Friday, September 18, 2015
A Confused Situation as to Syria and ISIS
Thursday, June 25, 2015
Pitfalls of Economic Globalization
Monday, April 13, 2015
The Normalization of U.S.-Cuba Relations: the Best Accomplishment of President Barack Obama
Friday, February 27, 2015
International Islamist Terrorism: It's More Than a Mere Question of Semantics
Friday, January 2, 2015
2015: A Pivotal Year for Economic and Financial Crises and Wars?
Friday, September 18, 2015
A Confused Situation as to Syria and ISIS
By Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay
[There are] “three ways to be influential in American politics: make donations to political parties, establish think tanks, and control media outlets.”
Haim Saban, Pro-Israel billionaire and major political contributor, and adviser to Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, (2009)
[There] “is a memo [at the Pentagon] that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.”
General Wesley Clark, former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO (1997-2000), (March 2, 2007)
“Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them.”
Mark Twain (1835-1910), American author and satirist
"The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation."
Sen. Barack Obama (D.-Ill.), (in a Dec. 20, 2007 interview with the Boston Globe)
“Our objective is clear, and that is: degrade and destroy ISIL [ISIS] so that it’s no longer a threat, not just to Iraq but also to the region and to the United States.”
Pres. Barack H. Obama, at a news conference on Sept. 3, 2014)
The chaotic situation in Syria, a country of 22 million, source of some 220,000 Syrian deaths and of between 6 to 8 million refugees fleeing to Europe, is most confusing.
On the one hand, the Obama administration has been openly violating international law in actively supporting and arming a rebellious insurrection and a civil war against the established Assad government. On the other hand, the same administration seems to consider the Sunni-dominated and foreign-supported terrorist Islamic State organization (ISIS) opposed to Assad as illegitimate, and declares to want to “degrade and destroy” it through bombings.
If a foreign government wanted to destroy a country and turn it into ruins, that is probably what it should do, considering that the same Obama administration has for years supported protests and fanned the rebellion in Syria, as part of the color revolutions the CIA has sponsored in many countries, and it has facilitated the rise of Islamic extremism directly and indirectly in the hope that it would succeed in toppling the secular Syrian regime. From the start, this has been a most ambivalent, a most irresponsible, a most inconsistent, a most incoherent, a most misguided, a most indecent, a most insane, a most destructive and a most immoral policy, because it has destabilized both Iraq and Syria, because it has resulted in millions of victims and because it has contributed in a big way to creating the psychopathic monster that is the ISIS.
Indeed, the ongoing provoked chaos in Syria seems to be a repetition of what the Obama-cum-Hillary Clinton administration did in neighboring Libya when that country was destabilized and destroyed from top to bottom through outside intervention, and reduced to a state of anarchy. It also followed the illegal military incursion by the Bush-Cheney administration in Iraq in order to engineer illegally a regime change in that country, at the same time that it left it completely destroyed and dysfunctional. All these interventions have resulted in unmitigated disasters.
Destroying countries in violation of international law and with no empathy for the human suffering of millions of people seems to have been the official policy of the US government over the last twenty years, whoever happened to sit in the White House at any given time, be he a Republican or a Democrat.
There is a pattern here that even the most ignorant and the most dishonest or obtuse brains cannot help but notice. We all know that this has been the well-publicized plan of the pro-Israel neocon clique that has been advising successive US governments ever since the George H. Bush administration of 1989-1993. Their overall objective was to reshape and transform (i.e. destabilize and destroy) the entire Middle East by provoking the downfall and breakup of Israel’s neighboring Arab countries (Iraq, Syria, Libya, etc.), and by using American military power and NATO to do it.
And now, the Obama administration is working hard to deliberately and immorally destroy the country of Syria to please the Israeli government and other allies such as the totalitarian Wahhabist regime of Saudi Arabia and the increasinglly Islamist regime in Turkey. Just as there was no al-Qaida organization in Iraq before the Bush-Cheney administration invaded the country in 2003, there was no Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria before the US and its allies supported the insurrection against the Assad regime, beginning in 2011.
Surrounded by his neocon advisers, who are presumably recommended to their posts by deep pocket political campaign contributors, President Barack H. Obama gives the sad spectacle of a politician who has morphed into a repeat of George W. Bush, using lies and false pretenses to justify an incoherent and destabilizing US policy in the Middle East. One day he says that his government’s policy is to contain and destroy the murderous ISIS Califate; the next day he gives a tacit or explicit go ahead to the demagogue President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to attack with F-16 fighter jets the only credible force on the ground fighting ISIS, besides the armed forces of the Iraqi and Syrian governments, the Kurdish militias.
And when the Russian government brings some assistance to the embattled Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad—still the legitimate government of that country, ravaged by outside intervention by the way—President Barrack H. Obama not only denounces such assistance, but he warns Russia not to do it, curiously asserting that Russia’s efforts to back the Syrian government against ISIS are “doomed to failure”! What strategy and what failure? One would like to know.
Indeed, if President Obama were really serious in wanting to eradicate the medieval terrorist cancer that is ISIS, as he claims he does, one would think that he would logically welcome any assistance to reach that objective, whether it comes from Russia or from Iran, or anybody else. But no, Mr. Obama rather says that such assistance is not at all welcomed, at the same time that the killers of ISIS consolidate their control over a large part of Syria and of Iraq, and continue decapitating and persecuting Christian Assyrians, Shiites and other ethnic groups. The result is the creation of millions of refugees that only Europe seems ready, albeit reluctantly, to accept, after they have been expelled from Turkey, Lebanon or Jordan, and while the other richest Arab nations, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, close their doors to them.
This does not make any sense. When is Mr. Obama sincere? When he says that his NATO ‘coalition’ attacks in Syria are aimed at eradicating ISIS, or when he says that he has no legal authority for provoking a neocon-inspired regime change in Syria?
If Pres. Obama does not want to fight al Qaeda—the group behind the 9/11 attacks, and its close ally the Islamic State (ISIS)—he should at the very least let those who want to fight them do it. Nowadays, he seems much more anxious to train and arm small groups of so called “moderate” Islamist Syrian rebels, (who have not a chance in hell to take control of the Syrian government), than to really fight the terrorists of al Qaeda and of the Islamist State (ISIS), who are the ones who would take over Syria if the Assad government were to fall. On the contrary, for months now Mr. Obama has done his best to prevent the Kurds, the Iranians and the Russians, along with the al-Assad government, from fighting the Islamist terrorists. Why? Could somebody ask him why? And for what purpose?
US-led airstrikes in Iraq and in Syria against the Islamist terrorists have been judged ineffective from the start, and ISIS has demonstrated it by pursuing its expansion, presumably because such very selective bombings were never a priority and were rather a covert and dishonest show to fool people about the real objective of the US-NATO bombings.
That objective appears not as a priority to destroy ISIS or push it back, but rather to illegally provoke a regime change in Syria. This is done by backing different sets of Islamist rebels over time. This is a dangerous game. And all this is for mainly crass economic motives, i.e. to facilitate the construction of pipelines from the Middle East toward Europe, Turkey and Israel.
This Machiavellian policy is not only destabilizing and destroying the entire Middle East, it is now about to destabilize and destroy Europe itself with millions of migrants and refugees fleeing the mess that has resulted ever since the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and the US and its allies’ support for the Syrian insurrection since 2011. European countries have already suspended the Schengen Agreement regarding freedom of movement within the European Union (EU), and other similar policy decisions of European disintegration by member states are to be expected in the coming months if the avalanche of migrants and refugees continues unabated from the Middle East and northern Africa.
Ever since the neocons have dominated US foreign policy, American-led interventions in the world have been a source of great instability and of devastating destruction. They have resulted in creating disaster upon disaster, with hundreds of thousands people dead and many millions displaced and impoverished, and forced into exile.
So far, at least three countries have been completely destroyed, i.e. Iraq, Libya and Syria, and the carnage goes on in Afghanistan and in Yemen, with the US supporting Saudi Arabia’s bombing of the latter country. American politicians and the US government cannot close their eyes and wash their hands of this chaotic mess because they started it, and because of that, they have a special responsibility to correct it and contribute to bringing back peace and order in that part of the world.
If the secular al-Assad government is ever toppled and is replaced by one led by fanatical Islamists, and if revenge killings and massacres of the Syrian Christians, Alawites, and Druze ensue—a possible result of the confused imperialistic US-NATO foreign policy—Barack H. Obama and other American and European politicians will have to place a large part of the blame on themselves. This is not a trivial matter.
Thursday, June 25, 2015
Pitfalls of Economic Globalization
By Rodrigue Tremblay
‘Nations that trade with each other make themselves mutually dependent: if one has an interest in buying, the other has an interest in selling, and all unions are based on mutual needs.’
Montesquieu, (Charles Louis de Secondat), (1689-1755)
‘An agreement [with the U.S.] to harmonize trade, security, or defence practices would, in the end, require Canada and Mexico to… cede to the United States power over foreign trade and investment, environmental regulation, immigration, and, to a large degree, foreign policy, and even monetary and fiscal policy.’
Roy McLaren (1934-), former Canadian liberal trade minister, (1983)
‘The greatest happiness principle: The greatest happiness of the greatest number of people is the foundation of morals and legislation.’
Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832)
One of the most important phenomena of the last quarter century, and without a doubt the most significant in the economic field, but also in the political field, has been the rise of economic globalization. This has brought the increased interdependence of national economies and a rise in competition, not only between corporations but also between countries.
This interdependence and competition have increased much more quickly than could have been envisaged, 25 or 30 years ago, with the result that international economic integration today greatly exceeds the realm of international trade to encompass the international mobility of corporations and the integration of financial and money markets. In some areas dominated by technology, especially in the field of digital and information technology, we already live in a world almost without national borders. The consequences of increased globalization are not only economic; they are also political and social.
But globalization also means a greater complexity of economic relations and an increased vulnerability of national economies to shocks from outside. This requires, for a given country, that the net benefits resulting from globalization must be greater than the net losses of any nature arising from such greater complexity and greater vulnerability.
Beside the purely economic costs of complexity, there are social and political costs that arise from such enhanced global economic complexity.
Indeed, the increased complexity of international economic and financial relations has had the effect of increasing the costs of political transactions and may have impaired the good functioning of domestic democratic systems by reducing the possibility for citizens to be adequately informed about issues that concern them and, if necessary, to be able to raise objections. Socially, it has also meant that the economy is less embedded in a larger social system; it is rather the social system that has been compressed and has become embedded in an increasingly globalized economy.
A primarily political global project has also been grafted upon economic globalization, mainly under American auspices, with the avowed purpose of weakening and subverting the national consciousness of people in their sovereign nation states, through the promotion of "multiculturalism" within countries and through the equally important aim of dismantling the welfare state system and the social safety net erected after the Second World War in most Western countries, and replace them with an essentially anti-democratic and oligarchic globalist system.
In the end, we shall conclude that the increased complexity of the global economic system over the last quarter century has had a general consequence: it has resulted in increasing the power and incomes of the CEOs of large corporations and of mega banks as never seen before, as well, to the lesser extent, of those of politicians and bureaucrats, at the expense of the less educated segments of the population and the less mobile people generally, thus weakening the democratic spirit and practices in many countries.
I- Main causes of economic globalization
There have been two revolutions behind the phenomenon of economic globalization.
-The first was the digital technology revolution, which can be seen as a new industrial revolution. This appeared with basic innovations that were, among others, the computer, the Internet as a global computer network, and telecommunications satellites, the latter enabling communication almost instantly to the four corners of the planet.
-The second revolution was the collapse, in 1991, of the Soviet empire and its centralized communist economic system. It has been said that this politico-economic revolution heralded the "triumph of (corporate) capitalism" worldwide and its decentralized and scarcely regulated markets.
Over the last quarter century, the rush towards economic globalization has accelerated. Its three main components are:
- Firstly, the globalization of trade relations;
- Secondly, the industrial and technological globalization; and
- Thirdly, the overall financial globalization (financial, banking and monetary).
These three sides of economic globalization have not had the same effect on all people and on every country.
It is therefore necessary to identify the net effects for each of these three components of overall economic globalization. Indeed, it was expected, at least in theory, that the move towards economic globalization would strengthen the economic integration of countries, generate some convergence of national economies by increasing their productivity levels and their economic growth, reducing global poverty, and creating, in addition, a better climate for world peace.
In practice, we can say today that this view was perhaps too optimistic, and we must recognize that the results of economic globalization in the past quarter century have been more complex and less inevitable than some would have believed.
That is because economic globalization and enhanced international competition have resulted in consequences that have certainly been positive for some people, but they have also created perverse effects for certain categories of workers, as well as for governments and their populations, because of the increased international mobility of corporations and of financial and banking institutions, and not just for those that are inherently ‘multinational' in nature.
In other words, economic globalization has created net winners and net losers, and it would be good to establish a provisional assessment of these results, even if it is only a partial synopsis of a complex phenomenon.
II- The globalization of trade relations
The establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1994 marked an acceleration of the movement towards multilateral trade liberalization of the previous decades that had been undertaken under the auspices of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the latter having been created in 1947.
Indeed, during the last quarter century, world exports have grown at an exponential rate of 6.0 percent in volume, a much faster rate than the average annual rate of growth in world real output, which progressed at the pace of a little less than 4.0 percent between 1990 and 2010. However, we observe that since the financial crisis of 2008-09, there has been a break in world trade growth, global exports growing presently at a pace that approximates overall world economic growth, which ranges from two to four percent annually.
Of the three components of the phenomenon of economic globalization, trade globalization is probably the least deserving of criticism. There is even a fairly broad consensus among economists that, all things considered, its net effects have been more positive than negative.
Consumers have benefited greatly, as a result of lowered prices and better quality for a wider range of imported products and services. The other big winners of the growth in multilateral trade are owners of capital in general (higher yields) and officers of large corporations (increased incomes and revenues).
On the negative side, in many industrialized countries, least skilled workers have faced personal losses due to unemployment and stagnant or falling real wages. The same can be said about some industries that have faced increased international competition and have suffered contractions, relocations and some form of de-industrialization.
Overall, empirical studies on these issues have arrived at the conclusion that the gains reaped by industrialized countries from a better international division of labor have outweighed the losses, and that this has created a win-win situation for most countries.
It would appear that for industrialized countries, the problems arising from enhanced international trade are primarily a problem of distribution of the net gains in order to compensate the losers in proportion to their losses.
In other words, this is a matter of public policy and of social justice. It is thus up to a government, for example, to make sure that workers displaced by international competition are compensated and retrained.
If we consider all countries, the newly industrialized countries of Asia (China, Japan, South Korea, etc.) have profited greatly from increasing trade globalization, and they have also been on the receiving end of industrial globalization, as we will discuss later. Their rates of economic growth and of industrial catching up have simply been all but phenomenal.
III- Industrial and technological globalization
Alongside the globalization of trade relations of the last quarter century, the world has also experienced a similar explosion in foreign direct investment (direct capital inflows and outflows). Thus, the share in GDP of all countries of foreign direct investment has increased from 11 percent on average in 1980 to 34 percent on average in 1998. Since the financial crisis of 2008-09, however, foreign direct investment has also experienced a sharp downturn. It reached a historical high in 2007 of 2,000 billion$. Six years later, in 2013, foreign direct investment had dropped 30 percent from its 2007 peak.
The international mobility of corporations, their technologies and their capital, is much more problematic than trade globalization as such, which is based on the comparative advantages of trading countries, in a general context of international immobility for people between countries and of currency fluctuations to equilibrate each country’s balance of payments.
We cannot put on the same footing free trade, with rules against dumping and unfair competition and fluctuating exchange rates, and the free international movement of corporations, their technologies and their capital when labor is mostly immobile.
In the first case, we are dealing with international trade of goods and services based on comparative advantages in resources, manpower and technology in each country, which encourages specialization in production and which generates economies of scale, productivity gains and increases in living standards in all countries, even if the net gains are not evenly distributed among countries.
On the other hand, when corporations transfer their capital and their technologies from one country to another, this has the potential of modifying the economic comparative advantages of each country. This is a much more problematic component of economic globalization than simply free trade, because it is not impossible then that one country ends up a net loser while another is a net winner of such transfers.
Outsourcing production from one country to another could become a substitute to international trade between countries. The exception is when international trade within a corporation increases both ways.
A process of deindustrialization can result for the country losing its most productive industries, thus translating into problems of productivity and of economic growth, while national governments are unable to face the challenge properly. As I have alluded to before, this is not inevitable. When industrial globalization translates into more intra-firm trade and if a country’s total exports increase, a country can be a net winner of industrial globalization. For example, if a car manufacturer in a developed country transfers an assembly activity in a low-wage countries but exports from its national base engines and other specialized parts, the country can emerge a net winner from such production outsourcing. This becomes an empirical question. That is why a national government should monitor the situation closely.
It is a fact, however, that industrial globalization has made it increasingly difficult for a national government to pursue its own industrial policy. Indeed, nowadays, most of so-called 'free trade agreements' are in fact 'agreements for the free international movement of corporations' and have clauses that prevent national governments from actively pursuing an industrial policy to boost a country’s industrial productivity and raise the real wages of its workers. Moreover, these 'agreements on free movement of companies' are usually negotiated in secret and are often adopted by blindfolded politicians. It goes without saying that such an industrial disarmament by nations may erode the benefits expected from trade globalization and industrial specialization.
We may have here a reason why popular sentiment, especially in Western countries, is turning against comprehensive de facto ‘trade and investment agreements’ because they are wrought in secrecy, because they gave too much weigh to corporate prerogatives and their gimmicks to avoid paying taxes to local governments, because they have resulted in wage stagnation, unemployment, income inequalities and deindustrialization in many advanced economies, without compensations for the net losers, and because the governments of some large nations cannot resist dangerously mixing economics and politics and pushing smaller nations around.
Industrial globalization can also raise a tax fairness issue and one about income and wealth inequalities between different categories of taxpayers when corporations and the most internationally mobile workers insist on tax cuts from national governments. The latter are thus obliged to increase regressive tax rates on the incomes of ordinary workers and on their consumer spending.
National governments may also be called on to compete downward between themselves when the time comes to formulate some industrial regulations, or implement social policies or environmental preservation policies.
IV- Financial globalization (financial, banking and monetary)
If industrial globalization is problematic in its effects, financial globalization, (financial, banking and monetary), is even more dubious, considering the high level of speculation that surrounds the international movements of finance capital.
International borrowing and lending have been around for a long time. For instance, in the 19th century, savers from rich countries made it possible to fund major infrastructure projects in poorer countries. The inflows and outflows of portfolio capital (bonds, stocks, etc.) benefit both savers and borrowers and encourage trade. Indeed, a country that is a net borrower is also a net importer, and the opposite is true from a lender country’s perspective. Such international borrowing and lending are factors of economic efficiency and should be encouraged.
The international integration of financial markets reflects an objective reality, i.e. the reality that some countries generate external surpluses and other external deficits. The international mobility of savings is in itself a good thing from an economic point of view. What is important is that countries can retain their power to regulate their financial and money markets, and maintain domestic control over their banking sector.
In recent decades, however, mega banks and other financial institutions have exerted enormous political pressure to be exempted from national regulations. In the United States, for example, lobbies have succeeded in having the 'Glass-Steagall Act' abolished by the Clinton administration in 1999. That important law had been put in place in 1933 in order to avoid a repeat of the financial crisis of 1929. History will record that the abolition of the Glass-Steagall Act played a major role in paving the way to the financial crisis of 2008-09, a crisis whose harmful effects continue to be felt around the world.
When a nation loses its national sovereignty over financial, banking and monetary regulation, it largely loses the option to rely on price adjustments to correct imbalances in its external accounts, and it must instead rely on quantity adjustments through layoffs, cuts in public spending, tax increases, etc. This is a much more costly way, in terms of welfare, to improve a balance of payments.
For example, when a country suffers a drop in the external demand for its products while placed in the straightjacket of price rigidity, domestic prices and wages cannot move downward to correct an external deficit (and, conversely, cannot move upward to correct an external surplus).
Instead, the country must then resort to implementing so-called ‘austerity policies’ (cuts in public spending, increases in taxes, etc.), the latter having the negative consequences of slowing down domestic demand on top of the drop in international demand. As a result, the economy suffers two blows instead of one. Such an adjustment process to outside economic shocks creates an economic downturn that could translate into an economic recession (a drop in production and employment), hurting more severely some segments of the population than others.
This is a major structural problem within badly structured monetary unions, as it is currently the case in Europe within the euro zone, which encompasses economies with very high productivity levels, such is the case with the German economy, and other less productive economies, such as those of Greece or Portugal.
When no institutional mechanisms have been designed to transfer purchasing power between surplus countries and deficit countries, the rigidities of the single currency, (whatever its microeconomic benefits to businesses and consumers), can result in major macroeconomic problems. For instance, the common currency may be simultaneously undervalued for surplus economies and overvalued for deficit economies. Deficit economies must then rely on austerity measures to lower imports and increase exports, while surplus economies are more or less left outside the adjustment process.
Another severe drawback to financial integration (financial, banking and monetary) is the greater vulnerability of countries to external economic shocks and the transmission of economic and financial crises from one country to another.
The 2008-09 financial crisis is a good example of this phenomenon wherein a financial or a banking crisis originating in one country spreads quickly through financial and money markets from one country to another and affects the entire global economy. Financial crises are often the result of risky banking practices and of poorly regulated international financial and money markets.
Indeed, one of the consequences of increased financial integration has been the increased vulnerability of fragile economies to negative outside influences and a certain globalization of economic and financial crises, in a context where domestic governments are losing many of their instruments of intervention.
V- General conclusions
Is the world a better place today than it was twenty-five years ago? In certain aspects, the answer is yes; in some other aspects, the answer is no.
We can say that the overall economic globalization of the past quarter century has certainly had positive economic effects for several countries and their people, but that such globalization has perhaps gone too far, too fast, in some countries, especially since the global financial crisis of 2008-09.
Indeed, on one hand, trade globalization has resulted globally in economic benefits for consumers, for large corporations, their CEOs and for the most skilled workers. Some newly industrialized economies, such as the Chinese one, have also derived substantial benefits from economic globalization.
On the other hand, industrial globalization has set into motion a process of deindustrialization in many developed countries—especially in Europe—which has hurt small and medium businesses.
It has also concentrated the benefits of economic globalization on the most mobile factors of production (capital, corporations, new technologies) to the detriment of more immobile factors of production (labor, labor organizations and especially less-skilled workers).
Similarly, financial globalization has reduced the national sovereignty of most countries and lowered their governments’ capability to react to economic and social crises. The weakening of nation states and the disarmament of national governments in the face of international corporations and globalized mega banks are also important features or pitfalls of the overall movement towards economic globalization during the last quarter century.
How can we weigh the various elements of economic globalization? Have they benefited primarily an economic elite and left behind a trail of net losers, or have they benefited everybody to various degrees? It depends if we look at things from the viewpoint of a particular country or if we consider the entire world economy, and whether or not there are institutional mechanisms for the net winners of economic globalization to compensate the net losers.
For the global economy as a whole, the move towards economic globalization of the last quarter century has encouraged the spread of economic activity geographically, and it has resulted in a certain convergence of living standards, especially as the newly industrialized countries of Asia are concerned. On the other hand, this was made possible at the cost of a certain deindustrialization in many industrialized countries and of a rise in income and wealth inequalities in many countries. At the level of the particular country, the net economic results of economic globalization are an empirical question.
However, one thing stands out: globalization has profoundly changed the structure of social and political power within each country by strengthening corporate power and their leaders’ influence, and by decreasing the power of workers in general and of labor organizations in particular. There are indications that it has hurt the functioning of democracy in several countries.
One general conclusion in terms of economic policy: in the context of economic globalization, it would appear essential that national governments retain control over their financial and banking sectors, as well as over their monetary policies, if they want to avoid, in times of crisis, that their economies behave like a ship without a captain, without direction on a rough sea.
More generally speaking, because of so many hazards, I am afraid that the all-out economic globalization that is currently being imposed on nations and people alike risks imploding, sooner or later. This is a model that has too many economic and political pitfalls to persist without profound reforms. That is because it de facto transfers the real power in our societies from legitimate elected officials to officers of large corporations and of mega banks, and to owners of capital in general who, in turn, can use it to corrupt the political system to their advantage. —There exists a basic economic and democratic deficit to economic globalization that will not be easily corrected.
Monday, April 13, 2015
The Normalization of U.S.-Cuba Relations: the Best Accomplishment of President Barack Obama
by Rodrigue Tremblay
“At the beginning of 1959, United States companies owned about 40 percent of the Cuban sugar lands—almost all the cattle ranches—90 percent of the mines and mineral concessions—80 percent of the utilities—practically all the oil industry—and supplied two-thirds of Cuba's imports.”
Senator John F. Kennedy (1917-1963), (speech at a Democratic Dinner, Cincinnati, Ohio, October 6, 1960, during the 1960 Presidential campaign)
“I believe that there is no country in the world including any and all the countries under colonial domination, where economic colonization, humiliation and exploitation were worse than in Cuba, in part owing to my country's policies during the Batista regime.
—I approved the proclamation which Fidel Castro made in the Sierra Maestra, when he justifiably called for justice and especially yearned to rid Cuba of corruption. I will even go further: to some extent it is as though [Dictator] Batista was the incarnation of a number of sins on the part of the United States. Now we shall have to pay for those sins.
—In the matter of the Batista regime, I am in agreement with the first Cuban revolutionaries. That is perfectly clear.”
President John F. Kennedy, October 24, 1963, (interview with journalist Jean Daniel, The New Republic, published on December 14 1963, pp. 15-20)
“It is clear that counter-terror became the strategy of the Batista government. It has been estimated by some that as many as 20,000 civilians were killed.”
A Report to the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence Volume 2, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1969, p. 582.
In December 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced that they would begin normalizing diplomatic relations between the two nations, an agreement brokered by Catholic Pope Francis. Last Saturday, April 11, U.S. President Obama and Cuban President Castro met in Panama to finalize the new reality and to “turn the page and develop a new relationship between our two countries," in Mr. Obama’s words.
This development is about to put an end to more than a half-century scandalous boycotting of the small island of Cuba by American politicians, as this small Caribbean island became a pawn in the Cold War
between the U.S. and the USSR. In the U.S., this was done also mainly for purely domestic electoral motives, i.e. to obtain the Miami exiled Cubans’ votes and money, and against basic human morality.
This is a sad chapter in 20th Century American foreign policy history, especially considering that the U.S. government has established full diplomatic relations with countries such as China and Vietnam, and also considering that Canada has recognized and has traded with Cuba since 1960.
Indeed, a few years after the 1959 Cuban revolution that overthrew the corrupt government of dictator Fulgencio Batista (1952-1959), a government under the direct influence of elements of the American mafia who controlled the drug, gambling, prostitution, racetrack and casino businesses in Cuba, successive U.S. governments imposed on the inhabitants of Cuba a blanket of severe economic and political sanctions that crushed the small Cuban economy and lowered its people’s standard of living.
Two generations of Cubans were the victims of this cruel policy. That President Obama agreed to restore diplomatic ties with the Cuban government, ties that were unilaterally broken off by Washington in 1961, is all to his credit. Kudos also to Pope Francis, an Argentine, who pressed for ending such an insane policy that saw a powerful country crush a small neighbor, irresponsive to the human suffering that resulted.
As the two quotes above from President John F. Kennedy show, there were American politicians who felt that Cubans were in their right to overthrow the mafia and their corrupt local collaborators who controlled most of everything in Cuba under Dictator Batista. How could a nation that threw off the yoke of British king George III not understand that?
An obvious question begs to be asked: To what extent President Kennedy’s statements and intentions played a role in his assassination one month later, on October 23?
Three groups had special reasons to be adamantly opposed to President Kennedy’s support of the Cuban revolution and to his avowed intention to establish political and economic relations with Cuba.
First, the elements of the American mafia who had been kicked out of Cuba and had to abandon their lucrative trades in that Caribbean island country.
Second, the Cuban supporters of dictator Batista who left Cuba for an exile in Florida, leaving behind properties and other possessions, with no hope of returning to their country if the U.S. government was to have normal relations with the Cuban-Castro government.
A third group is composed of some elements of the United States government's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), under then CIA Director Allen Dulles
(1953-1961), who had sponsored the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in April 1961, and whose objective was the overthrow of the Cuban government of Fidel Castro. Such a plan had been drafted under the previous Eisenhower administration (1953-1961). (Keep in mind that CIA Director Allen Dulles was the brother John Foster Dulles, Dwight D. Eisenhower's Secretary of State.)
After his election, President John F. Kennedy had been informed of the CIA’s invasion plan and had initially approved it, but when it unfolded, he refused to commit U.S. armed forces to the operation. The CIA thus had ample reasons to blame President Kennedy for the glaring failure of the Bay of Pigs para-military invasion of Cuba, considering that a similar invasion of Guatemala in 1954 had required the assistance of U.S. troops to succeed. Later, President Kennedy discharged CIA Director Allen Dulles and replaced him with John McCone (1961-1965).
Cui Bono? (Who profits?) All three of these groups had special motives for blaming President John F. Kennedy for their misfortunes in Cuba. And all three of them had reasons to be violently opposed to President Kennedy’s intentions to normalize political and economic relations with Cuba.
The 1964 controversial Warren Commission Report on John F. Kennedy’s assassination did not establish any link between these groups who had reasons to hate the President, and his assassination, concluding instead that Lee Harvey Oswald had acted alone in the November 1963 shooting of the President. And this, even after it had been established that the murderer had been monitored by the FBI under Director J. Edgar Hoover and by the CIA under Director Allen Dulles in the months before the assassination.
It is true that not all the evidence surrounding the Kennedy Assassination has been released to the public, some of which has been classified and kept secret. However, these documents are scheduled for release two years from now, in 2017. It is anybody’s guest if they might reveal new information about the circumstances that led to President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963.
Friday, February 27, 2015
International Islamist Terrorism: It's More than a Mere Question of Semantics
by Rodrigue Tremblay
“Since the Bible also contains verses calling for war and the destruction of the other, then what difference is there with the Koran?
None, if not for the attitude of the religious leaders themselves.
-If they consider, as is the case with the majority of Christians and Jews, that these verses are related to bygone historic times, they therefore cannot be inspired by them to justify violence and murder.
-On the other hand, if these verses are considered the “divine word” and bearers of the only truth, everything is to be feared.”
François Garai (1945- )
Rabbi in Geneva, Switzerland, and head of the GIL (Liberal Jewish Group) and member of the World Union of Progressive Judaism.
“The mosques [in Western countries] will be our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets will be our swords, and the faithful will be our army.”
Recep Tayyip Erdogan (1954- )
President of Turkey, [in December 1997 when he was mayor of Istanbul, citing in his speech the nationalist poet Ziya Gökalp (1876-1924)].
“We could have just said no [to Saudi financing of a mosque in Norway], in principle the ministry doesn't approve such things. But when we were first asked, we used the opportunity to add that an approval would be paradoxical as long as it's a crime to establish a Christian community in Saudi Arabia.”
Jonas Gahr Støre (1960- ), Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, (Oct. 2010).
“We must speak clearly: Yes, France is at war against terrorism, jihadism and radical Islamism.”
Manuel Valls (1962-), French Prime Minister (speech to the National Assembly on 13 January 2015).
“Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam. Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims. The attacks of September 11, 2001 and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights...
The truth [is] that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles -- principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings...
I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear...
So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America.”
Barack Obama (1961- ), Speech at Cairo University: A New Beginning, June 4, 2009, in which the words “terror” or “terrorism” were not mentioned at all.
“Our objective is clear: We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL [ISIS] through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy.”
Barack Obama (1961- ), Statement by the President on ISIL, September 10, 2014.
[The ISIS terrorist networks] “are not an existential threat to the United States or to the world order.“
Barack Obama (1961- ), CNN interview of February 1, 2015.
Early last January, it was widely reported that President Barack Obama’s staff had said that for him or his Vice President not joining other heads of state in the largest rally in the history of Paris to protest the carnage done by Islamist terrorists in their attacks against journalists and against French Jews, had been a “mistake”, made by an “unnamed senior White House staff.”
I personally did not buy that line of thought for an instant, even though nearly all American media swallowed the story “hook, line and sinker”! Anybody who knows how a government functions also knows that such an explanation is absolutely impossible, because that kind of decision is widely discussed at the White House, but also at the State Department and elsewhere within the government. The final decision not to have the U.S. President or his Vice President present at the anti-Islamist terror rally in Paris had to be made, in the last analysis, by President Obama himself. The real motive: President Obama did not want to be personally associated, nor his administration, to a high profile rally against international Islamist terrorism.
In 2008, I wrote an article about then U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama, following the publication in the U.S. of my book ‘The New American Empire’, a few years before. I had arrived at the conclusion that even though Obama was probably “the least worst” candidate, he was also showing a dangerous propensity to double-talk. The last two quotes above could be an example of such a tendency.
This brings me to the observation that over the last few weeks and months, some politicians in Western countries have also adopted a somewhat distinctive and curious linguistic approach to describe the current phenomenon of international Islamist terrorism and its Islamist jihadist ideology. This is basically a form of escapism, denial, willful delusions and dodges.
U.S. President Barack Obama, for example, has gone out of his way in not using in his speeches the perfectly appropriate words of “Islamist terrorism”, but has preferred to use instead the more general and the more vague and vacuous words of “violent extremism” to describe the repetitive killings of innocent people by Islamist terrorists in many countries. He has even gone so far as to imply that criticism of the failings of Islam, as a prerogative of free speech in any democracy, could be a major cause of the rise of violent jihadists, rather than the bombing of populations in the Middle East by Western powers.
Added to that is Mr. Obama's proclivity to make his own the twisted logic of the National Rifle Association (NRA) when the latter asserts that freely and widely available “guns do not kill people; only people kill people”! Now Mr. Obama says, with perhaps even less justification, that "no religion is responsible for terrorism —people are responsible for violence and terrorism," as if most Islamist terrorists were not motivated by a backward Islamist ideology that has its roots in the Dark Ages. —This is not to deny that in many cases, it may be difficult to separate the political motives from the religious ones behind the bloody and gory crimes committed by delusional psychopaths.
Other Western politicians, in Europe and in Canada, (luckily they are a minority!) have also tried to downplay the true character of international Islamist terrorism by playing a trivial and potentially self-delusional game of semantics to gloss over and obscure reality. In their view, when well-financed and well-identified Islamist terrorists kill journalists or innocent Jewish by-standers by the dozens in Paris and in Copenhagen, or when the medieval butchers of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) decapitate two dozen Egyptian Christian workers in Libya just because of their religious affiliation, or again when the same madmen are bent on establishing a caliphate and carry out mass-executions of ethnic or religious minorities in Iraq and in Syria, these should be considered, according to some politicians, to be some “random” criminal acts committed by some freelance extremists, not related whatsoever to the Islamist jihadist ideology! Egads!
With such a misappropriate and somewhat dishonest play with words to describe the criminal murders by international Islamist terrorists, it would seem that what these politicians wish to do is to confuse people's mind and conceal the anti-freedom of the press ideology, the anti-freedom of religion ideology and the anti-Jewish ideology of the killers. Their purpose, it would seem, is to separate international Islamist terrorism from its religious Islamic source, even when the killers themselves do their misdeeds while yelling "Allahu Akbar" (Allah is the greatest!) while shooting and beheading innocent people.
The intention of that type of cowardly politicians is to inculcate in the minds of people the idea that these cruel terrorist acts are the result of random ordinary violence by individuals unconnected to a particular religious ideology, and therefore, that they are not that important. Such a play with words and with the truth could also be an attempt to justify a politician's inaction and his concealed position of irenicism and of defeatism.
This is most disingenuous, because from Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda organization and the 9/11 mass killers in the USA to the butchers of ISIS in Iraq, Syria and Libya, or to the Islamist terrorists in Chechnya or Yemen or in Nigeria, and not forgetting the Islamist killers of the Charlie Hebdo journalists in Paris in January 2015, and those killed in Copenhagen and in Ottawa, it can be said unequivocally that even though it is true that “not all Muslims are terrorists”, far from it, it should nevertheless be ascertained nowadays that “most high profile international terrorists are Muslims,” no matter how hard some complacent characters do their best to hide this obvious fact.
Mr. Obama and some other politicians might think that this is not a “holy war” that Western civilization faces, but the jihadists do.
Therefore, can we ask if this semantic game to limit the freedom of thought is only a demonstration of misplaced political correctness as a form of George Orwell's Newspeak, or if it is a cowardly attempt by some politicians to willfully mislead the people regarding the real threat of Islamist terrorism, not only in the Middle East, but increasingly also in Western countries?
The reality is made of daily instances of horrors and of extreme brutality as thousands of people, in many countries, are being slaughtered, crucified, decapitated, stoned to death, raped, forced into marriage, burnt alive, tortured, enslaved, expatriated, etc., all in the name of the Islamist jihadist ideology. This is a much too serious and dark reality for the international community to feign to ignore or to camouflage through semantic tricks.
In such a chaotic situation, it would seem obvious that the United Nations must be more pro-active in implementing the principles of the U.N. Charter and of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Above all, and at this important juncture of human history, the current Secretary-General of the United Nations Mr. Ban Ki-moon holds a special responsibility.
A lack of fortitude and of foresight on his part could bring catastrophic, even apocalyptic, consequences for the world order, for fundamental human rights and for the fate of hundreds of millions of innocent people, men, women and children. At the very least, the U.N. General Assembly should declare the murderous ISIS organization illegal, and to be rejected by the international community, with the proviso that any member country supporting it directly or indirectly could be severely blamed.
Indeed, this savagery of another age has to stop. Islamist terrorism is a political cancer that should not be allowed to metastasize.
Now is not the time to discuss the sex of angels but to lead and to fight this rising threat to our civilization and to basic humanitarian and civilized principles, ideologically, politically and militarily. There is no way out. This is the challenge of our times and the world must rise to the challenge. As one woman told me after a meeting: “Maybe the world would be better off with no religions at all!”
Think about it.
However, to fully understand why and how the monstrosity that is ISIS came into existence, one has to understand its source in the ill-conceived policy pursued by some American administrations and by some European governments to willfully destabilize Middle Eastern countries. This was done according to a neocon plan designed long ago to systematically sponsor insurgencies and civil wars in that part of the world and to overthrow their secular governments.
To avoid more man-made disasters, such a destructive strategy should be denounced and stopped, possibly reversed, and be replaced with a more coherent policy to help the populations over there rather to draw them into a daily hell.
The semantic game referred to above and carried on by some politicians may be a way to conceal the over all catastrophe that has resulted from the U.S.-led policy of destabilization of the entire Middle East for more than a decade. The ISIS crisis has arisen as a consequence of these past failed policies. Many parts of the world are now in a mess, and some sitting politicians and previous ones have to share responsibility for the situation, —and they know it.
Nevertheless, if for any reason, some of these sitting failed politicians, especially in our democracies, do not have in their character or in their belly to change course and do what is right, they should have the decency to step aside and let men or women of the quality of Winston Churchill in the U.K., Charles De Gaulle in France and Franklin D. Roosevelt in the USA take command in each of our countries.
Friday, January 2, 2015
2015: A Pivotal Year for Economic and Financial Crises and Wars?
by Rodrigue Tremblay
"The dangerous patriot: The one who drifts into chauvinism and exhibits blind enthusiasm for military actions. He is a defender of militarism and its ideals of war and glory. Chauvinism is a proud and bellicose form of patriotism, …which identifies numerous enemies who can only be dealt with through military power and which equates the national honor with military victory." - James A. Donovan (1916-1970), American lawyer and Commander in the United States Navy Reserve
"Where you have a concentration of power in a few hands, all too frequently men with the mentality of gangsters get control." - Lord Acton (1834-1902) (John E. Dalberg), English Catholic historian, politician, and writer
"If you want war, nourish a doctrine. Doctrines are the most frightful tyrants to which men ever are subject... " - William Graham Sumner (1840-1910), American academic
"The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. … It is our true [foreign] policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world." - George Washington (1732-1799), First President of the United States, (1789-1797), Farewell Address, 1796
These days, militaristic Neoconservatives, or Neocons, have near complete control of the American government under the façade of whoever is president at the time. They direct U.S. policies at the State Department, at the Pentagon, at the U.S. Treasury and at the Fed central bank. They are thus in position to influence and frame American foreign policy, military policy, economic and financial policies and monetary policy.
This was not the case before the Ronald Reagan administration (1981-1989) when the latter adopted a neocon-inspired "muscular foreign policy" based on military intervention abroad, perpetual war, arbitrary regime changes, and imperial worldwide governance in any matters deemed to be in American interests and of that of its close allies. Even though they fared less well under the George H. Bush administration (1989-1993), when they were considered the "crazies in the basement", they resumed their ascendance within the American government under the Bill Clinton administration (1993-2001) with the U.S.-led Kosovo war and with the irresponsible dismantling of the Glass-Steagall Act, thus paving the way for the 2008 worldwide financial crisis.
The Neocons’ greatest success, however, came with the George W. Bush and Dick Cheney administration (2001-2009) when they persuaded the latter to launch the (illegal) 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, a war still with us and expanding today, twelve years later. They also drafted the so-called "Bush Doctrine" of (illegal) preemptive wars and of forced political regime changes in other countries.
This was an ideology that the Neocons had long advanced, both when Paul Wolfowitz was Deputy Secretary of Defense for policy in the George H. Bush administration (1989-1993), even though the latter publicly repudiated it, and in various essays published by a neocon think-tank dubbed "The Project for the New American Century (PNAC)" and founded by William Kristol and Robert Kagan.
After the fall of the Soviet empire in 1991, the warmongering Neocons argued that there should not be any "Peace dividend" for American taxpayers but rather that the United States should seize the opportunity to become the sole world military superpower and should therefore increase and not decrease its military spending. The intention was to establish a military New American Empire for the 21st Century, along the lines of the British Empire in the 19th Century.
Indeed, after the events of 9/11 and the arrival of George W. Bush in the White House in 2001, Paul Wolfowitz, as U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense under Donald Rumsfeld, was in a better position to push for increased U.S. military spending and for the adoption of a new aggressive U.S. foreign policy. What was most troubling is the fact that the PNAC produced a paper in 2000, titled "Rebuilding America's Defenses", (of which Paul Wolfowitz was a signatory), which enigmatically noted that only a "new Pearl Harbor" would make Americans accept the military and defense policy transformations that the neocon group was proposing. Then, in September 2001, the “new Pearl Harbor” coincidentally and conveniently morphed into the 9/11 attacks.
The war against Afghanistan, where the 9/11 terrorists had trained (and who came from Saudi Arabia and a few other countries), and the war against Iraq, a country not even remotely connected with the events of 9/11, followed.
At the beginning of 2015, Neocons occupy key positions within the Barack Obama administration and it should be no surprise that U.S. foreign policy is hardly any different than it was under the George W. Bush administration. They are constantly pushing for provocations, confrontations, conflicts and wars. In fact, the year 2015 could be the year when many of the fires they have lit could turn into conflagrations.
Let us look at a few of them.
1- The danger of another major financial and economic crisis
On July 21, 2010, President Obama signed an already watered down version of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to reign in financial corruption that brought about the 2008 financial crisis. The new law was supposed to re-establish part of the provisions of the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act gutted out by the Clinton administration in 1999, in order to prevent megabanks and insurance companies from using government-insured deposits to build for themselves a pyramid of risky bets on the derivatives market (credit default swaps, commodity swaps, collateralized-debt obligations and other risky derivative financial products, etc.).
But guess what! Only four years later, on December 16, 2014, lobbyists and lawyers working full time for the megabanks persuaded President Obama to sign a massive $1.1 trillion omnibus bill disguised as a Budget Bill and which contains a provision to remove a rule known as the ‘swaps push-out’ rule, the latter requiring insured banks to establish uninsured subsidiaries to conduct their speculative derivatives trading activities.
As a consequence, American megabanks are now back in business speculating with government-insured deposits. When the entire financial house of cards will blow out again is unknown, but you can be sure that it will, especially if a serious political or economic shock hits the economy.
I would call that ‘financial brinkmanship’ and I would call Obama’s caving in to the megabanks ‘political cowardice’. And who do you think will pay in various ways for the economic mess when it occurs? Certainly not the megabanks that transformed their insolvent asset-backed securities into newly printed cold cash after the 2008 financial crisis, but ordinary people.
The U.S. economy and many other economies are still reeling from the 2008 financial crisis brought about by corrupted politicians and bankers with their lax or nonexistent regulations and excessive speculation schemes. Such economies are vulnerable and sensitive to unforeseen financial shocks because debt-to-income ratios are still high in many countries, including in the U.S. where the indebtedness ratio reached a peak of 177 percent just before the 2008-09 economic recession and still now stands at a lofty 152 percent. (Historically, the debt-to-income ratio has remained well below 90 percent.) A sudden rise in interest rates could therefore wreak havoc with many economies.
For one, the European Union (EU), the largest world economy, is teetering on the brink of recession, suffering from various government-imposed austerity programs, from an overvalued euro currency (for those countries in the euro zone) and from the economic blowback of its conflicts with Russia over including Ukraine into NATO. Europe is indeed in the midst of a lost decade of high unemployment, low economic growth and deteriorating social conditions. And, there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
China’s economy, the third largest world economy, is also slowing down fast, with excess manufacturing capacity while its exports are suffering from a 25 percent appreciation of the Chinese renminbi since 2004 and from weak world demand. Moreover, its financial sector is also vulnerable to the fact that China’s debt level is now at a lofty 176 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The Chinese economy is also going through structural changes as the Chinese government pursues policies to reduce the country's reliance on foreign markets and to shift from an export-oriented model to more domestic sources of growth.
As for the U.S. economy, it is still weak and unable to generate enough new jobs, despite a rebound during the last few months, while the labor force participation rate has declined from 66.5 percent before the 2008-09 recession to 62.7 percent today. The fact that millions of Americans have part-time jobs and would like to have full-time jobs, and that real wages of those who work are stagnant or falling are also indicators that things have not come back to normal.
Since there is no fiscal policy and no industrial policy originating from the U.S. government, the Fed central bank has been obliged to step in with the most aggressive monetary policy in its history. Indeed, the Fed has quadrupled its bank lending to $4.5 trillion since 2008 and it has pursued a policy of risky zero-rate and low-rate policies.
As a consequence, the Fed has created a gigantic financial asset bubble. The unwinding of such monetary prodigiousness won’t be an easy task. What’s more, the U.S. government will be paralyzed by a political gridlock over the coming two years, a republican-controlled Congress being pitted against a lame-duck Democratic president, thus making it difficult for the U.S. government to respond adequately to a new financial crisis.
Another ominous sign is the collapse of the velocity of money in the U.S., just as during the late 1920s, right before the start of the Great Depression, and it is now at a nearly 20 year low. That both the American political and financial sectors are unhealthy should be worrisome for the coming years.
2- The real danger of a nuclear war with the rekindling of the old Cold War with Russia
Brinkmanship in financial matters is one thing; brinkmanship with nuclear war is another. Sadly, the neocon-inspired U.S. government is today involved in both.
Indeed, for many years now, the U.S. government has been engaged in an aggressive geopolitical warfare against Russia, first in pursuing a policy of geopolitical and military encirclement of Russia by expanding NATO to its borders with the integration of Ukraine, and second, by implementing a policy of economic warfare against Russia in order to undermine its economy and, eventually, to provoke a regime change in that country. It’s a game of “dare you?”
Some of the more lunatic Neocons openly call for a new World War III, presumably with Russia a country against which they seem to have personal animosities. These are some of the lunatics President Barack Obama listens to.
Oil as a geopolitical tool
The 50 percent drop of oil price in 2014 may be part of a wider U.S.-led economic warfare plan to destabilize the Russian economy and provoke an Oil Slump, knowing full well that 50 percent of Russian state revenue comes from its export sales of oil and gas. Above all, policy-makers in Washington D.C. want to break the Gazprom-E.U. supply dependency to weaken Russia and keep control over the E.U. via American allies such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Such an artificial drop in oil price appears to be a complement to the already known decisions to saddle Russia with stiff American-led economic and financial sanctions designed by the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, (an outfit created in 2004 after intensive lobbying by AIPAC) and other attempts by the U.S. government to reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian oil and gas.
Since September, Saudi Arabia, a country with excess oil capacity and low-cost production, (and in a position to manipulate the international price for oil), has suddenly and dramatically decided to sell crude oil at deeply discounted prices and to maintain its oil production at high levels in face of a declining world oil demand.
This is a reversal of what Saudi Arabia and the OPEC countries did in the fall of 1973 when they suddenly quadrupled the price for oil and provoked a global economic recession.
This is, however, a strategy similar to what Saudi Arabia adopted in 1986 when it flooded the world with cheap Saudi oil, thus collapsing the international price of oil to below $10 a barrel, after an agreement with the U.S. government. The objective then was to undermine the economies of the Soviet Union and its then Iraq ally, even though other economies such as the Canadian economy suffered greatly from such a gambit.
This time, there seems to be a convergence of interests between the U.S. government and the Saudi kingdom. From a U.S. government’s point of view, the main objective is to hurt the Russian and Iranian energy sectors and damage the finances of President Vladimir Putin’s Russian government, while securing Saudi Arabia’s assistance in fighting the Islamist State (IS) in Iraq and in Syria.
From a Saudi point of view, a world oil price war meets its regional and global objectives in three ways. First, it is well known that the Saudi government wants to dominate oil and gas production in the entire Middle East region and is in opposition to Iran and Syria for securing the rich European market. Second, the Saudi government would also like to pressure Russia to end its support for the Syrian al-Assad government. Third, Saudi Arabia also wishes to regain market shares that it lost to more costly oil from shale oil and oil sands. By lowering oil prices, Saudi Arabia hopes to reduce or even put such competing oil production out of business by making their production less profitable.
However, such a move is bound to severely damage oil production from oil shale in North Dakota in the USA and oil-producing states like Texas may fall into recession, even though the overall U.S. economy will benefit from cheaper oil. Oil production from tar sands in Alberta, Canada will also badly suffer and this means a drop in the Canadian dollar, and possibly a Canadian recession. The shale and tar sands oil industries will be the main innocent victims of the overall geopolitical policy pursued by the U.S. government and its Middle East allies.
Indeed, since the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an American client state, it is most unlikely that such a move to flood oil markets and precipitate a stiff drop in oil price was decided without a tacit, if not an overt, approval by the U.S. government. In fact, there is wide speculation that when U.S. secretary of state John Kerry met with King Abdullah in September 2014, they allegedly struck an overall deal to that effect.
Ukraine as a geopolitical pawn
As to the destabilization of Russia’s neighboring Ukraine, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland has pretty much confirmed that the U.S. government was deeply involved in overthrowing the legitimate elected Ukrainian government last February, with the avowed objective of installing a U.S. puppet government in that country. This makes a mockery of democracy and only demonstrates how deeply the U.S. government is involved abroad in power politics and in aggressive interference in the domestic affairs of other countries.
Neoconservative Victoria Nuland, appointed Assistant Secretary of State by President Barack Obama, has publicly confirmed that the U.S. government has “invested” $5 billion to destabilize Ukraine and create a conflict between the latter country and Russia. It is hard not to conclude that the Ukrainian crisis is a made-in-Washington crisis. Her famous and insulting remark about Europe [“f*** the E.U.”] is another clear indication that the U.S. government wished to provoke a crisis with Russian not to help Europeans but to serve its own narrow imperial objectives, whatever the costs to the Russian people and to Europeans.
What is most disturbing is the irresponsibility with which the U.S. House of Representatives passed Resolution 758, on December 4, 2014, that is tantamount for all practical purposes to a declaration of war against Russia, based on false premises, distorted facts and false accusations. With that kind of irresponsible leadership, the world is presently in very bad hands.
The truth is that if Soviet missiles in Cuba, 90 miles from U.S. territory, were unacceptable to the U.S. government in 1962, American missiles in Ukraine, on the Russian borders, are unacceptable to the Russian government in 2015. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. For whoever knows history, that should not be too difficult to understand.
If world affairs take a turn for the worse in 2015, the world should know where to point the finger at the culprits. Some people think that world events occur by pure chance and there is no planning behind them. They are wrong. Dead wrong. Bad government policies, misdeeds, false flag operations or simple miscalculations are often at the heart of many geopolitical crises, be they financial, economic or military. Sometimes, it just happens that the "crazies in the basement" are in charge.
It is becoming clearer and clearer, even for the uninformed and the misinformed among us, that the resurgence of the Cold War confrontation with Russia has been engineered in Washington D.C. and that Russia has not been the aggressor, (as the official propaganda wants us to believe), but has rather reacted to a whole series of U.S.-led provocations.
Why have there been so many destabilizing interventions by the U.S. government around the world and who profit the most from this man-made instability? This is a good question that ordinary Americans should ask themselves.
Domestically, should the U.S. economy continue to be run by bankers? Internationally, should the U.S. government pursue its policy of deliberately attempting to drive the Russian government into a corner and takes measures to destroy the Russian economy? These are acts of war. Are ordinary Americans in agreement with such policies? Who will profit the most and who will loose the most if there were to be a nuclear war with Russia? Since Europeans would be at the forefront of such a conflict, this is a question that has also to be answered in Europe.
What the world desperately needs now is a law-governed international environment, not a jingoistic and chauvinistic world empire that looks only after its narrow self-interests.
More fundamentally maybe, we should reject the false ideology of clash between nations. It is a grave and dangerous fallacy that can only lead the world to disaster.