In “Policing the Crisis,” the classic 1978 study conducted by noted socialist and cultural theorist Stuart Hall and several colleagues, the authors show how the restructuring of capitalism as a response to the crisis of the 1970s – which was the last major crisis of world capitalism until the current one hit in 2008 – led in the United Kingdom and elsewhere to an “exceptional state,” by which they meant a situation in which there was an ongoing breakdown of consensual mechanisms of social control and a growing authoritarianism. They wrote: Read more
The National Security Agency has admitted its collection of phone and Internet data exceeds what it has previously disclosed. Testifying before Congress, NSA Deputy Director John Inglis revealed analysts can perform what is called a “second or third hop query” that moves from suspected terrorists to the people they communicate with, and then to others those people are in contact with, and beyond.
Resisting the Big Brother state | SocialistWorker.org. by Elizabeth Schulte
WHEN THE National Security Agency (NSA) was exposed for its widespread collection of telephone and Internet data behind the backs of the American public, it provided only the latest example of how the U.S. government takes liberties with our rights.
Whistleblower Edward Snowden and the Guardian‘s Glenn Greenwald were denounced by the Obama administration and the corporate media for shining a spotlight on the NSA’s surveillance programs. But the truth is that their actions stand together with past struggles that have exposed the truth about the U.S. government’s behavior.
The 1960s and ’70s provide some of the worst examples of deception and repression on the part of the U.S. government. But they also show how even the most powerful government in the world can be undone by the truth.
In 1971, activists calling themselves the “Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI” broke into FBI offices in Media, Pa., and stole more than 1,000 documents. Among other things, they revealed evidence of the secret Counterintelligence Program, or COINTELPRO.
While the government’s campaign of wiretapping, infiltration and other dirty tricks was known to everyone on the left, now the official documents were there for everyone to see.
When the documents arrived at the Washington Post, Attorney General John Mitchell told the paper not to publish the report, because it could “endanger the lives” of people involved in investigations. The Post published the findings anyway–the first article appeared March 24, 1971.
What the reports divulged was that the FBI was doing much more than gathering information about dissenters in the U.S. It was engaged in a campaign of spying, provocation and manipulation with the goal of destroying the left.
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UNDER THE leadership of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO began officially in 1956, but its substance had been part of the bureau’s above-the-law behavior for years.
During the 1950s McCarthy era, the U.S. government continued the global “war on Communism” on numerous domestic fronts. It attempted to discredit and destroy the Communist Party everywhere possible–in public hearings carried out by the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), in which thousands of people were questioned about their left-wing affiliations and asked to name others; and in private, carried out by an army of FBI agents and informers who were sent into the CP.
The Feds inside the party sewed divisions and fueled infighting among members. They planted “snitch jackets”–falsified documents to create suspicion that someone might be an FBI informer–on party members.
COINTELPRO helped Hoover destroy what was left of the CP, which had tens of thousands of members during the great labor upsurge of the 1930s, but after the witch-hunt was a shadow of its former self.
By the 1960s, however, a growing political movement was offering an alternative to McCarthy-era scapegoating and fear, and loosening the grip of the witch-hunt era.
That was the civil rights movement. As Candace Cohn wrote in the International Socialist Review:
The nation watched the South, as courage multiplied and thousands stood up to fire hoses and attack dogs. “Southern justice”–daily, officially sanctioned beatings, murders, lynchings, fire bombings, cross burnings, firings and persecution–could not reduce the magnificent courage of Southern Blacks, who simply could bear no more. Their courage was infectious; the nation was transformed.
When HUAC came to hold hearings in San Francisco in 1960, it was met by protests of hundreds of people. The police refused to let protesters into the hearings, and instead sent in the riot squad, which fired water cannons, beat protesters with batons and dragged them by their hair as their heads bounced on the marble steps of City Hall.
The next day, 5,000 angry people showed up.
The paranoid grip of McCarthyism was being eroded. It was replaced by the confidence and determination of movements that stood up against the injustices perpetuated by the government–from segregation in the Jim Crow South and to imperialist war in Vietnam and Southeast Asia
These movements would drag into the light the crimes committed by the U.S. government, both at home and abroad. So while the public attack on dissent via the witch-hunts declined, the secret war on dissent continued through the Democratic Kennedy administration and beyond.
COINTELPRO targeted civil rights movement leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., bugging their offices and phones. Between 1946 and 1960, it operated some 3,000 wiretaps and 800 bugs on the NAACP alone.
Other methods to disorient civil rights activists included forging letters between members. The FBI tried to break up two St. Louis civil rights organizations by sending fake letters alleging marital infidelity. The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party was also the target of harassment.
The agency tried to drive King to suicide by sending him a tape of a conversation obtained by electronic surveillance with a note: “King, there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. You have just 34 days in which to do it [King was scheduled to accept the Nobel in 34 days]…You are done. There is but one way out for you.”
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WITH THE urban rebellions in the North and the growing popularity of revolutionary Black organizations like the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, the FBI turned its attention toward these groups. The Black Power struggle was giving voice to the concerns of Blacks in cities across the country–police brutality, urban poverty, substandard housing and schools, and discrimination–so the FBI made it a target.
The Feds stopped at nothing in trying to crush groups like the Panthers. A November 25, 1968, COINTELPRO memo shared this information:
A serious struggle is taking place between the Black Panther Party (BPP) and the US organization [a rival California-based Black nationalist group]. The struggle has reached such proportions that it is taking on the aura of gang warfare with attendant threats of murder and reprisals. In order to fully capitalize upon BPP and US differences as well as to exploit all avenues of creating further dissension in the ranks of the BPP, recipient offices are instructed to submit imaginative and hard-hitting counterintelligence measures aimed at crippling the BPP.
The San Diego FBI office reported in a September 1969 memo under the heading “Tangible Results”: “Shootings, beatings and a high degree of unrest.” It also bragged that the Panthers’ Breakfast Program, a free meal program for poor children, was “floundering” due to “unfavorable publicity.”
Chicago was the site of one of COINTELPRO’s bloodiest assaults on Black revolutionaries. In the early morning hours of December 4, 1969, 14 Chicago police, armed with shotguns, handguns, a rifle and a .45-caliber submachine gun, raided the apartment of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton.
The police claimed that Hampton fired first and continued to shoot at officers while they urged them to stop. This was a lie–Hampton had been drugged by a police infiltrator earlier that night and was shot repeatedly in his bed, including twice in the head at point-blank range. Peoria chapter leader Mark Clark was killed in the raid as well.
An FBI firearms expert later reported that police had fired more than 90 shots in the apartment–just one came from the Panthers.
Thirteen years later, the FBI’s role was fully revealed. The bureau had presented the idea of a raid to Cook County state’s Attorney Edward Hanrahan, whose office directed Chicago police to carry it out. This was a year after Hoover had put Hampton on the national “Agitator’s Index”–he had came to the director’s attention for such dangerous activities as protesting for community swimming pools and forming an alliance with the Puerto Rican Young Lords and the white Appalachian Young Patriots.
Some 5,000 people attended the funeral service for Hampton. The apartment where the murder took place was opened to the neighborhood for two weeks so that people could come through and view the crimes communitted by the Chicago police, under the instructions of the FBI.
Like the 1955 funeral of Emmett Till, whose mother insisted on an open casket so that mourners could see what the lynchers of Mississippi had done to her son, this put a human face on this savage, racist attack. It helped to expose the brutal face of COINTELPRO and the depths of brutality that the U.S. government was capable of.
Civil rights lawyer Jeffrey Haas, author of The Assassination of Fred Hampton, said in an interview with Monthly Review: “I would have to say COINTELPRO achieved its primary goals to neutralize the Panthers, but the FBI role was ultimately exposed. There was a backlash as represented by the Church Committee, which mandated congressional oversight of clandestine intelligence activity.”
The Church Committee–a Senate investigation, chaired by Frank Church, of the U.S. government’s spies and murderers, at home and abroad–came in the wake of COINTELPRO, the unraveling of the Watergate scandal and the exposure of the CIA’s role in fomenting violence and coups around the world. Legislation that came out of the investigation didn’t dismantle the Big Brother state, but it was curbed in a number of respects.
So while COINTELPRO succeeded in some of its aims, it couldn’t accomplish its goal of silencing dissent. That’s thanks to the struggles of 1960s and ’70s. They may have begun as a challenge to Jim Crow segregation or police violence or an imperialist war halfway around the world, but they all eventually had to confront the power of the American surveillance state as well.
documents the anti-Muslim bigotry that flared and spread in Boston.
IT TOOK less than an hour for a “suspect” to be found after the bombings at the Boston Marathon last week that killed three people and injured nearly 200, many of them critically.
Only it was the wrong “suspect.”
A 20-year-old student from Saudi Arabia had been tackled by a bystander. He was taken to a local hospital where he was questioned by police. Within hours, the New York Post was reporting that a “Saudi national” was in custody. The young man was no longer one of Boston’s 350,000 students, but the suspected bomber and the object of widespread speculation in the hours to come.
FBI and ATF agents, and Boston police were deployed to his apartment building. They were accompanied by two K-9 units, a bomb squad, officials from Immigrant and Customs Enforcement, Massachusetts state police and assorted other personnel from the Department of Homeland Security.
The student’s roommate, Mohammed Hassan Bada, arrived home on Monday night to find his apartment building entirely surrounded. Bada conceded to a search and police interview. Five hours later, he watched as police carried his roommate’s possessions away in paper bags.
By Tuesday morning, it was clear that this “suspect” was actually a witness to the bombing–and a victim of it, having been hit in the legs by shrapnel. His only “crime” was to respond to an explosion the way so many others did–to run in fear–only he did so while also being Arab.
The case of this still-unnamed student demonstrates how alarmist claims and racist stereotypes were immediately legitimized by the “war on terror” apparatus meticulously constructed over the past decade.
And now, with two Muslim men implicated in the bombings, one killed by police and the other severely wounded and captured, whatever restraint the media may have exercised in the early days after the bombing–the New York Post and Fox News excepted–is long gone. Many of the same myths, distortions and lies about Islam that were peddled in the wake of the September 11 attacks are making a comeback.
Those who oppose racism and violence need to speak out and expose this new tide of Islamophobia.
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THE STUDENT “suspect” wasn’t the only person racially profiled in the aftermath of Monday’s bombings. The same morning that his name was cleared, a Chicago-bound plane was grounded after passengers complained that two different men were speaking Arabic–the fifth-most-spoken language in the world, incidentally. The two men weren’t talking to each other, nor sitting together–but both were pulled off the plane anyway.
The next day, Heba Abolaban, a Palestinian doctor, was verbally and physically assaulted while walking with her friend and their children in Malden, a suburb of Boston. A man approached Abolaban, punched her in the shoulder and screamed, “Fuck you Muslims! You are terrorists! I hate you! You are involved in the Boston explosions! Fuck you,” according to Abolaban’s account to a local newspaper. She and her friend were able to get away from the man and seek help nearby.
In New York City, 30-year-old Abdullah Faruque, who was born in Bangladesh and grew up in the Bronx, was standing outside a restaurant when he was confronted by three or four men who asked him if he was Arab. Unsatisfied with the answer they got, the men began to beat Faruque, while screaming “You fucking Arab!” They dislocated his shoulder and left him nearly unconscious.
Though these incidents of abuse and violence might simply seem like the work of a few crazed individuals, they are very much the product of the state-authorized treatment of Arabs and Muslims in this country over the past 12 years. Numerous Arabs and Muslims were detained in the days following September 11, 2001, and surveillance of Muslim student groups and mosques has continued since, giving state sanction to the deeply racist idea that Muslims are violent because of their religion.
The rampant Islamophobia of the past decade is a direct product of U.S. imperialist projects abroad. And it has served as the justification for a massive homeland security apparatus, under which covert surveillance, entrapment and unjustified imprisonment have become part of the status quo.
Prominent Muslim American community members have been routinely asked to participate in surveillance of their communities over the past 10 years. For some who refused, the consequences have been life-altering.
For example, Tarek Mehanna, a Muslim American pharmacist from Sudbury, Mass.,was approached by the FBI and asked to spy on his mosque. He refused. He later found himself and the antiwar views he expressed online at the center of an FBI investigation.
In 2008, he was arrested, then released on bail. In 2009, he was arrested a second time and placed in solitary confinement for more than 700 days without trial. Eventually, he was found guilty of providing material assistance to al-Qaeda–among the “evidence” from prosecutors was the claim that Mehanna translated an Arabic book that is widely available on the Internet.
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AS THE world now knows, police were able to release pictures, taken from video surveillance cameras, of the suspected bombers, and late Thursday night, a series of events led to a shootout between 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, his brother, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, and police in Watertown, Mass. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed that night, but his brother managed flee the confrontation and evade police.
More than 1 million people in the Boston metro area awoke on Friday morning to find themselves living under a lockdown. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick “requested” that people stay at home, with their doors locked. Thousands of law enforcement personnel were deployed to Watertown. News photos showed a Boston Police Department tank rolling through the streets–a clear symbol of the massive show of force that was outsized for pursuing one badly wounded suspect.
Though we were advised not to leave our houses, many of us living in Cambridge and Boston had no sense of what people in Watertown were subjected to. A video taken by a Watertown resident shows how police carried out house-to-house searches.
The video shows seven officers, armed with automatic weapons, standing on the porch of the house they are about to search. They grab the person who answers the door and force them out onto the sidewalk. All of the other residents and the family dog are removed in similar fashion, with guns trained on them. Once outside, the police proceed to aggressively frisk them. This treatment ends only after police conclude their search, and the family is allowed to return home.
The police have since argued that these aggressive measures were necessary to ensure the safe capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. This claim is undermined by the fact that the 19 year old was caught only after the “stay home” order had been lifted. A Watertown resident, seeing blood in his yard, inspected his boat, and found Tsarnaev lying inside.
Tsarnaev’s capture was therefore neither the product of the massively militarized police force nor the regional lockdown. Not surprisingly, in reporting the story about how Tsarnaev was found, many media outlets focused on the police using infrared technology to confirm that someone was in the boat–obfuscating the fact that Tsarnaev’s capture occurred in spite of the lockdown, rather than because of it.
The mainstream media coverage shows us how this whole situation will be exploited in the coming days and weeks.
First, there has been a clear effort to celebrate and legitimize the use of overwhelming militarized force against “terrorism” on American soil. Almost no one in the mainstream has questioned the extraordinary declaration of a lockdown covering an entire region–nor has there been much mention of the excessive force used in searching Watertown homes.
Second, Islamophobia has been a persistent and now pervasive presence. The distortions and myths that are being spread about Islam in relation to the Tsarnaev brothers are outrageous.
For example, in a press conference held on Friday afternoon, Maret Tsarnaev, the aunt of the two suspects, mentioned that Tamerlan started praying five times a day several years ago. Since the press conference, this has been used by a number of major news sources to claim that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had turned toward radical “fundamentalism.”
Completely ignored is the elementary fact that praying five times a day is one of the most basic tenets of Islam. To describe such a basic Islamic practice as a form of radical fundamentalism is not only ignorant, but also dangerous.
Unfortunately, this seems to be just one example of a reinvigorated Islamophobia. For Arabs and Muslims in the U.S., the ramifications will be harsh. Activists must confront Islamophobia in the media and the state, be vigilant in our defense of our Arab and Muslim brothers and sisters, and confident and unceasing in our solidarity.
For many Bostonians, the past week has been marked by two tragedies. The first is, of course, the bombings themselves, which left three people dead and many more with injuries that will affect them for the rest of their lives. The bombing remains an utterly devastating and horrific act.
But adding to this tragedy is the way the legitimate grief and outrage of our city has been cynically manipulated to further bolster the priorities of the “war on terror.” For the past week, people throughout Boston watched state and federal officials use the bombings to malign Muslims generally in the press, put an entire metropolitan area on military footing, and withhold basic civil rights.
We’re told that this is the cost of keeping this country safe. We need to challenge both the effects of this project and the very assumptions on which the “war on terror” was founded.
, author of Ecology and Socialism: Solutions to Capitalist Ecological Crisis, explains the critical connection between imperialism and ecological destruction.
AT THE turn of the 19th century, industrialist and weapons manufacturer par excellence Alfred Nobel, the guilt-ridden inventor of dynamite, established the Peace Prize that carries his name, proposing that it go “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies, and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”
Over 100 years later, for the first time ever, a Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to an African woman. The 2004 award was controversial. Politicians from the country responsible for the awards, Norway, wanted to know what this woman from Kenya had done for peace.
Carl I. Hagen, leader of Norway’s Progress Party, whose senior political adviser, Inger-Marie Ytterhorn, was a member of the Nobel Committee, sneeringly dismissed giving the Prize to a mere environmental activist: “I thought the intention of Alfred Nobel’s will was to focus on a person or organization who had worked actively for peace…It is odd that the committee has completely overlooked the unrest that the world is living with daily, and given the prize to an environmental activist.”
Former Deputy Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide felt that widening the Prize to include the environment diminished its importance: “The one thing the Nobel Committee does is define the topic of this epoch in the field of peace and security. If they widen it too much, they risk undermining the core function of the Peace Prize; you end up saying everything that is good is peace.”
What, after all, had the late Wangari Maathai done for peace? Here’s how Maathai described her work in forming the grassroots Green Belt Movement (GBM) in the 1970s to empower rural women by employing more than 100,000 of them to plant 15 million trees:
What we’ve learned in Kenya–the symbiotic relationship between the sustainable management of natural resources and democratic governance–is also relevant globally. Indeed, many local and international wars, like those in West and Central Africa and the Middle East, continue to be fought over resources. In the process, human rights, democracy and democratic space are denied…
Unless we properly manage resources like forests, water, land, minerals and oil, we will not win the fight against poverty. And there will not be peace. Old conflicts will rage on and new resource wars will erupt unless we change the path we are on.
The fact that Maathai saw a clear connection between poverty, the fight for women’s rights, political emancipation and ecological justice–in a country that had lost 98 percent of its forest cover since colonization by the British–is what earned her the enmity of the Kenyan government, not to mention beatings and jail time. Though ultimately unsuccessful, in 1985, the Kenyan regime demanded that the women’s movement separate from the green movement, so politically effective was their union.
Lack of tree-cover from ongoing deforestation and loss of topsoil means that in Sub-Saharan Africa, women and girls, who are responsible for over 70 percent of water collection, have to travel further and further to obtain it. The UN estimates that women in this region spend 200 million hours per day collecting water for food and farming purposes, or 40 billion hours annually.
As part of the GBM, collectively empowered women came to understand that the legacy of the savage colonial exploitation of Kenya by Britain and the subsequent neo-colonial and dictatorial policies of Daniel Arap-Moi–aided by international financial bodies like the IMF, which focused on production of cash crops for export, in place of sustainable and ecologically appropriate food farming for domestic use–were promoting the degradation of the environment and providing the fuel for further increases in poverty, inequality and violence.
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FAST FORWARD five years, and 2009 saw the Nobel Peace Prize given to another person of Kenyan descent. This time, there was no controversy, despite his rather flimsy credentials and just-announced escalation of a land war in central Asia. The Nobel committee chairman, Thorbjorn Jagland, declared, “The question we have to ask is who has done the most in the previous year to enhance peace in the world,” before answering: “And who has done more than Barack Obama?”
When accepting his award for the promotion of peace, the recipient made a special point of highlighting the moral justification for war, not peace: “We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth: we will not eradicate violent conflicts in our lifetimes…There will be times when nations–acting individually or in concert–will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.”
Since then, Barack Obama has set up the White House “kill list,” which includes U.S. citizens; justified torture and warrantless wire-tapping; kept Guantánamo Bay open and full of people charged with no crime or access to a court of law; persecuted government whistleblowers and extended a vicious drone war from Pakistan to Africa; and set up new forward bases in some of the most impoverished countries in the world to prosecute Washington’s wars more effectively.
As President Obama gets ready to sign off on final construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, it behooves environmentalists to understand the guiding principles which motivate a nation state’s decisions regarding energy policy. Following the approval of the building of the southern portion of pipeline a year ago, White House spokesman Jay Carney couldn’t have been clearer about the administration’s priorities:
We support the company’s interest in proceeding with this project, which will help address the bottleneck of oil in Cushing that has resulted in large part from increased domestic oil production…We look forward to working with TransCanada to ensure that it is built in a safe, responsible and timely manner, and we commit to taking every step possible to expedite the necessary federal permits.
In terms of helping to create the conditions for new resource wars, Barack Obama’s much touted “all of the above” energy policy–a critical part of the U.S. ruling elite’s imperial foreign policy, which compels other powerful governments to respond in similar fashion–deserves deeper analysis from an ecological viewpoint. Put differently, within the normal operation of capitalism, what structural impediments have prevented an international agreement on climate change for almost two decades?
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DESPITE THE unprecedented injection of trillions of dollars into the economy by the Federal Reserve since 2008 and the globalization of war, it has become fashionable to argue that the power of the state has ebbed in the age of neoliberal deregulation and the massive concentration of global financial and political power in ever-growing, gigantic transnational corporations.
Yet could the oil and gas companies that are busily drilling holes all over the planet really do what they do on their own? How does an understanding of inter-imperial conflict over resource extraction and the role of the state within capitalist economics help us understand our ecological crisis and possible solutions to it?
The need for constant growth is endemic to capitalism and therefore makes it impossible to find a permanent solution to environmental degradation within a competitive, profit-driven system. Alongside that is a second fatal–and underappreciated–anti-ecological contradiction of capitalism: the international competition between nation states over resources and political hegemony.
Republican Rep. Bill Flores from Texas highlighted the main reason for building Keystone XL and the interests driving U.S. energy policy when, as part of a House debate to approve a bill to expedite building the pipeline, he said, “If we do not tap this valuable resource, the Chinese or other countries will.”
The fact that large oil companies work hand-in-glove with the U.S. government to undermine democracy in the interests of resource extraction, profit and inter-imperial rivalry was revealed once again when WikiLeaks published State Department cables describing a memo from Ann Picard, Shell’s vice president for Sub-Saharan Africa, to U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria Robin Renee Sanders.
The memo detailed how Shell was trying to outmaneuver efforts by the Russian oil and gas giant Gazprom to enter the Nigerian oil fields and claim a piece of the highly lucrative business that is at the epicenter of a 50-year-long environmental and social catastrophe, but has made Nigeria the eight-biggest oil producer, responsible for 8 percent of U.S. oil imports.
Shell had been able to find out that the Nigerian government was offering oil concessions to U.S. competitors China and Russia–because, Picard told U.S. officials, the Nigerian government “had forgotten that Shell had seconded people to all the relevant ministries and that Shell consequently had access to everything that was being done in those ministries,” according to the cable.
In an earlier article, I described the burgeoning oil and gas boom that is moving the U.S. toward “energy independence”–as highlighted in Citigroup’s 2013 report gloatingly titled “Energy 2020: Independence Day”–based on massive expansion of domestic fossil fuel extraction.
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ENERGY POLICY is at the heart of the capitalist class’ global gamble with the laws of nature, as each country attempts to grab as much land, oil, gas and other resources, in the interest of projecting political and economic power around the world. With its focus on the international ramifications of a changing energy outlook, the Citigroup report highlights the newly favorable climate for U.S. power:
Because of changing dynamics in the geographic spread of production of unconventional, as well as conventional supplies (notably from Iraq), and because of growing inroads that natural gas should have in displacing oil products in the transportation sector, OPEC should find it challenging to survive another 60 years, let alone another decade.
In a further nod to geostrategic priorities, the report continues, “Will the U.S. continue to provide security guarantees for its longstanding allies and sources of supply? Will China step in to buy supplies where the U.S. no longer needs them, strengthening relations with new partners in the process?”
Despite a convincing study detailing how America’s largest city, New York, could beentirely powered by wind, water and sunlight by 2050, Obama’s “all of the above” means in practice that the emphasis continues to be on maximizing fossil fuel extraction to undercut rival countries and maintain an imperial geostrategic advantage. Indeed, the only sector of the U.S. state that is taking the promise of alternative energy seriously is the one responsible for using the lion’s share of fossil fuels in the first place and charged with obtaining more: the U.S. military.
With Obama’s geostrategic “pivot to Asia,” designed to contain Chinese economic and political ambitions, Charles Ebinger and Kevin Massy at the Brookings Institute sounded a note of caution in offering advice to President Obama in January, outlining the steps they felt the U.S. needs to take to secure its global interests:
Irrespective of actions by OECD countries, China, India and other emerging nations will burn oil, gas and coal in ever-greater quantities for the foreseeable future. The main beneficiaries of this demand are likely to be the OPEC nations, Russia, Australia and other oil, gas and coal producers. Given its huge reserves of hydrocarbons, the United States could position itself as perhaps the principal beneficiary of this demand by adopting a near-term policy of full-scale, export-led oil, gas and coal development.
Unlike climate change demonstrators and activists, these are the kind of people someone intent on maintaining an empire listens to. In their “Black to Gold to Green” strategy, the “Green” part is there to insulate the U.S. from charges of being “irresponsibly self-interested” with regard to climate change. Furthermore, it’s designed to put the U.S. in the forefront of green technology development, by allocating some of the oil and gas bonanza to carbon capture and advanced batteries. Ebinger and Massy are sanguine about the advantages of such a program of accelerated fossil fuel production:
The resultant surge in production and exports would strengthen both the country’s fiscal position through export revenues and job creation; and its political position through weakening the market power and the revenue generation of OPEC nations and Russia. It would also bring geopolitical benefits through the deepening of partnerships with key consumers such as China and India.
In other words, burning more fossil fuels can be good for the planet, while simultaneously fending off new international competitors for the U.S. This would leave the U.S. free to cement its global pre-eminence and solve its balance-of-trade deficit, by increasing exports and creating more jobs in the fossil-fuel sector, despite the dangers of ecological suicide.
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THE U.S. ruling elite has long recognized that maintaining a global reach cannot be left solely to the dominance of the U.S. military, but fundamentally rests on a strong and growing economy. U.S. economic restructuring to take back market share from rising competitors is, therefore, based in large part on a resurgent domestic energy industry, combined with a reversal of the trend for offshoring manufacturing production.
Progress on this front will be achieved by cutting living standards and wages for U.S. workers to make them competitive with China. The introduction of two-tier wages in the manufacturing sector, the full-frontal assault on the remaining centers of union power, increased productivity and financial incentives through corporate tax breaks are all part of the drive to “onshore” production. As the Financial Times reported:
“Reshoring” production is a strategy being tried by many American manufacturers, as rapid wage growth in emerging economies and sluggish pay in the U.S. erodes the labor cost advantage of offshore plants. The U.S. has added 429,000 factory jobs in the past two years, replacing almost a fifth of the losses during the recession.
The FT described the three reasons that General Electric executive Chip Blankenship gave for the company’s shift of manufacturing facilities back to the U.S.: “the adoption of ‘lean’ manufacturing and design techniques that made the plant more efficient and took labor content out of production; the move to a two-tier workforce that means new employees are paid $13 per hour compared to $22 per hour for those employed before 2005; and $17 million of government incentives.” Another important reason: high energy costs, which affect the cost of transporting goods internationally.
Thus, such actions–coupled with “full-scale, export-led oil, gas and coal development” to depress energy prices, which are a critical component of production costs in a variety of sectors–are part of the U.S. ruling class strategy to combat economic decline, boost the domestic economy, cut the balance of payments deficit and regain international market share against rising global and regional competitors.
So while the military-centered strategy of the Bush Doctrine failed in its program of reshaping the Middle East–resulting, for example, in a focus on containing, rather than overthrowing, the Iranian regime–the U.S. state has been considerably more successful elsewhere in repositioning itself economically and politically.
Allied to these changes, the military might of the U.S. is shifting its focus toward Asia as more of the Navy’s fleet is redeployed to the Pacific and Asian theaters. This, in turn, is fueling a game of military brinkmanship in the South China Sea, as U.S. military and political moves unsettle regional allies such as Japan and South Korea, and worry China, North Korea and Russia.
The U.S.’s proposed new East Asian trading bloc, the Trans-Pacific Partnership–which specifically excludes China from membership, a fact not lost on the Chinese ruling class–is a similar recognition of the realignment of power.
Naturally, China is not standing idly by as it is surrounded by U.S. imperial might. The Chinese government has responded with a new trading bloc of its own, one that pointedly excludes the U.S.; a substantial increase in its military budget; and new oil and gas deals throughout Africa, the Middle East and even in the U.S.’s own backyard in Latin America.
In late March, representatives of the Ecuadorian government were in Beijing to negotiate a deal with China to allocate rights to 3 million hectares of undeveloped Amazonian forest–the home to thousands of indigenous people–for oil exploration, along with the construction of a multibillion-dollar, Chinese-financed oil refinery.
At a protest against the selling of their land, Narcisa Mashienta, a leader of Ecuador’s Shuar people, defiantly proclaimed, “What the government’s been saying as they have been offering up our territory is not true; they have not consulted us, and we’re here to tell the big investors that they don’t have our permission to exploit our land.”
Brazil, with its own imperial aspirations for regional dominance, is similarly opting to scale up its exploitation of its natural resources for energy production–specifically in the realm of a truly enormous expansion of hydroelectric power. The gigantic 11,000-megawatt Belo Monte dam in the Amazaon–which will require flooding a vast area of forest, displacing tens of thousands of indigenous people, and can’t be operated at anything like full power without the construction of several more dams–is still being built despite continual protests and work stoppages by unions and indigenous activists, not to mention a growing international outcry.
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THE FACT that all of these changes aren’t just detrimental to indigenous and working people around the world, but are suicidal when it comes to any hope of maintaining a stable climate, should also indicate our natural allies in the fight for an ecologically sustainable and socially just society. Workers, unions, indigenous groups and environmental activists need to form a united front against the planet-wrecking priorities of the 1 Percent.
Underlying this united front must be a theoretical appreciation for how the laws of motion of capitalism operate inexorably to promote unending growth and international competition over natural resources, factors which will destroy all hope for future generations and lead to the extinction of countless species. In turn, international economic competition threatens constantly to break out into its militarized version, as nation states and antagonistic trading blocs opt for warfare.
Indeed, Charles Emmerson, writing in Foreign Policy, a journal written for the U.S. ruling class, points to the compelling similarities between the worlds of 1913, on the brink of the First World War, and 2013. As the U.S. jockeys for position with China, Emmerson writes, the chances of a global conflagration are all too real:
In the last year before the Great War, Germany was Britain’s second-largest trading partner, leading many in the City of London–and across Europe–to conclude that, despite the rise of Anglo-German antagonism over naval armaments, a war between the two was unlikely. If the international solidarity of the workers did not stop a war, the self-interest of global finance would, it was argued.
In another historical moment that resonates acutely today, the cynical realpolitik of the U.S. ruling class was perhaps best summed up in 1948 in State Department Policy Planning Memorandum #23, written by George Kennan. Kennan was a central figure in the group of “wise men” advising U.S. presidents about foreign policy, and his memo formed the basis for what eventually became known as the Truman Doctrine:
[W]e have about 50 percent of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3 percent of its population. This disparity is particularly great as between ourselves and the peoples of Asia. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and daydreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction.
Kennan goes on to give his rationale for a more forthright and unambiguous foreign policy stance:
We should dispense with the aspiration to “be liked” or to be regarded as the repository of a high-minded international altruism. We should stop putting ourselves in the position of being our brothers’ keeper and refrain from offering moral and ideological advice. We should cease to talk about vague and–for the Far East–unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.
We should recognize that our influence in the Far Eastern area in the coming period is going to be primarily military and economic.
International competition for resources and the hunt for more fossil fuels to burn by competing imperial states is one of the key structural impediments to the adoption of international agreements to address our deteriorating ecological situation.
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TO END where I began, the ties between Maathai and Obama are, on the one hand, greater than a shared Nobel Peace Prize. Maathai and Obama’s father both came to the U.S. as two of the 600 Kenyans airlifted under an education program championed by John F. Kennedy program.
On the other hand, their political outlook and dedication to peace, ecological sustainability and social justice couldn’t be more starkly different. Maathai fought empire in the service of the downtrodden and oppressed; Obama seeks to extend it. Where she planted trees to propel her aims, Obama calls forth kill lists and drone strikes to facilitate his.
In 1996, an agricultural agency blamed poor people in the developing world for deforestation. Maathai responded that the rich were really to blame:
It is very common for people making such conclusions to blame poor people. Poor people are the victims, not the cause. In Kenya at the moment, we are fighting to protect the remaining very few indigenous forests from some of the richest people in the country.
It’s easy to become despondent when assessing the urgency of addressing our ecological crisis–and recognizing the plans of the ruling classes around the world to exacerbate it for short-term economic and political gain. But understanding that we face a systemic problem can offer us a clearer picture of the kind of movement we need to build to take on the entire system. That picture offers us hope, too–because as poet Shelley once wrote, “We are many, they are few.”
provides the facts about the new weapon of choice for the U.S. war machine–and documents the deadly impact of drones in conflicts around the globe.
The aggressive use of drones is another confirmation that Obama’s policies represent a continuation of militaristic foreign policy from the Bush years.
ANTIWAR ACTIVISTS are planning actions in April to focus attention on a dark and deadly corner of U.S. military operations: The Pentagon’s and the CIA’s massively scaled-up use of drone aircraft around the world.
In 2000, the Pentagon had less than 50 drones. Ten years later, that number is 7,500–an increase of 15,000 percent. In 2003, the U.S. Air Force was flying a handful of round-the-clock drone patrols every day. By 2010, that number had reached 40.
“By 2011, the Air Force was training more remote pilots than fighter and bomber pilots combined,” explains Medea Benjamin in her book Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control. Benjamin cites Mark Maybury, chief scientist for the Air Force, who said in 2011, “Our number one manning problem in the Air Force is manning our unmanned platform.”
The reasons for the explosion in the use of drones to wage wars around the world are obvious enough. Training drone pilots is faster, less grueling and cheaper compared to traditional pilots. It takes two years to prepare an Air Force recruit for deployment as a pilot, but only nine months to train a drone operator. And, of course, the consequences of drone operator error are no more than the price of the drone itself. As Benjamin writes:
[T]here’s no pilot at risk of being killed or maimed in a crash. No pilot to be taken captive by enemy forces. No pilot to cause a diplomatic crisis if shot down in a “friendly country” while bombing or spying without official permission. If a drone crashes or is shot down, the pilot back home can simply get up and take a coffee break.
But more important is that the use of drones to carry out missions in far-flung countries has enabled the Obama administration to avoid any formal declaration of war while raining down lethal force from the skies–a clear attempt to skirt both U.S. and international law regarding war. As Nick Turse writes in The Changing Face of Empire: Special Ops, Drones, Spies, Proxy Fighters, Secret Bases and Cyberwarfare:
Take the American war in Pakistan–a poster child for what might now be called the Obama formula, if not doctrine. Beginning as a highly circumscribed drone assassination campaign backed by limited cross-border commando raids under the Bush administration, U.S. operations in Pakistan into something close to a full-scale robotic air war, complemented by cross-border helicopter attacks, CIA-funded “kill teams” of Afghan proxy forces, as well as boots-on-the-ground missions by elite special operations forces.
The U.S. has now deployed drones armed with lethal force in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya. Some 60 bases throughout the world are directly connected to the drone program–from Florida to Nevada in the U.S., from Ethiopia and Djibouti in Africa, to Qatar in the Middle East and the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean.
According to Turse, for the last three years, Xe Services, the company formerly known as Blackwater, has been in charge of arming the fleet of Predator drones at CIA clandestine sites in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
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THE OBAMA administration’s aggressive use of drone warfare is yet further confirmation that Barack Obama’s policies represent the continuation rather than the repudiation of the U.S. government’s militaristic foreign policy of the Bush years.
The withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq–after failing to renegotiate the terms of the Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government–occurred on Obama’s watch, but the U.S. still plans to keep thousands of “non-combat” personnel in Iraq. Meanwhile, Obama carried out a troop surge into Afghanistan that doubled the number of U.S. soldiers in that country.
All along the way, the use of drones has accelerated–especially during Obama’s presidency, as this infographic effectively illustrates. They are seen as the ideal solution for a military that is overextended after 10 years of occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq–without achieving a decisive victory, but at enormous economic, political and diplomatic cost. Drones, by contrast, have a “lightweight footprint,” allowing them to operate behind a veil of secrecy. They provide intelligence, lethal force and global reach on the cheap, while simultaneously giving U.S. military strategists plausible deniability to avoid accountability for their actions.
So when Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) recently blurted out in late February that U.S. drone strikes had killed 4,700 people, the military establishment no doubt shuddered.
Graham was speaking to the Rotary Club in Easley, S.C., and was the first government official to provide a figure for the number of casualties in the drone wars–his number was around one-and-a-half times greater than unofficial estimates based on press accounts and other eyewitness reports.
Of course, Graham wasn’t bemoaning the high death toll–he was enthusiastic about it. Graham went on to say that he approved of the U.S. targeting of American citizens abroad and even the use of drones on the U.S.-Mexico border. Of Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S. citizen killed in a drone strike in Pakistan in 2011, Graham said, “He’s been actively involved in recruiting and prosecuting the war for al-Qaeda. He was found in Yemen, and we blew him up with a drone. Good.”
“I didn’t want him to have a trial,” he continued. “We’re not fighting a crime, we’re fighting a war. I support the president’s ability to make a determination as to who an enemy combatant is.”
Opinion polls show that many Americans aren’t as enthusiastic as Graham about drones. According to an article by Joan Walsh at Salon.com:
[W]hile 56 percent of respondents support using drones against “high-level terrorist leaders,” only 13 percent think they should be used against “anyone suspected of being associated with a terrorist group.” And only 27 percent supported using drones “if there was a possibility of killing innocent people.” Another 13 percent opposed the drone program entirely.
Given that only a minority of those killed by drones to date are “high-level leaders”–the New American Foundation estimates it’s as low as 2 percent–Americans may be more skeptical of the policy the more they learn about it.
Still, the military establishment has a secret weapon in the public relations battle to preserve support for its favorite secret weapon–Barack Obama himself. Polling done by political scientist Michael Tesler found that significantly more whites “racial liberals” (a pollster category for liberals who are liberal on questions of race) supported the policy of targeted killings once they were told that the Obama administration had carried out this policy. As Walsh writes:
Only 27 percent of white “racial liberals” in a control group supported the targeted killing policy, but that jumped to 48 percent among such voters who were told Obama had conducted such targeted killings. White “racial conservatives” were more likely than white racial liberals to support the targeted killing policy overall, and Obama’s support for it didn’t affect their opinion.
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THE OBAMA administration is thus the perfect mouthpiece for reestablishing the military’s prestige among a war-weary public–and drones are the perfect vehicle.
In this respect, Obama is bringing U.S. military strategy full-circle, as Turse explains:
In 2001, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld began his “revolution in military affairs,” steering the Pentagon toward a military-lite model of high-tech, agile forces. The concept came to a grim end in Iraq’s embattled cities. A decade later, the last vestiges of its many failures continue to play out in a stalemated war in Afghanistan…In the years since, two secretaries of defense and a new president have presided over another transformation–this one geared toward avoiding ruinous, large-scale land wars, which the U.S. has consistently proven unable to win.
Benjamin’s book sometimes implies that the problem with drones is that they make for “bad foreign policy”–because they make immediate recourse to the use of force less costly and therefore more likely. While this is no doubt true, Turse helps to explain how the use of drones is situated within a larger framework.
Drones are really a symptom, not a cause, of the reorientation of U.S. foreign policy away from the cowboy imperialism of the Bush years.
The U.S. has by far the most lethal and technologically advanced military force on the planet, but with its treasury drained and the rapid rise of global competitors, especially China, the “Obama doctrine” employs different strategies to achieve the same goals: fewer tanks, more spies and special forces; fewer invasions, more secret bases and drones; and whenever possible, offloading direct responsibility for fighting onto proxy forces and friendly (to U.S. interests) well-armed dictators.
The goals of these policies aren’t even the choice of presidents. They are obligations imposed on all nations in a world system built around economic competition. This competition compels nation states to arm themselves for military conflict–or be overrun. And it’s the U.S.–which spends as much as the other countries in the top 20 military spenders combined–that does the lion’s share of overrunning.
So while it’s essential to oppose drones and the various imperial adventures they enable, the economic system that gives rise to military conflict must also be challenged.
Obama, like U.S. presidents before him, demands Palestinian surrender as a precondition for “peace,” explains.
THE HEAD of the U.S. empire paid a three-day visit to the praetorian guard of the Middle East oil lake that concluded March 22. President Obama’s trip to Israel aimed to shore up anxious vassals and reassert U.S. political and military hegemony in a region in the midst of revolutionary turmoil and economic instability.
On both fronts, he appears to have succeeded, for now.
News of President Obama’s much-heralded visit has focused on two events: his speech in Jerusalem and the phone call he choreographed between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. As is usually the case with acts of diplomacy, Obama’s speech and telephone rapprochement were filled with unctuous platitudes to mask the crude reality.
His Jerusalem speech intertwined the Zionist fable of a national liberation movement for Jews that never was with the African American civil rights struggle, using rhetorical flourishes best described as Obamaesque. He said:
As Dr. Martin Luther King said on the day before he was killed–“I may not get there with you. But I want you to know that…we, as a people, will get to the promised land…” And while Jews achieved extraordinary success in many parts of the world, the dream of true freedom finally found its full expression in the Zionist idea–to be a free people in your homeland.
Like every U.S. president since Truman, Obama depicts Israel as an expression of the democratic yearnings of an oppressed people, as opposed to being an imperial manipulation of historical crimes against the Jewish people to justify a colonial-settler state on Palestinian land. Israel is a nation that’s come to serve as an outpost for U.S. imperial interests in the region.
No doubt, Obama glimpsed the 25-foot-high, 450-mile-long apartheid wall that has been condemned as illegal in the International Court of Justice. He knows of the growing civil disobedience against Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land and the broadening resistance to the indefinite detention of Palestinians such as Samer Issawi, now on hunger strike more than 245 days.
Even the global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement is getting greater coverage than ever in the U.S. media, making it almost impossible for Obama to remain unaware of the rising Palestinian civil rights movement that the New York Times’ Ben Ehrenreich suggests is a possible “third intifada.”
It’s quite likely Obama’s awareness of all these factors compelled him to reference Palestinian suffering and aspirations in his speech–if only to give a nod toward a crisis he has no intention of resolving. After all, if Obama were intent on actually doing something, then millions of American taxpayer dollars that help finance the expanding illegal Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank would dry up.
Weapons sales and high-tech deals between the U.S. and Israel would be placed on hold. Obama would demand an immediate end to Israel’s siege of Gaza, a blockade of goods enforced since 2009. Netanyahu’s new hard-right cabinet filled with open racists and opponents of any Palestinian state would have been challenged. Yet none of these actions were even considered.
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WHEN IT comes to Obama in Israel, as at home, it’s crucial to follow the money and the weapons, not the words.
Though in all truth, even the words betray a policy of continued full-throated support for Israel. When Obama insists “Palestinians must recognize that Israel will be a Jewish state” as the starting point for negotiations, he is essentially demanding that Palestinians concede ongoing occupation by an ethnocracy and the implicit apartheid regime of laws that comes with it. As with past presidents, Obama calls for Palestinians to embrace their own dispossession as the entry point to “peace talks.”
The phone call Obama arranged between Netanyahu and Turkey’s Erdogan was an effort to confront the central geostrategic issues hanging over the entire visit. Containing Syria’s ongoing revolution and stanching Iran’s supposed nuclear weapons development were central to this diplomatic mission.
On the surface, the call was about Netanyahu apologizing to Erdogan for a raid by Israeli commandos on an unarmed Turkish humanitarian flotilla, the Mavi Marmara, that killed nine activists on board the ship in the middle of the night in the Mediterranean Sea in May 2010.
The three-way call established that Israel will pay reparations to the families of the dead and Turkey will cease legal actions against Israel for the cold-blooded murders of the nine.
As the Palestinian member of Israel’s Knesset, Hanin Zoabi, who was on the Mavi Marmara, countered: “The issue is not only Marmara; Marmara was the small crime. The big crime was the siege on Gaza.”
Whatever words were uttered about easing the years-long blockade of Gaza, little is likely to change on that front so long as Israel controls the flow of goods, resources and people in and out of Gaza. But the real point of the call was for Obama to formally reconcile two of his most important and comparatively stable allies in the region. Containing the two regional powers, Iran and Syria, is far more difficult without unity between Israel and Turkey.
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AND OBAMA needs a beefed-up guardian in the Middle East gateway to Asian expansion westward as part of his overarching mission to push back China, too.
It’s become clear to both the U.S. and Israeli administrations that their longtime ally in Syria, the dictator Bashar al-Assad, can no longer hang on to power in the face of a popular uprising, which began as a revolutionary upheaval and now appears to have become a civil war that’s killed at least 70,000.
Even before Obama landed in Tel Aviv, Israeli and U.S. warmongers were peddling unconfirmed reports of chemical weapons being used in Syria in order to pressure the Obama administration to approve direct U.S. military involvement there. Turkey, Israel and the U.S. had already been working behind the scenes to select a Syrian-born American, information technology executive Ghassan Hitto, to be the first “prime minister of an interim Syrian government” elected by the unrepresentative, Western-backed Syrian National Council.
As for Iran, Israel would prefer a direct hit against Tehran for its supposed development of nuclear weapons, but the U.S. imposition of deadly sanctions on that country will do for now. And diplomacy is quickly jettisoned when the U.S. and Israel collude in illegal targeted assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists, as they did in early January 2013.
While some may see hope in Obama’s soothing words for Palestinians and other seeking justice in the region, such hopes in Obama are misplaced. The relationship between the U.S. and Israel must remain sacrosanct. They need each other desperately now, as even Muslim Brotherhood allies over the border in Egypt are facing broadening opposition from strikes and protests.
In a dangerous world with shifting alliances, military and economic competition and depression, the U.S. empire needs its loyal Israeli vassal more than ever.
“The ‘Yes We Can’ president has expanded the war from Afghanistan into Pakistan. There are drone attacks killing children on a regular basis there.” Read more of Arundhati Roy’s speech at the Earth at Risk conference.
I don’t know how far back in history to begin, so I’ll lay the milestone down in the recent past. I’ll start in the early 1990s, not long after capitalism won its war against Soviet Communism in the bleak mountains of Afghanistan. The Indian government, which was for many years one of the leaders of the nonaligned movement, suddenly became a completely aligned country and began to call itself the natural ally of the U.S. and Israel. It opened up its protected markets to global capital. Most people have been speaking about environmental battles, but in the real world it’s quite hard to separate environmental battles from everything else: the war on terror, for example; the depleted uranium; the missiles; the fact that it was the military-industrial complex that actually pulled the U.S. out of the Great Depression, and since then the economies of places like America, many countries in Europe, and certainly Israel, have had stakes in the manufacture of weapons. What good are weapons if they aren’t going to be used in wars? Weapons are absolutely essential; it’s not just for oil or natural resources, but for the military-industrial complex itself to keep going that we need weapons.
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid started his political campaign for the next Knesset this week by accusing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of trying to drag the United States into war with Iran.
In his first English interview since entering politics – which will be published in full in The Jerusalem Post’s Simhat Torah supplement, Lapid said Netanyahu made mistakes by instigating a conflict with the US administration, betting that Republican candidate Mitt Romney would win the election, and threatening Iran with military action rather than focusing on intensifying sanctions.
“Netanyahu has created a situation in which it became an Israel-Iran problem and not a world-Iran problem,” Lapid said.
“There is only one way to end the Iranian nuclear threat: The fall of the ayatollahs. An Israeli strike would only delay the Iranian nuclear problem. It would enable the Iranians to say we have been attacked by a nuclear country and now we have no choice but to develop nuclear weapons. The way to make the ayatollahs fall is to strengthen the sanctions.”
Lapid said Netanyahu was wrong to try to force the US to set deadlines for Iran.
“It is hubris to give an ultimatum to the US,” Lapid said.
“People tend to forget that the plane Netanyahu is sending to bomb Iran is an American plane. He thinks he can drag America to do what it doesn’t want to do. He is leading Israel to war too soon, before it’s necessary. Like Netanyahu, I think that if we came to the point of no return, Israel would have to bomb, but there is still a lot left to do to avoid that.”
Asked how he could serve as a minister under Netanyahu when he is so critical of him, he said: “What kind of politician would I be if I am silent when I see things that matter that bother me. On the Iranian issue, he did a great job by putting it on the world’s table, but then he took it off the world’s table and made it an Israeli issue. It’s the same with economy: He got it on track, then made mistakes.”
Lapid also called upon the US administration to release Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard, who is serving his 27th year of a life sentence.
“It’s about time to release him,” he said.
“The US is being unnecessarily harsh on someone sick and getting old. All the spies from the Cold War were released years ago even though they spied for an enemy. It’s time to release someone who spied for a friend.” Jerusalen Post