Thursday, May 26, 2011

Welcome to the Violent World of Mr. Hopey Changey

By John Pilger

May 26, 2011 "Information Clearing House" -- --

When Britain lost control of Egypt in 1956, Prime Minister Anthony Eden said he wanted the nationalist president Gamal Abdel Nasser “destroyed … murdered … I don’t give a damn if there’s anarchy and chaos in Egypt”. Those insolent Arabs, Winston Churchill had urged in 1951, should be driven “into the gutter from which they should never have emerged”.

The language of colonialism may have been modified; the spirit and the hypocrisy are unchanged.

A new imperial phase is unfolding in direct response to the Arab uprising that began in January and has shocked Washington and Europe, causing an Eden-style panic. The loss of the Egyptian tyrant Mubarak was grievous, though not irretrievable; an American-backed counter-revolution is under way as the military regime in Cairo is seduced with new bribes and power shifting from the street to political groups that did not initiate the revolution.

The western aim, as ever, is to stop authentic democracy and reclaim control.

Libya is the immediate opportunity. The Nato attack on Libya, with the UN Security Council assigned to mandate a bogus “no fly zone” to “protect civilians”, is strikingly similar to the final destruction of Yugoslavia in 1999. There was no UN cover for the bombing of Serbia and the “rescue” of Kosovo, yet the propaganda echoes today.

Like Slobodan Milosevic, Muammar Gaddafi is a “new Hitler”, plotting “genocide” against his people. There is no evidence of this, as there was no genocide in Kosovo.

In Libya there is a tribal civil war; and the armed uprising against Gaddafi has long been appropriated by the Americans, French and British, their planes attacking residential Tripoli with uranium-tipped missiles and the submarine HMS Triumph firing Tomahawk missiles, a repeat of the “shock and awe” in Iraq that left thousands of civilians dead and maimed. As in Iraq, the victims, which include countless incinerated Libyan army conscripts, are media unpeople.

In the “rebel” east, the terrorising and killing of black African immigrants is not news.

On 22 May, a rare piece in the Washington Post described the repression, lawlessness and death squads in the “liberated zones” just as visiting EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, declared she had found only “great aspirations” and “leadership qualities”. In demonstrating these qualities, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the “rebel leader” and Gaddafi’s justice minister until February, pledged, “Our friends … will have the best opportunity in future contracts with Libya.”

The east holds most of Libya’s oil, the greatest reserves in Africa.

In March the rebels, with expert foreign guidance, “transferred” to Benghazi the Libyan Central Bank, a wholly owned state institution. This is unprecedented. Meanwhile, the US and the EU “froze” almost US$100 billion in Libyan funds, “the largest sum ever blocked”, according to official statements. It is the biggest bank robbery in history.

The French elite are enthusiastic robbers and bombers.

Nicholas Sarkozy’s imperial design is for a French-dominated Mediterranean Union (UM), which would allow France to “return” to its former colonies in North Africa and profit from privileged investment and cheap labour. Gaddafi described the Sarkozy plan as “an insult” that was “taking us for fools”. The Merkel government in Berlin agreed, fearing its old foe would diminish Germany in the EU, and abstained in the Security Council vote on Libya.

Like the attack on Yugoslavia and the charade of Milosevic’s trial, the International Criminal Court is being used by the US, France and Britain to prosecute Gaddafi while his repeated offers of a ceasefire are ignored.

Gaddafi is a Bad Arab. David Cameron’s government and its verbose top general want to eliminate this Bad Arab, like the Obama administration [allegedly] killed a famously Bad Arab in Pakistan recently. The crown prince of Bahrain, on the other hand, is a Good Arab. On 19 May, he was warmly welcomed to Britain by Cameron with a photo-call on the steps of 10 Downing Street.

In March, the same crown prince slaughtered unarmed protestors and allowed Saudi forces to crush his country’s democracy movement. The Obama administration has rewarded Saudi Arabia, one of the most repressive regimes on earth, with a $US60 billion arms deal, the biggest in US history. The Saudis have the most oil. They are the Best Arabs.

The assault on Libya, a crime under the Nuremberg standard, is Britain’s 46th military “intervention” in the Middle East since 1945.

Like its imperial partners, Britain’s goal is to control Africa’s oil.

Cameron is not Anthony Eden, but almost. Same school. Same values. In the media-pack, the words colonialism and imperialism are no longer used, so that the cynical and the credulous can celebrate state violence in its more palatable form.

And as “Mr. Hopey Changey” (the name that Ted Rall, the great American cartoonist, gives Barack Obama), is fawned upon by the British elite and launches another insufferable presidential campaign, the Anglo-American reign of terror proceeds in Afghanistan and elsewhere, with the murder of people by unmanned drones – a US/Israel innovation, embraced by Obama.

For the record, on a scorecard of imposed misery, from secret trials and prisons and the hounding of whistleblowers and the criminalising of dissent to the incarceration and impoverishment of his own people, mostly black people, Obama is as bad as George W. Bush.

The Palestinians understand all this.

As their young people courageously face the violence of Israel’s blood-racism, carrying the keys of their grandparents’ stolen homes, they are not even included in Mr. Hopey Changey’s list of peoples in the Middle East whose liberation is long overdue.

What the oppressed need, he said on 19 May, is a dose of “America’s interests [that] are essential to them”. He insults us all.


Syria – What’s Behind Protests?

By Joyce Chediac
Both the U.S. and the Economic Union have imposed sanctions on Syrian government officials. Why?

May 25, 2011 "IAC" -- People in the U.S. and around the world have broad sympathy for the popular demonstrations taking place in the Middle East. All the uprisings, however, are not necessarily the same.

Protests against Western client regimes, such as those in Egypt and Tunisia that have so severely squeezed the workers, have the potential to liberate the people from crushing poverty and repression. However, the situations in Libya and Syria are somewhat different.

These governments, though certainly flawed, have been targets of U.S. destabilization efforts for decades because they have taken positions independent from Washington. The Western powers, led by the U.S., are trying to take advantage of the wave of protests in the region to intervene in Libya and Syria in order to make these countries captives of Western colonialism and reduce the workers there to day laborers for imperialism.

Contrast this to Bahrain and Yemen, both ruled by U.S. client regimes long alienated from the workers who live and work there. These regimes have fired upon, arrested and tortured demonstrators. Yet neither country has been declared a no-fly zone, and neither government has been the object of sanctions. In Libya, however, the West’s “humanitarian intervention” to “protect civilians” has meant six weeks of bombing that has destroyed much of the country’s civilian infrastructure.

Now the same Western powers bombing Libya are threatening Syria, the sole remaining independent secular state in the Arab world. Both the U.S. and the Economic Union have imposed sanctions on Syrian government officials. Why?

For one thing, Washington is trying to break up the strategic progressive alliance between Syria and Iran. It is also trying to stop the crucial support Syria gives to Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas on the West Bank. To do this, U.S. finance capital seeks to destabilize Syria, destroy its sovereignty and bring it back into the imperialist orbit.

Who is protesting in Syria?

Demonstrations are taking place against the Bashir Assad government in Syria, which has responded with force, at least on some occasions. But the actual character of these demonstrations remains unclear. To what extent are they true popular outpourings? What has been the governing Syrian Socialist Arab Baath Party’s actual response?

Very clear is the fact that U.S. imperialism is trying to use these protests to its own advantage. This has nothing to do with any demands raised by Syrian workers, who are suffering from an austerity plan imposed by the International Monetary Fund in 2006. Michel Chossudovsky wrote on May 3 that among the protests is “an organized insurrection composed of armed gangs” that entered the Syrian town of Dara’a from Jordan. ( Dara’a is where the protests began.

Meanwhile, the Syrian government-run media is not saying much, while the Western corporate media as well as Al Jazeera have been accused of exaggerating both the protests and the Syrian government repression. Russia Today on April 30 quotes a travel agent living in Syria who says pro-Assad rallies were called “anti-Assad” by Al Jazeera; anti-government protests reported by Al Jazeera and Reuters did not take place; and protest footage from other countries has been attributed to Syria.

While front-page articles give the impression that most of Syria has taken to the streets against Assad, most establishment Middle East pundits admit that the Syrian government, at this point, is supported by most Syrians.

Marxist political perspective needed

World finance capital and its media mouthpieces appear to be “setting up” the Syrian government. But imperialism is not all-powerful. It can be fought and defeated. What could the Syrian government and people have done, and still do, to avoid leaving an opening for the U.S. to intervene? What can close this opening now? Marxism provides the tools to answer these questions.

The Marxist term for the kind of government that exists in Syria is “bourgeois nationalist.” This is also true of Libya, Iran and Iraq before the U.S. invasion. They are nationalist because they seek to develop their countries free from imperialist domination. They are bourgeois because they are ruled by an exploiting class of capitalists.

Marxists support these governments against imperialism because they are manifestations of self-determination of the oppressed. This does not mean that Marxists support every policy of these governments.

Marxists also recognize that these regimes have a dual character. Bourgeois nationalists seek to push out the imperialists so they can better exploit their workers. But they have a common interest with the workers when imperialism threatens the country’s sovereignty. These governments cannot consistently fight imperialism, however; only the working class can.

On the front line with Israel

How has this worked in Syria?

Syria has been ruled since 1966 by a secular government dominated by the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party. The current head of state is Bashir Assad. Syria is a “front-line state,” having a border with Israel. This fact affects every aspect of Syria’s history and has made it an object of constant imperialist and Zionist pressure, which links the fate of the Syrian people to the Palestinian struggle.

Syria’s nationalization of a U.S. oil pipeline precipitated the 1967 war, when Israel attacked and occupied Syria’s Golan Heights, the Palestinian West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. The Golan Heights has since been annexed by Israel.

While Syria plays a regionally progressive role right now, this was not always the case. In 1976 the Syrian government intervened on the side of Lebanon’s fascists, who were armed by Israel, in Lebanon’s civil war against a revolutionary Palestinian-Lebanese alliance. The Syrian capitalists feared that a revolutionary Lebanon might lead to their overthrow by Syrian workers.

Relentless pressure from the U.S. and Israel, however, and the refusal to return the Golan Heights have turned Syria’s rulers back toward an anti-imperialist stance. The role they play today as an ally of Iran, of Hezbollah in Lebanon and of Hamas in Gaza is crucial to holding back U.S. and Israeli aggression in the region.

Capitalist downturn destabilizes independent states

Like other bourgeois nationalist governments, Syria has not broken with the capitalist world market, nor does it have the perspective to do so. Instead, it seeks a better deal in this market, which is completely dominated by Western banks. During economic downturns, nationalist governments like in Syria are forced by Wall Street to make economic concessions that attack the workers and stimulate the growth of a pro-imperialist elite, the “comprador bourgeoisie.” This undermines the government’s independence from imperialism while isolating it from the workers.

In 2006 Syria adopted an IMF plan calling for austerity measures, a wage freeze, opening the economy to foreign banks, and privatizing government-run industries. For working people this has meant unemployment, inflation and deteriorating social conditions. The imperialists know this.

“The Syrian state once brought electricity to every town, but ... can no longer afford the social contract of taking care of people’s needs,” wrote the New York Times on April 30.

“Critics of the regime say economic liberalization has benefited a group of élite businessmen, such as Rami Makhlouf, Mr. Assad’s maternal first cousin who controls a significant amount of the economy, including SyriaTel, the country’s mobile network operator.” (Financial Times, April 26) According to the New York Times report, Makhlouf, a focus of dissent, has become a symbol of “crony capitalism, making the poor poorer and the connected rich fantastically wealthy.”

The Syrian government could protect itself from imperialist destabilization by reversing this economic attack on the workers, whose support constitutes Syria’s best strength. Measures could include reversing the liberalization of the economy by barring the penetration of foreign capital; reinstating state ownership of electricity, communications and other key industries; prioritizing food production; and restoring subsidies. This would win back those elements of the population who are protesting, restore their faith in the government, and make sure there is no fertile soil for imperialist destabilization.

At the same time, workers and progressives here must oppose U.S. intervention in Syria in every way possible. For the imperialists to regain total control would be the worst thing for all the oppressed people in the Middle East and for the working class and oppressed people here at home as well.

Copyright International Action Center



Inside Job

Video - Full Movie

'Inside Job' provides a comprehensive analysis of the global financial crisis of 2008, which at a cost over $20 trillion, caused millions of people to lose their jobs and homes in the worst recession since the Great Depression, and nearly resulted in a global financial collapse. The film traces the rise of a rogue industry which has corrupted politics, regulation, and academia. It was made on location in the United States, Iceland, England, France, Singapore, and China.


The IMF Versus the Arab Spring

By Austin Mackell

The IMF is depicted as the rich uncle saving wayward children, but proposed loans for Egypt and Tunisia could be devastating. Continue


"What Israel is Doing is not in the Best Interest of Judaism"

By Democracy Now!

Democracy Now! Interviews CodePink Activist Who Disrupted Israeli PM Speech to Congress:

Rae Abileah, a Jewish-American activist of Israeli descent with the peace group CodePink, disrupted Netanyahu’s speech. Standing in the congressional gallery, she yelled, “No more occupation! Stop Israel war crimes! Equal rights for Palestinians! Occupation is indefensible!” As she screamed, members in the audience tackled her to the ground, and undercover security forces later dragged her outside.

She was taken to George Washington University Hospital where she was treated for neck and shoulder injuries. At the hospital, police arrested Abileah and charged her with disorderly conduct for disrupting Congress. Her protest came as part a week-long series of actions organized by CodePink called Move Over AIPAC. We speak to Abileah about why she used nonviolent civil disobedience to disrupt Netanayahu’s speech.



Obama Protests at Buckingham Palace


Good news for the people of Gaza: Egypt to open Rafah crossing permanently: Egypt's decision Wednesday to end its blockade of Gaza by opening the only crossing to the Hamas-ruled Palestinian territory this weekend could ease the isolation of 1.4 million Palestinians there. It also puts the new Egyptian regime at odds with Israel, which insists on careful monitoring of people and goods entering Gaza for security reasons.

UN: Israel should end eviction of Palestinians from their homes: Israel should end the forced eviction of Palestinians from their homes in the occupied Palestinian territories, the UN humanitarian emergency coordinator said Tuesday.

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