Al Jazeera: US withdraws Annapolis resolution

Dandelion Salad

Al Jazeera English
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 01, 2007
4:42 MECCA TIME, 1:42 GMT

The United States has withdrawn a resolution it presented to the UN Security Council endorsing the relaunch of Middle East peace talks agreed in Annapolis, Maryland.

US officials did not give a reason for Friday’s move but diplomats indicated that Israel, which is a close ally of Washington, did not want the UN involved in the process.

“We looked at this matter, talked about it and at the end of the day the secretary [of state Condoleezza Rice] believes that the positive results of Annapolis speak by themselves,” Sean McCormack, US state department spokesman, said.

Continued…

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War is Good for Business: Anglo-American Military Industrial Complex Sells Weapons to Iran by Rev. Richard Skaff

Dandelion Salad

by Rev. Richard Skaff
Global Research, December 2, 2007

The capitalistic motto that perpetuates the Anglo-American Military Industrial Complex (MIC) is “create ogres then slay them for profits.”

While the US government is allegedly escalating rhetoric against Iran , and tightening economic sanctions against that country, the MIC was selling this year the Iranians through publicly available channels F-14 aircraft parts.

According to Jane’s Intelligence report, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported on August 1, 2007 that more than 1,400 parts that are unique to the US Navy’s (USN’s) Grumman F-14 Tomcat fighter aircraft were sold to Iran through publicly available channels in February 2007. These sales occurred despite a January 2007 announcement by the US Department of Defense (DoD) that all such sales would be suspended until DoDs Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) had made improvements to its security procedures. (Jane’s Intelligence Report, 2007).

The Tomcat was a strike fighter with a high price tag of $38 million per plane that the United States sold to Iran in the 1970s, when the Shah of Iran gave the US and Britain full access for oil exploration and exploitation. The Pentagon retired its F-14 last fall and hired contractors for hundred of millions of dollars to allegedly dismantle the planes and to ensure that the parts are destroyed and not sold to countries that are considered hostile to the United Stated by the Bush administration.

This type of duplicitous policy is a standard operating procedure on the stage of international politics, where drama, fear, and wars are choreographed by the the financial masters of the world.

Meanwhile, everyone awaits the occurrence of an artificial trigger operation that will terrify the public and will justify the invasion of Iran, which in turn will secure the complete control of the straits of Hormuz, and with it, the oil supplies of the world.

That in turn would force the west-dependent Chinese and Russians into compliance with the new world order guidelines. That would also deter the Chinese from dumping more dollars, which in turn would delay the death of the greenbacks that will eventually vanish with the North American Union when the time is right, and as Mexico ’s internal conflicts worsen. Then, the dollar will be replaced with another spurious fiat currency as the new reserve currency of the world.

Creating pseudo-monsters and destroying them is an essential element for profiteers, because conflict makes profits and promotes population control. Conflict and wars are a necessary angel that the elites have employed for centuries to advance their political agenda, and to gain full control of the world. When you can’t conquer financially, you subjugate militarily.

The neocons’ allegedly creative destruction strategy is a key ingredient to devise and mold this new world order, in which they render the planet into a jail where everyone is microchipped, and as a reward they would run it by proxy for the invisible financial Oligarchy. Unfortunately, if the plans go awry these neocons will become the neo-sacrificial lambs.

Humans are desperately compulsive and do not learn from history. They will continue their erroneous march by repeating the same self-destructive patterns of behavior, until they eventually succeed in eradicating themselves and their planet.

Global Research Articles by Richard Skaff


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The “Great Game”: Eurasia and the History of War by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Dandelion Salad

by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
Global Research, December 3, 2007

The History of War

History is often self-repeating. Those who are oblivious to the lessons of history are, by virtue of ignorance, doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Samuel P. Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations,” is an outright camouflage, an ideological instrument used to reach geo-political objectives.  This “conflict notion” is part of a broad strategy which has been used throughout history to divide, conquer, and rule.

By Huntington’s definitions, nine diverse civilizations co-inhabit Eurasia; establishing conflict between them is a means towards controlling them and eventually absorbing them in the Spencerian sense of war and the social evolution of nation-states and societies, as defined by British sociologist Herbert Spencer.

Is humanity witness once again to a gradual march towards a large-scale international war like the Second World War, as Vladimir Putin has warned the Russian people? Or is fear being used to push forward otherwise unacceptable global economic policies?

If the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the dual-thrones of Austria and Hungary (the Austro-Hungarian Empire), on June 28, 1914 was the cause of the First World War why then was there talk of a major war throughout Europe in 1905?

It was on the eve of the First World War that radical changes were made to the banking system in the U.S. and on the eve of the Second World War that otherwise unpopular economic reforms were implemented in Britain. War allows otherwise unpopular measures to be accepted by domestic populations or gives them stealthy means for execution.

Mackinder’s Warnings: Divide the Continentals (Eurasians)

Mackinder warned British strategists about preventing Eurasian unification:

“What if the Great Continent, the whole World-Island [Africa and Eurasia] or a large part of it [e.g., Russia, China, Iran, and India] were at some future time to become a single and united base of sea-power? Would not the other insular bases [e.g., Britain, the U.S., and Japan] be outbuilt [sic] as regards [to] ships and outmanned as regards [to] seamen?” [1]

Mackinder also went on to instruct Britain to prevent this unification from ever happening: a policy of balkanization was adopted by London, with a strategic aim of preventing Eurasian unification.

In addition, Mackinder also warned about the large populations of Eurasia. Mackinder argued that lasting empires were based on manpower:

“[The] vast Saracen [Arab] design of a northward and southward Dominion of Camel-men crossed by a westward and eastward Dominion of Shipmen was vitiated by one fatal defect; it lacked in its Arabian base the necessary man-power to make it good. But no student of the realities about which must turn the strategical thought of any government aspiring to world-power can afford to lose sight of the warning thus given by History.” [2]

Mackinder also makes the same observation about the short-lived empires of the peoples’ of the Eurasian steppes, such as the Mongols:

“When the Russian Cossacks first policed the steppes at the close of the Middle Ages, a great revolution was effected, for the Tartars, like the Arabs, had lacked the necessary man-power upon which to found a lasting Empire, but behind the Cossacks were the Russian ploughman, who have to-day [1905] grown to be a people of a hundred millions on the fertile plains of the Black and Baltic Seas.” [3]

Population is clearly an important geo-strategic issue. Under this scheme Russia, China, and India are viewed as threats. This is also why the U.S. will never give up its nuclear weapons. Aside from military superiority and nuclear weapons, how can the generally less populated NATO states keep a balance of power with such heavily populated states? It should also be noted that one of the reasons for European conquests and colonial expansion was also the fact that, at the time, European countries had (in relative terms) large populations.

Dividing, balkanizing, and finlandizing Eurasia, from Eastern Europe and the former U.S.S.R. to the Middle East and India, is consistent with these historical objectives outlined by Britain prior to the First World War. This is one of the reasons why Britain, France, and America gave refuge prior to World War I to various separatist movements from within the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and Czarist Russia. Today, the U.S. and Britain are harbouring similar political groups against Iran, Sudan, Turkey, Russia, Serbia, China, and India. Nothing has changed. Only today Zbigniew Brzezinski makes these warnings and not Halford Mackinder.

Learning from History: The Prevention of the German Ostbewegung

In 1848, at St. Paul’s Church in Frankfurt there was an attempt to create a single and large Central-Eastern European, German-dominated nation. This project did not move forward until half a century later, because of the opposition of the Habsburg Dynasty and the rivalry between Prussia and Austria.

Britain feared the German Drang nach Osten, the “drive to the East,” or the Ostbewegung or “eastward movement.”

For the most part this eastward movement, which started in 1200 with the extension of long distance trade, was not part of any German imperial ambitions. [4] The fear in British circles was that some form of unification between the two dominant powers in the Eurasian Heartland, namely Germany and Russia would occur. The fear in the Twenty-First Century is the unification of Russia, China, India, and Iran.

Before the First World War, British strategists believed that Germany was making important inroads towards becoming a global superpower. All that was required to elevate Germany was industrial control over Russia and the Ottoman Empire, which was well underway. Germany was already taking over British markets and threatening the U.S. and Britain economically.

Historically, Eastern Europe has been sandwiched between two great nations, Germany and Russia. After the Napoleonic era and up until the First World War, Eastern Europe was dominated by the Russians and then the Germans. Historically, British strategy was aimed at weakening Czarist Russia until Germany replaced Russia as the dominant power in Eastern Europe. This is one of the reasons why Britain and France supported the Ottoman Turks in their wars against the Russians.

German influence in Eastern Europe was secured under a partnership between the Hungarians (Magyars) and Austrians. German influence had also been growing economically, politically, and industrially under the Ottoman Turks in the Middle East. In Czarist Russia, before the First World War, German influence was politically and economically significant. The Russian capital, St. Petersburg, was in a Germanized area of the Russian Czardom and many Russian aristocrats and nobles were Germanized and German speaking.

German industrial colonies or settlements were also established in the Ukraine and the Caucasus within the territory of Czarist Russia. Similarly German settlements were established in the Levant, within the territory of the Ottoman Turks. The Ostbewegung was more about economics and a united and strong Eurasian industrial base under the control of Germany than it was about the myth of German colonization of all Eurasia.

However, Germany’s means of economic expansion did change about half a century later with the rise of Adolph Hitler in Berlin, who tried to force a German-driven form of globalization in Eurasia by military means. Is this being repeated by those who hold power in Washington, D.C. and London?

A Lesson from History: Playing the Russians and the Germans in War

Economics and industrial competition was the real key behind the tensions that resulted in the First World War. Mackinder also states this. In reality the truth of the matter was that the Germans were from an economic standpoint expanding eastwards. The German demographic push to the East was also over exaggerated. Historically, in many cases Germans were invited as merchants and craftsmen by Eastern European states, such as Bohemia and Hungary, before the unification of Germany under Prince Otto von Bismarck the Prime Minister of Prussia.

Mackinder and others in Britain saw this all as part of a gradual trend that would unify the Eurasian Heartland under a single and powerful player.

The key to stopping the emergence of a single powerful player in the Heartland was to play the Germans against the Russians:

“In East Europe there are also two principle elements, the Teutonic [German] and the Slavonic, but no equilibrium has been established between them as between the Romance [Latin-based speaking] and Teutonic elements of West Europe. The key to the whole situation in East Europe — and it is a fact which cannot be laid to heart at the present moment — is the German claim to dominance over the Slavs. Vienna and Berlin, just beyond the boundary of West Europe, stand already within territory that was Slav in the earlier Middle Ages; they represent the first step of the German out of his native country as a conqueror eastward.” [5]

In the eyes of Britain, playing the Russians and the Germans against one another was vital to keeping the Continentals from uniting.

The Roots of an Anglo-American Compact

The British and the U.S. were clearly trying to weaken both Germany and Czarist Russia. This is evident from British and American support for the Japanese “when it [meaning Britain] kept the [naval] ring round the Russo-Japanese War,” in 1904 to 1905. [6]

By the time  of the Russo-Japanese War the Anglo-American alliance had already formed between the U.S. and Britain as Mackinder notes:

“Those events began some twenty years ago [in 1898] with three great victories won by the British fleet without the firing of a gun. The first was at Manila [in the Philippines], in the Pacific Ocean, when a German squadron threatened to intervene to protect a Spanish squadron [in the Spanish-American War], which was defeated by an American squadron, and a British squadron stood by the Americans.”[7]

In Mackinder’s words “So was the first step taken towards the reconciliation of British and American hearts.” [8] This was also the point in history where the U.S. became a major imperialist power.

It should also be noted that the Spanish-American War is believed by some historians to have been started under a false pretext. The U.S. government started the war, blaming the Spanish for the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine in Cuba, from whence comes the quote that was used to build American public support against the Spanish: “Remember the Maine!

The Second World War: Playing the Soviets against the Germans

The strategy of playing the main players in Eurasia against one another continued into the Second World War. Germany, France, and the Soviet Union were played against one another just as Germany, Czarist Russia, and the Ottoman Empire were before the First World War.

This is evident from the fact that Britain and France only declared war on Germany when both Germany and the U.S.S.R. invaded Poland in 1939. The Locarno Pacts and Hoare-Laval Plan were used by the British government to push the Germans eastward to confront the Soviets by neutralizing France and allowing Germany to militarize, while appeasement under Neville Chamberlain was a calculated move aimed at liquidating any states between Germany and the Soviet Union and establishing a common German-Soviet border. [9]

Both the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were aware of Anglo-American policy. Both countries signed a non-aggression pact prior to the Second World War, largely in response to the Anglo-American stance. In the end it was because of Soviet and German distrust for one another that the Soviet-German alliance collapsed. Presently, the U.S. government is using the same strategies in regards to Russia, China, Iran, India, and other Eurasian players.

The Roots of Strategic Balkanization: Preventing the Unification of Eurasia 

Mackinder stipulated that the Eurasian Heartland started in Eastern Europe and on the frontiers of Germany. It was from Eastern Europe that a foothold could be established for entrance into the Eurasian interior.

London’s greatest fear, until the division of Austria-Hungary and a creation of a buffer zone between the Germans and the Russians with the emergence of several new states after 1918, was the unification of the Germans and the Slavs as a single Eurasian entity.

British balkanization policy was a synergy of colonial policy, power politics, economics, and historical observation.

Strategic balkanization probably came to maturity when Italy and Germany became unified nation-states and the British realized the dangers that centralized and strong states in Europe could pose. Once again, economics was a driving force. Before this period balkanization was used for colonial means. After the formation, or rather unification, of Germany and Italy balkanization also became a means to neutralize potential British rivals.

František Palacký, the famous Czech historian, is quoted as stating: “If Austria [meaning the Habsburg or Austro-Hungarian Empire] did not exist, it would be necessary to create her, in the interests of humanity itself.”

This is a noteworthy statement because Palacký was a Slav, who defended the Austro-Hungarian Empire due to its multi-ethnic characteristics.

The Habsburg Empire was a regional synthesis between the Germans, the Hungarians (Magyar), and the Slavs. The Austro-Hungarian Empire, like the former Yugoslavia that would spring from its ashes, was also religiously diverse. Christians, Jews, and Muslims lived within its borders and in 1912 Islam became a state religion, alongside the Roman Catholic denomination of Christianity. The British feared that this model under the leadership of German industrial might could be extended to Germany, Austria-Hungary and Czarist Russia, thereby creating a powerful German-Slavic political entity in the Eurasian Heartland. [10] The synthesis was already underway, with the inclusion of the Ottoman Empire, until the First World War stopped it. As already stated this process was part of a historical fusion. Austria-Hungary had to be dismantled in the eyes of London, with a view to obstructing any unification process between the Continentals.

For these reasons separatist nationalist movements were utilized and manipulated. Czechoslovak leaders, such as Milan Rastislav Štefánik, fought for the French and British during the First World War. It should also be noted that in September 1918, the U.S. government recognized Czechoslovakia before it was even created and that the Pittsburgh Agreement, which paved the way for breaking up the Austro-Hungarian Empire and creating Czechoslovakia, was signed in Pennsylvania with the support of the British and U.S. governments. Three “Czecho-Slovak” legions were also formed to fight Germany and the Austro-Hungarians by Britain and France in the First World War.

Redrawing Eastern Europe and the Middle East: The Template for Iraq

Since the First World War instability has been continuously fueled from Kosovo in the Balkans to the province of Xinjiang, which constitutes China’s Western frontier. This is an important fact that manifests itself from events such as the division of India to the division of Yugoslavia.

The rationale for establishing new states in Eastern Europe is also explained by Mackinder:

“Securely independent the Polish and Bohemian [the Czech and Slovak] nations cannot be unless as the apex of a broad wedge of independence, extending from the Adriatic and Black Seas to the Baltic; but seven independent States, with a total of more than sixty million people, traversed by railways linking them securely with one another, and having access through the Adriatic, Black, and Baltic Seas with the [Atlantic] Ocean, will together effectively balance the Germans of Prussia [meaning Germany] and Austria, and nothing less will suffice for that purpose.” [11]

Although Bohemia is properly a reference to the Czechs, in this case Mackinder is using it to mean both the Czechs and the Slovaks or Czechoslovakia.

By 1914, the Germans had already secured significant inroads into the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Empire had to be dismantled too. However, in the eyes of British strategists, Russia and Germany were the two main long-term opponents. To undermine the process of unification between the Germans and Russians, a shatter-belt region had to be created in Eastern Europe between Germany and Russia.

After the First World War, Anglo-American planners projected the replacement of Germany by the Soviet Union, the player that emerged from the ashes of Czarist Russia, as the most powerful player in Eurasia. Creating a shatter-belt zone around the western portion of the Soviet Union from the Baltic to the Balkans and the Persian Gulf became a strategic objective for the British. This is one of the reasons why so many new nations were created in Eastern Europe and the Middle East after the First World War and again in Eastern Europe and Central Asia after the Cold War.

As Anglo-American strategists started looking at global strategy in a holistic view they adopted the concept of trans-continental encirclement.

The Rimland is the concept of a geographic area adjacent or circling the Eurasian “Heartland.” Western Europe, Central Europe, the Middle East, the Indian sub-continent, Southeast Asia, and the Far East comprise this area from Western Eurasia to Eastern Eurasia. Nicholas Spykman’s Rimland helps give an objective and historical context to the present zones of conflict encircling Russia, China, and Iran that start from the Balkans, the Kurdish areas of the Middle East, Iraq, Caucasia, and go through NATO-garrisoned Afghanistan, Kashmir, Indo-China, and finish in the Korean Peninsula. The geographic locations of these areas say much as to which countries or players are disturbed.

Iraq is being redrawn in a step by step fashion, but firstly though its political landscape and a system of soft federalism. This holistic concept is also getting stronger and the existence of European and Asiatic missile shield projects are connected to this approach as is the brinkmanship to create an American-dominated global military alliance.

The Pirenne Thesis

In his book, Mohammed and Charlemagne, Belgian historian Henri Pirenne, states that Charlemagne and the Frankish Empire would never have existed if it were not for the period of Arab expansion in the Mediterranean region. Henri Pirenne became known for his thesis that the Germanic barbarians, such as the Franks and Goths, that were traditionally credited by historians for the fall of the Western Roman Empire in reality merged themselves with the Western Roman Empire and that the economic and institutional templates of Western Rome continued and stayed intact. Pirenne challenged the traditional historic narrative that the Germanic barbarians were the reason for the decline of Western Rome.

Pirenne seems correct in the basis of his theory. In most cases Western Roman ways were maintained by the Germanic kingdoms. The facts that the Franks, a Germanic people, adopted Latin (which eventually evolved into French over time) as their language or that the Roman Church stayed intact as an important societal institution supports his observations and thesis.

The decline of Rome is more probably based on an end to an economy based on imperial expansion, slavery, over-militarization, and political corruption as its main factors. The decline of the Western European economy was not because the Arabs were unwilling to continue trade with Western Europe, but because of militarism and the de-centralization that went with it, hand-in-hand; the end result being European feudalism. Is this process repeating itself today?

To Pirenne, it was clear that the economic framework of the Roman Empire, Western and Eastern (Byzantine), was fixed around the economy and trade of the Mediterranean Sea. Western Rome only transformed from a politically centralized entity to a network of politically separate kingdoms and states, but with the same economic framework, fixed on the Mediterranean, intact.

Pirenne theorized that the real decline in the Western Roman entity was brought about by the rapid expansion of the Arabs. The Levant, Egypt, various Mediterranean islands, portions of Anatolia (Asia Minor), Spain, Portugal, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco, which were all Mediterranean regions, were all incorporated within the vast cosmopolitan realm of the Arabs. According to Pirenne, the reason that this decline was brought about was the cut in ties between the integrated economies of most of the Mediterranean and Western Europe that was brought about by the Arabs. Western Europe effectively degenerated into a marginalized economic hinterland.

Another factor that should be added to Pirenne’s theory about the economic decline of Western Europe after the fall of Rome was that Eastern Rome (Byzantium) also diverted its trade, or reduced its level, from Western Europe due to economic realities brought about by the Arab expansion in the Mediterranean. Also in part the dissolved economic links between Western Europe and the Byzantines was because of the differences and rivalry between the Western Christian Church and the Eastern Christian Church that developed with time. Animosity also existed between the authorities in Constantinople and Western Europe and further effected economic ties. These tensions were also in many cases economic in origin.

The Pirenne Thesis states that Western Europe was transformed into a series of farm-based economies, which slowly gave rise to European feudalism, due to Arab expansion. Raw resources were being exported outwards with little imports to Western Europe, whereas before items and resources such as valuable metals and Egyptian papyrus would enter Western Europe. This was because the economy of Western Europe was cut off from the rest of the globe. The European voyages of discovery that occur later can also be traced to this period as a means to reverse this process.

The Eurasians Strike Back: The New Silk Road

Today, across Eurasia there is a renewed drive at economic and socio-political cooperation and integration. The Silk Road is being revived. Iran, Russia, and China are the most important forces in this project. Kazakhstan is also playing a very important role. Railway networks, transport corridors, electric grids, and various forms of infrastructure are being developed, linked, and built in an effort to integrate Eurasia.

Central Asia is set to become the mid-axis and the heartland of a series of north-south and west-east corridors. A strategic triangle between Russia, Iran, and China will set the border for a Eurasian trade zone that can eventually bring Africa and chunks of Europe into its orbit. Latin America has already anticipated this shift and is preparing to redirect part of its trade from the U.S. and E.U. towards this area.

China is a global centre of labour while Russia, Iran, and Central Asia hold 15% or more of global oil reserves and 50% of the world’s reserves of natural gas. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) also holds half the planet’s estimated population. Together these areas also have vast and important markets.

Eurasia is coming together in a wave of regional integration and cross-border trade. Russia and Kazakhstan have also made proposals for the eventual formation of a Eurasian Union. The customs union established between Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan is a step towards this Eurasian Union. Iran has also made proposals for the formation of a so-called Islamic Union between nations with Muslim populations.

This is all effectively a re-introduction of the Pirenne Thesis in a modern context. In this second round of the Pirennian cycle it is the trade-dependent economies of Western Europe and the U.S., the players of the Eurasian periphery and the maritime realms, that are under threat of being marginalized like the former areas of Western Rome were during the Arab expansion in the Mediterranean. The Eurasians are striking back; they realize that it is not them who needs the U.S. or E.U., but the other way around.

A Mediterranean Union and an Islamic Union: The West versus the Eurasian Heartland

Reflecting on the Pirenne Thesis, it is also not historically ironic that the E.U. is pushing for the establishment of a Mediterranean Union, which would economically merge the nations of the Mediterranean and E.U. together with both Israel and Turkey playing key roles. This is a Western answer to the growing strength and cohesion in the Eurasian Heartland between Russia, Iran, and China.

To counter this drive Russia, China, and Iran have been courting the nations of the Mediterranean. In fact after Nicholas Sarkozy’s trip to Algeria, as part of a tour to promote the creation of a Mediterranean Union, an Iranian delegation led by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived with a counter-proposal for the creation of an alternative bloc; this was what the Iranians called an Islamic Union.

The Islamic Union is essentially a rival economic project to the Mediterranean Union in the Mediterranean lands of North Africa and the Middle East, rather than the institutionalization of Islam within any of these states. Undoubtedly, the Iranian proposal must have had some backdoor support from Moscow. It is more than likely that the Islamic Union will be linked in some form to the Eurasian Union proposed by Russia and Kazakhstan. These regional blocs can be overlapping and countries like Iran can hypothetically belong to the Eurasian Union and the Islamic Union, just as how France and Italy could belong to the E.U. and the proposed Mediterranean Union. This is also part of the brinkmanship of turning several regions into supranational entities and ultimately into super-national entities that would merge with like entities.

The Arab-Israeli Conflict and the so-called Mid-East Peace Process, essentially including the Arab Peace Initiative proposed by Saudi Arabia in 2002, are tied to the joint American-E.U. economic project that is the Mediterranean Union, which will see the integration of the economies of the Arab World with that of Israel in a network of regionalized economic relations that will ultimately merge the economies of Europe, Israel, Turkey, and the Arab World. The Mediterranean Union is a project that was drafted years before the end of the Cold War and the disintegration of the former Soviet Union. The deep ties between Turkey and Israel have been a preparatory step towards eventually establishing this Mediterranean Union with the participation and full involvement of Israel as one of its pillars.

The Bloc Concept and Regionalization: Orwellian Showdown between Oceania and Eurasia?

The players of the Eurasian Heartland realize what is happening. Moreover, France and Germany, like India, are being courted by the players of the Eurasian Heartland to encourage them to de-link themselves from the Anglo-American axis.  This is probably why the euro is not being targeted on international currency markets by Iran, Russia, Venezuela, and China in the same way as the U.S. dollar. Or is this because America is the immediate threat to these countries?

The Eurasians are slowly prying the hold of Western financial centres on global transactions. The establishment of a petro-ruble system in Russia and the republics of the former U.S.S.R., as well as the establishment of an international Iranian energy bourse on Kish Island are part of this trend.

However, it seems too late to end the concord between the Franco-German and Anglo-American sides. Franco-German interests appear to have become entrenched with Anglo-American interests. A deal has been reached to eventually merge, with regard to trading systems, the economies of the E.U. and North America that will guarantee the interests of Britain, the U.S., France, and Germany.[12] This deal will also allow the four major powers within the so-called Western World to challenge the Eurasian Heartland as it merges into a single powerful bloc or player.

Whenever a dominate player has started to emerge in the Eurasian Heartland there have historically been wars fought — even the fear of the emergence of one has been the cause of conflict — to prevent the ascendancy of such a power or player. These different stages of regionalism and regionalized mergers mean several things, but what this can mean in Orwellian terms is that Oceania and Eurasia are preparing to challenge one another. [13]

NOTES

This article is a continuation of The Sino-Russian Alliance: Challenging America’ Ambitions in Eurasia (Nazemroaya, 26.08.2007) and lightly touches on the concept of the Mediterranean Union, which is covered in an article yet to be released.


[1] Halford John Mackinder, Chap. 3 (The Seaman’s Point of View), in Democratic Ideals and Reality (London, U.K.: Constables and Company Ltd., 1919), p.91.

[2] Ibid., Chap. 4 (The Landman’s Point of View), p.121.

Note: This chapter in Democratic Ideals and Reality is based on an essay, Man-power as a Measure of National and Imperial Strength, that Mackinder wrote for the National Review (U.K.) in 1905. It should also be noted that Mackinder and various circles in London viewed the large populations of Germany, Austro-Hungary, and the Czardom of Russia as threats that should be addressed. If one reads the full works of Mackinder they will come to realize that he advocated for some form of Social Darwinism amongst nations, and saw democratic idealism as a subject that should be put aside to preserve the British imperial order. Mackinder even states that the commerce that the British enjoyed was due to the use of British guns and force (Chap. 5, pp.187-188).

[3] Ibid., p.142.

[4] Lonnie R. Johnson, Central Europe: Enemies, Neighbors, Friends, 2nd ed. (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 2002), pp. 37-42.

[5] Mackinder, Democratic Ideals, Op. cit., Chap. 5 (The Rivalry of Empires), pp.160-161.

[6] Ibid., Chap. 3, p.78.

[7] Ibid., pp.77-78.

[8] Ibid., p.78.

[9] Carroll Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Cliveden (San Pedro, California: GSG & Associates Publishers, 1981), pp. 233-235, 237-248, 253, 264-281, 285-302.

“…from 1920 to 1938 [the aims were] the same: to maintain the balance of power in Europe by building up Germany against France and [the Soviet Union]; to increase Britain’s weight in that balance by aligning with her the Dominions [e.g., Australia and Canada] and the United States; to refuse any commitments (especially any commitments through the League of Nations, and above all any commitments to aid France) beyond those existing in 1919; to keep British freedom of action; to drive Germany eastward against [the Soviet Union] if either or both of these two powers became a threat to the peace [probably meaning economic strength] of Western Europe (p.240).”

“…the Locarno agreements guaranteed the frontier of Germany with France and Belgium with the powers of these three states plus Britain and Italy. In reality the agreements gave France nothing, while they gave Britain a veto over French fulfillment of her alliances with Poland and the Little Entente. The French accepted these deceptive documents for reason of internal politics (…) This trap [the Locarno agreements] consisted of several interlocking factors. In the first place, the agreements did not guarantee the German frontier and the demilitarized condition of the Rhineland against German actions, but against the actions of either Germany or France. This, at one stroke, gave Britain the right to oppose any French action against Germany in support of her allies to the east of Germany. This meant that if Germany moved east against Czechoslovakia, Poland, and eventually [the Soviet Union], and if France attacked Germany’s western frontier in support of Czechoslovakia or Poland, as her alliances bound her to do, Great Britain, Belgium, and Italy might be bound by the Locarno Pacts to come to the aid of Germany (p.264).”

“This event of March 1936, by which Hitler remilitarized the Rhineland, was the most crucial event in the whole history of appeasement. So long as the territory west of the Rhine and a strip fifty kilometers wide on the east bank of the river were demilitarized, as provided in the Treaty of Versailles and the Locarno Pacts, Hitler would never have dared to move against Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland. He would not have dared because, with western Germany unfortified and denuded of German soldiers, France could have easily driven into the Ruhr industrial area and crippled Germany so that it would be impossible to go eastward. And by this date [1936], certain members of the Milner Group and of the British Conservative government had reached the fantastic idea that they could kill two birds with one stone by setting Germany and [the Soviet Union] against one another in Eastern Europe. In this way they felt that two enemies would stalemate one another, or that Germany would become satisfied with the oil of Rumania and the wheat of the Ukraine. It never occurred to anyone in a responsible position that Germany and [the Soviet Union] might make common cause, even temporarily, against the West. Even less did it occur to them that [the Soviet Union] might beat Germany and thus open all Central Europe to Bolshevism (p.265).”

“In order to carry out this plan of allowing Germany to drive eastward against [the Soviet Union], it was necessary to do three things: (1) to liquidate all the countries standing between Germany and Russia; (2) to prevent France from honoring her alliances with these countries [i.e., Czechoslovakia and Poland]; and (3) to hoodwink the [British] people into accepeting this as a necessary, indeed, the only solution to the international problem. The Chamberlain group were so successful in all three of these things that they came within an ace of succeeding, and failed only because of the obstinacy of the Poles, the unseemly haste of Hitler, and the fact that at the eleventh hour the Milner Group realized the [geo-strategic] implications of their policy and tried to reverse it (p.266).”

“Four days later, Hitler announced Germany’s rearmament, and ten days after that, Britain condoned the act by sending Sir John Simon on a state visit to Berlin. When France tried to counterbalance Germany’s rearmament by bringing the Soviet Union into her eastern alliance system in May 1935, the British counteracted this by making the Anglo-German Naval Agreement of 18 June 1935. This agreement, concluded by Simon, allowed Germany to build up to 35 percent of the size of the British Navy (and up to 100 percent in submarines). This was a deadly stab in the back of France, for it gave Germany a navy considerably larger than the French in the important categories of ships (capital ships and aircraft carriers), because France was bound by treaty to only 33 percent of Britain’s; and France in addition, had a worldwide empire to protect and the unfriendly Italian Navy off her Mediterranean coast. This agreement put the French Atlantic coast so completely at the mercy of the German Navy that France became completely dependent on the British fleet for protection in this area (pp.269-270).”

“The liquidation of the countries between Germany and [the Soviet Union] could proceed as soon as the Rhineland was fortified, without fear on Germany’s part that France would be able to attack her in the west while she was occupied in the east (p.272).”

“The countries marked for liquidation included Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland, but did not include Greece and Turkey, since the [Milner] Group had no intention of allowing Germany to get down onto the Mediterranean ‘lifeline.’ Indeed, the purpose of the Hoare-Laval Plan of 1935, which wrecked the collective-security system by seeking to give most Ethiopia to Italy, was intended to bring an appeased Italy in position alongside [Britain], in order to block any movement of Germany southward rather than eastward [towards the Soviet Union] (p.273).”

[10] Mackinder, Democratic Ideals, Op. cit., Chap. 5, pp.160-168.

[11] Ibid., Chap. 6 (The Freedom of Nations), pp. 214-215.

[12] US and EU agree ‘single market,’ British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), April 30, 2007.

[13] Critical thinking should be applied to this last statement and the level of cooperation between both sides should be carefully examined.

Global Research Articles by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Global Research, 2007
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7064

Voting ends on Venezuela reforms

Update: Dec. 3, 2007

Chavez Concedes Venezuela’s Constitutional Reform Lost in “Foto Finish”

Dandelion Salad

Chavez wins Venezuela vote: sources

By Saul Hudson and Ana Isabel Martinez
Sun Dec 2, 2007 6:34 PM EST136

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez appeared headed for victory on Sunday in a referendum on allowing the leftist to rule for as long as he keeps winning elections, government-linked sources said, citing exit polls.

Three exit polls showed the anti-American leader won by between six and eight percentage points in a vote where turnout was low, the two sources said.

If his victory is confirmed, the referendum vote on a raft of reforms would allow Chavez — in office since 1999 — to run for reelection indefinitely, control foreign currency reserves, appoint loyalists over regional elected officials and censor the media if he declares an emergency.

Continued…

h/t: marxistgod

***

Voting ends on Venezuela reforms

BBC
Sunday, 2 December 2007, 21:28 GMT

Voters in Caracas were woken by fireworks and loud music
Polls have closed in Venezuela after a referendum on a series of far-reaching constitutional changes sought by President Hugo Chavez.

Turnout was reported to be high in the capital, Caracas, where there were long queues of voters.

The raft of reforms would see the end of presidential term limits and the Central Bank’s autonomy removed.

Mr Chavez says the proposed changes would return power to the people, but opponents accuse him of a power grab.

Residents of Caracas were woken before dawn by fireworks and loud music, says a BBC correspondent.

It was a rallying call to vote, correspondent James Ingham says, and appeared to have the desired effect, with long queues, several hours long, forming outside polling stations.

Some polling stations stayed open late to accommodate them.

“We will accept the results whatever they are. Venezuelans have never voted so often as during these nine years of peaceful and democratic revolution,” Mr Chavez said after voting.

Continued…

***

Venezuelan referendum ends with suspense over results

AFP
02/12/2007 21h33

CARACAS (AFP) – A referendum in Venezuela aimed at greatly bolstering President Hugo Chavez’s powers ended Sunday with suspense over the result, expected to be close.

If official results show a “yes” vote, Chavez would emerge as one of Latin America’s most powerful leaders, with the right to stand for re-election indefinitely and with tighter control over his oil-rich country.

If “no” prevails, it would be the worst blow Chavez has ever suffered at the ballot box during his eight-year rule. He would be able to see though his current mandate — due to expire in January 2013 — but would then be required to step down.

Defense Minister Gustavo Rangel Briceno announced that polling stations closed as scheduled at 4:00 pm (2000 GMT), but the head of the National Electoral Council, Tibisay Lucena, said some centers still had lines of voters whose ballots had to be processed.

During that time, no exit poll data would be released, she said.
Venezuelan citizens line up waiting for their turn to vote

“We have to wait for the electoral results,” Lucena said.

Continued…

***

54% of Venezuelan ballot boxes will be opened to backup electronic results

venezuelanalysis.com
December 2nd 2007, by Prensa Web RNV

More than half of the ballot boxes containing the physical votes of the Referendum Sunday December 2nd will be opened to verify the electoral process, announced Supplemental Rector of the National Electoral Council (CNE), Humberto Castillo, during a special broadcast on Venezolana de Televisión (VTV).

According to Castillo “what used to be a black box is now a transparent box since 54% of the ballot boxes will be open.” He stated that the results will reflect the will of the people.

Continued…

see

What’s really happening in Venezuela? by Lee Sustar

Venezuela’s Constitutional Reform: Article-by-Article Summary by Gregory Wilpert

Chavez’s Speech: Go ahead, make my day By Joaquin Bustelo

Venezuelan Government Uncovers Video of Opposition Destabilization Plan by Chris Carlson

Venezuela: “A People Under Fire” by Fidel Castro Ruz

Venezuela’s referendum: What’s at stake? (video)

CIA Operation “Pliers” Uncovered in Venezuela by Eva Golinger (Psyop)

Another CIA Sponsored Coup D’Etat? Venezuela’s D-Day: Democratic Socialism or Imperial Counter-Revolution by Prof James Petras

News Not Fit to Print: US Coup Planned for Venezuela? By Dave Lindorff

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US House passes Democrat-crafted “homegrown terrorism prevention” legislation by Naomi Spencer

Dandelion Salad

by Naomi Spencer
Global Research, December 2, 2007
wsws.org

A month ago, the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved passage of legislation that would set up a commission targeting domestic “radicalization” as a threat to so-called homeland security. Although it has received little media attention, civil liberties groups have expressed concerns for the future of public protest and other forms of constitutionally protected speech.

The bill, H.R. 1955, “The Violent Radicalization Homegrown Terrorism Act of 2007,” was crafted and sponsored by Democrat Jane Harman of California and approved by the House by a margin of 404-6. A mere three Democrats and three Republicans voted against the bill.

Twenty-three congress members abstained, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers. The bill is currently pending approval in the Senate and is widely anticipated to pass by a similar proportion before the end of the session.

Introduced in April as an amendment to the 2002 Homeland Security Act, the legislation adds provisions for the establishment of a 10-member commission to collect data on radicalization. Evoking the memory of the anticommunist House Committee on Un-American Activities headed by Joseph McCarthy, the anti-radicalization commission would be granted authority to “hold hearings and sit and act at such times and places, take such testimony, receive such evidence, and administer such oaths as the Commission considers advisable to carry out its duties.”

As Equal Justice Alliance director Odette Wilkens pointed out, the commission would be empowered to subpoena and investigate anyone, and would “create a public perception that whoever is being investigated by the Commission must be involved in subversive or illegal activities.” Wilkens noted to Truthout.org reporter Matt Renner, in an article published November 29, “It would give the appearance that whoever they are investigating is potentially a traitor or disloyal or a terrorist, even if all they were doing was advocating lawful views.”

The commission would be composed of appointees, one chosen each respectively by Bush, Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff, the Senate and House majority and minority leaders, and by the ranking majority and minority members of the two congressional homeland security committees. Such a selection process would certainly result in an extremely right-wing panel.

The language of the bill is very broad and includes in its designations of terrorist activity a category of intent. For example, “ideologically based violence” is defined as “the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual’s political, religious, or social beliefs.” No force or violence need have occurred; the government commission needs only charge, without the burden of evidence, that an individual or group thought about violence.

Similarly, the term “violent radicalization” is defined as “the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change.” The definition of “an extremist belief system” is not specified, leaving interpretation to the discretion of the commission.

“Homegrown terrorism” is defined by the bill as “the use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or based and operating primarily within the United States or any possession of the United States to intimidate or coerce the United States government, the civilian population of the United States, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”

The implications of this definition of terrorism are far-reaching. Participants in protests against US policy, for instance, could be designated as terrorists if the conduct—or intent—of any individual were alleged by police to be violent.

Under the legislation, after 18 months the anti-radicalization commission would report to Congress on its findings, then establish a university-based organization, the “Center of Excellence for the Study of Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism in the United States.”

The Center’s mission would not be limited to research, but also would include a mandate to “contribute to the establishment of training, written materials, information, analytical assistance and professional resources to aid in combating violent radicalism and homegrown terrorism” in coordination with federal, state and local homeland security officials. This could have a definite chilling effect on the political activity and exercise of free speech on campuses because of the virtual enlistment of students and academics into the campaigns of the government’s intelligence apparatus.

The legislation specifically singles out the Internet as a “weapon” for domestic radicalization. In remarks introducing the legislation November 6 to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security, Congresswoman Harman said, “There can be no doubt: the Internet is increasingly being used as a tool to reach and radicalize Americans and legal residents.” The web, Harman said, allowed Americans “to become indoctrinated by extremists and to learn how to kill their neighbors … from the comfort of their own living rooms.”

In the same speech, Harman portrayed American youth in a thoroughly contemptuous manner. “Combine … personal adolescent upheaval with the explosion of information technologies and communications tools,” she said, “tools which American kids are using to broadcast messages from Al Qaeda—and there is a road map to terror, a ‘retail outlet’ for anger and warped aspirations. Link that intent with a trained terrorist operative who has actual capability, and a ‘Made in the USA’ suicide bomber is born.”

Even more absurdly, she added, “How we address violent radicalization—while respecting the Constitution in the process—is not easy. There is no magic pill or rulebook or law that will fix this.”

It is already clear that not the slightest attempt will be made, by legislators or by the empanelled commission, to actually explain the social origins of unrest, let alone the political aggravators of extremism.

Both the bill’s content and its landslide congressional support underscore the fact that the entire “war on terror” is geared toward quashing political opposition and dissent and dismantling constitutional protections, not fighting a supposed terrorist threat. While targeting the civil liberties of the population as a whole, it poses a particular threat to workers’ and students’ organizations as well as left-wing and socialist parties.

As with the bill’s predecessors since 2001—including the Patriot Act, the Homeland Security Act, and the Military Commissions Act—the Democrats are working to actively undermine free speech and protections against government surveillance in their role as the nominal opposition in Congress.

Global Research Articles by Naomi Spencer

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

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© Copyright Naomi Spencer, wsws.org, 2007
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see

Kucinich on HR 1955 Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act

The Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act: A Tutorial in Orwellian Newspeak By Robert Weitzel

The Violent Radicalization Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 by Matt RennerThe Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act by Philip Giraldi

Note:

Dennis Kucinich voted against this bill.

10/23/07 Vote 993: H R 1955: Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 No

Source

Ron Paul missed voting on this bill.

10/23/07 Vote 993: H R 1955: Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 Not Voting

Source

A Change Ain’t Gonna Come: Democrats Openly Embrace Aggression and Torture by Chris Floyd

Dandelion Salad

by Chris Floyd
Global Research, December 2, 2007
chris-floyd.com – 2007-11-30

It was a remarkable display even by the hideous standards that the Democrats have already set for themselves. Over the past week, the party’s leaders have put forward not one but two architects of Bush Regime war crimes as standard-bearers for Democratic policies and principles. In so doing, they have aligned themselves as completely and publicly as possible with the Hitlerian war crime of military aggression in Iraq and the Stalinist filth of deliberate, calculated and brutal torture, as exemplified by (but in no way limited to) the sickening atrocities at Abu Ghraib.

First, the party leadership picked retired General Ricardo Sanchez to give the Democratic response to the president’s weekly radio address last Saturday. Then, just three days later, frontrunning presidential candidate Hillary Clinton singled out Colin Powell as one of the personal emissaries she would send out to tell the world that “bipartisan foreign policy is back.”

But as these incidents display so nakedly, “bipartisan foreign policy” has never gone away. It has continued to operate smoothly at the highest levels throughout the Bush imperium, greased by the blood money flowing to both parties from the spoils of war (H. Clinton now receives more legalized bribery from military-related industries than any of the Republican candidates), and by their shared vision of armed American hegemony over world affairs. (The latter is well-limned by Arthur Silber here.)

As Amy Goodman notes at Alternet, Sanchez was neck-deep in the blood-flecked slime where Pentagon brass and White House officials devised the torture regimens that were briefly exposed at Abu Ghraib. In addition to urging his troops to “go to the outer limits” in extracting information from the thousands of Iraqis they were sweeping up at random, and ordering prison officials to violate the Geneva Conventions by hiding designated prisoners from the Red Cross, Sanchez gave “detailed orders” for the infliction of carefully calibrated tortures used by CIA-trained, Reagan-backed Latin American tyrannies and death squads in the 1980s. As Alfred McCoy told Goodman:

In September of 2003, General Sanchez issued orders, detailed orders, for expanded interrogation techniques beyond those allowed in the US Army Field Manual 3452, and if you look at those techniques, what he’s ordering, in essence, is a combination of self-inflicted pain, stress positions and sensory disorientation. And if you look at the 1963 CIA KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation Manual, you look at the 1983 CIA Interrogation Training Manual that they used in Honduras for training Honduran officers in torture and interrogation, and then twenty years later, you look at General Sanchez’s 2003 orders, there’s a striking continuity across this forty-year span in both the general principles: this total assault on the existential platforms of human identity and existence, OK, and the specific techniques, the way of achieving that, through the attack on these sensory receptors.

There is much more in Goodman’s excellent piece, which should be read in full.

As for Colin Powell, the idea that this knowing conspirator in deceitful warmongering and criminal war-waging could “represent our country well” speaks volumes about Clinton’s vision of what America is really all about. As we noted here before:

Powell’s reputation as “one of the good guys” in the Bush Administration has been one of the most enduring mysteries of our sad, demented times. He was not only one of the chief enablers of Bush’s war crime in Iraq, but his entire career has marked him out as a bagman for a bloody elite, ever willing to turn a blind eye — or to pitch in directly — when there is dirty work to be done, from the My Lai massacre to Iran-Contra to the murderous excursion in Panama to the warm embrace of Saddam Hussein to Powell’s final apotheosis as Imperial Handmaiden in his sick-making appearance at the UN in February 2003, when he “made the case” for war. (For more, see Jon Schwarz’s detailed look at Powell’s deliberate deceits, and this history of the handmaiden from the incomparable Robert Parry.)  

But of course, this dismal record is precisely what makes him a “distinguished American” in Clinton’s eyes: he knows how to serve the powerful, and how to give their ugly lusts for loot and dominion a more pleasing outer appearance.

What is perhaps most remarkable about all of this is that none of it is regarded as remarkable by the molders and mouthers of public opinion in the echo chamber of the political-media world. Should it not be scandalous for an “opposition” candidate – one nominally opposed to a disastrous war – to embrace a man who by all rights should be on trial for his key role in creating that disaster? Should it not be scandalous for an “opposition” party – one nominally opposed to the Administration’s “lawlessness” – to embrace a man who by all rights should be on trial for his complicity in torture and atrocity?

But it is not scandalous – because the bipartisan American Establishment does not consider aggressive war, lawlessness and torture to be scandalous, as long as these crimes advance the interests – and flatter the prejudices and self-regard – of the elite. And if you wish to belong to this elite, to reap the rich bounty of such an inclusion, then you must embrace those who commit the crimes that maintain you in your marvelous privilege. You must accept whatever means are necessary to perpetuate the system that undergirds your lofty position.

To be sure, there will be quibbles over tactics, over points of emphasis, over specific policies, and whether or not they best serve the system; this happens under every form of government, even the most totalitarian. But the presence of politics in any given system has nothing to do with its moral content. And as we have seen this week, to play in the big leagues in the American system, you must openly signify your approval of aggressive war, deceit and torture. You must dip your hands in blood. And that is exactly what Hillary Clinton and the Democratic leadership have done  — yet again — in the last week.

*(For more on just what H. Clinton and the Democrats are supporting, see “Eyes Wide Open,” and Rich Kastelein’s indispensable War Gallery.)*

UPDATE: Jon Schwarz has more on this theme, with a look at Lee Feinstein, the man who will most likely be Clinton’s national security adviser if she is elected. Do read the whole thing, but here’s an apt passage that Jon found in a NY Daily News story:

Another Foreign Affairs essay, co-written in 2004 by Feinstein, is also drawing scrutiny. It argues Bush’s controversial doctrine of “preemptive” war – attacking an enemy before it attacks the U.S. – “does not go far enough.”

Feinstein, a former Defense and State department official, supported ousting Saddam in 2003 and believed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Since then he has championed the concept of a “duty to prevent,” which justifies preemptive strikes. He said the U.S. should try to build coalitions, but that it can attack without allies’ support.

Don’t say we didn’t warn you

Global Research Articles by Chris Floyd

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© Copyright Chris Floyd , chris-floyd.com, 2007
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7521

The Two Biggest Public Secrets, and How Bush Just Signing Statemented Iraq By David Swanson + Statement by the President

Dandelion Salad

By David Swanson
After Downing Street
Sun, 2007-12-02

As noted by the uniquely vigilant Charlie Savage in the Boston Globe, President Bush in November issued a signing statement unconstitutionally overturning 10 sections of H.R. 3222, the “Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2008.” Among the little technical details Bush just erased was the requirement that he not take funds appropriated to the Pentagon for one thing and use them for something else.

So, for example, were Congress to stop passing bills to fund the occupation of Iraq, or never pass a bill to fund an attack on Iran, it wouldn’t matter to Bush and Cheney. (Cheney’s lawyer writes the signing statements.)

On January 31, 2007, the House Judiciary Committee held hearings on Bush’s signing statements at which John Elwood, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, testified that signing statements carry no more force than press releases. Then in June 2007, the Government Accountability Office reported that in a sample of Bush signing statements the office had studied, for 30 percent of them the Bush administration had already proceeded to violate the laws the statements claimed the right to violate. So, the signing statements may carry no force, but they offer good predictions of future crimes. And someone should let our Supreme Court justices know that the statements have no force, so they stop citing them. Someone should also inform recent victims of U.S. torture.

On September 10, 2007, General David Petraeus testified before the House Armed Services Committee, where Rep. Brad Sherman asked Petraeus what he would do if Congress stopped funding the occupation of Iraq and Bush illegally ordered him to keep it going. Petraeus’ answer that he’d have to ask his lawyer is less interesting than Sherman’s question, which demonstrated awareness of how Bush would react to a cut off of funds. On November 6, Sherman voted against tabling the impeachment of Cheney, but he has not sponsored a resolution for it or moved to begin hearings.

Little known to American media consumers are the following basic facts: The Pentagon is rolling in mountains of money and could fund the occupation of Iraq without receiving money for that purpose. The President misappropriated funds from the Pentagon to lay the groundwork for the invasion of Iraq, and Congress knows this but has never complained. Congress has banned the use of funds for the construction of permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq, and Bush has continued their construction. Bush has used massive amounts of money for a long list of programs that were not only never funded but also illegal for other reasons. These include spying programs that violate the Fourth Amendment and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

All of this suggests that were Congress to cut off the funding for the occupation of Iraq, Bush would continue it anyway. His latest signing statement will be read by Congress as an announcement of that fact. But this point will appear to the average American media consumer as irrelevant, given the Democrats’ supposed inability to cut off the funding anyway.

One of the two biggest open secrets in American politics is that no bill is needed to end the legal funding of the occupation of Iraq. The occupation can be ended with an announcement by Congressional leaders that there will be no more funding. Any proposal to fund it can be blocked by 41 senators, or by one if his name is Reid. Bush has plenty of money for withdrawal (an understatement so dramatic it feels dishonest) and could be given more for that exclusive purpose (if Congress insisted). When your television tells you that the Democrats need 60 or 67 senators in order to end the occupation, your television is lying to you.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could if they wanted announce today that the House and Senate will no longer bring to a vote any bills to fund anything other than withdrawal. They have many colleagues already on board with that position, not to mention two thirds of the country. It would take 218 signatures on a discharge petition to force a bill to the floor of the House without Pelosi’s approval. It is unlikely enough Democrats would oppose their party to fund Bush’s occupation in that way. In the Senate, Reid alone could refuse to bring a bill to the floor, or another senator could put a secret hold on a bill. And, while not all bills can be filibustered (appropriations bills can be, budget reconciliation bills cannot), you can hardly claim you need 60 votes to get past a filibuster without admitting that with only 41 you could launch your own filibuster and that with 51 you could defeat any bill. Once we understand the goal as blocking bills rather than passing them, the number of allies we need shrinks dramatically. Blocking a bill in either the House or the Senate is sufficient to block it.

Here’s a transcript of Reid admitting that he could block the funding but won’t.

Of course, Reid and many other Senators are routinely referred to as “critics” of the Iraq “war”. But a war is something that can be won or lost, a contest between two nation’s armies. What we have in Iraq is a hostile foreign occupation that can never be won. And a critic is someone who sits on the sidelines and critiques. Senators do not sit on the sidelines of this occupation. On the contrary, they fund it. They fund it by refusing every time to filibuster the funding bills. (When Senator Dodd threatened to filibuster immunity for telecoms, his colleagues backed off, but he refuses to filibuster the occupation.) And they fund it by ignoring Bush’s announcement that he will take money from elsewhere if he needs to.

Why is Congress so scared to act against the least popular project in many years by confronting the least popular president and vice president this country has ever seen? Why do some in Congress choose to fund the occupation precisely because Bush would fund it anyway? Why does the House Judiciary Committee allow open crimes to be publicly announced with signing statements posted on the White House website, and not stir? Why has Congress allowed executive refusal to comply with subpoenas to become routine, after the precedent of passing an article of impeachment against Nixon for a similar refusal?

I think, fairly clearly, the primary reason for all of this is Nancy Pelosi’s unconstitutional, unconscionable, and even politically unjustifiable, aversion to impeachment. Her arguments have, however, long since been answered.

But what about peace activist organizations? Why do they go along with the pretense of supporting bills destined to be vetoed rather than demanding a cut off of funds or – what is ultimately required – impeachment? I don’t have a good answer, but part of he answer is the influence on activists of politicians who tell them that they are friends, who make them feel powerful, and who echo what everyone hears on their televisions about the Democrats’ inability to act no matter how much they supposedly want to, and about the supposedly all-important elections 12 months away.

The other of the two biggest public secrets in U.S. politics is that you, dear reader, are not a freak. You imagine that you are in a minority wanting to end the occupation, and so you worry about persuading your neighbors rather than forcing your congress members to act. You suppose that only a handful of people want impeachment or single-payer health care or green energy, even though these are all majority positions. And, most dramatically, you imagine that because you are a freak, the candidates you feel inclined to support for public office must be different from the candidates you should, as an educated TV viewer, actually support.

But this is how democracy dies. This is democracy stripped from our souls, where Walt Whitman tried to plant it, and installed in the machinations of corporate pundits and corrupt parties. Until we can believe that who we like and what we want of them are things that others share, until we define our personal preferences as precisely what is most “viable”, we can have no growing democracy. We are currently keeping secret from ourselves the idea that we even want it.

***

Statement by the President

WhiteHouse.gov

Today, I have signed into law H.R. 3222, the “Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2008.” The Act appropriates funds needed to support the U.S. Armed Forces as they protect the United States and the American people and advance United States interests around the globe.

The Act contains certain provisions identical to those found in prior bills passed by the Congress that might be construed to be inconsistent with my Constitutional responsibilities (sections 8005, 8009, 8012(b), 8034(b), 8052, 8082, 8085, 8089, 8091, and 8116, and the provision concerning consolidation under the heading “Operation and Maintenance, Defense Wide”). To avoid such potential infirmities, I will interpret and construe such provisions in the same manner as I have previously stated in regard to those provisions.

The Act also continues through December 14, 2007, funding for Government programs for which the Congress has not yet passed regular appropriations acts. However, the Act does not provide funds needed to support members of the U.S. Armed Forces deployed for combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I expect and urge the Congress to promptly present separate legislation to meet that urgent funding need.

GEORGE W. BUSH

THE WHITE HOUSE,

November 13, 2007.

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Kucinich at the Heartland Presidential Forum (videos) + Kucinich ‘connects’ with everyday citizens at massive Iowa Presidential forum

Dandelion Salad

movementvision

December 01, 2007

h/t: Dennis 4 President

***

Kucinich ‘connects’ with everyday citizens at massive Iowa Presidential forum

Dennis 4 President

DES MOINES, IA

Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, the Democratic Party’s long-shot, grassroots Presidential candidate, today connected very emotionally and personally with a crowd of more than 5,000 everyday citizens whose struggles against poverty, discrimination, oppression, and disenfranchisement mirror his own life’s experience.

Interrupted by repeated, prolonged, and enthusiastic applause and cheers, Kucinich had an easy time distinguishing himself from the other candidates on the bread-and-butter issues that the huge gathering of community and political leaders and Democratic Party activists announced as their priorities for today’s Heartland Presidential Forum. Those included: “health care for everybody,” the “right to a living wage,” workers’ rights, an end to corporate control of government, and the adoption of progressive immigration reforms that “don’t use immigrants as scapegoats” for failed federal policies.

The “connection” between Kucinich and the audience, a large percentage of whom will be participating in the January 3rd Iowa Presidential caucuses, stemmed in large part from his own political struggles over the years against the entrenched political and corporate interests that forum leaders accused of undermining citizen-led democracy.

One especially poignant moment dramatically reflected the affinity between the coalition’s populist agenda and Kucinich’s deep involvement in those same issues. A community leader from Iowa recounted the events of Dec. 12, 2006, when federal immigration authorities raided a plant in search of undocumented immigrants. Among those detained and exiled to Mexico was the mother of five small children who lived in a modest home with her husband. It happened, the speaker said, her voice choked with emotion, on the hallowed feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Kucinich walked across the stage and asked her to look at his watch. “What does it say?” he asked her. “It’s Our Lady of Guadalupe,” she responded. Kucinich said the watch was a gift from friends in El Paso, Texas four years ago “when I was standing up for the rights of immigrants.” The crowd’s reaction swelled from sighs and gasps to sustained applause and cheering.

Kucinich, whose impoverished childhood motivated him into a 40-year career in public service, used his early political clashes with corporate interests attempting to subvert the public interest, as proof of his commitment to representing everyday citizens.

“As Mayor of Cleveland, I put my career on the line to save a municipal electric system” from a corporate take-over, Kucinich said.

That same public-interest philosophy, he elaborated, has given him the strength to challenge the for-profit health insurance and pharmaceutical companies and call for a national, not-for-profit program that covers all Americans. His opposition to corporate-backed trade agreements that have off-shored millions of U.S. jobs is part of that same philosophy, he said. And, the war in Iraq was motivated by a political and corporate thirst for oil, the same motivations that allow oil and gas companies to exploit federally owned lands in the U.S., he said.
The surest route to ending the monied-control of politics and government is public financing of elections; and, he said, he would push for a Constitutional amendment to ensure that federal campaigns were publicly, rather than privately financed.

He also drew strong applause when he referenced his proposed Articles of Impeachment against Vice President Richard B. Cheney for his role in deceiving the Congress and the American people into going to war against Iraq.

He re-issued his pledges for: a full-employment economy, bolstered largely by federal investment in new energy technologies and infrastructure rebuilding; fully funded education from pre-kindergarten through college; strengthening of workers’ rights and retirement security; re-negotiated trade agreements that protect against “slave labor, child labor and prison labor” in other countries; and a living wage for all American workers.

The final “connection” with the loudly kindred audience came with the final question from the event leaders. Would the Congressman agree to meet with representatives of today’s sponsoring community action organizations within the first 100 days of taking office, if elected President?

“I’ll do better than that,” he said. “You can sleep in the Lincoln bedroom. “It’s your government,” he said, “Take it back,” he concluded to thunderous applause and a standing ovation.

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Vladamir Putin: “The world’s most popular leader”? By Mike Whitney

Dandelion Salad

By Mike Whitney
12/01/07 “ICH

On Sunday, Russians will vote in their country’s parliamentary elections. The results are a foregone conclusion. Putin’s party, United Russia, is expected to win in a landslide. The only question is whether the margin of victory will exceed 70%. If it does, then Putin will continue to be the most powerful player in Russian politics even after he steps down from office next year.

Vladamir Putin is arguably the most popular leader in Russian history, although you’d never know it by reading the western media. According to a recent survey conducted by the Wall Street Journal, Putin’s personal approval rating in November 2007 was 85% making him the most popular head of state in the world today. Putin’s popularity derives from many factors. He is personally clever and charismatic. He is fiercely nationalistic and has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of ordinary Russians and restore the country to its former greatness. He has raised over 20 million Russians out of grinding poverty, improved education, health care and the pension system, (partially) nationalized critical industries, lowered unemployment, increased manufacturing and exports, invigorated Russian markets, strengthened the ruble, raised the overall standard of living, reduced government corruption, jailed or exiled the venal oligarchs, and amassed capital reserves of $450 billion.

If there’s a downside to Putin’s legacy, it’s hard to see.

Russia is no longer “up for grabs” like it was after the fall of the Soviet Union. Putin put an end to all of that. He reasserted control over the country’s vast resources and he’s using them to improve the lives of his own people. This is a real departure from the 1990s, when the drunken Yeltsin steered Russia into economic disaster by following Washington’s neoliberal edicts and by selling Russia’s Crown Jewels to the vulturous oligarchs. Putin put Russia’s house back in order; stabilized the ruble, strengthened economic/military alliances in the region, and removed the corporate gangsters who had stolen Russia’s national assets for pennies on the dollar. The oligarchs are now all either in jail or have fled the country. Russia is no longer “for sale”.

Russia is, once again, a major world power and a force to be reckoned with. It’s star is steadily rising just as America’s has begun to wane. This may explain why Putin is despised by the West. Freud might call it “petroleum envy”, but it’s deeper than that. Putin has charted a course for social change that conflicts with basic tenets of organized greed, which are the principles which govern US foreign policy. He is not a member of the corporate-banking brotherhood which believes the wealth of the world should be divided among themselves regardless of the suffering or destruction it may cause. Putin’s primary focus is Russia; Russia’s welfare, Russia’s sovereignty and Russia’s place in the world. He is not a globalist.

That is why the Bush administration has encircled Russia with military bases, toppled neighboring regimes with its comical “color-coded” revolutions, (which were organized by US NGOs and intelligence services) intervened in Russian elections, and (threatened) to deploy a nuclear weapons system in Eastern Europe. Russia is seen as a potential rival to US imperial ambitions and must be contained or destroyed.

In the early years of his presidency, it was believed that Putin would comply with western demands and accept a subordinate role in the US-EU-Israel centric system. But it hasn’t worked out that way. Putin has wisely resisted integration and consistently defended Russian independence.

The triumphalism which swept through Washington after the fall of the Berlin Wall has been replaced with a palpable fear that Russia’s power will continue to grow as oil prices increase. The tectonic plates of geopolitical power are shifting eastward. That’s why the US has joined in “The Great Game” and is trying to put down roots in Eurasia. Still, it’s easy to imagine a scenario in which America’s access to the last great oil and natural gas reserves on the planet–the three trillion barrels of oil and natural gas located in the Caspian Basin—could be completely blocked by a resurgent Russian superpower.

The most powerful of the Washington think tanks, the Council on Foreign relations, recognized this problem early on and decided that US policy towards Russia had to be reworked entirely.

John Edwards and Jack Kemp were appointed to lead a CFR task force which concocted the basic pretext for an all-out assault on the Putin. This is where the idea that Putin is “rolling back democracy” began. In their article “Russia’s Wrong Direction”, Edwards and Kemp state that a “strategic partnership” with Russia is no longer possible. They note that the government has become increasingly “authoritarian” and that the society is growing less “open and pluralistic”.

Kemp and Edwards provided the ideological foundation upon which the entire public relations campaign against Putin has been built. And it is quite an impressive campaign. A Google News search shows roughly 1,400 articles from the various news services on Putin. Virtually all of them contain exactly the same rhetoric, the same buzzwords, the same spurious claims, the same slanders. It is impossible to find even one article out of 1,400 that diverges the slightest bit from the talking points which originated at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Readers should check this out for themselves. Its interesting to see to what extent the media is nothing more than a propaganda bullhorn for the national security state. Putin’s personal approval ratings already confirm his enormous popularity, (85%) but the media continues to treat him like he’s a tyrant. It is completely incongruous.

In most articles, Putin is disparaged as “anti democratic”; a charge that is never leveled at the Saudi Royal family even though women are forbidden to drive, they must by fully-covered at all times, and can be stoned to death if they are found to be unfaithful. Also, in Saudi Arabia, beheading is still the punishment of choice for capital crimes.

When Saudi King Abdullah visits the US, he is not heaped with scorn for his regimes’ repressive treatment of his people. Instead he’s rewarded with flattering photos of he and George Bush strolling arm-n-arm through the Crawford sage.

Why is Putin blasted for “rolling back democracy” when American stooge, Mikhail Saakashvili, arbitrarily declares martial law and deploys his truncheon wielding Robo-cops to beat protesters senseless before dragging them off to the Georgia gulag? The pictures of Saakashvili’s bloody crackdown appeared In the foreign press, but not in the US where the media had all its camera lenses focused on Garry Kasparov (contributing editor to the Wall Street Journal and right-wing loony) as he was led off to the Moscow hoosegow in handcuffs for protesting without a permit.

Poor, abused Garry.

What American wouldn’t prefer a leader who stuck up their national interests rather than the interests of global Capital? Has Putin repealed habeas corpus, due process and the presumption of innocence? Has Putin abducted innocent suspects from the streets of foreign capitals and taken them to black sites where they’ve been tortured, water-boarded and sometimes killed? Has Putin initiated war’s of aggression on defenseless countries killing and maiming a million or so civilians on “a pack of lies”? Has Putin created 4 million refugees and a humanitarian crisis which is likely to erupt into a region-wide conflagration?

Those aren’t Vladamir Putin’s Daisy Cutters and cluster bombs falling on Samara, Falluja and Tal Afar. That isn’t Putin’s armada in the Gulf off the coast of Iran. Those aren’t Putin’s intelligence agents and mercenaries executing covert operations in Mogadishu, Beirut and Islamabad.

Putin’s crime is that he rejects Washington’s “unipolar” world model. As he said in Munich:

“The unipolar world refers to a world in which there is one master, one sovereign; one center of authority, one center of force, one center of decision-making. At the end of the day this is pernicious not only for all those within this system, but also for the sovereign itself because it destroys itself from within.… What is even more important is that the model itself is flawed because at its basis there is and can be no moral foundations for modern civilization.”

He added:

“We are seeing a greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of international law….We are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force – military force – in international relations, force that is plunging the world into an abyss of permanent conflicts. I am convinced that we have reached that decisive moment when we must seriously think about the architecture of global security.”

Well said, Vladamir. Good luck in the election.

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Questions About the Financial Crisis by Prof. Rodrigue Tremblay

Dandelion Salad

by Prof. Rodrigue Tremblay
Global Research, December 1, 2007

“The problem [of loan defaults] will be significantly bigger next year [2008] because 2006 [mortgages] had lower…standards.”

Henry Paulson, U.S. Treasury Secretary

“The best way to destroy the capitalist system is to debauch the currency. By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens.”

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946)

Questions from the Turkish Daily News, Istanbul, Turkey.

Question No 1- What triggered the US subprime crisis? Can you compare it to past crises such as the 80s crisis?

Answer by Dr. Tremblay:

Four interrelated factors are responsible for creating the ongoing [subprime mortgage] financial crisis that is raging in the United States today.

First, monetary policy. After the technology dotcom bubble burst in 2001 and brought about the March to November 2001 recession, the Greenspan Fed aggressively lowered the Federal Funds rate from 6.5% to 1% in 2004, the lowest it had been since 1958. it is considered now that this was excessive, and that the Fed should not have lowered the Federal funds rate below 2%, and that it should have begun to raise it sometime in 2002. Indeed, from 2002 to 2004, the American central bank pursued a monetary policy that was too expansionary. Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan has argued to explain his policies that he was afraid of an onset of deflation, but few economists agree with him. Between 2002 and 2004, the Fed had no need to keep real short term interest rates so negative for so long, especially as the Bush administration was cutting tax rates and increasing military expenditures with its military invasion of Iraq.

Second, the housing boom. Abnormally low interest rates in the U.S., but also elsewhere because of the interconnections between money and capital markets, fed a housing boom world-wide which was unsustainable because partly based on price speculation. Indeed, mortgage rates in the U.S. remained low, even after the Fed started to raise the Federal funds rate from 1% in mid-2004 to 5.25% in June 2006. This was brought about by Americans borrowing huge amounts abroad. —In 2006, the U.S. current account deficit even reached 6% of GDP. China, Japan and oil-producing countries were the main buyers of U.S. Treasury bills and bonds.

Third, new banking rules. With ever rising house prices, lending institutions relaxed their lending rules as the housing collateral behind the loans was gaining in value. Mortgage banks and other lenders began to accommodate subprime borrowers with dubious credit by extending mortgage loans to homebuyers who would not have qualified in other times. Nontraditional home loans were advanced to borrowers who had no documented incomes. Some loans were interest-only loans with down payments of 5% or less. Some were adjustable rate loans (ARMs), with low rates for one or two years to be reset later at much higher rates. In 2006, about 25 percent of American mortgages were subprime and close to 20 percent were adjustable rate loans.

Fourth, new financial instruments. With the demand for mortgage loans increasing, large banks resorted to some inventive financing of their own in order to economize their capital. They began repackaging loans and slicing them into some exotic new types of securities, and in so doing, shifted their lending risk to the buyers of such securities. Thus came into being a new class of securities—often rated AAA by credit rating agencies —that money market funds, insurance companies, pension funds and other investors could purchase.

These new “structured investment vehicles” (SIVs) came under various names such as “Collateralized Bond Obligations” (CBOs) or “Collateralized Debt Obligations” (CDOs). They had the characteristics of unfunded short-term asset-based commercial paper (ABCP). It is this ABCP market which is unraveling presently in the United States and elsewhere, and which is at the center of the current financial crisis. At its peak in the summer of 2007, the U.S. ABCP market was valued at some $1.170 trillion. It has fallen now to some $900 billion and is still contracting, as banks write down bad debts. [N.B.: This process of financial disintermediation may last many years.]

The savings-and-loans crisis of the early 1980’s was also a serious blow to the U.S. economy. Over 1,000 savings and loan financial institutions failed, and losses were estimated to have totaled around $150 billion. As well, the crisis was a contributing cause to the 1990-1991 recession. This time around, the financial crisis is at the very least as bad, if not worse, because it involves the integrity of the entire American banking sector. The extent of the losses this time is not yet fully known, but everybody agrees that it will be very substantial.

[Another 1990 example is the near failure of the hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management (LTCM), in September 1998. The Federal Reserve (FED) had to intervene in panic and provide liquidity in order to prevent a forced liquidation of the large positions held by LTCM, which would have depressed bond prices and hike interest rates, at a time there was a financial crisis in Asia. —N.B.: Hedge funds are essentially speculative private entities that take risky financial positions in interest rate, currency and commodity derivatives, and in financial markets in general.]

Question No 2- How will the average American be affected?

Since home ownership is a large portion of the average American’s net worth, declining house prices and foreclosures on delinquent mortgage loans are bound to reduce private consumption spending in the coming months through a negative “wealth effect”. The loss of jobs and incomes in the construction and financial industries is also going to negatively impact consumption spending. Above all, the average American may have to reduce his debt load. Together, mortgage debt and consumer debt account for some 125 percent of disposable income. These are historically high levels.

Question No 3- How do you assess Fed’s policies after the outbreak? What is your opinion about the scepter of inflation?

Well, as I wrote on my blog of last September 21, I think the Bernanke Fed panicked when it announced a larger than expected half percentage point cut in both the federal funds rate and in the discount rate, and this after having slashed its discount rate by a half point, on August 17 (2007). The purpose was to facilitate distress borrowing by America’s largest banks and to facilitate the bailout of their affiliates (known as conduits) and other operators, such as hedge-funds, caught in the sub-prime loans crisis. In so doing, the Bernanke Fed is, to a certain extent, following Walter Bagehot’s advice for aggressive discounting in a situation of financial crisis. The only problem is that Bagehot’s rule calls for the central bank to lend copiously in times of critical credit stringency … but at a high rate of interest. By lending to troubled lenders at reduced preferential rates, the Fed has been acting as their “government” or their ‘insurer”, i.e. subsidizing their risky loans operations and innovative finance, while taxing anybody else who holds American dollars. It is not only attempting to make the banks more “liquid”, but also more “solvable” and less likely to fail.

In so doing, and especially with its policy of abandoning the dollar in foreign exchange markets, the Bernanke Fed is sowing the seeds of future inflation. All the new money that has been injected into the financial system will be difficult to retrieve and inflationary pressures should begin to show in a few years, after an expected economic slowdown. The more so that the 54-year average long inflation-disinflation-deflation Kondratieff cycle is about to run its course by 2010-11. A new inflation phase should begin thereafter.

Question No 4- When the US coughs, the world gets flu, they say. What will happen when the US gets a flu such as this? What are the prospects for emerging market such as Turkey, which rely on exports, plus have seen massive foreign capital inflows during the past 5 years?

The U.S. economy accounts for about one quarter of the world economy, so it is reasonable to expect that an American slowdown will impact other economies. As of now, Europe and Asia are still booming. However, the decline in the U.S. dollar and the concomitant appreciation of the euro and most other currencies, coupled with the rise of the price of oil, is bound to have a negative impact on these economies. In fact, it can take as much as two years for a currency over appreciation to impact the real economy.

The danger for Turkey is to be caught with an overvalued currency while pursuing an export-led growth strategy. Indeed, in the last few years the (new) Turkish lira has risen against the U.S. dollar and even against the euro. This has had beneficial effects in the fight against inflation, but this also could hurt future growth. The most recent example of such a predicament was Argentina, in the late 1990’s, which was forced to abandon its peg to the U.S. dollar.

Question No 5- Do you perceive a difference of approach between the Anglo-Saxon economies and continental Europe economies, which have, for the most part, come out unscathed?

As you know, some European banks had to be bailed out after suffering huge losses coming from their asset-backed commercial paper operations. As a consequence, the Bank of England and the European Central Bank have injected huge sums of new money in their banking sectors. In the U.S., the Fed has a double mission, which is to contain inflation but also to accommodate economic growth. In Europe, the ECB’s central mission is to contain inflation. This does not mean that there are not political pressures to abandon the fight against inflation in order to spur growth, as Mr. Sarkozy’s campaign against Mr. Trichet’s policies well illustrates. On the whole, however, it would seem that the rush toward irresponsible banking practices was less prevalent in Europe than in the United States, and that the negative impact should be less prevalent in Europe than in the USA.

Question No 6- What is the lesson to be learned from this crisis, and what kind of precautions should be taken?

Obviously, there was a lack of diligence and supervision on the part of central banks and of other regulatory agencies, especially in the United States. Former Fed Chairman (1951-1970) William McChesney Martin once said that “The job of the Federal Reserve is to take away the punch bowl just when the party starts getting interesting.” —As the subprime financial crisis was getting up steam, the Greenspan Fed seemed to have been too close to the Bush administration and its political objectives and not enough aware of the danger that new financial rules were creating for the health of the financial system and of the economy as a whole. The Fed should have taken the monetary punch bowl away in 2003-04, but it did not. We still do not know the extent of the damage that has been done to the real economy. I hope it can be contained and will not spread.

Question No 7- Do you foresee a US recession?

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson do not see a recession in the U.S. in 2008. As for myself, I think an economic slowdown is unavoidable in 2008. I do hope that the worst-case scenario will not materialize. However, I expect nevertheless a mild American recession in 2008, to be followed by a more severe one in 2010-2011 (at the trough of the 10 year cycle).

Question No 8- What will be the impact on a- The dollar?

Well, the U.S. dollar has been declining for many years and is hitting all-time lows against the euro. In 2000, the euro was worth less than 83 cents, but it is now close to $1.50, a 45 percent depreciation for the dollar. I think the current phase of the dollar decline is close to have run its course. Baring some big geopolitical shock, the U.S. dollar could rebound in the months ahead. It is presently very much oversold.

Over the long run, we have entered a period where the demand for energy and resources is going to be strong relative to supplies. This should favor the currencies of resource-based economies, such as Canada, Australia and the emerging economies in general.

Question No 9- What will be the impact on oil prices?

Oil prices have been the mirror image of the decline of the U.S. dollar. At close to $100 a barrel, the oil market is either close to a top, or is factoring in a Bush-Cheney bombing of Iran and a resulting serious disruption in oil shipping in the gulf of Hormuz. If there were to be a conflict between the United States and Iran, oil prices could go much higher, before plummeting down due to a worldwide recession. If it turns out that there is no hot conflict with Iran and no disruptions in the supply of oil, the present high prices would logically ratchet down.

Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is emeritus professor of international finance at the University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada and has a Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University, California, USA. His book “The New American Empire” is available in English at Amazon.com, or in French “Le Nouvel Empire Américain” at Amazon.fr. The book is also available in Canada, in the U.K., in Germany and in Japan.

Rodrigue Tremblay is a Canadian economist who lives in Montreal; he can be reached at rodrigue.tremblay@yahoo.com

Visit his blog site at:
www.thenewamericanempire.com/blog.

Author’s Website:
www.thenewamericanempire.com/

Check Dr. Tremblay’s coming book “The Code for Global Ethics” at:
www.TheCodeForGlobalEthics.com/

Rodrigue Tremblay is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Rodrigue Tremblay


The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Rodrigue Tremblay, Global Research, 2007
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7510

Babes at Arms by The Other Katherine Harris (child soldiers; recruiting)

by The Other Katherine Harris
Featured writer
Dandelion Salad
The Other Katherine Harris’s blog
Dec. 2, 2007

Quick — think of an armed child.

Bet you pictured one in Africa — they get most of the press — but plenty of other kids also serve in combat and as military auxiliaries in Asia, Eurasia, the Middle East and war-torn bits of South America. They number between 250,000 and 500,000, depending on whose numbers you like, most of them victims of abduction or “volunteers” rendered dependent on warlords by the ruin of their communities.

No matter how their services are obtained, the young make shockingly good soldiers. In their utter vulnerability, they do exactly as they’re told, so no atrocity is past them. When you don’t have a fully formed moral code — or even a fully formed brain — shooting someone becomes “as easy as drinking a glass of water,” says Ishmael Beah, a former adolescent soldier turned author of A Long Way Gone.

Much harder is curtailing this perverse mutation of violence, once unleashed. It isn’t just a matter of resolving the local conflict and sending everybody home. As Beah advised delegates at a UNICEF conference this year, “You have to find a way so that they are able to go to school or feel strongly that they can provide for themselves. If not, they know how to use a gun. And there is a conflict next door that is offering $100 a day and all you can loot, and they will go back to that. ”

From being made a warrior in Sierra Leone at 13, Beah should know and he warns us that, for a child raised to value violence, “It is the most difficult thing to regain your humanity. ”

So why the devil are we jeopardizing that of our own children, by militarizing our secondary schools?

Maybe you don’t realize how far the process has gone; I didn’t, until a recent Agence France Presse article inspired me to peek under the rock. That the AFP piece ran alongside news of the Shrub/Maliki Occupation Forever-After Pact supplied further impetus to research.

Despite official denials, of course it’s a conveyor-belt to enlistment; the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) program long extant in some high schools reliably recruits 30-50 percent of kids enrolled (70 percent enlisting at the lowest rank, despite the misleading reference to “officer training” that suggests members will go on to college).

Now Pentagon tentacles are grasping even farther: expanding JROTC into more high schools and even middle schools, while also establishing full-time “military academies” that take over public high schools wholly or in part and, shielded from local oversight, alter their curricula to teach battle tactics, military history, supposed “leadership” (in the ass-backward form of dutifully following orders) and even marksmanship.

There used to be legislative limits on military intrusion into public education, but now virtually none exist. Just as “No Child Left Behind” came with an unheralded provision giving recruiters easy access to student information (unless parents specifically opt their kids out) and the right to roam campuses at will, the Defense Spending Authorization Act of 2003 sneaked in removal of a national cap on JROTC units (previously 3,500).

I haven’t yet been able to determine what Shrub-era law empowered armed forces to take direct control of schools, but compliant School Boards are letting them do it, with Chicago leading the charge. By next year, the Windy City will round out a full menu of armed forces-led high schools, by adding an Air Force “academy” to those under Army, Navy or Marine Corps aegis. Besides five academies operating there now, nearly three dozen high schools and 26 middle schools offer JROTC. More than 11,000 Chicago students get regular Pentagon indoctrination today; a near-term goal of 15,000 has been set; and Mayor Richard Daley has been quoted as saying he’d like to see military influence in every classroom.

Nationwide, about 500,000 public school kids are already enrolled in military programs, thanks largely to Colin Powell, who as a general heading the Joint Chiefs of Staff sold Congress on a hurry-up plan to expand JROTC units from about 1,600 to 3,500 between 1992 and 1997. The Los Angeles riots are said to have sparked the idea, but those may have merely provided a convenient pretext. With the Cold War over, the Pentagon empire faced downsizing and potential irrelevance. As they cast about for a timely mission, they must’ve found JROTC ideal: capable of supplying cheap grunts, while also absorbing “downsized” officers of middle rank into cushy jobs funded by others and even juicing military PR. Nobody seemed to notice that reanimating in a time of peace a program devised during a world war was, in essence, absurd. ROTC and JROTC got their start under the National Defense Act of 1916, as a reasonable enough means of improving the readiness of college and high school boys facing likely conscription, so revisionists who allege that it was always about developing “citizenship” in teens are misinformed or lying.

Either to inject JROTC or to make an outright school grab, at least one military branch probably has on its “target” list a campus near you — although perhaps not quite near enough to affect your kids, since they specialize in colonizing the wrong side of the tracks. They want low-income minority recruits and claim to provide needed discipline and purpose for “at-risk” students, but in fact they carefully cull out those who might pose problems, academic or behavioral. ” Junior cadets” have to be basically good kids with average or better grades. Usually they’re so fed up with the anarchy permitted in their neighborhood schools that the relative tranquility afforded by martial law seems like a breath of fresh air. The teens are also lured by whiz-bang inducements like laptops — this while many students in regular schools still have to share books.

Yes, our normal school systems are being robbed to fund this takeover. School districts receive initial Pentagon subsidies (also paid from our pockets, of course), but are saddled with ongoing costs for facilities, maintenance, insurance, employee benefits and taxes, as well as inflated salaries to retired military personnel often deemed qualified to teach only by the military. Because each JROTC unit, including just 100-150 members, requires an average annual outlay of close to $80,000 — enough to pay two or three full-time certified teachers — some traditional electives typically drop off the schedule. Loss of choices like music, art or perhaps an extra foreign language or sports team impoverishes the educational experience for everyone. JROTC, mind you, is accredited only as a substitute for gym class, and yet localities across the country picked up a tab of more than $220 million for the program last year. That money represents an equal-sized hole in real educational opportunities.

And, when an entire school falls under Pentagon control, the expense grows to staggering size: up to a million dollars yearly for a single facility.

So what about results?Are schools and taxpayers getting anything worthwhile for these enormous sacrifices?

Admittedly, some teachers appreciate the effect of martial law on schoolhouse order,given that their own ability to impose discipline was taken from them decades ago in the often-misguided cause of “children’s rights”. Most educators, however, are appalled by the discrimination inherent in these programs (which bar the disabled, homosexuals and non-citizens) and by their glorification of robotic obedience, ultra-nationalism and violence. They point out that JROTC makes a mockery of attempts to create safe, weapons-free schools by bringing guns and mock-guns onto the premises, and that JROTC-connected murders, gang activities and serious hazing incidents have occurred.

Most families and students oppose school militarization on the same grounds cited by teachers. Those who favor it are pretty much what you’d expect:extreme conservatives and/or people gullible enough still to believe the lies about valuable job training and financial aid for college. As many Iraq vets are finding now to their surprise and chagrin, very few skills associated with military service transfer into the civilian world and shaking any college funds out of the Pentagon piggybank is well-nigh impossible these days. Uncle Sam doesn’t even want to take responsibility for soldiers who’ve had their legs blown off or their brains rearranged.

Well, what about academic achievement?Enhancing this is supposed to be the big draw, but gains are both rare and as fairly attributable to selective enrollment as to any other factor. When your institution operates as a “magnet school” free to decline applications from kids with poor grades, health problems and behavior issues, you do start ahead of the herd. Even so, none of Chicago’s “military academies” met Shrub’s No Child Left Behind testing standards last year. One posted the lowest pass rate in the city.

So what’s really going on? After researching the matter off and on for a week, I can’t find any merit in school militarization except for those who value producing eager cannon-fodder and docile workers with a pro-military bias.

In the course of my study, I took a close look at Chicago politics, too, trying to understand why a seemingly Democratic city would be the first to betray its neediest students and the egalitarian ideals of American schooling. With apologies to you who could answer the question in a heartbeat — and no doubt you’re legion — I’ll briefly explain what I found: namely that, with Democrats like Daley, who needs Republicans? Crony capitalism is his family game. It all fell into place for me, when I saw that he has a plan to privatize as much public education as he can possibly get away with, over the next few years, and that his brother was Clinton’s Secretary of Commerce and a key architect of the NAFTA debacle. It’s cute how close the Daleys are to Dennis Hastert, too, and how the wretch Rahm Emmanuel — DLC scourge of all Democrats who aspire to progressive policies — joined their stable after his stint as a top Clinton aide. Moreover, my prior piece about “The Gilding of Obama” didn’t half tell it and Dick Durbin has entered the Hypocrites’ Pantheon in my mind, for introducing the “Child Soldier Prevention Act of 2007” in the Senate, but lacking a clue that most people opposed a “naval academy” at Chicago’s Senn High School, until after he’d lent lavish praise at its heavily stage-managed dedication.

see

Britain: Recruiting Kids to Kill by Felicity Arbuthnot

Israel’s Toy Soldiers By Chris Hedges

How Killing Becomes a Reflex – War Psychiatry and Iraq Atrocities By Penny Coleman

Invisible Children (video; over 18 only)

Before You Enlist

What’s really happening in Venezuela? by Lee Sustar

Dandelion Salad

by Lee Sustar
SocialistWorker.org
November 30, 2007

VENEZUELANS WILL vote December 2 on constitutional reforms proposed by President Hugo Chávez and his supporters, capping weeks of sometimes-violent protests by right-wing opposition forces, a defection by a top Chávez political ally, and mass mobilizations by Chávez supporters.

LEE SUSTAR, recently returned from Venezuela, looks at the aims of Chávez’s proposals, the response of the opposition and the shape of Venezuelan politics today.

FOR THE U.S. mainstream media, Venezuela’s vote on constitutional reforms December 2 is simply the latest power grab in authoritarian President Hugo Chávez’s bid to crush dissent, make himself president for life and impose a state-controlled economy.

The view from the streets of the Caracas barrio of 23 de Enero, however, is very different.

A densely populated, impoverished neighborhood seldom visited by U.S. reporters, it is famous for its role in mobilizing in January 1958 to overthrow a Venezuelan military dictator on the date that gave the barrio its name.

These days, it is home to an active local branch, or battalion, of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV, according to its Spanish initials). On a rainy mid-November evening, activists gathered to distribute copies of the proposed reform by going door to door.

Of the 30 or so people who turned out–all but four of them women–just two had prior political experience in Chávez’s original political party, the Fifth Republic Movement (MVR). Only one–Rosaida Hernández–is an experienced politico, having served as a functionary of the Fifth Republic Movement and won election to Caracas’ municipal council.

More typical was Iraima Díaz, a neighborhood resident in her 30s who had long supported Chávez and benefited from his government’s social programs, but hadn’t been politically active. “I got involved to solve the problems of my community,” she said.

Continued…

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

see

Venezuela’s Constitutional Reform: Article-by-Article Summary by Gregory Wilpert

Chavez’s Speech: Go ahead, make my day By Joaquin Bustelo

Venezuelan Government Uncovers Video of Opposition Destabilization Plan by Chris Carlson

Venezuela: “A People Under Fire” by Fidel Castro Ruz

Venezuela’s referendum: What’s at stake? (video)

CIA Operation “Pliers” Uncovered in Venezuela by Eva Golinger (Psyop)

Another CIA Sponsored Coup D’Etat? Venezuela’s D-Day: Democratic Socialism or Imperial Counter-Revolution by Prof James Petras

News Not Fit to Print: US Coup Planned for Venezuela? By Dave Lindorff

An Iraq Vet Punished for Seeking Help by Eric Ruder

Dandelion Salad

by Eric Ruder
Dissident Voice
November 30th, 2007

Brad Gaskins grew up in Orange, N.J., played starting quarterback for his high school football team and joined the U.S. Army at age 17. He had to wait for graduation before he could formally enter the military.

Today, Sgt. Gaskins’ life is in tatters. His dreams are haunted by visions of the dead bodies he saw in Iraq, he wakes from his nightmares drenched in sweat, his heart races, his mouth goes dry, he trembles, he has flashbacks, he feels cold.

And to make matters worse, two officers from the military’s Criminal Investigative Division and two local police arrested and handcuffed Gaskins on November 14 for going AWOL–hours before he was to voluntarily surrender to authorities at Fort Drum in Watertown, N.Y., and hours after base officials assured his civilian attorney he would be “treated sympathetically.”

Gaskins has been diagnosed with exceptionally severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depression, according to an independent evaluation by civilian therapist Rosemary Masters. Another civilian doctor and two military doctors have also diagnosed PTSD.

What you can do Activists in the Watertown, N.Y., area will gather at the Different Drummer Café outside of Fort Drum on December 6 at 6:30 p.m. for a town hall meeting on PTSD.

During Gaskins’ first tour in Iraq, he eagerly served as part of the Third Infantry Division, the spearhead of the U.S. invasion in March 2003. Gaskins thought himself lucky to have a chance to serve his country. Then he began encountering the badly burned bodies of Iraqi victims of the U.S. military’s “shock and awe” bombing raids.

He still can’t shake those images from his head. During his evaluation with Masters, according to medical records, he confessed, “I hate to talk about it. I can see a picture as clear as if it was yesterday. I have it playing in my head right now. Am I crazy?”

Continued…

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

see

Kucinich Calls For Investigation Into Delay Of Veterans’ Benefits