David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel
By James Petras
Mar 26, 2009
All the idols of capitalism over the past three decades crashed. The assumptions and presumptions, paradigm and prognosis of indefinite progress under liberal free market capitalism have been tested and have failed. We are living the end of an entire epoch: Experts everywhere witness the collapse of the US and world financial system, the absence of credit for trade and the lack of financing for investment. A world depression, in which upward of a quarter of the world’s labor force will be unemployed, is looming. The biggest decline in trade in recent world history – down 40% year to year – defines the future. The imminent bankruptcies of the biggest manufacturing companies in the capitalist world haunt Western political leaders. The ‘market’ as a mechanism for allocating resources and the government of the US as the ‘leader’ of the global economy have been discredited. (Financial Times, March 9, 2009) All the assumptions about ‘self-stabilizing markets’ are demonstrably false and outmoded. The rejection of public intervention in the market and the advocacy of supply-side economics have been discredited even in the eyes of their practitioners. Even official circles recognize that ‘inequality of income’ contributed to the onset of the economic crash and should be corrected. Planning, public ownership, nationalization are on the agenda while socialist alternatives have become almost respectable.
With the onset of the depression, all the shibboleths of the past decade are discarded: As export-oriented growth strategies fail, import substitution policies emerge. As the world economy ‘de-globalizes’ and capital is ‘repatriated’ to save near bankrupt head offices – national ownership is proposed. As trillions of dollars/Euros/yen in assets are destroyed and devalued, massive layoffs extend unemployment everywhere. Fear, anxiety and uncertainty stalk the offices of state, financial directorships, the office suites the factories, and the streets…
We enter a time of upheaval, when the foundations of the world political and economic order are deeply fractured, to the point that no one can imagine any restoration of the political-economic order of the recent past. The future promises economic chaos, political upheavals and mass impoverishment. Once again, the specter of socialism hovers over the ruins of the former giants of finance. As free market capital collapses, its ideological advocates jump ship, abandon their line and verse of the virtues of the market and sing a new chorus: the State as Savior of the System – a dubious proposition, whose only outcome will be to prolong the pillage of the public treasury and postpone the death agony of capitalism as we have known it.
Theory of Capital Crisis: The Demise of the Economic Expert
The failed economic policies of political and economic leaders are rooted in the operation of markets – capitalism. To avoid a critique of the capitalist system, writers are blaming the leaders and financial experts for their incompetence, ‘greed’ and individual defects.
Psychobabble has replaced reasoned analysis of structures, material forces and objective reality, which drive, motivate and provide incentives to investors, policy makers and bankers. When capitalist economies collapse, the gods drive the politicians and editorial columnists crazy, depriving them of any capacity to reason about objective processes and sending them into the wilderness of subjective speculation.
Instead of examining the opportunity structures created by enormous surplus capital and the real existing profit margins, which drive financial activity, we are told it was ‘the failure of leadership’. Instead of examining the power and influence of the capitalist class over the state, in particular the selection of economic policy-makers and regulators who would maximize their profits, we are told there was a ‘lack of understanding’ or ‘willful ignorance of what markets need’. Instead of looking at the real social classes and class relations – specifically the historically existing capitalist classes operating in real existing markets – the psycho-babblers posit an abstract ‘market’ populated by imaginary (‘rational’) capitalists. Instead of examining how rising profits, expanding markets, cheap credit, docile labor, and control over state policies and budgets, create ‘investor confidence’, and, in their absence, destroy ‘confidence’, the psychobabblers claim that the ‘loss of confidence’ is a cause for the economic debacle. The objective problem of loss of specific conditions, which produce profits, as leading to the crisis, is turned into a ‘perception’ of this loss.
Confidence, faith, hope, trust in capitalist economies derive from economic relations and structures which produce profits. These psychological states are derivative from successful outcomes: Economic transactions, investments and market shares that raise value, multiply present and future gains. When investments go sour, firms lose money, enterprises go bankrupt, and those prejudiced ‘lose confidence’ in the owners and brokers. When entire economic sectors severely prejudice the entire class of investors, depositors and borrowers, there is a loss of ‘systemic confidence.’
Psychobabble is the last resort of capitalist ideologues, academics, experts and financial page editorialists. Unwilling to face the breakdown of real existing capitalist markets, they write and resort to vague utopias such as ‘proper markets’ distorted by ‘certain mindsets’. In other words, to save their failed ideology based on capitalist markets, they invent a moral ideal the ‘proper capitalist mind and market’, divorced from real behavior, economic imperatives and contradictions embedded in class warfare.
The inadequate and shoddy economic arguments, which pervade the writing of capitalist ideologues parallels the bankruptcy of the social system in which they are embedded. The intellectual and moral failures of the capitalist class and their political followers are not personal defects; they reflect the economic failure of the capitalist market.
The crash of the US financial system is symptomatic of a deeper and more profound collapse of the capitalist system that has its roots in the dynamic development of capitalism in the previous three decades. In its broadest terms, the current world depression results from the classic formulation outlined by Karl Marx over 150 years ago: the contradiction between the development of the forces and relations of production.
Contrary to the theorists who argue that ‘finance’ and ‘post-industrial’ capitalism have ‘destroyed’ or de-industrialized the world economy and put in its place a kind of “casino” or speculative capital, in fact, we have witnessed the most spectacular long-term growth of industrial capital employing more industrial and salaried workers than ever in history. Driven by rising rates of profit, large scale and long-term investments have been the motor force for the penetration by industrial and related capital of the most remote underdeveloped regions of the world. New and old capitalist countries spawned enormous economic empires, breaking down political and cultural barriers to incorporating and exploiting billions of new and old workers in a relentless process. As competition from the newly industrialized countries intensified, and as the rising mass of profits exceeded the capacity to reinvest them most profitably in the older capitalist centers, masses of capital migrated to Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and to a lesser degree, into the Middle East, Southern Africa.
Huge surplus profits spilled over into services, including finance, real estate, insurance, large-scale real estate and urban lands.
The dynamic growth of capitalism’s technological innovations found expression in greater social and political power – dwarfing the organization of labor, limiting its bargaining power and multiplying its profits. With the growth of world markets, workers were seen merely as ‘costs of production’ not as final consumers. Wages stagnated; social benefits were limited, curtailed or shifted onto workers. Under conditions of dynamic capitalist growth, the state and state policy became their absolute instrument: restrictions, controls, regulation were weakened. What was dubbed “neo-liberalism” opened new areas for investment of surplus profits: public enterprises, land, resources and banks were privatized.
As competition intensified, as new industrial powers emerged in Asia, US capital increasingly invested in financial activity. Within the financial circuits it elaborated a whole series of financial instruments, which drew on the growing wealth and profits from the productive sectors.
US capital did not ‘de-industrialize’ – it relocated to China, Korea and other centers of growth, not because of “falling profits” but because of surplus profits and greater profits overseas.
Capital’s opening in China provided hundreds of millions of workers with jobs subject to the most brutal exploitation at subsistence wages, no social benefits, little or no organized social power. A new class of Asian capitalist collaborators, nurtured and facilitated by Asian state capitalism, increased the enormous volume of profits. Rates of investments reached dizzying proportions, given the vast inequalities between income/property owning class and wageworkers. Huge surpluses accrued but internal demand was sharply constrained. Exports, export growth and overseas consumers became the driving force of the Asian economies. US and European manufacturers invested in Asia to export back to their home markets – shifting the structure of internal capital toward commerce and finance. Diminished wages paid to the workers led to a vast expansion in credit. Financial activity grew in proportion to the entrance of commodities from the dynamic, newly industrialized countries. Industrial profits were re-invested in financial services. Profits and liquidity grew in proportion to the relative decline in real value generated by the shift from industrial to financial/commercial capital.
Super profits from world production, trade, finances and the recycling of overseas earnings back to the US through both state and private financial circuits created enormous liquidity. It was far beyond the historical capacity of the US and European economies to absorb such profits in productive sectors.
The dynamic and voracious exploitation of the huge surplus labor forces in China, India, and elsewhere and the absolute pillage and transfer of hundreds of billions from ex-communist Russia and ‘neo-liberalized’ Latin America filled the coffers of new and old financial institutions.
Over-exploitation of labor in Asia, and the over-accumulation of financial liquidity in the US led to the magnification of the paper economy and what liberal economist later called “global disequilibrium” between savers/industrial investors/ exporters (in Asia) and consumers/financiers/importers(in the US). Huge trade surpluses in the East were papered over by the purchase of US T-notes. The US economy was precariously backed by an increasingly inflated paper economy.
The expansion of the financial sector resulted from the high rates of return, taking advantage of the ‘liberalized’ economy imposed by the power of diversified investment capital in previous decades. The internationalization of capital, its dynamic growth and the enormous growth of trade outran the stagnant wages, declining social payments, the huge surplus labor force. Temporarily, capital sought to bolster its profits via inflated real estate based on expanded credit, highly leveraged debt and outright massive fraudulent ‘financial instruments’ (invisible assets without value). The collapse of the paper economy exposed the overdeveloped financial system and forced its demise. The loss of finance, credit and markets, reverberated to all the export-oriented industrial manufacturing powers. The lack of social consumption, the weakness of the internal market and the huge inequalities denied the industrial countries any compensatory markets to stabilize or limit their fall into recession and depression. The dynamic growth of the productive forces based on the over-exploitation of labor, led to the overdevelopment of the financial circuits, which set in motion the process of ‘feeding off’ industry and subordinating and undermining the accumulation process to highly speculative capital.
Cheap labor, the source of profits, investment, trade and export growth on a world scale, could no longer sustain both the pillage by finance capital and provide a market for the dynamic industrial sector. What was erroneously dubbed a financial crisis or even more narrowly a “mortgage” or housing crisis, was merely the “trigger” for the collapse of the overdeveloped financial sector. The financial sector, which grew out of the dynamic expansion of ‘productive’ capitalism, later ‘rebounded’ against it. The historic links and global ties between industry and financial capital led inevitably to a systemic capitalist crisis, embedded in the contradiction between impoverished labor and concentrated capital.
The current world depression is a product of the ‘over-accumulation’ process of the capitalist system in which the crash of the financial system was the ‘detonator’ but not the structural determinant. This is demonstrated by the fact that industrial Japan and Germany experienced a bigger fall in exports, investments and growth than ‘financial’ US and England.
The capitalist system in crisis destroys capital in order to ‘purge itself’ of the least efficient, least competitive and most indebted enterprises and sectors, in order to re-concentrate capital and reconstruct the powers of accumulation – political conditions permitting. The re-composition of capital grows out of the pillage of state resources – so-called bailouts and other massive transfers from the public treasury (read ‘taxpayers’), which results from the savage reduction of social transfers (read ‘public services’) and the cheapening of labor through firings, massive unemployment, wage, pension and health reductions and the general reduction of living standards in order to increase the rate of profit.
The World Depression: Class Analysis
The aggregate economic indicators of the rise and fall of the world capitalist system are of limited value in understanding the causes, trajectory and impact of the world depression. At best, they describe the economic carnage; at worst, they obfuscate the leading (ruling) social classes, with their complex networks and transformations, which directed the expansion and economic collapse and the wage and salaried (working) classes, which produced the wealth to fuel the expansive phase and now pay the cost of the economic collapse.
It is a well-known truism that those who caused the crisis are also the greatest beneficiaries of government largesse. The crude and simple everyday observations that the ruling class ‘made’ the crisis and the working class ‘pays’ the cost, at a minimum, is a recognition of the utility of class analyses in deciphering the social reality behind the aggregate economic data. Following the recession of the early 1970s, the Western industrial capitalist class secured financing to launch a period of extensive and deep growth covering the entire globe. German, Japanese and Southeast Asian capitalists flourished, competed and collaborated with their US counterpart. Throughout this period the social power, organization and political influence of the working class witnessed a relative and absolute decline in their share of material income. Technological innovations, including the re-organization of work, compensated for wage increases by reducing the ‘mass of workers’ and in, particular, their capacity to pressure the prerogatives of management. The capitalist strategic position in production was strengthened: they were able to exercise near absolute control over the location and movements of capital.
The established capitalist powers – especially in England and the US — with large accumulations of capital and facing increasing competition from the fully recovered German and Japanese capitalists, sought to expand their rates of return by moving capital investments into finance and services. At first, this move was linked and directed towards promoting the sale of their manufactured products by providing credit and financing toward the purchases of automobiles or ‘white goods’. Less dynamic industrial capitalists relocated their assembly plants to low-wage regions and countries. The results were that industrial capitalists took on more the appearance of ‘financiers’ in the US even as they retained their industrial character in the operation of their overseas manufacturing subsidiaries and satellite suppliers. Both overseas manufacturing and local financial returns swelled the aggregate profits of the capitalist class. While capital accumulation expanded in the ‘home country’, domestic wages and social costs were under pressure as capitalists imposed the costs of competition on the backs of wage earners via the collaboration of the trade unions in the US and social democratic political parties in Europe. Wage constraints, tying wages to productivity in an asymmetrical way and labor-capital pacts increased profits. US workers were ‘compensated’ by the cheap consumer imports produced by the low-wage labor force in the newly industrializing countries and access to easy credit at home.
The Western pillage of the former-USSR, with the collaboration of gangster-oligarchs, led to the massive flow of looted capital into Western banks throughout the 1990s. The Chinese transition to capitalism in the 1980s, which accelerated in the 1990s, expanded the accumulation of industrial profits via the intensive exploitation of tens of millions of wageworkers employed at subsistence levels. While the trillion-dollar pillage of Russia and the entire former Soviet Union bloated the West European and US financial sector, the massive growth of billions of dollars in illegal transfers and money laundering toward US and UK banks added to the overdevelopment of the financial sector. The rise in oil prices and ‘rents’ among ‘rentier’ capitalists added a vast new source of financial profits and liquidity. Pillage, rents, and contraband capital provided a vast accumulation of financial wealth disconnected from industrial production. On the other hand, the rapid industrialization of China and other Asian countries provided a vast market for German and Japanese high-end manufacturers: they supplied the high quality machines and technology to the Chinese and Vietnamese factories.
US capitalists did not ‘de-industrialize’ – the country did. By relocating production overseas and importing finished products and focusing on credit and financing, the US capitalist class and its members became diversified and multi-sectoral. They multiplied their profits and intensified the accumulation of capital.
On the other hand, workers were subject to multiple forms of exploitation: wages stagnated, creditors squeezed interest, and the conversion from high wage/high skill manufacturing jobs to lower-paid service jobs steadily reduced living standards.
The basic process leading up to the breakdown was clearly present: the dynamic growth of western capitalist wealth was based, in part, on the brutal pillage of the USSR and Latin America, which profoundly lowered living standards throughout the 1990s. The intensified and savage exploitation of hundreds of millions of low-paid Chinese, Mexican, Indonesian and Indochinese workers, and the forced exodus of former peasants as migrant laborers to manufacturing centers led to high rates of accumulation.
The relative decline of wages in the US and Western Europe also added to the accumulation of capital. The German, Chinese, Japanese, Latin American and Eastern European emphasis on export-driven growth added to the mounting ‘imbalance’ or contradiction between concentrated capitalist wealth and ownership and the growing mass of low-paid workers. Inequalities on a world scale grew geometrically. The dynamic accumulation process exceeded the capacity of the highly polarized capitalist system to absorb capital in productive activity at existing high rates of profit. This led to the large scale and multiform growth of speculator capital inflating prices and investing in real estate, commodities, hedge funds, securities, debt-financing, mergers and acquisitions — all divorced from real value-producing activity. The industrial boom and the class constraints imposed on workers wages undermined domestic demand and intensified competition in world markets.
Speculator-financial activity with massive liquidity offered a ‘short-term solution’: profits based on debt financing. Competition among lenders fueled the availability of cheap credit. Real estate speculation was extended into the working class, as wage and salaried workers, without personal savings or assets, took advantage of their access to easy loans to join the speculator-induced frenzy – based on an ideology of irreversible rising home values. The inevitable collapse reverberated throughout the system – detonated at the bottom of the speculative chain. From the latest entrants to the real estate sub-prime mortgage holders, the crisis moved up the ladder affecting the biggest banks and corporations, who engaged in leveraged buyouts and acquisitions. All ‘sectors’, which had ‘diversified’ from manufacturing to finance, trade and commodities speculation, were downgraded. The entire panoply of capitalists faced bankruptcy. German, Japanese and Chinese industrial exporters who exploited labor witnessed the collapse of their export markets.
The ‘bursting’ financial bubble was the product of the ‘over-accumulation’ of industrial capital and the pillage of wealth on a world scale. Over-accumulation is rooted in the most fundamental capitalist relation: the contradictions between private ownership and social production, the simultaneous concentration of capital and sharp decline of living standards.
Capitalist Crisis: A Class Analysis
Indicators of the deepening depression in 2009 are found everywhere:
Bankruptcies rose by 14% in 2008 and are set to rise another 20% in 2009 (Financial Times, Feb. 25, 2009; p27).
The write-down of the Western big banks is running at 1 Trillion dollars and growing (according to the Institute for International Financing, the banking groups Washington lobby). (Financial Times , March 10, 2009 p.9).
And according to the Financial Times (ibid) the losses arising from banks having to mark their investments down to market prices stand at 3 Trillion dollars – equivalent to a year’s worth of British economic production. In the same report, the Asian Development Bank is quoted as having estimated that financial assets worldwide have fallen by more than $50 trillion – a figure of the same order as annual global output. For 2009, the US will run a budget deficit of 12.3% of gross domestic product…giant fiscal deficits…that will ultimately ruin public finances.
The world markets have been in a vertical fall:
The TOPIX has fallen from 1800 in mid-2007 to 700 in early 2009;
Standard and Poor from 1380 in early 2008 to below 700 in 2009;
FTSE 100 from 6600 to 3600 in early 2009;
Hang Seng from 32,000 in early 2008 to 13,000 at the start of 2009 (Financial Times, Feb 25, 2009; p27).
In the fourth quarter of 2008, GDP shrank at annualized rate of 20.8% in South Korea, 12.7% in Japan, 8.2% in Germany, 2.9% in the UK and 3.8% in the US (FT, Feb.25, 2009; p9).
The Dow Jones Industrial Average has declined from 14,164 in October 2007 to 6500 in March 2009.
Year on year declines in industrial output were 21% in Japan, 19% in South Korea, 12% in Germany, 10% in the US, and 9% in the UK (Financial Times, Feb.25, 2009; p.9.)
Net private capital flows to less developed capitalist countries from the imperial countries were predicted to shrink by 82% and credit flows by $30 billion USD (Financial Times, Feb. 25, 2009; p9).
The US economy declined by 6.2% in the last three months of 2008 and fell further in the first quarter of 2009 as a result of a sharp decline in exports (23.6%) and consumer spending (4.3%) in the final quarter of 2008 (British Broadcasting Corporation, Feb. 27, 2009).
With over 600,000 workers losing their jobs monthly in the first three months of 2009, and many more on short hours and scheduled for axing throughout 2009, real and disguised unemployment may reach 25% by the end of the year. All of the signs point to a deep and prolonged depression:
Automobile sales of General Motors, Chrysler and Ford were down nearly 50% year to year (2007-2008). The first quarter of 2009 saw a further decline of 50%.
Foreign markets are drying up as the depression spreads overseas.
In the US domestic market, durable goods sales are declining by 22% (BBC, Feb. 27, 2009).
Residential investments fell by 23.6% and business investment was down 19.1%, led by a 27.8% drop in equipment and software.
The rising tide of depression is driven by private business led disinvestment. Rising business inventories, declining investment, bankruptcies, foreclosures, insolvent banks, massive accumulative losses, restricted access to credit, falling asset values and a 20% reduction in household wealth (over 3 trillion dollars) are cause and consequence of the depression. As a result of collapse of the industrial, mining, real estate and trade sectors, there are at least $2.2 trillion USD of “toxic” (defaulting) bank debt worldwide, far beyond the bailout funds allocated by the White House in October 2008 and February and March 2009.
The depression is diminishing the worldwide economic presence of imperial countries and undermining the foreign capital-financed export strategies of Latin American, Eastern European, Asian and African regions.
Among almost all conventional economists, pundits, investment advisors and various and sundry experts and economic historians, there is a common faith that “in the long-run”, the stock market will recover, the recession will end and the government will withdraw from the economy. Fixed on notions of past cyclical patterns, historical ‘trends’, these analysts lose sight of the present realities which have no precedent: the world nature of the economic depression, the unprecedented speed of the fall, and the levels of debt incurred by governments to sustain insolvent banks and industries and the unprecedented public deficits, which will drain resources for many generations to come.
The academic prophets of ‘long-term developments” arbitrarily select trend markers from the past, which were established on the basis of a political-economic context radically different from today. The idle chatter of ‘post crisis’ economists overlooks the open-ended and constantly shifting parameters therefore missing the true ‘trend markers’ of the current depression. As one analyst noted, “any starting conditions we select in the historical data cannot replicate the starting conditions at any other moment because the preceding events in the two cases are never identical” (Financial Times, Feb. 26, 2009; p24). The current US depression takes place in the context of a de-industrialized economy, an insolvent financial system, record fiscal deficits, record trade deficits, unprecedented public debt, multi-trillion dollar foreign debt and well over $800 billion dollars committed in military expenditures for several ongoing wars and occupations. All of these variables defy the contexts in which previous depressions occurred. Nothing in previous contexts leading up to a crisis of capitalism resembles the present situation. The present configuration of economic, political and social structures of capitalism include astronomical levels of state pillage of the public treasury in order to prop up insolvent banks and factories, involving unprecedented transfers of income from wage and salaried taxpayers to non-productive ‘rent earners’ and to failed industrial capitalists, dividend collectors and creditors. The rate and levels of appropriation and reduction of savings, pensions and health plans, all without any compensation, has led to the most rapid and widespread reduction of living standards and mass impoverishment in recent US history.
Never in the history of capitalism has a deep economic crisis occurred without any alternative socialist movement, party or state present to pose an alternative. Never have states and regimes been under such absolute control by the capitalist class — especially in the allocation of public resources. Never in the history of an economic depression has so much of government expenditures been so one-sidedly directed towards compensating a failed capitalist class with so little going to wage and salaried workers.
The Obama regime’s economic appointments and policies clearly reflect the total control by the capitalist class over state expenditures and economic planning.
Obama and the Capitalist Crisis: A Class Analysis
The programs put forth by the US and West Europeans and other capitalist regions do not even begin to recognize the structural bases of the depression.
First, Obama is allocating $1 trillion dollars to buy worthless bank assets and over 40% of his $787 billion stimulus package to insolvent banks and tax breaks, rather than to the productive sector, in order to save stock and bond holders, while over 600,000 workers lose their jobs monthly.
Secondly, the Obama regime is channeling over $800 billion dollars to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to sustain military-driven empire building. This constitutes a massive transfer of public funds from the civilian economy to the military sector forcing tens of thousands of unemployed young people to enlist in the military (Boston Globe, March 1, 2009).
Thirdly, Obama’s commission to oversee the “restructuring” of the US auto industry has backed their plans to close scores of factories, eliminate company-financed health plans for retirees and force tens of thousands of workers to accept brutal reductions in employee health care and pensions. The entire burden for returning the privately owned auto industry to profits is placed on the shoulders of the wage, salaried and retired workers, and the US taxpayers.
The entire economic strategy of the Obama regime is to save the bondholders by pouring endless trillions of dollars into insolvent corporations and buying the worthless debts and failed assets of financial enterprises. At the same time his regime avoids any direct state investments in publicly owned productive enterprises, which would provide employment for the 10 million unemployed workers. While Obama’s budget allocates over 40% to military expenditures and debt payments, 1 out of every 10 Americans have been evicted from their homes, the number of Americans without jobs is rising to double digits, and the number of Americans on ‘food stamps’ to provide basic food needs is rising by the millions throughout 2009.
Obama’s ‘job creation’ scheme channels billions toward the privately owned telecommunication, construction, environmental and energy corporations, where the bulk of the government funds go to senior management and staff and provide profits to stock holders, while a lesser part will go to wage workers. Moreover, the bulk of the unemployed workers in the manufacturing and service areas are not remotely employable in the ‘recipient’ sectors. Only a fraction of the ‘stimulus package’ will be allocated in 2009. Its purpose and impact will be to sustain the income of the financial and industrial ruling class and to postpone their long-overdue demise. Its effect will be to heighten the socioeconomic inequalities between the ruling class and the wage and salaried workers. The tax increases on the rich are incremental, while the massive debts resulting from the fiscal deficits are imposed on present and future wage and salaried taxpayers.
Obama’s wholehearted embrace and promotion of military-driven empire building even in the midst of record-breaking budget deficits, huge trade deficits and an advancing depression defines a militarist without peer in modern history. Despite promises to the contrary, the military budget for 2009-2010 exceeds the Bush Administration by at least 4%. The numbers of US military forces will increase by several hundred thousands. The number of US troops in Iraq will remain close to its peak and increase by tens of thousands in Afghanistan, at least through 2009 (despite promises to the contrary). US-based miliary air and ground attacks in Pakistan have multiplied geometrically. Obama’s top foreign policy appointees in the State Department, Pentagon, Treasury and the National Security Council, especially in any capacity involving the Middle East, are predominantly militarist Zionists with a long history of advocacy of war against Iran and with close ties with the Israeli high command.
In summary, the highest priorities of the Obama regime are evidenced by his allocation of financial and material resources, his appointments of top economic and foreign policy-makers and in terms of which classes benefit and which lose under his administration. Obama’s policies demonstrate that his regime is totally committed to saving the capitalist class and the US empire. To do so, he is willing to sacrifice the most basic immediate needs and future interests, as well as the living standards, of the vast majority of working and home-owning Americans who are most directly affected by the domestic economic depression. Obama has increased the scope of military-driven empire building and enhanced the power position of the pro-Israeli warmongers in his administration. Obama’s ‘economic recovery’ and military escalation strategies are financially and fiscally incompatible; the cost of one undermines the impact of the other and leaves a tremendous hole in any efforts to counteract the collapse of social services, rising home foreclosures, business bankruptcies and massive layoffs.
The horizontal transfers of public wealth from the Obama governing elite to the economic ruling class does not “trickle down” into jobs, credit and social services. Attempting to turn insolvent banks into credit-lending, profitable enterprises is an oxymoron. The central dilemma for Obama is how to create conditions to restore profitability to the failed sectors of the existing US economy.
There are several fundamental problems with his strategy:
First, the US economic structure, which once generated employment, profits and growth, no longer exists. It has been dismantled in the course of diverting capital overseas and into financial instruments and other non-productive economic sectors.
Second, the Obama ‘stimulus’ policies reinforce the financial stranglehold over the economy by channeling great resources to that sector instead of ‘rebalancing’ the economy toward the productive sector. Even within the ‘productive sector’ state resources are directed toward subsidizing capitalist elites who have demonstrated their incapacity to generate sustained employment, foster market competitiveness and innovate in line with consumer preferences and interests.
Third, the Obama economic strategy of ‘top-down’ recovery squanders most of its impact in subsidizing failed capitalists instead of raising working class income by doubling the minimum wage and unemployment benefits, which is the only real basis for increasing demand and stimulating economic recovery. Given the declining living standards resulting from domestic decay and the expansion of military-driven empire, both embedded in the institutional foundation of the state, there are no chances for the kind of structural transformation that can reverse the ‘top-down’, empire-absorbing policies promoted by the Obama regime.
Recovery from the deepening depression does not reside in running a multi-trillion dollar printing operation, which only creates conditions for hyperinflation and the debasement of the dollar. The root cause is the over-accumulation of capital resulting from over-exploitation of labor, leading to rising rates of profit and the collapse of demand. The vast disparity between capital expansion and decline of worker consumption set the stage for the financial bubble.
The ‘rebalancing’ of the economy means creating demand (not from an utterly prostrate private productive sector or an insolvent financial system) via direct state ownership and long-term, large-scale investment in the production of goods and social services. The entire speculative ‘superstructure’, which grew to enormous proportions by feeding off of the value created by labor, multiplied itself in a myriad of ‘paper instruments’ divorced from any use value. The entire paper economy needs to be dismantled in order to free the productive forces from the shackles and constraints of unproductive capitalists and their entourage. A vast re-training program needs to be established to convert stockbrokers into engineers and productive workers. The reconstruction of the domestic market and the invention and the application of innovations to raise productivity require the massive dismantling of the worldwide empire. Costly and unproductive military bases, the essential elements for military-driven empire building, should be closed and replaced by overseas trade networks, markets, and economic transactions linked to producers operating out of their home markets. Reversing domestic decay requires the end of empire and the construction of a democratic socialist republic. Fundamental to the dismantling of empire is the end of political alliances with overseas militarist powers, in particular with the state of Israel and uprooting its entire domestic power configuration, which undermine efforts to create an open democratic society serving the interests of the American people.
Regional Impact of the Global Crisis
The worldwide depression has both common and different causes, affected by the interconnections between economies and specific socio-economic structures. At the most general-global level the rising rate of profits and the over-accumulation of capital leading to the financial-real estate-speculative frenzy and crash affected most countries either directly or indirectly. At the same time, while all regional economies suffered the consequences of the onset of the depression, regions were situated in the world economy differently and subsequently the effects varied substantially.
Brazil with its free market policies in disarray and huge class divisions undermining any domestic recovery, its high velocity fall in exports and industrial production is heading toward a deep recession despite the boasts and claims of Wall Street and the White House favorite, President Lula da Silva.
In January 2009, industrial production fell 17.2% year to year. Gross domestic product contracted 3.6% in the last quarter of 2008 (Financial Times, March 11, 2009). All indications are that negative growth will persist and deepen during the rest of 2009. Foreign direct investment and export markets, the driving forces of past growth are in sharp retrenchment. Lula’s privatization policies have led to extensive foreign takeover of the financial sector, which has transmitted the crises from the US and EU. His ‘globalization’ policies increase Brazil’s vulnerability to the collapse of foreign trade.
Capital flows are strongly negative. Hundreds of thousands of workers lost their jobs between December 2008 and April 2009. The 5 million impoverished landless rural workers and the 10 million families living on a one dollar a day food-basket handout from the government are excluded from effective domestic demand as are the tens of millions of minimum wage workers living on $250 dollars a month. The purchasing power of highly indebted family farmers is no substitute for shrinking external demand. All sectors, rural and urban, of the capitalist class are freezing new investments as private credit evaporates, overseas investors flee and local consumer spending declines in the face of the deepening recession. Lula’s claims of ‘decoupling’ and his growth projections of 4% are seen as ‘seeding illusions’ to cover up the onset of a severe economic recession. Lula’s blind support for globalization and the ‘free market’ is a central determinant of Brazil’s deepening recession.
Brazil’s descent into negative GDP is the pattern throughout the region. Argentina is headed for minus 2% growth, Mexico –minus 3% and Chile 0% or less. Central America and the Caribbean, which are highly ‘integrated’ with the US and world economy are experiencing the full force of the world depression in skyrocketing unemployment resulting from the collapse of tourism, declining demand for primary commodities and a serious drop in remittances from overseas workers. There will be a sharp rise in extreme poverty, crime and a potential for popular social upheavals against the incumbent right and center-left governments.
The spread of imperial capital throughout the world, dubbed ‘globalization’ by its defenders (and imperialism by its critics), led to the rapid spread of the financial crisis and breakdown among those countries most closely linked to the US and European financial circuits. Globalization tied Latin American economies to world markets, at the expense of domestic markets, and increased their vulnerability to the vertical fall in demand, prices and credit witnessed today. Globalization, which earlier promoted the inflow of capital, now, with the onset of the depression, facilitates massive capital outflow. US, which is absorbing 70% of the world’s savings in its desperate effort to borrow and finance its monstrous trade and budget deficits, has squeezed out its Latin American trading partners from the global credit market.
The depression demonstrates with crystal clarity the pitfalls of imperial-centered globalization and the stark absence of any remedies for its collaborators in Latin America. The disintegration of the imperial-centered global economy is evident amidst rising protectionism and billions of dollars in state subsidies to prop up the imperial states’ own capitalists in the banking, insurance, real estate and manufacturing sectors. The world depression not only reveals the intrinsic fault lines of the globalized economy, but ensures its ultimate demise into a multiplicity of competing units: nations, each depending on their own treasuries and state sectors to pull them out of the deepening depression at the expense of their former partners. The world depression is spurring the return of the nation-state, as ‘de-globalization’ accelerates.
Parallel and intimately related to the demise of the world market is the rise of the capitalist state as the center-piece for salvaging the national treasury and exacting an exorbitant tribute from the pension, health and wage funds of billions of workers, pensioners and tax-payers. Growing ‘state capitalism’ in times of capitalist collapse only emerges to ‘save the capitalist system from capitalist failures’ as its promoters argue. In order to do so it exploits the collective wealth of the entire people. ‘Nationalization’ or ‘statification’ of insolvent banks and industries is the culmination of predator capitalism. Instead of individual enterprises or even sectoral exploitation of wage and salaried workers, it is the capitalist state that preys on the entire class of the producers of wealth.
Latin America’s options revolve around recognizing and accepting that globalization is dead, that only under popular democratic control can nationalization serve to generate wealth and create employment, instead of serving to channel and redistribute resources upward and outward to the failed, bankrupt capitalist class.
Eastern Europe and the ex-communist countries
The conversion from communism to capitalism in Eastern Europe followed a process of privatization, in many cases based on widespread pillage, the illegal seizures of public resources and the precipitous fall in domestic living standards and production during the first half of the 1990’s. Taking advantage of cheap labor, easy access to lucrative opportunities in all economic sectors, Western European and US capitalists took control of the manufacturing, mining, financial and communication sectors. At the same time as the barriers between East and West fell, there was a massive flow of skilled workers to Western Europe. The economic recovery and subsequent growth in Eastern Europe and the ex-communist countries was based on its dependency on the expansion of investment and credit from Western capitalism:
The relocation of manufacturing, the influx of speculative capital in finance and real estate, the access to expanding Western markets and especially debt financing of consumer expenditures spurred Eastern growth.
As a consequence, the region has been hit from two sides during the economic crisis:
A collapse engendered by unsustainable internal speculation and the impact of its dependency on a depressed Western Europe for capital, credit and markets. The capitalist economies of the Baltic States, Eastern Europe and Russia collapsed rapidly. As Western European credit markets shriveled and large-scale multi-national disinvestment set in, the local currencies were devalued and overseas markets disappeared. The entire pattern of ‘dependent development’ rooted in the disarticulation of local markets and inflows of capital undermined local efforts to counter the collapse. Their only choice was to seek massive infusions of financial aid from the IMF and banks on onerous terms, which limited options for any national fiscal stimulus plans.
The regions linkages with world markets, based on subordinate-dependent relations with Western capitalists, meant that first they lacked the internal markets and capital to cushion the fall and, secondly, that the drying up of external flows would deepen and extend the depression. From the Baltic to the Balkan states, from Eastern Europe to Russia the full force of the depression has led to large-scale, long-term unemployment, widespread bankruptcies of local satellite and subsidiary industries, services and banks. Popular movements have emerged calling into question the free market policies of governments, and, in some cases, rejecting the export-dependent capitalist model.
Asia: The End of the Illusions of De-coupling and Autonomous Growth
The Great Depression of 2009 has adversely affected every economy in Asia, dependent on the international, financial and commodity markets. Even the most dynamic countries, like Japan, China, India, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam have not escaped the consequences of drastic declines in trade, employment, investment and living standards. Two decades of dynamic expansion, high growth and rising profit margins, based on export markets and intense exploitation of labor, led to the over-accumulation of capital. Many Asian and Western pundits argued for a ‘new world order’, led and directed by the emerging Asian economic powers, especially China, where power would be increasingly based on their ‘regional autonomy’. In reality, China’s dynamic industrial growth was deeply embedded in a world commodity chain in which advanced industrial countries, like Germany, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea, provided precision tools, machinery and parts to China for assembly and subsequent export to US, European and Asian markets. ‘Decoupling’ was a myth.
Export-driven growth was fueled by savage exploitation of labor, the dismantling of vast areas of social services (namely free health care, pensions, subsidized food and lodging and education) and the vast concentration of wealth in a tiny elite of newly rich billionaires (Economic and Political Weekly – Mumbai, December 27, 2008 page 27-102). China and the rest of Asia’s growth was based on the contradiction between the dynamic expansion of the forces of production and the increasing polarization of the class relations of production. The high rates of profit led to the over-accumulation of capital – high rates of investment – leading into huge budget and trade surpluses, which spilled over into the financial sectors, overseas expansion (or money-laundering) and real estate speculation.
Asia’s economic edifice was precariously situated on the backs of hundreds of millions of laborers with virtually no consumer power and an increasing dependence on overseas export markets. The world crisis especially deflated the export markets, exposing the Asian economies’ vulnerabilities and causing a massive fall in trade, production and massive growth in unemployment. China and the other Asian countries’ efforts to counteract the collapse of the export markets by massive injections of public capital to stimulate financial liquidity and infrastructure development has been insufficient to stem the growth of unemployment and the bankruptcy of millions of export-linked enterprises.
The Asian capitalist class and its government elite are entirely incapable of ‘restructuring’ the economy and social structure toward substituting domestic demand as the external market collapses. To do so would mean several profound transformations in the class structure. These include the shift from investments based on high profitability toward low margin productive and social services for the hundreds of millions of low-income workers and peasants. It would require the transfer of capital from private real estate, stock markets and overseas bond purchases (like US Treasury Notes) to finance universal health care, education and pensions and the restoration of land to productive use rather than to dispossession and real estate speculation.
The entire dynamic growth of Asia, built around capital concentration, high profits and low wages, is trying to survive based on deepening the impoverishment of labor via massive firing of workers, huge reverse flows of migrant labor back to the devastated countryside and the growth of the surplus labor force. The expulsion of labor, the usual capitalist solution, merely re-located and intensifies the contradiction – heightening the conflict between urban-based industrial/finance capital and hundreds of millions of impoverished, unemployed and underemployed workers and peasants. The state’s injections of capital to stimulate the economy passes through the ‘filter’ of regional state elites and the capitalist class, which absorbs and uses the bulk of this capital to buttress faltering enterprises – with negligible impact on the mass of unemployed workers.
Private ownership and capitalist control over the state precludes the kind of social transformation, which can restart growth by expanding the domestic economy.
China’s ‘engine of growth-in-reverse’ has, by necessity, undermined its trading partners who depend on industrial and raw material exports to China. The collapse of demand from its Euro-American markets undermines the entire architecture of China’s export industries. The savage exploitation of labor and the power of China’s new bourgeoisie ensure that there are limited possibilities for any revival of domestic demand from the ‘interior’.
China’s economic recovery is dependent on a new socialist transformation, which makes mass domestic demand the real engine of growth.
The Middle East: Depression and Regional Wars
The key to the crisis and breakdown of the Middle East is rooted in the imperial-Zionist regional wars and the collapse of commodity prices.
The oil producing countries accumulated vast ‘rents’, which they re-cycled into large-scale finance, real estate and military purchases in and out of the region. Profits concentrated in the hands of billionaire absolutist rulers led to highly polarized class relationships: super-wealthy rentiers and low-paid immigrant laborers limited the size and scope of the domestic markets. To break out of the crisis of over-accumulation and falling profits, the ruling elites adopted two strategies that temporarily avoided the crisis: Dependence on large-scale export of capital to rent, interest and dividend-yielding sites throughout the world – first to the US and Europe and later to Asia and Africa. The second strategy was to recycle profits into pharaonic real estate, tourist and banking centers in the Gulf States…leading to an enormous real estate bubble.
The collapse of the Middle East ‘rentier (or non-productive) oligarchies’ was detonated by the frenzied commodity oil boom, between 2004-2008, which heightened the process of over-accumulation – and the over-extension of debt and labor importation. The result was the onset of a regional economic crisis, in which budget and trade surpluses are replaced by mounting deficits. At no point did the Middle East economies diversify from their foundation based on ‘rents’ and create a diversified economy centered on production and the creation of a dynamic mass-based regional market. The rentier ruling classes face a growing mass of unemployed immigrant and domestic workers, the massive flight of thousands of expatriate European financiers, real estate professionals and other non-productive hangers-on.
No longer the beneficiaries of the petro-dollar boom – as prices, profits and rents collapsed – and no longer the powerful bankers and holders of debt, the Gulf Arab ruling class has few external and internal resources and outlets to project a ‘recovery program.’
Worse still, in the midst of this emerging economic collapse, the militarist state of Israel serves as a regional destabilizing force projecting its power and colonial ambitions throughout the region. Through one of world history’s most unique configuration of power, the economically insignificant state of Israel, operating through the activity of several tens of thousands of strategically-placed, highly organized, disciplined and ideologically committed loyalists in the Diaspora, control key levels of political power in the US government.
Obama, The Zionist Power Configuration and the Middle East
In the worst economic crisis since the 1930’s ‘Great Depression’ and facing a $1.7 Trillion Dollar budget deficit and over 8.1 million unemployed workers in March 2009 (BBC News, March 6, 2009), numbers, which are expected to double by the end of the year, the Obama Administration has increased the open and hidden military expenditures to $800 billion-plus dollars, a 4% increase over the previous war-mongering regime of George W. Bush. The key target of US military expansion is the Middle East and South Asia, with a population that includes hundreds of millions of mostly Muslims, who are pro-Palestinian, oppose the colonial policies of Israel and the current US military occupation of Muslim countries in the region. The driving force behind US militarism in the Middle East is found in the Zionist/Jewish officials and advisers occupying strategic government positions. They are aided and encouraged by a multiplicity of major American Jewish political action and ‘civic’ organizations, an army of editors, academics, publishers, journalists and propagandists embedded in all the mass media who systematically promote the interests of the state of Israel.
A careful analysis of the Obama regime demonstrates the high level of Zionist penetration and provides an empirical basis for understanding US military escalation in the Middle East, despite the catastrophic condition of the domestic economy. Fighting Israel’s crusades against the Muslims takes precedence over the mass impoverishment of the US population. Nothing speaks to the overweening stranglehold of the Zionist Power Configuration (ZPC) than their ability to escalate a war agenda in the Middle East over the needs of 350 million Americans, the bankruptcy of its 500 Blue Chip corporations and its 5 leading banks, not to mention the over 50 million working Americans without access to health care.
Israel/Zionist Power Configuration and Regional Wars
The Israeli-Zionist stranglehold over Obama’s foreign policy, especially with regard to Middle East issues affecting Israel’s hegemonic ambitions, is evident in the run-up to his taking office and in the first months of power. An empirical survey of major Israeli positions and actions and the Obama regime’s response demonstrates the power of the US Zionist power configuration:
Israel’s savage invasion of Gaza, slaughtering well over a thousand civilians, mostly women and children and destroying a large proportion of the civilian infrastructure, as well as the brutal starvation blockade of the entire imprisoned population of over 1.5 million and the US response is a case in point. Obama’s regime and the entire Democratic Party leadership wholeheartedly endorsed the ongoing slaughter and refused to hold the military and civilian leadership of Israel to a minimal level of responsibility for its crimes. It refused to call for an end to the murderous Israeli land and sea blockade, which prevented the entry of basic foodstuffs, like rice, and critical items for any reconstruction. The Israeli leadership arrogantly dismissed US Secretary of State Clinton’s suggestion for a minor easing up of the blockade, without the least response from Obama. Israel’s continued military attacks on the people of Gaza have been supported by the Obama-Clinton-Gates regime.
Israel’s expansion of its illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and the massive expropriation of homes and property in Arab East Jerusalem, as well as the ongoing destruction of Palestinian homes is another case. The US has merely reiterated its position for a ‘two-state’ solution.’ Clinton’s earlier very mild questioning of the expansion of colonial settlements in Israeli-occupied land met with the same dismissal from the Jewish State with no consequences to US-Israeli relation.
Israel condemned the international anti-racist conference in Durban, South Africa because of its critique of Israeli-Zionism as a brutal form of racism. When a sector of the Obama regime proposed sending an American delegation to the preparatory meeting to discuss the agenda, the ZPC immediately mobilized its activists and Obama capitulated. The US and several other European states withdrew their participants and condemned the Durban meeting as ‘anti-Semitic’, all parroting the Israeli position.
Israel and its American followers insisted that Obama appoint leading Zionists as his closest advisers and policymakers in strategic positions dealing with US negotiations with Syria and Iran, to ensure that the Israeli state’s own position was pursued. To this end they scuppered the announced appointment of retired Marine General Anthony Zinni because of his known independence from Israeli dictates.
The grotesque casting aside of General Zinni and the Administration’s appointment of Israel’s most ‘loyal’ US-Middle East agent, Dennis Ross, as US ‘negotiator’ with Iran, means that the Israeli war agenda of blockading and attacking Iran will dominate any decisions. Ross, also know as ‘Israel’s lawyer’ is highly distrusted by the governments of the Middle East and Iran because of his past position as a blatant partisan of Israel under the previous Clinton administration.
Even the fact that Ross had been working for an Israeli think-tank directed and funded by the Israeli government, and which made him an un-declared agent of the Jewish state, did not deter his appointment. Among the group of Zionists who inhabit the foreign polity apparatus of the Obama regime, Secretary of State Clinton has appointed Jeffery Feltman, Acting Secretary of State for Near East Affairs and Daniel Shapiro of the White House’s National Security Council to head up negotiations with Syria (BBC News, March 7, 2009).
Appointments of Zionists to top negotiating positions will ensure that very few moves necessary for reciprocal exchanges and concessions, which might conflict with Israel’s hegemonic regional ambitions, will ever happen under Obama. The Obama regime’s appointment of prominent pro-Israel Zionists and well known non-Jewish Israel-Firsters to all major policy and analysis positions, with the fleeting exception of Charles Freeman to head the National Intelligence Council (see below) – guarantees that US-Middle East policy will continue to be formulated in Tel Aviv.
Israeli policy in the Middle East has two vectors:
a. leverage its agents leading the 51 Major Jewish American Organizations to shape US policy toward militarily destroying Israel’s adversaries (like Iran), providing diplomatic and propaganda cover and military aid in its invasions and attacks on Syria, Lebanon and occupied Palestine (Gaza/West Bank), authoring and pursuing economic sanctions – amounting to deliberate acts of war – against Israel’s targets including Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, Sudan and Somalia.
b. Dividing and conquering its adversaries via negotiations and diplomatic feints. In recent years, Israel, with US backing, has successfully split the Lebanese (the Beirut elite versus Hezbollah), Palestinians (PLO/PA versus Hamas), Iraqi (Kurds versus Arabs), Sudanese (Darfur secessionists versus Khartoum) and, not least of all, in the US (Israel-Firster elites versus the American people).
Unable to precipitate an American air strike against Iran or its collaboration with an Israeli first-strike, the Israeli government, directly and via its US supporters, has promoted a new policy, which involves a break-up of the Syria-Iran alliance. The Obama-Clinton regime, following Israel’s lead, has proceeded to talks with Damascus. The purpose of the US negotiators is to offer greater diplomatic recognition and economic concessions to Syria, in exchange for a Syrian break with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas. To ensure that Israeli interests would be defended and no territorial concession (like Israel’s illegal colonial occupation of Syrian territory in the Golan Heights) would be addressed, the Obama regime appointed two prominent US Zionists, Feltman and Shapiro, to conduct the US ‘negotiations’. The Syrian diplomatic gambit, intermittently pursued ‘covertly’ by Israel, and now taken up by its US protégé, Secretary Clinton, has thus far failed – because of Israel’s unwillingness to make any territorial concessions in the face of its colonial settlers’ political power and its inability to open Western trade and investment opportunities. The Obama regime will pursue Israel’s goals of ‘neutralizing’ Syria as a political base of support for Hamas leaders and a logistical link between Iran and Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon.
The centerpiece for the most sustained large-scale political, mass media and military campaign, involving all the major Jewish organizations, Zionist lobbies, front groups, legislators and top official in the government has been and continues to be the weakening and destruction of Iran. The opposition to the Zionist power configuration’s confrontational policy is located in sectors of the government – including the intelligence services, the US military, career officials in the State Department and many former top officials. The Zionists have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. The right-wing Zionist David Frum, (who wrote the most bellicose speeches for the former President Bush and included Iran as a leading member of the ‘Axis of Evil’), and fanatical Zionist Treasury official Stuart Levey have been and continue to be in the forefront of those enforcing and extending the economic sanctions and secondary boycotts against Iranian banking, trading and investment. Every aspect of US policy and legislation pertaining to Iran is closely overseen and often formulated by the Jewish pro-Israel lobby. As a result, efforts by US policy makers seeking to reach agreements with Iran on matters of strategic interest have been sabotaged exclusively by the Israel Firsters. The following is a case in point.
a. Right after September 11, 2001, Iran supported the US attack on the Taliban and played an important role in stabilizing the eastern half of Afghanistan, especially Herat; it supported the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, even as it opposed any long-term US military occupation of Iraq. Influential Zionist agents, inside and outside the Bush regime, rejected and effectively blocked any consideration in Washington of Iran’s offer for a mutual-security agreement. Despite statements from elements in the US military high command recognizing Iran’s critical role in facilitating the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, there was not a single reciprocal concession offered to Iran.
Instead, the entire Zionist ‘State’ within the US State launched a series of punitive measures, echoing Israeli hostility to Iran, including the setting up and training of cross-border death squads to murder Iranian officials on both the Iraqi and Afghan-Pakistani borders. Israel called for harsh sanctions: the AIPAC authored legislation for severe sanctions and their puppets in the Congress co-signed and secured Congressional approval.
Zionists in the Treasury implemented the measures and Israel-First officials in the US State Department pressured European governments to do the same. The Israeli regime, through its worldwide network launched a successful campaign against Iran’s entirely legal and closely monitored nuclear energy program. The hysterical Zionist propaganda campaign was pursued with an intensity, which surpassed even its earlier aggressive blitz against Iraq. The entire Jewish-Zionist apparatus was hell bent on putting the US on a path toward another Middle East war by conflating Iran’s long-stated opposition to Israeli colonial massacres against the Palestinians and Lebanese with a threat to the very survival of the Jewish state and the security of US against an Iranian nuclear attack.
b. Sixteen US intelligence agencies published a report in November 2007 – the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, which carefully and systematically refuted Israeli and Zionist charges against Iran’s nuclear power program. The report completely dismissed any allegation of ongoing, let alone advanced, Iranian nuclear weapon development. In response to the ‘heresy’ of the US intelligence establishment, the Zionist power configuration went into overdrive and, by the time of Obama’s election, had managed to convince the incoming administration into accepting Israeli fabrications on Iran’s ‘nuclear threat’ and created their own ‘revised’ National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) to fit their policy goals.
c. The Obama regime, facing an unsuccessful counter insurgency war in Afghanistan has, once again had to turn to Iran for support. To ensure that no meaningful negotiations involving reciprocal concessions take place, the lobby secured the appointment of pro-Israel fanatic Dennis Ross to head the team. In the summer of 2007, Ross co-authored an extraordinary ‘policy’ report on Iran, which advocated the harshest sanctions, including a total naval blockade, escalating into a land and air embargo and inevitable military attack. Under Zionist tutelage Obama extended severe economic sanctions against Iran on February 2009, ensuring that his highly publicized offer in March 2009 to open a new chapter in US-Iranian relations would not be taken seriously by Tehran (Financial Times, March 23, 2009). Whatever takes place (if anything) pro-forma between the US and Iran will automatically be conveyed, filtered, censored and subject for final Israeli approval.
Israel and its US policymakers and Congressional followers have been at the cutting edge of ferocious anti-Muslim and anti-Arab propaganda, ‘diplomacy’ and military aggression. The Obama regime reflects their pervasive influence. Despite the failed war in Afghanistan and increasing mass opposition in the region, despite a catastrophic domestic crisis, Obama has increased the military budget, increased the number of US troops (without any European support), and extended the war into Pakistani territory, with daily bombing of anti-US/ Pashtun villages in Pakistan. The ZPC and its Congressional delegation of fellow-travelers have blindsided millions of American citizens, especially Democrats, who voted for Obama as a ‘peace candidate’, and now face a prolonged large-scale presence of US troops in Iraq, an escalation in Afghanistan, US bombing inside Pakistan and US warships, aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines off the coast of Iran. Zionist power over-rode the entire US National Intelligence apparatus and the American voters on the issue of Iran and promises even greater confrontations with Dennis Ross in charge.
Israel is forcibly evicting thousands of Palestinians, generations-long residents, from Jerusalem in their drive to ‘Judanize’, ethnically cleanse and annex the entire city, contrary to the demands of the European Union, world opinion, international law and any ‘two-state solution’ proposed by every US President, including Obama, in the last three decades (The Guardian (London), March 7, 2009). Jewish wrecking crews were actively bulldozing the homes of Palestinian families while Secretary of State Hilary Clinton pledged unconditional support for Israel and, in passing, commented that ethnic cleansing and evictions were ‘not helpful’ (ibid). Obama/Clinton blatantly ignore the strong objections made by the leaders of Muslim and Christian religious congregations, representing many hundreds of millions of faithful. The major American Jewish organizations and the entire Congressional Zionist leadership, including the uber-Israel Firster Senator Joseph Lieberman, enthusiastically back the Obama regime’s endorsement of Israeli ethnic cleansing (Boston Globe, March 9, 2009).
Seeking total control over all possible or potential appointees who can enhance Israel’s positions, the Zionist Power Configuration successfully launched a massive, slanderous national campaign to block the appointment of veteran US diplomatic and intelligence official, Charles Freeman, one of the few non-Zionist (or Gentile, for that matter) to the position of head of the National Intelligence Council.
From the first moment that Zionist ‘insiders’ leaked the proposed appointment of Freeman, the ZPC launched a frontal attack: scurrilous articles were written attacking Freeman, a veteran officer who served successive US Administrations dating back to Richard Nixon, which were published in the major newspapers and magazines and broadcast by the main TV and radio programs. AIPAC approached its stable of Zionist Congress-people led by Congressman Eric Cantor to round up the usual herd of elected shills beholden to Zionist campaign financing. Ten US Representatives demanded that the Director of National Intelligence Inspector General, “Fully investigate Mr. Freeman’s past relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and look into the contributors to the Middle East Policy Council (a Washington think-tank headed by Freeman)” (Financial Times (London), March 7, 2009 p. 3).
The entire Republican leadership led by the House ‘whip’ Cantor carried the ball for the ZPC in trashing Freeman and his supporters, who they also demanded be punished for their endorsement. Obama, faced with the Zionist onslaught, crumbled without even a whimper. “The White House made no comment.”(ibid) Zionist Power worked through both political parties. “Steve Israel (appropriately named!), a Democrat on the House Select Intelligence Oversight Panel, wrote to Mr. Maguire (the Inspector General) about the seemingly prejudicial public statements made by the proposed NIC Chairman (Charles Freeman)” (Financial Times, ibid). The ‘prejudicial public statement’ in question was Freeman’s criticism of Israel’s savage bombing of Lebanon during the summer of 2006 and their unending repression of Palestinians under their occupation.
Not a single area of government, not a single appointment, escapes the censorious eye of the Jewish pro-Israeli power structure in the US and its stable of compliant non-Jewish members of Congress. The Zionist success in purging Freeman from the appointment to head the National Intelligence Council is an effort to avoid a repeat of the major intelligence setback their anti-Iran propaganda in 2007. Back then, sixteen US intelligence agencies published their National Intelligence Estimate on Iran’s nuclear weapons program, completely undermining Israeli and US-ZPC claims that Iran was producing weapon-grade nuclear material and was ‘months’ away from producing a nuclear weapon. The NIE forced the ZPC to launch a furious assault on the findings and the professional intelligence agencies in order to sustain Israel’s campaign to push the US into a war with Iran.
The central purpose of the Zionist-led Congressional campaign against Freeman was to use the ‘investigation’ to harass and undermine his independent, professional expertise and advocacy of an ‘even-handed’ approach to the Middle East. By labeling him as pro-Arab, pro-Hamas (with the implication of links to terrorism) they forced the withdrawal of his appointment in favor of an official willing to manipulate intelligence to fit Israeli objectives.
The Culture of Calumny and the Degradation of Democratic Values
The ZPC’s successful blacklisting and purge of Charles Freeman from his appointment as chairman of the National Intelligence Council illustrates the stranglehold that it has on all appointments within the US Government. The Freeman purge reveals the ZPC tactics and methods, its web of power among different branches of government and their links with the leading Zionist Jewish American organization. The purge highlights the fact that loyalty to the state of Israel has become a condition for holding any significant office in the US government and that, conversely, any candidate for high office, no matter what their qualifications, who has criticized Israeli policy, is automatically banished. The application of the loyalty oath to Israel, which occurred in the purge of Charles Freeman, is a clear act of intimidation directed against the entire US political class: Criticize Israel, in any context, and write off your career forever! The purge of Freeman has vast present and future consequences for US politics, public debate and democratic freedom in America.
As is almost always the case when any issue or political appointment of interest to the state of Israel arises in the US, AIPAC seizes the initiative. In the case of the Freeman Purge, once the Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, announced his appointment of Charles Freeman, AIPAC circulated a ‘dossier’ of lies, slanders and fabrications about the man and his positions, centered on his criticism of specific Israeli actions, namely their brutality in Gaza and Lebanon and their violations of human rights. The Zionist-Jewish onslaught was led by (none-other-than) Steve Rosen, the long-time AIPAC hatchet man and indicted felon, currently on trial for espionage – handing over classified US documents related to Iran policy to Israeli government agents.
Under AIPAC’s promotion, a tsunami of articles and commentaries attacking Freeman appeared in the major media, painting him as an ‘Arab tool’, ‘anti-Israel’ and worse. Parallel to the media campaign, the leading Jewish-Zionist Senators Schumer and Leiberman and Representative Cantor launched a virulent campaign in Congress, even though his nomination did not require Congressional approval. Schumer ensured White House complicity in the purge through direct communication with White House Chief of Staff and fellow Zionist Rahm Emmanuel who likely passed on the ‘line’ to fellow Zionist Axelrod, Obama’s chief adviser. Not a single official in the entire Obama regime at any time voiced a single word in support of Blair’s appointment of Freeman nor refute the lies and character assassination harangues by the likes of Lieberman, Schumer and their fellow travelers. Where the Obama regime was not openly complicit, the Zionist purge machinery cowed it into silent acquiescence.
The deep and insidious authoritarian and partisan character of the Zionist congressional leadership evident in the purge of Charles Freeman is consistent with Schumer and Lieberman’s support for Michael Hayden as Obama’s CIA Director, the key agent in implementing Bush’s illegal domestic espionage program and their support for the ultra-Zionist Michael Mukasey as Bush’s Attorney General, who condoned the use by American agents of water-torture on ‘suspects’.
What is striking about the Zionist-led Congressional purge of Freeman is the fact that its leaders openly stated that they killed his nomination in order to stifle any criticism of Israeli policy. New York Senator Schumer said:
“Charles Freeman was the wrong guy for this position. His statements against Israel were way over the top and severely out of step with the administration. I repeatedly urged the White House to reject him and I am glad they (sic) did the right thing.” (quoted by Glen Greenwald in “Charles Freeman Fails the Loyalty Test”, March 10, 2009)
The power and arrogance of the ZPC is such that Schumer openly boasted on how he brought the Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair to capitulate and force the resignation of his own appointee. In his widely published withdrawal statement, Freeman eloquently described the destructive power and operations of the Zionist Power Configuration:
“The libels on me and their easily traceable e-mail trails show conclusively that there is a powerful lobby determined to prevent any view other than its own from being aired.
“The tactics of the Israel lobby plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency and include character assassination, selective misquotation, the willful distortion of the record, the fabrication of falsehoods, and an utter disregard for the truth.
“The aim of this lobby is control of the policy process through the exercise of a veto over the appointment of people who dispute the wisdom of its views, the substitution of political correctness for analysis, and the exclusion of any and all options for decision by Americans and our government other than those that it favors.” ( quoted in Aljazeera, March 10, 2009)
By purging Freeman, the ZPC is in a position to influence future US intelligence directors and ensure that their reports do not contradict Israeli ‘intelligence’, especially its fabrications about Iran’s nuclear program. Schumer, Lieberman, AIPAC and the Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations have gained another vital lever of power in forcing US policy into a military confrontation with Iran in line with the dictates of Israel.
The power of the ZPC over the Obama regime has major consequences for US foreign policy, especially war policy in the Middle East and throughout the world where countries, regions, movements and people reject Israel’s militarist-colonialist state and racist Zionist ideology. The same politicians who ‘stand with Israel’ are also the ones who follow the line of military confrontation with Iran unless it capitulates to Israeli-US ultimatums to surrender their nuclear-energy policies and links to anti-colonial Muslim/Arab and other independent movements and governments.
‘Negotiations’ with Iran, Syria and Palestine, as proposed by Obama and with his Zionist appointees and the conditions, which they demand, are non-starters: They become automatic set-ups for resorting to a military confrontation, escalation of sanctions and for condoning Israeli land grabbing. The result is the Obama regime’s continued massive military build-up and expenditure in a time of catastrophic economic recession. The apparent irrationality of diverting scarce economic resources toward endless wars and military confrontations in which no US security interests are at stake can only be explained by the militarist interest of the state of Israel and the power of its US supporters to impose its definition of ‘security’ on the US government.
To empirically test our hypothesis about the scope and depth of the influence of the Zionist Power Configuration and its ability to subordinate Obama Administration’s policies to Israeli interest, we have examined 10 important issue areas. We stated Israeli positions and actions, particularly on vital issues of war and peace affecting US interests, key appointments and strategic relations. We have found that in almost all issue areas, the Israeli position was translated into US policy. This high level correlation in turn was explained by the intense activity of the Zionist Power Configuration and the high level of penetration of pro-Israeli functionaries of all relevant policy-making positions and their veto power over appointments exercised by the ZPC and its Congressional leaders.
The Zionist Power configuration
The Jewish Zionist Power Configuration (ZPC) openly organized and masterminded the withdrawal of veteran diplomat, Charles Freeman, from the leadership of the President’s National Intelligence Council. It is one of Israel’s biggest victories in its effort to control US foreign policy in the Middle East. The NIC is a worldwide apparatus, made up of 16 intelligence agencies with 100,000 employees and a $50 billion dollar budget. It is the ‘brains’ and ‘hands’ collecting the most confidential and important information used to analyze and formulate US policy and in running the clandestine operations of the entire US global empire. By their brazen purge of the top choice of Obama’s Intelligence Chief Admiral Blair, the ZPC has announced to the entire US political establishment, its allies and enemies, that the next appointment must have their vetting and approval, which means loyalty to Israeli policies.
Together with their dominant presence in the Executive branch, including the White House and the President’s closest advisers, their public display of total dominance over both houses of the legislature and their growing penetration into the civilian-military command in the Pentagon, their effective takeover of the top intelligence positions closes the circle of Zionist control, or better – stranglehold, over the entire US state. The result is the subordination of US national interests and policies to the militarist aims of Israel, including support for Israeli conquests and hegemony in the Middle East and elsewhere.
Zionists in Power
The ‘coincidence’ or correlation between Israel’s illegal, militarist policies and the Obama regime’s approval and compliance, even when it involves sacrificing electoral promises, national economic and security interests and world public opinion, can in large part be explained by the appointment of veteran Israel Firsters to decisive foreign policy and advisory positions. At the very center of the Obama regimes, in the most influential policy-making position is David Axelrod, Senior Adviser to the president, who was recently described in the New York Times as: “carrying more weight than most anyone else on the president’s payroll…There are few words that come across the president’s lips that have not been blessed Mr. Axelrod. He reviews every speech, studies every major policy position and works…to prepare responses to the crisis of the day.” (New York Times, March 9, 2009).
Axelrod’s longtime friend and fellow Zionist, the White House Chief of Staff, Israeli-American Rahm Emanuel, meet every morning to coordinate their agendas for the White House. The Zionist duet, the pizza-munching, herbal tea drinking Rasputins from Chicago, are the most direct and influential political Zionists ensuring the primacy of Israel’s interests in setting US-Middle East policy – from starving Gaza to attacking Iran.
No doubt, Axelrod and Emmanuel had their ‘input’ on the Obama-Clinton appointment of fellow-Zionist Jeffery Feltman and Daniel Shapiro as chief negotiators with Syria (BBC, March 7, 2009). Their agenda, Israel’s priorities, are certain to preclude any comprehensive settlement. The Zionist White House duet was strikingly silent, as their fellow Zionists skewered Charles Freeman’s appointment to lead Obama’s National Intelligence Council and ignored Israel’s humiliation of Secretary of State Clinton during her visit to Israel when the Jewish state bulldozed the homes of Palestinian families in Arab East Jerusalem on the very day of her arrival, repudiating Obama’s ‘two-state’ solution.
With the advise and consent of Zionist chief economic adviser, Lawrence Summers, the Obama regime appointed fellow Zionist and ex-Clintonite crony David Cohen to the top job of monitoring ‘terrorist financing’ (Financial Times, March 9, 2009 p.2). Cohen will be in a position to pursue several crucial tasks for the Israeli state, including persecuting any and all Muslim charities and Palestinian humanitarian organizations and pressuring US and overseas financial, export and investment funds to disinvest from Arab and Muslim countries critical of Israel. He can be expected to aggressively pressure European and Asian banks and exporters to cease trade and investment with Iran. While on paper a ‘secondary appointment’, in reality Cohen will play a key role in promoting the hard-line Israeli-Zionist economic sanctions against Iran and maintaining the blockade on Gaza.
The head of Obama’s nuclear non-proliferation agency is Gary Samore, who clearly established his Israel-First credentials in a speech in Israel on December 18, 2008 when he declared that he favored bombing Iran if it failed to shut down its uranium enrichment program – a program, which is legal under the International Non-Proliferation Treaty (Financial Times, February 24, 2009 p. 9). On February 24, 2009 the Obama regime appointed Dennis Ross as special adviser to Hilary Clinton for the Gulf Region. Ross in one of Israel’s top operatives in the Washington political establishment with long-term working relations with Israeli and US policy institutes linked to Israeli military, intelligence and foreign policy establishment. In November 2008, Ross signed off on a document advocating a military assault on Iran. Ross, as President Clinton’s envoy to the Israel-Palestine negotiations, contributed to the break down by embracing Israel’s non-negotiable positions and vilifying Yassar Arafat as the ‘stumbling block’.
The Zionist power configuration dominate all the key foreign policy committees in Congress, either directly through Jewish Zionists or elected representative who are in tow via financial contributions or threats of electoral retaliation and mass media smear campaigns. In the first weeks in office, the Zionist political machine has successfully blocked initiatives by some Obama advisers to attend the Durban anti-racism conference, and has deflected criticism of Israel’s starvation blockade against Gaza by two Congressmen who visited Gaza to view the destruction themselves. The ZPC has slandered and forced the withdrawal of Charles Freeman’s nomination as chief of the Intelligence Advisory Committee. It has openly endorsed Israel’s massive land grab in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The Obama regime, in line with Israel, has effectively buried any pretence of peace negotiations with the Palestinians by shifting focus to a ‘regional settlement/negotiations’, in which Zionist envoys are directed to pressure Syria, Lebanon and Iran to isolate all Palestinian leaders who opposed Israel’s annexation of their land and expulsion of people.
The ZPC’s deep and extensive penetration of the Obama regime represents the greatest national security threat by a foreign-directed power since the founding of the American Republic. The scope and destructive consequences will be further detailed in the text (see: “Israel Asserting Middle East Supremacy: From Gaza to Tehran”).
The ZPC’s power is manifested in the judicial branch and best illustrated in the spy trial of two prominent leaders of AIPAC – the principle pro-Israel ‘lobby’. Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman. Both were arrested and indicted after they admittedly took classified US documents relating to US policy toward Iran and handed them over to an Israeli Mossad Intelligence operative assigned to the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC. The Federal Judge in the case, T.S. Ellis has made several rulings in favor of the spies – strengthening their contention that the act of handing classified documents to a foreign power is a ‘common practice’ in Washington and not espionage. The ZPC has been successful in mobilizing its entire mass media apparatus, Congressional followers and a broad swath of Jewish and Gentile progressives in defense of Rosen and Weissman in the name of ‘freedom of expression’ –perversely equating the stealing of classified official US documents relating to security matters and secretly passing them to an agent of a foreign government with investigative journalism’s use of government sources.
The numerous FBI arrests and quiet deportations of scores of Israeli spies without charge or trials, and the frequent complaint of former US officials that ‘orders from above’ blocked their prosecution attests to the power of highly placed Zionists or authorities under their control in securing impunity to Israeli-Jewish operative committing illegal and hostile acts against the security and economic interest of the United States. The presence of so many Zionists in positions of power in the Obama regime ensures that Israeli espionage operations in the US may now be suspended because Israel can obtain any documents or deliberations directly from officials in the Obama Administration. Even better Israelis can co-author some White House and US intelligence position papers themselves!
Zionists in power, means that the US empire will continue to energetically and aggressively pursue military confrontations and regional wars in the Middle East at the behest of Israel. At no point has the Zionist-dominated White House or Congress questioned the exorbitant costs of serving Israeli interests – even in the midst of a major economic depression. Virtually the entire major media establishment and all 51 Major American Jewish Organizations, which are pressing for blockades, sanctions and preemptive war against Iran, are free to ignore the tremendous loss and suffering that this diversion of billions of US tax dollars from domestic investment to wars for Israel has caused to the American people. Zionist control over White House Middle East policy ensures that the US will be mired in endless wars in the Persian Gulf and South Asia because Israel has an open-ended military agenda encompassing the entire region and an army of agents willing and able to impose this agenda on the American government.
October 14, 2009
By ROBERT BRYCE
March 30, 2009
For years, ethanol boosters have promised Americans that “cellulosic” ethanol lurks just ahead, right past the nearest service station. Once it becomes viable, this magic elixir — made from grass, wood chips, sawdust, or some other plant material — will deliver us from the evil clutches of foreign oil and make the U.S. “energy independent” while enriching farmers and strengthening small towns across the country.
Consider this claim: “From our cellulose waste products on the farm such as straw, corn-stalks, corn cobs and all similar sorts of material we throw away, we can get, by present known methods, enough alcohol to run our automotive equipment in the United States.”
That sounds like something you’ve heard recently, right? Well, fasten your seatbelt because that claim was made way back in 1921. That’s when American inventor Thomas Midgley proclaimed the wonders of cellulosic ethanol to the Society of Automotive Engineers in Indianapolis. And while Midgley was excited about the prospect of cellulosic ethanol, he admitted that there was a significant hurdle to his concept: producing the fuel would cost about $2 per gallon. That’s about $20 per gallon in current money.
Alas, what’s old is new again.
I wrote about the myriad problems of cellulosic ethanol in my book, Gusher of Lies. But the hype over the fuel continues unabated. And it continues even though two of the most prominent cellulosic ethanol companies in the U.S., Aventine Renewable Energy Holdings and Verenium Corporation, are teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. As noted last week by Robert Rapier on his R-Squared Energy blog, Verenium’s auditor, Ernst & Young, recently expressed concern about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern and Aventine was recently delisted from the New York Stock Exchange.
On March 16, the accounting firm Ernst & Young said Verenium may be forced to “curtail or cease operations” if it cannot raise additional capital. And in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company’s management said “We continue to experience losses from operations, and we may not be able to fund our operations and continue as a going concern.” Last week, the company’s stock was trading at $0.36 per share. It has traded for as much as $4.13 over the past year.
Aventine’s stock isn’t doing much better. Earlier this month, the company announced that it may seek bankruptcy protection if it cannot raise additional cash. Last Friday, Aventine’s shares were selling for $0.09. Over the past year, those shares have sold for as much as $7.86.
The looming collapse of the cellulosic ethanol producers deserves more than passing notice for this reason: cellulosic ethanol – which has never been produced in commercial quantities — has been relentlessly hyped over the past few years by a panoply of politicians and promoters.
The list of politicos includes Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, President Barack Obama, former vice president Al Gore, former Republican presidential nominee and U.S. Senator John McCain, former president Bill Clinton, former president George W. Bush and former CIA director James Woolsey.
There are plenty of others who deserve to take a bow for their role in promoting the delusion of cellulosic ethanol. Prominent among them: billionaire investor/technologist Vinod Khosla. In 2006, Khosla claimed that making motor fuel out of cellulose was “brain dead simple to do.” He went on, telling NBC’s Stone Phillips that cellulosic ethanol was “just around the corner” and that it would be a much bigger source of fuel than corn ethanol. Khosla also proclaimed that by making ethanol from plants “in less than five years, we can irreversibly start a path that can get us independent of petroleum.”
In 2007, Kholsa delivered a speech, “The Role of Venture Capital in Developing Cellulosic Ethanol,” during which he declared that cellulosic ethanol and other biofuels can be used to completely replace oil for transportation. More important, Khosla predicted that cellulosic ethanol would be cost competitive with corn ethanol production by 2009.
Two other promoters who have declared that cellulosic ethanol is just on the cusp of viability: Mars exploration advocate Robert Zubrin, and media darling Amory Lovins.
Of all the people on that list, Lovins has been the longest – and the most consistently wrong – cheerleader for cellulosic fuels. His boosterism began with his 1976 article in Foreign Affairs, a piece which arguably made his career in the energy field. In that article, called “Energy Strategy: The Road Not Taken?” Lovins argued that American energy policy was all wrong. What America needed was “soft” energy resources to replace the “hard” ones (namely fossil fuels and nuclear power plants.) Lovins argued that the U.S. should be working to replace those sources with other, “greener” energy sources that were decentralized, small, and renewable. Regarding biofuels, he wrote that there are “exciting developments in the conversion of agricultural, forestry and urban wastes to methanol and other liquid and gaseous fuels now offer practical, economically interesting technologies sufficient to run an efficient U.S. transport sector.”
Lovins went on “Some bacterial and enzymatic routes under study look even more promising, but presently proved processes already offer sizable contributions without the inevitable climatic constraints of fossil-fuel combustion.” He even claims that given enough efficiency in automobiles, and a large enough bank of cellulosic ethanol distilleries, “the whole of the transport needs could be met by organic conversion.”
In other words, Lovins was making the exact same claim that Midgley made 45 years earlier: Given enough money – that’s always the catch isn’t it? – cellulosic ethanol would provide all of America’s transportation fuel needs.
The funny thing about Lovins is that between 1976 and 2004 — despite the fact that the U.S. still did not have a single commercial producer of cellulosic ethanol — he lost none of his skepticism. In his 2004 book Winning the Oil Endgame, Lovins again declared that advances in biotechnology will make cellulosic ethanol viable and that it “will strengthen rural America, boost net farm income by tens of billions of dollars a year, and create more than 750,000 new jobs.”
Lovins continued his unquestioning boosterism in 2006, when during testimony before the U.S. Senate, he claimed that “advanced biofuels (chiefly cellulosic ethanol)” could be produced for an average cost of just $18 per barrel.
Of course, Lovins isn’t the only one who keeps having visions of cellulosic grandeur. In his 2007 book, Winning Our Energy Independence, S. David Freeman, the former head of the Tennessee Valley Authority, declared that to get away from our use of oil, “we must count on biofuels.” And a key part of Freeman’s biofuel recipe: cellulosic ethanol. Freeman claims that “there is huge potential to generate ethanol from the cellulose in organic wastes of agriculture and forestry.” He went on, saying that using some 368 million tons of “forest wastes” could provide about 18.4 billion gallons of ethanol per year, yielding “the equivalent of about 14 billion gallons gasoline [sic], or about 10 percent of current gasoline consumption.” Alas, Freeman fails to provide a single example of a company that has made a commercial success of cellulosic ethanol.
Cellulosic ethanol gained even more acolytes during the 2008 presidential campaign.
In May 2008, the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi touted the passage of the subsidy-packed $307 billion farm bill, declaring that it was an “investment in energy independence” because it providing “support for the transition to cellulosic ethanol.”
About the same time that Pelosi was touting the new farm bill, a spokesman for the Renewable Fuels Association, an ethanol industry lobbying group in Washington, was claiming that corn ethanol was merely a starting point for other “advanced” biofuels. “The starch-based ethanol industry we have today, we’ll stick with it. It’s the foundation upon which we are building next-generation industries,” said Matt Hartwig, a spokesman for the lobby group.
In August 2008, Obama unveiled his “new” energy plan which called for “advances in biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol.”
After Obama’s election, the hype continued, particularly among Democrats on Capitol Hill. In January 2009, Tom Harkin, the Iowa senator who’s been a key promoter of the corn ethanol scam, told PBS: “ethanol doesn’t necessarily all have to come from corn. In the last farm bill, I put a lot of effort into supporting cellulose ethanol, and I think that’s what you’re going to see in the future…You’re going to see a lot of marginal land that’s not suitable for row crop production, because it’s hilly, or it’s not very productive for corn or soybeans, things like that, but it can be very productive for grasses, like miscanthus, or switchgrass, and you can use that to make the cellulose ethanol.”
Despite the hype, cellulosic ethanol is no closer to commercial viability than it was when Midgley first began talking about it back in 1921. Turning switchgrass, straw or corn cobs into sizable volumes of motor fuel is remarkably inefficient. It is devilishly difficult to break down cellulose into materials that can be fermented into alcohol. And even if that process were somehow made easier, its environmental effects have also been called into question. A September 2008 study on alternative automotive fuels done by Jan Kreider, a professor emeritus of engineering at the University of Colorado, and Peter S. Curtiss, a Boulder-based engineer, found that the production of cellulosic ethanol required about 42 times as much water and emitted about 50 percent more carbon dioxide than standard gasoline. Furthermore, Kreider and Curtiss found that, as with corn ethanol, the amount of energy that could be gained by producing cellulosic ethanol was negligible.
In a recent interview, Kreider told me that the key problem with turning cellulose into fuel is “that it’s such a dilute energy form. Coal and gasoline, dirty as they may be, are concentrated forms of energy. Hauling around biomass makes no sense.”
Indeed, the volumes of biomass needed to make any kind of dent in America’s overall energy needs are mind boggling. Let’s assume that the U.S. wants to replace 10 percent of its oil use with cellulosic ethanol. That’s a useful percentage as it’s approximately equal to the percentage of U.S. oil consumption that originates in the Persian Gulf. Let’s further assume that the U.S. decides that switchgrass is the most viable option for producing cellulosic ethanol.
Given those assumptions, here’s the math: The U.S. consumes about 21 million barrels of oil per day, or about 320 billion gallons of oil per year. New ethanol companies like Coskata and Syntec are claiming that they can produce about 100 gallons of ethanol per ton of biomass, which is also about the same yield that can be garnered by using grain as a feedstock.
At 100 gallons per ton, producing 32 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol would require the annual harvest and transport of 320 million tons of biomass. Assuming an average semi-trailer holds 15 tons of biomass, that volume of biomass would fill 21.44 million semi-trailer loads. If each trailer is a standard 48 feet long, the column of trailers (not including any trucks attached to them) holding that amount of switchgrass would stretch almost 195,000 miles. That’s long enough to encircle the earth nearly eight times. Put another way, those trailers would stretch about 80 percent of the distance from the earth to the moon.
But remember, ethanol’s energy density is only about two-thirds that of gasoline. So that 32 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol only contains the energy equivalent of about 21 billion gallons of gasoline. Thus, the U.S. would actually need to produce about 42.5 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol in order to supplant 10 percent of its oil needs. That would necessitate the production of 425 million tons of biomass, enough to fill about 28.3 million trailers. And that line of semi-trailer loads that stretch about 257,500 miles, plenty long enough to loop around the earth more than 10 times, or to stretch from the Earth to the Moon.
But let’s continue driving down this road for another mile or two. Sure, it’s possible to produce that much biomass, but how much land would be required to make it happen? Well, a report from Oak Ridge National Laboratory suggests that an acre of switchgrass can yield about 11.5 tons of biomass per year, and thus, in theory, 1,150 gallons of ethanol per year.
Therefore, to produce 425 million tons of biomass from switchgrass would require some 36.9 million acres to be planted in nothing but switchgrass. That’s equal to about 57,700 square miles, or an area just a little smaller than the state Oklahoma. For comparison, that 36.9 million acres is equal to about 8 percent of all the cropland now under cultivation in the U.S. Thus, to get 10 percent of its oil needs, the U.S. would need to plant an area equal to 8 percent of its cropland.
And none of that considers the fact that there’s no infrastructure available to plant, harvest, and transport the switchgrass or other biomass source to the biorefinery.
So just to review: There are still no companies producing cellulosic ethanol on a commercial basis. The most prominent companies that have tried to do so are circling the drain. Even if a company finds an efficient method of turning cellulose into ethanol, the logistics of moving the required volumes of biomass are almost surely a deal-killer.
And yet, Congress has mandated that it be done. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 mandates that a minimum of 16 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol be blended into the U.S. auto fuel mix by 2022.
Don’t hold your breath.
Robert Bryce’s latest book is Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of “Energy Independence” which just came out in paperback, available from the carousel at the bottom of this page.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has refused to support calls for new sanctions against Iran, saying they would be ineffective.
After a meeting with US President Barack Obama in Washington on Monday, Erdogan said Turkey will not support any proposal to impose new sanctions on Iran at the United Nations Security Council.
The comments showed that Obama failed to persuade the Turkish prime minister of the need for sanctions against Iran.
Erdogan said Turkey wants to see a diplomatic solution to Tehran’s nuclear standoff with the West.
Erdogan also offered to mediate in negotiations between Tehran and the West.
These developments come ten days after the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors approved a resolution against Iran.
Erdogan criticized the resolution against Iran, calling it very rushed.
“I believe that was a very rushed process because certain steps could be taken in a more consultative fashion,” Erdogan said.
Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful and is necessary to generate energy for its growing population.
This analysis, while not current, is as relevant as ever. At this time it should be more evident than ever that the global forces promoting aggression on Iran are driven by Zionist motives, however we still find attempts at redirection, desperate baseless rationales for war are presented in the hope of exonerating Israel and its supporters.
By Bob Finch
A number of commentators hold that the primary reason America will attack Iran is to defend the dollar as a global currency. Iran is alleged to be threatening the role of the dollar as the sole currency for oil transactions by setting up an oil bourse on which oil can be bought and sold for euros – just as Saddam Hussein threatened the dollar by selling Iraqi oil for euros. Paradoxically, most of those supporting such an hypothesis are anti-war commentators –both on the left and the (paleo) right wing.
The big political danger of the petro-dollar explanation of the war against Iran is that both left, and right, wing anti-war activists are in effect providing a justification for the war they are supposedly seeking to avert. Although the proponents of the petro-dollar hypothesis are anti-war, and personally do not regard the petro-dollar hypothesis as a justification for an American attack on Iran, it has to be suggested that for many Americans this hypothesis would provide sufficient justification for war. If Americans are told that Iran is devaluing the dollar in their pocket and threatening to bring about the collapse of the American economy they are going to want to know why America hasn’t started bombing iran. In their eyes, such a war would be self-defence, defending their way of life. There is a considerable danger that anti-war critics are going to find their explanation for the likelihood of an American attack on Iran is a self fulfilling prophesy which helps to win popular support for the war.
This article highlights the commentators promoting the petro-dollar hypothesis but does not seek to examine the merits of this hypothesis.
The Economic Origins of the Petro-Dollar/Oil Bourse Thesis
The idea that iran’s proposed oil bourse would pose a threat to the global supremacy of the dollar started primarily as an economic speculation.
“The Iranians are about to commit an “offense” far greater than Saddam Hussein’s conversion to the euro of Iraq’s oil exports in the fall of 2000. Numerous articles have revealed Pentagon planning for operations against Iran as early as 2005. While the publicly stated reasons will be over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, there are unspoken macroeconomic drivers explaining the Real Reasons regarding the 2nd stage of petrodollar warfare – Iran’s upcoming euro-based oil Bourse. In 2005-2006, The Tehran government developed a plan to begin competing with New York’s NYMEX and London’s IPE with respect to international oil trades – using a euro-denominated international oil-trading mechanism. This means that without some form of US intervention, the euro is going to establish a firm foothold in the international oil trade. Given U.S. debt levels and the stated neoconservative project for U.S. global domination, Tehran’s objective constitutes an obvious encroachment on U.S. dollar supremacy in the international oil market.” (William Clark ‘The Real Reasons Why Iran is the Next Target’).
“The Iranian government has finally developed the ultimate “nuclear” weapon that can swiftly destroy the financial system underpinning the American Empire. That weapon is the Iranian Oil Bourse slated to open in March 2006. Whatever the strategic choice, from a purely economic point of view, should the Iranian Oil Bourse gain momentum, it will be eagerly embraced by major economic powers and will precipitate the demise of the dollar.” (Krassimir Petrov ‘The Proposed Iranian Oil Bourse’).
“This is primarily because of Iran’s reported intention to invoice energy contracts in euros rather than dollars. The contention that this could unseat the dollar’s dominance as the de facto currency for oil transactions may be overstated, but this has not stopped many commentators from linking America’s current political disquiet with Iran to the proposed Iranian Oil Bourse (IOB).” (Emilie Rutledge ‘Iran – a threat to the petrodollar?’).
The Left Wing, Anti-war Commentators who have taken up the Oil Bourse Thesis
The left/anti-war wing of the political spectrum (in both America and Britain) is so dominated by Zionist sympathizers that it will support any fantasy to avoid blaming Israel, the significantly Jewish owned and directed media in America, the Jewish lobby in America, and the Israel firsters in the Bush [Obama] administration, for pushing America into an invasion of Iraq and an attack on Iran. The petro-dollar hypothesis has three main advantages for the Jewish dominated left wing, anti-war movement. Firstly, it reinforces the idea of an American empire thereby implying that the Jewish separatist state in Palestine and the Jewish lobby in America are insignificant agents of American global power. Secondly, it suggests that America’s economic/financial interests are under threat when they are not. Thirdly, it diminishes the role played by Israel, the Jewish dominated American media, the Jewish lobby in America, and the Israel firsters in the Bush [Obama] administration, in pushing America into a war against Iran for the benefit of Israel.
The Jewish dominated left finds it impossible to countenance the idea that Jews have taken control of the American political and economic system and are using America’s colossal military power to boost the regional supremacy of the Jews-only state – at the expense of American interests. For the Jews on the left, the petro-dollar hypothesis is invaluable because it helps to protect Israel from adverse political criticism.
The influence of Jews on the left/ anti-war movement has become so poisonous and corrupting that in order to protect the Jews-only state in Palestine they are willing to promote a thesis which provides the American public with a rationale for an attack on Iran. Although left wing Jews pretend they are opposed to the war against Iran many would secretly applaud such a war because of the benefits it will bring to Israel – even though it will have calamitous consequences on America’s economic and military interests.
“Tehran is optimistic about putting in place an oil spot market which doesn’t accept dollars. This is already working at an experimental stage. If no nation has officially announced its participation, many are encouraging participation through private companies acting as intermediaries. Now, the dollar is an overvalued currency whose value is maintained essentially by its role as a petro-currency. Such a spot market, once really up and running, would provoke a collapse of the dollar, comparable to that of 1939, even if its transactions only amounted to a tenth of the world turnover. US power would be undermined by the falling dollar and, in time, Israel would also find itself bankrupt.” (Thierry Meyssan ‘The hidden stakes in the Iran crisis’).
“The coming attack on Iran has nothing whatsoever to do with concerns about the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Its primary motive, as oil analyst William Clark has argued, is rather a determination to ensure that the U.S. dollar remains the sole world currency for oil trading.” (Michael Keefer ‘Petrodollars and Nuclear Weapons Proliferation: Understanding the Planned Assault on Iran’).
“It preferably wants regime change before Tehran follows through on its threat to convert the currency in which it sells its oil from dollars to euros – a precedent-setting move that could have dire global consequences for the dollar as the international currency of choice, and, hence, ugly long-term consequences for the debt- and trade-deficit-riddled American economy.” (Geov Parrish ‘The next war?’).
“A decline of the dollar’s position in oil trading might also open the floodgates in other commodity markets where the dollar is the medium of exchange but where the US has only a minority market share.” (Toni Straka ‘Killing the dollar in Iran’).
The Laboratoire Européen d’Anticipation Politique Europe:
“The Laboratoire Européen d’Anticipation Politique Europe 2020, LEAP/E2020, now estimates to over 80% the probability that the week of March 20-26, 2006 will be the beginning of the most significant political crisis the world has known since the Fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, together with an economic and financial crisis of a scope comparable with that of 1929. This last week of March 2006 will be the turning-point of a number of critical developments, resulting in an acceleration of all the factors leading to a major crisis, disregard any American or Israeli military intervention against Iran. In case such an intervention is conducted, the probability of a major crisis to start rises up to 100%, according to LEAP/E2020. The announcement of this crisis results from the analysis of decisions taken by the two key-actors of the main on-going international crisis, i.e. the United States and Iran:
- on the one hand there is the Iranian decision of opening the first oil bourse priced in Euros on March 20th, 2006 in Tehran, available to all oil producers of the region ;
- on the other hand, there is the decision of the American Federal Reserve to stop publishing M3 figures (the most reliable indicator on the amount of dollars circulating in the world) from March 23, 2006 onward1.
These two decisions constitute altogether the indicators, the causes and the consequences of the historical transition in progress between the order created after World War II and the new international equilibrium in gestation since the collapse of the USSR. Their magnitude as much as their simultaneity will catalyse all the tensions, weaknesses and imbalances accumulated since more than a decade throughout the international system.” (The Laboratoire européen d’Anticipation Politique Europe 2020, LEAP/E2020 ‘Iran-USA, beginning of a major world crisis’).
“In the eyes of the Bush administration, however, Iran’s worst transgression has less to do with nuclear ambitions or anti-Semitism than with the petro-euro oil bourse Tehran is slated to open in March 2006. Iran’s plan to allow oil trading in euros threatens to break the dollar’s monopoly as the global reserve currency, and since the greenback is severely overvalued due to huge trade deficits, the move could be devastating for the US economy.” (Heather Wokusch ‘WWIII or Bust: Implications of a US Attack on Iran’).
While heather wokusch’s sympathies clearly lay on the left and are anti-war she does surprisingly manage to slip an extreme right wing Zionist idea into her article, “It would incite the Lebanese Hezbollah, an ally of Iran’s, potentially sparking increased global terrorism.”
She even peddles Chomsky’s argument that Turkey will support a Zionist attack on Iran, “Given what’s at stake, few allies, apart from Israel, can be expected to support a US attack on Iran. While Jacques Chirac has blustered about using his nukes defensively, it’s doubtful that France would join an unprovoked assault, and even loyal allies, such as the UK, prefer going through the UN Security Council. Which means the wild card is Turkey. The nation shares a border with Iran, and according to Noam Chomsky, is heavily supported by the domestic Israeli lobby in Washington, permitting 12% of the Israeli air and tank force to be stationed in its territory. Turkey’s crucial role in an attack on Iran explains why there’s been a spurt of high-level US visitors to Ankara lately, including Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, FBI Director Robert Mueller and CIA Director Porter Goss. In fact, the German newspaper Der Spiegel reported in December 2005 that Goss had told the Turkish government it would be “informed of any possible air strikes against Iran a few hours before they happened” and that Turkey had been given a “green light” to attack camps of the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Iran “on the day in question.” (Heather Wokusch ‘WWIII or Bust: Implications of a US Attack on Iran’).
The Right Wing, Anti-War Commentators who have taken up the Oil Bourse Thesis
“It’s not likely that maintaining dollar supremacy was the only motivating factor for the war against Iraq, nor for agitating against Iran. Though the real reasons for going to war are complex, we now know the reasons given before the war started, like the presence of weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein’s connection to 9/11, were false. The dollar’s importance is obvious, but this does not diminish the influence of the distinct plans laid out years ago by the neo-conservatives to remake the Middle East. Israel’s influence, as well as that of the Christian Zionists, likewise played a role in prosecuting this war.” (Ron Paul ‘The End of Dollar Hegemony’).
Paul Sheldon Foote:
Paul sheldon foote accepts the Iranian oil bourse thesis. He circulated an article highlighting the supposed dangers of an Iranian bourse, “The neo-conservatives (neo-Trotskyites) have been lying about exporting American democracy and values. These are some of the real reasons why these American traitors want to bomb Iran and establish a totalitarian regime for the Iranian Communist MEK (Rajavi Cult) terrorists.” (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Bush [Obama] Regime’s Disinterest in the Petro-Dollar/Oil Bourse Thesis to Promote a War against Iran
Despite the fact that both left and right wing anti-war commentators believe that the real reason for the war against Iran is the establishment of Iran’s oil bourse nobody in the Bush [Obama] administration or the neo-con media has made any comment about it.
The Right Wing use of the Petro-Dollar/Oil Bourse Thesis to Promote a War against Iran
The petro-dollar hypothesis is a legitimate economic speculation but politically it could be used to provide America with a seemingly legitimate excuse for a war against Iran. This section highlights the commentators seeking to do precisely that.
Jerome R. Corsi:
The first right wing commentator to start using left wing arguments to support the war is Jerome R. Corsi who acknowledges the source of his ideas, “Many administration critics argue today that the real reason for invading Iraq in 2003 was not to remove WMD from Iraq or to establish freedom but to preserve the dollar dominance of the world’s oil market. These same critics argue today that the real reason for the ramp-up of concern over Iran has nothing to do with Iran’s secret nuclear weapons program or with President Ahmadinejad’s threats to destroy Israel but everything to do with oil.” (Jerome R. Corsi ‘Will Iran’s ‘petroeuro’ threat lead to war?’).
Corsi points out that, “Today, about 70 percent of the world’s international foreign currency reserves are held in dollars. If the petroeuro begins to challenge the petrodollar, this percentage could diminish drastically. The United States depends on the dollar foreign-currency reserves in order to sell the Treasury debt that sustains budget deficits. What if foreign-exchange portfolios from oil sales fell to 60 percent being held in dollars – would that cause a crisis in the U.S. economy? Or would it take 55 percent? Most Americans are completely unaware of this threat Iran represents to the U.S. economy.” (Jerome R. Corsi ‘Will Iran’s ‘petroeuro’ threat lead to war?’). He points out the dangers of a challenge to the petro-dollar to America’s poor, “Clearly, any threat to petrodollar holdings could undermine social programs in the U.S., including Medicare and key welfare programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.” (Jerome R. Corsi ‘Will Iran’s ‘petroeuro’ threat lead to war?’). He concludes, “If the Iranians persist in creating a market mechanism to settle world oil transactions in the euro, the United States will attack just to preserve the oil market for the dollar. If Iran does open an oil bourse next month, we should expect the warplanes will soon thereafter begin to fly.” (Jerome R. Corsi ‘Will Iran’s ‘petroeuro’ threat lead to war?’). Corsi is the author of some highly illuminating works such as co-authoring with John O’Neill the No. 1 New York Times best-seller, “Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry.” and the sizzler, “Atomic Iran: How the Terrorist Regime Bought the Bomb and American Politicians.”
Critics of the Petrodollars Hypothesis
Paul Craig Roberts:
“Will an Iranian oil bourse hurt the dollar? Not really. The dollar’s value depends on the world’s willingness to hold dollar denominated assets, not on the currency used to pay oil bills. If payments were not made in dollars, there could be a slight negative impact on the dollar from countries reducing their dollar cash balances and from the psychological shock of pricing oil in Euros (or some other currency). However, what really counts is what do the oil producers, for example, do with the currency that they are paid. If they are paid in dollars, but exchange the dollars for Euros or Yen and purchase equities or bonds or real estate in Europe and Japan, it doesn’t help that oil is billed in dollars. Or if they are paid in Euros but exchange the Euros for dollars and purchase US assets, it doesn’t hurt that the oil is billed in Euros.” (Paul Craig Roberts ‘Paul Craig Roberts on the Iranian Oil Bourse’). “The negative impact on the dollar will be far greater from the additional red ink necessary to finance an attack on Iran than from an oil bourse.”
Blankfort sent out the following email concerning Michael Keefer’s article ‘Petrodollars and Nuclear Weapons Proliferation’. “I am forwarding this, not because I agree with the writers’ premise, that there will be a US attack on Iran -which I don’t -but because it has become typical of the scholarship, or lack of same, that has come to distinguish what passes for the opposition to US foreign policy. I am also aware that it will be spread by unthinking, well-meaning others as the gospel truth. Apart from the glaring absence of any mention what effect an attack on Iran would have on the situation in Iraq which has a very long border with Iran, Keefer’s noting that “Michel Chossudovsky wrote in May 2005, (about) widespread reports that George W. Bush had “signed off on” an attack on Iran,” is but one example of the lack of scholarship as well as analysis on the writer’s part, a failing he shares with other pundits who have taken that allegation seriously.
First, there were no “widespread reports” of Bush taking this action. It was dropped as an aside by Scott Ritter, in February, 2005, when he was speaking in Seattle, and neither he nor anyone else has been able to substantiate it. Why Ritter, an ex-Marine and now a famous ex-WMD inspector (as well as a strong supporter of Israel, who acknowledges having worked with Israeli intelligence under Barak) would have access to such information, he and no one else, did not seem to trouble those who were sure that the US was going to bomb Iran in 2005 as Ritter had stated (and which he subsequently rationalized when it didn’t happen as did Chussodovsky in the statement below).
It is also curious that when Ritter recently stated and has written that John Bolton’s speech writer told him that he has already written the speech Bolton will make at the UN to justify a forthcoming US attack, that no one, at least publicly, has wondered why this speech writer would not only violate a speech writer’s required anonymity, but why he would tell this to someone who appears, at least publicly, to oppose the US war on Iraq.
What Keefer and the others never write about is critical and its absence from their analysis is inexcusable, namely, that given that a sizable segment of the Iraqi troops being trained in Iraq are loyal to the pro-Iranian SCIRI and Dawa parties, both of which were founded in Iran in 1982, it is logical that their guns would be turned on the US and British soldiers as Mokata Sadr has already promised to do with his Mahdi army should the US attack Iran. Add to this, the ability of Iran to block the Straits of Hormuz. Blocked shipping in the Gulf would be devastating for world oil supplies and for economies. Gas at $8 a gallon is not what the voters want to see.”(Jeff Blankfort” email@example.com).
One of the financial directors involved in setting up the bourse is amused at the prospect that he is about to bring down the global economy, “It is therefore with wry amusement that I have seen a myth being widely propagated on the Internet that the genesis of this “Iran bourse” project is a wish to subvert the US dollar by denominating oil pricing in euros.” (Chris Cook ‘What the Iran ‘nuclear issue’ is really about’).
The Iranians have not even decided on a marker for the oil to be sold. “The Iranians so far have not indicated whether they have come up with an oil marker – a euro-denominated oil pricing standard – like the dollar denominated West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI), Norway Brent crude, and the UAE Dubai crude.” (Mathew Maavak ‘Beware The Ides Of March’).
“If you’re waiting for the Iranian oil bourse (IOB) – the proposed euro-based petroleum futures exchange in Tehran – to overthrow the global dollar-based economy, don’t hold your breath. Establishing a futures-trading mechanism to compete with the powerhouses of the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) and the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) for the oil trade is as probable as U.S. energy independence in our lifetime.” (Ann Berg ‘Is the IOB DOA?: The Iranian oil bourse: theory and reality’).
By William A. Cook
When beliefs morph into truth, regardless of the realities of time and place, the non-initiated become fodder for those with the zeal and power to enforce their will. Thus the great discoverer of the Americas “fantasized that he had located— or had come close to—the site of the paradise into which Jehovah had placed Adam and Eve” ( Ned Hopkins, CTA Action, 1992). The “Christ-bearer,” baptized in his unquestioned faith, utilized his birth name to justify his actions, reasoning that God gave license to him as His servant. Perhaps, as we bear down on the anniversary of Columbus’ achievements, we might consider how it has been possible for a Medieval world of unbridled superstition, intolerance, and religious myopia to envelop the advanced civilizations of western culture at the beginning of the 21st century.
The irony of this review that watches Columbus sail from the ports of Spain as the Spanish Crown expelled or slaughtered the Jews and Muslims in 1492, empowered by their Christian faith, resides in the realty that the west and the Muslim world of the 21st century clings still to the superstitions that gave rise ultimately to the greatest holocaust the world has ever known, as David Stannard notes in his work, The American Holocaust. If Columbus precipitated an invasion of the western powers into the “new” hemisphere, what Hopkins claims “…resulted in the largest exchange of people, animals, and plants that the planet has ever seen…,” it also resulted in the near extermination of an entire race and multiple cultures. The justification for this invasion found expression in the authority of the Roman Catholic faith to bring salvation to the “savages” and civilization to the primitives who lagged behind the advances of European cultures.
What mindset allows such darkness to blind what the eyes can see? Before Columbus an estimated 10-18 million people lived and loved in what we now call the United States. The Hopi and Zuni cultures thrived in the south west for an estimated 4000 years before the Spanish arrived. In the east the Algonquian, Iroquoian, and Muskogee peoples existed as far back as 10,000 years. The Iroquois formed a confederacy with five other tribes in the late 15th century that lasted long enough that Benjamin Franklin could visit its assembly and learn from it. These “savages” had a constitution and a code to guide behavior that included a prohibition of blood revenge, a social compact communitarian in nature, communal land, and hunters that provided for the community not for themselves. “There were no mendicants or paupers among them” (French Jesuit 1657) and “… the Chiefs are generally the poorest among them … obliged to give to others” (Dutch missionary). It might be said that these “savages” were taught “to think for them selves but to act for others.” What a novel thought for the “civilized” beasts that invaded this continent from Europe.
Whether we observe the Spaniards in central and south America or the Puritans in New England, we find a Eurocentric racist mindset cobbled with an imperialistic belief in their own superiority given vitality by their religious tenets that they are the chosen of God, redeemed – and hence destined for everlasting life in the presence of God Almighty. Indeed the western mind has been bathed in such moral epistemology since medieval times and sustained by historians and politicians who defend colonialism by conquest as a God given duty. “The colonialist … reaches the point of no longer being able to imagine a time occurring without him. His irruption into the history of the colonized people is deified, transformed into absolute necessity,” as Frantz Fanon puts it.
All that is needed to sustain such a mindset is obliteration of the peoples being subjugated, to transform them from people to “savages” or barbarians, primitives without souls, without culture or intelligence, irrelevant “cockroaches” to be discarded, driven from the land, or killed. Thus do we witness the civilized European inflict their beliefs on the natives through acceptance of the “requerimiento” that ordered them to accept the truth of Christianity and allegiance to the Spanish Crown or suffer torture or death. Or in the case of the Puritans as they moved against the Pequot people, face extermination as Godless minions of Satan.
Then, strangely enough, as Edward Said remarked, the “Settler group adorns itself with the mantle of the victim: the European homeland of the colonists—or the metropolitan European power that politically controls the settlement area—is portrayed as the oppressor, while the European settlers depict themselves as valiant seekers of justice and freedom, struggling to gain their deserved independence on the land that they “discovered” or that is theirs by holy right.” (as quoted by Stannard).
Perhaps Columbus and the Puritans might be excused for their actions since they were raised in a world that knew the truth of God’s word from the dominant religious and political forces of their times. As a consequence they found license to slaughter at will in the name of their God. “[The Spaniards] took babies from their mother’s breasts, grabbing them by the feet and smashing their heads against rocks … They built a long gibbet, low enough for the toes to touch the ground and prevent strangling, and hanged thirteen [natives] at a time in honor of Christ Our Saviour and the twelve Apostles. … Then, straw was wrapped around their torn bodies and they were burned alive” (Bartolome de Las Casas). Such is the power of myth in the medieval mind. What one believes justifies all. So Columbus and the Conquistadors mercilessly plundered and ravaged a people and their land.
Such dependence on myth to establish belief that drives the actions of a state to destroy another is surely the product of by gone times, times where superstition, prejudice, racism festered like some infection embedded in the heart and mind, the toxic atmosphere that propelled Columbus and the Puritans. Today, in our advanced DNA omniscience, in a world driven by globalization, prodded by ideologies of democracy, equality, liberty and the realization that we humans can bring these virtues to the entire world, surely such myths no longer exist.
How explain then America’s proclivity to torture under our most Christian of Presidents? Did he not send his forces to Iraq at God’s behest to bring the infidels the “gift” of God’s freedom and liberty in the manner of King Ferdinand of Spain who enlisted his servant Columbus to bring “souls to God” on his behalf? Didn’t our president’s advisor, Dick Cheney, justify “extraordinary interrogation techniques” to bring the recalcitrant to the truth, or die? How like the “requerimiento” that offered the Native life or death in the name of God Almighty.
What differentiates the slaughter of the natives by bloody massacres that wiped out whole tribes, as the Conquistadores swept across the south west or the Puritan massacre of the Pequots, in the fiery hell they designed for those God helped them destroy, from the razing of Fallujah by the American forces as they leveled the city to the ground and in the process scorched and seared the residents in the unforgiving fire of white phosphorus? What has changed since Medieval times? What progress is discernible but the technology of death? The racist mindset clamped on the brain by arrogance of belief in white superiority remains firmly in place justifying what the soul knows in its silence to be merciless slaughter that needs no God to trumpet its evil.
How similar the incantations of the righteous “settlers” arriving from a foreign land to lay claim to the homes of an indigenous people, people bought and brought to Israel by American dollars, defying law and logic in the process, condemning those who have lived on the land for centuries as invaders or usurpers of their God given rights as proclaimed in an ancient book of dubious authenticity but useful for purposes of theft. How strange that civilized people throughout the world witness this ludicrous behavior as rational, finding confrontation of truth and international law uncomfortable and so allow the robbery to continue.
Not even the barbaric behavior of these demented souls that find favor with their G-d when they club to death an old shepherd or mob children in the streets on the way to school or burn Palestinian homes or throw the residents of an apartment into the streets and take their home for themselves or, as soldiers in the IDF, glorify their G-d by killing defenseless and innocent women and children in Gaza, can nudge the indifferent people of the world to scream to the heavens that some sick stupidity is loose in this ancient land that is senselessly claimed to be the holiest piece of real estate on the planet.
Benny Morris, the most prolific of Israeli historians, in an interview in Ha’aretz contends that the annihilation of the Native Americans was unavoidable. “The great American democracy could not have been achieved without the extermination of the Indians. There are cases in which the general and final good justifies difficult and cruel deeds that are carried out in the course of history.” Dr. Adi Ophir, in commenting on this interview notes: “Morris seems to know what the general and final good is: the good of the Americans, of course. He knows that this good justifies partial evil. In other words, under specific circumstances, Morris believes that it is possible to justify genocide. In the case of the Indians, it is the existence of the American nation. In the case of the Palestinians, it is the existence of the Jewish state.” (“Genocide Hides Behind Expulsion,” Adi Ophir, 1-16-2004). How convenient an argument to give credibility to the genocide in Palestine, especially since the declaration of the American state occurred 289 years after the arrival of Columbus. But logic does not play a role here; superstition does.
Consider the logic of the new Prime Minister of Israel, Bibi Netanyahu, as he castigated the world leaders at the UN two weeks ago for allowing a holocaust denier to address their assembly. “Shame on you,” he yelled, lifting his covenant with the God of Abraham high above the podium to prove that the land of Palestine belongs by historical right to the Jews, “Shame on you” for not accepting the fact that G-d gave this land to the Jews, as though their belief in what is now known to be fiction must be used to justify the decimation of the Palestinians. “If as archeology suggests, the sagas of the patriarchs and the Exodus were legends, compiled in later periods, and if there is no convincing evidence of a unified invasion of Canaan under Joshua, what are we to make of the Israelites’ claims for ancient nationhood?” (The Bible Unearthed, Finkelstein and Silberman, 98).How ironic that the “real” descendents of the people of ancient Judea are the people of Palestine who centuries ago converted to the Christian or Muslim faiths, not the Ashkenazi European Jews like Netanyahu who have no Semitic blood connection to the land but only an acceptance by conversion to the Jewish faith (Shlomo Sand, When and How the Jewish People Was Invented). What a convenient way to justify theft of another’s home and land.
How can we pretend that the United States and its “only friend” in the mid-east have the right to impose their beliefs on other states? Have these modern day colonists not, as Fanon said, deified their own being and justified their actions as the will of their imagined God as though no other God exists or no belief in a different divinity can be conceived? How can we pretend that flechette bombs, depleted uranium weapons, dimes, white phosphorus, bunker buster bombs, cluster bombs and all the machinery of modern war designed to decimate thousands of people, to inflict heretofore unseen wounds on mind and body, can in any rational way be justified as civilized or humane? Perhaps, like Columbus and his Conquistadores, we should forgo the luxury of technological prowess and return to the shield and sword so the full carnage we inflict might be visible to all of us as the screams of the baby and the mother sink deep into our hearts and the blood splatters over our face and we must face what we have wrought.
- William A. Cook is a professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California and author of Tracking Deception: Bush’s Mideast Policy.
We could all learn a little bit from our weather history. We could all step back a bit and look at what previously happened in our climate changes before we make a rush to judgement to try to “fix” a problem that is very likely just another natural variance on the upswing, soon to be followed by a downturn.
There are quite a number of articles on “climate change” in the past, for further reading, try looking at some of these article links submitted by readers of this forum from the New York Times newspaper archives. Just click on the date. Thanks to Tim Blair for compiling the list below from our reader submitted links as well as his own research.
Glaciers have disappeared and land once covered with field ice is bare.
Glaciers are moving from their age-old beds, pouring greater quantities of ice into the sea than recorded history has known. Broad areas of land are sinking to new levels. A number of islands have disappeared.
The Alpine glaciers are in full retreat. Out of 102 glaciers observed by Professor P.L. Mercanton of the University of Lausanne and his associates more than twothirds have been found to be shrinking.
The great glaciers of the West, last remnants of the Ice Age on continental United States, have been retreating from their strongholds in the mountains at double time since last year.
A mysterious warming of the climate is slowly manifesting itself in the Arctic, engendering a “serious international problem,” Dr. Hans Ahlmann, noted Swedish geophysicist, said today.
There are also many reports of the climate turning colder:
The question is again being discussed whether recent and long-continued observations do not point to the advent of a second glacial period, when the countries now basking in the fostering warmth of a tropical sun will ultimately give way to the perennial frost and snow of the polar regions.
Winters Since ‘40 Found Colder In Studies by Weather Bureau; Data Indicate, a Reversal of a Warming Trend That Began in 1881
After a week of discussions on the causes of climate change, an assembly of specialists from several continents seems to have reached unanimous agreement on only one point: it is getting colder.
Scientists Ponder Why World’s Climate Is Changing; a Major Cooling Widely Considered to Be Inevitable
An international team of specialists has concluded from eight indexes of climate that there is no end in sight to the cooling trend of the last 30 years, at least in the Northern Hemisphere.
Thus nature, and the NYT, balances itself. The paper really should return to the Grandfather Index of climate judgment:
America is believed by Weather Bureau scientists to be on the verge of a change of climate, with a return to increasing rains and deeper snows and the colder Winters of grandfather’s day.
The recent severely cold weather, following, in the main, many mild Winters, has caused people throughout the country to ask: “Does this portend a return to the reputed cold Winters of ‘granddad’s day’ years ago?”
Yep; all over the US, that’s exactly what people were asking. But listen to folks from the actual Granddad’s Day era and they’ll tell you the real cold was earlier still:
Is our climate changing? … The older inhabitants tell us that the Winters are not as cold now as when they were young …
Also, there are fewer mastodons. Last word to the ominously-named, but perfectly sensible, Mr Scarr:
Some People Always Think the Climate Is Changing, But Mr. Scarr Says There Is Nothing in His Records to Justify the Notion
Box 73620, 509 St. Clair Ave. West
Toronto, ON M6C 1C0
For immediate release
Abdullah Almalki Refused Entry to Air Canada Flight
Members of Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture Demand Answers for Why Almalki was not Allowed on Domestic Flight
December 7, 2009 – Members of Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture are expressing major concerns about the fact that, after being given a boarding pass for an Ottawa-to-Windsor flight on December 2, Ottawa resident Abdullah Almalki was not allowed onto the domestic Air Canada flight. Almalki, a Canadian citizen who was found to be tortured with the complicity of his own government, was supposed to have been in Windsor the next day to deliver a talk on “two-tier citizenship” as well as the manner in which the Canadian government was complicit his torture in Syria.
“The very day Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in China talking about the need to respect human rights, we have a Canadian citizen, Abdullah Almalki, turned away from a domestic flight that would have taken him to Windsor to talk about human rights,” says campaign spokesperson Matthew Behrens. “What is going on?”
At the last minute, Mr. Almalki, an Ottawa engineer and father of six, was informed he could fly to Toronto but not carry on to Windsor because he was apparently “restricted from travelling in US airspace.” In addition, Mr. Almalki found that his bag, despite being bound for a domestic flight, was opened and searched, but no sticker explaining that invasive intrusion nor indicating who searched his bag was placed on it.
Mr. Almalki, tortured almost a full two years in Syria based on false allegations and questions that came from Canada and, according to the secretive Iacobucci internal inquiry, based on allegations that were “inflammatory, inaccurate, and lacking investigative foundation,” is seeking an apology, accountability, and compensation for the ordeal that he and his family were put through by the Canadian government.
This incident occurred the day before the House of Commons passed a motion calling on the government to respect a series of recommendations from the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security which, among other things, calls on the “Government of Canada do everything necessary to correct misinformation that may exist in records administered by national security agencies in Canada or abroad with respect to Mr. Almalki, Mr. Abou-Elmaati and Mr. Nureddin and members of their families.” (Mssrs. El Maati and Nureddin, both of Toronto, were also tortured both in Syria and, in Mr. El Maati’s case, in Egypt, based on similarly false allegations.)
Asked by members of Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture how he felt about being turned away from the Air Canada flight, Mr. Almalki stated, “We have the O’Connor report more than three years ago, the Iacobucci report more than a a year ago – both of which confirm the Canadian complicity in my interrogation and torture in Syria – and now we have the MPs who represent the majority of the Canadian people in Parliament voting in favour of the government issuing an apology and correcting in Canada and abroad the huge and terrible misinformation that Canadian agencies falsely spread about myself and my family. When will the government act, and how much longer do my family and I have to suffer? Whose decision was it to prevent me from boarding a domestic flight to Windsor? I need answers, Canadians need answers.”
The refusal to allow Mr. Almalki on the Air Canada flight adds insult to the injury already sustained by the family earlier this year when they found out that his wife and oldest son, aged 15, had problems boarding a plane in Vancouver until his wife showed airport officials a copy of the 544-page Iacobucci internal inquiry report.
Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture is an organization that for a number of years has worked with Canadians who have been tortured with the complicity of their own government. In 2008, it organized two cross-Ontario caravans raising awareness of the issue and organizing speaking events featuring Mssrs. Almalki, El Maati and Nureddin.
For more information, or to contact contact Mr. Almalki, please contact Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture at (416) 651-5800 or visit www.abdullahalmalki.com.
Paul Joseph Watson
December 7, 2009
The big irony behind top globalists descending on Copenhagen in luxury private jets and stretch limos is not just the fact that their own behavior completely contradicts their self-righteous hyperbole about CO2 emissions, but that their propaganda is vehemently supported by the very same big oil interests they accuse climate skeptics of pandering to.
Probably one of the most flagrant examples of climate cronyism to emerge from the climategate scandal were emails in which CRU scientists, the body that provides much of the foundational global warming data for the UN IPCC, discuss how they conducted meetings with Shell Oil in order to enlist them as a “strategic partner” while getting them to bankroll pro-man made global warming research.
The emails reveal that the CRU was also trying to get money from oil giants British Petroleum and Exxon-Mobil, under its former identity as Esso.
“Now who is the shill for Big Oil again?” asks Anthony Watts. “Next time somebody brings up that ridiculous argument about skeptics, show them this.”
A “Copenhagen Communiqué” put out by leaders of over 500 global corporations in advance of this week’s summit calls for drastic measures on behalf of developed countries to “de-carbonise their economies” – a move that would completely devastate living standards and lead to gargantuan levels of unemployment.
The communiqué also demands that a global carbon tax be implemented via a carbon trading system. Bear in mind that the very people calling for such a system are the same people who will benefit from it to the tune of billions, as we shall explore later.
The statement calls for, “Measures to deliver a robust global greenhouse gas emissions market in order to provide the most effective, efficient and equitable emission reductions. It would be comprised of a growing series of national or regional “cap-and-trade” markets linked together, in which the “caps” are brought down in line with the targets that have been adopted for emission reduction.”
The document also states that CO2 emissions need to be reduced by a staggering 50-85% by 2050, a process that would return humanity to a near stone age level of development.
And who are the radicals calling for such severe measures in the name of fighting the evil life giving gas that humans exhale and plants breathe? Greenpeace? Al Gore?
Namely – James Smith, chairman of UK Shell Oil, Tony Hayward, Group Chief Executive, British Petroleum, along with hundreds of other global corporate giants, many of whom are directly tied in with big oil, and central banks who, far from bankrolling climate change skeptics, are directly invested in the scam of human-induced global warming.
A common charge leveled against global warming skeptics is that they are on the payroll of transnational oil companies, when in fact the opposite is true, oil companies are amongst the biggest promoters of climate change propaganda, emphasized recently by Exxon Mobil’s call for a global carbon tax.
According to Exxon Mobil chief executive Rex Tillerson, the cap and trade nightmare being primed for passage in the Senate doesn’t go far enough – Tillerson wants a direct tax on carbon dioxide emissions, essentially a tax on breathing since we all exhale this life-giving gas.
In a speech earlier this year, Tillerson brazenly called out the cap and trade agenda for what it was, an effort to impose a carbon tax camouflaged only by a slick sales pitch and deceptive rhetoric.
“It is easier and more politically expedient to support a cap-and-trade approach, because the public will never figure out where it is hitting them,” said Tillerson. “They will just know they hurt somewhere in their pocketbook,” he added, pointing out that he disagreed with this convoluted method of introducing a carbon tax, arguing instead that it would be more successful to openly propose a straight carbon tax.
Tillerson firmly expressed Exxon’s support for climate change alarmists in stating, “I firmly believe it is not too late for Congress to consider a carbon tax as the better policy approach for addressing the risks of climate change.”
Exxon’s push for a carbon tax was subsequently restated by its vice president for public affairs Ken Cohen, who told a conference call that he wants a climate policy that creates “certainty and predictability, which is why we advocate a carbon tax.”
Exxon Mobil and their ilk are not concerned about a carbon tax eating into their profits because they know they won’t have to pay it – the tab will be picked up by the ignorant taxpayer at the fuel pump at an inflated cost which if anything will hand the transnational oil cartels an even bigger cut.
Ideologically, Al Gore and Exxon Mobil are on exactly the same page – the only difference between the oil companies and global warming alarmists is the squabble over who will get to sink their teeth into the taxpayer and reap the dividends of the climate change scam.
Whereas parasites like Al Gore and Maurice Strong, the people who own the very carbon trading systems they claim will save the earth from CO2 emissions, want to enrich themselves to the tune of billions under a cap and trade scheme where they take a percentage of each transaction, the oil companies want to bypass this completely by simply imposing a direct CO2 tax. The consequence for the taxpayer under either scenario will be exactly the same, and the profits under both schemes would go towards filling the coffers of the global government that will enforce the whole scam.
Emphasizing again that oil companies are firmly behind the idea of man-made climate change and the introduction of a CO2 tax, in 2007 the Trilateral Commission, one of the three pillars of the new world order in alliance with Bilderberg and the CFR, met in near secrecy to formulate policy on how best they could exploit global warming fearmongering to ratchet up taxes and control over how westerners live their lives.
At the confab, European Chairman of the Trilateral Commission, Bilderberger and chairman of British Petroleum Peter Sutherland, gave a speech to his elitist cohorts in which he issued a “Universal battle cry arose for the world to address “global warming” with a single voice.”
Echoing this sentiment was General Lord Guthrie, director of N.M. Rothschild & Sons, member of the House of Lords and former chief of the Defense Staff in London, who urged the Trilateral power-brokers to “Address the global climate crisis with a single voice, and impose rules that apply worldwide.” Rules that no doubt will benefit the Rothschild family empire due to their personal ownership of a huge chunk of the carbon trading market.
Allegations that skeptics of the man-made explanation behind global warming are somehow doing the bidding of the elite are laughable in the face of the fact that Rothschild operatives and the very chairman of British Petroleum are the ones orchestrating an elitist plan to exploit global warming fears in order to achieve political objectives.
During the 2007 meeting, elitists along with oil industry kingpins called for imposing a $1 dollar per gallon tax at the fuel pump under the justification of fighting pollution and climate change.
Globalists love global warming. Oil industry kingpins, Bilderbergers and Rothschild minions have all put their weight behind it. This is a fraud conceived, nurtured and promulgated by elites, and to castigate individuals for merely questioning the motives behind climate change fearmongering by accusing them of being mouthpieces for the establishment is a complete reversal of the truth.
Claims by climate change alarmists that “deniers” are all funded by oil companies is yet another crudely contrived hoax. In reality, oil companies are the most vocal proponents of man-made climate change and the most aggressive in pushing to tax CO2 emissions.
Rehaviya Berman conducted an interview with Ali Abunimah, for Ha’aretz, a few weeks ago. The Interview was never published. Berman decided to publish it on his blog [Hebrew] and I decided to translate it, for your reading pleasure:
Exclusive: One On One with the Leader of the Electronic Intifada
Meet Ali Abunimah, the son of a Jordanian diplomat, a Palestinian activist, and the man who brings the hottest news of the struggle to thousands of people. His message: Forget two states, one will be tough enough to get it right.
The Interview before you was commissioned by one of the the big newspapers. For a reason that has yet to be clarified, this paper decided not to publish the interview. It’s published here, because it’s the opinion of the editor that it’s important that this be read by the Israeli public.
“First of all, it’s important for me to clarify that I’m not a leader, and I’m not interested in being a leader.” That’s how Ali Abunimah, 38, opens our two and a half hour interview. A Washington D.C. Born Palestinian, son of Palestinian parents of different villages in the Jeruusalem area, his mother a native of Lifta, a 1948 refugee, and his father, a native of of Battir, a 1967 refugee. Abunimah (@avinunu on Twitter) may renounce the label of a leader, but in the history that will one day be written, it’s probable that he’ll be described as the “harbinger of electronic revolution”, as the Electronic Intifada- the name of the website that Abunimah is of his founders and active members. There are Twitter users with many more “followers”, but there are very few who seriously deal with the Isreli-Palestinian issue, feeds voraciously on the web and doesn’t follow “@avinunu” and “E-Intifada”. He’s also a sought after and articulate interviewee on news networks such as CNN and MSNBC, for his consistent representation of the Palestinian position.
Abunimah is one of the most active people on the web in Palestinian Hasbara, and this without being identified with any of the political factions. His father, Hasan, served as a senior diplomat of Jordan, among other things its ambassador to the United Nations. But Ali doesn’t hesitate to criticize the kingdom where most his relatives live today, when he finds it’s time to do so. A portrait of a leader in the internet age- Unidentified, not representative, and doesn’t owe any one.
Recently, Abunimah surfaced into consciousness, after ruining [Ehud] Olmert’s little apearance-for-profit at Chicago University, when he abruptly cut his speech with the piercing question about the dissatisfyingly discriminatory killing that the IDF executed in Gaza, a year ago. Abunimah was joined by more protestors and Olmert couldn’t go through his speech as planned.
A few days later, Olmert tried to give a speech in San Francisco, and as in Chicago pro-Palestinian students got up and drowned his voice in shouts and protest. Ali Abunimah, in Chicago, wasn’t there for the second silencing of Olmert, that included an attempt of a “citizen’s arrest”, but he was there with immediate reports, updates and links to videos and Twitter, before anyone else, at the front lines of the unfolding events, as is the case, in the past few years. Nothing of importance happens in the field or in the virtual space that has to do with Palestine (but not only) without Abunimah’s keyboard being there to distribute, sharply comment, connect the incriminating dots, point fingers and supply background and context to each event.
Inviting Olmert? A “Miserable Decision”
The man himself, as I mentioned, is humble, on the conversation I had with him on the computer program, Skype. “I organized nothing that had to do with San Francisco, and I don’t want to talk second hand about how and what other people are planning.” He also doesn’t want to talk about other internet activists such as himself, for the possibility that he may forget to mention someone and that’ll open a possibility for offense. When I persist,he obliges in mentioning the International BDS committee, the Palestinian action organization for boycotting Israel, students and many activists across the USA and the BDS movement- acronym for Boycott, Divestment, Sanction.
In addition to the clear protest against Olmert’s actions and against Israel, Abunimah and others wanted to protest the actual decision to invite Olmert to speak.
“I think it was a miserable decision by The Harris School of Public Policy Studies, in my university, the University of Chicago, to invite a man who is- forget the war crimes- suspect of serious corruption offenses, by his own state, and to pay him tens of thousands of dollars for a speech. It just inappropriate.”
Be honest, it may have been inappropriate, but it created a great oppertunity to get your struggle some headlines.
“It helped, but at the same time, the school could have invited judge Richard Goldstone to speak about the findings of his report, that way we would have gotten a debate about the subject and the school wouldn’t have put itself in a the compromising position of paying an enormous sum to a corrupt person”.
Similar to the Struggle Against South Africa
I try to stir the conversation to the methods of organization that have been bringing Abunimah and his colleagues success, lately. But it seems he’s pleased- in an impeccably polite manner- to disappoint me.
“Not only did I not organize anything, I don’t think there’s such a quick organizers the likes of which you’re describing,” He says. “These are very spontaneous actions. Information is very decentralized today on the web. It reaches many people simultaneously. I feed on the flow of information more than I contribute to it. I almost want to say that I’m sorry we’re not more organized, but this is the reality and I think that in the grander scheme of things, it doesn’t matter.”
It’s a bit strange to hear from a man that grew up in the house of a professional diplomat that organizing doesn’t matter for the public struggle, but Abunimah persists: “It’s a fact that the Zionists are much more organized than we are, in the campuses and an the US in general, and they have a huge budget, nevertheless, they haven’t achieved similar success in spreading their message. It’s not that I’m more skilled at using Twitter than anyone else. It’s because they’re trying to sell a 19th century message in the 21st century, and apparently even with 21st century technology, you can’t sell that merchandise.”
“It’s very similar to the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, on campuses,” he continues. “The struggle was very decentralized there, too, and succeeded because of the undeniable justness of the cause.” This is where Abunimah doesn’t forget to mention that one of the lone states to keep tight relations with the apartheid regime in South Africa was Israel.
Beyond the massive volume of his online dealings with the issue, his education and what he had absorbed in his father’s home, one of the reasons that people turn to him in order to understand the Middle East conflict is his considerably rational stance that he vigilantly keeps: “We don’t boycott Israelis just because they are Israelis or work for an Israeli institution. If Chicago University would have invited some Israeli professor, then cutting him off in protest would have been silencing of freedom of speech. But Ehud Olmert isn’t a private citizen and it’s obvious he’s a legitimate target for this purpose.”
If You Give Up Territory, You’ll Take it Out on Your Arab Citizens
That said, those of you hoping to find a partner for a rational debate about coexistence within the two-state framework will be highly disappointed. Abunimah believes in a single-state solution, bi-national, completely democratic, in which there’s no state expression of Jewish/Israeli nationality. He also wrote a book about it: One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse.
”It’s not that I oppose the two-state solution. I don’t think this solution exists. Those who try to repeat the mistakes of 1948 will find out that it won’t end less tragically, this time around,” he claims.
And still, let’s say that tomorrow we’re informed that Netanyahu and Abu-Mazen have signed an agreement that includes the pulling out of all that’s east of the separation fence and the founding of some sort of Palestinian state within the confines of what exists?
Before he answers this question, Abunimah specifies the way he sees the roots of the conflict: “First of all, expulsion of refugees from their land on a racial basis.”
Are you sure it’s correct to insist on the term “racism” in this context? It’s tribalism, our side and your side.
“Religious-ethnical basis, if you wish. It’s obvious that if they would have converted, they would have been allowed to stay. The second point is the racist treatment discriminating Palestinians citizens of Israel, and the third point is occupation and colonization. Something resembling a state, headed by Abu-Mazen, or anyone else, only solves the third point, because you can’t forfeit the right of return in the name of others.”
There’s a contradiction, or maybe discrimination, because you expect Israel’s government to give up holy places and historic regions in the name of the whole of the Jewish people, but reject the right of the Palestinian government to do so.
“We must discern “rights” that are based on a historical, half-mythological narrative that refers to events of over 2000 years ago, from the rights of people that some of which are still alive and were physically expelled, themselves, from their homes and lands. It’s obvious that the latter is more pressing than the former,” he argues.
“Referring to your question,” he continues, “do you really believe you can evacuate half a million settlers from their homes?”
I personally believe so, if there’s a will. It was also thought that it would be impossible to evacuate the Gaza Strip. Most of the people that need to be evacuated aren’t ideological settlers. They’ll give him money and he’ll leave, and with the ones that persist all the way, the security forces will deal with them.
“I don’t believe it’s possible, but even if it is, do you know what will happen? There won’t be two states that live side by side in peace. I’ll tell you why: The Israelis will be so full of a feeling that “we gave up so much, we gave so much. And we’re still stuck with a million and a half Arabs that only want more and more”, until the nationalism, aggression and will, that’s hidden within most, to ethnically cleanse, will surface, so the evacuation of the West Bank won’t solve anything, and will only change the identity of the Palestinians that are Israel’s victims. I think Meyron Benbenishty sees the situation clearer than most Israeli analysts. I often disagree with him about the conclusions, but hi- analysis of the situation is very correct, in my opinion. He calls this land, Palestine, the state of Israel, whatever you call it, “a de-facto bi-national state”, and I agree with this turn of phrase”.
Using the Neighbor’s House as Collateral
Look, the essence of Zionism was to build a shelter where all Jews could flee in case of pogroms. Will this bi-national state that you envision insure this right?
This is where Abunimah’s answer splits in two: “Personally, I wouldn’t object that a bi-national, democratic, equal, state, after all the wrongs that were done to the Palestinian people are emended, would make a commitment to receive every persecuted Jew at a time of need. Palestine has a rich and ancient tradition of as a place of refuge to the persecuted, near and far, including Armenians, Caucasian tribes, Africans and also Jews, single people, families and sometimes whole communities, for generations, have used Palestine as a place of refuge.”
“But principally speaking,” Abunimah retracts, “It’ important to understand the the Jews of the world aren’t allowed to hold someone’s house as collateral in case the house they live in now burns. This idea that it’s the right of a limited number of Jews to hold on to this land, while oppressing the indigenous population as an insurance policy for people who don’t live here is absurd. Zionism presumed to create a safe haven for Jews. In effect, the majority of world Jews choose not to live in it, it’s a safe haven for no one, and to the people who live in it, an insurance policy is citizenship in another country, preferably one in the European Union.”
You ask me if I believe it’s possible to uproot half a million settlers. Do you really believe that Israelis and Palestinians can merge into one state?
“I understand your question. Hate exists within both sides and in order to examine it, we must examine the root of the conflict. But the major mistake of those dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the thought that it’s so unique. It’s not. In northern Ireland there are two communities, with a longer lasting conflict, and each one with its own contradicting narrative, just like us. The colonial dynamics are also similar. In order to solve the conflict, first there’s need of recognition of its root causes, recognition of the wrongs, and recognition of the rights of the victims. Yes, each Palestinian and his family that has been uprooted from his land has a right to return to their homes. It’s also not as impossible as it sounds. The state of Israel has backup plans to receive a million immigrants, if the need be. So the possibility is there.
But first of all there must be recognition of the right. Then there can be talk of application. No one promises that thousands of Palestinians living well in the Middle East and the rest of the world will run to live in the homeland, and of course there’s the ability of the existing population to receive immigration, to consider. But the right has to be acknowledged. First of all there’s a need to erect institutions and policies and mechanisms that will foster true equality. Quality accommodations, police that is perceived as an honest broker and not as a one sided militia. Like Northern Ireland, like other places, human beings find a way to reconcile and shatter imposed structures of hate”.
Northern Ireland as an Intermediate Stage
So you do support a solution like in Northern Ireland? Because there the land was distributed.
“It’s true that the island has yet to be united there, and I believe that in the end it will happen. If there will be an intermediate stage in which there’s one state for the local indigenous population, like the Republic of Ireland, and also a completely bi-national state, with complete equal rights and specific immigration arrangements for each population (the Northern Ireland Protestants, for example, have a right to freely immigrate to Britain), then maybe it could work. But who wants that? There’s this kind of religion of two-states, and I call it a religion because it doesn’t base itself on evidence. They say that Israelis really want that, and that Fatah really wants it, and almost 20 years they’re working on it, so how is it that it isn’t happening? It isn’t happening because no one wants it to happen, because both sides understand that it’s impossible. It’s only Israel deluding itself that it can continue sustaining occupation forever, when occupation itself is an anachronistic term. There can be occupation for a few months, maybe even a few years, but 40 years of occupation and settlements and assimilation? The world is beginning to understand what’s going on and it won’t have it.”
And this is the point where we return to the aims of sites such as the information site Electronic Intifada and of the BDS movement.
“That’s right. We believe that in spite of the existence of a very small Israeli left, the majority of Israelis will be delighted to continue going to the beach, watch movies and shows and it in good restaurants, while at a distance of less than a hundred Kilometers from there children are starving. As long as they don’t understand that the current policies only bring them suffering, that it constricts their stride and detaches them from all they want, they won’t want to listen. We’re waiting for them to be ready.”
Do you know the terms “switch a disc” and ”burn in the consciousness”?
Abunimah elegantly ignores the opportunity to savor the irony and answers seriously: “There must be a struggle of ideas to change all our current ideas about our possible future. These are the struggles I believe in. There’s nothing that binds these struggles to the spilling of blood.”
A Culture Lesson and Optimism (depends for whom)
You read Hebrew, follow the media here and you also chose to take a course in Hebrew poetry in the university. Among your writings we can also find a small effort to promote the works of Jewish artists of an Arab ethnicity, especially those who created in Arabic.
“Yes, I think that one of the biggest crimes of Zionism was actually perpetrated against the Jews and their spiritual world. In that it debased all that was “exile-esque” [גלותי], it detached itself and the people under its authority from their roots. There was harsh oppression of both the Yiddish culture and the Jewish-Arabic culture.”
This is correct, and in the past generation there’s a growing awareness of this, and already a whole generation’s-time it isn’t shameful to become interested in where the grandparents came from and to revive their culture. On the contrary.
“That’s right, and it’s wonderful.”
And what about the new Hebrew culture? Is there something, out of the huge variety that has been created here, that you can relate to?
“Without a doubt there’s an existing Israeli-Jewish culture, but it’s very tough for Palestinians to view it out of the prism of the conflict, not to mention that Israel uses culture explicitly for Hasbara purposes. The solutions I suggest may free the Israeli-Jewish culture from these confines and find recognition and respect within broader circles.”
To conclude, you’re one of the biggest promoters of a bi-national state in what is today referred to as Israel and the Palestinian territories. Are you optimistic?
“I’m very optimistic. I think it will happen in the lifetimes of the 1948 refugees. There’s not much time and they should be able to see justice before they pass on.”
And then you’ll come to live here?
“I can’t say for sure that I will. I don’t know. But I won’t give up my right to do so.”
Surprising Results of CFR Survey
By JEFFREY BLANKFORT
December 7, 2009
The Council on Foreign Relations is always near the top of the Left’s list of bogeymen that stand accused of pulling the strings of US foreign policy. It is right up there with the Bilderberg Group and the Trilateral Commission, right? Wrong. If that was the case, those arguing that US support for Israel is based on it being a “strategic asset” will have a hard time explaining a Pew Research Center survey on America’s Place in the World, taken of 642 CFR members between October 2 and November 16. The Pew poll not only reveals that the overwhelming majority, two-thirds of the members of this elite foreign policy institution, believes that the United States has gone overboard in favoring Israel, it doesn’t consider Israel to have have much importance to the US in the first place.
What can be concluded from the answers to questions that dealt with the Israel-Palestine conflict is that the general public forms its opinions from what it hears and reads in the mainstream media which are largely biased towards Israel while CFR members have greater access to as well as interest in obtaining more accurate information and are less susceptible to pro-Israel propaganda. That apparently not a single US newspaper saw fit to report on the opinions of CFR members, under those circumstances, is not surprising. The evidence:
(1) That on a list of countries that will be the “more important as America’s allies and partners” in the future, just 4 per cent included Israel which placed it in a tie with South Korea and far behinf China, 58 per cent, India, 55 per cent, Brazil,37 per cent, the EU, 19 per cent, Russia, 17 per cent, Japan, 16 per cent, the UK and Turkey, 10 per cent, Germany, 9 per cent, Mexico, 8 per cent, Canada, Indonesia, Australia and France at 5 per cent. CFR voters were allowed to make up to seven selections.(Q19)
(2) When asked which countries would be less important to the US, Israel, at 9 per cent was behind 22 countries including Canada and Mexico and in the region Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.(Q20)
(3) What was particularly revealing is that “in the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians,” only 26 per cent of the CFR sided with Israel, compared with 51 per cent of 2000 members of the general public who were polled over the same period. While but 16 per cent of CFR members sided with the Palestinians compared to 12 per cent of the public, 41 per cent of the CFRers sided with “both equally” as opposed to 4 per cent of the public. Supporting neither was 12 per cent of the CFR and 14 per cent of the public. (Q33)
(4) That the CFR has not had a major hand in making US Israel-Palestine policy nor is it in agreement with those who did is strikingly revealed by the response of its members when asked their opinion of US Middle East policies. The problem, according to 67 per cent of CFR members (as compared to 30 per cent of the public) is that the US favored Israeli too much, while only 2 per cent (as opposed to 15 per cent of the public) believed that US policy overly favored the Palestinians.. Twenty-four percent of the CFR believed US policy “struck the right balance” as did 29 per cent of the public. (Q34)
(5) The overwhelming majority of CFR members, 69 per cent, think that Pres.Obama is “striking the right balance” between the Israelis and Palestinians as compared with a slim majority, 51 per cent of the public. Thirteen percent of the CFR believes that Obama is “favoring Israel too much,” as compared with 7 per cent of the public, while 12 per cent thinks he is siding with the Palestinians, a position taken by 16 per cent of the public. (Q35)
Regarding Iran, one detects the same gap between the CFR and the public. Whereas a 64 per cent-34 per cent majority of the polled CFR members see Iran as a major threat to US interests, compared with a 72-20 per cent per cent majority of the public, only 33 per cent of the CFR would support an attack on Iran should it get a nuclear weapon as contrasted with 63 per cent of the public. (Q7) [...]
The entire Pew survey can be viewed here:
Real News Network
December 7, 2009
By Sami Jamil Jadallah • Dec 7th, 2009 at 9:31
Even before he was elected president, Barack Obama faced relentless and vicious attacks of mainstream American Jewish organizations and leadership with claims of being Muslim in secret, of lacking the born American credential among many other claims, including being anti-Israel even though as a senator he was one of the most ardent supporters of Israel and always voted in favor of Israel on all bills drafted by AIPAC and passed by the US Senate.
I think it is necessary here to inform the readers that the Jewish community and leadership of Chicago were the early sponsors and mentors for then local politician Obama, with Penny Pritzker of the “Hyatt Hotels” as key supporters together with Joan Harris-Leading the well known Chicago philanthropists, Lestor Crown of the Jewish Federation, David Axelrod who managed Obama’s win of the White House to the president’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, the son of an Israeli member of the Jewish terrorist group “Irgun”, in addition to key support from Hollywood moguls the likes of Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffery Katzenberg, and not withstanding the testimony of Alon Pinkas of the Jerusalem Post “Obama’s voting record on issues pertaining to Israel is impeccable” to be seconded by Haaretz US correspondent Shmuel Rosner “Obama supports Israel, period”.
This attack continued after his election and recently this attack became more and more vicious after his speech in Cairo and after his demands (which he quickly withdrew and retreated from) that Israel freeze its programs of settlements building in Palestinian occupied territories. Such attacks are spearheaded by senior members of Netanyahu’s Likud party and their supporters and influential and powerful sponsors in the in the United States among mainstream Jewish leadership and organizations, whose power and influence go beyond formulations of US foreign policy and goes to domestic issues through the stranglehold they have over members of Congress.
Israel officials like Minister Limor Livnat labeled Obama’s administration as “terrible”, with Yossi Naim head of the Beit Aryeh regional council threatening Obama with his declaration ”I announce to you Obama: You won’t be able to stop us”. With many leading Israeli and American Jewish leaders charging that Obama by his calls for freezing Israeli settlements is promoting “ethnic cleansing of Jews and jeopardizing Israeli security”. It seems Israeli security is built on land theft.
The Jewish settlers’ leadership and their political and financial sponsors within mainstream American Jewish community and in Congress are spearheading the anti-Obama campaign. An American Jewish leadership and community that is never grateful to the United States for half of century of political, military, financial and legal support that enabled Israel to commit the kinds of crimes it is committing on a daily basis since the ‘67 War, committing war crimes in Gaza and in Lebanon, with the use of cluster and phosphorous bombs on civilian targets and using American-supplied weapons to bomb and kill civilian targets, with the United States providing the Veto power that so far has enabled Israel to get away with murder and violations of international and humanitarian laws.
Not only does the United States provide political and legal cover for Israeli crimes, it also allows and in fact supports the illegal settlements and criminal settlers through tax exemptions of American Jewish organizations, groups, individuals even synagogues that fund the criminal and terrorist activities of Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank and in East Jerusalem. One of the key Israeli organizations that receives US tax exempt funds is “The Task Force to Save the Nation and the Land” which gave cash awards of NIS 20,000 to each Israeli soldier who lifted signs that read, ”The Shimshon Battalion does not evict from Homesh” a month ago at the Western Wall, gave NIS 1,800 to solider Tzach Kortz for shooting a Palestinian near Kiryat Arba and that gives NIS 1,000 each day to every soldier who publicly demonstrates their opposition to Israeli evacuations from the West Bank, gives NIS 1,000 for each day soldiers spend in military prisons for disobeying orders of military commanders that comes to dealing with Jewish settlers. The list goes on and on with hundreds of American Jewish groups, rich and powerful business leaders supporting the Israeli Jewish settlers’ movements and the crimes and terror they commit on a daily basis against the people of Al-Khalil/Hebron, against Palestinian towns and villages burning and uprooting centuries-old olive trees, poisoning water wells and killing of livestock, not to mention killing and murdering of Palestinian villagers. This is in contrast to the microscopic scrutiny that mosques, Muslim and Arab charities are subjected to on a daily basis from US law enforcement agencies.
The failure of the United States government to enforce its laws related to export of and use of American weapons against civilian targets and its failure to look into and revoke the tax exemption statutes of many of the American Jewish organizations that actively support and fund Jewish terrorism in Palestinian territories shows that President Obama is not an enemy of the Jews but a very good friend of Israel and its criminal policies in the Occupied Territories, otherwise he could order his attorney general to look into and investigate funding of Jewish settlers’ groups and organizations, perhaps issue executive orders that revoke tax exemption status of American Jewish organizations that fund and sponsor Jewish terrorism.
However all of that support by the Obama’s administration is never enough to satisfy power and political greed of the American Jewish leadership and community. They have succeeded in derailing the nomination of Chaz Freeman to chair the National Intelligence Council citing his “anti-Israeli leanings” and now are after former senator Chuck Hagel as President Obama’s intelligence aid and his lack of being pro-Israel. It seems and in the words of Natsha Mozgovaya writing in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, “Every appointee to the American government must endure a thorough background check by the American Jewish community”. That is the way it is in the United States, what really counts are Israel and the American Jewish community and the hell with the United States and its national and security interests. The litmus tests of public service in the United States is not loyalty to the US or long-term service but loyalty to Israel and its supporters in the United States, supporters and sponsors who corrupted our election laws and financing, corrupted both the executive and Legislative branch and are now on the way to corrupting the judicial branch and perhaps undermining and corrupting the soul of our nation’s strength; the United States Constitution.