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Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism
and Alliance of Transnational Elites

Neoliberalism is inseparable from imperialism and globalization

Who Rules America > Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism

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Fifth Column of Globalization Inside "democracy promotion" hypocrisy fair "Fight with Corruption" as a smoke screen for neoliberal penetration into host countries US Department of Imperial Expansion Diplomacy by deception Democracy as a universal opener for access to natural resources American imperialism: the attempt to secure global hegemony
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Introduction

All U.S. schoolchildren should be taught, as part of their basic civics education, by conscientious elementary, middle school and high school teachers, that they live in an imperialist country. The term itself ought to be popularized. This is what politicians like Obama actually refer to, elliptically, when they call the U.S. “exceptional.

Gary Leupp, The U.S. Versus ISIS

Looks like the USA successfully managed to recreate Imperial Rome on a new level, neoliberalism level. See Empires Then and Now - PaulCraig

The idea financial imperialism is simple. Instead of old-fashion military occupation of the country, take over the countries in crisis, if necessary remove their democratically elected governments from power by claiming that election are falsified and/or official are corrupted, and/or the government is authoritarian (unlike the puppets they want to install). They use the installed puppets to mandate austerity, burden the country with debt  and facilitate condition under which most of which will be stolen and repatriated to the West.

But neoliberals take this old idea to a new level -- the crisis can be manufactured. The scheme looks like the following (see IMF as the key institution for neoliberal debt enslavement discussion of Greece for more information):

After installation of a puppet government, it is relatively easy to use Fifth column based government to protect foreign financial interests. Now you can recoup the costs and enjoy the profits. Much cheaper and more humane then bombing the country and killing a couple of hundred thousand people to achieve the same goals (Iraq variant) or by arming and training  jihadists (using Saudi and Gulf monarchies money) and tribal elements to depose the government (Libya and Syria variants) who kill as much, if nor more. 

A classic recent examples were Yeltsin's government in Russia, Yushchenko regime in Ukraine,  Poroshenko-Yatsenyuk duo in Ukraine and sequence of neoliberal governments in Greece. 

In other words neoliberalism is inseparable from imperialism and globalization (Neoliberalism A Critical Reader Alfredo Saad-Filho, Deborah Johnston, p. 2)

In the conventional (or mainstream) discourse, imperialism is either absent or, more recently, proudly presented as the ‘AmericanBurden': to civilize the world and bring to all the benediction of the Holy Trinity, the green-faced Lord Dollar and its deputies and occasional rivals. Holy Euro and Saint Yen. New converts win a refurbished international airport, one brand-new branch of McDonald’s, two luxury hotels, 3,000 NGOs and one US military base.

This offer cannot be refused - or else.2 In turn, globalisation is generally presented as an inescapable, inexorable and benevolent process leading to greater competition, welfare improvements and the spread of democracy around the world. In reality, however, the so-called process of globalisation - to the extent that it actually exists (see Saad-Rlho 2003) - is merely the international face of neoliberalism: a world-wide strategy of accumulation and social discipline that doubles up as tin imperialist project, spearheaded by the alliance between the US ruling class and locally dominant capitalist coalitions.

This ambitious power project centered on neoliberalism at home and imperial globalism abroad is implemented by diverse social and economic political alliances in each country, but the interests of local finance and the US ruling class, itself dominated by finance, are normally hegemonic.

...the United States, the United Kingdom and east and south-east Asia respectively, neoliberalism is a particular organisation of capitalism, which has evolved to protect capital(ism) and to reduce the power of labour. This is achieved by means of social, economic and political transformations imposed by internal forces as well as external pressure. The internal forces include the coalition between financial interests, leading industrialists, traders and exporters, media barons, big landowners, local political chieftains, the top echelons of the civil service and the military, and their intellectual and political proxies. These groups are closely connected with ‘global’ ideologies emanating from the centre, and they tend to adapt swiftly to the demands beamed from the metropolis. Their efforts have led to a significant worldwide shift in powerrelations away from the majority. Corporate power has increased, while finance hits acquired unrivalled influence, and the political spectrum has shifted towards the right. Left parties and mass organisations have imploded, while trade unions have been muzzled or disabled by unemployment. Forms of external pressure have included the diffusion of Western culture and ideology, foreign support for state and civil society institutions peddling neolibcral values, the shameless use of foreign aid, debt relief and balance of payments support to promote the neoliberal programme, and diplomatic pressure, political unrest and military intervention when necessary.

...the ruling economic and political forces in the European Union have instrumentalised the process of integration to ensure the hegemony of neoliberalism. This account is complemented by the segmentation of Eastern Europe into countries that are being drawn into a Western European-style neoliberalism and others that are following Russia’s business oligarchy model.

In sum, neoliberalism is everywhere both the outcome and the arena of social conflicts. It sets the political and economic agenda, limits the possible outcomes, biases expectations, and imposes urgent tasks on those challenging its assumptions, methods and consequences.

In the meantime, neoliberal theory has not remained static. In order to deal with the most powerful criticisms leveled against neoliberalism, that it has increased poverty and social dislocation around the world, neoliberal theory has attempted to present the ogre in a more favorable light. In spite of the substantial resources invested in this ideologically inspired make-over, these amendments have remained unconvincing, not least because the heart of the neoliberal project has remained unchanged. This is discussed in Chapter 15 for poverty and distribution, while Chapter 21 unpicks the agenda of the ‘Third Way', viewed by many as ‘neoliberalism with a human face’.

Neoliberalism offered a finance-friendly solution to the problems of capital accumulation at the end of a relatively long cycle of prosperity. Chapters 1. 22 and 30 show that neoliberalism imposed discipline upon a restless working class through contractionary fiscal and monetary policies and wide-ranging initiatives to curtail social rights, under the guise of anti-inflation and productivity-enhancing measures. Neoliberalism also rationalised the transfer of state capacity to allocate resources inter-temporally (the balance between investment and consumption) and inter-sectorally (the distribution of investment, employment and output) towards an increasingly internationally integrated (and US-led) financial sector. In doing so, neoliberalism facilitated a gigantic transfer of resources to the local rich and the United States, as is shown by Chapters 11 and 15.

The “elephant in the room” is peak oil (plato oil to be more correct) and the plato of food production. Without "cheap oil" extraction growing, it is more difficult to sustain both  population growth and rising standard of living simultaneously. It became the situation of iether/or.

So the future it does not look pretty. As soon as "cheap oil"  escape the current plato,  Western financial system gets into trouble: private banks based fractional reserve banking requires economy expansion for survival.  Essentially they add positive feedback loop to the economy, greatly increasing the instability.  That connection was discovered by Hyman Minsky. Minsky explored a form of instability that is embedded in neoliberal/financialized economies resulting from the use of fiat currency and fractional reserve banking. he argued that such an economy automatically generates bubbles, bursting of which result in periodic deep economic crisis. Which are not an exception, but a feature of neoliberal capitalism (aka "supercapitalism", or "casino capitalism).  

When Minsky crisis hits  some, less important, banks will implode and strategically important need to be saved by government at a great expense for taxpayers. The western elite is well aware of this possibility and will steal, loot and pillage as fast as they can to prolong the agony...  Neoliberal expansion and conversion of other countries into debt slaves thus serves as a substitute for economic growth.

What actually is devalued in austerity programs imposed on indebted nations via currency depreciation is the price of local labor (along with standard of living of the most population). So austerity programs caused a huge drop in the standard of living of population. For example after EuroMaydan color revolution the standard of living in Ukraine dropped to the level of the most poor countries of Africa  (less then $2 a day for the majority of population).

This is a pretty instructive example.   It qlso cur domestic consumption of fuels and minerals, consumer goods, and food.  As wages are sticky and it is difficult to reduced them directly (via high unemployment, leading to falling wages). But the currency depreciation can do the same trick even more effectively. For example since February 22 coup d'état, grivna, the Ukrainian currency depreciated from 8 to 28 grivna to dollar, or approximately 350%.

This is how war of creditors against debtor countries turns into a class war. But to impose such neoliberal reforms, foreign pressure is necessary to bypass domestic, democratically elected Parliaments. Not every country’s voters can be expected to be as passive in acting against their own interests as those of Latvia and Ireland. The financial capital objective is to bypass parliament by demanding a “consensus” (facilitated by a huge foreign debt) to put foreign creditors first, above the national economy. This is the essence of the status of debt slave country. Civil war it a perfect tool to accelerate this process. 

Buying natural monopolies in transportation, communications, and the land from the public domain for pennies on the dollar now can be called "rescue package", not the road to debt peonage and a financial neo-feudalism that is a grim reality of "debt slave" countries, where populations are indentured laborers of international capital. Let me state it very simply : "the borrower [debtor] is SERVANT to the lender" ( Wikipedia ):

An indentured servant or indentured laborer is an employee (indenturee) within a system of unfree labor who is bound by a signed or forced contract (indenture) to work for a particular employer for a fixed time. The contract often lets the employer sell the labor of an indenturee to a third party. Indenturees usually enter into an indenture for a specific payment or other benefit, or to meet a legal obligation, such as debt bondage.

The whole point of creating debt is to gain control of and rule over such countries.  Prof. Hudson's article Replacing Economic Democracy with Financial Oligarchy (2011) illustrates this point admirably.

At the same time then comes to bailing out bankers who overplayed with derivatives, all rules are ignored – in order to serve the “higher justice” of saving banks and their high-finance counterparties from taking a loss. This is quite a contrast compared to IMF policy toward labor and “taxpayers.” The class war is back in business – with a vengeance, and bankers are the winners this time around.

Classic, textbook example of neocolonialism was rape of Russia in 1991-1999. See Harvard Mafia, Andrei Shleifer and the economic rape of Russia

Henry C K Liu Views

One of the most interesting analysis of this new phenomena was provided by Henry C K Liu in his series of articles SUPER CAPITALISM, SUPER IMPERIALISM


PART 1: A Structural Link

Robert B Reich, former US Secretary of Labor and resident neo-liberal in the Clinton administration from 1993 to 1997, wrote in the September 14, 2007 edition of The Wall Street Journal an opinion piece, "CEOs Deserve Their Pay", as part of an orchestrated campaign to promote his new book: Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life (Afred A Knopf).

Reich is a former Harvard professor and the former Maurice B Hexter Professor of Social and Economic Policy at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. He is currently a professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California (Berkley) and a regular liberal gadfly in the unabashed supply-side Larry Kudlow TV show that celebrates the merits of capitalism.

Reich's Supercapitalism brings to mind Michael Hudson's Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire (1972-2003). While Reich, a liberal turned neo-liberal, sees "supercapitalism" as the natural evolution of insatiable shareholder appetite for gain, a polite euphemism for greed, that cannot or should not be reined in by regulation, Hudson, a Marxist heterodox economist, sees "super imperialism" as the structural outcome of post-World War II superpower geopolitics, with state interests overwhelming free market forces, making regulation irrelevant. While Hudson is critical of "super imperialism" and thinks that it should be resisted by the weaker trading partners of the US, Reich gives the impression of being ambivalent about the inevitability, if not the benignity, of "supercapitalism".

The structural link between capitalism and imperialism was first observed by John Atkinson Hobson (1858-1940), an English economist, who wrote in 1902 an insightful analysis of the economic basis of imperialism. Hobson provided a humanist critique of neoclassical economics, rejecting exclusively materialistic definitions of value. With Albert Frederick Mummery (1855-1895), the great British mountaineer who was killed in 1895 by an avalanche while reconnoitering Nanga Parbat, an 8,000-meter Himalayan peak, Hobson wrote The Physiology of Industry (1889), which argued that an industrial economy requires government intervention to maintain stability, and developed the theory of over-saving that was given a glowing tribute by John Maynard Keynes three decades later.

The need for governmental intervention to stabilize an expanding national industrial economy was the rationale for political imperialism. On the other side of the coin, protectionism was a governmental counter-intervention on the part of weak trading partners for resisting imperialist expansion of the dominant power. Historically, the processes of globalization have always been the result of active state policy and action, as opposed to the mere passive surrender of state sovereignty to market forces. Market forces cannot operate in a vacuum. They are governed by man-made rules. Globalized markets require the acceptance by local authorities of established rules of the dominant economy. Currency monopoly of course is the most fundamental trade restraint by one single dominant government.

Adam Smith published Wealth of Nations in 1776, the year of US independence. By the time the constitution was framed 11 years later, the US founding fathers were deeply influenced by Smith's ideas, which constituted a reasoned abhorrence of trade monopoly and government policy in restricting trade. What Smith abhorred most was a policy known as mercantilism, which was practiced by all the major powers of the time. It is necessary to bear in mind that Smith's notion of the limitation of government action was exclusively related to mercantilist issues of trade restraint. Smith never advocated government tolerance of trade restraint, whether by big business monopolies or by other governments in the name of open markets.

A central aim of mercantilism was to ensure that a nation's exports remained higher in value than its imports, the surplus in that era being paid only in specie money (gold-backed as opposed to fiat money). This trade surplus in gold permitted the surplus country, such as England, to invest in more factories at home to manufacture more for export, thus bringing home more gold. The importing regions, such as the American colonies, not only found the gold reserves backing their currency depleted, causing free-fall devaluation (not unlike that faced today by many emerging-economy currencies), but also wanting in surplus capital for building factories to produce for domestic consumption and export. So despite plentiful iron ore in America, only pig iron was exported to England in return for English finished iron goods. The situation was similar to today's oil producing countries where despite plentiful crude oil, refined petrochemical products such as gasoline and heating oil have to be imported.

In 1795, when the newly independent Americans began finally to wake up to their disadvantaged trade relationship and began to raise European (mostly French and Dutch) capital to start a manufacturing industry, England decreed the Iron Act, forbidding the manufacture of iron goods in its American colonies, which caused great dissatisfaction among the prospering colonials.

Smith favored an opposite government policy toward promoting domestic economic production and free foreign trade for the weaker traders, a policy that came to be known as "laissez faire" (because the English, having nothing to do with such heretical ideas, refuse to give it an English name). Laissez faire, notwithstanding its literal meaning of "leave alone", meant nothing of the sort. It meant an activist government policy to counteract mercantilism. Neo-liberal free-market economists are just bad historians, among their other defective characteristics, when they propagandize "laissez faire" as no government interference in trade affairs.

Friedrich List, in his National System of Political Economy (1841), asserts that political economy as espoused in England, far from being a valid science universally, was merely British national opinion, suited only to English historical conditions. List's institutional school of economics asserts that the doctrine of free trade was devised to keep England rich and powerful at the expense of its trading partners and it must be fought with protective tariffs and other protective devices of economic nationalism by the weaker countries.

Henry Clay's "American system" was a national system of political economy. US neo-imperialism in the post WWII period disingenuously promotes neo-liberal free-trade against governmental protectionism to keep the US rich and powerful at the expense of its trading partners. Before the October Revolution of 1917, many national liberation movements in European colonies and semi-colonies around the world were influenced by List's economic nationalism. The 1911 Nationalist Revolution in China, led by Sun Yat-sen, was heavily influenced by Lincoln's political ideas - government of the people, by the people and for the people - and the economic nationalism of List, until after the October Revolution when Sun realized that the Soviet model was the correct path to national revival.

Hobson's magnum opus, Imperialism, (1902), argues that imperialistic expansion is driven not by state hubris, known in US history as "manifest destiny", but by an innate quest for new markets and investment opportunities overseas for excess capital formed by over-saving at home for the benefit of the home state. Over-saving during the industrial age came from Richardo's theory of the iron law of wages, according to which wages were kept perpetually at subsistence levels as a result of uneven market power between capital and labor. Today, job outsourcing that returns as low-price imports contributes to the iron law of wages in the US domestic economy. (See my article Organization of Labor Exporting Countries [OLEC]).

Hobson's analysis of the phenology (study of life cycles) of capitalism was drawn upon by Lenin to formulate a theory of imperialism as an advanced stage of capitalism:

"Imperialism is capitalism at that stage of development at which the dominance of monopolies and finance capitalism is established; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun, in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed." (Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, 1916, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, Chapter 7).

Lenin was also influenced by Rosa Luxemberg, who three year earlier had written her major work, The Accumulation of Capital: A Contribution to an Economic Explanation of Imperialism (Die Akkumulation des Kapitals: Ein Beitrag zur ökonomischen Erklärung des Imperialismus), 1913). Luxemberg, together with Karl Liebknecht a founding leader of the Spartacist League (Spartakusbund), a radical Marxist revolutionary movement that later renamed itself the Communist Party of Germany (Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands, or KPD), was murdered on January 15, 1919 by members of the Freikorps, rightwing militarists who were the forerunners of the Nazi Sturmabteilung (SA) led by Ernst Rohm.

The congenital association between capitalism and imperialism requires practically all truly anti-imperialist movements the world over to be also anti-capitalist. To this day, most nationalist capitalists in emerging economies are unwitting neo-compradors for super imperialism. Neo-liberalism, in its attempts to break down all national boundaries to facilitate global trade denominated in fiat dollars, is the ideology of super imperialism.

Hudson, the American heterodox economist, historian of ancient economies and post-WW II international balance-of-payments specialist, advanced in his 1972 book the notion of 20th century super imperialism. Hudson updated Hobson's idea of 19th century imperialism of state industrial policy seeking new markets to invest home-grown excess capital. To Hudson, super imperialism is a state financial strategy to export debt denominated in the state's fiat currency as capital to the new financial colonies to finance the global expansion of a superpower empire.

No necessity, or even intention, was entertained by the superpower of ever having to pay off these paper debts after the US dollar was taken off gold in 1971.

Monetary Imperialism and Dollar Hegemony

Super imperialism transformed into monetary imperialism after the 1973 Middle East oil crisis with the creation of the petrodollar and two decades later emerged as dollar hegemony through financial globalization after 1993. As described in my 2002 AToL article, Dollar hegemony has to go, a geopolitical phenomenon emerged after the 1973 oil crisis in which the US dollar, a fiat currency since 1971, continues to serve as the primary reserve currency for  international trade because oil continues to be denominated in fiat dollars as a result of superpower geopolitics, leading to dollar hegemony in 1993 with the globalization of deregulated financial markets.

Three causal developments allowed dollar hegemony to emerge over a span of two decades after 1973 and finally take hold in 1993. US fiscal deficits from overseas spending since the 1950s caused a massive drain in US gold holdings, forcing the US in 1971 to abandon the 1945 Bretton Woods regime of fixed exchange rate based on a gold-backed dollar. Under that international financial architecture, cross-border flow of funds was not considered necessary or desirable for promoting international trade or domestic development. The collapse of the 1945 Bretton Woods regime in 1971 was the initial development toward dollar hegemony.

The second development was the denomination of oil in dollars after the 1973 Middle East oil crisis. The emergence of petrodollars was the price the US, still only one of two contending superpowers in 1973, extracted from defenseless oil-producing nations for allowing them to nationalize the Western-owned oil industry on their soil. As long as oil transactions are denominated in fiat dollars, the US essentially controls all the oil in the world financially regardless of specific ownership, reducing all oil producing nations to the status of commodity agents of dollar hegemony.

The third development was the global deregulation of financial markets after the Cold War, making cross-border flow of funds routine, and a general relaxation of capital and foreign exchange control by most governments involved in international trade. This neo-liberal trade regime brought into existence a foreign exchange market in which free-floating exchange rates made computerized speculative attacks on weak currencies a regular occurrence. These three developments permitted the emergence of dollar hegemony after 1994 and helped the US win the Cold War with financial power derived from fiat money.

Dollar hegemony advanced super imperialism one stage further from the financial to the monetary front. Industrial imperialism sought to achieve a trade surplus by exporting manufactured good to the colonies for gold to fund investment for more productive plants at home. Super imperialism sought to extract real wealth from the colonies by paying for it with fiat dollars to sustain a balance of payments out of an imbalance in the exchange of commodities. Monetary imperialism under dollar hegemony exports debt denominated in fiat dollars through a permissive trade deficit with the new colonies, only to re-import the debt back to the US as capital account surplus to finance the US debt bubble.

The circular recycling of dollar-denominated debt was made operative by the dollar, a fiat currency that only the US can print at will, continuing as the world's prime reserve currency for international trade and finance, backed by US geopolitical superpower. Dollars are accepted universally because oil is denominated in dollars and everyone needs oil and thus needs dollars to buy oil. Any nation that seeks to denominate key commodities, such as oil, in currencies other than the dollar will soon find itself invaded by the sole superpower. Thus the war on Iraq is not about oil, as former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan suggested recently. It is about keeping oil denominated in dollars to protect dollar hegemony. The difference is subtle but of essential importance.

Since 1993, central banks of all trading nations around the world, with the exception of the US Federal Reserve, have been forced to hold more dollar reserves than they otherwise need to ward off the potential of sudden speculative attacks on their currencies in unregulated global financial markets. Thus "dollar hegemony" prevents the exporting nations, such as the Asian Tigers, from spending domestically the dollars they earn from the US trade deficit and forces them to fund the US capital account surplus, shipping real wealth to the US in exchange for the privilege of financing further growth of the US debt economy.

Not only do these exporting nations have to compete by keeping their domestic wages down and by prostituting their environment, the dollars that they earn cannot be spent at home without causing a monetary crisis in their own currencies because the dollars they earn have to be exchanged into local currencies before they can be spent domestically, causing an excessive rise in their domestic money supply which in turn causes domestic inflation-pushed bubbles. While the trade-surplus nations are forced to lend their export earnings back to the US, these same nations are starved for capital, as global capital denominated in dollars will only invest in their export sectors to earn more dollars. The domestic sector with local currency earnings remains of little interest to global capital denominated in dollars. As a result, domestic development stagnates for lack of capital.

Dollar hegemony permits the US to transform itself from a competitor in world markets to earn hard money, to a fiat-money-making monopoly with fiat dollars that only it can print at will. Every other trading nation has to exchange low-wage goods for dollars that the US alone can print freely and that can be spent only in the dollar economy without monetary penalty.

The victimization of Japan and China

Japan is a classic victim of monetary imperialism. In 1990, as a result of Japanese export prowess, the Industrial Bank of Japan was the largest bank in the world, with a market capitalization of $57 billion. The top nine of the 10 largest banks then were all Japanese, trailed by Canadian Alliance in 10th place. No US bank made the top-10 list. By 2001, the effects of dollar hegemony have pushed Citigroup into first place with a market capitalization of $260 billion. Seven of the top 10 largest financial institutions in the world in 2001 were US-based, with descending ranking in market capitalization: Citigroup ($260 billion), AIG ($209 billion), HSBC (British-$110 billion), Berkshire Hathaway ($100 billion), Bank of America ($99 billion), Fanny Mae ($80 billion), Wells Fargo ($74 billion), JP Morgan Chase ($72 billion), RBS (British-$70 billion) and UBS (Swiss-$67 billion). No Japanese bank survived on the list.

China is a neoclassic case of dollar hegemony victimization even though its domestic financial markets are still not open and the yuan is still not freely convertible. With over $1.4 trillion in foreign exchange reserves earned at a previously lower fixed exchange rate of 8.2 to a dollar set in 1985, now growing at the rate of $1 billion a day at a narrow-range floating exchange rate of around 7.5 since July 2005, China cannot spend much of it dollar holdings on domestic development without domestic inflation caused by excessive expansion of its yuan money supply. The Chinese economy is overheating because the bulk of its surplus revenue is in dollars from exports that cannot be spent inside China without monetary penalty. Chinese wages are too low to absorb sudden expansion of yuan money supply to develop the domestic economy. And with over $1.4 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, equal to its annual GDP, China cannot even divest from the dollar without having the market effect of a falling dollar moving against its remaining holdings.

The People's Bank of China announced on July 20, 2005 that effective immediately the yuan exchange rate would go up by 2.1% to 8.11 yuan to the US dollar and that China would drop the dollar peg to its currency. In its place, China would move to a "managed float" of the yuan, pegging the currency's exchange value to an undisclosed basket of currencies linked to its global trade. In an effort to limit the amount of volatility, China would not allow the currency to fluctuate by more than 0.3% in any one trading day. Linking the yuan to a basket of currencies means China's currency is relatively free from market forces acting on the dollar, shifting to market forces acting on a basket of currencies of China's key trading partners. The basket is composed of the euro, yen and other Asian currencies as well as the dollar. Though the precise composition of the basket was not disclosed, it can nevertheless be deduced by China's trade volume with key trading partners and by mathematical calculation from the set-daily exchange rate.

Thus China is trapped in a trade regime operating on an international monetary architecture in which it must continue to export real wealth in the form of underpaid labor and polluted environment in exchange for dollars that it must reinvest in the US. Ironically, the recent rise of anti-trade sentiment in US domestic politics offers China a convenient, opportune escape from dollar hegemony to reduce its dependence on export to concentrate on domestic development. Chinese domestic special interest groups in the export sector would otherwise oppose any policy to slow the growth in export if not for the rise of US protectionism which causes shot-term pain for China but long-term benefit in China's need to restructure its economy toward domestic development. Further trade surplus denominated in dollar is of no advantage to China.

Emerging markets are new colonies of monetary imperialism

Even as the domestic US economy declined after the onset of globalization in the early 1990s, US dominance in global finance has continued to this day on account of dollar hegemony. It should not be surprising that the nation that can print at will the world's reserve currency for international trade should come up on top in deregulated global financial markets. The so-called emerging markets around the world are the new colonies of monetary imperialism in a global neo-liberal trading regime operating under dollar hegemony geopolitically dominated by the US as the world's sole remaining superpower.

Denial of corporate social responsibility

In Supercapitalism, Reich identifies corporate social responsibility as a diversion from economic efficiency and an un-capitalistic illusion. Of course the late Milton Friedman had asserted that the only social responsibility of corporations is to maximize profit, rather than to generate economic well-being and balanced growth through fair profits. There is ample evidence to suggest that a single-minded quest for maximizing global corporate profit can lead to domestic economic decline in even the world's sole remaining superpower. The US public is encouraged to blame such decline on the misbehaving trading partners of the US rather than US trade policy that permits US transnational corporation to exploit workers in all trading nations, including those in the US. It is a policy that devalues work by over-rewarding financial manipulation.

Yet to Reich, the US corporate income tax is regressive and inequitable and should be abolished so that after-tax corporate profit can be even further enhanced. This pro-profit position is at odds with even rising US Republican sentiment against transnational corporations and their global trade strategies. Reich also thinks the concept of corporate criminal liability is based on an "anthropomorphic fallacy" that ends up hurting innocent people. Reich sees as inevitable an evolutionary path towards an allegedly perfect new world of a super-energetic capitalism responding to the dictate of all-powerful consumer preference through market democracy.

Reich argues that corporations cannot be expected to be more "socially responsible" than their shareholders or even their consumers, and he implies that consumer preference and behavior are the proper and effective police forces that supersede the need for market regulation. He sees corporations, while viewed by law as "legal persons", as merely value-neutral institutional respondents of consumer preferences in global markets. Reich claims that corporate policies, strategies and behavior in market capitalism are effectively governed by consumer preferences and need no regulation by government. This is essentially the ideology of neo-liberalism.

Yet US transnational corporations derive profit from global operations serving global consumers to maximize return on global capital. These transnational corporations will seek to shift production to where labor is cheapest and environmental standards are lowest and to market their products where prices are highest and consumer purchasing power the strongest. Often, these corporations find it more profitable to sell products they themselves do not make, controlling only design and marketing, leaving the dirty side of manufacturing to others with underdeveloped market power. This means if the US wants a trade surplus under the current terms of trade, it must lower it wages. The decoupling of consumers from producers weakens the conventional effects of market pressure on corporate social responsibility. Transnational corporations have no home community loyalty. Consumers generally do not care about sweat shop conditions overseas while overseas workers do not care about product safety on goods they produce but cannot afford to buy. Products may be made in China, but they are not made by China, but by US transnational corporations which are responsible for the quality and safety of their products.

Further, it is well recognized that corporations routinely and effectively manipulate consumer preference and market acceptance often through if not false, at least misleading advertising, not for the benefit of consumers, but to maximize return on faceless capital raised from global capital markets. The subliminal emphasis by the corporate culture on addictive acquisition of material things, coupled with a structural deprivation of adequate income to satisfy the manipulated desires, has made consumers less satisfied than in previous times of less material abundance. Corporations have been allowed to imbed consumption-urging messages into every aspect of modern life. The result is a disposable culture with packaged waste, an obesity crisis for all age groups, skyrocketing consumer debt, the privatization of public utilities that demand the same fee for basic services from rich and poor alike, causing a sharp disparity in affordability. It is a phenomenon described by Karl Marx as "Fetishism of Commodities".

Marx's concept of Fetishism of Commodities

Marx wrote in Das Kapital:[1]

The relation of the producers to the sum total of their own labor is presented to them as a social relation, existing not between themselves, but between the products of their labor. This is the reason why the products of labor become commodities, social things whose qualities are at the same time perceptible and imperceptible by the senses … The existence of the things qua commodities, and the value relation between the products of labor which stamps them as commodities, have absolutely no connection with their physical properties and with the material relations arising therefrom. It is a definite social relation between men that assumes, in their eyes, the fantastic form of a relation between things. In order, therefore, to find an analogy, we must have recourse to the mist-enveloped regions of the religious world. In that world, the productions of the human brain appear as independent beings endowed with life, and entering into relation both with one another and the human race. So it is in the world of commodities with the products of men's hands. This I call the Fetishism which attaches itself to the products of labor, as soon as they are produced as commodities, and which is therefore inseparable from the production of commodities. This Fetishism of Commodities has its origin … in the peculiar social character of the labor that produces them.
Marx asserts that "the mystical character of commodities does not originate in their use-value" (Section 1, p 71). Market value is derived from social relations, not from use-value which is a material phenomenon. Thus Marx critiques the Marginal Utility Theory by pointing out that market value is affected by social relationships. For example, the marginal utility of door locks is a function of the burglary rate in a neighborhood which in turn is a function of the unemployment rate. Unregulated free markets are a regime of uninhibited price gouging by monopolies and cartels.

Thus the nature of money cannot be adequately explained even in terms of the material-technical properties of gold, but only in terms of the factors behind man's desire and need for gold. Similarly, it is not possible to fully understand the price of capital from the technical nature of the means of production, but only from the social institution of private ownership and the terms of exchange imposed by uneven market power. Market capitalism is a social institution based on the fetishism of commodities.

Democracy threatened by the corporate state

While Reich is on target in warning about the danger to democracy posed by the corporate state, and in claiming that only people can be citizens, and only citizens should participate in democratic decision making, he misses the point that transnational corporations have transcended national boundaries. Yet in each community that these transnational corporations operate, they have the congenital incentive, the financial means and the legal mandate to manipulate the fetishism of commodities even in distant lands.

Moreover, representative democracy as practiced in the US is increasingly manipulated by corporate lobbying funded from high-profit-driven corporate financial resources derived from foreign sources controlled by management. Corporate governance is notoriously abusive of minority shareholder rights on the part of management. Notwithstanding Reich's rationalization of excessive CEO compensation, CEOs as a class are the most vocal proponents of corporate statehood. Modern corporations are securely insulated from any serious threats from consumer revolt. Inter-corporate competition presents only superficial and trivial choices for consumers. Motorists have never been offered any real choice on gasoline by oil companies or alternatives on the gasoline-guzzling internal combustion engine by car-makers.

High pay for CEOs

Reich asserts in his Wall Street Journal piece that modern CEOs in finance capitalism nowadays deserve their high pay because they have to be superstars, unlike their bureaucrat-like predecessors during industrial capitalism. Notwithstanding that one would expect a former labor secretary to argue that workers deserve higher pay, the challenge to corporate leadership in market capitalism has always been and will always remain management's ruthless pursuit of market leadership power, a euphemism for monopoly, by skirting the rule of law and regulations, framing legislative regimes through political lobbying, pushing down wages and worker benefits, increasing productivity by downsizing in an expanding market and manipulating consumer attitude through advertising. At the end of the day, the bottom line for corporate profit is a factor of lowering wage and benefit levels.

Reich seems to have forgotten that the captains of industry of 19th century free-wheeling capitalism were all superstars who evoked public admiration by manipulating the awed public into accepting the Horatio Alger myth of success through hard work, honesty and fairness. The derogatory term "robber barons" was first coined by protest pamphlets circulated by victimized Kansas farmers against ruthless railroad tycoons during the Great Depression.

The manipulation of the public will by moneyed interests is the most problematic vulnerability of US economic and political democracy. In an era when class warfare has taken on new sophistication, the accusation of resorting to class warfare argument is widely used to silence legitimate socio-economic protests. The US media is essentially owned by the moneyed interests. The decline of unionism in the US has been largely the result of anti-labor propaganda campaigns funded by corporations and government policies influenced by corporate lobbyists. The infiltration of organized crime was exploited to fan public anti-union sentiments while widespread corporate white collar crimes were dismissed as mere anomalies. (See Capitalism's bad apples: It's the barrel that's rotten)

Superman capitalism

As promoted by his permissive opinion piece, a more apt title for Reich's new book would be Superman Capitalism, in praise of the super-heroic qualities of successful corporate CEOs who deserve superstar pay. This view goes beyond even fascist superman ideology. The compensation of corporate CEOs in Nazi Germany never reached such obscene levels as those in US corporate land today.

Reich argues that CEOs deserve their super-high compensation, which has increased 600% in two decades, because corporate profits have also risen 600% in the same period. The former secretary of labor did not point out that wages rose only 30% in the same period. The profit/wage disparity is a growing cancer in the US-dominated global economy, causing over-production resulting from stagnant demand caused by inadequate wages. A true spokesman for labor would point out that enlightened modern management recognizes that the performance of a corporation is the sum total of effective team work between management and labor.

System analysis has long shown that collective effort on the part of the entire work force is indispensable to success in any complex organism. Further, a healthy consumer market depends on a balance between corporate earnings and worker earnings. Reich's point would be valid if US wages had risen by the same multiple as CEO pay and corporate profit, but he apparently thought that it would be poor etiquette to raise embarrassing issues as a guest writer in an innately anti-labor journal of Wall Street. Even then, unless real growth also rose 600% in two decades, the rise in corporate earning may be just an inflation bubble.

An introduction to economic populism

To be fair, Reich did address the income gap issue eight months earlier in another article, "An Introduction to Economic Populism" in the Jan-Feb, 2007 issue of The American Prospect, a magazine that bills itself as devoted to "liberal ideas". In that article, Reich relates a "philosophical" discussion he had with fellow neo-liberal cabinet member Robert Rubin, then treasury secretary under Bill Clinton, on two "simple questions".

The first question was: Suppose a proposed policy will increase the incomes of some people without decreasing the incomes of any others. Of course Reich must know that it is a question of welfare economics long ago answered by the "pareto optimum", which asserts that resources are optimally distributed when an individual cannot move into a better position without putting someone else into a worse position. In an unjust society, the pareto optimum will perpetuate injustice in the name of optimum resource allocation. "Should it be implemented? Bob and I agreed it should," writes Reich. Not exactly an earth-shaking liberal position. Rather, it is a classic neo-liberal posture.

And the second question: But suppose the people whose incomes will rise are already wealthier than everyone else. Although no one will lose ground, inequality will widen. Should it still be implemented? "I won't tell you where he and I came out on that second question," writes Reich without explaining why. He allows that "we agreed that people who don't share in such gains feel relatively poorer. Widening inequality also further tips the balance of political power in favor of the wealthy."

Of course, clear thinking would have left the second question mute because it would have invalidated the first question, as the real income of those whose nominal income has not fallen has indeed fallen relative to those whose nominal income has risen. In a macro monetary sense, it is not possible to raise the nominal income of some without lowering the real income of others. All incomes must rise together proportionally or inequality in after-inflation real income will increase.

Inequality only a new worry?

But for the sake of argument, let's go along with Reich's parable on welfare economics and financial equality. That conversation occurred a decade ago. Reich says in his January 2007 article that "inequality is far more worrisome now", as if it had not been or that the policies he and his colleagues in the Clinton administration, as evidenced by their answer to their own first question, did not cause the now "more worrisome" inequality. "The incomes of the bottom 90% of Americans have increased about 2% in real terms since then, while that of the top 1% has increased over 50%," Reich wrote in the matter of fact tone of an innocent bystander.

It is surprising that a former labor secretary would err even on the record on worker income. The US Internal Revenue Service reports that while incomes have been rising since 2002, the average income in 2005 was $55,238, nearly 1% less than in 2000 after adjusting for inflation. Hourly wage costs (including mandatory welfare contributions and benefits) grew more slowly than hourly productivity from 1993 to late 1997, the years of Reich's tenure as labor secretary. Corporate profit rose until 1997 before declining, meaning what should have gone to workers from productivity improvements went instead to corporate profits. And corporate profit declined after 1997 because of the Asian financial crisis, which reduced offshore income for all transnational companies, while domestic purchasing power remained weak because of sub-par worker income growth.

The break in trends in wages occurred when the unemployment rate sank to 5%, below the 6% threshold of NAIRU (non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment) as job creation was robust from 1993 onwards. The "reserve army of labor" in the war against inflation disappeared after the 1997 Asian crisis when the Federal Reserve injected liquidity into the US banking system to launch the debt bubble. According to NAIRU, when more than 94% of the labor force is employed, the war on wage-pushed inflation will be on the defensive. Yet while US inflation was held down by low-price imports from low-wage economies, US domestic wages fell behind productivity growth from 1993 onward. US wages could have risen without inflationary effects but did not because of the threat of further outsourcing of US jobs overseas. This caused corporate profit to rise at the expense of labor income during the low-inflation debt bubble years.

Income inequality in the US today has reached extremes not seen since the 1920s, but the trend started three decades earlier. More than $1 trillion a year in relative income is now being shifted annually from roughly 90,000,000 middle and working class families to the wealthiest households and corporations via corporate profits earned from low-wage workers overseas. This is why nearly 60% of Republicans polled support more taxes on the rich.

Carter the granddaddy of deregulation

The policies and practices responsible for today's widening income gap date back to the 1977-1981 period of the Carter administration which is justly known as the administration of deregulation. Carter's deregulation was done in the name of populism but the results were largely anti-populist. Starting with Carter, policies and practices by both corporations and government underwent a fundamental shift to restructure the US economy with an overhaul of job markets. This was achieved through widespread de-unionization, breakup of industry-wide collective bargaining which enabled management to exploit a new international division of labor at the expense of domestic workers.

The frontal assault on worker collective bargaining power was accompanied by a realigning of the progressive federal tax structure to cut taxes on the rich, a brutal neo-liberal global free-trade offensive by transnational corporations and anti-labor government trade policies. The cost shifting of health care and pension plans from corporations to workers was condoned by government policy. A wave of government-assisted compression of wages and overtime pay narrowed the wage gap between the lowest and highest paid workers (which will occur when lower-paid workers receive a relatively larger wage increase than the higher-paid workers with all workers receiving lower pay increases than managers). There was a recurring diversion of inflation-driven social security fund surpluses to the US fiscal budget to offset recurring inflation-adjusted federal deficits. This was accompanied by wholesale anti-trust deregulation and privatization of public sectors; and most egregious of all, financial market deregulation.

Carter deregulated the US oil industry four years after the 1973 oil crisis in the name of national security. His Democratic challenger, Senator Ted Kennedy, advocated outright nationalization. The Carter administration also deregulated the airlines, favoring profitable hub traffic at the expense of traffic to smaller cities. Air fares fell but service fell further. Delays became routine, frequently tripling door-to-door travel time. What consumers save in airfare, they pay dearly in time lost in delay and in in-flight discomfort. The Carter administration also deregulated trucking, which caused the Teamsters Union to support Ronald Reagan in exchange for a promise to delay trucking deregulation.

Railroads were also deregulated by Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act of 1976 which eased regulations on rates, line abandonment, and mergers to allow the industry to compete with truck and barge transportation that had caused a financial and physical deterioration of the national rail network railroads. Four years later, Congress followed up with the Staggers Rail Act of 1980 which provided the railroads with greater pricing freedom, streamlined merger timetables, expedited the line abandonment process, and allowed confidential contracts with shippers. Although railroads, like other modes of transportation, must purchase and maintain their own rolling stock and locomotives, they must also, unlike competing modes, construct and maintain their own roadbed, tracks, terminals, and related facilities. Highway construction and maintenance are paid for by gasoline taxes. In the regulated environment, recovering these fixed costs hindered profitability for the rail industry.

After deregulation, the railroads sought to enhance their financial situation and improve their operational efficiency with a mix of strategies to reduce cost and maximize profit, rather than providing needed service to passengers around the nation. These strategies included network rationalization by shedding unprofitable capacity, raising equipment and operational efficiencies by new work rules that reduced safety margins and union power, using differential pricing to favor big shippers, and pursuing consolidation, reducing the number of rail companies from 65 to 5 today. The consequence was a significant increase of market power for the merged rail companies, decreasing transportation options for consumers and increasing rates for remote, less dense areas.

In the agricultural sector, rail network rationalization has forced shippers to truck their bulk commodity products greater distances to mainline elevators, resulting in greater pressure on and damage to rural road systems. For inter-modal shippers, profit-based network rationalization has meant reduced access - physically and economically - to Container on Flat Car (COFC) and Trailer on Flat Car (TOFC) facilities and services. Rail deregulation, as is true with most transportation and communication deregulation, produces sector sub-optimization with dubious benefits for the national economy by distorting distributional balance, causing congestion and inefficient use of land, network and lines.

Carter's Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) approach to radio and television regulation began in the mid-1970s as a search for relatively minor "regulatory underbrush" that could be cleared away for more efficient and cost-effective administration of the important rules that would remain. Congress largely went along with this updating trend, and initiated a few deregulatory moves of its own to make regulation more effective and responsive to contemporary conditions.

Reagan's anti-government fixation

The Reagan administration under Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Mark Fowler in 1981 shifted deregulation to a fundamental and ideologically-driven reappraisal of regulations away from long-held principles central to national broadcasting policy appropriate for a democratic society. The result was removal of many longstanding rules to permit an overall reduction in FCC oversight of station ownership concentration and network operations. Congress grew increasingly wary of the pace of deregulation, however, and began to slow the pace of FCC deregulation by the late 1980s.

Specific deregulatory moves included (a) extending television licenses to five years from three in 1981; (b) expanding the number of television stations any single entity could own from seven in 1981 to 12 in 1985, with further changes in 1995; (c) abolishing guidelines for minimal amounts of non-entertainment programming in 1985; (d) elimination of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987; (e) dropping, in 1985, FCC license guidelines for how much advertising could be carried; (f) leaving technical standards increasingly in the hands of licensees rather than FCC mandates; and (g) deregulation of television's competition, especially cable which went through several regulatory changes in the decade after 1983.

The 1996 Telecommunications Act eliminated the 40-station ownership cap on radio stations. Since then, the radio industry has experienced unprecedented consolidation. In June 2003, the FCC voted to overhaul limits on media ownership. Despite having held only one hearing on the complex issue of media consolidation over a 20-month review period, the FCC, in a party-line vote, voted 3-2 to overhaul limits on media concentration. The rule would (1) increase the aggregate television ownership cap to enable one company to own stations reaching 45% of our nation's homes (from 35%), (2) lift the ban on newspaper-television cross-ownership, and (3) allow a single company to own three television stations in large media markets and two in medium ones. In the largest markets, the rule would allow a single company to own up to three television stations, eight radio stations, the cable television system, cable television stations, and a daily newspaper. A wide range of public-interest groups filed an appeal with the Third Circuit, which stayed the effective date of the new rules.

According to a BIA Financial Network report released in July 2006, a total of 88 television stations had been sold in the first six months of 2006, generating a transaction value of $15.7 billion. In 2005, the same period saw the sale of just 21 stations at a value of $244 million, with total year transactions of $2.86 billion.

Congress passed a law in 2004 that forbids any network to own a group of stations that reaches more than 39% of the national television audience. That is lower than the 45% limit set in 2003, but more than the original cap of 35% set in 1996 under the Clinton administration - leading public interest groups to argue that the proposed limits lead to a stifling of local voices.

Newspaper-television cross-ownership remains a contentious issue. Currently prohibited, it refers to the "common ownership of a full-service broadcast station and a daily newspaper when the broadcast station's area of coverage (or "contour") encompasses the newspaper's city of publication".

Capping of local radio and television ownership is another issue. While the original rule prohibited it, currently a company can own at least one television and one radio station in a market. In larger markets, "a single entity may own additional radio stations depending on the number of other independently owned media outlets in the market".

Most broadcasters and newspaper publishers are lobbying to ease or end restrictions on cross-ownership; they say it has to be the future of the news business. It allows newsgathering costs to be spread across platforms, and delivers multiple revenue streams in turn. Their argument is also tied to a rapidly changing media consumption market, and to the diversity of opinions available to the consumer with the rise of the Internet and other digital platforms.

The arguments against relaxing media ownership regulations are put forth by consumer unions and other interest groups on the ground that consolidation in any form inevitably leads to a lack of diversity of opinion. Cross-ownership limits the choices for consumers, inhibits localism and gives excessive media power to one entity.

Professional and workers' guilds of the communication industry (the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of TV and Radio Artists among others) would like the FCC to keep in mind the independent voice, and want a quarter of all prime-time programming to come from independent producers. The Children's Media Policy Coalition suggested that the FCC limit local broadcasters to a single license per market, so that there is enough original programming for children. Other interest groups like the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters are worried about what impact the rules might have on station ownership by minorities.

Deregulatory proponents see station licensees not as "public trustees" of the public airwaves requiring the provision of a wide variety of services to many different listening groups. Instead, broadcasting has been increasingly seen as just another business operating in a commercial marketplace which did not need its management decisions questioned by government overseers, even though they are granted permission to use public airways. Opponents argue that deregulation violates a key mandate of the Communications Act of 1934 which requires licensees to operate in the public interest. Deregulation allows broadcasters to seek profits with little public service programming.

Clinton and telecommunications deregulation

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was the first major overhaul of US telecommunications law in nearly 62 years, amending the Communications Act of 1934, and leading to media consolidation. It was approved by Congress on January 3, 1996 and signed into law on February 8, 1996 by President Clinton, a Democrat whom some have labeled as the best president the Republicans ever had. The act claimed to foster competition, but instead it continued the historic industry consolidation begun by Reagan, whose actions reduced the number of major media companies from around 50 in 1983 to 10 in 1996 and 6 in 2005.

Regulation Q

The Carter administration increased the power of the Federal Reserve through the Depository Institutions and Monetary Control Act (DIDMCA) of 1980 which was a necessary first step in ending the New Deal restrictions placed upon financial institutions, such as Regulation Q put in place by the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 and other restrictions on banks and financial institutions. The populist Regulation Q imposed limits and ceilings on bank and savings-and-loan (S&L) interest rates to provide funds for low-risk home mortgages. But with financial market deregulation, Regulation Q created incentives for US banks to do business outside the reach of US law, launching finance globalization. London came to dominate this offshore dollar business.

The populist Regulation Q, which regulated for several decades limits and ceilings on bank and S&L interest to serve the home mortgage sector, was phased out completely in March 1986. Banks were allowed to pay interest on checking account - the NOW accounts - to lure depositors back from the money markets. The traditional interest-rate advantage of the S&Ls was removed, to provide a "level playing field", forcing them to take the same risks as commercial banks to survive. Congress also lifted restrictions on S&Ls' commercial lending, which promptly got the whole industry into trouble that would soon required an unprecedented government bailout of depositors, with tax money. But the developers who made billions from easy credit were allowed to keep their profits. State usury laws were unilaterally suspended by an act of Congress in a flagrant intrusion on state rights. Carter, the well-intentioned populist, left a legacy of anti-populist policies. To this day, Greenspan continues to argue disingenuously that subprime mortgages helped the poor toward home ownership, instead of generating obscene profit for the debt securitization industry.

The party of Lincoln taken over by corporate interests

During the Reagan administration, corporate lobbying and electoral strategies allowed the corporate elite to wrest control of the Republican Party, the party of Lincoln, from conservative populists. In the late 1980s, supply-side economics was promoted to allow corporate interests to dominate US politics at the expense of labor by arguing that the only way labor can prosper is to let capital achieve high returns, notwithstanding the contradiction that high returns on capital must come from low wages.

New legislation and laws, executive orders, federal government rule-making, federal agency decisions, and think-tank propaganda, etc, subsequently followed the new political landscape, assisting the implementation of new corporate policies and practices emerging from corporate headquarters rather than from the shop floor. Economists and analysts who challenged this voodoo theory were largely shut out of the media. Workers by the million were persuaded to abandon their institutional collective defender to fend for themselves individually in the name of freedom. It was a freedom to see their job security eroded and wages and benefits fall with no recourse.

Note
1. Das Kapital, Volume One, Part I: Commodities and Money, Chapter One: Commodities, Section I.

Next: PART 2: Global war on labor

Henry C K Liu is chairman of a New York-based private investment group. His website is at http://www.henryckliu.com.

Copyright 2007, Henry C K Liu

Super Imperialism - New Edition: The Origin and Fundamentals of U.S. World Dominance [Paperback]

William Podmore (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Hudson is a Wall Street economist who used to work at the Chase Manhattan Bank.

In Part One, he describes the rise of the American empire.

Part Two describes its institutions: the US-controlled World Bank, the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund, which all benefit the USA. The US has the sole veto power in all three.

Part Three describes what Herman Kahn called `the greatest rip-off ever achieved', the way the US's ruling class levies us all to pay for its aggressive wars, just as the Roman Empire levied tribute to pay for its constant wars. Similarly Britain, Germany and Japan all pay for the US's military bases in their countries.

In 1945, as in 1918, Britain led Europe's capitulation to the USA's debt demands. The British ruling class chose dependency on the US ruling class. The USA insisted that Britain ended the sterling bloc, accepted IMF controls, did not impose exchange controls, and did not devalue. As Hudson writes, "The Anglo-American Loan Agreement spelled the end of Britain as a Great Power."

The 1945-51 Labour government's huge spending on unnecessary imperial, counter-revolutionary wars robbed our industry of investment. This excessive military spending meant that we had constantly to borrow from the IMF, increasing our dependence on the USA. Now Britain is the USA's Trojan horse in Europe, against Britain's interests.

Hudson immodestly claims that his analysis supersedes Lenin. He says that the US national government's interests, not the private interests of the capitalist class, drive the system. He claims that the US government subordinates `the interests of its national bourgeoisie to the autonomous interests of the national government'. But is the US government really independent of the capitalist class? How `autonomous' are these interests?...

Joshua Malle (Seattle, WA USA)

Difficult and rewarding, Hudson is the real deal, May 24, 2006

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This review is from: Super Imperialism - New Edition: The Origin and Fundamentals of U.S. World Dominanc (Paperback)

Super-Imperialism is better viewed as a radical alternative to common undergraduate textbooks such as Joan Edelman Spero's, "The Politics of International Economic Relations" than as an update to the theories of Lenin or Hobson. (His background and prose style are similar to Spero's and his book covers similar ground.)

It has three sections, each which could have been a separate book.

The 2003 Edition has a new introduction and two new chapters at the end. The rest of the book has occasional new material, but does not appear to have been extensively re-written.

It's a difficult and rewarding book. The difficulty lies partly in the subject matter itself, partly in Hudson's convoluted prose and partly in the numerous typographical errors that mar the 2003 Pluto Press edition.

The book is rewarding because it's honest. Readers educated in the U.S. will initially regard Hudson's account with some skepticism. We can't help it; We've been systematically miseducated by pro-U.S. polemics presented in an "objective" tone.

In contrast Hudson is a strident critic of the U.S. management of the global economy. But so is any reasonably objective person who is apprized of the facts. I much prefer an author who honestly tells you the real story as he understands it to one who conceals the awful truth behind an ostensibly impartial facade. But a "revisionist" has to work twice as hard to make his case, and that is why the book contains the detailed explication of what reviewer Myers calls the "intricacies of events and negotiations that gave rise to the present order."

I think an open-minded reader will be won over by Hudson's thoughtful use of contemporaneous sources (e.g. government publications and articles in the business press) and also biographical sources to illuminate how key decision makers understood the alternatives, and their motives for pursuing the policies that they did when forging the post-war economic order. As he places these choices in context it quickly becomes evident that the motives on the U.S. side have been consistently aggressive and that U.S. policy makers have all along viewed multilateral economic institutions as instruments of national policy--to the world's detriment.

Hudson also has a keen sense of the painfully narrow horizon of human foresight. The historical sections sometimes read like a conspiracy theory in which the conspirators are not very smart. E.g., Franklin Roosevelt's stubborn insistence that World War I debts be repaid prolonged the Great Depression; When J. M. Keynes was negotiating Bretton Woods for the newly elected Labour government, he got them a terrible deal; The U.S. transition to "super-imperialism" which is the main story of the book (chapters 11 through 14) was originally an unintended consequence of the huge budget and trade deficits caused by the Vietnam War.

If you are interested in "globalization" this book is an important piece of the puzzle, but it really only covers up through 1973, and it spends more time on the relationship between the U.S. and Europe than on "North-South" relations. Having said that, Ch. 8 "The Imperialism of U.S. Foreign Aid" is very good, esp. how foreign aid benefits the U.S. balance of payments and the harmful effects of U.S. agricultural exports. China is hardly mentioned.

If you are an economics student and you sense that they aren't telling you the whole story, or just a thoughtful citizen who wants to sharpen your conceptual tools for understanding and resisting the strategies of U.S. imperialism, this book is for you.

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Salty Saltillo (from the road, USA)

An awkward argument with moments of brilliance, November 3, 2004

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Hudson's historical argument in this book is both brilliant and sometimes a bit rough.

Hudson has always had a great talent for interpreting and sketching out for weaker minds like us what the US government's abandonment of the gold-standard really means. When Hudson came forward with his thesis in the mid 1970's, his thesis was outrageous among orthodox economists: to suggest that the US should be worried about the long-term consequences of running balance of payments deficits year after year, decade after decade was crazy leftist nonsense in the 1970s. As long as people continue to need the US markets more than the US needs any other one country's markets (and people still have faith in the good credit of the US government) there is no reason US could not run balance of payment deficits forever, according to the conventional wisdom.

What amazes me is that now, after having done exactly what Hudson warned the US government not to do in the 1970s, many otherwise relatively orthodox economists are beginning to worry about this. Hudson may be on the more "sky-is-falling" end of things, but his analysis was right on the nail in 1972 and is still there today: worst case scenario - massive recession and massive devaluation of the dollar (by massive I mean, unprecedented). Former US Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin was quoted in March 16, 2006 WSJ as saying that "The probabilities are extremely high that if we don't address these imbalances, then at some point, and it could be years down the road, we'll pay a very big price." We are in a limbo world where no one really knows how this problem is going to play out, but Hudson should be credited for being one of the first, and longest-running, advocates for addressing this problem. Too bad it has taken so many decades for people to recognize what he has been telling us all along about balance of payments deficits.

The rest of the argument Hudson makes in this book is a bit tough to follow, though. Essentially, Hudson attempts to show how the US has, during this century but especially since WWII, systematically sought to manipulate all of the great economic institution-building opportunities following WWII to advance the interests of the US over other countries. Coming off the gold standard and running up a balance of payments deficit was just one of many ways in which this occurred. The US largely succeeded. The GATT (now WTO), World Bank, IMF, all bear American "fingerprints".

I agree that the mega-institutions of the contemporary world economic and political machine are largely the unilateral creation of the US, imposed on the other great nations at a time when the other nations were particularly vulnerable to US force of will and not particular inclined to be heterodox visionaries. I also agree that the US in general has probably used as much leverage as it could in negotiating all of the defining institutions in which it had any hand in constructing.

And yet, how could it have been any different? National governments pursue their self-interest and the interest of their citizens, often at the expense of other national governments and their citizens. The nation-state system is set up to work that way. But is the problem really one of US bad behavior, as Hudson suggests? Isn't the problem really structural? In the nation-state world, wherein the world is divided up into pseudo-autonomous political monopolies, each individually endowed with particular strengths and weaknesses, and all pitted against each other in a laissez-faire system where the only things that keep nation-states from raping and killing each other to oblivion are, good faith and the fact that the balance of power among the nation-states is enough to keep each monopoly contained in its behavior towards the other monopolies, what sort of behavior could we have expected from the US, a nation-state that, at a series of pivotal moments in 20th century history, found itself with "golden opportunities" to take advantage of other nations' weaknesses and advance its own power? Would the French, or the Brits, or the Japanese, or the Italians, or the Germans, or the Russians have behaved any different if they found themselves holding all the cards in 1945 instead of the US?

My point is, the facts Hudson lays out are correct -- there clearly is a problem in the way in which our current world order has been put together and the US is at the middle of that problem. The conclusions Hudson draws from those facts do not go deep enough in understanding what those facts mean, however.

It isn't that the Americans behave or behaved "bad" by the standard of good behavior implicit in the nation-state system, it is that the nation-state system itself to a certain extent reflects 19th century laissez-faire values of autonomy and individuality that pit nation-states against each other in a world where each is out to improve its lot through trade and, when possible and tolerable, violence.

The system itself breaks down when one player becomes too powerful. To blame the US for the systemic problem of massive power imbalances between nation states is simply pushing any hope for correction in the wrong direction.

Samuel Brittan: The wrong kind of Third Way

FT.com / Columnists / Samuel Brittan - The wrong kind of Third Way: When a book entitled Supercapitalism: the Battle for Democracy in an Age of Big Business (Icon Books) landed on my desk I took it for just another of the many anti-capitalist diatribes so beloved by publishers. Its author was Robert Reich, a former US secretary of labour who parted company from the Clinton administration on the grounds that it was not interventionist enough. But I was glad I persevered. For it turned out to be one of the most interesting books on political economy to appear for a long time.

During the postwar decades up to the early 1970s, the Bretton Woods system of semi-fixed exchange rates worked, after a fashion; and countries seemed able to combine full employment with low inflation and historically rapid growth and diminishing income differences. Reich calls them a "not quite golden age". It was "not quite" because of the treatment of women and minorities and the prevailing conformist and authoritarian atmosphere.

It has been succeeded by what Reich calls supercapitalism, in which the cult of the bottom line has replaced the cosy oligopolies of postwar decades, once-dominant companies shrink or disappear, new ones spring up overnight and the financial sector is (or was until recently) in the driving seat. He rightly dismisses many of the popular scapegoats – or heroes – of the process. The changeover began well before Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher could influence anything. Free-market economists have been preaching essentially the same message since the 18th century. It is extremely unlikely that there has been a radical change in the psychology or morality of business operators. His own candidate is the technologies that have empowered consumers and investors to get ever better deals.

Unfortunately, many of these same consumers have lost in their capacity as citizens. He cites the failure of the political process even to attempt to correct the increasing skewness of US income distribution. In later pronouncements he has attributed the subprime loan disaster in part to the failure of supercapitalism to raise the incomes of the mass of wage earners who have been impelled to resort to borrowing as a substitute. Moreover, Congress has performed abysmally in correcting market failures in environmental and other areas. He has a non-partisan explanation: the staggering increase in business lobbying expenditures affecting Democrats as well as Republicans, as a result of which the political process, far from correcting the distortions of unbridled capitalism, has made them worse.

But for me the novel point of the book is his utter dismissal of the prevailing idea of appealing to the "social responsibility" of business to improve matters. This is a notion that particularly appeals to soft centre politicians such as David Cameron's Conservatives in Britain as a new kind of Third Way. Reich argues that it is the job of the democratic political process by laws, taxes and other interventions to harmonise the pursuit of money-making with the public good. "The job of the businessman is to make profits." He is completely unabashed by the charge that he sounds like Milton Friedman and indeed quotes the late Chicago professor approvingly several times. He argues that the so-called stakeholders who insist on being consulted before legislation is drafted are increasingly companies whose interests might be affected. One result is the "corruption of knowledge". We should beware of claims that a company is doing something for the public good. Corporate executives may donate some of their shareholders' money to a genuinely good cause or forbear from polluting the atmosphere to forestall a greater legal or fiscal burden. But in that case such actions are likely to be limited and temporary, "extending only insofar as the conditions that made such voluntary action pay off continue".

Similarly we should beware of a politician who blames a company for doing something that is legal. Such words are all too often a cover "for taking no action to change the rules of the game". Above all, "corporations are not people. They are legal fictions, nothing more than bundles of contractual agreements ... A company cannot know right from wrong ... Only people know right from wrong and only people act." One example of the "anthropomorphic fallacy" is when companies are held criminally liable for the misdeeds of their executives. Not only are the genuinely guilty let off too lightly but many innocent people get hurt. For instance, "the vast majority of Andersen employees had nothing to do with Enron but lost their jobs nonetheless".

I have two reservations. One is that I cannot share Reich's confidence that a revived and effective "democracy" would be a cure-all. You only have to see where democratic pressures are driving US energy policy. Second, there is a danger that the Friedman-Reich position could inadvertently give sustenance to the "I was only doing my job" defence for evil actions. You do not have to hold shares in a company selling arms to Saudi Arabia, or work for it. But do not deceive yourself that such individual gestures can be a substitute for a change in policy.

Supercapitalism The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life by Robert B. Reich

Amazon.com

The Balance of Capitalism and Democracy, September 17, 2007

By Izaak VanGaalen (San Francisco, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER) (REAL NAME)

This review is from: Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life (Hardcover)

According to Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, there was a time when capitalism and democracy where almost perfectly balanced. This was the period of 1945 to 1975, which he calls the "Not Quite Golden Age." During this period there was a three-way social contract among big business, big labor, and big government. Each made sure that they as well as the other two received a fair share of the pie. Unions recieved their wages and benefits, business their profits, and regulatory agencies had their power. It was also a time when the gap between the rich and the poor was the narrowest in our history. It was not quite the golden age because women and minorities were still second class citizens, but at least there was hope.

Fast forward to 2007, capitalism is thriving and democracy is sputtering. Why has capitlism become supercapitalism and democracy become enfeebled? Reich explains that it was a combination of things: deregulation, globe spanning computer networks, better transportation, etc. The changes were mainly a result of technological breakthroughs; unlike many leftists, he is not conspiratorial thinker. The winner of this great transformation was the consumer/investor and the loser was the citizen/wage earner. The consumer has more choices than ever before and at reasonable prices. The investor has unprecedented opportunities to make profits. The citzen, however, is not doing well. The average citizen does not have much voice - other than voting - in the body politic. And on the wage earner has been stagnating for many years. The most salient illustration of this trend is Walmart. Walmart delivers the goods at low prices, but the trade-off is low wages for their employees. We justify this dilemma, as Reich nicely puts it, because "The awkward truth is that most of us are of two minds."

As a left-leaning author, Reich makes some startling pronouncements. One, stop treating corporations as human beings. They are neither moral or immoral, they are merely "bundles of contracts." I couldn't agree more. Stop expecting corporations to be socially responsible, see them for what they are: profit-seeking organizations. Any socially responsible action is a ruse to bolster the bottom line anyway. Don't even encourage them to be socially responsible because it will wrongly lead us to believe that they are solving problems when they are not. Corporations play by the rules that they are given and it is up to citizens and their elected representatives to change the rules.

This is no easy task in the age of supercapitalism. There are currently 38,000 registered lobbyists in Washington DC in a virtual arms race of spending with each other to buy favors from our so-called representatives. The only way citizens can compete with this is not by hiring more lobbyists but advocating through new media outlets such as the internet and cable tv. This, according to Reich, is currently to most effective way to make government more responsive.

The question that remains, after reading this book, is will consumers be willing to sacrifice their low prices to achieve their goals as citizens. If the answer is yes, we can possibly rebalance the equation between democracy and capitalism; if not, we are left to the not so tender mercies of supercapitalism.

Robert Reich makes a compelling argument that supercapitalism has robbed democracy of much of its power. Supercapitalism by the definition presented in the book is simple--the consumer is king and prices ALWAYS go down. What Reich looks at is the cost of low prices to companies, society, the individual and its impact on the workings of democracy. So how is democracy compromised? Reich also points out that the rise of different lobbying groups, the cost of politics and globalization as contributing to this process. This isn't a surprise. It has just become more pronounced with time.

It's not due to some large conspiracy or any hidden political agenda as much as it is driven by consumption. Ultimately Reich argues that it robs the common citizen of any control over democracy. It's not surprising that this is a highly charged issue because the economics of what benefits society (or "the common good" as Reich calls it)often gets tangled up in the web of politics. Reich also points out that the cost of supercompetitiveness, constantly falling prices is a loss to the economic and social health of America. Reich points out that everyone wants to get the lowest price possible but he also suggests that we must balance that with our desire to have decent wages and benefits. He also points out that the move towards regulation was initiated by government and that corporations went along because it kept out competition and guaranteed a top and bottom for prices allowing companies to get a profit without fear of cutting prices so low that it would put them out of business.

I should point out that this is an oversimplification of Reich's points but it does capture some of the concepts. He also makes some suggestions that would help keep the free market afloat without undermining democracy and allowing consumers to still benefit from competitive pricing. Since this is economics we are discussing politics is mixed in and might color whether or not you agree with his points.

Reich's style is breezy for a book that looks at economics, democracy and the erosion of wages, benefits. Reich comes across as fair balanced and thoughtful even as he sells his take on what is undermining American society. Ultimately it's a worthwhile book to read simply because it opens up dialogue on the social cost of constantly lowering prices and how it impacts those who live next door to us

Aftershock The Next Economy and America's Future by Robert B. Reich

Amazon.com

Every middle class American should read this book. Many observations about income disparities have been written up lately but Reich pulls the important points together in a powerful and accessible way.

Reich's main thesis is that the current transition the US economy is under is misunderstood. Many of the policy elite (Geithner, Volcker) have repeated the familiar claim that Americans are living beyond their means. Personally I don't discount that completely but Reich's insight goes much deeper and rings truer:

"The problem was not that American spent beyond their means but that their means had not kept up with what the larger economy could and should have been able to provide them."

"We cannot have a sustained recovery until we address it. ... Until this transformation is made, our economy will continue to experience phantom recoveries and speculative bubbles, each more distressing than the one before."

Anyone looking at the unemployment data since WWII has to wonder why the unemployment component of the last three recessions is so prolonged. Instead of a sharp trend up, there are long slopes of delayed returns to peak employment. (Google "calculated risk blog" and look at Dec. 2010 articles.) I believe Reich has demonstrated the main culprit this. To be clear, he is not describing the detailed mechanics of what triggered the Great Recession. (Nouriel Roubini has a good book that I would recommend for more on the financial fraud, leverage and credit risks involved - Crisis Economics: A Crash Course in the Future of Finance. ) But Reich is taking a long term view and exposes a dysfunctional trait of the US economy that no one can afford to ignore. It is this weakness that will delay the current recovery and continue to create greater risks in the future.

Reich draws the parallels between the Great Depression and the Great Recession, particularly the imbalance of wealth concentrated in fewer hands and middle class workers with less income to convert into consumer demand. One of the fascinating devices he found to do this was the writings of Marriner Eccles (Fed chair between '34 to '48):

"As mass production has to be accompanied by mass consumption, mass consumption, in turn, implies a distribution of wealth - not of existing wealth, but of wealth as it is currently produced - to provide men with buying power equal to the amount of goods and services offered by the nation's economic machinery. Instead of achieving that kind of distribution, a giant suction pump had by 1929-1930 drawn into a few hands an increasing portion of currently produced wealth. This served them as capital accumulations. But by taking purchasing power out of the hands of mass consumers, the savers denied to themselves the kind of effective demand for their products that would justify a reinvestment of their capital accumulations in new plants. In consequence as in a poker game where the chips were concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the other fellows could stay in the game only by borrowing. When their credit ran out, the game stopped."

Reich also shares a couple of powerful and disturbing graphs that show how the middle class has been squeezed and also how since the late 70s, hourly wages have not only not kept up with the rise in productivity but have remained essentially flat.

Another driving theme Reich presents is the "basic bargain" and he evokes Henry Ford, the man that took mass production to new heights and paid his workers well:

"[Henry] Ford understood the basic economic bargain that lay at the heart of a modern, highly productive economy. Workers are also consumers. Their earnings are continuously recycled to buy the goods and services other workers produce. But if earnings are inadequate and this basic bargain is broken, an economy produces more goods and services than its people are capable of purchasing."

I was concerned early in the book that Reich would leave out some of the important complexities of the topic but he covered related finances, politics and even consumer/voter psychology in a succinct yet informative way. His summary of changes to the labor market in the last 30+ years was very good.

His ideas for correcting this were interesting if perhaps difficult to implement politically. My take away however was that this is a strong indicator of how bad he thinks the situation really is. Many Americans may be yearning to return to "normal". Reich is the first to thoroughly convince me that it is not going to happen.

This is a very quick read of 144 pages and is well worth the time.

Finance is a form of imperial warfare

As Michael Hudson aptly noted in Replacing Economic Democracy with Financial Oligarchy (2011)

Finance is a form of warfare. Like military conquest, its aim is to gain control of land, public infrastructure, and to impose tribute. This involves dictating laws to its subjects, and concentrating social as well as economic planning in centralized hands. This is what now is being done by financial means, without the cost to the aggressor of fielding an army. But the economies under attacked may be devastated as deeply by financial stringency as by military attack when it comes to demographic shrinkage, shortened life spans, emigration and capital flight.

This attack is being mounted not by nation states as such, but by a cosmopolitan financial class. Finance always has been cosmopolitan more than nationalistic – and always has sought to impose its priorities and lawmaking power over those of parliamentary democracies.

Like any monopoly or vested interest, the financial strategy seeks to block government power to regulate or tax it. From the financial vantage point, the ideal function of government is to enhance and protect finance capital and "the miracle of compound interest" that keeps fortunes multiplying exponentially, faster than the economy can grow, until they eat into the economic substance and do to the economy what predatory creditors and rentiers did to the Roman Empire.

Simon Johnson, former IMF Chief Economist, is coming out in May's 2009 edition of The Atlantic with a fascinating, highly provocative piece, on the collusion between the US' "financial oligarchy" and the US government and how its persistence will contribute to prolonging the economic crisis. Here is the summary (hat tip to Global Conditions):

One thing you learn rather quickly when working at the International Monetary Fund is that no one is ever very happy to see you (…)

The reason, of course, is that the IMF specializes in telling its clients what they don't want to hear.(…)

No, the real concern of the fund's senior staff, and the biggest obstacle to recovery, is almost invariably the politics of countries in crisis. (…)

Typically, these countries are in a desperate economic situation for one simple reason-the powerful elites within them overreached in good times and took too many risks. Emerging-market governments and their private-sector allies commonly form a tight-knit-and, most of the time, genteel-oligarchy, running the country rather like a profit-seeking company in which they are the controlling shareholders (…)

Many IMF programs "go off track" (a euphemism) precisely because the government can't stay tough on erstwhile cronies, and the consequences are massive inflation or other disasters. A program "goes back on track" once the government prevails or powerful oligarchs sort out among themselves who will govern-and thus win or lose-under the IMF-supported plan. (…)

In its depth and suddenness, the U.S. economic and financial crisis is shockingly reminiscent of moments we have recently seen in emerging markets (…).

(…) elite business interests-financiers, in the case of the U.S.-played a central role in creating the crisis, making ever-larger gambles, with the implicit backing of the government, until the inevitable collapse. More alarming, they are now using their influence to prevent precisely the sorts of reforms that are needed, and fast, to pull the economy out of its nosedive. The government seems helpless, or unwilling, to act against them.

Top investment bankers and government officials like to lay the blame for the current crisis on the lowering of U.S. interest rates after the dotcom bust or, even better-in a "buck stops somewhere else" sort of way-on the flow of savings out of China. Some on the right like to complain about Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, or even about longer-standing efforts to promote broader homeownership. And, of course, it is axiomatic to everyone that the regulators responsible for "safety and soundness" were fast asleep at the wheel.

But these various policies-lightweight regulation, cheap money, the unwritten Chinese-American economic alliance, the promotion of homeownership-had something in common. Even though some are traditionally associated with Democrats and some with Republicans, they all benefited the financial sector. Policy changes that might have forestalled the crisis but would have limited the financial sector's profits-such as Brooksley Born's now-famous attempts to regulate credit-default swaps at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, in 1998-were ignored or swept aside.

The financial industry has not always enjoyed such favored treatment. But for the past 25 years or so, finance has boomed, becoming ever more powerful. The boom began with the Reagan years, and it only gained strength with the deregulatory policies of the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.

(…) the American financial industry gained political power by amassing a kind of cultural capital-a belief system. Once, perhaps, what was good for General Motors was good for the country. Over the past decade, the attitude took hold that what was good for Wall Street was good for the country. (…)

One channel of influence was, of course, the flow of individuals between Wall Street and Washington. Robert Rubin, once the co-chairman of Goldman Sachs, served in Washington as Treasury secretary under Clinton, and later became chairman of Citigroup's executive committee. Henry Paulson, CEO of Goldman Sachs during the long boom, became Treasury secretary under George W.Bush. John Snow, Paulson's predecessor, left to become chairman of Cerberus Capital Management, a large private-equity firm that also counts Dan Quayle among its executives. Alan Greenspan, after leaving the Federal Reserve, became a consultant to Pimco, perhaps the biggest player in international bond markets.

A whole generation of policy makers has been mesmerized by Wall Street, always and utterly convinced that whatever the banks said was true (…).

By now, the princes of the financial world have of course been stripped naked as leaders and strategists-at least in the eyes of most Americans. But as the months have rolled by, financial elites have continued to assume that their position as the economy's favored children is safe, despite the wreckage they have caused (…)

Throughout the crisis, the government has taken extreme care not to upset the interests of the financial institutions, or to question the basic outlines of the system that got us here. In September 2008, Henry Paulson asked Congress for $700 billion to buy toxic assets from banks, with no strings attached and no judicial review of his purchase decisions. Many observers suspected that the purpose was to overpay for those assets and thereby take the problem off the banks' hands-indeed, that is the only way that buying toxic assets would have helped anything. Perhaps because there was no way to make such a blatant subsidy politically acceptable, that plan was shelved.

Instead, the money was used to recapitalize banks, buying shares in them on terms that were grossly favorable to the banks themselves. As the crisis has deepened and financial institutions have needed more help, the government has gotten more and more creative in figuring out ways to provide banks with subsidies that are too complex for the general public to understand (…)

The challenges the United States faces are familiar territory to the people at the IMF. If you hid the name of the country and just showed them the numbers, there is no doubt what old IMF hands would say: nationalize troubled banks and break them up as necessary (…)

In some ways, of course, the government has already taken control of the banking system. It has essentially guaranteed the liabilities of the biggest banks, and it is their only plausible source of capital today.

Ideally, big banks should be sold in medium-size pieces, divided regionally or by type of business. Where this proves impractical-since we'll want to sell the banks quickly-they could be sold whole, but with the requirement of being broken up within a short time. Banks that remain in private hands should also be subject to size limitations.

This may seem like a crude and arbitrary step, but it is the best way to limit the power of individual institutions in a sector that is essential to the economy as a whole. Of course, some people will complain about the "efficiency costs" of a more fragmented banking system, and these costs are real. But so are the costs when a bank that is too big to fail-a financial weapon of mass self-destruction-explodes. Anything that is too big to fail is too big to exist.

To ensure systematic bank breakup, and to prevent the eventual reemergence of dangerous behemoths, we also need to overhaul our antitrust legislation (…)

Caps on executive compensation, while redolent of populism, might help restore the political balance of power and deter the emergence of a new oligarchy. (…)

(…) Over time, though, the largest part may involve more transparency and competition, which would bring financial-industry fees down. To those who say this would drive financial activities to other countries, we can now safely say: fine".

The nature of financial oligarchy is such that the government's capacity to take control of an entire financial system, and to clean, slice it up and re-privatize it impartially is almost non-existent. Instead we have growing, potentially corrupt, collusion between financial elites and government officials which is hall mark of corporatism in this more modern form on neoliberalism.

The Great Deception

In 1998 Mark Curtis wrote The Great Deception: Anglo-American Power and World Order, a work whose stated goal was to shed light on various myths of Anglo-American power in the post-Cold War era.

Curtis attempts to demonstrate how the United Kingdom remained a key partner of the United States' effort to enforce their hegemony in the world. He analyzes what he refers to as a special relationship between the two countries and concludes that quite serious consequences exist for both states.

Trade for life

Trade for Life: Making Trade Work for Poor People is a work published in 2001. It is a strong critique of the function of international organizations, especially the World Trade Organization (WTO). Curtis analyzes the decisions taken by the WTO in developing states and concludes that these decisions were seldom without bias against the poor countries; he claims that certain of these decisions, notably certain structural adjustments, caused their intended benefactors more harm than good. Further, Curtis regrets that some rules are lacking when their need is called for, noting the relative lack of regulation checking the growth of power of multinational companies. A partner of Christian Aid in Zimbabwe has said that "the manner in which the WTO functions, is like placing an adult against a child in a boxing ring, like Manchester United against a local Zimbabwean team.

The WTO judges all countries on the same level, while they are not the same. The WTO must help create a situation where countries are more equal." This is a quotation that Mark Curtis recycles throughout his book.

Curtis concludes by saying that market forces can be used in a different, more egalitarian, manner than the one currently employed by the WTO. He believes that it could benefit developing nations if this goal was pursued.

His book was edited by ChristianAid while Mark Curtis was "Policy and Politics" Director and is freely available.

Web of Deceit

In 2003 Mark Curtis published Web of Deceit: Britain's Real Role in the World. This book has been his most successful to date. It offers a new academic approach to the role of the United Kingdom in the post 1945 world until the current the War on Terrorism. It further criticizes the foreign policy of Tony Blair. Curtis, defending the idea that Britain is a rogue state, describes various relations the United Kingdom undertook with repressive regimes and how he thinks these actions made the world less just.

Moreover, the book analyzes various recent actions of the British Army in the world, describing not only what he characterizes as the immorality of the War in Iraq, but also of the War in Afghanistan, and the Kosovo War. Curtis denounces equally strongly Britain's alliances with states he categorizes as repressive, such as Israel, Russia, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. Additionally, he details and criticizes the non-intervention of Britain in the Rwandan Genocide.

Curtis draws most of his research from recently declassified documents by the British secret service. He notably claims to demonstrate the role and complicity of the British in the massacre of millions of Indonesians in 1965, the toppling of the governments of Iran and British Guyana, and what he describes as repressive colonial policies in the former colonies of Kenya, Oman, and Malaysia.

Unpeople

In 2004, Mark Curtis published Unpeople: Britain's Secret Human Rights Abuses. This book followed a similar line of thought begun in Web of Deceit. Unpeople is based on various declassified documents from the British secret service.

Among the declassified secret service reports, Curtis asserts that the United Kingdom had given aid to Saddam Hussein in 1963 in order that he rised to power in Iraq; he further posits that the Western Powers, notably the UK, performed various arms deals with the Iraqi government while the Iraqi government was involved in the brutal aggression against the Kurdish community. Curtis asserts that these documents further indict the British government in their role played in the Vietnam War, the coup d'État against Idi Amin in 1971, the coup d'État against Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973, and coups in Indonesia and Guyana.

Mark Curtis estimates that approximately ten million deaths throughout the world since 1945 have been caused by the United Kingdom's foreign policy.

Alliance of transnational elites

From Amazon review of Blowback The Costs and Consequences of American Empire Chalmers Johnson

But Johnson is relying on the idea that "America" is a unitary entity, so that the hollowing out of industry hurts "America", not specific social groups within the country. In reality, US foreign policymakers work to advance the interests not of "America", but of those same business elites that have benefited from turning Asia into the world's sweatshop and undermining the unions that built their strength on American industry. American economic imperialism is not a failed conspiracy against the people of Asia, but an alliance between American elites and their Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, and Chinese counterparts - against the potential power of the working majority in all those countries.

But it's more complex than that, too, since the US seeks to prevent the emergence of an independent military challenge (especially China, but also Japan) to its Asia hegemony while seeking to expand the power of American commercial interests in the region, even as it tries to keep Asian elites happy enough with the status quo to prevent their rebellion against it.

In other words, the US system in Asia is more complicated than Johnson conveys, and defending America's mythical "national interests" will never address its fundamental injustices.

While Johnson seems to have abundant sympathy for the people of Asia, his nationalist framework prevents his from proposing the only real challenge to American hegemony: a popular anti-imperialist movement that crosses the barriers of nation-states.

Imperialism 101 by Micjael Parenti

Imperialism 101 By Michael Parenti

By Michael Parenti

24 June, 2011
Michaelparenti.org

Imperialism has been the most powerful force in world history over the last four or five centuries, carving up whole continents while oppressing indigenous peoples and obliterating entire civilizations. Yet, it is seldom accorded any serious attention by our academics, media commentators, and political leaders. When not ignored outright, the subject of imperialism has been sanitized, so that empires become "commonwealths," and colonies become "territories" or "dominions" (or, as in the case of Puerto Rico, "commonwealths" too). Imperialist military interventions become matters of "national defense," "national security," and maintaining "stability" in one or another region. In this book I want to look at imperialism for what it really is.

Across the Entire Globe

By "imperialism" I mean the process whereby the dominant politico-economic interests of one nation expropriate for their own enrichment the land, labor, raw materials, and markets of another people.The earliest victims of Western European imperialism were other Europeans. Some 800 years ago, Ireland became the first colony of what later became known as the British empire. A part of Ireland still remains under British occupation. Other early Caucasian victims included the Eastern Europeans. The people Charlemagne worked to death in his mines in the early part of the ninth century were Slavs. So frequent and prolonged was the enslavement of Eastern Europeans that "Slav" became synonymous with servitude. Indeed, the word "slave" derives from "Slav." Eastern Europe was an early source of capital accumulation, having become wholly dependent upon Western manufactures by the seventeenth century.

A particularly pernicious example of intra-European imperialism was the Nazi aggression during World War II, which gave the German business cartels and the Nazi state an opportunity to plunder the resources and exploit the labor of occupied Europe, including the slave labor of concentration camps.

The preponderant thrust of the European, North American, and Japanese imperial powers has been directed against Africa, Asia, and Latin America. By the nineteenth century, they saw the Third World as not only a source of raw materials and slaves but a market for manufactured goods. By the twentieth century, the industrial nations were exporting not only goods but capital, in the form of machinery, technology, investments, and loans. To say that we have entered the stage of capital export and investment is not to imply that the plunder of natural resources has ceased. If anything, the despoliation has accelerated.

Of the various notions about imperialism circulating today in the United States, the dominant view is that it does not exist. Imperialism is not recognized as a legitimate concept, certainly not in regard to the United States. One may speak of "Soviet imperialism" or "nineteenth-century British imperialism" but not of U.S. imperialism. A graduate student in political science at most universities in this country would not be granted the opportunity to research U.S. imperialism, on the grounds that such an undertaking would not be scholarly. While many people throughout the world charge the United States with being an imperialist power, in this country persons who talk of U.S. imperialism are usually judged to be mouthing ideological blather.

The Dynamic of Capital Expansion

Imperialism is older than capitalism. The Persian, Macedonian, Roman, and Mongol empires all existed centuries before the Rothschilds and Rockefellers. Emperors and conquistadors were interested mostly in plunder and tribute, gold and glory. Capitalist imperialism differs from these earlier forms in the way it systematically accumulates capital through the organized exploitation of labor and the penetration of overseas markets. Capitalist imperialism invests in other countries, transforming and dominating their economies, cultures, and political life, integrating their financial and productive structures into an international system of capital accumulation.A central imperative of capitalism is expansion. Investors will not put their money into business ventures unless they can extract more than they invest. Increased earnings come only with a growth in the enterprise. The capitalist ceaselessly searches for ways of making more money in order to make still more money. One must always invest to realize profits, gathering as much strength as possible in the face of competing forces and unpredictable markets.

Given its expansionist nature, capitalism has little inclination to stay home. Almost 150 years ago, Marx and Engels described a bourgeoisie that "chases over the whole surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere. . . . It creates a world after its own image." The expansionists destroy whole societies. Self-sufficient peoples are forcibly transformed into disfranchised wage workers. Indigenous communities and folk cultures are replaced by mass-market, mass-media, consumer societies. Cooperative lands are supplanted by agribusiness factory farms, villages by desolate shanty towns, autonomous regions by centralized autocracies.

Consider one of a thousand such instances. A few years ago the Los Angeles Times carried a special report on the rainforests of Borneo in the South Pacific. By their own testimony, the people there lived contented lives. They hunted, fished, and raised food in their jungle orchards and groves. But their entire way of life was ruthlessly wiped out by a few giant companies that destroyed the rainforest in order to harvest the hardwood for quick profits. Their lands were turned into ecological disaster areas and they themselves were transformed into disfranchised shantytown dwellers, forced to work for subsistence wages-when fortunate enough to find employment.

North American and European corporations have acquired control of more than three-fourths of the known mineral resources of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. But the pursuit of natural resources is not the only reason for capitalist overseas expansion. There is the additional need to cut production costs and maximize profits by investing in countries with cheaper labor markets. U.S. corporate foreign investment grew 84 percent from 1985 to 1990, the most dramatic increase being in cheap-labor countries like South Korea, Taiwan, Spain, and Singapore.

Because of low wages, low taxes, nonexistent work benefits, weak labor unions, and nonexistent occupational and environmental protections, U.S. corporate profit rates in the Third World are 50 percent greater than in developed countries. Citibank, one of the largest U.S. firms, earns about 75 percent of its profits from overseas operations. While profit margins at home sometimes have had a sluggish growth, earnings abroad have continued to rise dramatically, fostering the development of what has become known as the multinational or transnational corporation. Today some four hundred transnational companies control about 80 percent of the capital assets of the global free market and are extending their grasp into the ex-communist countries of Eastern Europe.

Transnationals have developed a global production line. General Motors has factories that produce cars, trucks and a wide range of auto components in Canada, Brazil, Venezuela, Spain, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Nigeria, Singapore, Philippines, South Africa, South Korea and a dozen other countries. Such "multiple sourcing" enables GM to ride out strikes in one country by stepping up production in another, playing workers of various nations against each other in order to discourage wage and benefit demands and undermine labor union strategies.

Not Necessary, Just Compelling

Some writers question whether imperialism is a necessary condition for capitalism, pointing out that most Western capital is invested in Western nations, not in the Third World. If corporations lost all their Third World investments, they argue, many of them could still survive on their European and North American markets. In response, one should note that capitalism might be able to survive without imperialism-but it shows no inclination to do so. It manifests no desire to discard its enormously profitable Third World enterprises. Imperialism may not be a necessary condition for investor survival but it seems to be an inherent tendency and a natural outgrowth of advanced capitalism. Imperial relations may not be the only way to pursue profits, but they are the most lucrative way.Whether imperialism is necessary for capitalism is really not the question. Many things that are not absolutely necessary are still highly desirable, therefore strongly preferred and vigorously pursued. Overseas investors find the Third World's cheap labor, vital natural resources, and various other highly profitable conditions to be compellingly attractive. Superprofits may not be necessary for capitalism's survival but survival is not all that capitalists are interested in. Superprofits are strongly preferred to more modest earnings. That there may be no necessity between capitalism and imperialism does not mean there is no compelling linkage.

The same is true of other social dynamics. For instance, wealth does not necessarily have to lead to luxurious living. A higher portion of an owning class's riches could be used for investment rather personal consumption. The very wealthy could survive on more modest sums but that is not how most of them prefer to live. Throughout history, wealthy classes generally have shown a preference for getting the best of everything. After all, the whole purpose of getting rich off other people's labor is to live well, avoiding all forms of thankless toil and drudgery, enjoying superior opportunities for lavish life-styles, medical care, education, travel, recreation, security, leisure, and opportunities for power and prestige. While none of these things are really "necessary," they are fervently clung to by those who possess them-as witnessed by the violent measures endorsed by advantaged classes whenever they feel the threat of an equalizing or leveling democratic force.

Myths of Underdevelopment

The impoverished lands of Asia, Africa, and Latin America are known to us as the "Third World," to distinguish them from the "First World" of industrialized Europe and North America and the now largely defunct "Second World" of communist states. Third World poverty, called "underdevelopment," is treated by most Western observers as an original historic condition. We are asked to believe that it always existed, that poor countries are poor because their lands have always been infertile or their people unproductive. In fact, the lands of Asia, Africa, and Latin America have long produced great treasures of foods, minerals and other natural resources. That is why the Europeans went through all the trouble to steal and plunder them. One does not go to poor places for self-enrichment. The Third World is rich. Only its people are poor-and it is because of the pillage they have endured.

The process of expropriating the natural resources of the Third World began centuries ago and continues to this day. First, the colonizers extracted gold, silver, furs, silks, and spices, then flax, hemp, timber, molasses, sugar, rum, rubber, tobacco, calico, cocoa, coffee, cotton, copper, coal, palm oil, tin, iron, ivory, ebony, and later on, oil, zinc, manganese, mercury, platinum, cobalt, bauxite, aluminum, and uranium. Not to be overlooked is that most hellish of all expropriations: the abduction of millions of human beings into slave labor.

Through the centuries of colonization, many self-serving imperialist theories have been spun. I was taught in school that people in tropical lands are slothful and do not work as hard as we denizens of the temperate zone. In fact, the inhabitants of warm climates have performed remarkably productive feats, building magnificent civilizations well before Europe emerged from the Dark Ages. And today they often work long, hard hours for meager sums. Yet the early stereotype of the "lazy native" is still with us. In every capitalist society, the poor-both domestic and overseas-regularly are blamed for their own condition.

We hear that Third World peoples are culturally retarded in their attitudes, customs, and technical abilities. It is a convenient notion embraced by those who want to depict Western investments as a rescue operation designed to help backward peoples help themselves. This myth of "cultural backwardness" goes back to ancient times, when conquerors used it to justify enslaving indigenous peoples. It was used by European colonizers over the last five centuries for the same purpose.

What cultural supremacy could by claimed by the Europeans of yore? From the fifteenth to nineteenth centuries Europe was "ahead" in a variety of things, such as the number of hangings, murders, and other violent crimes; instances of venereal disease, smallpox, typhoid, tuberculosis, plagues, and other bodily afflictions; social inequality and poverty (both urban and rural); mistreatment of women and children; and frequency of famines, slavery, prostitution, piracy, religious massacres, and inquisitional torture. Those who claim the West has been the most advanced civilization should keep such "achievements" in mind.

More seriously, we might note that Europe enjoyed a telling advantage in navigation and armaments. Muskets and cannon, Gatling guns and gunboats, and today missiles, helicopter gunships, and fighter bombers have been the deciding factors when West meets East and North meets South. Superior firepower, not superior culture, has brought the Europeans and Euro-North Americans to positions of supremacy that today are still maintained by force, though not by force alone.

It was said that colonized peoples were biologically backward and less evolved than their colonizers. Their "savagery" and "lower" level of cultural evolution were emblematic of their inferior genetic evolution. But were they culturally inferior? In many parts of what is now considered the Third World, people developed impressive skills in architecture, horticulture, crafts, hunting, fishing, midwifery, medicine, and other such things. Their social customs were often far more gracious and humane and less autocratic and repressive than anything found in Europe at that time. Of course we must not romanticize these indigenous societies, some of which had a number of cruel and unusual practices of their own. But generally, their peoples enjoyed healthier, happier lives, with more leisure time, than did most of Europe's inhabitants.

Other theories enjoy wide currency. We hear that Third World poverty is due to overpopulation, too many people having too many children to feed. Actually, over the last several centuries, many Third World lands have been less densely populated than certain parts of Europe. India has fewer people per acre-but more poverty-than Holland, Wales, England, Japan, Italy, and a few other industrial countries. Furthermore, it is the industrialized nations of the First World, not the poor ones of the Third, that devour some 80 percent of the world's resources and pose the greatest threat to the planet's ecology.

This is not to deny that overpopulation is a real problem for the planet's ecosphere. Limiting population growth in all nations would help the global environment but it would not solve the problems of the poor-because overpopulation in itself is not the cause of poverty but one of its effects. The poor tend to have large families because children are a source of family labor and income and a support during old age.

Frances Moore Lappe and Rachel Schurman found that of seventy Third World countries, there were six-China, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Chile, Burma, and Cuba-and the state of Kerala in India that had managed to lower their birth rates by one third. They enjoyed neither dramatic industrial expansion nor high per capita incomes nor extensive family planning programs. The factors they had in common were public education and health care, a reduction of economic inequality, improvements in women's rights, food subsidies, and in some cases land reform. In other words, fertility rates were lowered not by capitalist investments and economic growth as such but by socio-economic betterment, even of a modest scale, accompanied by the emergence of women's rights.

Artificially Converted to Poverty

What is called "underdevelopment" is a set of social relations that has been forcefully imposed on countries. With the advent of the Western colonizers, the peoples of the Third World were actually set back in their development sometimes for centuries. British imperialism in India provides an instructive example. In 1810, India was exporting more textiles to England than England was exporting to India. By 1830, the trade flow was reversed. The British had put up prohibitive tariff barriers to shut out Indian finished goods and were dumping their commodities in India, a practice backed by British gunboats and military force. Within a matter of years, the great textile centers of Dacca and Madras were turned into ghost towns. The Indians were sent back to the land to raise the cotton used in British textile factories. In effect, India was reduced to being a cow milked by British financiers. By 1850, India's debt had grown to 53 million pounds. From 1850 to 1900, its per capita income dropped by almost two-thirds. The value of the raw materials and commodities the Indians were obliged to send to Britain during most of the nineteenth century amounted yearly to more than the total income of the sixty million Indian agricultural and industrial workers. The massive poverty we associate with India was not that country's original historical condition. British imperialism did two things: first, it ended India's development, then it forcibly underdeveloped that country.

Similar bleeding processes occurred throughout the Third World. The enormous wealth extracted should remind us that there originally were few really poor nations. Countries like Brazil, Indonesia, Chile, Bolivia, Zaire, Mexico, Malaysia, and the Philippines were and sometimes still are rich in resources. Some lands have been so thoroughly plundered as to be desolate in all respects. However, most of the Third World is not "underdeveloped" but overexploited. Western colonization and investments have created a lower rather than a higher living standard.

Referring to what the English colonizers did to the Irish, Frederick Engels wrote in 1856: "How often have the Irish started out to achieve something, and every time they have been crushed politically and industrially. By consistent oppression they have been artificially converted into an utterly impoverished nation." So with most of the Third World. The Mayan Indians in Guatemala had a more nutritious and varied diet and better conditions of health in the early 16th century before the Europeans arrived than they have today. They had more craftspeople, architects, artisans, and horticulturists than today. What is called underdevelopment is not an original historical condition but a product of imperialism's superexploitation. Underdevelopment is itself a development.

Imperialism has created what I have termed "maldevelopment": modern office buildings and luxury hotels in the capital city instead of housing for the poor, cosmetic surgery clinics for the affluent instead of hospitals for workers, cash export crops for agribusiness instead of food for local markets, highways that go from the mines and latifundios to the refineries and ports instead of roads in the back country for those who might hope to see a doctor or a teacher.

Wealth is transferred from Third World peoples to the economic elites of Europe and North America (and more recently Japan) by direct plunder, by the expropriation of natural resources, the imposition of ruinous taxes and land rents, the payment of poverty wages, and the forced importation of finished goods at highly inflated prices. The colonized country is denied the freedom of trade and the opportunity to develop its own natural resources, markets, and industrial capacity. Self-sustenance and self-employment gives way to wage labor. From 1970 to 1980, the number of wage workers in the Third World grew from 72 million to 120 million, and the rate is accelerating.

Hundreds of millions of Third World peoples now live in destitution in remote villages and congested urban slums, suffering hunger, disease, and illiteracy, often because the land they once tilled is now controlled by agribusiness firms who use it for mining or for commercial export crops such as coffee, sugar, and beef, instead of growing beans, rice, and corn for home consumption. A study of twenty of the poorest countries, compiled from official statistics, found that the number of people living in what is called "absolute poverty" or rockbottom destitution, the poorest of the poor, is rising 70,000 a day and should reach 1.5 billion by the year 2000 (San Francisco Examiner, June 8, 1994).

Imperialism forces millions of children around the world to live nightmarish lives, their mental and physical health severely damaged by endless exploitation. A documentary film on the Discovery Channel (April 24, 1994) reported that in countries like Russia, Thailand, and the Philippines, large numbers of minors are sold into prostitution to help their desperate families survive. In countries like Mexico, India, Colombia, and Egypt, children are dragooned into health-shattering, dawn-to-dusk labor on farms and in factories and mines for pennies an hour, with no opportunity for play, schooling, or medical care.

In India, 55 million children are pressed into the work force. Tens of thousands labor in glass factories in temperatures as high as 100 degrees. In one plant, four-year-olds toil from 5 o'clock in the morning until the dead of night, inhaling fumes and contracting emphysema, tuberculosis, and other respiratory diseases. In the Philippines and Malaysia corporations have lobbied to drop age restrictions for labor recruitment. The pursuit of profit becomes a pursuit of evil.

Development Theory

When we say a country is "underdeveloped," we are implying that it is backward and retarded in some way, that its people have shown little capacity to achieve and evolve. The negative connotations of "underdeveloped" has caused the United Nations, the Wall Street Journal, and parties of various political persuasion to refer to Third World countries as "developing" nations, a term somewhat less insulting than "underdeveloped" but equally misleading. I prefer to use "Third World" because "developing" seems to be just a euphemistic way of saying "underdeveloped but belatedly starting to do something about it." It still implies that poverty was an original historic condition and not something imposed by the imperialists. It also falsely suggests that these countries are developing when actually their economic conditions are usually worsening.The dominant theory of the last half century, enunciated repeatedly by writers like Barbara Ward and W. W. Rostow and afforded wide currency in the United States and other parts of the Western world, maintains that it is up to the rich nations of the North to help uplift the "backward" nations of the South, bringing them technology and teaching them proper work habits. This is an updated version of "the White man's burden," a favorite imperialist fantasy.

According to the development scenario, with the introduction of Western investments, the backward economic sectors of the poor nations will release their workers, who then will find more productive employment in the modern sector at higher wages. As capital accumulates, business will reinvest its profits, thus creating still more products, jobs, buying power, and markets. Eventually a more prosperous economy evolves.

This "development theory" or "modernization theory," as it is sometimes called, bears little relation to reality. What has emerged in the Third World is an intensely exploitive form of dependent capitalism. Economic conditions have worsened drastically with the growth of transnational corporate investment. The problem is not poor lands or unproductive populations but foreign exploitation and class inequality. Investors go into a country not to uplift it but to enrich themselves.

People in these countries do not need to be taught how to farm. They need the land and the implements to farm. They do not need to be taught how to fish. They need the boats and the nets and access to shore frontage, bays, and oceans. They need industrial plants to cease dumping toxic effusions into the waters. They do not need to be convinced that they should use hygienic standards. They do not need a Peace Corps Volunteer to tell them to boil their water, especially when they cannot afford fuel or have no access to firewood. They need the conditions that will allow them to have clean drinking water and clean clothes and homes. They do not need advice about balanced diets from North Americans. They usually know what foods best serve their nutritional requirements. They need to be given back their land and labor so that they might work for themselves and grow food for their own consumption.

The legacy of imperial domination is not only misery and strife, but an economic structure dominated by a network of international corporations which themselves are beholden to parent companies based in North America, Europe and Japan. If there is any harmonization or integration, it occurs among the global investor classes, not among the indigenous economies of these countries. Third World economies remain fragmented and unintegrated both between each other and within themselves, both in the flow of capital and goods and in technology and organization. In sum, what we have is a world economy that has little to do with the economic needs of the world's people.

Neoimperialism: Skimming the Cream

Sometimes imperial domination is explained as arising from an innate desire for domination and expansion, a "territorial imperative." In fact, territorial imperialism is no longer the prevailing mode. Compared to the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when the European powers carved up the world among themselves, today there is almost no colonial dominion left. Colonel Blimp is dead and buried, replaced by men in business suits. Rather than being directly colonized by the imperial power, the weaker countries have been granted the trappings of sovereignty-while Western finance capital retains control of the lion's share of their profitable resources. This relationship has gone under various names: "informal empire," "colonialism without colonies," "neocolonialism," and "neoimperialism. "U.S. political and business leaders were among the earliest practitioners of this new kind of empire, most notably in Cuba at the beginning of the twentieth century. Having forcibly wrested the island from Spain in the war of 1898, they eventually gave Cuba its formal independence. The Cubans now had their own government, constitution, flag, currency, and security force. But major foreign policy decisions remained in U.S. hands as did the island's wealth, including its sugar, tobacco, and tourist industries, and major imports and exports.

Historically U.S. capitalist interests have been less interested in acquiring more colonies than in acquiring more wealth, preferring to make off with the treasure of other nations without bothering to own and administer the nations themselves. Under neoimperialism, the flag stays home, while the dollar goes everywhere - frequently assisted by the sword.

After World War II, European powers like Britain and France adopted a strategy of neoimperialism. Left financially depleted by years of warfare, and facing intensified popular resistance from within the Third World itself, they reluctantly decided that indirect economic hegemony was less costly and politically more expedient than outright colonial rule. They discovered that the removal of a conspicuously intrusive colonial rule made it more difficult for nationalist elements within the previously colonized countries to mobilize anti-imperialist sentiments.

Though the newly established government might be far from completely independent, it usually enjoyed more legitimacy in the eyes of its populace than a colonial administration controlled by the imperial power. Furthermore, under neoimperialism the native government takes up the costs of administering the country while the imperialist interests are free to concentrate on accumulating capital-which is all they really want to do.

After years of colonialism, the Third World country finds it extremely difficult to extricate itself from the unequal relationship with its former colonizer and impossible to depart from the global capitalist sphere. Those countries that try to make a break are subjected to punishing economic and military treatment by one or another major power, nowadays usually the United States.

The leaders of the new nations may voice revolutionary slogans, yet they find themselves locked into the global capitalist orbit, cooperating perforce with the First World nations for investment, trade, and aid. So we witnessed the curious phenomenon of leaders of newly independent Third World nations denouncing imperialism as the source of their countries' ills, while dissidents in these countries denounced these same leaders as collaborators of imperialism.

In many instances a comprador class emerged or was installed as a first condition for independence. A comprador class is one that cooperates in turning its own country into a client state for foreign interests. A client state is one that is open to investments on terms that are decidedly favorable to the foreign investors. In a client state, corporate investors enjoy direct subsidies and land grants, access to raw materials and cheap labor, light or nonexistent taxes, few effective labor unions, no minimum wage or child labor or occupational safety laws, and no consumer or environmental protections to speak of. The protective laws that do exist go largely unenforced.

In all, the Third World is something of a capitalist paradise, offering life as it was in Europe and the United States during the nineteenth century, with a rate of profit vastly higher than what might be earned today in a country with strong economic regulations. The comprador class is well recompensed for its cooperation. Its leaders enjoy opportunities to line their pockets with the foreign aid sent by the U.S. government. Stability is assured with the establishment of security forces, armed and trained by the United States in the latest technologies of terror and repression. Still, neoimperialism carries risks. The achievement of de jure independence eventually fosters expectations of de facto independence. The forms of self rule incite a desire for the fruits of self rule. Sometimes a national leader emerges who is a patriot and reformer rather than a comprador collaborator. Therefore, the changeover from colonialism to neocolonialism is not without risks for the imperialists and represents a net gain for popular forces in the world.

Chapter 1 of Against Empire by Michael Parenti

Michael Parenti is an internationally known award-winning author and lecturer. He is one of the nation's leading progressive political analysts. His highly informative and entertaining books and talks have reached a wide range of audiences in North America and abroad. http://www.michaelparenti.org/


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[Jan 25, 2020] You Think Americans Really Give A Fk About Ukraine - Pompeo Flips Out On NPR Reporter

How tank maintenance mechanical engineer and military contractor who got into congress pretending to belong to tea party can became the Secretary of state? Only in America ;-)
Jan 25, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com
"You Think Americans Really Give A F**k About Ukraine?" - Pompeo Flips Out On NPR Reporter by Tyler Durden Sat, 01/25/2020 - 15:05 0 SHARES

Democrats' impeachment proceedings were completely overshadowed this week by the panic over the Wuhan coronavirus. Still, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is clearly tired of having his character repeatedly impugned by the Dems and the press claiming he hung one of his ambassadors out to dry after she purportedly resisted the administration's attempts to pressure Ukraine.

That frustration came to a head this week when, during a moment of pique, Secretary Pompeo launched into a rant and swore at NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly after she wheedled him about whether he had taken concrete steps to protect former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

House Democrats last week released a trove of messages between Giuliani associate Lev Parnas and Connecticut Republican Congressional candidate Robert Hyde. The messages suggested that Yovanovitch might have been under surveillance before President Trump recalled her to Washington. One of the messages seems to reference a shadowy character able to "help" with Yovanovitch for "a price."

Kelly recounted the incident to her listeners (she is the host of "All Things Considered")

After Kelly asked Pompeo to specify exactly what he had done or said to defend Yovanovitch, whom Pompeo's boss President Trump fired last year, Pompeo simply insisted that he had "done what's right" with regard to Yovanovitch, while becoming visibly annoyed.

Once the interview was over, Pompeo glared at Kelly for a minute, then left the room, telling an aide to bring Kelly into another room at the State Department without her recorder, so they could have more privacy.

Once inside, Pompeo launched into what Kelly described as an "expletive-laden rant", repeatedly using the "f-word." Pompeo complained about the questions about Ukraine, arguing that the interview was supposed to be about Iran.

"Do you think Americans give a f--k about Ukraine?" Pompeo allegedly said.

The outburst was followed by a ridiculous stunt: one of Pompeo's staffers pulled out a blank map and asked the reporter to identify Ukraine, which she did.

"People will hear about this," Pompeo vaguely warned.

Ironically, Pompeo is planning to travel to Kiev this week.

The questions came after Michael McKinley, a former senior adviser to Pompeo, told Congress that he resigned after the secretary apparently ignored his pleas for the department to show some support for Yovanovitch.

Listen to the interview here. A transcript can be found here .

NPR's Mary Louise Kelly says the following happened after the interview in which she asked some tough questions to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. pic.twitter.com/cRTb71fZvX

-- Daniel Dale (@ddale8) January 24, 2020

Last we checked, the team at NPR is waiting on Pompeo to apologize

Mike Pompeo Does in fact owe Yovanovitch an apology https://t.co/imazFrG3Q6

-- Molly Jong-Fast (@MollyJongFast) January 25, 2020

We suspect they might be waiting a while...


CarteroAtómico , 5 minutes ago link

He's right. American don't give a **** about Ukraine. But why did Clinton and Obama and now Trump and Pompeo? Why are they spending our money there instead of either taking care of problems here or paying off the national debt?

MOLONAABE , 8 minutes ago link

The best thing that could happen to the Ukraine is for Russia to take it back.. they would clean up that train wreck of a country... they've proven themselves as to being the scumbags they are gypsies and grifters...

Goodsport 1945 , 11 minutes ago link

The Bidens do, so there must be $omething very attractive over there.

carman , 13 minutes ago link

He's right. Nobody cares about Ukraine. NPR= National Propaganda Radio.

CarteroAtómico , 1 minute ago link

But why are Trump and Pompeo continuing the policy of Obama and Clinton there? Remember Trump said he would pay off the national debt in 8 years? How about stop spending our money on the War Party's foreign interventions for a starter.

kindasketchy , 17 minutes ago link

I wish the same level of questioning was directed at Pompeo regarding Syria and Iran. You may like his response because of the particular topic, but it doesn't change the fact that he's a psycho neo-con fucktard who should be shot for treason.

Collectivism Killz , 21 minutes ago link

Truth. Most Americans know nothing about Ukraine, some just know orange man bad and orange man bad for Ukr

roach clipper , 21 minutes ago link

I despise fkn traitor Pompus from USMA (traitor training school) but in this case he doesn't owe yovanobitch anything.

morefunthanrum , 27 minutes ago link

People care about a secretary of state who supports his diplomats...about a president whose not a lying conniving spoiled piece of ****

roach clipper , 22 minutes ago link

There are NO diplomats in the Dept. of State, otherwise we wouldn't have been at war all century.

[Jan 25, 2020] Pompeo Crumbles Under Pressure

Jan 25, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo participates in a press conference with U.S. President Donald J. Trump during the NATO Foreign Ministerial in Brussels on July 12, 2018. (State Department photo/ Public Domain)

January 24, 2020

|

9:21 pm

Daniel Larison Mike Pompeo has proven to be a blowhard and a bully in his role as Secretary of State, and nothing seems to bother him more than challenging questions from professional journalists. All of those flaws and more were on display during and after his interview with NPR's Mary Louise Kelly today. After abruptly ending the interview when pressed on his failure to defend members of the Foreign Service, Pompeo then threw a fit and berated the reporter who asked him the questions:

Immediately after the questions on Ukraine, the interview concluded. Pompeo stood, leaned in and silently glared at Kelly for several seconds before leaving the room.

A few moments later, an aide asked Kelly to follow her into Pompeo's private living room at the State Department without a recorder. The aide did not say the ensuing exchange would be off the record.

Inside the room, Pompeo shouted his displeasure at being questioned about Ukraine. He used repeated expletives, according to Kelly, and asked, "Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?" He then said, "People will hear about this."

People are certainly hearing about it, and their unanimous judgment is that it confirms Pompeo's reputation as an obnoxious, thin-skinned excuse for a Secretary of State. Kelly's questions were all reasonable and fair, but Pompeo is not used to being pressed so hard to give real answers. We have seen his short temper and condescension before when other journalists have asked him tough questions, and he seems particularly annoyed when the journalists calling him out are women. Pompeo probably has the worst working relationship with the press of any Secretary of State in decades, and this episode will make it worse.

When Pompeo realized he wouldn't be able to get away with his standard set of vacuous talking points and lies, he ended the conversation. The entire interview is worth reading to appreciate how poorly Pompeo performs when he is forced to explain how failing administration policies are "working." When pressed on his untrue claims that "maximum pressure" on Iran is "working," all that he could do was repeat himself robotically:

QUESTION: My question, again: How do you stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon?

SECRETARY POMPEO: We'll stop them.

QUESTION: How?

SECRETARY POMPEO: We'll stop them.

QUESTION: Sanctions?

SECRETARY POMPEO: We'll stop them.

Kelly refused to accept pat, meaningless responses, and she kept insisting that Pompeo provide something, anything, to back up his assertions. This is how administration officials should always be interviewed, and it is no surprise that the Secretary of State couldn't handle being challenged to back up his claims. The questions wouldn't have been that hard to answer if Pompeo were willing to be honest or the least bit humble, but that isn't how he operates. He sees every interview as an opportunity to snow the interviewer under with nonsense and to score points with the president, and giving honest answers would get in the way of both.

The section at the end concerned Pompeo's failure to stand up for State Department officials, especially Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine. Since Pompeo's support for these officials has been abysmal, there was nothing substantive that he could say about it and tried to filibuster his way out of it. To her credit, Kelly was persistent in trying to pin him down and make him address the issue. He had every chance to explain himself, but instead he fell back on defensive denials that persuade no one:

QUESTION: Sir, respectfully, where have you defended Marie Yovanovitch?

SECRETARY POMPEO: I've defended every single person on this team. I've done what's right for every single person on this team.

QUESTION: Can you point me toward your remarks where you have defended Marie Yovanovitch?

SECRETARY POMPEO: I've said all I'm going to say today. Thank you. Thanks for the repeated opportunity to do so; I appreciate that.

Pompeo could have defended Yovanovitch and other officials that have come under attack, but to do that would be to risk Trump's ire and it would require him to show the slightest bit of courage. In the end, his "swagger" is all talk and his rhetoric about supporting his "team" at State is meaningless. Pompeo made a fool of himself in this interview, and it is perfectly in keeping with his angry, brittle personality that he took out his frustrations by yelling at the reporter who exposed him as the vacuous blowhard that he is.

about the author Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC , where he also keeps a solo blog . He has been published in the New York Times Book Review , Dallas Morning News , World Politics Review , Politico Magazine , Orthodox Life , Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week . He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter . email


Clyde Schechter 17 hours ago
Wow! She did a great interview there. Really a model for what all reporters should be doing.

Thanks for bringing this to light, Mr. Larison.

SFBay1949 16 hours ago • edited
I don't suppose you'll be interviewing Pompeo any time soon Daniel. I very much appreciate your being so honest about what you see and hear.
K squared 14 hours ago
Left out was the part when pompeo had one of his minions bring out a blank world map and challenged her to find the Ukraine which she immediately did - i wonder if trump could find it
FL_Cottonmouth K squared 7 hours ago
That's hilarious.
John Mann K squared 2 hours ago
Apparently, Pompeo has suggested Kelly had pointed to Bangladesh, not Ukraine, on the map, and commented "It is worth noting that Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine."

I don't suppose we are ever likely to see conclusive evidence that will establish for certain where she pointed.

It's probably just a matter of looking at their respective records of lying, cheating, and stealing, and making a guess based on that.

stephen pickard 5 hours ago
My God, can he get any worse. I suppose so since his boss always falls to a lower level. There is no bottom. Just admit that everyday brings a new low. Only thing surprising is that we get surprised at their despicable behavior.
Jeff Dickey stephen pickard 3 hours ago
That's the problem with Trump henchmen: they can always get worse. There is no bottom, for to have a limit below which the henchmen will not go would embarrass the Capo di Tutti Capi for blowing through it on the way down. Henchmen have bills to pay, too, you know, just like people.
stephen pickard Jeff Dickey an hour ago
As I said awhile back, lies are debts that must be repaid.
FL_Cottonmouth 4 hours ago
Looming over her and leering down at her? What a creep!
Jonah 3 hours ago
I'm sorry, is the "conservative" in the name of this blog some kind of parody? You all sure sound like liberal democrats. Never been here before, won't be coming back.

Oh, and you forgot about the part where Pompeo came ready to discuss one topic, which was agreed to beforehand, and the interviewer transitioned to a new topic. And the way she did so was to ask Pompeo if he owed Marie Yanokovich an apology. Yes, riveting journalism devoid of partisan bias. Lol! But it was Pompeo. Right.

Jonah Jonah 3 hours ago
To the person who down voted me, I don't care. Honestly I'm glad you butthurt whiners have a place to share your hurt feelings. Maybe if you're lucky Joe Biden will be President soon and you can all rejoice that "decency" is back, or something.
SFBay1949 Jonah 3 hours ago
Apparently Pompeo can only keep so many talking points in his head. One topic only. Are we to believe the Secretary of State can't expound on more than a single subject? It must be true, otherwise he wouldn't go around insisting he will only talk about one subject during an interview. I expect he won't be getting many invites for interviews outside of FOX. Just as well, he's a bag of hot air anyway.
Sandra Jonah 2 hours ago
I think there are many conservatives writing and commenting on this site. But perhaps you are confusing "conservative" with "republican". There is little conservatism left in the republican party.
Awake and Uttering a Song Jonah an hour ago
"...Pompeo came ready to discuss one topic, which was agreed to beforehand, and the interviewer transitioned to a new topic."

Oh, the humanity!

Secretary Pompous couldn't just give a little chuckle and say something like "Now, now. You know we agreed to talk only on one topic, so let's get together on another day to discuss other topics". ?

Just another guy in power who is too full of himself.

sglover Jonah 20 minutes ago
It's terrible when the citizenry goes off-script, isn't it?
ChrisD 2 hours ago
Pompeo just tweeted this statement about the NPR interview::

Personan0ngrata an hour ago
QUESTION: My question, again: How do you stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon?

Italicized/bold text was excerpted from the website www.dni.gov within a US National Intelligence Estimate published in Nov2007 titled:

Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities

ANSWER: Key Judgements

A. We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program; we also assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons. We judge with high confidence that the halt, and Tehran's announcement of its decision to suspend its declared uranium enrichment program and sign an Additional Protocol to its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Safeguards Agreement, was directed primarily in response to increasing international scrutiny and pressure resulting from exposure of Iran's previously undeclared nuclear work.

https://www.dni.gov/files/d...

Italicized/bold text was excerpted from the website fas.org a report published (updated 20Dec2019) by the Congressional Research Service titled:

Page 53, 2nd paragraph -

Iran's Nuclear Program: Status

Director of National Intelligence Coats reiterated the last sentence in May 2017 testimony.330He testified in January 2019 that the U.S. intelligence community "continue[s] to assess that Iran is not currently undertaking the key nuclear weapons-development activities we judge necessary to produce a nuclear device." Subsequent statements from U.S. officials indicate that Iran has not resumed its nuclear weapons program. According to an August 2019 State Department report, the "U.S. Intelligence Community assesses that Iran is not currently undertaking the key nuclear weapons development activities judged necessary to produce a nuclear device." Any decision to produce nuclear weapons "will be made by the Supreme Leader," Clapper stated in April 2013.

https://fas.org/sgp/crs/nuk...

[Jan 25, 2020] Aftermath: The Iran War After the Soleimani Assassination by Jim Kavanagh

Notable quotes:
"... It always goes to Iran ..."
"... But even I was flabbergasted by what Trump did. Absolutely gobsmacked. Killing Qassem Soleimani, Iranian general, leader of the Quds forces, and the most respected military leader in the Middle East? And ..."
"... The first thing, the thing that is so sad and so infuriating and so centrally symptomatic of everything wrong with American political culture, is that, with painfully few exceptions, Americans have no idea of what their government has done. They have no idea who Qassem Soleimani was, what he has accomplished, the web of relationships, action, and respect he has built, what his assassination means and will bring. The last person who has any clue about this, of course, is Donald Trump, who called Soleimani " a total monster ." His act of killing Soleimani is the apotheosis of the abysmal, arrogant ignorance of U.S. political culture. ..."
"... Washington Post ..."
"... Whatever their elected governments say, we'll will keep our army in Syria to "take the oil," and in Iraq to well, to do whatever the hell we want. ..."
"... Sure, we make the rules and you follow our orders. ..."
"... with nobody even noticing ..."
"... Christian Science Monitor ..."
"... under Trump's leadership ..."
Jan 24, 2020 | www.counterpunch.org

"Praise be to God, who made our enemies fools."

Ayatollah Khamenei

The Killing

I've been writing and speaking for months about the looming danger of war with Iran, often to considerable skepticism.

In June, in an essay entitled " Eve of Destruction: Iran Strikes Back ," after the U.S. initiated its "maximum pressure" blockade of Iranian oil exports, I pointed out that "Iran considers that it is already at war," and that the downing of the U.S. drone was a sign that "Iran is calling the U.S. bluff on escalation dominance."

In an October essay , I pointed out that Trump's last-minute calling off of the U.S. attack on Iran in June, his demurral again after the Houthi attack on Saudi oil facilities, and his announced withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria were seen as "catastrophic" and "a big win for Iran" by the Iran hawks in Israel and America whose efforts New York Times (NYT) detailed in an important article, " The Secret History of the Push to Strike Iran ." I said, with emphasis, " It always goes to Iran ," and underlined that Trump's restraint was particularly galling to hard-line zionist Republican Senators, and might have opened a path to impeachment. I cited the reported statement of a "veteran political consultant" that "The price of [Lindsey] Graham's support would be an eventual military strike on Iran."

And in the middle of December, I went way out on a limb, in an essay suggesting a possible relation between preparations for war in Iran and the impeachment process. I pointed out that the strategic balance of forces between Israel and Iran had reached the point where Israel thinks it's "necessary to take Iran down now ," in "the next six months," before the Iranian-supported Axis of Resistance accrues even more power. I speculated that the need to have a more reliable and internationally-respected U.S. President fronting a conflict with Iran might be the unseen reason -- behind the flimsy Articles of Impeachment -- that explains why Pelosi and Schumer "find it so urgent to replace Trump before the election and why they think they can succeed in doing that."

So, I was the guy chicken-littling about impending war with Iran.

But even I was flabbergasted by what Trump did. Absolutely gobsmacked. Killing Qassem Soleimani, Iranian general, leader of the Quds forces, and the most respected military leader in the Middle East? And Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, Iraqi commander of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) unit, Kataib Hezbollah? Did not see that coming. Rage. Fear. Sadness. Anxiety. A few days just to register that it really happened. To see the millions of people bearing witness to it. Yes, that happened.

Then there was the anxious anticipation about the Iranian response, which came surprisingly quickly, and with admirable military and political precision, avoiding a large-scale war in the region, for the moment.

That was the week that was.

But, as the man said: "It ain't over 'til it's over." And it ain't over. Recognizing the radical uncertainty of the world we now live in, and recognizing that its future will be determined by actors and actions far away from the American leftist commentariat, here's what I need to say about the war we are now in.

The first thing, the thing that is so sad and so infuriating and so centrally symptomatic of everything wrong with American political culture, is that, with painfully few exceptions, Americans have no idea of what their government has done. They have no idea who Qassem Soleimani was, what he has accomplished, the web of relationships, action, and respect he has built, what his assassination means and will bring. The last person who has any clue about this, of course, is Donald Trump, who called Soleimani " a total monster ." His act of killing Soleimani is the apotheosis of the abysmal, arrogant ignorance of U.S. political culture.

It's virtually impossible to explain to Americans because there is no one of comparable stature in the U.S. or in the West today. As Iran cleric Shahab Mohadi said , when talking about what a "proportional response" might be: "[W]ho should we consider to take out in the context of America? 'Think about it. Are we supposed to take out Spider-Man and SpongeBob? 'All of their heroes are cartoon characters -- they're all fictional." Trump? Lebanese Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah said what many throughout the world familiar with both of them would agree with: "the shoe of Qassem Soleimani is worth the head of Trump and all American leaders."

To understand the respect Soleimani has earned, not only in Iran (where his popularity was around 80% ) but throughout the region and across political and sectarian lines, you have to know how he led and organized the forces that helped save Christians , Kurds , Yazidis and others from being slaughtered by ISIS, while Barack Obama and John Kerry were still " watching " ISIS advance and using it as a tool to "manage" their war against Assad.

In an informative interview with Aaron Maté, Former Marine Intelligence Officer and weapons inspector, Scott Ritter, explains how Soleimani is honored in Iraq for organizing the resistance that saved Baghdad from being overrun by ISIS -- and the same could be said of Syria, Damascus, or Ebril:

He's a legend in Iran, in Iraq, and in Syria. And anywhere where, frankly speaking, he's operated, the people he's worked with view him as one of the greatest leaders, thinkers, most humane men of all time. I know in America we demonize him as a terrorist but the fact is he wasn't, and neither is Mr. Mohandes.

When ISIS [was] driving down on the city of Baghdad, the U.S. armed and trained Iraqi Army had literally thrown down their weapons and ran away, and there was nothing standing between ISIS and Baghdad

[Soleimani] came in from Iran and led the creation of the PMF [Popular Mobilization Forces] as a viable fighting force and then motivated them to confront Isis in ferocious hand-to-hand combat in villages and towns outside of Baghdad, driving Isis back and stabilizing the situation that allowed the United States to come in and get involved in the Isis fight. But if it weren't for Qassem Soleimani and Mohandes and Kataib Hezbollah, Baghdad might have had the black flag of ISIS flying over it. So the Iraqi people haven't forgotten who stood up and defended Baghdad from the scourge of ISIS.

So, to understand Soleimani in Western terms, you'd have to evoke someone like World War II Eisenhower (or Marshall Zhukov, but that gets another blank stare from Americans.) Think I'm exaggerating? Take it from the family of the Shah :

Beyond his leadership of the fight against ISIS, you also have to understand Soleimani's strategic acumen in building the Axis of Resistance -- the network of armed local groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon as well as the PMF in Iraq, that Soleimani helped organize and provide with growing military capability. Soleimani meant standing up; he helped people throughout the region stand up to the shit the Americans, Israelis, and Saudis were constantly dumping on them

More apt than Eisenhower and De Gaulle, in world-historical terms, try something like Saladin meets Che. What a tragedy, and travesty, it is that legend-in-his-own-mind Donald Trump killed this man.

Dressed to Kill

But it is not just Trump, and not just the assassination of Soleimani, that we should focus on. These are actors and events within an ongoing conflict with Iran, which was ratcheted up when the U.S. renounced the nuclear deal (JCPOA – Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) and instituted a "maximum pressure" campaign of economic and financial sanctions on Iran and third countries, designed to drive Iran's oil exports to zero.

The purpose of this blockade is to create enough social misery to force Iran into compliance, or provoke Iran into military action that would elicit a "justifiable" full-scale, regime-change -- actually state-destroying -- military attack on the country.

From its inception, Iran has correctly understood this blockade as an act of war, and has rightfully expressed its determination to fight back. Though it does not want a wider war, and has so far carefully calibrated its actions to avoid making it necessary, Iran will fight back however it deems necessary.

The powers-that-be in Iran and the U.S. know they are at war, and that the Soleimani assassination ratcheted that state of war up another significant notch; only Panglossian American pundits think the "w" state is yet to be avoided. Sorry, but the United States drone-bombed an Iranian state official accompanied by an Iraqi state official, in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi Prime Minister, on a conflict-resolution mission requested by Donald Trump himself. In anybody's book, that is an act of war -- and extraordinary treachery, even in wartime, the equivalent of shooting someone who came to parley under a white flag.

Indeed, we now know that the assassination of Soleimani was only one of two known assassination attempts against senior Iranian officers that day. There was also an unsuccessful strike targeting Abdul Reza Shahlai, another key commander in Iran's Quds Force who has been active in Yemen. According to the Washington Post , this marked a "departure for the Pentagon's mission in Yemen, which has sought to avoid direct involvement" or make "any publicly acknowledged attacks on Houthi or Iranian leaders in Yemen."

Of course, because it's known as "the world's worst humanitarian crisis," the Pentagon wants to avoid "publicly" bloodying its hands in the Saudi war in Yemen. Through two presidential administrations, it has been trying to minimize attention to its indispensable support of, and presence in, Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen with drone strikes , special forces operations , refueling of aircraft, and intelligence and targeting. It's such a nasty business that even the U.S. Congress passed a bipartisan resolution to end U.S. military involvement in that war, which was vetoed by Trump.

According to the ethic and logic of American exceptionalism, Iran is forbidden from helping the Houthis, but the U.S. is allowed to assassinate their advisors and help the Saudis bomb the crap out of them.

So, the Trump administration is clearly engaged in an organized campaign to take out senior Iranian leaders, part of what it considers a war against Iran. In this war, the Trump administration no longer pretends to give a damn about any fig leaf of law or ethics. Nobody takes seriously the phony "imminence" excuse for killing Soleimani, which even Trump say s "doesn't matter," or the "bloody hands" justification, which could apply to any military commander. And let's not forget: Soleimani was " talking about bad stuff ."

The U.S. is demonstrating outright contempt for any framework of respectful international relations, let alone international law. National sovereignty? Democracy? Whatever their elected governments say, we'll will keep our army in Syria to "take the oil," and in Iraq to well, to do whatever the hell we want. "Rules-based international order"? Sure, we make the rules and you follow our orders.

The U.S.'s determination to stay in Iraq, in defiance of the explicit, unequivocal demand of the friendly democratic government that the U.S. itself supposedly invaded the country to install, is particularly significant. It draws the circle nicely. It demonstrates that the Iraq war isn't over. Because it, and the wars in Libya and Syria, and the war that's ratcheting up against Iran are all the same war that the U.S. has been waging in the Middle East since 2003. In the end is the beginning, and all that.

We're now in the endgame of the serial offensive that Wesley Clark described in 2007, starting with Iraq and "finishing off" with Iran. Since the U.S. has attacked, weakened, divided, or destroyed every other un-coopted polity in the region (Iraq, Syria, Libya) that could pose any serious resistance to the predations of U.S. imperialism and Israel colonialism, it has fallen to Iran to be the last and best source of material and military support which allows that resistance to persist.

And Iran has taken up the task, through the work of the Quds Force under leaders like Soleimani and Shahlai, the work of building a new Axis of Resistance with the capacity to resist the dictates of Israel and the U.S. throughout the region. It's work that is part of a war and will result in casualties among U.S. and U.S.-allied forces and damage to their "interests."

What the U.S. (and its wards, Israel and Saudi Arabia) fears most is precisely the kind of material, technical, and combat support and training that allows the Houthis to beat back the Saudis and Americans in Yemen, and retaliate with stunningly accurate blows on crucial oil facilities in Saudi Arabia itself. The same kind of help that Soleimani gave to the armed forces of Syria and the PMF in Iraq to prevent those countries from being overrun and torn apart by the U.S. army and its sponsored jihadis, and to Hezbollah in Lebanon to deter Israel from demolishing and dividing that country at will.

It's that one big "endless" war that's been waged by every president since 2003, which American politicians and pundits have been scratching their heads and squeezing their brains to figure out how to explain, justify (if it's their party's President in charge), denounce (if it's the other party's POTUS), or just bemoan as "senseless." But to the neocons who are driving it and their victims -- it makes perfect sense and is understood to have been largely a success. Only the befuddled U.S. media and the deliberately-deceived U.S. public think it's "senseless," and remain enmired in the cock-up theory of U.S. foreign policy, which is a blindfold we had better shed before being led to the next very big slaughter.

The one big war makes perfect sense when one understands that the United States has thoroughly internalized Israel's interests as its own. That this conflation has been successfully driven by a particular neocon faction, and that it is excessive, unnecessary and perhaps disruptive to other effective U.S. imperial possibilities, is demonstrated precisely by the constant plaint from non-neocon, including imperialist, quarters that it's all so "senseless."

The result is that the primary object of U.S. policy (its internalized zionist imperative) in this war is to enforce that Israel must be able, without any threat of serious retaliation, to carry out any military attack on any country in the region at any time, to seize any territory and resources (especially water) it needs, and, of course, to impose any level of colonial violence against Palestinians -- from home demolitions, to siege and sniper killings (Gaza), to de jure as well as de facto apartheid and eventual further mass expulsions, if deems necessary.

That has required, above all, removing -- by co-option, regime change, or chaotogenic sectarian warfare and state destruction -- any strong central governments that have provided political, diplomatic, financial, material, and military support for the Palestinian resistance to Israeli colonialism. Iran is the last of those, has been growing in strength and influence, and is therefore the next mandatory target.

For all the talk of "Iranian proxies," I'd say, if anything, that the U.S., with its internalized zionist imperative, is effectively acting as Israel's proxy.

It's also important, I think, to clarify the role of Saudi Arabia (KSA) in this policy. KSA is absolutely a very important player in this project, which has been consistent with its interests. But its (and its oil's) influence on the U.S. is subsidiary to Israel's, and depends entirely on KSA's complicity with the Israeli agenda. The U.S. political establishment is not overwhelmingly committed to Saudi/Wahhabi policy imperatives -- as a matter, they think, of virtue -- as they are to Israeli/Zionist ones. It is inconceivable that a U.S. Vice-President would declare "I am a Wahhabi," or a U.S. President say "I would personally grab a rifle, get in a ditch, and fight and die" for Saudi Arabia -- with nobody even noticing . The U.S. will turn on a dime against KSA if Israel wants it; the reverse would never happen. We have to confront the primary driver of this policy if we are to defeat it, and too many otherwise superb analysts, like Craig Murray, are mistaken and diversionary, I think, in saying things like the assassination of Soleimani and the drive for war on Iran represent the U.S. " doubling down on its Saudi allegiance ." So, sure, Israel and Saudi Arabia. Batman and Robin.

Iran has quite clearly seen and understood what's unfolding, and has prepared itself for the finale that is coming its way.

The final offensive against Iran was supposed to follow the definitive destruction of the Syrian Baathist state, but that project was interrupted (though not yet abandoned) by the intervention of Syria's allies, Russia and Iran -- the latter precisely via the work of Soleimani and the Quds Force.

Current radical actions like the two assassination strikes against Iranian Quds Force commanders signal the Trump administration jumping right to the endgame, as that neocon hawks have been " agitating for ." The idea -- borrowed, perhaps from Israel's campaign of assassinating Iranian scientists -- is that killing off the key leaders who have supplied and trained the Iranian-allied networks of resistance throughout the region will hobble any strike from those networks if/when the direct attack on Iran comes.

Per Patrick Lawrence , the Soleimani assassination "was neither defensive nor retaliatory: It reflected the planning of the administration's Iran hawks, who were merely awaiting the right occasion to take their next, most daring step toward dragging the U.S. into war with Iran." It means that war is on and it will get worse fast.

It is crucial to understand that Iran is not going to passively submit to any such bullying. It will not be scared off by some "bloody nose" strike, followed by chest-thumping from Trump, Netanyahu, or Hillary about how they will " obliterate " Iran. Iran knows all that. It also knows, as I've said before , how little damage -- especially in terms of casualties -- Israel and the U.S. can take. It will strike back. In ways that will be calibrated as much as possible to avoid a larger war, but it will strike back.

Iran's strike on Ain al-Asad base in Iraq was a case in point. It was preceded by a warning through Iraq that did not specify the target but allowed U.S. personnel in the country to hunker down. It also demonstrated deadly precision and determination, hitting specific buildings where U.S. troops work, and, we now know, causing at least eleven acknowledged casualties.

Those casualties were minor, but you can bet they would have been the excuse for a large-scale attack, if the U.S. had been entirely unafraid of the response. In fact, Trump did launch that attack over the downing of a single unmanned drone -- and Pompeo and the neocon crew, including Republican Senators, were " stunned " that he called it off in literally the last ten minutes . It's to the eternal shame of what's called the "left" in this country that we may have Tucker Carlson to thank for Trump's bouts of restraint.

There Will Be Blood

But this is going to get worse, Pompeo is now threatening Iran's leaders that "any attacks by them, or their proxies of any identity, that harm Americans, our allies, or our interests will be answered with a decisive U.S. response." Since Iran has ties of some kind with most armed groups in the region and the U.S. decides what "proxy" and "interests" means, that means that any act of resistance to the U.S., Israel, or other "ally" by anybody -- including, for example, the Iraqi PMF forces who are likely to retaliate against the U.S. for killing their leader -- will be an excuse for attacking Iran. Any anything. Call it an omnibus threat.

The groundwork for a final aggressive push against Iran began back in June, 2017, when, under then-Director Pompeo, the CIA set up a stand-alone Iran Mission Center . That Center replaced a group of "Iran specialists who had no special focus on regime change in Iran," because "Trump's people wanted a much more focused and belligerent group." The purpose of this -- as of any -- Mission Center was to "elevate" the country as a target and "bring to bear the range of the agency's capabilities, including covert action" against Iran. This one is especially concerned with Iran's "increased capacity to deliver missile systems" to Hezbollah or the Houthis that could be used against Israel or Saudi Arabia, and Iran's increased strength among the Shia militia forces in Iraq. The Mission Center is headed by Michael D'Andrea, who is perceived as having an "aggressive stance toward Iran." D'Andrea, known as "the undertaker" and " Ayatollah Mike ," is himself a convert to Islam, and notorious for his "central role in the agency's torture and targeted killing programs."

This was followed in December, 2017, by the signing of a pact with Israel "to take on Iran," which took place, according to Israeli television, at a "secret" meeting at the White House. This pact was designed to coordinate "steps on the ground" against "Tehran and its proxies." The biggest threats: "Iran's ballistic missile program and its efforts to build accurate missile systems in Syria and Lebanon," and its activity in Syria and support for Hezbollah. The Israelis considered that these secret "dramatic understandings" would have "far greater impact" on Israel than Trump's more public and notorious recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli's capital.

The Iran Mission Center is a war room. The pact with Israel is a war pact.

The U.S. and Israeli governments are out to "take on" Iran. Their major concerns, repeated everywhere, are Iran's growing military power, which underlies its growing political influence -- specifically its precision ballistic missile and drone capabilities, which it is sharing with its allies throughout the region, and its organization of those armed resistance allies, which is labelled "Iranian aggression."

These developments must be stopped because they provide Iran and other actors the ability to inflict serious damage on Israel. They create the unacceptable situation where Israel cannot attack anything it wants without fear of retaliation. For some time, Israel has been reluctant to take on Hezbollah in Lebanon, having already been driven back by them once because the Israelis couldn't take the casualties in the field. Now Israel has to worry about an even more battle-hardened Hezbollah, other well-trained and supplied armed groups, and those damn precision missiles . One cannot overstress how important those are, and how adamant the U.S. and Israel are that Iran get rid of them. As another Revolutionary Guard commander says : "Iran has encircled Israel from all four sides if only one missile hits the occupied lands, Israeli airports will be filled with people trying to run away from the country."

This campaign is overseen in the U.S. by the likes of " praying for war with Iran " Christian Zionists Mike Pompeo and Mike Pence, who together " urged " Trump to approve the killing of Soleimani. Pence, whom the Democrats are trying to make President, is associated with Christians United For Israel (CUFI), which paid for his and his wife's pilgrimage to Israel in 2014, and is run by lunatic televangelist John Hagee, whom even John McCain couldn't stomach. Pompeo, characterized as the "brainchild" of the assassination, thinks Trump was sent by God to save Israel from Iran. (Patrick Lawrence argues the not-implausible case that Pompeo and Defense Secretary Esper ordered the assassination and stuck Trump with it.) No Zionists are more fanatical than Christian Zionists. These guys are not going to stop.

And Iran is not going to surrender. Iran is no longer afraid of the escalation dominance game. Do not be fooled by peace-loving illusions -- propagated mainly now by mealy-mouthed European and Democratic politicians -- that Iran will return to what's described as "unconditional" negotiations, which really means negotiating under the absolutely unacceptable condition of economic blockade, until the U.S. gets what it wants. Not gonna happen. Iran's absolutely correct condition for any negotiation with the U.S. is that the U.S. return to the JCPOA and lift all sanctions.

Also not gonna happen, though any real peace-loving Democratic candidate would specifically and unequivocally commit to doing just that if elected. The phony peace-loving poodles of Britain, France, and Germany (the EU3) have already cast their lot with the aggressive American policy, triggering a dispute mechanism that will almost certainly result in a " snapback " of full UN sanctions on Iran within 65 days, and destroy the JCPOA once and for all. Because, they, too, know Iran's nuclear weapons program is a fake issue and have "always searched for ways to put more restrictions on Iran, especially on its ballistic missile program." Israel can have all the nuclear weapons it wants, but Iran must give up those conventional ballistic missiles. Cannot overstate their importance.

Iran is not going to submit to any of this. The only way Iran is going to part with its ballistic missiles is by using them. The EU3 maneuver will not only end the JCPOA, it may drive Iran out of the Nuclear Weapons Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). As Moon of Alabama says, the EU3 gambit is "not designed to reach an agreement but to lead to a deeper conflict" and ratchet the war up yet another notch. The Trump administration and its European allies are -- as FDR did to Japan -- imposing a complete economic blockade that Iran will have to find a way to break out of. It's deliberately provocative, and makes the outbreak of a regional/world war more likely. Which is its purpose.

This certainly marks the Trump administration as having crossed a war threshold the Obama administration avoided. Credit due to Obama for forging ahead with the JCPOA in the face of fierce resistance from Netanyahu and his Republican and Democratic acolytes, like Chuck Schumer. But that deal itself was built upon false premises and extraordinary conditions and procedures that -- as the current actions of the EU3 demonstrate -- made it a trap for Iran.

With his Iran policy, as with Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, what Trump is doing -- and can easily demonstrate -- is taking to its logical and deadly conclusion the entire imperialist-zionist conception of the Middle East, which all major U.S. politicians and media have embraced and promulgated over decades, and cannot abandon.

With the Soleimani assassination, Trump both allayed some of the fears of Iran war hawks in Israel and the U.S. about his "reluctance to flex U.S. military muscle" and re-stoked all their fears about his impulsiveness, unreliability, ignorance, and crassness. As the the Christian Science Monitor reports, Israel leaders are both "quick to praise" his action and "having a crisis of confidence" over Trump's ability to "manage" a conflict with Iran -- an ambivalence echoed in every U.S. politician's "Soleimani was a terrorist, but " statement.

Trump does exactly what the narrative they all promote demands, but he makes it look and sound all thuggish and scary. They want someone whose rhetorical finesse will talk us into war on Iran as a humanitarian and liberating project. But we should be scared and repelled by it. The problem isn't the discrepancy in Trump between actions and attitudes, but the duplicity in the fundamental imperialist-zionist narrative. There is no "good" -- non-thuggish, non-repellent way -- way to do the catastrophic violence it demands. Too many people discover that only after it's done.

Trump, in other words, has just started a war that the U.S. political elite constantly brought us to the brink of, and some now seem desperate to avoid, under Trump's leadership . But not a one will abandon the zionist and American-exceptionalist premises that make it inevitable -- about, you know, dictating what weapons which countries can "never" have. Hoisted on their own petard. As are we all.

To be clear: Iran will try its best to avoid all-out war. The U.S. will not. This is the war that, as the NYT reports , "Hawks in Israel and America have spent more than a decade agitating for." It will start, upon some pretext, with a full-scale U.S. air attack on Iran, followed by Iranian and allied attacks on U.S. forces and allies in the region, including Israel, and then an Israeli nuclear attack on Iran -- which they think will end it. It is an incomprehensible disaster. And it's becoming almost impossible to avoid.

The best prospect for stopping it would be for Iran and Russia to enter into a mutual defense treaty right now. But that's not going to happen. Neither Russia nor China is going to fight for Iran. Why would they? They will sit back and watch the war destroy Iran, Israel, and the United States.

Happy New Year.

[Jan 25, 2020] It's Time to Get Out of Iraq by Daniel Larison

Jan 24, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com
There are massive street demonstrations in Baghdad today calling for the exit of U.S. troops from the country. The demonstrations are in response to call for protests from Muqtada al-Sadr. Estimates of the crowd size vary, but it is a huge turnout of Iraqis that wants us gone:

100's of thousands protest in Baghdad, calling for all US troops to leave Iraq, close all bases & embassies, if they don't they will be considered an occupying force. pic.twitter.com/C3CqBqpxyD

-- Ali Arouzi (@aliarouzi) January 24, 2020

Some more photos of the march by Sadrists today in Baghdad, the turnout is huge by any measure, perhaps the largest in #Baghdad so far, and perhaps the most noticeable aspect is the lack of violence and troubles despite the scale of it #IraqProtests #Iraq #US pic.twitter.com/2xXGk2dSVY

-- Farhad Alaaldin (@farhad965) January 24, 2020

Baghdad today. pic.twitter.com/RlVU5K1RnP

-- мυнαммα∂ αℓ-ωαєℓι 🇮🇶 (@muhammadalwaeli) January 24, 2020

The Trump administration has violated Iraqi sovereignty earlier this month by taking military action inside Iraq against both Iraqis militias and the Iranian government without Baghdad's consent, and their government wants our forces out of the country. Sadr has considerable influence in Iraqi politics, and he has wanted U.S. forces out for a long time. When opponents of our military presence can organize such huge popular demonstrations, it is time for us to go. The U.S. should have withdrawn from Iraq years ago, and it would have been better to leave on our own terms. Now the U.S. cannot stay without provoking armed opposition from Iraqis to our continued presence.

So far the administration position has been to threaten Iraq with punishment for upholding its own sovereignty. That's a disgraceful and imperialist position to take, and it is also an untenable one. There have been enough American wars in Iraq. Trump should yield to the Iraqi government's wishes and bring these troops home before any more Americans are injured or killed as a result of his destructive Iran policy.

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC , where he also keeps a solo blog . He has been published in the New York Times Book Review , Dallas Morning News , World Politics Review , Politico Magazine , Orthodox Life , Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week . He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter . email

ZizaNiam a day ago

AP tried to downplay the protests, reporting only 'hundreds. There must be close to a million people out there (as reported by the Baghdad Chief of Police) and the fact that Sadr and the other Iraqi Shia militias can organize this massive demonstrations proves that the assassination of Soleimani, the protector of Syria and Iraq's Christians, did absolutely nothing to drive a wedge between the various Iraqi Shia militia groups, the vast majority of which are not Iranian sponsored but true Iraqi national patriots.
Barlaam of Weimerica a day ago
There is never a bad time to leave a country that we never should have invaded and occupied. Not that I expect wisdom, common sense,or basic morality from a foreign policy establishment that formulated a strategy for the Middle East, saw that it would entail the genocide of Christians, Yezidis, and other minorities, and decided, "That's a price worth paying."

[Jan 25, 2020] Trump opened a modern Pandora box in the Middle East

Jan 25, 2020 | www.theatlantic.com

In 1958, U.S. leaders stood at the threshold of an American era in the Middle East, conflicted about whether it was worth the trouble to usher in.

... ... ...

More than half a century later, the future of the United States' military presence in the Middle East is once again up for discussion, as Iraq calls on the U.S. to end its roughly 5,000-strong troop presence in the country and Trump struggles to remove American forces from Syria and Afghanistan as well. U.S. politicians are now grappling with the possibility of a post-American period in the region.

... ... ..

And even if Trump doesn't get his way entirely, he will undoubtedly seize on additional opportunities to reduce the American military presence in the Middle East, as fed-up Americans and progressive presidential candidates push in the same direction. When Eisenhower elected to open that "Pandora's Box" back in 1958, his justification was that it would be "disastrous" if "we don't."

Perhaps nothing signals the coming post-American era in the Middle East more than the fact that so many U.S. leaders these days fear the disastrous consequences of leaving the box open.

[Jan 24, 2020] How Are Iran and the "Axis of the Resistance" Affected by the US Assassination of Soleimani by Elijah J. Magnier

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The US President Donald Trump assassinated the commander of the "Axis of the Resistance", the (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) IRGC – Quds Brigade Major General Qassem Soleimani at Baghdad airport with little consideration of the consequences of this targeted killing. It is not to be excluded that the US administration considered the assassination would reflect positively on its Middle Eastern policy. Or perhaps the US officials believed the killing of Sardar Soleimani would weaken the "Axis of the Resistance": once deprived of their leader, Iran's partners' capabilities in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen would be reduced. Is this assessment accurate? ..."
Jan 22, 2020 | www.globalresearch.ca

The US President Donald Trump assassinated the commander of the "Axis of the Resistance", the (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) IRGC – Quds Brigade Major General Qassem Soleimani at Baghdad airport with little consideration of the consequences of this targeted killing. It is not to be excluded that the US administration considered the assassination would reflect positively on its Middle Eastern policy. Or perhaps the US officials believed the killing of Sardar Soleimani would weaken the "Axis of the Resistance": once deprived of their leader, Iran's partners' capabilities in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen would be reduced. Is this assessment accurate?

A high-ranking source within this "Axis of the Resistance" said " Sardar Soleimani was the direct and fast track link between the partners of Iran and the Leader of the Revolution Sayyed Ali Khamenei. However, the command on the ground belonged to the national leaders in every single separate country. These leaders have their leadership and practices, but common strategic objectives to fight against the US hegemony, stand up to the oppressors and to resist illegitimate foreign intervention in their affairs. These objectives have been in place for many years and will remain, with or without Sardar Soleimani".

"In Lebanon, Hezbollah's Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah leads Lebanon and is the one with a direct link to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He supports Gaza, Syria, Iraq and Yemen and has a heavy involvement in these fronts. However, he leads a large number of advisors and officers in charge of running all military, social and relationship affairs domestically and regionally. Many Iranian IRGC officers are also present on many of these fronts to support the needs of the "Axis of the Resistance" members in logistics, training and finance," said the source.

In Syria, IRGC officers coordinate with Russia, the Syrian Army, the Syrian political leadership and all Iran's allies fighting for the liberation of the country and for the defeat of the jihadists who flocked to Syria from all continents via Turkey, Iraq and Jordan. These officers have worked side by side with Iraqi, Lebanese, Syrian and other nationals who are part of the "Axis of the Resistance". They have offered the Syrian government the needed support to defeat the "Islamic State" (ISIS/IS/ISIL) and al-Qaeda and other jihadists or those of similar ideologies in most of the country – with the exception of north-east Syria, which is under US occupation forces. These IRGC officers have their objectives and the means to achieve a target already agreed and in place for years. The absence of Sardar Soleimani will hardly affect these forces and their plans.

In Iraq, over 100 Iranian IRGC officers have been operating in the country at the official request of the Iraqi government, to defeat ISIS. They served jointly with the Iraqi forces and were involved in supplying the country with weapons, intelligence and training after the fall of a third of Iraq into the hands of ISIS in mid-2014. It was striking and shocking to see the Iraqi Army, armed and trained by US forces for over ten years, abandoning its positions and fleeing the northern Iraqi cities. Iranian support with its robust ideology (with one of its allies, motivating them to fight ISIS) was efficient in Syria; thus, it was necessary to transmit this to the Iraqis so they could stand, fight, and defeat ISIS.

The Lebanese Hezbollah is present in Syria and Yemen, and also in Iraq. The Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki asked Sayyed Nasrallah to provide his country with officers to stand against ISIS. Dozens of Hezbollah officers operate in Iraq and will be ready to support the Iraqis if the US forces refuse to leave the country. They will abide by and enforce the decision of the Parliament that the US must leave by end January 2021. Hezbollah's long warfare experience has resulted in painful experiences with the US forces in Lebanon and Iraq throughout several decades and has not been forgotten.

Sayyed Nasrallah, in his latest speech, revealed the presence in mid-2014 of Hezbollah officials in Kurdistan to support the Iraqi Kurds against ISIS. This was when the same Kurdish Leader Masoud Barzani announced that it was due to Iran that the Kurds received weapons to defend themselves when the US refused to help Iraq for many months after ISIS expanded its control in northern Iraq.

The Hezbollah leaders did not disclose the continuous visits of Kurdish representatives to Lebanon to meet Hezbollah officials. In fact, Iraqi Sunni and Shia officials, ministers and political leaders regularly visit Lebanon to meet Hezbollah officials and its leader. Hezbollah, like Iran, plays an essential role in easing the dialogue between Iraqis when these find it difficult to overcome their differences together.

The reason why Sayyed Nasrallah revealed the presence of his officers in Kurdistan when meeting Masoud Barzani is a clear message to the world that the "Axis of the Resistance" doesn't depend on one single person. Indeed, Sayyed Nasrallah is showing the unity which reigns among this front, with or without Sardar Soleimani. Barzani is part of Iraq, and Kurdistan expressed its readiness to abide by the decision of the Iraqi Parliament to seek the US forces' departure from the country because the Kurds are not detached from the central government but part of it.

Prior to his assassination, Sardar Soleimani prepared the ground to be followed (if killed on the battlefield, for example) and asked Iranian officials to nominate General Ismail Qaani as his replacement. The Leader of the revolution Sayyed Ali Khamenei ordered Soleimani's wish to be fulfilled and to keep the plans and objectives already in place as they were. Sayyed Khamenei, according to the source, ordered an "increase in support for the Palestinians and, in particular, to all allies where US forces are present."

Sardar Soleimani was looking for his death by his enemies and got what he wished for. He was aware that the "Axis of the Resistance" is highly aware of its objectives. Those among the "Axis of the Resistance" who have a robust internal front are well-established and on track. The problem was mainly in Iraq. But it seems the actions of the US have managed to bring Iraqi factions together- by assassinating the two commanders. Sardar Soleimani could have never expected a rapid achievement of this kind. Anti-US Iraqis are preparing this coming Friday to express their rejection of the US forces present in their country.

Sayyed Ali Khamenei , in his Friday prayers last week, the first for eight years, set up a road map for the "Axis of the Resistance": push the US forces out of the Middle East and support Palestine.

All Palestinian groups, including Hamas, were present at Sardar Soleimani's funeral in Iran and met with General Qaani who promised, "not only to continue support but to increase it according to Sayyed Khamenei's request," said the source. Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas Leader, said from Tehran: "Soleimani is the martyr of Jerusalem".

Many Iraqi commanders were present at the meeting with General Qaani. Most of these have a long record of hostility towards US forces in Iraq during the occupation period (2003-2011). Their commander, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandes, was assassinated with Sardar Soleimani and they are seeking revenge. Those leaders have enough motivation to attack the US forces, who have violated the Iraq-US training, cultural and armament agreement. At no time was the US administration given a license to kill in Iraq by the government of Baghdad.

The Iraqi Parliament has spoken: and the assassination of Sardar Soleimani has indeed fallen within the ultimate objectives of the "Axis of the Resistance". The Iraqi caretaker Prime Minister has officially informed all members of the Coalition Forces in Iraq that "their presence, including that of NATO, is now no longer required in Iraq". They have one year to leave. But that absolutely does not exclude the Iraqi need to avenge their commanders.

Palestine constitutes the second objective, as quoted by Sayyed Khamenei. We cannot exclude a considerable boost of support for the Palestinians, much more than the actually existing one. Iran is determined to support the Sunni Palestinians in their objective to have a state of their own in Palestine. The man – Soleimani – is gone and is replaceable like any other man: but the level of commitment to goals has increased. It is hard to imagine the "Axis of the Resistance" remaining idle without engaging themselves somehow in the US Presidential campaign. So, the remainder of 2020 is expected to be hot.

*

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[Jan 24, 2020] Trump Envoy Issues Death Threat to Soleimani Successor, Head of Iran's Quds Force

Jan 24, 2020 | ronpaulinstitute.org

21st Century Wire Thursday January 23, 2020
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Just when you thought that Washington could not sink any lower in the international diplomacy game, the Trump White House compounds its previous misdeed by issuing a public death threat against the successor of assassinated Quds Force General Qasem Soleimani.

Presidential US Special Envoy to Iran, Brian Hook, gave a statement to the Arabic language newspaper, Asharq al-Awsat , where he warned new General of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Esmail Ghaani, that he will end up like Soleimani should he be accused of killing any Americans, remarking that, "follows the same path of killing Americans then he will meet the same fate."

Soleimani was killed by a US drone strike on January 3 , along with senior Iraqi PMU commander, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

Hook continued saying,"We will hold the regime and its agents responsible for any attack on Americans or American interests in the region."

Hook also went on to boast that Washington's state-sponsored assassination of Soleimani has made the Middle East a safer place because it has "create a vacuum that the Regime will not be able to fill," inferring that Ghaani will not be able to marshal "Iran's agents in the region".

Hook also repeated the common talking point that Soleimani was the 'world's most dangerous terrorist' – a label which hardly corresponds with facts which clearly demonstrate that the Iranian military leader was leading the fight against ISIS and al-Qaeda in Iraq and Syria.

In the interview, Hook also used the opportunity to reinforce another State Department narrative which still claims that Iran somehow launched the September attack on Saudi Arabia's Aramco oil facilities – even though the likely culprit, Yemen's Houthi rebel forces, had already taken credit for the attack.

Reprinted with permission from 21st Century Wire .

[Jan 24, 2020] Trump adopts Biden's Iraq plan.

Jan 24, 2020 | caucus99percent.com

US seeking to carve out Sunni state as its influence in Iraq wanes

Backed into a corner and influence waning, the United States has in recent weeks been promoting a plan to create an autonomous Sunni region in western Iraq, officials from both countries told Middle East Eye.

The US efforts, the officials say, come in response to Shia Iraqi parties' attempts to expel American troops from their country.

Iraq represents a strategic land bridge between Iran and its allies in Syria, Lebanon and Palestine.

Establishing a US-controlled Sunni buffer zone in western Iraq would deprive Iran of using land routes into Syria and prevent it from reaching the eastern shores of the Mediterranean.

For Washington, the idea of carving out a Sunni region dates back to a 2007 proposition by Joe Biden, who is now vying to be the Democratic Party's presidential candidate.

Biden's plan was actually an attempt to ethnically cleanse Iraq into three distinct enclaves (because an integrated, multicultural Iraq is anathema to the US colonial divide and conquer strategy).

Across racial and religious boundaries, Iraqi politicians on Saturday bemoaned Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama's choice of running mate, known in Iraq as the author of a 2006 plan to divide the country into ethnic and sectarian enclaves.

"This choice of Biden is disappointing, because he is the creator of the idea of dividing Iraq," Salih al-Mutlaq, head of National Dialogue, one of the main Sunni Arab blocs in parliament, told Reuters.

"We rejected his proposal when he announced it, and we still reject it. Dividing the communities and land in such a way would only lead to new fighting between people over resources and borders. Iraq cannot survive unless it is unified, and dividing it would keep the problems alive for a long time."

For all his brazen denials about his Iraq involvement, one wonders whether, if Joe Biden hadn't been selected Obama's Vice President, he might have eventually been named Iraq Viceroy.

Now Trump is adopting Biden's plan.

Same as it ever was.... up 12 users have voted. --

Tom Steyer is my favorite billionaire. Let's eat him last.

OzoneTom on Fri, 01/24/2020 - 1:51pm

All of Iraq was a Sunni buffer zone before the invasion /nt

@Not Henry Kissinger

From the link in b's post.

US seeking to carve out Sunni state as its influence in Iraq wanes

Backed into a corner and influence waning, the United States has in recent weeks been promoting a plan to create an autonomous Sunni region in western Iraq, officials from both countries told Middle East Eye.

The US efforts, the officials say, come in response to Shia Iraqi parties' attempts to expel American troops from their country.

Iraq represents a strategic land bridge between Iran and its allies in Syria, Lebanon and Palestine.

Establishing a US-controlled Sunni buffer zone in western Iraq would deprive Iran of using land routes into Syria and prevent it from reaching the eastern shores of the Mediterranean.

For Washington, the idea of carving out a Sunni region dates back to a 2007 proposition by Joe Biden, who is now vying to be the Democratic Party's presidential candidate.

Biden's plan was actually an attempt to ethnically cleanse Iraq into three distinct enclaves (because an integrated, multicultural Iraq is anathema to the US colonial divide and conquer strategy).

Across racial and religious boundaries, Iraqi politicians on Saturday bemoaned Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama's choice of running mate, known in Iraq as the author of a 2006 plan to divide the country into ethnic and sectarian enclaves.

"This choice of Biden is disappointing, because he is the creator of the idea of dividing Iraq," Salih al-Mutlaq, head of National Dialogue, one of the main Sunni Arab blocs in parliament, told Reuters.

"We rejected his proposal when he announced it, and we still reject it. Dividing the communities and land in such a way would only lead to new fighting between people over resources and borders. Iraq cannot survive unless it is unified, and dividing it would keep the problems alive for a long time."

For all his brazen denials about his Iraq involvement, one wonders whether, if Joe Biden hadn't been selected Obama's Vice President, he might have eventually been named Iraq Viceroy.

Now Trump is adopting Biden's plan.

Same as it ever was....

[Jan 24, 2020] Trump doesn't want to be the president that lost Iraq

Jan 24, 2020 | caucus99percent.com

Trump needs to claim victory over ISIS and get the hell out. Those one million peaceful protesters will turn into something really ugly, probably joined by parts or all of the Iraqi military. That will be far worse for him, with scenes of US diplomats being airlifted out of the embassy by helicopter. up 10 users have voted. --

Capitalism has always been the rule by the oligarchs. You only have two choices, eliminate them or restrict their power.

[Jan 24, 2020] Dissociated Press Sees "Hundreds" Where Pictures Show Millions. Iraqis are ready to fight and die to evict the US troups.

Jan 24, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Hoarsewhisperer , Jan 24 2020 13:32 utc | 11

Dissociated Press Sees "Hundreds" Where Pictures Show Millions

mpn , Jan 24 2020 13:44 utc | 15

B - AP isn't the only outlet falsely reporting the protest. Please get screen shots from the other "reports" (like Bloomberg) and add them to this post to document the media manipulation.

Thanks for all your effort.

b , Jan 24 2020 15:32 utc | 29
Cultural competence (not) by the Washington Post

Iraqi demonstrators demand withdrawal of U.S. troops

Around Baghdad's Hurriyah Square, the streets were a sea of black, white and red, as protesters clutched Iraqi flags and wore shrouds around their shoulders to evoke the country's dead.

White shrouds around their shoulders do not "evoke the country's dead" but a a sign of willingness for martyrdom. Those guys ( vid ) are ready to fight and die for their aim.

Laguerre , Jan 24 2020 15:38 utc | 30
It's a Shi'te motif, b, wearing a shroud. Ready for martyrdom, like the Shi'a Imams. They have a big thing about death.
Peter AU1 , Jan 24 2020 15:45 utc | 32
Cultural competence...

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-iran-iraq/soleimani-killing-adds-dangerous-new-dimension-to-iraq-unrest-idUSKBN1ZL28K
"It is likely to end up at the gates of the U.S. Embassy, the seat of U.S. power in Iraq..."

A more recent article had the same wording "USembassy, seat of US power in Iraq" but it was changed a few hours ago. The article does however end with this "Outside the U.S. embassy in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, a sign read "Warning. Do not cross this barrier, we will use pre-emptive measures against any attempt to cross"."
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iraq-security-sadr/no-no-america-iraq-protesters-demand-expulsion-of-u-s-troops-idUSKBN1ZN0RI

Virgile , Jan 24 2020 18:28 utc | 51
A separate Sunni state in West Iraq will be an ISIS haven financed by Saudi Arabia, the US and Israel.
Iran will never let this to happen..
Laguerre , Jan 24 2020 18:33 utc | 52
Posted by: Peter AU1 | Jan 24 2020 18:14 utc | 50

Yes, I was thinking about something along those lines, and was about to write a comment. There are conservative tribal leaders, who were at one point relatively favourable to the US, and who might be susceptible to this manoeuvre, and to Saudi persuasion. I was thinking in particular of Abu Risheh. However, unfortunately, their peoples along the Euphrates got flattened by the fighting during the Surge (after the period you're citing), so I don't know how enthusiastic they're going to be. It's a conventional problem, if the US makes a deal with a chief, indeed MbS is an example, they presume that they've got the whole people. They haven't.

psychohistorian , Jan 24 2020 18:55 utc | 53
Below is a BBC link with an embedded Reuters picture that shows not all of Western media is misrepresenting the march in Iraq.

Huge rally as Iraqis demand US troops pull out

div> please, do not try to search for US policy sense in the whole ME. all the moves there are done by the Israel firsters: destroy first then invent "senses". even the first Gulf War was lacking any policy consideration. I hope one day before she dies, to listen to what US Ambassador at that time, April Gillepsie, has to say about "her" entrapment of Saddam Hussein, a sort of McNamara hour of acknowledging.

Posted by: nietzsche1510 , Jan 24 2020 18:59 utc | 54

please, do not try to search for US policy sense in the whole ME. all the moves there are done by the Israel firsters: destroy first then invent "senses". even the first Gulf War was lacking any policy consideration. I hope one day before she dies, to listen to what US Ambassador at that time, April Gillepsie, has to say about "her" entrapment of Saddam Hussein, a sort of McNamara hour of acknowledging.

Posted by: nietzsche1510 | Jan 24 2020 18:59 utc | 54

Likklemore , Jan 24 2020 19:01 utc | 55
in the next 2 years, the U.S. will be leaving Iraq. It will not be safe to keep U.S. personnel on Iraqi soil.


First, it was "No injuries" resulting from Iran's retaliation
Then, it was only 11 "suffering headaches"

Now the Pentagon Says 34 Personnel Diagnosed With Concussions After Iran Strikes on Bases in Iraq


WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Thirty-four US service members have been diagnosed with concussions and traumatic brain injuries after Iran conducted ballistic missile strikes on two bases in Iraq with half of them still undergoing medical treatment, Department of Defence spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a press briefing on 24 January.

"With regard to the number of recent injuries here is the latest update 34 total members have diagnosed with concussions and TBI [traumatic brain injury]", Hoffman told reporters.

Concussions or Headaches.? When it's serious we have to lie -

Paging Dr. Donald J. Trump

Paging any available Dr. or resident at Mayo Clinic

Laguerre , Jan 24 2020 19:06 utc | 56
I wouldn't deny the US is capable of creating an Iraqi al-Tanf. The US is always capable of air-supporting isolated bases, as long as there is the determination to do so. It's been shown many times, from Vietnam to Afghanistan. More, I don't see. The Sunnis have seen the way the Syrian Kurds were abandoned, so nobody's going to be enthused. And the surge has not been forgotten.
Kooshy , Jan 24 2020 19:15 utc | 57
"The Shi'a can certainly get their people out - which by the way is why they have such effective militias. The Sunnis don't have similarly effective militias (though such would probably also be politically difficult)."

Wondering why ? Because the don't want to live as minorities any more, specially where they are the majority. There is need for a collective security across the Shia community throughout the Western Asia and has nothing to do with US. Because US and UK, historically and continually have supported and inspired Sunni clients against Shia uprisings
For equal rights, US and UK and their clients have become a common threat to Shia resistance. This resistance and sense of common security within Shia communities is so strong and imbedded that killing one leader here one commander there will not change the outcome. As an example Abbas Mussavie was assassinated by IDF in 1992 who replaced him that became more dangerous and kicked Israel out of Lebanon, one Hassan Nassrollah
US will end up leaving like in VM No matter what she does

Peter AU1 , Jan 24 2020 19:18 utc | 58
Laguerre

I was thinking along the lines of Saudi intermediaries doing deals with tribes as Mcgurk pulled off in the Raqqa meeting when he brought in a Saudi intermediary or envoy to do a deal with the tribes of Deir Ezzor. I see the tribe break down into clans, so suppose it would or may be the heads of clans that deals would have to be done with.

What strikes me about this though is that US are looking at retreating into the area ISIS have retreated to and where they arose - the Iraq Syria border regions.

nietzsche1510 , Jan 24 2020 19:19 utc | 59
the battle for the Green Zone will start the liberation of Iraq, that´s why the US embassy there has a lot of rooftops.
Willy2 , Jan 24 2020 15:47 utc | 33

- Muqtada Al Sadr is an iraqi nationalist. As long as he can get help from Iran he will take it. But when that help is no longer needed then he will try to reduce the "influence" of the iranians as much as possible. Prehaps the words "boot them out" is a bit "over the top".
- But the relationship will Always remain friendly. But he is "his own man".
- In this regard this a re-run of what happened in the year 2003 & 2004. Back then the US wanted to pick their own sock puppet but the shiites out-witted the US.

Yonatan , Jan 24 2020 19:32 utc | 61
A photo essay of the Iraqi protests - plenty of images showing the scale and also close up images.

https://z5h64q92x9.net/proxy_u/ru-en.en/https/colonelcassad.livejournal.com/5590284.html

jayc , Jan 24 2020 19:33 utc | 62

Interesting that the number of US troops suffering concussive injuries from the Iran retaliatory strikes has been quietly reassessed to 44 persons. That seems significant in light of the extensive threats beforehand that any injury to a US person would ignite thunderous reprisal. It seems, then, the Americans have no plan, the Soleimaini hit was not thought through, and they are not in any way prepared for a necessary readjustment of their position in the region. Trump at Davos dismissed the protests and again threatened sanctions on Iraq - the fulcrum of US power has now visibly shifted from the military to the dominance of the reserve currency in the form of economic reprisals (sanctions). Reduced to imposing or threatening economic blockades on adversary populations is not a winning long-term strategy.

Sasha , Jan 24 2020 19:36 utc | 63

It is not only the MSM coordinated blackout on the important events developing in Iraq, notice also the scarce half hundred comments here in this thread on the same events by the usual and otherwise prolific regulars, who preferred to comment on so used Boeing or whatever old topic instead...

Meanwhile, those of us who wished to comment got banned, as they seemed to be some other who wanted to comment by other media, like Pepe Escobar in Facebook...

Elijah Magnier says,

Someone should write an article on how Main Stream Media and most reputable agencies either ignored what happened in #Baghdad #Iraq today or deliberately downplayed it because it calls for the #US to leave.

News is strikingly manipulated s since the war in #Syria 2011.

https://twitter.com/ejmalrai/status/1220758301266321408

[Jan 24, 2020] Apparently this is the new US policy in Iraq: US seeking to carve out Sunni state as its influence in Iraq wanes

Jan 24, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Laguerre , Jan 24 2020 11:44 utc | 1

This seems more relevant here than on the open thread:

Apparently this is the new US policy in Iraq.

US seeking to carve out Sunni state as its influence in Iraq wanes

Incredible, isn't it? A policy of parcellisation which has already failed twice, in Iraq and then again in Syria. And now Trump is going to do it again, according to reports which could well be right. They're sufficiently stupid. They're actually expecting the poor suffering Fallujans, who suffered through more than a month of being tortured by US troops, are going to stand up and fight for the US.

It's a complete misappreciation of the situation, not unusual in the US. It is of course true that the Sunnis suffer from the unthinking policies of the Shi'a, and are treated like an occupied country. But that doesn't mean that the Sunnis think they can stand up an independent state. They don't, particularly if the US only stations a handful of troops there.

The US could of course militarily occupy the area, but that's not Trump's plan, as it would be too politically intrusive back home.

By the way I hear we're about to receive Trump's overall peace plan for the Middle East. Given that the first rollouts fell totally flat, I wouldn't be too optimistic about its new reception in the Middle East.


Willy2 , Jan 24 2020 12:03 utc | 4

- Carving out a state in North-Western Iraq is part of "The Biden plan" of 2006 (/2007 ?). The Biden plan was to divide Iraq into 3 parts: Kurdistan, "Sumnnistan" and "Shia-stan".
- Was this the reason why the US "created" ISIS (in 2014) ??
Laguerre , Jan 24 2020 12:28 utc | 5
The Shi'a can certainly get their people out - which by the way is why they have such effective militias. The Sunnis don't have similarly effective militias (though such would probably also be politically difficult).

The US certainly doesn't have much idea how to tackle such a movement. The renewal of the plan for parcellisation just shows up the bankruptcy of US policy, nothing spoke to me so strongly of the failure of US thinking. For all the number of Washington think-tanks concentrating on the ME, they can't come up with workable ideas.

Laguerre , Jan 24 2020 12:56 utc | 7
Posted by: Ernesto Che | Jan 24 2020 12:32 utc | 6

Al-Sadr is indeed an Iraqi nationalist, and not particularly pro-Iranian, others are more. He more profited from Iran's safe haven, than became pro-Iranian.

On the other hand, he's unlikely to become Prime Minister, as too extreme. The US, if it gets a say in the choice of the next PM, will veto. And he's a sort who is in permanent opposition to everything, rather than in government, much like Corbyn in Britain.

somebody , Jan 24 2020 13:17 utc | 9
Posted by: Laguerre | Jan 24 2020 11:44 utc | 1

Surely, this has become obsolete with Saudi needing an agreement with Iran?

I just checked. On January 22 this happened in Yemen :

On January 18, Houthi rebels targeted the al Estiqbal military training camp, used by the Saudi-led coalition and forces loyal to Yemen's UN-recognised government. The strikes resulted in at least 116 deaths and dozens (if not hundreds) of injuries. Those struck had reportedly just finished praying at the base's mosque. According to Saudi media, the Houthis used a combination of ballistic missiles and drones.
Sasha , Jan 24 2020 13:23 utc | 10
The fake media are trying to trasvesticize these protests as antigovernment protests in the eyes of the Waestern and American population, fortunately, the images are worth thousands words:

https://twitter.com/passenger_to/status/1220620900166520833

Love these arabs´humor when they protest...

bevin , Jan 24 2020 13:48 utc | 16
During the first of the various criminal attacks on Fallujah, Sadr famously promised to deploy the Mahdi Army there to defend the largely sunni community.
The US fears nothing more than nationalism in the middle east- all its policies are aimed at atomising communities and fostering sectarian division. It is a tactic that has worked well in the United States for centuries- preserving the absolute power of the capitalist oligarchy by setting black against white, catholic against protestant, settler against indigenous, migrant against native.
It is difficult to conceive of a more evil policy than that of encouraging shi'ites to bully sunnis and vice versa, while dissecting society into shreds of ethnic and sectarian entities , which are then armed and trained to fight and kill one another.
This was the basis of the surge under Petraus. Of course the British had established the practice themselves. Among other things they employed christian Assyrians as police.
bevin , Jan 24 2020 13:52 utc | 17
An interesting view.
https://journal-neo.org/2020/01/24/is-iraq-between-the-hammer-and-the-anvil/
Sasha , Jan 24 2020 14:16 utc | 18
Al Mayadeen is reporting testimonies from all confesional sides on that this is an united clamor coming from the whole Iraqi society, who sees a clear link between occupation and corruption, in spite of their internal political differences, seeing no future while the US remains in the country corrupting and compromising Iraqi reconstruction and progress.

They are saying that the numbers seen demonstrating today in Iraq, in the anniversary of the other historical 1920 anticolonial demonstration, equates a popular referendum on the US illegal and forced presence in the country.

The representatives of the protesters are stating that there are being stablished diplomatic means for the US to go out, but, in case it refuses doing it by these means, the resistance will come into action. Thus a way of no return for the US is being delineated here...

Crowd demonstration against US military presence in Iraq


CarlD , Jan 24 2020 14:22 utc | 19
Slightly? off subject

Since the assassination drones cannot fly all the way from US territory to their intended targets,
any country that harbors the drones is actually complicit to the crimes of the US of A.

They must be made to understand that these assassinations will cost them eventually as accessories
to these crimes.

BM , Jan 24 2020 14:27 utc | 20
Possibly the most potent leverage Iraq can have on the US is for the Iraqi parliament to decree that all legal previously agreed immunity for US military guilty of crimes in Iraq is null and void. All US war criminals immediately liable to be tried in Iraq under Iraq law, unless the US commit to a prompt and orderly withdrawal. Right to prosecute still reserved in case of US non-compliance with any such commitment.

Whether or to what extent this could be made retrospective to the beginning of the current agreement (on the grounds that the agreement has been violated) I don't know. Maybe it might be possible to apply retrospectively at least to the first verifiable breech of the agreement by the US, I have no idea. Or maybe the agreement can only be deemed void with effect from a statement by the parliament, I have no idea. In any case, the US is now there illegally: any US soldier can legally be arrested and imprisoned at any time; and any US soldier from now on killing or injuring any person in Iraq is automatically a war criminal.

If it can so some extent legally be made retrospective, the US would automatically face a terrifying situation.

(Any prisons containing US prisoners in Iraq need full military protection though - I recall previously the US destroyed a prison with a tank where some soldiers were arrested).

Sasha , Jan 24 2020 14:28 utc | 21
@Posted by: Sasha | Jan 24 2020 14:16 utc | 18

The link from Al Mayadeen includes live stream with commentary in Arabic of the crowds gathering who seem in the sizes of Arbaeen pilgrimage...or more.....since multiconfessional...

Sasha , Jan 24 2020 14:37 utc | 22
Lesson to be learnt...on the future of the destroyers...
(CARTOON) The "Pax americana", in an image

"They made a desert and called it peace"
Tacit, in reference to "Pax Romana" after the destruction of Carthage.

https://twitter.com/Amor_y_Rabia/status/1219921555775467520

[Jan 24, 2020] Lawrence Wilkerson Lambasts 'the Beast of the National Security State' by Adam Dick

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Wilkerson provided a harsh critique of US foreign policy over the last two decades. Wilkerson states: ..."
"... America exists today to make war. How else do we interpret 19 straight years of war and no end in sight? It's part of who we are. It's part of what the American Empire is. ..."
"... We are going to lie, cheat and steal, as [US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo] is doing right now, as [President Donald Trump] is doing right now, as [Secretary of Defense Mark Esper] is doing right now, as [Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)] is doing right now, as [Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR)] is doing right now, and a host of other members of my political party -- the Republicans -- are doing right now. We are going to cheat and steal to do whatever it is we have to do to continue this war complex. That's the truth of it, and that's the agony of it. ..."
"... That base voted for Donald Trump because he promised to end these endless wars, he promised to drain the swamp. Well, as I said, an alligator from that swamp jumped out and bit him. And, when he ordered the killing of Qassim Suleimani, he was a member of the national security state in good standing, and all that state knows how to do is make war. ..."
Jan 13, 2020 | ronpaulinstitute.org

Lawrence Wilkerson, a College of William & Mary professor who was chief of staff for Secretary of State Colin Powel in the George W. Bush administration, powerfully summed up the vile nature of the US national security state in a recent interview with host Amy Goodman at Democracy Now.

Asked by Goodman about the escalation of US conflict with Iran and how it compares with the prior run-up to the Iraq War, Wilkerson provided a harsh critique of US foreign policy over the last two decades. Wilkerson states:

Ever since 9/11, the beast of the national security state, the beast of endless wars, the beast of the alligator that came out of the swamp, for example, and bit Donald Trump just a few days ago, is alive and well.

America exists today to make war. How else do we interpret 19 straight years of war and no end in sight? It's part of who we are. It's part of what the American Empire is.

We are going to lie, cheat and steal, as [US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo] is doing right now, as [President Donald Trump] is doing right now, as [Secretary of Defense Mark Esper] is doing right now, as [Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)] is doing right now, as [Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR)] is doing right now, and a host of other members of my political party -- the Republicans -- are doing right now. We are going to cheat and steal to do whatever it is we have to do to continue this war complex. That's the truth of it, and that's the agony of it.

What we saw President Trump do was not in President Trump's character, really. Those boys and girls who were getting on those planes at Fort Bragg to augment forces in Iraq, if you looked at their faces, and, even more importantly, if you looked at the faces of the families assembled along the line that they were traversing to get onto the airplanes, you saw a lot of Donald Trump's base. That base voted for Donald Trump because he promised to end these endless wars, he promised to drain the swamp. Well, as I said, an alligator from that swamp jumped out and bit him. And, when he ordered the killing of Qassim Suleimani, he was a member of the national security state in good standing, and all that state knows how to do is make war.

Wilkerson, over the remainder of the two-part interview provides many more insightful comments regarding US foreign policy, including recent developments concerning Iran. Watch Wilkerson's interview here:

Wilkerson is an Academic Board member for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.


Copyright © 2020 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.
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[Jan 24, 2020] Dennis Kucinich, Antiwar to His Core by Adam Dick

Jan 10, 2020 | ronpaulinstitute.org

A Thursday article by Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone discusses Dennis Kucinich's work in politics, from Kucinich's eight terms in the United Sates House of Representatives to his two presidential campaigns to his activities since leaving political office. Taibbi, in the article focused much on Kucinich's long-term devotion to advancing the case for peace, describes Kucinich as "antiwar to his core."

Read Taibbi's article here .

Kucinich is an Advisory Board member for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.


Copyright © 2020 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.
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