We are the first species on Earth that will have to limit itself for its own survival and that of all life.
This picture was designed in 1985 by Germain Dufour, and represented at the time the vision of the world in 2024. The picture was all made of symbols. At the back is "the wall" where a group of people are making sure those coming in have been properly check out before being let in. Many of the requirements for being let in have already been defined and described over time in many of the monthly Newsletters published by Global Civilization. In the middle is a couple with a child actually going through the screening process. At the front people from all over the world are waiting to be checked in as global citizens. The 2 star like objects that seem to be flying above the people are actually drone-like objects keeping peace and security.
Letter to Donald John Trump, President of the United States, Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, concerning "Canada, the overseer, stewardship and custodianship of the Earth's north polar region. (A proposal of Global Community)" , from Germain Dufour, President of Global Government of North America (GGNA) .
Proceedings of Global Dialogue 2018 (September 1st, 2017 to August 31, 2018) are ready for reading. Please do verify that your articles, comments and papers were correctly published, and that recommendations were appropriate, useful, pertinent, and proper. Authors of research papers and articles on global issues for Global Dialogue 2018 were published in the Dialogue Overview section at .
Zeeshan Ali, Ugo Bardi, Robert J Burrowes, Duncan Cameron, Lee Camp , Jessica Corbett, Finian Cunningham, Mike Gaworecki, Dr Andrew Glikson, William Hawes, Vladimir Isachenkov, Caitlin Johnstone, Kathy Kelly, Elijah J Magnier, David William Pear, Aleksandr Rodgers, Kim Scipes, Lili Stancu, Andre Vltchek, Rene Wadlow, Eric Zuesse (3).
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|July 30, 2018||
Russia Is Preparing for a Perfect Storm in the Global.
by Aleksandr Rodgers, Translated by Ollie Richardson and Angelina Siard, Information Clearing House
In recent months Russia, as some claim, “strenuously prepared for Putin’s meeting with Trump”. What does this mean?
Firstly, in April the Central Bank of the Russian Federation dumped nearly a half of US Treasuries that it had on its balance, having reduced their stock from $96.2 billion to $48.7 billion.
In May the Central Bank continued to do this, having reduced the quantity of treasuries on its balance even more.
Certain news agencies only emphasized that Russia dropped out of the list of the largest holders of treasuries, having noted that this “is less than $30 billion”. They use students in these news agencies, and as a result such “news” appears.
Having read the full report of US Department of the Treasury, it is easy to see that the size of the Russian investments in treasuries was reduced to $14.9 billion.
I.e., more than sixfold in two months. But there still isn’t any data for June…
Secondly, some observers noticed that against this background the Central Bank of the Russian Federation continued to increase its gold reserves.
Since the Central Bank shows in its report the amount of gold in the dollar equivalent, we will have to convert it at the rate of the corresponding number.
As we see, the amount of gold indeed steadily grows.
Some were stupid enough to be indignant because the Central Bank buys gold while it goes down in price. On the one hand, if it bought it at the top peak of the price, then it would be worse. On the other hand, it is possible to assume that in the near future certain events are expected that can significantly raise the price of gold.
If we work like system analysts, then we need to coordinate at least two more facts with the aforementioned.
Thirdly, the majority of Russian state corporations and a number of banks and companies with State capital switched (or are in the process of switching) to the Russian System for the transfer of financial messages of the Bank of Russia (SPFS), which actually means abandoning SWIFT.
Very recently, in June, “Gazprom Neft” also tested a transition to SPFS.
As was stated in the press release: “The use of a sole system that all Russian credit organisations are connected to instead of many local bank clients allows to considerably increase the speed, reliability, and security of carrying out financial operations and to optimise expenses”.
And fourthly, the head of “VTB” Andrey Kostin met with Putin the other day and presented to him a report on the activity of the bank. During the meeting Kostin, in particular, said two things:
“1. Since the beginning of this year, people seem to be less interested in making dollar deposits or taking out dollar loans, compared to ruble-denominated deposits and loans. We believe this to be an important step towards the de-dollarisation of the Russian finance sector.
2. VTB experts have drafted a package of proposals designed to further promote the ruble in international settlements and thus develop the Russian market for floating Eurobonds, shares and creating other derivatives that are now used only in the West. I think that we need to create our own financial tools. This would serve as an additional safeguard for the Russian financial sector against external shocks, and would give a new impetus to its development”.
As we can see, both State corporations, and State banks are actively preparing for the de-dollarisation of economy (or, if to be more exact, carrying it out with confidence) and possible problems from SWIFT, and also increase the self-sufficiency of all systems (communication, payment, and so on).
I think that if there is the desire, then it is possible to significantly add to the provided list of measures. Russia consistently and surely dumps the dollar (and, quite possibly, prepares for the “perfect storm” in the global economy that was predicted long ago), and today none of Trump’s words or actions can change these aspirations.
Because no Trump is able to stop the impending storm.
Cross posted with
|July 6, 2018||
LA PAIX THE PEACE PACE PEACE LA PAZ PAZ
Lili Stancu, Roumanie, Cercle Univ. Ambassadeurs de la Paix, firstname.lastname@example.org
Maman, as-tu vu la paix ?
La paix c'est la lumière, La paix c'est le sourire, La chaleur du soleil, L'espoir, l'avenir.
Maman, qui est la paix ?
La paix est une fée, La paix est la joie, La mer et les plains, Les montagnes et les bois.
Maman, comment est la paix ?
La paix est comme la mère, Quand elle t'embrasse, ma fille, Quand elle sourit, Quand elle chante et rit.
Maman, on peut vivre dans la maison de la paix ?
La maison de la paix est dans chaque bonne âme, Et je dois te dire, Ma petite fille, La paix est dans ton cœur !
Mom, did you see peace?
Peace is light, Peace is the smile, The heat of the sun, Hope, the future.
Mom, who is peace?
Peace is a fairy, Peace is joy, The sea and the plains, Mountains and woods.
Mom, how is peace?
Peace is like the mother, When she kisses you, my daughter, When she smiles, When she sings and laughs.
Mom, can we live in the house of peace?
The house of peace is in every good soul, And I have to tell you, My little girl, Peace is in your heart!
Mamma, hai visto la pace?
La pace è leggera, La pace è il sorriso, Il calore del sole, Spero, futuro.
Mamma, chi è la pace?
La pace è una fata, La pace è gioia, Il mare e la pianura, Montagne e boschi
Mamma, come va la pace?
La pace è come la madre, Quando ti bacia, figlia mia, Quando sorride, Quando canta e ride.
Mamma, possiamo vivere nella casa della pace?
La casa della pace è in ogni anima buona, E devo dirtelo, La mia bambina, La pace è nel tuo cuore!
Мама, ты видел мир?
Мир - это свет, Мир - это улыбка, Тепло солнца, Надеюсь, будущее.
Мама, кто мир?
Мир - это фея, Мир - это радость, Море и равнины, Горы и леса.
Мама, как мир?
Мир подобен матери, Когда она целует тебя, моя дочь, Когда она улыбается, Когда она поет и смеется.
Мама, можем ли мы жить в доме мира?
Дом мира - в каждой доброй душе, И я должен сказать вам, Моя маленькая девочка, Мир в твоем сердце!
Mamá, ¿viste la paz?
La paz es luz La paz es la sonrisa, El calor del sol, Esperanza, el futuro
Mamá, ¿quién es la paz?
La paz es un hada, La paz es alegría, El mar y las llanuras Montañas y bosques
Mamá, ¿cómo está la paz?
La paz es como la madre, Cuando ella te besa, hija mía, Cuando ella sonríe, Cuando ella canta y se ríe.
Mamá, ¿podemos vivir en la casa de la paz?
La casa de la paz está en toda buena alma, Y tengo que decirte, Mi nieta, ¡La paz está en tu corazón!
Mãe, você viu a paz?
A paz é leve A paz é o sorriso O calor do sol, Espero que o futuro.
Mãe, quem é a paz?
A paz é uma fada Paz é alegria O mar e as planícies Montanhas e bosques.
Mãe, como está a paz?
A paz é como a mãe Quando ela te beija, minha filha Quando ela sorri, Quando ela canta e ri.
Mãe, podemos viver na casa da paz?
A casa da paz está em toda alma boa E eu tenho que te dizer Minha menina A paz está no seu coração!
|Jun2 28, 2018||
Andre Vltchek Releases His North Korean Documentary Online.
by Andre Vltchek , in World, Countercurrents.org
Here it is – my short film about North Korea. No need to drag it, to prolong it – let’s just watch it all together:
This is my 25-minutes piece about the DPRK (North Korea) – country that I visited relatively recently; visited and loved, was impressed with, and let me be frank – admired.
I don’t really know if I could call this a ‘documentary’. Perhaps not. A simple story, a poem, you know: I met a girl, tiny and delicate, at the roller-skating ring in Pyongyang. How old was she? Who knows; perhaps four or five. She was first clinging to her mom, then to a Korean professor Kiyul, even to a former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark. Then she began skating away, waving innocently, looking back at me, at us, or just looking back…
Suddenly I was terribly scared for her. It was almost some physical fear. Perhaps it was irrational, like panic, I don’t know…
I did not want anything bad to happen to her. I did not want the US nukes start falling all around her. I did not want her to end up like those poor Vietnamese or Iraqi or Afghan children, victims of the Western barbarism; of the chemical weapons, depleted uranium, or cluster bombs. I did not want her to starve because of some insane sanctions pushed through the UN by spiteful maniacs who simply hate “the Others”.
And so, I produced a short film, about what I saw in North Korea. A film that I made for, dedicated to, that little girl at the roller-skating ring in Pyongyang.
When I was filming, collecting footage in DPRK, the war, an attack from the West or from Japan or South Korea, looked possible, almost likely.
When, some time later, I was editing, in Beirut, with a Lebanese editor, US President Donald Trump was threatening to “take care of the North Korea”. What he meant was clear. Trump is a ‘honest man’; honest in a mafia-style way. In the film I call him ‘a manager’. He may not be an Einstein, but he usually says what he means, at each given moment. You know, again, the Yakuza-style.
Now when I am releasing this humble work of mine, things look brighter after the Singapore Summit, although I really do not trust the West, after more than 500 years of barbaric colonialist wars and crusades. The ‘manager’ is perhaps honest when he says that now he likes President Kim, but then again, tomorrow he could be ‘honest’ again, declaring that he changed him mind and wants to break his arm.
Time to hurry, I feel. Time to hurry and to show to as many people as possible, how beautiful North Korea is, and how dignified its people are.
I can “sell” footage or “sell rights” and make some money for my other internationalist projects, but the whole thing would get delayed, and only limited number of people would see it in such case.
By releasing it like this, the film will make nothing, zero, but I guess it is my duty to do it this way. Hopefully, the film, or ‘a poem’, will be seen by many and the pressure on the West and on Japan will grow – pressure to stop intimidation of the people who already suffered so tremendously much!
If someone wants to support my films, including my works in progress (two big documentary films I am working on right now, one about Afghanistan after almost two decades of the NATO occupation, another about almost total environmental destruction in Kalimantan/Borneo), it can be done HERE. But no pressure. Just enjoy this particular film and other films that I will be soon and gradually releasing.
In the meantime, North Korea is standing.
While the West is calculating, what to do next. I don’t have a good feeling about all this. I hope I am wrong. I hope this is just a beginning of the serious peace process…
But I guess I have seen too many ruins of the cities, of countries and entire continents. Most of them were bombed, reduced to rubble after various ‘peace processes’. Mostly the bombs and missiles began flying after some sound agreements were reached and signed.
I don’t want the same thing to happen to North Korea. I don’t want this girl whom I spotted at the roller-skating ring, to vanish.
What I did this time is not much, but it is something. In this dangerous situation, almost everything counts. Let’s all do “something”, even if it is just a tiny bit.Rain is made of water drops, but it can stop a big fire. This time let us try to stop the madness by tiny drops of sanity and tenderness.
[Originally published by New Eastern Outlook, a publication of Russian Academy of Sciences]
Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Three of his latest books are Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism, a revolutionary novel “Aurora” and a bestselling work of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire”. View his other books here. Watch Rwanda Gambit, his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo and his film/dialogue with Noam Chomsky “On Western Terrorism”. Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website and his Twitter.
|Jun2 21, 2018||
Trump’s Military Drops a Bomb Every 12 Minutes, And No One Is Talking About It.
by Lee Camp , Information Clearing House
We live in a state of perpetual war, and we never feel it. While you get your gelato at the hip place where they put those cute little mint leaves on the side, someone is being bombed in your name.
While you argue with the 17-year-old at the movie theater who gave you a small popcorn when you paid for a large, someone is being obliterated in your name. While we sleep and eat and make love and shield our eyes on a sunny day, someone’s home, family, life and body are being blown into a thousand pieces in our names.
Once every 12 minutes.
The United States military drops an explosive with a strength you can hardly comprehend once every 12 minutes. And that’s odd, because we’re technically at war with—let me think—zero countries. So that should mean zero bombs are being dropped, right?
Hell no! You’ve made the common mistake of confusing our world with some sort of rational, cogent world in which our military-industrial complex is under control, the music industry is based on merit and talent, Legos have gently rounded edges (so when you step on them barefoot, it doesn’t feel like an armor-piercing bullet just shot straight up your sphincter), and humans are dealing with climate change like adults rather than burying our heads in the sand while trying to convince ourselves that the sand around our heads isn’t getting really, really hot.
You’re thinking of a rational world. We do not live there.
Instead, we live in a world where the Pentagon is completely and utterly out of control. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the $21 trillion (that’s not a typo) that has gone unaccounted for at the Pentagon. But I didn’t get into the number of bombs that ridiculous amount of money buys us. President George W. Bush’s military dropped 70,000 bombs on five countries. But of that outrageous number, only 57 of those bombs really upset the international community.
Because there were 57 strikes in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen—countries the U.S. was neither at war with nor had ongoing conflicts with. And the world was kind of horrified. There was a lot of talk that went something like, “Wait a second. We’re bombing in countries outside of war zones? Is it possible that’s a slippery slope ending in us just bombing all the goddamn time? (Awkward pause.) … Nah. Whichever president follows Bush will be a normal adult person (with a functional brain stem of some sort) and will therefore stop this madness.”
We were so cute and naive back then, like a kitten when it’s first waking up in the morning.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported that under President Barack Obama there were “563 strikes, largely by drones, that targeted Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. …”
It’s not just the fact that bombing outside of a war zone is a horrific violation of international law and global norms. It’s also the morally reprehensible targeting of people for pre-crime, which is what we’re doing and what the Tom Cruise movie “Minority Report” warned us about. (Humans are very bad at taking the advice of sci-fi dystopias. If we’d listened to “1984,” we wouldn’t have allowed the existence of the National Security Agency. If we listened to “The Terminator,” we wouldn’t have allowed the existence of drone warfare. And if we’d listened to “The Matrix,” we wouldn’t have allowed the vast majority of humans to get lost in a virtual reality of spectacle and vapid nonsense while the oceans die in a swamp of plastic waste. … But you know, who’s counting?)
There was basically a media blackout while Obama was president. You could count on one hand the number of mainstream media reports on the Pentagon’s daily bombing campaigns under Obama. And even when the media did mention it, the underlying sentiment was, “Yeah, but look at how suave Obama is while he’s OK’ing endless destruction. He’s like the Steve McQueen of aerial death.”
And let’s take a moment to wipe away the idea that our “advanced weaponry” hits only the bad guys. As David DeGraw put it, “According to the C.I.A.’s own documents, the people on the ‘kill list,’ who were targeted for ‘death-by-drone,’ accounted for only 2% of the deaths caused by the drone strikes.”
Two percent. Really, Pentagon? You got a two on the test? You get five points just for spelling your name right.
But those 70,000 bombs dropped by Bush—it was child’s play. DeGraw again: “[Obama] dropped 100,000 bombs in seven countries. He out-bombed Bush by 30,000 bombs and 2 countries.”
You have to admit that’s impressively horrific. That puts Obama in a very elite group of Nobel Peace Prize winners who have killed that many innocent civilians. The reunions are mainly just him and Henry Kissinger wearing little hand-drawn name tags and munching on deviled eggs.
However, we now know that Donald Trump’s administration puts all previous presidents to shame. The Pentagon’s numbers show that during George W. Bush’s eight years he averaged 24 bombs dropped per day, which is 8,750 per year. Over the course of Obama’s time in office, his military dropped 34 bombs per day, 12,500 per year. And in Trump’s first year in office, he averaged 121 bombs dropped per day, for an annual total of 44,096.
Trump’s military dropped 44,000 bombs in his first year in office.
He has basically taken the gloves off the Pentagon, taken the leash off an already rabid dog. So the end result is a military that’s behaving like Lil Wayne crossed with Conor McGregor. You look away for one minute, look back, and are like, “What the f*ck did you just do? I was gone for like, a second!”
Under Trump, five bombs are dropped per hour—every hour of every day. That averages out to a bomb every 12 minutes.
And which is more outrageous—the crazy amount of death and destruction we are creating around the world, or the fact that your mainstream corporate media basically NEVER investigates it? They talk about Trump’s flaws. They say he’s a racist, bulbous-headed, self-centered idiot (which is totally accurate)—but they don’t criticize the perpetual Amityville massacre our military perpetrates by dropping a bomb every 12 minutes, most of them killing 98 percent non-targets.
When you have a Department of War with a completely unaccountable budget—as we saw with the $21 trillion—and you have a president with no interest in overseeing how much death the Department of War is responsible for, then you end up dropping so many bombs that the Pentagon has reported we are running out of bombs.
Oh, dear God. If we run out of our bombs, then how will we stop all those innocent civilians from … farming? Think of all the goats that will be allowed to go about their days.
And, as with the $21 trillion, the theme seems to be “unaccountable.”
Journalist Witney Webb wrote in February, “Shockingly, more than 80 percent of those killed have never even been identified and the C.I.A.’s own documents have shown that they are not even aware of who they are killing—avoiding the issue of reporting civilian deaths simply by naming all those in the strike zone as enemy combatants.”
That’s right. We kill only enemy combatants. How do we know they’re enemy combatants? Because they were in our strike zone. How did we know it was a strike zone? Because there were enemy combatants there. How did we find out they were enemy combatants? Because they were in the strike zone. … Want me to keep going, or do you get the point? I have all day.
This is not about Trump, even though he’s a maniac. It’s not about Obama, even though he’s a war criminal. It’s not about Bush, even though he has the intelligence of boiled cabbage. (I haven’t told a Bush joke in about eight years. Felt kind of good. Maybe I’ll get back into that.)
This is about a runaway military-industrial complex that our ruling elite are more than happy to let loose. Almost no one in Congress or the presidency tries to restrain our 121 bombs a day. Almost no one in a mainstream outlet tries to get people to care about this.
Recently, the hashtag #21Trillion for the unaccounted Pentagon money has gained some traction. Let’s get another one started: #121BombsADay.
One every 12 minutes.
Do you know where they’re hitting? Who they’re murdering? Why? One hundred and twenty-one bombs a day rip apart the lives of families a world away—in your name and my name and the name of the kid doling out the wrong size popcorn at the movie theater.
We are a rogue nation with a rogue military and a completely unaccountable ruling elite. The government and military you and I support by being a part of this society are murdering people every 12 minutes, and in response, there’s nothing but a ghostly silence. It is beneath us as a people and a species to give this topic nothing but silence. It is a crime against humanity.
is an American stand-up comedian, writer, actor, and activist. Dubbed by Salon as the “John Oliver of Russia Today”, Camp is the host of RT America’s first comedy news show Redacted Tonight, which tackles the news agenda with a healthy dose of humor and satire. Lee’s writing credits are vast, having written for The Onion, Comedy Central and Huffington Post, as well as the acclaimed essay collections Moment of Clarity and Neither Sophisticated Nor Intelligent. Lee’s stand-up comedy has also been featured on Comedy Central, ABC’s Good Morning America, Showtime’s The Green Room with Paul Provenza, Al-Jazeera, BBC’s Newsnight, E!, MTV, and Spike TV.
This article was originally published by Truthdig.
|June 29, 2018||
Putin: New Russian Weapons Decades Ahead of Foreign Rivals.
by Vladimir Isachenkov, Information Clearing House
MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted about his country's prospective nuclear weapons Thursday, saying they are years and even decades ahead of foreign designs.
Speaking before the graduates of Russian military academies, Putin said the new weapons represent a quantum leap in the nation's military capability.
"A number of our weapons systems are years, and, perhaps, decades ahead of foreign analogues," Putin told young military officers who gathered in an ornate Kremlin hall. "Modern weapons contribute to a multifold increase in the Russian military potential."
The tough statement comes as Putin is preparing for a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump set for July 16 in Helsinki, Finland. Russia-U.S. relations have plunged to post-Cold War lows over the Ukrainian crisis, the war in Syria, the allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and differences over nuclear arms control issues.
"We have achieved a real breakthrough thanks to the colossal efforts by science and design bureaus and industries, a real feat by workers, engineers and scientists," Putin told the officers.
The Russian leader singled out the new Avangard hypersonic vehicle and the new Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile, which are set to enter service in the next few years. Putin also mentioned the Kinzhal hypersonic missile that has already been put on duty with the units of Russia's Southern Military District.
Those systems were among an array of new nuclear weapons the Russian leader presented in March amid tensions with the West.
Putin said then that the Avangard has an intercontinental range and can fly in the atmosphere at a speed 20 times the speed of sound. The Russian leader added that the weapon can change both its course and its altitude en route to a target, making it "absolutely invulnerable to any air or missile defense means."
He said Avangard has been designed using new composite materials to withstand temperatures of up to 2,000 Celsius (3,632 Fahrenheit) resulting from a flight through the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds.
The Sarmat is intended to replace the Soviet-designed Voyevoda, the world's heaviest ICBM, which is known as "Satan" in the West and which carries 10 nuclear warheads.
Putin said in March that Sarmat weighs 200 metric tons (220 tons) and has a higher range than Satan, allowing it to fly over the North or the South Poles and strike targets anywhere in the world. He noted that Sarmat also carries a bigger number of nuclear warheads, which are more powerful than the ones on Satan.
This article was written by Vladimir Isachenkov from The Associated Press
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.
How Deadly are the New Russian Hypersonic & Nuclear Powered Cruise Missiles & ICBM's?
|July 4, 2018||
Donald Trump and the U.S. Piggy Bank.
by Duncan Cameron, Information Clearing House
Justifying his imposition of tariffs on major U.S. trading partners, including Canada, Donald Trump angrily pointed to the rest of the world: "The United States has been taken advantage of for decades and decades… we're like the piggy bank that everybody is robbing and that ends."
It is hard to see how other countries have been robbing the American piggy bank and taking its savings. In fact, the U.S. takes in savings from other nations: it must borrow to make payments on what it owes abroad.
At the beginning of 2018, the U.S. owed the rest of the world about $7.7 trillion. This is the difference between U.S. investments abroad of $ 27.8 trillion and U.S. assets held by non-nationals of $35.5 trillion.
U.S. borrowing to cover current debt payments is only a sidebar to the main story. The rest of the world routinely holds U.S. dollars and owns debt securities denominated in U.S. dollars. By accepting the U.S. dollar as world money, the rest of the world is lending to the U.S.
This lending has given the U.S. the ability to spend abroad without having to worry about earning foreign currency to pay for its overseas investments and consumption.
This "exorbitant privilege" was acquired by the U.S. because its currency has been the main "reserve currency" since prior to the end of the Second World War.
In 1944 the U.S. invited 43 allied nations to meet in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. The conference gave birth to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, both headquartered in Washington, D.C.
The 730 assembled delegates were anxious to prevent the kind of "beggar thy neighbour" policies the U.S. and others had pursued that culminated in the disastrous 1930s Great Depression (similar to policies that Donald Trump has initiated 74 years later).
The U.K. championed its own plan -- designed and named after its author, John Maynard Keynes -- for a monetary clearings union run by central banks.
It would have made surplus nations automatically re-cycle funds to deficit nations, forcing the strong creditor nations to assist weak debtor nations, and discourage them from trying to run deflationary economic surpluses with the rest of the world.
Instead, the U.S. delegation prevailed, and when the Bretton Woods meetings adjourned, private commercial banks remained at the centre of world trade.
Wall Street bankers dominated profit-making foreign exchange markets and were anxious their foreign currency desks continue to be agents for international finance, which is why U.S. delegates made sure the Keynes plan was scrapped.
As world trade and finance gradually recovered after the 1939-45 war, countries needed to buy or borrow U.S. dollars from banks in order to expand trade with each other.
World commercial expansion became dependent on payments made in the U.S. dollar, a currency that all nations -- except the U.S. -- had to earn through export surpluses, or go into debt.
From Bretton Woods until this day, nations, corporations, and even individuals have been induced to build up reserves of U.S. dollars.
Across the world, prices for traded goods like oil or gold or wheat continue to be mostly set in U.S. dollars, international payments are denominated in U.S. dollars, and wealth is held in U.S. dollar assets.
The U.S. dollar is the main reserve held by central banks, banks make U.S. dollar international loans and register U.S. dollar deposits, and international bonds are issued in U.S. dollars.
China alone holds over $1 trillion in U.S. Treasury bills, which did not stop the Americans from announcing $50 billion in new tariff protection against Chinese imports.
The Chinese have created the Asian Infrastructure Bank as an alternative source of lending to the U.S.-dominated IMF and World Bank, and as an outlet for placing their own U.S. dollar reserves.
The Chinese and the Russians have expressed interest in developing a super reserve currency to replace the U.S. dollar.
The IMF did create such a currency: the poorly named Special Drawing Rights (SDR) in 1969. But, it remains a small supplement to official central bank reserves. About 20 billion in SDRs were held by central banks until an additional 180 billion SDRs were allocated in 2009 following the global financial crisis.
Unhappiness with the use of the U.S. dollar as the world currency is felt by many nations. Since it gives the U.S. ability to borrow from the rest of the world to finance its economic expansion abroad and at home, American authorities are not looking to change a system that works to their advantage.
The U.S. has a low savings rate, about 1.5 per cent of GDP currently, and it imports the savings of other countries.
The U.S. has been a net borrower from the rest of the world since the mid-1980s. You might say the U.S. has been using the rest of the world as a piggy bank ever since.
Duncan Cameron is president emeritus of rabble.ca and writes a weekly column on politics and current affairs.
This article was originally published by "Rabble" -
|July 4, 2018||
America Bombs, Europe Gets the Refugees. That’s Evil.
by Eric Zuesse, Information Clearing House
The U.S. Government (with France and a few other U.S. allies) bombs Libya, Syria, etc.; and the U.S. regime refuses to accept any of the resulting refugees — the burdens from which are now breaking the EU, and the EU is sinking in economic competition against America’s international corporations. America’s corporations remain blithely unscathed by not only the refugees that are breaking up the EU, but also by the EU’s economic sanctions against Russia, Iran, and other allies of governments that the U.S. regime is trying to overthrow in its constant invasions and coups. The U.S. Government makes proclamations such as “Assad must go!” — but by what right is the U.S. Government involved, at all, in determining whom the leaders in Syria will be? Syria never invaded the U.S. In fact, Syria never invaded anywhere (except, maybe, Israel, in order to respond against Israel’s invasions). Furthermore, all polling, even by Western pollsters, shows that Bashar al-Assad would easily win any free and fair election in Syria. The U.S. Government claims to support democracy, but does the exact opposite whenever they want to get rid of a Government that is determined to protect that nation’s sovereignty over its own national territory, instead of to yield it to the U.S. regime, or any other foreigners.
The U.S. regime even refuses to provide restitution to Syria for its bombings, and for its arming and training of the jihadists — the fundamentalist Sunni mercenaries recruited from around the world — who are the U.S. regime’s “boots on the ground” trying to overthrow Syria’s Government. Al Qaeda has led the dozens of jihadist groups that have served as the U.S. regime’s “boots on the ground” to overthrow Assad, but Al Qaeda is good enough to serve the purpose, in the U.S. regime’s view of things. The U.S. regime says that there will be no restitution to Syria unless Syria accepts being ruled by ‘rebels’ whose leadership is actually being chosen by the U.S. regime’s chief ally, the fundamentalist-Sunni Saud family, who already own Saudi Arabia, and who (along with the CIA) have been unsuccessfully trying, ever since 1949, to take over the committedly secular, non-sectarian, nation of Syria.
Are You Tired Of The Lies And Non-Stop Propaganda?
The U.S. regime, and its allies, have used the Muslim Brotherhood, in order to recruit into Syria the 100,000+ jihadists from around the world to fight to overthrow Syria’s secular Government. Even the BBC’s 13 December 2013 detailed report, “Guide to the Syrian rebels”, made clear that the “Syrian Rebels” were, in fact, overwhelmingly jihadist and largely recruited from abroad. Even a Tony-Blair-founded anti-Assad NGO’s study concluded that “Sixty per cent of major Syrian rebel groups are Islamist extremists” and yet the Blair outfit still supported the overthrow of Assad (just as Blair had earlier participated in the U.S. regime’s destruction of Iraq).
The fundamentalist-Sunni royal Thani family own Qatar and have been the top international funders of the Muslim Brotherhood, just as the fundamentalist-Sunni royal Saud family, who own Saudi Arabia, have been the top funders of Al Qaeda. The main difference between the Sauds and the Thanis has been that whereas the Sauds hate Shia, the Thanis don’t. Thus, for the Sauds, this is a war against the Shia center, Iran, and not only against Syria. This was a coordinated U.S.-Saud-Thani operation, in which Al Qaeda provided the leadership but the Muslim Brotherhood provided the largest recruiting website. The Obama Administration started planning this operation, under Hillary Clinton, in 2010. As even the neoconservative (i.e., U.S.-empire advocating) Washington Post reported, on 17 April 2011, from Wikileaks, “It is unclear whether the State Department is still funding Syrian opposition groups, but the cables indicate money was set aside [by the Obama Administration] at least through September 2010.” That article mentioned only “former members of the Muslim Brotherhood,” not the Muslim Brotherhood itself; and no mention was made in it to Al Qaeda, in any form. Then, in 2013, the neoconservative Foreign Policymagazine headlined “How the Muslim Brotherhood Hijacked Syria’s Revolution” and was oblivious regarding the neoconservative Obama Administration’s having planned that, in 2010 (but going back even as far as Obama’s inauguration). But if Obama wasn’t neocon-enough to suit the magazine’s editors, then Trump certainly should be, because Trump continues Obama’s foreign policies but with an even more hostile thrust against the Sauds’ chief target, which is Iran. Above all, the U.S. alliance’s goal has been for the Saud family’s selected (rabidly anti-Shiite) people to take over and run the Syrian Government. As Global Security has phrased this matter, “The High Negotiations Committee [which is the group who are negotiating against Assad’s government at the U.S.-sponsored ‘peace’ talks] is a Saudi-backed coalition of Syrian opposition groups. The High Negotiations Committee (HNC) was created in Saudi Arabia in December 2015.” So, this war has actually been the Sauds’ war to take over Syria. And it actually started in 1949, but the U.S.-backed Muslim-Brotherhood-led “Arab Spring” in 2011 gave the U.S. and its allies the opportunity to culminate it, finally. And Europe receives the fall-out from it. This fall-out has been hurting European corporations, in international competition against U.S. corporations. It’s not only political.
The U.S. regime has continued this thrust, under Obama’s successor. U.S. President Donald Trump demands European corporations to end their business with Shiite Iran (which the Saud family is determined to take over), and to end their business with Russia, which America’s own billionaires themselves are determined to take over, just like the Sauds are determined to take over both Syria and Iran.
America is no actual ally of Europe. The Marshall Plan is long-since finished, and America has been taken over by psychopaths who are Europe’s main enemies, not Europe’s friends. Iran and Russia should be Europe’s allies — they didn’t cause any of Europe’s problems. America did. America’s intelligence agencies tapped (and probably still tap) the phones of Germany’s Chancellor and practically everybody else, and yet the U.S. regime has the gall to blame Russia for interfering in the political affairs of European countries. If that isn’t the pot calling the kettle ‘black’, then what is? If anything, the EU’s sanctions should be against doing business with American firms — not against doing business with Russian firms, or with Iranian firms.
Russia is, itself, a European country, which additionally traverses much of Asia, but America is no European country, at all, and yet now is so brazen as to demand that Europe must do America’s bidding — not only against Russia, but also against the Sauds’ main target, which is Iran (the same main target as Israel’s).
Why are Europeans not asking themselves: Who is Europe’s enemy in all of this — what causesthis refugee-crisis?
It’s not Russia, and it’s not Iran, and it’s not China; it is America — which is the true enemy of them all, and of us all — including even of the American people ourselves, because the U.S. Government no longer actually represents the American people. The U.S. is no longer (if it ever was) a democracy.
On June 30th, the U.S. aristocracy’s New York Times headlined “Bavaria: Affluent, Picturesque — and Angry”, and reported “the new angry center of Europe, the latest battleground for populists eager to bring down both Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and the idea of a liberal Europe itself.” Their ‘reporter’ (propagandist) interviewed ‘experts’ who condemn Europe’s politicians that are trying to assuage their public’s anger against the EU’s open-door policy regarding this flood of refugees from what is actually, for the most part, the U.S. regime’s (and its allies’) bombings — air-support of the boots-on-the-ground jihadist mercenaries. The combination of this air-support, and of the jihadists, has been the backbone of the U.S.-Saudi-Israeli effort to overthrow and replace Syria’s Government.
Libya was a similar case, but only friendly toward Russia, not allied with Russia, as both Syria and Iran are.
These are ‘humanitarian’ bombings in order to replace a ‘barbaric’ Government — but with what? With one that would be chosen by the Sauds.
The NYT article says — and I add here key explanatory links:
“This is not about economics,” said Gerald Knaus, the director of the European Stability Initiative, [“The Open Society Institute was a major core funder.”] a Berlin-based think tank. “It is about identity and a very successful populist P.R. machine that is rewriting recent history.”
So: the Times was secretly (and they didn’t include any links to help online readers know who was actually funding their ‘experts’) pumping NATO propaganda as if it were authentic and neutral news-reporting, instead of craven service to the U.S. aristocracy that controls the U.S. Government and its NATO military alliance. This is the New York Times, that is “rewriting recent history.” That’s how they do it — constantly (as ‘news’).
And here is some of that “recent history” the Times is “rewriting” (by simply omitting to so much as even just suggest, but which is essential backgound in order to understand the real history behind this important matter):
House of Commons, Research Paper 01/50, 2 May 2001
“European Security and Defence Policy: Nice and Beyond”
On 7 February 2001 the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, emphasised the ESDP’s [European Security and Defence Policy’s] tie to NATO during a press interview, following his meeting in Washington with US National Security Adviser, Condoleeza Rice. He said:
I have stressed that the European Security Initiative will strengthen the capacity of Europe to contribute to crisis management and therefore is welcome to a Washington that is interested in fairer burden sharing, and that Washington can be confident that Britain will insist that the European Security Initiative is firmly anchored on NATO. We are both determined to see that happen, we are both determined to make sure that the European Security Initiative carries out its promise to strengthen the North Atlantic Alliance.119
Though the Sauds, and also Israel’s aristocracy, are mainly anti-Iran, the U.S. aristocracy are obsessed with their goal of conquering Russia. Since Iran, and Syria, are both allied with Russia, the U.S. regime is trying to overthrow those Russia-allied Governments, before going in for the kill, against Russia itself. That’s what all of these economic sanctions, and the bombings and the backing of Al Qaeda for overthrowing Syria’s Government, are really all about. Is this what today’s Europeans want their Governments to be doing — and doing it for that reason, the U.S. aristocracy’s reason? Despite the huge harms it is causing to Europeans?
Here’s a debate between, on the one hand a retired CIA official who thinks “Our relationship with Israel causes us war with Muslims,” versus Representatives in Congress who are actually representatives of Israel’s Government and definitely not representatives of the American people. Both sides in that debate are acceptable to the aristocrats who control the U.S. Government, because neither side argues that the apartheid theocratic Government of Israel is an enemy of the American people, nor that the entire problem of Islamic terrorism is fundamentalist-Sunni, and that only Israel gets hit by terrorism that’s from both Sunnis and Shiites — that Shiites (the U.S. alliance’s targets) are no terrorist threat, at all, to Europeans (nor to Americans) — the “Islamist” threat is actually only from fundamentalist Sunnis, which are the very groups that are allied with America’s aristocracy. Neither side of the ‘debate’ acknowledges that both the Sauds and Israel (and Israel’s lobbyists represent internationally also the Sauds’ interests) are enemies both of the American people, and of the peoples of Europe. These wars that pour Middle Eastern (and also Ukrainian) refugees into the EU, are inter-aristocratic conflicts reflecting inter-aristocratic competitions; and the publics everywhere suffer enormously from them. The gainers from it are very few.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse
is the author, most recently, of They’re
Not Even Close: The Democratic vs.
Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010,and
VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created
|July 4, 2018||
The Battle in the South of Syria is Coming to an End: Israel Bowed To Russia’s Will.
by Elijah J Magnier , Information Clearing House
After only two weeks since the beginning of the military operation, jihadists and militants in most of eastern rural Daraa in south Syria have either surrendered or were overwhelmed, the over 70 villages they occupied were liberated by the Syrian Army. Meanwhile, Israel has reduced its requests or conditions pronounced in the last two weeks: from launching threats against the approach of the Syrian Army towards the South, to menaces if Damascus pushes forces beyond the 1974 demarcation line and the disengagement agreement between Syria and Israel. This clearly means all players (the US, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia) have dropped the jihadists and militants they were training and are turning their back on them: they are now on their own.
For over seven years, Israel has invested intelligence, finance, military and medical supplies in these jihadists and their allies. On many occasions, Israel has said it prefers the “Islamic State” to Iranian forces on the borders. Many times, Israel showed images of jihadists – including those fighting under the flag of al-Qaeda – in Israeli hospitals, recovering from wounds inflicted during their clashes with the forces of Damascus. Today, it is clear that Israel’s intentions have been defeated when it can announce that for the Syrian army to cross the 1974 disengagement line it means crossing red lines. Israel is crying in the wilderness because the Syrian army has the intention and means to defeat all jihadists and militants who received supplies from foreign countries. It has never crossed Syria’s mind to start a new war with Israel before the Syrian territory (in the north) is liberated.
The Syrian allies are participating in the battle of the south of Syria as advisors and with backup (small) units to fill gaps only if the battle becomes critical on this or that front. So far, jihadists and militants are easily defeated and represent little resistance. There is little doubt how ISIS (the “Islamic State”, aka Jaish Khaled Bin al-Waleed), deployed on the 1975 disengagement line, will react because neither the Syrian Army nor Russia are offering a relocation to the terrorist group. Therefore, the only choice ISIS have in south Syria is to fight, surrender or be allowed to cross into Israel, since for years the Israeli Army has been cohabiting with ISIS beautifully. The number of terrorists is estimated at between 1500 and 2000, a relatively small number when we consider that the Syrian Army faced tens of thousands in al-Yarmouk, rural Homs, al-Badiya, Deir-ezzour and Albukamal in the north and north east- and they wiped them out completely.
The Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has disregarded any Israeli threat related to the participation of Iranian advisors and Hezbollah Special forces in the battle of south of Syria. Actually, Russia understands the necessity of the presence of Damascus’ allies on the ground, so the operation is fully supported and success is guaranteed. Moreover, Moscow has seen Hezbollah and Iranian advisors pulling out from every single battle when the Syrian army prevails and whenever Damascus considered the area safe enough to take over completely. Therefore, President Putin can guarantee to his US counterpart Donald Trump (and he already did guarantee this to his Israeli visitors last month in Moscow) that no Iranian or Hezbollah advisors shall remain behind on Israeli borders (the wish of the Syrian central government). That was sufficient for Trump to inform Israel that the US has no reasons to believe it is facing any dangerfrom the Syrian Army on its borders.
For almost 45 years, Damascus didn’t engage in any serious attack against Israel starting from the 1974 disengagement line bordering the occupied Golan heights. There can be no comparison between the presence of the Syrian regular forces and the presence of the terrorist group, ISIS, on the Israeli occupied Golan heights. In fact, it will be impossible for President Trump to defend Israel’s case to protect ISIS regardless how close the terrorist group and Israel are following years of being “good neighbours” – and attack the Syrian army wishing to recover its own territory and totally eliminate the presence of ISIS from the south of Syria.
What is remaining in the south of Syria is only a tactical battle. It will intensify on one front and will be smooth on the other. The battle is reaching its first objective to clear eastern Daraa, in the coming days, and to secure the Naseeb border crossing between Jordan and Syria that helps both countries to recover some hundreds of millions of dollars yearly from their trade and commerce.
In the second phase, the west of Daraa and Quneitra, the Syrian army will push its forces towards south-west Daraa to clear jihadists standing on the way between the Syrian army and where ISIS is located. There is no specific time allocated for the ending of the battle. Nevertheless, the result of the battle is easily predictable: the Syrian army will regain control of Syrian territory, particularly the city of Daraa where all countries involved in “regime change” (Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the US, the UK, Qatar) initiated their flow of weapons and finance for the south. They have managed to achieve only the destruction of the Levant ($300 billions are needed to rebuild Syria), the death of around 400,000 persons, and millions of displaced persons and refugees.
Elijah J Magnier - Veteran War Zone Correspondent and Senior Political Risk Analyst with over 35 years' experience covering the Middle East and acquiring in-depth experience, robust contacts and political knowledge in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan and Syria. Specialised in terrorism and counter-terrorism, intelligence, political assessments, strategic planning and thorough insight in political networks in the region. Covered on the ground the Israeli invasion to Lebanon (1st war 1982), the Iraq-Iran war, the Lebanese civil war, the Gulf war (1991), the war in the former Yugoslavia (1992-1996), the US invasion to Iraq (2003 to date), the second war in Lebanon (2006), the war in Libya and Syria (2011 to date). Lived for many years in Lebanon, Bosnia, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria. https://ejmagnier.com
Proof read by: Maurice Brasher
|July 17, 2018||
Humanity Is Deciding If It Will Evolve Or Die.
by Caitlin Johnstone, Information Clearing House
Humanity Is Deciding If It Will Evolve Or Die
By Caitlin Johnstone
July 27, 2018 "Information Clearing House" - I write a lot about consciousness, enlightenment and the potential humanity has to rise above its conditioned patterns, because if I only wrote about politics and media propaganda I'd be accomplishing nothing but helping the anti-establishment fringe feel good about itself while waiting for human extinction. I can't do this thing honestly and sincerely without periodically pointing to the dangers on the horizon, and to what I perceive as the only off ramp in sight.
Human society is clearly at its most interesting point ever. Billions of human brains are now interconnected in real time by the internet, we're realizing on mass scale that all the rules of society were invented by dead people long before any of us got here, and we're seeing that we are free to re-write those rules in a way that benefits us. From popular grassroots examinations of socialist ideas, to cryptocurrencies and an evolving understanding of what money is, to redefining social institutions as ancient and ingrained as marriage and gender identity, more and more people are saying in effect, "Hmm, it looks like all those old thoughts we've been using to describe our reality are causing some problems. Let's find new ones." It could be described as a collective awakening to the fact that reality and our conceptual model for it are two very different things, and the model is as flexible as your ability to change your mind. We've never seen anything like this before as a species. We've literally never been here.
We are in uncharted, unprecedented territory. When you're in uncharted, unprecedented territory, there's no valid basis for ruling out any conceivable possibility. Stodgy intellectuals may say "Hurr, yes, this is very similar to the Bulgarian Wheat Rebellions of 1809, so this will likely turn out the same" or whatever, but they're wrong, because it isn't. The past can be a useful tool for predicting future outcomes, but in an entirely unprecedented situation, that is not the case. Anything is possible.
But we are also facing an unprecedented set of challenges. Our planet is currently in the midst of a sixth mass extinction that is entirely the result of human ecocide. More than half the world's wildlife has vanished in forty years and the worldwide insect population has plummeted by as much as 90 percent, so the very ecosystemic context in which we evolved is dying, and every few weeks there are new reports that anthropogenic climate change is progressing more rapidly than previously anticipated. There are self-reinforcing warming effects called "feedback loops" which, once set off, can continue warming the atmosphere further and further regardless of human behavior, meaning that a chain of events can conceivably be set off tipping us rapidly into climate chaos and making industrial farming impossible, causing global starvation.
If we dodge that bullet, we've got steadily mounting new cold war escalations between the world's two nuclear superpowers imperiling us more and more with every moronic increase in nuclear tensions. There's also the looming and seemingly inevitable invention of artificial superintelligence, which could end us in any number of completely unpredictable ways. If we manage to dodge all of those bullets in the next few decades, we're still headed straight toward an Orwellian global empire which controls all access to information and ideas using AI-controlled censorship and propaganda. Serving out the remainder of our existence as a sanitized, homogenized and propagandized servile class for sociopathic elites would be a kind of extinction in itself, and arguably a worse fate.
So we're at a pretty significant juncture here. Our present situation could accurately be described as a question that we are collectively being asked as a species: do we want to (A) live on and find out what the future holds for us, or do we want to (B) go the way of the dinosaur?
Whenever I bring this subject up I encounter proponents of both answers. Though they never frame it as such, the people who show up in my social media notifications proclaiming that it is naive to think humans will ever cease their destructive patterns are very much on the side of Answer B. They insist that turning away from our ecocidal, omnicidal trajectory is impossible, and apparently their plan is to sit back and feel smugly vindicated when the world burns. They are choosing extinction, and their prize is that they get to be right and feel good about that if it happens.
Answer A is less sexy. Less egoically satisfying. You don't get to feel smug and superior with Answer A, because Answer A involves changing. It involves waking up from that same ego structure which gets so much pleasure out of being right and knowing better.
If we're going to pull away from catastrophe or dystopia and survive, we're going to have to take full advantage of the unprecedented situation in which we now find ourselves. We're going to have to make a miracle happen. We're going to have to evolve beyond our current relationship with thought. We're going to have to wake up.
Throughout recorded history and across all cultures around the world, there have been individuals testifying that it is possible to undergo a transformation in the way one relates to the world, experiencing life as it actually is instead of filtered through unconscious conditioned thought patterns. After such a transformation, thought becomes the useful tool it's supposed to be instead of the writer, director and star of the whole show.
If such a transformation is possible on an individual level, it is possible on a collective level as well. With a shift in our relationship with thought and ego, we would become impossible to propagandize, and therefore able to determine a course of action that isn't selected for us by plutocratic manipulators. We can awaken from the old patterns of fear and greed and need to control which are constantly used to manipulate us, and begin working in harmony with each other and our environment instead.
This as near as I can tell is the only way to avert catastrophe. All the other exits we've tried are bolted shut; political attempts at solutions are shut down with plutocratic manipulations, activism is shut down with media propaganda and corporate censorship, and violent revolution just puts the same problems into different hands. The deck is stacked to keep funneling the momentum toward the agendas of the ruling elites. Our only option is to change ourselves.
Such a collective transformation has always been possible, and everyone from Buddha to the hippies of the 1960s has pointed to it and insisted that it is possible. The difference now is that we are in unprecedented times, and that we now have no other choice.
But it isn't sexy. It is, in fact, in the exact opposite direction of egoic gratification. On a collective level, it means giving up on barking and snarling at the Russians or the libtards or the Muslims or the Trump supporters and relinquishing the notion of your pet political, religious or social faction ever being proven right and vindicated over the others. On an individual level, it means letting go of everything you've built your identity on. It means realizing and fully understanding that you've been basically wrong about everything your entire life as mental narratives are seen for the babbling nonsense they are. It means forgiving yourself for your mistakes and forgiving your mother for hers. It means the ultimate humility of taking everything you've held yourself to be and unceremoniously discarding it like an old piece of gum.
It means examining everything you think you are and seeing it for the story it is. All the babbling thoughts that go on in your head about who you are, what you like, what you think, they are all just re-runs of old stories playing in the TV of your mind, and they all need fresh eyes and a critical appraisal. Put together, these thoughts create the impression of the thing that you call "me", but they're as arbitrary as snippets from a cutting room floor. The more meaning you imbue into them, the more fascinating you'll find the re-runs, the more you're glued to the screen and the less attention you pay to real life. These stories also create hooks by which you can be trolled and manipulated. Take a step back and watch your thoughts like old television, and they'll be no less noisy but much less interesting, and eventually the noise disappears into the background and you can begin engaging with life as it really is.
This personal inventory has messy consequences. It means facing your fear of death to the point where it no longer controls every decision you make so you will be free to live right now. It means resolving to hand your desire over to the highest interest, not just when it suits you but every time. It means giving up everything you ever do for anyone else's approval, including your own. It means admitting to your own arrogance, your own violence, your own hypocrisies, your own projections, your own sneaky manipulations, your own sins, and tracing them back to the point in time where you created this little coping mechanism gone mad. It means forgiving others, but it also means forgiving yourself. It means applying love to your wounds until they heal and the pain of the scars doesn't rule you anymore. It means getting playful and curious and unafraid to jump down rabbit holes. It means letting the intelligence of your animal body purge your stuck emotions and dormant fears. You might look silly sometimes. That's okay.
Then, in the relative quiet of your mind-cave with the TV no longer dominating your attention, a silent inner voice emerges and rather than allowing the ghosts of the past to dictate your every move, a greater wisdom will get a chance to inform your choices. In many ways, this is when it gets harder. This means doing what's in the highest interest even when it's scary and everyone you love is trying to stop you. It means you will have a much clearer idea of what's your responsibility and what's not, but it means taking responsibility. It means having a much better idea of where you stop and where others begin, but that means ceasing to lean in on other's sovereign boundaries to manipulate them for your own perceived safety, and it also means getting up the guts to throw out the predators that you suddenly realize have been in your sovereign space this whole time. It means becoming fearless.
If everyone who is capable took these steps, the world will change at a miraculous pace. Individually we will become ungovernable from the outside, and guided from within, and as a group, our clarion call will siren each other into quietly taking the actions we need to take to avoid extinction. Inspired, fearless individual actions will harmoniously and wordlessly collaborate with others in a way that will look like magical rolling coincidences but is really just as mundane and natural as the daily work of an ant colony. With the babble of ego turned all the way down, we will start behaving in concert with each other like a marvelous improv troupe, taking cues and accepting offers and intuitively building something more beautiful together than our individual thinker brain could ever hope to even glimpse.
The journey out of egoic consciousness isn't something that can be undertaken lightly. Relinquishing everything that has made up your inner world your entire life is not something you can do as a casual pastime. You need to plunge into it with the intensity of someone fighting for their life, and what we have working in our favor today is the fact that now we collectively are fighting for our lives. This has never happened before. It's scary, but it's also a time of unprecedented potential.
It's all here. We have all the parts right here and ready to go. All we need now is to individually get humble and do the work to quiet the mind. We just need to set our intention to mute the babble of ego to give us the space to let something extraordinary create itself through us. There is nothing stopping us except the concept of ourselves that we hold, and surely we all must be getting bored of that by now. Besides, what choice do we have? Sit around and wait to die, or sit down and do the work and see what happens when we've thrown off our brain boxes and we can dance with each other naked?
Get naked with me. You know you want to. Come on. Let's see what's on the other side of this thing. I'm pretty sure it's more beautiful than we can possibly imagine. I want to know. Don't you?
|July 27, 2018||
Russia Hacking Vital Public Infrastructure?
by Finian Cunningham, Information Clearing House
Russian Hack Attack Scare Story After US Public Ignore ‘Traitor Trump’ Hype
By Finian Cunningham
July 27, 2018 "Information Clearing House" - There is a power outage in the US alright, but it’s got nothing to do with Russian hackers. The “outage” is due to the American political class evidently losing its power-of-influence on public opinion.
That would explain why this week US media reported a sensationalist story alleging that Russian state hackers had the capability to crash the American power grid.
It seemed to be a blatant attempt at whipping up public fears and anti-Russia sentiment. That base motive would have been all the more impelled because the public were evidently not responsive to the post-Helsinki “Traitor Trump” hysteria.
In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s summit with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Helsinki last week, the US media went hysterical in denouncing the American president as a “traitor” and “stooge”. That rabid reaction was because Trump held a cordial meeting with Putin and because he appeared to play down long-running, and tenuous, claims about “Russian interference” in the 2016 elections for the White House.
Trump’s summit with Putin – the first that the two leaders have held since Trump took office nearly eighteen months ago – sent Congressional Democrats and Republicans, as well as intelligence and media pundits, into a collective delirium of condemnation.
Apparently, the idea of the US-Russia normalizing bilateral relations and avoiding spiraling tensions between the two nuclear superpowers was anathema to the political establishment and the media chattering-class.
However, the telling thing was that most ordinary American citizens were not provoked into sharing this hysteria over Trump and Putin. Several polls showed that the US public remained supportive of Trump or neutral about his engagement with the Russian president. That was in spite of saturated corporate media coverage decrying Trump for “betraying” America and “colluding with an enemy state”.
That’s where the story comes in about Russian agents allegedly hacking into the US electric grid. More than a week after the Helsinki summit, media headlines like this appeared: “Russian hackers have gained capability to cause US blackouts”.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials on July 23 started “briefing” US media and power industry companies that Russian state hackers had gained access to the nation’s electric grid and were capable of “throwing switches” to cause widespread blackouts.
The DHS stated that the alleged cyber attacks “claimed hundreds of victims” in an ongoing subversive campaign. But, as US government-owned Radio Free Europe reported, the DHS officials “did not provide names of alleged victims”.
One former Pentagon official is quoted as saying: “They’ve [Russia] been intruding into our networks and are positioning themselves for a limited or widespread attack. They are waging a covert war on the West.”
The reports this week contain lots of technical jargon about how would-be hackers could have gained access to the power networks. But in all the reportage there is the typical lack of verifiable evidence that we have seen in countless other Western media claims of Russian “malign activity” – from US election interference, to nerve agent attacks in Britain.
This is not the first time that the scare story concerning alleged Russia cyber attacks on civilian infrastructure has emerged.
Recall that back in 2016, the Washington Post published a false story that Russian hackers had targeted the US power grid via an electric company in Vermont. It quickly transpired that Burlington Electric had not been hacked at all, but that didn’t stop US politicians foaming at the mouth about “Putin the thug” and Russia committing “acts of war”.
Similarly, the British government has made outlandish, sensationalist claims that Russian hackers are targeting the country’s infrastructure. UK Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson earlier this year issued the outrageous warning that “thousands and thousands of Britons would die” from Russia allegedly disrupting essential public utilities.
Williamson said Russia was targeting Britain to, “Damage its economy, rip its infrastructure apart, actually cause thousands and thousands and thousands of deaths… creating total chaos within the country.”
British military chiefs have also made reckless public alerts that Russia is trying to cut undersea communication cables around Britain. Again, despite the lack of evidence and largely based on pejorative speculation, this has led to US Treasury sanctions being imposed on Russian companies involved in submarine and diving technology.
Russia has categorically denied any intention of targeting civilian infrastructure. As with Moscow’s repeated denials of hacking into US and Western elections, the relentless fact-free anti-Russia narrative continues unabated.
Nonetheless, the sinister story this week in US media about Russia hacking vital public infrastructure is particularly insidious. It can be easily distorted and politicized into “an act of war”. If that perception takes hold more widely, then we have a scenario where Russia is liable for counter-attacks by America and its NATO allies, which could escalate dangerously into a military war.
Another insidious aspect is that due to years of chronic underinvestment by Western governments in their national infrastructures, it could be all-too easy to portray outages in electric and water services as being caused by “Russian sabotage” when the truth is that the outages are simply due to lack of maintenance by cost-cutting Western governments. Add to that, too, problems of extreme weather events due to climate change causing havoc in public infrastructure, which can also be misattributed to Russia by the anti-Russia political establishment in the West.
But one positive thing to emerge after the Trump-Putin summit is that the US public seem to have become inured to fear-mongering by the anti-Russia brigade among the political establishment.
There was a time when US and Western public opinion could be more easily manipulated and misled by “Red Scares”. Not any more, it seems.
Nevertheless, that evident loss of influence-power by elite elements within the US ruling structure and their media may tempt them in their desperation to unleash even more outrageous stories and false flag provocations in order to incriminate Russia.
Finian Cunningham has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. He is also a musician and songwriter. For nearly 20 years, he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organisations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent.
This article was originally published by "Strategic Culture Foundation " -
|June 30, 2018||
Nature retention, not just protection, crucial to maintaining biodiversity and ecosystems: Scientists.
by Mike Gaworecki , in Environmental Protection, Countercurrents.org
Is it time to completely rethink how we design the goals of conservation programs? Some scientists say it is.
In a paper published last week in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, a team of Australian researchers argue that we need to shift conservation goals to focus on diverse and ambitious “nature retention targets” if we’re to truly safeguard the environment, biodiversity, and humanity.
The researchers, who are affiliated with Australia’s University of Queensland (UQ) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), make a distinction between targets aimed at retaining natural systems and the current model that seeks to achieve targets for setting aside land as protected areas.
Whereas targets aimed at retaining nature can be determined by measuring what is needed to achieve conservation goals like preserving water quality, carbon sequestration, or biodiversity levels, protected area targets are “blind to what is needed” and don’t have a clear end goal, paper co-author James Watson of UQ and WCS told Mongabay.
For instance, Aichi Target 11, established by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 2010, calls for at least 17 percent of terrestrial and inland water areas and 10 percent of coastal and marine areas around the world be gazetted as protected areas by 2020. But that may not be sufficient to guarantee the ecological functions humans and biodiversity require, according to Watson and his colleagues.
“Right now, there is no clear endgame and we don’t know what victory looks like on a map and who needs to do what,” Watson said. “The targets set today are often incoherent and unmeasurable and don’t speak to each other or a bigger plan. They also don’t speak to other environmental agendas” such as halting global climate change or meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), he added.
Even if we were to fully meet the goals of Aichi Target 11, that still leaves 83 percent of Earth’s land area and 90 percent of its oceans unprotected, the researchers note in the paper. In other words, “Most evolutionary processes, ecological functions and biota are, and probably will always be, beyond the boundaries of nationally gazetted protected areas,” they write. “This means that most of the ecosystem services on which humanity relies will be provided predominantly by areas that are not officially protected. Achieving the objectives reflected in the other Aichi Targets, and the SDGs, depends heavily on what happens in that 83-90%.”
While strict protected areas that are off-limits to human activities are necessary, the researchers contend that they are not sufficient for ensuring a functioning planet in the future because they are not designed to protect all of the natural systems that sustain life on Earth. “Only a multi-faceted approach that includes protected areas, but does not exclusively rely on them, can achieve the many different goals of sustaining nature,” they state in the paper.
The authors note that protected area networks are “rarely designed to maximize their contribution to the overall retention of nature.” These networks usually aim to be “comprehensive, adequate and representative: in other words, to conserve examples of the full range of types of biota within a network that contains both strict protected areas and regions that are less focussed on conservation objectives (called ‘other effective area-based conservation Measures ’). Such networks cannot preserve all biodiversity, let alone provide the much broader range of benefits we want from nature.”
Rather than simply setting a certain amount of the planet’s land and seas aside, nature retention targets would establish the baseline levels of natural system functions that we need to preserve in order to ensure the health of ecosystems and the services they provide. The paper’s lead author, UQ’s Martine Maron, explains that nature retention targets are essentially “limits to what we are prepared to lose.” Mankind relies on nature for many things that we require to survive, from a stable global climate to the provision of clean water and healthy soils for food production. “Yet the destruction of nature continues apace — and is often irreversible,” Maron told Mongabay. “It is incredibly irresponsible for this to continue with no end point in sight — we risk losing the nature we, and all other species, rely upon.”
Maron said that she and her co-authors believe that nature retention targets must be quantitative and determined on a state-by-state basis. “That is, rather than a target like ‘reduce the rate of loss,’ we need to say just how much nature — of different kinds, and in particular places — we must keep on the planet if we are to continue enjoying its benefits.”
The researchers set out three criteria for nature retention targets in the paper: “they relate to a quantified target state, not a target rate of change; they act as a framework designed to enable and support the achievement of multiple nature conservation goals; and, as a result, the headline target must be high.” In designing retention targets to support the multiple goals of nature conservation and human well-being, they add, “a series of area-based, quality-specific sub-targets should be set to ensure adequate provision of key ecosystem services, such as carbon storage and watershed protection, as well as biodiversity conservation and wilderness protection.”
The researchers write that more ambitious and area-specific targets for preserving key ecosystems can help achieve multiple goals, such as biodiversity conservation, wilderness retention, carbon storage, water regulation, soil stabilisation, avoided desertification, and fisheries maintenance. These targets would, they say, benefit humanity as much as the environment and wildlife.
“You can map what is needed and then add it up,” Watson said. “By doing this, you don’t have to worry about whether it is for people (or not). It’s for both! It makes the entire question of whether conservation is for nature or for people irrelevant.”
Even calls to protect half of the world’s natural systems, such as those made by the Half-Earth Initiative and Nature Needs Half, which are certainly ambitious proposals, may still fall short, the researchers say.
“If by protecting half the Earth, we imply we can lose all nature from the other half, it may not be enough,” Maron said. “A much higher target for well-sited and well-managed protected areas is crucial for the protection of biodiversity and will help maintain the provision of many ecosystem services — but on its own, it may not be enough to provide all we need from nature.”
That doesn’t mean that Maron and team think more than half the Earth must fall within traditional protected areas, but she said they do propose “that the areas we must protect to conserve the planet’s biodiversity, the areas of crucial water catchments, carbon stores, irreplaceable wilderness areas, places for urban populations to interact with nature, and so on, are likely to add to even more than half the Earth.”
“We need a big, bold plan. There is no doubt that when we add up the different environmental goals to halt biodiversity loss, stabilize run-away climate change and to ensure other critical ecosystems services such as pollination and clean water are maintained, we will need far more than 50 percent of the earth’s natural systems to remain intact,” Watson said in a statement. “And we must remember that most nations have committed to this in various environmental treaties. It is time for nations to embrace a diverse set of bold retention targets to limit the ongoing erosion of the nature humanity relies upon.”
The researchers propose nature retention targets as a framework for the post-2020 strategy of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
“As we approach the deadline for achieving the 20 Aichi Targets under the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, the world is working toward a new set of targets,” Maron told Mongabay. “A global approach is important because key ecosystem services are global in nature, and their preservation needs global coordination. But retention targets are sensible for any level of government to consider, across its jurisdiction, how to avoid losing too much nature and, where necessary, to restore in places that have already gone too far. Many places continue to see nature destroyed year on year with no end in sight — a completely unsustainable model.”
• Maron, M., Simmonds, J. S., & Watson, J. E. (2018). Bold nature retention targets are essential for the global environment agenda. Nature ecology & evolution, 1. doi:10.1038/s41559-018-0595-2
Follow Mike Gaworecki on Twitter: @mikeg2001
Originally published in Mongabay
|July 2, 2018||
Ecology: The Keystone Science
by William Hawes, in Environmental Protection, Countercurrents.org
A missing piece from most critiques of modern capitalism revolves around the misunderstanding of ecology. To put it bluntly, there will be no squaring the circle of mass industrial civilization and an inhabitable Earth. There is no way for energy and resource use, along with all the strife, warfare, and poverty that comes along with it, to continue under the business as usual model that contemporary Western nations operate under.
There is also the problem of constructing millions of solar panels and gigantic wind farms to attempt to bring the entire world’s population to a middle class existence based on a North American, or even European levels of energy use. All of the hypothetical robots and artificial intelligence to be constructed for such a mega-endeavor needed to enact such a project would at least initially rely on fossil fuels and metals plundered from the planet, and only lead to more rapacious destruction of the world.
The dominant technological model is utterly delusional. Here I would urge each of us to consider our “human nature” (a problematic term, no doubt) and the costs and the manner of the work involved: if each of us had to kill a cow for food, would we? If each of us had to mine or blast a mountain for coal or iron, or even for a wind turbine, would we do it? If each of us had to drill an oil well or bulldoze land for a gigantic solar array next to many endangered species or a threatened coral reef, would we?
My guess would be no, for the vast majority of the population. Instead, we employ corporations and specialists to carry out the dirty work in the fossil fuel industries and animal slaughtering, to name just a few. Most of us in the West have reaped the benefits of such atrocities for the past few centuries of the industrial revolution. That era is coming to a close, and there’s no turning back.
The gravy train is running out of steam, and our age of comfort and the enslavement of a global proletariat to produce and gift-wrap our extravagances will hopefully be ending shortly, too. Some may romanticize loggers, factory workers, oil drillers, coal miners, or steel foundries but the chance is less than a needle through a camel’s eye that those jobs are coming back in a significant way. Overpopulation in much of the world continues to put strain upon habitat and farmlands to provide for the Earth’s 7.5 billion and growing humans.
Tragically, many with the most influence on the Left today, such as Sanders, Corbyn, and Melenchon want to preserve industrial civilization. Theirs is an over-sentimental outlook which warps their thinking to want to prop up a dying model in order to redistribute wealth to the poor and working classes. Empathy for the less fortunate is no doubt a good thing, but the fact remains that the real wealth lies in our planet’s natural resources, not an artificial economy, and its ability to regenerate and provide the fertile ground upon which we all rely. If we follow their narrow path, we are doomed.
Theirs is a sort of one-dimensional, infantile distortion of Vishnu-consciousness (preservation, in their minds at all costs), an unadulterated cogito, which does not let in the wisdom of his partner Lakshmi (true prosperity) or the harbinger of change and the symbol of death and rebirth, Shiva. Industrial life must be dismantled from the core for a new order to arise. Instead of clinging to this techno-dystopian model of the elites, we must replace it with what I call a Planetary Vision.
The Stone that the Builders Refuse
Only a serious education in ecology for a significant minority of the globe’s workforce can allow for a return to naturally abundant and life-enhancing complex habitats for humanity and all species to thrive. Understandably, fields such as botany, zoology, and conservationism are not for everyone, as much of humanity has been and continue to be more interested in technological fields, the arts, music, sports, religion, etc. It would only take perhaps 10% of the globe to be critically informed, and to be able to act, deliberatively and democratically, about subjects relating to ecosystem preservation and all the attendant sub-fields for a functional, ecocentric culture to flourish.
Thankfully, the foundation of such an ecological vision has been laid by millennia of indigenous cultures, as well as modern prophets and science whizzes such as Rachel Carson, Fritjof Capra, James Lovelock, Lynn Margulis, Barry Commoner, Donella Meadows, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, Masanobu Fukuoka, and many others.
Even Marx and Engels observed the basic deteriorating nature of advanced agriculture in what they termed “metabolic rift”, where they learned from European scientists of the overwhelming degradation of soil fertility on the continent due to poor farming techniques, razing of forests, and heavy industry.
Despite its current limitations, the United Nations offers a model of supra-national regulation and governance, especially the UN Declaration of Human Rights, and the almost totally forgotten Brundtland report of 1987.
The Deep Wisdom of Ecology
Modern nations, corporations, vertical hierarchies, and industrial civilization do not serve human health or well-being. It excludes the majority, cuts them from a connection to their neighbors and the land, and privileges an elite rentier class who sponges and sucks the marrow out of the bowels of the Earth and those born money, property, privilege, without a silver spoon in hand.
Ecological thinking, on the other hand, imparts us with the deep truth that we are all connected to each other, and the planet.
Permaculture farming has managed to match and even outpace productivity on giant agribusiness farms using low-impact or even no-till methods.
Food forests can be created around the globe using layers of edible plants at high densities to allow for the growth fruit and nut trees, vines, and perennial shrubs, groundcover, and herbs. This is the real meaning of the Garden of Eden, an agroforestry model which ancient people lived off of for millennia alongside responsible crop rotation, seasonal burns, biochar, animal herding, hunting and foraging, and obtaining protein from fish and shellfish.
Arid, barren lands have been reforested by planting native trees: in Assam, India, one man recovered over 1300 acres by planting just one sapling a day for 30 years.
In the Chesapeake Bay, oyster restoration has been ongoing for years to help improve water quality. Just one adult oyster can filter 50 gallons of water in a single day.
An average acre of boreal forest can hold over 100 tons of carbon above and below ground in soil and biomass. As more forests burn carbon is instantly released, and as temperatures rise soils thaw out, leading to increased soil respiration and thus increasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. With 1,400 gigatons of methane stored in the Earth’s permafrost, any significant release into the atmosphere could ramp up warming even faster.
Wildlife corridors must be funded at multiples of current levels and substantially increased in size to allow for keystone, threatened, and endangered species to maintain population sizes and spread over increasingly patchy and unsustainable habitat due to urban growth, roads, and industry. Millions of acres of land should be reforested (some say 500 million total) to provide carbon sinks to offset the coming effects of global warming. Currently 18 million acres of forest are lost per year due to deforestation for grazing and corporate agriculture.
National parks, forests, monuments, as well as coastal, marine, and wildlife refuges as well as state-run areas should be coordinated at the highest levels of national and international regulation. I say coordinated, but I do not mean controlled by in a vertical hierarchy. Responsibility should “telescope” (borrowing a term from political scientist Robyn Eckersley) according to the size of the problem at hand: local deliberative councils may work best for bioregional approaches, whereas some framework of a supra-national structure will be needed for the mega-problems of climate change, plastic pollution, and GMO proliferation, just to name a few.
We have all heard terms such as “apex predator” or “top of the food chain” which capitalists and social Darwinists have misconstrued and adopted to fit their own hierarchical, fascistic beliefs. Yet anyone who has examined a food web knows there are interrelationships and mutualistic interdependencies between myriad species which dwarf and blow away any notion of rigid, calcified structures of permanent dominance of any species or eco-biome.
A systemic examination of global trade would teach the same lesson. There is no way to make any one country “great again” at the expense of other nations. This is a false binary embedded in Western culture that goes by the name of the “Either/Or”. Rather, we must adopt the “And/Both” model of cultures synergistically and mutually thriving.
(Trickster/Provocateur homework for US citizens: Welcome or respond to someone on our upcoming 4th of July with a cheery greeting of “Happy Interdependence Day!”)
This false dichotomy has insidiously found its way into the Earth sciences, with the categorization and response to “invasive species”. Human disturbance accounts for upwards of 95% of invasives causing harm to new ecosystems, yet even within the academy, detailed plans for shifting our lifestyles are few and far between, and predictably ignored by mainstream society.
Nowhere has this sort of milquetoast-iness been more visceral for me than in listening to a guest lecturer years ago in a conservation biology class, when, at the outset of the lecture and without prompting, she announced that she would not tolerate any questions about humans as “invasive species”. This was perhaps understandable given the narrow definition of the term by some, or the aim and scope of her forthcoming talk, yet still, the rigid reactionary nature and tone of her dictum managed to produce a chill.
Further, the steps involved in combating invasive, non-woody plants do not usually involve more than a tractor mower or a backpack sprayer and Round-up, in public and private operations. Little is done to thwart the habitat systemically disturbed by human activity, the nutrient-depleted soil, over-salinization, etc. No thought given to the notion that the invasives in many cases are the only plants able to germinate and tolerate nutrient-starved soil and edge habitat which falls outside the purview of agricultural land, or the delusional urge within forestry management to preserve wooded or grassland areas in some pre-colonial or pre-industrial chrysalis.
We all observed this duplicitous portrayal of those evil invasives for many years following the media-driven and pseudo-scientific outrage and mania of the kudzu vine in the South. Covering roadsides and disturbed, recently deforested areas, the vine was portrayed with puritanical hatred. The loathed vine cannot penetrate into shaded forest and acted as a projection of our own fears, malicious intent, and ignorance.
The Revolution as Poetic Enchantment
There is also the problem of revolutionary activity where organization and specific roles are needed. We’ve been told that any and all organizing inevitably leads to corruption, hierarchy, greed, and ego inflation. Yet nature has managed to organize and spontaneously birth everything we depend on for sustenance and pleasure. The works of Mauss, Sahlins, and others have shown human behavior to be mostly peaceful, based on reciprocity, lived in balance with a naturally abundant environment.
The succession of a habitat, from the first pioneer species advancing to a climax community in dynamic equilibrium, is poetry in motion, an endless cycle of community relations where the dead provide for the living, just as the winds of history continue to shape our present, the lessons of our ancestors provide the courage to persevere, and the very real trauma and torment of past generations continues to stalk humanity, perhaps even epigenetically in our cells.
Nature’s ability to play freely and its tendency for creative, regenerative self-discovery offers a model attractive to the public where traditional approaches to ideology, mainstream politics, and moral exhortation have failed. Ecology uniquely offers an approach to our self-interest, with pragmatic and deep ethical implications, and in our nuclear and fossil fuel age, to our very survival.
Recent uprisings in Zucotti Park, South Dakota, Tahrir and Taksim Squares, Tunisia, and many other places demonstrate the organic, spontaneous nature of our ability to resist the systemic oppression endemic to our neoliberal, colonial, imperial world order.
The question of what comes after a successful revolt undoubtedly plagues many people, considering the bloody sectarianism that followed in many historical instances. Yet one of the root causes of such post-revolutionary failings necessarily includes the loss of jouissance, the senses of optimism, exuberance, and mutual aid which erupted throughout history in Paris communes, military barracks and factories in Petrograd, communes in Catalonia, etc.
Many progressives and so-called radicals in the US today seem more interested in internecine bickering and petty squabbling over turf than in implementing an authentic plan to re-enchant a comatose public. A citizenry, mind you, which has become exhausted and disillusioned from politics and any notion of defending the public sphere and commons due to relentless propaganda, neoliberal economics, structural racism, and a perverse imperial edict of global warfare which knows no bounds and sees no end.
Such small-mindedness and insularity is only compounded by a geographically isolated, narcissistic, spectacle craving media, celebrity-worshiping culture, and chattering class smugness which has robotized, dehumanized, and intoxicated a public which no longer seems to have the psychic or physiological energy and stamina to resist. This can be countered by providing material and intellectual nourishment, especially to our youth, through wholesome organic farming, natural medicines, and alternative education systems which promote and instill environmentalism, forms of direct democracy, and critical thinking skills, as well as continuing education for adults and seniors.
Much of our culture’s confusion is reinforced by a digital, social media driven, an ahistorical narrative, and a dematerialized market in the West where information and leisure is metered out to the poor, elderly, disabled, and working classes in a slow drip of bandwidth, bytes, pixels: poisonous cups of soma which we believe must all imbibe to partake in our “culture”.
Yet so many are now beginning to rattle their cages. Part of the reason being that savings and material wealth for the majority has declined, life expectancy dropping in neglected areas, suicide and addictive behaviors are increasing, inequality and gentrification skyrocketing. Yet also partly because creativity has been stifled, free time is eaten up by a gig economy relentlessly eating up our leisure, wild open spaces are diminishing, and the effects of a polluted, over-crowded world where alienation appears to reign and many see No Exit.
Digital technology, trickle-down finance, and media narratives are pushed so hard by the powers-that-be, in a pyramid scheme Ponzi economy bound to collapse. And data-driven, quantifiable, “objective” information doused on the public is losing its effect. Masses can now see through the high priests of officialdom, because their policies do not relate to any place or time, it is not embodied in the commons. The deluge of “empirical” statistics and innovation spouting out of mainstream media, government bureaucracies, and non-profit policy centers borders on absurd, and one could summarize their work as Informationism, for it truly represents an ideology. These are the apologists and court historians for the grand viziers of capital. They have created their own veritable echo-chamber ecology within the former swamplands of the Potomac basin.
How can the hegemony of corporate and state rule be further undermined? By acknowledging how they employ words, propaganda, ideology, and a false version of history as weapons, to create a habitat of hate and fear. As the Situationists wrote: “Words work — on behalf of the dominant organizations of life…Power presents only the falsified, official sense of words.”
As the SI further noted:
“Every revolution has been born in poetry, has first of all been made with the force of poetry. This phenomenon continues to escape theorists of revolution — indeed, it cannot be understood if one still clings to the old conception of revolution or of poetry — but it has generally been sensed by counterrevolutionaries. Poetry terrifies them. Whenever it appears they do their best to get rid of it by every kind of exorcism, from auto-da-fé to pure stylistic research. Real poetry, which has “world enough and time,” seeks to reorient the entire world and the entire future to its own ends. As long as it lasts, its demands admit of no compromise. It brings back into play all the unsettled debts of history.”
Part of poetic resistance simply is awareness. We are not going to save the world without learning how to actually live in the world. Here words fall far short, they “float”, are too abstract. At the level of ontological awareness helpful concepts like “Dasein” and “existence precedes essence” can only show the doorway, yet the point is to walk through it. This is why I don’t consider, for example, Leary’s words of “Find the others” to be an escapist fantasy: they are a call to mytho-poetic revolution, for only in collective struggle can one transcend a selfish ego and a sick, dying culture. Communal living will be a big part of this, especially as the world economy seems very likely to fall into depression or outright collapse within a couple decades at most.
Initiation into adulthood, a model of dying and rebirth, is of utmost importance, as Barry Spector and Martin Prechtel, among others, have shown. Without this, the modern world is stuck in an infantile state, forever craving more, never satisfied.
The domination of man by man and nature by man now reaches global proportions. In our Anthropocene Age all boundaries between human and nature collapse, as we come to understand the web we are enmeshed in. Studies in modern psychics prove on the cosmological scale (relativity) and sub-atomic scales (quantum entanglement, superposition, double-slit experiment) have all proven definitely what ancient traditions have understood for millennia. Andre Malraux was correct when he prophesized that: “The 21st century will be spiritual or will not be.”
All major religions hold ecological balance, love of your neighbor, and conservation as a core truth. Teachings from the Sermon on the Mount, Hindu concepts of ahimsa and karma, Buddhist right livelihood, Islam’s tawhid, khilafa, and akhirah all have shown this, as well as indigenous mythology.
Sadly, most of the dissenters in our culture have been totally marginalized. The best minds of our generation have no longer fallen to madness; they are ignored, imprisoned, killed, or shipped off to a permanent “Desolation Row”. Consider the great works of Gary Snyder, Arne Naess, Robinson Jeffers, Wendell Barry, as well as environmentalists such as Wangari Maathai, Vandana Shiva, Sylvia Earle: the collective brilliance is astounding, yet industrialism allows no avenues for a praxis, for their ideas to be put to work or play.
Only an understanding of relationship and interdependencies can account for how our policy at the border, for instance, is connected to environmental destruction, factory farming, resource extraction, habitat destruction, the killings overseas in Yemen, Gaza, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, and the list goes on. It goes on for so long that the mind grows numb. Yet, we must counter this. Our government is the primary driver of the perpetual crimes of total warfare, planetary destruction, neo-feudal debt-based serfdom and global immiseration, and most of us have been complicit in varying degrees.
Have no doubt, many in power around the world, consciously or not, are waiting to start a new Kristallnacht against minorities and the poor which they will use to further the next stage of their privatized, totalitarian, surveillance-laden brave new world. It’s already started here in the US and in Italy against the Roma among other places. Theirs is an aesthetic of terror and brainwashing which knows no bounds.
Yet their individual pathologies only tell us part of the story: it is the system of alienation which breeds hate and must be dismantled, not replacing one figurehead leader with another seemingly benign one, as we did with Obama. Only a culture which understands the connections of how capitalism ultimately leads to fascism, one which comprehends the Earth’s limits, our own psycho-somatic frailties, and our bio-social relationships with each other and with flora and fauna can provide the resistance needed in this perilous age.
William Hawes is a writer specializing in politics and environmental issues. He is author of the ebook Planetary Vision: Essays on Freedom and Empire. His articles have appeared online at CounterPunch, Global Research, Countercurrents, Gods & Radicals, Dissident Voice, The Ecologist, and more. You can email him at email@example.com. Visit his website williamhawes.wordpress.com.
|July 7, 2018||
Has the U.S. Government Been Lying About Syria & About Ukraine?
by Eric Zuesse, in Imperialism, Countercurrents.org
And then, by the time of December of 2012, Obama’s team were relying mainly on Al Qaeda’s Syrian branch to lead the tens of thousands of the U.S.-Saudi alliance’s boots-on-the ground ‘moderate rebels’ in this overthrow-Assad war, fighters who have actually been fundamentalist Sunnis recruited from all over the world to come to Syria in order to replace the secular President of Syria, the Alawite Shiite, Assad. Propaganda in the U.S. portrays U.S. Government policy as being driven by a concern for the welfare of the Syrian people: to ‘protect their human rights’ — not to overthrow a government that refuses to cooperate with U.S. oil companies and other corporate interests in the U.S.But even with the anti-Obama Donald Trump in the White House, there has been nothing really new about any of this U.S. Government scam, any of this attempted-but-never-publicly-acknowledged conquest against the Syrian people. The U.S. Government — along with the U.S.-aristocracy-allied fundamentalist Sunni Saud family, the world’s wealthiest family, who own Saudi Arabia, and who finance the fundamentalist-Sunni Al Qaeda and similar Sunni jihadist organizations — has been trying ever since 1949 to control Syria, and still tries. The main difference between now and 1949 is that the Saud family have become more brazen about conquest than they were, back in 1949, when they had wanted merely that the Syrian Government approve an American-built pipeline for their oil to go into Europe. In the present day, the Sauds are openly at war against Shiites everywhere, even inside Saudi Arabia itself, and are bombing the hell out of the Shiite (Houthi) areas of Yemen, basically trying to take over the entire Middle East, and to destroy Iran, which is the leading Shiite country. The U.S. is allied with the Sauds in all of this.
On 30 March 1949, the CIA, in a coup planned by James Hugh Keeley Jr. and Miles Copeland Jr., replaced the democratically elected Syrian President Shukri al-Quwatli, replaced him with France’s stooge, General Husni al-Za’im, who displeased King Saud of Saudi Arabia, and so got overthrown and killed on 14 August 1949, by a different France-stooge General, Sami al-Hinnawi. Za’im had left his mark on Syria, however: “The pro-Western Za’im remained in power for three months — long enough to grant [the Saudi-American] Aramco’s Tapline concession to pipe Saudi oil to the Mediterranean.” But Hinnawi pleased the CIA and Sauds even more than Za’im did, so got the Presidency, and Za’im simply got killed. (The CIA and the Saud family are very demanding of their stooges.)
In December 1949, the CIA, in a coup planned by Miles Copeland (Syria’s third and final coup that year), carried out the desire of King Saud, and installed as Syria’s leader, Adib Shishakli. “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia implemented a new policy towards Syria by giving financial support amounting to six million dollars.” Shishakli’s barbarism was so great that four years later, Syria’s generals formed the secular Ba’ath Party and on 6 September 1955, restored to power Syria’s democratically elected President, Quwatli, who in 1958 joined Syria into the United Arab Republic, which lasted till 1971. However, while Quwatli was still Syria’s President, the CIA, yet again, in 1957, tried to oust him via a coup, but that coup-attempt had to be called-off.
; so, from that time forward, the U.S. regime works in Syria mainly by its agents and allies, such as King Saud who owns Saudi Arabia, and Emir Thani who owns Qatar. Both families are fundamentalist Sunni Arabs — the Saud family being Al Qaeda’s main financial backer, and the Thani family being the Muslim Brotherhood’s main financial backer. (Both Al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood are fundamentalist Sunni organizations, whereas Syria, at least after 1957, is strongly secular, anti-sectarian.) But now that King Saud wants to overthrow Emir Thani and take Qatar, and is trying to blockade Qatar, the U.S. regime has stayed with King Saud, but not to such an extent as to jeopardize Emir Thani’s willingness to host in Qatar America’s biggest Middle Eastern military base, Al Udeid Air Base, which the Thanis see as essential to their staying in power. So: the U.S., under Donald Trump, is mildly supportive of King Saud’s aggressions against Qatar, but not to such an extent as to withdraw from Al Udeid.As a result of the Sunni Sauds’ attacks against the Sunni Thanis, the Thanis have turned away from the Sauds, who hate Iran and all Shiites. Thus, the Thanis now are non-partisan in the Sauds’ longstanding efforts to conquer Iran and other Shiite-majority areas; the Thanis have become more pan-Arabic than when they were allied with the Sauds; they’re no longer dedicated to war against Shia. They are no longer allies of the Sauds against Shia.
The U.N. ‘peace’ talks on Syria are between Syria’s Government and Saudi Arabia’s Government, not between Syria’s Government and any authentically representative native Syrians versus the Syrian Government. The Saud family selected the “High Negotiations Committee” who are negotiating against Syria’s Government there, as ‘representatives’ of ‘the opposition’. Even the U.S. subscription-only GlobalSecurity.org site admits “The High Negotiations Committee is a Saudi-backed coalition of Syrian opposition groups. The High Negotiations Committee (HNC) was created in Saudi Arabia in December 2015.”
Non-sectarian — even secular — Syria is the odd-man-out, insisting on its own national sovereignty, and secularism, no matter what, and willing to do whatever they must in order to maintain their independence. And the majority of the Syrian people thus support Assad (55% did, even at the very height of the ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings throughout the Arab world), and 82% of Syrians blame the U.S. Government for the presence of ISIS and other jihadists in their country.
This is history. What can the U.S. regime credibly present to the world as being justification for continuing its decades-long effort to conquer Syria? The U.S. regime condemns Syria’s non-sectarian Government for ‘humanitaian violations’ fighting against the U.S.-Saudi imported terrorists who are trying to overthrow and replace Syria’s Government. The U.S. has thousands of its own troops in their invasion and military occupation of Syria, and condemns Assad for leading the fight against that invasion-occupation.
As regards Ukraine, you can either see this terrific video-compilation documenting how Obama perpetrated a bloody coup which in February 2014 overthrew and replaced Ukraine’s democratically elected Government, or you can read my “Are Michael Isikoff And David Corn CIA Agents?” which documents the lies by those two ‘investigative journalists’, who spread the falsehoods about Ukraine that the U.S. aristocracy want to be spread against Russia, and which lies go against the realities that that video shows.
Incidentally, on 10 February 2017, in the video shown here, Isikoff interviewed Bashar al-Assad, who took his stenographed transmission of quite possibly fabricated ‘evidence’ against Assad, and turned it instead against the regime whose agent Isikoff so clearly does represent.
Obama’s coup destroyed Ukraine. The World Happiness Reports, from the U.N. and Columbia University, have been published for 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Each year’s report covers, generally speaking, the surveys that were done worldwide during the preceding year. The American coup in Ukraine occurred in February 2014. So, the only pre-coup survey done was the 2013 publication, which covered the year 2012. As internationally ranked for happiness by the World Happiness Report, Ukraine went from #87 out of 156 nations, or 87/156 (the bottom 45%) in 2013, to 111/138 (the bottom 20%) in 2015, to 123/157 (the bottom 22%) in 2016, to 132/155 (the bottom 15%) in 2017, to 138/155 (the bottom 12%) in 2018. So: before the coup, Ukraine was in the worst 45%, but by 2018 it reached the worst 12%. That’s an enormous plunge. Barack Obama wanted the coup, he got it, and it destroyed Ukraine. The U.S. claims to be trying to save Ukraine from Russia, but the reality is the exact opposite: that the U.S. destroyed Ukraine in order to become enabled to bring Ukraine into NATO and position U.S. nuclear missiles less than ten minutes flight-time from Moscow. Ukrainians have every reason to hate the U.S. Government, for what it did to them. Like what it did to Afghans, and Iraqis, and Yemenese, and Hondurans — and Chileans, and Guatemalans, and so forth. And like what it’s doing to anyone who wants to avoid World War III — including the American people, who nominally (but not really) are represented by this rapacious Government, controlled by this rapacious aristocracy.
So: the documentation is unequivocally clear, that the U.S. Government lies shamelessly about both Syria and Ukraine — and Russia, and Iran, and much else.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.
|July 10, 2018||
As World Busts Heat Records, Study Warns Global Warming Could Be Twice as Bad Climate Models Project.
by Jessica Corbett, in Climate Change, Countercurrents.org
As millions of people across the globe face extreme heat advisories, with temperatures even soaring beyond 90 degrees in Siberia last week, a recent study published in the British journal Nature Geoscience warns long-term global warming—and thus sea level rise—could be twice as bad as climate models project.
Study co-author Katrin Meissner of University of New South Wales, Australia remarked that “while climate model projections seem to be trustworthy when considering relatively small changes over the next decades, it is worrisome that these models likely underestimate climate change under higher emission scenarios, such as a ‘business as usual’ scenario, and especially over longer time scales.”
A team of 59 researchers from 17 countries assessed previous warm periods over the past 3.5 million years and found that during each of the three intervals analyzed, the rate of warming was much slower compared with the changes seen today—which are driven by burning fossil fuels that release heat-trapping greenhouse gases. As Meissner put it, “In terms of rate of change, we are in uncharted waters.”
The analysis focused on periods when global temperatures were 0.5-2°C above the 19th century pre-industrial temperatures, or the upper warming limit set by the Paris agreement. “Two degrees can seem very benign when you see it on paper,” Meissner told the Guardian, “but the consequences are quite bad and ecosystems change dramatically.”
Researchers found that warming of 1–2°C has caused land and ocean ecosystems as well as climate zones to shift toward the poles or to higher altitudes, and while they concluded that “there is a low risk of runaway greenhouse gas feedbacks for global warming of no more than 2°C,” they warned that “substantial regional environmental impacts can occur” under such conditions.
As the Oeschger Center for Climate Change Research (OCCR)—which partly funded the workshop for the analysis—explained, these ecosystem and climate zone shifts could ramp up permafrost thaw, which “may release additional carbon dioxide and methane to the atmosphere, driving additional warming.”
“This suggests the carbon budget to avoid 2°C of global warming may be far smaller than estimated,” emphasized lead author Hubertus Fischer of the University of Bern. “Accounting for the additional release of CO2 leaves even less room for error or delay as humanity seeks to lower its CO2 emissions and stabilize global climate within reasonable limits.”
Additionally, as OCCR outlined, the team found that warming even within the parameters of the Paris accord “will be sufficient to trigger substantial long-term melting of ice in Greenland and Antarctica and sea-level rise of more than six meters that will last for thousands of years.”
Acknowledging how sea level rise is already impacting coastal communities around the world, co-author Alan Mix of Oregon State University said, “This rise may become unstoppable for millennia, impacting much of the world’s population, infrastructure, and economic activity that is located near the shoreline.”
“The research also revealed how large areas of the polar ice caps could collapse and significant changes to ecosystems could see the Sahara Desert become green and the edges of tropical forests turn into fire-dominated savanna,” USA Today noted, though Meissner said that “we cannot comment on how far in the future these changes will occur.”
Originally published in CommonDreams.org
|July 12, 2018||
Vladimir Putin’s Basic Disagreement with The West.
by Eric Zuesse, in World, Countercurrents.org
Vladimir Putin’s basic view has been expressed so many times, in so many different contexts, and it’s always the same: that the only people who have a sovereign right to any land, are the people who live on that land — nobody who lives outside that land does. In other words, his basic view is a repudiation — a total rejection — of the very concept of empire: it’s a rejection of the right of foreigners to control any country, anywhere, anytime. Residence is determinative. According to Putin, the only justification that a country can ever have for invading another country is if and when that invasion is in direct and immediate response to that other country’s having invaded their land — purely defensive. Other than this, no invasion of any land by foreigners is acceptable.
The U.S. and its allies endorse empires — endorse conquest. This view was first extensively promoted during 1877-1902 by the founder of the Rhodes Trust, Cecil Rhodes, a self-avowed racist who passionately advocated that all “races” be subordinated to “the first race”: the British. However, he was willing that, if necessary, this empire would fly the U.S. flag instead of the English flag.
In more recent times, George Soros has championed this view, but giving different (non-racialist) words to it. Soros has stated his view of this important matter in mainly two places, and both times he has opposed national sovereignty and asserted instead “the people’s sovereignty” as being something that can justify a foreign invasion into a country by “the international community” in order to protect “the people’s sovereignty” there. He argues for a (what he claims would be) beneficent empire of “the international community,” which fights around the world ‘protecting’ “the people’s sovereignty,” wherever and whenever “the international community” decides that the local government is violating “the people’s sovereignty.”
That’s the basic difference between their views — Putin asserting no foreigner has any right to invade, versus Soros asserting that “the international community” has an obligation to invade (to protect “the people’s sovereignty” there), whenever and wherever it decides to invade and gives some ‘reason’ (truthful or not) ‘justifying’ this ‘protection’ of ‘the people’s sovereignty’, over that land.
At least two separate academic studies have been done (both by Americans) of what Soros’s proposal comes down to in actual practice; and both conclude that what it does in actual practice is to polarize and maybe ultimately destroy (make irrelevant) the U.N., and to enhance international imperialism. (Neither of the two studies connects the issue to the international armanents business, which relies almost exclusively upon imperialism in order to grow its profits — scholars try to avoid motivation and present purely statutory analyses, so as to be inoffensive to extremely wealthy people, who might have non-statutory motives and who heavily endow scholarly institutions in order to have control over the careers of their relevant ‘experts’.)
So, first: here will be statements by Soros, in which he defends his view; and then will be statements by the two scholarly studies finding that Soros’s view is actually just a veiled support for might-makes-right international imperialism — grabbing of one country by other countries. Then, the original systematic statement of the modern imperialist view will be presented, from Rhodes himself, along with sympathetic interpretation of it by Rhodes’s transcriber and close personal friend, W.T. Stead. And, to close here, will be presented the cardinal issue alleged to be the basis for most of the economic sanctions against Russia and for virtually all of NATO’s war games in preparation for a possible ‘defensive’ invasion of Russia: Russia’s reintegrating the briefly Ukrainian land Crimea back into Russia. The West calls that a ‘seizure’ and an ‘invasion,’ and Russia calls it not anything like that, and not even a topic that’s relevant in international law, but purely a matter that the residents of Crimea have the right to decide, on their own — relevant only to law within nations not between nations. So, that issue will be included as a practical application of this basic ideological difference regarding the good or evil of imperialism. Closing this cardinal issue will be Mr. Soros’s personal funding and propagandizing for this coup that he had helped to fund in Ukraine.
Then a PS will be added at the very end, to indicate the deep historical roots that Putin’s rejection of the acceptability of empire has, going back at least as far as the Russia of 1948, when Albert Einstein — a champion of world government as being the only means to avoid a third world war — debated (but not really) against that view, in the February 1948 issue of Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. (He debated there not as a conservative, such as Rhodes; nor as a liberal, such as Soros; but as a progressive, whose overriding concern was to prevent a World War III, and whose aim was to disarm all nations and to have all military armaments transferred to a democratic global government.)
George Soros, 2003 The Bubble of American Supremacy.
The People’s Sovereignty
How a new twist on an old idea can protect the world’s most vulnerable populations.
BY GEORGE SOROS | OCTOBER 28, 2009, 6:33 PM
Sovereignty is an anachronistic concept originating in bygone times when society consisted of rulers and subjects, not citizens. It became the cornerstone of international relations with the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. During the French Revolution, the king was overthrown and the people assumed sovereignty. But a nationalist concept of sovereignty soon superseded the dynastic version. Today, though not all nation-states are democratically accountable to their citizens, the principle of sovereignty stands in the way of outside intervention in the internal affairs of nation-states.
But true sovereignty belongs to the people, who in turn delegate it to their governments. If governments abuse the authority entrusted to them and citizens have no opportunity to correct such abuses, outside interference is justified. By specifying that sovereignty is based on the people, the international community can penetrate nation-states’ borders to protect the rights of citizens. In particular, the principle of the people’s sovereignty can help solve two modern challenges: the obstacles to delivering aid effectively to sovereign states, and the obstacles to global collective action dealing with states experiencing internal conflict.
… the rulers of a sovereign state have a responsibility to protect the state’s citizens. When they fail to do so, the responsibility is transferred to the international community. Global attention is often the only lifeline available to the oppressed.
NORTH CAROLINA JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL LAW AND COMMERCIAL REGULATION
Volume 40, Number 1 (Fall 2014)
“No Responsibility for the Responsibility to Protect: How Powerful States Abuse the Doctrine, and Why Misuse Will Lead to Disuse”
… the decision whether or not to intervene and the way in which intervention itself is carried out do not truly turn on humanitarian concerns, but rather are guided by strategic and economic interests. While the doctrine does not preclude weighing of strategic and economic interests,12 it does require that the primary purpose of intervention be to end human suffering.1 …
The inconsistent application of responsibility-to-protect principles in the thirteen years since its inception shows that responsibility-to-protect intervention does not, in fact, turn on humanitarian principles, but on some combination of power dynamics, political strategy, and economic gain.
In the past, the doctrine has been abused and misapplied.354 Unjustified attacks have been launched in violation of the U.N. Charter; interventions justified by the responsibility to protect at the outset have been executed in violation of the principles underlying the doctrine; and situations warranting international action have been ignored due to the economic and strategic interests of states with the power to prevent intervention.355
TEMPLE INTERNATIONAL AND COMPARATIVE LAW JOURNAL
Volume 26, Number 2 (Fall 2012)
“Responsibility to Protect: Moral Triumph or Gateway to Allowing Powerful States to Invade Weaker States in Violation of the U.N. Charter?”
[In 2011,] NATO forces helped the rebel Libyan army overthrow Colonel Muammar Gadhafi’s regime.13 This Note will argue that, as shown by the intervention in Libya, the standard that the [U.N.] General Assembly created to determine when humanitarian interventions are authorized is too flexible, allowing states to invade sovereign nations under the pretext that the invasion is a humanitarian intervention.
THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF CECIL JOHN RHODES WITH ELUCIDATORY NOTES TO WHICH ARE ADDED SOME CHAPTERS DESCRIBING THE POLITICAL AND RELIGIOUS IDEAS OF THE TESTATOR, Edited by W.T. Stead, 1902
UKRAINE & CRIMEA
“Crimea Crisis before International Law”
Riccardo Murgia, Università degli Studi di Cagliari
… The Russia-Ukraine conflict is a conflict between two of the most important principles of International Law: the principle of self-determination statuted by Article 1, paragraph 2 of the UN Charter, which can bring justification to the Russian actions, and the principle of respecting each state’s territorial integrity and political independence, statuted by Article 2, paragraph 4 of the same charter.
A precedent for Russia’s actions in Crimea can be found in relation with NATO intervention in Kosovo in 1998.
[His study doesn’t mention the coup, which preceded the separation of Crimea from Ukraine. Nor its illegality — the fact that Obama had seized Ukraine via a bloody and thoroughly illegal coup, and that this seizure sparked Crimea’s breaking away from Ukraine and seeking Russia’s protection. Also, Murgia’s study fails to note here that by saying “A precedent for Russia’s actions in Crimea can be found in relation with NATO intervention in Kosovo in 1998” Murgia is validating Putin’s repeated assertions that this “precedent” was introduced by the U.S. itself, and was accepted by the Court, and is now being disowned by the U.S. in order for the U.S. to be able to argue that ‘Putin seized Crimea’ and that therefore the U.S.-imposed sanctions and NATO buildup are somehow justified, instead of being simply aggressive acts against Russia.]
International Law 341
“Research Thesis: Validity of the Russian Annexation
JJ Arries [student at Stellenbosch University School of Law]
The second ground on which Ukraine’s argument is flawed relating to the validity of the referendum is that in terms of international law, and as far as it is concerned, no prohibitions exists on unilateral declarations of independence by sub-divisions of a state, and this position is supported by the advisory opinion of the ICJ on the matter Kosovo’s declaration of independence in 2008. The Russian President quoted submissions made by the United States to the ICJ, that repeat their position, “declarations of independence may and often do, violate domestic legislation. However, this does not make them violations of international law.”
Given the arguments made by both parties to the matter, it is clear that in some aspects, Russia did violate international law with regards to the annexation of the Crimean territory. Their arguments on the use of force do not fall in line with the international standards, and thus are invalid. They are however correct in quoting precedents, such as the Kosovo independence matter, as grounds for acting in defence of minorities. The validity of the referendum may be invalid in terms of the domestic law in Ukraine; however, in terms of international law, no prohibition currently exists with regards to declaration of independence by sub-divisions of a state.
“Written Statement of the United States of America”
[argues that international law does not pertain to revolutions or to declarations of independence, but that all acts forming new nations, including breaking away from any existing nation, are purely internal matters pertaining to the people who live there, nobody else’s business]
United States Department of State Washington, D.C. 20520 www.state.gov April 17, 2009 Pursuant to the Court’s Order of 17 October 2008, I have the honor to enclose thirty copies of the Written Statement of the United States of America concerning the request of the United Nations General Assembly for an advisory opinion on the question of the Accordance with International Law of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence by the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government of Kosovo. I have also enclosed a diskette containing the text of the Statement. Accept, sir, the assurances of my highest consideration. Joan E. Donoghue [“an American jurist, and a Judge on the International Court of Justice. She was elected to that post in 2010 and re-elected in 2014.”], Acting Legal Adviser. Enclosures: As stated Mr. Philippe Couvreur, Registrar, International Court of Justice, Peace Palace, The Hague
“Accordance with International Law of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence by the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government of Kosovo” …
Statement of the United States of America  April 2009 …
Section I. International Law Does Not As A General Matter Regulate Declarations Of Independence
lt is widely accepted that declarations of independence, standing alone, present matters of fact, which are neither authorized nor prohibited by international law.202 Neither the United Nations Charter, nor other general international afeements, nor customary international law regulate the act of declaring independence. 20 The fact that international law does not address declarations of independence is not surprising. As a general rule, international law governs the relations between States, not the conduct of entities within States.204 There are certain exceptions, such as those found in international humanitarian law,205 but declarations of independence do not by themselves fall into these exceptions. “Events leading to the creation of a new State generally entail matters within the domestic jurisdiction of a State.”206 [not matters within the jurisdiction of international law]
It is certainly the case that declarations of independence may — and in their nature often do — violate domestic law. However, that does not mean that there has been a violation of international law.207 As Oppenheim has observed in the context of rebellion: “Although a rebellion will involve a breach of the law of the state concerned, no breach of international law occurs through the mere fact of a rebel regime attempting to overthrow the govemment of the state or to secede from the state.”208 Thus, it is widely accepted that, from the standpoint of international law, the process of State formation presents a matter of fact.209 A declaration of independence is an expression of a will or desire by an entity to be accepted as a State by the members of the international community. There may be other events associated with a particular declaration of independence that can be regulated by international law, but as one commentator has remarked:
[T]he State in the contemplation of international law is not a mere legal or ‘juristic’ person (personne morale), whose process of coming into being is prescribed by law. lt is rather a ‘primary fact’, i.e. a fact that precedes the law, and which the law acknowledges only once it has materialised, by attributing certain effects to it, including a certain legal status.210
In this case, the question before the Court is not whether any of these associated events — such as the subsequent recognitions of Kosovo’ s statehood by other States — are permissible under international law, but rather whether the declaration itself was consistent with international law. The fact that international law does not generally seek to regulate the act of declaring independence means that this declaration must be deemed to be in accordance with international law.211
George Soros helped to fund this coup in Ukraine, and afterward he propagandized for the U.S. and its allies to spend $50 billion more in order to help to defeat (and to kill as many as possible of) the residents in the portion of Ukraine where the Ukrainian President whom Obama overthrew had won 90% of the vote. This is how much Soros supports “the people’s sovereignty” and “human rights.” He wanted $50B more of Western taxpayers’ money spent on killing these people.
And that’s the difference of opinion, between Vladimir Putin and The West.
PS: The following excerpts, from Albert Einstein, present a very different position than either the imperialist one or the nationalist one — he clearly and passionately endorsed the formation of a democratic world government being formed whose legislature would be composed of representatives of equalitarian anti-elitist democratic national governments, and he failed to recognize how corrupt the aristocracies are in every country and how likely they would be to take control over any world government that might ultimately emerge:
“Looking Ahead with Albert Einstein”
The Rotarian, June 1948, pp. 8-10
“What urgent message have you for The Rotarian’s world-wide audience of business and professional men?”
That question was put to Dr. Einstein. It resulted, at his suggestion, in these excerpts from his public statements, and a direct answer in a summarizing query. …
“Security Demands Sacrifice”
29 May 1945
A world government must be created which is able to solve conflicts between nations by judicial decision. This government must be based on a clear-cut constitution which is approved by the governments and the nations and which gives it the sole disposition of offensive weapons. A person or a nation can be considered peace loving only if it is ready to cede its military force to the international authorities and to renounce every attempt or even means of achieving its interests abroad by the use of force.
“U.S.S.R. and U.S.A.”
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists [no date, but actually February 1948], responding to Soviet scientists [the entire exchange being on pp. 34-38 in that month’s issue, and later on pp. 134-146 of
You are such passionate opponents of anarchy in the economic sphere, and yet equally passionate advocates of anarchy — e.g., unlimited [national] sovereignty — in the sphere of international politics. The proposition to curtail the sovereignty of individual States appears to you in itself reprehensible, as a kind of violation of a natural right. In addition, you try to prove that behind the idea of curtailing sovereignty the United States is hiding her intention of economic domination and exploitation of the rest of the world without going to war. … [Omitted here, but included in the complete versions, was: ”If we hold fast to the concept and practice of unlimited sovereignty of nations, it only means that each country reserves the right for itself of pursuing its objectives through warlike means.” ]
I advocate world government because I am convinced that there is no other possible way of eliminating the most terrible danger. … The objective of avoiding total destruction must have priority over any other objective.
“A Question and an Answer”
[June 1948, here, Einstein’s direct answer to the Rotarians]
The longer we continue to march ahead on this fateful road, the more difficult it will be to leave it. … Each day’s postponement diminishes the probability that the patient will come out alive.
“Albert Einstein, Citizen, Princeton, New Jersey”
Recently he was asked what weapons would be used in a third world war. Dr. Einstein’s reply was characteristic: “I don’t know. But I can tell you what they will use in the fourth. They’ll use rocks!”
Whereas it seems to me that Einstein sincerely supported democracy and opposed any dictatorship by the aristocracy or by any other entity, I have the impression that Rhodes sincerely supported dictatorship by a racist aristocracy (this being an extremely conservative government), and that Soros deceitfully supports whatever he thinks will most efficiently serve the interests of America’s aristocracy (against other aristocracies, and against all publics) (and his view represents traditional liberalism).
Vladimir Putin has not yet made clear precisely where he stands on this entire matter, other than via his actions and decisions in public office (plus a few side-comments he has made). Perhaps he thinks that he has made himself clear to everyone by his actions and decisions. And his underlying presumption, that actions and decisions can be trusted far more than any mere words can, makes sense. However, I think that the time has now come when he needs to state publicly, how he views things, explaining that the basic difference is between himself and The West (both Rhodes’s conservative The West, and Soros’s liberal The West), and also regarding Einstein’s advocacy for a global and all-encompassing democratic world government, to be comprised of representatives from all national governments. Perhaps Putin thinks that the latter is impossible; if so, he should explain his position on it, and on the possibility that (and means by which) the U.N. might evolve into that. It needs to enter the public discussion.
My personal view of the matter has been set forth in two articles, which complement (not compliment) one-another: “Liberals Don’t Respect a Nation’s Sovereignty” (which argues that the basic difference between liberals and progressives is that only progressives respect a nation’s sovereignty), and “The Two Contending Visions of World Government” (which argues that the vision of world government that FDR intended, became defeated at the first meeting of the Bilderbergs in 1954, because they were all closeted fascists and controlled NATO). The date when the U.S. Government secretly instructed its allies that the goal going forward would be to conquer Russia, was 24 February 1990, and this plan is now at an advanced stage. All of this would have shocked and demoralized Albert Einstein. He was not a liberal; he was a progressive, but he — like millions of other American progressives — was fooled by closeted fascists, such as the CIA. The issue, in his view, wasn’t isolationism versus internationalism; it was fascism versus progressivism; and fascism (including both the conservative and the liberal sorts) has definitely been winning.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.
Originally published at The Saker
|July 16, 2018||
The mainstream media and the drive toward WW III.
by Dr Andrew Glikson, in World, Countercurrents.org
For many weeks much of the mainstream media world-wide, including broadcasters, been warning of potential concessions in the negotiations between the US and North Korea andbetween Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, lest vital interests of the west are compromised. In the process little has been said about the alternative for such negotiations and potential agreements, namely a nuclear holocaust on a regional to a global scale, with consequences that belong to the unthinkable (https://thebulletin.org/2010/03/the-climatic-consequences-of-nuclear-war/ ; https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidbressan/2017/08/12/
It is not clear what some of the mainstream media is concerned about? Is it its total demonization of one of the adversaries with whom no agreements should be trusted? Or, are peace agreements less newsworthy and sell fewer newspapers than conflict and wars?Or is it connected with vested interests, namely a reduction in the global armament production and trade reducing profits, consequent to peace agreements? One thing is clear, once a pro-war atmosphere is promoted, as for example prior to WWI, the chances of a war happening are multiplied,
Rarely do the mainstream media report the full consequences of a nuclear war, just as they rarely report on the full consequences of runaway global warming.
A summary of the consequences: U.S.-Russian war producing 150 million tons of smoke follows
Perhaps the mainstream media, the tail which commonly wags the dog, ought to worry about some of the consequences of nuclear war as much as they worry about potential concessions inherent in peace talk between the world’s superpowers.
Dr Andrew Glikson, Earth system scientist
|July 17, 2018||
From Russia With Love.
by Zeeshan Ali, in World, Countercurrents.org
The 2018 World Cup delivered on all the promises and allayed all the suspicions and jeremiad predictions. It had a gamut of ineffaceable moments, vocabulary of emotions, kaleidoscope of iconic goals and unforgettable controversies.
More often than the football fan would want, World Cups can be deceptively monolithic in terms of crippling nerves, attritional play, combative and virulent atmospheres and some really uninspiring 90 minutes. But the recent edition had a sweet embrace of a breakaway success replete with entertainment, flair, drama, heroism, grit and revelry.
The malachite -based, 36.8 cm high, 6.1 kg heavy 18 carat gold Trophy went to Les Blues as the Croatians in their famous check jerseys were checkmated in the downpour painting the Luzhniki blue. France head coach Didier Deschamps became only the third man to win the Cup both as player (1998) and manager after Brazilian Mario Zagallo (1958, 1960 as player and 1970 as manager) and German Franz Beckenbauer (1974 as player and 1990 as coach). French defender Raphael Varane also claimed a slice of history becoming the 11th player to win both the Champions League (Real Madrid) and the World Cup in the same year.
For five weeks Russia turned into a hotbed of sporting passions and witnessed a gladiatorial showdown between footballing warriors. To Victor went the spoils and for the spectators in the Luzhniki or billions glued to their screens a rekindling of the forgotten love affair. Arguably the best World Cup (1970 Mexico the only one that comes close). As the French savor the lift off into the orbit of celestial luminance, as the French boulevards turn into scenes of pandemonium, as the Croatians nurses an incurable injury….the rest of the World finally has time to catch its breath and take in the splendor that we all been pampered with for this summer.
Unquestionably, this World Cup has been brilliant for theatre with VAR adding a whole new dimension. It was wrought with 22 converted penalties with total of 73 goals from set pieces, 9 stoppage-time winners (more than the last three World Cups combined). It had Own goal as the top scorer (plays with uncanny anonymity) with 12 goals although Harry Kane got the Golden boot with 6 goals. On average we were fed a diet of 2.6 goals and 3.5 yellow cards per match. It had 4 red cards and four penalty shootouts. With a total of 169 goals we had just a single goalless draw (France vs Denmark) and every team scoring at least 2 goals.
Notwithstanding the snooze fest between France and Denmark and the testy, fractious encounter between England and Colombia, there were some blockbuster matches. The list of thrillers of the summer includes Japan vs Belgium, France vs Argentina and the final itself. We had two Goats (Messi and Ronaldo) captaining their respective sinking boats and bid farewells to Iniesta and Mascherano. As Hazard and Cavani finally swaggered their stardust on the World stage, new superstars strutted irresistible genius as there was changing of the guard. Likes of Courtois sizzled in goal, Modrić spun yarns of strings in Midfield, Kane and Griezmann dispatched the penalties with aplomb but it was 19 year old Kylian Mbappé who stole the show
Asian giants like Japan and South Korea displayed the progress of Asian game with massive upsets. Mexico provided some exhilarating counter attacks in the victory against Germany. Russia against Spain, Iceland against Argentina and Denmark against France embellished the occasion with unflinching Scandinavian resolution.
From the battling Russians to the listless Germans, the thespian performances of Neymar to the priceless insolence of Cheryshev we saw the best and worst of the exciting possibilities the grandest stage has to showcase.
The last four had Belgium, finally proving their mettle as their Golden generation clinched their best ever finish of 3rd. First time since 1990, we heard the premature murmurings of ‘It’s coming home’s as England, the inventor of the Sport, trudged to the semis. Of course, the luck of the draw can only last as long but they did manage to bury their penalty shootout hoodoo along the way.
And then there were two. Croatia proved to be the most enduring team (first one to progress through three extra-time finishes with two consecutive penalty shootouts). They imbibed an unwavering with a reservoir of guts, gumption and glory.
They had the Medfield magicians in Modrić and Rakitić and dynamic winged duo in Rebić and Perišić. The defensive duo of Lovren (self proclaimed best defender) and Vida and striker Mandžukić provided a formidable spine to the team.
France, on the end, had an indefatigable metronome in Kanté (nicknamed the ‘French Duracell Bunny’), balletic bulldozer in Pogba, dancing gazelle in Varane and lightning whisper in Mbappé. The final was billed as the glorious vs the gutsy, Velvet vs Steel, the unstoppable wind vs the immovable wall. Immortality was at stake and France became a two time World Champions.
With a rip-roaring final, the showpiece gala got its crowning jewel. Notwithstanding the first pitch invasion by 4 overzealous souls or the august company of Will Smith and Emmanuel Macron, the script had drama, humor, suspense, shock and the final denouement. It had an own goal (1st ever in a world cup final), a penalty goal with VAR, a comical goal (horror for Loris) and three sensational goals. One of the three made wunderkind Mbappé the only teenager since Pele in 1958 to score in a World Cup final. A scintillating metamorphosis of potential into a performance, prodigy into a phenomenon! Modrić c earned the Golden Ball even though he would swap that with the World Cup trophy in an instant.
As the French exorcised the ghost of Euro 2016, the Russian air will long be imbued with resounding reverberations of the famous Napoleonic words…Veni! Vedi! Vici!
Interestingly if France, with 11 players with immigrant origins in their squad, was as bigoted in its treatment of ethnic minorities and immigrants in Football like in other spheres, the Cup would certainly never be coming home to Paris.
From the slants of skepticism to the exultation of romanticism, the showpiece delivered and how!
A World Cup for all ages and all of time. As the razzamatazz of the spectacle, the majesty of the occasion and the mesmerizing, manic mayhem bids adieu for another four years, here’s wishing a swift return. See you in Qatar!
Zeeshan Ali has studied Journalism and Engineering. Through is education and experience he has developed passionate interest in Sports, Science, Literature and Theology. He values honesty and sincerity in any piece of work either his or otherwise.
|July 17, 2018||
“Practical Utopia: Strategies for a Desirable Society” by Michael Albert: A Review Essay.
by Kim Scipes , in Book Review, Countercurrents.org
This is an important book. It’s important because it asks questions that rarely if ever get asked, and it tries to provide coherent answers to them. However, whether you agree or not with Michael Albert’s answers, engaging with this book will help each of us further think out what we want to see in the future. For as Noam Chomsky points out in the Preface, while “the new cannot be born yet,” he adds, “But the forms it might assume will depend on the actions taken now and the visions of a future society that animate them.” Albert is certainly trying to advance actions today and vision of a future society to help us get to where we might want to go tomorrow.
Albert has long been engaged in such visionary thinking and institution building, so this is more than just a set of good ideas; it’s the reflected knowledge of one who has been integrally engaged in and thinking about social change for over 50 years. He’s got a lot of experience, has engaged with a very wide range of people over the years, and he has provided much excellent thinking over this time. This is one of his latest efforts to help us “think out” desirable social change for the future.
Unlike many of us, Albert extends his thinking across the entire society and, to some extent, beyond; he does not just focus on economics or gender or race or politics, but sees them all interconnected and intertwined. This type of thinking, as far as I know, was first developed by Albert and Chomsky along with Leslie Cagan, Robin Hahnel, Mel King, Lydia Sargent and Holly Sklar in a 1986 book titled Liberating Theory, and Albert continues to further it. Hence, Practical Utopia.
The book is divided into three sections: “our ideas,” “our goals,” “our methods,” in that order. I’m going to review the book, however, in a different order: I’ll start with our methods, shift to our ideas and then go to our goals. The reason I’m going to do differently from Albert is that I believe my order moves us from the least controversial to the most controversial, and I don’t want good stuff to get lost by being after more controversial thinking.
The key idea to the section on “our methodology”–and remember, I’m starting with the last of the three sections–is the need to have a vision of what we want, and then a plan for how to get it. (In other words, by this point in the book, Albert has already proposed his vision, and now he’s writing about implementing a plan to attain it.) As he points out, “One of the first things we learn from any serious teacher about any conflictual game–for example, chess or football–is that to have a prospect of winning we must have a plan.”
Amazingly, however, the left seems to be working–and here, I’m generalizing extensively, but I believe realistically–without a real plan. We don’t have any real idea of what we want–we have some nice, general values that make us feel good, but no real vision of an alternative social arrangement–or of a plan to implement it.
And while Albert begins with writing about strategy, he soon begins discussing a major weakness, lack of “stickiness,” of the movement. By this, he’s referring to the millions of people who have considered themselves part of the movement at one point of their lives or another and subsequently moved away, leaving it behind. He sees this as a serious problem of our movement, and spends some time addressing possible causes for such abandonment. This is worth serious consideration by leftists.
By the way, Albert expends considerable effort to be as detached as he can when discussing others’ approaches, even those he might disagree with. The result is that one doesn’t have to agree with Albert to get a lot out of this book.
There is much more in this section that I think is important and worth considering, but it’s presented in a very straight-forward, non-dogmatic and anti-sectarian manner, and I’d encourage people to read and consider Albert’s thinking on this. I want to shift to another section, the one on “our ideas,” which is presented as the first of the three sections.
This section is brief, but important; I alluded to it above when I mentioned that Albert and others developed this thinking in the book Liberating Theory, and that Albert has continued to develop this further. The idea I’m referring to here is that society is composed of four different spheres: economics, politics, kinship and culture. These are not separate, but rather are interconnected and intertwined. Besides giving a more correct understanding of any society, it is more complete; and it allows Albert to integrate findings from anarchism, feminism, radical “race” thinking, as well as Marxism (plus more) into one, coherent whole.
However, Albert innovates here, as well. In his discussion of the economy, he rejects the traditional two-actor model of Marxists (workers and owners) and argues there is an “intervening class” between the other two, what he calls a “coordinator” class. People in this coordinator class as seen as people who do empowering work, “unlike workers at the bottom who do overwhelmingly disempowering, rote and tedious work.”
By utilizing these different approaches, Albert extends our thinking, first across the entire society (i.e., not confining it to one or two sectors, but covering all four), and second, gets a better understanding of the economic sphere from which to develop our thinking. And now, I want to go to the section of his book that I think is the most important, but also argue it is the most controversial (and debatable): “our goals.”
In this section, Albert approaches the subject of radical social change from a delineation of various important values, on which he argues that a new society should be based. The values he advances are solidarity, diversity, equity and self-management, with the latter principle holding whenever possible, although Albert recognizes that sometimes, more encompassing decisions must be made at a higher level of the social order. In general, however, he argues that these are the values that should undergird our vision of a new society. He then discusses each of the four spheres of society.
His strongest section is on the economy, where he and Hahnel have continued to work to think out how a participatory economy, “parecon” for short, could work. Albert advances “workers and consumer councils” as organizational forms needed to institutionalize these values. He notes that remuneration should be based on effort and sacrifice, not because someone inherited something. Further, “Your work has to be socially useful to be rewarded, but the reward is not proportional to how useful it is.”
Importantly, he argues that work should be redistributed so that everybody shares both the “good” and the “bad” of working. In other words, instead of some people doing just interesting work, and most people doing uninteresting work–the latter, in his thinking, basically being shit work–he argues that we need to redesign how we do work so as to eradicate the established division of labor found in corporate workplaces. But this involves more than just the jobs themselves to include issues of powerfulness and authority contained within the better jobs. He elaborates:
“Instead of combining tasks so that some jobs are highly empowering and other jobs are horrible, so that some jobs convey knowledge and authority, while other jobs convey only stultification and obedience, parecon says let’s make each job comparable to all others in its quality of life and even more importantly in its empowerment effects.
“In parecon with balanced job complexes [what he calls these redesigned sets of labor], each job must contain a mix of tasks and responsibilities such that the overall empowerment effects of work are comparable for all.”
And Albert argues the sociological ramifications that such a transformation would mean to those of us who work: “Our work [will not] prepare a few of us to rule and the rest of us to obey. Instead, our work [will comparably prepare] all of us to participate in collectively self-managing production, consumption and allocation.”
He further discusses institutions currently being used today to allocate production, those being markets or central planning, and finds them each lacking. He proposes “participatory planning,” where “workers and consumers cooperatively negotiate all this.”
This is a very limited account of his thinking, and I’d encourage others to read it so as to get acquainted with the quality and complexity of his thinking. As I read it, parecon–with its emphasis on participation by everyone in the society and empowerment of each actor–is the center of his thinking; I find his thinking about the other sectors of society–the polity or political system, the family/kin system and intercommunalism (referring to different interactions of divergent communities, in my mind, associated primarily with “race”)–is not as systematically developed and advanced as his work on the economy.
Yet he still goes even further–beyond the economy, politics, kin and culture–to discuss both the environment or “participatory ecology” and internationalism, conveying a concern and thinking about the world both “deeper” than our nation-state, as well as “broader,” thinking about people around the globe as a whole.
And by the time you complete this section, you have a gotten a sophisticated discussion of our society, a suggested set of values to guide how we want to change it, and ideas on the larger overall vision so as to suggest where we want to go.
And I think essential to what Albert has put forth, a recognition on his part that he might not have gotten it right, that circumstances may change, so that where we end up down the road might not be where he foresees it today. In other words–and I appreciate this immensely, as I take this approach in my work–he’s saying something like “this is my best thinking; think about it, let’s discuss it, let’s see how to improve it, and let’s see how we can implement it in the best way possible, at least until we can surpass it. And then, let’s keep pushing forward.” In other words, he’s not saying “It’s my way or the highway,” but he’s asking the rest of us to respond, so as to develop further his thinking or, should we surpass it, then let’s develop that thinking as far as we can.
So, again, this book is a serious effort, and I think worthy of any progressive’s engagement. And I appreciate Albert for putting it out for consideration.
My comments now are going to focus on the second section of his book, “Our Goals.” I’m going to respond as respectfully as I can, as I disagree, but in no way do I denigrate his thinking. Hopefully, my ideas will get people to look at and compare ideas/approaches, and then suggest how we can proceed.
I think Albert took a wise approach to this work, projecting his ideas without being confined by the parameters of today; in other words, not limiting his thinking to what might appear possible today, but trying to think out what he wants. If we confine ourselves to what might be possible today–even down the road–we’ve already lost the battle. If we want a radically different, a “revolutionary” option, whatever, then we must take ourselves out of the confines of today. (Then, of course, once we develop our vision, then we’ve got to develop a strategy to move us from here to there, and with tactics to move us toward fulfilling that strategy. That’s why Section 3 of this book is so important.)
However, that being said, I don’t think his proposals work the way he thinks they do or wants them to do. I have several major problems with his approach: (1) there’s no real understanding of how our society got to where it is; (2) his proposals are based on a functional model of society (i.e., all of the institutions in society serve social functions); (3) he bases his analysis on “institutions,” which he never defines; (4) ironically, in a work focusing on empowering people, there are really no people seriously discussed herein; (5) there’s no real integration of the environment in the book (to me, it reads as an “add-on”); (6) and there’s no real understanding of empire. I think were he to take on these concerns in the next iteration of his work, they would greatly strengthen it.
Let me explain. Almost every society that has existed–perhaps there were some matrilineal societies long ago, and we know that the Cherokee Nation was female dominated, at least at the time when whites found them, and there may be a few indigenous societies since then, as counter-examples–has been a stratified, or unequal society; for all practical purposes, I argue that societies have been unequal, dominated by males (through a patriarchal inheritance system that they established) who owned larger amounts of resources. (I’m not going to do a trip through human history here; just setting up the argument.)
This has all kinds of negative ramifications for those who were on the “unequal” side of the arrangement. For those who did not resist the oppression, they oftentimes found people in even weaker social positions than they–whether inside their homes or outside–and vented their anger and frustrations on them. The long and short of this is that many of us who came from the “disadvantaged” side have been damaged, whether by racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, etc., and it can come from outside one’s home or inside one’s family. This has led to a tremendous amount of social conflict among people who, objectively, should be allies. Only through engaging in some type of process to challenge and/or eradicate this–whether in engaging in personal improvement, conscious education and/or political struggles–can this damage be mitigated or overcome.
So, what this means, is that we have to deal with real people as they are developed today. We cannot assume all people are good, caring, loving people, and expect that they’ll respond affirmatively to a progressive program; we have to recognize that some are messed up, some are in vulnerable positions that can lead them to be manipulated by “the man,” and some flat do nasty things, etc. We also have to recognize that all people do not want to participate in social decision-making or to be empowered; some just want to sit around, drink beer or smoke dope and watch sports all day.
The point here is that we cannot assume that all people are similar, all good (nor all bad!), etc., but rather, we have to be prepared for the broad range of human behaviors.
Thus, I’m arguing that we have to recognize that we live in a stratified society and that it has damaged many, albeit some more than others. This is the legacy we must address.
Albert sees society based on institutions–which he really does not define, and certainly not adequately for the importance throughout that he gives them–and these societal institutions “exist to fulfill some functions.” That’s one way to look at it, but it’s an ahistorical approach.
The reality is that societies–actually because they are so unequal, a more accurate term is “social order,” which I will use henceforth–have been unequal from earliest times, and those people with the resources and social power, have created organizations within each social order that is intended to maintain each respective elite’s dominance. The police or armies or divorce or white supremacy, etc., etc., were not created to serve any function in a social order except to maintain the dominance of the elites. It’s really that straight-forward; no mystery. Now, over the centuries, the purpose of these have been rationalized by elites to be helping people–and perhaps in some ways they have, or perhaps they’ve helped small groups at the expense of larger–but their ultimate goal has been to protect and/or expand the status quo, the unequal, hierarchical social order with the elites always in control. And we have to always recognize this.
The good news, however, is that not all human beings have accepted those hierarchically-organized social orders. As we develop as human beings, and become more and more aware of the social reality we each face, we can respond to the training, the socialization we’ve been given–starting in the home, and extending in the church, educational system, jobs, etc.–and we can accept, reject or modify it. (Most of us have been taught from earliest years that we shouldn’t have sex before marriage; how many of us accepted that proscription?)
And when we respond collectively–as rare and difficult as that is–we can move mountains. Before we were born, and just focusing on the United States, we had the Abolitionist Movement that played a major role in abolishing slavery. We had the labor movement that emerged in the 1930s and ‘40s give American working people the highest standard of living of any working class in the world. In our lives, we’ve seen the successes of the Civil Rights/Black Power, Women’s, and Anti-Vietnam War movements, and all the movements they inspired. And we’ve had movements that have won major advances, such as the Environmental movement, and we’ve seen movements emerge like Occupy, Black Lives Matters, #Me Too, etc. Considering what we’ve been up against, these gains–and those of our allies around the world–have been phenomenal.
Now, obviously, we haven’t understood the importance of institutionalizing these gains–and in some places, we weren’t strong enough, even had we recognized the importance–and thus, they haven’t been concretized to force on-going changes in our social order. But changes have been made: we’re not in the world I was born into in 1951 (pre-Rosa Parks); we’re not in the world me and my high school classmates entered into in 1969; and we’re not in the world we were in before the Great Recession of 2008-09.
The point I’m trying to make here is that collectively, we have a lot of experience and knowledge about social change. Unfortunately, as Albert correctly observes, we’ve lost access to a lot of it as people’s lives have changed and they’ve moved away from the movement. But that doesn’t deny our experience and knowledge. And it doesn’t mean we can’t get some of those people back to again join those of us who have never left.
There are two big areas in which I think the left in general has been deficient–not limited, but actually deficient. With all of our brilliance and hard work–and I say that without hesitation–WE HAVE NOT REALLY UNDERSTOOD THE SOCIAL CONTEXT IN WHICH WE OPERATE.
We in the US have been told ad nauseum that we live in the greatest country in the world, that everybody wants to move to the United States, and that people around the world look to us for global leadership; accordingly, “we” should be proud of and do everything to maintain our dominance. If the United States “screws up” around the world–let’s remember the war in Vietnam and Southeast Asia, but as William Blum keeps reminding us, the list is actually quite long–it’s only because “we” make honest mistakes; our intentions were honorable, but things didn’t work out the way we wanted them. Blah, blah, blah.
But think of the message that is contained therein. Besides the specifics, the message is that we should understand that the United States is a single country, and our analyses should be confined to this one country. And, dammit, the left–and I’m using this term expansively–has overwhelmingly accepted this limitation.
The problem is that one cannot understand the activities of the US without understanding it is actually the homeland of the US Empire; that we must take a global approach. We can argue that the US has been an imperialist project since its founding in 1789 (and that the British colonial project before that was from the beginning); we can argue that the US imperial project began in 1898, with the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars; but what is certain, is that since 1945, the goal of the United States has been to dominate the rest of the planet. Period. (See Alfred W. McCoy’s 2017 book, “In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power,” from Haymarket Books or see my review of it at http://digitalcommons.fiu.edu/classracecorporatepower/vol6/iss1/7/ ).
Now, while able to expand its power and control to a lot of the world, the US was unable to dominate all of the world for a number of years in the post-World War II period because of the existence of the USSR, the Soviet Union. However, when it collapsed in 1991–and I’m not arguing whether it was good or bad; I’m simply arguing here that the Soviet Union denied the US access to parts of the world–the US achieved its goal of world domination. And it was unquestioned until a bunch of Iraqis didn’t get the memo that the US was undefeatable, and who then proceeded to defeat it.
The larger point I want to make is that we cannot understand what’s going on in this country until we take a global approach; we have got to surpass, to transcend, any nationalist level of analysis.
And the important point I’ve been making for years–and will continue to make–is that the elites in this country are using the US’s resources, military, tax monies, etc., to maintain if not expand the US Empire, at the direct expense of the American people (in addition to those affected by US operations overseas). Money used to support the US military cannot be used to provide national health care, improve education, create jobs, rebuild the infrastructure, mitigate climate change, etc. (For a fuller analysis, although somewhat dated, see my article at https://faculty.pnw.edu/kim-scipes/wp-content/uploads/sites/20/2017/04/Neoliberal-Economic-Policies-for-US-2009.pdf –I’m working to update it.)
Now, what I’ve seen over the last 15 years while teaching at a regional university in Northwest Indiana–and this isn’t the center of anything progressive–is that when I explain these things to my students, and then ask them whether they think the US should continue to try to dominate the world or take care of the American people, they almost unanimously argue that the United States should take care of its people.
So, the argument I’m making here is two-fold: one, we have to take a global approach to understand what the US elites are doing around the world and, two, once we understand this, we can win the people of the US to support our positions, and that includes building solidarity with people around the world.
Now I said there was a second issue that we haven’t grasped totally: climate change and environmental destruction. I’m not saying this is merely “bad,” and that it a shame that we’re no longer going to be able to see those cute polar bears swimming to those ice floes in the oceans. It’s that and much worse. The latest science that I’m reading is that if we do not make MAJOR, MAJOR reductions in our production of greenhouse gases–both by factories and by vehicles–by as soon as 2030, then we will see the beginnings of the extermination of humans, animals and many plants by the turn of the coming 22nd Century (i.e., the year 2100). It’s that simple. (And I say that, recognizing that something may be created in the interim to save our collective asses, so this might not play out, but there’s nothing on the horizon that I’ve seen that even offers that possibility; and going to Mars will not do it.)
So, now that I’ve been on this rant, how do I turn it back to Albert’s analysis? To be honest, I think Albert’s approach is too conservative. (I know, I know: arguably, the most radical analysis around is, ironically, being labeled as too conservative….)
Let me be clear: there is a lot of excellent thinking in Albert’s work, thinking that is a valuable contribution to the movement. But, still, I argue his frame work is too limited.
How I think we can go forward is this: first, we must take a global approach to understanding what the US elites are doing. And then, we must center our climate change/environmental destruction in our thinking.
I may be wrong–I understand that. But I’ve been thinking about this stuff for a long time, for over the last 30 years, to greater or lesser extents. I argue that we have to drastically reduce production and we have to drastically reduce our fossil fuel-based transportation system. (If you want to consider my thinking in more detail, please go to http://digitalcommons.fiu.edu/classracecorporatepower/vol5/iss1/2/, which has some of my latest thinking.)
Yet, we still need food, shelter, clothing, education, culture, etc.: how are we going to organize this?
I think we have to shift to a concept of bio-regions, where people organize themselves on the basis of their habitat instead of currently existing political borders. (See my article at http://www.greens.org/s-r/48/48-04.html .) And it’s here–in the respective bio-regions–that we have to build the new, libertory societies. And it’s here that much of Albert’s thinking is not only applicable, but desirable.
THIS is where parecon makes sense to me. Reduce production as much as possible, reorganize what’s left that’s important and needed on the basis of bio-regions, with inter-regional trade limited to necessities, and organize production in ways that are participatory, empowering and shared equally.
Likewise, use this approach to create a new polity, and new kin/family network and intercommunal relations built on respect for each human being and the planet. Obviously, there is much more that needs to be added; I don’t think my approach is the be all and end all of desirable visions. However, this is a vision of where we can go–and, until surpassed, where we need to be consciously moving toward, Trump or no Trump.
Kim Scipes is a long-time political activist who has published widely in the US and around the world. He currently works as a Professor of Sociology at Purdue University Northwest in Westville, Indiana. His latest book is an edited collection, “Building Global Labor Solidarity in a Time of Accelerating Globalization” (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2016). You can access most of his more than 200 publications at https://faculty.pnw.edu/kim-scipes/publications/#2.
Originally published in Green Social Thought
|July 17, 2018||
A Seneca Collapse for the World’s Human Population?
by Ugo Bardi, in Resource Crisis, Countercurrents.org
This is a condensed and modified version of a paper of mine that appeared on “The Journal of Population and Sustainability” this year. The image above is the well known “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” by Albrecht Durer – 1498. Yes, I know it is catastrophistic, but it is not my fault if biological populations do tend to collapse! (see also my previous post: “Overpopulation Problem? What Overpopulation Problem?“
While Gandhi’s observation about greed remains true even today, it may not be so for the ability of the world to meet every man’s need. Gandhi is reported to have said that in 1947 when the world population was under 2.5 billion, about one-third of the current figure of 7.5 billion. And it keeps growing. Does the world still have enough for every man’s need?
It is a tautology that if there are 7.5 billion people alive on planet earth today there must exist sufficient resources to keep them alive. The problem is for how long: a question rarely taken into account in estimates purportedly aimed at determining the maximum human population that the Earth can support.
The problem of long-term support of a population can be expressed in terms of the concept of “overshoot,” applied first by Jay Forrester in 1972  to social systems. The innovative aspect of Forrester’s idea is that it takes the future into consideration: if there is enough food for 7.5 billion people today, that doesn’t mean that the situation will remain the same in the future. The destruction of fertile soil, the depletion of aquifers, the increased reliance on depletable mineral fertilizers, to say nothing of climate change, are all factors that may make the future much harder than it is nowadays for humankind. The problems will be exacerbated if the population continues to grow.
So, will the human population keep growing in the future as it has in the past? Many demographic studies have attempted to answer this question, often arriving at widely different results. Some studies assume that population will keep growing all the way to the end of the current century, others that it will stabilize at some value higher than the present one, others still that it will start declining in the near future. Few, if any, studies have taken into account the phenomenon of rapid decline that I have termed “Seneca Effect” (or “Seneca Collapse”) , from a sentence written during the 1st century AD by the Roman philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca.
The Seneca Collapse is a phenomenon affecting complex systems where strong feedback relationships link the elements of the system to each other. Biological communities where predators and their prey are linked to each other are a good example of these systems. The Seneca Effect describes a situation in which the feedbacks of the system act together to generate a rapid decline of some of the stocks (populations) of the system. The typical “Seneca Curve” (or “Seneca Cliff”) is shown in the figure below 
Figure 1. A typical “Seneca Curve” calculated by means of system dynamics The x-axis shows the time, the y-axis can be a parameter such as population. It shows how decline can be faster than growth 
In the following, I’ll list a series of examples showing that the Seneca Curve is relatively common in biological systems, including for historical human population. The possibility of an upcoming Seneca Cliff affecting humankind in the near future is real
There are many historical examples of the collapse or rapid decline of biological populations. The causes can be seen as mainly three:
The first, predation, is the result of the appearance in the ecosystem of a new and highly efficient predator when the prey population has little or no defense against it. There are many examples of this phenomenon in modern times, especially when humans have transported new species to biomes where they didn’t exist before (e.g. hornets as predators of bees). A clear example can be found when the predator is humankind and the prey is the Thylacine species (the “Tasmanian Tiger”) 
Figure 2. The population of Tasmanian tigers (Thylacines) before their complete extinction in the 1930s From ref. 
These data are not a direct measurement of the size of the Thylacine population but can be reasonably assumed to be proportional to it. When the last Tasmanian tigers were killed, in the 1930s, the species was assumed to be extinct. The obvious origin of this collapse is human hunting, although disease has been sometimes blamed. Whether human or microbial pathogens were the predator, the graph shows how rapidly a biological population can collapse because of high predation rates. Note how the decline is much faster than growth.
Case 2, resource depletion, is often the specular case of efficient predation. It occurs when the predator species is so efficient in using its preys as food that the prey population crashes. It is a classic case of “overshoot” that leaves the predator without food and with the only perspective of a population collapse. A well-known case is that of the reindeer of St. Matthew Island, where the predators are the reindeer and the prey is grass. Obviously, the reindeer were so efficient in removing the grass that the whole population went in overshoot and then collapsed .
The third possible case, active birthrate control, doesn’t seem to exist in the wild but we can see it in domesticated populations. Here is the case of horses in the United States.
Figure 4. Horse population in the United States (data source: The Humane Society)
The horse population went down rapidly and abruptly from a maximum of more than 26 million in 1915 to about 3 million in 1960. Today their population has increased again to about 10 million but has not regained the level of the earlier peak. In this case, horses were simply no longer competitive in comparison to engine-powered vehicles. As a result, horses were not allowed to breed. When old horses died, they were not replaced.
3. The collapse of human populations in history
This survey of the collapse of biological populations shows three causes for the “Seneca Collapse” to take place: 1) predation, 2) overshoot, and 3) reproductive control. Do the same phenomena take place with human populations? It seems to be possible and let’s see a few historical cases.
Humans have no significant metazoan predator, but they are legitimate prey for many kinds of microbial creatures. In history, diseases are known to have caused human population collapses. A good example, here, is the effect of the “black death” in Europe during the Middle Ages. The data are uncertain, but the “Seneca Shape” of the collapses is clear.
Figure 5 – European Population in history, including the effects of the Great Plague of mid 14th century (from Langer )
Regarding overshoot and resource depletion, perhaps the best example is that of the Irish famine that started in 1845. A graph of the collapse is shown in fig. 5
Fig. 6 – Irish population data before and after the great famine of 1845.
The Irish catastrophe has been interpreted in different ways and politically biased interpretations are often invoked. Nevertheless, as discussed in detail in “The Seneca Effect” , the Irish famine is a classic case of overshoot-generated collapse. That doesn’t mean that the Irish had overexploited their land in the same way as the reindeer of St. Matthew’s Island, but it is clear that – given the economic, social, and political conditions of the time – the land couldn’t support for a long time the population level reached before the collapse. Then, the parasite of the potato which destroyed the Irish crops was only a trigger for a collapse that would have taken place anyway. After the crash, the Irish population continued to decline for more than half a century and even today it has not reached the pre-crash levels again.
Finally, we can examine cases in which the human population declined mainly because of lower birthrates. There are several modern examples, especially in Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. An especially evident case is that of Ukraine, shown in figure 7.
Fig. 7 – Ukrainian population – data from the World Bank
There were no widespread epidemic diseases nor famines in Ukraine during the period that covers the recent population collapse. Factors in the decline were emigration and increased mortality due to a declining health care system, but what’s impressive is how the Ukrainian population reacted to the economic crisis with a decline in birthrates. Apparently, Ukrainian families and Ukrainian women thought that they had no benefit in having many children, a reasonable position in a situation of economic decline. The Seneca shape of the population curve is observed for most of the countries which belonged to the Soviet Union.
All biological populations need food and are affected by predation. Wild populations have no internal mechanisms to plan ahead and the result is normally what we call “overshoot,” where the population grows over the limits which the resources can sustain over a long time and finally collapses. The result is population curves which take the typical “Seneca Shape” described in 
The future of the world’s human population may well be described in similar terms, that is decline caused by overshoot, predation, or birth control. Of the three, predation could take the form of a microbial infection spreading all over the world and killing a substantial fraction of the human population. Another likely effect is overshoot, especially in terms of the decline of the world’s agriculture or, more simply, to the loss of the capability of the globalized economic system to deliver it worldwide.
Unlike in non-human populations, for humans there is also the possibility of birth control. A decline in natality doesn’t necessarily require top-down government intervention to force people to have fewer children. An economic slowdown may be sufficient to convince couples and single women that they have no need and no interest in having many children. In particular, the economic value of human beings is constantly eroded by the development of automated systems that replace them in the workplace. So, if women have access to contraception, we may just see a worldwide expansion of what we call the “demographic transition” and which is commonly observed in the so-called “developed countries” where agriculture ceases to be the main source of wealth.
Will the demographic transition be sufficient to reduce the human population before the evil demons of overshoot and plague intervene? This is hard to say, but it cannot be excluded. Humans are, after all, intelligent creatures and they may still be able to take their destiny in their hands.
(A similar version has appeared in 2017 on “The Journal of Population and Sustainability“)
Ugo Bardi teaches physical chemistry at the University of Florence, in Italy. He is interested in resource depletion, system dynamics modeling, climate science and renewable energy. Contact: ugo.bardi(whirlything)unifi.it
|July 21, 2018||
Global Compact for Migration: A Necessary First Step.
by Rene Wadlow, in Human Rights, Countercurrents.org
On 12 July 2018, the United Nations General Assembly agreed to the text of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration after more than a year of discussions among Member States, non-governmental organizations, academic specialists on migration issues as well as interviews with migrants and refugees.
imm01_400The discussion had gained visibility in September 2016 at the U.N. General Assembly which set out the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. As a result, the International Organization for Migration, created in 1951 largely to deal with displaced people after the Second World War was more formally integrated into the U.N. “family”.
The U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed the Global Compact saying it reflected “the shared understanding by Governments that cross-border migration is, by its very nature, an international phenomenon and that effective management of this global reality requires international cooperation to enhance its positive impact for all. It also recognizes that every individual has the right to safety, dignity and protection.”
However, the General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak also indicated the limitations of the agreement saying “It does not encourage migration, nor does it aim to stop it. It is not legally binding. It does not dictate. It will not impose. And it fully respects the sovereignty of States.” The Global Compact will be formally adopted by Member States at an intergovernmental conference in Marrakesh, Morocco on 10-11 December. Thus it is useful to see what the Compact does do and what non-governmental organizations concerned need to do between now and early December.
Citizens of the world have stressed that the global aspects of migration flows have an impact on all countries. The changing nature of the world’s economies modify migration patterns, and there is a need to plan for migration as the result of possible environmental-climate changes.
The current flow of migrants and refugees to Europe has become a high profile political issue. Many migrants come from areas caught up in armed conflict: Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia. The leaders of the European Union (EU) have been divided and unsure in their responses. Local solidarity networks that offer food, shelter, and medical care are overwhelmed. Political debates over how to deal with the refugees have become heated, usually with more heat than light. The immediacy of the refugee exodus requires our attention, our compassion, and our sense of organization.
EU officials have met frequently to discuss how to deal with the migrant-refugee flow, but a common policy has so far been impossible to establish. At a popular level, there have been expressions of fear of migrants, of possible terrorists among them, and a rejection of their cultures. These popular currents, often increased by right-wing political parties make decisions all the more difficult to take. An exaggerated sense of threat fuels anti-immigration sentiments and creases a climate of intolerance and xenophobia.
wc00Therefore, the Association of World Citizens, which is in consultative status with the UN, is stressing the need for cooperative efforts carried out in good faith to meet the challenges of worldwide migration and continuing refugee flows. There is a need to look at both short-term emergency humanitarian measures and at longer-range migration patterns, especially at potential climate.
We know that there are governments whose view is that “Yes, there are migrants and refugees, but we do not want them here. Our first and last line of defense is SOVEREIGNTY.” In addition to these governments, there are political parties and groups with a less legalistic line of defense. There are shades of racism and religious prejudice that go from pale to very strongly colored. We can expect these groups to be very active between now and early December to push government to indicate that the Global Compact is not a treaty, is not binding, and will not influence national decision making.
Thus it is up to those holding World Citizen Values of equality, respect, cooperation and living in harmony with Nature to be even more active before December so that the Global Compact will serve as a framework for governmental and civil society action.
Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens
|July 24, 2018||
God Only Knows.
by Kathy Kelly,in Human Rights, Countercurrents.org
“If they would just confirm to us that my brother is alive, if they would just let us see him, that’s all we want. But we can’t get anyone to give us any confirmation. My mother dies a hundred times every day. They don’t know what that is like.”
One testimonial after another echoes the sentiments of a woman whose husband has been held incommunicado for more than two years. “Shouldn’t they be given a trial?” she asked. “Why else are there courts? They shouldn’t be disappeared this way – not only are we unable to visit them, we don’t even know if they are dead or alive.”
The report describes bureaucratic farces in which families beg for information about their loved ones’ whereabouts from Yemeni prosecutors and prison officials, but the families’ pleas for information are routinely met with silence or intimidation.
The families are appealing to an unelected Yemeni exile government whose president, Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, (when “elected” president in 2012, he was the only candidate) generally resides in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The UAE has, so far, supported Hadi’s claim to govern Yemen. However, the Prosecutor General of Hadi’s government, as well as other officials, told Amnesty International the government of Yemen has no control over operations “spearheaded by the UAE and implemented by the Yemeni forces it backs.”
When months and years pass and families of people who are missing still have no news about their loved ones, some try to communicate unofficially with prison guards or with former detainees who have been released from various detention sites. They repeatedly hear stories about torture of detainees and rumors about prisoners who died in custody.
The Amnesty report implicates UAE-backed local forces in Yemen, as well as the UAE military, in the crimes of torture and other ill-treatment of detainees. Of seven former or current detainees interviewed by Amnesty, five said they were subjected to these abuses. “All seven witnessed other detainees being tortured,” the report adds, “including one who said he saw a detainee held in a cell next to him being carried away in a body bag after he had been repeatedly tortured.”
In June 2017, Human Rights Watch and the Associated Press exposed a network of clandestine prisons operated by the UAE in Yemen. Their reports described ghastly torture inflicted on prisoners and noted that senior US military leaders knew about torture allegations. Yet, a year later, there has been no investigation of these allegations by the Yemeni government, by the UAE, or by the UAE’s most powerful ally in the Yemen war, the United States.
“It is shocking, to say the least,” the Amnesty report states, “that one year after a network of secret prisons operated by the UAE and the Yemeni forces it backs was exposed, these facilities continue to operate and that there has not been a serious investigation undertaken into credibly documented violations, including systemic torture in custody.” The Amnesty report calls on the US to “facilitate independent oversight, including by the US Congress, over US military or intelligence cooperation with Yemeni and UAE forces involved in detention activities in Yemen.” It further calls for investigating any involvement of US military or intelligence personnel in detention-related abuses in Yemen.
To date, the US continues selling weapons to the UAE and to its coalition partner, Saudi Arabia, despite several Congressional debates and a few increasingly close votes demanding a full or partial end to US weapons sales considering the terrible practices being carried out as part of the Yemen war.
Since March of 2015, a coalition of nine countries led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE and relying on crucial U.S. logistical aid, has bombarded Yemen while blockading its major port, despite Yemen’s status as one of the poorest countries in the world. Targeting transportation, electrical plants, sewage and sanitation facilities, schools, mosques, weddings and funerals, the vicious bombing has led to starvation, displacement, and the spread of disease including cholera.
On the same day that the Amnesty report was released, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman pardoned “all military men, who have taken part in the Operation Restoring Hope of their respective military and disciplinary penalties, in regard of some rules and disciplines.” It seems likely that the Amnesty report precipitated this royal decree.
Along with three countries in North Africa’s “Sahel” desert region, Yemen has been cited as part of the worst famine crisis in the 70-year history of the UN. In the past three years of aerial and naval attacks, Yemen’s key port of Hodeidah has remained partially or fully closed despite the country’s vital need for relief supplies. And, while Yemenis suffer the chaos and despair characteristic of war, the Saudis and UAE refer to the war as “Operation Restoring Hope.”
Many thousands of Yemenis, subjected to consistent bombing and threats of starvation and famine, have fled their homes. Many seek refuge out of Yemen. For instance, close to 500 Yemenis have traveled nearly 500 miles to reach a visa-free port on South Korea’s Jeju Island. On July 21, during an international phone call hosted by young friends in Afghanistan, listeners heard Kaia, a resident of Jeju Island, describe the “Hope School.” She explained how she and several other young people are trying to help welcome Yemenis now living in their village of Gangjeong. The young people are already committed to peacefully resisting U.S. and South Korean military destruction of their shoreline and ecosystem. Now, they have started an informal school so Yemeni and South Korean residents can learn from one another. Small groups gather for conversational exchanges translated from Arabic to English to Korean. Many South Koreans can recall, in their own familial history, that seven million Koreans fled Japanese occupation of their land. Their Korean forebears relied on hospitality from people in other lands. The Catholic Bishop of the Jeju diocese, Monsignor Kang Woo-il, called on Koreans to embrace Yemeni refugees, labeling it a crime against human morality to shut the door on refugees and migrants.
Kaia’s account of the newly launched school describes an effort that truthfully involves restoring hope. The cynical designation of Saudi and UAE led war in Yemen as “Operation Restoring Hope” creates an ugly smokescreen that distracts from the crucial need to investigate war crimes committed in Yemen today.
US citizens bear responsibility for the US government’s support of these crimes.
|July 25, 2018||
Iran: US Regime Change Project is Immoral and Illegal
by David William Pear, in Imperialism, Countercurrents.org
“We’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.” (US General Wesley Clark, former Supreme Commander of NATO)
Contemptuous of international law, the US makes no secret of its plots to overthrow the leaders of internationally recognized governments that reject the neoliberal New World Order.Iran is at the top of the US enemies list. The US has been at it since the 1979 Iran Revolution, when the Iranian people overthrew the US’s “our boy”, the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The Shah had become the US’s “our boy” as CIA agent Kermit Roosevelt referred to him in 1953, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower overthrew the popular democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh. Overthrowing governments isillegal according to US law and international law. It is also immoral if one believes in democracy, self-determination,and the sovereignty of nations, respect for human life, and the rule of law.
The Weaponization of Human Rights
The crushing economic sanctions now unilaterally imposed by the USon Iran are causing massive suffering and the deaths of thousands of Iranian civilians. The US response is glee that the sanctions are “working”. This is nothing short of barbaric siege warfare to starve the Iranians out. Under international law the Iran sanctions maybe illegal, since they are not authorized by the United Nations. The collective punishment of economic warfare is immoral, economic terrorism and a weapon of mass destruction. Secondary sanctions that impose sanctions on non-US and non-Iranian financial institutions that transact business with Iran amounts to blackmail, especially since it is the US that violated the Iran Nuclear Deal, and not Iran.
Weaponizing human rights is a most cynical tool of US imperialism, especially since the US has a very poor record on human rights at home. While holding itself out in biblical terms as a “city on a hill” (Matthew 5:14-16), the US is not a model of John Winthrop’s Christian Charity, as politicians such as Ronald Reagan have opined. The US is the only developed country that does not consider healthcare a universal human right, and it has been steadily cutting FDR’s New Deal social benefits, while the rich get richer from tax cuts. In 2008 the US bailed out the banks, while millions of homeowners lost their homes. Over 20% of US children live in poverty. Basic human services that are the responsibility of government have been turned into cash machines by privatizing.
George H. W. Bush’s New World Order neoliberals and neocons despiseany country that closes its doors to US corporate exploitation, and instead uses its own natural resources for the benefit of its own people. The US uses “human rights” to attack countries such as Venezuela, Libya, and Iran that consider economic freedom from need a human right.
One of the main reasons that Iran’s moderate President Hassan Rouhani negotiated the Iran Nuclear Deal was so that the lifting of UN Security Council economic sanctions would give Iran the much needed ability to increase social spending for the Iranian people.Instead, the imposition of even harsher US unilateral sanctions by the Trump neocon stacked administration has dashed Rouhani’s hopes, and makes the economic situationdirer for the Iranian people. The nefarious purpose of sanctions is to make the Iranian people suffer so that they will become disgruntled and rebellious.
The Foundation for the Defense of Democracy (FDD) is a right wing neocon funded and infested think thank that has been particular rapacious inattacking Iran. FDD executive director Mark Dubowitz has been previously hailed as “the architect of many of the Iran sanctions”, as reported by The Nation magazine, How the Anti-Iran Lobby Machine Dominates Capitol Hill.
As Robert Fantina has written in Counterpunch, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy is intensively lobbying for the US to sanction Iran’s “The Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order” (EIKO). One of EIKO’s subsidiaries is the Barakat Foundation, which is a charitable foundation that is concerned with social programs for the people. The Ayatollah Khomeini has described it by saying,
“I’m concerned about solving problems of the deprived classes of the society. For instance, solve problems of 1000 villages completely. How good would it be if 1000 points of the country are solved or 1000 schools are built in the country.”…The Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order.
Targeting human rights organization to “promote human rights” is a cruel oxymoron. It is weaponizing human rights at its worst, and attacks the most vulnerable people in a society.
Liberals often consider economic sanctions an acceptable, even humane, alternative to force. Nothing could be further from the truth, and progressive people everywhere need to recognize it. Economic sanctions are violence. The Geneva Conventions recognize that siege warfare and collective punishment against civilians are war crimes. How could something that is illegal in wartime be legal in peacetime? The International Committee of the Red Cross has often raisedconcerns about economic sanctions, including UN authorized economic sanctions.
The United States of “Amnesia”
Gore Vidal was one of the great American intellectuals, writers, commentators and critics of US foreign policy, domestic politics and society. He coined aphrase to describe the US’s memory loss of inconvenient truths: “The United States of Amnesia”.Most Americans are illiterate about US history. They cannot even remember recent events that happened in theirlifetime. Today people barely remember what happened prior to the current 24 hour news cycle.
Now that the destruction of Iran is at the top of the to-do list, the people of the “United States of Amnesia”have forgotten all the countries that the US has destroyed in just the past quarter of a century. It has gone down the memory hole.Anything that happened in the 70’s, 80, and 90’s has been completely lost in the fog of amnesia.US victims are not so forgetful.
Afghanistan during the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan, before US intervention in the 1970’s. [Photo, WordPress]
The USis still deconstructingAfghanistan, after using it as a pawn in the Cold War. The evil masterminds of the invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970’s were Zbigniew Brzezinski and Jimmy “Mr. Human Rights” Carter. Together they snuffed out Afghanistan’s budding development and women’s emancipation, which was developing nicely under a communist government. Using Afghanistan’s development as a weapon, the US recruited the fanatical mujahideen to overthrow the communist government. Brzezinski and Carter where elated when the Soviets intervened to help their neighbor. It was Brzezinski’s plan, and the Afghan people, especially the women, paid the price.Millions of Afghans have died, and become widowed and orphaned, thanks to President Carter, and his successors.
In2001 Bush’sre-invasion of Afghanistan was planned by the neocons ofthe Project for a New American Century(PNAC) even before the attacks of September 11, 2001.The casus belli was oil and gas pipelines, and not terrorism. The Afghanistan Taliban government was told that they could either accept Union Oil of California’s proposed “peace” pipeline with a “carpet of gold”, or else the US would give them a “carpet of bombs”. Osama bin Laden was not a priority.
The Taliban had offered before and after 9/11 to present Osama bin Laden for trial, but the US rejected the offer. They had no evidence against him. Once the Taliban government was ousted, thenBush became bored with Afghanistan. According to Bush’s Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld “there aren’t any good targets in Afghanistan, and there are lots of good targets in Iraq”.
Bombing a country because it “has good targets” is an obvious war crime, and those responsible for doing it are insane war criminals. The Bush administration lied the US into the Iraq War with lies that Saddam Hussein had a nuclear bomb program. The mainstream propaganda media spread the lie, and cheered for war as it always does. It did not make any difference that the UN weapons inspectors could find no nuclear weapons. Of course it is impossible to prove a negative, that is, that one has no nuclear weapons, which should be a lesson for Iran and North Korea about trusting a deal with the US.
After the US invaded Iraq in 2003, 1625 weapons inspectors spent 2 years and $1 billion trying unsuccessfully to find weapons of mass destruction. Still up to half of the American people still believe that Saddam Hussein had WMD’s, which goes to show how indelibly propaganda once learned sticks to the brain.
According to the IAEA and the US intelligence agencies, Iran has not had a nuclear program to develop nuclear weapons since 2003, but try convincing the mainstream media and the American people of that. It is another lesson for Iran and North Korea to remember.
Libya’s people used to enjoy a high standard of living with food, shelter, education, employment and healthcare considered a human right. Now Libya is destroyed and in chaos and it will never return to its previous prosperity. It is all because Obama lied that Muammar Al Gaddafi was committing genocide against Libya’s “Arab Spring” in 2011. We now know that there was no genocide. Obama lied the US into another war of aggression. Here is what he said on March 28, 2011:
“Of course, there is no question that Libya -– and the world –- would be better off with Qaddafi out of power. I, along with many other world leaders, have embraced that goal, and will actively pursue it through non-military means. But broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake. The task that I assigned our forces –to protect the Libyan people from immediate danger and to establish a no-fly zone -– carries with it a U.N. mandate and international support.”
Of course it would be a “mistake” to broaden the military mission to a regime change, but that is what it was from the start. The alleged genocide was a lie being pushed by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice and former United Nations Ambassador Samantha “R2P” Power.
Instead of being a no-fly zone, the Libya mission carried out over 5,800 bombing sorties and 309 cruise missiles strikes. That is not a no-fly zone. The US and its coalition were the airforce for terrorists bent on destroying Libya’s secular government.
Just like what would later happen in Syria, the “Arab Spring” that the US said it was protecting wereterrorists that belonged toAnsar al-Shariah, Abu Obayda bin al-Jarah Brigade, Malik Brigade and The 17 February Brigade, which are all al Qaeda-type terrorist groups. They are the ones that later had a dispute with the CIA, and attacked their outpost in Benghazi, killing US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three CIA operatives, on September 11, 2012. What was the CIA doing in Benghazi, anyway?
Having turned the once prosperous Libya into a chaotic hell, the U.S. raided Qaddafi’s arsenal of weapons and sent them via a CIA rat line that went through Turkey, andon to the Syrian anti-Assad “rebels”.
Who are the so-called rebels in Syria? According to a Congressional Research report “Armed Conflict in Syria: Overview and U.S. Response” (July 15, 2015) there were an estimated 1,500 different rebel groups in Syria, with as estimated 115,000 members total. The report concedes that if the Assad regime should collapse it would likely lead to chaos with rebel forces fighting for control among themselves.
In other words, the Congressional Research Report is saying that Syria would become another Libya. The Bashar al-Assad government is one of the last secular governments in the Middle East. There are no democratic moderates waiting in the wings to govern Syria if Assad should fall.
As General Wesley Clark told us, the coming war with Iran is part of a single plot from the 1990’s by the Project for a New American Century (PNAC). In the 1990’s President Bill Clinton cautiously embraced the neocon vision. Bush was fully on board with the PNAC philosophy, and in 2001 he filled his administration with its members, such as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.
Regardless of the legality or not of economic sanctions, like those now being imposed by the US unilaterally on Iran, economic sanction are immoral weapons of mass destruction. The Clinton economic sanctions of the 1990’s killed over 500,000 Iraqi children. According to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the Clinton administration thought it was “worth it”.
The U.S. is now killing hundreds of thousands of Iranian children for the same nefarious reason that Iraqi children died. The U.S. has unilaterally reimposed sanctions of mass destruction against Iran, after the U.N. had lifted sanctions with Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015).
The resolution endorsed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) (i.e. the Iran Nuclear Deal) of July 14, 2015. It was agreed to by all the permanent members of the UN Security Council: China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States; as well as the High Representative of the European Union, and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The UN vote on the resolution was 15 to 0. Basically the Iran Deal was an agreement that Iran would restrict its nuclear enrichment program, allow the IAEA extensive inspections, and lift U.N. imposed economic sanctions.
While U.N. Security Council resolutions are binding on all member states, Resolution 2231 (2015) had enough loopholes that gave the U.S. technical grounds to virtually walk away from it. Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Russia, China and anyone else doing business with the U.S. should always remember that the UScan not be trusted to keep its word.
The US maintains that Iran has violated the spirit of the JCPOA on several grounds, although none of those issues were part of the JCPOA. According to the Trump administration the Iran Deal is “the worst deal ever” because it does not prevent Iran from testing ballistic missiles, supposedly Iran is the “number one” sponsor of state terrorism, and the UScomplains about Iran’salleged abuse of human rights. The real reason the US violated the Iran Nuclear Deal is that the US will be satisfied with nothing less than “taking out” Iran. That is what the US has wanted to do since 1979, even before PNAC came along.
Let’s review the US accusations against Iran
Firstly, it is not against international law for a country to have ballistic missiles, much to the contrary of all the chest pounding by the US. If ballistic missiles were against international law then there should be economic sanctions against dozens of countries, including the US and Israel. Every country has an inalienable right to self-defense, including having ballistic missiles.
Iran has a right to prepare to defend itself. It is surrounded by hostile countries and constantly being threatened by the US and Israel. For years the US has threatened Iran overtly and covertly. Repeatedly the US says that “all options are on the table”. It is against international law and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty for the US, a nuclear power, to threaten a non-nuclear power. It encourages proliferation.Iran has a legal basis for withdrawing from the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and acquiring nuclear weapons to protect itself from the threats of the US, if it so chose. That is what North Korea did, but Iran has not chosen to do so yet.
Secondly, as for Iran being the “number one” sponsor of state terrorism, the accusation is ridiculous. The US and its coconspirators such as Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States are by far the number one state sponsors of terrorism.
Since the end of the Second World War the US has used proxy armies to terrorize dozens of countries on all the corners of the planet, in Asia, Africa and South America. The US supported and encouraged radicalizing Islamic sects in order to combat ‘atheist’ communism during the Cold War, and now it arms and uses them to overthrow non-compliant resource rich countries.
It is the US that sponsored death squads throughout South America in the 1980’s to back right wing dictators. The US created the Contras in Nicaragua after the Nicaraguan people had overthrown the hated US backed right wing dictator Anastasio Somoza. In 1986 Nicaragua even won a court case in the UN’s International Court of Justice,Nicaragua vs. the United States. The US thumbed its nose at the ICJ.
In 2002 the US was openly exposed in its unsuccessfully coup against democratically elected President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. In 2009 the US supported the military coup in Honduras that overthrew a democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya. Afterward Honduras became the murder capital of the world for journalists. Indigenousnative people are still being terrorized, and driven off their traditional land in favor of large corporate landowners.
The history of US terrorism is too long to even summarize in this short essay. Afghanistan was already mentioned above. The CIA backed and Saudi financed mujahideen have become a plaguethat has spread throughout South and South-west Asia, as well as Russia and China. The Saudis have provided much of the financing for US sponsored terrorists.
The US is openly backing the terrorist groupMujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) to infiltrate and terrorize Iran.The MEK was on the US State Department’s list of designated terrorist organization until 2012, when Hillary Clinton had them removed. The MEK has killed Americans, “bombing the facilities of numerous U.S. companies and are killing innocent Iranians”, according to an article in Politico. The MEK has committed acts of terrorism in Europe too.
Trump has openly bragged that the US is sponsoring MEK terrorists in Albania to infiltrate Iran. John McCain, who has never seen a US regime change project he did not like, has praised the MEK. John Bolton, Newt Gingrich, and Mitch McConnell among manyothers regularly show up as highlypaid speakers at MEK events. The MEK is a weird and dangerous cult of personalities run by husband and wife Massoud and Maryam Rajavi. They are “responsible for bombings, attempted plane hijackings, political assassinations, and indiscriminate killings of men, women and children”, according to an article in Politico.
Thirdly, as for human rights in Iran, the US has no moral authority left to judge anyone else on human rights. The US backs Saudi Arabia which is the most repressive regime in the world. The US is fully supporting from the rear the Saudi bombing of Yemen and the blockading of food, medicine and even water, putting 22 million people at dire risk. It is the worst humanitarian crisis in history.
It was Saudi Arabia that financed 9/11 and most of the hijackers were Saudis. Retired Senator Bob Graham (D-FL) who was the Co-Chair of the Joint Congressional Committee investigating 9/11 has called Saudi Arabia a coconspirator of the attacks of 9/11.
Israel is the US’s “cat’s paw” in the Middle East. The US supports Israel 100%. Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank and the building of illegal settlements deprive millions of Palestinians their civil, legal and human rights. Israel has turned Gaza into an unlivableconcentration death camp for 2 million people. They have been deprived of basic services such as clean drinking water, electricity and medicine. When Gazans have peacefully protested,Israeli snippers have gunned them down by the hundreds during the “Great March of Return“.
Israel has now launched a massive attack on Gaza. Israeli Defense Minister Lieberman has said that Palestinian civilians will “pay the price”, and that the price will be “more painful than Operation Protective Edge”. The US taxpayers will be supplying the bombs, ammunitions, and money as they always do. The US is not hypocritical about human rights, it just doesn’t care and lies that it does when it serves US foreign policy purposes. US foreign policy serves US corporate interests, not the interests of people.
The US has killed millions of human beings, just in the 21st century, in its wars of aggression. Its drones vaporize wedding parties and funerals. The US abducts people arbitrarily and tortures them in black sites. The US backs 73% of the world’s fascistic dictators. With 5% of the world’s population the US holds 25% of the world’s prisoners in conditions that are for-profit and inhumane.The US is continuing its long history on the Southern border of locking non-white children in cages. The disgraceful Guantanamo Bay is still open despite Obama’s 2008 promise to close it.
In conclusion, when somebody on the inside of the establishment like General Wesley Clark says, as he did in 2007, that the US had planned in 2001 to take out 7 countries in 5 years, then we should take them seriously. The US has invaded and attempted to take out most of the 7 countries on Clark’s list. Stop believing the US lies every time the US decides to take out a regime based on nebulous humanitarian reasons, or because they are a so-calledaxis of evil.
The US is militarily the most powerful country the world has ever seen. It is ridiculous when the US claims that its national security and the safety of the American people are being threatened by tiny countries like Cuba, Venezuela, and North Korea. Iran poses no national security threat to the US or to its proxy Israel. Iran’s aging air force is not a challenge to the US or the region, which is the reason that Iran has an interest in developing missile defense. Missiles are a less costly alternative for defense than maintaining a modern air force. The US objects to Iran’s missiles, because it wants to keep Iran defenseless against US and Israeli aggression. Not because the US fears Iranian aggression.
The US military-industrial-banking-media monopolies want to keep the American people afraid. Iran has been made into a boogeyman, because it is an oil-rich nation that has closed its doors to neoliberal US corporate exploitation. The American people are being robbed of their economic security, universal healthcare, inexpensive higher education and badly needed infrastructure, because of constant warmongering.
[This article was first published by The Real News Network. It is the original work of David William Pear. There is no copyright, and it is available free to any publication in the world that wants to publish it in any language. Editing is permitted for spelling errors, grammatical errors, to fit the space of the publication or any other purpose except to change the intended meaning of the article. You may change the title. You may use the suggested graphics, your own or none. Please share and distribute widely. Thank you. My contact email is firstname.lastname@example.org].
David is a progressive columnist writing on economic, political and social issues. His articles have been published by OpEdNews, The Greanville Post, The Real News Network, Truth Out, Consortium News, Global Research, and many other publications. David is active in social issues relating to peace, race relations and religious freedom, homelessness and equal justice. David is a member of Veterans for Peace, Saint Pete for Peace, CodePink, and International Solidarity Movement.In 2017 David spent 3 weeks in South Korea researching the Korean War of 1950 to 1953. In 2016 David spent 10 weeks in Palestine with the Palestinian lead non-violent resistance group International Solidarity Movement. In February of 2015 he was part of a people-to-people delegation to Cuba with CodePink. In November of 2015 he was a delegate with CodePink to Palestine to show solidarity with Palestinians. David frequently makes people-to-people trips to Russia as a private citizen. David returned to Palestine for 10 days in March 2018. David has a Bachelor of Science degree in economics from the University of Maryland and attended classes at George Washington University for a degree as a Certified Financial Planner. He is a graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania program for a degree as a Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA).
David resides in Clearwater Beach, Florida. His hobbies include boating, fishing, RV’ing and motorcycle touring. He is also a licensed skydiver (USPA-inactive).
The article was first published at The Real News Network.
|July 25, 2018||
Strategy and Conscience: Subverting Elite Power So We End Human Violence.
by Robert J Burrowes, Environmental Protection, Countercurrents.org
Given the overwhelming evidence that activist efforts are failing to halt the accelerating rush to extinction precipitated and maintained by dysfunctional human behavior, it is worth reflecting on why this is happening.
Of course, you might say that the rush to extinction is being slowed. But is it? Even according to BP’s chief economist: ‘despite the extraordinary growth in renewables in recent years, and the huge policy efforts to encourage a shift away from coal into cleaner, lower carbon fuels, there has been almost no improvement in the power sector fuel mix over the past 20 years. The share of coal in the power sector in 1998 was 38% – exactly the same as in 2017…. this is one area where at the global level we haven’t even taken one step forward, we have stood still: perfectly still for the past 20 years.’ See ‘Analysis – Spencer Dale, group chief economist’.
And, to choose another measure that highlights our lack of ‘progress’: species extinctions proceed at a rate of 200 each day, which is vastly greater than the long-term background rate, with another 26,000 species already identified as ‘under threat’. See ‘Red list research finds 26,000 global species under extinction threat’.
But it wouldn’t matter what measure you analyzed – efforts to prevent cataclysmic nuclear war, to halt the many ongoing wars, to contain and reverse the prevalent and grotesque economic exploitation, to end slavery or the sex trafficking of women and children, to halt or even slow the rampant destruction of the biosphere, including the rainforests and oceans – we are rapidly losing ground(and often despite some apparent gains such as adoption of the ‘Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons’ by many non-nuclear states on 7 July 2017).
Not only are we destroying the rainforests – currently at the rate of 80,000 acres each day: see ‘Measuring the Daily Destruction of the World’s Rainforests’ – and oceans – see ‘The state of our oceans in 2018 (It’s not looking good!)’ – as a fellow long-standing nonviolent activist, Kelvin Davies, recently observed to me: the oceans and remaining rainforests are ‘being emptied of life’ as impoverished people, forced to the economic margin, hunt remaining wildlife, including tropical fish, for food and/or trafficking.
Before we blame impoverished people for their destruction however, it is the consumption by those of us in industrialized countries that is generating the adverse circumstances in which they are forced to survive. For one simple example of this, related to our diet alone, see ‘Emissions impossible: How big meat and dairy are heating up the planet’.
Of course, you might object that it is not activist efforts that are responsible for the failure to halt elite violence and our complicity in it. It is the failure of corporatized society to seriously consider and respond intelligently to the scientific and other evidence in relation to all of the violence in its many manifestations. However, any explanation of this nature fails to understand and appreciate why progressive change has always occurred in the past.
Social progress is the result of people of conscience strategically challenging elite power in such a way that new norms become so widely accepted that elites are compelled to work within them. This has always been essential for the simple reason that elites are insane and have never acted sensibly, whatever the issue. Elites have only ever orchestrated events to maximize their own power, profit and privilege whatever the cost to the rest of us and the Earth itself. Hence, violence, war, grotesque economic exploitation and ecological destruction are rampant across the planet; that is the way elites want it; that is what maximizes elite power, profit and privilege. See ‘The Global Elite is Insane Revisited’.
As an aside: if you aren’t convinced that the global elite is insane, then perhaps you might ponder the possible implications of the recent call by US President Donald Trump, for the creation of a new Space Force as a sixth branch of the U.S. military – ‘We must have American dominance in space’ – in violation of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. See ‘Trump Orders Establishment of Space Force as Sixth Military Branch’.
While this enterprise, if it gets Congressional approval, would be staggeringly profitable to the global elite while further gutting social and environmental programs to pay for it, the proposal also raises the possibility, as Professor Karl Grossman graphically expressed it (given that there is no way to have the envisaged weapons in space without nuclear power) that ‘the heavens are going to be littered with radioactive debris’ for millennia (but in substantially greater amounts than is already there). See ‘Trump’s Space Force: Military Profiteering’s Final Frontier’and ‘Star Wars Redux: Trump’s Space Force’.
Of course, if you want even more evidence of elite insanity, then look no further than the current hysteria generated by Donald Trump’s supposed ‘treason’ forhaving a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Helsinki with the intention of improving mutual understanding and the prospects of peace between the two countries. For a sample of the literature that discusses this summit intelligently, which you won’t find in the corporate media, see ‘US Media is Losing Its Mind Over Trump-Putin Press Conference’, ‘Is President Trump A Traitor Because He Wants Peace With Russia?’, ‘Helsinki Talks – How Trump Tries To Rebalance The Global Triangle’and ‘Trump, The Manchurian Candidate: “Conspiracy” to Destabilize the Trump Presidency’.
Some informed and thoughtful analysts believe this could lead to an elite coup to remove Trump from the US presidency. See ‘Coming Coup Against Trump’and ‘The Coming Coup to Overthrow President Trump: Sedition at the Highest Levels’.
So, to consolidate the information presented above, let me encapsulate the nature of geopolitics in one paragraph:
The military forces of the United States are not intended to defend the United States against military attack. The military forces of the countries in NATO are not intended to defend the respective member countries against military attack. The military forces of the United States and NATO are controlled by the global elite and used by the global elite to aggressively attack, in violation of all relevant national and international laws, any country that seeks independent control and development of its resources, particularly fossil fuels, strategic minerals and water. The global elite, which is in total control of the global economy and world affairs generally, does this in order to expand its own power, profit and privilege. It does this no matter what the cost to any individual (outside the elite), people, country and the biosphere. Why does the global elite do all of this? The global elite does this because it is completely insane.
Hence, to return to my point about the driver of social progress historically: Did the trans-Atlantic slave trade end because elites decided to halt the practice? Did gains for some women during the 21st century occur because elites committed themselves to ending patriarchal privilege? Did the British walk out of their colony in India because the British elite suddenly perceived the injustice of their violence and exploitation?
Despite the successes of activists of earlier generations, however, those of us who identify as activists of this generation are failing, quite comprehensively, to respond intelligently, powerfully and strategically to the vast challenges posed by an elite that has expanded its capacity to intimidate, outflank and overwhelm us(which is why, incidentally, slavery is now far more widespread than during any earlier period in human history, violence against women still manifests in a grotesque variety of forms all over the planet and even India has strayed monstrously from Gandhi’s vision).
In essence, strategic lessons learned by earlier generations of activists are forgotten or ignored as we stumble powerlessly to the extinction that is shortly to claim us all.
While I could write at some length about our shortcomings as activists in the era of perpetual violence and war, grotesque economic exploitation and pervasive climate and environmental destruction, I would like to focus on what I regard as the two key issues: strategy and conscience.
The global elite is deeply entrenched and manages world affairs, particularly through its capitalist economy. The global elite has developed over hundreds of years during which time it has fully and deeply penetrated all of the major power structures in world society, most of which it created (or moulded during their creation), so that the primary levers of power in the modern world – key financial institutions such as central banks, the major asset management corporations and the giant corporations in key industries (such as, but not limited to, the banking and weapons industries) – as well as the instruments through which its policies are implemented – including governments, military forces (both national and as ‘military contractors’ or mercenaries), key ‘intelligence’ agencies, legal systems and police forces, key nongovernment organizations such as the Vatican, and the academic, educational, media, medical, psychiatric and pharmaceutical industries – are all fully responsive to elite control.
More precisely than this, as explained in his forthcoming book‘Giants: The Global Power Elite’, Professor Peter Phillips identifies the world’s top seventeen asset management firms, each with more than one trillion dollars of investment capital under management, as the giants of world capitalism. The total capital under management on behalf of all seventeen corporations is in excess of $US41.1 trillion; it represents the wealth invested for profit by thousands of millionaires, billionaires and corporations. These seventeen giants operate in nearly every country in the world and are ‘the central institutions of the financial capital that powers the global economic system’. They invest in anything considered profitable, ranging from ‘agricultural lands on which indigenous farmers are replaced by power elite investors’ to public assets to war.
Phillips goes on to note that the global elite develops and coordinates its policies through a variety of private planning fora such as the Group of Thirty, the Trilateral Commission and the Atlantic Council which determine the policies and issue the instructions for their implementation by transnational governmental institutions like the G7, G20, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization and the World Bank. Elite policies are also implemented following instruction of the relevant agent, including governments, in the context. These agents then do as they are instructed.
Or, if they do not, they are overthrown. Just ask any independently-minded government over the past century. For a list of governments overthrown by the global elite using its military and ‘intelligence’ agencies since World War II, see William Blum’s book ‘Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II’ or, for just the list, see ‘Overthrowing other people’s governments: The Master List’.
As a result of coordination through the above elite fora, for example, gigantic media, public relations and entertainment corporations are used to reinforce elite dogma promulgated through national educational institutions so that most western humans become powerless consumers of elite product, informational and material, as the elite pursues ever-increasing profit, power and privilege. Oblivious to the way in which they are caught up in the elite drive to make us consume, even most western activists are major consumers, failing to limit their consumption in line with some appreciation of the per capita ecological carrying capacity of the Earth.
Hence, as should be obvious by now, with a deeply entrenched global elite in total control of major economic/financial, political, military, legal and social (including educational and media) power structures, only a comprehensive and sophisticated strategy has any prospect of succeeding, whatever the issue, and certainly the fundamental one: elite power.
In other words, if we want to end war (or even just one war), halt exacerbation of the climate catastrophe (in a region, country or the world), end environmental destruction on a vast range of fronts, terminate economic exploitation including (modern) slavery, end the sex trafficking of women and children, end the military occupation of Palestine, Tibet, West Papua… then we are going to have to think, plan and act strategically, which includes engaging and mobilizing, in a focused way, a significant proportion of the human population. Simply ‘campaigning’ on the basis of a few ideas and tactics that we think worked in the past, is not enough. Campaigning without strategy – and all that strategic thinking, including a penetrating analysis of the very nature of society and its power structure, entails – is a waste of time.
This is why most work of virtually all‘activist’ NGOs is useless. They work within the elite-designed and managed global power structure,fearfully self-limiting their actions in accordance with elite-approved processes, such as those ‘within the law’ and lobbying elite-controlled governments and institutions,as well as international organizations such as the UN. By participating in elite-controlled processes, our dissent is absorbed and dissipated, as the elite intend.
This is the great achievement, from an elite perspective, of ‘democracy’: to the extent that people can be persuaded to participate in the delusion that democracy exists (anywhere on Earth) and that voting and lobbying changes anything important, they are unwitting victims of elite-manipulated processes and propaganda.
This also explains whyvirtually all NGOs invariably end up promoting elite-sponsored delusions such as, for example,those in relation to the climate catastrophe which talk of an ‘end of century’ timeframe (about 70 years more than we actually have), staying within 2 (or 3 or 1.5) degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level (rather than the .5 degrees that is actually necessary) and, the most fundamental delusion of all, thatwe must substitute renewable energy for fossil fuels (which is certainly necessary), rather than (in addition) profoundly reduce – by at least 80% – consumption generally, involving both energy and resources of every kind – water, household energy, transport fuels, metals, meat, paper and plastic – while dramatically expanding our individual and community self-reliance if all environmental concerns are to be effectively addressed.
But elite-sponsored delusions are widely promulgated by its corporate media on a vast range of issues with only the rarest ‘activist’ NGO, concerned to focus on what it defines as its primary mission, taking a stand on these apparently ‘separate’ issues. So, for example, elite-sponsored delusions that are widely promulgated by its corporate media convince huge numbers of people that US-NATO wars against impoverished and militarily-primitive countries are in ‘self defense’ and that terrorists are a genuine threat to ‘national security’. At a more mundane level, elite-sponsored delusions propagated through its corporate media promote everything from genetically-mutilated, poisoned and junk food to psychiatric drugs. See ‘Defeating the Violence of Psychiatry’. These products are also highly profitable but because their insanity includes lacking any sense of morality, elites are unconcerned about the damage they inflict on us in these regards just as in all others.
Some grassroots activist groups are more politically savvy than NGOs but usually still lack comprehensive and sophisticated strategies. On rare occasions, it should be noted, one of these campaigns or national liberation struggles succeeds, because of such factors as the raw power of nonviolent action (even without strategy) or because they could rely on the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) effect to facilitate mobilization of significant numbers of people in a local area.
However, the global elite is unconcerned about the occasional local ‘setback’ which does not adversely impact its global agenda and where minor gains by grassroots activists can, if necessary, be subsequently reversed (including by simply violating the law, as the elite routinely does with impunity). Consider again, the above example of Trump’s call to violate the 1967 Outer Space Treaty or routine violation of legally-declared (and sometimes World Heritage-listed) national parks in Africa, Asia and Central/South America as major corporations seek to exploit oil and mineral wealth. The law is designed to intimidate and impede us; it is rarely used in an attempt to hold elites accountable and has little, if any, impact when it does: a corporation may, occasionally, be fined (an expense against generating monstrous profit). Fundamentally, elites are above the law: they draft it to defend their interests against the rest of us.
But to reiterate the main point: given the sheer number of (sometimes even large-scale) mobilizations on one issue after another around the world that achieve nothing of substance in relation to the issue itself (consider the demonstrations against the imminent war on Iraq, held in over 600 cities around the world and involving as many as 30 million people, on 15 February 2003), it is painfully clear that most grassroots activists have no conception of strategy either, including the appropriate strategic focus for their tactics.
And this applies equally to those national liberation activists in occupied countries such as Palestine, Tibet and West Papua, as well as those activists living in the many countries, such as Cambodia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo,run by dictatorships or where the elected government, such as that of Brazil, has been removed in a coup.
As touched on above, however, lack of sound strategy (including the structural analysis on which it must be based) is not the only shortcoming in our efforts to halt elite (or even our own) violence.
In the past, a primary motivator of activists, and particularly the great ones such as Mohandas K. Gandhi, was their conscience: The ‘inner voice’ that called them to action on both the personal and political levels.
But there is more to conscience than being called to action. So what is so important about conscience? Conscience is the mind function that asks the deeper questions such as ‘What is the right way to go about this?’, ‘How must I behave if I am to model what I ask of others?’ and ‘How will we design this campaign so that its conduct helps to create the world we envision?’ (rather than the simpler question ‘How will we win this campaign?’).
Moreover, living by one’s conscience requires courage: This includes making strategic choices to take significant or, occasionally, even great risks when elite violence threatens to intimidate a struggle into submission and silence.
It was his unyielding conscience, deeply guiding his personal and political behaviour (including his commitment to nonviolence and his extraordinarily austere lifestyle), and his superlative understanding of strategy that made Gandhi the great activist that he was. Why?
Because Gandhi’s nonviolence was based on certain premises derived from his conscience – including the importance of the truth, the sanctity and unity of all life, and the unity of means and end – his strategy was always conducted within the framework of his desired political, social, economic and ecological vision for society as a whole and not limited to the purpose of any immediate campaign.
It is for this reason that Gandhi’s approach to strategy is so important. He is always taking into account the ultimate end of all nonviolent struggle – a just, peaceful and ecologically sustainable society of self-realized human beings – not just the outcome of this campaign. He wants each campaign to contribute to the ultimate aim, not undermine vital elements of the long-term and overarching struggle to create a world without violence.
So what do we do?
If you would like to better understand why so many human beings, including those within the elite, are devoid of anything resembling a conscience, you can do so by reading what happened to them as a child in‘Why Violence?’and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’.
If you are interested in acting in ways that maximize the chance that elite opponents and their agents will reflect, deeply, on what they are doing, while fundamentally changing the power relationship between you and your opponents, then you are welcome to consider acting strategically in the way that Gandhi did. Whether you are engaged in a peace, climate, environment or social justice campaign or a national liberation struggle, the 12-point strategic framework and principles are the same. See Nonviolent Campaign Strategy and Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy.
The strategic aims and a core list of strategic goals to end war and to end the climate catastrophe, for example, are identified in ‘Campaign Strategic Aims’and the strategic aims and a core list of strategic goals to defeat a political or military coup, remove a military occupation, remove a dictatorship or defeat a genocidal assault are identified here: ‘Liberation Strategic Aims’.
If you would like a straightforward explanation of ‘Nonviolent Action: Why and How it Works’ and an introduction to what it means to think strategically, try reading about the difference between ‘The Political Objective and Strategic Goal of Nonviolent Actions’.
If you anticipate violent repression by a ruthless opponent, make sure that you plan and implement any nonviolent action as history has taught us: ‘Nonviolent Action: Minimizing the Risk of Violent Repression’.
If you are interested in nurturing children to live by their conscience and to gainthe courage necessary to resist elite violence fearlessly, while living sustainably despite the entreaties of capitalism to over-consume, then you are welcome to make‘My Promise to Children’. After all, capitalism and other dysfunctional political, economic and social structures only thrive because of our dysfunctional parenting which robs children of their conscience and courage, among many other qualities, while actively teaching them to over-consume as compensation for having vital emotional needs denied. See ‘Love Denied: The Psychology of Materialism, Violence and War’.
Why this emphasis on children you might ask? For good reason. It is dysfunctional human behavior that got us into this civilizational mess and allowed the emergence of exploitative social, political and economic structures. So if we do not emphasize the importance of profoundly changing the way in which we nurture children so that they behave functionally in context, everything else we do to preserve humanity and the biosphere must ultimately fail. The onslaught of our dysfunctional species will simply overwhelm the biosphere, sooner or later, whether it is this generation or the next.
But we don’t have to settle for improving our parenting. We can improve our own functionality and access our conscienceand courage too. How? See ‘Putting Feelings First’.
If you are already guided by your conscience to act powerfully in response to elite violence, you might also consider joining those participating in‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’,which outlines a simple plan for people to systematically reduce their consumption while progressively increasing their self-reliance,and consider signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’.
You may believe that you can halt elite violence without engaging your conscience (and the deep internal search that this requires) and without using Gandhian nonviolent strategy. Even if you are right, the key question is then this: Is the world you will get any better than this one?
And don’t forget the timeframe. Major historical struggles, including those noted above, took decades (whatever the merits and shortcomings of their strategies) or, as in most cases, are ongoing. How long do you want to wait before you invest time in learning how to think, plan and act strategically when the future of humanity and the biosphere is now at stake?
So, to conclude: The global elite controls all significant human affairs and even exercises almost total control over the individual lives of human beings. Because the global elite is insane and its psychological (and hence behavioral) dysfunctionality is of a particular kind, it cannot pull back from its existing regime of violence and exploitation, even in response to imperatives from the biosphere.
In this circumstance our choice is simple: near-term human extinction based on our unwitting complicity in elite violence or a conscientious, courageous and strategic response that fundamentally undermines elite power.
This will require a significant number of interrelated nonviolent strategies that each tackle elite violence in one context or another.
You are welcome to consider the options presented just above for your own involvement.
Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of ‘Why Violence?’http://tinyurl.com/whyviolence His email address is email@example.com and his website is here.http://robertjburrowes.wordpress.com