Posts Tagged ‘James Petras’

Latin America and the End of Social Liberalism

September 11, 2009
by James Petras
Global Research, September 9, 2009

The current world recession and the potential recovery of some countries reveals all the weaknesses of the traditional “export market” – free trade – comparative advantage doctrines.  Nowhere is this more evident than in the recent experience of Latin America.
Despite recent popular upheavals and the ascent of center-left regimes in most of the countries in the region, the economic structures, strategies and policies pursued, followed in the footsteps of their predecessors particularly in relation to foreign economic practices.

Influenced by the sharp demand and rise in prices of commodities, especially agro-mineral and energy products, the Latin American regimes, backed off from any changes in several crucial areas and adapted to the policies and economic legacies of their neo-liberal predecessors.  As a result, with the world wide recession beginning in 2008, they suffered a sharp economic decline with severe social consequences.

The resulting socio-economic crisis provides important lessons and reinforces the notion that deep structural changes in investment, trade, ownership of strategic economic sectors is essential to stable, sustained and equitable growth.

Continues >>

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Obama’s Animal Farm: Bigger, Bloodier Wars Equal Peace and Justice

May 19, 2009

By Prof James Petras | Global Research,  May 19, 2009

The Deltas are psychos. You have to be a certified psychopath to join the Delta Force”, a US Army colonel from Fort Bragg once told me back in the 1980’s. Now President Obama has elevated the most notorious of the psychopaths, General Stanley McChrystal, to head the US and NATO military command in Afghanistan. McChrystal’s rise to leadership is marked by his central role in directing special operations teams engaged in extrajudicial assassinations, systematic torture, bombing of civilian communities and search and destroy missions. He is the very embodiment of the brutality and gore that accompanies military-driven empire building. Between September 2003 and August 2008, McChrystal directed the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations (JSO) Command which operates special teams in overseas assassinations.

The point of the ‘Special Operations’ teams (SOT) is that they do not distinguish between civilian and military oppositions, between activists and their sympathizers and the armed resistance. The SOT specialize in establishing death squads and recruiting and training paramilitary forces to terrorize communities, neighborhoods and social movements opposing US client regimes. The SOT’s ‘counter-terrorism’ is terrorism in reverse, focusing on socio-political groups between US proxies and the armed resistance. McChrystal’s SOT targeted local and national insurgent leaders in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan through commando raids and air strikes. During the last 5 years of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld period the SOT were deeply implicated in the torture of political prisoners and suspects. McChrystal was a special favorite of Rumsfeld and Cheney because he was in charge of the ‘direct action’ forces of the ‘Special Missions Units. ‘Direct Action’ operative are the death-squads and torturers and their only engagement with the local population is to terrorize, and not to propagandize. They engage in ‘propaganda of the dead’, assassinating local leaders to ‘teach’ the locals to obey and submit to the occupation. Obama’s appointment of McChrystal as head reflects a grave new military escalation of his Afghanistan war in the face of the advance of the resistance throughout the country.

The deteriorating position of the US is manifest in the tightening circle around all the roads leading in and out of Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul as well as the expansion of Taliban control and influence throughout the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Obama’s inability to recruit new NATO reinforcements means that the White House’s only chance to advance its military driven empire is to escalate the number of US troops and to increase the kill ratio among any and all suspected civilians in territories controlled by the Afghan armed resistance.

The White House and the Pentagon claim that the appointment of McChrystal was due to the ‘complexities’ of the situation on the ground and the need for a ‘change in strategy’. ‘Complexity’ is a euphemism for the increased mass opposition to the US, complicating traditional carpet ‘bombing and military sweep’ operations. The new strategy practiced by McChrystal involves large scale, long term ‘special operations’ to devastate and kill the local social networks and community leaders, which provide the support system for the armed resistance.

Obama’s decision to prevent the release of scores of photographs documenting the torture of prisoners by US troops and ‘interrogators’ (especially under command of the ‘Special Forces’), is directly related to his appointment of McChrystal whose ‘SOT’ forces were highly implicated in widespread torture in Iraq. Equally important, under McChrystal’s command the DELTA, SEAL and Special Operations Teams will have a bigger role in the new ‘counter-insurgency strategy’. Obama’s claim that the publication of these photographs will adversely affect the ‘troops’ has a particular meaning: The graphic exposure of McChrystal’s modus operendi for the past 5 years under President Bush will undermine his effectiveness in carrying out the same operations under Obama.

Obama’s decision to re-start the secret ‘military tribunals’ of foreign political prisoners, held at the Guantanamo prison camp, is not merely a replay of the Bush-Cheney policies, which Obama had condemned and vowed to eliminate during his presidential campaign, but part of his larger policy of militarization and coincides with his approval of the major secret police surveillance operations conducted against US citizens.

Putting McChrystal in charge of the expanded Afghanistan-Pakistan military operations means putting a notorious practitioner of military terrorism ­ the torture and assassination of opponents to US policy ­ at the center of US foreign policy. Obama’s quantitative and qualitative expansion of the US war in South Asia means massive numbers of refugees fleeing the destruction of their farms, homes and villages; tens of thousands of civilian deaths, and eradication of entire communities. All of this will be committed by the Obama Administraton in the quest to ’empty the lake (displace entire populations) to catch the fish (armed insurgents and activists)’.

Obama’s restoration of all of the most notorious Bush Era policies and the appointment of Bush’s most brutal commander is based on his total embrace of the ideology of military-driven empire building. Once one believes (as Obama does) that US power and expansion are based on military conquests and counter-insurgency, all other ideological, diplomatic, moral and economic considerations will be subordinated to militarism. By focusing all resources on successful military conquest, scant attention is paid to the costs borne by the people targeted for conquest or to the US treasury and domestic American economy. This has been clear from the start: In the midst of a major recession/depression with millions of Americans losing their employment and homes, President Obama increased the military budget by 4% – taking it beyond $800 billion dollars.

Obama’s embrace of militarism is obvious from his decision to expand the Afghan war despite NATO’s refusal to commit any more combat troops. It is obvious in his appointment of the most hard-line and notorious Special Forces General from the Bush-Cheney era to head the military command in subduing Afghanistan and the frontier areas of Pakistan.

It is just as George Orwell described in Animal Farm: The Democratic Pigs are now pursuing the same brutal, military policies of their predecessors, the Republican Porkers, only now it is in the name of the people and peace. Orwell might paraphrase the policy of President Barack Obama, as ‘Bigger and bloodier wars equal peace and justice’.

The Israel Lobby’s Power Comes from The American Ruling Class

March 4, 2009
by John Spritzler | newdemocracyworld.org, March 4, 2009

Among those who, like myself, oppose Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, there is an important debate about a fundamental question. The debate is about how to explain the fact that the American government supports Israel virtually unconditionally with more economic, military and diplomatic aid than it gives to any other country.

One commonly believed explanation is that the “Israel Lobby”–consisting of organizations like AIPAC and a host of other pro-Israel Jewish organizations in the United States–has hijacked U.S. foreign policy by using its wealth and control of the mass media to buy or intimidate Congressmen. According to this view, the American government’s pro-Israel foreign policy is harmful to the interests of the non-Jewish American corporate upper class, and were it not for the power of the Israel Lobby American foreign policy, reflecting as it does the interests of the American upper class, would not be as pro-Israel as it is today.

I call this the “The Lobby Makes Them Do It” view. I think it is just plain factually wrong. The alternative view that I hold is that the Israel Lobby’s power comes from the (mostly non-Jewish) American ruling class.

The leading advocate of the “The Lobby Makes Them Do It” view is James Petras. Petras asserts that the Israel Lobby prevailed over America’s Big Oil elite to get the U.S. to invade Iraq for the benefit of Israel:

“The principal governmental architects of the war, the intellectual promoters of the war, their publicly enunciated published strategies for the war were all deeply attached to the Israel lobby and worked for the Israeli state. Wolfowitz, number 2 in the Pentagon, Douglas Feith, number 3 in the Pentagon, Richard Perle, head of the Defense Board, Elliot Abrams in charge of Middle East affairs for the National Security Council, and dozens of other key operatives in the government and ideologues in the mass media were life-long fanatical activists in favor of Israel, some of whom had lost security clearances in previous administrations for handing over documents to the Israeli government…

“In fact the US-Middle East wars prejudice the oil interests in several strategic senses. The wars generate generalized hostility to oil companies with long-term relations with Arab countries. The wars result in undermining new contracts opening in Arab countries for US oil investments. US oil companies have been much friendlier to peacefully resolving conflicts than Israel and especially its Lobbyists as any reading of the specialized oil industry journals and spokespeople emphasize. “

Just on the facts, Petras is wrong. Far from opposing the Israel Lobby, Big Oil uses that lobby. As Juan Cole writes:

“Neoconservative Jews in the US like Richard Perle, Frederick Kagan and Michael Rubin at the American Enterprise Institute who vocally support the Iraq War (and have gotten rich off it) are a minority of a minority, and even are at odds with the Israeli security establishment! Moreover, the American Enterprise Institute, which crafted the Iraq War, gets funding from Exxon Mobil, and last I checked it was run by white Protestants. The vice chair of AEI is Lee Raymond, former CEO of Exxon Mobil and surely Dick Cheney’s old golf partner in the Dallas years. That is, the Kagans and the Rubins, who identify with the Revisionist Zionist movement on the Israeli Right, are useful idiots for Big Oil, not movers and shakers in their own right.”

The American corporate upper class, the American ruling class, is pro-Israel because they (or at least their sophisticated advisors, like Henry Kissinger, Condoleeza Rice, General James Jones, etc.) know that Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestinians performs a strategically crucial service for the American ruling class. The ethnic cleansing polarizes the Middle East along non-class lines, fomenting an ethnic war pitting Jews against non-Jews. The American ruling class uses this ethnic war to strengthen its domestic control over ordinary Americans, and to strengthen the control of Middle Eastern ruling elites (kings, mullahs, dictators) over ordinary people in their respective nations. These are the most important strategic objectives of the American ruling class: social control to prevent the spread of pro-democratic, pro-working class, pro-solidarity movements from overthrowing elite rule anywhere in the world.

Regarding domestic control of the American population, the key strategy of elite social control has for many decades been to rely on Orwellian wars of social control. The particular “foreign enemy” has changed over time, from Teddy Roosevelt’s Spain to Woodrow Wilson’s “Huns” to FDR’s Fascists to Truman’s Communists to Bush’s and Obama’s Terrorists. By ensuring that the American mass media refrain from telling Americans the true reason (Israel’s ethnic cleansing) why Palestinians and Arabs and Muslims take up arms against Israel, the American ruling class ensures that Americans will believe the lie that Palestinians/Arabs/Muslims are hateful, irrational, anti-semitic terrorists who kill decent Israelis “just like us” and would likewise kill Americans if we fail to obey our upper class rulers who protect us from terrorism.

Similarly, the oil-rich Middle East ruling classes, in countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran, use their people’s anger at Israel to strengthen their power over them, as I discuss in some detail in
How Israel Helps Saudi Arabia’s Rulers Control their Working Class and How Israel Helps the Islamic Republic of Iran Control the Iranian Working Class. James Petras is naive to think that Big Oil’s interests are prejudiced by the pro-Israel U.S. foreign policy. If the Saudi royal family, for example, were really opposed to U.S. support for Israel, then it would use its vast wealth to support pro-Palestinian forces inside the United States, to counter the Israel Lobby; but it doesn’t.

By the same token, if any members of the American mostly non-Jewish ruling class, with billions of dollars to throw around (Buffet gave away $40 billion alone!), wanted to tell Americans the truth about Zionism (the movement to create and protect a Jewish state), they could do so. They could tell Americans how Zionism is all about ethnic cleansing, how Albert Einstein (whom the Israeli government asked to be the President of Israel, and declined) always opposed the Jewish state idea because it was morally wrong, and how the Zionists betrayed European Jews during World War II by opposing rescue efforts (so there would be more dead Jews to give them greater standing at the post-war negotiations over who would “get” Palestine)–they could do so; but they don’t. If they did, they could turn the American public against Zionism and against the Israel Lobby as quickly as they turn it against a politician soliciting sex in a toilet stall.

So why don’t they do it? It is not because Zionists control the mass media. Sure, pro-Zionists do control the mass media, but billionaires could create their own anti-Zionist media if they wanted to. After all, Rupert Murdoch owns a large enough media network to do the job and at the time of his divorce in 1998 his personal fortune was only 3.3 billion pounds (less than $5 billion I imagine.) The American ruling class chooses not to oppose the Israel Lobby because they have no reason to. The Israel Lobby is an instrument (“useful idiots” as Juan Cole puts it) of the American ruling class. The Lobby spreads the lies that the pro-Israel foreign policy requires, and it keeps politicians in line who might otherwise stray from the path. The Lobby is powerful because it does the bidding of the powerful.

Very different organizing strategies against Zionism are appropriate, depending on whether one agrees with “The Lobby Makes Them Do It” view of James Petras or the view I advocate. If Petras is correct, then the natural strategy to turn U.S. foreign policy around would be to side with the likes of Big Oil against the Israel Lobby. But since Big Oil and the Israel Lobby are in fact on the same team, this is a ridiculous strategy. Instead, the strategy that makes sense is to mobilize the general public against the American ruling class around not only opposition to Israeli ethnic cleansing but also opposition to the entire anti-democratic, anti-equality agenda of the ruling class. This is a revolutionary pro-working class strategy, and only it can win.

Other articles about Palestine/Israel by John Spritzler

John Spritzler is the author of The People As Enemy: The Leaders’ Hidden Agenda In World War II, and a Research Scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Zionist Militants Surround America’s New President

February 26, 2009

Dr Paul Craig Roberts | American Free Press

PEOPLE IN THE UNITED STATES and abroad are hoping that President Obama will end America’s illegal wars, halt America’s support for Israel’s massacre of Lebanese and Palestinians, and punish, instead of reward, the shyster banksters whose fraudulent financial instruments have destroyed economies and imposed massive sufferings on people all over the world. If Obama’s appointments are an indication, all of these hopeful people are going to be disappointed.

James Petras examines Obama’s foreign policy appointments and finds the largest collection of Zionist militarists outside of Israel.

Petras concludes that Obama’s “diplomatic” team has Iran in its sights, and hostility that meshes with Israel’s own intent. Not realizing that a member of the press had been mistakenly invited to a selected audience, the Israeli ambassador to Australia said that Israel’s attack on Gaza was a dress rehearsal for a major attack on Iran. Benjamin Netanyahu, the expected winner of Israel’s March elections, has again declared that Israel will not permit Iran to have a nuclear energy program as it would provide the basis for developing nuclear weapons.

It makes no sense for Israel to baldly state its intention to attack Iran if Israel does not mean it. What if the Iranians believe the Israelis and decide to strike first with their long-range missiles?

Obama’s economic appointments are just as discouraging. Obama chose as his treasury secretary Timothy Geithner, the man who helped Bush’s treasury secretary, Hank Paulson, engineer the $700 billion dollar rip-off of the U.S. taxpayer, money that was gifted to the crooked banksters who destroyed Americans’ pensions, jobs and health care coverage.

These banksters, and the negligent federal regulators who enabled them, should be put in prison, not handed hundreds of billions of dollars.

Instead, Obama has appointed one of the chief orchestrators of the rip-off to the helm of the Treasury. Obama’s National Economic Council is just as depressing. Clinton’s Treasury Secretary, Larry Summers, is its head. Summers recently declared that he had no inkling that a financial crisis was about to hit. Why did Obama put a person without a clue in charge?

Summers’s colleagues are just as bad. Obama has appointed Diana Farrell, lead author of a phony study that claimed offshoring of American jobs is a win-win game for Americans, as deputy director of the National Economic Council. Farrell is affiliated with McKinsey & Company, a firm that helps American corporations offshore their operations.

In his book, Outsourcing America, economist Ron Hira tore Farrell’s McKinsey report to shreds. Why not appoint Ron Hira and Nouriel Roubina, who predicted the crisis, to the National Economic Council?

With Israel’s most fervent American allies whispering in one ear and banksters and offshoring propagandists whispering in the other, how can President Obama fulfill any of the hopes that people have?

The discouraging fact is that even when faced with crisis in the economy and in foreign policy, the American political system is incapable of producing any leadership. Here we are in the worst economic crisis in a lifetime, perhaps in our history, and on the brink of war in Pakistan and Iran while escalating the war in Afghanistan, and all we get is a government made up of the very people who have brought us to these crises.

Just as the Bushites could not admit the failure of their man, the Obamacons will not be able to admit the failure of their man.

The era of American leadership has passed. America’s shyster financial system has brought economic crisis to the world. America’s wars of aggression are seen as serving no purpose except the enrichment of the military industries associated with Dick Cheney. The world is looking elsewhere for leadership.

Vladimir Putin made a play for this role at Davos, where his speech at the opening ceremony was the most intelligent speech of the event.

Putin reminded the World Economic Forum that “just a year ago, American delegates speaking from this rostrum emphasized the U.S. economy’s fundamental stability and its cloudless prospects. Today, investment banks, the pride of Wall Street, have virtually ceased to exist. In just 12 months, they have posted losses exceeding the profits they made in the last 25 years.”

Putin made his case that the existing financial system based on the U.S. dollar and American financial hegemony has failed. Putin said that a secure world requires cooperation that requires trust. He made it clear that the Americans have proven that they cannot be trusted.

Nationally syndicated columnist, Paul Craig Roberts, Ph.D., a former editor at The Wall Street Journal, is the author of several books. He has been associated with the Hoover Institution, and the Institute for Political Economy and from 1981 to 1982 served as assistant secretary of the treasury for economic policy.

Zionism versus democracy

August 7, 2008

By Frank Scott
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Online Journal, Aug 7, 2008

“The Zionist power configuration’s primary loyalty is to the state of Israel and its policy is designed to colonize the US congress on behalf and to the benefit of the ‘mother country,’ Israel” –James Petras

James Petras speaks to a reality rarely discussed in circles accustomed to whispered criticism, at best, of the U.S. performance in support of Israel. He mentions Congress, but the executive branch has been equally “colonized.” The scripted performances by major party presidential candidates, whether bowing before the Israel — American lobby in Washington or praying before the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, are evidence enough. The dominance exercised by what he calls the Zionist Power Configuration is a very critical problem for a public that remains generally oblivious to its existence, let alone the control it has over our political system.

With a crippled economy and over extended armed forces, America’s global position has old establishment groups trying to retake control before mindless dedication to the Jewish state brings about total ruin. A revival of the old WASP (white Anglo Saxon Protestant) power cabal finds it in a struggle with the newer Jewish power bloc. This clash of establishment gangs will hardly bring social justice and peace to America, but it could give the public a chance to come to its senses. Support for a racist state that brutalizes its native population in a way that shocks veterans of apartheid South Africa can only continue with a public kept in the dark.

Under the dominance of propaganda that tells us innocent Israeli Jews are being persecuted by evil Palestinian Arabs, the U.S. continues to prop up the Jewish state with money, and wage nation destroying wars on its behalf. Constantly retelling the story of past dreadful persecution makes it seem that because German Nazis brutalized European Jews, Israeli Ashkenazis are morally justified to brutalize Palestinian Arabs. Settlers in a land which they believe, with no evidence save religious faith, is where they originated, are seen as natives, while the people who’ve lived there for centuries are expelled, treated as terrorists, and despite their Semitic origins, called anti-Semites by those whose only connection to Semitism is their belief system.

This situation would be the ultimate black comedy, if it were not so dangerous to all humanity. Israel is run by some seriously disturbed people who are not waving an ax, but are armed with nuclear weapons. These, of course are respectfully never mentioned by what is called the international community, which means America, Israel and a handful of their lackey states.

How can the U.S.A. continue its multi-trillion dollar funding of Israel, the waging of endless war, and the maintenance of military bases in hundreds of foreign countries, while its people suffer a seriously declining economic status? Only with the help of a media that tells us our problems originate in faraway places rather than at home, and that our most important ally in the world is Israel. Both are in complete denial of material reality. An individual acting on such presumptions would be judged clinically insane and institutionalized. Our society behaves as though delusions were reality, lies were the truth, and a psychotic condition was a sign of excellent mental health.

The U.S.A. is in hock for trillions of dollars and hated not only in the Middle East, but increasingly in other parts of the world. This has led to calls for change which have seen the WASPs reasserting, to regain control from the power bloc that has played a major role in creating the present crisis, though not the unacknowledged longer standing one which is capitalism itself. That major threat to the future of humanity hardly depends on whether the ruling group is gentile or Jewish, but on whether we allow that system to destroy the entire planet, and not just the Middle East.

The relation of policy and its reportage is clear in the preparing of Americans for a war with Iran, and then priming them into a maybe we will maybe we won’t indecision. Each time heated talk about Iran cools slightly, the price of gasoline declines. Until the next surge of fanatic babble that claims Iran will nuke Israel and exterminate all Jews, at which point the price goes up again.

These fluctuations in maniacal rhetoric and petroleum prices are part of the struggle to exercise control over U.S. policy in the Middle East. The fact that Americans are not using as much gasoline has not escaped the awareness of petro-capital and it surely plays a role in the recent price decrease, which is still much higher than it was a year ago. The notion that oil powers provoked us into the war in Iraq is still widely believed, despite the fact that this would mean Big Oil decided to endanger its foreign relations and watch Americans consume less of its product. That ridiculous story is a measure of the extent of Jewish-Israeli power over not only the government, but the media which controls the consciousness of the American public.

Continued fables of an alleged Iranian threat, based on the same fictional evidence, supernatural fears and psychotic tendencies that transform Israel from a national nightmare for Palestinian Arabs into a Paradise Disneyland for Israeli Jews, make it more vital than ever to put a stop to this madness. Electing a new member of the colonized population to the presidency, whether in the USA or Palestine, will not make a substantial difference. Rather than a simple change at the top, which is part of the problem, we need a profound awakening to action by the mass population at the bottom, which could bring about the real solution: A 50-state democracy in the U.S.A., and a one state democracy in Palestine.

Copyright © 2008 Frank Scott. All rights reserved.

Frank Scott writes political commentary which appears in the Coastal Post, a monthly publication from Marin County, California, and on numerous web sites, and on his shared blog at legalienate.blogspot.com. Contact him at frankscott@comcast.net.