Si - Latest News :: Full Edition http://iran-si.com/ Thu, 22 Jun 2017 20:41:34 GMT News Studio(News Distribution System http://iran-si.com/skins/default/en/normal/ch01_newsfeed_logo.gif Produced By SI http://iran-si.com/ 100 70 en Produced By SI Thu, 22 Jun 2017 20:41:34 GMT 60 The Class Dynamics in the Rise of Donald Trump http://iran-si.com/vdcf.1d0iw6d017raw.html "The elites believe they are privileged because they are convinced they are the smartest, most creative, most talented and hardest working. They cap this grotesque narcissism with a facade of goodness and virtue. They turn their elitism into a morality play."— Thomas Frank (paraphrased by Chris Hedges)The powerful establishment interests vested in the continuation of the status quo and, therefore, the election of Hillary Clinton, have created a campaign narrative that tends to stereotype and stigmatize the white working class as racist, sexist and xenophobic. This was most colorfully expressed recently by Clinton herself when in an unguarded moment before her wealthy donors in Manhattan she stated that half of all Trump supporters consisted of a “basket of deplorables.” Those backing Trump, she continued, were “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic—you name it.”Implicit in this narrative is that support for Donald Trump is driven largely by innate, primordial prejudices and personal characters; and that economics or class issues have nothing or very little to do with his ascendance. Accordingly, the narrative maintains that to the extent that economic conditions of the white working Americans have steadily deteriorated in recent years they have no one to blame but themselves: their laziness, their lack of drive, their moral failures, their sense of entitlement, and the like.Commenting on this narrative, Conner Kilpatrick of the Jacobin magazine writes, “Somehow liberal pundits have gotten it into their heads that white workers . . . are just an aggrieved, pissed off, outnumbered minority” [1].The narrative is propagated by both Republican and Democratic elites and operatives. For example, Anthony DiMaggio, a purported liberal political scientist supporter of Hillary Clinton at Lehigh University writes, “Hillary Clinton caught a lot of flak for referring to half of Trump Supporters as ‘the deplorables.’ She was being far too generous. Public opinion surveys over the last year or so suggest that the white supremacist contingent of Trump voters is even larger.” DiMaggio further writes, “The ascendance of Donald Trump tells us much about the quality of American character – particularly about our enduring and toxic legacy of hate, ignorance, bigotry, and white-supremacy” [2].Likewise, Jonathan Chait, another liberal intellectual, writes:“Then there are the voters, whose behavior provided the largest surprise. . . . As low as my estimation of the intelligence of the Republican electorate may be, I did not think enough of them would be dumb enough to buy his [Trump’s] act. And, yes, I do believe that to watch Donald Trump and see a qualified and plausible president, you probably have some kind of mental shortcoming. . . . His appeal operates not at a low intellectual level but at a sub-intellectual level” [3].Conservative elitists are even more indignant of Trump supporters. Writing in the avowedly conservative National Review magazine, Kevin Williamson writes:“It is immoral because it perpetuates a lie: that the white working class that finds itself attracted to Trump has been victimized by outside forces. It hasn’t. . . . Nothing happened to them. There wasn’t some awful disaster. There wasn’t a war or a famine or a plague or a foreign occupation. Even the economic changes of the past few decades do very little to explain the dysfunction and negligence — and the incomprehensible malice — of poor white America. . . . The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible. Forget all your cheap theatrical Bruce Springsteen crap. Forget your sanctimony about struggling Rust Belt factory towns and your conspiracy theories about the wily Orientals stealing our jobs. . . . The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles. Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin. What they need isn’t analgesics, literal or political. They need real opportunity, which means that they need real change, which means that they need U-Haul” [4].Williamson’s colleague and conservative co-thinker David French (also writing in the National Review) similarly explains how some poor white people he had known were utterly lazy, irresponsible and obnoxious:“If they couldn’t find a job in a few days—or perhaps even as little as a few hours—they’d stop looking. If they got angry at teachers or coaches, they’d drop out of school. If they fought with their wife, they had sex with a neighbor. And always — always — there was a sense of entitlement” [5].These kinds of statements, disparaging and dismissing the white working class, are the name of the game for the establishment elites and courtiers. The problem with this line of argument is that it is not just vulgar and elitist, it is also untrue. The considerable support that the white wage-earning voters in States such as West Virginia and Indiana gave the self-described socialist Bernie Sanders showed that they do, indeed, vote for a progressive populist agenda (more on this later). Their substantial support for Sanders revealed that many Trump voters do not necessaritly subscribe to his bigoted and demagogic agenda, but that they are so disgusted with the status quo that they nonetheless vote for him, largely as an act of revenge or protest. They seem to be instinctively cognizant of the fact that “Trump is the Symptom, Clinton is the Disease,” as Roger Harris put it.Are Trump’s Supporters Driven by Racism and Xenophobia? In a real sense, the juxtaposition between economic and non-economic factors in the rise of Trump is a false dichotomy: both evidence and logic point to the fact that high levels of unemployment and economic hardship are breeding grounds for the escalation of racism and xenophobia.It was no accident that the classic European fascism rose in conjunction with the harrowing economic conditions of the Great Depression. Nor is it altogether fortuitous that fascistic manifestations have become rampant in many core capitalist countries that are grappling with the ongoing financial turbulence that was set off by the 2008 financial implosion in the U.S., and has since spread to many other countries.This is not to say that racist or xenophobic sentiments are always or altogether precipitated by economic factors. It is rather to point out that to the extent that there exist such prejudices they tend to remain largely latent during periods of high employment and economic prosperity. Many Trump supporters have economic difficulties that they misguidedly view through the prism of racism and xenophobia. Certainly, xenophobic rhetoric has played an important role in the rise of Donald Trump but, as Daniel Denvir of the Salon magazine put it, “it is the admixture of economic populism, however phony, that makes him so potent” [6].The claim that Trump owes his electoral victory mainly to non-economic factors such as racism xenophobia lust much of its credibility when Bernie Sanders won handily against Hillary Clinton in States such as Indiana and West Virginia. According to this claim, as a self-described socialist who advocated a multiracial, multicultural, inclusive and relatively equitable society, Sanders was not supposed to win in places like West Virginia, the whitest (93.7 percent) of all states. But there he was, winning big against Clinton among men, women, young, and old.The outcome of such primaries, indicating that large numbers of white working Americans voted for Sanders was quite discomforting to the powerful interests vested in the status quo. Not surprisingly, the Clinton campaign (and the elitist courtiers of the establishment in general) became childishly creative: claiming that somehow West Virginia’s vote for a Jewish socialist Brooklyn native was prompted by racism!“Instead of acknowledging the size and importance of this part of the electorate, Democratic Party elites have simply constructed a new narrative to suit their interests—a narrative that was on display after West Virginia. Following Sanders’s win, a significant chunk of the punditocracy came to the conclusion, mostly by abusing the hell out of exit polls, that a vote for the Jewish socialist was actually a vote for white supremacy. . . . After decades of being told white workers would never support socialism because they’re racist, we’re now told that they support the socialist candidate because they are racist. Yes, this is where liberals are in the year 2016” [7].To downplay the role of the white working voters in Trump’s campaign, some proponents of the status quo have gone as far as arguing that Trump supporters are not actually working class because the median household income of his supporters is above the national median household income [8].This is a highly misleading argument. Since black, Latino and other non-white workers/households are more marginalized economically, and still make significantly less than white people, the median income of Trump voters would, accordingly, show a higher figure than the median national income. Furthermore, better-off-than average does not necessarily translate into economic security. A snapshot or static picture of median income does not tell us much; more importantly, it is the trend or change in people’s economic conditions over time that matters most.Median household income and wealth have drastically fallen in recent years. Wages have been stagnant, and in many cases fallen in real terms. At the same time, healthcare, childcare, higher education, housing, and retirement costs have escalated. A recent Pew Research Center survey shows that in 1971 about 61 percent of American households were categorized as middle class. Today, that number is barely 50% [9]. As a number of observers have pointed out, Trump support is highly correlated to areas where the death rates of middle-aged white people, fueled by opioid overdoses, are spiking [10].Why Are the Establishment Elites so Eager to Reject Economic/Class Explanations? The establishment elites and corporate media pundits tend to stigmatize the white working Americans in order to sanitize the brutal neoliberal policies of austerity economics of the past four decades. The plan and the hope is that in so doing they can exonerate the policy-makers of the establishment—both Republican and Democratic—of the responsibility for the unsavory state of affairs that has given rise to Donald Trump. When racism and bigotry can be blamed capitalism is exonerated.U.S. economic policy of the past 40 years or so has consisted of a steady escalation of neoliberal austerity economics while its foreign policy has consisted of a steady escalation of war and militarism. Neither Bill Clinton deviated from Ronald Reagan’s policies of supply-side economics at home and military aggressions abroad, nor has Barak Obama deviated from those of George W. Bush.Indeed, masterfully masquerading as liberals, Bill Clinton and Barak Obama have proven to be much more effective engineers of demolishing the New Deal Economics, of substituting corporate welfare for public welfare, and of deregulating and strengthening the parasitic financial sector than their Republican counterparts. Likewise, using harebrained pretexts such as“humanitarian intervention” and/or “responsibility to protect,” Clinton and Obama have proven to be more successful architects of “regime change” in more countries than Reagan and Bush ever were.This explains why the liberal elites of the Democratic Party (like their conservative counterparts in the Republican Party) are promoting the obfuscationist narrative that sidesteps the decades-long policies of neoliberalism and militarism, or the fundamental injustices of capitalism, and instead blame the rise of Donald Trump on “moral failures” or “personal characters” of the white working Americans. As Daniel Denvir points out, “If there is no economic context, and Trump’s supporters are just mired in primordial racism, then they are forever lost in the morass of right-wing politics . . . [and] progressives can forget about the angry white guys” [11].Concluding Remarks Capitalism has always employed the age-old tactic of divide-and-rule to pit various strata of the working class against each other in order to keep them docile. This tactic has especially been used more effectively in the United States because as a country of immigrants it has always benefitted from the flow of successive waves of migrant workers who, due to the vulnerability of their circumstances, could easily be exploited more compared to the workers who had arrived before them.Not only has U.S. capitalism handsomely benefitted from this perennial competition between successive generations of migrant workers, between the old and new migrants, but also elite politicians have often taken advantage of this competition for their own nefarious political and economic purposes. “Slave owners did this by getting laws passed that required white indentured servants and black slaves to be treated differently. Richard Nixon did it by employing the cynical ‘Southern strategy.’ Now Trump is following in this long tradition by pitting struggling white people against immigrants and Muslims” [12].Hillary Clinton has employed a different tack in pitting the working people against each other: while Trump is guilty of peddling racism and xenophobia, she is guilty of touting moralities, identity politics and wedge issues. Feigning an artificial moral high ground, she (and other elites of the establishment) argues that the worsening of the economic conditions of the white working Americans is mainly the result of their own personal and/or moral failures: laziness, racism, sexism and xenophobia.While often misplaced or misdirected, the white working Americans’ economic grievances are real. Hillary Clinton and the powerful by-partisan supporters of her campaign tend to dismiss this reality because acknowledging it would be tantamount to acknowledging their own guilt: the fact that their economic policies of the past four decades have been disastrous for working Americans.Blaming white American workers (as Clinton does) or migrant workers (as Trump does) for the sins of neoliberal austerity economic policies of the past forty years or so represent a blatant effort on the part of the two presidential candidates to scapegoat the working class in order to sanitize the capitalist class. Despicable as these attempts at deflection and deception are, however, one cannot really blame Clinton or Trump for pursuing such self-serving policies of diversion and obfuscation in the service of their class, the reach and powerful.The real blame goes, instead, to the bureaucratic labor/union leaders who have betrayed the working class by supporting the capitalist class, largely through their support for Hillary Clinton and, more generally, the Democratic Party. The combined number of voters for Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump is much higher the number of voters for Hillary Clinton—perhaps 50% higher. This is an obvious indication that a clear majority of the American electorate are ready for radical changes; they prefer anti-establishmentarian candidates to the establishment candidate, even when one of the alternative candidates is a self-described socialist and the other is an avowed bigot.This is also an indication that were the bureaucratic labor leaders really committed to the interests of the working class, and entered the election contests with their own candidates at both local and Federal levels, independent of the two corporate parties, such independent labor/grassroots candidates could win unimaginable victories in the interest of the overwhelming majority of the people, the so-called 99%.Political lessons for the working class and other dispossessed masses are unmistakable: To challenge and (ultimately) change the status quo, the labor and other grassroots need to decisively break with the two-party system and the bureaucratic labor leaders. What is needed to reverse the weakening of labor and the declining living standards of the overwhelming majority of the people is a new type of labor organization, a new labor movement and new labor politics.The new labor/grassroots politics would aim at exposing the lies and deceptions of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Champions of the new politics would explain that both migrant workers and white workers, which essentially means migrant workers of today and yesterday, are victims, first and foremost, of the woes and vagaries of the capitalist system—of neoliberalism and militarism. They would further explain that the workers and other grassroots need to extricate themselves from the divisive setups of the fraudulent two-part system and, instead, forge an alliance that would safeguard their interests against the ills and injustices of neoliberal economics, and chart a political course that would, ultimately, supplant the crisis-prone and unjust capitalist system with a more humane civilization. Fighting against the ills of capitalism is crucial to labor and other social layers suffering from them. But it makes little sense to fight symptoms without challenging the system that produces them.References [1] Burying the White Working Class.[2] White Supremacist America: Trump and the “Return” of Right-Wing Hate Culture.[3] Here’s the Real Reason Everybody Thought Trump Would Lose.[4] Chaos in the Family, Chaos in the State: The White Working Class’s Dysfunction.[5] Working-Class Whites Have Moral Responsibilities.[6] An entire class of Americans misunderstood and rejected: Dismissing white workers is profoundly reactionary.[7] Conner Kilpatrick, Burying the White Working Class.[8] Nate Silver, The Mythology Of Trump’s ‘Working Class’ Support.[9] America’s Shrinking Middle Class.[10] Daniel Denvir, An entire class of Americans misunderstood and rejected: Dismissing white workers is profoundly reactionary.[11] Class dismissed: Is the Trump campaign driven by racism or economics? The only possible answer is both.[12] Holly Otterbein, A Visit to Trump Country. Join the debate on Facebook Ismael Hossein-zadeh is Professor Emeritus of Economics (Drake University). He is the author of Beyond Mainstream Explanations of the Financial Crisis (Routledge 2014), The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism (Palgrave–Macmillan 2007), and the Soviet Non-capitalist Development: The Case of Nasser’s Egypt (Praeger Publishers 1989). He is also a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion. ]]> News Thu, 20 Oct 2016 19:52:54 GMT http://iran-si.com/vdcf.1d0iw6d017raw.html Washington’s Global Economic Wars http://iran-si.com/vdce.o8wbjh8wvk1ij.html During most of the past two decades Washington has aggressively launched military and economic wars against at least nine countries, either directly or through its military aid to regional allies and proxies. US air and ground troops have bombed or invaded Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon.More recently Washington has escalated its global economic war against major economic rivals as well as against weaker countries. The US no longer confines its aggressive impulses to peripheral economic countries in the Middle East, Latin America and Southern Asia: It has declared trade wars against world powers in Asia, Eastern and Central Europe and the Gulf states.The targets of the US economic aggression include economic powerhouses like Russia, China, Germany, Iran and Saudi Arabia, as well as Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, Cuba and the Donbas region of Ukraine.There is an increasingly thinner distinction between military and economic warfare, as the US has frequently moved from one to the other, particularly when economic aggression has not resulted in ‘regime change’ – as in the case of the sanctions campaign against Iraq leading up to the devastating invasion and destruction.In this essay, we propose to examine the strategies and tactics underlying Washington’s economic warfare, their successes and failures, and the political and economic consequences to target nations and to world stability.Washington’s Economic Warfare and Global PowerThe US has used different tactical weapons as it pursues its economic campaigns against targeted adversaries and even against its long-time allies.Two supposed allies, Germany and Saudi Arabia, have been attacked by the Obama Administration and US Congress via ‘legal’ manipulations aimed at their financial systems and overseas holdings. This level of aggression against sovereign powers is remarkable and reckless. In 2016 the US Justice Department slapped a $14 billion dollar penalty on Germany’s leading international bank, Deutsche Bank, throwing the German stock market into chaos, driving the bank’s shares down 40% and destabilizing Germany’s financial system. This unprecedented attack on an ally’s major bank was in direct retaliation for Germany’s support of the European Commission’s $13 billion tax levy against the US-tax evading Apple Corporation for its notorious financial shenanigans in Ireland. German political and business leaders immediately dismissed Washington’s legalistic rhetoric for what it was: the Obama Administration’s retaliation in order to protect America’s tax evading and money laundering multinationals.The chairman of the German parliament’s economic committee stated that the gross US attempt to extort Deutsche Bank had all the elements of an economic war. He noted that Washington had a “long tradition of using every available opportunity to wage what amounted to a trade war if it benefits their own economy” and the “extortionate damages claim” against Deutsche Bank were a punitive example. US economic sanctions against some of Germany’s major trade partners, like Russia, China and Iran, constitute another tactic to undermine Germany’s huge export economy. Ironically, Germany is still considered “a valued ally” when it comes to the US wars against Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, which have driven millions of refugees to Europe creating havoc with Germany’s political, economic and social system and threatening to overthrow the government of ‘ally’ Angela Merkel.The US Congress launched an economic-judicial war against its closest ally in the Gulf region when it approved legislation granting US victims of Islamist terrorism, especially related to the attacks on September 11, 2001,the right to sue the government of Saudi Arabia and seize its overseas assets. This included the Kingdom’s immense ‘sovereign funds’ and constitutes an arbitrary and blatant violation of Saudi sovereignty. This opens the Pandora’s Box of economic warfare by allowing victims to sue any government for sponsoring terrorism, including the United States! Saudi leaders immediately reacted by threatening to withdraw billions of dollars of assets in US Treasuries and investments.The US economic sanctions against Russia are designed to strengthen its stranglehold on the economies of Europe which rely on trade with Russia. These have especially weakened German and Polish trade relations with Russia, a major market for German industrial exports and Polish agriculture products. Originally, the US-imposed economic sanctions against Moscow were supposed to harm Russian consumers, provoke political unrest and lead to ‘regime change’. In reality, the unrest it provoked has been mainly among European exporters, whose contracts with Russia were shredded and billions of Euros were lost. Furthermore, the political and diplomatic climate between Europe and Russia has deteriorated while Washington has ‘pivoted’ toward a more militaristic approach.Results in Asia have been even more questionable: Washington’s economic campaign against China has moved awkwardly in two directions: Prejudicial trade deals with Asian-Pacific countries and a growing US military encirclement of China’s maritime trade routes.The Obama regime dispatched Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to promote the Trans- Pacific Partnership (TPP) among a dozen regional governments, which would blatantly exclude China, Asia’s largest economic power. In a slap to the outgoing Obama Administration, the US Congress rejected his showpiece economic weapon against China, the TPP.Meanwhile, Obama ‘encouraged’ his erstwhile ‘allies’ in the Philippines and Vietnam to sue China for maritime violations over the disputed ‘Spratly Islands’ before the Permanent Court of Arbitration. Japan and Australia signed military pacts and base agreements with the Pentagon aimed at disrupting China’s trade routes. Obama’s so-called ‘Pivot to Asia’ is a transparent campaign to block China from its markets and trading partners in Southeast Asia and Pacific countries of Latin American. Washington’s flagrant economic warfare resulted in slapping harsh import tariffs on Chinese industrial exports, especially steel and tires. The US also sent a ‘beefed up’ air and sea armada for ‘joint exercises’ along China’s regional trade routes and its access to critical Persian Gulf oil, setting off a ‘war of tension’.In response to Washington’s ham-fisted aggression, the Chinese government deftly rolled out the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) with over fifty countries eagerly signing on for lucrative trade and investment deals with Beijing. The AIIB’s startling success does not bode well for Obama’s ‘Pivot to Pacific Hegemony’.The so-called US-EU-Iran accord did not end Washington’s trade war against Teheran. Despite Iran’s agreement to dismantle its peaceful uranium enrichment and nuclear research programs, Washington has blocked investors and tried to undermine trade relations, while still holding billions of dollars of Iranian state assets, frozen since the overthrow of the Shah in 1979. Nevertheless, a German trade mission signed on a three billion trade agreement with Iran in early October 2016 and called on the US to fulfill its side of the agreement with Teheran – so far to no avail.The US stands alone in sending its nuclear naval armada to the Persian Gulf and threatens commercial relations. Even the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the longstanding enemy of the Iranian Islamic Republic, has agreed to a cooperative oil production arrangement at a recent OPEC meeting.Washington’s declaration of economic warfare against two of its most strategic powerful allies, Germany and Saudi Arabia and three rising competitor world powers, has eroded US economic competitiveness, undermined its access to lucrative markets and increased its reliance on aggressive military strategies over diplomacy.What is striking and perplexing about Washington’s style of economic warfare is how costly this has been for the US economy and for US allies, with so little concrete benefit.US oil companies have lost billions in joint exploitation deals with Russia because of Obama’s sanctions. US bankers, agro-exporters, high-tech companies are missing out on lucrative sales just to ‘punish’ Russia over the incredibly corrupt and bankrupt US coup regime in Ukraine.US multi-national corporations, especially those involved in Pacific Coast transport and shipyards, Silicon Valley high tech industry and Washington State’s agro-export producers are threatened by the US trade agreements that exclude China.Iran’s billion dollar market is looking for everything from commercial airplanes to mining machinery. Huge trade deals have has been lost to US companies because Obama continues to impose de facto sanctions. Meanwhile, European and Asian competitors are signing contracts.Despite Washington’s dependence on German technical knowhow and Saudi petro-dollar investments as key to its global ambitions, Obama’s irrational policies continue to undermine US trade.Washington has engaged in economic warfare against ‘lesser economic powers’ that nevertheless play significant political roles in their regions. The US retains the economic boycott of Cuba; it wages economic aggression against Venezuela and imposes economic sanctions against Syria, Yemen and the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. While these countries are not costly in terms of economic loss to US business interests, they exercise significant political and ideological influence in their regions, which undermine US ambitions.ConclusionWashington’s resort to economic warfare complements its military fueled empire building.But economic and military warfare are losing propositions. While the US may extract a few billion dollars from Deutsch Bank, it will have lost much more in long-term, large-scale relations with German industrialists, politicians and financiers. This is critical because Germany plays the key role in shaping economic policy in the European Union. The practice of US multi-national corporations seeking off-shore tax havens in the EU may come to a grinding halt when the European Commission finishes its current investigations. The Germans may not be too sympathetic to their American competitors.Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has not only collapse, it has compelled China to open new avenues for trade and cooperation with Asian-Pacific nations – exactly the opposite of its original goal of isolating Beijing. China’s Asia Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) has attracted 4 time more participants than Washington’s TPP and massive infrastructure projects are being financed to further bind ASEAN countries to China. China’s economic growth at 6.7% more than three times that of the US at 2%. Worse, for the Obama Administration, Washington has alienated its historically most reliable allies, as China, deepens economic ties and cooperation agreements with Thailand, Philippines, Pakistan, Cambodia and Laos.Iran, despite US sanctions, is gaining markets and trade with Germany, Russia, China and the EU.The Saudi-US conflict has yet to play-out but any escalation of law suits against the kingdom will result in the flight of hundreds of billions of investment dollars from the US.In effect, Obama’s campaign of economic warfare may lead to the infinitely more costly military warfare and the massive loss of jobs and profits for the US economy. Washington is increasingly isolated. The only allies supporting its campaign of economic sanctions are second and third rate powers, like Poland and current corrupt parasites in Ukraine. As long as the Poles and Ukrainians can ‘mooch’ off of the IMF and grab EU and US ‘loans’, they will cheerlead Obama’s charge against Russia. Israel, as long as it can gobble up an additional $38 billion dollars in ‘aid’ from Washington, remains the biggest advocate for war against Iran.Washington spends billions of US tax-payer dollars on its military bases in Japan, Philippines and Australia to maintain its hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region. Its allies, though, are salivating at the prospect for greater trade and infrastructure investment deals with China.Economic warfare doesn’t work for the Washington because the US economy cannot compete, especially when it attacks its own allies and traditional partners. Its regional allies are keen to join the ‘forbidden’ markets and share in major investment projects funded by China. Asian leaders increasingly view Washington, with its ‘pivot to militarism’ as politically unreliable, unstable and dangerous. After the Philippine government economic mission to China, expect more to ‘jump ship’.Economic warfare against declared adversaries can only succeed if the US is committed to free trade with its allies, ends punitive sanctions and stops pushing for exclusive trade treaties that undermine its allies’ economies. Furthermore, Washington should stop catering to the whims of special domestic interests. Absent these changes, its losing campaign of economic warfare can only turn into military warfare – a prospect devastating to the US economy and to world peace. ]]> News Thu, 20 Oct 2016 19:23:42 GMT http://iran-si.com/vdce.o8wbjh8wvk1ij.html Trump Unchained, “Distorted Media Pushing Crooked Hillary” http://iran-si.com/vdcd.n0x2yt0x5me6y.html “For any minimally conscious American citizen, it is absolutely evident that Donald Trump is not only facing the mammoth Clinton political machine, but, also the combined forces of the viciously dishonest Mainstream Media.” -Boyd D. Cathey, “The Tape, the Conspiracy, and the Death of the Old Politics”, Unz Review“The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary.” -Donald Trump, TwitterWhen was the last time the media threw 100% of its support behind one party’s presidential candidate? What does that say about the media?Do you feel comfortable with the idea that a handful of TV and print-news executives are inserting themselves into the process and choosing our leaders for us? Is that the way democracy is supposed to work?Check out this blurb from The Hill: “The broadcast evening news programs ABC, NBC and CBS covered allegations against Trump by several women who claim he sexually assaulted them for more than 23 minutes on Thursday night. But revelations in the WikiLeaks dump of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta which included…sympathy for Wall Street, advocation for open borders and blatant examples of media collusion ….got a whole 1 minute and 7 seconds combined.” Ratio of negative coverage of Trump to Clinton: 23:1 In print on Thursday, it was no better. The New York Times had 11 negative stories on Trump…But zero on Clinton/WikiLeaks. Ratio: 11:0.” (Media and Trump bias; Not even trying to hide it anymore, The Hill)The article in The Hill also refers to a survey by the Washington Post and ABC News that asks participants six questions about allegations of sexual misconduct by Trump, but zero questions about Podesta’s incriminating emails.Is that what you call “balance”?I should state out-front, that I don’t plan to vote for either candidate, Trump or Clinton, so my claims of “bias” are not grounded in support for one candidate or the other. I am simply ticked-off by the fact that the media honchos have pulled out all the stops and are inserting themselves in the process to produce the outcome they want.That’s what you call “rigging” an election. When you turn on Washington Week (Gwen Ifil) on public TV and see an assembled panel of six pundits–three conservatives and three liberals–and all six turn out to love Hillary and hate Trump; you can be reasonably certain that the election is rigged, because that’s what rigging is. Rather than providing background information about the candidate’s position on the issues so voters can make an informed decision, the media uses opinionmakers to heap praise on one candidate while savagely denigrating the other. The obvious goal is to shape public opinion in the way that best suits the interests of the people who own the media and who belong to the establishment of rich and powerful elites who run the country, the 1 percent. In this case, the ruling class unanimously backs Hillary Clinton, that much is obvious.Fortunately, the tide is turning on the mainstream media as people look to other, more reliable sources for their information. It should come as no surprise that people are more distrustful of media than ever before and that that a great many feel that the media is conducting a brutal class war against ordinary working people. Surely, anyone who has followed economic developments at all in the last seven years, knows that the policies of the Fed have created a yawning chasm between rich and poor that is only getting worse as long as the levers of power stay in the hands of establishment politicians. Hillary Clinton is certainly the worst of these establishment politicos. Aside from being the most widely-reviled candidate the Democrats have ever nominated, she is the embodiment of political corruption and cronyism. How is it, you may ask, that someone like Clinton was able to nab “upwards of $225,000 per speech” from Goldman Sachs if she wasn’t influence peddling?Does it really matter what she said in these speeches?Not to me. The huge sums of money prove beyond any reasonable doubt that Clinton is selling access, tacitly agreeing to “go easy” on the big Wall Street investment banks provided they keep her foundation’s coffers overflowing. What other possible explanation could there be?Do as many Americans know about Hillary’s sordid dealings with Wall Street as know about Trump’s “alleged” sexual dalliances?Of course not. It’s not even close.Do they know that Clinton was the driving force behind the intervention in Libya and Syria, where hundreds of thousands of civilians have died and seven million have been internally displaced? Do they know she was involved in the toppling of a democratically-elected government in Honduras or that a number of prominent neocons, who dragged the US into war in Iraq based on WMD lies, now support her?Nope.Do people know that Hillary had proof that ISIS –America’s arch enemy– was being funded and supported by our allies, Saudi Arabia and Qatar and, yet, she never reported the news to the American people??Here’s a damning clip from one of the Podesta emails: “We need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to Isis and other radical groups in the region.”Remember when George W. Bush said that ‘We will treat the terrorists and the people who support the terrorists the same”?Hillary must not have gotten that memo or we would have bombed Riyadh by now.Do people know that there has never been a war that Hillary didn’t support, a job-killing “free trade” bill she didn’t back, or a civil liberties-eviscerating piece of legislation (Clinton voted for the original USA PATRIOT Act in 2001, as well as the revised version in 2006.) she wasn’t eager to sign?Oh, but she does support “women’s reproductive rights” which makes her a big champion of personal freedom among her narrow demographic of successful, educated, white women. Excuse me, for not doing handstands.Here’s another short clip from the WSWS: “Hillary and Bill Clinton have accumulated a total of $153 million in speaking fees since Bill Clinton left the White House. Only the very naïve could believe that these vast sums were paid for the speeches themselves. They were payment for services rendered to the American financial aristocracy over a protracted period.” (In secret Goldman Sachs speeches, Clinton explains why the rich should rule, World socialist Web Site)Get the picture? Hillary Clinton isn’t a candidate, she’s a franchise, a walking ATM machine. And her shady Foundation is nothing more than a vast recycling bin for illicit funds that pour into the political sausage-making machine in the form of contributions and magically transform themselves into special favors for the billionaire class.Is the system rigged?You’re damn right it is! Check this out from Zero Hedge under the heading of “73% Of Republicans Say Election Could Be “Stolen” As Trump Slams “Rigged Elections”: “A Politico/Morning Consult Poll found that 41% of registered voters say that the election cold be stolen from Trump while 73% of Republicans fear the same. The American electorate has turned deeply skeptical about the integrity of the nation’s election apparatus, with 41 percent of voters saying November’s election could be “stolen” from Donald Trump due to widespread voter fraud. The new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll — conducted among 1,999 registered voters Oct. 13 through Oct. 15 — shows that Trump’s repeated warnings about a “rigged” election are having effect: 73 percent of Republicans think the election could be swiped from him. Just 17 percent of Democrats agree with the prospect of massive fraud at the ballot box.” (Zero Hedge)Should we be worried about the election being rigged? Should we be concerned that a significant number of Americans no longer trust the “integrity of the electoral process”?And how are these allegations (that the election was stolen) going to impact Hillary’s ability to govern?It’s going to impact it dramatically, in fact, it could stop her dead in her tracks. It could even precipitate a Constitutional crisis. And that’s where all this is headed, isn’t it?Consider this: Maybe Trump isn’t really trying to win any more. Maybe he knows he can’t overcome a 12 point deficit this late in the game, so he’s going to pull a Samson. He’s going to shake the pillars and bring the whole rotten temple crashing down around him. He’s going use all his influence to discredit this fake democratic system the elites have painstakingly put together to control the public, he’s going to grow his throng of angry supporters into a small army, and he’s going to spearhead a (mainly) right wing populist movement that is going impose gridlock on Washington, deepen the political divisions, acrimony and polarization across the country, and make Clinton’s tenure as president a living hell.That’s the gameplan. He’s going to marshal enough grassroots support that Clinton will spend her entire four years bogged down in endless investigations, fending off charges of criminal misconduct, and leap-frogging from one seedy scandal to the next.No, Trump isn’t planning on winning. He doesn’t want to be president. He wants to be a modern-day Braveheart leading the peasants into battle against a thoroughly-corrupt and heinous ruling class establishment. That’s what he wants, and that’s why political has-beens like Gingrich and Giuliani have attached themselves to him like the plague. They see an opening for resurrecting their own dismal careers.In any event, Hillary’s going to win the election, that’s for sure. But don’t count Trump out just yet. He’s just getting warmed up.Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com. ]]> News Thu, 20 Oct 2016 19:09:15 GMT http://iran-si.com/vdcd.n0x2yt0x5me6y.html Impeachment of Dilma Rousseff: Brazil’s Parliamentary Coup and the “Progressive Media” http://iran-si.com/vdcc.4qia2bqimy-82.html Transcript of Interview with SputnikSputnikWhat is your view on the parliamentary impeachment of Dilma Rousseff?PKWhat happened in Brazil is just the most horrifying and flagrant illegal foreign-led parliamentary coup that has happened in Latin America since a similar coup, also foreign-led, deposed José Mujica of Uruguay in June 2009.Why foreign-led?Washington was behind it then – and Washington is behind the coup in Brazil today.What amazes me most though is that the so-called ‘progressive’ media do hardly mention the long and bloody hand of Washington in this coup. This reality is conveniently left out.Just a year ago, international legal authorities were clear about the unlawfulness and baselessness of impeachment. They all saw the illegitimacy of launching an impeachment procedure.Nevertheless – the local ultra-corrupt and ultra-neo-Nazi oligarchy succeeded – with the help of the US. What the so-called ‘progressive media’ tell us today, is that a group of corrupt right-wing parliamentarians, led by Eduardo Cunha, former speaker of Brazil’s lower house, who is himself prosecuted for corruption in the so-called “Car-Wash” scandal, drove the move to impeachment. Cunha was – maybe still is – a client of Washington. Not only the mainstream but also the ‘progressive media’ shun this fact. Cunha is accused of perjury, money laundering and receipt of at least $5m in bribes.The former Vice-President and now President, Michel Temer, who has alleged crimes of high corruption on his shoulders -in excess of US$ 40million – is likely to escape criminal prosecution, and so is his pal Cunha – under Temer’s new leadership.Dilma was never accused of corruption. They would have liked to, but couldn’t find anything. All they could find is that she may have ‘embellished’ government accounts, a common habit, done throughout the world, no criminal offense and especially no impeachable offense. However, some media still say she was found guilty of corruption. What a lie! – She wasn’t even accused of corruption.So the real criminals are escaping justice and stay in power. That’s precisely what Washington wants; free access to all the countries riches, hydrocarbons, tropical forests – and not least, almost endless resources of fresh surface water in the Amazon Basin and huge underground water reserves. Let’s not even talk about the countless quantities of Brazil’s mineral resources.Privatization on a massive scale is what will take place in the coming two years – perhaps comparable to Greece, or what Macri is proposing for Argentina, or worse. Temer has already said so. This may include privatization of all kinds of public assets, the Amazon waters, as the US has already once attempted to put them under UN auspices – so that Washington could control them, as they do with whatever is linked to the UN system. Lula at that time has said firmly NO WAY.Privatization will be accompanied by equally massive austerity programs, cutting of health and education benefits, of pensions and other social safety nets – leaving behind masses of unemployed people, abject misery – one just has to look at IMF-ECB-EU/EC devastated Greece; and at what Washington-directed Macri has already done to Argentina, i.e. increased the countries poverty level from about 12% in November 2015, before his ‘election’, to close to 40% in July 2016, with soaring unemployment. Temer has two years to complete his neonazi manifesto. And he will get all the help he needs from Washington and the financial institutions that will soon call the shots in Brazil – IMF, World Bank, Wall Street, all of them the extended fist of the FED, US Treasury and the secretive Rothschild controlled BIS (Bank for International Settlement) in Basel, Switzerland – also called the central bank of central banks.Why is Washington and its financial institutions behind the coup? – Already more than a year ago secret talks between the IMF, WB and the current coup-makers have taken place. Brazil is going to be handed over first to the IMF, which makes sure that the austerity programs are implemented – à la Greece – then to Wall Street which will make sure that the debt level is so that privatization of public assets is “justified and unavoidable”. The newly Temer appointed head of Brazil’s Central Bank, ‎Ilan Goldfajn, who also has a history with the IMF, will make sure that Brazil follows the financial oligarchy’s prescribed line.By controlling Brazil, Washington has its claws again firmly on Latin America, almost as if the renowned Latin America democratic revolutions towards independence never took place.And thirdly, also a key for sub-doing Brazil is that Brazil is an important member of the BRICS – crucial for its economic strength and potential as well as for its geographic equilibrium it will bring to the BRICS. The BRICS are led by Russia and China – countries which have already largely detached their economies from the western dollar-based system, and are developing their own, linked to economic output and to gold – yes, gold. Both Russia’s and China’s currencies are gold backed. While the western fiat money is made of thin air.In the western world, it’s the fake dollar-euro based monetary system that makes the economy, it’s not the economy that makes the monetary system, as it should be, since the economy should serve as the base for any monetary system that is supposed to reflect a healthy, honest, and fair economy within and between countries. That is what the BRICS would promote. Therefore, the BRICS have to be eliminated – one by one. They are a danger for the US-led western financial hegemony over the world.With foreign intervention proven in the coup, the case could even be taken to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague – perhaps as a test case to see how independent the ICC still is.SputnikBrazil’s Senate decided that former President Dilma Rousseff, who was removed from office earlier on Wednesday, should not be barred from holding public office. What will be her next steps?PKYes, after Dilma was remorselessly removed from the Presidency, most everybody believed that she would also be barred from holding public office for the next 8 years. This was not the case. The Senate had ‘mercy’, so to speak. As if it recognized the blunder it produced – I repeat – on orders from abroad, they spared her this humiliation.What Ms. Rousseff will do next – I have no idea. In any case she has already declared that she will take the case to Brazil’s Supreme Court. How successful this will be, is questionable. Especially since Mr. Temer now is clearly a US puppet, at the command of Washington. He will direct Brazil’s Supreme Court to follows orders from above.Where I see a better chance is taking the case to The Hague. Even though it is well known how dependent on the White House’s wishes the ICC is, it would be interesting to see the arguments the Court uses to uphold Brazil’s Senate verdict. – In any case the world at large might learn something about (in)justice imposed on the ‘unaligned’ by the empire and their masters, the masters of globalized finance.Whatever Dilma decides to do, however she decides to proceed, I hope she will not give in, that she stays the course, her course of integrity for which she is known and that she stays in politics. Brazil needs her. My guess is that she would have massive, but I mean massive, like in tens of millions of people’s support throughout Brazil, perhaps enough to bring about a revolution; to send a firm message to her Latin American neighbors – and to the rest of the world.Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He writes regularly for Global Research, ICH, RT, Sputnik, PressTV, The 4th Media, TeleSUR, The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance. ]]> News Fri, 16 Sep 2016 07:31:01 GMT http://iran-si.com/vdcc.4qia2bqimy-82.html Inter-Capitalist Rivalries and Political Rebellion against the US Multinational Corporate Elite, Rebellion in the Suites: Tax Collectors and Businesspeople http://iran-si.com/vdcb.wb5urhb50e4pr.html Large-scale political and economic challenges are confronting the US multi-national corporate elite. Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Pfizer and scores of other multinational tax evaders are facing the triple threat of multi-billion dollar fines, the redistribution of their wealth and the possible reintroduction of equitable socio-economic programs, which could undermine their power.Washington-backed exporters and financiers, eager to impose free trade agreements on European and Asian business classes, have been faced with stiff resistance and outright rejection.In Latin America, the Obama administration recently installed neo-liberal regimes in Argentina and Brazil, provoking massive opposition from small and medium sized firms driven into bankruptcy by their harsh policies.Intense intra-capitalist rivalries are no longer confined to the conference table: Open warfare, involving large-scale transfers of capital, has undermined the foundation of international capitalist class solidarity. While working class movements and mass protests still occur, the fundamental internal capitalist antagonism toward the US Empire has become the driving force of the current upheavals.We will identify the alignment of forces and the implications of these challenges to the power and wealth of the multi-national corporations. We will then highlight the break-up of the free trade treaties and the demise of US dominance in Europe and Asia. In the final section, we will focus on the rise and decline of the latest US interventions to subordinate Latin America to its domination, starting with the legislative coup in Brazil and the conflicts in Argentina.The European Commission and Apple ‘s Tax EvasionThe European Commission (EC) imposed an initial $13 billion penalty on the Apple Corporation for tax evasion – with tens of billions of more fines to come. The EC announced that Apple’s ridiculous 0.005% corporate tax rate in Ireland was a form of theft, exposing its phony posture as a defender of human rights and a paragon of corporate social responsibility. Scores of the biggest US multi-nationals have set-up overseas operations, especially in Ireland, specifically to avoid paying taxes. These include Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Pfizer and scores of others among the ‘Fortune five hundred’.Apple’s multi-billion-dollar tax scams were possible because of support from the US Treasury, Commerce and Trade Departments. Indeed, Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew, launched a tirade against the European Commission, threatening retaliation, claiming that these US tax swindles were vital to the security of world trade. Wall Street flunky, Senator Charles Schumer called the EU penalty ‘a cheap money grab’ and threatened to start a trade war with Europe if the Democrats regain power in the upcoming Senatorial and Congressional elections.The entire US imperial edifice operates through corrupt multi-national corporate tax swindlers who control and direct their politician stooges who, in turn, intimidate, submissive European regimes (like Ireland). The system is now being challenged by rival European economic powers intent on reducing the US tax advantages to increase their competitiveness. The growing competition over profits, markets and tax receipts has important political implications as the US dominance of Europe depends on the supremacy of its multi-nationals.US taxpayers subsidize the US multi-nationals even when they relocate jobs abroad to cheap labor markets and move their corporate head offices to low-tax countries. The result is that the US government has to increase the tax burden on wage- salaried workers and small businesspeople to finance social programs and critical infrastructure because the US multinationals have moved their ‘addresses’ to tax havens.As Europe tightens the squeeze on the US billionaire tax fraudsters, Washington will retaliate by mobilizing its own stable of European flunkies and the ever-compliant US Senators. Capitalist warfare may increase ‘nationalist’ rancor and undermine Atlantic trade treaties.The End of Atlantic and Pacific Trade AgreementsIn demanding an end to negotiations with the US over the trans-Atlantic trade deal, the French minister for foreign trade summed up his country’s position: “There is no political support from France for those negotiations. . . the Americans give nothing or just crumbs”. Throughout Europe politicians of the Left and Right have pointed out that closer ties with the US undermine their business deals with Russia and China, dilute environmental protection and abolish workers’ rights.Parallel developments are taking place in Asia with regard to the trans-Pacific trade deal: The US has failed to convince Asian countries to sign bilateral and multilateral trade pacts designed to exclude China.Asia’s increasing use of China’s currency (the renminbi) shows that the Anglo-American bloc has declined as the center of foreign exchange markets and trade. The US no longer dominates Asia: Even its former colony, the Philippines, has made overtures to China. Cambodia has granted China extended use of a deep-water port, strengthening Beijing’s position as the dominant maritime power in Asia. The US ally, Australia increasingly depends on trade with Beijing. China’s mix of public-private capitalism has out-muscled the US in Asian markets while deepening its trade links with Russia, Iran, the Gulf States, Africa and Latin America.To the extent that international capitalism has ‘recovered’ from the economic crisis of the recent past, it is thanks to Chinese–Asia capitalism. The policy failures of the US Treasury, Commerce and Trade departments have led to calls for protectionism – domestically with the Trump campaign – and growing militarism among both candidates.Increasingly the struggle for world markets among regional capitalist blocs- Anglo-American, European and Sino-Asian –defines the nature of global instability.Latin America: The Rebellion of the Middle ClassOn the surface, Washington and Wall Street have gained some important political victories: In Argentina, the Mauricio Macri regime has imposed an economic agenda totally in line with Washington’s free trade demands. In Brazil, Washington successfully promoted the legislative coup impeaching the center-left government of President Dilma Rousseff and installing the corrupt Vice President Temer .The proxy regime is dedicated to de-nationalizing and privatizing strategic, lucrative sectors of the economy.In Venezuela, Washington’s proxies who have gained control of the congress are organizing to oust the left-of-center Maduro government through street protests, sabotage and the hoarding of vital commodities.Nevertheless the image of middle class and local capitalist support for Washington’s agenda is proving ephemeral. Once installed at the top, the US-backed local proxies are rapidly imposing brutal austerity policies that undermine middle class and, of course, working class support.After merely nine months in power, Argentine President Macri and his Washington backers face open opposition from the entire range of small and medium size businesses.Inflation and deflation, utility price increases of 400% to 1000% have bankrupted at least a fourth of small-scale commercial and medium-size business firms in Argentina. Thousands have massed in the streets. On September 2, a broad based multi-class demonstration of several hundred thousand took over the famous Plaza de Mayo in the center of Buenos Aires to denounce Macri’s devastating neo-liberal agenda.Similar mass actions are erupting in Brazil, as the US-backed Temer regime slashes government budget subsidies, credit and public investments. His public approval rating (never high because of his own corruption) has dropped to a single digit.In a short time the business class has become deeply divided between the top tier, linked to international capital, and the middle and lower tiers. The initial consensus opposing the left-populist government has rapidly disintegrated while the unity of the capitalist class has collapsed.ConclusionIn the current phase of global capitalism, the most striking socio-economic dynamics are located in the deepening intra-capitalist conflicts between regions, nations and among segments of the capitalist class. The ideologues of capitalist globalization and regional integration are finally exposed as false prophets. Attempts by the US to impose a new world order that subordinates Europe and Asia have failed; the US now faces internal dissension, notably in US Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s ‘American First’ campaign, pressing for ‘national solutions’.The European capitalist elite is now only willing to collaborate with Washington where US-Europe trade agreements can be mutually beneficial – they openly reject being reduced to ‘reaping crumbs.’ National capitalism has emerged as the new reality on both sides of the Atlantic and across the globe in Asia, as China emerges as the dominant economic force in the region. China’s quest to secure global markets and investment sites has set in motion rival nationalist alignments, which threaten US regional power.Rebellions by capitalist political elites are the ‘new norm’ everywhere. Multi-national rivalries over tax evasion and its consequences are leading to ‘tit-for-tat’ reprisals, which can rupture historical ties.Latin American capitalist triumphs over the left are short-lived, as the different segments engage in violent divisions and realignments.The ultra-militarist US is incapable of establishing a stable world capitalist order under its direction. Instead, we now find a multiplicity of capitals and competing state regimes with subordinate and divided segments of the capitalist class. Trans-Atlantic and Pacific unity fractures, and each sub-region seeks its own socio-economic partners. Trade talks cease and acrimony reigns.Given the US total reliance on military-driven empire building, this post-imperial emergence of national and class rivalries is more likely to lead to war than to a new just social order. ]]> News Thu, 15 Sep 2016 14:30:56 GMT http://iran-si.com/vdcb.wb5urhb50e4pr.html The Unspoken War on Yemen, Anglo-American Crimes against Humanity, U.N. and Media Silence, Complicity of “The International Community”, Destruction of an Entire Country… http://iran-si.com/vdca.anuk49numgt14.html Is your money that good? Will it buy you forgiveness? Do you think that it could?” (Bob Dylan, b 1941, Masters of War.)On Tuesday 6th of September, twenty-four hour monitoring by Yemen’s Legal Centre for Rights and Development (LCRD) recorded the bombings by the Saudi led “coalition”, armed by the US and UK and advised by their military specialists, thus collusion and co-operation of both countries render them equally culpable for the carnage.Yemen has a population of just 24.41 million (2013 figure) and according to the Rural Poverty Portal: “ … is one of the driest, poorest and least developed countries in the world. It ranks 140 out of 182 countries on the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index (2009). An estimated 42 percent of the people are poor, and one Yemeni in five is malnourished. Poverty is endemic, particularly in more remote and less accessible areas.”In the one day and night period covered here, attacked were the capital Sana’a and Sa’dah, Marib, AlJawf, Hajjah, Hodeidah.Hajjah province: Seven raids targeted Midi District. Hodeidah Province: One air raid led to a death in the area Alhemah District, al Khokhah Directorate.Al-Jawf province: Eight strikes with a woman injured, the targeting of a house resulted in the destruction and damage to fifteen nearby houses in Al Ghayl District.· Twelve mercenaries loyal to Saudi Coalition were killed and nine injured by Saudi air raid targeting a house in Al Ghayl District.· Three air strikes destroyed a house and damaged eighteen adjacent houses also in Al Ghayl District.· Three air strikes further targeted three farms in Al Ghayl District.This heartbreak, fear and destruction has been rained down in commensurate devastation near every twenty four hours since March 2015, Saudi Arabia is the lead culprit, but in the “coalition” are also Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait.Ironic to remember Kuwait’s “victim” status in 1990, when Iraq was threatened with being “reduced to a pre-industrial age” for taking revenge for Kuwait’s slant drilling theft oil from Iraq’s Rumaila oil fields. Now Kuwait, population just 3.369 million (2013) is now in the gang of murderous bullies decimating a poverty stricken country – no doubt as a thank you to Saudi Arabia for extending hospitality to their ruling family when they fled ahead of the Iraq troops, leaving their subjects to face the onslaught which their theft had generated.Those who unleashed near Armageddon on Iraq over an oil dispute are either silent on or participating in Yemen’s nightmare – and as ever money is talking and the US and Britain are selling the arms and the ‘planes in billions of $s.[the above data in the chart pertains to a single year, IT IS NOT UPDATED]Further ironically is that in September 2015, Faisal bin Hassan Trad, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, was elected Chair of a United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) panel. At the time UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer said: “It is scandalous that the UN chose a country that has beheaded more people this year than ISIS to be head of a key human rights panel. Petro-dollars and politics have trumped human rights.”In June this year Amnesty International called for Saudi to be stripped of its place on the UNHRC with Richard Bennett, heading Amnesty’s UN Office saying: “The credibility of the UN Human Rights Council is at stake. Since joining the Council, Saudi Arabia’s dire human rights record at home has continued to deteriorate and the coalition it leads has unlawfully killed and injured thousands of civilians in the conflict in Yemen. To allow it to remain an active member of the Council, where it has used this position to shield itself from accountability for possible war crimes, smacks of deep hypocrisy. It would bring the world’s top human rights body into disrepute.”He continued: “The strong evidence of the commission of war crimes by the Saudi Arabian-led coalition in Yemen should have been investigated by the Human Rights Council. Instead, Saudi Arabia cynically used its membership of the Council to derail a resolution to establish an international investigation … As a member of the Human Rights Council Saudi Arabia is required to uphold the highest standards of human rights. In reality, it has led a military coalition (carrying out) unlawful and deadly airstrikes on markets, hospitals and schools in Yemen. The coalition has also repeatedly used internationally banned weapons in civilian areas…” (Emphasis added.)The double standards of the “international community” and its UN “umbrella” is ever breathtaking.Equally breathtaking is that in July, the UK refused to rule out electing Saudi to its place in the UNHRC for a second time, in spite of Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, having stated that “carnage” caused by some Saudi coalition airstrikes appear to be war crimes.But then, according to The Independent (1) official figures in January this year showed sales of British bombs and missiles to Saudi: “ increased 100 times in the three-month period since the start of the attacks on Yemen. The sales jumped from £9 million in the previous three months to £1 billion.”Arms sales above flesh and blood, terror, heartbreak and humanity, every time.Note 1. http://www.independent.co.uk/ news/uk/politics/saudi-arabia- human-rights-un-united- nations-uk-british-elected- behead-a7140501.htmlThe author is indebted to the LCRD for the documentation of the attacks and for the careful translation by Ameen Alharazi. ]]> News Thu, 15 Sep 2016 14:23:14 GMT http://iran-si.com/vdca.anuk49numgt14.html An International Tribunal Declares the Impeachment of Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff an Illegitimate Coup http://iran-si.com/vdcj.oe8fuqe8x29zu.html The grounds for it are baseless, and many of the legislators pushing it are themselves under indictment for serious crimes.On July 19 and 20, I served as a juror for the International Tribunal for Democracy in Brazil, held in Rio de Janeiro. The tribunal was modeled on the Russell Tribunal, also known as the International War Crimes Tribunal, that put US foreign policy and military intervention in Vietnam on trial in the 1960s. The tribunal was organized by Via Campesina International, the Brazil Popular Front, and the Brazilian Jurists Front for Democracy, and was supported by several academic and grassroots organizations, such as the Landless Workers Movement (MST). The social movements in Brazil invited me and eight other jurors from various European and Latin American countries to analyze and render a judgment on what they described as a “break in the democratic process” and “a new type of coup.” The tribunal was tasked with examining the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff that was unleashed in Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies. This past April, the anti-Rousseff forces secured the simple majority vote necessary to begin the impeachment process, with each deputy required to state his or her reason for their vote for or against impeachment. Tellingly, hardly any of the pro-impeachment deputies gave as their reason the “crimes” for which Rousseff was being impeached. The Senate recently voted to go forward with the impeachment. Sometime in the next few days, the Senate is set to hold a final vote on whether to permanently remove Rousseff from office and install former Vice President Michel Temer until the 2018 election. The official reason for impeachment—that Rousseff improperly moved funds from a federal bank to cover cash-flow shortfalls in government programs (all the funds were repaid to the federal bank)—is a practice that Brazilian presidents have used in the past and is not a crime. Rousseff has not been accused of any personal enrichment or of being connected with Brazil’s widespread political corruption. Impeachment should require indisputable evidence of the commission of a crime by the president. As is clear from the wording of the Constitution, impeachable offenses are serious and are committed intentionally against legal interests directly linked to the structure of the Constitution and, consequently, the Brazilian state. The applicable law does not include budgetary accounting errors or funding shortfalls as impeachable crimes. A recent report by the Public Prosecutor’s office found that Rousseff is not guilty of any crime. In contrast, many of the pro-coup deputies are under indictment for political corruption which has engulfed about 60 percent of the members of the lower house. Temer himself, for example, is accused of accepting 1.5 million reals (about $430,000) in bribes from a construction company doing business with the Brazilian oil giant Petrobras. A series of leaked wiretap recordings have also revealed that some of Rousseff’s main rivals conspired with the Supreme Court to oust her and stall the corruption investigations.In the proceedings for the tribunal, several witnesses were called for both sides. One witness, Professor Marcia Tiburi, described the misogynistic attacks on Rousseff, including various sexist depictions of her and the implicit condoning by right-wing lawmakers of the rape that she suffered when, as a leftist guerrilla in the early 1970s, she was captured by the military dictatorship and tortured. Another witnesses testified that allowing the impeachment to succeed will be disastrous for Brazil’s working class, as Temer and his all-white-male cabinet have quickly moved to cut social programs championed by Rousseff and her Workers’ Party.Based on the extensive evidence presented to us, we found that what is happening in Brazil is a conspiracy against democracy. Impeachment is being used for partisan purposes to depose a democratically elected leftist president. This is, in effect, a coup, and those who engineered it are guilty of massive corruption and grave crimes, and must be held to account. Our panel of international jurists also unanimously found that the removal of Rousseff from office “violates all the principles of the democratic process and Brazilian constitutional order.” This coup is an attempt by Brazil’s elite to regain power through non-electoral means and re-implement the neoliberal agenda. As one witness reminded us, whether a democratically elected president can continue her term should not depend on whether the majority in Congress are members of her party. The US government’s stance on the coup, effectively supporting it, must also be condemned. This is similar to its position on Paraguay and Honduras, when similarly process-based coups overthrew democratically elected governments that were acting against the interests of the US government. The world has witnessed what transpired in post-coup Honduras, where the militarized brutality of the regime drove many to flee for their lives and seek refuge in the United States. Several activists have been murdered, including Berta Cáceres. In 2013, I met with Cáceres, who was living underground even at that time and was on a death list because of her work. This indigenous and environmental-rights activist was murdered by forces allied with the regime, at least one of whom was trained US Special Forces. Several other members of her group have since also been murdered. Our delegation in 2013 documented massive electoral fraud and intimidation during the elections. The US ambassador called them “a festival of democracy.” As was stated several times during the tribunal in Brazil, the impact of the coup there would not be limited to that country but would reverberate across Latin America and beyond. This coup must be defeated. As Americans, we must hold our elected officials accountable for their stance and their actions in this crucial moment. •  ]]> News Tue, 30 Aug 2016 08:54:54 GMT http://iran-si.com/vdcj.oe8fuqe8x29zu.html How Parasitic Finance Capital Has Turned Iran’s Economy into a Case of Casino Capitalism http://iran-si.com/vdcd.50x2yt0xnme6y.html Critics have often blamed President Rouhani of Iran forblindly following the neoclassical-neoliberal model of capitalism. The critical problem with Mr. Rouhani’s economic policies, however, is more than just following the dominant economic model of neoliberalism; moregravely, it is following the worst aspects of that model.One such disturbing aspect is the unregulated and out-of-control financialization of Iran’s economy: the banking/financial sector is given a free rein to engage in all kinds of parasitic, speculative activities. As this practice has robbed the manufacturing sector of the economy of the productively-investible finance capital, it has thereby led toa severe economic stagnation and high rates of unemployment. It is now common knowledge that the 2008 financial crisis in the U.S., which has since spread to other parts of the capitalist world, was precipitated largely by a disproportionately high degree of financialization, that is, by an unsustainable financial bubble on top of a much narrower base of real values. It is equally well-known that systematic deregulation of the financial sector in the U.S., especially of the dismantlement of the Glass-Steagall Act (in 1998), which had fairly well regulated the financial sector in the aftermath of the Great Depression, was a major contributing factor to the creation of the financial bubble that burst in 2008. Regrettably, President Rouhani and his economic team seem to be altogether oblivious to the bitter experiences of the financialization disaster in the U.S. and other core capitalist countries around the world. This blatant inattention to the devastating consequences of a bloated financial sector at the expense of a cash-strapped real sector, combined with a trade policy which has effectively replaced domestic products with foreign products through a policy of unhindered importation of foreign goods and services, has greatly contributed to Iran’s economic stagnation. While the real/manufacturing sector of the country’s economy is in dire need of investment funds, its financial sector enjoys an abundance of liquidity that, according to Iran’s Central Bank, amounts to nearly 900,000 billion tumans, or almost $260 billion dollars ($1 = 3500 toomans), which is approximately equal to 65% of its 2015 GDP of barely $400 billion [1]. Unfortunately, the major bulk of this plethora of liquidity is used for speculation purposes instead of lending to manufacturers for productive investment. The fact that the financial sector prefers the more lucrative speculation to real production is not surprising—it is simply in the nature of a profit-driven economic system. What is surprising is a total lack of an economic policy that would channel the nation’s financial resource away from speculation to production. The abundance of domestic liquidity belies President Rouhani’s frequent pleading with foreign investors on the grounds that Iran’s economy is suffering from illiquidity, and that foreign direct investment could serve as a panacea to Iran’s ailing economy. It also shows why foreign investors tend to be skeptical of the president’s pleas, and continue to be reluctant to invest in Iran’s manufacturing sector. After all, why would foreign manufacturers invest in a country where its market is saturated by unhindered imports of foreign products, and its own manufacturers are thereby driven out of market?The persistent economic stagnation in Iran is largely due to a dire lack of an effective macroeconomic policy. Lack of economic policy is, in turn, mostly due to President Rouhani’s and his economic advisors’ blind faith in an economic model that is unfeasible in the real world; a model that, while simple and even elegant, is dangerously misleading. It is misleading because it maintains that if the government abstains from making macroeconomic policies and leaves all economic matters to microeconomic activities of private individuals and businesses, the invisible hand of the market mechanism would in a magical fashion lead to efficiency, development and prosperity. According to this doctrine, called supply-side or neoliberal economics, solutions to economic stagnation, poverty and under-development lie in unhindered market mechanism and unreserved integration into world capitalist system. Recessions, joblessness and economic hardship in many less-developed countries are not so much due to economic mismanagement or the nature of global capitalism as they are because of government intervention and/or exclusion from world capitalist markets [2]. Unimpeded importation of foreign products into Iran’s open-door market, unregulated and out-of-control financialization of its markets, and devastating stagnation of its economy are mainly due this misguided economic doctrine. It is now widely acknowledged thatthe disproportionate growth of the financial sector has been a major contributing factor to the ongoing financial turbulence and economic stagnation in many core capitalist countries. What is relatively less known outside of Iran is that the parasitic growth of the financial sector in that country is among the highest in the world: per capital number of banks, shadow banks and other financial institutions (called moasesaat-e atebaari)is certainly the highest in the world. Parasitic activities of the financial players include speculation in foreign exchange or foreign currency market, in gold and other precious metals market, in all kinds of imports (both legal and illegal), in real estate, and the like [3].Returns to speculative activities in the financial sector are so high that a number of major manufacturing corporations such as Iran Khodrow (the country’s largest auto manufacturer) have established their own banks in order to partake in the lucrative financial sector by diverting funds from their manufacturing operations to this sector. Likewise, many civil, military, and governmental organizations (such as municipalities), as well as pension funds and charity foundations (such as Bonyad-e Mostazafan) have also created their own banks in pursuit of a share in the lucrative financial sector. The perils of the commercial banks’ and other financial institutions’ speculative activities are dangerously magnified by their ability to create money! Following the Anglo-Saxon model of fractional reserve banking (explained below), which is today practiced in most capitalist countries, the power of money creation in Iran rests not so much with the government as it does with commercial banks. When commercial banks make loans or extend credit to their clients they, in effect, create money, which is called debt/credit money, or bank money, as opposed to sovereign or real money created by the government. Although in essence bank money is not real money, in practice it functions just as real money. The ability of the commercial banking system to create money explains why the all-important power of controlling or manipulating money supply, offinancing and, therefore, of influencing or controlling national economies in most capitalist countries has increasingly come to rest with commercial banks, often mediated by central banks and treasury departments that are frequently headed by theproxies of the financial oligarchy. In theory,the ability of the banking system to create credit or debtmoney is determined or limited by two factors: (a) the savings/deposits by households and businesses, and (b) the central bank policy that determine reserve requirements and the money supply—the so-called fractional reserve banking. Fractional reserve banking means that,for the sake of financial safety and stability, commercial banks ought to always keep a legally-determined fraction of their deposits (for example, 20%) on hand, either in their own coffers or in their accounts with the central bank. This fraction of bank deposits is called required reserves, or capital requirement/base. Only the rest (80% in our example), which is called excess reserves, can be loaned out. In practice, however, the ability of the banking system to create credit, or bank money, is not much constrained by the amount of savings/deposits they receive or by central bank regulation of money supply through fractional reserve banking. Fractional reserve banking implies that, based on the amount of their loanable deposits, or excess reserves, as determined by reserve requirements, the commercial banks first determine their lending capacity and then go around for customers. In the real world, however, they often behave the other way around: they first extend credit and look for reserves later. In one way or another, central banks would accommodate them. This explains why the actual bank reserves, or capital requirement, are often much smaller than required reserves, especially during optimistic periods of asset price inflation, or expanding financial bubbles. What has made the ability of the commercial banking system to create money—of course, debt money—especially more dangerous in recent years is that, as the financial sector has systematically freed itself from traditional rules and regulations, most of the debt money they now create is increasingly geared towards speculation, not production. This explains the exponential growth of parasitic finance in most capitalist countries. As noted, parasitic growth of the financial sector in Iran represents an extreme case of this ominous development—a developments that has made the country’s economy/marketakin to a nationwide casino, more or less. What is to be done? It follows from this brief discussion that the inordinate financialization of Iran’s economyis largely due to two major factors: (1)the abilityand/or freedom of commercial banks and other financial institutions to create money, and (2) their ability and/or freedom to engage in non-banking activities, including speculation in commodities market, especially in precious metals, in foreign currency market, in real estate market, in imports market, and the like. Policy implications of this diagnosis are unmistakable: to cleanse Iran’s economy of the poisonous effects of parasitic finance requires (1) ending the commercial banks’ and other financial institutions’ ability to engage in non-banking activities, and (2) ending their ability to create money. Aside from destabilizing and destructive economic effects, private banks’ ability to create money is also problematic on legal and/or constitutional grounds. As a most, or perhaps the most, important economic decision or policy of any nation, money creation is logically a sovereign prerogative or national right; it belongs to the public, not private, domain.The right of creating money ought to exclusively be granted to the publicly-owned central bank as the monetary authority of the state.  This would replace sovereign money system for the currently corrupt bank or debt money system based on fractional reserve banking. It must be pointed out that the formal or nominal ownership of a central bank by the state does not necessarily or automatically replace the sovereign money system for debt/bank money system. Currently a number of central banks, including Iran’s Central Bank, are formally owned by the state, but their ability to control national money supply is undermined by the prevalence of the fractional reserve banking. This means that the ability of a publicly-owned central bank to control the stock of national money requires effective curtailment of the power of commercial banks to create money. Commercial banks would still be free to finance businesses’ and consumers’ borrowing needs, but not with debt money based on the fractional reserve system. In other words, they cannot lend money without having actually received it first, that is, without having taken it before (from depositors, from other banks, from money or capital markets, or, under certain circumstances, from the central bank). This requires replacing the present fractional reserve system of banking with the 100% reserve system. The 100% reserve system means that when “people make deposits and thus think they have money in the bank,” argues William Hixson, “they would actually have legal tender money in the bank, not 94 percent (more or less) of their money loaned by the banker” [4]. Writing in support of the 100% reserve plan, Professor John Hotson at Ontario’s University of Waterloo notes:“The 100 percent reserve plan . . . would end the debt-money. . . . Government money [legal tender money] . . . is “Good Money” because it can be spent into circulation interest and debt free, and ever after perform the useful functions of money for the minor cost of replacing worn out bills and coins. . . . Money produced by commercial banks is “Bad Money” because it must be lent into circulation at interest, and it only remains in existence so long as someone is willing to pay interest and the banks are willing to continue to lend” [5].Under sovereign money system, additions to the stock of money supply, or creation of new money, will be issued by the central bank and transferred to the treasury. The treasury will then spend, not lend, the new money into circulation.  This will represent genuine seigniorage, which is akin to the historical prerogative of coinage, free of interest and redemption, and thus debt-free. (The central bank may occasionally and for the smaller part lend some of the new money to commercial banks, if required. This creates interest-borne seigniorage.) The profit from seigniorage, or the issuance of new money, will no longer go to the pockets of the privately-owned central banks, or the commercial banking system. Instead, it will go to the public purse and benefit taxpayers. How should the central bank decide on and keep control of the right or optimal quantity of money in circulation so that there would be neither too much nor too little of it? The answer is that the stock of money in circulations should be based on the volume of national output, or gross national product (GNP), or its money equivalent gross national income (GNI). Specifically, the quantity of money in circulation (M) would be determined by this simple equation: MV = GNI, where V is the velocity of money circulation, or the number of times that, on the average, a dollar changes hands during a fiscal year. For example, if GNI is equal to $100 billion, and V is equal to one, then M also needs to be $100 billion in order to be sufficient to circulate the $100 billion worth of goods and services. But if V is equal to five, then the amount of M needed to circulate the $100 billion of GNI would be only $20 billion. And if V is 10, then the required M would be only $10 billion—and so on. Based on this simple equation,injections of new money into circulation (or, more generally, changes in M one way or the other) would also be determined by changes in GNI and in V. If, for instance, GNI goes up by five percent and V remains constant, then M needs to go up by five percent as well. But if at the same time that GNI goes up by five percent, V also goes up by five percent, then M should remain constant—and so on. By creating the money they need interest-free, instead of borrowing it from commercial banks and other private financial entities interest-borne, governments can strengthen their budgets and save taxpayers huge sums of money. For example, evidence shows that the U.S. federal government paid in 2011 a sum of $454 billion in interest on its debt—the third highest budget item after the military and Social Security outlays. This figure amounted to nearly one-third of the total personal income taxes ($1, 100 billion) collected that year. This means that if the federal government created the money it needed, instead of borrowing it at interest,personal income taxes could have been cut by a third [6]. Alternatively, the savings could be invested in social infrastructure, both human and physical, thereby drastically augmenting the productive capacity of the nation, creating millions of jobs and elevating the standard of living for all.In brief, there is no shortage of finance capital in Iran. The problem is that it is used largely for speculation, not production, purposes. To divert its financial resources from speculation to production, Iran needs to (a) prevent the commercial banks from engaging in non-banking activities; (b) prevent the commercial banking system from creating debt money, based on fractional reserve system; (c) confer the prerogative of creating real, sovereign money solely to the state-owned central bank; and (d) mandate that the real, tender money thus created is spent into the economy/circulation through its outlays on social, developmental, infrastructural, and other vital national projects. Only through such a drastic overhaul of money and banking policies, along with a vigorous support for its manufacturers through an effective policy of import-substitution, can Iran rekindle its dormant economy and chart a new path of industrialization, development and real independence. References: [1] World Bank, http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/iran/overview. [2] For a fairly detailed discussion of this point please see: “Why President Rouhani’s ‘Economic Package’ is Empty”. [3] See, for example, Dr. Mohammad Soleimani, تولید همچنان در رکود؛ اما بازدهی برخی بانک ها در بورس به 80 درصد رسیده است[4] William F. Hixson, A Matter of Interest: Reexamining Money, Debt, and Real Economic Growth, New York: Praeger, 1991, p. 242. [5] John Hotson, “Ending the Debt Money System”, Challenge, March-April 1985, pp. 48-50. [6] Ellen Brown, It’s the Interest, Stupid! Why Bankers Rule the World. Ismael Hossein-zadeh is Professor Emeritus of Economics (Drake University). He is the author of Beyond Mainstream Explanations of the Financial Crisis (Routledge 2014), The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism (Palgrave–Macmillan 2007), and the Soviet Non-capitalist Development: The Case of Nasser’s Egypt (Praeger Publishers 1989). He is also a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion. ]]> News Sat, 20 Aug 2016 22:48:59 GMT http://iran-si.com/vdcd.50x2yt0xnme6y.html Clinton Emails Reveal Direct US Sabotage of Venezuela http://iran-si.com/vdcd.90x2yt0xzme6y.html While Hillary Clinton publicly welcomed improved relations with Venezuela as secretary of state, she privately ridiculed the country and continued to support destabilization efforts, revealed her emails leaked by WikiLeaks.In 2010, Clinton asked Arturo Valenzuela, then assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, how “to rein in Chavez.” Valenzuela responded that, “We need to carefully consider the consequences of publicly confronting him but ought to look at opportunities for others in the region to help.”His answer was in line with the U.S. embassy strategy in 2006, also revealed in WikiLeaks intelligence cables: “Creative U.S. outreach to Chavez' regional partners will drive a wedge between him and them,” said the confidential cable from the embassy. “By refusing to take each of Chavez's outbursts seriously, we frustrate him even more, paving the way for additional Bolivarian miscalculations. We also allow room for other international actors to respond.”Spain was among the countries willing to help the U.S. in its subversive foreign relations strategy. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright passed on a message from the administration of conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in 2012 expressing intentions “to re-orient Spanish foreign policy so that it can work with the U.S. in Latin America, especially on Venezuela and Cuba ... As a transition in Cuba and something significant in Venezuela (and possibly the Andes) loom, a stronger working relationship between the U.S. and Spain could be very helpful.”When keeping an eye on regional meetings, Clinton was especially concerned with Venezuela. Responding to a United Nations statement against the coup in Honduras in 2009—that she supported—Clinton shifted the attention to Venezuela: “Ok—but have they ever condemned Venezuela for denying press freedom?” she wrote to Deputy Chief of Staff Jake Sullivan.He responded “I highly doubt it. And that is just the tip of the iceberg,” to which Clinton wrote, “Ah, the proverbial iceberg.”Clinton was cautious not to respond to all of Hugo Chavez’s “antics,” but her staff insisted that Venezuelan politics were a threat to U.S. interests.The US Role in the Failed Attempt to Overthrow Hugo ChavezAn email advising how to spend USAID funds strongly suggested refraining from backing leftist states like Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Cuba because the money “could undermine real democratic development to hand over ‘ownership’ to populist centralizers.”Clinton should use language like “‘local ownership’ in a nuanced way” to avoid having her words “used against her by demagogues and kleptocrats,” said the email. Any funds channeled into such unreliable states, it added, must be accompanied by “(h)uman behavioral changes.”International aid to Venezuela was siphoned off, but broadcasts to counter local “propaganda” were amplified.The Broadcasting Board of Governors—which runs the Marti stations, Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks—requested more funding in a 2010 email forwarded to Clinton to “combat the public diplomacy efforts of America's ‘enemies,’ which he (chairman Walter Isaacson) identifies as Iran, Venezuela, Russia, and China.”The BBG, with a US$700 million annual budget—now increased to over US$750 million—was “facing increased competition from other governments' forays into international broadcasting ... including Venezuela's teleSUR.”A month later, when the board was facing cuts, Cuban-born Florida Senator Ileana Ros-Lehtinen suggested focusing resources on high-priority countries like Cuba, Venezuela and Ecuador.“Let the fun begin—and let's keep going w(ith) our plans,” responded Clinton.Another leaked email from Stratfor described the BBG as “responsible for the radio and TV aggressions against Cuba,” which received its own category of state funding of nearly US$40 million. The board separated from State Department control in 1999, officially becoming an independent agency. “Congress agreed that credibility of U.S. international broadcasting was crucial to its effectiveness as a public diplomacy tool,” according to Congress’s 2008 budget on foreign operations.While giving the cold shoulder to Venezuela, Clinton was cozy with Latin American players that opposed the country's leftist politics.Her counselor and chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, forwarded her a recommendation for Mari Carmen Aponte to be appointed as U.S. ambassador to El Salvador. Aponte, noted the email, “has consistently fought Cuba and Venezuela's efforts to gain influence in Central America and as a result of her negotiating skills, the U.S. and El Salvador will open a new, jointly-funded, electronic monitoring center that will be an invaluable tool in fighting transnational crime.”She won the appointment and later became assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs.Clinton also drew fire for saying, "We're winning!" when the Venezuelan opposition won a majority of seats in parliament in 2015 and for serving as secretary of state while the National Security Administration regularly spied on Venezuela. ]]> News Fri, 29 Jul 2016 20:22:37 GMT http://iran-si.com/vdcd.90x2yt0xzme6y.html The Seeds for Igniting a Turkish Civil War Were Planted in Syria http://iran-si.com/vdcb.sb5urhb59e4pr.html The following is an articled written by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya and republished by Global Research from the Strategic Culture Foundation on August 14, 2012. Its original title is “The Push to Ignite a Turkish Civil War Through a Syrian Quagmire.” What is explained in the text is that the policy of Turkey in Syria will have self-destructive results that will ultimately hurt Turkey by weakening and dividing it in the future. The failed July 15, 2016 coup in Turkey is to a great degree an accumulation of Ankara’s regional isolation, internal polarization, and “blowback” —ranging from terrorism to reviving problems with the Kurd — from Syria that the 2012 article foretells. The Push to Ignite a Turkish Civil War Through a Syrian QuagmireTurkey itself is a major target for destabilization, upheaval, and finally balkanization through its participation in the US-led siege against Syria. Ankara has burned its bridges in Syria for the sake of its failing neo-Ottoman regional policy. The Turkish government has actively pursued regime change, spied on Syria for NATO and Israel, violated Syrian sovereignty, supported acts of terrorism and lawlessness, and provided logistical support for the insurgency inside Syria.Any chances of seeing some form of Turkish regional leadership under neo-Ottomanism have faded. Turkey’s southern borders have been transformed into intelligence and logistical hubs for the CIA and the Mossad in the process, complete with an intelligence “nerve centre” in the Turkish city of Adana. Despite Turkey’s denials, reports about Adana are undeniable and Turkish officers have also been apprehended in covert military operations against the Syrian Arab Republic. The Turkish Labour Party has even demanded that the US General Consul in Adana be deported for “masterminding and leading the activities of Syrian terrorists.” Mehmet Ali Ediboglu and Mevlut Dudu, two Turkish MPs, have also testified that foreign fighters have been renting homes on Turkey’s border with Syria and that Turkish ambulances have been helping smuggle weapons for the insurgents inside Syria.Turkish Regional IsolationIf the Syrian state collapses, neighbouring Turkey will be the biggest loser. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government are foolishly aligning Turkey for disaster. Aside from Ankara’s historically bad relations with Armenia, Erdogan has managed to singlehandedly alienate Russia and three of Turkey’s most important neighbours. This has damaged the Turkish economy and disrupted the flow of Turkish goods. There have been clamp downs on activists too in connection with Turkey’s policy against Damascus. The freedom of the Turkish media has been affected as well; Erdogan has moved forward with legislation to restrict media freedoms. Prime Minister Erdogan and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu have even both attacked “reporters who quoted President Assad’s statements in Cumhuriyet, accusing them of treason, because they had questioned the official Turkish account of the Turkish jet shot down by in [sic.] Syria [for spying].”To Turkey’s eastern flank tensions are building between it and both Iraq and Iran. Baghdad is reviewing its diplomatic ties with the Turkish government, because Ankara is encouraging the Kurdistan Regional Government in Northern Iraq to act independently of Iraq’s federal government. Erdogan’s government has done this partially as a result of Baghdad’s steadfast opposition to regime change in Syria and in part because of Iraq’s strengthening alliance with Iran. Tehran on the other hand has halted the visa-free entry of Turkish citizens into Iran and warned the Turkish government that it is stoking the flames of a regional fire in Syria that will eventually burn Turkey too.Growing Internal Divisions in TurkeyDespite all the patriotic speeches being made by the Turkish government to rally the Turkish people against Syria, Turkey is a much divided nation over Erdogan’s hostilities with Damascus. A significant portion of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey or Turkish Meclis and Turkey’s opposition parties have all condemned Erdogan for misleading the Turkish people and stirring their country towards disaster. There is also growing resentment amongst the citizens of Turkey about Erdogan’s cooperation with the US, NATO, Israel, and the Arab dictatorships – like Qatar and Saudi Arabia – against the Syrians and others. The majority of Turkish citizens oppose Turkish ties to Israel, the hosting of NATO facilities in Turkey, the missile shield project, and cooperation with the US in the Middle East.The Republican People’s Party, Turkey’s second largest political party and its main opposition party, has condemned the government in Ankara over Syria. Their leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, has openly accused Prime Minister Erdogan of interfering in the internal affairs of Syria. Kilicdaroglu has been joined by Turkey’s other political parties in the condemnations of Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party. Devlet Bahceli, the leader of the Nationalist Movement Party, has warned the Turkish government not to drag their country into a war with Syria through intervention. “Some Western countries have put pressure on Turkey for an intervention in Syria. Turkey should not fall into this trap,” Bahceli, who leads the third largest Turkish political party, has warned Erdogan according to the Turkish press. The Peace and Democracy Party, which is the fourth largest Turkish political party, has also clarified that it is against war with Syria. The politician Selahattin Demirtas, who is one of the leaders of the Peace and Democracy Party, has warned that any military intervention by Ankara in Syria would drag Turkey into a broader regional war. Hasan Basri Ozbey, the deputy leader of the Turkish Labour Party, has announced that his political party will file a complaint against Turkish President Abdullah Gul with the Turkish Meclis and the Turkish Higher Court to prosecute Gul, because the Labour Party “has clear evidence that [Gul] incited terrorism and war on Syria and signed a secret agreement with the United States, which alone is groundsfor trial.” Mustafa Kamalak, the leader of the Felicity Party, has even led a Turkish delegation to visit Bashar Al-Assad to show their support for Syria and opposition to Erdogan’s policies.The mobilization of the Turkish military on the Syrian border as a show of force is a psychological tactic to scare the Syrian regime. Any large-scale military operations against the Syrians would be very dangerous for Turkey and could fragment the Turkish Armed Forces. Segments of the Turkish military are at odds with the Turkish government and the military itself is divided over Turkish foreign policy. Erdogan does not even trust half of Turkey’s own military leaders and has arrested forty of them for planning to overthrow him. How can he send such a force to even attack neighbouring Syria or think that he can control it during a broader war?The Dangers of “Blowback” from SyriaWhile Turkey is trumpeting that it will not allow Kurdish militias to establish bases in northern Syria, the Turkish government is actually facilitating this itself. There is a real risk of “blowback” from Syria for Turkey. Like Syria, Turkey is a kaleidoscope of various peoples and faiths. The people of Turkey are held together by the primacy of the Turkish language and a shared citizenship. Turkey’s minorities constitute at the very minimum one-third of the country. A significant proportion of Turkey’s minority communities have ties to Syria, Iraq, or Iran.The Kurds and other similar Iranic peoples alone form about 25% of Turkey’s population, which means one out of four Turkish citizens are of Kurdish and Iranic stock. Other ethnic minorities include Arabs, Armenians, Assyrians, Azerbaijanis, Bulgarians, and Greeks. No exact figures have ever been available about Turkey’s Shiite Muslims, because of the historical persecution and restrictions on Shia Muslims in Turkey from Ottoman times. Anywhere from 20% to 30% or more of the Turkish population may be categorized as Shiite Muslims, which includes Alevis, Alawites, and Twelvers. Turkey also has a small Christian minority, some of which have historic or organizational ties to Syria like Turkey’s Alawites and ethnic Arabs. Turkey will be consumed too, one way or another, should a broader sectarian conflict spread from Syria and should the Syrians be violently divided along sectarian fault lines.The Self-Destructive Nature of Turkish Involvement in SyriaAll the factors discussed above are a recipt for disaster. Civil war in Turkey is a real possibility in an increasingly polarized Turkish state. Should Syria burn, Turkey will ultimately burn too. This is why a whole spectrum of Turkish leaders have been warning their country and people that the consequences for the fire that Erdogan, Davutoglu, and Gul are stroking in Syria will have disastrous consequences for Turkey and all the countries bordering Syria.Erdogan’s government has managed to alienate Turkey from its most important neighbours, hurt the Turkish economy, and destabilize their country’s own borders. This, however, is only the tip of the iceberg compared to the damages they could unleash on Turkey. The Turks have been walking into a trap, where they are slated for a self-destructive kamikaze operation against Syria. The US-led siege on Syria intends to create chaos across the entire Middle East and ignite multiple regional conflicts. Violence and conflict from Syria is intended to consume Lebanon and Iraq too. Within this mêlée, Turkey has been slated to be weakened and divided – just as the US, NATO, and Israel have envisaged in their project to create a “new Middle East.”Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is an award-winning author, an interdisciplinary sociologist, a geopolitical analyst, and a professor of social sciences. He is the author of The Globalization of NATO (2012) and a member of the editorial board of the peer-reviewed journal Geopolitica. ]]> News Fri, 29 Jul 2016 20:06:32 GMT http://iran-si.com/vdcb.sb5urhb59e4pr.html