The Israel Lobby (Marije Meerman, VPRO Backlight 2007)

Dandelion Salad

VPROinternational

May 31, 2007

For many years now the American foreign policy has been characterized by the strong tie between the United States and Israel. Does the United States in fact keep Israel on its feet? And how long will it continue to do so? In March 2006 the American political scientists John Mearsheimer (University of Chicago) and Steve Walt (Harvard) published the controversial article ‘The Israel Lobby and US foreign policy’. In it they state that it is not, or no longer, expedient for the US to support and protect present-day Israel.

The documentary sheds light on both parties involved in the discussion: those who wish to maintain the strong tie between the US and Israel, and those who were critical of it and not infrequently became ‘victims’ of the lobby. The question arises to what extend the pro-Israel lobby ultimately determines the military and political importance of Israel itself. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson (Colin Powell’s former chief-of-staff) explains how the lobby’s influence affects the decision-making structure in the White House.

With political scientist John Mearsheimer, neocon Richard Perle, lobby organization AIPAC, televangelist John Hagee, historian Tony Judt, Human Rights Watch director Kenneth Roth, colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Democrat Earl Hilliard, Israeli peace negotiator Daniel Levy and investigative journalist Michael Massing.

Research: William de Bruijn
Director: Marije Meerman

For more information visit http://www.vpro.nl/programma/tegenlic…

h/t: Global Research

see

House Resolution Calls for Naval Blockade against Iran (AIPAC)

The Real News: Who funds AIPAC?

Hard right neocons and AIPAC (Part I; Lobe)

Elect Obama or Fall Into Tyranny By Paul Craig Roberts

In The Great Tradition – Obama Is A Hawk By John Pilger

No, I Can’t! Obama and The Israeli Lobby by Uri Avnery

Obama & McCain: Two Sides Of The Same Coin By Timothy V. Gatto

Only Nader Has Pointed Out the Danger (AIPAC)

Stewart Speaks the Truth About Presidential Pandering to Israel!

Who does AIPAC represent? + AIPAC and the American right

Israel

Israel Lobby

Hagee

Wilkerson

Daniel Levy

Alternatives to Free Trade: Fair Trade and Beyond by Shamus Cooke

Dandelion Salad

by Shamus Cooke
Global Research, June 22, 2008
Socialist Appeal

The global debate around free-trade and its consequences has evolved tremendously in recent years, from tiny circles of leftist critics into a broad international protest movement. Although the movement began to bloom in response to the policies of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the biggest demonstrations have been in response to the now-popular “bi-lateral” free-trade agreements that economically powerful countries sign with poorer nations. Once one has become conscious of the problems created by free-trade agreements, whether they are international or regional, an immediate task presents itself: finding a feasible alternative.

Yes, the trade policy advocated by most big business politicians is “free-trade,” and yes, this policy has had devastating consequences for working and poor people worldwide, while filling the already-full bank accounts of the rich. But the issue of “free-trade” alone isn’t sufficient to fully explain the vast social problems that plague so many countries.

For example, many progressive-minded people come to the seemingly common-sense conclusion that, if free-trade is bad, then its opposite, protectionism, must be good. However, this is not the case, as we will explain below. The search, therefore, for a real alternative, has led some to attach themselves to the notion of “fair trade.” This term means different things to different people, as there is no strict definition as to what fair trade is, or what it would look like if actually implemented. The ambiguous definition has attracted a wide range of adherents, from the honest progressive to the dishonest reactionary. Though there remains no concrete political program, there are sections of the fair trade movement that have some ideas as to what they want, but not how to get there, as shown by the Alliance for Responsible Trade:

“This enormous, unified movement is one of people telling those political leaders, financial speculators and the transnational corporations who promote neoliberal policies that their agenda is unacceptable. It is a movement of people demanding their very humanity. They do so by stating that nutritious food, a comfortable place to live, a clean and healthy environment, health care and education are human rights.”

There is much progressive content in this quote that should be encouraged. But there is something crucial lacking as well. For instance, one might ask, “What exactly is trade, and how do we make it fair?” Ultimately, one can not “trade” what one does not own. What trade under capitalism really means is that companies produce, buy and sell commodities on an international level, not for socially useful purposes, but for profit. At bottom, what is “unfair” is that unelected individuals or small groups of individuals own these corporations – the entities that control society’s vast wealth. And with that wealth comes powerful political influence; i.e., laws are passed to protect the interests and profits of the corporations. Understanding trade must begin here, at the foundation, so that proposed solutions don’t merely address the effects of the world economic structure, but its cause. A brief outline of the history of the fair trade movement, along with its various challenges and limitations, will help us gain a better perspective on possible solutions to a problem that goes far beyond trade.

The origins of the fair trade movement had little to do with politics. The NGO’s and religious organizations that founded the movement in the 1940s viewed the issue from a humanitarian, philanthropic perspective: third world countries were horribly poor and something needed to be done to help them. The solution the fair-traders devised came from a stark economic fact: workers and small farmers in poor countries seemed to be getting unfairly compensated for the goods they were producing. A hypothetical example is a blanket that took 10 hours to weave, but fetched only three dollars on the world market. To combat this inequity, fair trade organizations created shops where one could buy handicrafts and culturally unique goods at “fair” prices. The above-market price offered was considered a donation of sorts, and there remain segments of the fair-trade movement that retain this perspective and limit their focus accordingly.

The example of the blanket weaver can be used, on a small-scale, to explain a crucial economic law that keeps both blanket weavers and poor nations impoverished.

For example, a blanket that previously sold for $10 may now only fetch three dollars on the international market because machinery was used to reduce the amount of labor time required to produce it (in economics this is reflected in the Labor Theory of Value). In other words, if a producer is the first to invent a new machine that can make the same product more efficiently while investing less labor time in it, and the blanket can then be sold profitably for say, two dollars instead of three, a new standard is created internationally. Therefore, when two producers with unequal machinery compete on the world market, the technologically inferior producer must invest more labor time to create the same product, but can still only charge as much as the international standard set by the most efficient producer. Since labor, in combination with nature, is the source of all wealth, countries that have better machinery can undercut and out-compete poorer countries.

There can therefore be no “fair” trade where vast inequalities in productivity exist, especially when rich nations have such an immense productivity advantage in technology, due to the tremendous wealth they’ve accumulated over previous generations through colonialism, slavery, and more recent imperialist military interventions. Advanced technology is one example of how this accumulated wealth serves only to further distance the rich and poor countries through competition on the world market.

Once a nation has a productive advantage over the majority of other nations, it becomes a champion of free trade, so that its cheaper commodities may dominate the international market, economically invading the less-developed countries and destroying their domestic industries. It was these “deeper causes” of inequality that the founding fair-traders were oblivious to, eventually leading activists to seek out new ideas.

The “2nd wave” of the fair-trade movement began with a deeper political analysis than its predecessor. An understanding of the international system of trade was developed, including the global financial and trade institutions that help maintain the unequal status-quo. In fact, an overemphasis was developed towards these organizations, ignoring the above-mentioned structural and economic factors that inevitably make “fair trade” impossible under capitalism.

The movement’s focal point was Europe, where a variety of progressive organizations worked in conjunction with a coalition of third world nations known as “The Group of 77” in an effort to reform the institutions that govern the capitalist system. The high point of this movement was its formal recognition by the United Nations, which adopted the slogan of “Trade not Aid,” at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. However, it amounted to naught. The rich countries that control the UN eventually derailed the movement, through a policy of pitting the poor countries against each other through bribes, concessions, and threats.

This defeat led to the demoralization of the rank and file activists, who, burned by their attempt to reform a major institution of capitalism, chose to refocus their efforts on the more “practical” grassroots work of “market access.” But even this less-grandiose strategy soon encountered resistance. Not only do large corporations own most of society’s wealth, but also the means to transport it. Producers in poorer countries who sought to continue their way of life found it increasingly difficult to market the already-decreasing value of their goods. This was typically limited to agricultural goods, since most small-scale manufacturers had already been destroyed by the “invisible hand” of the market.

The large corporations that dominate agricultural production did not want competition from smaller outfits, and used their connections to the corporations that owned the ports and railways – often it was one in the same – to effectively exclude the unconnected. The fair-trade movement focused on the grass-roots buying and selling of goods produced by non-corporate groups, villages, or collectives, who were striving to stay alive in a world dominated by large corporations. Many segments of the fair-trade movement continue to align themselves with this approach, but ultimately, the perspectives for these tiny islands of “fair trade” are limited, surrounded as they are by a sea of imperialism and giant multi-nationals.

As of December 2006, 569 producer organizations in 58 countries were fair trade certified. The fair trade label has now found its way into the supermarkets owned by the mega corporations. The availability of these products – once again, usually above-market prices – has been enthusiastically received by those able to afford them. An entire political philosophy has evolved from the buying of “socially just” products, known as “consumer activism.” The preachers of this philosophy are of course mainly from the middle-class, and have been largely unable to expand their efforts beyond select clothing and agricultural goods. Once again, those who considered the concept of fair-trade to be worthwhile were forced to search for new ideas that could take them beyond the obvious limitations posed by consumer activism.

Currently, the fair-trade movement has grown to encompass new layers with a consistently widening perspective, most notably, the involvement of labor unions. This came as a result of an accelerated process of global economic integration that capitalism required to maintain its existence, commonly referred to as “globalization.” The most crucial aspect of globalization involved the working class of the world: world capitalism created a situation where the majority of the earth’s population lives on virtual slave wages; the corporations of the rich countries, constantly bothered by “their” workers’ demands for higher wages, fled to the third world where wages are lower and as a consequence, profits are higher.

This “corporate flight” in search of ever-lower wages has in turn lowered the wages of workers everywhere. A corporation in the U.S. paying unionized workers cannot compete with one in China paying a dollar a day. Jobs and facilities were shipped overseas, union membership sank to new lows and the once mighty political power of the unions dissipated. This is how organized labor in the rich countries was drawn into the fair trade movement: out of necessity.

But “fair-trade” to the bureaucrats who control the unions is merely protectionism dressed up in radical-sounding clothing. Protectionism is the extremely limited, nationalistic solution they offer to the outsourcing of jobs and facilities. On the surface, this might seem like a common-sense solution: if a company produces a commodity that cannot compete with a foreign company, and the workers wish to keep their jobs, the company’s “competitiveness” seems like a priority. And if your political perspective is strictly bound to the confines of capitalism, there really is nowhere else to go. It is this slavish submission to the market economy that is proving debilitating to workers, when what is truly needed is a much broader, internationalist, working class solution.

The “company first, workers second” approach of worker-management “partnerships” has been used to destroy the wages and benefits of workers, setting the union movement back decades. The intent of the “partnership” approach is also used to foment nationalism and aims at fooling workers into thinking that the enemy is not at home, in the plush homes of the stockholders, but abroad: the companies and workers of foreign countries.

This nationalist ideology not only divides workers, but disempowers them, and instead links their fate to governmental policy. If a union’s strategy is to beg Congressmen to erect tariff barriers to protect them from cheap Chinese goods, dangerous waters are being entered. The mega-corporations that own these politicians end up asking for the same thing: they view China’s rise as a threat to their “strategic interests,” i.e., profits. And as history teaches, economic threats are often solved by military means.

Already many countries are developing protectionist tendencies similar to those that erupted before WWI and WWII. After WWII, capitalism experienced a prolonged boom, leading to increased free-trade cooperation in the WTO, dominated by the most powerful countries.

Despite the rise of powerful multi-national corporations and institutions, the nation state is still the basic unit of the capitalist system, and these nation states have opposing interests (since all multi-nationals have a “home base”). The irreconcilability of national interests under capitalism will always lead to contradictions, even within small trading blocs. The virtual collapse of the WTO is itself an expression of this. The boom is now over, and an “everyone for themselves” protectionist mentality has taken over. The rich countries are done cooperating in the WTO and are instead opting for regional trade agreements where they can secure the resources and trade leverage desired with poorer countries. These trading blocs are dominated by specific imperialist powers, such as the European Union (Germany), NAFTA (U.S.), CAFTA (U.S.), PARTA (Australia), ASEAN (Japan), and UNASUR (Brazil). History teaches that trade blocs invariably turn into military blocs.

Throughout its history, fair trade has failed to define the clear political principles needed for developing a strategy capable of achieving its goals. Generally speaking, fair-trade has sought to transform capitalism into something it cannot be. This requires a new perspective that can break through the above, inevitable restrictions one encounters while trying to reform the market economy. Capitalism cannot be reformed. In the dog-eat-dog world of profit-making and competition, “fairness” plays absolutely no role. Nor can it. If workers’ rights, the environment, health care, or human rights restrict profit-making, they will be paid lip-service to but ignored nonetheless.

The wealth-producing functions of the giant corporations can be transformed into socially useful enterprises and run on a democratic basis by the workers themselves, as opposed to the undemocratic economic / political domination that exists under private ownership. Running society should be a social task, where everybody has a say as to what is produced and how. The political philosophy that best reflects this idea is commonly referred to as socialism, and is the starting point for anyone who wishes to create a truly fair society.

© Copyright Shamus Cooke, Socialist Appeal, 2008

The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9431

Questions Answered – and Asked by Julian Vein

Dandelion Salad

Thanks to
Socialist Party Of Great Britain

by Julian Vein
http://www.worldsocialism.org
Sept 1998

We are often asked about how socialism would deal with certain situations that might arise in that society. What about anti-social behaviour, or people who refused to work? How would we allocate genuinely scarce resources? And so on.

Because our definition of socialism is so different from that used by some opponents and those who would also claim to be socialist, it requires a leap in imagination to get one’s head round what it will involve. Socialism will not be about equal wages, equal sharing, state control or world government. Nor will its democratic system involve systematic physical coercion, though, in social relations perhaps some form of moral or emotional persuasion, of a non-hierarchical nature, might be needed occasionally. There is often an assumption underlying the questions put to us that there will be some sort of hierarchy who will lay down the law on what and what not to do.

Socialists can deal with general questions of, say, how production and distribution would be carried on. (Readers are directed to our pamphlet Socialism as a Practical Alternative [pdf] for an outline of this.) But then we get queries about one-off and awkward situations that might arise. Of course we can’t always give clear-cut answers to these, nor is it our responsibility to do so. People in that society will have to deal with such situations by using then existing institutions and mechanisms (including emergency and contingency plans) or by introducing new ones to deal with problems when they arise or are anticipated.

The belief behind some of the questions put to us is that members of the Socialist Party and its companion parties, or their successors at the time of the introduction of world socialism (and it has to be world-wide, because it will be replacing the world-wide capitalist system), will have (or claim to have) some sort of collective wisdom which they can call upon to deal with any and all situations, and if they don’t then the whole thing will collapse like a house of cards. This is not so. Our contention is that socialism will be established not only when a majority understand and want it, but that there will also have been prior lengthy discussion among members of the working class, who after all are the people that actually run the world today, on how it will be administered and organised.

Socialists came to the conclusion a long time ago that capitalism cannot work in the interest of the working-class majority. That majority, as we said, today runs society from top to bottom, but not for their own benefit, and do so under artificially difficult, dangerous and needlessly complex conditions. Socialism will entail those same people running the world in their own interest, in a benign and much simplified environment. If you agree with all this, then it incumbent upon you to make the effort to bring it about.

What would you propose?

Perhaps it’s time socialists started asking the questions. After all, there are many of you out there-people with the relevant scientific knowledge, technical skills and organisational abilities-who are able to offer suggestions on how we can deal with the problems that will inevitably occur. For instance, how to go about setting up a production unit, firm, enterprise, endeavour-call it what you may-to deal with a particular need. In capitalism accountants are brought in to do a costing, involving how much wages it will involve, what is the effective (i.e. ability to pay) demand for the product, and how much raw materials etc. are needed and if their calculations predict a profit then, subject to any local restrictions, the work usually goes ahead. In socialism it will be rather different. It will have to be decided by those appointed to do so whether the production is really necessary. Is there sufficient demand? (Real demand-not can we pay for it.) This could be carried out by some form of consumer-as opposed to market research. How much raw material-in amount not cost-will be required? How much labour will be needed to work on the raw materials or build a factory? What, if any, will be harmful to the environment? If it seems that the amount of resources required will outweigh any immediate general benefits that might accrue, it may be decided to abandon the scheme unless some overriding reason (such as health, safety or some long-term consideration is involved) dictates otherwise.

No-one can say that wrong decisions won’t be made-that would be foolish-but we can be certain that any mistakes made won’t be in the pursuit of profit.

We need your help, not just in terms of increasing our membership, though we welcome that, but also for developing and expanding ideas on how the new society will be organised. If socialism has to wait until everyone has their questions answered in the minutest detail, then we will never achieve it. Now is the time to speed up that process by involving yourselves in the technical and theoretical work that needs to be done.

Dealing with any anti-social behaviour that might occur will take on an entirely different dimension from that pertaining today. First of all, property crimes will have disappeared. So what are we left with? Domestic crime and irrational behaviour. The first are usually the result of people living in intolerable conditions from which, for economic reasons, they are unable to walk away. The second are caused by various mental conditions, and one would assume that these will be dealt with in that context-i.e. as a medical problem. Perhaps there may remain a small rump of anti-social behaviour-much of it a hangover from capitalism-that couldn’t be dealt with, that would cause a problem here and there. Surely this would be infinitely better than the uncertain world in which we live today, with millions dying in conflicts and from disease and starvation.

Vote Theft For Idiots by Greg Palast + Free For All (trailer)

Dandelion Salad

by Greg Palast
June 23, 2008

Are they going to Steal 2008?  Don’t worry:  it’s already stolen.  But you can steal it back.  Ted Rall and I have teamed up for one of the first ever series of hard-edged investigative journalism – in ‘toon form.

Continue reading

Ethics of military drug testing questioned

Dandelion Salad
by David R. Sands
http://www.washtimes.com
Sunday, June 22, 2008

Degree of ‘voluntary’ participation raises concerns

Colombian and Indonesian troops have been drafted to test new anti-malaria drugs. South African researchers used Tanzanian soldiers to study the effectiveness of an unorthodox treatment for HIV/AIDS.

And a trial conducted on some 2,000 Nepalese soldiers for a new hepatitis-E vaccine by a major U.S. drug company sparked public protests and complaints that the Nepalese troops were being used as human guinea pigs.

…continued

h/t: CLG

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see

Breaking the Nuremberg Code: The US Military’s Human-Testing (videos)

Breaking the Nuremberg Code: The US Military’s Human-Testing Program Returns By Heather Wokusch

Atomic Testing (video)

Thanks For The Call Colonel – Well Maybe Not by Bruce Gagnon

Bruce

by Bruce Gagnon
featured writer
Dandelion Salad

Bruce’s blog post
space4peace.blogspot.com

June 23, 2008

At 10:30 a.m. this morning I had a phone call from the base commander at Kirtland A.F.B. in Albuquerque, New Mexico. And it’s a Sunday.

In my blog yesterday I quoted Col. Robert Suminsby, Jr. about his belief that we need to get our priorities straight here in the U.S. when it comes to funding things like Social Security and Medicare instead of “aircraft and satellites.”

“How could you know what I mean when I talk about our nations priorities?” the Colonel asked me in very unfriendly tones.

I tried explaining to him that I have a lifetime of experience listening to people in the military say that we should ramp up Pentagon spending. He was not in a mood to listen.

Instead the Colonel’s voice escalated, similar to his desire to see the military budget take ascendancy over social progress in America. “I can see that you are not one who should be involved in deciding on our nation’s priorities,” he yelled at me. Then he hung up.

Wow. A call from the base commander one day after my blog quoting him appears. I don’t get that kind of service very often.

Some background is in order here to help understand why the Colonel is hot under the collar.

A couple of months ago Colonel Suminsby made a speech to a group of community leaders in Albuquerque calling for a hard look at “entitlement programs” funding. His base paper reported on the event and that was supposed to be that. But Bob Anderson, Vietnam veteran and local organizer with Stop the War Machine, picked up the paper and was quick to notice the significance of the speech. Stop the War Machine went to the Albuquerque City Council and asked them to pass a resolution condemning the Colonel’s statement. Then on June 15 the local newspaper ran a story on the Colonel’s ideas called Kirtland Commander Fears for Air Force’s Future.

I believe that the Colonel’s statement is not just – how would the Air Force put it? – out of the blue. It is part of this recent larger public relations campaign the Air Force is calling – Air Force Above All.

You might have seen the TV commercials. High-tech space weapons images….you know USA über alles – that sort of thing. Watch this Air Force video to see for yourself.

The Air Force sees the writing on the wall. We can’t have social spending and pay for Star Wars and new generations of massively expensive war planes. So they are programming the minds of the American people.

I guess the best thing about his call is that once again it has been confirmed that Pentagon brass are reading my blog. And they are not happy about it.

The Colonel likely does not know that I too was in the Air Force – from 1971 to 1974. What he does not understand clearly enough is that I no longer have to take orders from officers. You see I am a free man now.

So thanks for the call Colonel but I don’t have to jump when you say jump. It’s what they call freedom of speech and democracy.

Hope you like this blog entry as well. It’s for you.

By the way, Colonel Suminsby is a native of Northeast Harbor, Maine.

see

Star Wars Or Social Progress – You Decide + Global Network Conf ’08

Czech Republic opposes US Missile Shield in Eastern Europe

Attention Geeks & Hackers: Uncle Sam’s Cyber Force Wants You!

Homeland Security’s Space-Based Spies by Tom Burghardt

Air Force Aims for ‘Full Control’ of ‘Any and All’ Computers

Global Gridlock: How the US Military-Industrial Complex Seeks to Contain & Control the Earth & it’s Eco-System

Gagnon-Bruce