Photo by Always Shooting | CC BY 2.0
A well-orchestrated alliance emerged against Iran during last week’s Munich Security Conference. The stage was set by Mike Pence after he called Tehran “the leading state sponsor terrorism,” and accused the Islamic Republic of continuing to “destabilize the Middle East.” Further, to reiterate the Trump administration’s dissatisfaction with Obama’s policy toward Iran, he speculated that with “the end of nuclear-related sanctions, Iran now has additional resources to devote to these efforts.”
One after another, representatives of Saudi Arabia, Israel, and, surprisingly, Turkey added their warnings about the rise of the Iranian menace and called for a united front to combat Iranian regional and global ambitions. The Saudi Foreign Minister, Adel al-Jubeir told delegates at the conference “Iran remains the single main sponsor of terrorism in the world.” Iran is, he said, “determined to upend the order in the Middle East.” In an act more reminiscent of a scene from a theater of the absurd, the Israeli Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, declared “Iran had an ultimate objective of undermining Saudi Arabia in the Middle East.” He called for a multilateral dialogue with Sunni Arab states to defeat Iran and its “radical” elements in the region. This was not the first time that the Saudi and Israeli positions on the Middle East security coincided, but the similarities in the way Lieberman and al-Jubeir articulated their grievances against Iran, using the exact same language in listing Iranian transgressions was unprecedented.
Rather bewildering was the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who added his voice of discontent with Iran and joined in the same vein to call for a concerted international effort against what he termed “an Iranian sectarian policy to undermine Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.” He told a friendly audience in Munich that Turkey will not tolerate divisive religious or sectarian policies and, he continued, “we are now normalizing our relations with Israel.” Çavuşoğlu’s address was particularly baffling since it came following a complex series of negotiations and agreement that was reached earlier this month between Russia, Turkey and Iran for a cooperation to end Syrian bloody civil war.
The Trump administration and a significant number of lawmakers, Republican and Democrats, will almost certainly use the display of unity among regional powers against the Islamic Republic to justify new sanctions on Iran. But why, despite the clear evidence to the contrary, are the U.S. and its allies in the region holding Iran solely responsible for destabilizing the Middle East? There are two, one geo-political and the other pure economic, reasons for such a flagrant distortion of realities on the ground.
From the early days of the Iranian revolution in 1979, the main strategic interest of the U.S. and its corrupt Arab allies have been to fend off the Iranian ambition of exporting its revolution. At the time, it was the stated purpose of the Islamic Republic to spread the message of what they believed to be the Islam of the downtrodden abroad. Almost four decades later, surviving an eight-year war with Saddam Hussein, which he fought on behalf of the concerned Arab nations (with the exception of Syria) and their Western supporters, consolidating power by eliminating most opposition forces inside the country, and managing a beleaguered economy plagued with ongoing regimes of sanctions, the Islamic Republic has been transformed. At the end of the war with Iraq, it became evident that the mantra that the regime in Tehran now followed, as Henry Precht, the former head of the State Department’s Iran desk, once said, was not dominion abroad, but economic and political independence at home. Rather than an irrational ideological fervor, the Islamic Republic’s policies are primarily motivated by domestic stability, security, and economic growth. Iran has always been more sympathetic to the Christian Armenia than to Muslim Azerbaijan in their border disputes, more interested in closer ties with India than Pakistan, and in order to protect their trade relations with China, remained silent when the Chinese violently suppressed the grievances of their Muslims.
Domestically, Iran has also changed significantly since the brutal years of the 1980s reign of terror. There exists a vibrant and growing civil society, more than fifteen independent newspapers are published in Tehran, meaningful presidential and parliamentary elections with real participation and rivalries happen, unlike the a commonplace perception, women participate in social life despite patriarchal laws and cultures, more than 60% of university students are women. I do not intend to draw a rosy picture of Iran, the Islamic Republic is not a democratic regime, but in all cases it is certainly more democratic than all our allies in the region.
Oil is not the only rationale that defines our economic interest in the Middle East. Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. arms sales in the Middle East have been rising exponentially. As a recent report by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute shows, more than half of the total American arms export goes to the Middle East. During the last four years the sales of arms to the Middle East has doubled. Saudi Arabia’s arms import has increased 212 percent from 2012 to 2016. During the same period Qatar’s import of weapons surged 245 percent. Saudi Arabia spends 25 percent of its budget, $85 billion a year, more than that of Russia, on defense. Last year the Obama administration approved a $38 billion military aid package to Israel for the next ten years. One-third of the world’s arms deals happen in the Middle East. All this happens when Iran uses only 2.5 percent of its national budget on defense and relies mostly on domestic production of weapons rather than on a shopping spree in the global arms market.
A military industrial complex has taken American foreign policy hostage. It has colonized American foreign policy through a marketing strategy that perpetuates hostilities and generates animosity between different nations. It has promoted an arms race, particularly in the Middle East, that is draining the resources of nations around the world and is weighing heavily on the shoulders of American taxpayers. Military aid to our allies in the region is nothing but a transfer of wealth from ordinary Americans to defense contractors. None of these sales and aid packages would be justifiable if it were not for the existence of an enemy such as the Islamic Republic of Iran reproduced in Pence’s caricature, an irrational, ideological nemesis that does not respond to conventional deterrence and needs to be forced into submission to our demands.
Washington needs to transcend its old-age reliance on allies in the Middle East whose interests are increasingly becoming detrimental to peace and stability in the region. The problem in the Middle East is not about Sunni and Shi’ite rivalry, it is not even about Israeli and Palestinian existential animosity. What plagues the Middle East is the narrow-mindedness of its ruling elites, both elected and self-appointed, who have failed to represent and safeguard the interests of their own people. Since the end of WWII, Washington’s policy has been exclusively based on securing economic and geo-political interests of American energy and military industrial corporations. Time has come for the U.S. to rethink its alignment with old patriarchal powers and to look beyond its narrow economic interests in the rising arms race in the Middle East. Extending and expanding sanctions against Iran would be an irreversible step toward opening a new war front, one with broader and more catastrophic consequences around the world.
Pat Buchanan – perhaps the U.S. politician with the greatest feel (as a thrice-times U.S. presidential candidate himself) for what President Trump is trying to achieve – tells us compellingly, just why Trump is now the US President:
[Simply,] …“He [Trump], read the nation and the world, better than his rivals. He saw the surging power of American nationalism at home, and of ethno-nationalism in Europe. And he embraced Brexit. While our bipartisan establishment worships diversity, Trump saw Middle America recoiling from the demographic change brought about by Third World invasions. And he promised to curb them.
“While our corporatists burn incense at the shrine of the global economy, Trump went to visit the working-class casualties. And those forgotten Americans in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin, responded. And while Bush II and President Obama plunged us into Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Trump saw that his countrymen wanted to be rid of the endless wars, and start putting America first. [And] He offered a new foreign policy … Putin’s Russia is not ‘our number one geopolitical foe.’”
That’s it. That’s Trump’s domestic, and his foreign policy, in one.
What we all presently are obsessed with, is the bellicosity and hysteria to which Trump and his agenda has given rise: Is détente with Russia now effectively dead, as a consequence of the new Russo-phobic McCathyism? Or, is that which we are witnessing nothing more than “a mere tantrum by a clutch of ‘spooks’ whose jobs are under threat … along with the liberal press having a ‘parallel tantrum’: [not believing] that they lost the election to Donald Trump” – as one American commentator told MK Bhadrakumar? Or, are we seeing a brittle American Establishment splitting apart, in a more profound way?
We do not know the answer. The notion of removing Trump from office seems somewhat far-fetched (see here). Certainly, America is deeply divided: Trump plainly evokes strong, emotional reactions. Three-fourths of Americans react to him strongly – either positively or negatively.
The Pew Research Center’s latest survey shows that only eight percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents approve Trump’s job performance, which is the lowest rating for any new president from the opposing party in more than three decades. But interestingly, Pew also finds that 84 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaners, regard Trump’s initial job performance as president “favorably.”
A Divided Administration
But then, Gilbert Doctorow relates, as the new Administration got underway, “came a stunning about-face in the early roll-out of Donald Trump’s new foreign policy, which looked a lot like Barack Obama’s old foreign policy. We heard presidential press secretary Sean Spicer say Trump ‘expected the Russian government to … return Crimea’ to Ukraine.
“Then we heard Defense Secretary James Mattis in Brussels (NATO headquarters), Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Bonn (G20 Foreign Ministers meeting) and Vice President Pence in Munich (Security Conference) collectively pledge unswerving loyalty to the NATO alliance, insist that any new talks with Russia must be conducted from ‘a position of strength,’ and vow to hold Russia accountable for the full implementation of the Minsk Accords, meaning all sanctions stay in place pending that achievement which the Ukrainian government has consistently blocked, while blaming Moscow.
“Amid these signals of surrender from the Trump Administration – suggesting continuation of the disastrous foreign policy of the last 25 years – the newly revived enemies of détente on Capitol Hill added more anti-Russian sanctions and threats. In response to alleged violations by the Kremlin of the Treaty on Intermediate and Short-range Missiles (INF) dating back to 1987, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, introduced a bill enabling the re-installation of American nuclear-tipped cruise missiles in Europe. If enacted, this would undo the main achievements of disarmament from the Reagan years, and bring us back to a full-blown Cold War.”
This has unnerved Trump supporters; apparently disappointed some in Moscow; and also failed to reassure anxious Europeans at the Munich Security Conference. They are puzzling over which Administration faction to believe more correctly reflects future U.S. policy: the Pence/Mattis/Haley ‘wing’, that Europeans would like to hope is dominant; or, the Trump/Bannon/Miller triumvirate, which Steve Bannon hints views the European Union as a flawed construct, and who foresees conducting future relations with Europe, on a bilateral basis.
Which of these two, reflects America’s likely path, more accurately? Has the Establishment now succeeded in walking-back Trump’s agenda? Who now speaks for the President?
The answer is not hard to fathom: return to Pat Buchanan’s clear explanation of how Trump became President: “He saw the surging power of American nationalism at home, and of ethno-nationalism in Europe. And he embraced Brexit. While our bipartisan establishment worships diversity, Trump saw Middle America recoiling from the demographic change, brought about by Third World invasions. And he promised to curb them.”
Obviously, it is the Trump-Bannon wing. Were Trump to abandon his reading of the nation and of the Europeans that brought him to the Presidency, he might as well throw in the towel now. He will not be re-elected.
Weakening the Dollar
And Mr. Trump is showing no signs of reversing (for all the mixed messaging that has emanated from his diverse team). So, back to basics. What then is his foreign policy? Simply this: If President Trump wishes to keep his 84 percent (Republican) approval rating – and stay elected – there is only one way that he can do that: he must continue to carry “the working-class casualties and those forgotten Americans” (as Buchanan called them) of the Midwest, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
And the only way to do that is to bring back manufacturing jobs to this (white), Middle America, (hurting) constituency. And the only way you can bring those jobs back, is with a weak dollar. A strong dollar would be deadly to Trump’s project.
Today, the dollar is too strong to allow any real return of manufacturing to the U.S. Trump needs to staunch any propensity for the dollar to rise. And, in his very first interview upon taking office (with the Wall Street Journal), Trump’s main point, was that he wanted the U.S. dollar “down.”
Here it is, then: Trump’s main foreign policy objective is the return of jobs to Middle America – and that means, in practical terms, avoiding a strong dollar. Secondly, the ultimate point of détente with Russia – apart from Trump’s reading that Middle America is experiencing war fatigue – is that détente can release a “peace dividend” which would be vital for the task of rebuilding America’s frayed infrastructure. (His tax proposals ultimately will have to be revenue neutral if Trump is to avoid an ugly row with his Tea Party supporters, who are aggressively fiscal conservative.)
Again, détente with Russia is a domestic need, required to attend to the re-building of the frayed structures of the communities who voted him into office. It is not anchored in any particular foreign policy ideology, but merely in a sense of peoples’ fatigue.
Of course, wanting a weaker dollar and wanting détente with Russia, does not mean that Trump will get either; he will continue to face stiff internal resistance and filibustering. But these two aims, as it were, may be seen to constitute the overriding prism by which Trump views his foreign policy aims, in the longer term.
In the shorter term – perhaps – what we are seeing now, is a tactical pause, dictated by the malicious leaks from within the system, and by the unrelenting “war” being waged by the mainstream media – a pause to allow Trump to get on with sorting out his Administration – purging the leaks, putting in place his people, and contending with certain of the mainstream media.
It seems the purge is slowly happening (it must be a huge process, and be imposing a heavy demand on time). It is however, simply not very realistic for Trump to pursue an accord with either Russia or China while he is under siege, and when his very survival is being widely questioned. And, as is now widely known, Trump believes in negotiating from a position of strength, and not weakness. Pence and Mattis may well have been dispatched to Europe to apply some anaesthetizing balm, while the difficulties of the first month are being resolved.
So, how might this “foreign policy” be conducted in practice? Well, if Trump were to impose protectionist measures on other states (China, say), this would likely result in their currencies depreciating, as a consequence. A 30 percent tax might result in a 30 percent currency devaluation. We have seen something of the sort happening with the peso, in the case of Mexico. And, ipso facto, if the Mexican or Chinese currency weakens, the dollar appreciates (thus weakening U.S. capacity to compete).
There are two possible routes ahead: one is for Trump to negotiate bilaterally with (say) Germany, Japan, China and others, to warn them that either they revalue their currencies (or, at minimum, hold their foreign exchange value stable), or else to suffer the consequences of a U.S.-imposed protectionism, which would badly damage the health of their economies.
Or, Trump can revert to the Reagan tactic of the mid-1980s, when the then the U.S. President pulled together all the main global central banks and finance ministers in Paris, to instruct that the dollar was not to be allowed to rise in value any further (after its rapid appreciation in the early 1980s). This was known as the “Plaza Accord.”
Going with ‘Bilateralism’
It seems that Trump will pursue the first course (bilateralism), as he has already made it clear that he wants to negotiate on a fuller field than just the stability of foreign exchange values. Specific trade deals, and inward investment into the U.S., will be on the agenda – as well as his declared aim of leveraging U.S. defense provision as a bilaterally negotiated quid pro quo, in return further economic benefit to the U.S. – rather than having the U.S. defense umbrella being provided as a highly subsidized “good.”
The implications of this bilateral approach are significant. It does not imply, per se, that Trump should want to split Russia from China. Trump, by his own logic, would not want, ultimately, to resort to protectionism against China (other than as a negotiating ploy). Imposing punitive tariffs on China would likely lead to a strengthening of the dollar, and risk a devaluation of the yuan – even possibly a maxi-devaluation of the yuan. Rather, he wants a deal. One that would bring additional jobs and Chinese infrastructure investment to America.
The notion that America needs to divide Russia from China (or Iran) for strategic reasons (though one probably embraced by some of his team) is essentially “old think.” It belongs to the neoconservative era, which held that America must remain as a global defense and financial hegemon. And therefore must contain and weaken any contending rising power.
Russia will not, in any case, break with China. But in the Trumpian logic, why should that matter, so long as Trump has achieved satisfactory commercial deals with each? (Kissinger though, may try to persuade Trump otherwise.)
Again, pursuing the war on radical Islam (for which Trump has called for proposals from the Pentagon) would not necessarily call for decisive military U.S. interventions in the Middle East, on this logic. A change in policy, and in ethos, by a reformed CIA – away from using radical Islam as “a tool” by which to pursue its “interests” (as it has from Afghanistan in the 1980s to Syria in recent years), would in and of itself, bring about a profound change. It would quickly percolate through to European intelligence services – and more slowly – marinate Gulf thinking.
Changing the ‘Group Think’
Pat Lang, a former senior U.S. Defense Intelligence officer, notes how a small shift in bureaucratic “group think” from one paradigm to another can bring crucial change, simply by virtue of approaching a problem from a different direction:
“1. General Dunford, USMC, the uniformed head of the US armed forces, is meeting this week at Baku in Azarbaijan with General Gerasimov, the head of the Russian General Staff.
“2. My sources tell me that US and Russian air forces are increasingly coordinating and de-conflicting their air actions in Syria and Iraq. This can clearly be seen in USAF and US Navy air attacks on ‘moderate’ (in fact jihadi forces) in Idlib Province. These obviously have been coordinated with Russian air defenses.
“3. The CIA has stopped providing assistance to aforesaid ‘moderate’ jihadi and FSA forces in Syria. They would not have done that without instructions from outside and above CIA.
All of that tells me that sanity reigns in the Trump Administration no matter what lunatics like Schumer, Waters and McCain may do, think or say.” (emphasis added).
What then are the major risks to the Trump “paradigm”? They are not negligible. Any increase in international tension usually will lead to a flight to the “safety” of the U.S. dollar – thus to a “strengthening” of the dollar. (One good reason why Trump may stick with rhetoric against Iran, rather than action).
Secondly, although Trump has been trying to “talk down” the value of the U.S. dollar, most of his policies (de-offshoring of corporate cash, de-regulation and tax cuts) are seen as inflationary – and therefore are pushing the dollar upwards. So, too, are pronouncements by the Federal Reserve about the prospects for an interest rate hike next month. It is not clear that Trump will be able to keep the dollar weak, against a general sense that interest rates are heading upwards. David Stockman’s inflation index for the U.S., which uses more realistic values for energy, food, shelter and medical insurance than the official CPI index, is now rising at better than a 4 percent annual rate.
And thirdly, China may yet undo Trump’s plans. As one well-versed economic commentator notes:
“I strongly contend that a more than one-half Trillion ($) one-month Chinese Credit expansion in early 2017 will exert divergent inflationary impacts to those from early 2016…
“Inflationary biases evolve significantly over time… Liquidity will tend to further inflate the already inflating asset class(s); ‘hot money’ will chase the hottest speculative Bubble. Inflationary surges in Credit growth can, as well, have profoundly different impacts depending on inflationary expectations, economic structure and the nature of financial flows.
“I would argue that Chinese officials today face a more daunting task of containing mounting financial leverage and imbalances than just a few months ago. The clock continues to tick, with rising odds that Beijing will be forced to take the types of forceful measures that risk an accident.”
These inflationary risks threaten Trump, more than the unlikely prospect of impeachment. He has been consistent in warning that whomsoever won this Presidential election, would, sooner or later, face a financial crisis – and then possibly a concomitant social crisis. Like most revolutions, Trump’s revolution cannot afford to stand still: if it cannot, or does not, go forward, it will go backwards. We will return to the past. Trump, no doubt, grasps this.
Alastair Crooke is a former British diplomat who was a senior figure in British intelligence and in European Union diplomacy. He is the founder and director of the Conflicts Forum.
Some people today still remember the times when America was the wealthiest nation on the entire planet and that could afford even the boldest infrastructure. But things are different now, as the US now has the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world and it can’t even afford to repair the marvels that it used to build. The near catastrophic failure of the Oroville Dam is a perfect example of the situation most Americans have found themselves in.
Just recently, the Most Important News presented its version of 11 deeply alarming facts about America’s crumbling infrastructure and its long-term economic collapse. According to this site, the US economy expanded at its slowest rate for five years in 2016. Gross domestic product (GDP) rose by only 1.6 percent in 2016, down from 2.6 percent in 2015.
In turn, the World Socialist Web Site notes that the feature to emerge from the US GDP figures is the ever-widening disconnect between the underlying real economy and the financial system. This disconnect has a significant impact on economic growth, as vast amounts of wealth are diverted from the real economy into various forms of financial speculation. This leads to a decline in investment and falling productivity, two central features of the US economy in the eight years since the eruption of the financial crisis.
The situation is critical, so it’s hardly surprising that The Daily Caller has attempted to establish those responsible for the crisis most Americans have found themselves in, noting that President Obama’s time in the White House has added nearly 8 trillion dollars to the national debt. It means that Obama’s agenda came at a cost of the national debt increasing from more than 10.6 trillion dollars in January 2009 to 19.6 trillion dollars at the end of fiscal year 2016.
At the same time, as it’s pointed out by the Economic Collapse, none of long-term economic problems have been fixed. When the cost of living rises faster than paychecks do year after year, eventually that becomes a very big problem. Every month, tens of millions of American families struggle to pay the bills, and most of them don’t even understand the economic forces that are putting so much pressure on them.
Even if one still manages to remain employed, his quality of life is degrading rapidly as the rent, healthcare rates and even food are getting more expensive by the day. The Huffington Post notes that Water bills are on the rise across the United States, and the poor communities are being hit the hardest.
The total household debt climbed to 12.58 trillion dollars at the end of 2016, which constitutes an increase of 266 billion dollars from the third quarter, according to a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. For the year, household debt ballooned by 460 billion dollars – the largest increase in almost a decade. That means the debt loads of Americans are flirting with 2008 levels, when total consumer debt reached a record high of 12.68 trillion dollars.
How much more are you going to squeeze out of U.S. consumers? Two-thirds of the country is living paycheck to paycheck. But the US government is reluctant to provide relief to those hard working people who have suddenly found themselves struggling financially even after taking on a tremendous work load. Instead it prefers to finance all sorts of military contractors that are pouring money down the drain on such projects as the F22 program, which has already consumed hundred of billions of dollars.
The American Thinker is predicting an abrupt rise in political violence in the United States, while arguing that wars begin when, in a major crisis, no peaceful solution can be found. Americans are at or near that point. Unfortunately, most people are not going to acknowledge the truth until it is too late.
The Financial Times’ Special Report (2/16/2017) published a four-page spread on the ‘use and possible dangers of artificial intelligence (AI)’. Unlike the usual trash journalists who serve as Washington’s megaphones on the editorial pages and political columns, the Special Report is a thoughtful essay that raises many important issues, even as it is fundamentally flawed.
The writer, Richard Walters, cites several major problems accompanying AI from ‘public anxieties, to inequalities and job insecurity’. Walters pleads with those he calls the ‘controllers of autonomous systems’ to heed social and ‘political frictions’ or face societal ‘disruption’. Experts and journalists, discussing the long-term, large-scale destruction of the working class and service jobs, claim that AI can be ameliorated through management and social engineering.
This essay will proceed to raise fundamental issues, questions leading to an alternative approach to AI relying on class analysis. We will reject the specter of AI as a ‘Frankenstein’ by identifying the social forces, which finance, design and direct AI and which benefit from its negative social impact.
Basic Questions: Demystifying AI
The best and the worst of the experts reporting on AI assert that it is an autonomous system, devoid of any link to the class structure within which it operates. Their version of technological determinism, above and beyond the needs and demands of capitalists, fits neatly with the corporate ideology of the trash journalists and pundits.
The fundamental questions that must be raised include: 1) ‘AI’, for whom?; 2) How are the productivity gains of AI to be distributed between capital and labor? 3) How are work time, income and pensions distributed between the owners of technology and the labor force?; and 4) What kinds of socio-economic activity does AI serve?
‘Artificial Intelligence’ and related technological innovations are financed, designed, controlled and ultimately applied by the major corporations and financial institutions in order to reduce the cost of labor and to enhance profits and competitiveness between capitalist rivals.
AI and similar capitalist technological changes, along with the overseas relocation of information technology and manufacturing production are the principal destroyers of workers’ employment and living standards in the US.
AI technology, alongside vast spending for imperial wars and military procurement, multi-billion dollar bank-bailouts and the promotion of finance-over-productive capital represent the forces driving down wages, salaries, living standards, pensions and, lately, life expectancy for the marginalized working class and rural population.
The innovators and promoters of AI, whether individuals or small groups, seek capitalist support to finance, market and ‘acquire’ their ‘discoveries’. In fact, the entire industry has been built upon large-scale, tax-funded public research centers and university laboratories, which have paid for the buildings as well as the scientists’ and professors’ salaries.
Most of IT and AI related profits are distributed among the military-industrial complex, the chemical agro-industrial monopolies and the transport and consumer goods manufacturing elites. While garbage journalists and experts cite ‘AI’s contribution to health, education and social services, they forget to clarify that these ‘innovations’ are controlled by private health corporations, private ‘charter’ schools and public sector education elites intent on increasing profits, lowering teachers’ salaries, slashing programs and undermining student learning. The dismal, fragmented and mal-distributed state of healthcare and education in the United States is never seriously discussed because it puts the lie to the absurd claims made about the benefits of AI and IT for the broader population.
Far from being ‘autonomous’ and subject to abstract ‘controllers’, AI, IT and high technology serve to concentrate wealth, power and profits for multiple sectors of the ruling class who determine how such technologies will be used.
The financiers of AI and their partners direct the scientists, engineers and marketers. The garbage journalists are paid to proclaim the arrival of ‘history-making’ innovations. The media describe AI as ‘machine learning, a form of advanced pattern recognition technology to make judgments by analyzing large amounts of data (which) could supplement human thought’ (FT Special Report 2/17/2017).
Contrary to the above-mentioned assumptions, the ‘judgments’ are made by the ruling class, using parameters and metrics determined by the elite, deciding on what kinds of ‘patterns are to be recognized’ in order that they can derive the kind of information they need to enhance profits, make war, maximize killing and engineer massive layoffs of workers. In a word, class assumptions dictate AI, IT and the use of these innovations.
If class determines AI, and in present-day America that means the ruling class, then only changes in the class structure can pose different questions and answers to our originally stated problems. Only by sharpening the class struggle, which changes who rules the banks, factories and social institutions, will new assumptions direct AI and IT and other innovations.
Only workers, professionals and scientists, who replace the prioritizing of profits with meeting social needs, can produce an AI that lowers the retirement age, increases national health care, facilitates workers’ decision making, distributes high quality education and information to the citizenry, reduces inequalities and shifts earnings from capital to labor.
Ecuador has come under fire for scrutinizing non-profits like Accion Ecologica, many of whom get millions from Europe and North America.
Ecuador, the tiny South American nation sandwiched between Colombia and Peru, rarely makes waves in the English-speaking world’s corporate mediascape. Last year, news traveled far on at least two occasions.
First, with an earthquake that killed at least 673 people. Second, when the government moved to investigate and potentially dissolve a nonprofit called Accion Ecologica in connection with deadly violence between members of an Amazonian tribe and police sent to protect a Chinese-operated mining project.
Ecologists and prominent activists friendly to the group, including heavy-weights such as Naomi Klein, called out what they characterized as a callous repression and criminalization of Indigenous people protecting the unparalleled richness of the Amazon and alleged state prejudice against an underdog non-profit organization that was only there to save the rainforest and its inhabitants.
Ecuador’s socialist government, on the other hand, sees the “underdog” label as misplaced.
NGOs may be seen as do-gooders, but that’s not always the case. As a country historically vulnerable to the whims of powers in the North, Ecuador has, under the administration of the outgoing President Rafael Correa, put up a guard against a new kind of public diplomacy from abroad that focuses on gaining the favor of civil society to indirectly execute their political priorities.
NGOs are flagged when they operate outside the bounds of the law and their stated objectives, indicators of potential pressure from outside funders to protect their interests rather than those of nationals.
“We’re an Ecuadorean NGO, born here in Ecuador and working for 30 years in the defense of the rights of the environment and of communities across the country, and for that work we are very well known, even at an international level,” Alexandra Almeida, president of Accion Ecologica, told teleSUR.
“But that doesn’t mean that a foreign organization could manipulate us with anything — with funds, with nothing — that’s how we operate.”
NGOs have rarely had to justify their work to anyone, let alone prove that they act for the good of the people only. But Ecuador is not an ordinary country. Rich in resources but export dependent, authorities are attempting to manage the many foreign hands trying to pull the country’s development in their favor.
Silent Action Meets Loud Reaction
This government is the first to scrutinize NGOs, but their scrutiny has not been limited to Accion Ecologica.
In 2012, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa boldly declared that NGOs have been entering the country like never before during the previous decade. Many, backed by foreign states and foreign money, are out to destabilize the state, Ecuadorean leaders stated.
“Their interest is not the country, impoverished sectors, natural resources or strengthening democracies,” said Paola Pabon, director of the National Ministry of Political Management, which is responsible for tracking NGOs, in an interview with teleSUR last year. “What interests them is having control over governments, having influence over civil society to create elements of destabilization.”
Executive Decree 16, which went into effect in 2013, created a system to catalogue the financing, decision-making and activities of every registered social organization — a total of over 46,000 in the country, including non-profits, unions and community organizations, among others.
The resulting action saw 26 foreign NGOs expelled from the country for a lack of transparency and compliance with national law; in brief, for declaring themselves “non-governmental organizations” while acting on behalf of foreign governments. Among the more high-profile cases was Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical missionary relief organization that received funding and support from USAID. Fifteen others were given two weeks to get their activities in order.
A handful of Indigenous organizations, which had previously mobilized against Correa’s government, attacked the decree via the Constitutional Court. Two years later, Ecuador reformed the regulations with Executive Decree 739, which fine-tuned the reasons for closing an NGO — the main one, “diverting from stated objectives” — and, caving to demand, eliminated the requirement for organizations to register projects financed from abroad.
Donor Nations: Generous or Greedy?
The trend that prompted Ecuador’s law was not without precedent.
Through the U.S. Agency for International Development, known as USAID, and the linked but publicly independent National Endowment for Democracy, known as NED, the United States pumped over US$100 million into Venezuela to create 300 new organizations credited with contributing to the coup d’etat against Hugo Chavez in 2002. In a similar move, USAID admitted that it tried to provoke a “Cuban Spring” by setting up Zunzuneo, a kind of Cuban Twitter, to circulate calls to protest.
The most common nonprofits close to foreign governments and private interests are those that stand tallest against their states. In Ecuador, that tends to be groups that work closely with Indigenous communities, with those protecting their right to their land and with those defending women and the environment. Funding by private foundations and corporations, while more widespread, is far less transparent and tougher to quantify. Big names like the Ford Foundation and Open Society, however, are well known for injecting funds into NGOs in the global south to advance specific political visions.
But the United States isn’t the only country to have funneled funds to Ecuador through NGOs.
Official numbers from Ecuador’s Chief Administrative Office of International Cooperation, or SETECI, show that since Correa assumed office in 2007 until 2015, foreign NGOs have managed over US$800 million from abroad. Top givers include the U.K. and Spain, followed by several European states.
No one, however, beats the United States. In that same period, the U.S. sent over twice the amount of money of the next-highest donor, with a total of over US$282 million and 780 projects, or 35 percent of all funding.
Of those funds, which only count NGOs based abroad that invested in local or regional projects, 13 went to projects in the Amazon led by non-profits like Care International, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the World Wildlife Fund, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Mitsubishi Corporation Foundation for the Americas. Projects based in Morona Santiago, the province where the anti-mining protests that led to the death of a police officer broke out, brought in over US$1 million from the U.S. since 2007.
The flow of funds is indicative of a broader attitude between receiver and giver, who “take advantage of the assumption that they have a perfect democracy, which is completely false – there’s a paternalistic attitude that must be regulated,” said Fernando Casado, research fellow at the National Institute for Higher Studies on public administration in Ecuador and Venezuela. Conversely, a flow in the opposite direction would immediately raise suspicion from developed countries, he added.
Yet money itself doesn’t tell the full tale: the funds are tied directly to foreign policy objectives, Casado told teleSUR. “The powers of the North have changed strategy.”
Each state has its own way. Germany, which has had 151 NGO projects in Ecuador since 2007, is known for meddling in affairs of developing countries through its Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, or BMZ. When SETECI found that three-quarters of its funds went toward stopping another mining project in the Amazon’s Yasuni region last March, it kicked the German agency out of Ecuador.
The United States has several agencies do its work, the most prominent being USAID, NED — funded through money allocated to USAID by Congress — and the Broadcast Board of Governors. The stated missions: to promote development, democracy creation and a free press, respectively, while strictly adhering to U.S. foreign policy priorities.
“We should not have to do this kind of work covertly,” said former head of NED Carl Gershman on CIA missions to the New York Times in 1986. “It would be terrible for democratic groups around the world to be seen as subsidized by the CIA. We saw that in the 60s, and that’s why it has been discontinued. We have not had the capability of doing this, and that’s why the endowment was created.”
What Givers Want
The “work” the United States has set out for Ecuador — according to a 2016 Office of Inspector General report on the U.S. embassy leaked by WikiLeaks — is “to mitigate the effects of the contentious political environment created by the Ecuadorean Government” with the help of other government agencies, which play a “critical role.”
The report, intended for the eyes of the BBG and Congress, said the embassy was “actively engaged with civil society leaders and nongovernmental organizations to increase Ecuadorean awareness of and support for U.S. policies and values, promote Ecuadorean civil society and government accountability, and strengthen environmental initiatives.”
To set up a climate conducive to U.S. meddling, the U.S. Government Accountability Office included Ecuador on a shortlist with Colombia, Egypt and the West Bank/Gaza the year Correa was elected to closely study public opinion in “specific, targeted public awareness campaigns.”
It also either commissioned or was the beneficiary of a study from Stratfor, a secretive intelligence company contracted by the State Department and the U.S.’s multinational titans, which evaluated the extent to which Ecuador is manipulable by NGOs. The 2013 report, leaked by WikiLeaks, focused especially on how NGOs can influence trade policy and corporate regulation. Its conclusion: based on a scale likely defined in relation to other developing nations, Ecuador is fairly resilient to NGO pressure but has submitted in certain instances.
USAID sends hundreds of millions to local projects in Ecuador, some less explicitly political, but some indirectly benefiting opposition groups, according to U.S. Ambassador in Ecuador Adam Namm. BBG affiliate, TeleAmazonas, has been accused of fomenting strong opposition rhetoric against Correa. And the NED spends over US$1 million annually on dozens of local programs with broad objectives like “promoting citizen oversight of elected officials,” “monitoring due process and the independence of the judicial system,” “monitoring the use of public resources in government advertising” and “facilitating dialogue and consensus on democracy.”
Both Germany’s BMZ and USAID are back in Ecuador following a deluge of NGO activity after the April earthquake. The workload of the National Ministry of Political Management has peaked ever since, said Pabon.
The Sneaky Alliance With Mother Earth
One pet project of USAID was the Conservation in Managed Indigenous Areas, or Caiman, which ended before Correa took office but was among several USAID programs to conserve the country’s biodiversity and promote alliances between Indigenous communities and private businesses.
Caiman worked with various groups working in ecological and Indigenous rights, including Accion Ecologica. For several years, Caiman had Accion Ecologica help them battle against the Ministry of the Environment and train park rangers to oppose contamination from oil and mining.
Whether or not USAID or foreign foundations have funded Accion Ecologica directly is unclear. Unlike many others in the industry, the non-profit does not publish its financial information on its website, and refused multiple requests from teleSUR for copies of audits. When asked, the organization’s president said she does not know specifics on foreign funders and could not answer.
Almeida did say that Accion Ecologica receives funds from Europe — from individuals, “small organizations, alliances, groups that form” around fundraising events on ecological issues. She did not say how much or cite specific names but mentioned Italy and Belgium.
A 2012 investigation from Andes, an Ecuadorean state publication, found that both Accion Ecologica and the Regional Foundation of Human Rights Advising, another powerful nonprofit, are financed by the European Commission, Oilwatch, the Netherlands embassy and a few international ecological networks. Almeida said the accusations were false.
While Europe may be the principal interested party in the success of Accion Ecologica, the U.S. is also well known to have played an active role in similar battles.
In 2013, the year after Correa took the lead against foreign NGOs and a year before he expelled USAID, Bolivia accused USAID of spending US$22 million to divide Indigenous groups on the exploitation and nationalization of oil in their lands.
“Since the right can’t find arguments to oppose the process of change, it now turns to campesino, Indigenous and native leaders who are paid by several NGOs and foundations with perks to foment a climate of conflict with the national government to deteriorate the process of unification that the country is experiencing,” said Morales as he gave USAID the boot.
Beyond Accion Ecologica
“Theoretically speaking, NGOs shouldn’t exist,” said Casado. NGOs operate within a logic of narrowing, minimizing and weakening the role of the state so they can keep filling holes in public services and keep their jobs, which are at risk of disappearing if the state works as it should, added Casado.
“They elect themselves representatives of civil society in general,” and yet their role is limited and entirely reliant on and responsive to funding, which at the end of the day remains in their pockets. Other social organizations and popular movements, said Casado, operate only on conviction.
If an NGO is completely free to operate without regulations, a country would open itself to any corporate and foreign interest that found an open hand, he argued. Latin America is intimately familiar with that process — of consolidating power in the monied class — and NGOs back similar corporate interests, only with a more benevolent face.
It’s near-impossible to identify the perfect case of foreign intrusion — and, as in Accion Ecologica’s case, near-impossible to prove. Multiple factors are always at play, from the ideology of individual members to the decision-making process to however events play out on the ground. Casado said that the first step to uncovering hidden interests is financial transparency — a move that faces stiff opposition precisely for the interests that it could reveal.
Ecuador’s answer is to carefully collect records and draw a clear line between what is acceptable and what is not. Foreign NGOs, state the decree, cannot participate “in any form of party politics, any form of interference or proselytism, any threat to national security or public peace or any other activity not permitted under their migratory status.”
When Accion Ecologica testified before the Interior Ministry and the Ministry of the Environment, it argued that it had been doing the same work — protecting the rainforest — for decades, always in a peaceful manner. The evidence presented showing they provoked violence through a series of tweets in and around the time of violent clashes was “a bit absurd, very absurd,” said Almeida.
In the end, the government’s case did not hold, and the Environment Ministry concluded there was not enough credible evidence to shut down the group. Accion Ecologica credited “pressure” from its supporters, as its representatives continue to urge for a deregulation of NGOs.
“It’s not only NGOs, but also any organization that will be at risk, especially their right to free expression and the right to free association” if the decree regulating NGOs remains intact, said Almeida.
Her position echoes those taken up by opposition politicians, whose one commonality is their depiction of Correa’s government as one systematically trouncing on citizens’ rights and freedoms.
In an election year, rhetoric makes the difference.
Dianileysis Cruz contributed reporting.
The Israeli-Palestinian issues – settlements, ‘two-state solution’ and the American embassy’s re-location to Jerusalem – hogged the attention during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting with President Donald Trump in the White House last Wednesday. The Iran question became a sub-text.
That was rather odd, since for both ‘Bibi’ and Trump, Iran nuclear deal was a historic mistake and they’d sworn to “rip it up”. Clearly, Trump and Netanyahu took a deliberate decision to miss the historic opportunity last week to jointly tear up the Iran deal. The US-Israeli readout on their talks in the White House says:
- The President and Prime Minister agreed on the need to counter the threats posed by Iran and its proxies… so as to create a more secure Middle East to the benefit of all countries. The two leaders agreed that the Iran nuclear deal is a terrible deal for the United States, Israel, and the world. The President assured the Prime Minister that Iran must not, and will not, obtain nuclear weapons capability.
Again, at their joint press conference, Trump simply dodged the questions on the Iran deal – not once but twice – when asked what he intended to do about it.
The message is loud and clear: Iran nuclear deal is here to stay. A Jerusalem Post analysis noted wryly, “They may not like the deal, they may not have made it, and they may enforce it more aggressively than the Obama administration, but attempts to “rip it up” are officially over.”
The US’ European allies are pleased with Iran’s full compliance of the terms of the deal so far and, of course, they see potential trade and economic relations with Iran. Funnily enough, the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini visited Washington recently to stress the importance of the Iran nuclear deal and afterwards claimed that she was assured by top Trump administration officials of their “intention to stick to the full implementation of the agreement.”
The British PM Theresa May rebuffed ‘Bibi’ when he pressed during a recent visit to London that UK should follow Trump’s lead on new sanctions against Iran over its recent missile tests. The snub is significant because the UK has been Israel’s staunchest ally in Europe. Moscow went a step further to assert the Russian-Iranian partnership, with Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov saying last Thursday,
- Our position is that Iran is a reliable, stable partner, a near neighbor. Friendly relations between Russia and Iran do not depend on external circumstances. We cooperate with Iran on many issues on various international platforms, including conducting a productive dialogue on the subject of counter-terrorism, which we will continue.
Simply put, if Trump imposes sanctions against Iran, there will be no takers in the international community. Trump also knows that this is an inopportune moment to ratchet up tensions in the Middle East by provoking Iran. (By the way, Tehran showed flexibility at the recent Astana talks where Russia, Turkey and Iran adopted a document last week to form a joint group to monitor the ceasefire in Syria and facilitate the elaboration of confidence-building measures among the warring sides.)
Of course, Tehran senses that these are early days. The Iran Daily newspaper noted in a commentary on Wednesday:
- Iran’s foreign policy apparatus has thus far taken a prudent and wise approach vis-à-vis the White House’s smear campaign. It remains to be seen whether Trump will press ahead with his anti-Iran stance, or he will come to his senses and adopt a more logical tone.
Importantly, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, who was a negotiator at the P5+1 and Iran talks, told the Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee on Wednesday,
- Trump may adopt any scenario, and the worst scenario is, while keeping the JCPOA (Iran deal), put pressure on the Islamic Republic, introduce new non-nuclear sanctions in order to deprive Iran of the benefits of the JCPOA.
Clearly, Iran does not want to be the one to break the deal, but it will be hard-pressed not to react to additional pressure by the Trump administration to deny it the economic benefits. Meanwhile, Iran will not mothball its missile development programme. Trust Iranian diplomacy to wear down the Trump administration. Trump holds a weak hand — and as for ‘Bibi’, Iran always thought of him as just a hot air balloon. Read a spirited interview, here, by Zarif with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
Tehran has rejected a recent ruling issued by Canada’s Ontario Superior Court of Justice against Iran, saying the verdict violates international law.
“This ruling contravenes the basic principles of the legal impunity of governments and their assets, and is unacceptable,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Sunday.
Justice Glenn Hainey ruled on February 8 that the Islamic Republic had to pay $300,000 in legal costs to those who claim to be victims of Iranian support for resistance groups.
The plaintiffs had sought compensation in the Ontario court under Canada’s Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act. The verdict has given Iran 30 days to pay the sum.
Qassemi said the Islamic Republic has already conveyed its expression of formal protest to the Canadian government and reserved the right to take political and legal measures in that regard.
In June 2016, the same court ordered $13 million in non-diplomatic Iranian assets to be given to three groups of plaintiffs.
The decision was similar to US Supreme Court’s ruling in April 2016 to hand over $2 billion in Iran’s frozen assets to American families of those killed in the 1983 bombing of US Marine Corps barracks in Beirut and other attacks.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani announced at that time that the country had filed a lawsuit against the US with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) – the principal judicial organ of the United Nations.
Earlier this month, Iran’s Presidential Office said in a statement that the lawsuit had been officially put in motion.
Washington’s seizure of Iran’s assets is against the Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Rights which was signed by the two countries in August 1955 – referred to as the 1955 Treaty – and is “still effective,” the statement added.
A group of US lawmakers is seeking to return North Korea to the list of states that sponsor terrorism and give it once again the less-than-honorable title of terrorist state. US President George W. Bush took North Korea off the list some nine years ago in order to support talks about North Korea’s nuclear program and to offer sanctions relief in exchange for North Korean concessions.
Now, according to the lawmakers, the alleged assassination of Kim Jong Nam shows that North Korea is practicing state terrorism. The lawmakers are not short on aggressive rhetoric.
“The murder once again highlights the treachery of North Korea,” said Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, who also chairs a Senate panel on Asia.
“We should never have taken North Korea off the state sponsor of terrorism list,” Democratic Representative Brad Sherman of California told a Congressional hearing Thursday.
“It is time to put little Kim back on that list because he is a world terrorist and a threat to world peace,” said the bill’s Republican sponsor, Representative Ted Poe of Texas.
So far, no official conclusions have been made by the investigation as to who really killed Kim Jong Nam, or why. Experts say until the investigation is complete, making allegations would be “irresponsible.”
According to military.com, North Korea was first put on the list of terrorist states back in 1987, after a bomb explosion destroyed the South Korean Boeing 747 known as Korean Air Flight 858. The US State Department treated the incident as a state-sponsored act of terrorism.
North Korea was removed from the list by US President George W. Bush in 2008, “to smooth the way for aid-for-disarmament negotiations,” the website reads.
If the hawkish lawmakers are to put the country back on the list, they will have to provide solid evidence that the country’s government “repeatedly” supported international acts of terrorism.
However, that is going to prove quite a challenge, since back in 2016 the US State Department officially declared that North Korea “is not known to have sponsored any terrorist acts” since the plane attack 30 years ago. This statement came as a response to another attempt to relist North Korea as a terrorist state in June 2016.
But the lawmakers insist that North Korea’s record be reviewed again. According to Gardner, there is evidence of North Korean “actions and relationships that would meet the criteria of state sponsor of terror.”
It should be noted that US officials repeatedly claimed that there was “evidence” of alleged Russian meddling with US presidential elections in 2016, though it has presented precious little to the public.
North Korea is one of the most sanctioned countries in the world. Its aspiration to secure nuclear weapons in conjunction with its official status as a communist state has caused the United States and the UN to impose numerous sanctions, which severely reduce the country’s trade options. However, each round of sanctions also erodes the space for diplomacy.
Sanctions so far have not prevented North Korea from obtaining nuclear weapons, but they do affect the standard of living of the common people in the country.
We wrote a few months ago that the only good thing one could say about Trump was that he was unpredictable. Just a month in the Oval Office, President Trump is living up to his reputation. His meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the 16th of February was not particularly well received in Israel. In contrast to President Obama, Trump’s body language and rhetoric strongly suggested he, and not Netanyahu, was in charge.
Trump was questioned about recent accusations that he was a ‘holocaust denier’. The American president imperiously ignored the question. Then, he dropped a bomb: The president indicated that he would be happy with a one-state solution in Palestine. I have argued for years that the creation of one democratic state encompassing Palestinians and Jews is the only option for long-term peace and stability. Zionists, however, do not even want any talk of that possibility; they understand that a one state solution will ultimately bring an end to Jewish supremacy – both in Israel and throughout the world.
The demographic statistics in Palestine show that the Arab population is growing rapidly. A one-state scenario would enable the millions of Palestinian refugees to return to their lands, thus swelling the Arab population. Moreover, power-sharing in the Knesset (or whatever a future assembly would be called) would change the domestic and foreign policy of the formerly ‘Jewish State’ entirely. The Israeli liberal press is worried about Trump. Yet Trump is arguably the most pro-Israeli President in history; his daughter ‘converted’ to Judaism and his son-in-law Jared Kushner has been financing Jewish settlements in Palestine. But the danger of the Trump regime for the Jewish supremacists is Steve Bannon, Trump’s Chief Strategist.
Steve Bannon has been accused of anti-semitism in the past for criticising the lack of American patriotism among international financiers who happen to be Jewish. But Bannon’s reactionary Breitbart News is staunchly Zionist. There is no contradiction between being Zionist and ‘anti-semitic’. In 1933, National Socialist Germany signed the Haavara Accord with international Zionists, whereby Germany would facilitate Jewish emigration to Palestine. After the Second World War, the USSR showed captured German films to soviet cinema goers. Some of the films such as Harlan’s Jud Süß were banned due to their Zionist content.
Steve Bannon calls himself a “Leninist” who wants to ” destroy the state”. Trump’s shadowy éminence grise, Bannon is believed to be the brains of the Trump administration. He certainly seems to understand dialectical materialism. But how could this dialectical conundrum play out?
During his election campaign, Donald Trump threatened to ban Muslims from entering the United States. His comments provoked international outrage. Benjamin Netanyahu was among the leaders who publicly denounced Trump’s xenophobic statements. We all know that far-right Zionist Netanyahu doesn’t care a farthing about Muslims. So, why would he make such a statement? We might say that, Netanyahu was attempting to present himself as a friend of the Arabs and all Muslims. But there is another aspect to the policy of borders: it is a policy which threatens the New World Order. Open borders and mass immigration are a key agenda of globalisation. We have shown that globalisation is being driven by liberal leftism. The most powerful institutions of the ‘Youth Industry’, ‘Colour Revolutions’, and ‘world-without-borders’ ideology are overwhelmingly Jewish-led. The same can be said for much of the liberal leftist ‘alternative’ media.
A state without borders
Israel has no official borders because they are constantly in expansion. Israel and its agents in the international media and academia unceasingly promote multiculturalism, immigration and open borders for all states – except Israel.
The Trump regime could render Israel’s espionage and intelligence penetration of the United States problematic. Dozens of Israelis were arrested after the 9/11 attacks on suspicion of terrorism. Some had been caught with explosives. They were all released due to the intervention of Homeland Security chief Micheal Chertoff, an Israeli-American. When Israeli Mossad agents were spotted celebrating the 9/11 terrorist attacks, they were described as ‘Middle Eastern-looking’.
Mohammed Atta, the chief terrorist suspect in the 9/11 attacks was, according to French intelligence, a Mossad agent. The Israelis have always used Islamist patsies and dupes for false flag attacks against civilian populations. Israeli security companies such as ICTS have repeatedly allowed terrorists to enter the United States and other countries. Is it possible that Netanyahu understood the significance of Trump’s xenophobic border policies? Impossible to tell.
But it is important to consider the fact that the real source of Jewish power in the world is the liberal ‘left’ media. Trump is currently at war with that establishment. Takfiri terrorism is and always has been a tool of Zionism. From the King David Hotel bombing of 1946, the Lavon Affair of 1954, to 9/11, the ‘war on terrorism’ has been about the recruitment, training and funding of Jihadi forces to be used as false-flag terror patsies and to fight proxy wars on behalf of Zionism.
The Takfiri and Wahhabi ideology is promoted by Israel’s ugly sister Saudi Arabia. If global Islam is taken over by Wahhabism – including in Gaza – Israel begins to look good, while genuine Muslims suffer. If Trump were to genuinely fight Takfiri terrorism in the Middle East, allying with President Assad, Israel’s ‘New Middle East’ project would fail. By putting a US embassy in Jerusalem, Trump is saying that a one-state option is back on the table. An Assad victory in Syria and a one-state solution, involving a burgeoning Palestinian population, would be the beginning of the end for Zionist world domination.
Left liberalism’s ‘Fisk-al deficit’
One only has to read what left liberal disinformation agents are actually saying to see the significance of all this. Take Robert Fisk’s latest piece: ‘ Why Israel is in for a rough ride under Trump’. Fisk believes that Trump and Bannon’s anti-Iran rhetoric is a threat to Israel. But he ignores the fact that it has been Israel, far more than the United States, who has been calling for war on Iran. Fisk is trying to imply that Israel wants peace with Iran. That is clearly not the case. Israel’s ‘left liberals’ and Mr Fisk have been backing the war against Syria to the hilt. As the Jewish-owned Brooking’s Institution makes clear in their 2009 Analysis Paper: ‘Which Path to Persia’, the destruction of Syria is the first stage of the war against Iran. Robert Fisk is right to be worried about Israel; his entire career of lies and disinformation about the Middle East may be undermined by Bannon’s methodological madness – at least at the level of discourse.
In many respects, Adam Curtis is correct to point out that Steve Bannon seems to be playing a similar role to Vladislav Surkov in Russia. Surkov, an advisor to President Vladimir Putin, developed the ideology of sovereign democracy, which Curtis claims led to a bewildering social state of “destabilised perception.”
Bannon and Surkov are the grand strategists of a new abstract art of disinformation designed to defend the interests of the national bourgeoisie against degenerate cosmopolitan elites and the working class. However, it is only by seeing this contradiction and taking control of its fallout that working class interests can be advanced. The White nationalist and violent ‘leftist’ hoodie-utionaries ultimately serve the same class interests. Workers should not be influenced by the reactionary ideology of either.
They are, in many respects, two sides of a Surkovian psyops ruthlessly conceived to maintain class domination.
Time to play Chess
In the Nineteenth century British imperial policy in Ireland consisted of co-opting the Irish to British power by granting them privileges and protection. The policy became known as ‘Killing home-rule with kindness’. The United States cannot afford to wage another catastrophic war of destruction against an emerging regional power like Iran.
Israel’s ‘rough ride’ under Trump will be a good thing if the Islamic Republic of Iran is sufficiently creative in its negotiations with Washington. Iran will need to tighten its alliance with Russia and China and correct serious foreign policy errors such as support for Zionist/Wahhabi agendas in South East Asia.
Iran should look towards strengthening its relationship with countries such as Hungary. Relations at present between Hungary and the Islamic republic of Iran are good. A Hungarian delegation recently visited Tehran and said that they hoped to make Budapest into Iran’s portal in Europe. Strengthening its diplomatic ties with nationalist countries in Europe and Russia, as well as constructive engagement with the Trump administration could contribute to the weakening of Zionism, the phoney war on terrorism and the Talmudic New World Order. Such policies will not bring the contradictions of capitalism to an end, but rather accelerate them. For those contradictions are systemic to the capitalist mode of production itself. But there is the possibility of a realignment of forces away from total war and destruction towards constructive change.
Israeli defense contractors have generated more than $1 billion in revenues since 2010 for assisting with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, the most expensive weapons program in history.
The Israeli Defense Ministry reported Sunday that 2016 was a banner year for F-35 partners. Contracts tied to production of the F-35 shot up 33 percent last year for a total of $258 million in new deals for Israeli companies. Since Israel inked a deal to buy 19 F-35 fighters in 2010, Israeli firms have won more than $1 billion in ‘buy-back contracts.’
“The scope of industrial cooperation between [Lockheed Martin] and Israeli industry, in just the last year, shows the immense potential inherent in this arrangement for the Israeli economy,” Col. Avi Dadon, deputy director of purchasing at the Ministry of Defense, noted.
A bulk of the new revenues stemmed from the F-35 virtual reality helmets. Elbit Systems and Rockwell Collins scored a $206 million contract for headgear production.
Like the F-35 project as a whole, the F-35 helmets have faced their share of struggles. The 4.5-pound helmets are reported to cause neck problems for pilots. What’s more, the visor has been seen to pop off the heads of pilots during take-off. Since the helmets are critical for pilots to visualize flight, mission, and target information, this essentially leaves pilots blind. In a separate incident, Tom Briggs of the US Navy described the helmets as being comparable to “looking through a dirty window” due to a green glow in the display area.
Meanwhile, Italian officials have complained recently that Lockheed Martin and the US are not following through on jet maintenance contracts. Guido Crosetto, head of Italy’s aerospace and defense industry association said Washington has not “honored promises” made when Italy joined the list of US allies to buy the F-35s.
Back in 2002, Italy was told that it would receive contracts for maintenance work worth 65 percent of the $1 billion Rome invested to buy 90 joint strike fighters, Italian media outlets reported. Italian firms currently have contracts valued less than 20 percent of its initial investment, the official added. Instead, contracts went to places like the UK, the Netherlands and Australia “because the competition favored large companies,” Crosetto said.
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei warned that the real war against the Islamic Republic is an economic and a cultural one.
“Both the former and new administrations in the United States have been threatening us with wars,” said the Leader reacting to all war rhetoric used by Washington against the Islamic Republic.
Addressing a large group of visiting people from Tabriz, Imam Khamenei said: “They have always said that the military option is on the table,” he said.
“But the real war remains to be an economic one, the imposition of sanctions and denying the people the chance to promote businesses and economic and technological activities in the country,” the Leader said.
His eminence also recalled comments by some European officials warning Iranian authorities that Iran had to go to war in the absence of the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Such comments are just plain lies, the Leader said, elaborating on why some insist on threatening Iran with a war option.
“They just want to keep us too much involved with a military war to detract us from the economic war we face,” he said.
“The real war is also a cultural one,” Imam Khamenei added.
The chairman of Japanese multinational Toshiba, Shigenori Shiga resigned on Tuesday, taking responsibility for the company’s multi-billion dollar losses in the troubled US nuclear power business.
He will step down from the board but will remain a Toshiba executive.
According to Associated Press, Toshiba announced it is on track to report a net loss of $3.4 billion (390 billion yen) in the current fiscal year that ends in March 2017. It also warned the estimated loss may change “by a wide margin,” projecting a $6.3 billion (712.5 billion yen) loss for its nuclear business. That was related to the acquisition of a nuclear construction firm by its Westinghouse unit.
Toshiba stock tumbled eight percent in Tokyo trading after the announcement.
In December, Toshiba said it might write down billions of dollars in losses following Westinghouse’s announcement that costs had significantly surpassed estimates.
According to the Japanese company’s president Satoshi Tsunakawa, Toshiba won’t take on new projects to construct nuclear plants. He said the company was looking for potential partners to acquire a stake in Westinghouse.
Toshiba said it hopes to fix the situation by selling its flash memory business and other assets.
The Japanese conglomerate has been grappling with an accounting scandal in which it admitted doctoring financial results to meet unrealistic profit targets.
“It is so unfortunate that this has happened,” a company director Ryoji Sato told reporters about the company’s promises to come clean. “We must keep trying to do better.”
Founded in 1875, Toshiba employs almost 200,000 people. Its business includes household appliances, railways, hydrogen energy and elevator systems.