|Progressive Calendar 12.10.11 /2||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001umn.edu)|
|Date: Sat, 10 Dec 2011 08:47:55 -0800 (PST)|
* P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 12.10.11* 1. Bethlehem 12.10 10am 2. Human rights 12.10 12noon 3. Coldwater/Susu 12.10 2pm 4. Northtown vigil 12.10 2pm 5. Mayday party 12.10 5pm 6. Palestine night 12.10 5:30pm 7. Conor Friedersdorf - Senate [Klubuchar] votes against due-process rights 8. Dan Glazebrook - The West aims to turn the entire Global South into a failed state 9. ed - Newtered (cinquain) [Delayed a bit by server problems] --------1 of 9-------- From: MEPN Bethlehem 12.10 10am Little Town of Bethlehem, Today's Realities Presenter: Walid Issa In the upcoming Christmas season, the attention of many will be turned to the ‘Little Town of Bethlehem,’ the place of Jesus’ birth. Very often this brings to mind sweet, sentimental pictures on the front of Christmas cards. For those living in Bethlehem that is not the reality. This forum will focus on the realities of life for the people of Bethlehem. We will view a short film, Walling In, Walling Out: A Bethlehem Story. Following the film, Walid Issa, born in Bethlehem, will speak. Walid is at student at St. Cloud State University. Come to see the realities of the ‘Little Town of Bethlehem’ through the eyes of those who live there. A discussion will follow the presentations. Saturday, December 10, 2011 9:30 AM. Refreshments 10:00 A.M. to Noon Program and Discussion SOUTHDALE HENNEPIN COUNTY LIBRARY 7001 York Avenue South Edina, MN 55435For information call Dixie Vella at 952-941-1341 Visit our MEPN website at http://www.mepn.org --------2 of 9-------- Human rights 12.10 12noon Human Rights vs. the U.S. INjustice System Saturday, December 10th @ 12noon @ Walker Library, 2880 Hennepin Avenue (Hennepin & Lagoon) Minneapolis, MN Speakers include: Michelle Gross, Communities United Against Police Brutality Larry Johnson, Veterans for Peace Bruce Nestor, National Lawyers Guild Jess Sundin, Anti-War Committee This year, we will mark International Human Rights day with a panel discussion addressing the very criminalization of human rights work. The community has rallied around the AWC as our members are investigated for charges of “material support to terrorism.” These charges are an attempt to silence voices against US policies of war and militarism, while also making it illegal to extend the hand of friendship to people in countries of conflict. This is evident in the recent conviction of two Somali women, for the crime of sending $8600 in humanitarian aid to Somalia, where they are from. Our discussion will include several other important cases of attacks on human rights through the legal system: The death penalty, Troy Davis, and Mumia Abu Jamal (now incarcerated for 30 years); Private Bradley Manning, imprisoned while awaiting charges related to the WikiLeaks release of classified documents exposing war crimes in Iraq, among others. Donations requested, no one turned away. Children welcome. Organized by the Anti-War Committee. RSVP on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=138484266257258 --------3 of 9-------- Coldwater/Susu 12.10 2pm THIS SAT. DEC.10,TC longtime environemntalist/peace activist poet SUSU JEFFREY's 70th birthday party at Coldwater Spring. Details below. Come to Susu's 70th Birthday Party at the entrance to COLDWATER SPRING Sat., Dec. 10, 2011, from 2-4 PM Bring a biodegradable vision gift for the last natural spring in Hennepin County—to tie onto the 30-foot locked fence. Coffee, hot chocolate & ice-cream-cake: Full Moon—traditional group howl! Dress for outdoors. www.FriendsofColdwater.org <http://www.friendsofcoldwater.org/> BYOChair Coldwater is between Minnehaha Park & Fort Snelling, in Mpls. From Hwy 55/Hiawatha, turn East (toward the Mississippi) at 54th Street, take an immediate right, & drive South on the frontage road for ½-mile past the parking meters, to the cul-de-sac. --------4 of 9-------- From: Vanka485 [at] aol.com Subject: Northtown vigil 12.10 2pm Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday 2-3pm --------5 of 9-------- Mayday party 12.10 5pm Mayday Books Annual Holiday Party and Book Sale Saturday, December 10, 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. Mayday Books, 301 Cedar Avenue South, Minneapolis. Come to Mayday Books, the independent, all-volunteer progressive bookstore for your Holiday Shopping and to enjoy the company of Twin Cities area progressives and activists. Refreshment and snacks provided. Special report from Occupy the North Pole provided by members of the International Union of Elfs and Reindeer. 20% Off All Books! One Free Used Book with $35.00 purchase! Sponsored by: Mayday Books. FFI: Call 612-333-4719. --------6 of 9-------- Palestine night 12.10 5:30pm Palestine Night Saturday, December 10, 5:30 p.m. Islamic Center of Minnesota, 1401 Garden Avenue Northeast, Fridley. This event is to educate friends and family about the culture, religion tradition and people of Palestine. Delicious Palestinian food will be served. Cost: $15.00 per person; $45.00 for a family of four. Babysitting provided. Organized by: Islamic Center of Minnesota. FFI: Visit www.islamiccentermn.org or call 763-571-5604. --------7 of 9-------- [Dont let her forget this one! It's due time to process Kloubuchar right outta' there! Make her get an *honest* job somewhere else! -ed] Ceding Liberty to Terror: Senate [Kloubuchar] Votes Against Due-Process Rights CONOR FRIEDERSDORF DEC 2 2011, 11:17 AM ET 76 The Atlantic Asked to deny presidential authority to indefinitely detain Americans without charges or a trial, they declined, citing the threat of al-Qaeda. Is it lawful for the president to order any American held indefinitely as a terrorist, without formal charges, evidence presented in open court, a trial by jury, or a standard of “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt”? The U.S. Senate had a chance Wednesday to assert that no, a president does not possess that power — that the United States Constitution guarantees due process. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) urged her colleagues to seize the opportunity. “We as a Congress are being asked, for the first time certainly since I have been in this body, to affirmatively authorize that an American citizen can be picked up and held indefinitely without being charged or tried. That is a very big deal, because in 1971 we passed a law that said you cannot do this. This was after the internment of Japanese-American citizens in World War II,” she said. “What we are talking about here is the right of our government, as specifically authorized in a law by Congress, to say that a citizen of the United States can be arrested and essentially held without trial forever. “Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) agreed. ”If we believe an American citizen is guilty or will be guilty of acts of terrorism, can we detain them indefinitely?” he said. “Can we ignore their constitutional rights and hold them indefinitely, without warning them of their right to remain silent, without advising them of their right to counsel, without giving them the basic protections of our Constitution? I don’t believe that should be the standard.” In the end, however, Feinstein and Durbin lost the debate. The U.S. Senate refused to affirm that American citizens arrested in the United States shouldn’t be subject to indefinite military detention on the president’s order. Senator Feinstein’s amendment to that effect went down in defeat with 55 historic votes against it. Here are the senators who lost, the ones who wanted to protect the rights of U.S. citizens to due process: You may subscribe to WAMMToday from this blog website and “Follow” us. WAMMToday is now on Facebook! Check the WAMMToday page for posts from this blog and more! “Like” our page today. For the last two years, I’ve been railing against President Obama’s civil-liberties abuses and the Democrats and liberals who are either complicit in them, or at best ignoring his Bush-like policies. What you see above is evidence that the Democratic Party in the Senate is better on civil liberties than the Republicans, only four of whom stood with due process and “innocent until proven guilty.” Kudos to Sens. Kirk, Moran, Paul, Lee and Collins for breaking with their party. That brings us to the senators who refused to affirm that American citizens should not be held indefinitely. They were led by Republican John McCain and Democrat Carl Levin, cosponsors of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011. Sen. Lindsay Graham, a Republican, spoke against the Feinstein amendment on the Senate floor. “It has been the law of the United States for decades that an American citizen on our soil who collaborates with the enemy has committed an act of war and will be held under the law of war, not domestic criminal law,” he said. “In World War II it was perfectly proper to hold an American citizen as an enemy combatant who helped the Nazis. But we believe, somehow, in 2011, that is no longer fair. That would be wrong. My God, what are we doing in 2011? Do you not think al-Qaeda is trying to recruit people here at home? Is the homeland the battlefield? You better believe it is the battlefield.” That quote is important, for Graham is saying that as long as terrorists are trying to recruit on American soil, our homeland is a battlefield. That means a perpetual state of war. Here are the senators who refuse to affirm that American citizens retain the right to due process during this war that is supposedly being waged everywhere on earth and that has no foreseeable end in sight: The Republicans listed ought to be condemned by “constitutional conservatives.” Those are the Tea-Party-affiliated voters who, according to Yuval Levin of National Review, are “focused on restraining government” through “a system of checks to prevent sudden large mistakes while enabling gradual changes supported by a broad and longstanding consensus.” These conservatives, Levin says, insist on “constitutional forms that compel self-restraint and enable self-correction” out of “the humble desire for forms that might prevent large mistakes.” They are “focused on recovering the U.S. Constitution, and especially its limits on government power,” because in the view of the Framers, “there is no omniscience; there is only imperfect humanity.” We therefore need “checks on all of our various excesses, and a system that forces us to think through important decisions as best we can.” If a bloc of voters with those attitudes in fact exists, they’ve now got a list of senators to challenge in the next primaries they face. As yet, there is no hint that there will be such a rebellion. Then there are the Democrats who broke with their party to oppose due process: Begich, Blumenthal, Inouye, Klobuchar, Landrieu, Levin, Manchin, Nelson, Pryor, Reed, Stabenow, and Whitehouse. If there is in fact a sizable progressive constituency that cares about civil liberties, will it challenge these senators? As yet, there is no hint that there will be such a rebellion. After Feinstein’s amendment failed, the Senate quickly passed a face-saving measure on a 99 to 1 vote. It affirmed that nothing in the bill “shall be construed to affect existing authorities” about detention of U.S. citizens and resident aliens. In other words, the Senate is affirming the murky status quo, wherein presidents most certainly think they have the power to indefinitely detain, but have so far avoided a definitive, clarifying Supreme Court decision for fear they’d lose. Many senators agree that the president is already so empowered. In the floor debates, there was a lot of argument about what exactly Sandra Day O’Connor decided in her opinion in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, one of the Supreme Court cases that guides detainee law. You can read the debate here – it is a rich subject for a future item in this space. Here I want to close by looking at an argument made by some of the senators who don’t think it is lawful for the president to indefinitely detain Americans captured on U.S. soil. It requires us to step back from the amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act, and the bill itself, which passed the Senate by a depressing 93 to 7 vote with only Wyden, Paul, Coburn, Harkin, Lee, Sanders, and Merkley dissenting. We also need to step back from the Obama and Bush administrations, and the War on Terror too, until we’re just citizens reading the plain text of the U.S. Constitution, which members of all three federal branches swear to uphold. Sen. Kirk had some grounding words to say about the Constitution: I took the time, as we all should from time to time, serving in this body, to re-read the Constitution of the United States yesterday. The Constitution says quite clearly: ‘In the trial of all crimes — no exception — there shall be a jury, and the trial shall be held in the State where said crimes have been committed.’ Clearly, the Founding Fathers were talking about a civilian court, of which the U.S. person is brought before in its jurisdiction. They talk about treason against the United States, including war in the United States. The Constitution says it “shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” The following sentence is instructive: No person — ‘No person,’ it says — ‘shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.’ I would say that pretty clearly, ‘open court’ is likely to be civilian court. Further, the Constitution goes on, that when a person is charged with treason, a felony, or other crime, that person shall be ‘removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime’ — once again contemplating civilian, state court and not the U.S. military. As everyone knows, we have amended the Constitution many times. The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution is instructive here. It says: ‘The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures’ — including, by the way, the seizure of the person — ‘shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, except upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.’ Now, in section 1031(b)(2), I do not see the requirement for a civilian judge to issue a warrant. So it appears this legislation directly violates the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution with regard to those rights which are inalienable, according to the Declaration of Independence, and should be inviolate as your birthright as an American citizen. Recall the Fifth Amendment, which says: ‘No person’ — by the way, remember, ‘no person’; there is not an exception here. ‘No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment,’ hear the words, ‘of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War’ — meaning there is a separate jurisdiction for U.S. citizens who are in the uniformed service of the United States. But unless you are in the service of the United States, you are one of those ‘no persons’ who shall be answerable for a ‘capital’ or ‘infamous crime,’ except on ‘indictment of a Grand Jury.’ The Sixth Amendment says: ‘In all criminal prosecutions’ — not some, not by exception, in all criminal prosecutions — ‘the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed’ … I go on to these because I regard all of these rights as inherent to U.S. citizens, granted to them by their birth in the United States. Does your senator agree with all that? If not, isn’t it about time that you elected someone who does? CONOR FRIEDERSDORF - Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic,where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction. --------8 of 9-------- The West Aims to Turn the Entire Global South into a Failed State by Dan Glazebrook / December 8th, 2011 The economic collapse that began in 2008, that was duly declared unpredictable and thoroughly unforeseen across the entire Western media, was, in fact, anything but. Indeed, the capitalist cycle of expansion and collapse has repeated itself so often, over hundreds of years, that its existence is openly accepted across the whole spectrum of economic thought, including in the mainstream – which refers to it, in deliberately understated terms, as the “business cycle”. Only those who profit from our ignorance of this dynamic – the billionaire profiteers and their paid stooges in media and government – try to deny it. A slump occurs when “capacity outstrips demand” – that is to say, when people can no longer afford to buy all that is being produced. This is inevitable in a capitalist system, where productive capacity is privately owned, because the global working class as a whole are never paid enough to purchase all that they collectively produce. As a result, unsold goods begin to pile up, and production facilities – factories and the like – are closed down. People are thrown out of work as a result, their incomes decline, and the problem gets worse. This is exactly what we are seeing happen today. In these circumstances, avenues for profitable investment dry up – the holders of capital can find nowhere safe to invest their money. For them, this is the crisis – not the unemployment, the famine, the poverty etc (which, after all, remain an endemic feature of the global capitalist economy even during the ‘boom times’, albeit on a somewhat reduced scale). The governments under their control – through ownership of the media, currency manipulation and control of the economy – must then set to work creating new profitable investment opportunities. One way they do this is by killing off public services, and thus creating opportunities for investment in the private companies that replace them. In 1980s Britain, Margaret Thatcher privatised steel, coal, gas, electricity, water, and much else besides. In the short term, this plunged millions into unemployment, as factories and mines were closed down, and in the long term it resulted in massive price rises for basic services. But it had its intended effect – it provided valuable investment opportunities (for those with capital to spare) at a time when such opportunities were scarce, and created a long term source of fabulous profits. This summer, for example, saw the formerly publicly owned gas company Centrica hiking its prices by another 18% to bring in a £1.3billion profit. The raised prices will see many thousands more pensioners than usual die from the cold this winter as a result, but gas – like all commodities in capitalist society – is not there to provide heat, but to increase capital. In the global South, privatisation was harsher still. Bodies like the IMF and the World Bank used the leverage provided by the debt-extortion mechanism (whereby interest rates were hiked on unpayable loans that had rarely benefited the population, often taken out by corrupt rulers imposed by Western governments in the first place) to force governments across Asia, Africa and Latin America to cut public spending on even basics such as health and education, along with agricultural subsidies. This contributed massively to the staggering rates of infant mortality and deaths from preventable disease, as well as to the AIDS epidemic now raging across Africa. But again the desired end for those imposing the policies was achieved, as new markets were created and holders of giant capital reserves could now invest in private companies to provide the services no longer available from the state. The profit system was given a new lease of life, its collapse staved off once again. The World Bank’s closure of the Indian government’s grain rationing and distribution service, for example, meant that a scheme providing affordable grain to all Indian citizens was closed down, allowing private companies to come in and sell grain at massively increased prices (sometimes up to ten times higher). Whilst this has led to huge numbers of Indians being priced out of the market, and a resulting 200 million people now facing starvation in India, it has also led to record profits for the giant private companies now holding the world’s grain stocks – which is the whole point. This round of global privatisation from the 1980s onwards, however, was so thorough that when the 2008 crisis hit, there were few state functions left to privatise. Creating investment opportunities now is much trickier than it was thirty years ago, because so much of what is potentially profitable is already being thoroughly exploited as it is. In Europe, what is left of public services is hastily being dismantled, as right wing political leaders happily privatise what is left of the public sector, and currency speculators use their firepower to pick off any country that attempts to resist. David Cameron, following the path forced on the global South over recent decades, for example, is busy opening up Britain’s National Health Service to private companies, and massively cutting back on public service provision for vulnerable groups such as the elderly and the jobless. In the global South, however, there is little left for the West to privatise, as successive IMF policies have long ago forced those countries in their grip to strip their public services to the bone (and beyond) already. But there is one state function which, if fully privatised across the world, would make the profits made even from essentials such as health care and education look like peanuts. That is the most basic and essential state function of all, indeed the whole raison d’etre for the state: security. Private security companies are one of the few growth areas during times of global recession, as growing unemployment and poverty leads to increased social unrest and chaos, and those with wealth become more nervous about protecting both themselves, and their assets. Furthermore, as the Chinese economy advances at a rate of knots, military superiority is fast becoming the West’s only “competitive advantage” – the one area in which it’s expertise remains significantly ahead of its rivals. Turning this advantage, therefore, into an opportunity for investment and profit on a large-scale is now one of the chief tasks facing the rulers of Western economies. A recent article in the Guardian noted that British private security firm Group 4 is now “Europe’s largest private sector employer”, employing 600,000 people – 50% more than make up the total armed forces of Britain and France combined. With growth last year of 9% in their “new markets” division, the company have “already benefited from the unrest in north Africa and the Middle East.” Group 4 are set to make a killing in Libya, following the total breakdown of security, likely to last for decades, resulting from NATO’s incineration of the country’s armed forces and wholesale destruction of its state apparatus. With the rule of law replaced by warfare between rival gangs of rebels, and no realistic prospect of a functioning police force for the foreseeable future, those Libyans able to manoeuvre themselves into positions of wealth and power will likely have to rely on private security for many years to come. When Philip Hammond, Britain’s new Defence Secretary and a multi-millionaire businessman himself, suggested that British companies “pack their suitcases and head to Libya”, it was not only oil and construction companies he had in mind, but private security companies. Private military companies are also becoming huge business – most famously, the US company Blackwater, renamed Xe Services after its original name became synonymous with the massacres committed by its forces in Iraq. In the USA, Blackwater has already taken over many of the security functions of the state – charging the Department of Homeland Security $1000 per day per head in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, for example. “When you ship overnight, do you use the postal service or do you use FedEx?” asked Erik Prince, founder and chairman of Blackwater. “Our corporate goal is to do for the national security apparatus what FedEx did to the postal service”. Another Blackwater official commented that “None of us loves the idea that devastation became a business opportunity. It’s a distasteful fact. But that’s what it is. Doctors, lawyers, funeral directors, even newspapers – they all make a living off of bad things happening. So do we, because somebody’s got to handle it.” The danger comes when the economic climate is such that the world’s most powerful governments feel they must do all they can to create such business opportunities. During the Cold War, the US military acted (as indeed it still does) to keep the global South in a state of poverty by attacking any government that seriously sought to challenge this poverty, and imposing governments that would crush trade unions and keep the population cowed. This created investment opportunities because it kept the majority of the world’s labour force in conditions so desperate they were willing to work for peanuts. But now this is not enough. In slump conditions, it doesn’t matter how cheap your workforce is if nobody is buying your products. To create the requisite business opportunities today – a large global market for its military expertise – Western governments must impose not only poverty, but also devastation. Devastation is the quickest route to converting the West’s military prowess into a genuine business opportunity that can create a huge new avenue for investment when all others are drying up. And this is precisely what is happening. David Cameron is, for once, telling the truth, when he says “Whatever it takes to help our businesses take on the world – we’ll do it.” As The Times put it recently, “In Iraq, the postwar business boom is not oil. It is security.” In both Iraq and Afghanistan, a situation of chronic and enduring instability and civil war has been created by a very precise method. Firstly, the existing state power is totally destroyed. Next, the possibility of utilising the country’s domestic expertise to rebuild state capacity is undermined against by barring former officials from working for the new government (a process known in Iraq as “de-Ba’athification”). Linked to this, the former ruling party is banned from playing any part in the political process, effectively ensuring that the largest and most organised political formation in each country has no option but to resort to armed struggle to gain influence, and thereby condemning the country to civil war. Next, vicious sectarianism is encouraged along whatever religious, ethnic and tribal divisions are available, often goaded by the covert actions of Western intelligence services. Finally, the wholesale privatisation of resources ensures chronically destabilising levels of unemployment and inequality. The whole process is self-perpetuating, as the skilled and professional sections of the workforce – those with the means and connections – emigrate, leaving behind a dire skills shortage and even less chance of a functioning society emerging from the chaos. This instability is not confined to the borders of the state which has been destroyed. In a masterfully cynical domino effect, for example, the aggression against Iraq has also helped to destabilise Syria. Three quarters of the 2 million Iraqi refugees fleeing the war in their own country have ended up in Syria, thus contributing to the pressure on the Syrian economy which is a major factor in the current unrest there. The destruction of Libya will also have far reaching destabilising consequences across the region. As the recent United Nations Support Mission in Libya stated, “Libya had accumulated the largest known stockpile of Manpads [surface-to-air missiles] of any non-Manpad-producing country. Although thousands were destroyed during the seven-month Nato operations, there are increasing concerns over the looting and likely proliferation of these portable defence systems, as well as munitions and mines, highlighting the potential risk to local and regional stability.” Furthermore, a large number of volatile African countries are currently experiencing a fragile peace secured by peacekeeping forces in which Libyan troops had been playing a vital role. The withdrawal of these troops may well be damaging to the maintenance of the peace. Similarly, Libya, under Gaddafi’s rule, had contributed generously to African development projects; a policy which will certainly be ended under the NTC – again, with potentially destabilising consequences. Clearly, a policy of devastation and destabilisation fuels not only the market for private security, but also for arms sales – where, again, the US, Britain and France remain market leaders. And a policy of devastation through blitzkrieg fits in clearly with the big three current long term strategic objectives of Western policy planners: To corner as large a share as possible of the world’s diminishing resources, most importantly oil, gas and water. A government of a devastated country is at the mercy of the occupying country when it comes to contracts. Gaddafi’s Libya, for example, drove a notoriously hard bargain with the Western powers over oil contracts – acting as a key force in the 1973 oil price spike, and still in 2009 being accused by the Financial Times of “resource nationalism”. But the new NTC government in Libya have been hand picked for their subservience to foreign interests – and know that their continued positions depend on their willingness to continue in this role. To prevent the rise of the global South, primarily through the destruction of any independent regional powers (such as Iran, Libya, Syria etc) and the destabilisation, isolation and encirclement of the rising global powers (in particular China and Russia). To overcome or limit the impact of economic collapse by using superior military force to create and conquer new markets through the destruction and rebuilding of infrastructure and the elimination of competition. This policy of total devastation represents a departure from the Cold War policies of the Western powers. During the Cold War, whilst the major strategic aims remained the same, the methods were different. Independent regional powers in the global South were still destabilised and invaded – and regularly – but generally with the aim of installing ‘compliant dictatorships’. Thus, Lumumba was overthrown and replaced with Mobutu; Sukarno with Suharto; Allende with Pinochet; etc, etc. But the danger with this ‘imposed strongmen’ policy was that strongmen can become defiant. Saddam Hussein illustrated this perfectly. After having been backed for over a decade by the West, he turned on their stooge monarchy in Kuwait. Governments that are in control can easily get out of control. However, for as long as these strongmen were needed for the services provided by their armies (protecting investments, repressing workers struggles, etc), they were supported. The crisis now underway in the economies of the West, however, calls for more drastic measures. And the development of private security and private mercenary companies mean that the armies provided by these strongmen are starting to be deemed no longer necessary. Congo is a case in point. For three decades, the Western powers had supported Mobutu Sese-Seko’s iron rule of the Congo. But then, in the mid-90s, they allowed him to be overthrown. However, rather than allowing the Congolese resistance forces to take power and establish an effective government, they then sponsored an invasion of the country by Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. Although these countries have now largely withdrawn their militias, they continue to sponsor proxy militias which have prevented the country seeing a moment’s peace for nearly fifteen years, resulting in the biggest slaughter since the end of the Second World War, with over 5 million killed. One result of this total breakdown of functioning government has been that the Western companies that loot Congo’s resources have been able to do so virtually for free. Despite being the world’s largest supplier of both coltan and copper, amongst many other precious minerals, the total tax revenue on these products in 2006-7 amounted to a puny £32 million. This is surely far less than what even the most useless neo-colonial puppet would have demanded. This completely changes the meaning of the word ‘government’. In the Congo, the government’s best efforts to stabilise and develop the country have so far proved no match for the destabilisation strategies of the West and its stooges. In Afghanistan, it is well known that the government’s writ has no authority outside of Kabul, if there. But then, that is the point. The role of the governments imposed on Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, like the one they are trying to impose on Syria, is not to govern or provide for the population at all – even that most basic of functions, security. It is simply to provide a fig leaf of legitimacy for the occupation of the country and to award business contracts to the colonial powers. They literally have no other function, as far as their sponsors are concerned. It goes without saying that this policy of devastation is turning the victimised countries into a living hell. After now more than thirty years of Western destabilisation, and ten years of outright occupation, Afghanistan is at or very hear the bottom of nearly every human development indicator available, with life expectancy at 44 years and an under-five mortality rate of over one in four. Mathew White, a history professor who has recently completed a detailed survey of the humanity’s worst atrocities throughout history, concluded that, without doubt, “chaos is far deadlier than tyranny”. It is a truth to which many Iraqis can testify. Dan Glazebrook writes for the Morning Star newspaper and is a member of the editorial board of OURAIM publications. . --------9 of 9-------- NEWTERED [cinquain 2 4 6 8 2] Newt let his conscience be his guide and now no one knows where in Hell he is. Somewhere there, though. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Shove Clove
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