AuthorTopic: Global Systemic Geopolitical Crisis  (Read 65715 times)

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🌍 The Western Alliance Is Falling Apart
« Reply #765 on: August 10, 2019, 06:53:48 AM »
https://www.globalresearch.ca/western-alliance-falling-apart/5685408

The Western Alliance Is Falling Apart
By Peter Koenig
Global Research, August 02, 2019
Region: Middle East & North Africa
Theme: Intelligence, US NATO War Agenda
In-depth Report: IRAN: THE NEXT WAR?


Ever since Imran Khan became the 22nd Prime Minister of Pakistan in August 2018, the winds have changed. While his predecessors, though generally leaning eastwards, have often wavered between the US and the China orbit, Khan is in the process of clearly defining his alliances with the east, in particular China. This is for the good of his country, for the good of the Middle East, and eventually for the good of the world.

A few days ago, RT reported that China, in addition to the expansion of the new port in Gwadar, Balochistan, has entered agreements with Pakistan to build a military/air base in Pakistan, a new Chinese city for some half a million people, as well as several road and railway improvement projects, including a highway connecting the cities of Karachi and Lahore, reconstruction of the Karakoram Highway, linking Hasan Abdal to the Chinese border, as well as upgrading the Karachi-Peshwar main railway to be completed by the end of 2019, for trains to travel up to 160km / hour.

This rehabilitation of dilapidated Pakistani transportation infrastructure is not only expected to contribute between 2% and 3% of Pakistan’s future GDP, but it offers also another outlet for Iranian gas / hydrocarbons, other than through the Strait of Hurmuz – for example, by rail to the new port of Gwadar which, by the way, is also a new Chinese naval base. From Gwadar Iranian hydrocarbon cargos can be shipped everywhere, including to China, Africa and India. With the new China-built transportation infrastructure Iranian gas can also be shipped overland to China.

In fact, these infrastructure developments, plus several electric power production projects, still mostly fed by fossil fuel, to resolve Pakistani’s chronic energy shortage, are part of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), also, called the New Silk Road. They are a central part of the new so-called China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which was first designed in 2015 during a visit by China’s President Xi Jinping, when some 51 Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) worth then some US$ 46 billion were signed. Pakistan is definitely out of the US orbit.

Today, in the CPEC implementation phase, the projects planned or under construction are estimated at over US$ 60 billion. An estimated 80% are direct investments with considerable Pakistani participation and 20% Chinese concessionary debt. Clearly, Pakistan has become a staunch ally of China – and this to the detriment of the US role in the Middle East.

Washington’s wannabe hegemony over the Middle East is fading rapidly. See also Michel Chossudovsky’s detailed analysis “US Foreign Policy in Shambles: NATO and the Middle East. How Do You Wage War Without Allies?”.

A few days ago, Germany has refused Washington’s request to take part in a US-led maritime mission in the Strait of Hormuz, under the pretext to secure hydrocarbon shipments through this Iran-controlled narrow water way. In reality it is more like a new weaponizing of waterways, by controlling who ships what to whom – and applying “sanctions” by blocking or outright pirating of tankers destined for western ‘enemy’ territories.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas announced last Wednesday in Warsaw, Poland, that there “cannot be a military solution” to the current crisis in the Persian Gulf and that Berlin will turn down Washington’s request to join the US, British and French operation “aimed at protecting sea traffic in the Strait of Hormuz, and combating so-called “Iranian aggression.”

This idea of the Washington war hawks was conceived after Iran’s totally legal seizure of the British-flagged Stena Impero oil tanker, after it rammed an Iranian fishing boat a couple of weeks ago. However, nothing is said about the totally illegal and US-ordered British piracy of the Iranian super tanker Grace I off the coast of Gibraltar in Spanish waters (another infraction of international law), weeks earlier. While Grace I’s crew in the meantime has been released, the tanker is still under British capture, but western media remain silent about it, but lambast Iran for seizing a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.
Trump – from China to Iran to Venezuela – Threats and Sanctions Everywhere – A Chronicle of Disorganized Chaos Foretold

Germany remains committed to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – JCPOA (the Iran nuclear deal), from which the United States unilaterally withdrew a year ago, and Germany will therefore not intervene on behalf of the US.

Add to this Turkey – a key NATO member both for her strategic location and NATO’s actual military might established in Turkey – moving ever closer to the east, and becoming a solid ally of Russia, after having ignored Washington’s warnings against Turkey’s purchasing of Russian S-400 cutting-edge air defense systems. For “sleeping with the enemy” – i.e. moving ever closer to Russia, the US has already punished Turkey’s economy by manipulating her currency to fall by about 40% since the beginning of 2018. Turkey is also a candidate to become a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and so is Iran.

Turkey has become a de facto lame duck as a NATO member and may soon officially exit NATO which would be a tremendous blow to the North Atlantic Alliance – and may tempt other European NATO nations to do likewise. Probably not overnight, but the idea of an ever more defunct NATO is planted.

All indications are that the future, economically and security wise – is in the East. Even Europe may eventually ‘dare’ making the jump towards better relations with primarily Russia and Central Asia and eventually with China.

And that especially if and when Brexit happens – which is by no means a sure thing. Just in case, the UK has already prepared bilateral trade relations with China, ready to be signed – if and when – the UK exits the EU.

Will the UK, another staunch US ally, jump ship? – Unlikely. But dancing on two weddings simultaneously is a customary Anglo-Saxon game plan. The Brits must have learned it from their masters in Washington, who in turn took the lessons from the Brits as colonial power for centuries, across the Atlantic.

Western, US-led war on Iran is therefore unlikely. There is too much at stake, and especially, there are no longer any reliable allies in the region. Remember, allies – shall we call them puppets or peons, are normally doing the dirty work for Washington.
So, threatening, warning and annoying provocations by the US with some of its lasting western allies may continue for a while. It makes for good propaganda. After all, packing up and going home is not exactly Uncle Sam’s forte. The western alliance is no longer what it used to be. In fact, it is in shambles. And Iran knows it.

*

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Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research; ICH; RT; Sputnik; PressTV; The 21st Century; TeleSUR; The Saker Blog, the New Eastern Outlook (NEO); and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.
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🌍 To Defeat Fascism, We Must Dismantle Capitalism
« Reply #766 on: August 18, 2019, 02:05:31 PM »
https://www.truthdig.com/articles/to-defeat-fascism-we-must-dismantle-capitalism/

Aug 16, 2019
|
Book Review
To Defeat Fascism, We Must Dismantle Capitalism


To Defeat Fascism, We Must Dismantle Capitalism
President Donald Trump. (Gage Skidmore / Flickr

“The Terror of the Unforeseen”
A book by Henry A. Giroux

Henry A. Giroux’s book “The Terror of the Unforeseen” analyzes the conditions that have enabled and led to Donald Trump’s rule and the consequences of that rule, which have ushered in an authoritarian version of capitalism. Giroux provides a realistic analysis that holds out the hope that, through collective efforts, change is possible and democracy can be saved.

There is an intellectual debate on whether or not the power wielded by the likes of Trump, Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen, Viktor Orbán, Matteo Salvini, Geert Wilders, Heinz-Christian Strache, or Jörg Meuthen and Alexander Gauland constitutes fascism. Some analysts — such as Noam Chomsky, Neil Faulkner, John Bellamy Foster, Robert Kagan, Gáspar Miklós Tamás, and Enzo Traverso — speak of creeping fascism, new fascism, or post-fascism. They find both continuities and discontinuities between the classical forms of fascism in Italy and Germany and these contemporary right-wing politicians. Representatives of this position hold that Trump is not Hitler, but stress certain similarities between the two.

Others — including Wendy Brown, Nancy Fraser, Roger Griffin, Chantal Mouffe, Cas Mudde, Robert Paxton, David Renton, and Slavoj Žižek — argue that it is an exaggeration to characterize Trump and other contemporary demagogues as fascists. They prefer terms such as the new authoritarianism, libertarian authoritarianism, reactionary neoliberalism, right-wing populism, the populist radical right, or demagoguery on behalf of oligarchy. They see Trump as dangerous, but stress that his authoritarianism is quite different from classical fascism and Hitler.

Giroux takes the first position. He speaks of “the new form of fascism updated under the Trump administration” and “an updated American version of fascism of which Trump is both symptom and endpoint.” He argues that Trump does not use storm troopers and gas chambers, but divisive language, language that is itself a form of violent action. Fascism is not uniform, but dynamic and therefore takes on variegated forms in different historical and societal contexts. For Giroux, Trump constitutes the rise of neoliberal fascism and the culmination of a long history of authoritarianism that includes historical moments such as the oppression of Native Americans, slavery, US imperialism, torture, and extrajudicial detention and imprisonment (Guantánamo). One of the backgrounds to Trump’s rise is the culture of fear since 9/11, but another is neoliberalism’s dismantling of public education, critical reason, and radical imagination that represents a “full-scale attack on thoughtful reasoning.”

Fascism can exist at the level of individual character, ideology, institutions, or society as a whole, but fascism on one of these levels is a necessary foundation but not a sufficient condition for fascism on the next. Erich Fromm and Theodor W. Adorno argued that the authoritarian, sadomasochistic, necrophilic personality was the psychological foundation of fascism. But the existence of political leaders with fascist characters, even if they communicate fascist ideology, does not automatically imply the existence of a fascist society. For a fascist society to come into existence, these leaders need to call forth collective political practices that result in the full institutionalization of authoritarianism.

In his essay “Anxiety and Politics,” Frankfurt School critical theorist Franz Neumann specifies conditions necessary for the emergence of a fascist society. They include political crises, the alienation of labor, destructive competition, social alienation that threatens certain social groups, political alienation, and the institutionalization of fascist practices, such as collective political anxiety, propaganda and terror, persecutory nationalism, political scapegoating, and xenophobia. A condition that needs to be added to Neumann’s list is the weakness of the political left, beset by rivalries, internal trench wars, factions, splintering, isolation, and orthodoxy, and its frequent miscalculation of the actual dangers of the political situation it is facing — in the Weimar Republic, the Communist Party of Germany did not consider the Nazis, but the Social Democrats as their main enemy. Stalinist Communists characterized the Social Democratic Party of Germany as “social fascism” and believed German capitalism would automatically collapse after Hitler’s rise to power.

Many observers agree that today we find leaders with an authoritarian personality and ideology in a significant number of countries and that there are conditions in these places that can lead to fascist regimes. But the claim that countries such as the United States have become fascist societies goes too far. In a fully fascist society, there is no rule of law and the political opposition and other identified enemies are imprisoned or killed by the exercise of terror. A fascist society is a political Behemoth. Trumpism poses a very negative development, and perhaps has the potential to fully develop into a fascist political economic system — especially if the opposition cannot establish an alternative — but there is still a difference between Trump’s character structure and policies and the total character of US society.

A key contribution of Giroux’s book is the creation of the notion of neoliberal fascism for characterizing the contemporary negativity of politics. But he also uses terms such as populist authoritarianism, American authoritarianism, authoritarian populism, right-wing populism, and inverted totalitarianism. These terms are vague and create more confusion than elucidation. Both totalitarianism and populism can be used for arguing against both socialism and the far right; both, some argue, are threats to democratic societies. For example, Jan-Werner Müller writes in his book “What Is Populism?” that populism is “a danger to democracy” and that Trump and Sanders are “both populists, with one on the right and the other on the left.” Such theorizations often end up in the legitimation of what Tariq Ali calls the “extreme center” of neoliberal ideology, which in action has the material effect of managing the state solely for the benefit of the wealthy.

¤

In “The Road to Serfdom,” the leading neoliberal theorist and ideologue Friedrich A. Hayek claims that socialism and fascism are “inseparable manifestations of what in theory we call collectivism.” He claims that both do not “recognize autonomous spheres in which the ends of the individuals are supreme.” As a consequence, Hayek rejects the notions of the “common good” and the “general interest.” He argues that only a neoliberal society, where society and its institutions are organized as markets and are based on the commodity form and capital accumulation, can secure democracy and freedom. Augusto Pinochet’s neoliberal, military, fascist regime in Chile already showed in the 1970s how mistaken it was to assume that capitalism spontaneously brings about and provides the foundation for democracy. And in the more than 45 years since Pinochet’s coup d’état in 1973, the rise of new authoritarian forms of capitalism have shown repeatedly that Hayek was wrong.

Trump’s plan to build a wall at the US-Mexican border and the resulting government shutdowns aimed at forcing through this project, the travel ban for citizens from majority-Muslim countries, the separation of children from families at the border, his racist attacks on socialist congresswomen, his attempt to dismantle the legal protection of Dreamers from deportation — these are all examples of the ideologically motivated cruelties of the Trump regime and what Giroux (following Rob Nixon) terms slow violence. Over time, an accumulation of such cruelties can reach a tipping point where the current system is devastated and democracy abolished.

Neoliberal fascism, Giroux writes, is a formation “in which the principles and practices of a fascist past and neoliberal present have merged,” and which connects “the worst dimensions and excesses of gangster capitalism with the fascist ideals of white nationalism and racial supremacy associated with the horrors of the [fascist] past.” Giroux reminds us of Horkheimer and Adorno’s insights that liberalism and capitalism have inherent fascist potential, that fascism is a terroristic version of capitalism, that fascist potential has not ceased to exist after the end of World War II, and that “whoever is not willing to talk about capitalism should also keep quiet about fascism” (Horkheimer).

Trumpist policies favor the rich and US corporations, advance an economic version of Social Darwinism, with all-out competition ensuring that only the most powerful survive and the rest face precarity, debt, and ruin. Trumpism tries to compensate for the social void created by this neoliberal individualism by fostering what we can call repressive collectivism, and which, as the present author suggests, can be analyzed at three levels — economic, political, and ideological.

On the level of political economy, repressive collectivism is organized as an antagonism between austerity and precarity, which is used to advance protectionist policies that favor the interests of US capital.

At the level of politics and the state, deregulation, privatization, and commodification give wide freedoms to corporations while policing the poor, promoting law-and-order politics, and instituting progressively more draconian racist immigration policies.

At the level of ideology and culture, we find a combination of hyper-consumerist, narcissistic individualism, the cult of leadership, and nationalism. Under repressive collectivism, nationalism promotes the idea of the unity of US capital and US labor and advances the racist and xenophobic scapegoating of immigrants, refugees, people of color, Muslims, and foreigners.

¤

The conjuncture of neoliberalism and right-wing authoritarianism has brought to the fore an emotional, ideological anti-intellectualism, which impedes any discussion of socialist ideas and ideologically justifies and cements capitalism. Thus, the billionaire capitalist Donald Trump can successfully pretend to be a working-class hero. Right-wing authoritarians often appeal to the working class by displaying crude manners, showing a proletarian habitus, and using simple, dichotomous language. But in reality, of course, these ideologues oppose the interests of the working class. When in power, they often implement laws that give tax breaks to corporations and the rich and harm the working class by dismantling the redistributive effects of the welfare state and public services. Trump signifies the rise of the one percent’s direct rule of the state.

Giroux writes that “fascism begins not with violence, police assaults, or mass killings, but with language.” One of Trump’s infamous, but typical tweets reads: “The FAKE NEWS Media […] is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!” Dismissing all criticism as “fake news,” he identifies his person with the American people, and labels any criticism of him as anti-American. Trump’s political anger and authoritarian character replace reason by ideology, facts by fiction, rationality by emotionality, truth by lies, complexity by simplicity, objectivity by prejudice and hate. His combination of anti-socialism, nationalism, and racism were evident recently when he tweeted that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib are “a bunch of communists” who “are Anti-America” and should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” Such political communication is not best characterized as post-truth politics, but as propaganda that tries to create false consciousness by simplification, dissimulation, manipulation, diversion, and outright lies. In this context, Giroux argues that we do not live in a post-truth world but in a “pre-truth world where the truth has yet to arrive.”

The Cambridge Analytica scandal has shown how the far right uses data breaches, online data collection, and targeted ads for trying to manipulate elections. “Alt-right” platforms such as Breitbart, InfoWars, Daily Caller, Philosophia Perennis, Unzensuriert, Westmonster, and the rest are projects that spread distortion, false news, and far-right conspiracies. Bots have partly automated the creation of political online attention, and it has become difficult to discern whether humans or machines are creating online content and attention. The culture of false news is one of the factors of Trump’s political success.

As I argued in “Digital Demagogue: Authoritarian Capitalism in the Age of Trump and Twitter,” Twitter and Trump are a match made in heaven. Trump uses first-person singular pronouns much more frequently than first-person plural pronouns, which is an indication of the narcissistic character structure that Erich Fromm argues is prone to engage in destruction for the sake of destruction. Twitter’s me-centered, narcissistic medium invites the authoritarian political communication Giroux characterizes as a show of evil banality: “Trump’s infantile production of Twitter storms transforms politics into spectacularized theater” — Twitter spectacles that are part of a culture of spectacle deeply ingrained in the capitalist tabloid culture that has turned political debate into superficial, personalized, high-speed events that lack the time and depth needed for exploring the complexities of antagonistic societies. In political television debates, candidates are asked to give answers in less than 30 seconds. The capitalist culture of speed, superficiality, tabloidization, and personalization is part of the apparatus that has enabled Trump the spectacle.

The liberal media and Trump have a love/hate relationship. Although these media are some of Trump’s fiercest critics, they helped create him. The Tyndall Report found that in 2015, Donald Trump received 23.4 times as much coverage in evening television newscasts as Bernie Sanders. The capitalist mainstream media are in a symbiotic and symmetrical relation to the political spectacle Trump. The capitalist media require Trump just like Trump requires the capitalist media.

When Trump took to Twitter to call Kim Darroch “a very stupid guy” and the “wacky Ambassador that the UK foisted upon the United States,” The New York Times immediately ran a story titled “UK Envoy’s Leaked Views Inspire More Insults in Trump Tweets.” No matter how silly or insulting, Trump’s tweets are what the mainstream media talk about. The liberal media thereby do not deconstruct Trump but help construct him, giving him the constant public attention that he instrumentalizes for his own political aims.

¤

Henry Giroux’s book takes inspiration from teachers who strike against terrible working conditions and young people who protest against racism, police violence, student debt, and sexual violence and stand up for gun control, peace, environmental protection, social security, equality, and prison abolition. He argues for a broad protest movement that forms a “united front” against neoliberal fascism, brings together the multiple interrelated issues, interests, and struggles, and “connects the dots among diverse forms of oppression.”

Giroux also stresses the importance of critical pedagogy as a central intellectual weapon in the struggle against neoliberal fascism. Developing “critical consciousness” helps form “knowledgeable citizens who have a passion for public affairs”:

Revitalizing a progressive agenda should be addressed as part of broader social movement capable of reimagining a radical democracy in which public values matter, the ethical imagination flourishes, and justice is viewed as an ongoing struggle. In a time of dystopian nightmares, an alternative future is only possible if we can imagine the unimaginable and think otherwise in order to act otherwise.

Giroux argues that driving back authoritarianism requires informed citizens, critical thinking, deliberative inquiry, a culture of questioning, dialogue, debate, and thoughtful action, cultural production, and at a minimum requires that we provide secure jobs for teachers.

A revival of the public sphere depends on the creation of new debate and news formats run on public service internet platforms and platform cooperatives, new formats that challenge the dominance of Fox News, CNN, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook in the organization of political communication. In order to save democracy, we need to reinvent communication so that digital tabloids and digital capitalism are replaced by digital public exchange and the digital commons. Challenging authoritarianism today requires the remaking of political culture and a radical reconstruction of the political economy of the media and the internet. Arguing for such change in this decisive moment for the future of US democracy, Henry Giroux’s book is an important contribution to the development of the intellectual tools needed in the anti-fascist struggle for 21st-century democratic socialism.

This review was originally published by the Los Angeles Review of Books.
Christian Fuchs / Los Angeles Review of Books
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🌍 The World According to George Galloway
« Reply #767 on: August 23, 2019, 02:40:16 AM »
https://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-world-according-to-george-galloway/

Aug 19, 2019
Opinion

The World According to George Galloway
Chris Hedges


Mr. Fish / Truthdig

This article’s (lightly edited) interview with George Galloway may be seen on video by clicking here.

LONDON—There are few politicians in Britain who are attacked by the courtiers in the press and the mandarins in power more ferociously than George Galloway, a former member of Parliament and an icon of the left. They routinely shower him with insults and accusations. This is because there are few politicians willing to as ferociously name and condemn the crimes and injustices carried out by the American and British governments. He has for many years unequivocally stood up to defend the human rights of Palestinians, thundered against Israeli war crimes and demanded justice, leading him to be attacked as an anti-Semite. He has long opposed the Western sanctions and the endless wars in the Middle East, generating charges that he is a defender of terrorists. He has steadfastly raised his voice on behalf of those persecuted by the American government, including WikiLeaks Publisher Julian Assange.

The Economist once described Galloway, who spent more than 25 years in Parliament, as “the hate figure for the British establishment,” which, given who constitutes the establishment, is the highest of compliments.

I interviewed Galloway in London.

Chris Hedges: Let’s begin with this strange political moment—the rise of figures like Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, a very Trump-like figure, perhaps a smarter version of Trump. How did we get here? From the start of your political career, you spoke out on behalf of the working class, how it was being attacked through neoliberalism, which corrupted the Labour Party the same way it did the Democratic Party in the United States.

George Galloway: Ontology is important. We need to define what is right-wing and what is populist. Some of the appeal of Trump, of Nigel Farage, the leader of the Brexit Party in Britain, is the very non-right-wingness. The apparent standing up for the little man, standing up for the worker against big business, against the bankers and the establishment—Trump played that card very well in the Rust Belt of the United States. Nigel Farage played it very cannily in similar places in the Brexit referendum in Britain. The support they garnered was not in fact right-wing, but left-wing. It was an anti-capitalist critique of the kind of finance capitalist model that has beggared millions of people and whole areas of your country and mine. When they say populist, I wonder if they really mean popular. I am attacked as a left-wing populist. But what does that actually mean?

My politics have not changed—perhaps this is a condemnation of me—not a single inch from my teenage years. I stand at exactly the same place. It’s everyone else that moved around me. Insofar as the kind of politics and approach and style that I’m employing are popular, that’s what drives the prevailing orthodoxy crazy. Dr. Johnson, a great Englishman of letters, said, ‘The grimmest dictatorship of them all was the dictatorship of the prevailing orthodoxy.’ I stand up against that from my political standpoint. So does Farage. So, to an extent, does Trump.

Now we come to the ontology of what you call the resistance. The pussy hats and the achingly liberal resistance to Donald Trump leaves me entirely cold. I know they would not be out there protesting worst crimes that the Clinton crime family and the crooner Obama would and did commit. It’s the vulgarness, the brashness, the ugliness of Trump they oppose. But Trump is just American imperialism without the lipstick. Hillary would have had the lipstick. But the crimes would have been the same—arguably much worse.

CH: Figures like Trump and Boris Johnson are con artists. They are using the issues you spent your political career actually fighting for. …

GG: Certainly Boris Johnson. Beyond the mop of blond hair and the rancid morals, I don’t think there’s that much to compare between Boris Johnson and Donald Trump. Boris Johnson is unequivocally a character of the 1%. He was educated at Eton and Oxford. He has spent his whole life in the milieu of the ultra-rich. The real upper class. Donald Trump, on the other hand, is to some extent on the outside. He was fabulously rich, although six times bankrupt. Perhaps not as rich as he claims. He has some identification with those on the outside. Con artist, definitely. But not the same kind of con artist as Boris Johnson. I was not happy that Donald Trump became the president of the United States. But I was very happy that Hillary Clinton did not.

CH: The Clintons, like Tony Blair, betrayed their base. Obama [did so] as well. He was quite conscious of what he was doing, unlike George W. Bush.

GG: Trump is failing the people he conned. Whereas Boris Johnson won’t even try to con them. He will not pretend to the British working class that he’s in it for them. Not really.

CH: What is the attraction of figures like Johnson and Trump who turbocharge the looting and pillage by the 1% and the consolidation of power by the global oligarchic elite?

GG: The way they win power is by correctly identifying real, material, objective realities amongst the masses of the people. Trump said to the people in the so-called Rust Belt [that] it’s the Clintons, NAFTA and super-nationalism, and the finance capital model that these people represent, that have done this to you. That was a correct identification and correct analysis. The fact that he’s a creature of the same swamp, and far from draining it is filling it, only comes later. But the existence of these grievances is what the left ought to have been doing. The British Labour [Party] movement, not just in Parliament, but in a broader movement, even in trade unions, in political parties of the left, bought into neoliberalism. The failure of the Labour government of the 1970s, the rise of Thatcher Reaganomics, knocked the stuffing out of the left. They began to follow the line “if you can’t beat them, join them.”

CH: [Margaret] Thatcher reportedly said, “My greatest creation was Tony Blair.”

GG: New Labour was her greatest creation. The left went along with that. And then the collapse of the Soviet Union caused a further oceanic loss of confidence. Instead of consistently standing up for working-class interests—against corporate capitalism, against globalized capitalism, standing up for the people of your own country—they liquidated their previous existence. The working people, quite correctly, thought, “You’re no longer for me. You’re no longer part of me. You’re no longer with me.” That’s a correct identification.

Jeremy Corbyn has rowed back from that into more familiar waters. Insufficiently well, hampered massively by the Blair-ite rump. It’s not really a rump, it’s a ramp actually because it’s quite a lot of MPs whose main purpose is to sabotage him. I know these are not things that can compare across the Atlantic all that easily. But that’s what’s happened here. The working class was abandoned by social democrats. Of course, people to the right of them, these populist figures can move in and steal some of their former clothes.

CH: How do we effectively build a political movement that stymies the rise of these very frightening alt-right entities and these political figures? We’re not doing a very good job of it in the United States.

GG: Not that good here either. First, we have to correctly critique what is wrong with the approach of the alt-right populists. That is to say, not critique what is right about what they’re saying, but to say it better and more convincingly. To say to the workers in the Rust Belt in our countries, “We stand for you. We’re going to fight for you and everything that is in your interests we will support. Everything that is against your interests we will oppose. Whoever else is saying the same thing, you can believe us because we are a part of you. We are your party. We are the people who represent you on a daily basis.” Secondly, to develop an iconography, a vocabulary, that can appeal to people. If you’re waving the flag of the European Union, you will leave the working class in the north and the south, in the west, and south Wales, cold.

The people of this country identify with this country. So, you have to. If you sneer at patriotism, if you sneer at people who actually, warts and all, love their country. … John Lennon once said, “If you want a revolution, don’t go waving pictures of Chairman Mao.” He was right. Chairman Mao leaves them cold on the streets of England. You have to find the iconography, the vocabulary, that fits.

The most impressive figure of my political lifetime was Georges Marchais. He was the leader of the Communist Party of France. He talked of socialism in the colors of France. He talked of France keeping its nuclear weapons but pointing them both ways. He was a figure of the French working class. It’s no accident that as an individual he was the most popular political figure in France, left or right.

CH: Are xenophobia and Islamophobia the driving forces behind support for Brexit?

GG: If you fill the atmosphere with hatred of the Muslims as an other, to further your foreign policy abroad, you’re going to get blowback at home. If you tell everyone that one new Hitler after another—from Nasser, through Arafat, Saddam Hussein, Gadhafi, Bashar al-Assad … I’ve probably forgotten a few Hitlers on the Nile and the Euphrates—if you fill people, the atmosphere, with that kind of mentality, then how do you expect some people not to blame Abdul, who owns the news agent, or the 7-Eleven, on the corner? It’s inevitable. We predicted it. It’s come to pass.

CH: Is the resurgence of white nationalism an effective mechanism in the hands of figures like Trump and Boris Johnson? Does this divide the country and disempower socialists such as yourself?

GG: There is racism in Britain, of course; how can it be otherwise? We were the senior partner in empire for a very long time. You can’t have an empire without notions of racial superiority. How else can you justify occupying and ruling other people and their countries? You’re the father figure holding their hand until they are able to govern themselves. There is racism in Britain. But if you think Britain’s racist, you’ve never lived in France.

It is not as bad in Britain as it is elsewhere in the European Union. Similarly, there are real material reasons for racial antagonism on the part of the majority here. The British government moved a group of Islamist fanatics to Manchester who were known as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. The clue was in the name. That Libyan Islamic Fighting Group were cosseted there by the British state for the day they could be sent back to fight in Libya.

One of their sons blew up a lot of our children in the Manchester Arena not that long ago at an Ariana Grande pop concert. It’s legitimate to hate the people who did that. It’s not racist to hate the people who murdered people on this very bridge. [He motioned toward London Bridge.] [Who] cut their throats, drove cars into them. It’s not racist to hate them. If you claim it is, you are actually helping the racists. The existence of an element of Islamist fanaticism on the edges of the Muslim community here in Britain or anywhere in the world should be attacked as ruthlessly by the left as it is for opportunistic reasons by the right.

This is a mistake the left has made. I always say to people, “Never confuse me with a liberal.” I’m not a liberal. I’m actually quite ill-liberal in many regards. I’m a socialist, not a liberal; that’s a different thing. Never get caught seeming to support extremism amongst sections of the community. Be as ruthless. If I was the mayor of London, I’d be hunting down al-Qaida. I’d be out there in a high-vis vest with the police in the mornings, raiding their houses. Whereas quite often, the so-called left looks like they care more about the criminal than the victim. They care more about the human rights of the terrorists than the victim of the terrorist. So, we have to be much smarter.

CH: I have interviewed members of al-Qaida and Islamic Jihad. These figures do not come out of religious households. They came out of petty crime, sometimes more than petty crime, drug addiction.

GG: Sri Lanka is the first time one of these suicide mass murderers came from families that were actually religious and not petty criminals. So, that’s undoubtedly true. But it’s not to say they don’t exist. They exist. They are a Siren on the rocks, seeking to lure young Muslims onto those rocks of extremism and a cult of death. We have to call them out. We have to struggle against it. It can’t only be solved by the military, the police and legal action. It’s necessary but not sufficient.

CH: The North African immigrants that live in banlieues outside of Paris have no jobs. They live in appalling conditions. The racism, as you pointed out, in France runs very deep. They are segregated from most French people. They are not considered—although they may have lived in France since they were 2—to be French by the French. They go back to Tunisia and they’re not considered Tunisian. There’s a loss of identity, a loss of work. These are the contributing factors, which gets back to the reconfigurations of these economies by neoliberalism, which cast aside not just immigrants but huge sections of the working class and working poor as human refuse.

GG: Exactly. I’ve just been writing for my website about the BBC series “The Looming Tower.” We contributed to the rise of this fanaticism in three ways. The first one you just mentioned. The second is by endlessly supporting by all means corrupt dictators, medieval kingdoms, leaving the people of these Muslim countries bereft of any other path out of their misery. Thirdly, by directly assisting al-Qaida and ISIS in Iraq, in Syria. We provided funding, weapons, propaganda and other material on the principle that my enemy’s enemy is my friend. So, if an Islamist fanatic is blowing himself up in the Caucasus, in Chechnya, that’s fine. We’ll help him. We’ll talk about his human rights. But if he’s running on the bridge in London cutting people’s throats, we’ll describe him in quite different terms. Thrice we have assisted the development of this fanaticism.

CH: Those of us who stand up for Palestinian rights are immediately attacked as anti-Semites. The press is an echo chamber, amplifying those attacks. Does Israel have a lock on Britain as they do in the United States?

GG: It doesn’t. But it has a bigger lock than I imagined. The last four years of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party, the success by which they have done that, the scale of which they have done that, shows they do have a bigger lock than I thought. Not even in Israel does this Zionist movement have a bigger lock than it does in the United States. Nothing compares to that.

It’s a trick. An Israeli Cabinet minister, Shulamit Aloni, giving me dinner in her house in Tel Aviv, literally told me it was. “It’s a trick,” she said. “We always do it.” They do it because it works. If someone stands up for Palestinian rights, the first default position is to call them an anti-Semite. The fact that someone like me [is attacked as an anti-Semite], with my politics, and the basis of my politics is so heavily Jewish, from Marx, through Trotsky and Chomsky. Half of the Bolshevik Party’s central committee was Jewish. According to the right wing, I am involved in a Judeo-Bolshevik conspiracy. The idea that I can be described as an anti-Semite is pitifully absurd. Ditto Jeremy Corbyn, who comes out of the same stable as me more or less. I’d like to think it doesn’t work. But to some extent it does. My wife, who is a person of color, an Indonesian woman, was abused in the street the other day as the wife of an anti-Semite, the wife of a racist. It’s absurd and effective, but less effective than it was before. If you call everybody an anti-Semite, then eventually nobody is an anti-Semite. The boy who cried wolf is a parable of note for a reason.

CH: The real anti-Semites, the Christian right of the United States, have become a political ally of Israel. It’s the equation of anti-Semitism with opposition to the government of Israel. One of the biggest racists in the Middle East is [Israeli Prime Minister] Bibi Netanyahu.

GG: There’s worse than him waiting in the wings.

CH: Where are we going? It’s a frightening direction if things don’t go right. What are the forces that frighten you? What does the left have to do?

GG: I’ll be honest, I’m not as pessimistic as you. I have faith in the people. I always have. I can only speak for my own people here. We hate fascism. We stood alone against fascism. Anyone who presents in the form of fascism will be rejected here. There’s not a single fascist counselor in Britain, not a single fascist MP in Britain. There never will be. Fascists are counted in the hundreds, not in the millions, like they are in many European countries. They are in almost every parliament in Europe. They’re in many governments in Europe. But they never will be here.

I believe in the chaos of the British political scene at the moment. It’s perfectly possible that the Labour Party could be the next government. Maybe soon. Parliament is in complete chaos over the Brexit issue. It’s one of the reasons I supported Brexit. But not the main reason. Out of that chaos, it may welcome a Jeremy Corbyn-led government. As someone who has known Corbyn well for 40 years, I can hardly believe I’m saying those words.
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🌍 Biarritz was an empty charade. The G7 is a relic of a bygone age
« Reply #768 on: August 26, 2019, 11:51:41 AM »
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/26/biarritz-g7-syria-us-china-trade

Biarritz was an empty charade. The G7 is a relic of a bygone age

Simon Tisdall

From Syria to the US-China trade war, the list of issues left untackled by the world’s leaders is shamefully long

Mon 26 Aug 2019 12.40 EDT
Last modified on Mon 26 Aug 2019 13.35 EDT


Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron at the G7 summit in Biarritz. Photograph: Christian Hartmann/Reuters

The G7 summit in Biarritz, now thankfully concluded, told us a lot about the world we live in. Unfortunately, very little of it was useful or vaguely hopeful. As the presidents and premiers of the world’s wealthiest countries posed for back-slapping group photos, and their partners sampled croissants at a charming “traditional Basque bakery”, fierce fires raged untended and unquenched across the international landscape – not to mention in the Amazon rainforest. It was a low-yield meeting whose main achievement was avoiding a repeat of last year’s bust-up.

It was as though these summiteers, conflabbing while the world burned, belonged to a different, distant era when the US president, for example, was a figure commanding instant respect; when multilateral diplomacy worked; when the postwar internationalist vision was not obscured by nationalist demagoguery; when, if the western democracies decided to do something together, it actually had a good chance of getting done. But those times have passed.

How luxury hotels such as Biarritz’s Hôtel du Palais have helped shape history
Martin Kettle
Martin Kettle
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The summit told us about leadership – or what passes for it these days. For Emmanuel Macron, the understandably frazzled maitre d’, concentrating the minds of so many inflated political egos was more challenging than taming the domestic challenge of les gilets jaunes (yellow vests). France’s president abandoned the usual practice of issuing a joint communiqué. After Donald Trump trashed the last one in Quebec, insulting his hosts, that was probably wise.

Yet Trump is not the only black hole where a leader should be. It’s true Angela Merkel is counting down to retirement in 2021. But any hopes that she would pick up the baton where American leadership has failed since 2016, at least as a champion for Europe, have proved ill-founded. Her cautious, money-minded approach has too often focused instead on reining in Macron’s grander reformist ideas.

A German chancellor might at one time have confidently looked to Britain to add weight and mettle to Europe’s views on, say, Vladimir Putin’s war on domestic political opponents and unchecked disregard for international law in Ukraine and Syria. But Boris Johnson, while agreeing Russia’s president should not be readmitted to the G7, exhibits scant interest in, let alone leadership on, such difficult issues. His “keep Trump happy” policy shows how low, and how quickly, Britain is sinking.

Others gathered round the table at Biarritz are not much better. Where is the leader who will stand up and tell Trump, to his face, that his incendiary bid to bring Iran to its knees will not work – and cannot be supported? Who will tell Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, whose forces attacked no fewer than three regional neighbours – Iraq, Lebanon and Syria – at the weekend, to stop stoking regional fires in the hope of winning re-election next month?

What has the G7 got to say about the reduction of the UN security council to a state of feeble impotence, where Russian and Chinese (and sometimes US) vetoes prevent effective action to mitigate humanitarian disasters such as the Saudi-led war in Yemen or the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar? What about the atrocities daily visited upon besieged Syrian civilians in Idlib? And where is the G7 clubbers’ masterplan for rescuing the global economy from a trade war-driven recession? No China, no comment – while Trump shifts shiftily almost by the hour.

The shaming list of roads not travelled, of issues not tackled, of calamities ignored or dodged, is all but endless. To this must be added the accelerating US-China-Russia nuclear arms race and the environmental impact of great power rivalries in the Arctic. To his credit, and to the annoyance of Trump officials who deemed it a “niche issue”, Macron gained support for collective action on the Amazon. As with previous G7 pledges, follow-through is what matters now. Having outwardly responded to the public clamour, what will actually be done? The $20m aid package announced today to help Amazon countries fight wildfires appears, frankly, on the low side.

The west takes its eyes off Africa at its peril
Larry Elliott
Larry Elliott
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The summit inadvertently told us, too, about multilateralism and the fabled rules-based international order – and how these always flawed systems of global governance, symbolised by the G7 since the 1970s, may be on their last legs. That’s due in large part to the refusal of emerging 21st-century powers, principally China but also lesser states, to abide by other people’s rules ill-suited to their purposes.

It’s due to a broad upsurge, in Europe and elsewhere, of rightwing, populist nationalism that has shaken the centrist consensus and is typified by the rise and rise of Matteo Salvini in Italy – and by Brexit. It is due to a failure of confidence among post-2008 western democracies which are beset by austerity and widening wealth and trust gaps. Multilateralism’s atrophy is due, too, to multiple betrayals by Trump’s America.

Yet if the Biarritz summit told us fairly conclusively that the G7 is no longer fit for purpose, what if anything can replace it? The paradox of our age is that the world has never been more connected, yet the political tools for acting collectively in pursuit of common purposes are increasingly ineffective. Scrap the G7 and expand the G20, making it a more genuinely inclusive forum? Reboot the UN, either by reforming the security council or making the general assembly its primary decision-making body? Or start again from scratch?

A fundamental rethink may be unavoidable, given that the US will host next year’s G7. Trump is certain to manipulate the meeting for political and personal advantage, reducing other leaders to walk-on extras in his noxious re-election drama. It’s time to think again about who rules the world, and how – while there’s still a world left to rule.

• Simon Tisdall is a foreign affairs commentator
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🌍 The United States: A Nation on Suicide Watch
« Reply #769 on: September 11, 2019, 05:33:06 AM »
https://www.globalresearch.ca/united-states-suicide-watch/5688232

The United States: A Nation on Suicide Watch
By John Stanton
Global Research, September 07, 2019
Region: USA
Theme: Intelligence, US NATO War Agenda

“The Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan required major shifts in national resources from civilian to military purposes and contributed to the growth of the budget deficit and public debt. Through FY 2018, the direct costs of the wars will have totaled more than $1.9 trillion, according to US Government figures.

Pollution is a serious issue. The United States (US)  is a “large emitter of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels; deals with water pollution from runoff of pesticides and fertilizers; has limited natural freshwater resources in much of the western part of the country that require careful management.

Deforestation; mining; desertification; species conservation; and invasive species (the Hawaiian Islands are particularly vulnerable) are widespread.

Long-term problems for the US include stagnation of wages for lower-income families, inadequate investment in deteriorating infrastructure, rapidly rising medical and pension costs of an aging population, energy shortages, and sizable current account and budget deficits.”

“The onrush of technology has been a driving factor in the gradual development of a “two-tier” labor market in which those at the bottom lack the education and the professional/technical skills of those at the top and, more and more, fail to get comparable pay raises, health insurance coverage, and other benefits.

But the globalization of trade, and especially the rise of low-wage producers such as China, has put additional downward pressure on wages and upward pressure on the return to capital. Since 1975, practically all the gains in household income have gone to the top 20% of households. Since 1996, dividends and capital gains have grown faster than wages or any other category of after-tax income…

In December 2017, Congress passed and President Donald TRUMP signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which, among its various provisions, reduces the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%; lowers the individual tax rate for those with the highest incomes from 39.6% to 37%, and by lesser percentages for those at lower income levels…

The new taxes took effect on 1 January 2018; the tax cut for corporations are permanent, but those for individuals are scheduled to expire after 2025. The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) under the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the new law will reduce tax revenues and increase the federal deficit by about $1.45 trillion over the 2018-2027 period.”

***

Are those the words of some left wing liberal publication or fake news from the mainstream media or conspiracy tinfoil hats?

No, they are excerpts from the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) 2019 World Factbook, an unflinching look at all the planet’s nations and their political systems, military expenditures, resources and internal and transnational troubles.

We’re Number One! We’re Number One!

Yes, indeed, the US has real problems, not imagined, as Republicans, Democrats and those with “Star Spangled Eyes” like to claim otherwise. “The US is the greatest country in history with the world’s most powerful military. God Bless America!” they shout out or proclaim after every speech.

Perhaps at one point in history’s past the nation had a shot to be the greatest of all time, at least in this solar system. Maybe that could have come after WW II, or the end of the Vietnam War, or even the largely successful Civil Rights movement. But now the country and its people are delusional in thinking that “everything’s groovy”.

What’s to worry about? Gas prices are low, the National Football League season is underway and the Major League Baseball playoffs are just around the corner. What fun to watch these sporting events as military aircraft fly overhead and 20-something millionaires run around the baseball diamond or up and down the football field in stadiums, by the way,  largely financed by the public. Who cares about lead infused water in Newark, New Jersey; Flint and Detroit, Michigan; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania?

And what can be said about the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Where’s the victory to put in the US “Win” column? The American public has largely forgotten these tragic conflicts save those whose families have made a sacrifice. But sacrifice for what? Testing out new equipment, technology and war fighting doctrine? The War on Terror has siphoned off cash badly needed for US infrastructure repairs and has taken the lives of thousands of Americans.

Yes, it is correct that there has been no repeat of the 911 attacks, but the US is dealing with its own home grown terrorist problem: active shooters. Is the US military going to start hunting them down here like they do Islamic State terrorists in the Middle East and Africa?

Hell on Earth

Pre-emptive Nuclear War: The Role of Israel in Triggering an Attack on Iran

At any rate, the only maniacs who want US personnel to remain in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, three hell-holes created, in part, by the US, are zealous military leaders,  defense contractors/suppliers, corrupt officials the US has propped up in the three countries, and black market operators eager to steal American weapons and sell them to the Taliban or groups like the Islamic State.

Oh, and let’s not forget that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (the Baron Harkonenn of the US government) and his boss President Donald Trump who are eager for war with Iran (which borders Iraq and Afghanistan, among other nations). That push has already started with the US exiting from the nuclear accord with Iran (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) in May 2018. The Trump administration has since unleashed punishing economic sanctions, and has adopted a blind-support policy for Israel and the bloodthirsty Saudis who would like nothing better than to have the US go to war with Iran. Yes, lets “do Iran” if not by direct military action then through subterfuge and dicey intelligence likely to be used to justify an ill-advised invasion.

The attack-Iran crowd has been singing the same old tune for at least 40 years now and it should have long ago been dust-binned. But here we are, again, moving toward the precipice of conflict.

According to the National Iranian American Council,

    “The past 40 years in U.S.-Iran relations have been riddled with missed opportunities. While the Iranians and Clinton administration failed to initiate serious dialogue after Mohammad Khatami’s election, the George W. Bush administration pocketed Tehran’s assistance after the U.S.invasion of Afghanistan, put the country in its “axis of evil,” and ignored its offer for a grand bargain. Under the Trump administration, however, we are likely witnessing the greatest missed opportunity in four decades: a failure to capitalize on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, aka the Iran nuclear deal.”

War planners in the US have already sorted through all the airstrike contingencies and have plans, classified of course, for air/missile strikes. But you need not wait for the day when the aircraft and missiles take to the skies over Iran and the talking heads from left, right and center media rant and rave about a brand new war, or retired generals show up to blather about this and that weapon system. Prepare yourself now. Be an educated armchair warrior by reviewing Anthony Cordesman’s “Options in Dealing with Iran’s Nuclear Program. It addresses the use of conventional and nuclear weapons by the US and Israel.

What’s the Frequency Kenneth?

It is  commonplace for Americans to lionize US military leaders and look to them as calming voices, counterweights to warmongering government officials and their advisors. Ironic, isn’t it? Can we look to our divine US military leaders to change the current thinking of the war hawks in the administration, Congress and the think tanks that dot the Washington, DC Metro region?

Nope.

Consider this review by William Bacevich, a decorated combat veteran, of the newest US Central Command boss, Marine Corps General Kenneth McKenzie. McKenzie’s area of responsibility (AOR) includes Iran.

    “General Kenneth McKenzie became the twenty-fourth commander of CENTCOM (more formally known as United States Central Command). On May 8, at an event sponsored by the Institute for the Perpetuation of War and the Promotion of Regime Change, more formally known as the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), he outlined his plans for building on the legacy of his 23 predecessors.  None of those predecessors, it should be acknowledged, succeeded in accomplishing his assigned mission. Nor, I’m willing to bet, will he.

    The essence of that mission, according to General McKenzie himself, is to promote stability. “A stable Middle East underpins a stable world,” he announced, and “our steady commitment to our allies and partners provides a force for stability.” As to how the region became unstable in the first place, he offers no opinion, leaving listeners with the impression that previous exertions by CENTCOM forces in invading, occupying, bombing, and otherwise spilling blood throughout his Area of Responsibility (AOR) had nothing to do with the absence of stability existing there today…This much seems clear: To listen to McKenzie, Iran is the ultimate source of all evil. To cite just one example, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, the general charges that “at least 600 US personnel deaths in Iraq were the result of Iran-backed militants.” This was indeed nefarious, and one is hard-pressed to think of a comparable episode in recent military history, although US support for Saddam Hussein pursuant to his war of aggression against Iran might fill the bill.”

Don’t Bogart that Joint My Friend

How are we faring in that other Long War, the War on Drugs?

The Office of National Drug Control and Policy’s (ONDCP) 2019 National Drug Control Strategy document describes the massive US local, state, and federal machinery set up to defeat drug trafficking organizations from getting their products to US streets and into the bodies of American citizens.

    “The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Program provides assistance to law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the United States. HIDTAs provide an umbrella to coordinate Federal, state, local, and tribal drug law enforcement agencies’ investigations, and act as neutral centers to manage, de-conflict, analyze, provide intelligence, and execute drug enforcement activities in their respective regions. With the recent inclusion of Alaska, the first new HIDTA in 17 years, the 29 regional HIDTAs now include designated areas in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia. The regional HIDTAs bring together more than 21,000 Federal, state, local, and tribal personnel from 500 agencies through 800 enforcement, intelligence, and training initiatives, all designed to disrupt illicit drug trafficking and dismantle criminal and drug trafficking organizations.”

The US military, of course, plays a key role in the US War on Drugs, supporting HIDTA’s among other activities. Take, for example, US Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) role in the Joint Interagency Task Force-South (JIATF-South).  A 2005 briefing by former US Coast Rear Admiral Jeffrey Hathaway shows that no less than 14 agencies worked, and likely still do, chasing down illicit drugs in the SOUTHCOM AOR. These include the National Security Agency; the US Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines; the US Coast Guard,  and the National Reconnaissance Office, among others. According to one of Hathaway’s slides, every step involved in JIATF-South operations from interdiction to prosecution leads to intelligence. That is an interesting point. So 14 years later and all the intelligence collected has led to what, exactly?

Let’s revisit the CIA’s 2019 World Factbook for a read on how the War on Drugs effort is going.

    The US is the “world’s largest consumer of cocaine (shipped from Colombia through Mexico and the Caribbean), Colombian heroin, and Mexican heroin and marijuana; a major consumer of ecstasy and Mexican methamphetamine; a minor consumer of high-quality Southeast Asian heroin; an illicit producer of cannabis, marijuana, depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens, and methamphetamine. It is also a money-laundering center.”

Great!

This piece could go on and on citing data from a myriad of sources showing, among other things, the 500% growth rate of the US prison population, income inequality according to the Gini Coefficient which sees the US (41.5) right near Iran (40), or that one in six children in the US live in hunger. But, hey! The stock market is up, unemployment is down, and the dollar menu at McDonald’s is fabulous.

The forever wars on Drugs and Terror, or the trumped up wars to come; income equality; homelessness; hunger, infrastructure collapse and the fracturing of US society into tribes is clearly a nationwide social, political and cultural sickness: perhaps mental illness. Even the Internet/World Wide Web, once viewed as a global unifying/liberating force for change/good has become what is termed the Splinternet, reflecting large in-group fanaticism, censorship and a polarization of political beliefs. It is now polluted with advertisements just as radio and television are.

But there’s still time left on the clock to change the direction of the country. Who or what will do that and when it will happen I’m not sure. But I take heart in Robert F. Kennedy’s insight below that there are many who long to make “life worthwhile” for everyone in America, once again.

    “For Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product…if we should judge the United States of America by that—counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

    Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.”

*

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John Stanton is a Virginia based writer. Reach him at jstantonarchangel@gmail.com. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.
The original source of this article is Global Research
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