The lead story in yesterday’s New York Times was titled “U.S. Urges Egypt to let Civilians Govern Quickly” and was about a new stance by the Obama administration pressuring Tantawi and the SCAF to get out of the way of the Egyptian people.
Well nine times in that piece, reporter Helene Cooper states what the American government cares about most, the treaty with Israel. In fact, the last word in the article is Israel.
Here are the nine references, starting with the second paragraph:
the Egyptian military which, perhaps more than any other entity in the region, has for 30 years served as the bulwark protecting a critical American concern in the Middle East: the 1979 Camp David peace treaty between Egypt and Israel….
the beginning of a shift in how the United States deals with a fast-changing Arab region and tries to preserve the Egypt-Israel peace accord.
…— the Islamists — who might not be as wedded to the peace treaty as the military,” Mr. Indyk said. [Martin Indyk, Israel supporter, former ambassador]
The Obama administration appears now to be openly hedging its bets, trying to position the United States in such a way that regardless of who comes out on top — the army or the protesters — it will still maintain some credibility, and ability, to influence the government and ensure a level of stability in Egypt, and to continue to uphold the Egyptian-Israeli peace deal, which the United States views as central to stability in the region as a whole….
For more than 30 years, the United States has viewed the Egyptian military as the safeguard of the Camp David peace accord that was signed by Menachim Begin and Anwar Sadat in 1979. When President Obama broke with Mr. Mubarak this year, administration officials at the same time sought assurances that the Egyptian military would guide the transition to democracy and continue to uphold the treaty.
Since then, Egyptian democracy advocates and the country’s opposing political parties, including the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, have mostly indicated that they, too, would continue to uphold the treaty, albeit with some possible modifications, like the number of troops in the Sinai.
But there remains uncertainty over whether a new civilian Egyptian government will be as wedded to the treaty as the Egyptian military has been, which is why the administration has trod so carefully in Egypt. ..
Of all of the countries undergoing tumult in the Middle East this year, there is none more central to American interests than Egypt. …
Egypt is different. “In terms of the weight of any single country, Egypt outweighs them all,” said Rob Malley, program director for the Middle East and North Africa with the International Crisis Group. “The reason why is because of its size, its population, the historical role its played in influencing Arab public opinion, and, of course, from the U.S. point of view, because of its peace agreement with Israel.”
It makes me wonder, is the self-determination of the 85 million Egyptian people less important than the maintenance of a Jewish-majority state and Jewish government in Israel. Yes. Were decades of Egyptian dictatorship worth it to preserve Israel? I guess so. Is this really the relationship we want with the Arab world?
And no I don’t like instability. I want peaceful transition. But what if the Egyptian people hate the Gaza siege and hate the occupation? What if they want to isolate Israel further? These could be good things. They could hasten freedom in Palestine, whose oppression afflicts the world.
Congress is now considering legislative language to mandate indefinite military detentions of US citizens suspected of present or past associations with alleged terrorist groups, with or without evidence to prove it. More on that below.
The 2006 Military Commissions Act authorized torture and sweeping unconstitutional powers to detain, interrogate, and prosecute alleged suspects and collaborators (including US citizens), hold them (without evidence) indefinitely in military prisons, and deny them habeas and other constitutional protections.
Section 1031 of the FY 2010 Defense Authorization Act contained the 2009 Military Commissions Act (MCA). The phrase “unprivileged enemy belligerent” replaced “unlawful enemy combatant.”
Language changed but not intent or lawlessness. Obama embraces the same Bush agenda, including keeping Guantanamo open after promising to close it, allowing torture there and abroad, and treating US citizens as lawlessly as foreign nationals.
MCA grants sweeping police state powers, including that “no court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider any claim or cause for action whatsoever….relating to the prosecution, trial, or judgment of a military commission (including) challenges to the lawfulness of (its) procedures….”
MCA scraped habeas protection (dating back to the 1215 Magna Carta) for domestic and foreign state enemies, citizens and non-citizens alike.
It says “Any person is punishable… who….aids, abets, counsels, commands, or procures,” and in so doing helps a foreign enemy, provide “material support” to alleged terrorist groups, engages in spying, or commits other offenses previously handled in civil courts. No evidence is needed. Those charged are guilty by accusation.
Other key provisions include:
- legalizing torture against anyone, letting the president decide what procedures can be used on his own authority;
- denying detainees international law protection;
- letting the executive interpret or ignore international and US law;
- letting the president convene “military commissions” at his discretion to try anyone he designates an “unprivileged enemy belligerent,” detaining them indefinitely in secret;
- denying speedy trials or none at all;
- letting torture coerced confessions be used as evidence in trial proceedings, despite US and international law prohibiting cruel and inhuman treatment at all times, under all conditions, with no allowed exceptions;
- letting hearsay and secret evidence be used; and
- denying due process and judicial fairness overall.
On May 21, 2009, Obama addressed national security and civil liberties issues, including Guantanamo detainees, military commissions, and torture.
Saying his “single most important responsibility as president is to keep the American people safe,” he bogusly claimed Al Qaeda “is actively planning to attack us again (and) this threat will be with us for a long time….”
He added that uncharged detainees “who cannot be prosecuted yet who pose a clear danger to the American people” (with or without evidence to prove it) will be held indefinitely without trial.
Obama’s March 7, 2011 Executive Order authorized military commission trials for Guantanamo detainees with revamped procedures, despite pledging to close the prison.
Congress Considers New Freedom-Stripping Legislation
On October 17, 2011, the ACLU addressed Section 1031 of S. 1253: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, saying it “significantly curtails existing protections against indefinite detention without charge or trial.”
It goes beyond previous laws by hardening them extrajudicially.
The last time Congress authorized indefinite detentions for uncharged US citizens without trial was in 1950. The Emergency Detention Act provision of the Internal Security Act authorized incarceration for those considered likely to commit espionage or sabotage.
It was never used, then repealed by the 1971 Non-Detenton Act, stating:
“No citizen shall be imprisoned or otherwise detained by the United States except pursuant to an Act of Congress.”
At issue was never again subjecting US citizens to lawless internment the way Japanese Americans were treated in 1942, forcing loyal citizens into War Relocation Camps.
Section 1031 of S. 1253 “would be the first exception to the statute’s protections.” Subsection (d) provides US citizens “little or no” indefinite detention protections domestically or abroad.
The provision refers solely to “citizens or lawful resident aliens of the United States.” However, the Constitution fully protects them.
“Section 1031 could cause cleared naturalized United States citizens and cleared immigrants to be sent to a foreign country, even in the absence of any wrongdoing.”
Subsection (c) provides four options:
- indefinite detention without charge;
- military commission trials;
- trial by another tribunal; or
- transfer “to the custody or control of the person’s country of origin, any other foreign country, or any other foreign entity.”
Even someone erroneously arrested and cleared of wrongdoing could be held indefinitely without charge, given non-civil trials, or sent abroad.
Post-9/11, Arab and/or Muslim Americans lawlessly experienced “roundups” because of their faith and ethnicity. Latino immigrants face similar abuse.
Section 1031 would authorize similar practices. Military forces could be used. US citizens would be terrorized, detained and held indefinitely without charge or trial, based solely on suspicions, baseless allegations or none at all.
No reasonable proof is required, just suspicions that those detained pose threats. Under subsection (b)(1), indefinite detentions can follow mere membership or support for suspect organizations.
US citizens at home and abroad could be detained. Presidents would have unchecked authority to arrest, interrogate and indefinitely detain law-abiding citizens if accused of potentially posing a threat.
Constitutional, statute and international law won’t apply. Martial law will replace it. As a result, anyone for any reason or none at all could be indefinitely detained for life without charges or trial.
Section 1031 exceeds the laws of war. Its ambiguities and excesses would institute extrajudicial national security state terror. No one anywhere would be safe.
It calls “covered persons” anyone captured or detained, even unconnected to hostilities. In other words, the executive could order anyone indefinitely incarcerated on his say alone. The provision would exceed current presidential authority.
Like the companion House bill, detention would be authorized based on alleged prior associations with suspect groups. US military personnel anywhere in the world would be able to seize US citizens and others.
Anyone could be incarcerated for life with no possibility for redress. Section 1032 requires suspects held in military custody, outside constitutionally mandated civil protections.
Due process and judicial review won’t apply. Police state lawlessness could terrorize anyone suspected of terrorist group ties without proof.
In other words, presidents could order anyone imprisoned for life without cause. Despotic regimes operate this way. So would America more extrajudicially than ever.
Tyranny will replace constitutional law. Middle of the night arrests could become common. No one anywhere would be safe, including unjustly accused citizens.
The ACLU calls indefinite detention without judicial review “an appalling abuse of power. We know that our government has already mistakenly detained hundreds of people on suspicion of terrorism over the past 10 years.”
“Many have languished in custody for years with no way to even assert their innocence or address the evidence against them. All people are entitled to due process.”
Imagine new likely power abuses, including claiming OWS protesters threaten America.
Imagine human and civil rights workers, as well as anti-war activists targeted.
Imagine anyone challenging wealth and power interests at risk.
Imagine an America more than ever not fit to live in, and nowhere to hide.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
Which Side Are We On? NYT, U.S and Cluster Bombs
International efforts to ban cluster bombs fell apart late last week. If you were reading about this in the New York Times, you might have been led to believe that the United States was pushing to get rid of the weapons–instead of the opposite.
Here’s the lead sentence from a story in Saturday’s paper (11/26/11):
GENEVA — Despite last-minute attempts to broker a compromise, American-led efforts to conclude an international treaty restricting use of cluster munitions collapsed on Friday in the face of opposition from countries that said it did not address their humanitarian concerns and would undermine existing international law.
This “American-led effort,” readers were told, “reflected the increasing stigmatization of a weapon recognized as causing unacceptable harm to civilians and seen as having lasting effects on development for decades after conflicts have ended.”
Well, who opposes such efforts? It takes a little while to understand that the other side is taking a much tougher stance to eliminate cluster bombs, as outlined at an Oslo conference in 2008:
But countries and disarmament groups opposing the draft treaty said the humanitarian impact of the proposed protocol would be minimal and would legitimize continued use of other cluster munitions that are recognized to cause unacceptable harm.
These countries, together with the International Committee of the Red Cross and United Nations agencies dealing with development and human rights, also argued that the adoption of a legal instrument that was weaker than the Oslo agreement would set a dangerous precedent.
The Times’ confused account is in stark contrast to other reporting. This Reuters piece, for example, does a much better job of explaining things in its lead:
GENEVA (Reuters) — A U.S.-led push to regulate, rather than ban, cluster munitions failed Friday after 50 countries objected, following humanitarian campaigners’ claims that anything less than a outright ban would be an unprecedented reversal of human rights law.
Something tells me the Times story would look a little differently if the United States weren’t on the pro-cluster bomb side of this argument.
‘It’s time to stop the bully’: Adbusters editor Kalle Lasn on Occupy Wall Street, the Israel lobby and the New York Times
When the Occupy Wall Street protests began to attract attention in the fall, everyone wanted to know where the idea to set up a permanent protest at the heart of Manhattan’s financial district came from. The answer was the mind of Kalle Lasn, the co-editor (along with Micah White) of the anti-consumerist “culture jamming” magazine Adbusters. It was Adbusters, calling for an American “Tahrir moment,” that originally put out the call to occupy Wall Street on September 17.
But not all the attention Lasn and his magazine received was positive, though. It was the New York Times coverage of Adbusters and Lasn’s role in the Occupy movement that caused him the most grief by smearing them as anti-Semitic.
“For me, the New York Times is really important right now, because it was one of the most ugly experiences of my year, where they took a couple of quick swipes at my magazine and me personally,” Lasn told Mondoweiss in a recent phone interview. “I have such huge respect for the New York Times and I subscribe to it and I’ve been reading it every morning for the last ten years of my life.”
Now, Lasn is speaking out about the New York Times‘ refusal to print his response to two articles in the newspaper that alleged Adbusters was anti-Semitic. (Read more about the controversy here, and read this New Yorker article on the origins and future of Occupy Wall Street for more about Lasn and White.)
Mondoweiss recently caught up with Lasn for an extended interview with the sixty-nine year old activist to discuss Occupy Wall Street, Palestine, the Israel lobby and more.
Alex Kane: Tell me about yourself, I’ve read some, but details about your life and what you’re doing at Adbusters.
Kalle Lasn: Well, I don’t think my history’s all that fascinating, but I think the really fascinating thing about Adbusters magazine and what I’m doing right now is this Occupy movement that we helped to spark a couple of months ago and the possibilities for where this movement could—the possibility it could fizzle out, but it could also blossom into this powerful kind of force on the political left that could change not just the way we think about financial speculators and fat cats on Wall Street, but all kinds of arenas as well, including the political and foreign policy arenas. So, yeah, that’s sort of the big thing in my life right now, just thinking about that and trying to infuse our magazine and our website and our tactical briefings with this spirit of this youthful revolt that the Occupy movement represents.
AK: How do you see Adbusters’ role in the Occupy movement?
KL: Well you know, we were the people who were lucky enough to sort of spark the whole thing just at the right moment with some of the posters we came up with and that hashtag Occupy Wall Street [#occupywallstreet], choosing that magical date, September 17th, that seemed to absolutely be the right moment. When a movement is ripe, then all it takes is one spark, and I think that spark did happen on September the 17th, and after that of course, the movement started to have a life of its own, and all we’ve really been doing is churning out our tactical briefings and trying to, to the extent that it’s possible, to sort of have influence on a movement like this, to infuse our Adbusters’ tactical ideas into the movement and trying to keep our finger in the pie, so to speak.
KL: Let me enlarge the conversation a little bit. I think one of the interesting things about this Occupy movement is that I think it will come back, after hibernating for the winter, it will come back next spring and it will get involved in more than just economics. It will start playing around with politics and possibly launching third political parties and all kinds of political energy will come out of this movement. And one of the arenas that I think it may have some influence on is this—kind of a, what Adbusters long ago started calling the United States of Amnesia—this fact that most of the people in America actually aren’t getting the information that they need to make wise decisions about foreign policy and political matters. I think from my perspective, it seems like American political thinking is being distorted by a number of bubbles, and one of those bubbles is that AIPAC bubble, which is a very powerful, probably the most powerful lobby in America, and it has the power to intimidate politicians and get them to never say anything negative about Israel, and it’s got to the point where even the president of the United States is intimidated by this lobby and forced to do all kinds of things that he wouldn’t normally do.
I think another one of the bubbles is a media bubble, because there’s a special sensitivity to this issue, and the Holocaust, and it’s such an emotionally charged thing, and I think the media is quite often pro-Israeli in a knee-jerk way. For example, when Ehud Barak visited the United States of America last week, he went on the Charlie Rose Show, and with Fareed Zakaria, and he basically blitzed the media, and he left the impression that somehow it would be absolutely perfectly okay for us to attack Iran. Some of the other ways of looking at it—like this idea that Israel also has nukes, and that maybe a smarter strategy would be to fight for a nuclear-free Middle East rather than bomb the hell out of Iran, and some of the historical nuances about American CIA involvement back there a long time ago that started this unholy business that has been unfolding these past 30, 40, 50 years—those things were completely missing from the media. And then even newspapers like the New York Times, which is one of the great newspapers of the world, has Ethan Bronner and Isabel Kershner, a couple of their main people who write about the Middle East and Israeli/Palestine matters, and these two people are so obviously biased in favor of Israel, that it’s really disheartening to see the New York Times not mixing it up a little bit more and allowing more of a Palestinian perspective into what they write.
And David Brooks had a quick swipe at Adbusters, and then Joseph Berger took an even more vicious anti-Semitic swipe at Adbusters, and when we wrote them back a letter demanding a right of reply, they wouldn’t even print it, because we weren’t just talking about Ethan Bronner and Isabel Kershner and David Brooks, but we actually pointed out in our letter that the New York Times has got an anti-Palestinian bias to it, and they didn’t want to run that letter, I don’t know why. I hope you can phone them up and ask them. I did send an envelope to everybody at the New York Times giving them this back and forth e-mail exchange that I had fighting for my right of reply.
So there’s an AIPAC bubble, there’s a media bubble, but I think one of the even more powerful bubbles that exists in America in addition, is what I call the neocon bubble, and this is a very powerful, quite often very highly pro-Israeli bunch of intellectuals who have sort of been keeping all of us on our toes and they were instrumental in pushing a lot of policies, very heavily pro-Israeli policies, they were instrumental in pushing for the Iraq War and now they’re also instrumental in pushing for an attack on Iran. We have three big bubbles in America, and this is what we here at Adbusters have been kind of fighting against for the last 15 years.
AK: Right. It’s interesting, because what connects all those bubbles, really, is a devotion to Israel. But the article that David Brooks and Commentary criticized Adbusters for was pointing out the very simple fact that many neoconservatives are Jewish, and it’s a sensitive subject for many reasons obviously. But what are your thoughts on how all these questions relate to Jewish privilege and influence in the United States?
KL: Well, I’m not quite sure what you’re asking here, I mean, as I pointed out in my right of reply letter, David Brooks wrote an article last year where he pointed out that x percent of Pulitzer Prize winners were Jewish, and he had sort of a litany of a half-dozen percentages that all pointed out how intellectually powerful and creative the Jewish people are. And in my right of reply letter, I wanted to ask David Brooks, well, if he can quote those percentages, then why can’t Adbusters point out that a percentage of the neocons are also Jewish?
But for me, I think the really big point is, that article we wrote—that was written seven years ago. It was a half-page article in a copy of Adbusters seven years ago, and it has caused us a lot of grief—grief because we were attacked for being anti-Semitic, because if you start defending yourself against anti-Semitism, I found, then it’s a losing proposition. It’s like defending yourself against rabies; it’s like defending yourself against smallpox. The more you defend yourself, the more excited you get about defending yourself against it, the more people think, well this is suspicious, maybe the guy does have rabies, maybe the guy does have smallpox, maybe he is anti-Semitic.
So defending yourself against anti-Semitism is really a game, and I played that game for the first few months, and years after that article came out, I always lost. So I’ve decided I’m not going to play that game anymore. I would like to now go on the offensive, and I would like to talk about AIPAC, and I’d like to talk about the New York Times and Ethan Bronner and Isabel Kershner and David Brooks, and I’d like to, above all, start popping these three bubbles. The people who feel that American foreign policy has been distorted by the neocons, by the media and by AIPAC, it’s time for us to stop arguing about it and start going on the offensive. Stop defending yourself and go on the offensive right now and start popping those three bubbles. And I’m hoping that a lot of people of like mind from this Occupy movement will move into this area, and we will be as aggressive as AIPAC, as aggressive as some of these neocons have been, and fighting back against them. What I’m saying is, we need a hashtag, #occupytheneocons, we need a hashtag, #occupyAIPAC.
AK: You said the charges of anti-Semitism caused you at Adbusters a lot of grief. Was this personal grief, was this professional grief? Obviously, the charge of anti-Semitism can be a powerful one, and it can be career wrecking for some people.
KL: Oh yeah, it has ruined a lot of careers. And it’s damaged many of them. I really sympathize with people like Norman Finkelstein and even President Carter, who dare to use words like apartheid, or who dare to speak back against these neocons, and suddenly found themselves vilified, they found themselves pilloried in the media, and so it is a very, very dangerous thing to stand up and speak the way that Adbusters and many other people have done, because it can be career destroying, for a politician it could mean you’re not going to get elected next time around, and it’s for a lot of people, it’s just like a lose-lose proposition. It takes a lot of courage, and I hope that from now on the political left will have more of that courage, because why we’ve been losing these political battles for so long, and why American foreign policy has been so distorted by the dual-loyalties of many neocons. It’s because we’re always on the defensive, we’re scared to go on the offensive and we’re scared to actually expose one by one these neocons and actually point out where their loyalties lie and so on. And we’re scared to really rabidly go after AIPAC because it’s such a huge, big opponent that can do us in. So yes, I think we need more courage on the political left.
AK: You live in Canada, correct?
AK: And you know, Palestine, when it comes up in the Occupy movement, in New York at least, there’s been some controversy about it—kind of the old dividing line in left and anti-war movements. Where you live—I know Canada has become extremely right-wing in its support for Israel—but is the discourse the same where you live, or is it different?
KL: I think it’s very similar. Especially right now, we have a prime minister who is very right-wing and the discourse is very, very similar, I think it’s kind of a North American discourse, and I don’t think there’s a huge different between the Canadian discourse and the U.S. discourse. It’s just very, very similar, and the situation here is the same. Like for example, when we published an article that Canadian Jewish groups here found disturbing or offensive, then they were instrumental in convincing the biggest magazine distributor in Canada to pull 3,000 issues of Adbusters and not to allow Adbusters to distribute our magazine in their hundreds of stores around Canada. So this is the sort of power they have and this is the grief that they can cause for people. Quite apart from some people getting offended and canceling their subscription, which is just par for the course when you run a magazine, but the Jewish lobby, the pro-Israeli lobby in Canada and the U.S., has this power to really make magazines like us pay a price for speaking back.
AK: What do you make of the fact that there has been controversy, at least some and obviously Palestine doesn’t play a big part in the Occupy movement, but the fact that there has been at least some online controversy about Palestine in the Occupy movement. What does that say to you?
KL: Oh, I haven’t thought too much about that, I don’t really think about stuff like that. I mean, for me, it’s a more simple kind of situation, I don’t really bother with smaller skirmishes. I mean, for me, it’s about Israel behaving badly, and it’s about the Palestinian freedom fight, which I really believe in. I believe that the Palestinian freedom fight is one of the great freedom fights of our time, and I want to support it in any way that I can.
AK: And you were saying before, as the Occupy movement expands, you want and you think and you’re interested in seeing whether the Occupy movements take on U.S. foreign policy. Can you talk more about that?
KL: You know, well, I think that the political left has been whining and complaining and being kind of useless, in the sense that the Berlin Wall fell back in 1989, and we basically have been very ineffectual. And here at Adbusters we have been saying for a long, long time that we have to jump over the dead body of the old left, and we’ve been trying to do that but now with this Occupy movement I think it is finally possible to jump over the dead body of the old left, and for some of these Young Turks who are coming out of the Occupy movement, for us to start having our own powerful, kind of a, intellectual group of people that can stand up to the neocons, and can infuse the American media with different perspectives than what we’re getting right now and we can sort of engage with AIPAC in a way where they don’t always win. So I think that many of the occupiers will not agree with me that the Palestinian freedom fight is one of the great freedom fights of all time and they should be supported, I mean they will have their own perspective, but I think, and do feel, that now that it’s kind of “cool” to be left again, there will be some powerful lefty political discourse starting to come out of this movement. And I think it has the power to start popping some of these bubbles that I’ve been talking about and giving the people of America more information to make wise decisions about whether we should support an attack on Iran, or whether we should cut off the money supply to the Palestinians, or whether we should allow Netanyahu to build more settlements, and stuff like that.
AK: I know you said your personal background wasn’t pertinent, but I was reading that you were born in Estonia. Is that correct?
KL: That’s correct. If you’re looking for some sort of, bit of a hint from my history for where I’m coming from, is that, yeah, I was born in Estonia and when the Russians came in my family caught the last [way] out and spent the next five years in various displaced persons’ camps in Europe and Germany, and I remember the first few years of my life were full of emotional, political discourse. I went to sleep every night listening to the adults argue about the Nazis and the Russians and so I’m a highly politicized human being right from the start. And I’ve always believed in, I’ve always taken the side of, I hate bullies. I hate bullies and I love freedom fights.
AK: How has that experience shaped your politics on Israel/Palestine?
KL: Yeah. When I see Israel acting so arrogant and so tough—here’s one of the most powerful military forces in the world, they have nukes—and when I see them cordoning off Gaza the way they do and when they attack Gaza the way they did, it just fills me with rage because this is a powerful bully that is basically turning Gaza into kind of a turkey shoot. I really see it in this kind of very visceral way, like how could they possibly get away with doing this? For me, it’s almost a very black and white battle where, let’s stop arguing about who’s right and who’s wrong, let’s just take sides and start fighting for the human rights and the other rights that the Palestinians should have, and let’s not allow the bully to always win. I mean, it’s time to stop the bully.
Yet Another Goldman Sachs Take Over
On November 25, two days after a failed German government bond auction in which Germany was unable to sell 35 per cent of its offerings of 10-year bonds, the German finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble said that Germany might retreat from its demands that the private banks that hold the troubled sovereign debt from Greece, Italy, and Spain must accept part of the cost of their bailout by writing off some of the debt. The private banks want to avoid any losses, either by forcing the Greek, Italian, and Spanish governments to make good on the bonds by imposing extreme austerity on their citizens, or by having the European Central Bank print euros with which to buy the sovereign debt from the private banks. Printing money to make good on debt is contrary to the ECB’s charter and especially frightens Germans, because of the Weimar experience with hyperinflation.
Obviously, the German government got the message from the orchestrated failed bond auction. As I wrote at the time, there is no reason for Germany, with its relatively low debt to GDP ratio compared to the troubled countries, not to be able to sell its bonds. If Germany’s creditworthiness is in doubt, how can Germany be expected to bail out other countries? Evidence that Germany’s failed bond auction was orchestrated is provided by troubled Italy’s successful bond auction two days later.
Strange, isn’t it. Italy, the largest EU country that requires a bailout of its debt, can still sell its bonds, but Germany, which requires no bailout and which is expected to bear a disproportionate cost of Italy’s, Greece’s and Spain’s bailout, could not sell its bonds.
In my opinion, the failed German bond auction was orchestrated by the US Treasury, by the European Central Bank and EU authorities, and by the private banks that own the troubled sovereign debt.
My opinion is based on the following facts. Goldman Sachs and US banks have guaranteed perhaps one trillion dollars or more of European sovereign debt by selling swaps or insurance against which they have not reserved. The fees the US banks received for guaranteeing the values of European sovereign debt instruments simply went into profits and executive bonuses. This, of course, is what ruined the American insurance giant, AIG, leading to the TARP bailout at US taxpayers’ expense and Goldman Sachs’ enormous profits.
If any of the European sovereign debt fails, US financial institutions that issued swaps or unfunded guarantees against the debt are on the hook for large sums that they do not have. The reputation of the US financial system probably could not survive its default on the swaps it has issued. Therefore, the failure of European sovereign debt would renew the financial crisis in the US, requiring a new round of bailouts and/or a new round of Federal Reserve “quantitative easing,” that is, the printing of money in order to make good on irresponsible financial instruments, the issue of which enriched a tiny number of executives.
Certainly, President Obama does not want to go into an election year facing this prospect of high profile US financial failure. So, without any doubt, the US Treasury wants Germany out of the way of a European bailout.
The private French, German, and Dutch banks, which appear to hold most of the troubled sovereign debt, don’t want any losses. Either their balance sheets, already ruined by Wall Street’s fraudulent derivatives, cannot stand further losses or they fear the drop in their share prices from lowered earnings due to write-downs of bad sovereign debts. In other words, for these banks big money is involved, which provides an enormous incentive to get the German government out of the way of their profit statements.
The European Central Bank does not like being a lesser entity than the US Federal Reserve and the UK’s Bank of England. The ECB wants the power to be able to undertake “quantitative easing” on its own. The ECB is frustrated by the restrictions put on its powers by the conditions that Germany required in order to give up its own currency and the German central bank’s control over the country’s money supply. The EU authorities want more “unity,” by which is meant less sovereignty of the member countries of the EU. Germany, being the most powerful member of the EU, is in the way of the power that the EU authorities desire to wield.
Thus, the Germans bond auction failure, an orchestrated event to punish Germany and to warn the German government not to obstruct “unity” or loss of individual country sovereignty.
Germany, which has been browbeat since its defeat in World War II, has been made constitutionally incapable of strong leadership. Any sign of German leadership is quickly quelled by dredging up remembrances of the Third Reich. As a consequence, Germany has been pushed into an European Union that intends to destroy the political sovereignty of the member governments, just as Abe Lincoln destroyed the sovereignty of the American states.
Who will rule the New Europe? Obviously, the private European banks and Goldman Sachs.
The new president of the European Central Bank is Mario Draghi. This person was Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Goldman Sachs International and a member of Goldman Sachs’ Management Committee. Draghi was also Italian Executive Director of the World Bank, Governor of the Bank of Italy, a member of the governing council of the European Central Bank, a member of the board of directors of the Bank for International Settlements, and a member of the boards of governors of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Asian Development Bank, and Chairman of the Financial Stability Board.
Obviously, Draghi is going to protect the power of bankers.
Italy’s new prime minister, who was appointed not elected, was a member of Goldman Sachs Board of International Advisers. Mario Monti was appointed to the European Commission, one of the governing organizations of the EU. Monti is European Chairman of the Trilateral Commission, a US organization that advances American hegemony over the world. Monti is a member of the Bilderberg group and a founding member of the Spinelli group, an organization created in September 2010 to facilitate integration within the EU.
Just as an unelected banker was installed as prime minister of Italy, an unelected banker was installed as prime minister of Greece. Obviously, they are intended to produce the bankers’ solution to the sovereign debt crisis.
Greece’s new appointed prime minister, Lucas Papademos, was Governor of the Bank of Greece. From 2002-2010. He was Vice President of the European Central Bank. He, also, is a member of America’s Trilateral Commission.
Jacques Delors, a founder of the European Union, promised the British Trade Union Congress in 1988 that the European Commission would require governments to introduce pro-labor legislation. Instead, we find the banker-controlled European Commission demanding that European labor bail out the private banks by accepting lower pay, fewer social services, and a later retirement.
The European Union, just like everything else, is merely another scheme to concentrate wealth in a few hands at the expense of European citizens, who are destined, like Americans, to be the serfs of the 21st century.
Paul Craig Roberts was an editor of the Wall Street Journal and an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury. His latest book, HOW THE ECONOMY WAS LOST, has just been published by CounterPunch/AK Press. He can be reached at: PaulCraigRoberts@yahoo.com
NABLUS – Israeli troops detained six people on Monday, including the mayor of a Nablus village, the army and Ma’an’s correspondent said.
Soldiers stormed the Nablus village of Osarin at dawn on Monday, ransacking the home of Mayor Mahir Fawzi Adeli, 39, before arresting him, witnesses told Ma’an.
Israeli troops also detained Diyaa Omar Adeli, 16, his brother Fadil, 15, Azzam Rasmi Adeli, 20 and Muhammad Raslan Adeli, 17.
Locals said that several other homes were ransacked and that the five detainees were taken to Huwwara military base near Nablus.
One man was also detained in the Jenin village of Jaba.
An Israeli army spokeswoman said that the men were taken for security questioning.
The eviction of the Sumarin family was delayed. But the family has been living in limbo for 20 years and other groups live with uncertainty as Israel wages a psychological war of attrition on non-Jews.
According to Haaretz, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) has delayed the eviction of the Sumarins, a Palestinian family who lives in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan and who were slated to be evacuated from their home on Monday.
The JNF has been trying to evict the Sumarin family for 20 years. Much of Silwan’s land has been confiscated by the state and transferred to Himnuta, a company owned by the JNF. These holdings have been passed on to Elad, a settler organization that operates the City of David park, which is located in Silwan.
After the Sumarins received an order several weeks ago to vacate the premises, human rights organizations and activists launched a campaign to prevent the eviction. While some consider the delay a victory, it points to a larger problem–it is a delay. A delayed eviction does not represent a permanent solution for the Sumarins, a family of 12 who could still lose their house. Nor does this delayed eviction address the larger issue of illegal Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, the Israeli government’s complicity in the enterprise, and the far-reaching consequences for Palestinians who live under military occupation.
The occupation is not just checkpoints, movement restrictions, political imprisonments, home demolitions, and evictions. It’s also the waiting at checkpoints, waiting for a permit, waiting to see a loved one in jail, waiting to get out of jail, waiting for the bulldozer to arrive, waiting to be put on the street.
There is something torturous about living with uncertainty, with a sword dangling over one’s head. Whether that sword be eviction from one’s home or deportation from the country–it’s a reminder that one is not the master of his fate, that his life is in someone else’s hands. It’s a psychological war of attrition.
It’s not just the Sumarin family nor is it just the Palestinians–the Israeli government keeps other “others” in constant limbo, as well. There are the children of migrant workers who live under the constant threat of deportation, two years after the state announced its intent to expel them. It’s the families who have been fighting for naturalization since 2005, only for the state to continue dragging its feet. It’s the 25-year-old man, born and raised in Israel to Filipino parents, who can’t get on with his life because the state would rather ignore non-Jewish immigration than come up with a clear, consistent policy. It’s refusing to process the requests of tens of thousands of African asylum seekers, refugees who live with a constant question mark over their heads. And as the state constructs a detention center to imprison asylum seekers, the question of their status is growing ever more urgent.
Home evictions, deportations of children, the status of asylum seekers–these issues cannot be considered on a case-by-case basis. Israel’s policies towards non-Jews, or its lack thereof, must be interrogated and amended so that every man, woman, and child can go to bed at night having some idea of what the next day will bring.
Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) is spending £2bn on new nuclear weapons plants as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has turned a blind eye on nuclear disarmament issues.
While the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) require that NPT-recognized nuclear weapon states are obliged to downgrade their nuclear capacity when they renew their systems, the British government has given the green light to the MoD to expand the country’s stockpile of nuclear weapons.
On 27 November, the Guardian revealed the breakdown of MoD’s investments including “a £734m facility called Mensa for dismantling and assembling of warheads, a risky but essential maintenance process; a £634m highly enriched uranium plant called Pegasus; and a £231m high explosives factory called Circinus.”
Furthermore, the newspaper revealed that the MoD has launched a comprehensive plan to develop the Atomic Weapons Establishment sites by building new facilities and plants by the end of 2015.
The MoD’s decision comes as the IAEA has launched a propaganda campaign against Iran’s nuclear program by releasing an “unbalanced, unprofessional, and politically motivated” report making baseless allegations against Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities.
Moreover, the IAEA has turned a blind eye on nuclear disarmament issues as the latest revelations about Britain’s nuclear activities show the British government intends to increase the number of its nuclear weapons instead of reducing them.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that the MoD’s secret plans to build new nuclear weapons plants have infuriated British MPs, as they were to decide whether to replace Trident warheads.
“The fact that the MoD signed off on these costs before a decision has even been made on replacing the Trident warhead makes a complete mockery of the democratic process,” said the Green MP Caroline Lucas.