Softpanorama

Home Switchboard Unix Administration Red Hat TCP/IP Networks Neoliberalism Toxic Managers
May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)

Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism
and Alliance of Transnational Elites

Neoliberalism is inseparable from imperialism and globalization

Who Rules America > Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism

News American Imperialism Recommended Links Predator state Neoliberalism as a New form of Corporatism Neoconservatism as a US version of Neoliberalism IMF as a key institution for neoliberal debt enslavement
Debt enslavement Greece debt enslavement Ukraine debt enslavement Provisional government as an instrument for Ukraine's debt enslavement "Fight with Corruption" as a smoke screen for neoliberal penetration into host countries Harvard Mafia, Andrei Shleifer and the economic rape of Russia Looting pays dividends to empire
Antiamericanism as a Blowback to American Empire Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism Globalization of Financial Flows Divide and conquer strategy Neoliberal Brainwashing -- Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few The Deep State Why did we get the collapse of the USSR so wrong ?
American Exceptionalism Anatol Leiven on American Messianism The Grand Chessboard New American Militarism Media-Military-Industrial Complex The Iron Law of Oligarchy Ayn Rand and her Objectivism Cult
Fifth Column of Globalization Inside "democracy promotion" hypocrisy fair "Fight with Corruption" as a smoke screen for neoliberal penetration into host countries US Department of Imperial Expansion Diplomacy by deception Democracy as a universal opener for access to natural resources American imperialism: the attempt to secure global hegemony
Victoria Nuland’s ‘Ukraine-gate’ Color revolutions Compradors NGOs as braintrust of color revolutions EuroMaidan The Far Right Forces in Ukraine as Trojan horse of neoliberalism Narcissism as Key American Value
Resurgence of ideology of neo-fascism Totalitarian Decisionism & Human Rights: The Re-emergence of Nazi Law Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime Machiavellism Right to protect Big Uncle is Watching You Industrial Espionage
Media domination strategy Media as a weapon of mass deception Developing Countries Hit Hardest by Brain Drain Republics are usually warlike and unscrupulous Politically Incorrect Political Humor American Imperialism Bookshelf Etc

Introduction

All U.S. schoolchildren should be taught, as part of their basic civics education, by conscientious elementary, middle school and high school teachers, that they live in an imperialist country. The term itself ought to be popularized. This is what politicians like Obama actually refer to, elliptically, when they call the U.S. “exceptional.

Gary Leupp, The U.S. Versus ISIS

Looks like the USA successfully managed to recreate Imperial Rome on a new level, neoliberalism level. See Empires Then and Now - PaulCraig

The idea financial imperialism is simple. Instead of old-fashion military occupation of the country, take over the countries in crisis, if necessary remove their democratically elected governments from power by claiming that election are falsified and the government is authoritarian (unlike the puppets they want to install), and use extraordinary powers to mandate austerity, burden them with debt most of which will be stolen and repatriated to the West. But neoliberals take this old idea to a new level -- the crisis can be manufactured. The scheme looks like the following (see IMF as the key institution for neoliberal debt enslavement discussion of Greece for more information):

After installation of a puppet government, it is relatively easy to use Fifth column based government to protect foreign financial interest. Now you can recoup the costs and enjoy the profits. Much cheaper and more humane then bombing the country and killing a couple of hundred thousand people to achieve the same goals (Iraq variant).

A classic recent examples were Yeltsin's government in Russia, Yushchenko regime in Ukraine,  Poroshenko-Yatsenyuk duo in Ukraine and sequence of neoliberal governments in Greece. 

In other words neoliberalism is inseparable from imperialism and globalization (Neoliberalism A Critical Reader Alfredo Saad-Filho, Deborah Johnston, p. 2)

In the conventional (or mainstream) discourse,imperialism is either absent or, more recently, proudly presented as the ‘AmericanBurden': to civilise the world and bring to all the benediction of the Holy Trinity, the green-faced Lord Dollar and its deputies and occasional rivals. Holy Euro and Saint Yen. New converts win a refurbished international airport, one brand-new branch of McDonald’s, two luxury hotels, 3,000 NGOs and one US military base.

This offer cannot be refused - or else.2 In turn, globalisation is generally presented as an inescapable, inexorable and benevolent process leading to greater competition, welfare improvements and the spread of democracy around the world. In reality, however, the so-called process of globalisation - to the extent that it actually exists (see Saad-Rlho 2003) - is merely the international face of neoliberalism: a world-wide strategy of accumulation and social discipline that doubles up as tin imperial-ist project, spearheaded by the alliance between the US ruling class and locally dominant capitalist coalitions. This ambitious power project centred on neoliberalism at home and imperial globalism abroad is implemented by diverse social and economic political alliances in each country, but the interests of local finance and the US ruling class, itself dominated by finance, are normally hegemonic.

...the United States, the United Kingdom and east and south-east Asia respectively, neoliberalism is a particular organisation of capitalism, which has evolved to protect capital(ism) and to reduce the power of labour. This is achieved by means of social, economic and political transformations imposed by internal forces as well as external pressure. The internal forces include the coalition between financial interests, leading industrialists, traders and exporters, media barons, big landowners, local political chieftains, the
top echelons of the civil service and the military, and their intellectual and political proxies. These groups are closely connected with ‘global’ ideologies emanating from the centre, and they tend to adapt swiftly to the demands beamed from the metropolis. Their efforts have led to a significant worldwide shift in powerrelations away from the majority. Corporate power has increased, while finance hits acquired unrivalled influence, and the political spectrum has shifted towards the right. Left parties and mass organisations have imploded, while trade unions have been muzzled or disabled by unemployment. Forms of external pressure have included the diffusion of Western culture and ideology, foreign support for state and civil society institutions peddling neolibcral values, the shameless use of foreign aid, debt relief and balance of payments support to promote the neoliberal programme, and diplomatic pressure, political unrest and military intervention when necessary.

...the ruling economic and political forces in the European Union have instrumentalised the process of integration to ensure the hegemony of neoliberalism. This account is complemented by the segmentation of Eastern Europe into countries that are being drawn into a Western European-style neoliberalism and others that are following Russia’s business oligarchy model. In sum, neoliberalism is everywhere both the outcome and the arena of social conflicts. It sets the political and economic agenoa. limits the possibie outcomes, biases expectations, and imposes urgent tasks on those challenging its assumptions, methods and consequences.

In the meantime, neoliberal theory has not remained static. In order to deal with the most powerful criticisms leveled against neoliberalism, that it has increased poverty and social dislocation around the world, neoliberal theory has attempted to present the ogre in a more favorable light. In spite of the substantial resources invested in this ideologically inspired make-over, these amendments have remained unconvincing, not least because the heart of the neoliberal project has remained unchanged. This is discussed in Chapter 15 for poverty and distribution, while Chapter 21 unpicks the agenda of the ‘Third Way', viewed by many as ‘neoliberalism with a human face’.

Neoliberalism offered a finance-friendly solution to the problems of capital accumulation at the end of a relatively long cycle of prosperity. Chapters 1. 22 and 30 show that neoliberalism imposed discipline upon a restless working class through contractionary fiscal and monetary policies and wide-ranging initiatives to curtail social rights, under the guise of anti-inflation and productivity-enhancing measures. Neoliberalism also rationalised the transfer of state capacity to allocate resources inter-temporally (the balance between investment and consumption) and inter-sectorally (the distribution of investment, employment and output) towards an increasingly internationally integrated (and US-led) financial sector. In doing so, neoliberalism facilitated a gigantic transfer of resources to the local rich and the United States, as is shown by Chapters 11 and 15.

The “elephant in the room” is peak oil (plato oil to be more correct) and the plato of food production. Without "cheap oil" extraction growing, it is more difficult to sustain both  population growth and rising standard of living simultaneously. It became the situation of iether/or, So the future it does not look pretty. As soon as "cheap oil" is close to the the plato,  financial system gets into trouble: private banks based fractional reserve banking requires economy expansion for survival.  And they add positive feedback loop to the economy, greatly increasing the instability. So some, less important, banks will implode and strategically important need to be saved by government at a great expense for taxpayers. The western elite is well aware of this possibility and will steal, loot and pillage as fast as they can to prolong the agony...  Neoliberal expansion and conversion of other countries into debt slaves can serve as a substitute for growth.

What actually is devalued in austerity programs imposed on indebted nations via currency depreciation is the price of local labor (along with standard of living of the most population). So austerity programs caused a huge drop in the standard of living of population. Drop of standard of living of Ukraine to the level of the most poor countries of Africa  (less then $2 a day for the majority of population) is pretty instructive here.   That is the main domestic cost, as long as there as there is a common world price for fuels and minerals, consumer goods, food and even credit. As wages are sticky and it is difficult to reduced then directly (via high unemployment, leading to falling wages), currency depreciation can do the same trick even more effectively. for example since February 22 coup d'état, grivna, the Ukrainian currency depreciated from 8 to 24 grivna to dollar or approximately 300%.

This is how war of creditors against debtor countries turns into a class war. But to impose such neoliberal reforms, foreign pressure is necessary to bypass domestic, democratically elected Parliaments. Not every country’s voters can be expected to be as passive in acting against their own interests as those of Latvia and Ireland. The financial capital objective is to bypass parliament by demanding a “consensus” to put foreign creditors first, above the national economy.

Buying natural monopolies in transportation, communications, and the land from the public domain for pennies on the dollar is called "rescue package", not the road to debt peonage and a financial neo-feudalism that looms as a grim reality. Let me state it very simply : "the borrower [debtor] is SERVANT to the lender".

"the borrower [debtor] is SERVANT to the lender".

The whole point of creating debtors is to gain control of and rule over them. Prof. Hudson's article Replacing Economic Democracy with Financial Oligarchy (2011) illustrates this admirably.

At the same time then comes to bailing out bankers who overplayed with derivatives, rules are ignored – in order to serve the “higher justice” of saving banks and their high-finance counterparties from taking a loss. This is quite a contrast compared to IMF policy toward labor and “taxpayers.” The class war is back in business – with a vengeance, and bankers are the winners this time around.

Classic, textbook example of neocolonialism was rape of Russia in 1991-1999. See Harvard Mafia, Andrei Shleifer and the economic rape of Russia

Henry C K Liu Views

One of the most interesting analysis of this new phenomena was provided by Henry C K Liu in his series of articles SUPER CAPITALISM, SUPER IMPERIALISM


PART 1: A Structural Link

Robert B Reich, former US Secretary of Labor and resident neo-liberal in the Clinton administration from 1993 to 1997, wrote in the September 14, 2007 edition of The Wall Street Journal an opinion piece, "CEOs Deserve Their Pay", as part of an orchestrated campaign to promote his new book: Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life (Afred A Knopf).

Reich is a former Harvard professor and the former Maurice B Hexter Professor of Social and Economic Policy at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. He is currently a professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California (Berkley) and a regular liberal gadfly in the unabashed supply-side Larry Kudlow TV show that celebrates the merits of capitalism.

Reich's Supercapitalism brings to mind Michael Hudson's Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire (1972-2003). While Reich, a liberal turned neo-liberal, sees "supercapitalism" as the natural evolution of insatiable shareholder appetite for gain, a polite euphemism for greed, that cannot or should not be reined in by regulation, Hudson, a Marxist heterodox economist, sees "super imperialism" as the structural outcome of post-World War II superpower geopolitics, with state interests overwhelming free market forces, making regulation irrelevant. While Hudson is critical of "super imperialism" and thinks that it should be resisted by the weaker trading partners of the US, Reich gives the impression of being ambivalent about the inevitability, if not the benignity, of "supercapitalism".

The structural link between capitalism and imperialism was first observed by John Atkinson Hobson (1858-1940), an English economist, who wrote in 1902 an insightful analysis of the economic basis of imperialism. Hobson provided a humanist critique of neoclassical economics, rejecting exclusively materialistic definitions of value. With Albert Frederick Mummery (1855-1895), the great British mountaineer who was killed in 1895 by an avalanche while reconnoitering Nanga Parbat, an 8,000-meter Himalayan peak, Hobson wrote The Physiology of Industry (1889), which argued that an industrial economy requires government intervention to maintain stability, and developed the theory of over-saving that was given a glowing tribute by John Maynard Keynes three decades later.

The need for governmental intervention to stabilize an expanding national industrial economy was the rationale for political imperialism. On the other side of the coin, protectionism was a governmental counter-intervention on the part of weak trading partners for resisting imperialist expansion of the dominant power. Historically, the processes of globalization have always been the result of active state policy and action, as opposed to the mere passive surrender of state sovereignty to market forces. Market forces cannot operate in a vacuum. They are governed by man-made rules. Globalized markets require the acceptance by local authorities of established rules of the dominant economy. Currency monopoly of course is the most fundamental trade restraint by one single dominant government.

Adam Smith published Wealth of Nations in 1776, the year of US independence. By the time the constitution was framed 11 years later, the US founding fathers were deeply influenced by Smith's ideas, which constituted a reasoned abhorrence of trade monopoly and government policy in restricting trade. What Smith abhorred most was a policy known as mercantilism, which was practiced by all the major powers of the time. It is necessary to bear in mind that Smith's notion of the limitation of government action was exclusively related to mercantilist issues of trade restraint. Smith never advocated government tolerance of trade restraint, whether by big business monopolies or by other governments in the name of open markets.

A central aim of mercantilism was to ensure that a nation's exports remained higher in value than its imports, the surplus in that era being paid only in specie money (gold-backed as opposed to fiat money). This trade surplus in gold permitted the surplus country, such as England, to invest in more factories at home to manufacture more for export, thus bringing home more gold. The importing regions, such as the American colonies, not only found the gold reserves backing their currency depleted, causing free-fall devaluation (not unlike that faced today by many emerging-economy currencies), but also wanting in surplus capital for building factories to produce for domestic consumption and export. So despite plentiful iron ore in America, only pig iron was exported to England in return for English finished iron goods. The situation was similar to today's oil producing countries where despite plentiful crude oil, refined petrochemical products such as gasoline and heating oil have to be imported.

In 1795, when the newly independent Americans began finally to wake up to their disadvantaged trade relationship and began to raise European (mostly French and Dutch) capital to start a manufacturing industry, England decreed the Iron Act, forbidding the manufacture of iron goods in its American colonies, which caused great dissatisfaction among the prospering colonials.

Smith favored an opposite government policy toward promoting domestic economic production and free foreign trade for the weaker traders, a policy that came to be known as "laissez faire" (because the English, having nothing to do with such heretical ideas, refuse to give it an English name). Laissez faire, notwithstanding its literal meaning of "leave alone", meant nothing of the sort. It meant an activist government policy to counteract mercantilism. Neo-liberal free-market economists are just bad historians, among their other defective characteristics, when they propagandize "laissez faire" as no government interference in trade affairs.

Friedrich List, in his National System of Political Economy (1841), asserts that political economy as espoused in England, far from being a valid science universally, was merely British national opinion, suited only to English historical conditions. List's institutional school of economics asserts that the doctrine of free trade was devised to keep England rich and powerful at the expense of its trading partners and it must be fought with protective tariffs and other protective devices of economic nationalism by the weaker countries.

Henry Clay's "American system" was a national system of political economy. US neo-imperialism in the post WWII period disingenuously promotes neo-liberal free-trade against governmental protectionism to keep the US rich and powerful at the expense of its trading partners. Before the October Revolution of 1917, many national liberation movements in European colonies and semi-colonies around the world were influenced by List's economic nationalism. The 1911 Nationalist Revolution in China, led by Sun Yat-sen, was heavily influenced by Lincoln's political ideas - government of the people, by the people and for the people - and the economic nationalism of List, until after the October Revolution when Sun realized that the Soviet model was the correct path to national revival.

Hobson's magnum opus, Imperialism, (1902), argues that imperialistic expansion is driven not by state hubris, known in US history as "manifest destiny", but by an innate quest for new markets and investment opportunities overseas for excess capital formed by over-saving at home for the benefit of the home state. Over-saving during the industrial age came from Richardo's theory of the iron law of wages, according to which wages were kept perpetually at subsistence levels as a result of uneven market power between capital and labor. Today, job outsourcing that returns as low-price imports contributes to the iron law of wages in the US domestic economy. (See my article Organization of Labor Exporting Countries [OLEC]).

Hobson's analysis of the phenology (study of life cycles) of capitalism was drawn upon by Lenin to formulate a theory of imperialism as an advanced stage of capitalism: "Imperialism is capitalism at that stage of development at which the dominance of monopolies and finance capitalism is established; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun, in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed." (Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, 1916, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, Chapter 7).

Lenin was also influenced by Rosa Luxemberg, who three year earlier had written her major work, The Accumulation of Capital: A Contribution to an Economic Explanation of Imperialism (Die Akkumulation des Kapitals: Ein Beitrag zur ökonomischen Erklärung des Imperialismus), 1913). Luxemberg, together with Karl Liebknecht a founding leader of the Spartacist League (Spartakusbund), a radical Marxist revolutionary movement that later renamed itself the Communist Party of Germany (Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands, or KPD), was murdered on January 15, 1919 by members of the Freikorps, rightwing militarists who were the forerunners of the Nazi Sturmabteilung (SA) led by Ernst Rohm.

The congenital association between capitalism and imperialism requires practically all truly anti-imperialist movements the world over to be also anti-capitalist. To this day, most nationalist capitalists in emerging economies are unwitting neo-compradors for super imperialism. Neo-liberalism, in its attempts to break down all national boundaries to facilitate global trade denominated in fiat dollars, is the ideology of super imperialism.

Hudson, the American heterodox economist, historian of ancient economies and post-WW II international balance-of-payments specialist, advanced in his 1972 book the notion of 20th century super imperialism. Hudson updated Hobson's idea of 19th century imperialism of state industrial policy seeking new markets to invest home-grown excess capital. To Hudson, super imperialism is a state financial strategy to export debt denominated in the state's fiat currency as capital to the new financial colonies to finance the global expansion of a superpower empire. No necessity, or even intention, was entertained by the superpower of ever having to pay off these paper debts after the US dollar was taken off gold in 1971.

Monetary Imperialism and Dollar Hegemony

Super imperialism transformed into monetary imperialism after the 1973 Middle East oil crisis with the creation of the petrodollar and two decades later emerged as dollar hegemony through financial globalization after 1993. As described in my 2002 AToL article, Dollar hegemony has to go, a geopolitical phenomenon emerged after the 1973 oil crisis in which the US dollar, a fiat currency since 1971, continues to serve as the primary reserve currency for  international trade because oil continues to be denominated in fiat dollars as a result of superpower geopolitics, leading to dollar hegemony in 1993 with the globalization of deregulated financial markets.

Three causal developments allowed dollar hegemony to emerge over a span of two decades after 1973 and finally take hold in 1993. US fiscal deficits from overseas spending since the 1950s caused a massive drain in US gold holdings, forcing the US in 1971 to abandon the 1945 Bretton Woods regime of fixed exchange rate based on a gold-backed dollar. Under that international financial architecture, cross-border flow of funds was not considered necessary or desirable for promoting international trade or domestic development. The collapse of the 1945 Bretton Woods regime in 1971 was the initial development toward dollar hegemony.

The second development was the denomination of oil in dollars after the 1973 Middle East oil crisis. The emergence of petrodollars was the price the US, still only one of two contending superpowers in 1973, extracted from defenseless oil-producing nations for allowing them to nationalize the Western-owned oil industry on their soil. As long as oil transactions are denominated in fiat dollars, the US essentially controls all the oil in the world financially regardless of specific ownership, reducing all oil producing nations to the status of commodity agents of dollar hegemony.

The third development was the global deregulation of financial markets after the Cold War, making cross-border flow of funds routine, and a general relaxation of capital and foreign exchange control by most governments involved in international trade. This neo-liberal trade regime brought into existence a foreign exchange market in which free-floating exchange rates made computerized speculative attacks on weak currencies a regular occurrence. These three developments permitted the emergence of dollar hegemony after 1994 and helped the US win the Cold War with financial power derived from fiat money.

Dollar hegemony advanced super imperialism one stage further from the financial to the monetary front. Industrial imperialism sought to achieve a trade surplus by exporting manufactured good to the colonies for gold to fund investment for more productive plants at home. Super imperialism sought to extract real wealth from the colonies by paying for it with fiat dollars to sustain a balance of payments out of an imbalance in the exchange of commodities. Monetary imperialism under dollar hegemony exports debt denominated in fiat dollars through a permissive trade deficit with the new colonies, only to re-import the debt back to the US as capital account surplus to finance the US debt bubble.

The circular recycling of dollar-denominated debt was made operative by the dollar, a fiat currency that only the US can print at will, continuing as the world's prime reserve currency for international trade and finance, backed by US geopolitical superpower. Dollars are accepted universally because oil is denominated in dollars and everyone needs oil and thus needs dollars to buy oil. Any nation that seeks to denominate key commodities, such as oil, in currencies other than the dollar will soon find itself invaded by the sole superpower. Thus the war on Iraq is not about oil, as former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan suggested recently. It is about keeping oil denominated in dollars to protect dollar hegemony. The difference is subtle but of essential importance.

Since 1993, central banks of all trading nations around the world, with the exception of the US Federal Reserve, have been forced to hold more dollar reserves than they otherwise need to ward off the potential of sudden speculative attacks on their currencies in unregulated global financial markets. Thus "dollar hegemony" prevents the exporting nations, such as the Asian Tigers, from spending domestically the dollars they earn from the US trade deficit and forces them to fund the US capital account surplus, shipping real wealth to the US in exchange for the privilege of financing further growth of the US debt economy.

Not only do these exporting nations have to compete by keeping their domestic wages down and by prostituting their environment, the dollars that they earn cannot be spent at home without causing a monetary crisis in their own currencies because the dollars they earn have to be exchanged into local currencies before they can be spent domestically, causing an excessive rise in their domestic money supply which in turn causes domestic inflation-pushed bubbles. While the trade-surplus nations are forced to lend their export earnings back to the US, these same nations are starved for capital, as global capital denominated in dollars will only invest in their export sectors to earn more dollars. The domestic sector with local currency earnings remains of little interest to global capital denominated in dollars. As a result, domestic development stagnates for lack of capital.

Dollar hegemony permits the US to transform itself from a competitor in world markets to earn hard money, to a fiat-money-making monopoly with fiat dollars that only it can print at will. Every other trading nation has to exchange low-wage goods for dollars that the US alone can print freely and that can be spent only in the dollar economy without monetary penalty.

The victimization of Japan and China

Japan is a classic victim of monetary imperialism. In 1990, as a result of Japanese export prowess, the Industrial Bank of Japan was the largest bank in the world, with a market capitalization of $57 billion. The top nine of the 10 largest banks then were all Japanese, trailed by Canadian Alliance in 10th place. No US bank made the top-10 list. By 2001, the effects of dollar hegemony have pushed Citigroup into first place with a market capitalization of $260 billion. Seven of the top 10 largest financial institutions in the world in 2001 were US-based, with descending ranking in market capitalization: Citigroup ($260 billion), AIG ($209 billion), HSBC (British-$110 billion), Berkshire Hathaway ($100 billion), Bank of America ($99 billion), Fanny Mae ($80 billion), Wells Fargo ($74 billion), JP Morgan Chase ($72 billion), RBS (British-$70 billion) and UBS (Swiss-$67 billion). No Japanese bank survived on the list.

China is a neoclassic case of dollar hegemony victimization even though its domestic financial markets are still not open and the yuan is still not freely convertible. With over $1.4 trillion in foreign exchange reserves earned at a previously lower fixed exchange rate of 8.2 to a dollar set in 1985, now growing at the rate of $1 billion a day at a narrow-range floating exchange rate of around 7.5 since July 2005, China cannot spend much of it dollar holdings on domestic development without domestic inflation caused by excessive expansion of its yuan money supply. The Chinese economy is overheating because the bulk of its surplus revenue is in dollars from exports that cannot be spent inside China without monetary penalty. Chinese wages are too low to absorb sudden expansion of yuan money supply to develop the domestic economy. And with over $1.4 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, equal to its annual GDP, China cannot even divest from the dollar without having the market effect of a falling dollar moving against its remaining holdings.

The People's Bank of China announced on July 20, 2005 that effective immediately the yuan exchange rate would go up by 2.1% to 8.11 yuan to the US dollar and that China would drop the dollar peg to its currency. In its place, China would move to a "managed float" of the yuan, pegging the currency's exchange value to an undisclosed basket of currencies linked to its global trade. In an effort to limit the amount of volatility, China would not allow the currency to fluctuate by more than 0.3% in any one trading day. Linking the yuan to a basket of currencies means China's currency is relatively free from market forces acting on the dollar, shifting to market forces acting on a basket of currencies of China's key trading partners. The basket is composed of the euro, yen and other Asian currencies as well as the dollar. Though the precise composition of the basket was not disclosed, it can nevertheless be deduced by China's trade volume with key trading partners and by mathematical calculation from the set-daily exchange rate.

Thus China is trapped in a trade regime operating on an international monetary architecture in which it must continue to export real wealth in the form of underpaid labor and polluted environment in exchange for dollars that it must reinvest in the US. Ironically, the recent rise of anti-trade sentiment in US domestic politics offers China a convenient, opportune escape from dollar hegemony to reduce its dependence on export to concentrate on domestic development. Chinese domestic special interest groups in the export sector would otherwise oppose any policy to slow the growth in export if not for the rise of US protectionism which causes shot-term pain for China but long-term benefit in China's need to restructure its economy toward domestic development. Further trade surplus denominated in dollar is of no advantage to China.

Emerging markets are new colonies of monetary imperialism

Even as the domestic US economy declined after the onset of globalization in the early 1990s, US dominance in global finance has continued to this day on account of dollar hegemony. It should not be surprising that the nation that can print at will the world's reserve currency for international trade should come up on top in deregulated global financial markets. The so-called emerging markets around the world are the new colonies of monetary imperialism in a global neo-liberal trading regime operating under dollar hegemony geopolitically dominated by the US as the world's sole remaining superpower.

Denial of corporate social responsibility

In Supercapitalism, Reich identifies corporate social responsibility as a diversion from economic efficiency and an un-capitalistic illusion. Of course the late Milton Friedman had asserted that the only social responsibility of corporations is to maximize profit, rather than to generate economic well-being and balanced growth through fair profits. There is ample evidence to suggest that a single-minded quest for maximizing global corporate profit can lead to domestic economic decline in even the world's sole remaining superpower. The US public is encouraged to blame such decline on the misbehaving trading partners of the US rather than US trade policy that permits US transnational corporation to exploit workers in all trading nations, including those in the US. It is a policy that devalues work by over-rewarding financial manipulation.

Yet to Reich, the US corporate income tax is regressive and inequitable and should be abolished so that after-tax corporate profit can be even further enhanced. This pro-profit position is at odds with even rising US Republican sentiment against transnational corporations and their global trade strategies. Reich also thinks the concept of corporate criminal liability is based on an "anthropomorphic fallacy" that ends up hurting innocent people. Reich sees as inevitable an evolutionary path towards an allegedly perfect new world of a super-energetic capitalism responding to the dictate of all-powerful consumer preference through market democracy.

Reich argues that corporations cannot be expected to be more "socially responsible" than their shareholders or even their consumers, and he implies that consumer preference and behavior are the proper and effective police forces that supersede the need for market regulation. He sees corporations, while viewed by law as "legal persons", as merely value-neutral institutional respondents of consumer preferences in global markets. Reich claims that corporate policies, strategies and behavior in market capitalism are effectively governed by consumer preferences and need no regulation by government. This is essentially the ideology of neo-liberalism.

Yet US transnational corporations derive profit from global operations serving global consumers to maximize return on global capital. These transnational corporations will seek to shift production to where labor is cheapest and environmental standards are lowest and to market their products where prices are highest and consumer purchasing power the strongest. Often, these corporations find it more profitable to sell products they themselves do not make, controlling only design and marketing, leaving the dirty side of manufacturing to others with underdeveloped market power. This means if the US wants a trade surplus under the current terms of trade, it must lower it wages. The decoupling of consumers from producers weakens the conventional effects of market pressure on corporate social responsibility. Transnational corporations have no home community loyalty. Consumers generally do not care about sweat shop conditions overseas while overseas workers do not care about product safety on goods they produce but cannot afford to buy. Products may be made in China, but they are not made by China, but by US transnational corporations which are responsible for the quality and safety of their products.

Further, it is well recognized that corporations routinely and effectively manipulate consumer preference and market acceptance often through if not false, at least misleading advertising, not for the benefit of consumers, but to maximize return on faceless capital raised from global capital markets. The subliminal emphasis by the corporate culture on addictive acquisition of material things, coupled with a structural deprivation of adequate income to satisfy the manipulated desires, has made consumers less satisfied than in previous times of less material abundance. Corporations have been allowed to imbed consumption-urging messages into every aspect of modern life. The result is a disposable culture with packaged waste, an obesity crisis for all age groups, skyrocketing consumer debt, the privatization of public utilities that demand the same fee for basic services from rich and poor alike, causing a sharp disparity in affordability. It is a phenomenon described by Karl Marx as "Fetishism of Commodities".

Marx's concept of Fetishism of Commodities

Marx wrote in Das Kapital:[1]

The relation of the producers to the sum total of their own labor is presented to them as a social relation, existing not between themselves, but between the products of their labor. This is the reason why the products of labor become commodities, social things whose qualities are at the same time perceptible and imperceptible by the senses … The existence of the things qua commodities, and the value relation between the products of labor which stamps them as commodities, have absolutely no connection with their physical properties and with the material relations arising therefrom. It is a definite social relation between men that assumes, in their eyes, the fantastic form of a relation between things. In order, therefore, to find an analogy, we must have recourse to the mist-enveloped regions of the religious world. In that world, the productions of the human brain appear as independent beings endowed with life, and entering into relation both with one another and the human race. So it is in the world of commodities with the products of men's hands. This I call the Fetishism which attaches itself to the products of labor, as soon as they are produced as commodities, and which is therefore inseparable from the production of commodities. This Fetishism of Commodities has its origin … in the peculiar social character of the labor that produces them.
Marx asserts that "the mystical character of commodities does not originate in their use-value" (Section 1, p 71). Market value is derived from social relations, not from use-value which is a material phenomenon. Thus Marx critiques the Marginal Utility Theory by pointing out that market value is affected by social relationships. For example, the marginal utility of door locks is a function of the burglary rate in a neighborhood which in turn is a function of the unemployment rate. Unregulated free markets are a regime of uninhibited price gouging by monopolies and cartels.

Thus the nature of money cannot be adequately explained even in terms of the material-technical properties of gold, but only in terms of the factors behind man's desire and need for gold. Similarly, it is not possible to fully understand the price of capital from the technical nature of the means of production, but only from the social institution of private ownership and the terms of exchange imposed by uneven market power. Market capitalism is a social institution based on the fetishism of commodities.

Democracy threatened by the corporate state

While Reich is on target in warning about the danger to democracy posed by the corporate state, and in claiming that only people can be citizens, and only citizens should participate in democratic decision making, he misses the point that transnational corporations have transcended national boundaries. Yet in each community that these transnational corporations operate, they have the congenital incentive, the financial means and the legal mandate to manipulate the fetishism of commodities even in distant lands.

Moreover, representative democracy as practiced in the US is increasingly manipulated by corporate lobbying funded from high-profit-driven corporate financial resources derived from foreign sources controlled by management. Corporate governance is notoriously abusive of minority shareholder rights on the part of management. Notwithstanding Reich's rationalization of excessive CEO compensation, CEOs as a class are the most vocal proponents of corporate statehood. Modern corporations are securely insulated from any serious threats from consumer revolt. Inter-corporate competition presents only superficial and trivial choices for consumers. Motorists have never been offered any real choice on gasoline by oil companies or alternatives on the gasoline-guzzling internal combustion engine by car-makers.

High pay for CEOs

Reich asserts in his Wall Street Journal piece that modern CEOs in finance capitalism nowadays deserve their high pay because they have to be superstars, unlike their bureaucrat-like predecessors during industrial capitalism. Notwithstanding that one would expect a former labor secretary to argue that workers deserve higher pay, the challenge to corporate leadership in market capitalism has always been and will always remain management's ruthless pursuit of market leadership power, a euphemism for monopoly, by skirting the rule of law and regulations, framing legislative regimes through political lobbying, pushing down wages and worker benefits, increasing productivity by downsizing in an expanding market and manipulating consumer attitude through advertising. At the end of the day, the bottom line for corporate profit is a factor of lowering wage and benefit levels.

Reich seems to have forgotten that the captains of industry of 19th century free-wheeling capitalism were all superstars who evoked public admiration by manipulating the awed public into accepting the Horatio Alger myth of success through hard work, honesty and fairness. The derogatory term "robber barons" was first coined by protest pamphlets circulated by victimized Kansas farmers against ruthless railroad tycoons during the Great Depression.

The manipulation of the public will by moneyed interests is the most problematic vulnerability of US economic and political democracy. In an era when class warfare has taken on new sophistication, the accusation of resorting to class warfare argument is widely used to silence legitimate socio-economic protests. The US media is essentially owned by the moneyed interests. The decline of unionism in the US has been largely the result of anti-labor propaganda campaigns funded by corporations and government policies influenced by corporate lobbyists. The infiltration of organized crime was exploited to fan public anti-union sentiments while widespread corporate white collar crimes were dismissed as mere anomalies. (See Capitalism's bad apples: It's the barrel that's rotten)

Superman capitalism

As promoted by his permissive opinion piece, a more apt title for Reich's new book would be Superman Capitalism, in praise of the super-heroic qualities of successful corporate CEOs who deserve superstar pay. This view goes beyond even fascist superman ideology. The compensation of corporate CEOs in Nazi Germany never reached such obscene levels as those in US corporate land today.

Reich argues that CEOs deserve their super-high compensation, which has increased 600% in two decades, because corporate profits have also risen 600% in the same period. The former secretary of labor did not point out that wages rose only 30% in the same period. The profit/wage disparity is a growing cancer in the US-dominated global economy, causing over-production resulting from stagnant demand caused by inadequate wages. A true spokesman for labor would point out that enlightened modern management recognizes that the performance of a corporation is the sum total of effective team work between management and labor.

System analysis has long shown that collective effort on the part of the entire work force is indispensable to success in any complex organism. Further, a healthy consumer market depends on a balance between corporate earnings and worker earnings. Reich's point would be valid if US wages had risen by the same multiple as CEO pay and corporate profit, but he apparently thought that it would be poor etiquette to raise embarrassing issues as a guest writer in an innately anti-labor journal of Wall Street. Even then, unless real growth also rose 600% in two decades, the rise in corporate earning may be just an inflation bubble.

An introduction to economic populism

To be fair, Reich did address the income gap issue eight months earlier in another article, "An Introduction to Economic Populism" in the Jan-Feb, 2007 issue of The American Prospect, a magazine that bills itself as devoted to "liberal ideas". In that article, Reich relates a "philosophical" discussion he had with fellow neo-liberal cabinet member Robert Rubin, then treasury secretary under Bill Clinton, on two "simple questions".

The first question was: Suppose a proposed policy will increase the incomes of some people without decreasing the incomes of any others. Of course Reich must know that it is a question of welfare economics long ago answered by the "pareto optimum", which asserts that resources are optimally distributed when an individual cannot move into a better position without putting someone else into a worse position. In an unjust society, the pareto optimum will perpetuate injustice in the name of optimum resource allocation. "Should it be implemented? Bob and I agreed it should," writes Reich. Not exactly an earth-shaking liberal position. Rather, it is a classic neo-liberal posture.

And the second question: But suppose the people whose incomes will rise are already wealthier than everyone else. Although no one will lose ground, inequality will widen. Should it still be implemented? "I won't tell you where he and I came out on that second question," writes Reich without explaining why. He allows that "we agreed that people who don't share in such gains feel relatively poorer. Widening inequality also further tips the balance of political power in favor of the wealthy."

Of course, clear thinking would have left the second question mute because it would have invalidated the first question, as the real income of those whose nominal income has not fallen has indeed fallen relative to those whose nominal income has risen. In a macro monetary sense, it is not possible to raise the nominal income of some without lowering the real income of others. All incomes must rise together proportionally or inequality in after-inflation real income will increase.

Inequality only a new worry?

But for the sake of argument, let's go along with Reich's parable on welfare economics and financial equality. That conversation occurred a decade ago. Reich says in his January 2007 article that "inequality is far more worrisome now", as if it had not been or that the policies he and his colleagues in the Clinton administration, as evidenced by their answer to their own first question, did not cause the now "more worrisome" inequality. "The incomes of the bottom 90% of Americans have increased about 2% in real terms since then, while that of the top 1% has increased over 50%," Reich wrote in the matter of fact tone of an innocent bystander.

It is surprising that a former labor secretary would err even on the record on worker income. The US Internal Revenue Service reports that while incomes have been rising since 2002, the average income in 2005 was $55,238, nearly 1% less than in 2000 after adjusting for inflation. Hourly wage costs (including mandatory welfare contributions and benefits) grew more slowly than hourly productivity from 1993 to late 1997, the years of Reich's tenure as labor secretary. Corporate profit rose until 1997 before declining, meaning what should have gone to workers from productivity improvements went instead to corporate profits. And corporate profit declined after 1997 because of the Asian financial crisis, which reduced offshore income for all transnational companies, while domestic purchasing power remained weak because of sub-par worker income growth.

The break in trends in wages occurred when the unemployment rate sank to 5%, below the 6% threshold of NAIRU (non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment) as job creation was robust from 1993 onwards. The "reserve army of labor" in the war against inflation disappeared after the 1997 Asian crisis when the Federal Reserve injected liquidity into the US banking system to launch the debt bubble. According to NAIRU, when more than 94% of the labor force is employed, the war on wage-pushed inflation will be on the defensive. Yet while US inflation was held down by low-price imports from low-wage economies, US domestic wages fell behind productivity growth from 1993 onward. US wages could have risen without inflationary effects but did not because of the threat of further outsourcing of US jobs overseas. This caused corporate profit to rise at the expense of labor income during the low-inflation debt bubble years.

Income inequality in the US today has reached extremes not seen since the 1920s, but the trend started three decades earlier. More than $1 trillion a year in relative income is now being shifted annually from roughly 90,000,000 middle and working class families to the wealthiest households and corporations via corporate profits earned from low-wage workers overseas. This is why nearly 60% of Republicans polled support more taxes on the rich.

Carter the granddaddy of deregulation

The policies and practices responsible for today's widening income gap date back to the 1977-1981 period of the Carter administration which is justly known as the administration of deregulation. Carter's deregulation was done in the name of populism but the results were largely anti-populist. Starting with Carter, policies and practices by both corporations and government underwent a fundamental shift to restructure the US economy with an overhaul of job markets. This was achieved through widespread de-unionization, breakup of industry-wide collective bargaining which enabled management to exploit a new international division of labor at the expense of domestic workers.

The frontal assault on worker collective bargaining power was accompanied by a realigning of the progressive federal tax structure to cut taxes on the rich, a brutal neo-liberal global free-trade offensive by transnational corporations and anti-labor government trade policies. The cost shifting of health care and pension plans from corporations to workers was condoned by government policy. A wave of government-assisted compression of wages and overtime pay narrowed the wage gap between the lowest and highest paid workers (which will occur when lower-paid workers receive a relatively larger wage increase than the higher-paid workers with all workers receiving lower pay increases than managers). There was a recurring diversion of inflation-driven social security fund surpluses to the US fiscal budget to offset recurring inflation-adjusted federal deficits. This was accompanied by wholesale anti-trust deregulation and privatization of public sectors; and most egregious of all, financial market deregulation.

Carter deregulated the US oil industry four years after the 1973 oil crisis in the name of national security. His Democratic challenger, Senator Ted Kennedy, advocated outright nationalization. The Carter administration also deregulated the airlines, favoring profitable hub traffic at the expense of traffic to smaller cities. Air fares fell but service fell further. Delays became routine, frequently tripling door-to-door travel time. What consumers save in airfare, they pay dearly in time lost in delay and in in-flight discomfort. The Carter administration also deregulated trucking, which caused the Teamsters Union to support Ronald Reagan in exchange for a promise to delay trucking deregulation.

Railroads were also deregulated by Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act of 1976 which eased regulations on rates, line abandonment, and mergers to allow the industry to compete with truck and barge transportation that had caused a financial and physical deterioration of the national rail network railroads. Four years later, Congress followed up with the Staggers Rail Act of 1980 which provided the railroads with greater pricing freedom, streamlined merger timetables, expedited the line abandonment process, and allowed confidential contracts with shippers. Although railroads, like other modes of transportation, must purchase and maintain their own rolling stock and locomotives, they must also, unlike competing modes, construct and maintain their own roadbed, tracks, terminals, and related facilities. Highway construction and maintenance are paid for by gasoline taxes. In the regulated environment, recovering these fixed costs hindered profitability for the rail industry.

After deregulation, the railroads sought to enhance their financial situation and improve their operational efficiency with a mix of strategies to reduce cost and maximize profit, rather than providing needed service to passengers around the nation. These strategies included network rationalization by shedding unprofitable capacity, raising equipment and operational efficiencies by new work rules that reduced safety margins and union power, using differential pricing to favor big shippers, and pursuing consolidation, reducing the number of rail companies from 65 to 5 today. The consequence was a significant increase of market power for the merged rail companies, decreasing transportation options for consumers and increasing rates for remote, less dense areas.

In the agricultural sector, rail network rationalization has forced shippers to truck their bulk commodity products greater distances to mainline elevators, resulting in greater pressure on and damage to rural road systems. For inter-modal shippers, profit-based network rationalization has meant reduced access - physically and economically - to Container on Flat Car (COFC) and Trailer on Flat Car (TOFC) facilities and services. Rail deregulation, as is true with most transportation and communication deregulation, produces sector sub-optimization with dubious benefits for the national economy by distorting distributional balance, causing congestion and inefficient use of land, network and lines.

Carter's Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) approach to radio and television regulation began in the mid-1970s as a search for relatively minor "regulatory underbrush" that could be cleared away for more efficient and cost-effective administration of the important rules that would remain. Congress largely went along with this updating trend, and initiated a few deregulatory moves of its own to make regulation more effective and responsive to contemporary conditions.

Reagan's anti-government fixation

The Reagan administration under Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Mark Fowler in 1981 shifted deregulation to a fundamental and ideologically-driven reappraisal of regulations away from long-held principles central to national broadcasting policy appropriate for a democratic society. The result was removal of many longstanding rules to permit an overall reduction in FCC oversight of station ownership concentration and network operations. Congress grew increasingly wary of the pace of deregulation, however, and began to slow the pace of FCC deregulation by the late 1980s.

Specific deregulatory moves included (a) extending television licenses to five years from three in 1981; (b) expanding the number of television stations any single entity could own from seven in 1981 to 12 in 1985, with further changes in 1995; (c) abolishing guidelines for minimal amounts of non-entertainment programming in 1985; (d) elimination of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987; (e) dropping, in 1985, FCC license guidelines for how much advertising could be carried; (f) leaving technical standards increasingly in the hands of licensees rather than FCC mandates; and (g) deregulation of television's competition, especially cable which went through several regulatory changes in the decade after 1983.

The 1996 Telecommunications Act eliminated the 40-station ownership cap on radio stations. Since then, the radio industry has experienced unprecedented consolidation. In June 2003, the FCC voted to overhaul limits on media ownership. Despite having held only one hearing on the complex issue of media consolidation over a 20-month review period, the FCC, in a party-line vote, voted 3-2 to overhaul limits on media concentration. The rule would (1) increase the aggregate television ownership cap to enable one company to own stations reaching 45% of our nation's homes (from 35%), (2) lift the ban on newspaper-television cross-ownership, and (3) allow a single company to own three television stations in large media markets and two in medium ones. In the largest markets, the rule would allow a single company to own up to three television stations, eight radio stations, the cable television system, cable television stations, and a daily newspaper. A wide range of public-interest groups filed an appeal with the Third Circuit, which stayed the effective date of the new rules.

According to a BIA Financial Network report released in July 2006, a total of 88 television stations had been sold in the first six months of 2006, generating a transaction value of $15.7 billion. In 2005, the same period saw the sale of just 21 stations at a value of $244 million, with total year transactions of $2.86 billion.

Congress passed a law in 2004 that forbids any network to own a group of stations that reaches more than 39% of the national television audience. That is lower than the 45% limit set in 2003, but more than the original cap of 35% set in 1996 under the Clinton administration - leading public interest groups to argue that the proposed limits lead to a stifling of local voices.

Newspaper-television cross-ownership remains a contentious issue. Currently prohibited, it refers to the "common ownership of a full-service broadcast station and a daily newspaper when the broadcast station's area of coverage (or "contour") encompasses the newspaper's city of publication".

Capping of local radio and television ownership is another issue. While the original rule prohibited it, currently a company can own at least one television and one radio station in a market. In larger markets, "a single entity may own additional radio stations depending on the number of other independently owned media outlets in the market".

Most broadcasters and newspaper publishers are lobbying to ease or end restrictions on cross-ownership; they say it has to be the future of the news business. It allows newsgathering costs to be spread across platforms, and delivers multiple revenue streams in turn. Their argument is also tied to a rapidly changing media consumption market, and to the diversity of opinions available to the consumer with the rise of the Internet and other digital platforms.

The arguments against relaxing media ownership regulations are put forth by consumer unions and other interest groups on the ground that consolidation in any form inevitably leads to a lack of diversity of opinion. Cross-ownership limits the choices for consumers, inhibits localism and gives excessive media power to one entity.

Professional and workers' guilds of the communication industry (the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of TV and Radio Artists among others) would like the FCC to keep in mind the independent voice, and want a quarter of all prime-time programming to come from independent producers. The Children's Media Policy Coalition suggested that the FCC limit local broadcasters to a single license per market, so that there is enough original programming for children. Other interest groups like the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters are worried about what impact the rules might have on station ownership by minorities.

Deregulatory proponents see station licensees not as "public trustees" of the public airwaves requiring the provision of a wide variety of services to many different listening groups. Instead, broadcasting has been increasingly seen as just another business operating in a commercial marketplace which did not need its management decisions questioned by government overseers, even though they are granted permission to use public airways. Opponents argue that deregulation violates a key mandate of the Communications Act of 1934 which requires licensees to operate in the public interest. Deregulation allows broadcasters to seek profits with little public service programming.

Clinton and telecommunications deregulation

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was the first major overhaul of US telecommunications law in nearly 62 years, amending the Communications Act of 1934, and leading to media consolidation. It was approved by Congress on January 3, 1996 and signed into law on February 8, 1996 by President Clinton, a Democrat whom some have labeled as the best president the Republicans ever had. The act claimed to foster competition, but instead it continued the historic industry consolidation begun by Reagan, whose actions reduced the number of major media companies from around 50 in 1983 to 10 in 1996 and 6 in 2005.

Regulation Q

The Carter administration increased the power of the Federal Reserve through the Depository Institutions and Monetary Control Act (DIDMCA) of 1980 which was a necessary first step in ending the New Deal restrictions placed upon financial institutions, such as Regulation Q put in place by the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 and other restrictions on banks and financial institutions. The populist Regulation Q imposed limits and ceilings on bank and savings-and-loan (S&L) interest rates to provide funds for low-risk home mortgages. But with financial market deregulation, Regulation Q created incentives for US banks to do business outside the reach of US law, launching finance globalization. London came to dominate this offshore dollar business.

The populist Regulation Q, which regulated for several decades limits and ceilings on bank and S&L interest to serve the home mortgage sector, was phased out completely in March 1986. Banks were allowed to pay interest on checking account - the NOW accounts - to lure depositors back from the money markets. The traditional interest-rate advantage of the S&Ls was removed, to provide a "level playing field", forcing them to take the same risks as commercial banks to survive. Congress also lifted restrictions on S&Ls' commercial lending, which promptly got the whole industry into trouble that would soon required an unprecedented government bailout of depositors, with tax money. But the developers who made billions from easy credit were allowed to keep their profits. State usury laws were unilaterally suspended by an act of Congress in a flagrant intrusion on state rights. Carter, the well-intentioned populist, left a legacy of anti-populist policies. To this day, Greenspan continues to argue disingenuously that subprime mortgages helped the poor toward home ownership, instead of generating obscene profit for the debt securitization industry.

The party of Lincoln taken over by corporate interests

During the Reagan administration, corporate lobbying and electoral strategies allowed the corporate elite to wrest control of the Republican Party, the party of Lincoln, from conservative populists. In the late 1980s, supply-side economics was promoted to allow corporate interests to dominate US politics at the expense of labor by arguing that the only way labor can prosper is to let capital achieve high returns, notwithstanding the contradiction that high returns on capital must come from low wages.

New legislation and laws, executive orders, federal government rule-making, federal agency decisions, and think-tank propaganda, etc, subsequently followed the new political landscape, assisting the implementation of new corporate policies and practices emerging from corporate headquarters rather than from the shop floor. Economists and analysts who challenged this voodoo theory were largely shut out of the media. Workers by the million were persuaded to abandon their institutional collective defender to fend for themselves individually in the name of freedom. It was a freedom to see their job security eroded and wages and benefits fall with no recourse.

Note
1. Das Kapital, Volume One, Part I: Commodities and Money, Chapter One: Commodities, Section I.

Next: PART 2: Global war on labor

Henry C K Liu is chairman of a New York-based private investment group. His website is at http://www.henryckliu.com.

Copyright 2007, Henry C K Liu

Super Imperialism - New Edition: The Origin and Fundamentals of U.S. World Dominance [Paperback]

William Podmore (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER) (REAL NAME)

Hudson is a Wall Street economist who used to work at the Chase Manhattan Bank.

In Part One, he describes the rise of the American empire.

Part Two describes its institutions: the US-controlled World Bank, the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund, which all benefit the USA. The US has the sole veto power in all three.

Part Three describes what Herman Kahn called `the greatest rip-off ever achieved', the way the US's ruling class levies us all to pay for its aggressive wars, just as the Roman Empire levied tribute to pay for its constant wars. Similarly Britain, Germany and Japan all pay for the US's military bases in their countries.

In 1945, as in 1918, Britain led Europe's capitulation to the USA's debt demands. The British ruling class chose dependency on the US ruling class. The USA insisted that Britain ended the sterling bloc, accepted IMF controls, did not impose exchange controls, and did not devalue. As Hudson writes, "The Anglo-American Loan Agreement spelled the end of Britain as a Great Power."

The 1945-51 Labour government's huge spending on unnecessary imperial, counter-revolutionary wars robbed our industry of investment. This excessive military spending meant that we had constantly to borrow from the IMF, increasing our dependence on the USA. Now Britain is the USA's Trojan horse in Europe, against Britain's interests.

Hudson immodestly claims that his analysis supersedes Lenin. He says that the US national government's interests, not the private interests of the capitalist class, drive the system. He claims that the US government subordinates `the interests of its national bourgeoisie to the autonomous interests of the national government'. But is the US government really independent of the capitalist class? How `autonomous' are these interests?...

Joshua Malle (Seattle, WA USA)

Difficult and rewarding, Hudson is the real deal, May 24, 2006

See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)

This review is from: Super Imperialism - New Edition: The Origin and Fundamentals of U.S. World Dominanc (Paperback)

Super-Imperialism is better viewed as a radical alternative to common undergraduate textbooks such as Joan Edelman Spero's, "The Politics of International Economic Relations" than as an update to the theories of Lenin or Hobson. (His background and prose style are similar to Spero's and his book covers similar ground.)

It has three sections, each which could have been a separate book.

The 2003 Edition has a new introduction and two new chapters at the end. The rest of the book has occasional new material, but does not appear to have been extensively re-written.

It's a difficult and rewarding book. The difficulty lies partly in the subject matter itself, partly in Hudson's convoluted prose and partly in the numerous typographical errors that mar the 2003 Pluto Press edition.

The book is rewarding because it's honest. Readers educated in the U.S. will initially regard Hudson's account with some skepticism. We can't help it; We've been systematically miseducated by pro-U.S. polemics presented in an "objective" tone.

In contrast Hudson is a strident critic of the U.S. management of the global economy. But so is any reasonably objective person who is apprized of the facts. I much prefer an author who honestly tells you the real story as he understands it to one who conceals the awful truth behind an ostensibly impartial facade. But a "revisionist" has to work twice as hard to make his case, and that is why the book contains the detailed explication of what reviewer Myers calls the "intricacies of events and negotiations that gave rise to the present order."

I think an open-minded reader will be won over by Hudson's thoughtful use of contemporaneous sources (e.g. government publications and articles in the business press) and also biographical sources to illuminate how key decision makers understood the alternatives, and their motives for pursuing the policies that they did when forging the post-war economic order. As he places these choices in context it quickly becomes evident that the motives on the U.S. side have been consistently aggressive and that U.S. policy makers have all along viewed multilateral economic institutions as instruments of national policy--to the world's detriment.

Hudson also has a keen sense of the painfully narrow horizon of human foresight. The historical sections sometimes read like a conspiracy theory in which the conspirators are not very smart. E.g., Franklin Roosevelt's stubborn insistence that World War I debts be repaid prolonged the Great Depression; When J. M. Keynes was negotiating Bretton Woods for the newly elected Labour government, he got them a terrible deal; The U.S. transition to "super-imperialism" which is the main story of the book (chapters 11 through 14) was originally an unintended consequence of the huge budget and trade deficits caused by the Vietnam War.

If you are interested in "globalization" this book is an important piece of the puzzle, but it really only covers up through 1973, and it spends more time on the relationship between the U.S. and Europe than on "North-South" relations. Having said that, Ch. 8 "The Imperialism of U.S. Foreign Aid" is very good, esp. how foreign aid benefits the U.S. balance of payments and the harmful effects of U.S. agricultural exports. China is hardly mentioned.

If you are an economics student and you sense that they aren't telling you the whole story, or just a thoughtful citizen who wants to sharpen your conceptual tools for understanding and resisting the strategies of U.S. imperialism, this book is for you.

Help other customers find the most helpful reviews

Comment Comment (1)

Salty Saltillo (from the road, USA)

An awkward argument with moments of brilliance, November 3, 2004

See all my reviews

Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)

Hudson's historical argument in this book is both brilliant and sometimes a bit rough.

Hudson has always had a great talent for interpreting and sketching out for weaker minds like us what the US government's abandonment of the gold-standard really means. When Hudson came forward with his thesis in the mid 1970's, his thesis was outrageous among orthodox economists: to suggest that the US should be worried about the long-term consequences of running balance of payments deficits year after year, decade after decade was crazy leftist nonsense in the 1970s. As long as people continue to need the US markets more than the US needs any other one country's markets (and people still have faith in the good credit of the US government) there is no reason US could not run balance of payment deficits forever, according to the conventional wisdom.

What amazes me is that now, after having done exactly what Hudson warned the US government not to do in the 1970s, many otherwise relatively orthodox economists are beginning to worry about this. Hudson may be on the more "sky-is-falling" end of things, but his analysis was right on the nail in 1972 and is still there today: worst case scenario - massive recession and massive devaluation of the dollar (by massive I mean, unprecedented). Former US Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin was quoted in March 16, 2006 WSJ as saying that "The probabilities are extremely high that if we don't address these imbalances, then at some point, and it could be years down the road, we'll pay a very big price." We are in a limbo world where no one really knows how this problem is going to play out, but Hudson should be credited for being one of the first, and longest-running, advocates for addressing this problem. Too bad it has taken so many decades for people to recognize what he has been telling us all along about balance of payments deficits.

The rest of the argument Hudson makes in this book is a bit tough to follow, though. Essentially, Hudson attempts to show how the US has, during this century but especially since WWII, systematically sought to manipulate all of the great economic institution-building opportunities following WWII to advance the interests of the US over other countries. Coming off the gold standard and running up a balance of payments deficit was just one of many ways in which this occurred. The US largely succeeded. The GATT (now WTO), World Bank, IMF, all bear American "fingerprints".

I agree that the mega-institutions of the contemporary world economic and political machine are largely the unilateral creation of the US, imposed on the other great nations at a time when the other nations were particularly vulnerable to US force of will and not particular inclined to be heterodox visionaries. I also agree that the US in general has probably used as much leverage as it could in negotiating all of the defining institutions in which it had any hand in constructing.

And yet, how could it have been any different? National governments pursue their self-interest and the interest of their citizens, often at the expense of other national governments and their citizens. The nation-state system is set up to work that way. But is the problem really one of US bad behavior, as Hudson suggests? Isn't the problem really structural? In the nation-state world, wherein the world is divided up into pseudo-autonomous political monopolies, each individually endowed with particular strengths and weaknesses, and all pitted against each other in a laissez-faire system where the only things that keep nation-states from raping and killing each other to oblivion are, good faith and the fact that the balance of power among the nation-states is enough to keep each monopoly contained in its behavior towards the other monopolies, what sort of behavior could we have expected from the US, a nation-state that, at a series of pivotal moments in 20th century history, found itself with "golden opportunities" to take advantage of other nations' weaknesses and advance its own power? Would the French, or the Brits, or the Japanese, or the Italians, or the Germans, or the Russians have behaved any different if they found themselves holding all the cards in 1945 instead of the US?

My point is, the facts Hudson lays out are correct -- there clearly is a problem in the way in which our current world order has been put together and the US is at the middle of that problem. The conclusions Hudson draws from those facts do not go deep enough in understanding what those facts mean, however.

It isn't that the Americans behave or behaved "bad" by the standard of good behavior implicit in the nation-state system, it is that the nation-state system itself to a certain extent reflects 19th century laissez-faire values of autonomy and individuality that pit nation-states against each other in a world where each is out to improve its lot through trade and, when possible and tolerable, violence.

The system itself breaks down when one player becomes too powerful. To blame the US for the systemic problem of massive power imbalances between nation states is simply pushing any hope for correction in the wrong direction.

Samuel Brittan: The wrong kind of Third Way

FT.com / Columnists / Samuel Brittan - The wrong kind of Third Way: When a book entitled Supercapitalism: the Battle for Democracy in an Age of Big Business (Icon Books) landed on my desk I took it for just another of the many anti-capitalist diatribes so beloved by publishers. Its author was Robert Reich, a former US secretary of labour who parted company from the Clinton administration on the grounds that it was not interventionist enough. But I was glad I persevered. For it turned out to be one of the most interesting books on political economy to appear for a long time.

During the postwar decades up to the early 1970s, the Bretton Woods system of semi-fixed exchange rates worked, after a fashion; and countries seemed able to combine full employment with low inflation and historically rapid growth and diminishing income differences. Reich calls them a "not quite golden age". It was "not quite" because of the treatment of women and minorities and the prevailing conformist and authoritarian atmosphere.

It has been succeeded by what Reich calls supercapitalism, in which the cult of the bottom line has replaced the cosy oligopolies of postwar decades, once-dominant companies shrink or disappear, new ones spring up overnight and the financial sector is (or was until recently) in the driving seat. He rightly dismisses many of the popular scapegoats – or heroes – of the process. The changeover began well before Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher could influence anything. Free-market economists have been preaching essentially the same message since the 18th century. It is extremely unlikely that there has been a radical change in the psychology or morality of business operators. His own candidate is the technologies that have empowered consumers and investors to get ever better deals.

Unfortunately, many of these same consumers have lost in their capacity as citizens. He cites the failure of the political process even to attempt to correct the increasing skewness of US income distribution. In later pronouncements he has attributed the subprime loan disaster in part to the failure of supercapitalism to raise the incomes of the mass of wage earners who have been impelled to resort to borrowing as a substitute. Moreover, Congress has performed abysmally in correcting market failures in environmental and other areas. He has a non-partisan explanation: the staggering increase in business lobbying expenditures affecting Democrats as well as Republicans, as a result of which the political process, far from correcting the distortions of unbridled capitalism, has made them worse.

But for me the novel point of the book is his utter dismissal of the prevailing idea of appealing to the "social responsibility" of business to improve matters. This is a notion that particularly appeals to soft centre politicians such as David Cameron's Conservatives in Britain as a new kind of Third Way. Reich argues that it is the job of the democratic political process by laws, taxes and other interventions to harmonise the pursuit of money-making with the public good. "The job of the businessman is to make profits." He is completely unabashed by the charge that he sounds like Milton Friedman and indeed quotes the late Chicago professor approvingly several times. He argues that the so-called stakeholders who insist on being consulted before legislation is drafted are increasingly companies whose interests might be affected. One result is the "corruption of knowledge". We should beware of claims that a company is doing something for the public good. Corporate executives may donate some of their shareholders' money to a genuinely good cause or forbear from polluting the atmosphere to forestall a greater legal or fiscal burden. But in that case such actions are likely to be limited and temporary, "extending only insofar as the conditions that made such voluntary action pay off continue".

Similarly we should beware of a politician who blames a company for doing something that is legal. Such words are all too often a cover "for taking no action to change the rules of the game". Above all, "corporations are not people. They are legal fictions, nothing more than bundles of contractual agreements ... A company cannot know right from wrong ... Only people know right from wrong and only people act." One example of the "anthropomorphic fallacy" is when companies are held criminally liable for the misdeeds of their executives. Not only are the genuinely guilty let off too lightly but many innocent people get hurt. For instance, "the vast majority of Andersen employees had nothing to do with Enron but lost their jobs nonetheless".

I have two reservations. One is that I cannot share Reich's confidence that a revived and effective "democracy" would be a cure-all. You only have to see where democratic pressures are driving US energy policy. Second, there is a danger that the Friedman-Reich position could inadvertently give sustenance to the "I was only doing my job" defence for evil actions. You do not have to hold shares in a company selling arms to Saudi Arabia, or work for it. But do not deceive yourself that such individual gestures can be a substitute for a change in policy.

Supercapitalism The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life by Robert B. Reich

Amazon.com

The Balance of Capitalism and Democracy, September 17, 2007

By Izaak VanGaalen (San Francisco, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER) (REAL NAME)

This review is from: Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life (Hardcover)

According to Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, there was a time when capitalism and democracy where almost perfectly balanced. This was the period of 1945 to 1975, which he calls the "Not Quite Golden Age." During this period there was a three-way social contract among big business, big labor, and big government. Each made sure that they as well as the other two received a fair share of the pie. Unions recieved their wages and benefits, business their profits, and regulatory agencies had their power. It was also a time when the gap between the rich and the poor was the narrowest in our history. It was not quite the golden age because women and minorities were still second class citizens, but at least there was hope.

Fast forward to 2007, capitalism is thriving and democracy is sputtering. Why has capitlism become supercapitalism and democracy become enfeebled? Reich explains that it was a combination of things: deregulation, globe spanning computer networks, better transportation, etc. The changes were mainly a result of technological breakthroughs; unlike many leftists, he is not conspiratorial thinker. The winner of this great transformation was the consumer/investor and the loser was the citizen/wage earner. The consumer has more choices than ever before and at reasonable prices. The investor has unprecedented opportunities to make profits. The citzen, however, is not doing well. The average citizen does not have much voice - other than voting - in the body politic. And on the wage earner has been stagnating for many years. The most salient illustration of this trend is Walmart. Walmart delivers the goods at low prices, but the trade-off is low wages for their employees. We justify this dilemma, as Reich nicely puts it, because "The awkward truth is that most of us are of two minds."

As a left-leaning author, Reich makes some startling pronouncements. One, stop treating corporations as human beings. They are neither moral or immoral, they are merely "bundles of contracts." I couldn't agree more. Stop expecting corporations to be socially responsible, see them for what they are: profit-seeking organizations. Any socially responsible action is a ruse to bolster the bottom line anyway. Don't even encourage them to be socially responsible because it will wrongly lead us to believe that they are solving problems when they are not. Corporations play by the rules that they are given and it is up to citizens and their elected representatives to change the rules.

This is no easy task in the age of supercapitalism. There are currently 38,000 registered lobbyists in Washington DC in a virtual arms race of spending with each other to buy favors from our so-called representatives. The only way citizens can compete with this is not by hiring more lobbyists but advocating through new media outlets such as the internet and cable tv. This, according to Reich, is currently to most effective way to make government more responsive.

The question that remains, after reading this book, is will consumers be willing to sacrifice their low prices to achieve their goals as citizens. If the answer is yes, we can possibly rebalance the equation between democracy and capitalism; if not, we are left to the not so tender mercies of supercapitalism.

Robert Reich makes a compelling argument that supercapitalism has robbed democracy of much of its power. Supercapitalism by the definition presented in the book is simple--the consumer is king and prices ALWAYS go down. What Reich looks at is the cost of low prices to companies, society, the individual and its impact on the workings of democracy. So how is democracy compromised? Reich also points out that the rise of different lobbying groups, the cost of politics and globalization as contributing to this process. This isn't a surprise. It has just become more pronounced with time.

It's not due to some large conspiracy or any hidden political agenda as much as it is driven by consumption. Ultimately Reich argues that it robs the common citizen of any control over democracy. It's not surprising that this is a highly charged issue because the economics of what benefits society (or "the common good" as Reich calls it)often gets tangled up in the web of politics. Reich also points out that the cost of supercompetitiveness, constantly falling prices is a loss to the economic and social health of America. Reich points out that everyone wants to get the lowest price possible but he also suggests that we must balance that with our desire to have decent wages and benefits. He also points out that the move towards regulation was initiated by government and that corporations went along because it kept out competition and guaranteed a top and bottom for prices allowing companies to get a profit without fear of cutting prices so low that it would put them out of business.

I should point out that this is an oversimplification of Reich's points but it does capture some of the concepts. He also makes some suggestions that would help keep the free market afloat without undermining democracy and allowing consumers to still benefit from competitive pricing. Since this is economics we are discussing politics is mixed in and might color whether or not you agree with his points.

Reich's style is breezy for a book that looks at economics, democracy and the erosion of wages, benefits. Reich comes across as fair balanced and thoughtful even as he sells his take on what is undermining American society. Ultimately it's a worthwhile book to read simply because it opens up dialogue on the social cost of constantly lowering prices and how it impacts those who live next door to us

Aftershock The Next Economy and America's Future by Robert B. Reich

Amazon.com

Every middle class American should read this book. Many observations about income disparities have been written up lately but Reich pulls the important points together in a powerful and accessible way.

Reich's main thesis is that the current transition the US economy is under is misunderstood. Many of the policy elite (Geithner, Volcker) have repeated the familiar claim that Americans are living beyond their means. Personally I don't discount that completely but Reich's insight goes much deeper and rings truer:

"The problem was not that American spent beyond their means but that their means had not kept up with what the larger economy could and should have been able to provide them."

"We cannot have a sustained recovery until we address it. ... Until this transformation is made, our economy will continue to experience phantom recoveries and speculative bubbles, each more distressing than the one before."

Anyone looking at the unemployment data since WWII has to wonder why the unemployment component of the last three recessions is so prolonged. Instead of a sharp trend up, there are long slopes of delayed returns to peak employment. (Google "calculated risk blog" and look at Dec. 2010 articles.) I believe Reich has demonstrated the main culprit this. To be clear, he is not describing the detailed mechanics of what triggered the Great Recession. (Nouriel Roubini has a good book that I would recommend for more on the financial fraud, leverage and credit risks involved - Crisis Economics: A Crash Course in the Future of Finance. ) But Reich is taking a long term view and exposes a dysfunctional trait of the US economy that no one can afford to ignore. It is this weakness that will delay the current recovery and continue to create greater risks in the future.

Reich draws the parallels between the Great Depression and the Great Recession, particularly the imbalance of wealth concentrated in fewer hands and middle class workers with less income to convert into consumer demand. One of the fascinating devices he found to do this was the writings of Marriner Eccles (Fed chair between '34 to '48):

"As mass production has to be accompanied by mass consumption, mass consumption, in turn, implies a distribution of wealth - not of existing wealth, but of wealth as it is currently produced - to provide men with buying power equal to the amount of goods and services offered by the nation's economic machinery. Instead of achieving that kind of distribution, a giant suction pump had by 1929-1930 drawn into a few hands an increasing portion of currently produced wealth. This served them as capital accumulations. But by taking purchasing power out of the hands of mass consumers, the savers denied to themselves the kind of effective demand for their products that would justify a reinvestment of their capital accumulations in new plants. In consequence as in a poker game where the chips were concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the other fellows could stay in the game only by borrowing. When their credit ran out, the game stopped."

Reich also shares a couple of powerful and disturbing graphs that show how the middle class has been squeezed and also how since the late 70s, hourly wages have not only not kept up with the rise in productivity but have remained essentially flat.

Another driving theme Reich presents is the "basic bargain" and he evokes Henry Ford, the man that took mass production to new heights and paid his workers well:

"[Henry] Ford understood the basic economic bargain that lay at the heart of a modern, highly productive economy. Workers are also consumers. Their earnings are continuously recycled to buy the goods and services other workers produce. But if earnings are inadequate and this basic bargain is broken, an economy produces more goods and services than its people are capable of purchasing."

I was concerned early in the book that Reich would leave out some of the important complexities of the topic but he covered related finances, politics and even consumer/voter psychology in a succinct yet informative way. His summary of changes to the labor market in the last 30+ years was very good.

His ideas for correcting this were interesting if perhaps difficult to implement politically. My take away however was that this is a strong indicator of how bad he thinks the situation really is. Many Americans may be yearning to return to "normal". Reich is the first to thoroughly convince me that it is not going to happen.

This is a very quick read of 144 pages and is well worth the time.

Finance is a form of imperial warfare

As Michael Hudson aptly noted in Replacing Economic Democracy with Financial Oligarchy (2011)

Finance is a form of warfare. Like military conquest, its aim is to gain control of land, public infrastructure, and to impose tribute. This involves dictating laws to its subjects, and concentrating social as well as economic planning in centralized hands. This is what now is being done by financial means, without the cost to the aggressor of fielding an army. But the economies under attacked may be devastated as deeply by financial stringency as by military attack when it comes to demographic shrinkage, shortened life spans, emigration and capital flight.

This attack is being mounted not by nation states as such, but by a cosmopolitan financial class. Finance always has been cosmopolitan more than nationalistic – and always has sought to impose its priorities and lawmaking power over those of parliamentary democracies.

Like any monopoly or vested interest, the financial strategy seeks to block government power to regulate or tax it. From the financial vantage point, the ideal function of government is to enhance and protect finance capital and "the miracle of compound interest" that keeps fortunes multiplying exponentially, faster than the economy can grow, until they eat into the economic substance and do to the economy what predatory creditors and rentiers did to the Roman Empire.

Simon Johnson, former IMF Chief Economist, is coming out in May's 2009 edition of The Atlantic with a fascinating, highly provocative piece, on the collusion between the US' "financial oligarchy" and the US government and how its persistence will contribute to prolonging the economic crisis. Here is the summary (hat tip to Global Conditions):

One thing you learn rather quickly when working at the International Monetary Fund is that no one is ever very happy to see you (…)

The reason, of course, is that the IMF specializes in telling its clients what they don't want to hear.(…)

No, the real concern of the fund's senior staff, and the biggest obstacle to recovery, is almost invariably the politics of countries in crisis. (…)

Typically, these countries are in a desperate economic situation for one simple reason-the powerful elites within them overreached in good times and took too many risks. Emerging-market governments and their private-sector allies commonly form a tight-knit-and, most of the time, genteel-oligarchy, running the country rather like a profit-seeking company in which they are the controlling shareholders (…)

Many IMF programs "go off track" (a euphemism) precisely because the government can't stay tough on erstwhile cronies, and the consequences are massive inflation or other disasters. A program "goes back on track" once the government prevails or powerful oligarchs sort out among themselves who will govern-and thus win or lose-under the IMF-supported plan. (…)

In its depth and suddenness, the U.S. economic and financial crisis is shockingly reminiscent of moments we have recently seen in emerging markets (…).

(…) elite business interests-financiers, in the case of the U.S.-played a central role in creating the crisis, making ever-larger gambles, with the implicit backing of the government, until the inevitable collapse. More alarming, they are now using their influence to prevent precisely the sorts of reforms that are needed, and fast, to pull the economy out of its nosedive. The government seems helpless, or unwilling, to act against them.

Top investment bankers and government officials like to lay the blame for the current crisis on the lowering of U.S. interest rates after the dotcom bust or, even better-in a "buck stops somewhere else" sort of way-on the flow of savings out of China. Some on the right like to complain about Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, or even about longer-standing efforts to promote broader homeownership. And, of course, it is axiomatic to everyone that the regulators responsible for "safety and soundness" were fast asleep at the wheel.

But these various policies-lightweight regulation, cheap money, the unwritten Chinese-American economic alliance, the promotion of homeownership-had something in common. Even though some are traditionally associated with Democrats and some with Republicans, they all benefited the financial sector. Policy changes that might have forestalled the crisis but would have limited the financial sector's profits-such as Brooksley Born's now-famous attempts to regulate credit-default swaps at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, in 1998-were ignored or swept aside.

The financial industry has not always enjoyed such favored treatment. But for the past 25 years or so, finance has boomed, becoming ever more powerful. The boom began with the Reagan years, and it only gained strength with the deregulatory policies of the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.

(…) the American financial industry gained political power by amassing a kind of cultural capital-a belief system. Once, perhaps, what was good for General Motors was good for the country. Over the past decade, the attitude took hold that what was good for Wall Street was good for the country. (…)

One channel of influence was, of course, the flow of individuals between Wall Street and Washington. Robert Rubin, once the co-chairman of Goldman Sachs, served in Washington as Treasury secretary under Clinton, and later became chairman of Citigroup's executive committee. Henry Paulson, CEO of Goldman Sachs during the long boom, became Treasury secretary under George W.Bush. John Snow, Paulson's predecessor, left to become chairman of Cerberus Capital Management, a large private-equity firm that also counts Dan Quayle among its executives. Alan Greenspan, after leaving the Federal Reserve, became a consultant to Pimco, perhaps the biggest player in international bond markets.

A whole generation of policy makers has been mesmerized by Wall Street, always and utterly convinced that whatever the banks said was true (…).

By now, the princes of the financial world have of course been stripped naked as leaders and strategists-at least in the eyes of most Americans. But as the months have rolled by, financial elites have continued to assume that their position as the economy's favored children is safe, despite the wreckage they have caused (…)

Throughout the crisis, the government has taken extreme care not to upset the interests of the financial institutions, or to question the basic outlines of the system that got us here. In September 2008, Henry Paulson asked Congress for $700 billion to buy toxic assets from banks, with no strings attached and no judicial review of his purchase decisions. Many observers suspected that the purpose was to overpay for those assets and thereby take the problem off the banks' hands-indeed, that is the only way that buying toxic assets would have helped anything. Perhaps because there was no way to make such a blatant subsidy politically acceptable, that plan was shelved.

Instead, the money was used to recapitalize banks, buying shares in them on terms that were grossly favorable to the banks themselves. As the crisis has deepened and financial institutions have needed more help, the government has gotten more and more creative in figuring out ways to provide banks with subsidies that are too complex for the general public to understand (…)

The challenges the United States faces are familiar territory to the people at the IMF. If you hid the name of the country and just showed them the numbers, there is no doubt what old IMF hands would say: nationalize troubled banks and break them up as necessary (…)

In some ways, of course, the government has already taken control of the banking system. It has essentially guaranteed the liabilities of the biggest banks, and it is their only plausible source of capital today.

Ideally, big banks should be sold in medium-size pieces, divided regionally or by type of business. Where this proves impractical-since we'll want to sell the banks quickly-they could be sold whole, but with the requirement of being broken up within a short time. Banks that remain in private hands should also be subject to size limitations.

This may seem like a crude and arbitrary step, but it is the best way to limit the power of individual institutions in a sector that is essential to the economy as a whole. Of course, some people will complain about the "efficiency costs" of a more fragmented banking system, and these costs are real. But so are the costs when a bank that is too big to fail-a financial weapon of mass self-destruction-explodes. Anything that is too big to fail is too big to exist.

To ensure systematic bank breakup, and to prevent the eventual reemergence of dangerous behemoths, we also need to overhaul our antitrust legislation (…)

Caps on executive compensation, while redolent of populism, might help restore the political balance of power and deter the emergence of a new oligarchy. (…)

(…) Over time, though, the largest part may involve more transparency and competition, which would bring financial-industry fees down. To those who say this would drive financial activities to other countries, we can now safely say: fine".

The nature of financial oligarchy is such that the government's capacity to take control of an entire financial system, and to clean, slice it up and re-privatize it impartially is almost non-existent. Instead we have growing, potentially corrupt, collusion between financial elites and government officials which is hall mark of corporatism in this more modern form on neoliberalism.

The Great Deception

In 1998 Mark Curtis wrote The Great Deception: Anglo-American Power and World Order, a work whose stated goal was to shed light on various myths of Anglo-American power in the post-Cold War era.

Curtis attempts to demonstrate how the United Kingdom remained a key partner of the United States' effort to enforce their hegemony in the world. He analyzes what he refers to as a special relationship between the two countries and concludes that quite serious consequences exist for both states.

Trade for life

Trade for Life: Making Trade Work for Poor People is a work published in 2001. It is a strong critique of the function of international organizations, especially the World Trade Organization (WTO). Curtis analyzes the decisions taken by the WTO in developing states and concludes that these decisions were seldom without bias against the poor countries; he claims that certain of these decisions, notably certain structural adjustments, caused their intended benefactors more harm than good. Further, Curtis regrets that some rules are lacking when their need is called for, noting the relative lack of regulation checking the growth of power of multinational companies. A partner of Christian Aid in Zimbabwe has said that "the manner in which the WTO functions, is like placing an adult against a child in a boxing ring, like Manchester United against a local Zimbabwean team.

The WTO judges all countries on the same level, while they are not the same. The WTO must help create a situation where countries are more equal." This is a quotation that Mark Curtis recycles throughout his book.

Curtis concludes by saying that market forces can be used in a different, more egalitarian, manner than the one currently employed by the WTO. He believes that it could benefit developing nations if this goal was pursued.

His book was edited by ChristianAid while Mark Curtis was "Policy and Politics" Director and is freely available.

Web of Deceit

In 2003 Mark Curtis published Web of Deceit: Britain's Real Role in the World. This book has been his most successful to date. It offers a new academic approach to the role of the United Kingdom in the post 1945 world until the current the War on Terrorism. It further criticizes the foreign policy of Tony Blair. Curtis, defending the idea that Britain is a rogue state, describes various relations the United Kingdom undertook with repressive regimes and how he thinks these actions made the world less just.

Moreover, the book analyzes various recent actions of the British Army in the world, describing not only what he characterizes as the immorality of the War in Iraq, but also of the War in Afghanistan, and the Kosovo War. Curtis denounces equally strongly Britain's alliances with states he categorizes as repressive, such as Israel, Russia, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. Additionally, he details and criticizes the non-intervention of Britain in the Rwandan Genocide.

Curtis draws most of his research from recently declassified documents by the British secret service. He notably claims to demonstrate the role and complicity of the British in the massacre of millions of Indonesians in 1965, the toppling of the governments of Iran and British Guyana, and what he describes as repressive colonial policies in the former colonies of Kenya, Oman, and Malaysia.

Unpeople

In 2004, Mark Curtis published Unpeople: Britain's Secret Human Rights Abuses. This book followed a similar line of thought begun in Web of Deceit. Unpeople is based on various declassified documents from the British secret service.

Among the declassified secret service reports, Curtis asserts that the United Kingdom had given aid to Saddam Hussein in 1963 in order that he rised to power in Iraq; he further posits that the Western Powers, notably the UK, performed various arms deals with the Iraqi government while the Iraqi government was involved in the brutal aggression against the Kurdish community. Curtis asserts that these documents further indict the British government in their role played in the Vietnam War, the coup d'État against Idi Amin in 1971, the coup d'État against Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973, and coups in Indonesia and Guyana.

Mark Curtis estimates that approximately ten million deaths throughout the world since 1945 have been caused by the United Kingdom's foreign policy.

Alliance of transnational elites

From Amazon review of Blowback The Costs and Consequences of American Empire Chalmers Johnson

But Johnson is relying on the idea that "America" is a unitary entity, so that the hollowing out of industry hurts "America", not specific social groups within the country. In reality, US foreign policymakers work to advance the interests not of "America", but of those same business elites that have benefited from turning Asia into the world's sweatshop and undermining the unions that built their strength on American industry. American economic imperialism is not a failed conspiracy against the people of Asia, but an alliance between American elites and their Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, and Chinese counterparts - against the potential power of the working majority in all those countries.

But it's more complex than that, too, since the US seeks to prevent the emergence of an independent military challenge (especially China, but also Japan) to its Asia hegemony while seeking to expand the power of American commercial interests in the region, even as it tries to keep Asian elites happy enough with the status quo to prevent their rebellion against it.

In other words, the US system in Asia is more complicated than Johnson conveys, and defending America's mythical "national interests" will never address its fundamental injustices.

While Johnson seems to have abundant sympathy for the people of Asia, his nationalist framework prevents his from proposing the only real challenge to American hegemony: a popular anti-imperialist movement that crosses the barriers of nation-states.

Imperialism 101 by Micjael Parenti

Imperialism 101 By Michael Parenti

By Michael Parenti

24 June, 2011
Michaelparenti.org

Imperialism has been the most powerful force in world history over the last four or five centuries, carving up whole continents while oppressing indigenous peoples and obliterating entire civilizations. Yet, it is seldom accorded any serious attention by our academics, media commentators, and political leaders. When not ignored outright, the subject of imperialism has been sanitized, so that empires become "commonwealths," and colonies become "territories" or "dominions" (or, as in the case of Puerto Rico, "commonwealths" too). Imperialist military interventions become matters of "national defense," "national security," and maintaining "stability" in one or another region. In this book I want to look at imperialism for what it really is.

Across the Entire Globe

By "imperialism" I mean the process whereby the dominant politico-economic interests of one nation expropriate for their own enrichment the land, labor, raw materials, and markets of another people.The earliest victims of Western European imperialism were other Europeans. Some 800 years ago, Ireland became the first colony of what later became known as the British empire. A part of Ireland still remains under British occupation. Other early Caucasian victims included the Eastern Europeans. The people Charlemagne worked to death in his mines in the early part of the ninth century were Slavs. So frequent and prolonged was the enslavement of Eastern Europeans that "Slav" became synonymous with servitude. Indeed, the word "slave" derives from "Slav." Eastern Europe was an early source of capital accumulation, having become wholly dependent upon Western manufactures by the seventeenth century.

A particularly pernicious example of intra-European imperialism was the Nazi aggression during World War II, which gave the German business cartels and the Nazi state an opportunity to plunder the resources and exploit the labor of occupied Europe, including the slave labor of concentration camps.

The preponderant thrust of the European, North American, and Japanese imperial powers has been directed against Africa, Asia, and Latin America. By the nineteenth century, they saw the Third World as not only a source of raw materials and slaves but a market for manufactured goods. By the twentieth century, the industrial nations were exporting not only goods but capital, in the form of machinery, technology, investments, and loans. To say that we have entered the stage of capital export and investment is not to imply that the plunder of natural resources has ceased. If anything, the despoliation has accelerated.

Of the various notions about imperialism circulating today in the United States, the dominant view is that it does not exist. Imperialism is not recognized as a legitimate concept, certainly not in regard to the United States. One may speak of "Soviet imperialism" or "nineteenth-century British imperialism" but not of U.S. imperialism. A graduate student in political science at most universities in this country would not be granted the opportunity to research U.S. imperialism, on the grounds that such an undertaking would not be scholarly. While many people throughout the world charge the United States with being an imperialist power, in this country persons who talk of U.S. imperialism are usually judged to be mouthing ideological blather.

The Dynamic of Capital Expansion

Imperialism is older than capitalism. The Persian, Macedonian, Roman, and Mongol empires all existed centuries before the Rothschilds and Rockefellers. Emperors and conquistadors were interested mostly in plunder and tribute, gold and glory. Capitalist imperialism differs from these earlier forms in the way it systematically accumulates capital through the organized exploitation of labor and the penetration of overseas markets. Capitalist imperialism invests in other countries, transforming and dominating their economies, cultures, and political life, integrating their financial and productive structures into an international system of capital accumulation.A central imperative of capitalism is expansion. Investors will not put their money into business ventures unless they can extract more than they invest. Increased earnings come only with a growth in the enterprise. The capitalist ceaselessly searches for ways of making more money in order to make still more money. One must always invest to realize profits, gathering as much strength as possible in the face of competing forces and unpredictable markets.

Given its expansionist nature, capitalism has little inclination to stay home. Almost 150 years ago, Marx and Engels described a bourgeoisie that "chases over the whole surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere. . . . It creates a world after its own image." The expansionists destroy whole societies. Self-sufficient peoples are forcibly transformed into disfranchised wage workers. Indigenous communities and folk cultures are replaced by mass-market, mass-media, consumer societies. Cooperative lands are supplanted by agribusiness factory farms, villages by desolate shanty towns, autonomous regions by centralized autocracies.

Consider one of a thousand such instances. A few years ago the Los Angeles Times carried a special report on the rainforests of Borneo in the South Pacific. By their own testimony, the people there lived contented lives. They hunted, fished, and raised food in their jungle orchards and groves. But their entire way of life was ruthlessly wiped out by a few giant companies that destroyed the rainforest in order to harvest the hardwood for quick profits. Their lands were turned into ecological disaster areas and they themselves were transformed into disfranchised shantytown dwellers, forced to work for subsistence wages-when fortunate enough to find employment.

North American and European corporations have acquired control of more than three-fourths of the known mineral resources of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. But the pursuit of natural resources is not the only reason for capitalist overseas expansion. There is the additional need to cut production costs and maximize profits by investing in countries with cheaper labor markets. U.S. corporate foreign investment grew 84 percent from 1985 to 1990, the most dramatic increase being in cheap-labor countries like South Korea, Taiwan, Spain, and Singapore.

Because of low wages, low taxes, nonexistent work benefits, weak labor unions, and nonexistent occupational and environmental protections, U.S. corporate profit rates in the Third World are 50 percent greater than in developed countries. Citibank, one of the largest U.S. firms, earns about 75 percent of its profits from overseas operations. While profit margins at home sometimes have had a sluggish growth, earnings abroad have continued to rise dramatically, fostering the development of what has become known as the multinational or transnational corporation. Today some four hundred transnational companies control about 80 percent of the capital assets of the global free market and are extending their grasp into the ex-communist countries of Eastern Europe.

Transnationals have developed a global production line. General Motors has factories that produce cars, trucks and a wide range of auto components in Canada, Brazil, Venezuela, Spain, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Nigeria, Singapore, Philippines, South Africa, South Korea and a dozen other countries. Such "multiple sourcing" enables GM to ride out strikes in one country by stepping up production in another, playing workers of various nations against each other in order to discourage wage and benefit demands and undermine labor union strategies.

Not Necessary, Just Compelling

Some writers question whether imperialism is a necessary condition for capitalism, pointing out that most Western capital is invested in Western nations, not in the Third World. If corporations lost all their Third World investments, they argue, many of them could still survive on their European and North American markets. In response, one should note that capitalism might be able to survive without imperialism-but it shows no inclination to do so. It manifests no desire to discard its enormously profitable Third World enterprises. Imperialism may not be a necessary condition for investor survival but it seems to be an inherent tendency and a natural outgrowth of advanced capitalism. Imperial relations may not be the only way to pursue profits, but they are the most lucrative way.Whether imperialism is necessary for capitalism is really not the question. Many things that are not absolutely necessary are still highly desirable, therefore strongly preferred and vigorously pursued. Overseas investors find the Third World's cheap labor, vital natural resources, and various other highly profitable conditions to be compellingly attractive. Superprofits may not be necessary for capitalism's survival but survival is not all that capitalists are interested in. Superprofits are strongly preferred to more modest earnings. That there may be no necessity between capitalism and imperialism does not mean there is no compelling linkage.

The same is true of other social dynamics. For instance, wealth does not necessarily have to lead to luxurious living. A higher portion of an owning class's riches could be used for investment rather personal consumption. The very wealthy could survive on more modest sums but that is not how most of them prefer to live. Throughout history, wealthy classes generally have shown a preference for getting the best of everything. After all, the whole purpose of getting rich off other people's labor is to live well, avoiding all forms of thankless toil and drudgery, enjoying superior opportunities for lavish life-styles, medical care, education, travel, recreation, security, leisure, and opportunities for power and prestige. While none of these things are really "necessary," they are fervently clung to by those who possess them-as witnessed by the violent measures endorsed by advantaged classes whenever they feel the threat of an equalizing or leveling democratic force.

Myths of Underdevelopment

The impoverished lands of Asia, Africa, and Latin America are known to us as the "Third World," to distinguish them from the "First World" of industrialized Europe and North America and the now largely defunct "Second World" of communist states. Third World poverty, called "underdevelopment," is treated by most Western observers as an original historic condition. We are asked to believe that it always existed, that poor countries are poor because their lands have always been infertile or their people unproductive. In fact, the lands of Asia, Africa, and Latin America have long produced great treasures of foods, minerals and other natural resources. That is why the Europeans went through all the trouble to steal and plunder them. One does not go to poor places for self-enrichment. The Third World is rich. Only its people are poor-and it is because of the pillage they have endured.

The process of expropriating the natural resources of the Third World began centuries ago and continues to this day. First, the colonizers extracted gold, silver, furs, silks, and spices, then flax, hemp, timber, molasses, sugar, rum, rubber, tobacco, calico, cocoa, coffee, cotton, copper, coal, palm oil, tin, iron, ivory, ebony, and later on, oil, zinc, manganese, mercury, platinum, cobalt, bauxite, aluminum, and uranium. Not to be overlooked is that most hellish of all expropriations: the abduction of millions of human beings into slave labor.

Through the centuries of colonization, many self-serving imperialist theories have been spun. I was taught in school that people in tropical lands are slothful and do not work as hard as we denizens of the temperate zone. In fact, the inhabitants of warm climates have performed remarkably productive feats, building magnificent civilizations well before Europe emerged from the Dark Ages. And today they often work long, hard hours for meager sums. Yet the early stereotype of the "lazy native" is still with us. In every capitalist society, the poor-both domestic and overseas-regularly are blamed for their own condition.

We hear that Third World peoples are culturally retarded in their attitudes, customs, and technical abilities. It is a convenient notion embraced by those who want to depict Western investments as a rescue operation designed to help backward peoples help themselves. This myth of "cultural backwardness" goes back to ancient times, when conquerors used it to justify enslaving indigenous peoples. It was used by European colonizers over the last five centuries for the same purpose.

What cultural supremacy could by claimed by the Europeans of yore? From the fifteenth to nineteenth centuries Europe was "ahead" in a variety of things, such as the number of hangings, murders, and other violent crimes; instances of venereal disease, smallpox, typhoid, tuberculosis, plagues, and other bodily afflictions; social inequality and poverty (both urban and rural); mistreatment of women and children; and frequency of famines, slavery, prostitution, piracy, religious massacres, and inquisitional torture. Those who claim the West has been the most advanced civilization should keep such "achievements" in mind.

More seriously, we might note that Europe enjoyed a telling advantage in navigation and armaments. Muskets and cannon, Gatling guns and gunboats, and today missiles, helicopter gunships, and fighter bombers have been the deciding factors when West meets East and North meets South. Superior firepower, not superior culture, has brought the Europeans and Euro-North Americans to positions of supremacy that today are still maintained by force, though not by force alone.

It was said that colonized peoples were biologically backward and less evolved than their colonizers. Their "savagery" and "lower" level of cultural evolution were emblematic of their inferior genetic evolution. But were they culturally inferior? In many parts of what is now considered the Third World, people developed impressive skills in architecture, horticulture, crafts, hunting, fishing, midwifery, medicine, and other such things. Their social customs were often far more gracious and humane and less autocratic and repressive than anything found in Europe at that time. Of course we must not romanticize these indigenous societies, some of which had a number of cruel and unusual practices of their own. But generally, their peoples enjoyed healthier, happier lives, with more leisure time, than did most of Europe's inhabitants.

Other theories enjoy wide currency. We hear that Third World poverty is due to overpopulation, too many people having too many children to feed. Actually, over the last several centuries, many Third World lands have been less densely populated than certain parts of Europe. India has fewer people per acre-but more poverty-than Holland, Wales, England, Japan, Italy, and a few other industrial countries. Furthermore, it is the industrialized nations of the First World, not the poor ones of the Third, that devour some 80 percent of the world's resources and pose the greatest threat to the planet's ecology.

This is not to deny that overpopulation is a real problem for the planet's ecosphere. Limiting population growth in all nations would help the global environment but it would not solve the problems of the poor-because overpopulation in itself is not the cause of poverty but one of its effects. The poor tend to have large families because children are a source of family labor and income and a support during old age.

Frances Moore Lappe and Rachel Schurman found that of seventy Third World countries, there were six-China, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Chile, Burma, and Cuba-and the state of Kerala in India that had managed to lower their birth rates by one third. They enjoyed neither dramatic industrial expansion nor high per capita incomes nor extensive family planning programs. The factors they had in common were public education and health care, a reduction of economic inequality, improvements in women's rights, food subsidies, and in some cases land reform. In other words, fertility rates were lowered not by capitalist investments and economic growth as such but by socio-economic betterment, even of a modest scale, accompanied by the emergence of women's rights.

Artificially Converted to Poverty

What is called "underdevelopment" is a set of social relations that has been forcefully imposed on countries. With the advent of the Western colonizers, the peoples of the Third World were actually set back in their development sometimes for centuries. British imperialism in India provides an instructive example. In 1810, India was exporting more textiles to England than England was exporting to India. By 1830, the trade flow was reversed. The British had put up prohibitive tariff barriers to shut out Indian finished goods and were dumping their commodities in India, a practice backed by British gunboats and military force. Within a matter of years, the great textile centers of Dacca and Madras were turned into ghost towns. The Indians were sent back to the land to raise the cotton used in British textile factories. In effect, India was reduced to being a cow milked by British financiers. By 1850, India's debt had grown to 53 million pounds. From 1850 to 1900, its per capita income dropped by almost two-thirds. The value of the raw materials and commodities the Indians were obliged to send to Britain during most of the nineteenth century amounted yearly to more than the total income of the sixty million Indian agricultural and industrial workers. The massive poverty we associate with India was not that country's original historical condition. British imperialism did two things: first, it ended India's development, then it forcibly underdeveloped that country.

Similar bleeding processes occurred throughout the Third World. The enormous wealth extracted should remind us that there originally were few really poor nations. Countries like Brazil, Indonesia, Chile, Bolivia, Zaire, Mexico, Malaysia, and the Philippines were and sometimes still are rich in resources. Some lands have been so thoroughly plundered as to be desolate in all respects. However, most of the Third World is not "underdeveloped" but overexploited. Western colonization and investments have created a lower rather than a higher living standard.

Referring to what the English colonizers did to the Irish, Frederick Engels wrote in 1856: "How often have the Irish started out to achieve something, and every time they have been crushed politically and industrially. By consistent oppression they have been artificially converted into an utterly impoverished nation." So with most of the Third World. The Mayan Indians in Guatemala had a more nutritious and varied diet and better conditions of health in the early 16th century before the Europeans arrived than they have today. They had more craftspeople, architects, artisans, and horticulturists than today. What is called underdevelopment is not an original historical condition but a product of imperialism's superexploitation. Underdevelopment is itself a development.

Imperialism has created what I have termed "maldevelopment": modern office buildings and luxury hotels in the capital city instead of housing for the poor, cosmetic surgery clinics for the affluent instead of hospitals for workers, cash export crops for agribusiness instead of food for local markets, highways that go from the mines and latifundios to the refineries and ports instead of roads in the back country for those who might hope to see a doctor or a teacher.

Wealth is transferred from Third World peoples to the economic elites of Europe and North America (and more recently Japan) by direct plunder, by the expropriation of natural resources, the imposition of ruinous taxes and land rents, the payment of poverty wages, and the forced importation of finished goods at highly inflated prices. The colonized country is denied the freedom of trade and the opportunity to develop its own natural resources, markets, and industrial capacity. Self-sustenance and self-employment gives way to wage labor. From 1970 to 1980, the number of wage workers in the Third World grew from 72 million to 120 million, and the rate is accelerating.

Hundreds of millions of Third World peoples now live in destitution in remote villages and congested urban slums, suffering hunger, disease, and illiteracy, often because the land they once tilled is now controlled by agribusiness firms who use it for mining or for commercial export crops such as coffee, sugar, and beef, instead of growing beans, rice, and corn for home consumption. A study of twenty of the poorest countries, compiled from official statistics, found that the number of people living in what is called "absolute poverty" or rockbottom destitution, the poorest of the poor, is rising 70,000 a day and should reach 1.5 billion by the year 2000 (San Francisco Examiner, June 8, 1994).

Imperialism forces millions of children around the world to live nightmarish lives, their mental and physical health severely damaged by endless exploitation. A documentary film on the Discovery Channel (April 24, 1994) reported that in countries like Russia, Thailand, and the Philippines, large numbers of minors are sold into prostitution to help their desperate families survive. In countries like Mexico, India, Colombia, and Egypt, children are dragooned into health-shattering, dawn-to-dusk labor on farms and in factories and mines for pennies an hour, with no opportunity for play, schooling, or medical care.

In India, 55 million children are pressed into the work force. Tens of thousands labor in glass factories in temperatures as high as 100 degrees. In one plant, four-year-olds toil from 5 o'clock in the morning until the dead of night, inhaling fumes and contracting emphysema, tuberculosis, and other respiratory diseases. In the Philippines and Malaysia corporations have lobbied to drop age restrictions for labor recruitment. The pursuit of profit becomes a pursuit of evil.

Development Theory

When we say a country is "underdeveloped," we are implying that it is backward and retarded in some way, that its people have shown little capacity to achieve and evolve. The negative connotations of "underdeveloped" has caused the United Nations, the Wall Street Journal, and parties of various political persuasion to refer to Third World countries as "developing" nations, a term somewhat less insulting than "underdeveloped" but equally misleading. I prefer to use "Third World" because "developing" seems to be just a euphemistic way of saying "underdeveloped but belatedly starting to do something about it." It still implies that poverty was an original historic condition and not something imposed by the imperialists. It also falsely suggests that these countries are developing when actually their economic conditions are usually worsening.The dominant theory of the last half century, enunciated repeatedly by writers like Barbara Ward and W. W. Rostow and afforded wide currency in the United States and other parts of the Western world, maintains that it is up to the rich nations of the North to help uplift the "backward" nations of the South, bringing them technology and teaching them proper work habits. This is an updated version of "the White man's burden," a favorite imperialist fantasy.

According to the development scenario, with the introduction of Western investments, the backward economic sectors of the poor nations will release their workers, who then will find more productive employment in the modern sector at higher wages. As capital accumulates, business will reinvest its profits, thus creating still more products, jobs, buying power, and markets. Eventually a more prosperous economy evolves.

This "development theory" or "modernization theory," as it is sometimes called, bears little relation to reality. What has emerged in the Third World is an intensely exploitive form of dependent capitalism. Economic conditions have worsened drastically with the growth of transnational corporate investment. The problem is not poor lands or unproductive populations but foreign exploitation and class inequality. Investors go into a country not to uplift it but to enrich themselves.

People in these countries do not need to be taught how to farm. They need the land and the implements to farm. They do not need to be taught how to fish. They need the boats and the nets and access to shore frontage, bays, and oceans. They need industrial plants to cease dumping toxic effusions into the waters. They do not need to be convinced that they should use hygienic standards. They do not need a Peace Corps Volunteer to tell them to boil their water, especially when they cannot afford fuel or have no access to firewood. They need the conditions that will allow them to have clean drinking water and clean clothes and homes. They do not need advice about balanced diets from North Americans. They usually know what foods best serve their nutritional requirements. They need to be given back their land and labor so that they might work for themselves and grow food for their own consumption.

The legacy of imperial domination is not only misery and strife, but an economic structure dominated by a network of international corporations which themselves are beholden to parent companies based in North America, Europe and Japan. If there is any harmonization or integration, it occurs among the global investor classes, not among the indigenous economies of these countries. Third World economies remain fragmented and unintegrated both between each other and within themselves, both in the flow of capital and goods and in technology and organization. In sum, what we have is a world economy that has little to do with the economic needs of the world's people.

Neoimperialism: Skimming the Cream

Sometimes imperial domination is explained as arising from an innate desire for domination and expansion, a "territorial imperative." In fact, territorial imperialism is no longer the prevailing mode. Compared to the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when the European powers carved up the world among themselves, today there is almost no colonial dominion left. Colonel Blimp is dead and buried, replaced by men in business suits. Rather than being directly colonized by the imperial power, the weaker countries have been granted the trappings of sovereignty-while Western finance capital retains control of the lion's share of their profitable resources. This relationship has gone under various names: "informal empire," "colonialism without colonies," "neocolonialism," and "neoimperialism. "U.S. political and business leaders were among the earliest practitioners of this new kind of empire, most notably in Cuba at the beginning of the twentieth century. Having forcibly wrested the island from Spain in the war of 1898, they eventually gave Cuba its formal independence. The Cubans now had their own government, constitution, flag, currency, and security force. But major foreign policy decisions remained in U.S. hands as did the island's wealth, including its sugar, tobacco, and tourist industries, and major imports and exports.

Historically U.S. capitalist interests have been less interested in acquiring more colonies than in acquiring more wealth, preferring to make off with the treasure of other nations without bothering to own and administer the nations themselves. Under neoimperialism, the flag stays home, while the dollar goes everywhere - frequently assisted by the sword.

After World War II, European powers like Britain and France adopted a strategy of neoimperialism. Left financially depleted by years of warfare, and facing intensified popular resistance from within the Third World itself, they reluctantly decided that indirect economic hegemony was less costly and politically more expedient than outright colonial rule. They discovered that the removal of a conspicuously intrusive colonial rule made it more difficult for nationalist elements within the previously colonized countries to mobilize anti-imperialist sentiments.

Though the newly established government might be far from completely independent, it usually enjoyed more legitimacy in the eyes of its populace than a colonial administration controlled by the imperial power. Furthermore, under neoimperialism the native government takes up the costs of administering the country while the imperialist interests are free to concentrate on accumulating capital-which is all they really want to do.

After years of colonialism, the Third World country finds it extremely difficult to extricate itself from the unequal relationship with its former colonizer and impossible to depart from the global capitalist sphere. Those countries that try to make a break are subjected to punishing economic and military treatment by one or another major power, nowadays usually the United States.

The leaders of the new nations may voice revolutionary slogans, yet they find themselves locked into the global capitalist orbit, cooperating perforce with the First World nations for investment, trade, and aid. So we witnessed the curious phenomenon of leaders of newly independent Third World nations denouncing imperialism as the source of their countries' ills, while dissidents in these countries denounced these same leaders as collaborators of imperialism.

In many instances a comprador class emerged or was installed as a first condition for independence. A comprador class is one that cooperates in turning its own country into a client state for foreign interests. A client state is one that is open to investments on terms that are decidedly favorable to the foreign investors. In a client state, corporate investors enjoy direct subsidies and land grants, access to raw materials and cheap labor, light or nonexistent taxes, few effective labor unions, no minimum wage or child labor or occupational safety laws, and no consumer or environmental protections to speak of. The protective laws that do exist go largely unenforced.

In all, the Third World is something of a capitalist paradise, offering life as it was in Europe and the United States during the nineteenth century, with a rate of profit vastly higher than what might be earned today in a country with strong economic regulations. The comprador class is well recompensed for its cooperation. Its leaders enjoy opportunities to line their pockets with the foreign aid sent by the U.S. government. Stability is assured with the establishment of security forces, armed and trained by the United States in the latest technologies of terror and repression. Still, neoimperialism carries risks. The achievement of de jure independence eventually fosters expectations of de facto independence. The forms of self rule incite a desire for the fruits of self rule. Sometimes a national leader emerges who is a patriot and reformer rather than a comprador collaborator. Therefore, the changeover from colonialism to neocolonialism is not without risks for the imperialists and represents a net gain for popular forces in the world.

Chapter 1 of Against Empire by Michael Parenti

Michael Parenti is an internationally known award-winning author and lecturer. He is one of the nation's leading progressive political analysts. His highly informative and entertaining books and talks have reached a wide range of audiences in North America and abroad. http://www.michaelparenti.org/


Top Visited
Switchboard
Latest
Past week
Past month

NEWS CONTENTS

Old News ;-)

Neocolonialism Bulletin, 2015 Neocolonialism Bulletin, 2014

Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2014 Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2013 Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2011 Neoliberalism Bulletin 2009 Neoliberalism Bulletin 2008

[Apr 21, 2018] The UN Charter is very vague about a lot of things, but it's very clear about one thing, and that is, when is it legal to go to war

Apr 21, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

tc2011 , 13 Apr 2018 16:21

What Freedland and others are advocating is illegal. They have no moral or legal authority.

For the avoidance of any doubt or confusion, attacking a foreign country without legal basis under international law represents the "supreme international crime". The launching of an "aggressive war" is the "supreme crime" because it is the overarching offense which contains within itself "the accumulated evil of the whole" (e.g. rape, torture, murder, mass murder, ethnic cleansing, etc).

People were tried, convicted and hung at Nuremberg for the crime of waging wars of aggression (as well as crimes against humanity).

Regardless of how unpalatable we may find it, even the verified use of chemical weapons -be they by state or non-state actors - is not a legal basis to attack a country, any country.

As Phyllis Bennis, Fellow and Director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., clearly explained (following the last alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, and subsequent military strike on the Syrian air base ordered by President Trump):

"The UN Charter is very vague about a lot of things, but it's very clear about one thing, and that is, when is it legal to go to war? When is it legal to use a military strike? There's only two occasions according to the UN Charter The UN Charter says, "A country can use military force under two circumstances: Number one, if the Security Council authorizes it." Number two, Article 51 of the UN Charter, which is about self-defence. But it's a very narrowly constrained version of self-defence It says very explicitly, "If a country has been attacked." "until the Security Council can meet, immediate self-defence is allowed." Neither of those two categories applied here. So, it was clearly an illegal act."

link

[Apr 21, 2018] This guy skipped past the censors. He explains how there has been lots of Western intervention against Syria.

Apr 21, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

GuardianFodder -> LeftOrRightSameShite , 13 Apr 2018 15:36

This guy skipped past the censors.

He explains how there has been lots of Western intervention against Syria.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-vwKk4pADCw

[Apr 21, 2018] White Helmets in Douma play the same role as Ahmed Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress played in Iraq WDM fiasco

It looks more and more that everything was staged and everything was controlled by Western intelligence agencies with the specific goal.
Notable quotes:
"... That kind of reminds me of when Ahmed Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress were explaining how to get rid of Saddam without plunging Iraq into mayhem and destabilising the wider region. ..."
"... If the price of selling arms to Saudi Arabia is having to stage nerve agent attacks in the UK and in Syria, one has to ask: Is it really worth it? ..."
Apr 21, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

Paul Crow , 13 Apr 2018 15:43

Read Robert Fisk in the Independent. He, as always, has nailed it. The Brits and the US have no authority to take action with their past record of use of Chemical and Atomic weapons.
Celtiberico , 13 Apr 2018 15:42

The Syrian Negotiation Commission has called for action to deter Assad from killing civilians. What they envisage is that each time Assad launches a deadly attack on noncombatants, allied forces reply by taking out one of the strategic assets he uses to kill civilians. It could be an airfield, it could be a command centre. If the target were aircraft, that would simultaneously inflict a cost on the regime and deprive it of the means of dropping its barrel bombs and toxic, yellow cylinders. The objective would be to make Assad pay a price for killing his own people, a price he has not paid until now. Eventually, or so runs the hope, he would be deterred.

That kind of reminds me of when Ahmed Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress were explaining how to get rid of Saddam without plunging Iraq into mayhem and destabilising the wider region.

Krautolivier , 13 Apr 2018 15:40
If the price of selling arms to Saudi Arabia is having to stage nerve agent attacks in the UK and in Syria, one has to ask: Is it really worth it?
oldeborr , 13 Apr 2018 15:38
The UK andcFrance bares a heavy responsibility for the current situation in Syria. The cavalier attitude that the ConDems took to international law during the Arab spring encouraged the Saudi s and their proxies to distablise the recognised Govt. Assad is no paragon of virtue, but prior to the insurgency steps were in place to make the country a better place for its citizens, and whilst its true poltical dissent was not allowed, people could live their lives and go about their business in safety.

[Apr 21, 2018] In an interview with The Guardian newspaper, Blix said, "I have my detractors in Washington. There are bastards who spread things around, of course, who planted nasty things in the media."

Apr 21, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

harveybrown , 13 Apr 2018 15:37

In an interview on BBC 1 on 8 February 2004, UN Weapons Inspector, Hans Blix accused the US and British governments of dramatizing the threat of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, in order to strengthen the case for the 2003 war against the government of Saddam Hussein.
Ultimately, no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction were ever found.

In an interview with The Guardian newspaper, Blix said, "I have my detractors in Washington. There are bastards who spread things around, of course, who planted nasty things in the media."

[ It is interesting to note that Allan Ramsay likewise deplored "a friendly alliance between the camp and the counting-house" for exactly the same reasons (Letters on the Present Disturbances, p.34). Ramsay maintained that of the evil consequences of such alliance "the two last wars carried on by England against France and Spain, furnish a most melancholy illustration. To obtain the sole and exclusive commerce of the western world, in which the French and Spaniards were their rivals, was the modest wish of our merchants, in conjunction with our Americans. The fair, and truly commercial, method of effecting this would have been, by superior skill, industry and frugality, to have undersold their rivals at market: but that method appearing slow and troublesome to a luxurious people, whose extraordinary expences* required extraordinary profits, a more expeditous one was devised; which was that of driving their rivals entirely out of the seas, and preventing them from bringing their goods at all to market. For this purpose, not having any fleets or armies of their own, the powers of the State were found necessary, and they applied them accordingly" (ibid., pp.32 f.).

Knorr, K. E. 'Ch02-Part2 British Colonial Theories 1570-1850'. In British Colonial Theories, 1570-1850. The University of Toronto Press, 1944. ]

[Apr 21, 2018] Douma, US imperialism, and While Helmets

Sacrificing women and children to achieve nefarious goals such as preparing the ground for invasion dictated by economic or geopolitical interests is a typical Western intelligence agencies plot.
Apr 21, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com
OlivesNightie , 13 Apr 2018 15:46

The notion of inaction, of standing by and watching as Assad kills and kills and kills, racking up a death toll in Syria of 500,000

On May 12, 1996, Madeleine Albright defended UN sanctions against Iraq on a 60 Minutes segment in which Lesley Stahl asked her "We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?" and Albright replied, "We think the price is worth it."'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbIX1CP9qr4

[Apr 21, 2018] The UN report on previous attacks confirmed that Assad's allegation that a video had been staged have solid ground. It concludes that the patients on the video "appear relatively unaffected by the typical symptoms.

Apr 21, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

StephenDaedalus -> JackDowland , 13 Apr 2018 15:47

Sure, here's the UN OPCW investigation report which directly blames the Assad forces for chemical attacks. Take as much time as you need.

https://undocs.org/S/2016/738

I couldn't find the paragraph which directly blames Assad's forces.

I note it does refer (at para 44) to Assad's allegation that a video had been staged. It concludes that the patients on the video "appear relatively unaffected by the typical symptoms.

No red eyes, tearing, paleness, sweating, cyanosis or breathing difficulties can be observed from the footage. The patients interviewed in the video show little or no signs of having been exposed to a toxic chemical".

This is also consistent with other documented attempts of video-making to trigger the western bombs.

Surely you can see why people might at least reserve judgment about the latest video emanating from Jaish al-Islam controlled territory?

[Apr 21, 2018] White Helmets tend to be hard line Islamists and send out propaganda videos

Notable quotes:
"... "Charities"? Lol. I'll bet money nearly all of those 'charities' are actually PR fronts for thuggish Islamist rebels. ..."
Apr 21, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

LiviaDrusilla -> Bopstar, 13 Apr 2018 16:17

"Charities"? Lol. I'll bet money nearly all of those 'charities' are actually PR fronts for thuggish Islamist rebels.

A bit like how all the Syrians the Guardian manages to reach for 'skype interviews' are positively desperate for massive aeriel bombardment of their own country, chastising the west for not supplying the bearded types with anti-aircraft missiles and even suggesting targets for American bombs.

brambalus -> 1liesalot , 13 Apr 2018 16:16
I have recently taught two Syrian professionals. Of course Assad is evil, but they tell me that some of the rebel militias are much more brutal and intolerant than Assad and if they win Syria will go the way of Libya.

They also told me (which shocked me somewhat) that the White Helmets tend to be hard line Islamists and send out propaganda videos which Western media fail to question thoroughly.

[Apr 21, 2018] The couple Merkel/Sauer knows exactly how to evaluate that so-called evidence in Douma false flag

Apr 21, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Hmpf | Apr 20, 2018 5:51:46 AM | 165

@163 WillyW

Angela Merkel is not stupid - things are way worth than that.
She's got a PhD in physical chemistry, and what's rather mind-boggling in that context is the fact that her husband Joachim Sauer is a professor of chemistry and one of the worlds foremost experts in surface chemistry.
In the 2000s this guy was in the top 30 list of the worlds most extinguished chemists - let that sink in for a second.
The couple Merkel/Sauer knows exactly how to evaluate that so-called evidence, yet... - as I said the situation is way worse as generally anticipated.

[Apr 21, 2018] When the FO is headed by Boris 'Serial liar' Johnson it becomes very hard to know who to believe. But when neoliberal MSM cut somebody on air, you know is it better to beleave this guy

Notable quotes:
"... Sky News cuts of British General. https://southfront.org/sky-news-cuts-off-former-british-general-while-he-questiones-douma-chemical-attack / ..."
Apr 21, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

Kokkos , 13 Apr 2018 15:41

Sky News cuts of British General. https://southfront.org/sky-news-cuts-off-former-british-general-while-he-questiones-douma-chemical-attack /
TheKingOfHate , 13 Apr 2018 15:41
"Russian claims that UK staged Syria gas attack 'a blatant lie'"

When the FO is headed by Boris 'Serial liar' Johnson it becomes very hard to know who to believe.

JBigglesworth , 13 Apr 2018 15:41
Further to my post on Russell-Moyle's Tweet:

Lloyd Russell-Moyle
(@lloyd_rm)
It is worth noting that the British Government approved exports of dual use precursors for chemical weapons including sarin to Syria between 2004 and 2012, after the civil war began and after Assad was accused of using gas. CAEC report (2015): pic.twitter.com/TsvthAcZRR

April 13, 2018

Further down his thread is a tweet where someone has a screen-grab of a Mail Online story from 2013. It talks about leaked information about clearance given by the US Government for a British security company to stage a chemical weapons attack in Syria in order to provide a pretext for bombing.

I have no idea whether this is true or whether it was genuinely from Mail Online, perhaps someone with more know-how than me could find out.

At first, I laughed at the Russian suggestion that the attack on Douma had been staged. Now I'm not so sure.

[Apr 21, 2018] Operation Timber Sycamore and Douma false falg

Apr 21, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

Jay_Q123 , 13 Apr 2018 15:36

Your article appears to apportion blame solely to Assad and you don't even attempt to address the opposition in Syria. Nobody seriously questions that the Syrian governments war has killed many thousands and thousands of civilians. How can you not refer to the international jihad and the make up of these fighters, as well as the sieges they laid on villages, town and cities and the cruelty they inflicted upon the people?

The Syrian Arab Army is a composite of Sunni, Shia, Christians, and different ethnicity's, what convinces you that they have in any way wantonly killed civilians? The soldiers have family all over Syria, plus no mention of the 300,000+ civilians that have been liberated from Eastern Aleppo and Eastern Ghouta in the last several months.

I find this article very bizarre indeed. The most simple explanation for the disaster in Syria is that a sovereign state protected its national interest from an international contingent of mercenaries. There are Moroccans and Chechnyans, Uighurs and Brits, Saudis as well as Syrians in this armed army. What other options did a state such as Syria have when fighting against ISIS, Al Qaida, Al Nusra and 'The Army of Islam', Jaysh Al-Islam? All have which have direct connections to our major ally in the region, Saudi Arabia.

Somebody correct me if I am wrong but I can not find any reference at all to the enemy in this article. It's written as if the 8 year war has simply been an extermination war against civilians and completely out of context with reality.

Check out Operation Timber Sycamore for more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timber_Sycamore

BoomersStealingMoney , 13 Apr 2018 15:32
The west stoked and funded the Wahabists. Secular Asad is our buffer against the Saudi version of Islam.

Whatever happens we cannot let the Saud version of Islam win.

The Sauds have spread their Wahabi version of Islam using oil money. And we have armed the Sauds.

Justin Thyme , 13 Apr 2018 15:31
The USA and WMD@S

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld helped Saddam Hussein build up his arsenal of deadly chemical and biological weapons. As an envoy from President Reagan 19 years ago, he had a secret meeting with the Iraqi dictator and arranged enormous military assistance for his war with Iran. Mr Rumsfeld, at the time a successful executive in the pharmaceutical industry, still made it possible for Saddam to buy supplies from American firms. They included viruses such as anthrax and bubonic plague, according to the Washington Post.
The USA provided $1.5 billion worth of Pathogenic, toxigenic and other biological research materials were exported to Iraq; 1985-89.

1) US based company, Alcolac International exported mustard gas to Iraq; 1987-88.
2) Almost 150 foreign companies supported Saddam Hussein's WMD program; 1975-
3) US directly attacked Iran by hitting Iran's oil platforms; 1987.
4) US directly attacked Iran's navy in unproportioned and unreasonable war; 1988.
5) US shot down Iranian civilian airliner in the Iranian territory; 1988.

This is the equivalent of a pathological paedophile giving a sermon against child abuse when the US preaches its corrupt moral practices regarding Syria!!!

[Apr 21, 2018] Russia has transferred forty Pantsir-S1 air defense systems to Syria' Air Defence

Apr 21, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

tayacase , 13 Apr 2018 15:50

Russia has transferred forty Pantsir-S1 air defense systems to Syria' Air Defence.
This is the latest air defence technology (the system is in service since 2012) - a combined short to medium range surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery weapon system against aircrafts, helicopters, precision munitions, cruise missiles and UAVs.

https://southfront.org/russia-delivered-40-pantsir-s1-air-defense-systems-to-syria-state-media /
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantsir-S1

[Apr 21, 2018] There's no good option in Syria by Jonathan Freedland

You face the same the liars with the sexed up dossier who went on to murder hundreds of thousands in Iraq and Libya. This is all too reminiscent of previous interventions
Consider WW1, Suez, Iran 1953, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Yemen and every other western militarily intervention in the ME - whether directly or by proxy - and identify one that hasn't just caused more instability, death, violence and displacement than there was already?
Apr 21, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

e are caught between a rock, in the form of the recklessness of Donald Trump, and a hard place, shaped by the cruelty of Bashar al-Assad. This is the choice that now confronts citizens and their representatives in Britain, France and the US. The reasons to resist signing up for any project led by Trump should be obvious, with the newly published testimony of James Comey, the FBI director he fired, providing a fresh reminder.

Trump is a congenital liar who is devoid of empathy, a narcissist with a nihilist's view of the world. These are not mere character defects; they have a bearing on the decisions the de facto leader of any action in Syria would take. Among the reasons I opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq was my fundamental distrust of George W Bush and his circle, especially on the matter of motive. Trump, with his tweeted mood swings – first, vowing to withdraw from Syria altogether, then threatening an imminent missile bombardment, then signalling a delay – makes Bush look like a statesman.

But even if a moral paragon were sitting in the Oval Office, there would be grounds for restraint. The record of past western military interventions in the Middle East is bloody and shaming, as the peoples of both Iraq and Libya can testify. Barack Obama, no gung-ho cowboy, was the commander-in-chief in the latter case. And yet what was originally billed as a discrete military action to prevent an impending civilian slaughter in Benghazi escalated into a bombardment that led to regime change and mayhem. It stands as a textbook illustration of western bombs' ability to make a bad situation worse.


LiviaDrusilla -> BullNakano , 13 Apr 2018 16:26

It's clear now that although Assad has 'won' the war a status quo of him ruling a predominately Sunni country can't be returned to. He seeks to terrorise and punish the Syrian people under the protection of Russia and Iran.

Even though the army which has made such huge sacrifices for the Syrian state is about 70% Sunni?

The US and her allies have to intervene, otherwise the rule of international law is worthless.

Why? Even if your premise above were true, which it isn't, why is it our job to intervene in every country with an imperfect system? Or are you proposing we bomb every Middle Eastern country where people are privileged and granted citizenship merely on account of their religion?

dannymega -> mjlnkc , 13 Apr 2018 16:26
Yes, because Assad wants to be bombed by the West just as he is winning, I know - makes perfect sense.
solidstae -> John Favre , 13 Apr 2018 16:25
I love these guys who won't do their own research. Why not? Axe to grind? This is just one example from 2013. There's more but I'm too busy to look up public shit for you.

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/may/6/syrian-rebels-used-sarin-nerve-gas-not-assads-regi /

GLT24 -> Squiddlywidget , 13 Apr 2018 16:18
Spot on look what happened to Sadaam after he switched to the Euro for Iraq oil sales.
Ghaddafi had similar plans.
Without reserve currency status and petrodollar with US economy will collapse under the $21T dollar debt.
Russia and China have recently agreed a bilateral trade agreement which cuts out the dollar.
The US cannot permit this ...as always follow the money.
Some people murder others for political and ideological reasons the military industrial complex starts wars and conflicts ,murdering millions for profit....evil personified
Squiddlywidget , 13 Apr 2018 16:10
Could this whole drama be because China and Russia are ditching the petrodollar?
I watched the video of the attack and it looks fake to me.. those children are not crying because of chlorine.. they have their eyes wide open..first thing you do when you have chlorine in your eyes is touch your face and close your eyes..whole thing looks dodge..just my opinion. Those children are wide eyed and looking at the camera..something you wouldn't do if you'd just been gassed.

[Apr 21, 2018] The lesson the neo-cons learnt from the Iraq war is not that it was disastrous. It was only disastrous for the dead and maimed Iraqis, our own dead and maimed servicemen, and those whose country was returned to medievalism. It was a great success for the neo-cons, they made loads of money on armaments and oil.

Notable quotes:
"... The "Russian" attack in Salisbury is supposed to negate the "not our war" argument, particularly as a British policeman was unwell for a while. Precisely what is meant to negate the "why on earth are we entering armed confrontation with a nuclear power" argument, I do not know. ..."
"... Saudi Arabia has naturally offered facilities to support the UK, US and France in their attempt to turn the military tide in Syria in favor of the Saudi sponsored jihadists whom Assad had come close to defeating. That the Skripal and Douma incidents were preceded by extremely intense diplomatic activity between Saudi Arabia, Washington, Paris and London this year, with multiple top level visits between capitals, is presumably supposed to be coincidence. ..."
"... The notion that Britain will take part in military action against Syria with neither investigation of the evidence nor a parliamentary vote is worrying indeed. Without Security Council authorisation, any such action is illegal in any event. It is worth noting that the many commentators who attempt to portray Russia's veto of a Syria resolution as invalid, fail to note that last week, in two separate 14 against 1 votes, the USA vetoed security council resolutions condemning Israeli killings of unarmed demonstrators in Gaza. ..."
"... Hence the destruction of Libya was predicated on an entirely false "we have 48 hours to prevent the massacre of the population of Benghazi" narrative. Similarly this latest orchestrated "crisis" is being followed through into military action at a blistering pace, as the four horsemen sweep by, scything down reason and justice on the way. ..."
Apr 21, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

dumbwaiter -> Kevin Watson , 13 Apr 2018 15:50

I'm going to post a comment by another user posted yesterday as he said it far more eloquently than I could

R Reddington InterestedReader2 1d ago


Your just another armchair warrior.

So you think going to war is a good idea well you first then and don't forget your flack jacket and rifle.

The media onslaught has moved past the attack in Salisbury by a "weapon of mass destruction" (quoting Theresa May) which could only be Russian, except that was untrue, and was extremely deadly, except that was untrue too. It now focuses on an attack by chemical weapons in Douma which "could only be" by the Russian-backed Assad regime, except there is no evidence of that either, and indeed neutral verified evidence from Douma is non-existent. The combination of the two events is supposed to have the British population revved up by jingoism, and indeed does have Tony Blair and assorted Tories revved up, to attack Syria and potentially to enter conflict with Russia in Syria.

The "Russian" attack in Salisbury is supposed to negate the "not our war" argument, particularly as a British policeman was unwell for a while. Precisely what is meant to negate the "why on earth are we entering armed confrontation with a nuclear power" argument, I do not know.

Saudi Arabia has naturally offered facilities to support the UK, US and France in their attempt to turn the military tide in Syria in favor of the Saudi sponsored jihadists whom Assad had come close to defeating. That the Skripal and Douma incidents were preceded by extremely intense diplomatic activity between Saudi Arabia, Washington, Paris and London this year, with multiple top level visits between capitals, is presumably supposed to be coincidence.

I am not a fan of Assad any more than I was a fan of Saddam Hussein. But the public now understand that wars for regime change in Muslim lands have disastrous effects in dead and maimed adults and children and in destroyed infrastructure; our attacks unleash huge refugee waves and directly cause terrorist attacks here at home. There is no purpose in a military attack on Syria other than to attempt to help the jihadists overthrow Assad. There is a reckless disregard for evidence base on the pretexts for all this. Indeed, the more the evidence is scrutinised, the dodgier it seems. Finally there is a massive difference between mainstream media narrative around these events and a deeply sceptical public, as shown in social media and in comments sections of corporate media websites.

The notion that Britain will take part in military action against Syria with neither investigation of the evidence nor a parliamentary vote is worrying indeed. Without Security Council authorisation, any such action is illegal in any event. It is worth noting that the many commentators who attempt to portray Russia's veto of a Syria resolution as invalid, fail to note that last week, in two separate 14 against 1 votes, the USA vetoed security council resolutions condemning Israeli killings of unarmed demonstrators in Gaza.

The lesson the neo-cons learnt from the Iraq war is not that it was disastrous. It was only disastrous for the dead and maimed Iraqis, our own dead and maimed servicemen, and those whose country was returned to medievalism. It was a great success for the neo-cons, they made loads of money on armaments and oil. The lesson the neo-cons learned was not to give the public in the West any time to mount and organise opposition. Hence the destruction of Libya was predicated on an entirely false "we have 48 hours to prevent the massacre of the population of Benghazi" narrative. Similarly this latest orchestrated "crisis" is being followed through into military action at a blistering pace, as the four horsemen sweep by, scything down reason and justice on the way.

[Apr 21, 2018] Orwell certainly chose his words well when he called the UK 'Airstrip One' in his book 1984. The UK government, the US neocons yapping little poodle.

Apr 21, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

RLB2808

, 13 Apr 2018 16:13
Orwell certainly chose his words well when he called the UK 'Airstrip One' in his book 1984. The UK government, the US neocons yapping little poodle. All cheered on by our always on message main stream media.

[Apr 21, 2018] CIA, MI6 and rebels: Rebels can be genuine protesters but they will brutally used by CIA and MI6 for nefarious purposes

Apr 21, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

junglecitizen -> LeftOrRightSameShite , 13 Apr 2018 15:44

We, along with the US, France and Gulf states have supported, armed and trained "rebels" in Syria the whole time. We've had, as have others, special forces operating inside Syria


So, there would never be rebellions against totalitarian dictators if it weren't for the CIA and MI6.

I don't buy this. It's very convenient if you're an anti-war person who doesn't want to face an ethical dilemma. But it's not real.

[Apr 21, 2018] The US, UK and France act like they own the world

Apr 21, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

CaptainBrown , 13 Apr 2018 16:07

Syria is surrounded by wealthy gulf countries, many of whom frequently buy weapons from the US and UK. They have the money, the firepower, and the space to not only house fleeing refugees, but also bomb Assad back to the stone age. They haven't, because they lack testicular fortitude and are always looking west for solutions.


The US, UK and France act like they own the world. Iran vs Iraq, the creation of Israel, and Saudi Arabia, Sykes-Picot - western countries played a major part in all of this. In the absence of evidence, it's about time we kept out of it.

[Apr 21, 2018] Not everybody is affected by 24 by 7 neoMcCarthism in MSM. Some still want to compare views and watch RT

Now listening to RT reminds me BBC and Voice of America listeing in the USSR ;-) You definitly bacomes a dissident for doing that.
Notable quotes:
"... I watched RT for the first time last night and it was interesting. ..."
"... But right now its like we are being ruled by lunatics. It is absolutely sickening. Quite literally some moron in the White House is tweeting, 'My bombs are bigger than yours' and 'The missiles are coming.' ..."
Apr 21, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com
georgina45 -> Squadra , 13 Apr 2018 15:45
I watched RT for the first time last night and it was interesting.

But right now its like we are being ruled by lunatics. It is absolutely sickening. Quite literally some moron in the White House is tweeting, 'My bombs are bigger than yours' and 'The missiles are coming.'

And they still let him in rule one of the most powerful countries on the Earth with a vast mass of WMD and Theresa May is trying reason with a fucking moron. Hey Guardian if Trump is talking like this my swearing is the least of our problems, so please don't moderate. We need someone to Moderate the madmen.

[Apr 21, 2018] I consider the term 'putinbot' - infantile and indicative of a lack of logical argumentation as it is - as a compliment, since it appears to be code for those who retain the ability to think for themselves and not fall glumly for the latest official line.

Apr 21, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

LiviaDrusilla -> SummerPatch , 13 Apr 2018 15:47

As I've said , I consider the term 'putinbot' - infantile and indicative of a lack of logical argumentation as it is - as a compliment, since it appears to be code for those who retain the ability to think for themselves and not fall glumly for the latest official line.


since the OPCW proved it was Putin who tried to murder British civilians with nerve agents.

Actually, they proved no such thing, but in any case it's irrelevant to the discussion at hand.

[Apr 21, 2018] I'd never really watched much RT news, but

Apr 21, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

Squadra -> georgina45 , 13 Apr 2018 15:36

I'd never really watched much RT news, but intersting to see their extensive coverage of their diplomats who, despite not speaking English as native, can conduct hours of press conference in a civil and diplomatic fashion.
DemocraticFacade , 13 Apr 2018 15:36
May weeping for the innocents of Syria as she signs off on a conveyor belt of bombs to be dropped on innocents in Yemen. She's being raised up by the British media alongside Blair and Cameron as one of the greatest humanitarian of modern times.

[Apr 21, 2018] The vast majority of supposed 'NGO's' are fronts for jihadists 'rebels' who want an Islamist state

NGO now are favorite cover of intelligence agencies.
Apr 21, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

MartinSilenus -> imperium3 , 13 Apr 2018 14:13

"Remarkable how Saddam Hussein gassing Iranian troops by the thousand, while world powers helped him do it and covered for him at the UN is treated as a minor exception to non-use of chemical"

He also used poison gas to kill thousands of his own Kurdish civilians, the Reagan administration was in many ways a moral cesspit. They knew exactly what he was doing. A spokesman said the Iranians - who never used Chemical Weapons on principle - used the poison gas, on Iraqi Kurds. I think Reagan never really understood this, that is my assessment of his character, he saw what reality he wanted to see, but nothing else.

LiviaDrusilla -> Bangorstu , 13 Apr 2018 14:12
There has been no independently gathered or assessed medical evidence. None.

What is this 'NGO' you speak of? The vast majority of supposed 'NGO's' are fronts for jihadists 'rebels' who want an Islamist state.

wryape , 13 Apr 2018 14:12
" Back then the death toll in Syria stood at around 100,000. More than 400,000 have died since that day. The proof is there if we can bear to look at it. Inaction, too, can be deadly"

And how many died after the war was "won" in Iraq. And how many would have died trying to remove assad. Toppling assad would almost certainly not have brought peace. Your analysis is simplistic and blinkered and definately doesn't contain any proof of anything. Sometimes there's just not a solution. The current proposed bombing campaign smacks of somethingmustbedoneism. Those responsible for the gas attacks must face justice. But it might have to be further down the line.

NHSmonami -> Laurence Bury , 13 Apr 2018 14:12
Western countries have been guilty of mudering hundreds of thousands in starting Middle East wars.

[Apr 21, 2018] Timber Sycamore

A classified U.S. State Department cable signed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reported that Saudi donors were a major support for Sunni militant forces globally, and some American officials worried that rebels being supported had ties to Al Qaeda.[14]
Notable quotes:
"... Read more at https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timber_Sycamore ..."
Apr 21, 2018 | www.defenddemocracy.press

Timber Sycamore 20/04/2018 Timber Sycamore was a classified weapons supply and training program run by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and supported by various Arab intelligence services, most notably that of Saudi Arabia . Launched in 2012 or 2013, it supplied money, weaponry and training to rebel forces fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian Civil War . According to U.S. officials, the program has trained thousands of rebels. President Barack Obama secretly authorized the CIA to begin arming Syria's embattled rebels in 2013. [3] However, the CIA had been facilitating the flow of arms from Libya to Syria "for more than a year" beforehand in collaboration with "the UK ( United Kingdom ), Saudi Arabia and Qatar ."

The program's existence was suspected after the U.S. Federal Business Opportunities website publicly solicited contract bids to ship tons of weaponry from Eastern Europe to Taşucu , Turkey and Aqaba , Jordan. One unintended consequence of the program has been to flood the Middle East's black market with weapons including assault rifles, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades. The U.S. delivered weapons via Ramstein – supposedly in breach of German laws.

In July 2017, U.S. officials stated that Timber Sycamore would be phased out, with funds possibly redirected to fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), or to offering rebel forces defensive capabilities.

... ... ...

According to American officials, the program has been highly effective, training and equipping thousands of U.S.-backed fighters to make substantial battlefield gains.[2][19] American officials state that the program began to lose effectiveness after Russia intervened militarily in the Syrian Civil War.[19] David Ignatius, writing in The Washington Post, remarked that while the CIA program ultimately failed in its objective of removing Assad from power, it was hardly "bootless": "The program pumped many hundreds of millions of dollars to many dozens of militia groups. One knowledgeable official estimates that the CIA-backed fighters may have killed or wounded 100,000 Syrian soldiers and their allies over the past four years."[8]

... ... ...

U.S.-backed rebels often fought alongside al-Qaeda's al-Nusra Front, and some of the U.S. supplied weapons ended up in the hands of the al-Nusra Front, which had been a major concern of the Obama administration when the program was first proposed.[10]

... ... ...

The program remains classified,[14][10] and many details about the program remain unknown, including the total amount of support, the range of weapons transferred, the depth of training provided, the types of U.S. trainers involved, and the exact rebel groups being supported.[18] However, The Canberra Times reported that two thousand tons of Soviet era weapons were delivered to Aqaba as recently as April 2016.

Read more at https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timber_Sycamore

[Apr 21, 2018] Neoliberal media and goverment talking points

Apr 21, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

creelo -> sejong , 13 Apr 2018 14:57

We're now in a strange position where the media is actually behind the government. May is doubtful about bombing because she's a politician and so has to constantly monitor her popularity, but the only people left still writing in 'newspapers' are still programmed to want war and bombing because it always used to sell.

"Since you're here..."

HarrytheHawk -> JackDowland , 13 Apr 2018 14:56
'There is overwhelming evidence...'

Where?

Let's see it.

You might want to show it to James Mattis while you're at it as he doesn't seem to be willing to settle for accusations.

Jazzfunk23 , 13 Apr 2018 14:56
The UN duly investigated and in October concluded unambiguously that the Assad regime had used sarin gas.

You omitted to mention that the same report also concludes that ISIL deployed Sulphur Mustard, isn't this the same gas that France claims to have evidence regarding the recent incident?

Besides, how much evidence do we need? Even before Douma, Assad's use of chemical weapons had been documented seven times this year alone.

The link you provided to back-up this claim contains no substantiative evidence to attribute those incidents to Assad.

Clearly both sides in this conflict appear to have used chemical weapons, making assumptions or false accusations of blame at this stage is incredibly dangerous. I'm in total agreement with Jeremy Corbyn, we need a solid investigation on which the international community can act. Any potential escalation of this awful conflict must be avoided at all costs, particularly when it involves a nuclear armed superstate, considering the on-going humaitarian crisis in Syria and how it has already affected the world. Furthermore we must not allow a cabinet of a minority government to make any final decisions on the UK involvement in further militrary action, our elected representatives MUST be allowed to debate and decide a course of action, otherwise our democracy is in a far worse state than I could have possibly imagined.

thatotherbloke , 13 Apr 2018 14:54
Theresa May leads a minority government propped up by an unlawful bung to a right wing extremist group. May, her Cabinet of half wits and her self serving party have a mandate for sweet FA, and that includes killing people in our name.
sejong , 13 Apr 2018 14:52
MSM has gone full neocon on Syria.

Bomb like it's 2003.

psoptim11 , 13 Apr 2018 14:52
There is massive, overwhelming opposition in the UK to May's attempt to join Trump & Macron in bombing Syria and to by-passing our democratic parliament, but who would have thought it?

The media are generally presenting Theresa May with a free ride to cause death and destruction on a massive scale. Claiming she's joining an international coalition (even though it consists of only 2 other countries) and having the backing of the Cabinet and therefore possessing the authority to go to war.

The reality is that she's virtually politically isolated and working in defiance of the British people. Labour - and most other opposition parties, including the Lib Dems, SNP, Plaid, and the Greens are totally against military intervention and calling for a full, democratic debate in Parliament.

Then the Conservative Party itself is bitterly divided over the issue.

And only 22% of British people would support the war effort, according to a poll in the Times.

The timing is being forced by Donald Trump and the US, so where's the substance in the Conservative claim that they're 'taking back control'?

And then any intervention is likely to cost billions, so what about The Deficit? And what about that magic money tree?

Moreover, the Government maintain we cannot allow such inhumanity in Syria to go unchallenged. So where is the outcry at defenceless citizens being killed in Gaza? And in Yemen? And in Saudi Arabia? What accounts for the blatant double standards? What are they not telling us?

And why does the British Goverment justicfy selling all these lethal and inhumance weapons to these countries in the first place?

Where is the media reminding the Government of what happened in Iraq, in Libya and in Afghanistan?, whenever we intervened?

Where is the media remembering the findings of the Chilcott Report?

If this was Labour nationalising the railways or expropriating land in an emergency bill to launch a massive house-building programme, the BBC and mass media would quote every adversary and critic they could muster and express total outrage at any attempt to by-pass Parliament.

The Syrian conflict is a hugely complex quagmire and we enter it at our peril. We need a much more objective Press to scrutinise Government policy, before this lunacy unravels and triggers a seriously calamitous hot war between the Superpowers, from which we'd all be losers.

Jeremy Corbyn is often mocked and scorned by the media for his measured reactions, but his call for the UK to use its influence to defuse tensions makes him one of the only responsible and mature political leaders around right now!!

dumbwaiter , 13 Apr 2018 14:52
The government and the BBC have been using the words "suspected chemical attack" in Syria and that Russia is "highly likely" to be responsible for the Salisbury affair.

Now if that isn't official doubt I don't know what is.

Still May happy to drop bombs on this basis without parliamentary approval (if Donald says so that is)!

[Apr 21, 2018] OK - its the We Cannot Do Nothing, Therefore We Must Do Something, Therefore We Must Bomb Them argument.

Apr 21, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

bubmachine , 13 Apr 2018 14:39

OK - its the We Cannot Do Nothing, Therefore We Must Do Something, Therefore We Must Bomb Them argument.

Convinced? No.

DZ76 , 13 Apr 2018 14:39
This is pathetic. The mouthpieces of the British government (Guardian and BBC) have spent the last week on a steady pendulum of demanding war, shitting themselves, then when the rhetoric calms down a bit, demanding war again. The U.K., its security agencies and its house-trained media are destabilising the world.

[Apr 21, 2018] How about some basic honesty about the role the US and it's allies have played in fostering and continue if this civil war

Notable quotes:
"... How about some basic honesty about the role the US and it's allies have played in fostering and continue if this civil war. That, coupled by a complete retreat of US imperial neoliberal ambitions across the entire region, you know, might just be incredibly effective ..."
"... Are we seriously going to pretend we and our allies haven't provided financial, technological, diplomatic, political and military support to this extremely heterogenous group of rebels, without which the whole uprising (a legitimate uprising, sure, but certainly not a viable one) would have been over in a few months, without any of the atrocities, tragedies and destruction of the past 6 years? ..."
"... For Europe and the US to have any credibility the double standards applied has to come to an end ..."
"... Sorry but the arguments in the article don't hold water. Reeks of the longstanding agenda of the war profiteers and the Clinton gang to invade this country. On hypocritical reasons. ..."
Apr 21, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

HoublaHoubla , 13 Apr 2018 14:44

Here's an idea Jonathan for another solution. How about some basic honesty about the role the US and it's allies have played in fostering and continue if this civil war. That, coupled by a complete retreat of US imperial neoliberal ambitions across the entire region, you know, might just be incredibly effective
notndmushroom , 13 Apr 2018 14:42

But nor can we watch the brutal dictator slaughter his own people

Why not? We're watching Israelis shoot and kill unarmed Palestinians, we're watching our favourite Saudis bomb and kill Yemeni civilians, we're watching our Nobel-winning inspirational Myanmar leader oversee the persecution, massacre and forced displacement of an entire people, we're watching the North Korean leader oppress and starve his people while stepping closer to a nuclear war against a currently volatile superpower, we're watching the Philipino head of state launching a literal war against low-level drug dealers and junkies, we're watching several central Asian dictators imprison and torture dissidents and oppress their people while robbing them of their national wealth, we're watching the Chinese and Russian leaders do pretty much the same, we're watching the Turkish leader kidnap dissidents from EU countries, imprison thousands of alleged dissidents and invade a neighbouring country to fight against part of said countries' inhabitants, we're watching corrupt politicians, media and judges completing the final touches of a coup in the fifth largest country in the world, and then there's Africa, which is a whole other chapter.

What specifically is it about Syria that made you decide that yeah, all these things are pretty bad, but that's the one thing we really have to do something about?

Perhaps that was why, five years ago, the House of Commons voted to leave the Assad regime untouched. Back then the death toll in Syria stood at around 100,000. More than 400,000 have died since that day. The proof is there if we can bear to look at it. Inaction, too, can be deadly.

Inaction? Really? Are we seriously going to pretend we and our allies haven't provided financial, technological, diplomatic, political and military support to this extremely heterogenous group of rebels, without which the whole uprising (a legitimate uprising, sure, but certainly not a viable one) would have been over in a few months, without any of the atrocities, tragedies and destruction of the past 6 years?

fishandart , 13 Apr 2018 14:42
For Europe and the US to have any credibility the double standards applied has to come to an end. Israel has to comply with UN resolutions and the US has to stop using its veto to block those resolutions that seek to make Israel comply to international standards of acceptable behaviour.

If we can't do that we can forget getting Assad or Putin or anyone else to respect anything we have to say. As it stands the so called West has no moral authority in the Middle East.

Ziontrain , 13 Apr 2018 14:41

But nor can we watch the brutal dictator slaughter his own people

Why is this supposed slaughter such an imperative when we seem to approve of and even profit from selling weapons to slaughters elsewhere in the region

Sorry but the arguments in the article don't hold water. Reeks of the longstanding agenda of the war profiteers and the Clinton gang to invade this country. On hypocritical reasons.

[Apr 21, 2018] Pay for what? Be President of a country marked out for regime change by the West and successfully managing to fight off the West's proxy armies of terrorists over seven years in defence of that country?

Notable quotes:
"... Conveniently missing from this short history of Syria: That the US was actually heavily involved using the CIA in getting rid of Assad. Had that not been the case, perhaps there would have been no prolonged civil war. ..."
"... Oh, I know challenging the holy West and its exceptional leading nation is verboten nowadays, but can we at least be honest about what is really going on today? Syria is being punished for not joining the coalition of the willing in 2003 by being subjected to the same illegal war by false claim as Iraq was then. ..."
Apr 21, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

MightyBuccaneer , 13 Apr 2018 14:14

Conveniently missing from this short history of Syria: That the US was actually heavily involved using the CIA in getting rid of Assad. Had that not been the case, perhaps there would have been no prolonged civil war.

It would be just another dictator, the likes of which can be found all over the world without columnists noticing it.

Strangely though, all that is deplored is that the US didn't do even more. That they didn't also do a full blown invasion.

NewWorldOutOfOrder , 13 Apr 2018 14:14
"Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship

Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

– Hermann Goering (as told to Gustav Gilbert during the Nuremberg trials)

Briar , 13 Apr 2018 14:14
Pay for what? Be President of a country marked out for regime change by the West and successfully managing to fight off the West's proxy armies of terrorists over seven years in defence of that country?

Oh, I know challenging the holy West and its exceptional leading nation is verboten nowadays, but can we at least be honest about what is really going on today? Syria is being punished for not joining the coalition of the willing in 2003 by being subjected to the same illegal war by false claim as Iraq was then.

solidstae , 13 Apr 2018 14:14
Assad has always acted in this like any other authoritarian government anywhere in the Middle East would, fighting a civil war. Israel is just as ruthless when facing a threat to its authority.

This mess was financed, planned, egged on and armed by the U.S., it's junior partners and its clients in Turkey and the Gulf. And it goes back years before the rebellion against Assad. The Wahabbi rebels have been given billions in cash, arms and training, funneled through Turkey and the Gulf states.

Now we have Washington, London and Paris shrieking outrage and promising revenge against a strongman they unleashed as the result of yet another regime change adventure. And then there's the incredible hypocrisy and cynicism of using Al-Qaeda affiliated actors to do it.

Assad's wartime iteration, like ISIS, is the result of American greed, ambition, pride and the old imperialist bent for aggression as a way of imposing its geopolitical will.

[Apr 21, 2018] These children are not the casualties of a gas attack

Apr 21, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

gragor , 13 Apr 2018 13:48

Watch the Unbearable video gain. The children are no foaming at the mouth, their colouration is not cyanotic, they do not appear to be in respiratory distress. The premise of the argument is not based on fact. These children are not the casualties of a gas attack. GROW UP and recognize the propaganda.
minutehands , 13 Apr 2018 13:38
The article takes a self-righteous moral high ground while calling for some vague affair of violence. I can't help but notice that these articles by people who pretend to be moderates and centrists have a habit of turning reality and morality on their head. It's dangerous and very Orwellian stuff.
entropyrules , 13 Apr 2018 13:44
The question that I struggle to answer is, "Are journalists like this actually duped by propaganda themselves, or are they knowingly part of the process of dissemination?"
What I do not struggle to see is that they are undoubtedly part of the prevailing neolib/neocon philosophy which we rapidly need to dismantle.
ChairmanMayTseTung , 13 Apr 2018 13:36
Cui bono?

Who would gain by getting the US back on the ground in Syria?
Who would gain from Russia and the US coming into conflict?

Rogue elements in the US?
Israel certainly
ISIS terrorists?
Saudi Arabia?

[Apr 21, 2018] It's a tough old world and we are certainly capable of a Salisbury set-up and god knows what else in Syria.

Notable quotes:
"... It is perfectly possible that the British government manufactured the whole Salisbury thing. We are capable of just as much despicable behavior and murder as the next. ..."
Apr 21, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

wheelbarrow1 , 13 Apr 2018 14:37

Why is the prime minister of the United Kinkdom on the phone discussing whether or not to bomb a Sovereign country with the highly unstable, Donald Trump?

Can she not make up her own mind? Either she thinks it's the right thing to do or it isn't. Hopefully, the person on the other end of the phone was not Trump but someone with at least half a brain.

Proof, let's have some proof. Is that too much to ask? Apparently so. Russia is saying it's all a put up job, show us your facts. We are saying, don't be silly, we're British and besides, you may have done this sort of thing before.

It is perfectly possible that the British government manufactured the whole Salisbury thing. We are capable of just as much despicable behavior and murder as the next.

Part of the Great British act's of bravery and heroism in the second world war is the part played by women agents who were parachuted into France and helped organize local resistance groups. Odette Hallowes, Noor Inayat Khan and Violette Szabo are just a few of the many names but they are the best known. What is not generally know is that many agents when undergoing their training in the UK, were given information about the 'D' day landings, the approx time and place. They were then dropped into France into the hands of the waiting German army who captured and tortured and often executed them.

The double agent, who Winston Churchill met and fully approved of the plan was Henri Dericourt, an officer in the German army and our man on the ground in France. Dericourt organized the time and place for the drop off of the incoming agents, then told the Germans. The information about the 'D' day invasion time and place was false. The British fed the agents (only a small number) into German hands knowing they would be captured and the false information tortured out of them.

Source :- 'A Quiet Courage' Liane Jones.

It's a tough old world and we are certainly capable of a Salisbury set-up and god knows what else in Syria.

I_Wear_Socks , 13 Apr 2018 14:37
From The Guardian articles today that I have read on Syria, it makes absolutely clear that if you in any way question the narrative forwarded here, that you are a stupid conspiracy theorist in line with Richard Spencer and other far-right, American nutcases.

A more traditional form of argument to incline people to their way of thinking would be facts. But social pressure to conform and not be a conspiratorial idiot in line with the far-right obviously work better for most of their readers. My only surprise it that position hasn't been linked with Brexit.

ChairmanMayTseTung , 13 Apr 2018 14:37
Did anyone see the massive canister that was shown on TV repeatedly that was supposed to have been air-dropped and smashed through the window of a house, landed on a bed and failed to go off.

The bed was in remarkable condition with just a few ruffled bedclothes considering it had been hit with a metal object weighing god knows what and dropped from a great height.

MartinSilenus -> ChairmanMayTseTung , 13 Apr 2018 14:36
"More than 40 years after the US sprayed millions of litres of chemical agents to defoliate"

The Defoliant Agent Orange was used to kill jungles, resulting in light getting through to the dark jungle floors & a massive amount of low bush regrowing, making the finding of Vietcong fighters even harder!

It was sprayed even on American troops, it is a horrible stuff. Still compared to Chlorine poison gas, let alone nerve gases, it is much less terrible. Though the long term effects are pretty horrible.

"Some 45 million liters of the poisoned spray was Agent Orange, which contains the toxic compound dioxin"
http://theconversation.com/agent-orange-exposed-how-u-s-chemical-warfare-in-vietnam-unleashed-a-slow-moving-disaster-84572

120Daze , 13 Apr 2018 14:36
Who needs facts when you've got opinions? Non more hypocritical than the British. Its what you get when you lie and distort though a willing press, you get found out and then nobody believes anything you say.anymore. The white helmets are a western funded and founded organisation, they are NOT independent they are NOT volunteers, The UK the US and the Dutch fund them to the tune of over $40 million. They are a propaganda dispensing outlet. The press shouldn't report anything they release because it is utterly unable to substantiate ANY of it, there hasn't been a western journalist in these areas for over 4 years so why do the press expect us to believe anything they print? Combine this with the worst and most incompetent Govt this country has seen for decades and all you have is a massive distraction from massive domestic troubles which the same govt has no answers too.
LiviaDrusilla -> Bangorstu , 13 Apr 2018 14:36
LOL are you having a larf?

The same organisation that receives millions of quid in funding from USAID?

Whose 'executive director' used to work for USAID?

Who have campaigned for 'no fly zones' (ie US bombing)?

Who are affiliated to the Iranian terrorist group MEK?

Who only happen to run hospitals in 'rebel' held areas?

You have a strange idea of 'politically neutral'. Your 'NGO' are fighting for an Islamist state. Enjoy them.

Dominique2 , 13 Apr 2018 14:32
https://www.theguardian.com/world/shortcuts/2013/sep/01/winston-churchill-shocking-use-chemical-weapons

""I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes," [Winston Churchill] declared in one secret memorandum."

The current condemnation by the international community and international law is good and needs enforcement. But no virtue signalling where there is none.

CaptTroyTempest -> StoneRoses , 13 Apr 2018 14:27
But we're still awaiting evidence that a chemical attack has been carried out in Douma, aren't we? And if an attack was carried out, by whom. But before these essential points are verified, you feel that a targeted military response is justified. Are you equally keen for some targeted military response for the use of chemical weapons, namely white phosphorus, in Palestine by the Israaeli military? Unlike Douma, the use of these chemical weapons in the occupied territories by the IDF's personnel is well documented. But we haven't attacked them yet. Funny that.
CMYKilla , 13 Apr 2018 14:26
Instead of "chemicals" why not just firebomb them - you know like we did to entire cities full of women and children in WW2?

Hamburg 27 July 1943 - 46,000 civilians killed in a firestorm
Kassel 22 October 1943 - 9,000 civilians killed 24,000 houses destroyed in a firestorm
Darmstadt 11 September 1944 - 8,000 civilians killed in a firestorm
Dresden 13/14th February - 25,000 civilians killed in a firestorm

Obviously we were fighting Nazism and hadn't actually been invaded - and he is fighting Wahhabism and has had major cities overrun...

Maybe if Assad burnt people to death rather than gassing them we would make a statue of him outside Westminster like the one of Bomber Harris?

Tom1982 , 13 Apr 2018 14:24
Remember the tearful Kuwaiti nurse with her heartrending story of Iraqi troops tipping premature babies out of their incubators after the invasion in 1990? The story was published in pretty much every major Western newspaper, massively increased public support for military intervention............................and turned out to be total bullshit.

Is it too much too ask that we try a bit of collective critical thinking and wait for hard evidence before blundering into a military conflict with Assad; and potentially Putin?

BlutoTheBruto , 13 Apr 2018 14:21
Didn't General Mattis quietly admit at there was no evidence for the alleged Sarin attacks last year by Assad?

http://www.newsweek.com/now-mattis-admits-there-was-no-evidence-assad-using-poison-gas-his-people-801542

Hmmmm.... call me skeptical for not believing it this time around.

AwkwardSquad , 13 Apr 2018 14:19
Well, this is the sort of stuff that the Israelis would be gagging for. They want Assad neutralised and they are assisting ISIS terrorists on the Golan Heights. They tend to their wounded and send them back across the border to fight Assad. What better than to drag the Americans, Brits and French into the ring to finish him off. Job done eh?

Are you sure you are not promoting an Israeli agenda here Jonathan?

Incidentantally what did we in the west do when the Iraqis were gassing the Iranians with nerve agents in the marshes of southern Iraq during the Iran Iraq War? Did we intervene then? No, we didn't we allowed it to happen.

I say stay out it.

dannymega -> fripouille , 13 Apr 2018 14:18
Come on frip, you have to admit there was absolutely no motive for Assad's forces to carry out this attack. Why do you think the Guardian and other main stream media outlets are not even considering the possibility the Jihadi rebels staged it to trigger western intervention? I know, I know.. it's all evil Assad killing his own people for no other reason than he likes butchering people... blah blah. The regime change agenda against Syria has been derailed, no amount of false flag attacks can change the facts on the ground.
Preshous , 13 Apr 2018 14:18
Tucker Carlson of Fox News has it nailed down....
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M28aYkLRlm0
ChairmanMayTseTung , 13 Apr 2018 14:16
More than 40 years after the US sprayed millions of litres of chemical agents to defoliate vast swathes of Vietnam and in the full knowledge it would be have a catastrophic effect on the health of the inhabitants of those area, Vietnam has by far the highest incidence of liver cancer on the planet.

Then more recently we have the deadly depleted uranium from US shells that innocent Iraqis are inhaling as shrill voices denounce Assad.

CodeNameTwiglet , 13 Apr 2018 14:15
The Syrian people are heroically resisting and defeating western imperialism. This "civil war" has been nothing but a war for Syrian resources waged by western proxies. So now, In desperation borne out of their impending defeat, the imperialists have staged a chemical attack in a last throw of the dice to gain popular support for an escalation in military intervention. Like military interventions of the past, it is being justified in the name of humanitarian intervention. But if we have a brief browse of history we can see that US & UK governments have brought only death, misery and destruction on the populations it was supposedly helping. Hands off Syria.

[Apr 21, 2018] In another development (probably to run with the Syria script) the UK announces it has a dossier that proves Russia was experimenting with delivering nerve agents from door handles.

Apr 21, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

ChairmanMayTseTung , 13 Apr 2018 13:27

In another development (probably to run with the Syria script) the UK announces it has a dossier that proves Russia was experimenting with delivering nerve agents from door handles.

Not as hilarious as breathlessly closing a children's playground near the Skripal's days after the event for "contamination checks" even though it had been raining in the days in between (the narrative was presumably the dastardly Russian agents planned to kill a few innocent kids for good measure).

[Apr 21, 2018] We are absolutely being lied to, left right and centre.

Apr 21, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

andersen100 -> zardos , 13 Apr 2018 14:05

We are absolutely being lied to, left right and centre.

People who actually know what is happening are being gagged, which is ironic in this digital age.

Time was that we kind of trusted our politicians- to some extent, anyway.

No longer, and especially when information is conveyed by tweets by possibly the most important person in the world.

We also have a Prime Minister who would like to bypass parliament at any given time.

honestjohn -> SummerPatch , 13 Apr 2018 14:00
'No one is suggesting they want to become new parties in the war.'

They have been involved from the start:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/29/syria-crisis-where-do-the-major-countries-stand
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-23849587
https://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/05/world/middleeast/brutality-of-syrian-rebels-pose-dilemma-in-west.html ?
https://edition.cnn.com/2015/09/16/middleeast/syria-al-assad-interview/index.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_involvement_in_the_Syrian_Civil_War

fakeamoonlanding , 13 Apr 2018 14:02
As usual, our wise men are busy preparing the evidence dossier for this gas attack. Hacking someone's phone is now evidence of you delivering chemical weapon. I wonder how many doses of novichok NOTW managed to deliver to its phone hacking victims.
Анатолий Ямсков , 13 Apr 2018 14:01
Hope everyone understands that telling lies is not good, and it is especially disgusting when lies form the basic argument for launching a war or some prolonged military assaults.
Please, compare the articles, this one and those mentioned below, and judge for yourself whether J. Freedland can be trusted.
1. J. Freedland, about the West: "The notion of inaction, of standing by and watching as Assad kills and kills and kills, And yet that's what we've done".
O. Jones: "The US has been bombing the country and supplying arms to rebels for some time. Our client states ... have funnelled weapons and billions of dollars into the conflict, backing extremist groups responsible for multiple atrocities". https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/13/attack-syria-disastrous-warmongers-middle-east-unjust
2. J. Freedland: "The taboo on the use of such (chemical) weapons held, with exceptions, for nearly a century. It meant there was a limit".
For the actual details of such "limit" see: https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/theresa-may-syria-war-uk-chemical-weapons-attack-iran-iraq-thatcher-russia-a8300881.html
3. It looks like J. Freedland is sure only Assad "kills and kills and kills" in this civil war. Does anyone believe this, i.e. that the opposing jihadists have never killed during the war?
NoLivesMatter , 13 Apr 2018 13:59
Why the automatic evidence-free assumption that Assad must be responsible?

According to the New York Times, Islamic State have been behind 52 chemical attacks in Syria and Libya:

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/21/world/middleeast/isis-chemical-weapons-syria-iraq-mosul.html

LiviaDrusilla -> ID9265089 , 13 Apr 2018 13:58

they're quite happy to gloss over the absolutely vile nature of Assad's regime.

Strawman. It's a nasty regime in all sorts of ways but no more so - probably less so - than many regimes enthusiastically supported and armed by the British government.


If we're talking about culpability, it's worth noting that the rebel groups have become radicalised over time -

That old fib! This was an Islamist uprising from day one. How does a liberal pro-democracy type suddenly morph into a bearded Islamist overnight?


And yes, we gave aid to the rebels. Did it prolong the war? Possibly.

Possibly? It didn't prolong the war, it pretty much caused the war.


Should we have done nothing? Possibly yes, but hindsight is always a wonderful thing.

Hindsight eh? So you thought "Yup, let's join in with the Saudis and other Gulf dictatorships in arming extremist Islamist rebels in a crucial Middle Eastern country. Nothing could possibly go wrong! That sort of thing has been a roaring success everywhere it's been tried."

Seriously. Talk some sense.

HerbGuardian , 13 Apr 2018 13:55
Make Assad pay ?.......pay for what Johnny .... for defending his people from murderous insurgents who are being constantly ferried into and supplied by hostile countries with the intent of horrifically slaughtering anyone they can get their claws on in order to initiate a reign of terror that they hope will weaken the moral of the people and the government? ......Jesus, I don't think I've read such a nastier piece of pure propaganda than this in the Guardian ever before.
imperium3 , 13 Apr 2018 13:55
Remarkable how Saddam Hussein gassing Iranian troops by the thousand, while world powers helped him do it and covered for him at the UN is treated as a minor exception to non-use of chemical weapons, whereas Assad's is some unprecedented crime.

And let's not pretend that Saddam paid for his use of chemical weapons - the West punished him for the transgression of threatening Saudi Arabia, nothing more.

OldDevil , 13 Apr 2018 13:54
In August 2012, as reported by the Times , William Hague writes that discussions are taking place with the Free Syrian Army:

"This week, on my instructions, my ambassador-level representative to the Syrian opposition has contacted and is meeting political elements of the Free Syria Army."
"We want to deter those committing war crimes by making it possible for them to be held to account. We will provide urgent training and equipment to Syrian human rights activists, including cameras, video recorders and forensic equipment.
The aim is to help them to document human rights violations, identify the military commanders responsible and gather medical forensic evidence to be used in trials. Britain has already trained more than 60 Syrian human rights activists to collect information to support criminal investigations. This new assistance will enable others to do the same."

The Guardian headline on this subject reads: "Syria: UK to give £5m to rebels":

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/aug/10/syria-aleppo-live

Cameras, video recorders and forensic equipment.

SMKirov , 13 Apr 2018 13:52
Why are the Guardian and its writers continuing to peddle the lie that the Syrian Government has been proved to have used chemical munitions? For seven long years now the Syrian people and their government have had to fight off a jihadi onslaught armed and financed by NATO and the Gulf autocracies. With help from Russia and Iran, they are winning: they have no need to use chemical weapons and they know that doing so is to invite intervention on the side of the Islamist terrorists. The terrorists, by contrast, know that their only chance lies in such intervention and that convincing the World that the Syrian Government has used chemical weapons is the best way to bring it about.

It is also obscene for Mr Friedland to ascribe all of the casualties of the Civil War to the Government while ignoring the terrorist tactic of occupying and defending populated areas. The Syrian Arab Army is no more responsible for the resulting casualties than were the pro Western forces for the destruction of Mosul during its liberation from ISIS. I am sick to the teeth of formerly respectable media like the Guardian and the BBC functioning as propagandists for jihadi murderers and terrorists, particularly now that doing so is pushing us towards a very dangerous international conflict.

kenna , 13 Apr 2018 13:41
I watched that idiot Jo Johnson last night going on about how the international community had banned chemical weapons in 1925 and no one pulled him up on it. Britain developed and stockpiled chemical weapons all through the 20th Century- the 'greatest' Britain of all time Churchill regularly argued for their use on 'lesser' races. The US (our allies in this) is the same US that dumped unbelievable amounts of agent orange on Vietnam at the same time it bombed a poor undeveloped country 'into the stone age'.

A woman in the audience pointed out the sheer hypocrisy of abhorring Asssad's actions (quite rightly) but at the same time arming the Saudis to kill more civilians and supporting the Israeli government (which whilst clearly not in the same league as Assad or the Saudis is still a major human rights violater). Unsurprisingly she was cut off and the 'left-wing' BBC moved on and ignored her points

diddoit , 13 Apr 2018 13:36
We went into Iraq because Blair warned, in the sternest terms, British cities could be under imminent attack from Iraqi WMD. How ridiculous do those grave statements, made to a hushed HoC, look today?
q321gg8cla -> tomprice129 , 13 Apr 2018 13:33
£35 billion arms contracts overseen by May,Johnson and Cameron to Saudia Arabia who are in Syria!Think about it !
Tom1982 , 13 Apr 2018 13:31
Graun, genuinely bugger off with this drumbeat for war. Seriously, hasn't the current murderous anarchy in Libya given you pause for thought?

There's no definitive evidence yet available that proves Assad's forces carried out a chemical attack. Furthermore, whilst it's not inconceivable that he did, it does seem to defy logic. Why invite Western intervention when you're winning the war? The Syrian opposition had far more to gain from the deployment of chemical weapons than Assad did.

Assad is a loathsome individual, but he's probably the only thing standing in the way of a Jihadist Theocracy being established in Syria. To put in bluntly, it's in our interests that he wins this war. The alternative is worse.

Denis61 , 13 Apr 2018 13:31
I wish I could say I was shocked by the latest pro war tub thumping by this increasingly unrecognisable paper. Sadly it's has become all too synonymous with its support for Theresa May and its attempts to persuade an unwilling public to join the hysteria. Freedland says that Assad's guilt is beyond doubt; no it isn't. He talks of the effectiveness of bombing in the Balkan conflict, conveniently ignoring Iraq and Syria. He ignores the obvious incentive for ISIS or perhaps he would prefer "rebels", to launch an attack in a a desperate attempt to recover a war they are losing. He ignores the war in Yemen and the murderous regimes around the world that we seem totally uninterested in putting right. No, Mr Freedland, I and I think many others are not giving Mrs May her Falklands moment at your behest.

[Apr 21, 2018] Macron as greedy neocon. His support of Douma false flag attack is related to selling weapons to Saudi monarchy

Apr 21, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

RudolphS 13 Apr 2018 16:17

Most baffling is is French president Emmanuele Macron's fierce reaction. There's no other nation which has suffered so much from terrorist attacks as France. And yet now its president is determined to use his fighter planes as the de facto airforce for the the jihadi extremists. Macron went even as far as making his statements with the Saudi prince at his side, the leader of a country which is known for funding the jihadis!

Weird times.

Jay_Q123 -> RudolphS 13 Apr 2018 16:25

Macron just got back from a few days hanging on out with the Saudi Arabian elite, who have

AndiMcDodle -> ManUpTheTree , 13 Apr 2018 14:51

Agreed Macron is so proud about the weapons Saudi Arabia bought of him. And strangely enough Saudi Arabia supports the ISIS head choppers in Syria, I think of a coincidence. And I didn't mention the gaz pipeline crossing Syria, that if Russia/Assad win, will be beyond the control of Europeans, a real bummer, given that Russia controls the supply east of Germany. I guess civilian death, is the only thing in the forefront of the France/UK/US preoccupations. Surely, they wouldn't condone civilians dying for geo-political reasons?
NapoleonXIV -> Richmar , 13 Apr 2018 14:48
Yes, I remember Rice, Cheney, Bush, and Rumsfeld telling the world that they had evidence that Saddam was hoarding WMD. I'm still waiting to hear what it was. Now M. Macron spouts the same ambiguous nonsense expecting us to take his word for it.

Trump publicly states that US troops are being withdrawn from Syria. The next thing you know, Assad is allegedly gassing civilians. That makes a whole lot of sense doesn't it? If there's a sure-fire way of making sure you're on the wrong end of a bit of American 'shock and awe,' it's gassing innocents. Assad must have a death wish; or so they'd have us believe. The more I read about this fiasco, the more I think David Icke is the most rational man on the planet.

Ziontrain -> rustledust74 , 13 Apr 2018 14:47
From Pinochet to Mobuto, Kagama and many more, I'd think you'd better to review what the policy of the west actually IS.

[Apr 21, 2018] But where is the incontrovertible proof that the regime is in fact responsible for the attack rather than 'rebel groups' now on the point of final defeat, who'd wish to draw in the major NATO powers

Western neoliberal governments lost the remnants of patina of legitimacy on international scene and now look like bloodthirsty predators, they always were.
Apr 21, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

Labourist , 13 Apr 2018 14:46

But where is the incontrovertible proof that the regime is in fact responsible for the attack rather than 'rebel groups' now on the point of final defeat, who'd wish to draw in the major NATO powers? Why would the regime afford the US, France and UK the pretext to do one thing that'd undermine Assad's otherwise certain victory? The timing seems odd indeed while Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel act with impunity against minority populations. Each of the latter has form and interest the destruction of Syria in this proxy war.
comrade1 , 13 Apr 2018 14:50
Let me see if I have this right....

The UK thinks it's "highly likely" Assad is to blame for the chemical attack. France says it has evidence Assad is responsible but won't say what it is. US Secretary of Defence Mattis believes a chemical attack took place but says there's no evidence. And depending on the day of the week, Russia believes there was either no chemical attack or if there was then it was staged by the UK.

And for good measure we appear to be going headlong into war on the basis of all this.

SMKirov -> ID9265089 , 13 Apr 2018 14:46
The UN investigations concluded that the chemicals had come from Syrian Army stocks which there wasn't much doubt about to start with. Where they were less conclusive was the matter of who had deployed them given the capture of large stocks of munitions by the terrorists early in the war. On the basis of cui bono? it seems more likely that it was the terrorist side who sought to provoke Western intervention by staging chemical incidents rather than the Syrian Government who had little to gain and much to lose from the use of any kind of WMD.
ReLuke631 , 13 Apr 2018 14:45
We never learn.

First Blair holding onto an idiot's shirt tails to attack a Middle Eastern country based on hearsay and no coherent withdrawal policy. Now we have May and Macron holding the hands of an even bigger idiot whose populist thoughts change by the minute so no hope of any withdrawal plan.

Does May and her hawks (Gove, Johnson) really want to be compared with Trump, Kim, Putin, Assad, W Bush, Blair et al in the history books?

solidstae , 13 Apr 2018 14:45
The rebels in Syria have a history of using sarin, chlorine and mustard gas against troops and civilians. But Washington, London and Paris are completely dummy on this. Not a whisper. Rather straight to accusations and threats against the regime they have been trying to overthrow for years.

I don't know who did it. But I know who lies every time they take a breath if they consider it in their interests. Truth is the first casualty. I don't believe any of them.

irishinrussia , 13 Apr 2018 14:45
Noticeable that the Guardian live coverage provides Western refutations of Russia's claims of evidence regarding a staged false attack, but doesn't actually cover the evidence the Russians have provided - testimony from medical staff who claim to be witnesses. Now I'm not so stupid as to take these claims as gospel, the Russians are just as capable as anyone of finding a couple of fake or pressured witnesses. However the failure of the Western press to even elaborate on the evidence, even just to ridicule and debunk it, is suspicious.

[Apr 21, 2018] Oceania was at war with Eurasia; therefore Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia

Apr 21, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

Amaranthus_ , 13 Apr 2018 15:04

It is getting very tiresome tying to read between the lines of what Britain, America, Russia, etc, etc, etc spin to us in a constant barrage of disposable half truths. The worrying part is that it is now harder then ever to gauge if these 'bastions of truth' really believe their own bullshit or not and end up dropping us all into a war of no return.

"Oceania was at war with Eurasia; therefore Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia."

tomspen -> dannymega , 13 Apr 2018 15:02
The White Helmets were set up by a Briton (I can't remember exactly but I think he was ex intelligence services). They've consistently been shown to have links with extremists. It wouldn't surprise me at all if what the Russians are claiming is accurate.
AndiMcDodle -> bobthebuilder234 , 13 Apr 2018 15:02
Well the problem is that the vast majority of Syrians support Assad. This chemical attack, if it is confirmed by the OPWC investigation, could have been staged by the ISIS head choppers, or it was Assad. Nobody has a clue, so we need an investigation and see, whether, this is just propaganda bullshit from the head choppers. One thing is sure, if you care about civilian life, the best option is to accept that Assad and Russia won. Else, well you a hypocrite, and you don't care about civilian lives at all, but care more about the UK/US and France gaining the geo-political upper hand, without a care in the world about civilian life. Hence, you just as big a sociopath than Assad.
diddoit , 13 Apr 2018 15:02
Tony Blair is still laughing at everyone too.

Ultimately, that is the problem. There is no mechanism in the UK to hold such people to any sort of account. No checks and balances.

carlevans -> tomspen , 13 Apr 2018 15:01
Yes Millions of Gallons of Chemicals were rained down on Vietnam including Agent Orange and Napalm during the war.
Plus White Phosphorous was used by the US in Iraq as an "anti-personnel" weapon.
120Daze -> GuardianOfTime , 13 Apr 2018 15:00
Look, the Russians have a microscopic force in Syria, about 30 jets, very low army presence, usually one soldier per SAA Unit. The West and especially that inadequate May can look good by bombing some camels and then letting the Daily Mail and the BBC do the rest. Yes the Russians have S400 missiles in Syria but only to protect important targets and they simply don't have enough missiles to shoot down 100+ allied cruise missiles. The Russkies will just have to take the hit (again) but it will change nothing in the long run, except relations will deteriorate even further.
Anyman , 13 Apr 2018 15:00
One has the impression poodles Macron and May, in their ridiculous eagerness to assist Trump with his nice new smart shiny social media bombing of Syria, appear pathetic, even stupid, for their precipitate grandstanding now that the USA has, for the time being, reigned back from an immediate punishing strike on Syria.
Cousin_Jack -> Etagere , 13 Apr 2018 14:59
The "slaughter his own people" phrase is western spin; even the anti-government SOHR quotes a more or less even split between government forces, rebels and civilians, which means as civil wars go, this one is comparatively humane.

Compare the death toll of hundreds on the final assault on Aleppo with that on Raqqa (thousands) or Mosul (tens of thousands) or the civilian toll in Indo-China and Korea (>10 million) and you'll realise the identity of the greatest war criminal of them all

[Apr 21, 2018] Ruling Selling weapons like there is no tomorrow

Notable quotes:
"... Democracy Now ..."
"... much more blatant about it. He's shouting it from the rooftops ..."
Apr 21, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

Trump's Establishment Sin: Being an Open and Unabashed Devil

It's the open crassness of Trump as much as his policy substance that bothers establishment operatives. Look at Trump's recent yucky White House sit-down with Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. You can view it on YouTube here . It's incredible. With MBS grinning sheepishly next to him, the Insane Clown President held up posters showing all the big-dollar weapons and war systems the Saudis are purchasing from the U.S. Trump brazenly boasted about Washington's $12.5 billion arms deal with the most reactionary government on the planet.

"That's peanuts for you," Trump chided the crown prince while dangling the posters under his nose. "Saudi Arabia is a very wealthy nation, and they're going to give the United States some of that wealth, hopefully, in the form of jobs, in the form of the purchase of the finest military equipment anywhere in the world," Trump told reporters. MBS looked embarrassed as Trump listed the prices of the weapons the U.S. was selling to the Saudis: "$880 million $645 million $6 billion that's for frigates."

The president sounded like a car dealer boasting about the bargains at Trump Ford-Mazda. It was ugly and humiliating for everyone involved and has been condemned in the dominant corporate media for its decadent unpleasantness.

Meanwhile, a recent Reuters exposé details, in the horrified words of Democracy Now 's Juan Gonzales :

"Trump administration plans to make the U.S. an even larger weapons exporter by loosening restrictions on the sale of equipment ranging from fighter jets and drones to warships and artillery. Reuters reveals that the new initiative will provide guidelines that could allow more countries to be granted faster deal approvals, and will call on Cabinet officials to help close deals between foreign governments and U.S. defense contractors The role U.S. Cabinet officials may be asked to play in pushing arms exports abroad as part of the new initiative, which will call for a 'whole of government' approach -- from the president and his Cabinet to military attachés and diplomats -- to help draw in billions of dollars more in arms business overseas."

So, do you think the Obama administrations sold arms to Saudi Arabia and other reactionary governments around the world? Do you think it enlisted Cabinet officials and U.S. diplomats in the project of advancing U.S. arms sales across a blood-drenched planet? If you answered "Hell yes it did" to both questions, then you are correct. Here is a forgotten story from the final days of the Obama administration, penned by Motherboard 's Farid Farid, who was understandably underwhelmed by Obama's suspension of the sale of one type of munition to the Saudis in early 2017:

Obama's Administration Sold More Weapons Than Any Other Since World War II

Many were sold to the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia.

President Barack Obama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, will leave office in a few weeks with the dubious honor of having sold more weapons than any other American president since World War II. Most of the arms deals totaling over $200 billion in the period from 2008 to 2015 have ended up in the Middle East, according to a Congressional Research Service report published in December Focusing on arms deals to developing nations, the extensive report found that Saudi Arabia was the top arms importer with deals worth around $94 billion from 2008-2015. Under Obama the overall sales, pending delivery of equipment and specialized training for troops, to Saudi Arabia alone has ballooned to $115 billion.

Saudi Arabia is spearheading a coalition of Arab nations in a bombing campaign closing in on two years against the insurgent Houthi militias in Yemen, who took over the capital Sanaa in September 2014. The United States has sent special operations forces to assist the Arab coalition in a grinding war that has seen over 10,000 killed, 2.2 million displaced and nearly half a million children on the brink of famine from the ensuing crisis.

Earlier this month, the United States decided to halt future sales of precision-guided munitions, which are supposed to hit specific targets and minimize collateral damage, to the Gulf kingdom citing civilian deaths in Yemen. But experts are skeptical this will deter Saudi Arabia from continuing to fuel its regional proxy wars.

"Frankly it was a really minor and temporary punishment. I don't view it as a major consequence and it is more symbolic than anything," said Cole Bockenfeld, deputy director of policy at Project on Middle East Democracy.

He pointed to the US partially suspending military aid to Egypt after the military overthrew the unpopular government in July 2013 as another example of the lack of political will of the Obama administration to rock relations with its allies. The Congressional report, Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations 2008-2015, noted that Egypt was the biggest recipient of arms deliveries last year worth $5.3 billion.

"What's changed during the Obama administration is that increasing arms sales has become a standardized component of diplomacy at all levels of government, not just in the defense department," Bockenfeld told Motherboard. "For US diplomats to become the salesmen, that has been a new element which really increased exports."

What's the main difference between Trump and Obama when it comes to U.S. arms sales abroad? As the noted liberal arms trade analyst William Hartung told DN's Amy Goodman this week , "Well, [Trump's] much more blatant about it. He's shouting it from the rooftops . He's playing a very personal role .he held up a chart [during his appalling meeting before reporters with MBS] that showed 40,000 jobs from Saudi arms sales, and it showed the states, and they were all the swing states -- Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Florida. So, among other things, not only is this a business proposition for Trump, but it's a blatant political move to shore up his base."

So here's an interesting question: which is worse – (a) quietly equipping the most reactionary government on Earth and much of the rest of the world with lethal, high-tech means of mass destruction while posing as some kind of progressive and noble peace agent or (b) loudly equipping the most reactionary government on Earth and much of the rest of the world with lethal, high-tech means of mass destruction while boasting about the resulting revenue and jobs to reporters and your white-nationalist political base?

Something tells me the Yemeni victims of Riyadh's U.S.- made bombs, missiles, bullets, and artillery don't care all that much either way.

[Apr 21, 2018] Ultimately Trump is a typical playground bully

Apr 21, 2018 | theguardian.com
MetellusScipio, 13 Apr 2018 13:23
Ultimately Trump is a typical playground bully, he's a bullshitter, a blowhard. All talk. Trump was the same with Kim, and is the same with Putin and Assad.

Like all bullies underneath he is a coward, he threatens Putin with ridiculous teenager Tweet threats, but as soon as Putin but back Trump backpeddles.

Don't look to Trump for solutions.

[Apr 20, 2018] How about the West which has been trying to build a gas pipeline through Syria into Turkey to supply Europe with gas and break Russia's monopoly of European gas supplies.

Notable quotes:
"... How about the West which has been trying to build a gas pipeline through Syria into Turkey to supply Europe with gas and break Russia's monopoly of European gas supplies. Don't believe me read the Doha agreement where the west recognised the Syrian rebels, this pipeline was a pre requisite for that recognition. ..."
"... And why would Assad who is winning the war do the one thing that would give America and other western countries the chance to get involved because of outrageous moral indignation. Assad and Outing really aren't that stupid. ..."
Apr 20, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

dumbwaiter -> Kevin Watson , 13 Apr 2018 15:31

How about the West which has been trying to build a gas pipeline through Syria into Turkey to supply Europe with gas and break Russia's monopoly of European gas supplies. Don't believe me read the Doha agreement where the west recognised the Syrian rebels, this pipeline was a pre requisite for that recognition.

Israel? which is not happy with Iran and Lebanon having a presence in Syria, worried that America was withdrawing.

AlQaeda or the Syrian Rebels, many are both who are losing the war and this is a last desperate attempt to drag in America and the west?

You've also got Turkey and the Kurds (the Kurds were abandoned by the West after they had fulfilled their useful purpose), both also players in the region but I can't see a motive here.

And why would Assad who is winning the war do the one thing that would give America and other western countries the chance to get involved because of outrageous moral indignation. Assad and Outing really aren't that stupid.

Any or all of the above could be the true motivation. I am no fan of Assad, Putin, or Trump or May (or the Blair clone Macron) but the question you have to ask yourself is who gains from this? And is. this in the interests of a resolution to a conflict, to your safety or is it something else?

[Apr 20, 2018] The most simple explanation for the disaster in Syria is that a sovereign state protected its national interest from an international contingent of mercenaries.

Apr 20, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

harveybrown , 13 Apr 2018 15:37

In an interview on BBC 1 on 8 February 2004, UN Weapons Inspector, Hans Blix accused the US and British governments of dramatizing the threat of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, in order to strengthen the case for the 2003 war against the government of Saddam Hussein.
Ultimately, no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction were ever found.

In an interview with The Guardian newspaper, Blix said, "I have my detractors in Washington. There are bastards who spread things around, of course, who planted nasty things in the media."

[ It is interesting to note that Allan Ramsay likewise deplored "a friendly alliance between the camp and the counting-house" for exactly the same reasons (Letters on the Present Disturbances, p.34). Ramsay maintained that of the evil consequences of such alliance "the two last wars carried on by England against France and Spain, furnish a most melancholy illustration. To obtain the sole and exclusive commerce of the western world, in which the French and Spaniards were their rivals, was the modest wish of our merchants, in conjunction with our Americans. The fair, and truly commercial, method of effecting this would have been, by superior skill, industry and frugality, to have undersold their rivals at market: but that method appearing slow and troublesome to a luxurious people, whose extraordinary expences* required extraordinary profits, a more expeditous one was devised; which was that of driving their rivals entirely out of the seas, and preventing them from bringing their goods at all to market. For this purpose, not having any fleets or armies of their own, the powers of the State were found necessary, and they applied them accordingly" (ibid., pp.32 f.).

Knorr, K. E. 'Ch02-Part2 British Colonial Theories 1570-1850'. In British Colonial Theories, 1570-1850. The University of Toronto Press, 1944. ]

Jay_Q123 , 13 Apr 2018 15:36
Your article appears to apportion blame solely to Assad and you don't even attempt to address the opposition in Syria. Nobody seriously questions that the Syrian governments war has killed many thousands and thousands of civilians. How can you not refer to the international jihad and the make up of these fighters, as well as the sieges they laid on villages, town and cities and the cruelty they inflicted upon the people?

The Syrian Arab Army is a composite of Sunni, Shia, Christians, and different ethnicity's, what convinces you that they have in any way wantonly killed civilians? The soldiers have family all over Syria, plus no mention of the 300,000+ civilians that have been liberated from Eastern Aleppo and Eastern Ghouta in the last several months.

I find this article very bizarre indeed. The most simple explanation for the disaster in Syria is that a sovereign state protected its national interest from an international contingent of mercenaries. There are Moroccans and Chechnyans, Uighurs and Brits, Saudis as well as Syrians in this armed army. What other options did a state such as Syria have when fighting against ISIS, Al Qaida, Al Nusra and 'The Army of Islam', Jaysh Al-Islam? All have which have direct connections to our major ally in the region, Saudi Arabia.

Somebody correct me if I am wrong but I can not find any reference at all to the enemy in this article. It's written as if the 8 year war has simply been an extermination war against civilians and completely out of context with reality.

Check out Operation Timber Sycamore for more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timber_Sycamore

[Apr 20, 2018] Should Assad subsequently fall - and that is the actual aim of intervention - then Syria will become another anarchic wasteland ruled over by fundamentalist warlords.

Apr 20, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

Vermithrax , 13 Apr 2018 15:39

Freedland recently put this argument on Newsnight.

It is flawed to the point of dishonesty.

He talks of removing assets as if the process was being conducted under laboratory conditions. There are ten nations enmeshed in a warzone with numerous factions under no one's control. It is magical thinking that cannot be achieved and will only result in rapid, uncontrolled escalation. The idea that there will be no collateral damage is laughable and I regret to suggest that it is deliberately misleading.

Moreover, in engaging Assad when he is on the brink of victory, the Syrian Civil War will be extended. The Syrian people will then pay the price.

Should Assad subsequently fall - and that is the actual aim of intervention - then Syria will become another anarchic wasteland ruled over by fundamentalist warlords. The spiral of migration will be renewed bringing loons wrapped in the dispossessed to our own streets. Worse, the militants next stop will be Lebanon and then Israel will be directly involved. Freedland advocates acting against Assad without even attempting to predict the consequences. At the very least I would expect the usual misdirection 'of course this time we must have a plan for rebuilding Syria', secure in the knowledge that by that time there will be another crisis and Syria can be left in entropy.

No good can come from military intervention. The satisfaction of commentators that the right thing has been done is an irrelevance. The right thing is always just public relations. Every bit of ruthless geopolitics has to have a casus belli to make the killing all righteous and unavoidable. It has always been thus. For resources to be expended on this kind of scale there has to be a rock solid bit of bankable realpolitik. In this case its the struggle for regional hegemony between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Syria can either be part of a supply chain selling Sunni gas/oil to Europe or Shi'a gas/oil to Europe. This is about killing Syrians for the glory of Saudi Arabia. You can see why there has to be a casus belli because thats not something that can be sold. We know the proceeds will go unmentioned into offshore havens and the London property market. Britain would derive no geopolitical benefit as a whole. The benefits would accrue only to a kleptocracy who think they have a right to use our country as a loan shark's leg-breaker.

It is therefore my contention that Freedland is promoting an immoral act that will have serious consequences without offering any serious improvement in the situation. This is arguably the most dangerous situation since the Cuban Missile crisis and an analysis that advocates pouring oil on the flames is either ridiculously stupid or calculatedly duplicitous.

thousandautumns -> balancedman , 13 Apr 2018 15:39
"Up to" 13,000 "opponents" killed over five years during a period of war. I'm assuming that number of "opponents" includes a large number of out and out terrorists who have thrown the country into chaos.
Brianto , 13 Apr 2018 15:39
What is Porton Down manufacturing?
oldeborr , 13 Apr 2018 15:38
The UK andcFrance bares a heavy responsibility for the current situation in Syria. The cavalier attitude that the ConDems took to international law during the Arab spring encouraged the Saudi s and their proxies to distablise the recognised Govt. Assad is no paragon of virtue, but prior to the insurgency steps were in place to make the country a better place for its citizens, and whilst its true poltical dissent was not allowed, people could live their lives and go about their business in safety.

[Apr 20, 2018] The Great Game Comes to Syria by Conn Hallinan

Apr 20, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

An unusual triple alliance is emerging from the Syrian war, one that could alter the balance of power in the Middle East, unhinge the NATO alliance, and complicate the Trump administration's designs on Iran. It might also lead to yet another double cross of one of the region's largest ethnic groups, the Kurds.

However, the "troika alliance" -- Turkey, Russia and Iran -- consists of three countries that don't much like one another, have different goals, and whose policies are driven by a combination of geo-global goals and internal politics. In short, "fragile and complicated" doesn't even begin to describe it.

How the triad might be affected by the joint U.S., French and British attack on Syria is unclear, but in the long run the alliance will likely survive the uptick of hostilities.

But common ground was what came out of the April 4 meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Meeting in Ankara, the parties pledged to support the "territorial integrity" of Syria, find a diplomatic end to the war, and to begin a reconstruction of a Syria devastated by seven years of war. While Russia and Turkey explicitly backed the UN-sponsored talks in Geneva, Iran was quiet on that issue, preferring a regional solution without "foreign plans."

"Common ground," however, doesn't mean the members of the "troika" are on the same page.

Turkey's interests are both internal and external. The Turkish Army is currently conducting two military operations in northern Syria, Olive Branch and Euphrates Shield, aimed at driving the mainly Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) out of land that borders Turkey. But those operations are also deeply entwined with Turkish politics.

Erdogan's internal support has been eroded by a number of factors: exhaustion with the ongoing state of emergency imposed following the 2016 attempted coup, a shaky economy , and a precipitous fall in the value of the Turkish pound. Rather than waiting for 2019, Erdogan called for snap elections this past week and beating up on the Kurds is always popular with right-wing Turkish nationalists. Erdogan needs all the votes he can get to imlement his newly minted executive presidency that will give him virtually one-man rule.

To be part of the alliance, however, Erdogan has had to modify his goal of getting rid of Syrian President Bashar Assad and to agree -- at this point, anyhow -- to eventually withdraw from areas in northern Syria seized by the Turkish Army. Russia and Iran have called for turning over the regions conquered by the Turks to the Syrian Army.

Moscow's goals are to keep a foothold in the Middle East with its only base, Tartus, and to aid its long-time ally, Syria. The Russians are not deeply committed to Assad personally, but they want a friendly government in Damascus. They also want to destroy al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, which have caused Moscow considerable trouble in the Caucasus.

Russia also wouldn't mind driving a wedge between Ankara and NATO. After the U.S., Turkey has NATO's second largest army. NATO broke a 1989 agreement not to recruit former members of the Russian-dominated Warsaw Pact into NATO as a quid pro quo for the Soviets withdrawing from Eastern Europe. But since the Yugoslav War in 1999 the alliance has marched right up to the borders of Russia. The 2008 war with Georgia and 2014 seizure of the Crimea were largely a reaction to what Moscow sees as an encirclement strategy by its adversaries.

Turkey has been at odds with its NATO allies around a dispute between Greece and Cyprus over sea-based oil and gas resources , and it recently charged two Greek soldiers who violated the Turkish border with espionage. Erdogan is also angry that European Union countries refuse to extradite Turkish soldiers and civilians who he claims helped engineer the 2016 coup against him. While most NATO countries condemned Moscow for the recent attack on two Russians in Britain, the Turks pointedly did not .

Turkish relations with Russia have an economic side as well. Ankara want a natural gas pipeline from Russia, has broken ground on a $20 billion Russian nuclear reactor, and just shelled out $2.5 billion for Russia's S-400 anti-aircraft system.

The Russians do not support Erdogan's war on the Kurds and have lobbied for the inclusion of Kurdish delegations in negotiations over the future of Syria. But Moscow clearly gave the Turks a green light to attack the Kurdish city of Afrin last month, driving out the YPG that had liberated it from the Islamic State and Turkish-backed al-Qaeda groups. A number of Kurds charge that Moscow has betrayed them .

The question now is, will the Russians stand aside if the Turkish forces move further into Syria and attack the city of Manbij, where the Kurds are allied with U.S. and French forces? And will Erdogan's hostility to the Kurds lead to an armed clash among three NATO members?

Such a clash seems unlikely, although the Turks have been giving flamethrower speeches over the past several weeks. "Those who cooperate with terrorists organizations [the YPG] will be targeted by Turkey," says Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said in a pointed reference to France's support for the Kurds. Threatening the French is one thing, picking a fight with the U.S. military quite another.

Of course, if President Trump pulls U.S. forces out of Syria, it will be tempting for Turkey to move in. While the "troika alliance" has agreed to Syrian "sovereignty," that won't stop Ankara from meddling in Kurdish affairs. The Turks are already appointing governors and mayors for the areas in Syria they have occupied.

Iran's major concern in Syria is maintaining a buffer between itself and a very aggressive alliance of the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia, which seems to be in the preliminary stages of planning a war against the second-largest country in the Middle East.

Iran is not at all the threat it has been pumped up to be. Its military is miniscule and talk of a so-called "Shiite crescent" -- Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon -- is pretty much a western invention (although the term was dreamed up by the King of Jordan).

Tehran has been weakened by crippling sanctions and faces the possibility that Washington will withdraw from the nuclear accord and re-impose yet more sanctions. The appointment of National Security Advisor John Bolton, who openly calls for regime change in Iran, has to have sent a chill down the spines of the Iranians. What Tehran needs most of all is allies who will shield it from the enmity of the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia. In this regard, Turkey and Russia could be helpful.

Iran has modified its original goals in Syria of a Shiite-dominated regime by agreeing to a "non-sectarian character" for a post-war Syria. Erdogan has also given up on his desire for a Sunni-dominated government in Damascus.

War with Iran would be catastrophic, an unwinnable conflict that could destabilize the Middle East even more than it is now. It would, however, drive up the price of oil, currently running at around $66 a barrel. Saudi Arabia needs to sell its oil for at least $100 a barrel, or it will very quickly run of money. The on-going quagmire of the Yemen war, the need to diversify the economy, and the growing clamor by young Saudis -- 70 percent of the population -- for jobs requires lots of money, and the current trends in oil pricing are not going to cover the bills.

War and oil make for odd bedfellows . While the Saudis are doing their best to overthrow the Assad regime and fuel the extremists fighting the Russians, Riyadh is wooing Moscow to sign onto to a long-term OPEC agreement to control oil supplies. That probably won't happen -- the Russians are fine with oil at $50 to $60 a barrel -- and are wary of agreements that would restrict their right to develop new oil and gas resources. The Saudi's jihad on the Iranians has a desperate edge to it, as well it might. The greatest threat to the Kingdom has always come from within.

The rocks and shoals that can wreck alliances in the Middle East are too numerous to count, and the "troika" is riven with contradictions and conflicting interests. But the war in Syria looks as if it is coming to some kind of resolution, and at this point Iran, Russia and Turkey seem to be the only actors who have a script that goes beyond lobbing cruise missiles at people.

[Apr 20, 2018] The Syrian situation was made far worse by the USA / France and the UK arming extremist Islamic groups during the ' Arab Spring ' in an attempt to depose the legitimate ruler of a sovereign nation.

Notable quotes:
"... The best solution being that he defeats all rebel forces as quickly as possible. The UN Chemical Weapons people can then go in ( or even before ) and try to collect some evidence. ..."
"... It is all about oil and supremacy in the region. Since when has our government or that of any western Country - cared about their people. Canon fodder - that is what we are. ..."
Apr 20, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

Artusov , 13 Apr 2018 15:56

'.....Given Russia's presence, it would not be easy...... '

Understatement of the century. If you start bombing strategic military targets you are quite, likely to hit Russian planes and troops.

As I said yesterday - What is the point ? Assad ( helped by his ally Russia ) has all but won the war ( which makes his use of chemical weapons surprising / a big mistake ) - The best solution being that he defeats all rebel forces as quickly as possible. The UN Chemical Weapons people can then go in ( or even before ) and try to collect some evidence.

Meanwhile, the Saudis are bombing Yemeni children with UK manufactured bombs.

The Syrian situation was made far worse by the USA / France and the UK arming extremist Islamic groups during the ' Arab Spring ' in an attempt to depose the legitimate ruler of a sovereign nation.

We don't say much about China's interference in Tibet these days, do we ?

Or the effect of Agent Orange in the Vietnam War ?

MartinSilenus -> Norman_Finklesteen , 13 Apr 2018 15:50
"here are many, many notable historians who state the death toll as high as 135,000 "

The biggest single death toll in WWII was the low level firebombing of Tokyo, large areas of Japans capital city were wiped out. With houses as flammable as you can ever imagine, an unimaginably horror filled event. The Japanese death toll was around 100,000 dead. You are saying more died in Dresden?

"On this day, U.S. warplanes launch a new bombing offensive against Japan, dropping 2,000 tons of incendiary bombs on Tokyo over the course of the next 48 hours. Almost 16 square miles in and around the Japanese capital were incinerated, and between 80,000 and 130,000 Japanese civilians were killed in the worst single firestorm in recorded history."
https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/firebombing-of-tokyo

mudlark123 -> BoomersStealingMoney , 13 Apr 2018 15:50
It is all about oil and supremacy in the region. Since when has our government or that of any western Country - cared about their people. Canon fodder - that is what we are.
rockyrex -> LordThumpworthy , 13 Apr 2018 15:50
OK so let's attack Saudi for what they are doing in Yemen. And Myanmar for their behaviour. Then there's Mexico, where the cartels keep murdering people. Really, let's apply the same standards everywhere.

How will this proposed action change anything? The Syrians have hidden everything that matters, the Russians will get 90 minutes warning of the targets .... It's a PR exercise on the usual lines of "Something must be done .... this is something ..... "

[Apr 20, 2018] Russia has transferred forty Pantsir-S1 air defense systems to Syria' Air Defence

Apr 20, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

tayacase

, 13 Apr 2018 15:50
Russia has transferred forty Pantsir-S1 air defense systems to Syria' Air Defence.
This is the latest air defence technology (the system is in service since 2012) - a combined short to medium range surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery weapon system against aircrafts, helicopters, precision munitions, cruise missiles and UAVs.

https://southfront.org/russia-delivered-40-pantsir-s1-air-defense-systems-to-syria-state-media /
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantsir-S1

[Apr 20, 2018] It is hard to be pro interventionist after the epical f up in Iraq and Libya and previous chemica weapons false flag staged by jihadists

Apr 20, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

Israeli's deep incursions in Syria and the bombing of military bases also used by Russian military have provided a lot of information about the capabilities and limitations of the Russian military technology deployed in Syria.


StephenDaedalus -> JackDowland , 13 Apr 2018 15:47

Sure, here's the UN OPCW investigation report which directly blames the Assad forces for chemical attacks. Take as much time as you need.

https://undocs.org/S/2016/738

I couldn't find the paragraph which directly blames Assad's forces.

I note it does refer (at para 44) to Assad's allegation that a video had been staged. It concludes that the patients on the video "appear relatively unaffected by the typical symptoms. No red eyes, tearing, paleness, sweating, cyanosis or breathing difficulties can be observed from the footage. The patients interviewed in the video show little or no signs of having been exposed to a toxic chemical".

This is also consistent with other documented attempts of video-making to trigger the western bombs.

Surely you can see why people might at least reserve judgment about the latest video emanating from Jaish al-Islam controlled territory?

LiviaDrusilla -> SummerPatch , 13 Apr 2018 15:47
As I've said , I consider the term 'putinbot' - infantile and indicative of a lack of logical argumentation as it is - as a compliment, since it appears to be code for those who retain the ability to think for themselves and not fall glumly for the latest official line.

since the OPCW proved it was Putin who tried to murder British civilians with nerve agents.

Actually, they proved no such thing, but in any case it's irrelevant to the discussion at hand.

BoomersStealingMoney -> thousandautumns , 13 Apr 2018 15:47
I would like to cargo the arm chair generals into the battlefield of Syria.

Let Asad deal with them.

Terry Haller , 13 Apr 2018 15:47
Personally I am uncertain what has happened regarding the chemical attack in Syria however it is pretty clear to me what has happened and continues to happen in Yemen and Palestine.
Fomalhaut88 , 13 Apr 2018 15:47
Send Dearest Jeremy to Damascus with one of his megaphones and a bunch of his most loyal.
I am not sure what he will yell down the megaphone, but whatever it is I am sure it will make him feel better about protesting, something.
Rumbero -> dannymega , 13 Apr 2018 15:47
so you have an answer for the Russian narrative but not for the British viewpoint.
Laughable and ridiculous. What source do you have for the Russian military's claim ?
Let me guess ? Some obscure blog site or RT?
OlivesNightie , 13 Apr 2018 15:46

The notion of inaction, of standing by and watching as Assad kills and kills and kills, racking up a death toll in Syria of 500,000

On May 12, 1996, Madeleine Albright defended UN sanctions against Iraq on a 60 Minutes segment in which Lesley Stahl asked her "We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?" and Albright replied, "We think the price is worth it."'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbIX1CP9qr4

Kokkos -> dharps , 13 Apr 2018 15:46
And who presents the Summons to the United States for Vietnam....and the other countries,where they used chemicals.
BabylonianSheDevil03 -> grumpybrewer , 13 Apr 2018 15:46
From tomorrow the weather in some parts of the UK stops being an utter bastard and starts to look like spring. The sun will get its hat on, hip, hip, hip, hooray!
Go out and listen to the birds, look at the blossom. Lots of good in the world.
Xerxes2 , 13 Apr 2018 15:46
This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn't abide by our community standards . Replies may also be deleted. For more detail see our FAQs .
Haverer -> circuit , 13 Apr 2018 15:46
Yes of course. Russia could just cross over into Alaska and from there ithey can easily drive their tanks down through Canada to reach the US.
DZ76 -> DZ76 , 13 Apr 2018 15:46
Just in case anyone asks for an example of US diverging from Israeli objectives (I realise that I did not elucidate on that in my post), US air strikes have focused entirely on ISIS and have, up to now, left the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah alone. There's no doubt that the Americans are very closely tied to Israeli objectives, but they certainly aren't being controlled by a 'Zionist elite', America still fights for America. As I outlined above, it's really only the British government that doesn't appear to have anything even beginning to resemble an independent foreign policy.
pash meia -> harveybrown , 13 Apr 2018 15:46
so kets excuse putin and assad shall we based on a labour govt fuck up
gooner4thewin -> urbanegorrila , 13 Apr 2018 15:45
Corbyn has not been a proponent of boosting our military budget.
BoomersStealingMoney , 13 Apr 2018 15:45
Not a single terrorist attack on British soil has been inspired by Shiah Islam.

And yet we arm the Wahabis to dislodge the secular Asad.

Our government is crooked.

georgina45 -> Squadra , 13 Apr 2018 15:45
I watched RT for the first time last night and it was interesting.
But right now its like we are being ruled by lunatics. It is absolutely sickening. Quite literally some moron in the White House is tweeting, 'My bombs are bigger than yours' and 'The missiles are coming.' And they still let him in rule one of the most powerful countries on the Earth with a vast mass of WMD and Theresa May is trying reason with a fucking moron. Hey Guardian if Trump is talking like this my swearing is the least of our problems, so please don't moderate. We need someone to Moderate the madmen.
TheKingOfHate -> mikew67 , 13 Apr 2018 15:45
How do you compare a serial killer with twenty kills to one with one kills?

Why, they're both serial killers.

/That's/ how we compare the blood on our hands to those drenched to our shoulders.

Sceptical Walker -> NHSmonami , 13 Apr 2018 15:45
UK
ID3555673 , 13 Apr 2018 15:45
Whatever the strategic complications are that would prevent this, Assad deserves a Tomahawk enema.
gooner4thewin , 13 Apr 2018 15:45
hallelujah - the Russians have decided to allow the UN chemical weapons inspectors to now visit the site. Of course they vetoed it initially because out of a sense of tidiness, they wanted to clean up the place before guests came.
billhicks00 , 13 Apr 2018 15:44
The red line is the use of chemical weapons it seems. Bullets, conventional weaponry and starvation are OK.
Swilkerin -> dharps , 13 Apr 2018 15:44
Overthrowing the B'aathist regime would also cause chaos. You have several proxy wars going on in Syria. Having jihadists groups with links to Saudi/ Iran etc fill the void is hardly a great prospect. We've just seen the back of ISIS after all.
dannymega -> Rumbero , 13 Apr 2018 15:44
Perhaps the place they visited to check if an attack happened was the wrong place, who knows? Does seem rather perverse though to predict an impending gas attack and then go and carry it out yourself.
junglecitizen -> LeftOrRightSameShite , 13 Apr 2018 15:44

We, along with the US, France and Gulf states have supported, armed and trained "rebels" in Syria the whole time. We've had, as have others, special forces operating inside Syria


So, there would never be rebellions against totalitarian dictators if it weren't for the CIA and MI6.

I don't buy this. It's very convenient if you're an anti-war person who doesn't want to face an ethical dilemma. But it's not real.

LordThumpworthy , 13 Apr 2018 15:44
This is a sensible article. Funny how those shouting abuse offer NO alternative and would rather turn a blind eye to children being gassed, than be part of a country that has the moral fibre to stand up to this butchery.
pash meia , 13 Apr 2018 15:44
st petersburgh on double bubble it seems.
Guimard -> Succe55 , 13 Apr 2018 15:44
They been doing for years , there is nothing new about it .
They just got 'better ' at it .
SummerPatch -> LiviaDrusilla , 13 Apr 2018 15:44
Sergei, you are the one with imagination. I wonder why the putinbots have gone quiet about salibusry since the OPCW proved it was Putin who tried to murder British civilians with nerve agents.
NHSmonami -> dharps , 13 Apr 2018 15:44
Evidence that would not stand up in court.
oreilly62 , 13 Apr 2018 15:44
Stop the conflict,here comes Freedland to save the world.
pash meia -> Krautolivier , 13 Apr 2018 15:44
better the devil than allah looking at the state of the islsmic world maybe?
but meanwhike lets excuse putin and asdad...
you are jeremy corbyn and i donate my 5 pounds to charity
mudlark123 -> RLB2808 , 13 Apr 2018 15:44
Thanks Colonel Blimp. I do, however, entirely agree with you.
Blackdawn , 13 Apr 2018 15:43
If it came to it, i wouldn't fight. Story is.. ordinary people head to the front the elite, politicians and royals head to their bunkers.
Celtiberico , 13 Apr 2018 15:42

The Syrian Negotiation Commission has called for action to deter Assad from killing civilians. What they envisage is that each time Assad launches a deadly attack on noncombatants, allied forces reply by taking out one of the strategic assets he uses to kill civilians. It could be an airfield, it could be a command centre. If the target were aircraft, that would simultaneously inflict a cost on the regime and deprive it of the means of dropping its barrel bombs and toxic, yellow cylinders. The objective would be to make Assad pay a price for killing his own people, a price he has not paid until now. Eventually, or so runs the hope, he would be deterred.

That kind of reminds me of when Ahmed Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress were explaining how to get rid of Saddam without plunging Iraq into mayhem and destabilising the wider region.

[Apr 20, 2018] Skripal and Douma incidents were preceded by extremely intense diplomatic activity between Saudi Arabia, Washington, Paris and London this year, with multiple top level visits between capitals, is presumably supposed to be coincidence.

Apr 20, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

dumbwaiter -> Kevin Watson, 13 Apr 2018 15:50

I'm going to post a comment by another user posted yesterday as he said it far more eloquently than I could

R Reddington InterestedReader2 1d ago

Your just another armchair warrior.

So you think going to war is a good idea well you first then and dont forget your flack jacket and rifle.

The media onslaught has moved past the attack in Salisbury by a "weapon of mass destruction" (quoting Theresa May) which could only be Russian, except that was untrue, and was extremely deadly, except that was untrue too. It now focuses on an attack by chemical weapons in Douma which "could only be" by the Russian-backed Assad regime, except there is no evidence of that either, and indeed neutral verified evidence from Douma is non-existent. The combination of the two events is supposed to have the British population revved up by jingoism, and indeed does have Tony Blair and assorted Tories revved up, to attack Syria and potentially to enter conflict with Russia in Syria.

The "Russian" attack in Salisbury is supposed to negate the "not our war" argument, particularly as a British policeman was unwell for a while. Precisely what is meant to negate the "why on earth are we entering armed confrontation with a nuclear power" argument, I do not know.

Saudi Arabia has naturally offered facilities to support the UK, US and France in their attempt to turn the military tide in Syria in favour of the Saudi sponsored jihadists whom Assad had come close to defeating. That the Skripal and Douma incidents were preceded by extremely intense diplomatic activity between Saudi Arabia, Washington, Paris and London this year, with multiple top level visits between capitals, is presumably supposed to be coincidence.

I am not a fan of Assad any more than I was a fan of Saddam Hussein. But the public now understand that wars for regime change in Muslim lands have disastrous effects in dead and maimed adults and children and in destroyed infrastructure; our attacks unleash huge refugee waves and directly cause terrorist attacks here at home. There is no purpose in a military attack on Syria other than to attempt to help the jihadists overthrow Assad. There is a reckless disregard for evidence base on the pretexts for all this. Indeed, the more the evidence is scrutinised, the dodgier it seems. Finally there is a massive difference between mainstream media narrative around these events and a deeply sceptical public, as shown in social media and in comments sections of corporate media websites.

The notion that Britain will take part in military action against Syria with neither investigation of the evidence nor a parliamentary vote is worrying indeed. Without Security Council authorisation, any such action is illegal in any event. It is worth noting that the many commentators who attempt to portray Russia's veto of a Syria resolution as invalid, fail to note that last week, in two separate 14 against 1 votes, the USA vetoed security council resolutions condemning Israeli killings of unarmed demonstrators in Gaza.

The lesson the neo-cons learnt from the Iraq war is not that it was disastrous. It was only disastrous for the dead and maimed Iraqis, our own dead and maimed servicemen, and those whose country was returned to medievalism. It was a great success for the neo-cons, they made loads of money on armaments and oil. The lesson the neo-cons learned was not to give the public in the West any time to mount and organise opposition. Hence the destruction of Libya was predicated on an entirely false "we have 48 hours to prevent the massacre of the population of Benghazi" narrative. Similarly this latest orchestrated "crisis" is being followed through into military action at a blistering pace, as the four horsemen sweep by, scything down reason and justice on the way.

[Apr 20, 2018] The United States, fully aware it was Iraq who gased Kurds, accused Iran, Iraq's enemy in a fierce war, of being partly responsible for the attack. The State Department instructed its diplomats to say that Iran was partly to blame."

Apr 20, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

Andersie , 13 Apr 2018 14:45

I've just stumbled on this absolute gem, from the New York Times, 17/1/2003:

"Analysis of thousands of captured Iraqi secret police documents and declassified U.S. government documents, as well as interviews with scores of Kurdish survivors, senior Iraqi defectors and retired U.S. intelligence officers, show

(1) that Iraq carried out the attack on Halabja [a 1988 chemical attack on Kurdish villages that killed 5000 civilians], and

(2) that the United States, fully aware it was Iraq, accused Iran, Iraq's enemy in a fierce war, of being partly responsible for the attack. The State Department instructed its diplomats to say that Iran was partly to blame."

[Apr 20, 2018] The USA and WMD

Apr 20, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

Justin Thyme , 13 Apr 2018 15:31

The USA and WMD

@S

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld helped Saddam Hussein build up his arsenal of deadly chemical and biological weapons. As an envoy from President Reagan 19 years ago, he had a secret meeting with the Iraqi dictator and arranged enormous military assistance for his war with Iran. Mr Rumsfeld, at the time a successful executive in the pharmaceutical industry, still made it possible for Saddam to buy supplies from American firms. They included viruses such as anthrax and bubonic plague, according to the Washington Post.
The USA provided $1.5 billion worth of Pathogenic, toxigenic and other biological research materials were exported to Iraq; 1985-89.

1) US based company, Alcolac International exported mustard gas to Iraq; 1987-88.
2) Almost 150 foreign companies supported Saddam Hussein's WMD program; 1975-
3) US directly attacked Iran by hitting Iran's oil platforms; 1987.
4) US directly attacked Iran's navy in unproportioned and unreasonable war; 1988.
5) US shot down Iranian civilian airliner in the Iranian territory; 1988.

This is the equivalent of a pathological paedophile giving a sermon against child abuse when the US preaches its corrupt moral practices regarding Syria!!!

[Apr 20, 2018] That is why Tony Blair, Jack Straw and Alistair Campbell fought so hard to oppose invasion of Iraq. I feel terrible for them

Apr 20, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

ID3052003 , 13 Apr 2018 14:11

"Trump is a congenital liar who is devoid of empathy, a narcissist with a nihilist's view of the world. These are not mere character defects; they have a bearing on the decisions the de facto leader of any action in Syria would take. Among the reasons I opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq was my fundamental distrust of George W Bush and his circle, especially on the matter of motive. "

That is why Tony Blair, Jack Straw and Alistair Campbell fought so hard to oppose invasion of Iraq. In the end they had to resort an academic paper to do it. I feel terrible for them.

[Apr 20, 2018] A briefing room somewhere in Damascus

Apr 20, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

ChairmanMayTseTung, 13 Apr 2018 13:18

A briefing room somewhere in Damascus

Assad: So tell me, what is the military situation?

Generals: We are winning and winning decisively Mr President and the terrorists are pulling out of East Ghoutta

Assad: Excellent news. I suggest we kill a few dozen innocent civilians in a gas attack to celebrate.

Generals: Mr President, this would be utter folly. It would serve no possible military purpose and would risk catastrophic air strikes against our military assets.

Assad: Do it anyway! ** strokes fluffy white cat with a Mwwahh, mwah, mwah. **

[Apr 20, 2018] Striking Syria now will not halt the suffering of the Syrian people

Notable quotes:
"... it's pretty obvious what the likes of Isis would have done to the non-extremists in Syria - the Christians and anyone not of their puritanical strain. ..."
"... Assad is no more a butcher than the countries that armed, trained and financed the rebels, the USA prominent among them ..."
"... The problem with Syria is from the start the West saw Assad as an easy domino that will fold like Saddam and Gadaffi ..."
"... Something I also notice not mentioned is the amount of billions that weapons manufacturers and their lackeys in the foreign office make out of these destabilized countries. ..."
"... When Hitler launched his V1 cruise missiles us killing 5,000 Londoners we called them a vengeance weapon... But somehow 70 years later cruise missiles are liberators when deployed by us. ..."
Apr 20, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

beingsentient , 13 Apr 2018 13:12

The situation in Syria is more nuanced than just calling out Assad as a butcher of his own people. For one, he is a butcher of some of his own people, for many others he must seem like a saviour as without his regime's resistance it's pretty obvious what the likes of Isis would have done to the non-extremists in Syria - the Christians and anyone not of their puritanical strain.

The real issue is that the established powers are struggling to cope with a multi-polar world. It was only a few decades ago that the world's capitalists were looking forward to a 'new world order' without any serious opponents. But then things went wrong, and countries refused to lay down for their new masters. Not only that, but Russia re-awoke and rejected the funnelling of its wealth into the coffers of the West via a few carefully selected oligarchs. Putin is undoubtedly not to liberal tastes, but he is the kind of leader Russians are historically used to and who has put Russia back on the map as a world power.

Striking Syria now will not halt the suffering of the Syrian people, and it will place the whole world in jeopardy. The potential price is too high. The best thing that could happen now is that Trump is removed from office and replaced by a sane politician intelligent enough to look after America's interests peacefully. Would the Syrian rebels have even started their uprising if they hadn't thought that they would be backed-up by the liberal West? We should withdraw from Syria and allow history and the Syrian people to make their own peace from the rubble.

Andersie , 13 Apr 2018 13:12
The two main points of this argument are so hypocritical that I want to start yelling at the screen.

First, that Assad is a butcher because the war made half a million victims. No, Assad is no more a butcher than the countries that armed, trained and financed the rebels, the USA prominent among them. If they hadn't done that to advance their own strategic objectives and to topple dictator they didn't like (because there's a lot of dictators that they like), the war wouldn't have even started. The 500000 victims are on the US's conscience, not Assad's.

Second, the idea that "It is indeed strange, but the extra revulsion at the use of chemical weapons is not groundless. The taboo on the use of such weapons held, with exceptions, for nearly a century."

Respectfully, it's bullshit. It emerged in 2013 that Saddam was helped by the USA gassing 50000 Iranians, both soldiers and civilians, in the 1980s- with chemical weapons developed with the help of American, British and French companies, among others. Exactly those that find unacceptable now the idea that 40 civilians *might* have been killed in a chemical attack by the "butcher" Assad. So tell us, when are these countries going to bomb themselves, as a just retribution for their heinous crimes?

HellHoundOnMyTrail -> radical , 13 Apr 2018 13:10
But there is *no* evidence that Assad has even done this. On the contrary, Russia has even accused the U.K government of being complicit in Douma.

Just apply logic to this: why would Assad do this? He has, buttressed by Russia, all but 'won' this wretched, heartbreaking civil war. So, on the cusp, he decides do use chemical weapons which all but guarantees the U.S will stay in Syria funding the 'rebels' that he's fighting. Sorry, it's just ludicrous to think he would do this.

supercool , 13 Apr 2018 13:10
The problem with Syria is from the start the West saw Assad as an easy domino that will fold like Saddam and Gadaffi, but with one subtle difference Syria is a government that has the backing of Iran, Russia and Hezbollah from the start. That they will not let Assad fall easily to have a puppet regime installed in Damascus that will do the West's bidding. No way that was going to happen. Iran saw it as a chance to consolidate itself as a hegemon in he Middle East and Russia as chance for payback time for their humiliation in Iraq and Libya, they were treated as an irrelevant country.

Assad is lucky and knows it, the West does not seem to learn that their interventions are resented around the world and smacks of neo-colonialism. Syria is third time unlucky, Russia, Iran and Syria are goading the West. It is your move and one false move they will be laughing for a long time. Lesson in this is let countries resolve their problems by themselves, Syria will not be the first or last country to see the use of Chemical weapons. It is vile & disgusting way to attack civilians but remember we supplied Saddam the same weapons to attack Iran in the 1980's and the world did nothing then. The West is not part of the solution in Syria neither from the start or now. Read the history books on who put the Alwaites and Assad's in power. It was France, the same France claiming they have evidence against Assad now. Please!

CanWeNotKnockIt -> Etagere , 13 Apr 2018 13:09
What is your plan?
What is your aim?
Has recent history taught you nothing?
ManUpTheTree -> LeftOrRightSameShite , 13 Apr 2018 13:09
Something I also notice not mentioned is the amount of billions that weapons manufacturers and their lackeys in the foreign office make out of these destabilized countries.
jane carter , 13 Apr 2018 13:03
The West is capable of lying and fabricating reasons to go to war. The lies told to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003 are evidence enough of that.
HelenWilsonMK , 13 Apr 2018 12:46
When Hitler launched his V1 cruise missiles us killing 5,000 Londoners we called them a vengeance weapon... But somehow 70 years later cruise missiles are liberators when deployed by us. The war crime committed by Bommer Harris on the people of Dresden shows you cannot bomb people into peace... So why are we still trying?

[Apr 20, 2018] Growing disillusionment of mass audience in neoliberal MSM

Apr 20, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

David williams , 13 Apr 2018 15:23

Not a supporter of any of the criminal operations that masquerade as governments worldwide, but it's way past the time when I can believe a word the Western powers utter in their quest to spread their vile economic doctrine.
For me the biggest question now is how best to avoid financing the evil they perpetrate
dannymega , 13 Apr 2018 15:22
So the Russian military claimed a month ago that Syrian rebels were planning a chlorine chemical weapon attack somewhere in Syria, three weeks later a chemical weapon chlorine attack happens in Douma... but the UK government along with all the UK mainstream media do not question perhaps it's the Jihadi/rebels who staged this attack, they ALL automatically blame Assad? Stinks to high heaven.