Progressive Calendar 12.10.11 /2
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]

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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


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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


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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.


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From: Vanka485 [at] aol.com
Subject: Northtown vigil 12.10 2pm

Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday 2-3pm


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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.


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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.


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[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:

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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.


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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. .


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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.

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                                                          Shove Clove
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