Russia, Ukraine, and Syria. James runs the “Under The Black Flag” column at RFE/RL which provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. He is a contributor at Reuters, The Daily Beast, Foreign Policy, and other publications. He is an expert on verifying citizen journalism and has been covering developments in the Middle East, specifically Syria and Iran, since 2009. Miller also works for the U.S. Embassy in Kiev “diplo-page” the Kiev Post.

The Interpreter is a product of the Atlantic Council. The Digital Forensics Research Lab has been carrying the weight in Ukrainian-Russian affairs for the Atlantic Council. Fellows working with the Atlantic Council in this area include:

The strand that ties this crew together is they all work for Ukrainian Intelligence. If you hit the links, the ties are documented very clearly. We’ll get to that point again shortly, but let’s go further:

PropOrNot -> Atlantic Council -> Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG)

Who are the BBG? The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) is an independent agency of the United States government. According to its website, its mission is to “inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.” Its projects include Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio y Television Marti, Radio Free Asia, and the Middle East Broadcast Networks.

The BBG’s bipartisan board was eliminated and replaced with a single appointed chief executive officer as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, which was passed in December 2016.

On January 1, 2016, the Interpreter became a special project of RFE/RL and under the oversight of the BBG. The Secretary of State had a seat on the board of the BBG until December 2016. Why the change?

During the 2016 election, the BBG developed a major conflict of interest. At least two BBG board members worked actively for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. These government officials were working against the president-elect after the election. It looks like it didn’t go unnoticed. In the following linked article, it shows that they should be investigated for their part in an attempted coup.

From a Nov 7, 2016, article– “Karen Kornbluh is helping refine and to get Hillary Clinton’s message out.” All of them are names to watch if Clinton wins — and key jobs at the FCC and other federal agencies are up for grabs.”

According to her bio: Karen founded the New America Foundation’s Work and Family Program and is a senior fellow for Digital Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. Karen has written extensively about technology policy, women, and family policy for The Atlantic, The New York Times and The Washington Post. New York Times columnist David Brooks cited her Democracy article “Families Valued,” focused on “juggler families” as one of the best magazine articles of 2006.

Michael Kempner is the founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of MWW Group, a staunch Hillary Clinton supporter, and may get a greater role if she is elected. Kempner is a member of the Public Relations Hall of Fame. Michael Kempner hired Anthony Weiner after the sexting scandal broke in 2011.

Jeff Shell, chairman of the BBG and Universal Filmed Entertainment is supporting a secondary role by being an honor roll donor to the Atlantic Council. While the BBG is supposed to be neutral it has continuously helped increase tensions in Eastern Europe. While giving to the Atlantic Council may not be illegal while in his position, currently, the Atlantic Council’s main effort is to ignite a war with Russia. This may set up a major conflict of interest.

As journalist Robert Parry wrote in October 2016, the propaganda campaign in favor of military confrontation with Russia was driven by “a consensus among the major think tanks of Official Washington, where there is near universal support for Hillary Clinton, not because they all particularly like her, but because she has signaled a return to neocon/liberal-hawk strategies.”

The people who were lining up to take senior positions in a Clinton White House believed that President Obama had been too timid in stressing the dangers of overreach and the need for restraint, especially in the Middle East, and it was time for a more hawkish approach, as embodied by Clinton.

Parry goes on to say that at the forefront of this propaganda campaign was the Atlantic Council, a think tank associated with NATO. Their main goal was “a major confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia,” Parry warned.

So, to make sense of all this, most of the people listed would have held cabinet positions in a Hillary Clinton presidency. If the Interpreter is a project of RFE/RL then the decision to go ahead with PropOrNot would have to go across their desk. That would include, possibly, then Secretary of State, John Kerry.

The unasked question of why would a U.S. Government Agency do this needs to be addressed. All the people listed above were actively working for Clinton to get her elected and throw Donald Trump’s campaign off the rails.

After the election, they were going to take care of Clinton’s “deplorables” by dissecting alternative media. I wrote about this before the election and I warned several major new sites what they could expect. I was right on the money. After she lost, it was already in motion. The deplorable media didn’t fall into a particular political pattern other than they did not promote Hillary Clinton.

The purpose of PropOrNot has been to trick people into demanding that freedom of speech be rolled back. This was/is to be done by destroying fact-based media. If you read further, the entire plan is laid out starting from 2015 when it started coming together.

These people want reality shaped on what the perceived majority (louder) group believes to be true, regardless of what the facts are. Perception based reality is only a Facebook like away from killing one person or elevating another to hero status regardless of what they have done.

That little statement about the free speech rally says it all. It’s something that would hardly be noticed unless you were looking for it because it is part of the metadata.

Now you can say it’s only a sentence and who cares? Nobody communicates through metadata do they? Wasn’t that what PropOrNot was all about? Yes, they do communicate through metadata. That’s why I look at it.

Do you see it? No? Look again. There in the metadata, at the bottom of the image is an ad for a job. Go for it and remember to mention the header. It could just as easily be hacking instructions, or a do not disturb sign. That’s why it pays to really research carefully.

The Boston ‘Free Speech’ Rally was billed by the social networks and MSM as a fascist rally. It was actually a Free Speech Rally. What they learned is that with just a little nudge, they can make you demand nationalist repression. Nice going Boston!

Hey, is this starting to sound a little conspiratorial? If it is, we need Russkie hackers with Guy Fawkes masks to make this work. They have to admit to changing international politics through hacking in 2016, belong to a foreign country, code in Russian, and use spear phishing techniques to lure people in. Let’s not forget that they also have to work for some form of Intelligence.

Most importantly, they have to work with and influence all of the people above. They will definitely impact U.S. foreign policy toward Russia. Let’s raise the stakes even more. The hackers have to answer to whoever is funding a lot of the illegal and immoral activities.

They are not even savvy enough to stay clear of outing each other. This is the Pravy Sektor hacker RUH8.  The common thread for these hackers is clear if you read the linked material on the profiles that make up these organizations. They work for Bellingcat, Informnapalm, the Atlantic Council, Ukrainian Intel, and the Diaspora.

In a follow-up article, I have reason to ask if they were given access to United States Government Top-Secret Secure Servers. I’m not kidding.

In a Euromaidan Press article dated Nov. 2, 2016, the hackers state enthusiastically “Ukrainian hackers have a rather high level of work. So the help of the USA… I don’t know, why would we need it? We have all the talent and special means for this. And I don’t think that the USA or any NATO country would make such sharp movements in international politics.”

And we have a winner. In 2016 the sharp movement in international politics was caused by…survey says….hacking!!!!

According to Donna Brazille, the Democratic Party servers were hacked multiple times and the hacking didn’t stop until December 2016. At this juncture, we should be able to agree that Seth Rich leaked the information to Wikileaks. But, now we are talking about other hacks. In the above-linked article, these hacker specifically say their favorite route is spear phishing email accounts.

In the article, you’ll also see they work directly for Ukrainian Intel. Bellingcat works directly for Ukrainian Intel and works with them and the Atlantic Council. Stopfake.org is a product of Irena Chalupa who works for RFE/RL, the Atlantic Council and the Ukrainian government. Stopfake.org works directly with them and is a product of the Ukrainian government. Crowdstrike has an ongoing relationship with Ukrainian Intel and these particular hackers. Is it possible that Crowdstrike conjured up Fancy Bear, the “hacker(s)” responsible for divulging internal Democratic Party emails that supposedly tipped the 2016 election in Trump’s favor? (“Fancy Bear,” by the way, is technically a set of tools, not a person.)

If so, this would mean that approval was given at the highest levels – presumably former Secretary of State John Kerry – for Ukrainian intelligence hackers to have access to servers inside a U.S. Government Agency because of PropOrNot and the Atlantic Council’s reliance on the hackers.

How are the Ukrainian hackers tied into PropOrNot at any level? James Miller isn’t shy about using their work. PropOrNot relies on the work of the Atlantic Council, Aric Toler, Aaron Weisburd, Clint Watts, and Joel Harding. The Ukrainian hackers work directly with InformNapalm and are the go-to resource for most of the people involved and all of the people just named.

As James Miller wrote at the Interpreter, “Below we have assessed the details of the reports from InformNapalm, and have expanded on their investigation.

Who does the Atlantic Council work for? It’s the same people who staff RFE/RL and works closely with the Ukrainian World Congress, as explained here:

“On 29 January 2016 in Washington, U.S.A., Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) President Eugene Czolij and Atlantic Council President and CEO Frederick Kempe officially signed a Memorandum of Agreement to renew the cooperation between the UWC and the Atlantic Council, which began in September 2014.

“In accordance with this Memorandum, the UWC will continue its cooperation with the Atlantic Council on implementing the “Ukraine in Europe Initiative”, which aims to galvanize international support for an independent, sovereign and territorially integral Ukraine, including Crimea. This initiative is also intended to support reforms in Ukraine and its EuroAtlantic integration, and to counter Russian disinformation.”

The Ukrainian World Congress is represented in the U.S. Congress by the Ukrainian Caucus headed up by ISIS supporter and Nazi cheerleader Marcy Kaptur. Her Ukrainian Caucus represents people with political positions that scared Adolf Hitler in WWII.

The obvious takeaway is that a lawsuit is a bare minimum that needs to happen. People need to be investigated for crimes against the state. When we take a closer look at who had potential access to top-secret servers, which will become painfully clear.

Through their efforts to quash free speech and paint anyone who questions government propaganda as Kremlin stooges, these people are trying to tear the fabric of society into pieces. At the very least, they have earned a good tarring and feathering. When you look at the financial end of this a lawsuit in the billions would barely touch it.

Just one company the Ukrainian Diaspora started for this is valued over 100 million dollars. This will need to be a class action suit with a cease and desist to the BBG.

In early 2015, almost two years before most people took the idea of censorship seriously, I documented its inception. As often happens with many of the biggest stories of our times, I stumbled onto it by accident.

In early March 2015, Ukrainian Information Policy designer Joel Harding laid out what to expect going forward in the following statements: “In military IIO [Inform and Influence Operations] center on the ability to influence foreign audiences, US, and global audiences, and adversely affect enemy decision making through an integrated approach. Even current event news is released in this fashion. Each portal is given messages that follow the same themes because it is an across the board mainstream effort that fills the information space entirely when it is working correctly.”

The purpose of “Inform and Influence Operations” is not to provide a perspective, opinion, or lay out a policy. It is defined as the ability to make audiences “think and act” in a manner favorable to the mission objectives. This is done through applying perception management techniques which target the audience’s emotions, motives, and reasoning.

These techniques are not geared for debate. It is to overwhelm and change the target psyche.

Using these techniques information sources can be manipulated and those that write, speak, or think counter to the objective are relegated as propaganda, ill-informed, or irrelevant.

While the above sounds gloriously overoptimistic, Harding, along with his little band of Kremlin Troll hunters personally started developing the idea of organizations capable of blackballing journalists and publications in a way that could not be construed as censorship.

From another March 2015 article – A “Disinformation Charter” for Media and Bloggers: “Top-down censorship should be avoided. But rival media, from Al-Jazeera to the BBC, Fox and beyond, need to get together to create a charter of acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Vigorous debate and disagreement are, of course, to be encouraged – but media organizations that practice conscious deception should be excluded from the community. A similar code can be accepted by bloggers and other online influencers.”

This “Disinformation Charter” for responsible behavior (Ministry of Truth?) he describes is to fight “conscious deception” can only be weighed against how he describes Propaganda. “The word is frequently used to describe any news emerging one’s opponent,” according to Harding.

Journalists who need to be excluded are those “our side” label as propagandists or active measure agents.”

Harding’s connections in media are huge. Through his friend Matthew Armstrong, Harding had access to and the ear of the board of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, staffed by a who’s who of network and radio broadcast, print media and shortwave CEOs and heavy hitters. They are the ones behind RFE/RL.

On the other end of this in 2015, Joel Harding was assembling a group of miscreants to attack the social networks of different journalist and publications. The crude logic behind a direct assault was that by developing, training, and overseeing vast troll networks they could speak over their opposition (people that their employers wanted to be silenced) and subdue dissident online conversation and control the information.

Where this wasn’t feasible, they set up hack and harass attacks at various publications to get them to stop publishing hard-hitting journalists. This still hasn’t been entirely effective because it caused publishers to dig in and harden their internet properties instead.

The softer more indirect approach Harding pushed in March 2015 quickly developed into the unified media strategy he wanted for the U.S. and Europe. Control the information and don’t allow contradicting information or news into the media stream. When it does get in, call it propaganda.

Enter PropOrNot.

Posted in USA, Media0 Comments


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