The U.S. Financial System in Serious Trouble by Prof. Rodrigue Tremblay

Dandelion Salad

by Prof. Rodrigue Tremblay
Global Research
September 16, 2008

“… a bailout of GSE (Fannie and Freddie) bondholders would be perhaps the greatest taxpayer rip-off in American history. It is bad economics and you can be sure it is terrible politics.” Matt Kibbe, President of Freedom Works

“The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists.” Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), (September 1932)

[After the Bear Stearns bailout] “As more firms lost access to funding, the vicious circle of forced selling, increased volatility, … and margin calls that was already well advanced at the time would likely have intensified. The broader economy could hardly have remained immune from such severe financial disruptions.” Ben Bernanke, Fed Chairman (March 2008)

In August 2007, at the very beginning of the subprime financial crisis in the U.S., and referring to the alchemy-like practice of creating artificial financial instruments, such as mortgage-backed securities (MBSs), here is what I wrote: Continue reading

The U.S. 2008 Presidential Election: An Evaluation by Rodrigue Tremblay

Dandelion Salad

by Rodrigue Tremblay
Global Research, September 6, 2008
thenewamericanempire.com/

“Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.”

“The issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should.. … I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated.”

“I think that [to be rich] if you are only talking about income, how about $5 million?”

John McCain, 2008 Republican presidential candidate

“Our national leaders are sending them [American soldiers to Iraq] out on a task that is from God. …That’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is a plan and that plan is God’s plan.”

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (June 2008)

“She’s not prepared to be governor. How can she be prepared to be vice president or president? Look at what she’s done to this state. What would she do to the nation?” [About Gov. Sarah Palin, McCain’s choice for a running mate]

Lyda Green, Republican Alaska State Senate President

“If my guesses are confirmed, then that raises the suspicion that somebody in the U. S. purposefully created this conflict [the August 7-8 Georgia-Russia conflict] with the aim of aggravating the situation and creating an advantage…for one of the candidates in the battle for the post of U.S. president.”

Vladimir Putin, Russian Prime Minister and former President (August 28, 2008)

Traditionally, American presidential elections get into full gear after Labor Day, once the political conventions have been completed, major speeches made and vice president running mates chosen. It is therefore a good time to make a general assessment of where this year’s election stands, what political camp has the momentum (or is losing it) and what good or bad decisions have been made by either of the two major presidential candidates. Continue reading

Why Not Simply Abolish NATO? by Rodrigue Tremblay

Dandelion Salad

by Rodrigue Tremblay
Wednesday, August 20, 2008

[NATO’s goal is] “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”  Lord Ismay, first NATO Secretary-General

“We should immediately call a meeting of the North Atlantic Council to assess Georgia’s security and review measures NATO can take to contribute to stabilizing this very dangerous situation.” Sen. John McCain, (August 8, 2008)

Continue reading

Irresponsible Risk-Takers in Command by Rodrigue Tremblay

Dandelion Salad

by Rodrigue Tremblay
Wednesday, August 13, 2008

“War prosperity is like the prosperity that an earthquake or a plague brings.” — Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973)

“War…is harmful, not only to the conquered but to the conqueror.” — Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973)

“To defeat the aggressors is not enough to make peace durable. The main thing is to discard the ideology that generates war.” — Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973)

“The root of the evil is not the construction of new, more dreadful weapons. It is the spirit of conquest.” — Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973)

There are people in charge who think that provocation and aggression can be acceptable government policy. The sudden conflict between the former Soviet province of Georgia and Russia in the Caucasus in Eurasia is a good case in point. Continue reading

The U.S. Economy and Bad Government Policies by Rodrigue Tremblay

Dandelion Salad

by Rodrigue Tremblay
Friday, August 1, 2008

“I think the [US financial] system is basically sound, I truly do.”

George W. Bush, July 15, 2008

“Since 1951, the budget of the Department of Defense each year exceeds the net profits of all U.S. corporations. So, in finance capital terms, that means that the management of that budget controls the largest single block of finance capital resources.”

Seymour Melman (1917–2004)

“The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists.”

Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), (September 1932)

Continue reading

Candidate Obama: A Less Risky Alternative by Rodrigue Tremblay

Dandelion Salad

More links on the original post.

by Rodrigue Tremblay
Monday, July 7, 2008

“All you have to do is to tell them [the people] they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

Hermann Goering, Germany’s Nazi leader

“Essential to this strategy is the UN Security Council, which should impose progressively tougher political and economic sanctions [on Iran]. Should the Security Council continue to delay in this responsibility, the United States must lead like-minded countries in imposing multilateral sanctions outside the UN framework.”

Sen. John McCain, June 2, 2008, before the annual AIPAC Conference, Washington D.C.

“The Iranian threat must be stopped by all possible means, and [it was a global duty to take] drastic measures’ to prevent it.”

Ehud Olmert, Israeli Prime Minister, June 4, 2008, before the annual AIPAC Conference, Washington D.C.

“I have proposed a responsible, phased redeployment of our troops from Iraq. We will get out as carefully as we were careless getting in.”

…[The] “danger from Iran is grave, [and I would] do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon – everything.”

Sen. Barack Obama, June 4, 2008, before the annual AIPAC Conference, Washington D.C.

“…I know that when I visit with AIPAC, I am among friends. Good friends. Friends who share my strong commitment to make sure that the bond between the United States and Israel is unbreakable today, tomorrow, and forever.”

Sen. Barack Obama, June 4, 2008, before the annual AIPAC Conference, Washington D.C.

A few weeks ago, I analyzed the relative worthiness of the candidacy of presumptive Republican Candidate McCain. In all fairness, a similar assessment of Senator Barack Obama’s candidacy would appear necessary.

Indeed, the Bush-Cheney administration will be history at 11:59 pm on January 20, 2009. On November 4, 2008, their successors, a new president and a new vice president, will have been chosen. Will it be an Obama team or a McCain team?

Sen. Barack Obama (D. IL) is the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate and the U.S.’s first African-American presidential nominee from a major party. Considering the racial past of the United States, if he were to be elected President, this will have to be considered close to being a political revolution. The political climate for such an important shift in American politics is, as of now, most favorable to electing a Democrat as President.

For one, the current Republican administration, after eight years of blunder upon blunder, is the most unpopular of any administration in a long time, with a massive 65 percent disapproval rating, according to a recent Associated Press-Ipsos poll, while President George W. Bush is in the political cellar with a 28 percent approval rating. Even more revealing perhaps, very few Americans say their country is heading in the right direction.

Secondly, the American electorate is moving toward the Democrats with registration in both parties running 41 percent to 32 percent in favor of the Democrats. Thirdly, candidate Obama is much more intelligent, much younger, much more appealing and much more charismatic than candidate McCain. And, on issues, the Democrats should have a huge edge because people are tired of an expensive and unpopular war, because the economy is in bad shape and getting worse with the deepening financial crisis, and because a lot of people are suffering economically and financially, while oil prices are going through the roof. Many middle class Americans also have concluded that the time has come to improve the American health care system and the American pension system.

Therefore, since a Democratic presidential candidate should logically be the overwhelming favorite to defeat the Republican nominee in November, is this an election for Sen. Obama to lose? Will there be a “Bradley effect” with white voters telling pollsters they intend to vote for a black candidate, such as Senator Obama, but could instead vote their prejudice? Will there be a backlash from progressive Democrats as their candidate moves more and more to the right?

In theory, candidate Obama and his advisers would have to make a bundle of mistakes and come out with very bad decisions to lose this election, when everybody is expecting the Democrats to gain several seats in both the Senate and House of Representatives on November

As of now, it is widely recognized that candidate Obama has begun his official presidential campaign on the wrong foot by disillusioning his own progressive political base by wavering on issues.

Indeed, on June 4, candidate Obama went before the 2008 annual AIPAC conference and mimicked nearly word for word his hawkish Republican opponent, candidate McCain.

In fact, you would not believe from the quotes placed above this article that the two main American presidential candidates are from two different parties, at least, as they position themselves toward AIPAC’s political agenda regarding U.S. foreign policy. When it comes to AIPAC, both presidential candidates seem to have the same speechwriters and they behave as if they were members of a common plutocratic one party political system.

They both would not hesitate to bomb Iran and they both are pledging to make the world safe for Israel. One can also expect that neither would refrain from fomenting armed conflicts around the world. Even on some crucial domestic issues, such as government warrantless electronic surveillance, both candidates seem to be in agreement. Indeed, Sen. Obama has sided with the AIPAC-inspired so-called Bush Democrats in approving warrantless surveillance of citizens by the government. On that issue, he has flip-flopped in approving immunity for George W. Bush and the telecom companies who wiretapped American citizens without a warrant before 9/11. Both candidates also rely on rich lobbyists for political advice. Last June 11, for example, candidate Obama had to remove longtime Washington lobbyist Jim Johnson from his vice president running-mate search team after it became known that Mr. Johnson had received preferential loan terms from the large mortgage lender Countrywide Financial, a firm that Sen. Obama had sharply criticized before.

On constitutional matters, Sen. Obama would not be that reluctant in emulating George W. Bush by using public funds to finance church-run activities. Indeed, he even wants to expand tax-financed faith based programs. The American military-industrial complex has also little to fear from an Obama presidency, since Sen. Obama intends to maintain the high level of U.S. military spending.

All this smacks of some improvisation, despondency and an absence of firm ideological commitments on Sen. Obama’s part, and this plays into his opponent’s charges. But more risky for him, this may persuade some voters that the two main presidential candidates are only marginally different and are controlled by the same plutocratic interests.

What the two presumptive U.S. presidential candidates also have in common is that both have been raised partly outside their own country, Obama in Indonesia and McCain in Panama. On this score, they are most unusual candidates and can be expected to be sensitive to international issues. In fact, both would be expected to be interventionist, McCain being only slightly more a military interventionist than Obama. This is because both adhere to the hubristic and imperialistic ideology that the United States government, without any democratic or legal mandate to that effect whatsoever, should rule the world. On the whole, however, it is to be expected that a President Obama would adopt a somewhat more “pragmatic” and a somewhat more “realist” foreign policy, in the Bill Clinton administration’s style, while a President McCain would be inclined to duplicate more closely George W. Bush in following a more “rigidly ideological” and a more unilateral foreign policy.

It is probably on the question of the Iraq war that Sen. Obama  and Sen. McCain would seem to differ the most. Foremost among Sen. Obama’s objectives is his desire to extirpate his country from the presently occupied Iraq and stop spending more than one hundred billion dollars a year in that never-ending war and to devote that money to domestic social programs. On that score, a strong majority of Americans would side with him. Sen. Obama’s official timetable is to remove all U.S. combat brigades from Iraq within sixteen months after becoming president. However, Sen. Obama now says that he can be flexible on this pledge and that he is keeping some room to manoeuvre based on future advice that he could receive from military commanders in the field!

This is still at variance with Sen. McCain’s position on Iraq, which is closer to the current incumbent, George W. Bush.  Indeed, McCain voted for the Iraq war in October 2002, and he would be very happy to continue Bush’s policy in Iraq, even to the point of extending the military occupation of that country “one hundred years” into the future. On Iraq, therefore, the choice would seem to be clear: those who oppose the Iraq war should vote for Sen. Obama, and those who favor the Iraq war and other non U.N. approved wars would find in Sen. McCain a candidate more to their liking.

President George W. Bush sees that very clearly. Last May 15, (2008) President George W. Bush went to Israel and, speaking to the Israeli parliament (the Knesset), he did a most unusual thing: he attacked an American presidential candidate, Sen. Barack Obama, while in a foreign country. It was certainly most inappropriate for a sitting president to campaign against a fellow American in a foreign land.

On some narrowly defined social issues, Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain are further apart and it can be said that they offer a real choice. Indeed, on social issues, on the economy, and on budget priorities, Sen. Obama can be considered a progressive while Sen. McCain is a conservative. In fact, on the whole, Sen. McCain can be seen as the status quo candidate, while Sen. Obama is the candidate for change and reform.

Let us see the differences on key social and economic issues between Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain.

1. On Social Security, for instance, an issue closely followed by senior citizens and future retirees, Sen. McCain is on record as favoring a privatization of Social Security, while Sen. Obama strongly opposes such a privatization, as it could place retirees’ incomes at the whim of the stock market. Here the choice is clear.

2. On Health care, Sen. Obama favors public health care and cheaper drugs; Sen. McCain opposes this approach. Sen. Obama would like to see a comprehensive health care system that would be compulsory for children but voluntary for adults. Sen. McCain wants to keep the current health system pretty much intact, while providing individuals with a $2500 refundable tax credit for health expenditures. Here again the choice is pretty clear.

3. On the social issue of women’s rights, Sen. Obama clearly sides on the side of women and their right to control their own body. Therefore, he considers that decisions about abortion must remain a matter between a woman and her doctor, and not be dictated by religious or political authorities. By contrast, Sen. McCain has moved closer to religious activists and now favors overriding the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, while keeping incest and rape as the only exceptions for abortion. It would seem that those who believe in women’s rights should vote for Sen. Obama and those who believe that the state should impose its decisions on women should vote for Sen. McCain.

4. On the crucial related issue of who should sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, the choice between the two presidential candidates would also seem to be clear-cut. Sen. Obama could be expected to nominate progressive judges on the Supreme Court, while Sen. McCain would like to push the Supreme Court even further to the right than it is now. For instance, Sen. Obama opposed Judge Samuel Alito’s confirmation (Jan. 2006) and Judge John Roberts’ nomination for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (Sept. 2005). That could be the most long-term contentious difference between the two candidates.

5. On taxes and budget choices, the two candidates are way apart. For one, Sen. McCain was initially against the Bush administration tax cuts in 2003. Since then, he has embraced those cuts and the resulting deficits, while proposing a sizeable increase in defense spending. Sen. McCain would even go as far as requiring a two-thirds majority of Congress before raising taxes. Since expenditures would not be so constrained, this would insure permanent budgetary deficits for years to come. On the other side, Sen. Obama proposes that very wealthy individuals contribute more to financing Social Security. He would repeal Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy. He would also like to make the U.S. tax system more progressive by requiring wealthy individuals to contribute proportionally more than those with lower incomes, while providing tax relief to the majority of American taxpayers. On that score, Sen. McCain is more a follower of George W. Bush, while Sen. Obama adopts the standard Democratic position of favoring the middle class and the poor at the expense of the very rich. The choice on this issue is fairly clear.

Overall, Sen. Obama seems to be surrounding himself with intelligent, competent and experienced advisers such as former Security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and former general William Odom. On the other hand, Sen. McCain seems to be emulating President George W. Bush by surrounding himself with lobbyists, and with neocon and far right advisers.

To conclude, Sen. Obama may be a better alternative than Sen. McCain, but his propensity to double-talk can be disconcerting. Let’s say that he is possibly the least worst of the two main presidential candidates. It is my contention that former Vice President Al Gore, the candidate for whom a majority of Americans voted in 2000, would have been a better and more logical, and most likely, a more successful Democratic choice as a presidential candidate.

Rodrigue Tremblay is professor emeritus of economics at the University of Montreal and can be reached at rodrigue.tremblay@yahoo.com

He is the author of the book ‘The New American Empire’

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

Author’s Website: www.thenewamericanempire.com/

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

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.

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Candidate McCain: A Risky Choice by Prof. Rodrigue Tremblay

The Illegitimate & Disastrous US Military Occupation of Iraq by Rodrigue Tremblay

Dandelion Salad

by Rodrigue Tremblay
Monday, June 16, 2008

“The president [George W. Bush] is strongly motivated to string out the [Iraq] war until he leaves office, in order to avoid taking responsibility for the defeat he has caused and persisted in making greater each year for more than three years.” – General William Odom, former head of the National Security Agency (NSA) under President Ronald Reagan

“In beloved Iraq, blood is flowing between brothers, in the shadow of an illegitimate foreign occupation, and abhorrent sectarianism threatens a civil war.” – King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, March 29, 2007

“After [this] war [against Iraq] has ended, the United States will have to rebuild much more than the country of Iraq. We will have to rebuild America’s image around the globe.” – Sen. Robert Byrd, (D-W.Va), March 19, 2003

The Iraqi Parliament is on record as being against the US-led military occupation of their country. Moreover, most Iraqis resent Americans occupying their country and the Bush-Cheney administration’s requests to do it forever by maintaining nearly 60 military bases in their country. The Bush-Cheney administration has even threatened the puppet Iraqi government to withhold some $50 billion of Iraq’s money held as reserves at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, if the Iraqi government does not sign what is also called a “strategic alliance” agreement to prolong U.S. occupation indefinitely and turn Iraq into a permanent American colony.

Indeed, after the illegal military invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the United Nations was forced to extend a mandate of occupation to the United States. Thus, in June 2004, the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 1546 that recognized the de facto occupation of Iraq by American-led military forces and kept Iraq subject to the Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, which authorizes the use of force in Iraq. The mandate was supposed to be terminated at the end of 2005, but was extended. It is that U.N. mandate authorizing an American presence in Iraq that finally expires on December 31 of this year. After that date, there will be no legal basis for U.S. military forces to be on Iraqi soil and the Iraqi government would regain its entire authority.

That’s what the Bush-Cheney administration wants to avoid by pressing the Iraqis to sign a so-called long-term “security agreement”, which would not require approval by the U.S. Congress (because it would not be a treaty, although this is playing with words in order to escape the scrutiny of U.S. lawmakers), and which would keep real Iraqi authority to a nominal level and concentrate most of political power in American hands. In other words, the Bush-Cheney administration wants a puppet government in Baghdad in perpetuity. We may add that this is precisely what Republican presidential Candidate McCain also wants.

In the future, as now, Americans in Iraq (American troops, contractors and private security guards) would have full legal immunity for their actions, even when they steal, rape, kidnap, torture, or murder Iraqis, and could arrest Iraqis and put them in American-run jails. Moreover, the American occupiers would have key Iraqi departments such as Defense, Interior and National Security ministries, as well as armament contracts, under their supervision for ten years, would keep control of Iraqi airspace, would maintain permanent military bases in the country and would retain the right to strike, from within Iraqi territory, any country (Iran and Syria) they consider to be a threat to their security or contrary to U.S. or Iraqi interests. Some sovereignty and some independence indeed! Even the weak Nouri al-Maliki government thinks it’s too much, while Shia Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani is tinkering with the idea of issuing a religious fatwa against the Bush-Cheney’s so-called proposed agreement, a move that would likely kill it.

Let’s keep in mind that the Bush-Cheney’s military occupation of Iraq is doubly illegitimate, besides having been illegal from day one according to international law. First, a solid majority of Americans want American soldiers out of Iraq. Second, a vast majority of Iraqis also want American soldiers out of their country. The irony is that the Bush-Cheney regime pretends to be in Iraq for the sake of “democracy”, while they trample on people’s demands both in Iraq and in the United States. Some “democracy” indeed. How about fascism and imperialism!

When both the president of Iraq and the King of Saudi Arabia say that the ongoing U.S. military occupation of Iraq is ‘illegitimate’, and when Turkey has acted on its threats to bomb and invade Northern Iraq, it becomes obvious that the entire Middle East is now turning against the U.S. Bush-Cheney regime and its colonial adventure in that part of the world. The Bush-Cheney regime likes to delude itself and to play on words when it pretends that Iraq is not under an “illegitimate foreign occupation” but that U.S. troops are in that far away country at Iraq’s invitation (sic!), citing the after-the-fact U.N. mandate. This is an example of fuzzy and circular thinking. When you don’t think straight, you don’t act straight. And, on this score, the Bush-Cheney administration is the most crooked you can find.

All that remains to see is whether the Bush-Cheney administration will succeed on three fronts, that is to say, 1- force its puppet government in Baghdad to sign a long-term agreement of dependence toward the United States, 2- bypass Congress and the U.S. Constitution in adopting what would clearly be an international treaty, and finally, 3- tie up the hands of the next president and prevent him from withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq. When you think of it, this is a cynical game of brinksmanship, always on the edge of legality, morality and decency.

Rodrigue Tremblay is professor emeritus of economics at the University of Montreal and can be reached at rodrigue.tremblay@yahoo.com

He is the author of the book ‘The New American Empire’

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

Author’s Website: www.thenewamericanempire.com/

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

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.

Candidate McCain: A Risky Choice by Prof. Rodrigue Tremblay

Dandelion Salad

by Prof. Rodrigue Tremblay
Global Research, June 3, 2008

“I believe that the Iraqi people will greet us as liberators.” Sen. John McCain, (March 20, 2003)

“As you know, there are al Qaeda operatives that are taken back into Iran, given training as leaders, and they’re moving back into Iraq.” Sen. John McCain, 2008 presumptive Republican presidential nominee, (In Amman, Jordan, March 18, 2008)

“Iran obviously is on the path toward acquiring nuclear weapons.” …“At the end of the day we cannot allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.” Sen. John McCain

“Anyone who worries about how long we [the United States]’re in Iraq does not understand the military.” Sen. John McCain

“John McCain will make [Dick] Cheney look like Gandhi.” Pat Buchanan.

“McCain was a fighter pilot, who dropped laser-guided missiles from 35,000 feet. He was long gone when they hit. What happened when they [the missiles] get to the ground? He doesn’t know. You have to care about the lives of people. McCain never gets into those issues.” Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.)

Many people write to me asking what I think of the current batch of presidential candidates in the U.S. —First, let me make a general observation. The American political process, especially at the presidential level, is inhuman and inefficient. It is a gruesome meat grinder where candidates have to campaign for months in primaries or caucuses in all 50 states, raise tens of millions dollars and see their private lives exposed and criticized. With such a system, it is no wonder that few Americans with high intellect and character are willing to submit themselves to such an ordeal. The current batch of presidential candidates is the result of such a system. You will find no great personalities of the caliber of Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower or John F. Kennedy, even though the more nutty ones have been eliminated. The three remaining candidates are not the best of what America can offer and afford.

Let me begin with the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Senator John McCain (R-AZ). My appreciation is, on the whole, relatively negative.

On the positive side, Senator McCain has built a long history of independence in the U.S. Senate, so much so that he is often referred to as a maverick. For example, Sen. McCain has displeased many Republicans by supporting political finance reform, by denouncing state torture and even by criticizing initially the way the Bush-Cheney administration launched the Iraq war. On the last issue, however, it can be said that Sen. McCain has since backed off and he has aligned himself more closely with the current Republican White House.

On the question of torture, Sen. McCain has promised to close the detention center in Guantanamo Bay. He has declared that he would engage more actively in climate talks (as long as China and India agreed to emissions cuts). It can also be said that Sen. McCain does not consider himself a “religious” candidate, and I doubt very much that he will be holding weekly Bible sessions, as George W. Bush is reported having done within the walls of the White House. These may be inconsequential differences with the current administration, but I think they are real.

On the negative side, however, the issues on which Sen. McCain agrees with President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are much more numerous and much more important. On most of the important issues, it would be “more of the same” with John McCain. That is why President George W. Bush has said that he is ready to do anything to have Senator John McCain elected president and that he is going to raise funds for him. Bush knows perfectly well that a McCain presidency would be like a third term for his own failed presidency. Indeed, people who like what Bush has done or undone during the last eight years should vote for McCain with little fear of being disappointed. In particular, they would love his militarism and his bellicose character. On the other hand, those who have felt betrayed or have been the victims of the Bush-Cheney administration, and that includes the 81 percent of Americans who believe their country is on the wrong track, should think twice before de facto extending the disastrous Bush presidency one day further than necessary.

Let us look at the situation.

For one, Sen. McCain is expected, as one commentator put it, to behave as a George W. Bush on steroids. Some go as far as depicting him as a candidate who aspires to become President McBush, because so many of his policies would duplicate Bush’s policies. For example, Sen. McCain is partisan of the imperial presidency theory, advanced and practiced in recent years by the Bush-Cheney administration. As recently as last May 6, he confirmed that if he were elected President, he would enthusiastically throw out the restraint on power established by the constitutional checks and balances and would embrace the Bush-Cheney’s claim of near absolute executive power. McCain is especially worried that the courts could stick to the letter and spirit of the U.S. Constitution and reject attempts by the President to establish a quasi dictatorship while dismissing Congress’ prerogatives. In McCain’s words, presidential executive power in the U.S. is too constrained by a judiciary that “show[s] little regard for the authority of the president.” On this very question, however, Sen. McCain seems to want it both ways. Is this sincere or is it solely a way to create confusion? For instance, on May 15, he tried to distance himself from the Bush-Cheney administration and professed that he now embraces the constitutional concept of checks and balances. Which McCain is the real McCain? Obviously, further clarifications are urgently needed.

Secondly, on foreign policy more than anywhere else, McCain can be expected to be a McBush plus. He can be expected to be a mixture of a simplistic George W. Bush and of a rabidly nationalistic and interventionist Dick Cheney, the last two always ready to immorally bomb people and ask questions later. McCain stands ready to continue the Bush-Cheney’s insane foreign policy. Therefore, no one should expect that he would be much different than what this duo has stood for over the last eight years, which is aggressive global interventionism, disastrous unilateralism and excessive militarism. Under McCain, the United States would still be the global bully of the planet. This will lead to more geopolitical instability worldwide, more debt for the United States, and more economic disruptions in trade, especially for oil and commodities. There will be a high economic price to pay with a McCain presidency, make no mistake about it. The current slowdown or recession may be only a harbinger of things to come.

Indeed, listening to him, one has the feeling that Sen. McCain has never met a war he didn’t like. For instance, if it were only up to him, American soldiers would still be in Vietnam, where he was a pilot, flying fighter-bombers that dropped bombs over North Vietnam. He has also said that he would like to intervene even more directly in South America. And in the Middle East, he has said that he would not mind having an American military occupation of that region for another one hundred years. In McCain’s view, Iraq is an American colony forever, thus making sure there will be permanent war and permanent military occupation in that part of the world. In 1999, McCain even lobbied the Clinton administration to have the U.S. invade Yugoslavia with ground troops. America’s Founders would be turning in their graves if they could see their cherished republic becoming a militaristic empire!

Thirdly, Sen. McCain does not seem to know or care about international law. Indeed, not only is Sen. McCain constantly confusing the Sunnis and the Shi’ites in Iraq, after all these years, but he seems to be completely lost as to the true meaning of “preemptive” war versus “preventive” war. A preemptive war or a preemptive strike is a self-defensive measure which is taken against a foreign country that poses an imminent and inevitable threat because it is about to invade, or is threatening to attack shortly. A preventive war is rather a war of choice or a war of aggression that is launched in anticipation of a loss of security or strategic advantage in a more or less far away future, or to gain foreign territories and resources. While a preemptive war is essentially defensive in nature, a preventive war is fundamentally imperialistic. In McCain’s vocabulary, the two notions are confused since he says that he would not rule out launching preemptive wars, when in fact he means launching preventive wars of aggression “against future enemies” who pose no immediate threat to the United States.

A preemptive war can sometimes be legal and justifiable, and be in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. But a preventive war, because it is a planned and overt act of aggression, is never legal according to international law.

Fourthly, it seems that Mr. McCain is a man who has a chip on his shoulder, which is also reminiscent of George W. Bush, and that makes him a dangerous man to be trusted as leader of a heavily armed country like the United States. For example, remembering his days as a Navy pilot and a prisoner during the Vietnam War, nearly fifty years ago, he now says that he would like to go to Cuba to “punish” those Cuban soldiers who hurt his buddies in Vietnam. The Cuban government has answered him that there were no Cuban soldiers in Vietnam, but he keeps the grudge.

Another parallel with Mr. Bush is the fact that Mr. McCain, who will be 72 years old in August, attended a naval academy at Annapolis where he ranked near the end of this class, 894th out of 899 students. Thus, he cannot be expected to be a “philosopher president,” and would be expected to lead with his guts rather than his head.

Fifth, Sen. McCain is a neocon candidate. The Israel Lobby, indeed, and the Neocons, that is to say the small clique of misguided ideologues who have whispered advice into George W. Bush’s ears for years, and who have begun whispering into McCain’s ears, would be delighted to have a militarily hawkish and neoconservative McCain in the White House. For them, this would be a dream come true. Their pet project—a war against Iran—would become a reality.

Sen. McCain was born on a U.S. military base in a foreign country (Panama), and he is the son and grandson of military career individuals. That may explain why he is enamored with anything military. This is a man who believes there is a military solution to any political problem. He would be expected to follow the necon-inspired so-called “Bush Doctrine.” He would also be expected to embrace the Neocons’ imperialistic and extreme Right Wing Project for the New American Century (PNAC) that calls for American global dominance. Armed with these two “doctrines”, Sen. McCain, if elected President, would stand ready to launch future gratuitous and illegal wars of aggression around the world to ensure American supremacy. Those who liked George W. Bush will love John McCain. They will get all the fireworks and more. Whether this approach is good for the United States, for its economy and for its reputation, and for stability in the world, is another matter.

Sixth, a John McCain as president would be a gift from heaven to the American military industrial complex. It’s easy to see why. —Sen. McCain is on record for advocating to increase the size of the U.S. armed forces from the current 750,000 to 900,000 members. Under his governance, the Pentagon and a host of defense contractors would see the U.S. defense budget, already bloated to a point of being larger than the defense spending of all 191 other countries taken together, would increase even further. Another red flag is the fact that McCain has surrounded himself with a host of far right lobbyists to run his campaign and raise money. This means that if ever he is elected, he will be a prisoner of these far right elements. Not a promising perspective.

Seventh, Senator John McCain has supported George W. Bush’s huge tax cuts for the rich, which have resulted in large budget deficits and which have contributed so much to placing the United States in its current precarious economic situation, that is to say, being saddled with a falling currency and a spreading financial crisis. It is no wonder that George W. Bush has enthusiastically endorsed John McCain, although such an endorsement could prove to be a double-edged sword, since Bush’s approval rating in the U.S. is the lowest of any American president, while a large majority of Americans believe their country is heading in the wrong direction.

Eighth, McCain’s personal character is open to question. He is known, and this from his early childhood, to be prone to sudden and uncontrollable fits of temper tantrums. It is reported by biographer Robert Timberg (“John McCain: An American Odyssey”) that right up into his twenties, he remained a strikingly violent man, “ready to fight at the drop of a hat”. This rage seems to be at the core of his personality: describing his own childhood, McCain has admitted to having a quick temper and a short fuse (see his book “Worth the Fighting for: A Memoir”) and he has confessed that as a youngster “at the smallest provocation I would go off into a mad frenzy, and then suddenly crash to the floor unconscious. When I got angry I held my breath until I blacked out!” Then, his parents would be forced to soak him in cold water, clothes and all, to wake him up.

A man with such a character is a dangerous man to be entrusted with the responsibility of custody of nuclear weapons. Even some of his Republican Senate colleagues say that he is too reckless to be commander-in-chief. And this is on top of his aggressive militarist stance in foreign policy and his obvious and avowed lack of knowledge in economic matters.

Ninth, there is the legitimate question of his age and personal health. The New York Times has recently been complaining about the lack of medical information regarding the presumptive Republican candidate and how little people know about his health. After all, this is not a trivial matter, since Sen. McCain will be 72 years old in August and he is recovering from an August 2000 surgery for a melanoma cancer, the deadliest of all cancers. A recently released medical report does not alleviate a bit concerns about this very issue.

And ten: Since the media have criticized Senator Barak Obama for his close association with an outspoken black minister, it is worth noting that Senator John McCain has also been endorsed by probably one of the worst right-wing religious bigots in the U.S. today, Texan anti-Catholic televangelist John Hagee.

Let us remember that televangelist (San Antonio megachurch) leader John Hagee, has said that the 2005 hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment to New Orleans; he has also referred to the Roman Catholic Church as “the great whore” and called it a “false cult system” and “the apostate church.” (There are 60 million Catholics in the U. S. and they could resent such insinuations.) And to top that, he has also declared that God sent [Adolf] Hitler to perpetrate the Holocaust in order to force Jews to move to Israel!

Therefore, it is certainly legitimate to ask why there is all the media attention on Senator Barack Obama’s association with a controversial pastor, and hardly any directed at Senator McCain’s association with another controversial pastor. Does this not smack of double standards?

In conclusion, when all the dots are connected, it would seem to be clear: Senator “100 Years” John McCain must be considered a man too dangerous and too unpredictable to be entrusted with the presidency of a heavily armed country. Do Americans really want a man whom some call “Senator Hothead”, to become “President Hothead” and place him in a position of high responsibility? Let’s hope that enough Americans will reflect about all that before the events unfold, not after. If Americans really believe that their country is headed in the wrong direction, does it really make sense to line up behind a candidate who wants to go even further in the same direction?


Rodrigue Tremblay is professor emeritus of economics at the University of Montreal and can be reached at rodrigue.tremblay@yahoo.com

He is the author of the book ‘The New American Empire’

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

Author’s Website: www.thenewamericanempire.com/

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

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

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

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Rodrigue Tremblay, Global Research, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9169

see

McCain at AIPAC: Drumbeats of War?

And The Winner Is … The Israel lobby By Pepe Escobar

This Mini-League Of Nations Would Cause Only Division

Who Is Being Reckless, Obama Or McCain? by Eric S. Margolis

John McCain’s Lobbyists

McCain Lobbyist Scandal Explodes (links)

McCain’s YouTube Problem Just Became a Nightmare

Translating McCain: Quotes from Wake Forest University

McCain Madness: Adviser ousted in conflict uproar + Hamas (video)

New America Foundation: Foreign Policy Follies (video)

In a Casino Mentality, The Economy Goes From Bubble to Bubble

Dandelion Salad

by Prof. Rodrigue Tremblay
Global Research, May 14, 2008

[U.S.] “strategy should aim, above all, at the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime from power.”…[His removal is absolutely vital to] “the security of the world in the first part of the 21st century” and for “the safety of American troops in the region, of our friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states, and a significant portion of the world’s supply of oil.”

Neocons’ January 26, 1998 letter to President Bill Clinton

[About the Iraqis] “If they turn on their radars we’re going to blow up their goddamn missiles. They know we own their country. We own their airspace… We dictate the way they live and talk. And that’s what’s great about America right now. It’s a good thing, especially when there’s a lot of oil out there we need.”

U.S. Air Force Brig. General William Looney, head of the US-UK flying operation south of the 32nd parallel over Iraq (no-fly zones), interview reproduced in the Washington Post, August 30 1999, [quoted in William Blum’s book, Rogue State, Common Courage Press, 2005, p. 159]

“Focus your operations on the oil, especially in Iraq and in the Gulf, as this would mean [the West’s] death.”

Osama bin Laden, December 2004

“The high crude oil prices do not have any relation to production or consumption,”… [It is] “because of the decrease in the value of the dollar.”

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran President, April 2008

The American economy seems to be going from bubble to bubble: in 2000, it was the tech bubble; in 2005, it was the housing bubble; and now, it is the oil and commodities bubble. In fact, the entire world of investment is now a giant casino where speculators are in charge and where governments look the other way. For many basic marketable staples (rice, wheat, and corn) and commodities (oil, gas, metals), prices have no relation to the underlying values of what is being traded. Such prices are mostly driven by bad policies and by the pyramidal “greatest fool” technique by which large off-shore speculators navigate through unregulated derivatives to push prices up ever further, until the bubble burst. Meanwhile, a lot of disruptions may be created and people’s lives may have been endangered or lost. The current famine in many countries is the end result of such government approved manipulation of markets, by OPEC and a host of other cartels and so-called speculative hedge funds.

Is it possible for an economy to grow and prosper without always being on a roller coaster? Indeed, does the current explosion in oil and commodities prices reflect real supply and demand shifts, such as supply disruptions, or is it also or even mainly driven by geopolitical factors and financial speculation that fuel an ever larger insatiable artificial demand?

It is my feeling that the plummetting U.S. dollar is having serious unintended economic consequences worldwide. Indeed, such a panic devaluation of the most widely used key currency is fueling a major rush out of dollar holdings into hard assets, such as oil, gold and other commodities. Central banks, companies and individuals are losing faith in the dollar paper currency, which has been depreciating fast against other currencies, but whose intrinsic value is also expected to be eroded further by the coming inflation that will inevitably follow the Fed’s current liquidity creation. All these problems are interconnected.

Let us remember that the oil problem in the U.S. is largely a self-inflicted predicament since the U.S. government opted to move away from a self-sufficiency and a renewable-energy based economy. In 1982, for example, the U.S. daily consumption of oil had been brought down to about 9 million barrels a day, from 14 million barrels a day before the 1973 OPEC-initiated oil shock. Since the U.S. was producing about 9 million barrels of oil a day, it can be said the American economy was then self-sufficient in that form of energy needs. The Reagan administration changed all that: No more 55 an hour driving limits; reduced obligations for car manufacturers to raise gas mileage; no more restrictions, fiscal or otherwise, on the purchase of gas guzzlers, etc. The result is that the United States, with less than five percent of the world population, now consumes 25 percent of the daily world oil output, roughly 22 million barrels a day out of about 88 million barrels produced daily worldwide. And, here’s the gist, 60 percent of that oil has to be imported. What’s more, for the world as a whole, also 60 percent of oil imports come from the unstable Middle East. That’s what we can call playing with fire!

Therefore, since oil access under American control played an important part in the Bush-Cheney’s decision to launch an unprovoked war against Iraq in the spring of 2003, in order to turn that sovereign country into an American oil protectorate under management by a few major Anglo-American oil companies, it can said that the seeds for this illegal war were sown way back, during the Republican Reagan administration. That was when the philosophy of deregulation was rampant and was then hailed as a success. But, as a consequence, twenty-five precious years have been lost in preparing the U.S. economy for the time when oil would become a scarce energy source. Now, this time has arrived, but this is still the era of Hummer type vehicles that can only run on large quantities of costly and risky imported oil.

Indeed, in the U.S., there are now three cars for four adults and those cars are larger and have more powerful engines than anywhere else in the world. If only a few countries, such as China and India, were to emulate the United State in that regard, as their income levels rise, world oil consumption would more than double. But with no known oil reserves to meet such an expanded demand, oil prices would skyrocket, crushing the purchasing power of consumers and raising inflation. The result would be a major worldwide economic crisis before economically viable alternative energy sources could be developed. This could take ten to twenty years.

Are we there now? If not, we are moving fast toward that day of reckoning, while do-nothing or complicit governments hope for a miracle or some magic solution. The main consequences will be rising inflation, 19th century wars for securing resources, and a worldwide economic slowdown in production and trade. The next twenty years should prove to be interesting for a few, but taxing for the many.

Rodrigue Tremblay is professor emeritus of economics at the University of Montreal and can be reached at rodrigue.tremblay@yahoo.com

He is the author of the book ‘The New American Empire’

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

Author’s Website: www.thenewamericanempire.com

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

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

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

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Rodrigue Tremblay, Global Research, 2008

The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8971

Permanent Wars for Oil and Permanent Terrorism by Rodrigue Tremblay

Dandelion Salad

by Rodrigue Tremblay
Thursday, May 1, 2008

“Oil in the next war will occupy the place of coal in the present war, or at least a parallel place to coal. The only big potential supply that we can get under British control is the Persian [now Iran] and Mesopotamian [now Iraq] supply…. Control over these oil supplies becomes a first class British war aim.” — Sir Maurice Hankey, Britain’s First Secretary of the War Cabinet, 1918

“Whatever their publicized angst over Saddam Hussein’s ‘weapons of mass destruction,’ American and British authorities were also concerned about violence in an area that harbours a resource indispensable for the functioning of the world economy.” — Alan Greenspan, Fed Chairman 1987-2006

[We cannot leave Iraq because] “extremists [may] be in a position to use oil as a tool to blackmail the West… and they will do so unless we abandon Israel ” — George W. Bush, November 1, 2006

“When there is a regime change in Iraq, you could add 3 million to 5 million barrels of production to world supply,” — Lawrence Lindsey, former George W. Bush’s then-chief economic adviser, 2002

“Secure supplies of energy are essential to our prosperity and security. The concentration of 65 percent of the world’s known oil reserves in the Persian Gulf means we must continue to ensure reliable access to competitively priced oil and a prompt, adequate response to any major oil supply disruption.” — U.S. White House, “National Security Strategy of the United States”, March 1990

When the Bush-Cheney administration took over in January 2001, the international price of oil was about $22 a barrel. Now, nearly eight years later, the price of oil is hovering around $120 a barrel, a more than five hundred percent increase. Thus, as far as oil is concerned, things have not unfolded in Iraq as planned and expected by the Neocons in the Bush-Cheney administration. First, they thought that gushing Iraqi oil would pay for the invasion and occupation of the country. Instead, the cash outlay for this adventure is likely to reach one trillion dollars, and the total cost to the U.S. economy will likely surpass three trillion dollars. Second, the price of oil is reaching record levels with no top in sight and this is threatening to tip the U.S. and the world economies into a protracted economic recession. This is partly due to the fact that Iraqi oil output has not increased as planned and is rather below where it was when the United States invaded and occupied Iraq in 2003. From a macroeconomic point of view, this ill-advised and illegal war has been an unmitigated disaster.

Nevertheless, despite sporadic pious declarations about leaving Iraq when asked, the Bush-Cheney administration is planning a 50-Year American military occupation of Iraq. They do not want to set a date to end the occupation of Iraq, because they see it as an open-ended military occupation. —This is to be expected, since the real reasons they invaded Iraq in the first place was to pursue the long run goal of controlling Middle East oil and of protecting the state of Israel from its Muslim neighbors. Indeed, everybody knows that the military invasion of Iraq by American forces had nothing to do with “democracy” or the wishes of the people. It had everything to do with securing Iraq’s oil reserves and with removing one of Israel’s enemies in the person of Saddam Hussein.

Last May 31 (2007), Secretary of Defense Robert Gates confirmed these long-term plans when he said that the United States was looking for a “long and enduring presence” in Iraq. That is the reason the U.S. has built the largest embassy in the world, 21 buildings on a 100-acre site on the banks of the Tigris, which will be capable of housing one thousand employees. That is also why they are consolidating some 100 plus military bases in that Muslim country into 14 permanent super-military bases – all geared to control militarily that part of the world for a very long time.

This is also why the Bush-Cheney administration is pushing the Iraqi Parliament hard to adopt a law that would privatize the Iraqi oil industry. If the current puppet regime now in place in Iraq were to refuse passing such a law, the so-called “Hydrocarbon Act”, it would lose over a billion dollars in reconstruction funds that would be blocked by the Bush-Cheney administration.

This overt military grab of the oil resources of a Middle East nation is a sure recipe for feeding permanent terrorism in the world and permanent war in the Middle East for as long as one can see. And if Americans elect a Republican president for a third term next November, by voting for presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Senator John McCain (R-AZ), that is what will happen since this politician is already committed to a one hundred year war in that part of the world.

According to polls, a vast majority of Iraqis is opposed to the privatization of their oil industry. Nevertheless, privatization of Iraqi oil is one of the main “benchmarks” that the Bush-Cheney administration is imposing on the Iraqi government.

It has installed in occupied Iraq a puppet government of its own that is delivering the merchandise, even though some arm-twisting pressure has been necessary. Last July 3 (2007), for instance, the U.S.-controlled al-Maliki’s Cabinet approved, with no Sunni ministers present, a US-backed draft oil law that will share Iraqi oil wealth between the three main Iraqi groups, but which will, above all, let American and foreign oil companies into the Iraqi oil sector and enact privatization under so called production sharing agreements. This has been a key political target and even a “benchmark” set by the Bush-Cheney White House, but so far the Iraqi Parliament has balked in approving the required controversial legislation, because there have been many protests, many Iraqis being very reluctant to adopt a policy of sharing oil production and revenues with foreign oil companies, especially when they have been taken away from them “at gunpoint”.

The Iraqi oil industry has been nationalized since 1975, some thirty-three years ago. Indeed, before the American-led military invasion and occupation of Iraq, the Iraqi oil fields were controlled by the Iraqi government through a state-owned corporation. This was the foundation for a relatively high standard of living in Iraq, which had one of the best health care systems in the region and was producing more Ph.D.s per capita than the U.S. It is this prosperity and this wealth that are being destroyed by the Bush-Cheney administration. Under their military occupation of Iraq and the contemplated oil arrangements, much of Iraqi oil production and oil revenues would fall under the control of foreign oil companies, mainly American and British [Exxon/Mobil, Chevron/Texaco, BP/Amoco, and Royal Dutch/Shell].

One of the two main rationales for launching the illegal invasion of Iraq would have been accomplished, i.e. to keep the flow of oil going, under the surveillance of American troops, the other rationale being the destruction of one of Israel’s strategic enemies. — Many knowledgeable observers, such as Australian Defense Minister Brendan Nelson, have confirmed that Oil Supply Security was a paramount reason for the Iraq invasion and occupation when he said that maintaining “resource security” in the Middle East was a priority. That is the reason why, when the American armies arrived in Baghdad, in early April 2003, their orders were to secure only one kind of public buildings, those of the Iraqi Oil Ministry. All the rest did not matter.

Finally, let us remember that on October 11, 2002, the U.S. Senate voted 77-23 to give George W. Bush and Dick Cheney a blank check authorization to launch a war of aggression against Iraq. Two current presidential candidates, John McCain and Hillary Clinton voted for the resolution. Let us remind ourselves also that ten days earlier, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had issued a confidential 90-page classified version of the National Intelligence Estimate, which contained a long list of dire consequences to follow if the USA were to invade Iraq. The report was made available to all 100 senators, but only six of them bothered to avail themselves of the opportunity to read it. Thanks to that knowledge, people have a glimpse now about how decisions were made in Washington D.C. before the onset of this war. Even on questions of life and death, improvisation prevailed on a high scale. And now, the seeds have been sown for permanent military occupations, permanent wars and permanent terrorism in the Middle East and in the world.

The price for such a misguided policy will be high and will linger on for years to come. Indeed, many Americans are beginning to see that there is a link between Iraq war spending and deficit, and the ongoing recession and accelerating inflation. Such waste and spending on wars reduce the amount of financial resources available to finance other essential government programs at home, from education to infrastructure. They increase the balance of payments deficit and force the U.S. to borrow abroad. And when the Fed lowers interest rates to mitigate the banking crisis, the dollar plummets, which feeds inflation further when oil prices and all other prices connected with transportation and world-traded commodities go up. The current stagflation is a direct consequence of excessive U.S. military spending abroad. The sooner a majority of Americans see that, the better.

Rodrigue Tremblay lives in Montreal and can be reached at rodrigue.tremblay@yahoo.com Visit his blog site at: www.thenewamericanempire.com/blog. Author’s Website: www.thenewamericanempire.com/ Check Dr. Tremblay’s coming book “The Code for Global Ethics” at: www.TheCodeForGlobalEthics.com

© 2008 by Big Picture World Syndicate, Inc.

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

see

Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich: “Privatizing Iraq’s Oil is Theft!” (vid)

Oil

When the Fed Goes into the Investment Business by Rodrigue Tremblay

Dandelion Salad

by Rodrigue Tremblay
Saturday, April 12, 2008

“The power to determine the quantity of money… is too important, too pervasive, to be exercised by a few people, however public-spirited, if there is any feasible alternative. There is no need for such arbitrary power… Any system which gives so much power and so much discretion to a few men, [so] that mistakes – excusable or not – can have such far reaching effects, is a bad system. It is a bad system to believers in freedom just because it gives a few men such power without any effective check by the body politic – this is the key political argument against an independent central bank.”

Milton Friedman (1912-2006)

“The system of banking [is] a blot left in all our Constitutions, which, if not covered, will end in their destruction… The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people to whom it properly belongs.”

Thomas Jefferson, (1743-1826), 3rd U.S. President

“If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their money, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them (around the banks), will deprive the people of their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”

Thomas Jefferson, (1743-1826), 3rd U.S. President

In 1989, the U.S. government created the Resolution Trust Corp., in effect nationalizing many savings and loans banks that were in financial difficulties. Similarly, on February 16, 2008, the British government nationalized the Northern Rock bank and rescued this bank with about £55 billion ($107 billion) in public loans and guarantees.

During the weekend of March 14-16, 2008, the Federal Reserve, a semi-public and semi-private American central bank organization, accepted to create a Delaware-based corporation in partnership with a (regulated) private bank, the JP Morgan Chase bank, in order to buy and manage $30 billion of distressed mortgage-backed securities acquired from a New York-based global but unregulated investment bank, Bear Stearns, about to go bankrupt. JP Morgan Chase put $1 billion in the new corporation, while the Fed invested $29 billion, an amount that was quickly transferred to JP Morgan Chase, the new owner of Bear Stearns.

In so doing, the Fed has de facto nationalized a portion of the portfolio of Bear Stearns, and become an “investor of last resort” rather than a “lender of last resort”, besides facilitating the take-over of this investment bank by JP Morgan Chase. A private company, BlackRock Financial Management, was also hired to administer the new Delaware-based corporation and will attempt to liquidate the acquired securities gradually over time. The Fed could then recuperate part or all of its non-recourse “loan” to JP Morgan Chase, and would retain any excess amount on its unusual “investment”, in the event there is a profit.

There you have it. For the first time since its creation in 1913, the Fed has turned itself into a government of the banks, and has invested risky public capital in a business that was in need to be saved quickly from bankruptcy and liquidation. Thus, the Fed has not only decided that it is its duty to solve “liquidity crises”, but also “solvency crises” in the regulated and non-regulated banking sector. In other countries, such public investments to resolve a solvency crisis are decided and handled by the Treasury and the Government, and are later voted into law. Even in the U.S., that is the way the Resolution Trust Corp. was created by the Reagan administration in the late 1990’s. In fact, the current banking crisis is very reminiscent of the U.S. Savings and Loan crisis of the 1980’s and 1990’s, although this time the banking crisis is much more severe and much more widespread.

I personally do not question the need for avoiding a panic liquidation of the subprime and other exotic assets of Bear Stearns, in order to avoid a contagious domino effect of bank failures and a worldwide credit crunch, which could have duplicated the failure of the Creditanstalt bank in September 1931, an event that precipitated the 1930’s depression. After all, the Fed was established in 1913 to avoid banking panics. What can be questioned is the way this has been done, the end result being in effect to subsidize the U.S. banking sector by privatizing most of the profits derived from the rescue operation in the hands of a private bank, and nationalizing the most likely losses in the hands of the Fed and its backer, the U.S. government. The U.S. Treasury should have played a much larger role in this bailout, so as to protect the public interest.

Make no mistake about it. This transaction may turn out to be enormously profitable to JP Morgan Chase, if the actions of the Fed were to stabilize the market for mortgage-backed financial assets in the coming months, while the Fed guarantees that the new owner of Bear Stearns would not suffer any loss on a vulnerable portion of its acquired portfolio.

A more transparent and a more democratic approach would have called for the Treasury to establish the equivalent of the old Resolution Trust Corp. to acquire insolvent Bear Stearns and gradually liquidate its mortgage-backed and other risky financial assets over time. The salvaged investment bank could have later on be sold to an existing bank at a fair market value, or reinstated as an independent viable financial entity. The public good could have been protected by avoiding a financial panic, while simultaneously precluding a massive liquidation of jobs at Bear Stearns, and a possible private enrichment of a private entity under the umbrella of an unusually risky public investment by the Fed.

I have been an adviser to central banks over my career, and that is what I would have recommended.

Rodrigue Tremblay lives in Montreal and can be reached at rodrigue.tremblay@yahoo.com Visit his blog site at: www.thenewamericanempire.com/blog. Author’s Website: www.thenewamericanempire.com/ Check Dr. Tremblay’s coming book “The Code for Global Ethics” at: www.TheCodeForGlobalEthics.com

© 2008 by Big Picture World Syndicate, Inc.

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.

Economic Cycles & Political Trends in the US (Part II) by Rodrigue Tremblay

Dandelion Salad

by Rodrigue Tremblay
Sunday, April 6, 2008

“I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.”

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), 3rd U.S. President

“The people are turbulent and changing, they seldom judge or determine right.”

Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804)

“I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute––where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote–– where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference––and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.”

President John F. Kennedy, September 12, 1960

[N.B.: This article is drawn from a conference pronounced by Dr. Tremblay before the Florida Renaissance Academy, Marco Island Yacht Club, on April 4, 2008.]

PART II

There are even much longer political cycles and trends in political philosophies and ideologies, and social trends, some lasting more than 100 years. Thus, some people may live an entire life without encountering their more extreme occurrences. These are the very long trends I am dealing with here.

Indeed, historically, we can identify three major trends and sources of disagreement in American political philosophy. Such swings in political ideas are developed more fully in my book “The New American Empire” (a book which has also been published in French in Canada and in France and which has just been published in Turkish, (in Ankara). I believe it is important to understand the sources of these trends and cycles in order to understand contemporary politics.

I- First, let’s go back to the Mayflower in order to show the tensions that have existed in the U.S., since the very beginning, between the religious view of the world and the business view of the world.

On November 10, 1620, a group of English families left Holland (where some had been living for 11 years, after fleeing England where they had been persecuted for their religion) and landed at what became Plymouth, Massachusetts. For them, American offered them a land of religious freedom where they could freely practice their religion and not be subjected to the exactions of a state-run official religion. — It is therefore no accident that nearly 200 years later, in the first amendment of the Founding Fathers’ Bill of Rights, adopted two years after the 1787 Constitution, the government is expressly prohibited from infringing upon freedom of religion, among other freedoms, such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right of assembly, and the right to petition the Government.

What is less well known is the fact that the 104 passengers (some of them called themselves “The Pilgrims”) were divided into two nearly equal-sized groups. *One group of 50 people was composed of the more religious ones. They called themselves the “Saints” and they called the other 54 passengers the “Foreigners” because these were people who had been recruited by London merchants and who essentially were mainly interested in the economic opportunities that the new colony, they hoped, would offer them.

During the trip, there were continuous quarrels between the two groups. This was settled by the signing of an agreement between the two, proclaiming equality among the colonists (whether religious or not) and the establishment of a “Civill body Politick”, governed by “just and equall Lawes” (sic). This agreement, called the Mayflower Compact, represents the beginning of the American civil government. It is fundamentally a compromise between religion and business.

There was also another permanent European colony, which was established by the London Company in Jamestown, Virginia, on May 14, 1607, thirteen years earlier. Captain John Smith was the leader of 105 men, whose principal mission was to find gold and to become rich.

Therefore, among the first 209 Americans of European origin, about one fourth were deeply religious, but the other three quarters came to make money and get rich. —I sort of think that this is about the same thing today between the business-oriented people and the very religious people, although the latter group has been gaining importance and influence over the last half century.

As to the right to free enterprise, it can be said that the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution somewhat guarantees such a right since it is says “No State shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

As to freedom of religion, this may explain why there is no official state religion in the United States. Even before the War of Independence (1776 to 1783), a majority of American colonists had been anxious to preserve freedom of religion, and they had revolted against British rule, when the British attempted to establish the Anglican Church as the state religion, as they did in the states of Virginia and New York.

That may explain why, after the War of Independence, the leaders of the new nation chose to establish a fundamentally lay republic that is expected to remain neutral on matter of religion. The Preamble to the 1787 United States Constitution states clearly that the new constitution promotes secular political objectives, not religious ones: “We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” There is no reference to religion there. And, for good measure and to be clearly understood, the Founding Fathers added Article VI to the Constitution, which says expressly that there should be no religious litmus test to occupy any public function in the United States.

That is why, unlike the constitutions of some other countries, the U.S. Constitution makes no reference whatsoever to a deity. In Canada, which remained within the British Empire much longer, our constitution makes a direct reference to God, declaring that our constitution is based upon “the supremacy of God and the rule of law”.

The United States Constitution is much closer to the French Constitution, which expressly defines France as a secular nation: “France is an indivisible, secular, democratic, and social Republic, assuring equality before the law of all citizens without distinction of origin, race, or religion, and respecting all beliefs.”

The two constitutions, both the American and the French, derive their inspiration from the same democratic principle of government. Indeed, in a democracy, the right to vote and to engage in political activity changes the balance of power in a country and it opens the door for the establishment of a government, in Lincoln’s famous words, “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

The French and the American constitutions have brought democracy to the world because they proclaim the important religion-neutral principle that all political power emanates from the consent of the people, and that, consequently, it is not in the government’s domain to concern itself with religious matters. This is the principle of the neutrality of the state in matters of religion.

While less explicit than the French Constitution, the United States Constitution implies, at least, the principle of laicity and secularism in the First Amendment (the Establishment Clause), which I have already mentioned: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” . Indeed, to make things clear enough, President Thomas Jefferson, on New Year’s Day, 1802, explained in a widely known official letter that the Establishment Clause meant that there should be “a wall of separation between church and state,”—not a door—a wall.

In the past, American courts have interpreted the First Amendment and Jefferson’s explanation to mean that there is an obligation, on the part of the government, not to get involved in churches’ activities, not to spend public money on religions and not to favor any one religion over another. They have also referred, for example, to the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli. The Treaty of Tripoli, initiated by president George Washington (1732-1799) and signed into law by president John Adams (1735-1826), officially proclaimed that: ” the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.” — Treaty of Tripoli, Article XI, 1797.

President James Madison (1751-1836) is probably the American president who expressed himself the most clearly on the question, stating that there should be a total separation between church and state: “The number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the Church from the State.” Thus, for James Madison and other American founders, the separation of church and state was not only a requirement of political freedom, it was also a mean to safeguard religion from being encroached upon by politics and politicians.

It is paradoxical, indeed, that in Canada, where the titular head of state is also the head of a church (the Church of England), we have a tradition and a political culture which are decidedly more secular that those of the United States, especially as it has been witnessed in recent years in the U.S. with the establishment of faith-based public programs and in the speeches of American politicians.

Enough of this Church and state stuff. My coming book “The Code for Global Ethics” will deal in much deeper detail on this topic.

II- The second important political tension in the U.S. is between the Jefferson and Hamilton political philosophies of democratic rule versus an aristocratic rule.

Just as some wanted to establish a theocracy in early America, the early American leaders were divided on the question of democracy, and as to whether a popular and decentralized democratic republic was better than a centralized aristocratic republic.

On the question of democracy vs. aristocracy, the two American polar personalities were Thomas Jefferson (Secretary of State in the first Washington government) and Alexander Hamilton (Secretary of the Treasury in the same government). Each was a follower of one of two opposite British political philosophers.

Jefferson (who became the 3rd U.S. President) was a disciple of both the French political thinker Montesquieu (1689-1755), (“The Spirit of the Laws”, 1748), and of the British philosopher John Locke (1632-1704). In his classic book, (“Second Treatise of Government”, 1690), Locke refuted the divine right of kings and who argued that people were sovereign and had the right overthrow their governments. This was of course the credo of most of the 55 “Founding Fathers” who supported and fought the War of Independence against royalist Great Britain and George the 3rd, and who signed the US Constitution.

And, when came the time to write a constitution, the founders did not want absolute power concentrated in one man or one branch of government, but rather they wanted a decentralization of power which would protect individual rights from government, with “checks and balances” within government, first between the states and the federal government (federalism), but also with “checks and balances” or the separation of powers between the Judiciary, the Legislative and the Executive.

For example, they introduced a clause in the Constitution requiring that only Congress could declare a war (Art. I, Sect. 8- cl. 11); that the Right of Habeas Corpus cannot be suspended except for cause (Art. I, Sect.9-cl. 2); that the President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States can be removed from Office by Impeachment (Art. II, Sect. 4) and that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” (Art. VI, cl. 3).

On the other hand, there were those, like Alexander Hamilton, who were wary of giving so much power to the people. They feared that the government would be weak and unstable. They were followers of the British political philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588 – 1679). Hobbes did not believe in democratic rule as such, but rather defended the right of kings and aristocracies to rule the masses, for their own good. For instance, Hobbes wrote that people have no right to revolt against the government, no matter how oppressive, but they should instead, and I quote him, “expect their reward in Heaven.” Thus, long before Karl Marx, the idea that religion is the opiate of the masses was clearly expressed by Hobbes.

For Jefferson, Hamilton was a “monarchist” at heart and an aristocrat. Indeed, Hamilton had argued in favor of a President elected, yes, but for life, and a Senate modeled on the British Chamber of Lords, also elected for life. In his plan, the President would have an absolute veto. Only the House of Representatives would have had to be elected.

If Hamilton were alive today, he would be an ally of President George W. Bush and of Vice President Dick Cheney and he would be in favor of the notion of a Unitary Executive or of an “imperial presidency”, i.e. a president with de facto dictatorial powers and a subservient Congress. (Hamilton even proposed the abolition of state governments and that the federal government should appoint the State governors.) President George W. Bush has added a clause to more than 750 laws passed by Congress that he has signed, stating that they may not apply to the president and that he may bypass them if he chooses to do so.

Hamilton, if no democrat, had other qualities: he fostered the development of capital markets, he encouraged commerce, and he stood for sound fiscal policy. On the whole, he was more interested in the economy than in politics per se.

As we know, Hamilton was killed in a duel with Vice President Aaron Burr on July 12 1804, and his portrait is on the $10 bill. Jefferson died the same day as John Adams, on July 1, 1826 and he his portrait appears on the $2 bill and on the 5-cent nickel. Jefferson’s face is also on Mount Rushmore.

III- Americans have also been divided regarding isolationism in international affairs versus active foreign interventionism.

This is the third big trend and dilemma in American political philosophy.

On the whole, America’s Founding Fathers tended to be isolationists and did not want to get involved in the games that European empires (the British, the French, the Portuguese, the Spaniards which all had so-called colonies) were playing around the world. For example, George Washington (1732-1799) said: “It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world.” Besides, they were too busy developing the Louisiana Territory that Jefferson had bought from Napoleon in 1806 for $14 million [$11,250,000 plus cancellation of debts worth $3,750,000]. This was a territory, East of the Rockies and located on both sides of the Mississippi River that went from New Orleans to the Canadian border. That’s 23 percent of the territory of the United States today.

This approach began to change in 1823 with the Monroe Doctrine, when President James Monroe (1758-1831) declared that the USA would not tolerate any European nation trying to establish a colony in the Americas, This had the effect of placing the entire South American continent under American influence.

This was followed by the U.S.-Mexican War of 1846 to 1848, after the U.S. annexed the independent state of Texas in 1845, under President James K. Polk with the emerging doctrine of “Manifest Destiny.”

Most of the Republicans (then called Whigs) in the North and South, including then Congressman Abraham Lincoln, opposed the war on the grounds that Texas was a Mexican province, but most of the Democrats in the South supported it. In the nineteenth century, this became the main feature of American politics: Republicans tended to be isolationists, while Democrats tended to be more interventionists in foreign affairs.

This all changed at the turn of the twentieth century with the Republican administration of William McKinley (1841-1901), a very religious man. McKinley, and one of his principal secretaries, Teddy Roosevelt, crafted an imperialist foreign policy on the commonly held belief that it was America’s duty as a Christian republic to spread democracy throughout the world. Armed with this new ideology, they launched the first American foreign war of aggression against Spain, in 1898.

The U.S. launched the Spanish-American war after the U.S.S. Maine incident in the port of Havana, when an explosion in the visiting battle ship killed 266 American sailors. The explosion took place on February 15, 1898. Although it was most likely an accident, the media empires of Hearst and Pulitzer stoked the fire of war against Spain, and there was a war, even if the pretext was somewhat flimsy. The Spanish-American war allowed the United States to de facto annex the island of Cuba, the Island of Puerto Rico and the Islands of the Philippines. In 1903, Teddy Roosevelt’s administration took over the country of Panama.

Therefore, we can say that the first part of the twentieth century saw the triumph of the ideology of foreign intervention, especially in Central and South America and in the Caribbean. After the McKinley administration, which had an openly imperialistic foreign policy, the Woodrow Wilson administration tried to abandon the previous administrations’ imperialist and unilateralist foreign policy by promoting the right of self-determination for all peoples throughout the world. They believed the people in every country should have the right to choose their own governments. This was the famous Wilsonian idealistic, progressive and multilateralist American foreign policy that many successive administrations would try to adhere to. The last one in line was the Bill Clinton administration (1992-2000).

But even for President Wilson, events that took place in other countries forced him to embark upon foreign interventions to “make the world safe for democracy.” For example, Mexico fell into a bloody revolution in 1913, when Mexican general Victoriano Huerta overthrew and assassinated the duly elected Mexican President Francisco Madero. The next year, Wilson sent troops to Mexico, and peace with Mexico was achieved only in 1916, through complex negotiations.

Wilson also intervened in Nicaragua to fight rebels, and the same happened in Haiti and in the Dominican Republic. American troops ended up occupying these Caribbean islands for many years.

Altogether, it has been estimated that between 1898 and 1934, the United States intervened four times in Cuba, five times in Nicaragua, seven times in Honduras, four times in the Dominican Republic, twice in Haiti, once in Guatemala, twice in Panama, three times in Mexico and four times in Columbia.

During the other two thirds of the twentieth century, the United States was involved somewhat defensively in the two World Wars against Germany, and in the Cold War against the Soviet Union, until the later collapsed in 1991. There was also the involvements in the Korean war and in the Vietnam war, but generally, U.S. foreign policy, while interventionist, was also multilateralist.

And that brings us to the twenty-first century.

The Bush-Cheney administration that came into power on January 20, 2001, has been a direct successor to the McKinley-Roosevelt administrations, of one hundred years earlier. Its 2002 so-called “Bush Doctrine” promoted unilateral foreign interventionism and the self-proclaimed right to launch “preventive wars” against other countries, notwithstanding international law or international institutions such as the United Nations. Here we are today with this “Bush Doctrine” back one hundred years in international relations.—In my book “The New American Empire”, I delve more deeply into this issue.—Of course, the title of my book is somewhat misleading, because the Bush-Cheney’s empire building efforts of today are not new in American history: They are but the old McKinley-Roosevelt imperial foreign policy cloaked in new clothes. Perhaps the book’s title should have been “The New, New American Empire”!

My general conclusion, therefore, is that for two thirds of the twentieth century, various U.S. administrations, beginning with the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration (1932-1945), which was mainly responsible for establishing the United Nations, in 1945, have built a reputation for the United States as a protector of international law, of the right for peoples to self-determination and of international peace. For example, the United States opposed the Soviet Union when it invaded Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968, under what came to be known as the “Brezhnev Doctrine.

When the Bush-Cheney administration invaded Iraq on March 20, 2003, under a similar “Bush Doctrine” and without the United Nations’ authorization, this had the effect of a shock to a lot of people around the world.

This goes a long way in explaining why President George W. Bush is presently the most unpopular politician around the world that the U.S. has ever had.

A recent Harris Poll taken in Europe gave these dismal figures on Mr. Bush’s approval rating in five representative countries:

In Italy: 8 percent of approval;

In the UK: 7 percent;

In Spain, 7 percent;

In Germany, 5 percent;

In France, 3 percent.

Considering these figures, maybe some American politicians would do well to meditate about what Benjamin Franklin called his seven “great virtues” that politicians should practice in public affairs. They are:

-aversion to tyranny;

-support for a free press;

-a sense of humor;

-humility;

-idealism in foreign policy;

-and, tolerance and respect for compromise.

I leave you to be the judge if many contemporary politicians meet Ben Franklin’s standards.

Finally, I would say that the three fundamental influences that are observed throughout history in American politics seem to be following a very long cycle of occurrence. In fact, they seem to confirm British historian Arnold Toynbee’s one hundred-year cycle. Indeed, Toynbee identified what he called a century-long cycle of colonial or imperialist-like wars over time. And, in this regard, the beginning of the twenty-first century looks like a duplicate of the beginning of the twentieth century: then, Great Britain was involved in the Boer War in South Africa while the U.S. was involved in the Spanish-American War. Today, both countries are involved in the Middle East wars, the Afghanistan war and the Iraq war.

It may not be a complete coincidence that such periods, marked by colonial zeal, are also periods when religious sentiment is running high. And, since wars require a concentration of power, it may not be a coincidence either that it is during such periods that political theories about the need for a strong presidency and the Unitary Executive abound, with the purpose of turning the presidency into a virtual dictatorship. These three powerful social and political trends seem to go parallel to each other.

Therefore, the question seems to be obvious: To what extent do the three main social and political trends that I have observed in American politics tend to reinforce each other at certain periods? This is a question that political scientists and historians should investigate further.

See graph Indexes

Rodrigue Tremblay lives in Montreal and can be reached at rodrigue.tremblay@yahoo.com Visit his blog site at: www.thenewamericanempire.com/blog. Author’s Website: www.thenewamericanempire.com/ Check Dr. Tremblay’s coming book “The Code for Global Ethics” at: www.TheCodeForGlobalEthics.com

© 2008 by Big Picture World Syndicate, Inc.

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.

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Economic Cycles & Political Trends in the US (Part I) by Rodrigue Tremblay

Economic Cycles & Political Trends in the US (Part I) by Rodrigue Tremblay

Dandelion Salad

by Rodrigue Tremblay
Sunday, March 30, 2008

“The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history, whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small elite.”

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), 3rd U.S. President

“I have learned to hold popular opinion of no value.”

Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804)

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeating it.”

George Santayana (1863-1952)

[N.B.: This article is drawn from a conference to be pronounced by Dr. Tremblay before the Florida Renaissance Academy, Marco Island Yacht Club, on April 4, 2008. Those wishing to attend can call: 239-394-3089 or 239-434-4737] Continue reading

The U.S Financial System, the Debt Bubble & the Cancer of Excessive Deregulation

Dandelion Salad

by Rodrigue Tremblay
Friday, February 22, 2008

“It’s…poetic justice, in that the people that brewed this toxic Kool-Aid found themselves drinking a lot of it in the end.”

Warren Buffett, American investor

“By a continuing process of inflation, government can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens.”

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946)

“New money that enters the economy does not affect all economic actors equally nor does new money influence all economic actors at the same time. Newly created money must enter into the economy at a specific point. Generally this monetary injection comes via credit expansion through the banking sector. Those who receive this new money first benefit at the expense of those who receive the money only after it has snaked through the economy and prices have had a chance to adjust.”

Friedrich A. Hayek (1899-1992), Austrian economist

When Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke says the economic situation is worsening, you’d better believe him. In fact, the U.S. credit markets are collapsing under our very eyes, and there is no end in sight as to when this will stop, let alone reverse itself. 1- Leading economic indicators for the U.S. economy are falling; 2- Consumer confidence sentiment is falling as mortgage equity withdrawals are drying up; 3-employment numbers are falling; 4- the January 2008 report on the U.S. service economy indicates that it contracted early in the year for the first time in 58 months; 5- the number of new jobless claims is still dangerously high; 6- The housing crisis is getting up steam; banks have to place larger and larger subprime losses on their balance sheets, thus undermining their capital bases and bringing many of them to the brink of insolvency; 7- the credit-ratings agencies are under siege; 8- bond guarantee insurance companies are in the process of loosing their triple-A ratings and some are on the brink of bankruptcy; 9- the $2.6 trillion municipal bond market is about to take a nose dive, if and when the bond insurers do not pull it through; 10- the leveraged corporate loan market is in disarray; 11- the more than a trillion dollar market for mortgage- and debt-backed securities could collapse completely if the largest American mortgage insurers continue to suffer crippling losses; 12- large hedge funds are losing money on a high scale and they are suffering from a run on their assets; 13- in the U.S., total debt as a percentage of GDP is at more than 300 percent, a record level (N.B.: in 1980, it was 125 percent!); 14- and, finally, the worldwide hundreds-of- trillion dollar derivatives market could implode anytime, if too many financial institutions go under during the coming months, as most of these transactions are inter-institution trades.

There are a few positive straws in the wind, such as the fact that manufacturing output seems to be holding up pretty well, as the devalued dollar stimulates exports, but the overall economic picture remains bleak. This is a tribute to the U.S. economy’s resiliency.

This mess all begun in the early 2000s, and even as far back as the early 1980s, when the Fed and the SEC adopted a hands-off approach to financial markets, guided by the new economic religion that “markets can do no wrong.” What we are witnessing is the failure of nearly thirty years of so-called conservative debt-ridden and deregulation-ridden economic policies.

It must be understood that the most recent subprime problem really began in 2000, when the credit-rating agency of Standard & Poors issued a pronouncement saying that “piggyback” mortgage financing of houses, when a second mortgage is taken to pay the down-payment on a first mortgage, was no more likely to lead to default than more standard mortgages. This encouraged mortgage lending institutions to relax their lending practices, going as far as lending on mortgages with no down-payment whatsoever, and even postponing capital and interest payments for some time. And, with the Fed and the SEC looking the other way, a fatal next step was taken. Banks and their subsidiaries decided to follow new toxic and risky rules of banking.

Indeed, while traditionally banks would borrow short and lend long, they went one giant step further: they began transforming long term loans, such as mortgages, car loans, student loans, etc., into short term loans. Indeed, they got into the alchemist business of bundling together relatively long term loans into packages that they sliced into smaller credit instruments that had all the characteristics of short-term commercial paper, but were carrying higher yields. They then sold these new “structured investment vehicles” (SIVs), for a fee, to all kinds of investors who were looking for higher yields than the meager rates that alternatives were paying. And, since banks were behind these new artificial financial assets, the credit-agencies gave them an AAA-rating, which allowed regulated pension funds and insurance companies to invest in them, believing they were both safe and liquid. —They were in for a shock. When the housing bubble burst, the value of real assets behind the new financial instruments began declining, pulling the rug out from underneath the asset-backed paper market, (ABCP) which became illiquid and toxic. With hardly any trading on the new instruments, nobody knew the true value of the paper, and thus nobody was willing to buy it. This crisis of confidence has now permeated to other credit markets and is threatening the entire financial system as the contagion spreads.

As late as 2003-04, then Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan was not the least worried by the subprime-financed-housing-mortgage bubble but was instead encouraging people to take out adjustable-rate mortgages, even though interest rates were at a thirty-year low and were bound to increase. Even in late 2006, newly appointed Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke professed not to be preoccupied by the housing bubble, saying that high prices were only a reflection of a strong economy. Mind you, this was more than one year after the housing market peaked in the spring of 2005. History will record that the Fed and the SEC did nothing to prevent the debt pyramid from reaching the dangerous levels it attained and which is now crushing the economy.

On a longer span of time, when one looks at a graph provided by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and which shows the relative importance of total outstanding debt (corporate, financial, government, plus personal) in relation to the economy, one is struck by the fact that this ratio stayed around 1.2 times GDP for decades. Then, something big happened in the early 1980s, and the ratio started to rise, with only a slight pause in the mid-1990s, to reach the air-rarefied level of 3.1 times GDP presently, nearly 200 percent more than it used to be.

The adoption of massive tax cuts coupled with government deficit spending policies, and deregulation policies, by the Reagan and subsequent GOP administrations, all culminating in a grotesque way under the current administration, contributed massively to this unprecedented debt bubble. It took many years to build up the debt pyramid, and it will take many years to unwind it and to reduce this cumulative mountain of debt to a more manageable size.

That is the big picture behind this crisis. It is much bigger than the S&L crisis of the 1980s, which looks puny in comparison with the current one. That is why I think this crisis will linger on for at least a few more years, possibly until 2010-11.

Rodrigue Tremblay lives in Montreal and can be reached at rodrigue.tremblay@yahoo.com Visit his blog site at: www.thenewamericanempire.com/blog. Author’s Website: www.thenewamericanempire.com/ Check Dr. Tremblay’s coming book “The Code for Global Ethics” at: www.TheCodeForGlobalEthics.com

h/t: Speaking Truth to Power

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.

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The Global Research News Hour with Michel Chossudovsky & Stephen Lendman (audio link)

Stagflation is Here by Prof. Rodrigue Tremblay

Tremblay-Rodrigue

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The Global Research News Hour with Michel Chossudovsky & Stephen Lendman (audio link)

Dandelion Salad

Must-listen radio show, complete with commercials. ~ Lo

The Global Research News Hour w/ Michel Chossudovsky & Stephen Lendman

Feb 18 program: The US Economic Crisis and the derogation of the US Constitution

(Starts Monday, February 18th 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM CST)

Audio link

Michel talks with his guest in the first hour Prof. Tremblay and in the second hour Prof. Marjorie Cohn. Michel co-host joins him in the last half hour.

***

AUDIO ARCHIVE: The Global Research News Hour

Feb 18 program: The US Economic Crisis and the derogation of the US Constitution

Global Research, February 18, 2008
– 2008-02-13

The Global Research News Hour
Republic Broadcasting Network (RBN)
Host: Michel Chossudovsky and Stephen Lendman
Time: Mondays 11:00 am – 1:00 pm

February 18th

Michel Chossudovsky and co-Host Stephen Lendman, Guests: Prof. Rodrigue Tremblay on the US Economic Crisis, Prof. Marjorie Cohn on Bush Cheney violation of the US Constitution and the derogation of the rule of law.

Other news issues covered in the second hour include Kosovo and America’s preemptive nuclear doctrine.
Click podcast to access Program archive of the Global Research News Hour.

2008
The Global Research News Hour
Republic Broadcasting Network (RBN)

Host: Michel Chossudovsky

and Co-Host Stephen Lendman


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Click above for station information in your local area.

This program is a cutting-edge initiative of www.globalresearch.ca. It provides a global perspective on what is really happening in America and around the World – vital information unavailable in the mainstream, with noted guests sharing their expertise with listeners.

Topics discussed will include: the Iraq and Afghan wars, Israel-Palestine, national security, law and justice, Al Queda and the “war on terrorism,” what’s happening at the White House and on Capitol Hill, a review of social, economic and environmental issues, the unfolding financial crisis on Wall Street, corporate power and influence, and other vital topics of national and international concern.

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Award winning author and economics professor Michel Chossudovsky is currently Director of the Center for Research on Globalization which hosts the critically acclaimed website: www.globalresearch.ca. He is also a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

He has worked for the United Nations on missions in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa, has acted as an adviser to governments of developing countries. He is author of several international best sellers including The Globalization of Poverty (2003) and America’s “war on Terrorism” (2005). His writings have been translated into more than twenty languages. He can be reached at crgeditor@yahoo.com

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Center for Research on Globalization and a frequent contributor to the site. He is based in Chicago and has written extensively on war and peace, social justice in America and many other national and international issues. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

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The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8065

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