Barack O’Bilderberg: Picking the President by Andrew G. Marshall

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by Andrew G. Marshall
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
June 9, 2008

A Background to Bilderberg

Sunday, June 8, 2008, marked the last day of this year’s annual Bilderberg meeting, which took place in Chantilly, Virginia. The American Friends of Bilderberg, an American Bilderberg front group, which organizes the American participant list for the annual Bilderberg conference, issued a rare press release this year. It stated that, “The Conference will deal mainly with a nuclear free world, cyber terrorism, Africa, Russia, finance, protectionism, US-EU relations, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Islam and Iran. Approximately 140 participants will attend.”1

Bilderberg, which has been meeting annually since 1954, is a highly secretive international think tank and some say, policy-forming group made up of representatives from North America and Western Europe and was founded by Joseph Retinger, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands and Belgian Prime Minister Paul Van Zeeland. The Bilderberg Steering Committee, made up of around 30 people, (with no official list available), “decided that it would invite 100 of the most powerful people in Europe and North America every year to meet behind closed doors at a different five-star resort. The group stresses secrecy: What’s said at a Bilderberg conference stays at a Bilderberg conference.”2

Usually, the Bilderberg Conference is held in Europe for three years in a row, with the fourth year holding a meeting in North America. However, the previous North American conference was held in 2006 in Ottawa. So why did they break tradition to hold the conference in North America this year? Speculation abounds around a discussion of a possible attack on Iran, the American-centered global financial crisis, as well as the current US Presidential elections.

Bilderberg has long been an important forum for up-and-coming politicians of Western nations to be introduced to the global financial elite; the heads of the major multinational corporations, international banks, world financial institutions, global governing bodies, think tanks, and powerful individuals of the likes of David Rockefeller and various European monarchs, including Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, daughter of founding member, Prince Bernhard, as well as Queen Sofia and King Juan Carlos of Spain.

According to The Globe and Mail, such Canadian Prime Ministers have, in the past, (often before becoming Prime Minister), attended a Bilderberg Conference as a guest, including Pierre Trudeau, Jean Chretien, Paul Martin and Stephen Harper.3 Tony Blair attended Bilderberg before becoming Prime Minister,4 as did the current British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, who also recently called for the establishment of a “new world order.”5

Interestingly, as the Washington Post reported, Vernon E. Jordon, a high-powered American executive, who sits on several corporate boards, including American Express, Xerox, J.C. Penney, Dow Jones, and Sara Lee, to name a few, also happens to be a very close friend of former President Bill Clinton. However, “it was Jordan who first introduced then-Gov. Clinton to world leaders at their annual Bilderberg gathering in Germany in 1991. Plenty of governors try to make that scene; only Clinton got taken seriously at that meeting, because Vernon Jordan said he was okay.”6 Clinton subsequently became President.

Barack and Bilderberg

Recently, there has been much discussion about Barack Obama having possibly attended the recent Bilderberg conference in Virginia. This speculation arose when Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton sneaked off for a secretive meeting while in Virginia. As the AP reported, “Reporters traveling with Obama sensed something might be happening between the pair when they arrived at Dulles International Airport after an event in Northern Virginia and Obama was not aboard the airplane. Asked at the time about the Illinois senator’s whereabouts, [Obama spokesman Robert] Gibbs smiled and declined to comment.”7

The press that had been traveling with Obama were not made aware of the secretive meeting until the plane that they assumed Obama would be present on was moving down the runway, prompting many angry questions from the press towards Obama’s spokesman, Robert Gibbs. One reported asked Gibbs, “Why were we not told about this meeting until we were on the plane, the doors were shut and the plane was about to taxi to take off?” to which he responded, “Senator Obama had a desire to do some meetings, others had a desire to meet with him tonight in a private way and that is what we are doing.” This preceded another question, “Is there more than one meeting, is there more than one person with whom he is meeting?” Gibbs simply replied, “I am not going to get into all the details of the meeting.” He again later repeated that, “There was a desire to do some meetings tonight, he was interested in doing them, others were interested in doing them, and to do them in a way that was private.”8

On Friday, June 6, it was reported that Bilderberg tracker, Jim Tucker, “called Obama’s office today to ask if he had attended Bilderberg. A campaign spokeswoman refused to discuss the matter but would not deny that Obama had attended Bilderberg.”9

Bilderberg to Pick Obama’s Vice President

As the Financial Times reported in May of this year, Barack Obama appointed James A. Johnson, the former CEO of Fannie Mae, “to head a secret committee to produce a shortlist for his vice-presidential running mate.” A short list was discussed by the article, which listed, other than Hillary Clinton, “Jim Webb, the former secretary of the navy, Vietnam veteran and senator for Virginia; Tim Kaine, the governor of Virginia; John Edwards, the former vice-presidential candidate in 2004; Ted Strickland, the governor of Ohio; and Kathleen Sebelius, the governor of Kansas.” Other potential nominees include “Sam Nunn, the former chairman of the Senate armed services committee; and Wesley Clark, the former head of Nato in Europe.”10

James A. Johnson, the man Obama asked to pick his running mate, played the same role for John Kerry back in 2004, and he selected John Edwards. As the New York Times reported, “Several people pointed to the secretive and exclusive Bilderberg conference of some 120 people that this year drew the likes of Henry A. Kissinger, Melinda Gates and Richard A. Perle to Stresa, Italy, in early June, as helping [Edwards] win Mr. Kerry’s heart. Mr. Edwards spoke so well in a debate on American politics with the Republican Ralph Reed that participants broke Bilderberg rules to clap before the end of the session.” The Times further reported, “His performance at Bilderberg was important,” said a friend of Mr. Kerry who was there. ”He reported back directly to Kerry. There were other reports on his performance. Whether they reported directly or indirectly, I have no doubt the word got back to Mr. Kerry about how well he did.”11

James A. Johnson, Vice Chairman of Perseus, a merchant banking firm, is also a director of Goldman Sachs, Forestar Real Estate Group, Inc., KB Home, Target Corporation and UnitedHealth Group Inc., is also a member of the American Friends of Bilderberg, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission and is an honorary trustee of the Brookings Institution.12 It is likely that Obama’s running mate will be chosen by Johnson at this years Bilderberg Conference.

Notable among this year’s Bilderberg guests are Kansas Governor, Kathleen Sebelius, who the Financial Times reported was on Johnson’s short list of nominees. In fact, Sebelius is the only person mentioned as a possible running mate in the Financial Times article that was officially listed on the Bilderberg list of attendees.13 Could this be a sign that she may be the chosen one? Time will tell. However, another Democratic politician present at the meeting was Tom Daschle, so perhaps he is working his way back into politics.

Don’t Forget McCain

Just because Obama’s popularity dwarfs that of McCain’s, is not reason enough to ignore the other candidate. After all, the elite never ignore both candidates, and in fact, ensure they have them both neatly packed in their back pockets. Among the guests at the Bilderberg meeting this year, included Republican Governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford, as well as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice,14 which would be a smart political pick for McCain, going up against the first black presidential candidate.

McCain has also received endorsements from former Secretaries of State, Henry Kissinger, General Alexander Haig, Lawrence Eagleburger and George P. Shultz.15 These are not men without influence, as Henry Kissinger and George Shultz were also present at this years meeting.16 Also interesting to note is that George P. Shultz “associated himself with the Bush presidency early on, introducing the Texas governor to Condoleezza Rice at the Hoover Institution in 1998.” Could Condi be in the process of being groomed for higher office, or is she simply at the meeting for foreign policy discussions?

Also important to note, is that McCain had a fundraiser in London held for him, which was hosted “by kind permission of Lord Rothschild OM GBE [Order of Merit and the Knight Grand Cross of the British Empire] and the Hon Nathaniel Rothschild.” As the Washington Post reported, “Tickets to the invitation-only event cost $1,000 to $2,300.”18 The Post later reported, “Aides refused to talk about the fundraiser, or to say how much money was raised, and McCain dashed through the rain away from reporters after emerging. One guest said there were about 100 people at the luncheon. If they all gave the maximum, the event would have raised about $230,000 for the campaign.”19


1 Press Release, Bilderberg Announces 2008 Conference. Yahoo Finance: June 5, 2008:

2 CBC News Online, Informal forum or global conspiracy? CBC News: June 13, 2006:

3 Alexander Panetta, Secretive, powerful Bilderberg group meets near Ottawa. The Globe and Mail: June 8, 2006:

4 WND, Bilderbergers set to meet in D.C. World Net Daily: June 4, 2008:\

5Steve Watson, So Who Is Gordon Brown? May 17, 2007:

6 Marc Fisher, Jordan Is Comfortable With Power. And With Himself. The Washington Post: January 27, 1998:

7 AP, Obama and Clinton meet, discuss uniting Democrats. The Associated Press: June 6, 2008:

8 Steve Watson, Press Let Rip At Obama Spokesman Over Exclusion From Secret Meeting. June 6, 2008:

9 Paul Joseph Watson, Obama’s Office Won’t Deny Senator Attended Bilderberg. Prison Planet: June 6, 2008:

10 Edward Luce, Running mate speculation gathers pace. The Financial Times: May 23, 2008:

11 Jodi Wilgoren, THE 2004 ELECTION: THE PROCESS. New York Times: July 7, 2004:

12 Goldman Sachs, About Us: Board of Directors: James A. Jonhson.

13 AFP, BILDERBERG 2008 ATTENDEE LIST. American Free Press: 2008:

14 AFP, BILDERBERG 2008 ATTENDEE LIST. American Free Press: 2008:

15 Klaus Marre, McCain gets support from former secretaries of state. The Hill: April 10, 2007:

16 AFP, BILDERBERG 2008 ATTENDEE LIST. American Free Press: 2008:

17 Daniel Henninger, Father of the Bush Doctrine. The Wall Street Journal: April 29, 2006:

18 Matthew Mosk, Senator’s Supporters Are Invited to Lunch With a Lord. The Washington Post: March 15, 2008:

19 Michael D. Sheer, Americans Dash Through Rain to McCain’s London Fundraiser. The Washington Post:


The Bilderberg Group: Rulers of the World (must listen audio link; Daniel Estulin)

INN World Report: Daniel Estulin + The Bilderberg Group: Secret Society

My analysis of Bilderberg 2008 by Stefan Fobes


Chavez Revising, Not Revoking Venezuela’s New Intelligence Law

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen Lendman
Global Research, June 9, 2008

Over the weekend, Chavez showed his mettle as a democratic leader. He acknowledged “errors” in the newly enacted Law on Intelligence and Counterintelligence and will fix them to assure it fully complies with Venezuela’s Constitution.

He gave examples and cited Article 16 that cites the possibility of prison terms for persons not cooperating with intelligence services. It’s a “mistake,” said Chavez and “not a small (one).” The new intelligence services won’t oblige anyone to inform on others. Doing so is “overstepping,” and “I assume responsibility” for the error and will fix it.

He continued: “Where we make mistakes, we must accept this and not defend the indefensible….I guarantee to the country, in Venezuela (this law will assault) no one! And no one will be obliged to say more than they want to say….(We) will never attack the freedom of Venezuelans, independently of their political positions. Liberty….is one of the slogans of our socialism.”

Other articles will also be amended:

— Article 19 prohibiting non-state agencies from using spy technologies;

— Article 20 regarding search and wiretap provisions; and

— Article 21 regarding secret evidence.

The new law will be reviewed in its entirety. Whatever is potentially unconstitutional will be removed or amended. Chavez guarantees it. He’s a man of his word, but the corporate media took full advantage of the moment to jump all over him. As usual, The New York Times’ Simon Romero led the assault.

He headlined: “Chavez Suffers Military and Policy Setbacks” with the front end of his lead referring to Colombia’s (unsubstantiated) claim about capturing a Venezuelan national guard officer carrying assault rifles “believed to be intended for leftist guerrillas.”

Once again Romero fumbles with the facts as he always does on Venezuela. He now states: “President Hugo Chavez….said Saturday he would ‘withdraw’ a decree overhauling intelligence policies that he had made earlier that week.” He called it “a rare act of self-criticism” while hammering on the “capture” issue and filling paragraphs with inaccuracies.

Even Al Jazeera got it wrong on intelligence law changes. It headlined: “Chavez revokes controversial law.” Near the end of its report, however, it acknowledged that Chavez promised to “rewrite the law (after) listening to the criticism.”

AFP also misreported by stating “Hugo Chavez on Saturday revoked a law he decreed last month creating four spy agencies and a Cuban-style national informants’ network, saying the measure contained errors.” Errors – yes, revocation – no, revisions – coming before the new law is implemented.

For its part, AP was more accurate but barely in its headline stating: “Chavez backtracks on Venezuela spy law.” The report’s lead does say: “President Hugo Chavez said….that his government will rewrite a new intelligence law to calm fears….that (it) could be used to stifle dissent.”

BBC was more accurate than usual in its headline: “Chavez agrees to change ‘spy’ law.” It continued: “Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said he will amend a controversial new law that would have required people to co-operate with intelligence agencies.” BBC’s report was mostly critical, but it ended on a high note with an accurate Chavez quote that “No one will be forced to say anything (to authorities) they don’t want to.”

For his part, Romero wasn’t as gracious. He stressed how Chavez is “Reeling from the defeat of a constitutional reform in December (and) is facing multiple challenges as a reinvigorated opposition fields candidates in (November’s) regional elections and Venezuela’s economic growth slows despite record oil prices.” Slower growth – yes, still impressive – very much so. Where does Romero acknowledge this – nowhere.

He and others in the dominant media never miss a chance to misreport on Venezuela and attack its model democracy. Try imagining George Bush admit an error and promise to fix it. Try imagine George Bush promise anything except continued war and maybe more of it. Try imagine if America had a leader like Hugo Chavez. Try imagine if Romero & Co. might imagine it.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at

Also visit his blog site at and listen to The Global Research News Hour on Mondays from 11AM – 1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. All programs are archived for easy listening.

© Copyright Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2008

The url address of this article is:

Countdown: Out Of Gas + Fox Slime + McCain Caught Lying + McClellan To Testify + Moyers

Dandelion Salad



Out Of Gas/Economy Stupid

With gas over 4.00 a gal., McCain and his oil buddy’s Bush and Darth Dick started out at 1.47 a Gal. and now over 4.00 a gal.

Fox Slime’s Obama Again

The Phony Fox News Tramp E.D. Hill continues to slime Obama and She looks real Stupid doing It.

McCain Caught Lying On Tape

McCbush gets caught lying to the media on tape. McSenial is really senial.

Scott McClellan To Testify To Congress

Scott will testify to congress on June 20th 2008 about the Bush Admin.

[Moyers goes after Fox Reporter/Ambusher]


The Video Bill O’Reilly Doesn’t Want You To See!


McClellan to testify before House in CIA leak case

Bill Moyers Takes on Fox News Producer

Bill Moyers Takes on Fox News Producer

Dandelion Salad

Democracy Now!
June 9, 2008

Broadcast Legend Bill Moyers on Media Reform: “Democracy Only Works When Ordinary People Claim It as Their Own”

More than 3,500 people gathered in Minneapolis this weekend for the fourth annual National Conference for Media Reform, organized by the group Free Press. The thousands of participants took part in panel discussions and strategized on efforts to fight media consolidation and democratize the airwaves. We play the electrifying keynote address by legendary journalist Bill Moyers.

Real Video Stream

Real Audio Stream

MP3 Download



Bill Moyers Takes on Fox News Producer Sent by Bill O’Reilly to Media Reform Conference

Before the National Conference for Media Reform began, Bill O’Reilly of Fox News attacked it on the air as a gathering of “crazy” people. O’Reilly also sent a producer to confront Moyers in what became an animated confrontation.

Real Video Stream

Real Audio Stream

MP3 Download



Bill Moyers addresses NCMR 2008 (must see)

Kucinich introduces Bush impeachment resolution + videos + transcript

Dandelion Salad

Updated: June 10, 2008 Here’s the transcript:, h/t and thanks to Tarotlayd.. and After Downing Street for the link. It’s 65 pages long! And here’s the html version: transcript thanks to erisian. ~ Lo

Continued on Kucinich introduces articles of Impeachment (continued; video; list of articles)

by Sabrina Eaton
June 09, 2008 19:35PM

Cleveland Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich took to the House of Representatives floor on Monday evening to introduce a 35-count resolution to impeach President George W. Bush.

Kucinich claimed Bush “fraudulently” justified the war on Iraq and misled “the American people and members of Congress to believe Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction so as to manufacture a false case for war.”

“President George W. Bush, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office,” Kucinich said.

Kucinich said in January that he planned to launch an impeachment effort against Bush, but delayed his effort after meeting with members of the House Judiciary Committee. The Judiciary Commitee hasn’t acted on a bid Kucinich launched last year to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney.

h/t: CLG


Entire playlist of Articles of Impeachment


Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Kucinich presents Bush impeachment ar…“, posted with vodpod

Kucinich presents Bush impeachment articles part 2


Kucinich Impeach Art. 28: Tampering w/ Free & Fair Elections

Kucinich Impeachment Article 29: Violation Voting Rights Act

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.


Ralph Nader: Impeach Bush & Cheney!

Dennis Kucinich Documents Grounds for Impeachment of Bush & Cheney (4 hours)

Kucinich introduces articles of Impeachment (continued; video; list of articles)

A Few Minutes With: A Man On A Mission To Impeach + Fasting for Impeachment

Impeachment Poll on MSNBC

McClellan to testify before House in CIA leak case

Dandelion Salad

Tuesday June 10, 4:58 AM


h/t: CLG

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.

Countdown to the end of Bush-Cheney regime: War with Iran: What Could Happen If … ?

Dandelion Salad

by Muriel Mirak-Weissbach
Global Research, June 8, 2008

If war is averted, hopefully a Democratic President may enter the White House, then, who knows? Dialogue with Iran?

As the countdown to the end of the hated Bush-Cheney regime proceeds, calls for the U.S. and/or Israel to take military action against Iran, have been multiplying almost in inverse proportion. At the same time, the Islamic Republic has redoubled its efforts to thwart such aggression, in a two-pronged maneuver. On the one hand, the government, and the new leadership in the Majlis (parliament) under Ali Larijani, have reiterated Tehran’s rejection of blackmail regarding the country’s nuclear program; on the other, Iran has launched a campaign to engage its leading international interlocutors in discussion of concrete cooperation aimed at defusing, if not solving, major strategic crisis situations. The recent solution to the prolonged Lebanon crisis is but the most eloquent example of what could and can be achieved in pursuing peace in many crises plaguing the region, {if} Tehran’s role and contribution were accepted.

That the war party is still committed to an attack against Iran, is no secret, and continues to be an item discussed daily in anti-war websites. Writing in Asia Times on May 27 ( and picked up by, Muhammed Cohen revealed that there were plans for the Bush cabal to attack Iran by August. His “informed source” told him, that two members of the U.S. Senate, Sen. Diane Feinstein of California and Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, informed of the plans, had intended to go public, but that their op-ed piece slated for the New York Times, had been blocked. The source, identified as “a retired U.S. career diplomat and former assistant secretary of state still active in the foreign affairs community,” as well as an ambassador under the reign of Bush senior, told him there was a plan to launch air strikes against the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Qods force headquarters. Neo-con Daniel Pipes added his two cents, saying that if Barack Obama were elected in November, then President George W. Bush would wage war on Iran before leaving office.

In parallel, the issue of what to do about “unruly” Iran has been placed high on the agenda of the unofficial presidential contenders from the two major U.S. parties. John McCain, who apparently cannot function psychologically without deference to his de facto alter ego, George W. Bush, has assailed the presumed Democratic Party contender Barack Obama for his declared willingness to sit down and talk with Iran’s leadership. Obama, for his part, not only qualified and requalified his openness to dialogue with Tehran, but focussed on Iran as a strategic threat to Israel — and therefore — the U.S., in a most unfortunate speech to AIPAC on June 4. One might argue, and with reason, that no speaker at AIPAC dare say anything that might conflict with the agenda of anti-Iran Zionist forces in Israel, but Obama did not need to go so far. Not only, but Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, taking the podium at AIPAC a day later, lashed out at Iran, and demanded that Bush take appropriate measures. Olmert proceeded then to hold talks with lame-duck President Bush, in hopes of convincing him that the time were ripe for an Iran war. Israeli Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz, who is a former army chief and defence minister, was explicit: “If Iran continues with its program for developing nuclear weapons, we will attack it,” he said in discussion with Yediot Ahronoth on June 6. “Attacking Iran, in order to stop its nuclear plans, will be unavoidable.”

The option of an Israeli strike against Iran has been discussed at length, also on this website. What was quite unusual was that someone like Joschka Fischer, former foreign minister of Germany, would publicly warn against such an event. Fischer, whose chequered political career in the 1960s-1970s, rendered him, so to speak, a not-totally sovereign, independent player, was expected, as foreign minister, to make certain gestures to Israel, which he punctually did when in office. Now, however, the old ’68er, of all people, comes out with a bloodcurdling forecast, featured in Lebanon’s Daily Star May 30, and carried by Global Research June 1, entitled, “As things look, Israel may well attack Iran soon.”

Iran’s Global Proposal

What might Iran do, to prevent such an attack, be it from Washington or Tel Aviv? As reported on this website(, Iran has been pursuing a global war-avoidance strategy based on forging ties with nations throughout Eurasia, beginning with Russia, China and India, and extending through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which it hopes to join as a full member. Iran’s Eurasian policy is based on economic cooperation, especially in transportation and energy infrastructure, as well as security agreements. The same applies to its policy in the Persian Gulf.

The Islamic Republic announced last month that it had issued a proposal for solving the major problems in the world, through discussion and cooperation. The proposal, which has since been made public, has received nowhere near the attention it deserves. The document, entitled “The Islamic Republic of Iran’s Proposed Package for Constructive Negotiations,” was first presented to the Russians, then to the Chinese, the United Nations, EU, and so on. It starts from the premise that respect for justice, sovereignty, peace, democracy and different cultures, must be stressed, and proceeds to list areas of possible cooperation, such as “security issues, regional and international developments, nuclear energy, terrorism, democracy, etc.” Iran proposes negotiations on these and other issues (drugs, the environment, economic, technological and other cooperation, especially energy), in which “the main objective of the Islamic Republic of Iran is to reach a comprehensive agreement, one that is based on collective goodwill — that will help to establish long-term cooperation between the parties, and will contribute to the sustainability and strength of regional and international security and a just peace.”

Iran says it is ready to start negotiations on the following issues: protecting the “rights and dignity of [the] human being and respect for the culture of other nations”; and, advancing democracy regionally and worldwide in the context of respect for the rights of nations and national sovereignty. Here, the document makes specific reference to the possibility of solving certain burning regional issues. Such cooperation, it says, may occur in various regions, “most specifically in the Middle East, the Balkans, Africa and Latin America. Cooperation to assist the Palestinian people to find a comprehensive plan — one that is sustainable, democratic and fair — to resolve the 60-year old Palestinian issue can become a symbol of such cooperation.” Common efforts against various security threats, like terrorism, drugs, organized crime, etc. are also solicited.

Regarding economic issues, the proposal stresses cooperation on energy, trade and investment, fighting poverty, and — most intriguing — “Reducing the impact of sharp price fluctuations and retooling global monetary and financial arrangements to benefit the nations of the world.”

The final paragraph deals extensively with the nuclear issue per se, in which Iran reiterates its commitment to the IAEA and NPT, and calls for “Establishing enrichment and nuclear fuel production consortiums in different parts of the world – including Iran.”

Russia’s Interested Response

This proposal has been pooh-poohed as mere rhetoric or “nothing new,” and has been essentially ignored. But it contains several extremely important ideas which deserve attention. Moscow, for one, has taken note. First, regarding the nuclear issue, Iran agrees here to the Russian proposal for international enrichment centers, for example in Russia, but repeats that it wants one in Iran as well. Secondly, the document raises suggestions for international cooperation to deal with the financial, monetary and economic crises that are ravaging the world. Finally, Iran proposes intervening directing to solve — not exacerbate — regional crises in the Middle East.

Regarding the nuclear issue, it is not coincidental perhaps that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin stated unequivocally in an interview to Le Monde on May 31, that he did {not} believe Iran were pursuing a weapons progam. “I don’t think the Iranians are looking to make a nuclear bomb,” he said. “We have no reason to believe this.” He went on: “I should say that formally Iran hasn’t violated any rules. It even has the right to carry out enrichment…. I repeat there is no official basis for legal claims against Iran.” Putin elaborated Russia’s total rejection of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and explained his country’s enrichment idea. “We offered an international program of enrichment, because Iran is only part of the problem. A lot of countries are on the threshold of the peaceful use of nuclear energy. And this means that they will need enrichment technology. And if they create their own closed cycle to solve the problem, there will always be the suspicion that they could produce military grade uranium. It is difficult to control. That is why we propose carrying out the enrichment on the territory of those countries which are beyond suspicion because they already possess nuclear weapons,” (i.e. Russia.) In short, Russia still has hesitations regarding enrichment facilities on Iranian soil, but the discussion process is ongoing, and that is what is important.

As for the financial and monetary crises, it is quite unusual for Iran to address them in these terms. Here, the Iranian government, in talking about “retooling global monetary and financial arrangements to benefit the nations of the world,” is implicitly saying the current dollar-based system is collapsing and needs to be replaced. Russia’s new President Dmitry Medvedyev made the same point on June 7, in an address to the opening session of the 12th St. Petersburg Economic Forum

( ).

Medvedyev stated: “Russia’s role on global economic and raw markets enables us to take an active part in the discussions of ways of concrete settlement of the above mentioned problems [problems on the world financial and raw materials markets].” According to a German radio report (Deutschlandfunk) on June 7, he said he did not believe that the U.S. could handle the crisis alone. ITAR-TASS reported that he proposed Russia as a site for such discussions, concretely that it organize an international conference this year with finance experts and scientists. He also suggested Moscow become “a powerful world financial center” and that the ruble become “one of the leading regional reserve currencies.” ITAR-TASS headlined its coverage of the speech, “Medvedyev calls to reform global financial architecture.”

Putting Out Regional Fires: Lebanon

The third area addressed in Iran’s proposal, the settlement of regional crises, is potentially the most explosive, because it touches on what the Islamic Republic could contribute positively, were it allowed to. The case in point is the recent solution to the Lebanon crisis. After 19 unsuccessful attempts to convene Parliament to elect a new president, a U.S.-backed provocation by the Siniora government, led to the firing of a pro-Hezbollah security chief at Beirut airport, and the attempt to dismantle Hezbollah’s communications system. The outbreak of armed hostility between the opposition and government circles, raised the spectre of a new civil war, and Hezbollah’s takeover of part of the capital indicated that the correlation of forces would not favor the government. Then came the breakthrough in Doha, Qatar, where a large gathering of Lebanese political factions came to agreement on a political solution, to elect Gen. Michael Suleiman, and share power.

The details of the Lebanese deal are well known. What is less well known, is the role played by Iran. Significantly, the first foreign guest to be received by President Suleiman was Iranian Foreign Minister Mottaki. Both he and Parliament speaker Nabih Berri were quoted expressing gratitude to Iran for its “help” in solving the crisis. Hezbollah leader Seyyed Hassan Nasrullah, in a remarkable address on May 26 (, June 1), thanked Iran, Syria, the Qataris and the Arab League for supporting this “victory for Lebanon itself.”

According to well-informed Iranian sources, the renewed Lebanese hostilities alarmed both Damascus and Tehran, forcing them to act. Iran approached the Saudis, suggesting that they convene a gathering of the Lebanese factions, which Riyadh rejected. Qatar at that point picked up the proposal and moved on it. Iran pledged its support to organize the meeting, and to use its influence on those Lebanese forces allied to it. One Arab diplomatic source with good contacts to the U.S., noted that whatever the Qataris would do, must have been okayed — or at least not sabotaged — by some circles in Washington. If this reading is accurate, it has immense implications: to wit, that, were there to be a cessation of hostilities between the U.S. and Iran, then indeed the major crises threatening peace in the region, could be settled.


The next immediate theatre of confrontation appears to be Gaza, where the Olmert government is threatening a new military incursion. In this context, the reports that Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas has proposed talks with Hamas, and that Hamas leader Ismail Hanniyeh has welcomed the idea, may also indicate some behind-the-scenes activities by Iran. It may or may not be coincidental that Ali Larijani, newly elected speaker of the Majlis (Parliament) spoke to Hanniyeh on June 2. At any rate, Reuters ran an unconfirmed report on June 7 ( that delegations of the two sides were in Dakar, for talks with Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade to reach a common position vis a vis Israel. Wade’s spokesman said, “The first phase is an interPalestinian phase” to be followed by negotiations planned in seven stages.

The Iranian global proposal contains a crucial reference to the Palestinian crisis, suggesting cooperation on a “comprehensive plan” that is “sustainable, democratic and fair.” This means — notwithstanding continuing rhetorical statements by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, — that, were there to be an agreement struck between the Palestinians (i.e. Fatah and Hamas together) and Israel, then Tehran would not object. This was the official position of the Iranian government under former President Mohammad Khatami, and is implicit in the new package proposal.


The other leading crisis to be dealt with is, of course, Iraq. Although the fourth round of tripartite talks, among Iraq, Iran and the U.S., has been put on ice for the time being, an exchange of views among the three is being aired indirectly in the press. The subject is the U.S.’s demand that Baghdad sign a Status of Forces Agreement (SFA) by July 31, and that Parliament ratify it well in advance of the expiration of the U.N. mandate, at year’s end.

There is {no way} that this deal is going to go through. It will not be due to Iran’s opposition (which has been made explicit by Parliament speaker Ali Larijani as well as former President Hashemi Rafsanjani), but to an organic political process inside Iraq, shaped by consciousness of the region’s colonial past. Although no details have been made public by an obviously defensive and jittery U.S., leaks indicate that the deal would foresee permanent U.S. bases (numbering from 9 to 50, depending on the source), immunity for U.S. military as well as private contractors, the right to detain Iraqis and conduct military operations, and a de facto continuation of occupation, — perhaps for what John McCain has said could last 100 years.

Moqtadar al-Sadr’s faction was the first to take to the streets on May 30 to protest the deal, and he vows to continue mass demonstrations every Friday until the draft has been scrapped. Mainstream Shi’ite parties, like the government coalition member United Iraqi Alliance under Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, have turned thumbs down on the idea, and the major Sunni parties and organizations, like the Association of Muslim Scholars and the National Accordance Front, have followed suit.

But far more important, is the intervention made by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the highest religious authority for all Shi’ites, currently based in Najaf, in Iraq. Al-Sistani said, essentially, that such a deal with the U.S. could occur only over his dead body. PressTV reported on May 24 that the Grand Ayatollah, in a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on May 22, had said he would not allow such an accord to be signed with “the U.S. occupiers” as long as he was alive. The same news outlet reported on June 5, that Ayatollah al-Sistani had set clear conditions for any agreement: as al-Hakim stated in a press conference following his meeting with the Grand Ayatollah, “The cleric stressed that any long-term pact in Iraq should should maintain four key terms including safeguarding Iraqis’ interests, national sovereignty, national consensus and being presented to the Iraqi parliament for approval.” He added that the current draft violates Iraqi sovereignty and does not remove it from the U.N. Charter’s Chapter 7; nor does it safeguard Iraq’s natural wealth. Although, as al-Hakim said, the leading cleric only set the parameters, leaving details up to the government, it is clear that al-Sistani is the supreme authority, and his stance is decisive. It was al-Sistani who had forced the U.S. to accept a referendum on the constitution, as well as elections. He supported elections on grounds that only an elected government could end the occupation. His foremost concern remains ending the occupation. Any fatwa issued by al-Sistani, including a call to armed resistance against the occupiers, would be followed by Shi’ites everywhere without question.

As one regional expert put it to this author, the very idea of permanent occupation is repugnant, as it revives memories of the hated “capitulations” imposed by colonial powers, which guaranteed immunity to their lackeys. Such capitulations were imposed on Iran under the Shah in 1964, which led to organized protest under Ayatollah Khomeini, and his subsequent expulsion, followed by his organizing revolutionary forces from exile. One source mooted that, were such capitulations imposed on Iraq today, this could lead to actual revolution in Iraq over the next 5 years or so. Iraq has already experienced revolution against British-backed governments.

This specific matter of the SFA can be resolved only through strictly bilateral discussions between Washington and Baghdad, if there is to be any credibility given to Iraqi “sovereignty.” Considering the depth and breadth of the opposition to new colonial-style capitulations, it is to be expected that no Iraqi government could acquiesce. Agreement would be tantamount to a suicide note. At that point, when the U.S. deal were defeated, the issue would be redefined: since the Bush administration’s fantasies of permanent occupation will be rejected, how could an orderly withdrawal of U.S. and remaining occupation troops be organized, to ensure their safe withdrawal as well as security for a newly independent, sovereign Iraq? In this context, yes, Iran could and should become an interlocutor, alongside other neighboring states. If the U.S. elections in November bring a Democrat into the White House, and if that new President makes good on his campaign pledges to withdraw from Iraq, and to hold rational discussions with Iraq’s neighbors (i.e. including Syria and Iran) on how to guarantee stability and security in the war-torn nation, then anything and everything is possible.

Questions in Washington

The U.S. election campaign to date has been an unprecedented battle, and a serious discussion of its internal workings go far beyond the scope of this article. But a few things may be said. First, both contenders for the Democratic Party nomination, Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama, have gone on record pledging their commitment to end the war, and withdraw U.S. troops, within relatively similar timeframes. Republican John McCain, on the other hand, has opted for permanent occupation. Whoever the final candidate voted at the Democratic Party convention in August may be, the consensus among the voters, both those who backed Hillary and those who backed Obama, is for a speedy end to the Iraq war.

Parallel to these party political developments, there have been a number of important events indicating that circles opposed to the Cheney-Bush war party, are mobilizing to prevent an “October surprise” attack on Iran. For one, Zbigniew Brzezinski co-authored an OpEd in the Washington Post on May 27 with William Odom, saying essentially that, since current policy had led nowhere, one had to reassess and redefine U.S. policy to Iran. Denouncing the “widely propagated notion of a suicidal Iran detonating its very first nuclear weapon against Israel” as “more the product of paranoia or demagogy than of serious strategic calculus,” the authors call for a diplomatic approach that “could help bring Iran back into its traditional role of strategic cooperation with the United States in stabilizing the Gulf region.” At the same time, it was made known that Defense Secretary Robert Gates fired two leading figures in the Air Force, allegedly in connection with that branch’s security failures regarding nuclear materials. Informed sources in Washington have mooted that Gates’s action -– taken months after the cited incident -– had less to do with that, than with plans for a U.S. aggression against Iran, an attack which the Air Force, would be deployed to execute. Gates is known to favor diplomacy over aggression.

In short, even if Bush, Cheney and their Israeli friends are huffing and puffing for war on Iran, influential political and military circles in the U.S. are moving to prevent it. If war can be averted until a new, hopefully Democratic President may enter the White House, then, who knows? Dialogue with Iran might even come back on the agenda.

The author can be reached at

© Copyright Muriel Mirak-Weissbach, Global Research, 2008

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Bush “Plans Iran Air Strike by August”


Separatism and Empire Building in the 21st Century by Prof. James Petras

Dandelion Salad

by Prof. James Petras
Global Research, June 8, 2008

Introduction: The Historical Context

Throughout modern imperial history, ‘Divide and Conquer’ has been the essential ingredient in allowing relatively small and resource-poor European countries to conquer nations vastly larger in size and populations and richer in natural resources. It is said that for every British officer in India, there were fifty Sikhs, Gurkhas, Muslims and Hindus in the British Colonial Army. The European conquest of Africa and Asia was directed by white officers, fought by black, brown and yellow soldiers so that white capital could exploit colored workers and peasants. Regional, ethnic, religious, clan, tribal, community, village and other differences were politicized and exploited allowing imperial armies to conquer warring peoples. In recent decades, the US empire builders have become the grand masters of ‘divide and conquer’ strategies throughout the world. By the 1970’s, the CIA made a turn from promoting the dubious virtues of capitalism and democracy, to linking up with, financing and directing, religious, ethnic and regional elites against national regimes, independent or hostile to US world empire building.

The key to US military empire building follows two principles: direct military invasions and fomenting separatist movements, which can lead to military confrontation.

Twenty-first century empire building has seen the extended practice of both principles in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Lebanon, China (Tibet), Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Somalia, Sudan, Burma and Palestine – any country in which the US cannot secure a stable client regime, it resorts to financing and promoting separatist organizations and leaders using ethnic, religious and regional pretexts.

Consistent with traditional empire building principles, Washington only supports separatists in countries that refuse to submit to imperial domination and opposes separatists who resist the empire and its allies. In other words, imperial ideologues are neither ‘hypocrites’ nor resort to ‘double standards’ (as they are accused by liberal critics) – they publicly uphold the ‘Empire first’ principle as their defining criteria for evaluating separatist movements and granting or denying support. In contrast, many seemingly progressive critics of empire make universal statements in favor of the ‘right to self-determination’ and even extend it to the most rancid, reactionary, imperial-sponsored ‘separatist groups’ with catastrophic results. Independent nations and their people, who oppose US-backed separatists, are bombed to oblivion and charged with ‘war crimes’. People, who oppose the separatists and who reside in the ‘new state’, are killed or driven into exile. The ‘liberated people’ suffer from the tyranny and impoverishment induced by the US-backed separatists and many are forced to immigrate to other countries for economic survival.

Few if any of the progressive critics of the USSR and supporters of the separatist republics have ever publicly expressed second thoughts, let alone engaged in self-critical reflections, even in the face of decades long socio-economic and political catastrophes in the secessionist states. Yet it was and is the case that these self-same progressives today, who continue to preach high moral principles to those who question and reject some separatist movements because they originate and grow out of efforts to extend the US empire.

Washington ’s success in co-opting so-called progressive liberals in support of separatist movements soon to be new imperial clients in recent decades is long and the consequences for human rights are ugly.

Most European and US progressives supported the following:

1. US-backed Bosnian fundamentalists, Croatian neo-fascists and Kosova-Albanian terrorists, leading to ethnic cleansing and the conversion of their once sovereign states into US military bases, client regimes and economic basket cases – totally destroying the multinational Yugoslavian welfare state.

2. The US funded and armed overseas Afghan Islamic fundamentalists who destroyed a secular, reformist, gender-equal Afghan regime, carrying out vast anti-feudal campaigns involving both men and women, a comprehensive agrarian reform and constructing extensive health and educational programs. As a result of US-Islamic tribal military successes, millions were killed, displaced and dispossessed and fanatical medieval anti-Communist tribal warlords destroyed the unity of the country.

3. The US invasion destroyed Iraq ’s modern, secular, nationalist state and advanced socio-economic system. During the occupation, US backing of rival religious, tribal, clan and ethnic separatist movements and regimes led to the expulsion of over 90% of its modern scientific and professional class and the killing of over 1 million Iraqis…all in the name of ousting a repressive regime and above all in destroying a state opposed to Israeli oppression of Palestinians.

Clearly US military intervention promotes separatism as a means of establishing a regional ‘base of support’. Separatism facilitates setting up a minority puppet regime and works to counter neighboring countries opposed to the depredations of empire. In the case of Iraq, US-backed Kurdish separatism preceded the imperial campaign to isolate an adversary, create international coalitions to pressure and weaken the central government. Washington highlights regime atrocities as human rights cases to feed global propaganda campaigns. More recently this is evident in the US-financed ‘Tibetan’ theocratic protests at China.

Separatists are backed as potential terrorist shock troops in attacking strategic economic sectors and providing real or fabricated ‘intelligence’ as is the case in Iran among the Kurds and other ethnic minority groups.

Why Separatism?

Empire builders do not always resort to separatist groups, especially when they have clients at the national levels in control of the state. It is only when their power is limited to groups, territorially or ethnically concentrated, that the intelligence operatives resort to and promote ‘separatist’ movements. US backed separatist movements follow a step-by-step process, beginning with calls for ‘greater autonomy’ and ‘decentralization’, essentially tactical moves to gain a local political power base, accumulate economic revenues, repress anti-separatist groups and local ethnic/religious, political minorities with ties to the central government (as in the oppression of the Christian communities in northern Iraq repressed by the Kurdish separatists for their long ties with the Central Baath Party or the Roma of Kosova expelled and killed by the Kosova Albanians because of their support of the Yugoslav federal system). The attempt to forcibly usurp local resources and the ousting of local allies of the central government results in confrontations and conflict with the legitimate power of the central government. It is at this point that external (imperial) support is crucial in mobilizing the mass media to denounce repression of ‘peaceful national movements’ merely ‘exercising their right to self-determination’. Once the imperial mass media propaganda machine touches the noble rhetoric of ‘self-determination’ and ‘autonomy’, ‘decentralization’ and ‘home rule’, the great majority of US and European funded NGO’s jump on board, selectively attacking the government’s effort to maintain a stable unified nation-state. In the name of ‘diversity’ and a ‘pluri-ethnic state’, the Western-bankrolled NGO’s provide a moralist ideological cover to the pro-imperialist separatists. When the separatists succeed and murder and ethnically cleanse the ethnic and religious minorities linked to the former central state, the NGO’s are remarkably silent or even complicit in justifying the massacres as ‘understandable over-reaction to previous repression’. The propaganda machine of the West, even gloats over the separatist state expulsion of hundreds of thousands of ethnic minorities – as in the case of the Serbs and Roma from Kosova and the Krijina region of Croatia…with headlines blasting – “Serbs on the Run: Serves Them Right!’ followed by photos of NATO troops overseeing the ‘transfer’ of destitute families from their ancestral villages and towns to squalid camps in a bombed out Serbia. And the triumphant Western politicians mouthing pieties at the massacres of Serb civilians by the KLA, as when former German Foreign Minister “Joschka” Fischer (Green Party) mourned, “I understand your (the KLA’s) pain, but you shouldn’t throw grenades at (ethnic Serb) school children.”

The shift from ‘autonomy’ within a federal state to an ‘independent state’ is based on the aid channeled and administered by the imperial state to the ‘autonomous region’, thus strengthening its ‘de facto’ existence as a separate state. This has clearly occurred in the Kurdish run northern Iraq ‘no fly zone’ and now ‘autonomous region’ from 1991 to the present.

The same principle of self-determination demanded by the US and its separatist client is denied to ‘minorities’ within the realm. Instead, the US propaganda media refer to them as ‘agents’ or ‘trojan horses’ of the central government.

Strengthened by imperial ‘foreign aid’, and business links with US and EU MNCs, backed by local para-military and quasi-military police forces (as well as organized criminal gangs), the autonomous regime declares its ‘independence’. Shortly thereafter it is recognized by its imperial patrons. After ‘independence’, the separatist regime grants territorial concessions and building sites for US military bases. Investment privileges are granted to the imperial patron, severely compromising ‘national’ sovereignty.

The army of local and international NGO’s rarely raise any objections to this process of incorporating the separatist entity into the empire, even when the ‘liberated’ people object. In most cases the degree of ‘local governance’ and freedom of action of the ‘independent’ regime is less than it was when it was an autonomous or federal region in the previous unified nationalist state.

Not infrequently ‘separatist’ regimes are part of irredentist movements linked to counterparts in other states. When cross national irredentist movements challenge neighboring states which are also targets of the US empire builders, they serve as launching pads for US low intensity military assaults and Special Forces terrorist activities.

For example, almost all of the Kurdish separatist organizations draw a map of ‘Greater Kurdistan’ which covers a third of Southeastern Turkey, Northern Iraq, a quarter of Iran, parts of Syria and wherever else they can find a Kurdish enclave. US commandos operate along side Kurdish separatists terrorizing Iranian villages (in the name of self-determination; Kurds with powerful US military backing have seized and govern Northern Iraq and provide mercenary Peshmerga troops to massacre Iraqi Arab civilian in cities and towns resisting the US occupation in Central, Western and Southern regions. They have engaged in the forced displacement of non-Kurds (including Arabs, Chaldean Christians, Turkman and others) from so-called Iraqi Kurdistan and the confiscation of their homes, businesses and farms. US-backed Kurdish separatists have created conflicts with the neighboring Turkish government, as Washington tries to retain its Kurdish clients for their utility in Iraq, Iran and Syria without alienating its strategic NATO client, Turkey. Nevertheless Turkish-Kurdish separatist activists in the PKK have lauded the US for, what they term, ‘progressive colonialism’ in effectively dismembering Iraq and forming the basis for a Kurdish state.

The US decision to collaborate with the Turkish military, or at least tolerate its military attacks on certain sectors of the Iraq-based Kurdish separatists, the PKK, is part of its global policy of prioritizing strategic imperial alliances and allies over and against any separatist movement which threatens them. Hence, while the US supports the Kosova separatists against Serbia, it opposes the separatists in Abkhazia fighting against its client in the Republic of Georgia. While the US supported Chechen separatist against the Moscow government, it opposes Basque and Catalan separatists in their struggle against Washington ’s NATO ally, Spain. While Washington has been bankrolling the Bolivian separatists headed by the oligarchs of Santa Cruz against the central government in La Paz, it supports the Chilean government’s repression of the Mapuche Indian claims to land and resources in south-central Chile.

Clearly ‘self-determination’ and ‘independence’ are not the universal defining principle in US foreign policy, nor has it ever been, as witness the US wars against Indian nations, secessionist southern slaveholders and yearly invasions of independent Latin American, Asian and African states. What guides US policy is the question of whether a separatist movement, its leaders and program furthers empire building or not? The inverse question however is infrequently raised by so-called progressives, leftists or self-described anti-imperialists: Does the separatist or independence movement weaken the empire and strengthen anti-imperialist forces or not? If we accept that the over-riding issue is defeating the multi-million killing machine called US imperialism, then it is legitimate to evaluate and support, as well as reject, some independence movements and not others. There is nothing ‘hypocritical’ or ‘inconvenient’ in raising higher principles in making these political choices. Clearly Hitler justified the invasion of Czechoslovakia in the name of defending Sudetenland separatists; just like a series of US Presidents have justified the partition of Iraq in the name of defending the Kurds, or Sunnis or Shia or whatever tribal leaders lend themselves to US empire building.

What defines anti-imperialist politics is not abstract principles about ‘self-determination’ but defining exactly who is the ‘self’ – in other words, what political forces linked to what international power configuration are making what political claim for what political purpose. If, as in Bolivia today, a rightwing racist, agro-business oligarchy seizes control of the most fertile and energy rich region, containing 75% of the country’s natural resources, in the name of ‘self-determination’ and autonomy, expelling and brutalizing impoverished Indians in the process – on what basis can the left or anti-imperialist movement oppose it, if not because the class, race and national content of that claim is antithetical to an even more important principle – popular sovereignty based on the democratic principles of majority rule and equal access to public wealth?

Separatism in Latin America: Bolivia, Venezuela and Ecuador

In recent years the US backed candidates have won and lost national election in Latin America. Clearly the US has retained hegemony over the governing elites in Mexico, Colombia, Central America, Peru, Chile, Uruguay and some of the Caribbean island states. In states where the electorate has backed opponents of US dominance, such as Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua, Washington ’s influence is dependent on regional, provincial and locally elected officials. It is premature to state, as the Council for Foreign Relations claims, that ‘ US hegemony in Latin America is a thing of the past.’ One only has to read the economic and political record of the close and growing military and economic ties between Washington and the Calderon regime in Mexico, the Garcia regime in Peru, Bachelet in Chile and Uribe in Colombia to register the fact that US hegemony still prevails in important regions of Latin America. If we look beyond the national governmental level, even in the non-hegemonized states, US influence still is a potent factor shaping the political behavior of powerful right-wing business, financial and regional political elites in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Argentina. By the end of May 2008, US backed regionalist movements were on the offensive, establishing a de facto secessionist regime in Santa Cruz in Bolivia. In Argentina, the agro-business elite has organized a successful nationwide production and distribution lockout, backed by the big industrial, financial and commercial confederations, against an export tax promoted by the ‘center-left’ Kirchner government. In Colombia, the US is negotiating with the paramilitary President Uribe over the site of a military base on the frontier with Venezuela’s oil rich state of Zulia, which happens to be ruled by the only anti-Chavez governor in power, a strong promoter of ‘autonomy’ or secession. In Ecuador, the Mayor of Guayaquil, backed by the right wing mass media and the discredited traditional political parties have proposed ‘autonomy’ from the central government of President Rafael Correa. The process of imperial driven nation dismemberment is very uneven because of the different degrees of political power relations between the central government and the regional secessionists. The right wing secessionists in Bolivia have advanced the furthest – actually organizing and winning a referendum and declaring themselves an independent governing unit with the power to collect taxes, formulate foreign economic policy and create its own police force.

The success of the Santa Cruz secessionist is due to the political incapacity and total incompetence of the Evo Morales-Garcia Linera regime which promoted ‘autonomy’ for the scores of impoverished Indian ‘nations’ (or indianismo) and ended up laying the groundwork for the white racist oligarchs to seize the opportunity to establish their own ‘separatist’ power base. As the separatist gained control over the local population, they intimidated the ‘indians’ and trade union supporters of the Morales regime, violently sabotaged the constitutional assembly, rejected the constitution, while constantly extracting concession for the flaccid and conciliatory central government of the Evo Morales. While the separatists trashed the constitution and used their control over the major means of production and exports to recruit five other provinces, forming a geographic arc of six provinces, and influence in two others in their drive to degrade the national government. The Morales-Garcia Linera ‘indianista’ regime, largely made up of mestizos formerly employed in NGOs funded from abroad, never used its formal constitutional power and monopoly of legitimate force to enforce constitutional order and outlaw and prosecute the secessionists’ violation of national integrity and rejection of the democratic order.

Morales never mobilized the country, the majority of popular organizations in civil society, or even called on the military to put down the secessionists. Instead he continued to make impotent appeals for ‘dialog’, for compromises in which his concessions to oligarch self-rule only confirmed their drive for regional power. As a case study of failed governance, in the face of a reactionary separatist threat to the nation, the Morales-Garcia Linera regime represents an abject failure to defend popular sovereignty and the integrity of the nation.

The lessons of failed governance in Bolivia stand as a grim reminder to Chavez in Venezuela and Correa in Ecuador : Unless they act with full force of the constitution to crush the embryonic separatist movements before they gain a power base, they will also face the break-up of their countries. The biggest threat is in Venezuela, where the US and Colombian militaries have built bases on the frontier bordering the Venezuelan state of Zulia, infiltrated commandos and paramilitary forces into the province, and see the takeover of the oil-rich province as a beach-head to deprive the central government of its vital oil revenues and destabilize the central government.

Several years into a Washington-backed and financed separatist movement in Bolivia, a few progressive academics and pundits have taken notice and published critical commentaries. Unfortunately these articles lack any explanatory context, and offer little understanding of how Latin American ‘separatism’ fits into long-term, large-scale US empire building strategy over the past quarter of a century.

Today the US-promoted separatist movements in Latin American are actively being pursued in at least three Latin American counties. In Bolivia, the ‘media luna’ or ‘half-moon’ provinces of Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando and Tarija have successfully convoked provincial ‘referendums’ for ‘autonomy’ – code word for secession. On May 4, 2008 the separatists in Santa Cruz succeeded, securing a voter turnout of nearly 50% and winning 80% of the vote. On May 15, the right-wing big business political elite announced the formation of ministries of foreign trade and internal security, assuming the effective powers of a secession state. The US government led by Ambassador Goldberg, provided financial and political support for the right-wing secessionist ‘civic’ organizations through its $125 million dollar aid programs via AID, its tens of millions of dollar ‘anti-drug’ program, and through the NED (National Endowment for Democracy) funded pro-separatist NGOs. At meetings of the Organization of American States and other regional meetings the US refused to condemn the separatist movements.

Because of the total incompetence and lack of national political leadership of President Evo Morales and his Vice President Garcia Linera, the Bolivian State is splintering into a series of ‘autonomous’ cantons, as several other provincial governments seek to usurp political power and take over economic resources. From the very beginning, the Morales-Garcia regime signed off on a number of political pacts, adopted a whole series of policies and approved a number of concessions to the oligarchic elites in Santa Cruz, which enabled them to effectively re-build their natural political power base, sabotage an elected Constitutional Assembly and effectively undermine the authority of the central government. Right-wing success took less than 2 ½ years, which is especially amazing considering that in 2005, the country witnessed a major popular uprising which ousted a right-wing president, when millions of workers, miners, peasants and Indians dominated the streets. It is a tribute to the absolute misgovernment of the Morales-Garcia regime, that the country could move so quickly and decisively from a state of insurrectionary popular power to a fragmented and divided country in which a separatist agro-financial elite seizes control of 80% of the productive resources of the country…while the elected central government meekly protests.

The success of the secessionist regional ruling class in Bolivia has encouraged similar ‘autonomy movements’ in Ecuador and Venezuela, led by the mayor of Guayaquil ( Ecuador ) and Governor of Zulia ( Venezuela ). In other words, the US-engineered political debacle of the Morales-Garcia regime in Bolivia has led it to team up with oligarchs in Ecuador and Venezuela to repeat the Santa Cruz experience…in a process of “permanent counter-revolutionary separatism.”

Separatism and the Ex-USSR

The defeat of Communism in the USSR had little to do with the ‘arms race bankrupting the system’, as former US National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzyenski has claimed. Up to the end, living standards were relatively stable and welfare programs continued to operate at near optimal levels and scientific and cultural programs retained substantial state expenditures. The ruling elites who replaced the communist system did not respond to US propaganda about the virtues of ‘free markets and democracy’, as Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton claimed: The proof is evident in the political and economic systems, which they imposed upon taking power and which were neither democratic nor based on competitive markets. These new ethnic-based regimes resembled despotic, predatory, nepotistic monarhies handing over (‘privatizing’) the public wealth accumulated over the previous 70 years of collective labor and public investment to a handful of oligarchs and foreign monopolies.

The principle ideological driving force for the current policy of ‘separatism’ is ethnic identity politics, which is fostered and financed by US intelligence and propaganda agencies. Ethnic identity politics, which replaced communism, is based on vertical links between the elite and the masses. The new elites rule through clan-family-religious-gang based nepotism, funded and driven through pillage and privatization of public wealth created under Communism. Once in power, the new political elites ‘privatized’ public wealth into family riches and converted themselves and their cronies into an oligarchic ruling class. In most cases the ethnic ties between elites and subjects dissolved in the face of the decline of living standards, the deep class inequalities, the crooked vote counts and state repression.

In all of the ex-USSR states, the new ruling classes only claim to mass legitimacy was based on appeals to sharing a common ethnic identity. They trotted out medieval and royalist symbols from the remote past, dredging up absolutist monarchs, parasitical religious hierarchies, pre-capitalist war lords, bloody emperors and ‘national’ flags from the days of feudal landlords to forge a common history and identity with the ‘newly liberated’ masses. The repeated appeal to past reactionary symbols was entirely appropriate: The contemporary policies of despotism, pillage and personality cults resonated with past ‘historic’ warriors, feudal lords and practices.

As the new post-USSR despots lost their ethnic luster as a consequence of public disillusion with local and foreign predatory pillage of the national wealth, the leaders resorted to systematic force.

The principle success of the US strategy of promoting separatism was in destroying the USSR – not in promoting viable independent capitalist democracies. Washington succeeded in exacerbating ethnic conflicts between Russians and other nationalities, by encouraging local communist bosses to split from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and to form ‘independent states’ where the new rulers could share the booty of the local treasury with new Western partners. The US de-stabilization efforts in the Communist countries, especially after the 1970’s did not compete over living standards, greater industrial growth or over more generous welfare programs. Rather, Western propaganda focused on ethnic solidarity, the one issue that undercut class solidarity and loyalty to the communist state and ideology and strengthened pro-Western elites, especially among ‘public intellectuals’ and recycled Communist bosses-turned ‘nationalist saviors.’

The key point of Western strategy was to first and foremost break-up the USSR via separatist movements no matter if they were fanatical religious fundamentalists, gangster-politicians, Western-trained liberal economists or ambitious upwardly mobile warlords. All that mattered was that they carried the Western separatist banner of ‘self-determination’. Subsequently, in the ‘post Soviet period’, the new pro-capitalist ruling elites were recruited to NATO and client state status.

Washington ’s post-separatism politics followed a two-step process: In the first phase there was an undifferentiated support for anyone advocating the break-up of the USSR. In the second phase, the US sought to push the most pliable pro-NATO, free market liberals among the lot – the so-called ‘color revolutionaries’, in Georgia and the Ukraine. Separatism was seen as a preliminary step toward an ‘advanced’ stage of re-subordination to the US Empire. The notion of ‘independent states’ is virtually non-existent for US empire builders. At best it exists as a transitional stage from one power constellation to a new US-centered empire.

In the period following the break-up of the USSR, Washington ’s subsequent attempts to recruit the new ruling elites to pro-capitalist, client-status was relatively successful. Some countries opened their economies to unregulated exploitation especially of energy resources. Others offered sites for military bases. In many cases local rulers sought to bargain among world powers while enhancing their own private fortune-through-pillage.

None of the ex-Soviet Republics evolved into secular independent democratic republics capable of recovering the living standards, which their people possessed during the Soviet times. Some rulers became theocratic despots where religious notables and dictators mutually supported each other. Others evolved into ugly family-based dictatorships. None of them retained the Soviet era social safety net or high quality educational systems. All the post-Soviet regimes magnified the social inequalities and multiplied the number of criminal-run enterprises. Violent crime grew geometrically increasing citizen insecurity.

The success of US-induced ‘separatism’ did create, in most cases, enormous opportunities for Western and Asian pillage of raw materials, especially petroleum resources. The experience of ‘newly independent states’ was, at best, a transitory illusion, as the ruling elite either passed directly into the orbit of Western sphere of influence or became a ‘fig leaf’ for deep structural subordination to Western-dominated circuits of commodity exports and finance.

Out of the break-up of the USSR, Western states allied with those republics where it suited their interests. In some cases they signed agreements with rulers to establish military base lining the pockets of a dictator through loans. In other cases they secured privileged access to economic resources by forming joint ventures. In others they simply ignored a poorly endowed regime and let it wallow in misery and despotism.

Separatism: Eastern Europe, Balkans and the Baltic Countries

The most striking aspect of the break-up of the Soviet bloc was the rapidity and thoroughness with which the countries passed from the Warsaw Pact to NATO, from Soviet political rule to US/EU economic control over almost all of their major economic sectors. The conversion from one form of political economic and military subordination to another highlights the transitory nature of political independence, the superficiality of its operational meaning and the spectacular hypocrisy of the new ruling elite who blithely denounced ‘Soviet domination’ while turning over most economic sectors to Western capital, large tracts of territory for NATO bases and providing mercenary military battalions to fight in US imperial wars to a far greater degree than was ever the case during Soviet times.

Separatism in these areas was an ideology to weaken an adversarial hegemonic coalition, all the better to reincorporate its members in a more virulent and aggressive empire building coalition.

Yugoslavia and Kosova: Forced Separatism

The successful breakup of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact alliance encouraged the US and EU to destroy Yugoslavia, the last remaining independent country outside of US-EU control in West Europe. The break-up of Yugoslavia was initiated by Germany following its annexation and demolition of East Germany ’s economy. Subsequently it expanded into the Slovenian and Croatian republics. The US, a relative latecomer in the carving up of the Balkans, targeted Bosnia, Macedonia and Kosova. While Germany expanded via economic conquest, the US, true to its militarist mission, resorted to war in alliance with recognized terrorist Kosova Albanian gangsters organized in the paramilitary KLA. Under the leadership of French Zionist Bernard Kouchner, the NATO forces facilitated the ethnic purging, assassination and disappearances of tens of thousands of Serbs, Roma and dissident non-separatist Kosova Albanians.

The destruction of Yugoslavia is complete: the remaining fractured and battered Serb Republic was now at the mercy of US and its European allies. By 2008 a EU-US backed pro-NATO coalition was elected and the last remnants of ‘ Yugoslavia ’ and its historical legacy of self-managed socialism was obliterated.

Consequences of ‘Separatism’ in USSR.  East Europe and the Balkans

In every region where US sponsored and financed separatism succeeded, living standards plunged, massive pillage of public resources in the name of privatization took place, political corruption reached unprecedented levels. Anywhere between a quarter to a third of the population fled to Western Europe and North America because of hunger, personal insecurity (crime), unemployment and a dubious future.

Politically, gangsterism and extraordinary murder rates drove legitimate businesses to pay exorbitant extorsion payments, as a ‘new class’ of gangsters-turned-businessmen took over the economy and signed dubious investment agreements and joint ventures with EU, US and Asian MNCs.

Energy-rich ex-Soviet countries in south central Asia were ruled by opulent dictators who accumulated billion dollar fortunes in the course of demolishing egalitarian norms, extensive health, and scientific and cultural institutions. Religious institutions gained power over and against scientific and professional associations, reversing educational progress of the previous seventy years. The logic of separatism spread from the republics to the sub-national level as rival local war lords and ethnic chiefs attempted to carve out their ‘autonomous’ entity, leading to bloody wars, new rounds of ethnic purges and new refugees fleeing the contested areas.

The US promises of benefits via ‘separatism’ made to the diverse populations were not in the least fulfilled. At best a small ruling elite and their cronies reaped enormous wealth, power and privilege at the expense of the great majority. Whatever the initial symbolic gratifications, which the underlying population may have experienced from their short-lived independence, new flag and restored religious power was eroded by the grinding poverty and violent internal power struggles that disrupted their lives. The truth of the matter is that millions of people fled from ‘their’ newly ‘independent’ states, preferring to become refugees and second-class citizens in foreign states.


The major fallacy of seemingly progressive liberals and NGOs in their advocacy of ‘autonomy’, ‘decentralization’ and ‘self-determination’ is that these abstract concepts beg the fundamental concrete historical and substantive political question – to what classes, race, political blocs is power being transferred? For over a century in the US the banner of the racist right-wing Southern plantation owners ruling by force and terror over the majority of poor blacks was ‘States Rights’ – the supremacy of local law and order over the authority of the federal government and the national constitution. The fight between federal versus states rights was between a reactionary Southern oligarchy and a broader based progressive Northern urban coalition of workers and the middle class.

There is a fundamental need to demystify the notion of ‘autonomy’ by examining the classes which demand it, the consequences of devolving power in terms of the distribution of power, wealth and popular power and the external benefactors of a shift from the national state to regional local power elites.

Likewise, the mindless embrace by some libertarians of each and every claim for ‘self-determination’ has led to some of the most heinous crimes of the 20-21st centuries – in many cases separatist movements have encouraged or been products of bloody imperialist wars, as was the case in the lead up to and following Nazi annexations, the US invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan and the savage Israeli invasion of Lebanon and breakup of Palestine.

To make sense of ‘autonomy’, ‘decentralization’ and ‘self-determination’ and to ensure that these devolutions of power move in progressive historic direction, it is essential to pose the prior questions: Do these political changes advance the power and control of the majority of workers and peasants over the means of production? Does it lead to greater popular power in the state and electoral process or does it strengthen demagogic clients advancing the interests of the empire, in which the breakup of an established state leads to the incorporation of the ethnic fragments into a vicious and destructive empire?

© Copyright James Petras, Global Research, 2008

The url address of this article is:

Visit From Korean Friend – June 22 Building by Bruce Gagnon


by Bruce Gagnon
featured writer
Dandelion Salad

Bruce’s blog post

June 9, 2008

We had a visitor this weekend in Maine. Sung-Hee Choi, the South Korean activist who now lives in New York City, took the all night bus and arrived here early yesterday morning. Sung-Hee, who teaches art in New York, joined the solidarity hunger strike the same day I did and also fasted for 14 days.

We met Sung-Hee in 2004 when she came to Portland, Maine for our annual Global Network space organizing conference. She has attended each of our annual meetings since then and this year was responsible for arranging for the delegation from South Korea to come to Omaha for our StratCom event.

Each time Sung-Hee attends one of our events she video tapes the key speakers and puts the talks up on the Internet so anyone can view them. Again this year she did the same and you can see her work by clicking on this link: Annual conference dinner speeches.

Sadly for us Sung-Hee’s work VISA runs out soon and she must return to South Korea on July 1. She will be a great loss to us here in the U.S. but she will remain active through the group Solidarity for Peace & Reunification of Korea (SPARK). Last year Sung-Hee arranged for SPARK to become a Global Network affiliate and it has been proposed that our 2009 annual space organizing conference be held in South Korea. SPARK is now discussing this proposal and we should have an answer in the next couple of months.

Mary Beth took my place on the hunger strike on June 7 and is doing well so far.

On a related matter there has been a great response to our invitation for people to join the Czech Republic call for a global day of fasting on June 22 in solidarity with their effort to say NO to the U.S. deployment of a Star Wars radar in their nation. Here is the latest list of people who have contacted me saying they will fast on June 22. Many people are now spreading the list far and wide and we are grateful for their support in promoting this important effort.

June 22 Fast List

Beth Adams (Greenfield, Massachusetts)
Bob Anderson (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
Dennis Apel (Guadalupe, California)
Sally Breen (Windham, Maine)
Kelli Brew (Gainesville, Florida)
Anna Maria Caldara (Bangor, Pennsylvania)
Maxine Caron (Byron Bay, Australia)
David W. Chipman (Harpswell, Maine)
Kathe Chipman (Harpswell, Maine)
Sung-Hee Choi (New York, New York)
Michael Connelly (Rochester, New York)
William Coop (Brunswick, Maine)
Frank Cordaro (Des Moines, Iowa)
Lynn DeFilippo (Nome, Alaska)
Aurel Duta (Bucharest, Romania)
MacGregor Eddy (Salinas, California)
Dan Ellis (Brunswick, Maine)
Lynn Ellis (Brunswick, Maine)
Becky Farley (Damariscotta, Maine)
Sr. Barb Freemyer, RSM (Pueblo, Colorado)
Bruce Gagnon (Bath, Maine)
Sr. Carol Gilbert (Baltimore, Maryland)
Starr Gilmartin (Trenton, Maine)
Arlyne Goodwin (Naples, Florida)
Holly Gwinn Graham (Olympia, Washington)
Matt Gregory (Lincoln, Nebraska)
Regina Hagen (Darmstadt, Germany)
Kevin Hall (Dunedin, Florida)
Maggie Hall (Dunedin, Florida)
Luke Hansen (Chicago, Illinois)
Amy Harlib (New York, New York)
Tom Hastings (Portland, Oregon)
Jenny Heinz (New York, New York)
Dud Hendrick (Deer Isle, Maine)
Tensie Hernandez (Guadalupe, California)
Nancy Hill (Stonington, Maine) June 19-24
Mair Honan (Portland, Maine)
Jackie Hudson, OP (Bremerton, Washington)
Connie Jenkins (Orono, Maine)
Carla Josephson (Rio Rancho, New Mexico)
Ron King (Penobscot, Maine)
Tom Kircher (Biddeford, Maine)
Steve Landon (Waldhof, ON, Canada)
Steve Larrick (Lincoln, Nebraska)
Isolt Lea (Gainesville, Florida)
Louise Legun (Allentown, Pennsylvania)
Mary Dennis Lentsch (Oak Ridge, Tennessee)
Bob Lezer (Freeport, Maine)
Mary Leonard, Mercy Associate (Pueblo, Colorado)
Tamara Lorincz (Halifax, NS, Canada)
Carla L. Rael-Luhman (Portales, New Mexico)
Laurie McGowan (Mochelle, NS, Canada)
Karl Meyer (Nashville, Tennessee)
Michael Murphy (Omaha, Nebraska)
Sr. Elaine Lopez Pacheco, RSM (Pueblo, Colorado)
Jeanne Pahls (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
Rosalie Tyler Paul (Georgetown, Maine)
Sr. Ardeth Platte (Baltimore, Maryland)
Bonnie Preston (Blue Hill, Maine)
Kim Redigan (Dearborn Heights, Michigan)
John Rensenbrink (Topsham, Maine)
Judy Robbins (Sedgwick, Maine)
Chris Rooney (Vancouver, BC, Canada)
Robert Shetterly (Brooksville, Maine)
Gareth Smith (Byron Bay, Australia)
Cathy Stanton (Melbourne, Florida)
Janie Stein (Salina, Kansas)
Mary Beth Sullivan (Bath, Maine)
John Tiedeman (Omaha, Nebraska)
Don Timmerman (Park Falls, Wisconsin)
Fran Truitt (Blue Hill, Maine)
Meredith Tupper (Springfield, Virginia)
Carol Urner (Portland, Oregon)
William Watts (San Francisco, California)
Dave Webb (Leeds, England)
Margaret Weitzmann (Potsdam, New York)
Elaine Wells (Omaha, Nebraska)
Molly Willcox (Westport, Maine)
Lynda Williams (Santa Rosa, California)
Mariah Williams (Liberty, Maine)
Loring Wirbel (Colorado Springs, Colorado)
Michael Wisniewski (Los Angeles, California)
Jerry Zawada, OFM (Las Vegas, Nevada)
John Zokovitch (Gainesville, Florida)


Long History Of Space Arms Race + Final Day Of Solidarity Fast – For Now

U.S. face new Czech enemy: Peaceland

Pressure grows as more join Czech hunger strike

Czechs quit hunger strike as MPs join missile protest + Bruce’s Day 11

Hunger strikers stand firm against U.S. missile shield (updated)

Northwest Winter Soldier (videos)

Dandelion Salad


Added: June 08, 2008
First hour of testimony from Northwest Winter Soldier – Iraq & Afghanistan: Eyewitness Accounts of the Occupations held May 31, 2008 at Seattle Town Hall and sponsored by the Seattle Chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Continue reading

New U.S. fleet to threaten Latin American sovereignty

Dandelion Salad

By Berta Joubert-Ceci
Jun 5, 2008

The U.S. Navy on April 24 announced the return of the Fourth Fleet to the Caribbean, Central America and South America, covering 30 countries in the region. The fleet had operated in those waters beginning in 1943, monitoring German submarines during World War II, and was dismantled in 1950.

In a press release entitled “Navy Re-Establishes U.S. Fourth Fleet” (, the Pentagon tried to soften the appearance of this aggressive move, saying that “these assets will conduct varying missions including a range of contingency operations, counter narcoterrorism, and theater security cooperation (TSC) activities.TSC includes military-to-military interaction and bilateral training opportunities as well as humanitarian assistance and in-country partnerships.”

The fleet will be the Navy component of the Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) and will be based in Florida. The new operations are scheduled to begin on July 1.

Venezuela a key factor

It is interesting to note, at least briefly, the origins of the Fourth Fleet. In a detailed article in the May 27 issue of CounterPunch, entitled “U.S. Fourth Fleet in Venezuelan Waters,” Nikolas Kozloff describes how in the early part of WWII, Venezuela was the main oil exporter in the world. “During the conflict the oil-rich Maracaibo fields, located in the westernmost Venezuelan state of Zulia, were considered a crucial resource for both the Axis and Allied powers.”

The article describes the eventual cessation of Venezuela’s oil trade with the Germans and its alignment with the United States. The Germans responded by sinking over two dozen oil tankers in the Caribbean north of Venezuela and attacking an oil refinery on the island of Aruba. These incidents led to the formation of the Fourth Fleet—basically, to defend U.S. oil interests in Venezuela.

A virtual declaration of war

Were it not such a serious matter, one could laugh at the stated mission of “humanitarian assistance.” Like the ones in Afghanistan and Iraq? A look at some of the components of this fleet makes the blood run cold.

It is a floating city. This armada is larger than the total military forces of many of the Latin American and Caribbean countries it will surround. It includes the biggest and most powerful nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the USS George Washington, which can host 90 ultra-rapid, state-of-the-art military aircraft, like the infamous F-16 and F-18 jet fighters. It also contains stealth bombers, helicopters, additional warships and submarines. There can be no illusions. Reconstituting this fleet is preparation for threatening the peoples of the region with war.

Increasingly, the United States is being isolated in Latin America. Except for its closest collaborators in the region—Colombia and Peru—most countries do not want any more U.S. bases or big military deployments in their territories, even if they maintain trade and diplomatic relations with the U.S. One example is the U.S. airbase in Ecuador called Manta. It will be closed by order of President Rafael Correa when the contract expires in 2009. It is not surprising, then, that the Pentagon seeks to adopt a more “flexible” scenario at sea.

This isolation reflects an overall development in Latin America and the Caribbean that is very upsetting for U.S. imperialism. The majority of these countries, forced in many cases by the uprising of the masses, are trying to move away from the U.S. sphere of dominance. And that also includes the most important area of financial domination.

Ideas of regional integration resonate

The countries south of the Rio Grande have political differences among them.

Some are undergoing revolutionary processes, as in Cuba and Venezuela, where the ultimate objective is to do away with capitalism and change the class relationships in order to build up the country on a socialist basis.

Then there are ones, like Argentina, Brazil and Chile, among others, that only want reforms and are leaving the capitalist mode of production intact while trying to implement progressive programs to benefit the poor.

Others, like Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua, are beginning to look towards socialism as the only way to develop. The first two are trying to take back control of their natural resources through nationalizations.

But even many of those that only want reforms are moving away from the financial domination of U.S. imperialism, represented by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Both Brazil and Argentina, for example, paid their enormous debt to the IMF to end their dependent relationship with the financial vulture. Bolivia in 2006 also broke relations with the IMF.

Many countries in Latin America are widening their markets. While in the recent past they traded mostly with the U.S. and Europe, they are now increasingly trading with China and, very importantly, with each other. The ideas put forward by Cuba and Venezuela of regional integration and cooperation are more and more accepted.

Cuba and Venezuela, along with Bolivia, Nicaragua and Dominica, are members of the Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America (ALBA), which is a tremendous effort of trade and cooperation in all spheres—education, culture, sports, health, finance, energy, infrastructure development, and so on. It has the ultimate goal of uniting the whole region following Simon Bolivar’s ideas of “La Patria Grande” (The Great Homeland).

ALBA’s proposals include energy development programs like Petrocaribe and Petrosur and, very crucial, the Bank of the South. This bank is an attempt to replace the WB and the IMF with a Latin American entity that will benefit all the peoples of the South and would operate not as a profit-driven organism but as a financial organization that will take into consideration each country’s economic situation.

Many efforts are being conducted to stimulate cooperation and solidarity. One of those was the emergency summit in Nicaragua on May 7 under the theme “Sovereignty and Food Security: Food for Life,” to deal with the food crisis in the area. Fifteen countries attended.

Besides ALBA, a new and larger regional organization was formally constituted on May 23 in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil. Twelve South American countries signed the final document that has as a goal the eradication of poverty, defense of biodiversity, integration and cooperation. Taking into consideration the differences of each country, they will adhere to the treaty as their condition permits.

These working summits and proposals are in direct competition with the U.S. aim of controlling the region. Washington’s desperation can be seen in its increased aggression toward the South.

U.S. secession strategy: Bolivia

The Fourth Fleet is only the latest action against the Latin American effort to pursue independence and sovereignty. Other tactics are stimulating the formation of secessionist movements, strengthening the opposition, working through allied governments and other military operations, like Plan Colombia.

Secession by itself is not a negative development, if it comes from the struggle of oppressed masses to liberate themselves from an oppressor. However, the secession tactic used by the U.S. is totally the opposite. It is promoting secession in several countries to strengthen the entrenched oligarchy and break away a wealthy area to the detriment of the poor majority of the nation, thus destabilizing what the U.S. perceives to be an “enemy country or regime.” They are trying to use this strategy in Ecuador, Venezuela and Bolivia.

In Venezuela, the region targeted is the Zulia, the oil-rich area in the northwest that was the main reason for the creation of the Fourth Fleet during WWII. Now, once again, the same fleet can be a threat to help the secession of that wealthy part of Venezuela. However, this time, Venezuela’s oil belongs to the people and they, with the leadership of President Hugo Chávez, have vowed to defend it.

Bolivia, however, is in great danger. The secessionist movement there, thoroughly fascist, has been very violent against the peasant and Indigenous majority. The Media Luna (Half Moon)—an area containing the wealthiest provinces of Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando and Tarija—has been threatening the progressive national government of Evo Morales with secession from the rest of the country. It is an attack on Morales’s programs of nationalizing the gas and oil, establishing programs for the poor, and recognizing the rights of the Indigenous nations within Bolivia.

Even though these types of separatist referendums are illegal under the Constitution, which also prohibits the installation of foreign (U.S.) military bases in Bolivia, these provinces have moved to hold them anyway. Santa Cruz held its own on May 5. Although the abstentions, blank votes and “No” votes amounted to 50 percent, the oligarchy’s media deceivingly announced that 80 percent had voted “Yes.”

On June 1, the provinces of Beni and Pando held theirs. Again, a significant abstention rate was reported in both, but the separatists claimed victory. Tarija will have its referendum on June 22.

The role of the U.S. government in all this is crucial. The Civic Union of Santa Cruz, headed by Croatian businessman Branko Marinkovic, is the leading organization behind the secessionist movement. It is allied with a viciously racist and violent group called the Youth Union of Santa Cruz. These groups go from province to province stimulating hatred against the Indigenous population and Morales in preparation for the referendums. Their propaganda gets financial support from the U.S. Agency for International Development, a long-time conduit for the CIA.

Interestingly enough, the U.S. ambassador to Bolivia is Philip Goldberg, who was instrumental in the secession of Kosovo from Yugoslavia. In February, according to Prensa Latina, Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca stated that the U.S. Embassy had to explain why it was funding the “Organization for Police Studies,” previously known as “Special Operations Command”—an intelligence service committed to promoting destabilization campaigns. Other similar organizations attached to the U.S. Embassy were being investigated for espionage and conspiracy.

Many of these organizations have now been dissolved.


Next: Other strategies of aggression: Colombia as Washington’s best ally.

Articles copyright 1995-2008 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011

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Mosaic News – 6/6/08: World News from the Middle East

Dandelion Salad



This video may contain images depicting the reality and horror of war/violence and should only be viewed by a mature audience.


For more:
“Master Mind of 9/11 Seeks Death Penalty,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“Olmert Returns to Israel,” IBA TV, Israel
“Olmert Threatens Wide Scale Operation in Gaza,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“Sudan May Face Sanctions,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“The Justice & Development Party on the Defensive,” Dubai TV, UAE
“Confessions of a Kuwaiti Missionary,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Iraqi Welcome Returning Christian Families,” Al-Iraqiya TV, Iraq
“Jerusalem: Can Obama Walk the Walk?” Link TV, USA
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

US: FEMA trailers caused at least 17,000 illnesses among Katrina survivors

Dandelion Salad

By Naomi Spencer
9 June 2008

Approaching three years since the devastation of the US Gulf Coast by Hurricane Katrina, a public health nightmare continues for thousands of survivors who were housed in government-supplied trailers.

Many of the 300,000 residents who were relocated into housing provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have developed serious respiratory problems because of excessive levels of the industrial chemical and known carcinogen formaldehyde, according to a report by Spencer Hsu published May 25 in the Washington Post.

Some of the most seriously affected are infants and children, who have developed chronic asthma and require lifelong medical care. The cancer rates will not be known for at least a decade, according to health experts.

While workplace exposure levels are regulated and the health risks associated with high levels are well known, there are no federal regulations on the level of formaldehyde in building materials. The chemical is emitted from glues and sealants used in construction materials such as particleboard, plywood, paneling, and laminated surfaces common in low-end housing units. Formaldehyde is released at the highest levels during warm weather and from newly constructed units.

The Washington Post noted that tests of many FEMA trailers revealed formaldehyde levels drastically exceeding the Environmental Protection Agency and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH) 15-minute workplace exposure limit of 100 parts per billion. This is the limit at which serious adverse health symptoms begin to appear, and California state health regulators estimate long-term exposure at this level raises cancer risk by 50 cases per 100,000.


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.

Dealing with Gasoline Prices by Dale Allen Pfeiffer

Dandelion Salad

by Dale Allen Pfeiffer
June 8, 2008

Why prices are rising, what isn’t being done about it, and what it means for you

The Genie

What is going on?

Oil prices surge to $100 per barrel, $120, $130, with no end in sight. And analysts are now talking about $200 per barrel by the end of summer.

Gasoline prices have reached $4 per gallon in the US. And now they are saying we may see $6 per gallon by summer’s end. Some analysts are saying gasoline prices will eventually reach $12 to $15 per gallon.

What is going on? Is this peak oil with a vengeance?

Yes and no.

There are three reasons why oil prices are skyrocketing, and peak oil is only indirectly involved.

The peak oil gene is out of the bottle, at least so far as investors are concerned. They only have a partial understanding of peak oil, but it is enough for market speculation to drive prices out of sight.

Oil production has not peaked. It is constrained and it can no longer keep up with growing world demand, but it has not peaked yet, so far as we can tell.

World oil production is approaching peak. It is no longer increasing as it once did. What is perhaps more important, there is no more spare capacity left in the system. At $130 per barrel any spare capacity has already been put into production. That is why Saudi Arabia has politely refused Bush’s request that they increase production. They are pumping everything they can.

Simply the specter of peak oil is enough to fuel market speculation, making a few people very rich while the rest of us must empty our pockets at the gasoline pumps.

On top of this, we have the devaluation of the US dollar. The petrodollar has become the Frankenstein monster, and now it is running amok.

What we are seeing is nothing less than the failure of the free market. And without intervention, the failure of the free market will make a shambles of the world economy and lead to massive impoverishment and even starvation.


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.