AuthorTopic: Global Systemic Geopolitical Crisis  (Read 62384 times)

Offline RE

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😒 “Maybe He Did, and Maybe He Didn’t:” Reflections on Morality in 2018
« Reply #675 on: November 23, 2018, 12:38:21 AM »
https://www.greanvillepost.com/2018/11/21/maybe-he-did-and-maybe-he-didnt-reflections-on-morality-in-2018/

“Maybe He Did, and Maybe He Didn’t:” Reflections on Morality in 2018
November 21, 2018 Patrice de Bergeracpas


HELP ENLIGHTEN YOUR FELLOWS. BE SURE TO PASS THIS ON. SURVIVAL DEPENDS ON IT.

by GARY LEUPP


I expected this, actually. I just didn’t think it would be so crude, so buttheadedly amoral.

Trump’s view of the Saudis, in a nutshell, was announced last week: “They’re a truly spectacular ally in terms of jobs and economic development.” Okay, ’nuff said.

The Saudis buy billions in war planes, missiles, tanks, helicopters and other military equipment every year. Over half of their arms come from the U.S., Britain serving as number two supplier. This means jobs. The annihilation of 50,000 Yemeni men, women and children puts bacon on the tables of Lockheed and Boeing workers in Seattle. The meddling in Syria, where Riyadh has supported al-Nusra-linked (al-Qaeda-linked) jihadis against the secular regime, means more jobs. The suppression of protesters during the Arab Spring in Bahrain was carried out by Saudi-led troops using U.S. small arms.

Trump was briefed on the Khashoggi matter last Friday. He knows that the CIA has concluded, with a “high degree of confidence” that Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin-Salman  is “personally responsible” for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Istanbul consulate Oct. 5 But Trump said after the meeting that it was “premature” to assess responsibility.

I suspect it wasn’t premature at all. An announcement was merely timed to give the appearance of a decision after a formal procedure. The moral decision had been made. Billions in arms sales, billions from cheap oil, the priceless gift of Saudi help in destroying Iran (to help Israel assert hegemony over the region in tandem with the U.S.), the invaluable retention of the Jared-MbS blood brotherhood bond made the decision easy.

Now Trump, albeit in peculiar language that virtually advertises his amorality, language that frankly acknowledges that maybe the prince did it —“Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”—has proclaimed his satisfaction with the Saudi explanation. Much of his base might accept it.

Fox “News” has already floated the idea that, since Khashoggi was once a member of the Muslim Brotherhood (which by the way is not a “terrorist” organization, whatever the U.S. State Department–which inflicts terror on people daily–has to say about it), his death might not be such a bad thing. In his disturbed statement today Trump raised that too.

In familiar fashion, the Idiot President today cites vague dirt. His statement on Khashoggi includes this gem:  “Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an ‘enemy of the state’ and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that…”  (Just thought I’d bring it up…)

So Khashoggi was (maybe?) a “terrorist.” So the president’s statement asked his audience to understand the unpleasant killing matter in that context.

The amoral thug’s long-awaited missive begins Goering-like: “The world is a very dangerous place! The country of Iran, as an example, is responsible for a bloody proxy war against Saudi Arabia in Yemen…”

What idiocy.
The Houthi movement has a mass base in Yemen. Shiite imams ruled northern Yemen for a thousand years up to the 1960s. Yemen was a U.S. ally from 2001, helping to fight al-Qaeda (although the U.S. presence in Yemen came to stimulate al-Qaeda and then ISIL presence in the country, and the current chaos). During the Arab Spring of 2014 the U.S. forced the (Shiite) president, Ali Saleh, to step down in favor of his Sunni vice-president, who assumed power in an uncontested election and was then toppled in a bloodless occupation of the capital Sana by Houthi militia in 2015. Since then there’s been an ongoing, vicious Saudi effort through their own proxies to return the ousted Sunni Yemeni president to power. In their war the Saudis claim that the Houthis are Iranian puppets, reliant on Iranian arms. Neither charge is true. The Houthis practice a form of Shiism that differs greatly from that of the mullahs of Qom; they are not connected to Iran as intimately as Lebanon’s Hizbollah. Their arms are overwhelmingly drawn from captured arsenals and the international arms market, not a pipeline to Iran.

The Houthi “insurgency” in Yemen has nothing to do with Sunni Islamist terrorism, such as is massively financed by private Saudis and other Gulf state donors. It is not a threat to the U.S. Saudi Arabia is waging a bloody war on the Yemeni people for no good reason than to show that MbS is boss of the peninsula and that he can get away with virtually everything he wants.

The world–or that small portion paying attention–has recoiled for many months at the savagery of the Yemen War. The figures are astounding. 50,000 civilians dead, three million displaced, 12 million facing starvation. The Saudi jets routinely refueled by U.S. aircraft, striking at sites targeted by U.S. allies, have cut off the Yemeni people from outside trade except at one besieged port. This is all well-known to be the Crown prince’s doing.

Trump lies. The above idiot-statement continues:

    The country of Iran, as an example, is responsible for a bloody proxy war against Saudi Arabia in Yemen, trying to destabilize Iraq’s fragile attempt at democracy, supporting the terror group Hezbollah in Lebanon, propping up dictator Bashar Assad in Syria (who has killed millions of his own citizens), and much more.

No, Iran is not trying to undermine Iraq’s fragile attempt at democracy. Only recently has a fairly legitimate government emerged in Baghdad from the electoral system imposed by the U.S. occupation following the criminal war based on lies in 2003. It consists of a Shiite nationalist party in alliance with the Communist Party and is quite independent of Iran.  The Iranians are Iraq’s next-door neighbors and share the Iraqi majority’s Shiite faith; it is not unusual that Iran might have more influence in Iraq’s politics than (say) a despised imperialist country that has slaughtered half a million Iraqis. But Iran has been trying to stabilize Iraq—certainly much more so than the U.S.

Hizbollah is not a terrorist group but a political party that holds seats in the Lebanese cabinet and parliament. It has radio stations, newspapers, runs hospitals, schools and charities. While the U.S. spurred by Israel has successfully campaigned to get Europe to designate Hizbollah a “terrorist” organization, it is recognized as a legitimate party by Norway (which while a NATO member tries to be slightly independent on Middle East policy), Switzerland, China, Russia, Turkey, India, Iran, Syria, Algeria, and Venezuela, among others.

Iran has provided  assistance to its ally Syria following the U.S. intervention in that country beginning at least in 2014. Hillary Clinton wanted to bring down Bashar al-Assad as the U.S.-NATO effort had brought down Muammar Gaddafi. The U.S. intervention as Donald Trump used to emphasize was disastrous. Assad has not killed millions; that is a foolish claim from a well-known serial liar.

Best estimates for the death toll of the Syrian conflict since 2014 hover around 400,000, with about 120-180,000 combatants on each side, and from 85,000 to 200,000 civilians. One must note that on the opposition side, the al-Nusra (al-Qaeda) forces have played a dominant role.

“…and much more,” the idiot president concludes, explaining why Iran is so bad that the U.S. has to stay in bed with a murdering thug who ordered his buddies in his security detail to head a kill team of 15 experienced professionals to take secret flights to strangle a dissident journalist in a diplomatic facility, dismember and dissolve his body, fake the dead’s emergence from the consulate, and deny the murder passionately even as the host country gainsaid his lies. So many more examples of Iran’s perfidity!
The Washington Post reports that Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Egyptian dictator Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sissi have both “reached out to the Trump administration to express support for the crown prince.” What do those butchers care about Jamal Khashoggi or the rule of law, when the anti-Shiite, anti-Iran, anti-Muslim Brotherhood axis of Washington, Riyadh and Israel underwritten by billions in arms sales and rivers of blood is at stake?

Russia and China will likely toe the U.S. line and give the Saudis a break. One can only hope that Europe balks and tells the president that he’s not just a moron but a moral monster and his leadership is not so much weakened as abrogated.

In standing with MbS Washington stands with sheer evil. It does so with refreshing clarity. On the White House just now (3:43 PM EST) Trump reiterates: “It’s all very simple for me. It’s America first….just look at Iran. If we abandoned Saudi Arabia it would be a terrible mistake.”

Actually if one looks at Iran one sees a country with a far better human rights record than Saudi Arabia. Whether you look at women’s rights, or press freedom, or the operation of the legislature and judiciary, religious rights of Christians and other religious minorities including  Zoroastrians and Jews, you find that Iran is light years ahead of Saudi Arabia. Only a fool would deny that.

But here is the president of the United States, whom (foolish) parents tell their kids is leader of the country, worthy of respect. He is now plainly an accomplice, an enabler, a liar, an object of well-deserved contempt. How can Europeans rooted in empirical reasoning and Enlightenment thought accept this call from across the Atlantic to prettify a ghastly murder—just to help a medieval monarchy stave off political crisis?

There are many good reasons for this country to slip from a position of global hegemony. May Trump’s decision on Tuesday hasten its end.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan; Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: gleupp@tufts.edu
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Offline Eddie

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Re: Global Systemic Geopolitical Crisis
« Reply #676 on: November 23, 2018, 06:30:54 AM »
There was never a doubt the US would wink at this murder. The stakes are way bigger than what happens to one pesky journalist. We only give lip service to human rights anyway. Our secret police kill people just like Putin's, and just like Salman's.

Trump is just not that good at making up the proper excuses, and providing excuses and plausible deniability.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

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🔥 Battlefield Paris: Fiery ‘Yellow Vest’ protests continue into the night
« Reply #677 on: November 25, 2018, 01:08:32 AM »
Ya gotta admit, the Frogs know how to do a good street protest.  :icon_sunny:  No sit down and get Pepper Sprayed from the Frenchies in the Black Pajamas, no sirree Bob!  Light it UP! 🔥Throw those Molotovs!  They got gas masks and everything!  Well prepped!  :emthup:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/a3AtGT-HsK0" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/a3AtGT-HsK0</a>

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🌎 Twilight of the American Century
« Reply #678 on: November 26, 2018, 01:58:14 AM »

https://www.globalresearch.ca/twilight-of-the-american-century/5660914

Twilight of the American Century
A Review of Andrew J. Bacevich's Book
By Jim Miles
Global Research, November 25, 2018
Region: USA
Theme: History

The histories of empires and the histories of war are generally written by the winner to put themselves in a positive light. It has been difficult for the U.S. empire to maintain their facade of goodness for their endeavours after World War II, and even more significantly after 9/11. In Twilight of the American Century, a selection of his own collected writings, Andrew J. Bacevich reveals the contradictions between what is said about U.S. actions – either as anticipation or as definition – and the results of such actions. In essence, the rationalizations, the hubris, and the arrogance do not match up with the lack of accomplishments, the latter themselves ill-defined.

After a short introductory mini-biography, the book is divided into four sections. The autobiography highlights Bacevich’s Roman Catholic middle class military background and the inculcation from Westpoint in which essentially the army equals the nation, but even more importantly, sees promotability as a characteristic – accepting orders, conformity – becoming the main ambition, the main career goal.

The first essay section is a series deconstructing rationalizations for U.S. military actions and deconstructing the histories of some of those who claim authority to define their personal historical involvement. Bacevich does not mince his words, along the way calling George Kennan a “bigoted crank….feeling sorry for himself,” and describes novelist Tom Clancy’s work as “military pop-lit” and Clancy himself as a “hack”. His longest essay of the section deconstructs the arguments of the Wohlstetter School, saying it “does not trouble itself over how the United States got enmeshed in whatever predicament it happens to be facing” and has “produced lubricants that kept the wheels of the national security state turning, while also helping to fuel the military-industrial complex.”

The second and third sections, “History and Myth” and “War and Empire”,examine the differences between rhetorical expectations and the bravado of defeat as compared to the disastrous reality of the outcomes of the various U.S. wars since 2000, with a few dips into earlier history. The essays can be a bit repetitive as they are snapshots of Bacevich’s ideas over a period of time, with the disconcerting reveal as they are placed in a descending timeline with earliest essays presented later in the sections. Regardless, the message is consistent: U.S. military actions are poorly conceived, poorly enacted, poorly explained and produce clearly negative results both overseas and domestically.

The last section “Politics and Culture” is as direct as the title, examining U.S. culture and politics domestically as it developed through the era of a militarized empire. As a baby boomer myself, I had to laugh at his description of the boomer path to liberation as “taking their cues….from rockers, dopers, and other flouters of convention.” I was more of a peace, love, and flowers kind, but the naivety of it all in light of the political power of inculcation overpowering any opposition is all too clear today. A combination of two other essays highlights this.

In the “One Percent Republic”, a contrast of the financial top one percent with the bottom one percent joining the military, and the rest of us in between, Bacevich describes the domestic “expectations of unprecedented material abundance”. When that fails, as it has, people become “accessories” to war through “detachment, neglect, and inattention,” having “forfeited their say”, their “grant of authority” to the state to make war is “irrevocable.” Domestically, he says “Shrugging off wars makes it that much easier for Americans – overweight, overmedicated, and deeply in hock – to shrug off the persistence of widespread hunger, the patent failures of their criminal justice system, and any number of other problems.” In the second rather basic descriptive essay, “Ballpark liturgy”, Bacevich highlights this discrepancy between the two one percenters when viewing the military pregame presentation at a Red Sox baseball game where “America’s civic religion [is] made manifest….support the troops.”
Beyond Bolton and the “Law of the Jungle”: The Path to a Progressive U.S. Foreign Policy

Parochial view

This book is well written and instructive for those wondering about the true state of the U.S. empire. It is a positive read in that a former active military person has taken on in educational role that exposes and highlights the failures of the U.S. empire. I have no doubt that many other military personnel would support his viewpoint from a more hardened experience.

It is somewhat of a parochial view, both in the secular and religious meanings of the word. Bacevich is to be commended for the insights he does have towards the reality of a militarized U.S. society and its effects overseas and domestically. I would have to argue that he has not quite eroded the effects of his Catholic/military upbringing as there are a few misses that need to be more fully considered. Two of them are hidden in passing comments.

Russia

In the 2017 essay “Saving “America First”,” a lament on the Trump era, he simply says of Russia that it is “in decline while still retaining residual importance.” This seems a foreign geopolitical aspect where Bacevich has not truly maintained updated information and is more or less following the mainstream exposition on Russia. And no, I do not mean Russian interference in U.S. elections, a smoke screen in my view, but the overarching aspects of recent Russian strengths. These range from its demonstrated military efficiency in Syria, and its increasing diplomatic influence in Turkey, Egypt, and Libya, all Mediterranean littoral countries. It includes economic strengths ironically given propulsion from U.S. sanctions.

It reaches further into Russian advances in agricultural production, the strengthening of its resource sectors including and beyond oil, its development of ways and means to avoid using U.S. petrodollars including buying tons of gold, developing new money transfer systems, selling U.S. Treasuries, and liaising all these with China and other Eurasian countries. Russia’s “residual importance” probably came from its nuclear capabilities which are still there, enhanced, and now backed by a powerful set of shorter range defensive armaments. It is truly not a unipolar world, and Russia is definitely one of the poles.

U.S. interests and “just wars”

Two other comments that I look on as essentially the same idea concern saving the military for specific actions, “vital U.S. interests [which] are immediately at risk,” and then arguing in a 2006 essay “God forbid the United States should fail.” The first comment needs definition as all U.S. wars are presented as being national and geopolitically strategic wars. The question becomes whose definition of vital interests does one choose? Later in the essays Bacevich discusses the idea of “Just Wars” perhaps serving as a reflection of his earlier Catholic indoctrination, but that becomes another matter of definition – in my opinion, no wars are just, only rationalized as “we” are the good guys, the ‘other’ is simply that, the ‘other’, readily done away with.

The latter comment about God forbidding the U.S. fails in its war to control the Greater Middle East is unfortunate in that it unravels much of the anti-war sentiment expressed throughout this book. Sure it was written in 2006, but common sense would dictate at least a footnote to indicate whether this sentiment still holds, or why it was presented in the first place. Was it because the U.S. needs to control the oil? Well, no because it has many other sources and now is overproducing. And yes, because the US$ is based on the Saudi’s agreeing to sell oil only withy US$ – and look what happened to Iraq, Libya, and Syria who did not want to use the US$. Is it because of Russian influence? Not when contrasted with his previous comment on Russia declining (2017), and Syria had yet come into the mainstream picture. Or is it because of Israel, the U.S. outpost in the region supporting U.S. hegemony?

Israel

At first Israel did not appear to be of much concern in Bacevich’s writing. As the book progressed it became more and more significant but in a contradictory manner. While accaliaming that Israel is a “vibrant, flourishing state” he also recognizes that it is using military power to control the Palestinian population in Israel. He also recognizes the role Britain had in originating the creation of Palestine, even before Balfour, citing Churchill’s comment, “The establishment of a strong, free, Jewish state astride the bridge between Europe and Africa…would not only be an immense advantage to the British Empire, but a notable step towards the harmonious disposition of the world among its peoples.” The latter part of that statement is just gibberish, but overall reflects the ‘civilizational’ hubris of any conquering empire. Israel was to serve as an ‘outpost’ both militarily and civilizationally as described by Leo Amery of the Lloyd George cabinet, saying, “using the Jews as we have used the Scots, to carry the English ideal through the Middle East [Britain could] make Palestine the centre of western influence.”

While describing Israel as vibrant and flourishing, the connection is not directly made to the knowledge that the U.S. became “Israel’s preeminent international supporter and a generous supplier of economic and military assistance.” Without that assistance Israel would not likely be as vibrant and flourishing as imagined, but would appear as Bacevich himself compares it with the U.S. later as using “unambiguous military superiority” to force peace, which has done “little to enhance Israeli security.”

In the essay “How we became Israel” Bacevich again recognizes that Israel wants peace through “military superiority” by using “anticipatory action” and “targeted assassination” [italics in original]. Both countries have normalized the use of force to the extent of using “disproportional deterrence.” He maintains that both have huge problems that will prevent their success: with Israel it is the demographic problem of too many Palestinians, an historical concern from the outset; and with the U.S. it is the enormous debt accrued through military spending. There are other problems beside those, but these two are certainly dominant.

The really big miss concerning Israel is the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). AIPAC signals the powerful control over U.S. foreign policy that Israel exerts, as the creation of chaos by the U.S. military in the Greater Middle East helps propel Israel to military dominance in the region. While U.S. actions in the region are rightly placed as being for control of oil, they also serve as a way of strengthening Israeli attempts at regional hegemony. The power that AIPAC holds over U.S. foreign policy is very strong – a combination of neocon chickenhawk Israeli supporters in unelected power and Congressional supplication to the Israeli cause due to the imagined influence of the Jewish vote in elections, but mostly to Israeli money pumped into the electoral system.

Until this latter discussion is presented more fully, a true understanding of U.S. interests in the region – beyond containment of Russia and maintaining the US$ – will not sufficiently cover the context for U.S. wars in the Greater Middle East.

Overall, Twilight of the American Century is another in the series of strong critical writings by Andrew Bacevich. Perhaps I am putting too much emphasis on what I call the passing comments and misses, but they do signal areas, important areas, in which the author needs to supply more definition and more context. The recognition of U.S. imperial militarism and its influence domestically is strong, the additional definition of “vital interests” placed in context with overall Israeli influence would help round out the discussion. A good read, I highly recommend it for the insights it provides into the overall examination of the U.S. empire.

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Jim Miles is a frequent contributor to Global Research.
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💀 Neoliberalism's Dark Path to Fascism
« Reply #679 on: November 27, 2018, 12:13:15 AM »
https://www.truthdig.com/articles/neoliberalisms-dark-path-to-fascism/

Nov 26, 2018

Neoliberalism's Dark Path to Fascism
by Chris Hedges


Mr. Fish / Truthdig

Neoliberalism as economic theory was always an absurdity. It had as much validity as past ruling ideologies such as the divine right of kings and fascism’s belief in the Übermensch. None of its vaunted promises were even remotely possible. Concentrating wealth in the hands of a global oligarchic elite—eight families now hold as much wealth as 50 percent of the world’s population—while demolishing government controls and regulations always creates massive income inequality and monopoly power, fuels political extremism and destroys democracy. You do not need to slog through the 577 pages of Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” to figure this out. But economic rationality was never the point. The point was the restoration of class power.

As a ruling ideology, neoliberalism was a brilliant success. Starting in the 1970s, its Keynesian mainstream critics were pushed out of academia, state institutions and financial organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank and shut out of the media. Compliant courtiers and intellectual poseurs such as Milton Friedman were groomed in places such as the University of Chicago and given prominent platforms and lavish corporate funding. They disseminated the official mantra of fringe, discredited economic theories popularized by Friedrich Hayek and the third-rate writer Ayn Rand. Once we knelt before the dictates of the marketplace and lifted government regulations, slashed taxes for the rich, permitted the flow of money across borders, destroyed unions and signed trade deals that sent jobs to sweatshops in China, the world would be a happier, freer and wealthier place. It was a con. But it worked.

“It’s important to recognize the class origins of this project, which occurred in the 1970s when the capitalist class was in a great deal of difficulty, workers were well organized and were beginning to push back,” said David Harvey, the author of “A Brief History of Neoliberalism,” when we spoke in New York. “Like any ruling class, they needed ruling ideas. So, the ruling ideas were that freedom of the market, privatization, entrepreneurialism of the self, individual liberty and all the rest of it should be the ruling ideas of a new social order, and that was the order that got implemented in the 1980s and 1990s.”

“As a political project, it was very savvy,” he said. “It got a great deal of popular consent because it was talking about individual liberty and freedom, freedom of choice. When they talked about freedom, it was freedom of the market. The neoliberal project said to the ’68 generation, ‘OK, you want liberty and freedom? That’s what the student movement was about. We’re going to give it to you, but it’s going to be freedom of the market. The other thing you’re after is social justice—forget it. So, we’ll give you individual liberty, but you forget the social justice. Don’t organize.’ The attempt was to dismantle those institutions, which were those collective institutions of the working class, particularly the unions and bit by bit those political parties that stood for some sort of concern for the well-being of the masses.”

“The great thing about freedom of the market is it appears to be egalitarian, but there is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequals,” Harvey went on. “It promises equality of treatment, but if you’re extremely rich, it means you can get richer. If you’re very poor, you’re more likely to get poorer. What Marx showed brilliantly in volume one of ‘Capital’ is that freedom of the market produces greater and greater levels of social inequality.”

The dissemination of the ideology of neoliberalism was highly organized by a unified capitalist class. The capitalist elites funded organizations such as the Business Roundtable and the Chamber of Commerce and think tanks such as The Heritage Foundation to sell the ideology to the public. They lavished universities with donations, as long as the universities paid fealty to the ruling ideology. They used their influence and wealth, as well as their ownership of media platforms, to transform the press into their mouthpiece. And they silenced any heretics or made it hard for them to find employment. Soaring stock values rather than production became the new measure of the economy. Everything and everyone were financialized and commodified.

“Value is fixed by whatever price is realized in the market,” Harvey said. “So, Hillary Clinton is very valuable because she gave a lecture to Goldman Sachs for $250,000. If I give a lecture to a small group downtown and I get $50 for it, then obviously she is worth much more than me. The valuation of a person, of their content, is valued by how much they can get in the market.”

“That is the philosophy that lies behind neoliberalism,” he continued. “We have to put a price on things. Even though they’re not really things that should be treated as commodities. For instance, health care becomes a commodity. Housing for everybody becomes a commodity. Education becomes a commodity. So, students have to borrow in order to get the education which will get them a job in the future. That’s the scam of the thing. It basically says if you’re an entrepreneur, if you go out there and train yourself, etc., you will get your just rewards. If you don’t get your just rewards, it’s because you didn’t train yourself right. You took the wrong kind of courses. You took courses in philosophy or classics instead of taking it in management skills of how to exploit labor.”

The con of neoliberalism is now widely understood across the political spectrum. It is harder and harder to hide its predatory nature, including its demands for huge public subsidies (Amazon, for example, recently sought and received multibillion-dollar tax breaks from New York and Virginia to set up distribution centers in those states). This has forced the ruling elites to make alliances with right-wing demagogues who use the crude tactics of racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, bigotry and misogyny to channel the public’s growing rage and frustration away from the elites and toward the vulnerable. These demagogues accelerate the pillage by the global elites while at the same time promising to protect working men and women. Donald Trump’s administration, for example, has abolished numerous regulations, from greenhouse gas emissions to net neutrality, and slashed taxes for the wealthiest individuals and corporations, wiping out an estimated $1.5 trillion in government revenue over the next decade, while embracing authoritarian language and forms of control.

Neoliberalism generates little wealth. Rather, it redistributes it upward into the hands of the ruling elites. Harvey calls this “accumulation by dispossession.”

“The main argument of accumulation by dispossession rests on the idea that when people run out of the capacity to make things or provide services, they set up a system that extracts wealth from other people,” Harvey said. “That extraction then becomes the center of their activities. One of the ways in which that extraction can occur is by creating new commodity markets where there were none before. For instance, when I was younger, higher education in Europe was essentially a public good. Increasingly [this and other services] have become a private activity. Health service. Many of these areas which you would consider not to be commodities in the ordinary sense become commodities. Housing for the lower-income population was often seen as a social obligation. Now everything has to go through the market. You impose a market logic on areas that shouldn’t be open to market.”

“When I was a kid, water in Britain was provided as a public good,” Harvey said. “Then, of course, it gets privatized. You start to pay water charges. They’ve privatized transportation [in Britain]. The bus system is chaotic. There’s all these private companies running here, there, everywhere. There’s no system which you really need. The same thing happens on the railways. One of the things right now, in Britain, is interesting—the Labour Party says, ‘We’re going to take all of that back into public ownership because privatization is totally insane and it has insane consequences and it’s not working well at all.’ The majority of the population now agrees with that.”

Under neoliberalism, the process of “accumulation by dispossession” is accompanied by financialization.

“Deregulation allowed the financial system to become one of the main centers of redistributive activity through speculation, predation, fraud, and thievery,” Harvey writes in his book, perhaps the best and most concise account of the history of neoliberalism. “Stock promotions, ponzi schemes, structured asset destruction through inflation, asset stripping through mergers and acquisitions, the promotion of levels of debt incumbency that reduce whole populations even in the advanced capitalist countries to debt peonage. To say nothing of corporate fraud, dispossession of assets, the raiding of pension funds, their decimation by stock, and corporate collapses by credit and stock manipulations, all of these became central features of the capitalist financial system.”

Neoliberalism, wielding tremendous financial power, is able to manufacture economic crises to depress the value of assets and then seize them.

“One of the ways in which you can engineer a crisis is to cut off the flow of credit,” he said. “This was done in Eastern, Southeast Asia in 1997 and 1998. Suddenly, liquidity dried up. Major institutions would not lend money. There had been a big flow of foreign capital into Indonesia. They turned off the tap. Foreign capital flowed out. They turned it off in part because once all the firms went bankrupt, they could be bought up and put back to work again. We saw the same thing during the housing crisis here [in the United States]. The foreclosures of the housing left lots of housing out there, which could be picked up very cheaply. Blackstone comes in, buys up all of the housing, and is now the biggest landlord in all of the United States. It has 200,000 properties or something like that. It’s waiting for the market to turn. When the market turns, which it did do briefly, then you can sell off or rent out and make a killing out of it. Blackstone has made a killing off of the foreclosure crisis where everyone lost. It was a massive transfer of wealth.”

Harvey warns that individual freedom and social justice are not necessarily compatible. Social justice, he writes, requires social solidarity and “a willingness to submerge individual wants, needs, and desires in the cause of some more general struggle for, say, social equality and environmental justice.” Neoliberal rhetoric, with its emphasis on individual freedoms, can effectively “split off libertarianism, identity politics, multiculturalism, and eventually narcissistic consumerism from the social forces ranged in pursuit of social justice through the conquest of state power.”

The economist Karl Polanyi understood that there are two kinds of freedoms. There are the bad freedoms to exploit those around us and extract huge profits without regard to the common good, including what is done to the ecosystem and democratic institutions. These bad freedoms see corporations monopolize technologies and scientific advances to make huge profits, even when, as with the pharmaceutical industry, a monopoly means lives of those who cannot pay exorbitant prices are put in jeopardy. The good freedoms—freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of meeting, freedom of association, freedom to choose one’s job—are eventually snuffed out by the primacy of the bad freedoms.

“Planning and control are being attacked as a denial for freedom,” Polanyi wrote. “Free enterprise and private ownership are declared to be essentials to freedom. No society built on other foundations is said to deserve to be called free. The freedom that regulation creates is denounced as unfreedom; the justice, liberty and welfare it offers are decried as a camouflage of slavery.”

“The idea of freedom ‘thus degenerates into a mere advocacy of free enterprise,’ which means ‘the fullness of freedom for those whose income, leisure and security need no enhancing, and a mere pittance of liberty for people, who may in vain attempt to make use of their democratic rights to gain shelter from the power of the owners of property,’ ” Harvey writes, quoting Polanyi. “But if, as is always the case, ‘no society is possible in which power and compulsion are absent, nor a world in which force has no function,’ then the only way this liberal utopian vision could be sustained is by force, violence, and authoritarianism. Liberal or neoliberal utopianism is doomed, in Polanyi’s view, to be frustrated by authoritarianism, or even outright fascism. The good freedoms are lost, the bad ones take over.”

Neoliberalism transforms freedom for the many into freedom for the few. Its logical result is neofascism. Neofascism abolishes civil liberties in the name of national security and brands whole groups as traitors and enemies of the people. It is the militarized instrument used by the ruling elites to maintain control, divide and tear apart the society and further accelerate pillage and social inequality. The ruling ideology, no longer credible, is replaced with the jackboot.
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🌍 From 1945 Until Today – 20 to 30 Million People Killed by the USA
« Reply #680 on: November 28, 2018, 01:21:19 AM »
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https://www.globalresearch.ca/from-1945-until-today-20-to-30-million-people-killed-by-the-usa/5660519

From 1945 Until Today – 20 to 30 Million People Killed by the USA
By Manlio Dinucci
Global Research, November 21, 2018
Theme: Crimes against Humanity, History, US NATO War Agenda

In the summary of its last strategic document – 2018 National Defense Strategy of the United States of America (of which the entire text is classified) – the Pentagon claims that “after the Second World War, the United States and their allies installed a “free and open international order in order to safeguard the freedom of the people from aggression and coercion”, but that “this order is presently undermined by Russia and China, who are violating the principles and rules of international relations”. This is a total reversal of historical reality.

Professor Michel Chossudovsky, director of the Center for Research on Globalization, reminds us that these two countries, listed today as enemies, are those which, when they were allied with the United States during the Second World War, paid the victory over the Nazi-fascist Axis Berlin-Rome-Tokyo with the greatest price in human lives – approximately 26 million from the Soviet Union and 20 million from China, compared with a little more than 400,000 from the United States.
With this preliminary, Chossudovsky introduces to Global Research a documented study by James A. Lucas on the number of people killed by the uninterrupted series of wars, coups d’État and other subversive operations executed by the United States from the end of the War in 1945 until now – a number estimated at 20 to 30 million victims. Approximately twice the number of deaths from the First World War, the centenary of the end of which has just been celebrated in Paris with a Peace Forum.
Selected Articles: People Fight for Peace

Apart from the deaths, there are the wounded, who very often find themselves crippled for life – some experts calculate that for every person killed in war, ten others are wounded. This means that the number of people wounded by US wars should be counted in the hundreds of millions.

To this estimation in the study we must add a non-quantified number of dead, probably hundreds of millions, which have been caused, from 1945 until today, by the indirect effects of  wars – famine, epidemics, forced migrations, slavery and exploitation, environmental damage, subtraction of resources from vital needs in order to cover military expenditure.

The study documents the wars and coups d’État executed by the United States in 30 Asian, African, European and Latin-American countries. It reveals that US military forces are directly responsible for between 10 and 15 million deaths, caused by the major wars – those against Korea and Vietnam and the two wars against Iraq. Between 10 and 14 million other deaths have been caused by the proxy wars waged by the allied armed forces trained and commanded by the USA in Afghanistan, Angola, Congo, Sudan, Guatemala and other countries.

The Vietnam War, which spread to Cambodia and Laos, caused a number of deaths estimated at 7.8 million (plus a huge number of wounded, and genetic damage affecting generations due to the dioxin sprayed by US aircraft).

The proxy war of the 1980’s in Afghanistan was organised by the CIA, which trained and armed – with the collaboration of Osama bin Laden and Pakistan – more than 100,000 mujahideen to fight the Soviet troops who had fallen into the “Afghan trap” (as it was later described by Zbigniew Brzezinski, specifying that the training of the mujahideen had begun in July 1979, five months before the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan).

The bloodiest coup d’État was organised in 1965 in Indonesia by the CIA – it handed over the list of the first 5,000 Communists and others marked for death to the Indonesian murder squads. The number of people assassinated is estimated at between 500,000 and 3 million.

That is the “free and open international order” that the United States, independently of the White House, persist in pursuing in order to “safeguard the people from aggression and coercion”.

*

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This article was originally published in Italian on Il Manifesto.

Translated by Pete Kimberley

Manlio Dinucci is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Featured image is from NEO
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🌍 Be nice to Amerika or we'll bring democracy to your country!
« Reply #681 on: November 29, 2018, 01:10:41 AM »
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🌎 Chris Hedges: The Amerikan Empire will Collapse within a Decade (audio 54m)
« Reply #682 on: November 30, 2018, 12:03:15 AM »
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🌏 The Kerch Strait Crisis Presents An Opportunity For Russia In The Arctic
« Reply #683 on: December 02, 2018, 03:06:16 AM »
https://eurasiafuture.com/2018/11/30/the-kerch-strait-crisis-presents-an-opportunity-for-russia-in-the-arctic/

 Analysis and Policy, Asia, US/EU
The Kerch Strait Crisis Presents An Opportunity For Russia In The Arctic
Written by Andrew Korybko on 2018-11-30


Russia would have obviously preferred that the Kerch Strait Crisis with Ukraine never happened, but since it did, Moscow’s wasting no time in taking advantage of the highly publicized defense of its maritime borders in the Black Sea to promote a similar policy towards its sovereign waters in the Arctic Ocean, though the US might contest some of Russia’s claims there in the future under the pretext of promoting the so-called “freedom of navigation” principle.

Sputnik reported on Friday that Russia will implement a policy from 2019 onwards requiring all foreign military vessels to seek its approval before transiting through its territorial waters when utilizing the Northern Sea Route between Western and Eastern Eurasia. This is a sensible strategy for safeguarding the country’s sovereignty, especially in the immediate aftermath of the Kerch Strait Crisis with Ukraine, which can be seen in hindsight as having spurred the Kremlin to make this announcement. In fact, while Russia would have obviously preferred for the Black Sea incident to have never happened, it’s wasting no time in using it as the reason for rolling out a more robust policy for unambiguously defending its maritime interests in the Arctic Ocean, which are set to become more important than ever in the coming years as the gradual melting of sea ice there opens up access to what has historically been called the Northeast Passage.

Looking at the map, it may not seem like that big of a deal for Russia to declare that foreign military vessels can’t transit through its territorial waters without receiving prior approval since the shortest geographic route from the American-shared Bering Strait to the European gateway of the Norwegian Sea goes directly through the North Pole, but it must be remembered that this part of the Arctic Ocean will probably still remain frozen for years to come. This means that all vessels traversing this route will more than likely have to pass through Russia’s internationally recognized maritime territory at some point or another in order to continue their voyage across the northern reaches of the Eastern Hemisphere, hence the applicability of the promulgated policy in having Moscow act as the geopolitical gatekeeper of this connectivity corridor. It’s within Russia’s sovereign right to do so, and after the Kerch Crisis, there aren’t any questions about its commitment to defending its territorial interests.

Accepting this, the US and its allies are highly unlikely to attempt to test Russia’s fortitude in this respect, although the scenario of course can’t ever be precluded. Nevertheless, it’s much more likely that Russia will grant the privilege of military passage to warships from its Chinese and Indian partners, seeking to strike a “balance” between both of them as it facilitates their use of the Northern Sea Route, especially in the event that they’re traversing it en route to ports of call in Europe. Even if they aren’t, each of them are investing in different energy extraction projects in the region, so it might serve domestic political purposes in both Great Powers to occasionally dispatch their ships on friendly visits to their Russian partner’s Arctic ports. While the US would probably welcome India’s presence there, its allied Mainstream Media outlets across the world will probably fearmonger about China’s.

Moving out of the infowar realm and into the sphere of tangible geopolitics, however, the US might actually be cooking up a scheme to challenge Russia’s Arctic claims, albeit those which aren’t yet internationally recognized by the UN. It shouldn’t be forgotten that Russia claims a broad swath of the Arctic Ocean by virtue of the Siberian-originating underwater Lomonosov Ridge that extends all the way up to the North Pole, which Moscow believes makes the surrounding waters its sovereign territory per the clauses contained in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). It’s already submitted an application to the global body to hear its case and eventually rule on whether to recognize it, which could then possibly put this massive stretch of the sea under Russia’s military protection per its recently promulgated policy of requiring advance notification from foreign warships before they traverse through its territory.

As Arctic ice melts ever more with the passing of time, it’ll inevitably get to the point where the waters beyond Russia’s present maritime territory there become navigable during at least some months of the year, thereby opening up the theoretical possibility of foreign warships sailing through them. Thus, it’s important for Russia to assert control over as much of this waterway as possible in order to prevent hostile forces from encroaching too close to its coast, to say nothing of the economic incentive that it and its competitors have to mine this resource-rich region and correspondingly protect their investments there. The problem, however, is that the US isn’t a party to UNCLOS, and while de-facto recognizing most of its authority, still “officially” doesn’t abide by this framework and believes that it has the “exceptional” right to sail its warships wherever it pleases, hence one of the publicly stated reasons why it’s provoking China in the South China Sea.

It therefore wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination to predict that the US might one day militarily challenge Russia’s UNCLOS claim to large parts of the Arctic Ocean, doing so on the basis that it doesn’t regard those waters as being under Moscow’s control and wanting to promote the so-called “freedom of navigation” principle there as its “plausible” pretext for “justifying” this provocative move. The reader should keep in mind that this scenario is still years away from possibly transpiring because those maritime areas are still largely frozen and will probably remain so for a while to come, meaning that it wouldn’t be realistic for the US to even seriously contemplate this until then. Nevertheless, if there’s any “silver lining” to emerge from the Kerch Crisis, it’s that Russia proved that it will resolutely defend its sovereign maritime interests, so explicitly expanding this policy to the Arctic Ocean might give the US cause to consider whether it’s worth poking the Russian Bear there.

DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.
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🌎 What is Neoliberalism? Everything you need to know…
« Reply #684 on: December 04, 2018, 01:07:13 AM »
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🌍 Siding with fascism: Western ideologues pose greater threat to the West’s
« Reply #685 on: December 05, 2018, 01:35:25 AM »
https://www.greanvillepost.com/2018/12/04/siding-with-fascism-western-ideologues-pose-greater-threat-to-the-wests-security-than-isis/

Siding with fascism: Western ideologues pose greater threat to the West’s security than ISIS
December 4, 2018 Patrice de Bergeracpas


MAKE SURE YOU CIRCULATE THESE MATERIALS! BREAKING THE EMPIRE'S PROPAGANDA MACHINE DEPENDS ON YOU.
Meet the Atlantic Council nutjobs and their deranged influence on Western policy


The notorious Azov battalion and other neonazi outfits are now integrated into the Ukraine government structure.

A Western ideologue unravelling is no pretty sight. It’s like watching a lobster boiling in a pot. And like that lobster he or she eventually pops.

‘Popping’ recently over Russia have been key figures of the Western geopolitical and ideological firmament – people for whom the world is made of a Western bloc of nations divinely ordained to command, and the rest of the world condemned to obey.

A prime example of what I mean concerns the Atlantic Council in Washington, one of the more notorious of an ever expanding network of neocon think tanks in our world, within whose Washington offices you will find gathered cranks of inordinate dimension.

For such people Russia is not a country of 146 million people whose contribution to the world in the fields of art, science, culture and so on has been profound throughout its history and remains so today, but instead is a cancer that needs to be removed – preferably by force.
For [The Atlantic Council] Russia is not a country of 146 million people whose contribution to the world in the fields of art, science, culture and so on has been profound throughout its history and remains so today, but instead is a cancer that needs to be removed – preferably by force.
Take Mr Anders Aslund – economist, author and senior crank/fellow at the Atlantic Council. His outpouring of vituperation in response to the Kerch Strait incident involving Russia and Ukraine – calling for the West and NATO to “react sharply before it is too late” – is redolent of a man suffering emotional and psychological meltdown.

In losing his mind so, Mr Aslund reminds us that the Atlantic Council is an organization stacked with people for whom rationality is a vice and irrationality a virtue. Perhaps such a state of affairs might even be funny if not for the influence this particular think tank wields in Western foreign policy circles; influence that is on a par with an arsonist being taken seriously when it comes to fire prevention.

It also comes as no surprise that the Atlantic Council’s financial sponsors amount to a rogue’s gallery of global corporations, oil companies, banks and financial institutions, governments and various other entities of such nature. It confirms that the relationship between global capitalism and Western imperialism is one forged in hell – or at least it does for those nations and people forced to exist at the sharp end of its egregious role around the world when it comes to fomenting conflict, crises, carnage and instability.

Ukraine is a prime example of what I mean. Lest anyone forget, the last democratically elected government of Ukraine to enjoy a mandate covering the entire country was unceremoniously toppled by a violent coup at the start of 2014. It was a coup supported by Western ideologues such as Anders Aslund, and one in which neo-Nazis were in the vanguard on the ground.

ALSO ON RT.COMUS, Europe & NATO risk all-out war by backing unhinged Kiev regime
It is no coincidence that Western Ukraine, where the 2014 coup was centred and where the government it hatched continues to enjoy the bulk of its support, is a part of the world where fascism has deep historical and cultural roots. This is reflected in the recrudescence and elevation of fascism as a legitimate and openly flaunted creed in this part of the world today, calling to mind German playwright Bertolt Brecht’s prescient warning at the end of the Second World War: “The womb from that which crawled remains fertile.”

Strange then – or indeed perhaps not so strange – that British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson should recently declare with the bombast of a man who spends his days memorizing the wartime speeches of Winston Churchill: “As long as Ukraine faces Russian hostilities, it will find a steadfast partner in the United Kingdom. By continuing to work together, whether through training programmes or military exercises, we help Ukraine to stand up for our shared values.”

You heard that, yes? Shared values, the man said.

Williamson’s stentorian words of support for the coup government in Kiev should be weighed in the balance against the analysis of US academic Stephen F. Cohen, set out in a May 2018 podcast for The Nation magazine. In it Cohen reveals the extent to which neo-Nazis are now an integral part of the Kiev government’s armed forces, specifically the controversial Azov Battalion.

Even the previously mentioned Atlantic Council is unable to place democratic lipstick on the far right pig of Western Ukraine in 2018. In a June article for the think tank, Josh Cohen (no relation to Stephen F.) writes:

“Since the beginning of 2018, C14 and other far-right groups such as the Azov-affiliated National Militia, Right Sector, Karpatska Sich, and others have attacked Roma groups several times, as well as anti-fascist demonstrations, city council meetings, an event hosted by Amnesty International, art exhibitions, LGBT events, and environmental activists.”

He continues:

“After the March 8 attacks, Amnesty International warned, ‘Ukraine is sinking into a chaos of uncontrolled violence posed by radical groups and their total impunity. Practically no one in the country can feel safe under these conditions.’”

ALSO ON RT.COMAnother Crimean war looms as NATO provocations enter Russian waters – George Galloway

Given the ‘actual’ society hatched by Euromaidan in 2014, rather than the ‘illusory’ one touted in the West, it is prudent to point that the while the likes of Gavin Williamson may well harbor delusions of Churchillian grandeur in his capacity as Britain’s defence secretary, one important distinction cannot be overlooked.

It is that while Churchill – racist and imperialist though he was – sided with Moscow against fascism, the current generation of aspiring Winstons within the British establishment are siding with fascism against Moscow.

Speaking of which, the Second World War is always a sumptuous feast when it comes to highlighting the bubble of unreality in which your average Western ideologue exists. Here, allow me to introduce John Sweeney of the BBC.

Mr Sweeney recently saw fit to tweet the following: “Thinking about the victims of Stalin’s famine of 1933 and the useful idiots – then and now – who blind their eyes to the truth that throughout too much recent history the Kremlin has been little more than a killing machine.”

‘Stalin’s famine’ of 1932-1933 was undeniably egregious [although hardly intentional considering the dreadful conditions existing at the time—Ed) , but any less so than Churchill’s Bengal famine of 1943? As for the Kremlin being a ‘killing machine’, it was certainly Europe’s good fortune that this was the case between 1941 and 1945, or else the entire continent would have been enslaved by the Nazis; turned thereafter into a mass grave the like of which would have made the Holocaust that Hitler and his hordes authored mere child’s play in comparison.

With a view to saving the worst till last, newly installed British army chief, General Mark Carleton-Smith, is evidently not a man whom anyone could accuse of having a serious grasp on reality – not when according to him “Russia today indisputably represents a far greater threat to our national security than Islamic extremist threats such as al-Qaida and Isil (ISIS).”

The lobsters, as you can see, are well and truly popping.
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John Wight has written for newspapers and websites across the world, including the Independent, Morning Star, Huffington Post, Counterpunch, London Progressive Journal, and Foreign Policy Journal. He is also a regular commentator on RT and BBC Radio. John is currently working on a book exploring the role of the West in the Arab Spring. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnWight1
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🗳️ GOP-controlled Senate breaks with Trump on Saudi vote
« Reply #686 on: December 13, 2018, 05:04:56 AM »

Cracks appear in the foundation...

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https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/421141-gop-controlled-senate-breaks-with-trump-on-saudi-vote

GOP-controlled Senate breaks with Trump on Saudi vote
By Jordain Carney and Rebecca Kheel - 12/12/18 08:34 PM EST


The GOP-controlled Senate on Wednesday dealt a significant blow to President Trump by voting to advance a resolution ending U.S. support for the Saudi war in Yemen in the aftermath of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi’s slaying.

Senators agreed to begin debate on the measure despite only 11 of the chamber’s 51 Republicans joining with all Democrats to support it. The legislation would require Trump to withdraw any troops in or “affecting” Yemen within 30 days; the president has threatened to veto the bill if it reaches his desk.

Senators were still haggling over amendments on Wednesday evening, but a final vote is expected this week. Both supporters and opponents say the resolution has the support needed to pass.

The vote will mark the likely climax for the measure until 2019 since the House voted to block supporters from being able to force a vote this year by slipping the provision into a rule governing debate of the unrelated farm bill.

But the Senate’s actions underscore the depth of frustration with Saudi Arabia on Capitol Hill, as well as the escalating gap between the White House and Congress on the U.S.-Saudi relationship.

The administration is signaling it plans to stand by the Saudi government, with Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lobbying members against cutting off support. Trump doubled down this week, telling Reuters that Riyadh has been “a very good ally” and “at this moment” sticking with Saudi Arabia means standing by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

But absent major concessions from the Saudi government, senators said there was little that could stop the Yemen resolution, which only needs a simple majority because it was being brought up under the War Powers Act. A growing number of senators are convinced of the Saudi crown prince’s involvement in Khashoggi’s slaying.

“I’ve sat at a very, very detailed, very detailed intelligence review of what happened with the journalist, the consulate in Turkey, and I absolutely believe if the crown prince came before a jury here in the United States of America, he would be convicted guilty in under 30 minutes,” said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who is opposing the Yemen resolution. “I absolutely believe he directed it. I believe he monitored it and I believe he is responsible for it.”

Frustration with Saudi Arabia runs deep on Capitol Hill and goes back years. The only successful veto override during the Obama administration, despite GOP control of Congress, came in 2016 when lawmakers overturned Obama’s veto of legislation that would allow victims of the 9/11 terror attacks to sue Saudi Arabia.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who is sponsoring the Yemen resolution along with Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), says he believes the Senate reached a turning point after a Saudi coalition airstrike hit a school bus in August in Yemen, killing dozens of children. 

“I know some people don’t want to believe this, but I think this resolution was going to pass even if Khashoggi was never murdered. I think the momentum was just growing toward getting the United States out of this war,” Murphy said. “I think there were 51 votes for this even before Khashoggi.”

The vote is a dramatic U-turn from less than nine months ago when the chamber pigeonholed the exact same resolution, not even agreeing to discharge it out of committee and on to the full Senate. At the time, 10 Democrats joined 45 Republicans in opposing it.

And it comes as the administration has lobbied hard against the measure. Mattis and Pompeo, who briefed the Senate late last month and urged them to oppose the measure, are expected to give a similar briefing to the House on Thursday.

CIA Director Gina Haspel also met, separately, with a group of Senate and House lawmakers, but only appeared to solidify the belief among senators that the crown prince is responsible. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters after the briefing that “there’s not a smoking gun, there’s a smoking saw” tying Crown Prince Mohammed to the death — a direct rebuke to Mattis’s claim that there isn’t a “smoking gun” linking the crown prince.

Haspel’s briefing in the House on Wednesday, though, did not appear to have a similar effect in the lower chamber. Despite the Senate vote, House Republicans on Wednesday effectively torpedoed any chances of a vote on the resolution this year by tucking a provision into a rule for floor debate of the farm bill that prevents House members from doing the same thing for the rest of the year.

House Republicans are not ruling out some form of action after their Thursday briefing.
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“We’re going to have a classified briefing tomorrow that will further allow debate based upon the facts of the case,” House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) said on the floor. “We will be here all next week and if the facts of the case warrant, we will address the issue then.”

But in a sign of discontent, the move to take away the ability to force a vote on Yemen nearly stalled the farm bill, with the rule narrowly passing 206-203.

“The only reason the leadership is doing this is because they know that there are dozens of Republicans who will stand with Democrats to stop the killing in Yemen,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), who sponsored the House version of the resolution, said on the floor.

Eighteen Republicans voted with most Democrats against the rule. But five Democrats — House Agriculture Committee members Reps. Jim Costa (Calif.), Al Lawson (Fla.), Collin Peterson (Minn.) and David Scott (Ga.), and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (Md.)  — voted with Republicans, saving the rule.

Senate Republicans are eyeing sending a second rebuke to Saudi Arabia as soon as this week with a separate resolution that is expected to name the Saudi crown prince as “responsible” for Khashoggi’s death.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) urged his colleagues to oppose the Lee-Sanders resolution on Wednesday while acknowledging members have “legitimate concerns” about Yemen and share “grave concerns” about Khashoggi’s death.

He added that the dynamic presents “challenging circumstances” but “the Sanders-Lee resolution is neither precise enough or prudent enough.” Instead, he publicly threw his support behind a forthcoming resolution from Corker.

Corker has been negotiating for days with Senate leadership on the resolution, in the hopes that it could get a Senate vote as soon as this week. An overwhelming vote, he hopes, would pressure House leadership to quickly pass it before the end of the year.

“A strong denouncing of a crown prince and holding them responsible for the murder of a journalist — it’s a pretty strong statement for the United States Senate to be making, assuming we can get a vote on it,” Corker told reporters this week.

But any further action on Yemen or a broader effort to crack down on Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi’s death is expected to spill into 2019, with lawmakers already eyeing the next steps.

“I think there’s a willingness to move this in the House next year and it will be harder to pass in the Senate next year, because our margin will get thinner, but, yeah, I expect that we’ll start this process again next year,” Murphy said Wednesday about the Yemen resolution.

Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) are expected to reintroduce legislation in the new Congress that would require sanctions within 30 days on anyone involved in Khashoggi’s death, including “any official of the government of Saudi Arabia or member of the royal family” determined to be involved. The amendment would also suspend weapons sales to Saudi Arabia.

Senior House Democrats are already vowing to revive the Saudi Arabia and Yemen fights when they control the chamber next year.

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), who is poised to be House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, emerged from Haspel’s briefing Wednesday pledging to hold hearings shortly after Jan. 1 on “all aspects of Saudi behavior.”

Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the presumptive next chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said he’d support sanctions against Crown Prince Mohammed. He also raised the possibility of a push to cut off funding for the war effort, saying that a war powers resolution on its own won’t end U.S. involvement.

“At the end of the day, the president, going back to Thomas Jefferson, has always been able to do with the military what they wanted to do with the military, until Congress completely cuts off the money,” he said. “It is nonetheless important to do what Ro Khanna is doing and what Bernie Sanders is doing because it raises awareness and attention to the problem and the question of what we ought to be doing in Yemen.”
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🌎 What Socialism Can and Can’t Do
« Reply #687 on: December 21, 2018, 02:25:22 AM »
https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/12/20/what-socialism-can-and-cant-do/

December 20, 2018
What Socialism Can and Can’t Do
by Charles McKelvey


Socialism seeks to transform societies and persons, bringing them to a higher stage of social justice and personal and ethical responsibility than is possible under capitalist economic systems.  Can it do so?  My experiences living and working in both the United States and Cuba, nations emblematic of advanced capitalism and Third World socialism, have enabled me to discern what socialism can and cannot do.

On the basis of study of the socialist projects in the world and the contradictions of the world-system, I have arrived to a reformulation of Marx’s understanding of the stages of economic and social development in human history.  In my view, at the present historic juncture, we are in the early moments of a stage of global transition to socialism.  At the present time, socialist movements have taken political power in seven nations East Asia and Latin America.  The seven states seeking to construct socialism have important allies among other states, and they have relations with many states.  However, the great majority of nations continue to have capitalist political economies, and the world-economy is driven principally by a capitalist logic.  The core states of the capitalist world-economy, which are in North America and Western Europe, direct the world-economy in accordance with their imperialist interests, thus imposing global structural constraints on the economic development of the declared socialist nations.  In addition, the core states seek to undermine the governments of the declared socialist states, seeing them as threats to the neocolonial world-system; they impose economic sanctions and adopt various interventionist measures. Moreover, through their ownership of the media of communication, the core nations are able to disseminate capitalist values as well as ideological distortions of the socialist projects.  Nevertheless, the limitations of capitalism are becoming increasingly evident, creating greater ideological possibilities for socialist movements.

The ongoing process of human economic and social development has established the possibilities for socialism.  At the same time, the stage of human development in which we find ourselves limits what socialism is able to do.  As we seek to understand what socialism can and cannot do, we should keep in mind the possibilities that are created and the limitations that are imposed in the current stage of human social and economic development.

Socialism has demonstrated that it is possible to accomplish a revolutionary transformation of education.  I refer here not to the fact that education is equally and fully available to all, but to the content of the teaching.  In capitalist societies, higher education claims a mission of dedication to the quest for truth.  Inasmuch as revolution seeks social structural transformations that are based in truth, it would appear that a sincere revolutionary in a capitalist society would be able to do intellectual work in higher education. However, committed revolutionaries doing intellectual work in higher education in capitalist societies discover resistance and repression in practice.  Socialism, on the other hand, it able to liberate the search for truth and the teaching of discovered insights from the constraints imposed on educational systems by capitalism.  In societies seeking to construct socialism, the socialization of revolutionary goals is integral to the mission of education.

As a consequence of the socialist transformation of education, a declared socialist nation can create a revolutionary people. That is to say, it is able to forge a people that understands the fundamentals of human history and of contemporary social dynamics.  A people that actively participates in structures of popular democracy, appreciating that they are more democratic than representative democracy, because the interests of the wealthy do not distort the political process.  A people that grasps the role of imperialism in maintaining the neocolonial world-system.  A people that recognizes the social and economic rights of all persons, including full and equal access to education, health, housing, nutrition, transportation, culture, and sport.  A people that understands the necessary role of the state as the formulator and director of a plan for social and economic development, and as a major actor in the economy.  A people that knows that, in the international plane, there must be cooperation among nations and solidarity among peoples.  A people that knows that each person has to protect his or her own interests, but we all must care for one another.

In the present stage of human development, the nations that are seeking to construct socialism cannot fully provide the social and economic rights of the people.  In the case of Cuba, for example, full and equal access to education, health, culture, and sport in essence exists.  However, there is unequal access to housing and transportation; minimal nutrition is available to all, but there are more options for those with greater financial resources.

Nor can the declared socialist nations convert the people into a vanguard.  The great majority of the people understand the fundamentals, but they are not habituated to theoretical and historical reflection.  The people think concretely; they understand what they need and want, and what they have and don’t have.  But they do not spontaneously interpret their situation in historical and/or global context. They have to be reminded periodically of the fundamentals that they understand, and a politically conscious vanguard fulfills this pedagogical role.

The nations constructing socialism have demonstrated that they can forge a vanguard from the people.  The vanguard consists of persons habituated to critical, theoretical, and practical reflection; committed to doing concrete revolutionary tasks in places of work, in government, and in civil society; and committed to the fundamental goals of the revolution, regularly making sacrifices in its defense. The vanguard fulfills important roles in the principal institutions of the society, in mass organizations, and in structures of popular power, and the people appreciate their qualities of understanding and commitment.

In the current stage of human development, a socialist project needs the vanguard to educate and lead the people.  The nations that are constructing socialism are endeavoring to construct an alternative political process, in which the people freely debate and decide.  But the vanguard plays a continuous pedagogical role, in which it takes a position on matters of debate among the people, it presents issue of debate to the people, or it reframes issues that emerge from the people.  The vanguard must maintain the trust and confidence of the people, for if it does not, the socialist project will fall.

The declared socialist nations must have various forms of property, not only collective forms of property, such as state property or cooperatives.  This follows from the facts noted: socialist projects can form a revolutionary people but cannot attain the full transformation of the people into persons with the characteristics of the vanguard, and they can only partially fulfil the material desires the people.  In a situation in which material needs and wants are not fully met, the people turn to private employment activities, such as producing goods for sale, providing services, or buying and selling goods and currencies; engaging in such activities informally.  Also reflecting the limited capacity of socialist projects to fully transform the people, many of the people, including some with high capacities for production, become slack in their work habits, as a result of dissatisfaction with insufficient work incentives in state enterprises or cooperatives.  The socialist state, with need to increase production in order to more completely satisfy the needs of the people, must legitimate the people’s informal activities in order to incorporate them into the national economic plan, and it must encourage diligent work habits through work incentives.  Accordingly, it must formally recognize self-employment and private property in addition to state and cooperative ownership; and it must establish mechanisms for pay on the basis of production, at least in part.

The declared socialist nations are unable to eliminate bureaucracy.  The socialist revolution in political power must satisfy the material needs and wants of the people, and it must rely on bureaucratic structures to facilitate the production and distribution of goods and services.  Inasmuch as the revolutionary project cannot eliminate bureaucracy, it cannot eliminate a bureaucratic mentality, in which people are oriented to doing their particular task, unmindful of the needs of the whole.

As a result of the fact that the declared socialist nations cannot transform bureaucratic structures and the bureaucratic mentality, they cannot eliminate habitual and taken for granted patterns of thought and behavior, which can be found not only among the people but also in the vanguard. Accordingly, persons with truly creative ideas are going to find resistance to their ideas.  They will not encounter a hostile rejection, as can occur in capitalism; rather, they experience a subtle form of ignoring proposals, and when necessary, an “explanation,” with excuses rather than reasons.

In spite of what it cannot do in the current stage of human social and economic development, socialism has considerable achievements.  It has developed alternative structures of popular power and popular democracy.  It has made considerable gains in the protection of the social and economic rights of the people, using the state as an arm to direct the economy in the accordance with popular needs.  It has forged a revolutionary people that understands the fundamentals, and it has forged a highly committed and hardworking vanguard from the people.  And at an international plane, the seven vanguard nations, with the cooperation of some progressive nations, have taken the first steps toward the development of a more just, democratic, and sustainable international order, based on cooperation and solidarity, rather than domination and exploitation.

There are two principal enemies of socialism today. First, imperialist aggressors who use all means in their effort to destroy the socialist projects of the seven socialist nations.  Secondly, idealist socialists, who are critical of the socialist nations, because of what they cannot attain in the present stage of human development.
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Offline Eddie

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Re: Global Systemic Geopolitical Crisis
« Reply #688 on: December 21, 2018, 05:18:02 AM »
Dear Charles,

How's that socialism working out for you in Nicaragua?

When I was in college. Daniel Ortega was hiding out in the jungle and fighting the CIA sponsored Contras. Now he's President-For-Life and has a net worth of $50M USD's.

But his people are rioting in the streets because he cut their meager old-age pensions.
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Offline RE

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Re: Global Systemic Geopolitical Crisis
« Reply #689 on: December 21, 2018, 05:26:14 AM »
Dear Charles,

How's that socialism working out for you in Nicaragua?

When I was in college. Daniel Ortega was hiding out in the jungle and fighting the CIA sponsored Contras. Now he's President-For-Life and has a net worth of $50M USD's.

But his people are rioting in the streets because he cut their meager old-age pensions.

Nicaragua isn't Socialist.

RE
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