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, 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
“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.
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.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Russiagate: Manipulating Globalization

Pulished on New Eastern Outlook on June 1, 2018

Forget election tampering; forget Hillary’s emails and the role a recluse in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London may have played. Realize that the ‘attack on our democracy’ was all about playing for high stakes on the international game board.

The US cannot be sanctioned for playing world policeman, and its president can simply be impeached for ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ instead of being sent to jail for ‘white collar crimes’. Either way, realizing that the US is unlikely to soon become the cooperative political player called for in the UN charter, Russia, China, India, Brazil and South Africa have begun designing a new world order that takes UN principles literally: instead of an eleven-member Security Council, five of which can veto resolutions, the BRICS are constructing a multi-polar world in which the most influential countries in each region cooperate to ensure the peace and development of the world.

Russiagate has revealed the ease with which globalization’s rules can be exploited, overshadowing the world’s real political and economic problems. And as long as audiences — especially in the US — are obsessed with the pursuit of political ‘crimes’, war crimes will continue unabated. I’m not saying that this situation was created deliberately, however it is impossible to deny that it has pushed the Iran Nuclear Treaty into a background where National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo can ensure that it is never revived, making way for eventual ‘regime change’ in Teheran, and making it less likely that North Korea’s young leader will give up the weapons that forced the US to talk to him.

These and other nefarious plans, such as fomenting color revolutions in Russia’s near abroad (one recently came to fruition in tiny Armenia), can be all the more easily pursued that the public associates international money laundering and bank fraud with ‘Russian oligarchs close to Putin.” Americans have never been told that when he came to power in 2000 on the back of state pilfering under ‘our man in the Kremlin’ Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Putin made a deal with those who had become ‘oligarchs’ via those privatizations: “You will be free to continue your games as long as you leave politics up to me.”

Vladimir Putin has kept his part of the bargain, bringing Russia up to speed economically and militarily, but here’s the thing: while it is the largest country in the world, with eleven time zones, its population is relatively small, as is the ruling coterie. Inevitably, the oligarchs’ business may bring them in proximity to the Kremlin, making it easy for the US to link Putin with their criminal activities. A comparison of the Russian population’s standard of living then and now, as well as the country’s defense capabilities compared with eighteen years ago should make clear that Vladimir Putin has been fulfilling his promises to the Russian people, who recently returned him to power for the fourth time. (After being asked to take over the leadership of the country by an ailing Yeltsin in 1999, he was elected for the first time in 2000.) But while it is the largest country in the world, with eleven time zones, its population is relatively small, as is the number of movers and shakers in Moscow. Inevitably, the oligarchs may move in proximity to the Kremlin, making it easy for the US to link Putin with their criminal activities.

All those Russian names that are (with difficulty) coming out of the mouths of English-only American anchors have nothing to do with the war in Syria or the rebellion in eastern Ukraine, let alone the impending reunification of the Koreas after 65 years of a barbed-wire truce. They have to do with bank fraud and money laundering, which were once the realm of gangsters. What the Muller investigation has revealed is an international ‘crime syndicate’ whose claim to fame is its association with the President of the United States (and suggestions that is associated with the President of Russia).

But rather than being a strongman who uses his power for personal enrichment, such as for example Panama’s President Noriega, Putin’s relations with shady oligarchs are probably more like those of the Kennedy brothers, Jack and Robert, with Meyer Lansky and his cohorts based in pre-Castro Havana. (When, fifty years later, I read about the mob’s ‘interest’ in the Cuban revolution, I realized with a shudder that they were lurking in Havana when I arrived there a week after the Kennedy assassination.)

Russiagate shows how far the US has regressed since the days of Camelot.  On the day I submitted this article to NEO, the US media played and replayed a tape of Trump lawyer Michael Cohen threatening a journalist who was gathering information for an article about his client in the tone and using the language of a typical mobster.....