Sunday, July 22, 2018

Otherjones Changes Focus

Since my articles are freely available at New Eastern Outlook (journal.neo.org), henceforth I will be mainly reposting articles and videos from sources that get no exposure in the US media, mainly from Russia, China and other international players.

Below is a televised discussion about the Russian economy, which I don't think has a paralell in the US.   Comments are welcome,  I respond to all.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XmesaY8c8Y

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Cooperation versus Competition, or Left versus Right

Since the time of the French Revolution, the left-right divide has focused mainly on attitudes toward equity within nation-states and since the Russian revolution it has included competition between capitalism and socialism on the world stage.  With the demise of the Soviet Union, the West, which touts competition, was confident it had eliminated the notion that nations, like kindergartners, should cooperate to the benefit of all.

For almost a decade, our man in Moscow, the tippler Boris Yeltsin, solidified that conviction, as the majority lost much of their safety nets while a few in the new Russia got richer, as competition was anointed as the highest good by oligarchs like David Browder, who thought they could even get away with not paying taxes to the new Russian State.

Strongman Vladimir Putin started to change all that the minute he stepped into Yeltsin's wornout shoes: the oligarchs could keep their ill-gained wealth (they bought up the individual shares that had been distributed to financially unsavvy Russian citizens to gain control of the country's major assets) as long as they kept their noses out of the new president's plan to make his country a good place to live for everyone.

Somehow, the US found that attitude offensive. Under President Clinton (who tore up Yugoslavia) it adopted a new Security Doctrine: no country should even dream of challenging US world hegemony, and Russia, with its vast mineral wealth, was in a position to do just that https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolfowitz_Doctrine.   (This document is worth reading in its entirety, not least because it describes the steps the US should take to ensure the fidelity of allies.)

By the time Vladiimir Putin had been voted in as President of the Russian Federation twice (in 2000 and 2004), it was becoming clear that the United States was not adhering to the promises made to Mikhail Gorbachev after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, that if the Soviet Union agreed to the reunification of Germany, NATO would not advance beyond that new country's eastern border.  At the yearly Munich Security Conference in 2007, Putin denounced NATO's drang nach Osten, which for Russians represents a repeat of previous invasions by Germany through the Eastern European corridor.  To no avail.  NATO has continued its march right up to Russia's border, from the Baltic to the Black Sea.  And in 2014, with an eye to eventually enrolling Russia's neighbor, Ukraine, in the Western alliance, we  (according to videod bragging by Victoria Nuland, Clinton's secretary for Eastern European Affairs,  to the Washington Press Club in December 2013), spent five billion dollars supporting 'pro-democracy' groups, efforts which, in Febrary 2014 culminated in 'The Maidan', weeks-long demonstrations backed by armed Neo-Nazi militias ressuscitated from World War II that forced the pro-Russian president to flee.  

Since then, the West has claimed that it was Russia that infringed on the post World War II rules, which stipulated that the agreed-upon boundaries of Europe were inviolate (never mind Yugoslavia), by backing the Russian speaking Donbas region that refuses to recognize the coup-installed Kiev government, and organizing a referendum in Crimea.  Never mind that at the end of World War II, Crimea was part of the Soviet Union until it was gifted to Ukraine by Khruschev in 1954!  And never mind that Russia is entitled to defend its warm water naval base in Sebastopol, which was created by Catherine the Great in the eighteenth century, to prevent NATO from adding a Black Sea fleet to the tanks lining Russia's land border with Europe!

The US's determination to maintain its hegemony over the world is closely linked to its devotion to competition over cooperation, and represents the twenty-first century front-line of the perrenial left-right divide: The world is one big community and Russia, together with its close ally China and a number of other large countries, believes that cooperation is the best way to ensure a fair distribution of wealth across borders.

Unremarked by the US media, as the G7 was under way, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, that groups like-minded nations, was holding its 18th annual summit in Shanghai.  The organization was founded in 2001 by  the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan and now also includes India and Pakistan. Iran, Aghanistan, Belarus,  Mongolia are observers, and the position of Dialogue Partner was created in 2008 for Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia and Negal, adding Turkey in 2009.

And while President Trump was lashing out at the G7, in Shanghai, the other authoritarian leader he claims to be friends with, China's Xi Jin Ping, was discussing cooperation at an organization that covers three-fifths of the Eurasian continent and nearly half of the human population. 

Friday, July 20, 2018

How Russians Debate Foreign Policy



'Russian street fashions' from Google images
I'm so tired of hearing only one opinion about Russia and Vladimir Putin, over and over, on every channel, lilke so many broken records, that I asked a Moscow friend if the same thing was happening there.  His answer was: "Vat a kvestchun!"

Here is the link to a popular Russian television program with English captions that he sent me.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XmesaY8c8Y&authuser=0

Comments welcome!

P.S. Further on the subject of misperceptions, see this:

http://russiafeed.com/while-the-western-media-establishment-thinks-russia-is-still-communist/?mc_cid=e056ca116a&mc_eid=8f18f6cdd4

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Have You Ever Heard of 'The Wolfowitz Doctrine'?

If you are wondering why, almost two uyears after the 2016 election, Washington and its media are frothing at the mouth over 'Russian intervention in our democratic process', you will find the answer by Googling 'The Wolfowitz Doctrine' (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolfowitz_Doctrine).  As I detailed in my book Russia's Americans,  it has represented official American security policy since the late nineties.  During the presidency of George Bush it was referred to as 'the Bush doctrine', which was carried over to the Obama president.  President Trump issued his own security doctrine, however it is only a slightly attenuated version of its predecessor, which makes clear what the current hysteria is all about.

In plain language, the 1992 document described as Defense Planning Guidance for the 1994–99 fiscal years, which has never been superseded, states:


Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.



Paul Wolfowitz
And further:


There can be no challenge to U.S.'s world leadership.
“The U.S. must show the leadership necessary to establish and protect a new order that holds the promise of convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests. In non-defense areas, we must account sufficiently for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established political and economic order. We must maintain the means to deter potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.”IS

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW TO UNDERSTAND THAT WE ARE WITNESSING FAKE HYSTERIA?

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Living in the Truth

Posted on NEO Juune 30, 2018
The reunification of Europe was still three decades away when, in 1963, the playwright Vaclav Havel presented his first works in Prague’s Theater of the Absurd, ushering in the transformation of the historically staid Czech culture into a whimsical one that contributed to the downfall of Communism in Eastern Europe.

The man who was to initiate Charter 77, criticizing the Communist government for failing to implement human rights provisions of a number of documents it had signed, including the 1960 Constitution of Czechoslovakia, the Final Act of the 1975 Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Basket III of the Helsinki Accords), and 1966 United Nations covenants on political, civil, economic, and cultural rights, was ultimately voted the first President of the Czech Republic from 1993-2003.

Vaclav’ Havel’s movement was associated with the notion of ‘living in truth’, which implied ceasing to cooperate with official Communist claims of democracy. At a time when American intellectuals increasingly disregard facts that are part of the public record, historian Timothy Snyder publishes a pocket-sized book titled On Tyranny, in which (after saluting the great philosopher Hannah Arendt, who wrote The Origins of Totalitarianism) he urges Americans, among other things, to support the mainstream media, realizing that “some of what is on the internet is there to harm you”. He further advises his readers to “make eye contract and small talk as a way of breaking down social barriers”, “contribute to good causes”, “be a patriot” and “be calm when the unthinkable arrives”.
Snyder, who specialized in Eastern Europe, began his crusade for ‘the truth’ by drawing western attention to Vaclav Havel’s philosophy back in the eighties. For Havel, ‘living in truth meant keeping a sacred space for what you can prove to be true and for truth-tellers, and Snyder runs with the notion that self-deception enables tyrannies to spread. And yet, with his string of goody-two-shoes recommendations, he implicitly protects media intellectuals such as Fareed Zakaria, who have access to a much larger, and even less educated public.

In his latest weekly program, MSNBC’s authority on truth reported on the Scandinavian countries’ recent decisions to beef up their military and instruct their citizens in how to behave in the event of war with Russia.

WITHOUT ONCE MENTIONING the presence of thousands of NATO troops on Russia’s borders with Europe, from the Baltic to the Black Sea, Zakaria wants Americans to know that even the historically neutral Scandinavia countries are taking a stand against ‘Russian aggression’. Here is a map from my book Russia’s Americans that shows the location of US bases most significant for Russia. from among its thousands around the world.



This stark reality is kept from the American people, although it accounts for Vladimir Putin’s decision to ‘stand Russia’s ground’ on its side of the border. That decision, reflecting the first duty of any responsible leader, is presented by the Western media as ‘Russia poised to overrun Europe’. Vaclav’ Havel’s principal of ‘Living in Truth’, espoused by Cold War activists across Eastern Europe proved so inspiring that in 2018, intellectuals still invoke it to justify positions that are the exact opposite of those Havel espoused, as the drumbeat of war continues uninterrupted from the time the world was divided between socialists and capitalists.

It has become clear to at least a few of us that although it’s no longer ideology that’s at stake, it’s still ‘Russia’, a country whose open plains were invaded from the East, the South and the West. To accuse Russia’s leader (who has been in office only two years longer than the Turkish President just re-elected for the third time in a process of dubious legitimacy) of seeking to ‘recreate the Russian Empire’ is a curious way of describing repeated US-led efforts to gnaw at Russia’s European borders. In 2008, the US backed Georgia’s separatist neighbors, and when that effort fizzled, the US State Department openly funded democratic forces in Ukraine, but allowed them to be subsumed by Neo-Nazi militias. When these militias attacked its countrymen living there, Russia defended them and was promptly accused of invading its neighbor, as when it permitted those living in Crimea to hold a referendum on reunification.

Although the Crimea referendum relies for its legitimacy on the 1996 Kosovo referendum organized by NATO to formalize that region’s independence from Serbia, the US accuses Russia of modifying the post World War II borders agreed upon in Yalta by Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin, while, advising Russia to ‘get used to’ seeing US warships off the coast of its main warm water naval base in the Black Sea….

It took Vaclav Havel, the Polish historian Adam Michnik and the trade union boss Lech Walesa, who would become Poland’s first post-communist president, two decades to reclaim their countries’ respective realities (together with the Slovaks, Hungarians, Romanians and Bulgarians). Those of us who compose today’s American opposition are powerless to end our government’s selective use of information, as well as its physical abuse of the world outside our borders, whether in post-United Fruit Central America, the rape that drives Africans into Europe, or attempts to persuade Pacific nations that the China Sea is not Beijing’s Mare Nostrum.

Our voices can scarcely be heard, as the personal space reserved for truth closes in around us.

P.S. July 3, 2108:

It seems that the publication of Timothy Snyder’s pocket-sized book was the start of something. (‘Tyranny’, by the way, was a much-used word during the American (and French) revolutions, and thus has a more solemn ring to it than the words ‘dictatorship’ or ‘oligarchy’ or ‘authoritarianism’, commonly used today to express the same notion of injustice.)

In the last few weeks, there has been a concerted campaign by the US media to promote itself. This must mean that the readership of progressive websites is reaching an alarming rate. On July 2, the New York Times ran an add on the internet stating that The Truth Demands our Attention (sic).

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

New Leaf!

I keep having to play catch-up with this blog.  Now that I've not writing any more books,  I'm going to concentrate more on near-daily observations of the big picture, after they are posted on NEO.

Today, I'm taking the liberty of reposting a short but fundamental analysis of the reasons for the migration crisis that is affecting both Europe and the US, by the internationally known known foreign policy analyst,  James Petras.

 It is illustrated by this beautiful French poster disseminated by Giuseppe Zambon, an Italian left-wing publisher located in Frankfurt Germany,  who for years has been ensuring that contributions by a wide range of observers reach a wider audience through his mailing list.  (His email address is zambon@zambon.net, the company is Zambon Verlag.)

As for the poster, it illustrates Zambon's years' long backing of the Palestinian cause  via the importation of Palestinian olive oil which is made available to his readership.  This is but one example of how much more intimately European progressives are involved in the Palestinian struggle than those of us in the US, for obvious geographic reasons.

Immigration:  Western Wars and Imperial Exploitation Uproot Millions
James Petras
Introduction
“Immigration” has become the dominant issue dividing Europe and the US, yet the most important matter which is  driving millions to emigrate is overlooked - wars. 
In this paper we will discuss the reasons behind the massification of immigration, focusing on several issues, namely (1) imperial wars (2) multi-national corporate expansion (3) the decline of the anti-war movements in the US and Western Europe (4) the weakness of the trade union and solidarity movements.
We will proceed by identifying the major countries affected by US and EU wars leading to massive immigration, and then turn to the western powers forcing refugees to ‘follow’ the flows of profits.
Imperial Wars and Mass Immigration
The US invasions and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq uprooted several million people, destroying their lives, families, livelihood, housing and communities and undermining there security.
As a result, most victims faced the choice of resistance or flight.  Millions chose to flee to the West since the NATO countries would not bomb their residence in the US or Europe.
Others who fled to neighboring countries in the Middle East or Latin America were persecuted, or resided in countries too poor to offer them employment or opportunities for a livelihood.
Some Afghans fled to Pakistan or the Middle East but discovered that these regions were also subject to armed attacks from the West.
Iraqis were devastated by the western sanctions, invasion and occupation and fled to Europe and to a lesser degree  the US , the Gulf states and Iran.
Libya prior to the US-EU invasion was a ‘receiver’ country accepting and employing millions of Africans, providing them with citizenship and a decent livelihood.  After the US-EU air and sea attack and arming and financing of terrorist gangs, hundreds of thousands of Sub-Sahara immigrants were forced to flee to Europe.  Most crossed the Mediterranean Sea to the west via Italy, Spain , and headed toward the affluent European countries which had savaged their lives in Libya.
The US-EU financed and armed client terrorist armies which assault the Syrian government and forced millions of Syrians to flee across the border to Lebanon,Turkey and beyond to Europe, causing the so-called ‘immigration crises’ and the rise of  rightwing anti-immigrant parties.  This led to divisions within the established social democratic and  conservative parties,as sectors of the working class turned anti-immigrant.
Europe is reaping the consequences of its alliance with US militarized imperialism whereby the US uproots millions of people and the EU spends billions of euros to cover the cost of immigrants fleeing the western wars.
Most of the immigrants’ welfare payments fall far short of the losses incurred in their homeland. Their jobs homes, schools, and civic associations in the EU and US are far less valuable and accommodating then what they possessed in their original communities.
Economic Imperialism and Immigration:  Latin America
US wars, military intervention and economic exploitation has forced millions of Latin Americans to immigrate to the US.. Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras engaged in popular struggle for  socio-economic justice and political democracy between 1960 – 2000.  On the verge of victory over the landed oligarchs and multinational corporations, Washington blocked popular insurgents by  spending billions of dollars, arming, training, advising the military and paramilitary forces.  Land reform was aborted; trade unionists were forced into exile and thousands of peasants fled the marauding terror campaigns.
The US-backed oligarchic regimes forced millions of displaced and uprooted pr unemployed and landless workers to flee to the US .
US supported coups and dictators resulted in 50,000 in Nicaragua, 80,000 in El Salvador and 200,000 in Guatemala.  President Obama and Hillary Clinton  supported a  military coup in Honduras which overthrew  Liberal President Zelaya--- which led to the killing and wounding of thousands of peasant activists and human rights workers, and the return of death squads ,resulting in a new wave of immigrants to the US.
The US promoted free trade agreement (NAFTA) drove hundreds of thousands of Mexican farmers into bankruptcy and into low wage maquiladoras; others were recruited by drug cartels; but the largest group was forced to immigrate across the Rio Grande.
The US ‘Plan Colombia’ launched by President Clinton established seven US military bases in Colombia and provided 1 billion dollars in military aid between 2001 – 2010.  Plan Colombia doubled the size of the military,
The US backed President Alvaro Uribe,resulting in the assassination of over 200,000 peasants, trade union activists and human rights workers by Uribe directed narco-death squad.Over two million farmers fled the countryside and  immigrated to the cities or across the border.
US business secured hundreds of thousands of Latin American low wages, agricultural and factory workers almost all without health insurance or benefits – though they paid taxes,
Immigration doubled profits, undermined collective bargains and lowered US wages.  Unscrupulous US ‘entrepreneurs’ recruited immigrants into drugs, prostitution, the arms trade and money laundering.
Politicians exploited the immigration issue for political gain – blaming the immigrants for the   decline of  working class living standards  distracting  attention from the real source :  wars, invasions, death squads and economic pillage.
Conclusion
Having destroyed the lives of working people overseas and overthrown progressive leaders like Libyan President Gadhafi and Honduran President Zelaya, millions were forced to become immigrants.
Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria,  Colombia ,Mexico witnessed  the flight  of millions of immigrants  -- all victims of US and EU wars. Washington and Brussels blamed the victims and accused the immigrants of illegality and criminal conduct .
The West debates expulsion, arrest and jail instead of reparations for crimes against humanity and violations of international law.
To restrain immigration the first step is to end imperial wars, withdraw troops, and to cease financing paramilitary and client terrorists.
Secondly, the West should establish a long term multi-billion-dollar fund for reconstruction and recovery of the economies, markets and infrastructure they bombed
The demise of the peace movement allowed the US and EU to launch and prolong serial wars which led to massive immigration – the so-called refugee crises and the flight to Europe.  There is a direct connection between the conversion of the liberal and social democrats to war -parties and  the forced flight of immigrants to the EU.
The decline of the trade unions  and worse, their loss of militancy has led to the loss of solidarity with people living in the midst of imperial wars.  Many workers in the imperialist countries have directed their ire to those ‘below’ – the immigrants, - rather than to  the imperialists who directed the wars which created the immigration problem.
Immigration, war , the demise of the peace and workers movements and left parties has led to the rise of the militarists, and neo-liberals who have taken power throughout the West.  Their anti-immigrant politics, however, has provoked new contradictions within regimes, between business elites and among popular movements in the EU and the US.  The elite and popular struggles can go in at least two directions – toward fascism or radical social democracy.













Thursday, June 7, 2018

Donald Trump: An Unstoppable Force Meets an Unmovable Object

Posted on NEO on June 6, 2018 
Stormy Daniels
Never in America’s two hundred years plus history has the country been seen as heading toward a constitutional crisis of comparable gravity. The Constitution is evoked to justify a myriad of actions on the part of the three branches of government, and public servants, hand on the bible, pledge to defend ‘it’ rather than ‘the country’.  Although several high-level government officials have been impeached during the country’s two hundred plus year history, with Presidents Nixon and Clinton standing out as the most egregious, nothing comparable to the present situation has occured, leaving the most prestigious legal authorities splitting hairs. 
The notion of fealty to the constitution has repeatedly led to disputes over free speech (cited in the First Amendment), and the possession of firearms (the subject of the Second Amendment), however recently it has inspired the creation of political formations devoted to ‘taking the country back’ to the time of its drafting. 
Under America’s complicated system of ‘checks and balances’ between the three ‘co-equal branches of government’ questions of interpretation often arise. However the case of Donald Trump is unprecedented, in that his punishable offenses include both business dealings and possible ‘collusion’ with ‘foreign powers’. (An iron-clad US rule is that presidential candidates may not accept anything of value from foreigners, especially foreign governments!) However, as the investigation headed by the Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller enters its second year, Trump’s personal life has been harnessed by a brilliant California lawyer who believes his case on behalf of a sex worker can prevent the president from finishing his term because it involves illicitly arranged payments. There are days when Stormy Daniels, as she is known, relegates ‘Russiagate’ to the back burner, to the chagrin of those determined to make war with Moscow.
As the year-long investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign lurches from one rocky shoal to another, daily revelations require the media to repeat old facts, such as the indictments of thirteen private Russian citizens and three Russian companies.  Since the US cannot compel them to appear in US courts, and the Russian government requires more hard facts than it has received to agree to extradite them, the law’s only recourse is to intercept them when they land at American airports and harass them with questions, providing mini-headlines that allow the media to constantly rehash the entire story, even though surveys show that ‘Russiagate’ is low on voters’ list of priorities, behind health care, jobs, and trade.

As pundits argue over whether the Constitution allows a ‘sitting president’ to be indicted by the justice system; whether he can fire the special counsel who is investigating him; whether he can be compelled to testify and finally, if convicted in a court of law, whether he can actually pardon himself, Trump voters talk about taking the country back to the time when the Constitution was drafted, instead of finding a way to extricate itself from the situation it has enabled.