Dr. James Petras

Newsbud Contributing Author & Analyst

Dr. James Petras is author of more than 62 books published in 29 languages and over 600 articles in professional journals. He received his B.A. from Boston University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.
You can visit his website here.

China’s Great Leap Forward: Western Frogs Croak Dismay

From their dismal swamps, US academic and financial journal editorialists, the mass media and contemporary ‘Asia experts’, Western progressive and conservative politicians croak in unison about China’s environmental and impending collapse.

They have variably proclaimed (1) China’s economy is in decline; (2) the debt is overwhelming; a Chinese real estate bubble is ready to burst; (3) the country is rife with corruption and poisoned with pollution; and (4) Chinese workers are staging paralyzing strikes and protests amid growing repression - the result of exploitation and sharp class inequality. The financial frogs croak about China as an imminent military threat to the security of the US and its Asian partners. Other frogs leap for that fly in the sky - arguing that the Chinese now threatens the entire universe!

The ‘China doomsters’ with ‘logs in their own eyes’ have systematically distorted reality, fabricated whimsical tales and paint vision, which, in truth, reflect their own societies.

As each false claim is refuted, the frogs alter their tunes: When predictions of imminent collapse fail to materialize, they add a year or even a decade to their crystal ball. When their warnings of negative national social, economic and structural trends instead move in a positive direction, their nimble fingers re-calibrate the scope and depth of the crisis, citing anecdotal ‘revelations’ from some village or town or taxi driver conversation.

As long-predicted failures fail to materialize, the experts re-hash the data by questioning the reliability of China’s official statistics.

Worst of all, Western ‘Asia’ experts and scholars try ‘role reversal’: While US bases and ships increasingly encircle China, the Chinese become the aggressors and the bellicose US imperialists whine about their victim-hood.

Cutting through the swamp of these fabrications, this essay aims to outline an alternative and more objective account of China’s current socio-economic and political realty.

China: Fiction and Fact

We repeatedly read about China’s ‘cheap wage’ economy and the brutal exploitation of its slaving workers by billionaire oligarchs and corrupt political officials. In fact, the average wage in China’s manufacturing sector has tripled during this decade. China’s labor force receives wages which exceed those of Latin America countries, with one dubious exception. Chinese manufacturing wages now approach those of the downwardly mobile countries in the EU. Meanwhile, the neo-liberal regimes, under EU and US pressure, have halved wages in Greece, and significantly reduced incomes in Brazil, Mexico and Portugal. In China, workers wages now surpass Argentina, Colombia and Thailand. While not high by US-EU standards, China’s 2015 wages stood at $3.60 per hour - improving the living standards of 1.4 billion workers. During the time that China tripled its workers ‘wages, the wages of Indian workers stagnate at $0.70 per hour and South African wages fell from $4.30 to $3.60 per hour.

This spectacular increase in Chinese worker’s wages are largely attributed to skyrocketing productivity, resulting from steady improvements in worker health, education and technical training, as well as sustained organized worker pressure and class struggle. President Xi Jinping’s successful campaign for remove and arrest of hundreds of thousands of corrupt and exploitative officials and factory bosses has boosted worker power. Chinese workers are closing the gap with the US minimum wage. At the current rate of growth, the gap, which had narrowed from one tenth to one half the US wage in ten years, will disappear in the near future.

China is no longer merely a low-wage, unskilled, labor intensive, assembly plant and export-oriented economy. Today twenty thousand technical schools graduate millions of skilled workers. High tech factories are incorporating robotics on a massive scale to replace unskilled workers. The service sector is increasing to meet the domestic consumer market. Faced with growing US political and military hostility, China has diversified its export market, turning from the US to Russia, the EU, Asia, Latin America and Africa.

Despite these impressive objective advances, the chorus of ‘crooked croakers’ continue to churn out annual predictions of China’s economic decline and decay. Their analyses are not altered by China’s 6.7% GNP growth in 2016; they jump on the 2017 forecast of ‘decline’ to 6.6% as proof of its looming collapse! Not be dissuaded by reality, the chorus of ‘Wall Street croakers’ wildly celebrate when the US announces a GNP increase from 1% to 1.5%!

While China has acknowledged its serious environmental problems, it is a leader in committing billions of dollars (2% of GNP) to reduce greenhouse gases - closing factories and mines. Their efforts far exceed those of the US and EU.

China, like the rest of Asia, as well as the US, needs to vastly increase investments in rebuilding its decaying or non-existent infrastructure. The Chinese government is alone among nations in keeping up with and even exceeding its growing transportation needs - spending $800 billion a year on high speed railroads, rail lines, sea- ports, airports subways and bridges.

While the US has rejected multi-national trade and investment treaties with eleven Pacific countries, China has promoted and financed global trade and investment treaties with more than fifty Asia-Pacific (minus Japan and the US), as well as African and European states.

China’s leadership under President Xi Jinping has launched an effective large-scale anti-corruption campaign leading to the arrest or ouster of over 200,000 business and public officials, including billionaires, and top politburo and Central Committee members. As a result of this national campaign, purchases of luxury items have significantly declined. The practice of using public funds for elaborate 12 course dinners and the ritual of gift giving and taking are on the wane.

Meanwhile, despite the political campaigns to ‘drain the swamp’ and successful populist referenda, nothing remotely resembling China’s anticorruption campaign have taken root in the US and the UK despite daily reports of swindles and fraud involving the hundred leading investment banks in the Anglo-American world. China’s anti- corruption campaign may have succeeded in reducing inequalities. It clearly has earned the overwhelming support of the Chinese workers and farmers.

Journalists and academics, who like to parrot the Anglo-American and NATO Generals, warn that China’s military program poses a direct threat to the security of the US, Asia and indeed the rest of world.

Historical amnesia infects these most deep diving frogs. Forgotten is how the post WW2 US invaded and destroyed Korea and Indo-China (Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia) killing over nine million inhabitants, both civilian and defenders. The US invaded, colonized and neo-colonized the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century, killing up to one million inhabitants. It continues to build and expands its network of military bases encircling China, It recently moved powerful, nuclear armed THADD missiles to the North Korean border, capable of attacking Chinese and even Russian cities. The US is the worlds’ largest arms exporter, surpassing the collective production and sale of the next five leading merchants of death.

In contrast, China has not unilaterally attacked, invaded or occupied anyone in hundreds of years. It does not place nuclear missiles on the US coast or borders. In fact, it does not have a single overseas military base. Its own military bases, in the South China Sea, are established to protect its vital maritime routes from pirates and the increasingly provocative US naval armada. China’s military budget, scheduled to increase by 7% in 2017, is still less than one-fourth of the US budget.

For its part, the US promotes aggressive military alliances, points radar and satellite guided missiles at China, Iran and Russia, and threatens to obliterate North Korea. China’s military program has been and continues to be defensive. Its increase is based on its response to US provocation. China’s foreign imperial thrust is based on a global market strategy while Washington continues to pursue a militarist imperial strategy, designed to impose global domination by force.

Conclusion

The frogs of the Western intelligentsia have crocked loud and long. They strut and pose as the world’s leading fly catchers - but producing nothing credible in terms of objective analyses.

China has serious social, economic and structural problems, but they are systematically confronting them. The Chinese are committed to improving their society, economy and political system on their own terms. They seek to solve immensely challenging problems, while refusing to sacrifice their national sovereignty and the welfare of their people.

In confronting China as a world capitalist competitor, the US official policy is to surround China with military bases and threaten to disrupt its economy. As part of this strategy, Western media and so-called ‘experts’ magnify China’s problems and minimize their own.

Unlike China, the US is wallowing at less than 2% annual growth. Wages stagnate for decades; real wages and living standards decline. The costs of education and health care skyrocket, while the quality of these vital services decline dramatically. Costs are growing, un-employment is growing and worker suicide and mortality is growing. It is absolutely vital that the West acknowledge China’s impressive advances in order to learn, borrow and foster a similar pattern of positive growth and equity. Co-operation between China and the US is essential for promoting peace and justice in Asia.

Unfortunately, the previous US President Obama and the current President Trump have chosen the path of military confrontation and aggression. The two terms of Obama’s administration present a record of failing wars, financial crises, burgeoning prisons and declining domestic living standards. But for all their noise, these frogs, croaking in unison, will not change the real world.

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Professor James Petras, Newsbud contributing author & analyst, is the author of more than 62 books published in 29 languages, and over 600 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has a long history of commitment to social justice, working in particular with the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement for 11 years. He writes a monthly column for the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada, and previously, for the Spanish daily, El Mundo. Dr. Petras received his B.A. from Boston University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. You can visit his website here.

The Rising Tide of Militarism in the 21st Century: From Clinton, Bush, Obama & Trump

Militarism: An essential structural feature of US imperialism’s insertion in the international system

US militarism expanded exponentially through the first two decades of the Twenty-First Century, and was embraced by both Democratic and Republican Presidents. The mass media’s hysteria towards President Trump’s increase in military spending deliberately ignores the vast expansion of militarism, in all its facets, under President Obama and his two predecessors, Presidents ‘Bill’ Clinton and George Bush, Jr.

We will proceed in this essay to compare and discuss the unbroken rise of militarism over the past seventeen years. We will then demonstrate that militarism is an essential structural feature of US imperialism’s insertion in the international system.

Militarism

Vast increases in military spending have been a constant regardless of who was President of the United States, and regardless of their popular campaign rhetoric to curb military spending in favor of the domestic economy.

Under ‘Bill’ Clinton, the war budget increased from $302 billion in 2000 to $313 billion in 2001. Under President George W. Bush (Jr.), military spending jumped from $357 billion in 2002 to $465 billion in 2004, to $621 billion in 2008. Under President Obama(the ‘Peace Candidate’), military spending soared from $669 billion in 2009 to $711 billion in 2011 and then apparently declined to $596 billion in 2017. Currently, the newly installed President Trump is asking for an increase to $650 billion for 2018.

Several observations are in order: Obama’s military budget in 2017 excluded spending in several ‘Defense-related’ departments of government, including a $25 billion increase for the Energy Department’s nuclear weapons program. Obama’s total for military spending for 2017 adds up to $623 billion or $30 billion less than Trump’s proposal. Moreover, Obama’s military spending for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), which is not listed in the annual budget proposals, included the cost of US wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya and numerous other countries and had skyrocketed during his term. Indeed, Obama’s eight years in office exceeded George W. Bush’s military spending by over $816 billion dollars.

President Trump’s proposed increase in military spending is in line with the Democratic President’s trajectory - contrary to the claims of the mass media. Clearly both Republicans and Democrats have massively increased their reliance on the US military as the driving force of world power. While Obama’s 2017 budget included $7.5 billion for ‘ISIS operations’ (an increase of 50%) and $8 billion for cyber warfare and (counter) terrorism, the largest increase was for stealth warplanes, nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers, clearly aimed at Russia, China and Iran. The Navy and Air Force got three quarters of the budget.

Under Obama, the US escalation of weaponry was not directed at ‘terrorist groups’ but, instead, at Russia and China. Washington has been intent on bankrupting Russia -in order to return it to the vassalage of the pre-Putin decade. The CIA - Obama - and the Republican Partys’ ferocious campaign against Trump is based on his overtures toward Russia. The centerpiece of the decades-long US quest for unipolar domination now depends on stripping Trump of his power and appointments, which in part or whole, are seen as undermining the entire structure of US military-driven imperialism as had been pursued by the previous four administrations.

Trump’s increase in military spending is apparently intended to be a ‘bargaining chip’ in his plan to expand US economic opportunities - cutting deals with Russia, renegotiating trade with China, East Asia (Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea) and Germany, all of which comprise the bulk of the US trillion-dollar annual trade deficit.

Trump’s repeated setbacks, the constant pressure on his appointees and the toll inflicted by the mass media on every aspect of his persona and personal life, even in the face of a historic increase in the stock market across the board, indicates a deep division among US oligarchs over power and ‘who governs’. Not since the onset of WWII have we witnessed fundamental cleavages over foreign policy. Previous conceptions of partisan debates are out of date. The financial press (the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal) is openly aligned with the militarists, while the financial marketers on Wall Street support Trump’s pro-business domestic policies and conciliatory overtures to Russia and China. Most of the propaganda mills, dubbed ‘think tanks’, with their stables of academics, ‘experts’, editorialists, and liberal and neoconservative ideologues promote military aggression against Russia. Meanwhile, the populist social media, grass roots Trump supporters, domestic manufacturers and the nation’s Chambers of Commerce press for domestic tax cuts and protectionist measures.

The Army is pro-Trump and favors his concept of regional wars for economic gains. In contrast, the CIA, the Navy and Air Force, which benefited significantly from Obama’s lopsided war budgets, pursue a policy of global military confrontations with Russia and China and multiple wars against their allies, such as Iran, regardless of the devastation such a policy will have on the domestic economy.

Donald Trump’s concept of imperialism is based on exporting products and capturing markets while attracting multinational corporation capital back to the US for re-investing their profits (currently over one trillion held overseas)in the domestic market. He opposes economic and military alliances that have increased US trade deficits and debt in contrast to the previous administrations of militarists who accepted crippling trade deficits and disproportionate US spending on military intervention, bases and sanctions against Russia and its allies.

President Trump’s goal of making Western Europe pay a greater share of NATO (and thus reduce Europe’s dependence on US military spending) has been rejected by both political parties. Every one of Trump’s small steps toward improving relations to Russia has aroused the ire of the unipolar military imperialists who control the leadership of the Democrats and the Republicans.

Militarist imperialism has offered a few tactical concessions to Russia’s allies - the unstable agreements with Iran and Lebanon and the flimsy peace accords in Ukraine. At the same time Washington is expanding its military bases from the Nordic-Baltic regions to Asia. It threatens support for military coups in Brazil, Venezuela and Ukraine.

The strategic purpose of these bellicose moves is to encircle and destroy Russia as a potential independent counter-weight to US global dominance.

President Trump’s initial policy has been to build ‘fortress America’: Increasing the military budget, building up police and military power along the Mexican border and within the oil rich Gulf States. Trump’s agenda would strengthen the military in Asia and elsewhere in order to enhance the US’ economic bargaining position in bilateral negotiations with the aim of enlarging its export markets.

Conclusion

The United States is witnessing a deadly confrontation between two sharply polarized imperialisms.

Militarism, the established form of US imperialism is deeply entrenched within the permanent state apparatus. This includes the 17 intelligence agencies, the propaganda departments, the Air Force and Navy, as well as the high tech sector and the commercial capitalist elites who have benefited from foreign imports and foreign low cost skilled labor at the expense of US workers. Their record is one of disastrous wars, lost markets, declining wages, deteriorating living standards and the relocation of well-paid jobs abroad. At best, they have secured a few, weak vassal regimes at an enormous cost.

The Trump regime’s attempt to fashion a strategic imperialist alternative revolves around a more nuanced approach: He seeks to use military power to enhance the domestic labor market and secure mass support for overseas economic intervention.

First and foremost, Trump realizes that Russia cannot be isolated from its markets in Europe and defeated by sanctions. This led him to propose negotiating a global agreement for large-scale trade deals, which would favor US banks, oil, agriculture and upscale industries. Secondly, Trump supports ’social imperialism’, whereby US exports markets, based on local US industries, labor and banks, would lead to higher wages and profits for American businesses and workers. US imperialism would not depend on costly and failed military invasions, but on overseas ‘invasions’ by US industries and banks who would then return their profits to the US for investment and further boost the stock market already stimulated by his stated plans for deregulation and tax cuts.

President Trump’s transition to this new imperial paradigm faces a formidable adversary which has so far succeeded in blocking his agenda and threatens to overthrow his regime.

From the beginning, Trump’s failed to consolidate state power, an error which undermined his administration. While his election victory gave him the Office of the Presidency, his regime is only one aspect of state power, which is vulnerable to immediate erosion and ouster by the independent coercive and legislative branches, intent on his political demise. The other government branches are filled with holdovers from the Obama and previous regimes - and are deeply committed to militarism.

Secondly, Trump failed to mobilize his elite supporters and mass base around an alternative media. His ‘early morning Tweets’ are a flimsy counter-weight to the concentrated mass media attack on his governance.

Thirdly, while Trump moved successfully to secure international support with Japan and England, he backed off from dealing with Russia– which will be central to undermining his imperial adversaries.

Fourthly, Trump has failed to connect his immigration policies with an effective new program of domestic employment and he failed to expose and capitalize on the draconian anti-immigrant policies waged under the Obama administration, during which millions were imprisoned and expelled.

Fifthly, Trump failed to clarify the link between his pro-market economic policies and military spending and how they are linked to a totally different paradigm.

As a consequence, the success of the liberal-neo-conservative militarist assault on the new president has put his central strategy in retreat. Trump is under siege and on the defensive. Even if he survives this concentrated onslaught, his original conception of ‘re-making’ American imperial and domestic policy is in tatters and the pieces will blend the worst of both worlds: Without expanding overseas markets for American products and a successful domestic jobs program, the prospects are for President Donald Trump to revert to overseas wars and usher in a market collapse.

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Professor James Petras, Newsbud contributing analyst and author, is the author of more than 62 books published in 29 languages, and over 600 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has a long history of commitment to social justice, working in particular with the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement for 11 years. He writes a monthly column for the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada, and previously, for the Spanish daily, El Mundo. Dr. Petras received his B.A. from Boston University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. You can visit his website here.

Trump’s Ties to the Past and the Resurrection of the Left

President Trump is deeply embedded in the politics of the deep state structure of American imperialism. Contrary to occasional references to non-intervention in overseas wars, Trump has followed in the footsteps of his predecessors.

While neoconservatives and liberals have raised a hue and cry about Trump’s ties to Russia, his ‘heresies’ over NATO and his overtures to peace in the Middle East, in practice, he has discarded his market humanitarian’ imperialism and engaged in the same bellicose policies of his Democratic Party presidential rival, Hillary Clinton.

Because he lacks the slick ‘demagogy’ of former-President Obama, and does not slather his actions with cheap appeals to ‘identity’ politics, Trump’s crude, abrasive pronouncements drive young demonstrators into the streets in mass actions. These demonstrations are not-so-discretely supported by Trump’s major opponents among the Wall Street bankers, speculators and mass media moguls. In other words, President Trump is an icon-embracer and follower, not a ‘revolutionary’ or even ‘change agent’.

We will proceed by discussing the historical trajectory, which gave birth to the Trump regime. We will identify ongoing policies and commitments determining the present and future direction of his administration.

We will conclude by identifying how current reaction can produce future transformations. We will challenge the current ‘catastrophic’ and apocalyptic delirium and offer reasons for an optimistic perspective for the future. In brief: This essay will point out how current negatives can become realistic positives.

Historical Sequences

Over the past two decades US presidents have squandered the financial and military resources of the country in multiple unending, losing wars, as well as in trillion dollar trade debts and fiscal imbalances. US leaders have run amok provoking major global financial crises, bankrupting the largest banks, destroying small mortgage holders, devastating manufacturers and creating massive unemployment followed by low-paid unstable jobs leading to collapse in living standards for the working and lower middle classes.

Imperial wars, trillion dollar bail-outs for the billionaires and unopposed flight of multinational Ccorporations abroad, have vastly deepened class inequalities and given rise to trade agreements favoring China, Germany and Mexico. Within the US, the major beneficiaries of these crises have been the bankers, high-tech billionaires, commercial importers and agro-business exporters.

Faced with systemic crises, the ruling regimes have responded by deepening and expanding US Presidential powers in the form of presidential decrees. To cover-up the decades-long series of debacles, patriotic ‘whistle-blowers’ have been jailed and police-state style surveillance has infiltrated every sector of the citizenry.

Presidents Bush, Clinton and Obama defined the trajectory of imperial wars and Wall Street plunder. State police, military and financial institutions are firmly embedded in the matrix of power. Financial centers, like Goldman Sachs, have repeatedly set the agenda and controlled the US Department of Treasury and the agencies regulating trade and banking. The ‘permanent institutions’ of the state have remained, while Presidents, regardless of party, have been shuffled in and out of the ‘Oval Office’.

The ‘First Black’ President Barack Obama pledged peace and pursued seven wars. His successor, Donald Trump was elected on promises of ‘non-intervention’ and promptly picked up Obama’s ‘bombing baton’: tiny Yemen was attacked by US forces, Russia’s allies in the Donbas Region of Ukraine were savaged by Washington’s allies in Kiev and Trump’s ‘more realist’ representative, Nikki Haley, put on a bellicose performance at the UN in the style of ‘Madame Humanitarian Intervention’ Samantha Power, braying invectives at Russia.

Where is the change? Trump followed Obama by increasing sanctions against Russia, while threatening North Korea with nuclear annihilation in the wake of Obama’s major military build-up in the Korean peninsula. Obama launched a surrogate war against Syria and Trump escalated the air war over Raqqa. Obama encircled China with military bases, warships and warplanes and Trump goose-stepped right in with warmongering rhetoric. Obama expelled a record two million Mexican workers over eight years; Trump followed by promising to deport even more.

In other words, President Trump has dutifully picked up the march along his predecessors’ trajectory, bombing the same targeted countries while plagiarizing their maniacal speeches at the United Nations.

Obama increased the annual tribute (aid) to Tel Aviv to a whooping $3.8 billions while bleating a few pro-forma criticisms of expanding Israeli land-grabs in Palestine; Trump proposed to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem while blubbering a few of his own mini-criticisms of illegal Jewish settlements on stolen Palestinian land.

What is overwhelmingly striking is the similarity of Obama and Trump,’s policies and strategies in foreign policy, their means and allies. What is different is their style and rhetoric. Both ‘Change Agent’ Presidents immediately break the same phony pre-election promises and function well within the boundaries of the permanent state institutions.

Whatever differences they have are a result of contrasting historic contexts. Obama took over the collapse of the financial system and sought to regulate banks in order to stabilize operations. Trump took over after Obama’s trillion-dollar ’stabilization’ and sought to eliminate regulations - in the footsteps of President Clinton! So ‘much ado’ about Trump’s ‘historic deregulation’!

The ‘winter of discontent’ in the form of mass protests against Trump’s ban against immigrants and visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries follows directly from Obama’s ’seven deadly wars’. The immigrants and refugees are direct products of Obama’s invasions and attacks on these countries leading to murder, injury, forced displacement and misery for million of ‘predominantly’ (but not exclusively) Muslims. Obama’s wars have created tens of thousands of ‘rebels’, insurgents and terrorists. The refugees, fleeing for their lives, have been largely excluded from the US under Obama and most have sought safe havens in the squalid camps and chaos of the EU.

As terrible and illegal as Trump’s border closure to Muslims and as promising as the mass public protests seem, they are all the result of the near decade long policy of murder and mayhem under President Obama.

Following the policy trajectory - Obama shed the blood and Trump, in his vulgar racist style is left to ‘clean up the mess’. While Obama has been made into a ‘Nobel Peace Prize’ peace maker, grumpy Trump is soundly attacked for picking up the bloody mop!

Trump has chosen to tread the path of obloquy and faces the wrath of purgatory. Meanwhile, Obama is off playing golf, wind surfing and flashing his ‘devil may care’ smile to his adoring scribblers in the mass media.

As Trump stomps down the path laid out by Obama, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators fill the streets to protest the ‘fascist’, with scores of major mass media networks, dozens of plutocrats and ‘intellectuals’ of all genders, races and creeds writhing in moral outrage! One is left confused at the deafening silence of these same activists and forces when Obama’s aggressive wars and attacks led to the deaths and displacement of millions of civilians, mostly Muslim, and mostly women - as their homes, weddings, markets, schools and funerals were bombed.

So much for American muddle-headedness! One should try to understand the possibilities that arise from a massive sector finally breaking their silence as Obama’s glib warmongering has been transformed into Trump’s crude march to doomsday.

Optimistic Perspectives

There are many who despair but there are more who have become aware. We will identify the optimistic perspectives and realistic hopes rooted in current reality and trends. Realism means discussing contradictory, polarizing developments and therefore we accept no ‘inevitable’ outcomes. This means that outcomes are ‘contested terrain’ where subjective factors play a leading role. The interface of conflicting forces can result in an upward or downward spiral - toward more equality, sovereignty and liberation or greaterconcentration of wealth, power and privilege.

The most retrograde concentration of power and wealth is found in the oligarchic German-dominated European Union - a configuration which is under siege by popular forces. The United Kingdom voters chose to exit from the EU (Brexit). As a result, Britain faces a break-up with Scotland and Wales and an even greater separation from Ireland. Brexit will lead to a new polarization as London-based bankers depart to the EU and free market leaders confront workers, protectionists and the growing mass of the poor. Brexit fortifies nationalist-populists and leftist forces in France, Poland, Hungary and Serbia and shatters the neo-liberal hegemony in Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal and elsewhere. The challenge to the EU oligarchs is that popular insurgency will intensify social polarization and can bring to the fore progressive class movements or authoritarian nationalist parties and movements.

Trumps ascent to power and his executive decrees have led to highly polarize electorates, increased politicization and direct action. The awakening of America deepens internal fissures between small ‘d’ democrats, progressive women, trade unionists, students and others against the big ‘D’ Democratic Party opportunists, speculators, life-long Democratic warmongers, bourgeois black ‘D’ Party hacks (the mis-leaders) and a small army of corporate-funded NGO’s.

Trumps embrace of the Obama-Clinton military and Wall Street agenda will lead to a financial bubble, bloated military spending and more costly wars. These will divide the regime from its trade union and working class supporters now that Trump’s cabinet is composed entirely of billionaires, ideologues, rabid zionists and militarists (as opposed to his promise to appoint ‘hard-nosed’ deal-making businessmen and realists). This could create a rich opportunity for movements to arise which reject the truly ugly face of Trump’s reactionary regime.

Trump’s animosity to NAFTA, and advocacy of protectionism and financial and resource exploitation will undermine the corrupt, murderous, narco-neoliberal regimes which have ruled Mexico for the past 30 years since the days of Salinas. Trump’s anti-immigration policy will lead to Mexicans choosing to ‘fight over flight’ in confronting the social chaos created by the narco-gangs and gangster police. It will force the development of Mexico’s domestic markets and industry. Mass domestic consumption and ownership will embrace national-popular movements. The drug cartel and their political sponsors will lose the US markets and face domestic opposition.

Trump’s protectionism will limit the illegal flow of capital from Mexico, which amounted to $48.3 billion in 2016 or 55% of Mexico’s debt. Mexico’s transition from dependency and neo-colonialism will deeply polarize the state and society; the outcome will be determined by class forces.

Trump’s economic and military threats against Iran will strengthen nationalist, populist and collectivist forces over the neo-liberal ‘reformist’ and pro-Western politicians. Iran’s anti-imperialist alliance with Yemen, Syria and Lebanon will solidify against the US-led quartet of Saudi Arabia, Israel, Britain and the US.

Trump’s support for Israel’s massive seizure of Palestinian land and its ‘Jews-only’ ban against Muslims and Christians will lead to the ’shaking off’ of the multi-millionaire Palestinian Authority quislings and the rise of many more uprisings and intifadas.

The defeat of ISIS will strengthen independent governmental forces in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, weaken US imperial leverage and open the door to popular democratic secular struggles.

China’s President Xi Jinping’s large-scale, long-term anti-corruption campaign has led to the arrest and removal of over a quarter-million officials and businesspeople, including billionaires and top Party leaders. The arrests, prosecution and jailing has reduced the abuse of privilege, but more important, it has improves the prospects for a movement to challenge vast social inequalities. What began from ‘above’ can provoke movements from ‘below’. The resurrection of a movement toward socialist values can have a major impact on US vassal states in Asia.

Russia’s support for democratic rights in Eastern Ukraine and the re-incorporation of Crimea via referendum can limit US puppet regimes on Russia’s southern flank and reduce US intervention. Russia can develop peaceful ties with independent European states with the break-up of the EU and the Trump electoral victory over the Obama-Clinton regime’s threat of nuclear war.

The world-wide movement against imperialist globalism isolates the US-backed right-wing power grab in South America. Brazil, Argentina and Chile’s pursuit of neo-liberal trade pacts are on the defensive. Their economies, especially in Argentina and Brazil, have seen a three-fold increase in unemployment, four-fold rise in foreign debt, stagnant to negative growth and now face mass-supported general strikes. Neo-liberal ‘toadyism’ is provoking class struggle. This can overturn the post-Obama order in Latin America.

Conclusion

Across the world and within the most important countries, the ultra-neoliberal order of the past quarter century is disintegrating. There is a massive upsurge of movements from above and below, from democratic leftists to nationalists, from independent populists to the right-wing reactionary ‘old guard’: A new polarized, fragmented political universe has emerged. The beginning of the end of the current imperial-globalist order is creating opportunities for a new dynamic democratic collectivist order. The oligarchs and ’security’ elites will not easily give way to popular demands or step down. Knives will be sharpened, executive decrees will issue forth, and electoral coups will be staged to attempt to seize power. The emerging popular democratic movements need to overcome identity fragmentation and establish unified, egalitarian leaders who can act decisively and independently away from the existing political leaders who make dramatic, but phony, progressive gestures while seeking a return to the stench and squalor of the recent past.

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Professor James Petras, Newsbud contributing author & analyst, is the author of more than 62 books published in 29 languages, and over 600 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has a long history of commitment to social justice, working in particular with the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement for 11 years. He writes a monthly column for the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada, and previously, for the Spanish daily, El Mundo. Dr. Petras received his B.A. from Boston University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. You can visit his website here.

 

Obama’s Political Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy: Manning as Bait

Obama has sanctified himself at Manning’s expense & insured Chelsea’s destruction

The malady, common among political leaders who commit heartless crimes while craving popular adulation as heroes and misunderstood saints, is ‘Political Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy’ (PMSP).

PMSP best explains the pathologic drive of politicians and policy makers who inflict relentless, systematic mass destruction and then intervene in a most theatrical manner to save a few victims - thus drawing gratitude from the victim and public support for their ‘humanitarian intervention’ - ignorant of their fundamental role in creating the mayhem in the first place.

The actions of the outgoing President Barack Obama in the last three days of his administration present an example of PMSP on the domestic front.

Throughout his eight years as President of the United States, Obama exhibited many symptoms of PMSP - both abroad and in the US. For his cynical crimes, he was awarded the ‘Nobel Peace Prize’ among other honors.

PMSP - The Abuser as Savior

Each of Obama’s relentless military interventions, including Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan and especially Syria, were characterized by the deliberate and total destruction of the means of normal civilized social existence for defenseless civilians - the bombing of homes, factories, markets, weddings, funerals, schools, hospitals - leading to the deaths of many thousands and the uprooting of millions into desperate flight. In each case, Obama would proclaim that he was saving the victims from imminent genocide by an abusive ruler or ethnic group. He would rush in to provide a few baskets of relief and a few blankets to some bedraggled survivors of his own bombing campaigns and bask in the glowing praise of mass media propagandists and fellow imperialists. Choreographed applause and adulation would seem to follow America’s First Black President everywhere.

Obama’s bombs, arms and mercenaries drove hundreds of thousands of families into the streets, into the mountains and most horrifically onto rickety, overloaded boats on the seas. In each series of destruction and chaos, he would calculate the point at which his ‘humanitarian intervention’ would most effectively reflect on his heroism.

He destroyed the entire nation of Libya, shredded its institutions and infrastructure, bombed its cities and villages, even deliberately sending a deadly missile into the home sheltering a half dozen of President Muammar Gadaffi’s small grandchildren and finally ended up with the public death by torture of the wounded Libyan president sodomized by stakes documented in a imperial-pornographic snuff film that should have revolted the entire world. That the main victims of Obama’s ‘liberation of Libya’ were hundreds of thousands of black Libyan citizens and sub-Saharan African workers did little to detract from his public persona as the first ‘African American’ world hero. The capsized boatloads of fleeing black Libyans and the bloated bodies washing ashore on the beaches of Spain and Italy were never linked to the criminal policies of our Nobel Prize recipient! He even urged Europe to accept the miserable refugees fleeing his war - in a gesture of supreme PMSP. He could do no wrong. This serial political killer had an unquenchable thirst for sympathy and admiration - and a wholly corrupt propaganda machine to polish his halo.

Obama’s PMSP and Chelsea Manning

In his last few days in power, Obama turned his ‘heroic and humanitarian’ attention to individual American victims of grotesque injustice in our bloated and racist prison system - just to prove that the great man could ’set up’ and then save individuals as well as nations.

The cold, calculus of the Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy President finally focused on the fragile form of the imprisoned and tortured Chelsea Manning - hero to millions and condemned traitor to the empire’s ruling elite. For eight years, Barack Obama pursued the arrest, torture, kangaroo court-martial, virtual life sentencing and prison mistreatment of the US soldier who had dared to expose large-scale war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and release thousands of damning documents of systematic political war crime hidden from her compatriots. She released videos of US pilots playing ‘execution games’ against a crowd of defenseless Iraqi civilians, including children, as well as equally egregious war crimes elsewhere.

Obama and his fellow war criminals were furious at Manning’s revelations - and approved of her sentence of 35 years, some of which had been served before her conviction in solitary confinement, often stripped naked - in a condition described by the United Nations as torture and inhumane treatment. After her conviction, she was harassed and driven to multiple attempts to take her life.

After seven years of brutal and degrading treatment, spanning almost the entire Obama Administration, the condition of the frail transgender soldier-hero, almost a martyr to truth and justice, her supporters and the world community were desperate with concern for her safety, survival and sanity. At this point, and in the last three days of his administration on January 17, 2017, Obama ‘commuted Manning’s sentence’ but left it to the incoming Trump Administration to free her five months later in May.

Instead of celebrating the liberation and vindication of the hero Chelsea Manning in May, the media drowned out the plight of the frail tortured whistleblower with its loud tributes to the mercy and heroism of the serial abuser - Barack Obama.

Conclusion

In his last days, Obama played the ‘Merciful Pasha’ commuting Manning’s virtual life sentence - which he still justified. Obama did so in a way that literally begged the incoming rabidly reactionary regime of Donald Trump to rescind the commutation or at least impose such levels of torture and pressure on Manning that her very survival and sanity in prison up to her scheduled release in May will be in grave jeopardy.

The most virulent militarists in the US Congress, including the war criminal John McCain, are howling for Manning’s head. While they will torture Manning during the next 5 months behind thick prison walls, the press will compare the vindictive Trump with the benevolent Obama. This is a cynical ’set-up’ for our hero, Chelsea Manning to be driven to suicide by Trump while her ultimate persecutor, the ’saintly’ Barack Obama will ’shine’ for having issue the belated commutation. Obama could easily have released Manning earlier and spared her this mortal danger - but he chose to tie the poor prisoner to a stake - under the blood-lusting noses of our most sadistic militarists - and invite their public display of savagery.

In one very self-glorifying pronouncement, three days before leaving office, Obama has sanctified himself at Manning’s expense and insured Chelsea’s destruction. This is virtuosic Political Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy by a true master!

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Professor James Petras, Newsbud contributing analyst and author, is the author of more than 62 books published in 29 languages, and over 600 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has a long history of commitment to social justice, working in particular with the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement for 11 years. He writes a monthly column for the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada, and previously, for the Spanish daily, El Mundo. Dr. Petras received his B.A. from Boston University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. You can visit his website here.

Regime Change Comes Home: The CIA’s Overt Threats against Trump

A march toward an elite coup, involving elements of the militarist empire and ‘in`telligence’ hierarchy!

The norms of US capitalist democracy include the election of presidential candidates through competitive elections, unimpeded by force and violence by the permanent institutions of the state. Voter manipulation has occurred during the recent elections, as in the case of the John F. Kennedy victory in 1960 and the George W. Bush victory over ‘Al’ Gore in 2000.

But despite the dubious electoral outcomes in these cases, the ‘defeated’ candidate conceded and sought via legislation, judicial rulings, lobbying and peaceful protests to register their opposition.

These norms are no longer operative. During the election process, and in the run-up to the inauguration of US President-Elect Donald Trump, fundamental electoral institutions were challenged and coercive institutions were activated to disqualify the elected president and desperate overt public pronouncements threatened the entire electoral order.

We will proceed by outlining the process that is used to undermine the constitutional order, including the electoral process and the transition to the inauguration of the elected president.

Regime Change in America

In recent times, elected officials in the US and their state security organizations have often intervened against independent foreign governments, which challenged Washington’s quest for global domination. This was especially true during the eight years of President Barack Obama’s administration where the violent ousting of presidents and prime ministers through US-engineered coups were routine - under an unofficial doctrine of ‘regime change’.

The violation of constitutional order and electoral norms of other countries has become enshrined in US policy. All US political, administrative and security structures are involved in this process. The policymakers would insist that there was a clear distinction between operating within constitutional norms at home and pursuing violent, illegal regime change operations abroad.

Today the distinction between overseas and domestic norms has been obliterated by the state and quasi-official mass media. The US security apparatus is now active in manipulating the domestic democratic process of electing leaders and transitioning administrations.

The decisive shift to ‘regime change’ at home has been a continual process organized, orchestrated and implemented by elected and appointed officials within the Obama regime and by a multiplicity of political action organizations, which cross traditional ideological boundaries.

Regime change has several components leading to the final solution: First and foremost, the political parties seek to delegitimize the election process and undermine the President-elect. The mass media play a major role demonizing President-Elect Trump with personal gossip, decades-old sex scandals and fabricated interviews and incidents.

Alongside the media blitz, leftist and rightist politicians have come together to question the legitimacy of the November 2016 election results. Even after a recount confirmed Trump’s victory, a massive propaganda campaign was launched to impeach the president-elect even before he takes office - by claiming Trump was an ‘enemy agent’.

The Democratic Party and the motley collection of right-left anti-Trump militants sought to blackmail members of the Electoral College to change their vote in violation of their own mandate as state electors. This was unsuccessful, but unprecedented.

Their overt attack on US electoral norms then turned into a bizarre and virulent anti-Russia campaign designed to paint the elected president (a billionaire New York real estate developer and US celebrity icon) as a ‘tool of Moscow.’ The mass media and powerful elements within the CIA, Congress and Obama Administration insisted that Trump’s overtures toward peaceful, diplomatic relations with Russia were acts of treason.

The outgoing President Obama mobilized the entire leadership of the security state to fabricate ‘dodgy dossiers’ linking Donald Trump to the Russian President Vladimir Putin, insisting that Trump was a stooge or ‘vulnerable to KGB blackmail’. The CIA’s phony documents (arriving via a former British intelligence operative-now free lance ’security’ contractor) were passed around among the major corporate media who declined to publish the leaked gossip. Months of attempts to get the US media to ‘take the bite’ on the ’smelly’ dossier were unsuccessful. The semi-senile US Senator John McCain (’war-hero’ and hysterical Trump opponent) then volunteered to plop the reeking gossip back onto the lap of the CIA Director Brennan and demand the government ‘act on these vital revelations’!

Under scrutiny by serious researchers, the ‘CIA dossier’ was proven to be a total fabrication by way of a former ‘British official - now - in - hiding…!’ Undaunted, despite being totally discredited, the CIA leadership continued to attack the President-Elect. Trump likened the CIA’s ‘dirty pictures hatchet job’ to the thuggish behavior of the Nazis and clearly understood how the CIA leadership was involved in a domestic coup d’état.

CIA Director John Brennan, architect of numerous ‘regime changes’ overseas had brought his skills home - against the President-elect. For the first time in US history, a CIA director openly charged a President or President-elect with betraying the country and threatened the incoming Chief Executive. He coldly warned Trump to ‘just make sure he understands that the implications and impacts (of Trump’s policies) on the United States could be profound…”

Clearly CIA Director Brennan has not only turned the CIA into a sinister, unaccountable power dictating policy to an elected US president, by taking on the tone of a Mafia Capo, he threatens the physical security of the incoming leader.

From a Scratch to Gangrene

The worst catastrophe that could fall on the United States would be a conspiracy of leftist and rightist politicos, the corporate mass media and the ‘progressive’ websites and pundits providing ideological cover for a CIA-orchestrated ‘regime change’.

Whatever the limitations of our electoral norms- and there are many - they are now being degraded and discarded in a march toward an elite coup, involving elements of the militarist empire and ‘in`telligence’ hierarchy.

Mass propaganda, a ‘red-brown alliance, salacious gossip and accusations of treason (’Trump, the Stooge of Moscow’) resemble the atmosphere leading to the rise of the Nazi state in Germany. A broad ‘coalition’ has joined hands with a most violent and murderous organization (the CIA) and imperial political leadership, which views overtures to peace to be high treason because it limits their drive for world power and a US dominated global political order.

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Professor James Petras, Newsbud contributing analyst and author, is the author of more than 62 books published in 29 languages, and over 600 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has a long history of commitment to social justice, working in particular with the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement for 11 years. He writes a monthly column for the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada, and previously, for the Spanish daily, El Mundo. Dr. Petras received his B.A. from Boston University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. You can visit his website here.

Clinton Promotes War While US Public Opinion Speaks to Anti-Militarist Populism

Resolving the contradictions between the wishes of the anti-militarist majorities and votes cast for pro-war elites

Castigating the US electorate as accomplices and facilitators of wars, or, at best, dismissing the voters as ignorant sheep-people (’sheeple’) herded by political elites, describes a partial reality. Public opinion polls, even the polls overwhelmingly slanted toward the center-right, consistently describe a citizenry opposed to militarism and wars, past and present.

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Both the Right and Left have failed to grasp the contradiction that defines US political life: Namely, the profound gap between the American public and the Washington elite on questions of war and peace within an electoral process that consistently leads to more militarism.

This is an analysis of the most recent US public opinion polls with regard to outcome of the recent elections. The essay concludes with a discussion of the deep-seated contradictions and proposes several ways in which these contradictions can be resolved.

Method

A major survey of public opinion, sponsored by the Charles Koch Institute and the Center for the National Interest, conducted by the Survey Sampling International, interviewed a sample of one thousand respondents.

The Results: War or Peace

More than half of the American public oppose any increase is the US military role overseas while only 25% back military expansion.

The public has expressed its disillusionment over Obama’s foreign policy, especially his new military commitments in the Middle East, which have been heavily promoted by the state of Israel and its US domestic Zionist lobby.

The US public shows a deep historical memory with regard to the past military debacles launched by Presidents Bush and Obama. Over half of the public (51%) believe that the US has become less safe over the past 15 years (2001-2015), while one eighth (13%) feel they are more secure.

In the present period, over half of the public opposes the deployment of ground troops to Syria and Yemen and only 10% favor continued US support for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

With regard to specific US wars, over half believe that Bush’s invasion of Iraq made the US homeland less secure, while only 25% believe it didn’t increase or decrease domestic security. Similar responses were expressed with regard to Afghanistan: 42% believe the Afghan War increased insecurity and about a third (34%) felt it did not affect US security.

In terms of future perspectives, three quarters (75%) of the American public want the next President to focus less on the US military operations abroad or are uncertain about its role. Only 37% are in favor of increased spending for the military.

The mass media and the powerful financial backers of the Democratic Presidential candidate have focused on demonizing Russia and China as ‘the greatest threats in our time’. In contrast, almost two thirds (63.4%) of Americans believe the greatest threat comes from terrorism both foreign and domestic. Only 18% view Russia and China as major threats to their security.

In regard to the Pentagon, 56% want to reduce or freeze current military spending while only 37% want to increase it.

Wars and Peace: The Political Elites

Contrary to the views of a majority of the public, the last four US Presidents, since the 1990’s, have increased the military budget, sending hundreds of thousands of US troops to launch wars in three Middle Eastern countries, while promoting bloody civil wars in three North African and two European countries. Despite public opinion majorities, who believe that the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq have increased threats to the US security, Obama kept ground troops, air and sea forces and drone operations in those countries. Despite only 10% public approval for his military policies, the Obama regime has sent arms, advisors and Special Forces to support the Saudi dictatorship’s invasion of tiny Yemen.

Obama and the Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton pushed a policy of encircling Russia and demonizing its President Putin as the greatest threat to the US in contrast to US opinion, which considers the threat of Islamist terrorism as five times more serious.

While the political elite and the leading Presidential candidates promise to expand the number of US troops abroad and increase military spending, over three quarters of the American public oppose or are uncertain about expanding US militarism.

While candidate Clinton campaigned for the deployment of the US Air Force jets and missiles to police a ‘no fly zone’ in Syria, even shooting down Syrian and Russian government planes, the majority of US public opposed it by 51%.

In terms of constitutional law, fully four-fifths (80%) of the US public believes the President must secure Congressional approval for additional military action abroad. Nevertheless, Presidents from both parties, Bush and Obama launched wars without Congressional approval, creating a precedent which the next president is likely to exploit.

Analysis and Perspectives

On all major foreign policy issues related to waging war abroad, the political elite is far more bellicose than the US public; they are far more likely to ignite wars that ultimately threaten domestic security; they are more likely to violate the Constitutional provisions on the declaration of war; and they are committed to increasing military spending even at the risk of defunding vital domestic social programs.

The political elites are more likely to intervene in wars in the Middle East, without domestic support and even in spite of majoritarian popular opposition to war. No doubt the executives of the oligarchical military-industrial complex, the pro-Israel power configuration and the mass media moguls are far more influential than the pro-democracy public.

The future portends a continuation of militarism by the political elites, and increase in domestic security threats and even less public representation.

Some Hypothesis on the Contradiction between Popular Opinion and Electoral Outcomes

There is clearly a substantial gap between the majority of Americans and the political elite regarding the role of the military in overseas wars, the undermining of constitutional prerogatives, the demonization of Russia, the deployment of US troops to Syria and deeper US entanglement in Middle East wars for the benefit of Israel.

Yet it is also a fact that the US electorate continue to vote for the two major political parties which have consistently supported wars, formed military alliances with warring Middle East states, especially Saudi Arabia and Israel and aggressively sanctioned Russia as the main threat to US security.

Several hypotheses regarding this contradiction should be considered:

  1. Close to 50% of the eligible voters abstain from voting in Presidential and Congressional elections. This most likely includes many among the majority of Americans who oppose the expansion of the US military role overseas. In fact, the war party ‘winner’ typically claims victory with less than 25% of the electorate - and threats this as a mandate to launch more wars.
  2. The fact that the mass media vehemently supports one or the other of the two war parties probably influences a minority of the electorate who decide to actually participate in the elections. However, critics have exaggerated the mass media’s influence and fail to explain why the majority of the American public disagree with the mass media and oppose the militarist propaganda.
  3. Many Americans, while opposed to militarism, vote for the ‘lesser evil’ between the two war parties. They may believe that there are greater and lesser ‘degrees’ of war mongering and choose the less strident.
  4. Americans, who consistently oppose militarism, may decide to vote for militarist politicians for reasons besides those of overseas wars. For example, majoritarian Americans may support a militarist politician who has secured funding for local infrastructure programs, or protected farm and dairy subsidies, or who promises jobs programs, lowers public debt or opposes corrupt incumbents.
  5. Americans, opposed to militarism, may be deceived by the pronouncements of a demagogic presidential candidate from one of the war parties, whose promise of peace will give way to escalating wars.
  6. Likewise, the emphasis on ‘identity politics’ can deceive anti-war voters into supporting a proven militarist because of issues related to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual preferences or loyalties to overseas states.
  7. The war parties work together to block mass media access for anti-militarist parties, especially preventing their participation in national electoral debates viewed by tens of millions of voters. War parties collude to set impossible restrictions against anti-militarist party participation in national level elections, banning citizens with non-violent police records or former convicts who have served their sentences from voting. They reject poor citizens who lack photo identification, limit access to transport to voting sites, limit the number of polling places in poor or minority neighborhoods and deny time-off for workers to vote. Unlike other countries, US elections are held on a work day and many workers are unable to vote.

In other words the electoral process is ‘rigged’ and imposes ‘forced voting’ and abstention: Collusion between the two war parties limits voter choice to abstention or casting a ballot for the ‘lesser evil’ among the militarists.

Only if elections were open and democratic, where anti-militarist parties were allowed equal rights to register, participate and debate in the mass media, and where campaign financing were made equal would the contradictions between the wishes of the anti-militarist majorities and votes cast for pro-war elites be resolved.

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Professor James Petras, Newsbud contributing author & analyst, is the author of more than 62 books published in 29 languages, and over 600 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has a long history of commitment to social justice, working in particular with the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement for 11 years. He writes a monthly column for the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada, and previously, for the Spanish daily, El Mundo. Dr. Petras received his B.A. from Boston University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. You can visit his website here.

 

Washington’s ‘Pivot to Asia’: A Debacle Unfolding

A Realignment of Policies Designed to Shift Priorities from the Middle East to Asia

In 2012 President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter launched a new chapter in their quest for global dominance: a realignment of policies designed to shift priorities from the Middle East to Asia.

Dubbed the ‘Pivot to Asia’, it suggested that the US would concentrate its economic, military and diplomatic resources toward strengthening its dominant position and undercutting China’s rising influence in the region.

The ‘pivot to Asia’ did not shift existing resources from the Middle East, it added military commitments to the region, while provoking more conflicts with Russia and China.

The “pivot to Asia” meant that the US was extending and deepening its regional military alliances in order to confront and encircle Russia and China. The goal would be to cripple their economies and foster social unrest leading to political instability and regime change.

The US onslaught for greater empire depended on the cooperation of proxies and allies to accomplish its strategic goals.

The so-called ‘pivot to Asia’ had a two-pronged approach, based on an economic trading pact and various military treaty agreements. The entire US strategy of retaining global supremacy depended on securing and enhancing its control over its regional allies and proxies. Failure of the Obama regime to retain Washington’s vassal states would accelerate its decline and encourage more desperate political maneuvers.

Strategic Military Posturing

Without a doubt, every military decision and action made by the Obama Administration with regard to the Asia-Pacific Region has had only one purpose - to weaken China’s defense capabilities, undermine its economy and force Beijing to submit to Washington’s domination.

In pursuit of military supremacy, Washington has installed an advanced missile system in South Korea, increased its air and maritime armada and expanded its provocative activities along China’s coastline and its vital maritime trade routes. Washington has embarked on a military base expansion campaign in Australia, Japan and the Philippines.

This explains why Washington pressured its client regime in Manila under the former President ‘Nonoy’ Aquino, Jr., to bring its territorial dispute with China over the Spratly Islands before a relatively obscure tribunal in Holland. The European ruling, unsurprisingly in favor of Manila, would provide the US with a ‘legal’ cover for its planned aggression against China in the South China Sea. The Spratly and Paracel Islands are mostly barren coral islands and shoals located within the world’s busiest shipping trade routes, explaining China’s (both Beijing and Taipei) refusal to recognize the ‘Court of Special Arbitration’.

Strategic Economic Intervention: The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

The US authored and promoted Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) is a trade and investment agreement covering 12 Pacific countries designed to ensure US regional dominance while deliberately cutting out China. The TPP was to be the linchpin of US efforts to promote profits for overseas US multi-nationals by undercutting the rules for domestic producers, labor laws for workers and environmental regulations for consumers. As a result of its unpopular domestic provisions, which had alienated US workers and consumers, the electorate forced both Presidential candidates to withdraw their support for the TPP - what one scribbler for the Financial Times denounced as “the dangers of popular democracy”. The Washington empire builders envisioned the TPP as a tool for dictating and enforcing their ‘rules’ on a captive Asia-Pacific trading system. From the perspective of US big business, the TPP was the instrument of choice for retaining supremacy in Asia by excluding China.

The Eclipse of Washington’s “Asian Century”

For over seventy years the US has dominated Asia, ravaging the continent with two major wars in Korea and Indo-China with millions of casualties, and multiple counter-insurgency interventions in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Timor, Myanmar, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The strategic goal has been to expand its military and political power, exploit the economies and resources and encircle China and North Korea.

Under the Obama-Clinton-Kerry Regime, the imperial structures in Asia are coming apart.

Washington’s anti-China TPP is collapsing and has been replaced by the Chinese sponsored Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) with over fifty member countries worldwide, including the ten nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASAEN), plus Australia, India, South Korea and New Zealand. Of course, China is funding most of the partnership and, to no one’s surprise, Washington has not been invited to join…

As a result of the highly favorable terms in the RCEP, each and every current and former US ally and colony has been signing on, shifting trade allegiances to China, and effectively changing the configuration of power.

Already Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Indonesia have formalized growing economic ties with China. The debacle of the TPP has just accelerated the shift toward China’s new trade pact (RCEP). The US is left to rely on its ‘loyalist four’, a stagnant Japan, Australia, South Korea and its impoverished former colony, Philippines, to bolster its quest to militarily encircle China.

The Dangers of ‘Popular Democracy’: President Duterte’s Pivot to China and the End of US Supremacy in SE Asia

For over a century (since the invasion of the Philippines in 1896), especially since the end of WWII, when the US asserted its primacy in Asia, Washington has used the strategic Philippine Archipelago as a trampoline for controlling Southeast Asia. Control of the Philippines is fundamental to US Imperialism: Washington’s strategic superiority depends on its access to sea, air, communications and ground bases and operations located in the Philippines and a compliant Philippine ruling class.

The centerpiece of US strategy to encircle and tighten control over China’s maritime routes to and from the world-economy is the massive build-up of US military installations in the Philippines.

The US self-styled “pivot to Asia” involves locating five military bases directed at dominating the South China Sea. The Pentagon expanded its access to four strategic air and one military base through the ‘Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement’ signed by the Philippine President Aquino in 2014 but held up by the Philippine Courts until April 2016. These include:

  • Antonio Bautista Airbase on the island of Palawan, located near the contested Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.
  • Basa Airbase 40 miles northwest of the Philippines capital of Manila, overlooking the South China Sea.
  • Lumbia Airbase located in the port of Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao, a huge US facility under construction.
  • Mactan - Benito Ebuen airbase located on Mactan Island off the coast of Cebu in the central Philippines.
  • Fort Magsaysay located in Nueva Ecija, on Luzon, the Philippine Army’s Central Training and command center, its largest military installation which will serve the US as the training and indoctrination base for the Philippine army.

Pentagon planners had envisioned targeting Chinese shipping and air bases in the South China Sea from its new bases on western shores of the Philippines. This essentially threatens the stability of the entire region, especially the vital Chinese trade routes to the global economy.

Washington has been intensifying its intervention in the South China Sea relying on decrees issued by its previous proxy President Benigno (Noynoy) Aquino, III (2010-2016). These, however, were not ratified by the Congress and had been challenged by the Philippine Supreme Court.

Washington’s entire “pivot to Asia” has centered its vast military build-up on its access to the Philippines. This access is now at risk. Newly elected President Rodrigo Duterte, who succeeded Aquino in June 2016, is pursuing an independent foreign policy, with the aim of transforming the impoverished Philippines from a subservient US military colony to opening large-scale, long-term economic trade and development ties with China and other regional economic powers. Duterte has openly challenged the US policy of using the Philippines to encircle and provoke China.

The Philippine “pivot to China” quickly advanced from colorful rhetoric to a major trade and investment meeting of President Duterte and a huge delegation of Philippine business leaders with his Chinese counterparts in Beijing in late October 2016. During his first 3 months in office Duterte blasted Washington for meddling in his ongoing campaign against drug lords and dealers. Obama’s so-called ‘concerns for human rights’ in the anti-drug campaign were answered with counter-charges that the US had accommodated notorious narco-politician-oligarchs to further its military base expansion program. President Duterte’s war on drugs expanded well beyond the alleged US narco-elite alliance when he proposed two strategic changes: (1) he promised to end the US-Philippine sea patrols of disputed waters designed to provoke Beijing in the South China Sea; and (2) President Duterte announced he would end military exercises with Washington, especially in Mindanao, because they threatened China and undermined Philippine sovereignty.

President Duterte, in pursuit of his independent nationalist-agenda, has moved rapidly and decisively to strengthen the Philippines ‘pivot’ toward China, which in the context of Southeast Asia is really ‘normalizing’ trade and investment relations with his giant neighbor. During the third week of October (2016) President Duterte, his political team and 250 business leaders met with China’s leaders to discuss multi-billion-dollar investment projects and trade agreements, as well as closer diplomatic relations. The initial results, which promise to expand even more, are over $13 billion dollars in trade and critical infrastructure projects. As the Philippine’s pivot to China advances, the quid pro quo will lead to a profound change in the politics and militarization of Southeast Asian. Without total US control over the Philippines, Washington’s strategic arc of encirclement against China is broken.

According to a recent ruling by the Philippine Supreme Court, the controversial US military base agreement (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement) imposed by the former President Aquino by fiat without congressional ratification can be terminated by the new President by executive order. This ruling punches some major holes in what the Pentagon had considered its ‘ironclad’ stranglehold on the strategic Philippine bases.

The Duterte government has repeatedly announced its administration’s commitment to a program of economic modernization and social reconstruction for Philippine society. That agenda can only be advanced through changes that include multi-billion dollar infrastructure investments, loans and technical cooperation from China, whereas remaining a backward US military colony will not only threaten their Asian economic partners, but will condemn the Philippines to yet another generation of stagnation and corruption. Unique in Southeast Asia, the Philippines has long been mired in underdevelopment, forcing half of its qualified workforce to seek contract servitude abroad, while at home the society has become victims of drug and human trafficking gangs linked to the oligarchs.

Conclusion

Washington’s ‘pivot to Asia’, enshrined in its effort to corral the Asian countries into its anti-China crusade is not going as the Obama-Clinton-Kerry team had envisioned. It is proving to be a major foreign policy debacle for the outgoing and (presumably) incoming US presidential administrations. Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton has been forced to denounce the Transpacific Trade Partnership (TPP), one of her own pet projects when she was Secretary of State. The Pentagon’s military base strategy stuck in a 1980’s time-warped vision of Southeast Asia is on the verge of imploding. The Philippines, its former colony and vassal state, is finally turning away from its total subservience to US military dictates and toward greater independence and stronger regional ties to China and the rest of Asia. Southeast Asia and the South China Sea are no longer part of a grand chessboard subject to Pentagon moves for domination.

In desperation, Washington may decide to resort to a military power grab- a coup in the Philippines, backed by a coalition of Manila-based oligarchs, narco-bosses and generals. The problem with a precipitate move to ‘regime change’ is that Rodrigo Duterte is immensely popular with the Philippine electorate - precisely for the reasons that the Washington elite and Manila oligarchs despise him. The mayor of Manila, Joseph Estrada, himself a former victim of a Washington-instigated regime change, has stated that any US backed coup will face a million-member mass opposition and the bulk of the nationalist middle and powerful Chinese-oriented business class. A failed coup, like the disastrous coup in Venezuela in 2002 against Hugo Chavez could radicalize Duterte’s policy well beyond his staunchly nationalist agenda and further isolate the US.

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Professor James Petras, Newsbud contributing analyst and author, is the author of more than 62 books published in 29 languages, and over 600 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has a long history of commitment to social justice, working in particular with the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement for 11 years. He writes a monthly column for the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada, and previously, for the Spanish daily, El Mundo. Dr. Petras received his B.A. from Boston University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. You can visit his website here.

Washington’s Global Economic Wars

The Strategies & Tactics Underlying Washington’s Economic Warfare

During most of the past two decades Washington has aggressively launched military and economic wars against at least nine countries, either directly or through its military aid to regional allies and proxies. US air and ground troops have bombed or invaded Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon.

More recently Washington has escalated its global economic war against major economic rivals as well as against weaker countries. The US no longer confines its aggressive impulses to peripheral economic countries in the Middle East, Latin America and Southern Asia: It has declared trade wars against world powers in Asia, Eastern and Central Europe and the Gulf states.

The targets of the US economic aggression include economic powerhouses like Russia, China, Germany, Iran and Saudi Arabia, as well as Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, Cuba and the Donbas region of Ukraine.

There is an increasingly thinner distinction between military and economic warfare, as the US has frequently moved from one to the other, particularly when economic aggression has not resulted in ‘regime change’ - as in the case of the sanctions campaign against Iraq leading up to the devastating invasion and destruction.

In this essay, we propose to examine the strategies and tactics underlying Washington’s economic warfare, their successes and failures, and the political and economic consequences to target nations and to world stability.

Washington’s Economic Warfare & Global Power

The US has used different tactical weapons as it pursues its economic campaigns against targeted adversaries and even against its long-time allies.

Two supposed allies, Germany and Saudi Arabia, have been attacked by the Obama Administration and US Congress via ‘legal’ manipulations aimed at their financial systems and overseas holdings. This level of aggression against sovereign powers is remarkable and reckless. In 2016 the US Justice Department slapped a $14 billion dollar penalty on Germany’s leading international bank, Deutsche Bank, throwing the German stock market into chaos, driving the bank’s shares down 40% and destabilizing Germany’s financial system. This unprecedented attack on an ally’s major bank was in direct retaliation for Germany’s support of the European Commission’s $13 billion tax levy against the US-tax evading Apple Corporation for its notorious financial shenanigans in Ireland. German political and business leaders immediately dismissed Washington’s legalistic rhetoric for what it was: the Obama Administration’s retaliation in order to protect America’s tax evading and money laundering multinationals.

The chairman of the German parliament’s economic committee stated that the gross US attempt to extort Deutsche Bank had all the elements of an economic war. He noted that Washington had a “long tradition of using every available opportunity to wage what amounted to a trade war if it benefits their own economy” and the “extortionate damages claim” against Deutsche Bank were a punitive example. US economic sanctions against some of Germany’s major trade partners, like Russia, China and Iran, constitute another tactic to undermine Germany’s huge export economy. Ironically, Germany is still considered “a valued ally” when it comes to the US wars against Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, which have driven millions of refugees to Europe creating havoc with Germany’s political, economic and social system and threatening to overthrow the government of ‘ally’ Angela Merkel.

The US Congress launched an economic-judicial war against its closest ally in the Gulf region when it approved legislation granting US victims of Islamist terrorism, especially related to the attacks on September 11, 2001,the right to sue the government of Saudi Arabia and seize its overseas assets. This included the Kingdom’s immense ’sovereign funds’ and constitutes an arbitrary and blatant violation of Saudi sovereignty. This opens the Pandora’s Box of economic warfare by allowing victims to sue any government for sponsoring terrorism, including the United States! Saudi leaders immediately reacted by threatening to withdraw billions of dollars of assets in US Treasuries and investments.

The US economic sanctions against Russia are designed to strengthen its stranglehold on the economies of Europe which rely on trade with Russia. These have especially weakened German and Polish trade relations with Russia, a major market for German industrial exports and Polish agriculture products. Originally, the US-imposed economic sanctions against Moscow were supposed to harm Russian consumers, provoke political unrest and lead to ‘regime change’. In reality, the unrest it provoked has been mainly among European exporters, whose contracts with Russia were shredded and billions of Euros were lost. Furthermore, the political and diplomatic climate between Europe and Russia has deteriorated while Washington has ‘pivoted’ toward a more militaristic approach.

Results in Asia have been even more questionable: Washington’s economic campaign against China has moved awkwardly in two directions: Prejudicial trade deals with Asian-Pacific countries and a growing US military encirclement of China’s maritime trade routes.

The Obama regime dispatched Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to promote the Trans- Pacific Partnership (TPP) among a dozen regional governments, which would blatantly exclude China, Asia’s largest economic power. In a slap to the outgoing Obama Administration, the US Congress rejected his showpiece economic weapon against China, the TPP.

Meanwhile, Obama ‘encouraged’ his erstwhile ‘allies’ in the Philippines and Vietnam to sue China for maritime violations over the disputed ‘Spratly Islands’ before the Permanent Court of Arbitration. Japan and Australia signed military pacts and base agreements with the Pentagon aimed at disrupting China’s trade routes. Obama’s so-called ‘Pivot to Asia’ is a transparent campaign to block China from its markets and trading partners in Southeast Asia and Pacific countries of Latin American. Washington’s flagrant economic warfare resulted in slapping harsh import tariffs on Chinese industrial exports, especially steel and tires. The US also sent a ‘beefed up’ air and sea armada for ‘joint exercises’ along China’s regional trade routes and its access to critical Persian Gulf oil, setting off a ‘war of tension’.

In response to Washington’s ham-fisted aggression, the Chinese government deftly rolled out the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) with over fifty countries eagerly signing on for lucrative trade and investment deals with Beijing. The AIIB’s startling success does not bode well for Obama’s ‘Pivot to Pacific Hegemony’.

The so-called US-EU-Iran accord did not end Washington’s trade war against Teheran. Despite Iran’s agreement to dismantle its peaceful uranium enrichment and nuclear research programs, Washington has blocked investors and tried to undermine trade relations, while still holding billions of dollars of Iranian state assets, frozen since the overthrow of the Shah in 1979. Nevertheless, a German trade mission signed on a three billion trade agreement with Iran in early October 2016 and called on the US to fulfill its side of the agreement with Teheran - so far to no avail.

The US stands alone in sending its nuclear naval armada to the Persian Gulf and threatens commercial relations. Even the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the longstanding enemy of the Iranian Islamic Republic, has agreed to a cooperative oil production arrangement at a recent OPEC meeting.

Washington’s declaration of economic warfare against two of its most strategic powerful allies, Germany and Saudi Arabia and three rising competitor world powers, has eroded US economic competitiveness, undermined its access to lucrative markets and increased its reliance on aggressive military strategies over diplomacy.

What is striking and perplexing about Washington’s style of economic warfare is how costly this has been for the US economy and for US allies, with so little concrete benefit.

US oil companies have lost billions in joint exploitation deals with Russia because of Obama’s sanctions. US bankers, agro-exporters, high-tech companies are missing out on lucrative sales just to ‘punish’ Russia over the incredibly corrupt and bankrupt US coup regime in Ukraine.

US multi-national corporations, especially those involved in Pacific Coast transport and shipyards, Silicon Valley high tech industry and Washington State’s agro-export producers are threatened by the US trade agreements that exclude China.

Iran’s billion dollar market is looking for everything from commercial airplanes to mining machinery. Huge trade deals have has been lost to US companies because Obama continues to impose de facto sanctions. Meanwhile, European and Asian competitors are signing contracts.

Despite Washington’s dependence on German technical knowhow and Saudi petro-dollar investments as key to its global ambitions, Obama’s irrational policies continue to undermine US trade.

Washington has engaged in economic warfare against ‘lesser economic powers’ that nevertheless play significant political roles in their regions. The US retains the economic boycott of Cuba; it wages economic aggression against Venezuela and imposes economic sanctions against Syria, Yemen and the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. While these countries are not costly in terms of economic loss to US business interests, they exercise significant political and ideological influence in their regions, which undermine US ambitions.

Conclusion

Washington’s resort to economic warfare complements its military fueled empire building.

But economic and military warfare are losing propositions. While the US may extract a few billion dollars from Deutsch Bank, it will have lost much more in long-term, large-scale relations with German industrialists, politicians and financiers. This is critical because Germany plays the key role in shaping economic policy in the European Union. The practice of US multi-national corporations seeking off-shore tax havens in the EU may come to a grinding halt when the European Commission finishes its current investigations. The Germans may not be too sympathetic to their American competitors.

Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has not only collapse, it has compelled China to open new avenues for trade and cooperation with Asian-Pacific nations - exactly the opposite of its original goal of isolating Beijing. China’s Asia Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) has attracted 4 time more participants than Washington’s TPP and massive infrastructure projects are being financed to further bind ASEAN countries to China. China’s economic growth at 6.7% more than three times that of the US at 2%. Worse, for the Obama Administration, Washington has alienated its historically most reliable allies, as China, deepens economic ties and cooperation agreements with Thailand, Philippines, Pakistan, Cambodia and Laos.

Iran, despite US sanctions, is gaining markets and trade with Germany, Russia, China and the EU.

The Saudi-US conflict has yet to play-out but any escalation of law suits against the kingdom will result in the flight of hundreds of billions of investment dollars from the US.

In effect, Obama’s campaign of economic warfare may lead to the infinitely more costly military warfare and the massive loss of jobs and profits for the US economy. Washington is increasingly isolated. The only allies supporting its campaign of economic sanctions are second and third rate powers, like Poland and current corrupt parasites in Ukraine. As long as the Poles and Ukrainians can ‘mooch’ off of the IMF and grab EU and US ‘loans’, they will cheerlead Obama’s charge against Russia. Israel, as long as it can gobble up an additional $38 billion dollars in ‘aid’ from Washington, remains the biggest advocate for war against Iran.

Washington spends billions of US tax-payer dollars on its military bases in Japan, Philippines and Australia to maintain its hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region. Its allies, though, are salivating at the prospect for greater trade and infrastructure investment deals with China.

Economic warfare doesn’t work for the Washington because the US economy cannot compete, especially when it attacks its own allies and traditional partners. Its regional allies are keen to join the ‘forbidden’ markets and share in major investment projects funded by China. Asian leaders increasingly view Washington, with its ‘pivot to militarism’ as politically unreliable, unstable and dangerous. After the Philippine government economic mission to China, expect more to ‘jump ship’.

Economic warfare against declared adversaries can only succeed if the US is committed to free trade with its allies, ends punitive sanctions and stops pushing for exclusive trade treaties that undermine its allies’ economies. Furthermore, Washington should stop catering to the whims of special domestic interests. Absent these changes, its losing campaign of economic warfare can only turn into military warfare - a prospect devastating to the US economy and to world peace.

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Professor James Petras, Newsbud contributing analyst and author, is the author of more than 62 books published in 29 languages, and over 600 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has a long history of commitment to social justice, working in particular with the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement for 11 years. He writes a monthly column for the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada, and previously, for the Spanish daily, El Mundo. Dr. Petras received his B.A. from Boston University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. You can visit his website here.

Washington’s Systematic & Perpetual Propaganda Wars

Propaganda Techniques of Empire: The Most Common Recent Techniques Used to Support Ongoing Imperial Wars

Washington’s quest for perpetual world power is underwritten by systematic and perpetual propaganda wars. Every major and minor war has been preceded, accompanied and followed by unremitting government propaganda designed to secure public approval, exploit victims, slander critics, dehumanize targeted adversaries and justify its allies’ collaboration. In this paper we will discuss the most common recent techniques used to support ongoing imperial wars.

Role Reversal

A common technique, practiced by the imperial publicists, is to accuse the victims of the same crimes, which had been committed against them. The well documented, deliberate and sustained US-EU aerial bombardment of Syrian government soldiers, engaged in operations against ISIS-terrorist, resulted in the deaths and maiming of almost 200 Syrian troops and allowed ISIS-mercenaries to overrun their camp. In an attempt to deflect the Pentagon’s role in providing air cover for the very terrorists it claims to oppose, the propaganda organs cranked out lurid, but unsubstantiated, stories of an aerial attack on a UN humanitarian aid convoy, first blamed on the Syrian government and then on the Russians. The evidence that the attack was most likely a ground-based rocket attack by ISIS terrorists did not deter the propaganda mills. This technique would turn US and European attention away from the documented criminal attack by the imperial bombers and present the victimized Syrian troops and pilots as international human rights criminals.

Hysterical Rants

Faced with world opprobrium for its wanton violation of an international ceasefire agreement in Syria, the imperial public spokespeople frequently resort to irrational outbursts at international meetings in order to intimidate wavering allies into silence and shut down any chance for reasonable debate resolving concrete issues among adversaries.

The current ‘US Ranter-in-Chief’ in the United Nations, is Ambassador Samantha Power, who launched a vitriolic diatribe against the Russians in order to sabotage a proposed General Assembly debate on the US deliberate violation (its criminal attack on Syrian troops) of the recent Syrian ceasefire. Instead of a reasonable debate among serious diplomats, the rant served to derail the proceedings.

Identity Politics to Neutralize Anti-Imperialist Movements

Empire is commonly identified with the race, gender, religion and ethnicity of its practioners. Imperial propagandists have frequently resorted to disarming and weakening anti-imperialist movements by co-opting and corrupting black, ethnic minority and women leaders and spokespeople. The use of such ’symbolic’ tokens is based on the assumption that these are ‘representatives’ reflecting the true interests of so-called ‘marginalized minorities’ and can therefore presume to ’speak for the oppressed peoples of the world’. The promotion of such compliant and respectable ‘minority members’ to the elite is then propagandized as a ‘revolutionary’, world liberating historical event - witness the ‘election’ of US President Barack Obama.

The rise of Obama to the presidency in 2008 illustrates how the imperial propagandists have used identity politics to undermine class and anti-imperialist struggles.

Under Obama’s historical black presidency, the US pursued seven wars against ‘people of color’ in South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. Over a million men and women of sub-Saharan black origin, whether Libyan citizens or contract workers for neighboring countries, were killed, dispossessed and driven into exile by US allies after the US-EU destroyed the Libyan state - in the name of humanitarian intervention. Hundreds of thousands of Arabs have been bombed in Yemen, Syria and Iraq under President Obama, the so-called ‘historic black’ president. Obama’s ‘predator drones’ have killed hundreds of Afghan and Pakistani villagers. Such is the power of ‘identity politics’ that ignominious Obama was awarded the ‘Nobel Peace Prize’.

Meanwhile, in the United States under Obama, racial inequalities between black and white workers (wages, unemployment, access to housing, health and educational services) have widened. Police violence against blacks intensified with total impunity for ‘killer cops’. Over two million immigrant Latino workers have been expelled - breaking up hundreds of thousands of families– and accompanied by a marked increase of repression compared to earlier administrations. Millions of black and white workers’ home mortgages were foreclosed while all of the corrupt banks were bailed out - at a greater rate than had occurred under white presidents.

This blatant, cynical manipulation of identity politics facilitated the continuation and deepening of imperial wars, class exploitation and racial exclusion. Symbolic representation undermined class struggles for genuine changes.

Past Suffering to Justify Contemporary Exploitation

Imperial propagandists repeatedly evoke the victims and abuses of the past in order to justify their own aggressive imperial interventions and support for the ‘land grabs’ and ethnic cleansing committed by their colonial allies - like Israel, among others. The victims and crimes of the past are presented as a perpetual presence to justify ongoing brutalities against contemporary subject people.

The case of US-Israeli colonization of Palestine clearly illustrates how rabid criminality, pillage, ethnic cleansing and self-enrichment can be justified and glorified through the language of past victimization. Propagandists in the US and Israel have created ‘the cult of the Holocaust’, worshiping a near century-old Nazi crime against Jews (as well as captive Slavs, Gypsies and other minorities) in Europe, to justify the bloody conquest and theft of Arab lands and sovereignty and engage in systematic military assaults against Lebanon and Syria. Millions of Muslim and Christian Palestinians have been driven into perpetual exile. Elite, wealthy, well-organized and influential zionist Jews, with primary fealty to Israel, have successfully sabotaged every contemporary struggle for peace in the Middle East and have created real barriers for social democracy in the US through their promotion of militarism and empire building. Those claiming to represent victims of the past have become among the most oppressive of contemporary elites. Using the language of ‘defense’, they promote aggressive forms of expansion and pillage. They claim their monopoly on historic ’suffering’ has given them a ’special dispensation’ from the rules of civilized conduct: their cult of the Holocaust allows them to inflict immense pain on others while silencing any criticism with the accusation of ‘anti-Semitism’ and relentlessly punishing critics. Their key role in imperial propaganda warfare is based on their claims of an exclusive franchise on suffering and immunity from the norms of justice.

Entertainment Spectacles on Military Platforms

Entertainment spectacles glorify militarism. Imperial propagandists link the public to unpopular wars promoted by otherwise discredited leaders. Sports events present soldiers dressed up as war heroes with deafening, emotional displays of ‘flag worship’ to celebrate the ongoing overseas wars of aggression. These mind-numbing extravaganzas with crude elements of religiosity demand choreographed expressions of national allegiance from the spectators as a cover for continued war crimes abroad and the destruction of citizens’ economic rights at home.

Much admired, multi-millionaire musicians and entertainers of all races and orientations, present war to the masses with a humanitarian facade. The entertainers smiling faces serve genocide just as powerfully as the President’s benign and friendly face accompanies his embrace of militarism. The propagandist message for the spectator is that ‘your favorite team or singer is there just for you… because our noble wars and valiant warriors have made you free and now they want you to be entertained.’

The old style of blatant bellicose appeals to the public is obsolete: the new propaganda conflates entertainment with militarism, allowing the ruling elite to secure tacit support for its wars without disturbing the spectators’ experience.

Conclusion

Do the Imperial Techniques of Propaganda Work?

How effective are the modern imperial propaganda techniques? The results seem to be mixed. In recent months, elite black athletes have begun protesting white racism by challenging the requirement for choreographed displays of flag worship. . . opening public controversy into the larger issues of police brutality and sustained marginalization. Identity politics, which led to the election of Obama, may be giving way to issues of class struggle, racial justice, anti-militarism and the impact of continued imperial wars. Hysterical rants may still secure international attention, but repeated performances begin to lose their impact and subject the ‘ranter’ to ridicule.

The cult of victimology has become less a rationale for the multi-billion dollar US-tribute to Israel, than the overwhelming political and economic influence and thuggery of billionaire Zionist fundraisers who demand US politicians’ support for the state of Israel.

Brandishing identify politics may have worked the first few times, but inevitably black, Latino, immigrant and all exploited workers, all underpaid and overworked women and mothers reject the empty symbolic gestures and demand substantive socio-economic changes - and here they find common links with the majority of exploited white workers.

In other words, the existing propaganda techniques are losing their edge - the corporate media news is seen as a sham. Who follows the actor-soldiers and flag-worshipers once the game has begun?

The propagandists of empire are desperate for a new line to grab public attention and obedience. Could the recent domestic terror bombings in New York and New Jersey provoke mass hysteria and more militarization? Could they serve as cover for more wars abroad . . .?

A recent survey, published in Military Times, reported that the vast majority of active US soldiers oppose more imperial wars. They are calling for defense at home and social justice. Soldiers and veterans have even formed groups to support the protesting black athletes who have refused to participate in flag worship while unarmed black men are being killed by police in the streets. Despite the multi-billion dollar electoral propaganda, over sixty percent of the electorate reject both major party candidates. The reality principle has finally started to undermine State propaganda!

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Professor James Petras, Newsbud contributing analyst and author, is the author of more than 62 books published in 29 languages, and over 600 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has a long history of commitment to social justice, working in particular with the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement for 11 years. He writes a monthly column for the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada, and previously, for the Spanish daily, El Mundo. Dr. Petras received his B.A. from Boston University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. You can visit his website here.

The Politics of Bombing: Wholesale, Retail and Improvised

The Political Consequences & Long-Term Impact of the U.S. Bombs on Global Political Power

Bombs, domestic and foreign, are defining the nature of politics in the United States, the European Union and among radical Islamist groups and individuals. The scale and scope of bomb-politics varies with the practioner.

‘Wholesale bombers’ are state actors, who engage in large-scale, long-term bombing designed to destroy adversary governments or movements. ‘Retail bombers’ are groups or individuals engaging in small-scale, sporadic bombings, designed to provoked fear and secure symbolic outcomes.

Apart from planned bombings, there are improvised bombings committed by deranged individuals who engage in suicide attacks without any political backing or coherent purpose.

In this paper we will focus on the nature of ‘wholesale’ and ‘retail’ bombings, their frequency, political consequences and long-term impact on global political power.

Bombing as Everyday Events

The US and EU are the world’s foremost practitioners of ‘wholesale bombing’. They engage in serial attacks against multiple countries without declaring war or introducing their own citizen ground troops. They specialize in indiscriminant attacks on civilian populations - unarmed women, children, elders and non-combatant males. In other words, for the ‘wholesale bombers’, unleashing terror on societies is an everyday event.

The US and EU practice ‘total war’ from the skies, not sparing a single sphere of everyday, civilian life. They bomb neighborhoods, markets, vital infrastructure, factories, schools and health facilities. The result of their daily, ‘ordinary’ bombing is the total erasure of the very structures necessary for civilized existence, leading to mass dispossession and the forced migration of millions in search of safety.

It is not surprising that the refugees seek safety in the countries that have destroyed their means of normal existence. The wholesale bombers of the US-EU do not bomb their own cities and citizens - and so millions of the dispossessed are desperate to get in.

Wholesale bomb policies have emerged because prolonged ground wars in the targeted countries evoke strong domestic opposition from their citizens unwilling to accept casualties among US and EU soldiers. Wholesale bombing draws less domestic opposition because the bombers suffer few losses.

At the same time, while mass aerial bombing reduces the political risks of casualties at home, it expands and deepens violent hostility abroad. The mass flight of refugees to US-EU population centers allows the entry of violent combatants who will bring their own version of the total war strategies to the homes of their invaders.

Secular resistance has generally targeted enemy soldiers, whether they are imperial invaders or jihadi mercenaries. Their targets are more focused on the military. But faced with the politics of long-distance, wholesale bombing, the secular opposition becomes ineffective. When the ’secular opposition’ diminishes, ethno-religious combatants troops emerge.

The Islamists have taken command of the resistance, adopting their tactics to the imperial policy of total serial wars.

Retail Bomb-Warfare

Lacking an air force, Islamist terrorists engage in ground wars to counter imperial air wars. Their response to drone warfare, is hand-made improvised bombs, killing hundreds of civilians. Their victims may be decapitated with hand-held swords, rather than computer-controlled missiles. They capture hostile population, committing pillage, torture and rapine, rather than bomb from a distance, to dispossess and drive into exile.

‘Retail bomb’ terrorists are generally decentralized and may be recruited overseas. Their bombs are crude and indiscriminant. But like the wholesale bombers, they target population centers and seek to provoke panic and despair among the civilian population.

Islamist ‘retail bombers’ seek to expand their range by attacking the home countries of ‘wholesale bombers’ - the US and Europe. These attacks are exclusively for propaganda and do not constitute any threat to strategic imperial military targets. They expose the vulnerability of their enemies’ civilian population.

While imperial bombers and Islamists bombers have been at war against each other, they have also served as allies of convenience. Several recent examples come to mind.

US-EU ‘wholesale bombing’ campaigns against Libya, Syria and Yemen worked in tandem with Islamist mercenary ground fighters. ‘Wholesale bombers’ devastated the infrastructure and military installations of the governments of Syria and Libya in support of advancing Islamist ground troops. In other words, ‘wholesale bombings’ are not sufficient to achieve targeted ‘regime change’, thus the resort to terrorist ‘retail bombers’ and jihadi ‘head choppers’ to advance on regional and local targets.

The most blatant recent example of the convergence of imperial wholesale bombers in support of Islamist retail bombers and terrorists was the September 17, 2016 US-EU attack on a Syrian military installation, killing and wounding almost two hundred Syrian soldiers who had been engaged in combat against ISIS terrorists. While Washington claimed that the hours-long aerial bombardment of Syrian government soldiers was a ‘mistake’, it allowed the jihadi ‘retail bombers’ to take the offensive and overrun the base. Acting as air-support for ISIS, the US Pentagon effective shut down any possibility for peace negotiations and sabotaged a fragile ceasefire. This was a major victory for Washington’s politics of permanent wholesale bombing and ‘regime change’.

Just as the US launched its propaganda and wholesale bombing attack against the Syrian government, an improvised ‘retail bombing campaign’ was launched in the US - in Manhattan and New Jersey! The latest series of retail bombing attacks in the US led to three dozen, mostly minor, injuries, while the brutal US wholesale bombing of Syrian troops killed over 62 government soldiers and wounded many more. The political impact and consequences of wholesale and retail terror bombings in both regions was highly significant. The US had no more right to launch an air attack on Syrian government troops engaged in defending their country, than the US-based retail terrorist (an Afghan-American) had in planting improvised bombs in US cities. Both actions are illegal.

Political Consequences of Bombing Warfare

The US-ISIS coordinated bombing of Syrian soldiers has set the stage for all-out warfare. Peace talks were violently sabotaged by the Obama Administration. Syria and Russia now face the combined forces of ISIS, Turkey and the US with no hope for a negotiated solution. The battle for control of Aleppo will intensify. Russian negotiators have failed to check their cynical American ‘allies’ in their much-ballyhooed ‘war on terror’. They have no choice but to continue to supply air cover for their Syrian government allies.

The US has embraced the Turkish invasion of Syria, betraying both their Kurdish allies and some element among their ISIS partners. Bombing continues to be Washington’s main option in the Middle East.

The recent retail terror bombing in the US has the predicted consequence - a mass media whipped into a frenzy of fear mongering. New York City is further militarized. The face of the ‘enemy’ (a young Afghan-American, whose own father had tried to turn over to the FBI for his jihadi connections) is on a hundred million TV screens continuously. The electoral campaign salivates in anticipation of a terror war for whoever wins the presidency. Blind fear rather than concrete economic demands take the place of political debate.

Immigrants, Muslims and terrorists replace Wall Street tax evaders, profiteers and speculators as the villains in a country mired in economic and social crises. Economic policies, which have created mass insecurity and misery, are obscured by the militarist rhetoric.

Militarism, war and wholesale bombing replace the incremental advances in improving peaceful productive relations with Cuba and Iran.

The politics of bombing, as a strategy and way-of-life affects domestic and foreign policy . . . even as the vast majority of American voters look for alternatives, for jobs, housing, and education and seek to live without fear and threats.

Wholesale wars lead to retail wars. Overseas bombs lead to bombs at home. Invasions and occupations provoke outrage and retaliation. The answer is not to do unto others what you don’t want done on yourself.

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Professor James Petras, Newsbud contributing analyst and author, is the author of more than 62 books published in 29 languages, and over 600 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has a long history of commitment to social justice, working in particular with the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement for 11 years. He writes a monthly column for the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada, and previously, for the Spanish daily, El Mundo. Dr. Petras received his B.A. from Boston University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. You can visit his website here.

Democratic Party Primaries: “Progressives” as Political Contraceptives

From Jackson and Kucinich to Obama and Sanders: Like cast-off condoms- Is there any wonder why so many abstain?!

Over the past few decades, insurgent mass movements reflecting political discontent with the domestic economy and imperialist foreign policy have emerged to challenge the leadership and policies of the Democratic Party (DP).

There are good reasons for this: The Democratic Party in power in Congress and the White House presided over (1) the deepening of inequality between labor and capital; (2) the decline of real wages; (3) the approval of repressive legislation; (4) the reduction of trade union membership by two-thirds; (5) deepening inequality between the races, (6) a trillion dollar (and counting) bailout of the banks and Wall Street; (7) mortgage foreclosure against millions of homeowners; (8) endless ‘police state’ abuses by federal and local police; (9) deregulation of the financial system and (10) the off-shoring of manufacturing jobs and service employment.

Over the same period, the Democratic Party has supported wars and invasions against Indo-China, Panama, Grenada, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Somalia and scores of ‘clandestine’ military operations – including the recent and current proxy-wars in Georgia and Ukraine.

Popular movements have emerged and mass public opinion has expressed hostility toward both major parties. Hence, the third parties struck a responsive note among the electorate to which the Democratic Party leadership felt threatened by a possible defection by wage and salaried voters, especially to supporting Ralph Nader.

Yet in the end, nothing came of the discontent. Despite large-scale and deeply felt anger and popular outbursts of protests, including the million-strong street demonstrations against the invasion of Iraq in 2002-2003, the Democratic Party continued to dominate the ‘progressive’ electorate or relegated it to demoralized abstention.

This essay addresses the following questions:

(1) Why have mass movements and genuinely disaffected progressive voters and activists been unable to break with the Democratic Party, despite its consistently abominable record on foreign and domestic policy.

(2) How was the pro-Wall Street, pro-imperialist Democratic Party able to retain the support of an electorate, which overwhelmingly polls in favor of health care reform via a national, single-payer health plan, a living minimum wage, the end to police-state surveillance and against serial wars and invasions?

From Protest to Political Hostages

American mass movements have been successful in mobilizing hundreds of thousands in opposition to Washington’s support of the South African apartheid regime, Central American dictators, wars in the Middle East and racist legislation. Progressives have educated and organized millions to oppose Wall Street and the Democratic Party’s more recent bailout of banks.

Without fail every time mass movements and the popular electorate have opted for independent social action outside of the Democratic Party, a ‘dissident’ politician has emerged from within the Party mouthing many of the criticisms and demands of the social movements and the critical electorate.

These Democrat ‘dissidents’ organize ‘grass roots’ campaigns in popular venues, soliciting small scale contributions and making promises to put an end to ‘Big Money and Big Business’ domination of the electoral process.

Such Democrat ‘dissidents’ round up millions of votes and hundreds of delegates to the Democratic Convention and then…they inevitably lose to the Party machine and meekly submit…reasserting their loyalty to the ‘greater good’ against the ‘greater evil’.

The radical rhetoric used during the campaign is consciously designed to obscure the ‘dissidents’ fundamental loyalty to the Democratic Party, its military machine, its billionaire fundraisers and its Wall Street economic policy strategists.

The pre-ordained primary campaign defeat of the Democrat ‘dissidents’ is not the real issue here: The essential political consequence is that the “dissidents” channel mass social disaffection back into the Democratic Party thereby undermining any independent political initiative capable of breaking the duopoly stranglehold. In animal husbandry, they are like the handsome goat who tricks the flock into entering the big slaughter-pen of their social and political aspirations.

By endorsing the crowned Party nominee, these ‘dissidents’ discredit the very critical ideas and social programs they claimed to promote. They demoralize and depoliticize important segments of the electorate. They demobilize and disorient the social activists who had worked for the social transformation promised by their campaign program.

Most important, by reorienting the peace and justice movements and the neighborhood and anti-racism community organizations into Democratic Party electoral politics, they empty the streets, neighborhoods and workplaces of effective activists.

A brief survey of presidential campaigns over the past thirty-five years confirms this analysis.

Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow Hustle: 1984 and 1988

Jesse Jackson was an important leader-activist in the civil rights movement. Based in Chicago, he helped organize tens of thousands of Afro-Americans and develop ties with other minorities, white progressives and trade unions.

Jackson opposed President Reagan’s assault on the trade unions, especially the firing of thousands of air controllers. Jackson’s opposition to Apartheid South Africa and Reagan’s invasion of Grenada and the escalation of military spending gained him credibility in the peace movement.

Millions looked to Jesse Jackson for political leadership and a new political direction. He negotiated with the bosses of the Democratic Party for his entry into the primaries. The deal was that he would compete with the traditional politicians, but immediately submit to the leadership if he lost the nomination.

Jackson mobilized hundreds of thousands of activists from the northern ghettos to the Ivy League college campuses and from the textile factories of North Carolina to the cotton fields of Mississippi. He rolled out the rhetoric about social justice, raising the minimum wage, a single payer (Medicare for All) national health plan and a massive transfer of public funds from the Pentagon to domestic social programs.

He secured an impressive 18% of the vote in the 1984 Democratic primaries. Upon defeat, he immediately capitulated and endorsed the Wall Street Cold Warrior Walter Mondale. He campaigned for Mondale with the promise that the ‘Rainbow Coalition’ would influence the campaign and subsequent Mondale presidency. Nothing of the sort happened. Mondale lost. Reagan was re-elected. The ‘rainbow coalition’ was as ephemeral as its namesake.

Four years later, a recycled Jesse Jackson trotted out the same rhetoric, the ‘grass roots’ organizing, the ghetto gab, the poverty hustle and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow coalition with white and black togetherness… to the amusement of the party bosses and corporate funders.

It was ‘All hands on deck’: The street movements shifted from concrete local struggles to door-to-door voter registration for the Democrats. Trade union locals were attracted to Jackson’s ‘save American jobs’ rhetoric. Middle class progressives were attracted to Jackson’s promise to cut the military budget.

Jackson received a substantial 29% of the Democratic primary vote. Michael Dukakis won the nomination and, as promised, Jesse Jackson endorsed the party’s choice and instructed all the civil rights, social justice and peace activists and anti-Wall Streeters to work for his election. Dukakis was resoundingly defeated by George Bush Sr. in the 1988 election.

At the end of the ‘rainbow’ and over a demoralized and de-politicized peace movement, the Bush Administration led the US into the First Gulf War. The wreckage from the popular movements- turned- electoral machines offered little resistance.

Confused by Jackson’s double discourse, the disaffected masses fractured. Four years later, the few pieces were picked up by Wall Street flunky “Bill” Clinton. Once in office and after tooting his victorious saxophone, President ‘Slick Willy’ proceeded to decimate welfare programs, roll back the Glass-Stiegel Laws and deregulate the banks, launch a merciless ninety day war to break up Yugoslavia and maintain ten years of bombs and starvation sanctions against Iraq – causing the deaths of 500,000 children and many more adults.

Cowboy Dennis Kucinich and the 2004 Primaries: Keeping Progressive Livestock in the Democratic Party Corral

Just when disgust at the consequences of Clinton’s rotten policies and peccadilloes and George Bush, Jr’s grotesque wars were beginning to unite the disaffected, Dennis Kucinich popped up ‘from nowhere’ to launch a white working class version of the Jesse Jackson ‘Rainbow Coalition’ in the Democratic Party primaries of 2004. Saving a lot of money on placards, he re-cycled the same slogans about a national health system, minimum wage boost, higher taxes for the rich, anti-Wall Street rhetoric and public ownership of utilities – from the Jacksonites.

Since there was still a substantial strong anti-war movement, he called for the impeachment of President Bush (Jr.) for lying to the American people about Iraq. He criticized Congressional Democrats for supporting the fabricated pretexts to invade Iraq and called for the withdrawal of US troops from the Middle East.

His presidential primary campaign within the Democratic Party attracted a small army of disaffected voters and contributors who otherwise would have bolted from the party for the Greens and their candidate, Ralph Nader. In the Democratic Party Convention, Dennis (looking more like ‘Alfred E. Newman’ than any righteous working class leader) petered out with nary a mumble. He lost the nomination to the Uber-militarist and upper class hero, John Kerry, without even a floor-fight or speech. He endorsed the obnoxious crown prince of the Democratic bosses, Kerry, an ardent pro-war, member of the billionaire class and defender of the US Constitution-shredding Patriot Act.

Kucinich managed to corral the anti-war and anti-Wall Street Democrats into submission, seriously undermining the anti-Bush mass movements, especially the anti-war activists, and the rising tide of Americans who openly favored the Single Payer National Health program – an extension of Medicare for All.

Kucinich ran again in 2008 but he was already damaged goods. His ‘belly crawl’ performance at the 2004 Democratic Convention had alienated most of his backers. But even more important in relegating Dennis to the dustbin was the emergence of a new, slicker and infinitely more persuasive con-man : Barack Obama, the Hawaii-raised, Ivy-league polished and Chicago-crowned chameleon of many colors, cadences and clichés, who burst on the scene playing every instrument in the band!

Barack Obama: The Ultimate Progressive Rabble Rouser and Master of Deceit

Barack Obama’s con-job far surpassed any previous effort by Jackson or Kucinich. His mind-boggling ascension on rhetorical bubbles left rival Hillary Clinton, long used to the cant of ‘Slick Willie’, literally pop-eyed and slack jawed. During the 2008 primary he embraced the progressive demands of the anti-war movement, promising to end the Iraq war, bring home the troops from Afghanistan and close the US torture camp at Guantanamo Bay. He promised to finally develop a national health plan (hinting broadly at a Medicare-for-All model) and regulate Wall Street’s unbridled swindles and speculation.

Easily seeing through his fluffy rhetoric, the Democratic Party’s Wall Street backers secured hundreds of millions from billionaires with which to finance a real ‘grass roots movement- in style’ defeating an astonished Hilary Clinton in the Democratic primaries and swamping the mega-millionaire Republican candidate ‘Mitt’ Romney in the general election.

The Zelig-like Obama adopted the Baptist minister’s deep and musical cadences in front of black audiences while savaging and disowning his militant black religious mentor from his Chicago ‘community-organizing’ day, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who had condemned the war in Iraq in frank Biblical terms and alienated his Chicago Zionist financial backers and Israel-centric inner council. No longer useful, the good Reverend was effectively ‘thrown under the bus’ – an object lesson on introducing Ivy League graduates into mass community struggles and enabling their ambitions.

In office, Obama allocated a trillion dollars to bailout Wall Street while letting two million American householders sink under mortgage debt and foreclosures.

He expanded on-going wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and went on to launch new wars in Libya, Syria and Yemen. He supported the violent coups against popularly elected governments (‘regime changes’) in Honduras, Ukraine and Egypt.

The re-cycled and bamboozled anti-war leaders, who backed his candidacy and lies, were discredited, the remaining “movement” fractured.

Initially upward of 80% of US public opinion expressed support for the anti-Wall Street ‘Occupy Movement’ but they had no mass-based political organization to sustain the struggle after many of their leaders swam and ultimately sank, tied to the lies of Obama.

Under Obama more American blacks have been murdered by police with complete impunity; more abortion providers assassinated and clinics bombed than under any white Republican president. As for ‘humanitarian intervention’: In Libya, tens of thousands of ethnic sub-Saharan Africans (contract workers and Libyan citizens) died in the post-Kaddafi ethnic cleansing of Libya by the racist warlords unleashed by Obama’s air assault.

The bewitched progressives were befuddled by the Ivy League’s ‘black’ president and didn’t notice that social inequalities had deepened at an alarming rate. As for access to health care, the American people were forced to ‘buy private insurance plans’ (many of which were worthless), meanwhile deductibles and co-pays skyrocketed forcing all but the well-salaried to forego necessary medical care. The notion that ‘access to health insurance’ was equivalent to having effective health care has been one of the biggest shams of the Obama era: Life expectancy for large segments of the low income rural and small town Americans has dropped – an unimaginable development in previous eras.

During Obama’s Presidency, the political climate turned rabid rightwing and the progressives turned tail and ran. Right wing extremists swept the Republican Party and then seized control of the Congress and the Senate.

After 7 years of failures, frustration and futility under Obama, progressives found themselves without a movement or prospects. Over 92% of US private sector workers were unorganized and faced continued decline in their standard of living. Black, Chicano and Asian neighborhoods were subject to large-scale, brutal police raids and the extra-judicial killing of minority youth, the homeless, mentally ill and the poor continued with impunity. Over 2 million immigrant workers were incarcerated and expelled. Tens of thousands of young immigrant and refugee mothers and their children were held in private prison camps.

The Republicans promised to extend Obama’s reactionary agenda without the smiling blackface mask. They assured greater tax handouts to Wall Street, with none of the embarrassing rhetorical flourishes, and more wars, without the sanctimonious ‘humanitarian’ cant.

Against this expanding panorama of social deterioration and war-weariness, (a backdrop, which would normally open up the possibility for alternative politics…), Bernie appeared. Bernie Sanders was to incarnate the Fourth Coming of the progressive Democratic primary campaigner-messiah and scupper any real movement to the left.

Bernie Sanders: After the Black Con-Artist Bring out the Jewish House Radical!

By 2015, US society was deeply polarized. After 7 years of Wall Street pillage, under Democratic President Obama, the mass of working people were looking for an alternative. On the horizon there was only more of the same promised from the rabid right which ran the Republican Party. Massive voter abstention had propelled the Republicans to power in ‘both Houses’ in the elections of 2010, 2012 and 2014. Terror-mongering, the so-called “Global War on Terror”, no longer cut any ice with a population terrified of losing their miserable jobs or getting bankrupted by an illness in the family. The Pentagon resorted to paying unemployed actors to stage ‘spontaneous’ displays of patriotism at huge sporting events – dressing up as veterans and running about on the fields with huge flags. There has been a big drop in healthy young Americans willing to ‘sign up’ and fight in overseas wars despite the continued prospect of being mired in poverty-wage jobs in the so-called ‘recovered domestic economy’. The mass of disaffected working people were not flocking to the Democratic Party’s plutocrat-of-choice, Hilary Clinton, the war monger, Wall Street favorite and pro-Israel candidate par excellence. The stage was now set for mass voter abstention and a resounding electoral defeat for a deflated Democratic Party with a disgusted electorate. As a presidential candidate Hillary would have to fight tooth and nail to meet the challenge of even the most marginal lunatic candidate from the increasingly bizarre Republican Party – because the Democrat’s disaffected voter base would stay home.

Behold! A raspy rabble rouser, a ‘democratic socialist’, floated in on a cloud of self-righteousness, conjuring up the illusion of a movement with promises of ‘profound (and even profounder) changes’.

Like Jackson and Kucinich before him, Sanders launched right into The Rant: Against Wall Street, for a National Health Plan and a reduction of military spending (but not too much…). He added a few new planks about cancelling student debt, lowering tuition, ending the cap on the social security tax and greater regulation of Wall Street.

Early polls have given Sanders 25% of the Democratic preferences.

Bernie assured his worried Democratic Party handlers that should Madame Clinton win the primaries, Bernie (and his followers) would immediately and unconditionally support the Party’s war mongering, Wall Street candidate of choice.

What are we to make of his promises and his radical program, if from one day to the other he can easily make a 180 degree turn to support the most discredited dregs of the Democratic Party – those largely responsible for the country’s social and economic decline?

Conclusion

The whole history of Democratic Party ‘progressives’ is one of deceit, hypocrisy and betrayal of millions of workers, minorities and other oppressed and excluded groups.

They rant and rave, till the votes are counted and then they dissolve their electoral organization and push their supporters into the Party electoral campaign!

They do not continue the struggle outside of the corrupt party – they simply go belly up, ‘graciously conceding defeat’ and waging their tails hoping for a reward (like some inconsequential, toothless position within the administration) if the Democrats win.

After every one of the ‘radicals’ defeats, their supporters are left adrift. Indeed, they are worse off than before because their movements had been diverted into the Democratic primaries and away from the communities. The historical record is clear: After Jesse Jackson lost, the Rainbow Coalition fell apart; civil rights movements were weakened; police violence against blacks continued and even worsened.

After Kucinich ran and lost, his grass roots supporters within the trade unions had no mechanism to block the relocation of auto, steel and textile plants overseas.

After Obama conned progressive Americans, the peace and justice movement virtually disappeared. The church, trade union, neighborhood alliances who celebrated Barack Obama’s ‘historic victory’ have in reality experienced historical retreats. The only things “historic” about Obama’s terms in office have been (1) the trillion dollar bailout of Wall Street, (2) the number of simultaneous wars waged by the Pentagon, (3) the millions of people of color slaughtered in Libya, Syria, and Yemen (4) the thousands of minorities killed in cities, big and small of the USA (5) and the tens of thousands lost to premature deaths in economically devastated rural and small town America.

The current “Bernie” Sanders road-show is just recycling the past, right down to the same rhetorical and inconsequential promises of his predecessors’ .

Some of his gullible followers claim that he is important for “raising issues” – when in fact he will just raise them and then demoralize their advocates.

Other pundits claim he is ‘challenging’ the Democratic Party ‘from the left’ when in fact he is doing everything possible to prevent millions of disaffected ex-Democratic voters, mostly workers and minorities, from rejecting the Democrats and joining or forming alternative political movements.

The key to understanding why millions of Americans, fed up with 30 years of declining living and health standards, deepening inequalities and perpetual wars, do not form an ‘alternative party’ is that they have been repeatedly conned and corralled in the Democratic Party by the “house radicals”.

Jackson, Kucinich, Obama and Sanders promised radical changes in the primaries and then have gone on to hand their supporters, mostly disaffected workers, over to the Party oligarchs, abandoning them without their past social movements or future hope: like cast-off condoms. Is there any wonder why so many abstain!

# # # #

Professor James Petras, Boiling Frogs Post contributing analyst, is the author of more than 62 books published in 29 languages, and over 600 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has a long history of commitment to social justice, working in particular with the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement for 11 years. He writes a monthly column for the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada, and previously, for the Spanish daily, El Mundo. Dr. Petras received his B.A. from Boston University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. You can visit his website here.

US-China Relations: The Pentagon vs. High Tech

The White House has been pushing for a fight with China ever since Obama announced his so-called ‘pivot to Asia’

Step by step, Washington is inexorably setting up a major provocation against China. Until now, the Obama regime tightened a military encirclement of China, expanding its armed forces agreements with Japan, the Philippines and Australia. In addition, it has promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), a regional trade agreement which openly excludes China.

Obama has ordered a major naval build-up in the South China Sea and embarked on extensive cyber-espionage of Chinese industries and the government via major US high-tech companies, as revealed by Edward Snowden in his release of confidential NSA document.

As President Xi Jinping prepares for his first US visit as China’s leader on September 25, with the aim of extending economic ties between Chinese and US business (especially with the high tech corporations in Seattle and Silicon Valley), the Obama regime has threatened to impose a series of punitive sanctions against Chinese companies and individuals for ‘cyber-espionage’, essentially undermining the purpose of his trip.

Characterizing the Chinese as ‘cyber-thieves’ and imposing sanctions on Chinese businesses on the eve of Xi’s visit will be justifiably seen as a deliberate humiliation and a provocation, designed to treat China as a mere vassal state of Washington.

This will force the Chinese government to retaliate on behalf of Chinese businesses – and President Xi is fully capable of imposing retaliatory sanctions against multi-billion dollar high tech US corporations, which had been flourishing – up to now – in China.

Obama’s decision to provoke China on multiple fronts reflects the overwhelming influence of the militarist power configurations in Washington: the Pentagon, the NSA and the Zionist –militarist ideologues.

In contrast to Washington’s aggressive policy, the major US high tech corporations are almost unanimous in their opposition to Obama’s ‘military pivot’ and are appalled by the threat of cyber sanctions, rightly calling them a “needless provocation”.

For its part, Wall Street has taken an intermediary position – hoping Washington will coerce China into ‘opening’ its protected financial markets to the big US banks. It doesn’t necessarily support aggressive sanctions, which could provoke a response from China closing off lucrative opportunities in the world’s biggest financial market.

Background to a Momentous Confrontation

China’s growth and overseas economic expansion has increasingly challenged US market supremacy in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

China’s relationship with the US, EU and Japanese multi-national corporations has changed due to its recent technological advances in its manufacturing and service sectors moving its production up the value chain. Increasingly, the Chinese have been demanding technology transfers from their multinational partners and an increasing use of locally manufactured parts in their assembly plants.

China’s economic expansion and industrial maturation has evoked divergent responses from the elites in Washington, Silicon Valley and Wall Street.

US Elites Diverge

The Pentagon and the White House developed the ‘military pivot’ to deal with China’s ascendency as an economic world power. This is essentially a policy of strategic confrontations, including military encirclement through regional base agreements, deliberate economic exclusion through regional trade agreements and political provocation through threatened sanctions. US military bases have expanded and a huge naval armada patrols China’s maritime frontier. There are US fighter planes flying over Beijing’s reclaimed island installations while the US State Department goads China’s neighbors to stake their own territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The White House and its highly militarized State Department have launched a full-scale propaganda campaign through the US mass media, criminalizing China with unsubstantiated charges of espionage. The range, intensity and frequency of these accusations indicate that this campaign is not some clever diplomatic ploy intended to squeeze out concessions in an otherwise peaceful relation. Rather Washington’s criminalization of China is meant to provoke a full rupture in diplomatic, political and economic relations and prepare for harsh military confrontations.

Washington’s campaign to criminalize China includes the hysterical claims that China has engaged in the long-term, large scale theft of US intellectual property rights. By falsely attributing China’s technological advances to ‘theft’ Washington denigrates China’s endogenous scientific and technological achievements as well as criminalizing the Beijing and Chinese companies.

In the last few years, the US arrested several Chinese scientists and issued warrants for others, publicly accusing them of spying on US companies. The charges against several of the scientists were later quietly dropped by the FBI for lack of evidence but not before the scientists had seen their careers destroyed. The negative propaganda impact on the US public was successful – Chinese scholars and scientists were depicted as spies. Whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations of National Security Agency’s documents clearly show that it was the US which was engaged in large-scale spying on Beijing, using major US IT corporations operating in China as a principal vehicle for data theft.

The US has accused China of violating international norms regarding the governance of the internet – claiming that Chinese authorities exercise censorship and control over US IT companies as well as its own citizens. In other words, Washington denies Chinese sovereignty by claiming extra-territorial jurisdiction over the internet! Along the same lines, Washington asserts that China has blocked US market access by insisting that public agencies rely on Chinese suppliers and that US firms store their data in China. China’s new policies developed after they discovered that US multi-national corporations were working hand-in-glove with the NSA and other US intelligence agencies. Is it any wonder that China sought to protect its industrial and trade secrets, as well as national security, by limiting access for US IT corporations?

The “Financial Press”: Wars over Markets

Washington’s provocative campaign to criminalize China and Chinese industries has been amplified in the financial pages of the respectable US and British press. The degree to which the leading Anglo-American financial newspapers, the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times, have become rabid advocates of Obama’s militarist confrontational policy instead of serving the business community’s market interests, evaluating the impact of sanctions on US high tech multi-nationals and presenting the much more moderate position of the major high-tech multi-nationals is striking.

The financial press’s shrill campaign is designed to paint China as a corporate criminal and ignores major US corporate opposition to any rash military actions. This propaganda campaign is warning the US IT elite of an imminent barrage of economic sanctions against China’s burgeoning cyber industries. These Sanctions could be announced prior to or even during President Xi Jinping’s visit to the US– if the militarists have their way.

White House Sanctions: The Divergences in US Policy

Despite White House rhetoric and anti-China hysteria, most US IT corporations have reaped huge profits from their sales and business arrangements with the Chinese state and Chinese businesses. According to one executive, “Apple is the standout success story, with sales of the iPhone rising 75 percent in China over the past year (2014)’. (FT 9/12 – 9/13/15).

Senior IT executives have expressed their willingness to accommodate China’s demands a change in the way they do business, including technology transfers, because they see “huge opportunities (for profit) in the near term”. The last thing Silicon Valley wants is for Washington to provoke hostile retaliation from China if Obama imposes sanctions: That would entail the loss of hundreds of billions of dollars!

In the highly militarized-‘Zionized’ Obama administration, immersed in the politics of provocation and war, the multi-nationals do not have the final say.

China’s Maturing Capitalism: Indigenous Innovations

China’s maturing capitalism has been accompanied by significant changes. And in 2006, the Chinese leadership announced a new policy promoting ‘indigenous innovation’. The purpose of the policy was two-fold: to become less dependent on foreign technology and to combat the growing threat of Washington’s espionage via US high tech corporations operating in China.

In line with these strategic goals, in 2009 China ruled that only companies with locally developed technology would be allowed to bid for public procurement contracts.

In 2010, Google’s operations in China were shutdown when it was revealed that the company had acted as a ‘transmission belt’ transferring sensitive Chinese data to the NSA. Washington immediately denounced China for what it termed “censorship” of Google.

As the endogenous innovation policy gained momentum, the US MNC monopoly of China’s high tech market was undermined. The MNC’s called for Washington to intervene and force China to “open” its markets to US dominance.

In strategic terms, the tie-in between the US IT MNCs and Washington boomeranged: While spying for NSA may have gained short-term favors for the high tech sector, it undermined strategic relations with China and its lucrative market. The IT moguls re-thought the strategy and sought greater autonomy from the NSA to regain China’s trust and re-enter its market.

High Tech Diplomacy

The high tech multinational corporations are eager to welcome China’s President Xi on his visit, viewing it as an opportunity to mend and expand relations. The Silicon Valley-Seattle corporate elite oppose sanctions against while the White House claim to be acting on their behalf.

The US high tech elite are aware that American IT companies must accommodate China’s demands to transfer and share technology. They have adopted a realistic perspective that if they do not share markets, technology and sales – they can lose out entirely.

Apple, IBM, CISCO, Qualcomm have declared that they would rather cooperate with China’s indigenous innovations policy than face big losses or total exclusion from the Chinese market.

Even Google, which served as the NSA’s willing accomplice and was expelled for espionage against China, is now seeking approval for a limited re-entry.

Wall Street Diplomacy: Pressure not Provocation

The big Wall Street bankers, on the other hand, want the White House to pressure China to de- regulate its financial markets. They want China to allow American hedge funds and speculators to sell short and artificially drive down the value of Chinese stocks, increasing volatility and discouraging investors.

It is questionable whether Wall Street’s idea of US “pressure” extends to applying punitive economic sanctions. After all, limited financial access under present circumstances is still far more lucrative than total exclusion which could result from Chinese retaliation in response to White House sanctions.

Conclusion

The divergent interests and approaches among US imperial elites, between high powered IT corporate CEO’s and Pentagon and White House militarists is evident in two parallel meetings taking place during President Xi’s visit.

During his visit to the US, Xi will stop over in Seattle to confer with top IT executives, coinciding with the US-China Internet Industry Forum. The timing and location (Seattle) of the Forum is not coincidental. Its timing was planned by the Chinese and reflects their influence and capacity to play-off powerful US economic elites against Washington’s war mongers and Pentagon militarists.

The White House has been pushing for a fight with China ever since Obama announced his so-called ‘pivot to Asia’. The saber rattling has escalated over the past two years, aided and abetted by an all-out propaganda campaign denigrating China’s scientific and economic performance and exaggerating fears of its defense modernization programs. When one reads the Wall Street Journal or the Financial Times, one would think the Chinese economy is on the verge of collapse. They describe the drop in China’s projected annual growth from 7.3% to 7% as ‘catastrophic’! If the EU and US grew at half that rate, the financial scribes would claim an ‘economic miracle’!

Denigration of the Chinese economy; screeds and characterizations of the Chinese as industrial thieves engaged in spying and criminal behavior and the wild paranoid warnings about the growing ‘Chinese military threat’ are part of a systematic build-up to counter lucrative economic relations between China and IT corporations and other leading US economic sectors.

Washington’s projected sanctions on China will be many times more costly to US MNC than its current sanctions on Russia. White House sanctions on Moscow mainly damaged European-based industries and businesses. However sanctions against China will have a massive impact on the US economy.

The White House’s version of the “yellow peril” has no redeeming features for any sector of the US economy. It is the purest expression of militarism run amok. It over-rides any rational economic interest in pursuit of unadulterated geo-political military supremacy. Even on its own terms military supremacy is unattainable as Washington will soon discover, as China deepens its military ties with Russia!

If and when Washington raises the specter of sanctions against China, (with the accompanying gratuitous insults and unsubstantiated accusations of state sponsored “cyber theft”) the Chinese government will respond.

President Xi will take reprisals as he has done before, faced with lesser threats. And he will have the support of the vast majority of Chinese from all regions and classes.

US IT corporations are aware of this potential debacle and have openly and forcefully conveyed their views to Washington. For them, the so-called ‘cyber theft’ is a minor issue compared to the lucrative long term strategic opportunities in working with China.

So far the militarists in the Obama White House have commanded US-China policy. Up to now they have disregarded corporate American interests; whether it is US oil interests in Iraq and Libya, or IT corporations in China.

If Zionist officials in the Executive influence the militarists on Middle East policy, the hard core militarists influence the Zionists in the Far East.

If the US military-driven Middle East policy has been a failure, a similar policy toward China will be catastrophic.

US sanctions and humiliation against China and the consequent falling out of relations will play out in slow motion. Beginning with the precipitous decline of joint ventures and exports, it will lead to lifeless cranes in empty Pacific coast ports and rusting container ships; profit losses and vacant country clubs in Silicon Valley and lost sales for US auto companies. The list is endless but the consequences are clear.

# # # #

Professor James Petras, Boiling Frogs Post contributing analyst, is the author of more than 62 books published in 29 languages, and over 600 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has a long history of commitment to social justice, working in particular with the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement for 11 years. He writes a monthly column for the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada, and previously, for the Spanish daily, El Mundo. Dr. Petras received his B.A. from Boston University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. You can visit his website here.

The Doctrine of ‘Superior People’: The Bond between Israel & World Zionism

The root problem is not genetic, it is collective political dementia

Introduction: The single greatest feat of Israel and its overseas missions has not been material success, or the military conquest of millions of unarmed Palestinians, it has been ideological – the widespread acceptance in the US of a doctrine that claims ‘Jews are a superior people’.

Apart from small extremist rightwing sects who exhibit visceral anti-Semitism and denigrate everything Jewish, there are very few academics and politicians willing to question this supremacist doctrine. On the contrary, there is an incurable tendency to advance oneself by accepting and embellishing on it.

For example, in August 2015, US Vice-President Joseph Biden attributed ‘special genius’ to Jews, slavish flattery that embarrassed even New York’s liberal Jewish intellectuals.

Israel’s dominant role in formulating US Middle East policy is largely a product of its success at recruiting, socializing and motivating overseas Jews to act as an organized force to intervene in US politics and push Israel’s agenda.

What motivates American Jews, who have been raised and educated in the US to serve Israel? After all, these are individuals who have prospered, achieved high status and occupy the highest positions of prestige and responsibility. Why would they parrot the policies of Israel and follow the dictates of Israeli leaders (a foreign regime), serving its violent colonial, racist agenda?

What binds a majority of highly educated and privileged Jews to the most rabidly rightwing Israeli regime in history – a relationship they actually celebrate?

What turns comfortable, prosperous American Jews into vindictive bullies, willing and able to blackmail, threaten and punish any dissident voices among their Gentile and Jewish compatriots who have dared to criticize Israel?

What prevents many intelligent, liberal and progressive Jews from openly questioning Israel’s agenda, and especially confronting the role of Zionist zealots who serve as Tel Aviv’s fifth column against the interest of the United States?

There are numerous historical and personal factors that can and should be taken into account to understand this phenomenon.

In this essay I am going to focus on one – the ideology that ‘Jews are a superior people’. The notion that Jews, either through some genetic, biologic, cultural, historical, familial and/or upbringing, have special qualities allowing them to achieve at a uniquely higher level than the ‘inferior’ non-Jews.

We will proceed by sketching the main outline of the Jewish supremacist ideology and then advance our critique.

We will conclude by evaluating the negative consequences of this ideology and propose a democratic alternative.

Jewish Supremacism

Exponents of Jewish Supremacism (JS) frequently cite the prestigious awards, worldly successes and high honors, which, they emphasize, have been disproportionately achieved by Jews.

The argument goes: While Jews represent less than 0.2% of the world population, they have produced 24% of the US Nobel prize winners; over 30% of Ivy League professors and students; and the majority of major US film, stage and TV producers.

They cite the ‘disproportionate number’ of scientists, leading doctors, lawyers and billionaires.

They cite past geniuses like, Einstein, Freud and Marx .

They point to the founders of the world’s great monotheistic religions – Moses and Abraham.

They lay claim to a unique learning tradition embedded in centuries of Talmudic scholarship.

Jewish supremacists never miss a chance to cite the ‘Jewish background’ of any highly accomplished contemporary public figures in the entertainment, publication, financial fields or any other sectors of life in the US.

Disproportionately great accomplishments by a disproportionate minority has become the mantra for heralding a self-styled ‘meritocratic elite’…. and for justifying its disproportionate wealth, power and privileges – and influence…

Challenging the Myths of Jewish Supremacists

There are serious problems regarding the claims of the Jewish Supremacists.

For centuries Jewish ‘wisdom’ was confined to textual exegesis of religious dogma - texts full of superstition and social control, as well as blind intolerance, and which produced neither reasoned arguments nor contributed to scientific and human advancement.

Jewish scholarship of note occurred among thinkers like Spinoza who revolted against the Jewish ghetto gatekeepers and rejected Jewish dogma.

Notable scientists emerged in the context of working and studying with non-Jews in non-Jewish institutions – the universities and centers of learning in the West. The majority of world-renowned Jewish scholars integrated and contributed to predominantly non-Jewish (Moslem and Christian) and secular institutions of higher learning.

Historically, highly talented individuals of Jewish origin succeeded by renouncing the constraints of everyday Jewish life, rabbinical overseers and Jewish institutions. Most contemporary prestigious scientists, including the frequently cited Nobel Prize winners, have little or nothing to do with Judaism! And their contributions have everything to do with the highly secular, integrated culture in which they prospered intellectually – despite expressions of crude anti-Semitism in the larger society.

Secondly , Jewish Supremacists persist in claiming ‘racial credit’ for the achievements of individuals who have publically renounced, denounced and distanced themselves from Judaism and have dismissed any notion of Israel as their spiritual homeland. Their universal prestige has prevented them from being labeled, apostate or ‘self-hating’. Albert Einstein, often cited by the Supremacists as the supreme example of ‘Jewish genius’, denounced Israel’s war crimes and showed disdain for any tribal identity. In their era, Marx and Trotsky, like the vast majority of emancipated European Jews, given the chance, became engaged in universalistic organizations, attacking the entire notion that Jews were a ‘special people’ chosen by divine authority (or by the latter-day Zionists).

Thirdly, Supremacists compile a very selective list of virtuous Jews, while omitting areas of life and activity where Jews have disproportionately played a negative and destructive role.

After all is it Jewish ‘genius’ that makes Israel a leading exporter of arms, high tech intrusive spy systems and sends military and paramilitary advisers and torturers to work with death squad regimes in Africa and Latin America?

Among the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize are three Israeli Prime Ministers who waged wars of ethnic cleansing against millions of Palestinians and expanded racist ‘Jews only’ settlements throughout the occupied Palestinian territories. These include Menachem Begin (notorious career bomber and terrorist), Yitzhak Rabin (a militarist who was assassinated by an even more racist Jewish terrorist) and Shimon Peres. Among Jewish American Nobel ‘Peaceniks’ is Henry Kissinger who oversaw the brutal and illegal US war in Indo-China causing 4 million Vietnamese deaths;who wrote the ‘template for regime change’ by overthrowing the democratically elected government of Chilean President Allende and condemned Chile to decades of police state terror; and who supported Indonesia’s destruction of East Timor!

In other words, these Nobel recipients, who Supremacists cite as ‘examples of Jewish Supremacy’, have sown terror and injustice on countless captive peoples and nations – giving the Nobel Peace Prize a dubious distinction.

Among the greatest billion dollar swindlers in recent US history, we find a disproportionate percentage of American Jews – curiously not mentioned by the Supremacists in their usual litany: Bernard Madoff pillaged over $50 billion from his clients, Ivan Boesky, Michael Milken and Marc Rich are well-known names adding the distinction of ‘Jewish genius’ to a list of financial mega-felons.

Among the less respectable notables whose material successes have been tarnished by personal weaknesses – we have the billionaire and pedophile pimp, Jeffry Epstein; IMF President, rapist and debaucher Dominic Strauss Kahn, entrepreneur and ‘nudist’ Dov Charney, New York Governor and ‘repeat customer’ Elliot Spitzer, Congressman and exhibitionist Anthony Weiner and the fun-loving sports impresario who brought down FIFA, the piratical Chuck Blazer. Curiously, none of these extraordinarily successful notables have been cited as examples of Jewish Supremacy.

As we contemplate the millions of war refugees driven from the Near East and North Africa, we should credit the role of US neo-liberal and neo-conservative ideologues and policymakers –a disproportionate percentage of whom are Jews. Millions of Chilean workers suffered as Milton Friedman and his Chicago Boys ‘advised’ Chilean Dictator Augusto Pinochet on dismantling the welfare state (even if it required the murder of trade unionists!). Ayn Rand (Alyssa Rosenbaum) and her fanatical free market epigones have savaged all progressive social legislation and turned the most retrograde forms of selfishness into a religion of ‘superiority’!

The disastrous US war against Iraq was largely organized, promoted and justified by a disproportionate percentage of US Jews (Zionists), including leading policymakers in the Bush and Obama administration – Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, Elliott Abrams, Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk, David Frum, Shulsky, Levey, Cohen, Rahm Emanuel etc… They continue to push for war against Iran and should be seen as the ‘godfathers’ of the tragedies of Iraq, Syria and Libya where millions have fled.

The biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression was largely due to the financial policies of Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan. The trillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street by Ben Shalom Bernacke and Stanley Fischer, while Janet Yellen ignored the plight of millions of Americans who lost their homes because of mortgage foreclosures. In sum, Jewish Supremacists should proudly take credit for the American Jews who have been disproportionately responsible for the largest economic and foreign policy failures of the contemporary period – including the horrific suffering these have entailed!

Back in the more normal world of crime, Russian-Jewish mobsters dominate or share supremacy with the Italian Mafia in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami and scores of cities in between. They display their unique genius at extortion and murder – knowing they can always find safe haven in the ‘Promised Land’!

On the cultural front, the finest Jewish writers, artists, musicians, scientists have emerged outside of Israel. A few may have immigrated to the Jewish state, but many other intellectuals and artists of note have chosen to leave Israel, repelled by the racist, intolerant and repressive apartheid state and society promoted by Jewish Supremacists.

Conclusion

The record provides no historical basis for the claims of Jewish Supremacists:

What has been cited as the disproportionate ‘Jewish genius’ turns out to be a two-edged sword - demonstrating the best and the worst.

Claiming a monopoly on high academic achievement must be expanded to owning up to the Jewish authors of the worst financial and foreign policy disasters – they too are ‘high achievers’.

Donations from financial billionaires, all ‘geniuses’, have financed the war crimes of the Israeli state and made possible the expansion of violent Jewish settlers throughout occupied Palestine – spreading misery and displacement for millions.

In fairness, the most notorious Jewish swindler in contemporary America was even-handed: ‘Bernie’ Madoff swindled Jews and Goys, Hollywood moguls and New York philanthropists – he wasn’t picky about who he fleeced.

The latest fashion among Jewish Supremacist ‘geneticists’ is to extoll the discovery of uniquely special ‘genes’ predisposing Jews to experience the ‘holocaust’ and even inherit the experience of suffering from long dead ancestors. Such ‘scientists’ should be careful. As Jazz artist and essayist, Gilad Altzmon wryly notes, ‘They will put the anti-Semites out of business’.

Ultimately, Jews, who have assimilated into the greater society or not, who inter-marry and who do not, are all products of the social system in which they live and (like everyone else) they are the makers of the roles they decide to play within it.

In the past, a uniquely disproportional percentage of Jews chose to fight for universal humanist values – rejecting the notion of a chosen people.

Today a disproportionate percentage of educated Jews have chosen to embrace an ‘ethno-religious’ Supremacist dogma, which binds them to an apartheid, militarist state and ideology ready to drag the world into a global war.

Never forget! Racialist supremacist doctrines led Germany down the blind ally of totalitarianism and world war, in which scores of millions perished.

Jews, especially young Jews, are increasingly repelled by Israel’s crimes against humanity. The next step for them (and for us) is to criticize, demystify and stand up to the toxic supremacist ideology linking the powerful domestic Zionist power configuration and its political clones with Israel.

The root problem is not genetic, it is collective political dementia: a demented ideology that claims a chosen elite can forever dominate and exploit the majority of American people. The time will come when the accumulated disasters will force the Americans people to push back, unmasking the elite and rejecting its supremacist doctrines. Let us hope that they will act with passion guided by reason.

# # # #

Professor James Petras, Boiling Frogs Post contributing analyst, is the author of more than 62 books published in 29 languages, and over 600 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has a long history of commitment to social justice, working in particular with the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement for 11 years. He writes a monthly column for the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada, and previously, for the Spanish daily, El Mundo. Dr. Petras received his B.A. from Boston University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. You can visit his website here.

The Age of Imperial Wars

The War Epidemic Is Not Receding

2015 has become a year of living dangerously. Wars are spreading across the globe. Wars are escalating as new countries are bombed and the old are ravaged with ever greater intensity. Countries, where relatively peaceful changes had taken place through recent elections, are now on the verge of civil wars.

These are wars without victors, but plenty of losers; wars that don’t end; wars where imperial occupations are faced with prolonged resistance.

There are never-ending torrents of war refugees flooding across borders. Desperate people are detained, degraded and criminalized for being the survivors and victims of imperial invasions.

Now major nuclear powers face off in Europe and Asia: NATO versus Russia, US-Japan versus China. Will these streams of blood and wars converge into one radiated wilderness drained of its precious life blood?

Living Dangerously: The Rising Tide of Violent Conflicts

There is no question that wars and military threats have replaced diplomacy, negotiations and democratic elections as the principal means of resolving political conflicts. Throughout the present year (2015) wars have spread across borders and escalated in intensity.

The NATO allies, US, Turkey and the EU have openly attacked Syria with air strikes and ground troops. There are plans to occupy the northern sector of that ravaged country, creating what the Erdogan regime dubs a ‘buffer zone’ cleansed of its people and villages.

Under the pretext of ‘fighting ISIS’, the Turkish government is bombing Kurds (civilians and resistance fighters) and their Syrian allies. On Syria’s southern border, US Special Forces have accelerated and expanded operations from their bases in Jordan on behalf of the mercenary terrorists - funded by the monarchist Gulf States.

Over 4 million Syrians have fled their homes as refugees and over 200,000 have been killed since the US-EU-Turkey-Saudi-sponsored war against the secular Syrian government was launched four years ago.

Dozens of terrorist, mercenary and sectarian groups have carved up Syria into rival fiefdoms, pillaged its economic and cultural resources and reduced the economy by over ninety percent.

The US-EU-Turkish military intervention extends the war into Iraq, Lebanon and…. Turkey – attacking secular governments, ethnic minority groups and secular civil society.

The feudal, monarchist Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have invaded Yemen with tanks, launching air strikes against a country without any air defenses. Major cities and towns are devastated. Saudi ground troops and armored carriers are killing and wounding thousands – mostly civilians. The brutal Saudi air and sea blockade of Yemen’s ports have led to a humanitarian crisis, as ten million Yemenis face starvation deliberately imposed by a grotesque and obscenely rich monarchy.

The Yemeni resistance fighters, driven out of the major cities, are preparing for prolonged guerrilla warfare against the Saudi monsters and their puppets. Their resistance has already spread across the frontiers of the absolutist Saudi dictatorship.

The brutal Israeli occupation troops, in collaboration with armed ‘settler’ colonists, have accelerated their violent seizure of Palestinian lands. They have stepped up the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, Bedouins, Druze and Christian inhabitants replacing their communities with racist ‘Jews-only’ colonial settlements.

Daily assaults against the huge ‘concentration camps’ of Gaza accompany an armed blockade of land, air and water, preventing the reconstruction of the tens of thousands of homes, schools, hospital, factories and infrastructure, destroyed by last year’s Israeli blitzkrieg.

Israel’s continued annexation and ethnic cleansing of Palestinian territory precludes any diplomatic process; colonial wars have been and continue to be Israel’s policy of choice in dealing with its Arab neighbors and captive populations.

Africa’s wars, resulting from earlier US-EU interventions, continue to ravage-the Continent. Somalia, Sudan, Kenya, Libya are riven by bloody conflicts between US-EU backed regimes and armed Islamic and nationalist resistance movements.

Throughout North and Sub-Sahara Africa, US-EU backed regimes have provoked armed upheavals in Libya, Nigeria (Boko Harem), Egypt (ISIS, Moslem Brotherhood et al), Chad, Niger, South Sudan, Somalia and elsewhere.

Imperial client Egyptian and Ethiopian dictators rule with iron fists – financed and armed by their EU and US sponsors.

Imperial wars rage throughout the Middle East and South Asia. Hundreds of experienced Baathist Iraqi military officers, who had been expelled or jailed and tortured by the US Occupation army, have now made common cause with Islamist fighters to form ISIS and effectively occupy a third of Iraq and a strategic swath of Syria.

There are daily bombings in Baghdad undermining its US client. Strategic advances by ISIS are forcing the US to resume and escalate its direct combat role

The US-Baghdad retreat and the defeat of the US-trained Iraqi military in the face of the Baathist-Islamist offensive is the opening salvo of a long-term, large-scale war in Iraq and Syria. The Turkish air-war against the Kurds in Iraq will escalate the war in Northern Iraq and extend it into southeast Turkey.

Closer to ‘home’, the EU-US-backed coup (‘regime change’) in Kiev and the attempt to impose dictatorial-pro-West oligarchic rule in Ukraine have detonated a prolonged civil-national war devastating the country and pitting NATO’s proxies against Russian-backed allies in the Donbas.

US, England, Poland and other NATO powers are deeply committed to pushing war right up to Russia’s borders.

There is a new Cold War, with the imposition of wide-ranging US-EU economic sanctions against Russia and the organizing of major NATO military exercises on Russia’s doorsteps. It is no surprise that these provocations are met with a major counter-response – the Russian military build-up. The NATO power grab in Ukraine, which first led to a local ethnic war, now escalates to a global confrontation and may move toward a nuclear confrontation as Russia absorbs hundreds of thousands of refugees from the slaughter in Ukraine.

The US puppet regime in Afghanistan has faced a major advance of the Taliban in all regions, including the capital, Kabul.

The Afghan war is intensifying and the US-backed Kabul regime is in retreat. US troops can scarcely advance beyond their bunkers.

As the Taliban military advances, its leaders demand total surrender of the Kabul puppets and the withdrawal of US troops. The US response will be a prolonged escalation of war.

Pakistan, bristling with US arms, faces a major conflict along its borders with India and permanent war in its semi-autonomous Northwest frontier states with Islamist and ethnic Pashtu guerrilla movements backed by mass regional political parties. These parties exercise de facto control over the Northwest region providing sanctuary and arms for Taliban militants operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Armed ethno-religious conflicts persist in western China, Myanmar and northern India. There are large-scale popular resistance movements in the militant northeast Thailand opposed to the current military-monarchist dictatorship in Bangkok.

In the 21st century, in South and Southeast Asia, as in the rest of the world, war and armed conflicts have become central in resolving ethnic, social, tribal and regional differences with central states: diplomacy and democratic elections have been rendered obsolete and inefficient.

Latin America – On the Verge

Burgeoning violent extra-parliamentary right-wing movements, intent on overthrowing or ‘impeaching’ elected center-left Latin American governments face major confrontations with the state and its mass supporters.

In Ecuador, Venezuela and Brazil, US-backed opposition groups are engaged in violent demonstrations, directed toward ousting the elected regimes. In the case of Ecuador, ‘popular sectors’, including some indigenous leaders and sectors of the trade union movement, have called for an ‘uprising’ to oust President Correa. They seem oblivious of the fact that the hard-right oligarchs who now control key offices in the three principal cities (Guayaquil, Quito and Cuenca) will be the real beneficiaries of their ‘uprisings’.

The resurgent Right envisions violent ‘regime change’ as the first step toward ‘wiping the slate clean’ of a decade of social reforms, independent regional organizations and independent foreign policies.

‘Civil war’ may be too strong a word for the situation in Latin America at this time – but this is the direction which the US-backed opposition is heading. Faced with the mess and difficulty of dislodging incumbent regimes via elections, the US and its local proxies have opted for the choreography of street violence, sabotage, martial law and coups - to be followed by sanitized elections – with US-vetted candidates.

War and violence run rampant through Mexico and most of Central America. A US-backed military coup ousted the popularly elected, independent President Zelaya in Honduras. The ensuing US-proxy regime has murdered and jailed hundreds of pro-democracy dissidents and driven thousands to flee the violence.

The 1990’s US-brokered ‘Peace Accords’ in El Salvador and Guatemala effectively blocked any agrarian reform and income redistribution that might have led to the rebuilding of their civil societies. This has led to over two decades of mass disaffection, the rise of armed ‘gangs’ numbering over 100,000 members and an average of six to ten thousand homicides a year with El Salvador becoming the ‘murder capital of the hemisphere’ on a per capita basis. The annual murder toll under the US-brokered ‘Peace Accords’ now exceeds those killed each year during the civil war.

The real ‘carnage capital’ of the hemisphere is Mexico. Over 100,000 people have been murdered during the decade-long, US-backed ‘war on drugs’ – a war which has become a state-sponsored war on the Mexican people.

The internal war has allowed the Mexican government to privatize and sell the crown jewels of the national economy – the petroleum industry. While thousands of Mexicans are terrorized and slaughtered, the US and EU oil companies are curiously shielded from the drug lords. The same Mexican government, its police, officials and military, who collaborate with the drug lords in dividing up the billions of drug dollars, protect foreign oil companies and their executives. After all, narco-dollars are laundered by banks in New York, Miami, Los Angeles and London to help fuel the speculation!

From Regional to Nuclear Wars

Regional and local wars spread under the shadow of a looming world war. The US moves its arms, planes, bases and operations to the Russian and Chinese borders.

Never have so many US troops and war planes been placed in so many strategic locations, often less than an hour drive from major Russian cities.

Not even during the height of the Cold War, did the US impose so many economic sanctions against Russian enterprises.

In Asia, Washington is organizing major trade, military and diplomatic treaties designed to exclude and undermine China’s growth as a trade competitor. It is engaged in provocative activities comparable to the boycott and blockade of Japan which led to the Second World War in Asia.

Open ‘warfare by proxy’ in Ukraine is perhaps the first salvo of the Third World War in Europe. The US-EU-sponsored coup in Kiev has led to the annexation of Western Ukraine. In response to the threat of violence toward the ethnic Russian majority in Crimea and the loss of its strategic naval base on the Black Sea, Russia annexed Crimea.

In the lead-up to the Second World War, Germany annexed Austria. In a similar manner the US-EU installed a puppet regime in Kiev by violent putsch as its own initial steps toward major power grabs in Central Asia. The military build-up includes the placement of major, forward offensive military bases in Poland.

Warsaw’s newly elected hard-right regime of President Andrzej Duda has demanded that Poland become NATO’s central military base of operation and the front line in a war against Russia.

Wars and More Wars and the Never-ending Torrents of Refugees

The US and EU imperial wars have devastated the lives and livelihoods of scores of millions of people in South Asia, North and Sub-Sahara Africa, Central America, Mexico, the Balkans and now Ukraine.

Four million Syrian refugees have joined millions of Afghan, Pakistani, Iraqi, Yemeni, Somali, Libyan, Palestinian and Sudanese refugees fleeing US-EU bombs, drones and proxy mercenaries ravaging their countries.

Millions of war refugees escape toward safety in Western Europe, joining the millions of economic refugees who have fled free market destitution in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, the Balkans and other EU satellites.

Panic among the civilian population of Western Europe sets in as hundreds of thousands cross the Mediterranean, the Aegean and the Balkans.

Droves of refugees perish each day. Tens of thousands crowd detention centers. Local labor markets are saturated. Social services are overwhelmed.

The US builds walls and detention camps for the millions trying to escape the harsh consequences of imperial-centered free markets in Mexico, narco-terror and the fraudulent ‘peace accord’-induced violence in Central America.

As Western wars advance, the desperate refugees multiply. The poor and destitute clamber at the gates of the imperial heartland crying: ‘Your bombs and your destruction of our homelands have driven us here, now you must deal with us in your homeland’.

Fomenting class war between the refugees and ‘natives’ of the imperial West – may not be on the agenda . . . for now, but the future for ‘civil’ society in Europe and the US is bleak.

Meanwhile, more and even bigger wars are on the horizon and additional millions of civilians will be uprooted and face the choice of starving, fleeing with their families or fighting the empire. The ranks of seasoned and infuriated resistance fighters are swelling in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Ukraine and elsewhere.

The US and EU are becoming armed fortresses. US police deal with the marginalized citizenry as an occupying army, assaulting African-Americans, immigrants and dissidents – while looting poor communities . . . and protecting the rich…

Conclusion

War is everywhere and expanding: No continent or region, big or small, is free from the contagion of war.

Imperial wars have spawn local wars . . . igniting mass flights in a never-ending cycle. There are no real diplomatic success stories! There are no enduring, viable peace accords!

Some pundits may protest this analysis: They point to the recent US – Cuba rapprochement as a ‘success’. They conveniently forget that the US is still subverting Cuba’s biggest trading partner, Venezuela; that Washington’s major regional proxies are demanding regime change among Cuba’s allies in Ecuador, Brazil and Bolivia and that Washington is increasingly threatening Cuba’s alternative markets in Russia and China. The vision of the US flag flapping in the breeze outside its embassy in Havana does little to cover Washington’s iron fist threatening Cuba’s allies.

Others cite the US – Iran peace accord as a major ‘success’. They ignore that the US is backing the bloody Saudi invasion of neighboring Yemen and the massacre of Shiite communities; that the US has provided Israel with a road map detailing Iran’s entire defense system and that the US and EU are bombing Iran’s Syrian ally without mercy.

As for the US – Cuba and Iranian agreements– are they enduring and strategic or just tactical imperial moves preparing for even greater assaults?

The war epidemic is not receding.

War refugees are still fleeing; they have no homes or communities left.

Disorder and destruction are increasing, not decreasing; there is no rebuilding the shattered societies, not in Gaza, not in Fallujah, not in the Donbas, not in Guerrero, not in Aleppo.

Europe feels the tremors of a major conflagration.

Americans still believe that the two oceans will protect them. They are told that placing NATO missiles on Russia’s borders and stationing warships off China’s shores and building electrified walls and laying barbed wire along the Rio Grande will protect them. Such is their faith in their political leaders and propagandists.

What a packet of lies! Inter-continental missiles can ‘rain down’ on New York, Washington and Los Angeles.

It is time to wake up!

It is time to stop the US – EU headlong race to World War III!

Where to start? Libya has been irrevocably destroyed; it is too late there! Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are aflame. We are being plunged deeper into war while being told we are withdrawing! Ukraine sucks in more guns and more troops!

Can we really have peace with Iran if we cannot control our own government as it dances to the Israelis tune? And Israel insists on war – our waging war for them! As the Israeli war criminal General and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon once told some worried American Zionists: “Trouble with the US? We lead them by the nose . . . !”

Just look at the terrified families fleeing carnage in the Middle East or Mexico.

What is to be done?

When will we cut our losses and shake off the bonds of these war makers – foreign and domestic?

# # # #

Professor James Petras, Boiling Frogs Post contributing analyst, is the author of more than 62 books published in 29 languages, and over 600 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has a long history of commitment to social justice, working in particular with the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement for 11 years. He writes a monthly column for the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada, and previously, for the Spanish daily, El Mundo. Dr. Petras received his B.A. from Boston University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. You can visit his website here.

Syriza: Plunder, Pillage & Prostration

How the ‘Hard Left’ embraces the policies of the Hard Right

Greece has been in the headlines of the world’s financial press for the past five months, as a newly elected leftist party, ‘Syriza’, which ostensibly opposes so-called ‘austerity measures’, faces off against the “Troika” (International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and European Central Bank).

Early on, the Syriza leadership, headed by Alexis Tsipras, adopted several strategic positions with fatal consequences - in terms of implementing their electoral promises to raise living standards, end vassalage to the ‘Troika’ and pursue an independent foreign policy.

We will proceed by outlining the initial systemic failures of Syriza and the subsequent concessions further eroding Greek living standards and deepening Greece’s role as an active collaborator of US and Israeli imperialism.

Winning Elections & Surrendering Power

The North American and European Left celebrated Syriza’s election victory as a break with neo-liberal austerity programs and the launch of a radical alternative, which would implement popular initiatives for basic social changes, including measures generating employment, restoring pensions, reversing privatizations, reordering government priorities and favoring payments to employees over foreign banks. The “evidence” for the radical reform agenda was contained in the ‘Thessaloniki Manifesto’ which Syriza promised to be the program guiding their newly elected officials.

However, prior to, and immediately after being elected, Syriza leaders adopted three basic decisions precluding any basic changes: Indeed, these decisions set it on a reactionary course.

First and foremost, Syriza accepted as legitimate the foreign debt of over $350 billion dollars, although most had been signed by previous government Kleptocrats, corrupt banks, business, real estate and financial interests. Virtually none of this debt was used to finance productive activity or vital services which would strengthen the economy and Greece’s future ability to payback the loans.

Hundreds of billions of Euros were stashed away in foreign bank accounts and foreign real estate or invested in overseas stocks and bonds. After affirming the ‘legitimacy’ of the illicit debt, Syriza followed up by declaring its ‘willingness’ to pay the debt. The ‘Troika’ immediately understood that the new Syriza government would be a willing hostage to further coercion, blackmail and debt payments.

Secondly, and related to the above, Syriza declared its determination to remain in the European Union and Eurozone and thus accepted the surrender of its sovereignty and ability to fashion an independent policy. It declared its willingness to submit to the dictates of the Troika. Once under the thumb of the Troika, Syriza’s only policy would be to ‘negotiate’, ‘renegotiate’ and make further concessions to the EU overseas banks in a totally one-sided process. Syriza’s rapid submission to the Troika was their second strategic, but not their last, betrayal of its electoral program.

Once Syriza demonstrated to the Troika, its willingness to betray its popular program, the Troika escalated its demands and hardened its intransigence. Brussels discounted Syriza’s leftist rhetoric and radical theatrical gestures as blowing smoke in the eyes of the Greek electorate. The EU bankers knew that when it came time to negotiate new loan agreements, the Syriza leadership would capitulate. Meanwhile, the Euro-American Left swallowed Syriza’s entire radical rhetoric without looking at its actual practice.

Thirdly, on taking office, Syriza negotiated a coalition with the far-right, pro-NATO, xenophobic, anti-immigrant Independent Greeks Party, guaranteeing that Greece would continue to support NATO’s military policies in the Middle East, the Ukraine and Israel’s brutal campaign against Palestine.

Fourthly, the bulk of Prime Minister Tsipras cabinet appointees had no experience of class struggle .Worse still, most were academics and former PASOK advisers without any capacity or willingness to break with the dictates of the Troika. Their academic ‘practice’ consisted largely of theoretical ‘combat’, ill-suited for real-world confrontation with aggressive imperial powers.

From a Scratch to Gangrene

By capitulating to the EU from the outset, including accepting to pay the illegitimate debt, hooking up with the Far Right and submitting to the dictates of the Troika, the stage was set for SYRIZA to betray all its promises and to worsen the economic burden for its supporters. The worst betrayals include: (1) not restoring pension payments; (2) not restoring the minimum wage; (3) not reversing privatizations; (4) not ending austerity programs; and (5) not increasing funds for education, health, housing and local development.

The Troika and its publicists in the financial press are demanding that Syriza cut the Greek pension system even further ,impoverishing over 1.5 million retired workers. Contrary to the media’s planted ‘examples’ of fat pensions enjoyed by less then 5% of pensioners, the Greeks have suffered the deepest pension reductions in Europe over the past century. In just the last past 4 years the Troika cut Greek pensions eight times. The vast majority of pensions have been slashed by nearly 50% since 2010.The average pension is 700 Euros a month but 45%of Greek pensioners receive less than 665 Euros a month - below the poverty line. Yet the Troika demands even greater reductions. These include an end of budget subsidies for pensioners living in extreme poverty, an increase in the retirement age to 67, an abolition of pension provisions tied to hazardous occupations and for working mothers. The earlier regressive measures, imposed by the Troika and implemented by the previous right-wing coalition regime, severely depleted the Greek pension fund. In 2012, the Troika’s ‘debt restructuring’ program led to the loss of 25 billion Euros of reserves held by the Greek government in government bonds. Troika austerity policies ensured that the pension reserves would not be replenished. Contributions plummeted as unemployment soared to nearly 30% (Financial Times 6/5/15 p4). Despite the Troika’s frontal assault on the Greek pension system, Syriza’s “economic team” expressed its willingness to raise the retirement age, cut pensions by 5% and negotiate further betrayals of pensioners facing destitution. Syriza has not only failed to fulfill its campaign promise to reverse the previous regressive policies, but is engaged in its own ‘pragmatic’ sellouts with the Troika.

Worse still, Syriza has deepened and extended the policies of its reactionary predecessors. (1)Syriza promised to freeze privatizations: Now it vows to extend them by 3.2 billion Euros and privatize new public sectors. (2) Syriza has agreed to shift scarce public resources to the military, including an investment of $500 million Euros to upgrade the Greek Air Force. (3) Syriza plundered the national pension fund and municipal treasuries of over a billion Euros to meet debt payments to the Troika. (4) Syriza is cutting public investments in job creating infrastructure projects to meet Troika deadlines. ( 5) Syriza has agreed to a budget surplus of 0.6% at a time when Greece is running a 0.7% deficit this year - meaning more cuts later this year. (6) Syriza promised to reduce the VAT on essentials like food; now it accepts a 23% rate.

Syriza’s foreign policy mimics its predecessors. Syriza’s far right Defense Minister, Panos Kammenos, has been a vocal supporter of the US and EU sanctions against Russia- despite the usual flurry of Syriza’s faked “dissent” to NATO policies, followed by total capitulation – to remain in good standing with NATO. The Syriza regime has allowed each and every well-known kleptocrat and tax evader to retain their illicit wealth and to add to their overseas holdings with massive transfers of their current ‘savings’ out of the country. By the end of May 2015, Prime Minister Tsipras and Finance Minister Varofakis have emptied the Treasury to meet debt payments, increasing the prospects that pensioners and public sector workers will not receive their benefits. Having emptied the Greek Treasury, Syriza will now impose the “Troika solution” on the backs of the impoverished Greek masses: either sign-off on a new “austerity” plan, lowering pensions, increasing retirement age, eliminating labor laws protecting workers’ job security and negotiating rights or face an empty treasury, no pensions, rising unemployment and deepening economic depression. Syriza has deliberately emptied the Treasury, plundered pension funds and local municipal holdings in order to blackmail the population to accept as a ‘fait accompli’ the regressive policies of hardline EU bankers – the so-called “austerity programs”.

From the very beginning, Syriza gave into the Troika’s dictates, even as they play-acted their ‘principled resistance’. First they lied to the Greek public, calling the Troika ‘international partners’. Then they lied again calling the Troika memorandum for greater austerity a ‘negotiating document’. Syriza’s deceptions were meant to hide their continuation of the highly unpopular ‘framework’ imposed by the previous discredited hard rightwing regime.

As Syriza plundered the country of resources to pay the bankers, it escalated its international groveling. Its Defense Minister offered new military bases for NATO, including an air-maritime base on the Greek island of Karpathos. Syriza escalated Greece’s political and military support for EU and US military intervention and support of “moderate” terrorists in the Middle East, ludicrously in the name of “protecting Christians”. Syriza, currying favor with European and US Zionists, strengthened its ties with Israel, evoking a ‘strategic alliance’ with the terrorist-apartheid state. From his first days in office, the hard right Defense Minister Kammenos proposed the creation of a “common defense space” including Cyprus and Israel – thus supporting Israel’s air and sea blockade of Gaza.

Conclusion

Syriza’s political decision to ‘embed’ in the EU and the Eurozone, at all costs, signals that Greece will continue to be vassal state, betraying its program and adopting deeply reactionary policies, even while trumpeting its phony leftist rhetoric, and feigning ‘resistance’ to the Troika. Despite the fact that Syriza plundered domestic pensions and local treasuries, many deluded Leftists in Europe and the US continue to accept and rationalize what they choose to dub its “realistic and pragmatic compromises”.

Syriza could have confiscated and used the $32 billion of real estate properties owned by the Greek Armed Forces to implement an alternative investment and development plan – leasing these properties for commercial maritime ports, airports and tourist facilities.

Syriza buried Greece even deeper into the hierarchy dominated by German finance,by surrendering its sovereign power to impose a debt moratorium, leave the Eurozone, husband its financial resources, reinstate a national currency, impose capital controls, confiscate billions of Euros in illicit overseas accounts, mobilize local funds to finance economic recovery and reactivate the public and private sector. The fake “Left sector” within Syriza repeatedly mouthed impotent “objections”, while the Tsipras -Varofakis sell-out charade proceeded to the ultimate capitulation.

In the end, Syriza has deepened poverty and unemployment, increased foreign control over the economy, further eroded the public sector, facilitated the firing of workers and slashed severance pay- while increasing the role of the Greek military by deepening its ties to NATO and Israel.

Equally important, Syriza has totally emptied leftist phraseology of any cognitive meaning: for them - national sovereignty is translated into international vassalage and anti-austerity becomes pragmatic capitulations to new austerity. When the Tsipras – Troika agreement is finally signed and the terrible toll of austerity for the next decades finally sinks into the consciousness of the Greek public, the betrayals will hopefully evoke mass revulsion. Perhaps Syriza will split, and the “left” will finally abandon their cushy Cabinet posts and join the disaffected millions in forming an alternative Party.

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Professor James Petras, Boiling Frogs Post contributing analyst, is the author of more than 62 books published in 29 languages, and over 600 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has a long history of commitment to social justice, working in particular with the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement for 11 years. He writes a monthly column for the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada, and previously, for the Spanish daily, El Mundo. Dr. Petras received his B.A. from Boston University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. You can visit his website here.