Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Benefit of Syrian Conflict

Last weekend UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon invited Iran to the upcoming Syria negotiations. The US-backed rebels immediately threatened withdrawal. Then the US demanded Iran agree to the terms of Geneva I (read regime change) before participating, which Iran rejected. This controversy was interesting not for what transpired but for what remains unmentioned by the media, Hezbollah.
Hezbollah and Iran are enemies of the US and Israel. Assad deposed from Syria not only removes a key ally for Hezbollah and Iran, the two will lose a useful conduit for Iranian arms into Lebanon. Further isolation leaves both more susceptible to US / Israeli geopolitical maneuverings.
When viewed through this context, the Syrian conflict looks less like a spontaneous eruption of Arab discontent. The Syrian civil war, and its propagation by outside influence, is likely a calculated act of neoliberal imperialism.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bonds Boot Berlusconi

Italy’s Prime Minister Berlusconi recently announced his resignation. With the amount of political turmoil worldwide, this alone isn’t surprising. But driving home from work, I happened to turn to NPR’s Marketplace when I hear correspondent Heidi Moore ask, “Who picks the leader of Italy? The voters elected Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The bond markets want someone new. They don't have confidence that he'll cut back on spending. So who really runs the show? Here's a hint: Berlusconi is on his way out.”

This is followed by an expert who restates the cliché, ”When you run up a lot of debts, you're beholden to the people who loan you the money.”

Moore summarizes the piece with, “The good news for Italy is that it's in better financial shape than Greece. But until it gets a leader the market trusts, it will have to keep paying higher interest rates.”

That’s the good news? That Italy’s democracy is a façade. A sham, a parlor trick played on unknowing citizens by financial markets. Market selects the candidates, population elects from pre-selected candidates, when winner performs poorly, Market step in to remove politician until next rigged election.

There was neither discussion nor mention of how democracy is being eroded by this action. In Ms Moore’s defense, the show is called Marketplace so political punditry is not the focus. However, shows on National Public Radio should discuss its news in a context that is relevant to the public. With the growing Occupy Movement, teabaggers crying foul about government finances, more and more Americans concerned about Wall Streets influence over Washington, one might expect this commentator to show insight or perhaps concern when a financial market overtly usurps democracy. Instead of predicting the next investment bubble, Marketplace should stop living in one.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Protecting Libyan civilians?

The UN mission in Libya is protecting civilians.
scratch head?
"Protecting civilians?" I had to say it aloud a few times.
An empty statement for justifying dropping hundreds of bombs daily on a sovereign nation. Not that protecting civilians isn't noble, but who are the NATO forces protecting?
The rebel forces of Benghazi!
Of course.
Rebel. Forces.
Armed Libyans from eastern regions fighting armed Libyans from non-eastern regions.
Sounds like a civil war. So I looked up the definition.

civil war:
a war between opposing groups of citizens of the same country.

The NATO mission is oxymoronic.
Civilians are the only people harmed in a civil war. Aiding either side of a civil war only leads to more civilian deaths. May someone please speak truth to power.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Lessons in Change?

The events in Egypt (and Tunisia) continue to captivate us. It has livened our debates; it has stimulated discussions regarding dictators, foreign policy, sustainable energy policy, peak oil, amongst others subjects. We all collectively hope for Mubarak's quick resignation. Some theorize the power of Twitter or Facebook, whether Wikileaks had any influence, but none are focusing these conversations on future domestic action.

Egypt and America are very different states. Our governments, economies, and societies are very different. But I sense, amongst most Americans regardless of political affiliation, a feeling of disconnect from our political process. We have legalized political bribery in the form of lobbying. Our politicians tailor legislation for corrupt big business. Our military leaders wait in line to become hired guns as defense industry consultants. Our most elite soldiers are eager to become oppressive mercenaries. Our court system recognizes non-living, non-breathing corporations as having human rights. And in the midst of our second largest recession, wealth (and power) is being consolidated into less and less of the citizenry. Our democracy is slowly becoming such only in name. This is the very issue the people of Egypt are rising against.

The effectiveness of the Cairo demonstrations may not been seen for months or years, if ever. We in America have rich history of effective mass struggle. But are mass demonstrations still an effective means of change in America? Or is the utility of these uprisings contextual, depending on culture, country, time, or issue?

Is there something else to learn from Egypt? Is it time to reignite mass protest here in America or do we feel we can effect needed contemporary change within our current political structure?

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Bloggers Wonder About Clinton Diplomat Meeting

A couple of blog threads yesterday were discussing the purpose of Secretary Clinton's unprecedented Diplomat meeting. If one understands the mission of the US State Dept and has followed recent world events, then the reason for the meeting is very clear.

Our State Dept and embassy network is about furthering "American Interests".
American interests currently involve oil, military hardware, and perceived scope of power.
The middle east as all know is the last great reserve of black gold. Egypt (and Israel) are our projections of power into the region. If Egypt falls to pure "democratic forces" the future of US influence in the region is questioned. If oppressed people in other US-client states see Egypt fall, then other less powerful nations may have the same fate.

Then there is the business of US foreign aid. Oppressive client states serve as conduits through which tax payer dollars go to defense industry companies. Massive amounts of corporate welfare is disguised as foreign aid. "We give you a few billion, but it must be used to purchase American weaponry." Egypt is the largest recipient of foreign aid behind Israel.

The likely aim of Clinton's massive meeting is to put the fire under some diplomat ass. Tell them to get out of the embassy, make better contacts within the local society. America cannot continue to keep getting surprised with its pants down if it is to maintain its status quo.

I wish the meeting were more along the lines of firing most of the staff. The administration should take the radical steps of dismantling the empire, shrinking our embassy staff and maybe eliminating our military bases as well. Our empire can die a slow reaction filled death or we can actively dismantle it, thereby have more control over its future.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Diplomatic Scramble?

NY Times posted an article I found interesting, "Diplomatic Scramble As Ally Is Pushed To Exit".
"Last Sunday at 2 p.m., a blue-and-white Air Force jet left Andrews Air Force Base bound for Cairo. On board was Frank G. Wisner, an adroit ex-diplomat whom President Obama had asked hours before to undertake a supremely delicate mission: nudging President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt out of power."
Why is Obama sending ex-diplomats to quietly nudge a leader of another nation out of power? How far up the scale of puppet government does Egypt go? It's like he's firing some Secretary within the US government.
"But it is also one of political calculations, in Cairo and Washington, which were upset repeatedly as the crowds swelled. And it is the story of a furious scramble by the Obama White House — right up until Mr. Obama’s call Tuesday night for change to begin “now” — to catch up with a democracy movement unfolding so rapidly that Washington came close to being left behind."
Why is the self-proclaimed beacon of democracy, the US, catching up with democracy? We should be cheering it on at every opportunity, obviously except when it involves our totalitarian allies. And what are our diplomats scrambling for? There should be nothing surprising about what is happening in Egypt, considering Tunisia a week earlier. But just like the fall of the USSR, our intelligence agencies are caught unprepared again.
"At the Saturday meeting, the officials also agreed that Mrs. Clinton would start calling for “an orderly transition” when she taped a round of interviews for the Sunday talk programs. Administration officials were already smarting from not coming out more fully in support of the protesters earlier. In particular, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. had been criticized for an interview with “NewsHour” on PBS on Thursday, in which he answered “no” when the host, Jim Lehrer, asked if the time had come for Mr. Mubarak to go."
Who are we, or for that matter, anyone outside of Egypt, to determine how a people chose exercise their political choice?
"American officials had also been in close contact with Vice President Suleiman, who may be playing a particularly pivotal role in managing the transition of power. American and Egyptian officials who know him well describe him as both a cunning operator and Mr. Mubarak’s closest aide. He is also considered the figure with the largest base of support in Egypt’s security forces because his work as intelligence chief built him deep ties with the internal security police and the military."
So this is Mubarak's his successor? Omar Suleiman. He is a CIA asset closely involved in our rendition program. Not a stalwart for transparency, human rights, nor democracy.
"And for the United States, can an Egypt without Mr. Mubarak serve American interests in the Middle East?"
So what are American interests in the Middle East? Oil? Regional Control? Religious Crusade? Protector of Israel?

Egypt has been a loyal projection of American military power into the region; and ally on several fronts, but most recently as a favorite destination of CIA renditions. It has received the second highest amount of US foreign aid behind Israel. Being a powerful military in the region and neighbor to Israel, one may assume that this aid pacifies any potential aggression against Israel. But our relationship with Egypt is deeper than that. This aid is almost entirely in the form of armaments. American tax dollars given to Egypt with the stipulation that it be used to buy American military weapons to build it arsenal. Industrial welfare payments washed via international aid.

So Washington is loosing one of its prized cloaks covering the large amount of corporate welfare to our Military-Industrial Complex. Besides the bureaucrats in Washington, Wall Street and the Pentagon may be scrambling soon. One less dictator to make billions of dollars off of. Main Street however, should start cheering. This is potentially billions of dollars saved, hopefully destined for domestic use.

Main Street can learn something from the streets of Cairo, the power of grassroots mobilization.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

From Hope to Hopeless Criminal

Last week the White House announced it authorized the CIA to assassinate an American citizen. "It can't possibly be the law that American citizens enjoy greater legal protection from being wiretapped than from being placed on a government kill list," said the ACLU's Ben Wizner.
The proper response should have been, "it can't possibly be lawful to murder anyone without trial!" But truly, I wasn't surprised by the announcement. Wahsington's decade long track record of black ops crimes is well documented. The Change We Can Believe In have been underwhelming at best. Whenever given a chance to implement change, Obama has done nothing but maintain the despotic practices of the previous regime in Washington.
Drone attacks? Increased them.
Illegal occupying forces in foreign lands? Increased them.
Numbers of innocent civilians murdered? Increased them.
The list can go on and on and on....

Obama has proven himself a failure, a failure because he continues to ignore how these imperialistic endeavors destroy our economy and erode our international goodwill. He willfully nurtures an abusive and power lusting executive branch that has grown unchecked for almost a century. He is a failure for changing nothing.

These brazen criminal acts are likely the death throes of a dying empire. May the innocent be spared from the sinking ship. Sadly, silence does not equal innocence.