In April, the French and British foreign ministers visited Tripoli to show support for Libya’s UN-backed unity government. France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault urged Libya’s neighbours to get behind the government, adding, “There is no other possible path.” Reports have however recently surfaced showing that Western forces, including France, have been assisting General Khalifa Haftar – a figure who has been threatened with EU sanctions for refusing to support the unity government and who has been fighting some groups involved in the Western-backed campaign against Daesh.
Earlier this month, air traffic control recordings obtained by the Middle East Eye showed that British, French, Italian and US troops, have been coordinating air strikes in support of Haftar. On Wednesday, the death of three French soldiers led to the first official confirmation that French special forces are operating in Libya, something the unity government say they were not informed of. France’s presence in the country was first reported by Le Monde in February, with reports claiming that a detachment was aiding Haftar in his battle against Daesh from a base at Benghazi airport. Earlier this year, the Pentagon said its units were deployed to “partner” local militias against Daesh and Britain has admitted sending RAF reconnaissance flights over the country.
Since the fall of the Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi in 2011, the country has struggled to stay on course. Today Libya is in the middle of a civil war and is split between two warring parliaments. The political vacuum has allowed for the powerful militant group Daesh to gain a foothold and criminal networks to flourish.
General Khalifa Haftar, who leads the Libyan National Army (LNA), has been the key force fighting against Libya Dawn, an umbrella of several armed groups who have supported Omar Al-Hassi’s General National Congress (GNC). The GNC was replaced by the House of Representatives (HoR) following an election but political opponents of the new parliament challenged its legitimacy and revived the GNC in Tripoli. Fighters from Libya Dawn forced the government of Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thani and the HoR to Tobruk. Haftar’s crackdown is known as Operation Dignity.
The UN-backed unity government, effectively Libya’s third parliament, was formed in Tunisia in December 2015, with the aim of bringing an end to the conflict. It has the difficult task of replacing the two governments, bringing unity to the fractured country and dealing with security concerns arising from the presence of Daesh.
But it has faced endless opposition. The government only managed to sail into Tripoli in March 2016 as opposition groups prevented them from flying in. Daesh has also made things difficult – in the run-up to the January 16 2016 deadline for its formation, the militant group led a sustained attack against Libya’s vital infrastructure. While the unity government does have the mandate to call for the UN to militarily intervene, unsanctioned military actions by Western countries only works to undermine the already very thin veneer of legitimacy it has.
In Libya, the response to the news of the French soldiers has been strong, with condemnations from the UN-backed government and angry protests in Tripoli. As Fayez Serraj, the Prime Minister of Libya, said in a recent op-ed, “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Daesh) is not our greatest enemy. National division is.” The divisions within Libya have allowed it to veer into civil war, with groups such as Daesh managing to exploit the cleavages in the country. The growth of Daesh is a symptom of conflict in Libya not the cause.
Serraj continues, “The stark lesson from the past five years of turmoil is that when Libyans fail to work together they empower those who would destroy our country… terrorists will be defeated by our Armed Forces uniting under civilian command, not rival militias rushing to claim a political prize.” This applies to achieving peace in Libya- by backing one side politically while supporting another militarily, divides that are preventing peace only widen. In supporting Haftar whose power base is in the east, it undermines the unity government’s struggle to gain control of this heavily divided area.
Aside from the implications of peace for the country, there is also a question of the legality of the action. As Libya’s Supreme State Council put it, it is a “clear deception by a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a sponsor of the [December 2015] political agreement”. Stop the War Coalition’s Chris Nineham told RT: “They are not backed by the UN, these interventions. They are not checked anywhere. They are just unilateral acts of military aggression.” Some have gone even further. “This is a sort of coup against the political process and against the democratic path chosen by the Libyan people,” Mansour Al Hasadi, a member of the GNA, told Al Jazeera.
Britain and France took the lead in pushing for military intervention in 2011. While the intervention led to rapid results and was initially considered successful, the country now contends with three parliaments, the growing presence of Daesh and continued violence. Peace seems a distant prospect. Yet the same international powers have not learned from their mistakes.
Arms firms like Airbus, which are cashing in on border security deals to hold back refugees, paid for exclusive access to ministers of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs), a new report claims.
Airbus, the seventh-largest arms producer in the world, makes jets, helicopters and even drones, which are marketed for border security purposes.
The ‘Border Wars’ report by Dutch group Stop Wapenhandel claims that arms firms, including Airbus, “provide the equipment to border guards, the surveillance technology to monitor frontiers, and the IT infrastructure to track population movements.
“Most perverse of all, it shows that some of the beneficiaries of border security contracts are some of the biggest arms sellers to the Middle East and North African region, fueling the conflicts that are the cause of many of the refugees,” the group said.
The report claims that such businesses are cynically “creating the crisis are then profiting from it.”
“Moreover they have been abetted by European states who have granted the licenses to export arms and have then granted them border security contracts to deal with the consequences.”
Airbus allegedly enjoyed privileged access to MSPs as part of its membership of the Scottish Parliament and Business Exchange (SPBE).
The SPBE does not regard itself as a lobbying group and is a registered charity in Scotland, however firms must pay to sign up. Companies involved in the past include security giant Serco and energy firm Shell.
Speaking to the Ferret investigative news website on Wednesday, Mark Akkerman of Stop Wapenhandel said arms firms are determined to influence “national government and politicians in European countries.”
“Even though the lobbying by Airbus in Scotland is probably not focused on military or border security issues, I think the company’s business of fueling conflicts and profiting from the refugee crisis should be reason enough to be very cautious about maintaining any relationship with it.”
Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) spokesman Andrew Smith told the Ferret that Airbus “has sold military equipment to regimes with appalling human rights records. The Eurofighter, which it has worked closely on, has been central to the Saudi-led devastation of Yemen.”
He warned that arms firms enjoy a “totally disproportionate voice in the corridors of power” and that the Scottish Parliament should reject their advances.
Scotland’s Holyrood parliament canceled its own membership of the SPBE in March.
Like peace itself, the military-industrial complex sees internal stability as bad for business. A new report has exposed the activities of military and security companies that are profiting from the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa, which have also successfully lobbied the EU to react by buying their security equipment.
The joint report by the European NGO Stop Wapenhandel and the Transnational Institute (TNI), called “Border Wars: The Arms Dealers Profiting from Europe’s Refugee Tragedy,” reveals the most prominent winners of security contracts which were issued in Europe as a result of the migrant crisis, and Europe’s acquiescent response to their lobbying.
“Some of the beneficiaries of border security contracts are some of the biggest arms sellers to the Middle-East and North-African region, fuelling the conflicts that are the cause of many of the refugees. In other words, the companies creating the crisis are then profiting from it.”
The big players in Europe’s border security complex include arms companies Airbus, Finmeccanica and Thales, which are also three of the top four European arms traders and have been particularly prominent winners of EU contracts aimed at strengthening borders.
Other companies to benefit from the EU’s policy response to Middle Eastern conflict are French defense and aerospace company Safran, the Spanish IT and defense systems firm Indra Sistemas, and some Israeli companies like BTec Electronic Security Systems, which promote their expertise based on equipment installed at the Israeli-Palestinian border.
French companies Airbus and Thales, and Italian Finmeccanica, are part of the European Organisation for Security (EOS), which has been most active in lobbying the EU for increased border security. The report notes that many of its proposals, such as its push to set up a cross European border security agency, have eventually ended up as policy.
According to the report, the booming border security market was worth an estimated 15 billion euros ($16.5 billion) in 2015, and is predicted to rise to over 29 billion euros ($32 billion) annually in 2022.
New EU member states have been required to strengthen borders as a condition of membership, creating additional markets for profit.
“The arms business, in particular sales to the Middle-East and North-Africa, where most of the refugees are fleeing from, is also booming. Global arms exports to the Middle-East actually increased by 61 per cent between 2006–10 and 2011–15. Between 2005 and 2014, EU member states granted arms exports licenses to the Middle East and North Africa worth over 82 billion euros ($91 billion).”
On Tuesday, the German newspaper Tagesspiegel newspaper revealed that the arms industry could benefit even further from a new direction in the EU’s African policy.
According to the report, the EU Commission intends to direct some funds from its Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace towards equipping African militaries.
The fund was established in March 2014 and has a 2.3 billion euro ($2.5 billion) budget, to be disbursed between 2014 and 2020.
“Development without security and stability is not possible,” a source in the Commission told the newspaper.
“The Commission is therefore considering increasing its support for security actors,” and “in some very special cases,” this will include security forces.
The proposal to spend African development funds on security forces was criticized by the German Green Party MEP Reinhard Butikofer, who described it as “breaking a taboo.”
Die Linke MEP Sabine Losing called the idea “scandalous,” and criticized the “misuse of aid.”
She said the proposal is one of a series of “steps in the militarization of EU foreign policy.”
We can be sure that the British exit from the European Union represents a profound crisis for the global capitalist order. We know this because the Lords of Capital and their political minions and media all over the world are in panic over Brexit. The capitalist order is built on five centuries of European plunder, enslavement, and extermination of the rest of humanity. Blood oozes from every edifice of the European Union – and yet, the victims, and the descendants of the victims of this horrific and ongoing capitalist carnage, often behave as if they have some kind of stake in keeping the old order intact. Like Malcolm X’s house Negroes, their first instinct when they see the master’s house on fire, is to put the fire out. If the master gets sick, they start sneezing. And, when the referendum went against Britain staying in the European Union, house Negroes of all colors on both sides of the Atlantic acted like their own worlds were coming to end.
On Comedy Central’s Daily Show, this week, host Trevor Noah interviewed Cynthia Erivo, who plays Celie in the Broadway production of “The Color Purple.” Noah lampooned those Brits that voted to leave the EU as a bunch of Donald Trumps with Cockney accents. He said nothing about the EU’s pro-corporate, pro-banker austerity policies – maybe because there’s nothing funny about those policies, or maybe because he works for a rich corporation. Noah drew Ms. Erivo into the Brexit discussion. She was born in London to parents who emigrated from Nigeria. She explained her opposition to Brexit, saying, “If my mom didn’t get to the UK, I probably wouldn’t be here right now, on that stage on Broadway.”
Cynthia Erivo is grateful that her West African parents were allowed into Britain, so that she could be born in London and pursue a successful career. Her parents were permitted to settle in Britain because Nigeria was a British colony, and later became part of the British Commonwealth. It actually had nothing to do with the European Union. By Cynthia Erivo’s logic, it was a good thing that Britain invaded, plundered, enslaved, and stole her parent’s homeland. By colonizing Nigeria, the Brits saved her from being born an African. The millions who died in the British conquest of Nigeria, and in the Middle Passage to the America’s, or on the plantations of Virginia or Jamaica, or in forced labor to the British in Nigeria, or who die today in the oil soaked wasteland of the Niger River Delta – all of this past and present suffering and human degradation is balanced out by the fact that a daughter of Nigeria gets to star in a Broadway show. This super-exploitation of Africa made Britain and France and Spain and Belgium and the Netherlands and other members of today’s European Union rich – but Cynthia Erivo and Trevor Noah, the South African, come to the defense of the European Union.
They like the house that slavery and genocide built, and where global capitalism now rules. They fear anything that might create disorder in the House of Europe, just as their counterparts in Black America fear anything that might disturb the tranquility of the U.S. ruling class and its institutions. The House Negroes are truly international, always ready to put out fires in their masters many houses around the globe.
Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Why is it that many people who consider themselves left-wing have such difficulty grasping that the EU is a deeply reactionary institution? The mere fact that those running the EU present it as an internationalist venture dedicated to the creation of a world free of nationalist enmities does not make it so. If we want to examine the EU in its proper light, then we should ignore the high-flown rhetoric in which its supporters indulge, and consider its actual record. And what is the record of the EU, once we penetrate the obfuscatory rhetoric about ‘internationalism’ that surrounds EU policy? Without a doubt, that record is one that should cause those on the left now defending it acute embarrassment, as it starkly contradicts the ideals that the left has always claimed to uphold.
Across the Continent, the unelected officials who have usurped the power of national governments and asserted their right to determine the fates of countless millions, through their adherence to the damaging creed of neoliberalism, have wrought suffering on an unimaginable scale, casting millions into poverty and removing the last vestige of dignity people cling to in an economy that has fallen prey to the voracious claims of big business. They have foisted austerity on unwilling populations, creating a cycle of endless unemployment and ever increasing woe, compelling ordinary workers struggling to eke out an existence in the wake of the most painful recession in living memory to shoulder the burden of repaying a debt which was originally incurred as a result of the criminal behaviour of Europe’s financiers. With brazen contempt for the views of the peoples of Europe they claim to serve, they have connived to topple left-wing governments and deny the citizens of the countries most affected by austerity their one remaining means – their inalienable right to elect a government subservient to their will – of resisting the vicious policies that have reduced them to their present abject state.
It is worth detailing the ways in which the actual practice of the EU diverges sharply from the propagandistic image endorsed by elements of the left.
The Crushing of Greece
One word should be engraved on the minds of those who, despite all the evidence to the contrary, persist in believing that the EU is an inherently progressive body: ‘GREECE.’ What the EU did to Greece should have dispelled forever the fanciful idea that such an institution has as its fundamental aim the material welfare of ordinary Europeans. But such is the power of the delusional thinking which holds sway amongst the ‘liberal’ apologists for ‘internationalism’ that nothing it seems, not even the destruction of an entire country, the decimation of its industries, and the despoliation of its people, can shake their belief in the manifest virtues of the EU.
After five years in which Greece was forced to undergo the most far-reaching programme of austerity ever implemented by any European government, selling off its public infrastructure and slashing spending on social services to please its creditors, even the economists at whose insistence this policy had been carried out were grudgingly admitting that it had been an unmitigated disaster. By 2015 Greece had seen its economy contract by 27% as a result of the government’s futile efforts to meet the continually mounting debt repayments demanded of it by the troika. As GDP fell and Greece’s ability to repay the debt was further reduced, rather than provide relief the ECB chose to extend fresh loans to the Greek government to enable it to service the interest on its existing liabilities, thereby adding to its overall level of debt and enmeshing the country in an interminable process of austerity from which it could never hope to extricate itself. The needless suffering caused by the single-minded pursuit of austerity had resulted in scenes of poverty and despair more appropriate to the 1930s than 21st century Europe. Entire families were starving on the streets, deprived of even the bare minimum they required to survive; thousands of people, reduced to absolute despair by the unrelenting attacks on their living standards, had committed suicide. The IMF, in an extraordinary departure from its long-standing commitment to free market dogma, published a report bluntly stating what had become apparent to all well-informed experts on the matter, which was that Greece would never be able to rid itself of the debt, not unless it was significantly reduced and a 30-year moratorium on repayments was imposed.
What was the response of the managers of the eurozone to the tragedy unfolding before their very eyes, to the unbearable spectacles of suffering for which they, as the economic masters of Greece, bore responsibility? The response was callous indifference. When in desperation the Greek people elected the far-left party Syriza to power, on a platform of ending austerity and negotiating a debt restructuring, the EU steadfastly refused to treat with such a government on terms of equality and outright rejected the democratic mandate with which it had been recently invested at the polls, insisting that, regardless of the outcome of elections, Greece had no right to seek a change in rules which had been autocratically decided upon by the bureaucratic elites in Brussels. There would be no substantive negotiations leading to an end to austerity; there would be no concessions to the democratically expressed will of the population. When Syriza attempted to resist the diktats of Brussels, calling a referendum on its negotiating stance, which it won resoundingly, the EU bullied and cajoled little Greece, threatening to punish the refractory population of this wayward country, which had dared to question the entire basis on which the eurozone was run, by cutting off the money supply and rendering even more people destitute if Syriza should refuse to acquiesce in the harsh financial terms of the proposed deal, which mandated yet more spending cuts to service a debt that everyone knew to be unsustainable. Under extreme duress Syriza surrendered to these demands and the worsening cycle of unemployment and declining wages, in which Greece has been trapped for at least the last 6 years, was resumed, inflicting a historic defeat on the people of Greece who had misguidedly believed that, by exercising their democratic rights, they could decide the future of their own country.
Greece illustrates the failings of an economic policy that is being implemented over the objections of the great majority of Europe’s citizens. Indeed, in its unwavering support for neoliberalism the EU represents nothing less than an attempt to perpetuate an economic model which advantages European businesses, whilst eroding the living standards of most Europeans. Particularly in the countries of the eurozone, democracy has been eviscerated by the adamant insistence of the EU on more cuts to government spending. The Growth and Stability Pact effectively prevents large-scale public spending on vital social services to alleviate the effects of a recession, limiting deficits to 3% of GDP. As part of this neoliberal model, national governments are also required each year to submit their budgets to the Commission for its approval, which has increasingly demanded that the rights of workers take second place to paying off the debts accumulated by the financial sector. Whilst the desperate scenes in Greece are an extreme case, high unemployment and chronic poverty have become fixed features of the eurozone, with the number of jobless in Spain, for example, amounting to over 20% of the workforce. Moreover, employers have been given the freedom to disregard the rights of their employees in a bid to raise productivity, sparking a series of labour revolts by workers driven to the edge of despair. In France, to cite the most recent instance, the much hated El-Khomri law, which seeks to increase the working week to 46 hours and is currently being contested by striking unions, was originally based on the recommendations of the Commission.
Thus, it is transparent that the hardships experienced by workers across Europe are an inescapable product of the economic policies enforced by the EU.
The myth of a pacifist EU
It is difficult to fathom how anyone save the wilfully blind could continue to view the EU as a progressive force in light of the destruction it visited upon Greece. But to understand the mindset that leads otherwise enlightened people to extol the benefits of an institution which is the cause of so much distress throughout Europe it is necessary for the moment to ignore facts. Faith in the EU is not grounded in any rational analysis of reality, but rests on a series of founding myths the truth of which its defenders have never paused to consider. They are regarded as unquestionably true and are never scrutinised, much as devout Christians in centuries past would never have thought to examine the articles of faith on which their belief in God was based.
The myth from which the EU derives much of its strength is that of an organisation which has overcome the bitter divisions of the past to fashion a new identity for the once warlike people of Europe. The narrative goes something like this: for millennia Europe was plagued by nationalist rivalries which produced wars of unparalleled violence. In the twentieth century, as a result of these rivalries the entire world was plunged into two conflicts which witnessed bloodletting on a scale never seen before, and following the second and most devastating of these wars, a band of far-seeing European statesmen resolved that never again would the nations of Europe battle against one another and be a cause of such misery to the rest of the planet. In a spirit of high-minded idealism they took the first steps toward the establishment of a supranational body which would bring countries together in harmony and peace, consigning to history the internecine feuding and jingoistic war-mongering that had rent the political fabric of Europe apart. Henceforth, the people of this war-torn continent, divided though they might be by borders, were to consider themselves Europeans in the truest sense, part of an organic union that would only grow in strength with the passage of the years.
To any serious student of history this account of the EU’s origins must appear as a gross distortion of the facts. But such is the comforting myth that underpins the faith many people, who should know better, exhibit in relation to an organisation they credit with having maintained the peace in Europe and prevented another plunge into barbarism for more than half a century. This romanticised view of history explains why in 2012 the Nobel Committee was able to award the Peace Prize to the EU, and also why in a poll conducted on the same occasion it was found that 75% of Europeans agreed with the Nobel Committee that ‘peace and democracy were the most important achievements of the EU’. The people who believe this are prepared to forgive the EU anything, because its failings in their eyes are as nothing when set against its tremendous success in averting another world war.
The reason this myth should cause offence to campaigners for peace everywhere is that it is based on a version of events which is utterly contradicted by the known facts about how the EU came into being. That there has not been another conflict to compare with WW2 in the seventy years following its end owes not to the moral vision of the politicians who presided over the birth of the EEC, the precursor to the EU, but is purely a result of shifting power dynamics. By 1945 the great powers of Europe had been so reduced in strength by the most savage war in human history that they soon realised they would never be able to recover their former status as global hegemons in a world the US had come to dominate. Indeed, such was the overwhelming preponderance of power enjoyed by the US, the only state to emerge from the war with its standing massively enhanced, that the idea of opposing its designs for Europe was swiftly set aside, and to retain what small measure of influence they could hope to wield in this unipolar world the formerly great powers agreed to be integrated into a military and economic alliance headed by the US. The creation of pan-European institutions that would foster the growth of a single European market, which would trade freely with US corporations, was made a condition of Marshall Aid by the American architects of the new economic order, who greeted every significant move in the direction of greater European unity with satisfaction. In the military sphere, membership of NATO, the armed alliance of states that the US established to further its imperialist interests, required Western European countries to devote a significant part of their budgets to military expenditure and maintain an armed truce with the Soviet Union and its Eastern European satellites, effectively dividing the Continent into two hostile camps, constantly teetering on the edge of nuclear war, for much of the latter half of the twentieth century.
The roots of the EU are therefore to be sought not in the sentimental desire for peace felt by leading statesmen in the wake of war, though this was undoubtedly a desire expressed by masses of ordinary people, but in the essential fact of the post-1945 world that the US displaced Europe as the centre of global power and influence. Power politics not pacifism explains why there has not been another war between the major European states. Anyone who doubts the truth of this need only consider the foreign policy of Europe during the period when the basis for the EU was being laid. For most of the inhabitants of the third world these years were not ones distinguished by peace but by a series of brutal wars to free themselves from the yoke of imperialism. The founding members of the EEC, at the same time they were joining together in a spirit of ‘harmony’ and ‘peace’, unleashed a torrent of blood in their colonial possessions, obstinately clinging to the remnants of empire and crushing demands for liberty with shocking violence. In Algeria the French prosecuted a terrorist campaign against the population that resulted in 1.5 million deaths, the effects of which are still felt acutely by France’s Muslims, treated as second class citizens by the Republic, and are a source of deeply-felt divisions even now. In Vietnam, with funding from the US, the French also sought to retain control over their colony and defeat the Vietminh, eventually handing over to the Americans when they could no longer sustain the cost of such a military campaign. In the Congo, Belgium initially met demands for independence with violence and continued to interfere in the politics of the region following independence, playing a role in the assassination of the elected Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba. In Kenya, the British, who were to join the EEC in 1973, waged a brutal war against the native Kikuyu throughout the 1950s in order to uphold the rule of the white settler elite, interning many Africans in concentration camps where they were subjected to torture.
The danger of peddling a false narrative of the growth of European unity in which base geopolitical considerations do not figure is the immunity granted the EU against criticism for its actions in the present. Far from waning, the attachment of European states to militarism remains as strong as ever, and has continued to find an outlet during the 21st century in a number of wars of aggression across the Middle-East and Africa, which differ little from the hey-day of 19th century imperialism, when great powers bestrode the world looting defenceless countries with utter abandon. There is, however, one significant difference between these past exploits and European imperialism in its modern guise. In recent years the EU has arrogated to itself an increasing array of powers in the field of foreign policy, establishing the office of High Representative for Foreign Affairs with a view to eventually dictating the relations of European nations with the outside world. Given fully 22 of the 28 member states that comprise the EU are members of NATO, it is unsurprising that the policy followed by this fledgling branch of the Commission is little more than an extension of the goals that Europe’s political leaders have long held in common with the US.
Through vesting power, however, in an unaccountable body of bureaucrats who cannot be voted from office, unlike elected politicians in member states, the EU seeks to make it all but impossible for the citizens of Europe to alter the foreign policy trajectories of their respective governments, and draw back from the reckless path of unabashed war-mongering upon which we are embarked. A case in point, and one that the former MP George Galloway cited in a recent speech, is Syria. Although most of the people who argued for Britain to intervene against ISIS towards the end of last year have effaced it from their memory, barely three years ago Cameron’s government, supported by much of the media class, favoured military intervention on the opposite side of the Syrian civil war, calling for air strikes against the Syrian army and support for those jihadist elements which subsequently morphed into ISIS. Thankfully, to the dismay of Cameron, this move was narrowly voted down in the Commons, but had this question fallen within the purview of the EU’s High Representative, it is unlikely that Britain’s Parliament would have even been permitted a vote on the matter.
The crowning achievement of the EU in the arena of foreign affairs has undoubtedly been its contribution to resurrecting the Cold War, fomenting a civil war in the Ukraine that still rages along the historically fraught border region that stretches between the EU and Russia. Few people in the West know of the EU’s role in igniting this conflict, or of the policy, drafted by the Commission, and relentlessly pursued during the last twenty years, of expanding the influence of the EU into Eastern Europe so as to isolate Russia behind a ring of hostile states. The degree of ignorance that the media has fostered regarding the crisis in Ukraine has reached the point that the supporters of remain even cite, with positive pride, the aggressive posturing of the EU during the recent crisis as a reason to vote against Brexit, contending that only as part of a larger entity can we stand up to the Russian bear, which is engaged in an attempt to subjugate its neighbours and reconstitute the Soviet Empire. If anything, the reverse is true, and the perilous brinksmanship of the EU with respect to Russia, its unceasing efforts to provoke an escalation in tensions between the two, should be considered grounds enough to vote leave.
For in reality Ukraine is merely the latest in a long line of countries which the EU has sought to annex to a Western alliance controlled by the US, with EU membership proceeding hand in hand with membership of NATO. This military organisation, formed in 1949 with the supposed aim of defending Western Europe against the USSR, has since the collapse of the Soviet Union more than doubled in size, with many of the new additions former Communist countries situated on Russia’s periphery, revealing its true character as an alliance that exists to extend the global reach of the US. The EU, by incorporating these countries into a political union closely linked to NATO, and in some cases laying the ground-work for their eventual accession to NATO through the Eastern Partnerships, a proto-form of EU membership, has in many ways acted to reinforce the bonds linking the various members of this alliance.
In the case of Ukraine, the action that set in motion the chain of events leading to civil war was the offer by the EU of an Association Agreement. This has frequently been depicted as a generous arrangement under which Ukraine would have benefited from most of the advantages enjoyed by EU member states, without, however, formally becoming a member. In actual fact the agreement would have required Ukraine to sever economic relations with Russia, a country to which it was intimately bound by a shared history, and was linked to a package of swingeing austerity measures that would have resulted in the ruination of Ukraine’s economy. Moreover, despite the outraged denials of its framers, the deal also mandated military cooperation between the EU and Ukraine and was clearly intended as a prelude to NATO membership. Given the fact that approximately half of Ukrainians, mainly living in the East of the country, were opposed to NATO and favoured better relations with Russia, it was hardly likely that the Ukrainian President, Victor Yanukovych, who by all accounts had pro-EU leanings, would ever have been able to implement the terms of such a deal without splitting the country in two. When at the end of 2013 he therefore rejected the Agreement, prompting protests in Kiev’s Maidan Square, in which Ukraine’s fascist parties, which are driven by a racist hatred of the country’s ethnic Russian population, played a prominent part, both the EU and the US chose to back the protesters agitating for his removal. After Yanukovch was overthrown in a putsch in February 2014, spearheaded by those same fascist elements within the opposition, instead of spurning the interim government that was installed following his ouster the EU immediately proceeded to signal their approval by securing its assent to the Association Agreement that Yanukovych had originally refused to sign. When Eastern Ukrainians rose in revolt against the putschist government, which had removed the democratically elected President from office and concluded an Association Agreement in spite of their objections, the EU disingenuously attributed Ukraine’s descent into civil war to Russian interference.
The defenders of the EU refuse to acknowledge its contribution to the turmoil that has engulfed Ukraine, or its part in bringing about a new cold war, even arguing that Russia’s opposition to the European project stems from a distaste for democracy and human rights, rather than simple geopolitics. Some, indulgently, recognise that Russia is genuinely fearful about the threat to its position from the extension of NATO eastwards, but claim that these fears derive from a 19th century habit of mind whereby the world is divided up into spheres of interest between competing powers, which vie with each other for global domination. Unfortunately, they argue, the EU is hampered in its relations with Russia by the failure of Europe’s leaders to grasp that they are a 21st century power dealing with a country that has still not freed itself from old modes of thinking about international affairs. But the chronology of the crisis is clear, as is the role the EU played in prompting it, and few who have studied the matter would deny that the actions of the EU with respect to Ukraine appear in the grand tradition of imperialist politics.
The question confronting Britain
The question of whether to remain or leave will likely not be decided on the basis of what is being done on the Continent in the name of ‘internationalism’. But a broader perspective is needed to refute the contorted arguments of many liberals who all too often give too much credence to the rhetoric of the European project, whilst paying little heed to its record. The current debate in Britain suffers from the entrenched tendency of the mainstream left to identify support for remain with opposition to petty-minded nationalism, and to chide Brexiters for being too insular and self-interested to appreciate the sense of high moral purpose that drives the EU. The briefest look, however, at the destructive polices that have been imposed on the countries of the eurozone, and the chaos that has ensued from imperialist meddling in foreign affairs, is enough to counter the baseless assertion, constantly repeated by those in the remain camp, that in opposing Brexit people will be voting for a worthy attempt to replace nationalist discords with a shared identity based on a commitment to democracy and human rights. The EU is not internationalist in any sense that a genuine member of the left would support. It exists to advance the interests of the business class as against workers, and in its zeal to enrich corporations at the expense of ordinary people it has succeeded in creating such disaffection with the political establishment that fascism, the very phenomenon the EU was in theory designed to prevent, has once more become a formidable force in countries languishing in the grip of high unemployment and low wages.
There are both altruistic and more self-interested considerations that should be factored into any decision on how to vote in the upcoming referendum. Both kinds of analysis, however, dictate a vote for Brexit. The supporters of remain commonly react to the argument that Britain has much to gain from leaving by speaking vaguely of showing solidarity with the many millions of people in the eurozone to whom that option is not available. They seem not to understand that by voting to remain, far from showing solidarity with the rest of Europe, Britain would be electing to prolong the life of an institution which is conducting a bizarre neoliberal experiment in how far it can push Europeans before they lose all hope. There is a moral case for leaving, based on the fact that Brexit would probably result in the dissolution of the EU and ease the suffering of nations currently held captive by neoliberal economics. The evidence for this is compelling. It is doubtful, for example, that the EU could long survive the withdrawal of one of its principal sources of funding. Far more worrisome from the point of view of those running Europe than the financial repercussions of Brexit, however, would be the example that it would set for the stricken populations of the Continent, especially in the southern countries, who have been led to believe that escape from the economic straitjacket of the eurozone is impossible. Presented with the spectacle of a people freely choosing to exit the EU, it is conceivable that workers suffering the consequences of EU-enforced austerity in countries like Spain and Italy would place pressure on their representatives to grant a referendum.
There is also an argument for leaving based on the benefits that Britain is currently well-placed to reap from such a move. The landslide election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party last year has indicated the widespread support that exists for a socialist alternative to the centre-ground politics which has held sway in Britain for the last thirty years, showing that the Blairites, who were roundly defeated in the election, were wrong to dismiss socialism as a spent force and place their faith in the free market. Consequently, a reforming Labour government may well assume the reins of government in the very near future. If it takes power in the context of a vote to remain, however, such a government would face real obstacles to implementing its programme in the form of the capitalist safeguards against reform that the EU has established. It would not be able to nationalise the railways, despite the overwhelming support of the public, because the EU has made public ownership of the railways illegal. A Labour government would find it difficult to increase expenditure on the NHS and other much needed public services because of the strict economies that the EU pressures member states to adopt by limiting the budget deficit to 3% of GDP. Furthermore, a social-democratic government of the kind that Corbyn could potentially head, with its commitment to decoupling the economy from its damaging dependence on financial services, would soon discover that competition rules forbid us from subsidising our manufacturing sector or even protecting our steel industry from Chinese dumping through raising tariffs on imports. In short, any government that seeks to overturn the neoliberal consensus will find that, within the confines of the EU, even limited reforms toward that end are a practical impossibility, liable to be struck down by the European Court of Justice as incompatible with EU law at any time.
It is regrettable that, instead of focussing on the impediments Labour would face in the event of a vote to remain, the mainstream left has chosen to fix its attention on the perceived boost that Brexit would give the current Conservative government. A myth has gained ground amongst large sections of the left that the rights which British workers have come to take for granted, such as maternity leave and paid holidays, were gifted to Britain by the EU, and that Brexit would free the Conservatives to intensify their assault on the working class, uninhibited by a social Europe which at present exercises a restraining influence over neoliberal governments. Even supposing that the remain camp is right in assuming that the Conservatives will hold onto power until the next general election in four years time, a questionable assumption in light of the fact the Conservatives are deeply split over the referendum, it is simply false to claim that we owe whatever rights we enjoy to the EU, As others have documented, most of the rights that are invoked by the mainstream left as a reason to vote remain were already in place when we joined the EEC in 1973, and they owe not to a beneficent bureaucracy of Eurocrats but to Britain’s working classes, who won these rights over the course of many years and after a series of hard-fought struggles with the capitalist class. Likewise, the retention of these rights will depend not on the good-will of a remote bureaucracy, which is actively undermining those same rights elsewhere, but on the determination of workers to band together in defence of their standard of living.
Unfortunately, many of the left apologists for the EU have been aided in their efforts to paint their opponents as backward nationalists by the fact that the Brexit campaign is largely dominated by the right. Almost all of the political figures who favour Brexit that the British public are regularly exposed to on TV are drawn from the far right of the Conservative Party, such as the former Mayor of London Boris Johnson and the current justice minister Michael Gove. (The noteworthy exception is Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP – a right-wing party formed for the sole purpose of taking Britain out of the EU.) At times the debate has resembled, and has often been reported as, an internal squabble between factions of the Conservative Party over the direction Britain should take as well as, on a more personal level, a battle between Prime Minister David Cameron, the leader of the remain group, and Boris Johnson, who is widely believed to be the most likely successor of Cameron in the event of Brexit. The left-wing case for leaving, which has been eloquently articulated by a number of prominent intellectuals and activists, has been given relatively little attention by the media, with the result that many voters have been kept in ignorance of the existence of such arguments, and various Blairite MPs on the right of the Labour Party have been able to assert that they alone represent what the left’s position should be in the debate over Britain’s attitude to the EU.
Paradoxically, however, the near monopoly of the right over the Brexit campaign is not proof that opposition to the EU is intrinsically right-wing, but testifies instead to the weakness of a left which has been steadily stripped of its commitment to economic justice. Thirty years ago the most forceful advocates of Brexit were to be found among the members of the Labour Party, not on the right, and calls for Britain to withdraw from the EU, or the EEC as it was then called, were considered a standard feature of Labour’s policy platforms. The great left-wing MP Tony Benn campaigned in the 1975 referendum for Labour to leave the EEC on the grounds that such an arrangement was contrary to the basic democratic principle that people should be allowed to vote on the policies affecting them. Events since 1975 have only proved the truth of Benn’s original argument, made all those years ago, that these undemocratic tendencies were destined to grow with time, posing a grave risk to our ability to decide the most basic of policy issues. Moreover, unlike the MPs campaigning for remain today, politicians like Benn understood that the lack of democracy at the heart of the EU was not an oversight on the part of its founders, but an essential component of a project which sought to supplant national governments with a supranational authority divorced from the concerns of ordinary people. So long as power was vested in national assemblies, these institutions, however imperfect, were at least answerable to their voters, but once power over economic policy was ceded to bureaucrats then the business elites which effectively governed Europe were easily able to overcome popular resistance to their policies by dispensing with the need for elections.
Unfortunately, this basic point has been forgotten by the members of the Labour Party now campaigning to remain. Thus, the left-wing opponents of Brexit frequently give the impression that they regard the EU’s democratic deficit as a minor flaw, something that could easily be rectified if only Britain stays within the EU and works with other countries to reform it. Not a few even deny that the EU is undemocratic, reasoning that because the Council of Ministers, which concludes the treaties which form the basis for the EU, is composed of elected government figures from the member states this amounts to an indirect form of democratic accountability. These supporters of remain seem oblivious to the fact that the whole purpose of enshrining in various treaties the neoliberal principles on which the EU rests, treaties which once concluded cannot be repealed except through the agreement of all 28 member states, is to ensure that such weighty questions are forever removed from the sphere of democratic debate. The electorate of a particular country can vote their government out, but they cannot revoke the set of laws that this government agreed to, nor exercise any control over the unappointed Commission which is granted broad discretion to implement these laws.
The referendum is perhaps the one chance that this generation will ever have to vote on our membership of an institution which now wields an inordinate amount of power. It is the only opportunity we will be given to affirm our democratic right to rule on the fundamental questions with which we are confronted, and at the same time administer a blow to the undemocratic vision of a corporate Europe, rooted in neoliberal economics and a disdain for workers, that has crushed underfoot the aspirations of so many Europeans who were never even offered the choice of agreeing to such a project. A vote to leave will not usher in an age of socialist egalitarianism, but it is nonetheless, as socialists agitating for Brexit have observed, a necessary steppingstone without which the fairer society we are striving to achieve will be rendered a more distant prospect.
Members of the mainstream left who are campaigning to remain have only been able to maintain their enthusiasm for the EU by averting their eyes from its shameful record, adhering instead to an exalted image of a progressive body which has never existed outside of their imaginations. Ordinary voters must spurn such consoling myths, and recognise the EU for what it is: a deeply reactionary institution that is holding back progress throughout Europe.
Quite revealingly, the self-proclaimed crusader against genocide, Samantha Power, was awarded the 2016 Henry A. Kissinger Prize in Berlin. That Power would be awarded a prize named after one of the world’s great génocidaires, and that she would happily accept it, proves what many of us have believed all along – that she is more the clever apologist for U.S. crimes than a bona fide human rights advocate.
The problem with Power all along has been that her refusal to acknowledge the incontrovertible fact that the U.S., as exemplified by such figures as Henry Kissinger himself, is in reality the world leader in war crimes commission, and an active facilitator of genocide. The U.S. is not, as Power has claimed throughout her career, a force for halting such evils. However, Power has done an impressive job in advancing this myth, and in the process in perpetuating the false belief that the world would be better off if only the U.S. were more active militarily throughout the world. In so doing, Power, who is lauded as some great human rights advocate, probably does more than any other public figure to harm the cause of global human rights.
Power’s acceptance speech, entitled, “Remarks on ‘Twenty-First Century Realism’ at the Awarding of the 2016 Henry A. Kissinger Prize,” is very illustrative of the delusions Power promotes in the interest of U.S. power projection and the grave harms done by this projection. 
First of all, Power, in full agreement with Kissinger, condemns what she refers to as “the rise of extremist and isolationist voices in the U.S.” who dare challenge “the internationalist assumptions that have undergirded U.S. foreign policy across party lines since the Second World War.” This statement is pregnant with meaning and deserves some dissecting.
As an initial matter, it is stunning that Power would characterize those who call for the U.S. to stop, or even slow, its aggressive, interventionist policy around the globe as “extremist” when it’s so clear to any rational observer that it is this interventionist policy itself which is so extremist as to be insane.
Indeed, it is hard to point to any great successes, especially in terms of human rights, that the U.S.’s post-WWII “internationalism” (I would prefer to call it imperialist aggression) achieved, and Power in her speech tellingly does not point to even one such success. And, how could she with a straight face? The innumerable U.S. interventionist adventures since WWII have done nothing to advance human rights or even national security, at least if national security means the protection of U.S. citizens like you and me.
Rather, the U.S.’s “internationalism” has consisted of overthrowing constitutional democracies in countries like Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Chile (1973), Haiti (2004), Honduras (2009), just to name a few. It has consisted of carrying out mass slaughter in an attempt to put down national liberation struggles, for example in Vietnam and in Southern Africa, costing the lives of millions. And, it has involved sowing instability throughout Northern Africa and the Middle East, in such countries as Libya, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and Iraq.
Power’s complete blindness to such realities – though she ironically entitles her speech, “Twenty-first Century Realism” – is hard to fathom. For example, she explains the current rise of ISIL in Iraq as the product of “the deeply sectarian, corrupt, and abusive rule of Prime Minister Maliki . . . .” There is no mention, however, of the 1991 and 2003 military interventions in Iraq by the U.S., nor of the intervening sanctions regime, which destroyed the social fabric of that country and left hundreds of thousands of civilians, including at least half a million children, dead. No, those acts of “internationalism” apparently do not deserve even a mention in Power’s distorted view.
In addition, Power does not mention the U.S. intervention in Libya in 2011, though that was an intervention which she and her soulmates Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice played a key role in bringing about. Again, the undisputed result of this intervention has been instability in Libya and surrounding countries, such Mali and Tunisia, and the accompanying rise of armed extremist groups in those countries. But again, this deserves no mention. Instead, Power attempts to explain the “instability roiling the Middle East” as the product of almost mystical forces beyond the purview of the U.S., thus criticizing those who would “presume that the United States had within our control to put the Arab Spring genie back in the bottle . . . .”
Power, repeating her long-time refrain which has given her the reputation as a human rights advocate, ends her speech by stating that “we no longer live in an era in which foreign policymakers can claim to serve their nations’ interests treating what happens to people in other countries as an afterthought. . . . What happens to people in other countries matters. It matters to the welfare of our own nations and our own citizens.” Of course, there is nothing particularly profound about this statement, and it would be hard to find many who would admit to disagreeing with it.
However, as with all Power says, what is absent is any discussion about how the actions of the U.S., and of even of Power herself, has undermined the welfare of people in other countries. For example, in addition to her role in pushing for the disastrous intervention in Libya, Power has also been active in giving diplomatic cover to the U.S.-backed Saudi slaughter in Yemen which continues to this day. Thus, in an episode quite reminiscent of those she criticizes in her Pulitzer-prize winning book, A Problem From Hell, Power helped the Saudis scuttle a resolution at the United Nations that called for an investigation into the civilian toll of the Saudi coalition war against Yemen , in which at least 6,000 civilians have been killed and 14 million civilians find themselves on the brink of starvation. In the end, even for Power, whether “people in other countries matter” inevitably depends upon who the people are, and whether the state impacting their interests is a friend of the U.S. or not.
In short, Power is really the perfect exemplar of U.S. foreign policy. She is a hypocrite and a phony idealist who believes her own lies about the role of the U.S., and even herself, in the world, and who does a great job of convincing the public that these lies are truth. But sadly — like Kissinger himself who will never be able to wash the blood of the Vietnamese, Cambodians, Laotians, Chileans, Argentines and East Timorese off his hands, but who nonetheless is treated as an elder statesman — Power will most likely never be brought to account. She will continue to live out her days watching Boston Red Sox games and hanging out with the rich and powerful, while other, lesser criminals are sent to The Hague. Regrettably, this is what passes for human rights these days . . .
 See, Power speech at http://usun.state.gov/remarks/7320
Daniel Kovalik teaches International Human Rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
What is wrong here? While Canadian companies exploit African resources for their own benefit this country’s charities call on us to join Africa “hope” walks.
Last week Toronto-based Lundin Mining hired the Bank of Montreal to help it decide what to do with its stake in the massive Tenke Fungurume copper-cobalt mine in Eastern Congo (Kinshasa). Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for Toronto firms to make economic decisions that affect hundreds of thousands of Africans and for Canadian companies to exchange African mineral assets among themselves.
A number of companies based and traded here have even taken African names. African Queen Mines, Tanzanian Royalty Exploration, Lake Victoria Mining Company, African Aura Resources, Katanga Mining, Société d’Exploitation Minière d’Afrique de l’Ouest (SEMAFO), Uganda Gold Mining, East Africa Metals, Timbuktu Gold, Sahelian Goldfields, African Gold Group and International African Mining Gold (IAMGOLD) are all Canadian. With a mere 0.5 percent of the world’s population, Canada is home to half of all internationally listed mining companies operating in Africa.
Active in 43 different African countries, Canadian mining firms have been responsible for dispossessing farmers, displacing communities, employing forced labour, devastating ecosystems and spurring human rights violations. And, as I detail in Canada in Africa: 300 Years of Aid and Exploitation, numerous Canadian mining companies have been accused of bribing officials and evading taxes. Last year TSX-listed MagIndustries was accused of paying$100,000 to tax officials in a bid to avoid paying taxes on its $1.5-billion potash mine and processing facility in Congo (Brazzaville). In April a Tanzanian tribunal ruled that Barrick Gold organized a “sophisticated scheme of tax evasion” in the East African country. As its Tanzanian operations delivered over US$400-million profit to shareholders between 2010 and 2013, the Toronto company failed to pay any corporate taxes, bilking the country out of $41.25 million.
While Canadian companies loot (legally and illegally) African resources, government-funded “charities” (aka NGOs) and the dominant media call on Canadians to walk for “hope” in Africa. Last weekend the Aga Khan Foundation Canada organized the World Partnership Walk in 10 cities across the country. In an article titled “How the World Partnership Walk” lets Canadians bring hope to African communities the organization’s International Development Champion, Attiya Hirj, writes about visiting Aga Khan Foundation and Global Affairs Canada sponsored projects in Tanzania and Mozambique. Hirj says her “trip really opened my eyes to what rural communities truly need, which is a sense of hope.” She suggests the situation can be remedied if enough Canadians come “together to fundraise and generate awareness through activities such as the World Partnership Walk.” There is no mention of the need for African resources to be controlled by and for Africans.
Hirj’s article reflects an extreme example of Canadian paternalism towards Africans. But it’s deeply rooted in our political culture. Gripped by a desire to rid “darkest Africa” of “nakedness” and “heathenism”, Canadian missionaries helped the European colonial powers penetrate African society. In 1893 a couple of Torontonians founded what later became the largest interdenominational Protestant mission on the continent and by the end of the colonial period as many as 2,500 Canadians were proselytizing across Africa.
Today, all the media-anointed Africa “experts” promote a similarly paternalistic version of ‘aid’ and largely ignore Canadian companies’ role in pillaging the continent’s wealth. But, Canadians concerned about African impoverishment should point their fingers at the Canadian firms controlling the continent’s resources and offer solidarity to those sisters and brothers fighting for African resources to be controlled by and for Africans.
One of the essential functions of the corporate media is to marginalise or silence acknowledgement of the history – and continuation – of Western imperial aggression. The coverage of the recent sentencing in Senegal of Hissène Habré, the former dictator of Chad, for crimes against humanity, provides a useful case study.
The verdict could well have presented the opportunity for the media to examine in detail the complicity of the US, UK, France and their major allies in the Middle East and North Africa in the appalling genocide Habré inflicted on Chad during his rule – from 1982 to 1990. After all, Habré had seized power via a CIA-backed coup. As William Blum commented in Rogue State (2002: 152):
With US support, Habré went on to rule for eight years during which his secret police reportedly killed tens of thousands, tortured as many of 200,000 and disappeared an undetermined number.
Indeed, while coverage of Chad has been largely missing from the British corporate media, so too was the massive, secret war waged over these eight years by the United States, France and Britain from bases in Chad against Libyan leader Colonel Mu’ammar Gaddafi. (See Targeting Gaddafi: Secret Warfare and the Media, by Richard Lance Keeble, in Mirage in the Desert? Reporting the ‘Arab Spring’, edited by John Mair and Richard Lance Keeble, Abramis, Bury St Edmunds, 2011, pp 281-296.)
By 1990, with the crisis in the Persian Gulf developing, the French government had tired of Habré’s genocidal policies while George Bush senior’s administration decided not to frustrate France in exchange for co-operation in its attack on Iraq. And so Habré was secretly toppled and in his place Idriss Déby was installed as the new President of Chad.
Yet the secret Chad coups can only be understood as part of the United States’ global imperial strategy. For since 1945, the US has intervened in more than 70 countries – in Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, South America and Asia. Britain, too, has engaged militarily across the globe in virtually every year since 1914. Most of these conflicts are conducted far away from the gaze of the corporate media.
Reporting of the Habré sentencing has been predictably consistent across all the leading newspapers in the UK and US. Thus the focus has been on the jubilant reactions of a few of the victims of Habré’s torture and rape, on the comments from some of the human rights organisations involved for many years in the campaign to bring the Chad dictator to justice – and on the fact that it was the first time an African country had prosecuted the former head of another African country for massive human rights abuses. Only a tiny part of the reporting has mentioned the West’s role in the genocide. None of the reporting has placed the Chad events in the broader context of US/Western imperial aggression.
The story in the Guardian, by Ruth Maclean, was typical. Some 21 paragraphs were devoted to the report. But only in the last one (appearing almost as an after-thought) was there any mention of US complicity:
The US State department and the CIA propped up Habré, sending him weapons and money in return for fighting their enemy, Muammar Gaddafi.
In a follow-up editorial on 1 June 2016, the Guardian again left mentioning the West’s role until the last paragraph:
Many questions still remain unanswered, including several concerning the responsibility or complicity of Western countries, such as France and the US, which actively supported Habré during the cold war years, turning a blind eye to his methods.
The Telegraph adopted a similar approach. Aislinn Laing, based in Johannesburg, reported briefly:
Mr Habré, 73, is a former rebel leader who took power by force in Chad in 1982 and was then supported by the US and France to remain at the helm as a bulwark to Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.
Adam Lusher, in the Independent, devoted just eight words to contextualising the trial:
Hissène Habré was once backed by America’s Cold War-era CIA.
In the New York Times, buried in paragraph 24 of a 27-paragraph report by Dionne Searcey are these words:
Mr. Habré took power during a coup that was covertly aided by the United States, and he received weapons and assistance from France, Israel and the United States to keep Libya, to the north of Chad, and Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, then the Libyan leader, at bay.
Similarly, in Paul Schemm’s 23-paragraph report in the Washington Post, his paragraph 15 reads:
Supported by the United States and France in his wars against Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, Habré was accused of killing up to 40,000 people and torturing hundreds of thousands.
Intriguingly, the final paragraph in the Guardian‘s report also included a statement by John Kerry, the US secretary of state, which ‘acknowledged his country’s complicity’:
As a country committed to the respect for human rights and the pursuit of justice, this is also an opportunity for the United States to reflect on, and learn from, our own connections with past events in Chad.
But how hypocritical is this rhetoric given the fact that the US today is still supporting human rights offenders across the globe – including the current dictator of Chad, Idriss Déby. Moreover, the Western powers, the US and France in particular, are using Chad as a major base for their covert military operations in Africa.
A number of newspapers have commented on how the case set an important precedent for holding high-profile human rights abusers to account in Africa. Yet there has been little mention of the extraordinary background. For in June 2003, the US actually warned Belgium that it could lose its status as host to Nato’s headquarters if the Habré case went ahead on the basis of a 1993 law, which allowed victims to file complaints in Belgium for atrocities committed abroad. Campaigners determined to bring Habré to justice only then shifted their attention to Africa.
William Blum comments in the introduction to Killing Hope (p. 13) on the US’s secret wars:
With a few exceptions, the interventions never made the headlines or the evening TV news. With some, bits and pieces of the stories have popped up here and there, but rarely brought together to form a cohesive and enlightening whole; the fragments usually appear long after the fact, quietly buried within other stories, just as quietly forgotten…
How perfectly this both predicts and explains the corporate media’s coverage of the Chad dictator, Hissène Habré!
• Richard Lance Keeble, Professor of Journalism at the University of Lincoln since 2003, has written and edited 36 books. In 2014, he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Association for Journalism Education.
Over half the US electorate views the two leading candidates for the 2016 Presidential elections with horror and disdain.
In contrast, the entire corporate mass media, here and abroad, repeat outrageous virtuous claims on behalf of Hillary Clinton and visceral denunciations of Donald Trump.
Media pundits, financial, academic and corporate elites describe the prospects of her presidency as one of responsibility, national security, business prosperity and political normalcy.
In contrast, they paint billionaire Republican candidate, Donald Trump as a grave threat, likely to destroy the global economic and military order, polarize US society and destined to lead an isolated and protectionist US into deep recession.
The super-charged rhetoric, flaunting the virtues of one candidate and vices of the other, ignores the momentous consequences of the election of either candidate. There is a strong chance that the election of ultra-militarist Hillary Clinton will drive the world into catastrophic global nuclear war.
On the other hand, Trump’s ascent to the US Presidency will likely provoke unprecedented global economic opposition from the corporate establishment, which will drive the US economy into a profound depression.
These are not idle claims: The destructive consequences of either candidate’s presidency can best be understood through a systematic analysis of Mme. Clinton’s past and present foreign policies and Trump’s belief that he has the ability to transform the US from an empire to a republic.
Clinton on the Road to Nuclear War
Over the past quarter century, Hillary Clinton has promoted the most savage and destructive wars of our times. Moreover, the more directly she has been engaged in imperial policymaking, the greater her responsibility in implementing foreign policy, the closer we have come to nuclear war.
To identify Hillary Clinton’s path to global war it is necessary to identify three crucial moments. Hillary’s bloody history can be dated initially to her de facto ‘joint Presidency’ with husband Bill Clinton (1993-2001).
Stage One: The Conjugal Militarist Presidency (1993-2001)
During Hilary Clinton’s joint presidency with William Clinton (the Billary Regime) the First Lady actively promoted an aggressive militarized takeover of Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the Middle East and Eastern Africa – often under her favorite messianic doctrine of ‘humanitarian intervention and regime change’.
This justified the relentless bombing of Iraq, destroying its infrastructure and blockading its population into starvation while preparing to carve its territory into ethnic and religious divisions. Over 500,000 Iraqi children were murdered as proudly justified by then-Secretary of State Madeline Albright (1997-2001) and lauded by the Clintons.
In the same manner, Yugoslavia was bombed by the US humanitarian coalition air forces and cruise missiles over 1,000 times from March 24 to June 11, 2009 in the course of sub-dividing the country into five backward ‘ethnically cleansed’ mini-states. Thousands of factories, public buildings, bridges, passenger trains, radio stations, embassies, apartment complexes and hospitals were devastated; over a million victims became refugees while hundreds of thousands were wounded or killed.
The Conjugal Presidency successfully carried out the bloodiest war of aggression in Europe since the Nazi invasion during WWII, in order to subdivide an ethnically diverse and industrially advanced federation whose independent foreign policies had angered the Western corporate empire.
The Clintons launched the military invasion of Somalia (in East Africa) to impose a vassal regime, leading to the death of many thousands and a regional imperial war. Faced with desperate popular resistance from the Somalis, the Clintons were forced to withdraw US troops and bring in thousands of Sub-Saharan African and Ethiopian mercenaries – whose death would pass unnoticed among the US electorate.
From 1992 through 2001 the Clinton war machine helped set up the Yeltsin kleptocratic vassal state in Russia facilitating the greatest peace-time pillage of state resources in world history.
In the post-Soviet breakup era, over 1 trillion dollars of former public assets were seized especially by US and British-allied Zionist gangsters, Clinton-affiliated officials and ‘academics’ and Wall Street bankers. Under Clinton’s vassalage the entire Soviet public health system was eliminated and Yeltsin’s Russia experienced a population decline of 4.3 million citizens, mostly due to diseases, alcohol and drug toxicity, suicide, malnutrition, unemployment and loss of wages, pensions and and an unprecedented epidemic of tuberculosis and infectious diseases once thought wiped out, like syphilis and diphtheria.
Senator Hillary Clinton’s War Crimes by Association: January 3, 2001 to January 21, 2009
During the George W. Bush dynastic regime, Mme. Senator Clinton supported the US war machine ‘sowing death and destruction to the four corners of the earth’ (to quote Bush Jr.), millions in Iraq and Afghanistan died or fled in terror. Bush had only deepened and expanded the mayhem that the Clinton Conjugal Presidency had begun a decade earlier.
Mme. Senator Clinton promoted the US direct and unprovoked invasion and occupation of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan. Mme. Senator Clinton embraced crippling economic sanctions against Iran and she blessed Israel’s military assault against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and Israeli massacres in Lebanon.
Mme. Senator Clinton supported President Junior Bush’s aborted coup against Venezuelan President-elect Hugo Chavez (2002), a prelude to the coup attempts in Latin America that she directed later as US Secretary of State.
Hillary Clinton’s Senatorial term served as a transition linking her initial joint presidential period of wars of conquest onto the next period. As US Secretary of State under President Obama she aggressively promoted global military supremacy.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: Naked Militarism Unleashed (2009-2014)
Whatever restraints Mme. Clinton faced as Senator dissolved as she ran amok during her term as Secretary of State. Across Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, Hillary Clinton bombed, massacred and dispossessed millions of families, shredding entire societies and dismantling the institutions of organized civil life for scores of millions. She never balked at the prospect of ethnocide and even joked that NATO might become ‘Al Qaeda’s Air Force’ as she pushed for a ‘no-fly zone’ over Syria.
A wild-eyed cackle echoed down the marbled corridors as the Foggy Bottom turned into a psycho- ward.
Mme. Secretary promoted the terror mercenary brigades invading Syria in a bid to ‘regime change’ the secular government of Al Assad, driving several million Syrian refugees into flight. Entire ancient Syrian Christian communities were wiped out under her reign of ‘regime change’.
Mme. Secretary Clinton directed US air force bombers and missiles to buttress the despotic Saudi monarch’s drive to obliterate Yemen.
Clinton unleashed the most savage bombing against Libya destroying the country and leading to the ethnic cleansing of a million and a half of Sub-Sahara workers and Black Libyans of sub-Saharan descent.
Under the aegis of murderous jihadi warlords and tribal chiefs, Mme. Clinton joked over the torture death of the wounded captive President Gaddafi, whose nauseating, almost pornographic murder by anal impalement was documented as a kind of ‘regime-change’ snuff film. Less known is the earlier, almost Old Testament-type slaughter of several of Gaddafi’s non-political children and five small grandchildren by a deliberate US missile strike aimed at ‘teaching the dictator’ that even his smallest grandchild cannot be hidden.
Mme. Clinton, who bragged that her Biblical role-model is the ethnocidal Queen Ester, has declared unconditional support for Israel’s war crimes against Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and among the diaspora. Hillary endorsed and defended Israeli torture and prison camps for children, the elderly and the homeless.
Mme. Secretary sent her criminal sub-secretary Victoria Nuland (an unreconstructed Neo-Con holdover from the Bush Administration) to orchestrate the violent putsch in the Ukraine. Millions from Ukraine’s huge ethnic Russian population were dispossessed from the Donbas region. Mme. Clinton had sought to convert Russian strategic military assets in Crimea to US-NATO bases aimed at Moscow, causing the residents of Crimea to overwhelmingly reject the coup and vote to re-join Russia.
The forceful intervention by Russian President Vladimir Putin prevented Mme. Clinton’s ethnic cleansing power grab in Crimea and the Donbas. The US retaliated by pushing for massive European Union economic sanctions against Russia.
Consistent with her pitiless Biblical role model, Mme. Clinton openly threatened to obliterate Iran with a nuclear war and incinerate 76 million Iranians to please her Uncle Netanyahu – a demented process that would poison a hundred million Arabs and perhaps a few million Israelis. Even the insane Israeli ‘Samson option’ was never dreamt of being ordered from Washington, DC!
During her tenure as Secretary of State, Mme. Clinton actively obstructed any diplomatic moves to achieve a US-Iran agreement on nuclear technology, parroting the Israeli militarist solution against regional rivals!
Mme. Clinton has remained an unrepentant enemy to the emerging independent Latin American governments. In search of vassal states, Clinton promoted successful military coups in Honduras and Paraguay, but was defeated in Venezuela. She proudly touts the death squad regime in Honduras among her foreign policy successes.
Mme. Hillary backed the death squad and narco-regimes in Colombia and Mexico, which killed over a hundred thousand civilians.
On the path to global war, Mme. Militarist has prepared to encircle Russia, stationing nuclear weapons in the Balkans and Poland. She promised that missiles would be placed in south central Europe and Ukraine.
Clinton raised the nuclear ante by hysterically claiming that the elected Russian President Vladimir Putin was ‘worse than ISIS’… ‘worse’ than Hitler.
Repeatedly threatening global war and actually making aggressive regional war should clearly have marked Mme. Hillary Clinton as unfit for the Presidency of the United States. She is politically, intellectually and emotionally unable to deal realistically with an independent Russia and any other independent power, including China and Iran. Her monomania is a course of violent ‘regime changes’, unable to evaluate any of the catastrophes her policymaking has in fact already produced.
Hillary Clinton was the proud author and director of the so-called US ‘pivot to Asia’. Clinton’s ‘pivot’ has led to a massive buildup of the US air and naval forces surrounding China’s maritime routes to its global markets and access to essential raw materials.
Clinton’s hyper-militarism expanded US war zones to cover Australia, Japan and the Philippines, greatly heightening tensions and increasing the possibility of a military provocation leading to nuclear war with China.
No US presidential contender, past or present, has engaged in more offensive wars, in a shorter time, uttering greater nuclear threats than Mme. Hillary Clinton. That she has not yet set off the nuclear holocaust is probably a result of the Administrative constraints imposed on the Mme. Secretary of State by the less blood-thirsty President Obama. These limitations will end if and when Mme. Hillary Clinton is ‘elected’ President of the United States in a process that the electorate increasingly knows is ‘rigged’ toward that outcome.
Donald Trump: the Peaceful Road to Recession
In sharp contrast to the militarist Mme. Clinton, Donald Trump, ‘the Businessman’, has adopted a relatively peaceful approach to international politics for an American presidential candidate in the current era.
‘Businessman’ Trump envisions productive negotiations with Russian President Putin. Employing his loudly trumpeted deal-making genius to benefit the United States, Trump predicts economic and diplomatic successes with Russia, China and other major powers.
Angered at US military allies enjoying decades of US Treasury largesse, a President Trump promises to withdraw US military bases from Asia and Europe and demanding that overseas allies ‘pony-up’ for their own defense.
What the war mongers in the mass media, academia and Washington bureaucracy, dismiss as ‘Trump’s isolationism’, The Businessman describes as rebuilding America by converting overseas military spending into domestic infrastructure projects and ‘real’ jobs in America.
Trump’s ‘America First’ policy, under his ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan, does not envision wars of conquest against Muslim countries, especially since they have already led to massive floods of Muslim refugees, threatening trade and stability, and Trump opposition to the entry of more Muslim refugees into the US. Trump’s foreign policy of limited military goals and warfare is diametrically opposed to Clinton’s total war strategy. Trump, ridiculed by his rivals for ‘his small hands’, does not appear to have Hillary’s itchy trigger finger on the nuclear button!
Trump mouths contradictory economic statements, especially his proposals to “rebuild America”, while operating in the framework of an imperial system. As President of the United States, his protectionist policies will come into direct confrontation with US and global ‘finance and monopoly capitalism’ and will likely lead to systematic disinvestment and a disastrous economic collapse or, more likely, the Businessman-President’s capitulation to the status quo.
The problem is not Trump’s pledges to tax the rich (as he occasionally promises) , or expand Social Security (as he claims), but his failure to admit that these policies would lead to massive flight by the capitalist elite to avoid taxes. The major threat is that, if Trump follows-up on his America-First policies, there will be massive capital resistance and a Congressional revolt by both finance-dominated political parties, which will paralyze any hope for his economic agenda.
Without political independence to implement his domestic economic agenda, Trump will have to face a massive investment and lending revolt from capitalists and bankers who would be very willing to drive the fragile economy into a major recession – threatening a kind of ‘domestic economic sabotage’.
Trump’s Republican Party (and certainly the Democrats) will never support a program which will force multi-national capital to sacrifice its reliance on cheap overseas labor and double digit profits in order to create American jobs and employ American workers at living wages.
A President Trump would not even secure a handful of Congressional votes to increase taxes on plutocrats to fund his proposed large-scale public works, infrastructure and job creation projects.
The Businessman President would face the full fury of the powerful military-industrial-high tech complex if and when he attempted to retire US global military forces from Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
The non-politician Trump’s historic rise to national political prominence has its roots in the ideas and values of the majority of working people who have been marginalized to the fringes by the media moguls and Wall Street riff-raff. Today Trump’s themes and ideas resonate with the mainstream of voters.
Several dominant ideas circulate in his speeches and interviews.
First, Trump rejects ‘globalization’ (the watered-down PR term for imperialism) and ‘free trade’ (a euphemism for the transfer of profits extracted from US workers to business investment abroad).
Trump’s narrative resonates with the recent anti-Wall Street ‘Occupy’ movements opposing the power of 0.1% super rich against the vast majority.
Secondly, Trump embraces economic nationalism in his slogan “Make American Great Again”. Too many American workers and their families resent having been exploited, maimed and slaughtered to serve multiple wars in the Middle East, Asia and Europe for the interests of US warlords, bankers, Zionists and other imperial royalties. Trump argues that the entire inflated security and corporate welfare system has led to an untenable debt payments spiral.
The third theme that draws millions is Trump’s notion that the US should reject the policy of serial ‘regime change’. We should not initiate and engage in perpetual overseas wars against Muslim countries as a way to avoid domestic attacks by individual terrorists. During an early foreign policy debate, Trump shocked the political establishment when he accused the Bush Administration of deliberately lying the country into the disastrous invasion of Iraq. This ‘truth-telling’ elicited wild applause from the mass Republican electorate.
Trump’s goal is to strengthen American civilization and avoid provoking more ‘clashes of civilizations’…
The fourth, and probably most attractive, message to most Americans is Trump’s powerful assault on Washington and Wall Street elites and their academic and media apologists.
Millions of Americans have been disgusted with the Bushes, Clintons and Obamas, as well as the Morgans, Goldman Sachs and Paulsons, whose policies have exacerbated class inequalities through multiple banking swindles and financial crashes, all ‘bailed out’ by the American tax payers.
Fifth, Trump’s loud, brash exposure of the mass media’s lies and propaganda has resonated with the same deep distrust felt by the American public. His talent for talking directly and bluntly to the public and on the internet has led to his enormous appeal. He does not engage in ‘conspiracy’ but acknowledges that the Edward Snowden revelations have unmasked the government’s deceptions and its program of espionage against the people, destroying the foundations for democratic discourse.
Trump might win the election based on his ‘five truths’ and his pledge to ‘make America great again’, but more likely he will lose because he has insulted the traditional establishment, the Latinos, Afro-Americans, feminists, trade union bureaucrats and their followers from both parties. Even if he succeeds at the ballot box, his political agenda with relying on Republican elites in Washington and Wall Street, the Pentagon and the ‘international security system’ will lead to a major economic crisis. For the elite, if blocking Trump’s domestic economic agenda requires a financial crash to defend ‘globalization’, serial wars and the 0.1%, then tighten your belts!
This November, the country will face the disagreeable choice between a proven nuclear warmonger and a captive of Wall Street. I will try to keep warm, roast chestnuts and avoid thinking about Mme. President’s Looming Mushroom Cloud.
Nigerian leader Muhammadu Buhari used a keynote speech at a major anti-corruption conference in London to blast Prime Minister David Cameron for calling the African country “fantastically corrupt.”
The conference, which is currently underway, was meant to address global corruption, but a shadow was cast when Cameron was caught on camera calling Afghanistan and Nigeria “fantastically corrupt” in a conversation with the Queen and Speaker of the House John Bercow.
“What would I do with an apology? I need something tangible,” Buhari said.
“I am not going to demand any apology from anyone. What I am demanding is a return of assets.”
Buhari freely admitted before his address that his country had a graft problem and is thought to have been referring to major assets stashed in the UK by corrupt Nigerian figures.
In April 2016 a group of leading figures from Nigerian civil society raised a similar issue in an open letter, demanding Britain end its role as a “safe haven” for white-collar criminals who steal Nigeria’s wealth and resources for personal gain.
The letter’s signatories stressed the devastating effect corruption can have on ordinary citizens, stunting economic growth and exacerbating violent conflict and mass migration in its wake.
“Our Nigeria is one of those countries that has most bitterly suffered the impact. Despite the blessings of nature, which endowed us with abundant oil wealth, our infrastructure is deplorable,” the letter said.
The conference, a pet project of the PM’s, is likely to see Cameron file a motion to create a global anti-corruption body.
However, his plans have been attacked by critics on the basis the organization would have no meaningful powers of enforcement, instead relying on national and international policing agencies to intervene.
The summit comes only weeks after Cameron himself was caught up in a scandal relating to his father’s offshore company, Blairmore Holdings.
Following the Panama Papers leak that showed Cameron had profited from offshore tax schemes, the parliamentary standards committee said the PM would not be investigated. It gave no reason why.
The United States has signed a military cooperation agreement with Senegal that allows “the permanent presence” of American troops in the West African country.
Sources familiar with the subject said the deal, which was clinched on Monday, would give US forces access to many areas in Senegal, such as airports and military installations, allegedly to respond to security or health needs.
The agreement allows for “the permanent presence of American soldiers in Senegal” and aims to “face up to the common difficulties in security” in the region, Senegal’s Foreign Minister Mankeur Ndiaye said during the signing ceremony alongside the US Ambassador to Dakar James Zumwalt.
Zumwalt, for his turn, said, “We believe that this agreement will help the US military and the Senegalese military reinforce our cooperation together to deal with threats to our common interests.”
“This agreement is about access, is about coming when there is an urgent desire and when both sides agree,” he added.
Some 40 American soldiers are currently deployed in Senegal, according to the US Africa Command. The US mission in Dakar said that number would not rise under the deal.
Washington has increased its troops in Africa in recent years under the cover of humanitarian aid or fighting terrorist groups; however, many political analysts believe the US military is actually expanding its presence all over the continent.
Reports say the US Army has in recent years developed a remarkably extensive network of over 60 outposts and access points in at least 34 African countries — more than 60 percent of the nations on the continent.
Former UK diplomats are cashing in on their contacts and experience and advising despots, venture capitalists and Gulf regimes, according to a new investigation.
Britain’s ex-ambassadors to Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, as well as former MPs, are legally profiting from conflict zones and poor countries in the Global South, according to the Daily Mail.
It has led to concerns that former diplomats are using their years of exposure to state secrets and their enviable contact lists to win lucrative paydays with big corporations.
One of the most high-profile figures involved is a former ambassador to Afghanistan, and one-time critic of the war and occupation, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles.
Cowper-Coles took a job working for British arms firm BAE in 2010 after taking early retirement from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
Critics have connected him with halting a major investigation into the UK/Saudi arms trade in 2006.
He left BAE in 2013 to take up a role with HSBC. Both appointments were approved by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA), which examines if any conflicts of interest arise from such appointments.
Another former diplomat named in the investigation is Sir Dominic Asquith, who served as ambassador to Libya between 2011 and 2012 – the period immediately after the UK’s disastrous intervention to remove the Gaddafi regime.
Asquith now advises the Libya Holdings Group, which seeks out investment opportunities in the war-torn North African state.
Former ambassador to Nigeria Sir Andrew Lloyd later became a vice president of Statoil, under the proviso from ACOBA that he not deal with the firm’s Nigerian operations.
The highly experienced Sir William Patey – a former UK representative to Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia – later became an advisor for private security firm Global Risks.
Elected politicians have also been involved in similar venture capital schemes in the developing world.
Former Tory Africa minister Sir Henry Bellingham once sang the praises of UK mining firm Pathfinder Minerals to the government of Mozambique when the company was involved in a legal dispute. He now chairs the firm.
Blairite ex-Foreign Secretary David Miliband is reported to have earned up to £1 million from his advisory jobs within two years of leaving office. That includes £15,000 for one day of advising a Pakistan venture capitalist and £65,000 for sitting on a foreign ministerial forum in the United Arab Emirates.
Recently a number of retired British military generals have been seen to be involved in similar activities.
On April 27, ex-general Simon Mayall, former Ministry of Defence advisor to the Gulf, told a parliamentary committee on the arms trade that its inquiries were “unwelcome and self-defeating.”
After leaving the military in 2015, he took up a role at Greenhill & Co, a major investment bank with global reach and Middle East energy interests.
On April 18, former general and ex-head of mercenary firm Aegis James Ellery was interviewed by the Guardian over allegations the company was using former Sierra Leonean child soldiers as private guards in Iraq.
Ellery, who left Aegis in 2015, lamented the state of the mercenary market, saying: “I’m afraid all we can afford now is Africans.”
Ellery’s previous jobs include demobilizing Sierra Leone child soldiers as part of a UN program.