Category Archives: Asia

The Australian-United States Relationship is Overdue for a Radical Rethink

When one looks at a map of the world, Australia is prominently displayed at the southern end of the great Asian land mass. Then one looks at other statistics and one sees that Asia and China in particular is of huge economic importance to Australia. China, for example, is Australia’s largest source of foreign tourists, largest source of foreign students, and third largest source of foreign investment. This is in addition to taking more than one-third of total Australian exports, more than any other nation by a substantial margin.

Then one looks at Australia’s actual conduct in respect of its Asian neighbours and immediately one is struck by what appears to be an attitude ranging from ambivalence to outright hostility. The clue to this schizophrenic behaviour lies in Australia’s historical past.

Until the fall of Singapore to the Japanese in 1941 and the resulting eclipse of British power and influence in the Asian region, of which Australia is a distinctive part, Australia had looked to the United Kingdom as the mother country. The shock of the United Kingdom’s speedy eclipse as a military power in the region forced an immediate reappraisal of where Australia’s future security lay.

The choice was to switch allegiance to and  maintain reliance upon the United States as the new Western hegemon. American troops almost immediately after the Japanese attack on Hawaii began to establish themselves in Australia. Although it remains a curiously undiscussed element of modern Australian reality, United States troops have been stationed in Australia ever since.

There are currently at least eight United States military bases located on the Australian mainland, yet with the exception of the United States spy base at Pine Gap near Alice Springs, and the recent addition of a naval base in Darwin (in large part a reaction to the leasing of Darwin Harbour to a Chinese consortium) the remaining bases are notable for their absence from the political and media debate.

The profound importance of Pine Gap was revealed obliquely by the coup mounted against the then Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in November 1995, the day before he was to announce to the Australian parliament his government’s intention to close Pine Gap. It is another feature of the Australian geopolitical and media landscape that the association between the two events is carefully avoided.

For the first 70 years of the United States military presence in Australia it remained a largely bipartisan endeavour. What was occurring in the Australian economy, however, was a significant shift away from its previous reliance upon the United Kingdom to one more accurately representative of its geographical position. Twelve of Australia’s fifteen largest trading partners are Asian countries.  (the others being New Zealand, the European Union and the United States).

Despite the multiple changes occurring to Australia’s economic landscape (in the broadest sense) the mentality of its political leadership remained family oriented to the West in general and the United States in particular. One manifestation of that political commitment was Australia’s eagerness to participate in the United States’ wars of choice, first in Korea, then in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

It is simply laughable to suggest that any of these countries posed any kind of threat to Australia’s vital interests. Australia’s participation in these multiple wars of choice are best interpreted as down payments on the insurance policy that the United States alliance was said to represent.

The economic relationship with the United States has never matched the military and the reality of the past 20+ years is that Asia in general and China in particular has assumed a progressively greater role in Australia’s economic and social life.

To say this has created a profound ambivalence in the Australian psyche would be an understatement. Australia is now in the uncomfortable position of trying to maintain its relationship with a rapidly declining United States without disrupting its economic ties to China. The latter country is growing increasingly tired of Australia’s ambivalent wanting to have its cake and eat it too.

The United States never was what Australia fondly imagined it to be, but multiple trends over the past two decades have accelerated the United States’ relative downward spiral. The details of this downward decline have recently been outlined in an article by Larry Romanoff entitled “American Exceptionalism” and published in the UNZ Review 22 August 2020.

Romanoff details a long list of indicators demonstrating that the United States’ relative decline is both substantial and unlikely to be reversed in the foreseeable future. Romanoff concludes his long litany of areas where the United States has fallen behind a growing list of nations by noting that the United States has “for years been deservedly voted the world’s most hated nation, is widely reviled as the world’s greatest bully, and judged by all people-including Americans-as the greatest threat to world peace.”

Which raises the final question: why in the face of this reality and contrary to its overwhelming economic interest, does Australia persist in this profoundly unequal relationship with such a dangerous and dysfunctional ally?

Although the United States will be the last to admit it, their period as the world’s most important nation is well past its use by date. The world has moved on from the post-World War II era and among the many changes manifesting themselves is the re-assertion of China as the world’s most important nation.

China is highly unlikely to use that position in even the faintest duplication of the American era of 1945-2000, rabidly anti-China propaganda by the United States notwithstanding. Australia needs to recognise these multiple realities and focus on building its relationship with China and its Asian neighbours and to start a radical rethink of where its true interests really lie.

The Plight of Refugees and Migrant Workers under Covid

In a world where nationalism and social division is increasing, bigotry growing, are the words refugee, asylum seeker, migrant worker, derogatory labels triggering prejudice and intolerance? Such terms create an image of ‘the other’, separate and different, strengthening tribalism, feeding suspicion, our common humanity denied.

Under the shadow of Covid-19 those living on the margins of society have been further isolated; the refugees and migrants of the world, those displaced internally or in a foreign land, people living in war zones, and the migrant workers in the Gulf States, India, Singapore and elsewhere.

Refugees/migrants and migrant workers are among those most at risk from Covd-19, the economic impact of the pandemic as well as xenophobic abuse linked to the virus. Migrant workers (who universally have few or no labor rights) from Qatar to India have been discriminated against, discarded and ignored. Migrants, particularly those of Chinese or Japanese appearance in the US and elsewhere subjected to violence and abuse, and in refugee camps across Europe and the Middle East, including Gaza, thousands have been left in unsafe camps without medical support.

Homeless, hungry and at risk

Even before the pandemic erupted, to be a refugee, migrant, or migrant worker was commonly to be mistrusted, marginalized and in danger. Whether working as a maid in one of the Gulf States, an internal migrant worker in their homeland or living inside an overcrowded refugee camp these men, women and children are amongst the most vulnerable people in the world. In Europe, where thousands of refugees (many from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan) are packed into camps, their lives already swamped by uncertainty, the fear of the virus hangs heavy. Lacking sanitation and essential services these overcrowded tarpaulin cities are unsafe; the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, for example, was designed to accommodate 2,840, but now has 19,000 people; 40% are under 18, self-harming and attempted suicides are widespread. Compounding the heightened risks Covid has created, since July 2019 asylum seekers throughout Greece no longer have free access to the healthcare system, other than emergency support.

Meanwhile, in countries with large populations of migrant workers Covid-19 and the economic impact of the pandemic is adding additional layers of suffering to already arduous lives, not just of workers, but the families migrant workers support. According to the UN, round 800 million people globally are supported by funds sent home by migrant workers. Families depend on such payments to pay rent and buy food; when this flow stops, as is the case for many now, poverty and the risk of starvation is made more acute. The World Bank is warning of huge drops in global remittance payments of around 20%, resulting from the economic downturn triggered by the pandemic, which they say has impacted on migrant communities particularly hard.

In the Gulf States, which depend on millions of workers from Africa and Southeast Asia, Covid-19 is intensifying discrimination and increasing abuse against migrant domestic workers, including abrupt termination of their contracts. In Kuwait suicide among migrant workers has surged; Saudi Arabia has deported thousands of Ethiopian workers (A total of 2,968 migrants were returned in the first 10 days of April, UN state), without any medical screening, which the UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Ethiopia said, is “likely to exacerbate the spread of Covid-19 to the region and beyond.” And in Lebanon (where the majority of migrant workers are Ethiopian) and elsewhere across the region, lower income families unable to cover salaries, cover food costs or provide accommodation have laid off domestic staff; resulting in migrant workers being at high risk of forced labor, including prostitution.

Worse still is the case of freelance (‘live out’) workers, whose work has stopped, leaving them with no income, no food and nowhere to go. In Qatar, (one of the richest countries in the world, with over two million migrant workers) which has one of the highest rates of infections per capita, many of those suffering from the disease are migrant workers. Foreign workers from Nepal, Bangladesh, the Philippines are being laid off or remain unpaid, as the economic impact of the virus hits. Some domestic workers (women) have been made destitute. In Singapore, widely thought to have responded well to the pandemic, migrant workers, employed mainly in the construction industry, were thrown to the wolves. And in India following the hasty decision by Prime Minister Mahendra Modi to lock the country down on 25th March, (giving people four hours warning!) tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of internal migrants working in cities were forced by their landlords to vacate their homes and had no choice but to head back to their native village. Without funds and with transportation suspended, huge numbers were forced to walk the hundreds or thousands of miles home.

Homeless, hungry and at risk of contracting coronavirus, migrant workers were ignored by the Modi regime. Reacting to this wholesale neglect, the UN Special Rapporteurs on the right to housing and on extreme poverty said (4th June), “we are appalled at the disregard shown by the Indian Government towards internal migrant laborers, especially those who belong to marginalized minorities and lower castes…..the Government has failed to address their dire humanitarian situation and further exacerbated their vulnerability with police brutality [which is commonplace in India] and by failing to stop their stigmatization as ‘virus carriers’.”

Contemporary Slavery

Covid-19 has highlighted a raft of social inequalities and destructive practices throughout the world. As such issues float to the murky surface of human affairs an opportunity presents itself for reform, for changes in attitudes and practices.

There needs to be a fundamental overhaul of employment rights for migrant workers throughout the world, with migrant workers receiving the same protections as native employees, including access to health care, limits on the hours of work, rates of pay, days off etc.

The Kafala System is used throughout the Gulf States, where the UN estimates there to be “35 million international migrants in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, and Jordan and Lebanon, of whom 31 per cent were women.” Under Kafala a migrant worker, many of whom are domestic staff and therefore out of sight, cannot resign if an employer is abusive, the work exploitative or the conditions unacceptable. Amnesty International relates, that it “ties the legal residency of the worker to the contractual relationship with the employer.” The system enables employers to essentially own workers, giving them total control of workers’ movements. This legitimization of modern-day slavery must be brought to an end immediately.

Refugees and migrants are human beings fleeing violent conflict (are often traumatized), persecution and economic hardship. The journey into an unknown future is often treacherous, always uncertain. In the vacuum left by governments and regional authorities like the EU, that should be processing asylum applications in designated centers and offering safe passage, criminal gangs control migration routes and methods of travel, which are unsafe and extortionately expensive. Deaths are commonplace, abuse and exploitation widespread. If they survive the dangers and arrive in their destination country, all too often they are viewed with distrust and antagonism, instead of being warmly welcomed. They are pushed into the shadows, the margins of society, offered little or no state support and made to feel unwanted.

This must change; all should be embraced, not only those with skills in short supply.  The idea of judging who can and cannot enter a country based on some discriminatory points system related to national need (the Australian way – a country with a shameful immigration record), as the UK government is proposing, reduces human beings to commodities, some of which are more valuable on the ‘open market of immigration’ than others – and is completely abhorrent.

Deal with the causes of migration, help construct a world at peace by cooperating, sharing and building relationships; reject competition and nationalism in favor of unity and tolerance and see a dramatic fall in the numbers of people forced to leave their homeland, whether in search of safety or opportunity.

Jingo Unchained: Big Trouble with China Rising?

In the haze of the morning, China sits on Eternity
And the opium farmers sell dreams to obscure fraternities
On the horizon the curtains are closing.
— Brian Eno, “China my China,” from the album Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy, 1974

It’s a crazy and dangerous World out there, by Jingo!  By now we’ve all heard what they’re saying, experts like Doc Fauci and friends:  “If the coronavirus doesn’t get ya, then the giant Asian ‘murder’ hornets will!”  Yikes!  What’s next:  an infestation of tiny totalitarians telling us all to wear masks everywhere and shut up about whatever’s going on?  Well, as a scientist once told me, while curiously genuflecting  — I believe there was a Church or Science Building in the background:  “Always remember to have faith in the facts!”

Indeed, the fact of the Asian “murder” hornet (Vespa mandarinia) following so quickly upon the coronavirus outbreak is certainly quite disconcerting, to say the least.  One is tempted to ask:  Could these monstrous Asian insects be the dreaded “second wave” of COVID-19?

To understand this new threat, which probably–however accidentally–escaped from an insect-weaponizing lab in Wuhan, China, it is essential to establish a basic correlation.  Take the “Africanized” or “killer bee” invasion a few decades ago, for example, which bears striking ideo-morphic wing marks to the current Asian “murder” hornet menace.

Although Wikipedia is generally known to depress one’s cognitive immune system, this quote from the “Africanized bee” entry is nevertheless illuminating:  “The result of mating between Africanized drones and European queens is almost always Africanized offspring.”  This statement reveals a truly remarkable degree of racial stereotyping, or deep cultural bias.  Simply stated, the “Africanized” bees are seen as far more aggressive than their presumably more well-mannered, or civilized, “European” counterparts.  This objectively racialized logic can similarly be seen in the standardized view that Barack Obama was America’s first “black” president.  In fact, it is entirely more accurate to describe Obama as either half-white or half-black; or, to label the current hack half-occupying the Oval Office’s predecessor, Obama, as America’s first “black” president is wrong by–let’s just say 50%.  In effect, this erroneous characterization unduly “Africanizes” the former president. (Incidentally, it is worth noting in this context that the “Africanized killer bees” were unleashed by accident from a laboratory in Brazil in 1956; future historians may very well chronicle our times based on bio-chemical weapons lab mishaps, perhaps…)

Certainly, an alarmingly loud buzz of racialization and xenophobia surrounds this latest existential threat phenomenon, the gargantuan Asian “murder” hornet.  We could just call it the next phase of the “Yellow Peril 2.0, 2020.”  Of course, anti-Asian sentiment is a well-worn trope in the West; however, “sentiment” is far-too-mild a term here, particularly in the frame of the last two centuries.  A rabid hostility indistinguishable from clinical insanity leading to genocide would be a far more technically apt description, given the historical record.  As American power gathered steam in the late 19th century, three ideo-morphic strands in particular converged to shape what would become known as the “American Century”:  the “Yellow Press,” “Yellow Peril,” and Jingoism.

In 1898, a “foaming at the mouth” “Yellow Press” drove a reluctant president McKinley into a war of conquest against the decrepit Spanish Empire. Besides Puerto Rico and Cuba, the United States acquired the near-Asian Philippine archipelago, where countless atrocities by American military occupiers against Filipino resisters soon ensued.  By the early 1900s, then, a WASPy flag of unusual cruelty by Americans had been planted in the Far East.  (One could also cite the American-led overthrow of the Hawai’ian monarchy in 1893 as another precursor to the coming American war against Asians in the 20th century, as well as the Boxer Rebellion, 1899-1901.)

The war against Asian people was delayed, despite early 20th century European cocktail party chat that this would be the next big thing. In reality, the 1914-18 European war was the next big thing, as things turned out.  American writer Barbara Tuchman lays out these expectations of an American-Asian war  in The Zimmermann Telegram (1958), which recounts how Germany tried to induce Japan to invade the United States through Mexico as a means to obstruct further American investment in the so-called “Great War.”  Interestingly enough, although famous fake “Orientalist” Quentin Quarantino will never make a movie about it, the Japanese actually fought and defeated some Imperial Germans during la Guerre.  However, even though the Japanese were considered an “ally” during the 1914-18 conflict, they were treated like an “enemy” at the Versailles Treaty–apparently on account of their die Gelbe Gefahr! status in Euro-American eyes. 

The seemingly inevitable American-Asian War finally began–abruptly, and with a vengeance–at Pearl Harbor on December 7,1941, and eventually ended–as infamously for the Americans as it had begun–on April 30, 1975, with the Saigon embassy evacuation.  This 30 year Race War against Asian people reveals a telling trajectory, and ultimately established a certain limit to American Imperial power.  Indeed, we can see this metaphorically in terms of a three-act play.  In the first act, the Americans triumph over an Asian powerhouse, Imperial Japan; in the second, the Americans settle for an uncomfortable non-decision on the Korean Peninsula; and, finally, in the third, the Americans discover that they can’t napalm their way to victory over the Vietnamese, and the defeated and demoralized American “jingo go home,” so to speak.<

During this period, 1941-1975, it is notable that the United States hurled all manner of WMD at continental Asians:  the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; tens of thousands of tons of napalm on the Korean Peninsula; and even more napalm, along with a new sick twist, the chemical defoliant Agent Orange, on Vietnam. Somehow, the “Yellow Peril” not only prevailed, but has proceeded to attain a visible degree of prosperity in the intervening half-century since 1975, whereas its unchosen nemesis, the American Leviathan, seems to be merely flailing its tentacled arms to no discernible purpose–and now more than ever–as if it’s finally lost its genocidal, jingo mind.

Of course, the final curtain has not yet closed on the American jingo juggernaut.  After the Asian War fiasco, America took a too shallow breath.  Looking around in the late 1970s, it appeared that the finances were not too good.  This led, quite irrationally, to a massive replenishment of the War Chest during the 1980s.  The Giant Jingo began beating said chest in earnest again when it found a new Orientally despotic threat in the Marquis de Saddam of Iraq in 1990, and–“Behold!”– a new genocidal war was born, this time against Arab people.  From a 2020 perspective, this war in the Greater Middle East, an expression which I believe Andrew Bacevich coined, has already stretched–how now!–another whopping 30 years (although I believe Mr Bacevich is quite correct to call it a 40 year war, in light of the 1980 Carter Doctrine, generally accredited to Zbgniew Brzezinski, which essentially applied the Monroe Doctrine to the Persian Gulf).

Today, Uncle Sam has caught a wicked cold, which many claim he got from China, although in reality it probably came from all that paper he’s been printing to coronavirus–I mean, “cover”–his staggeringly massive debts.  Nevertheless, the jingos are at it again, and a new “Yellow Peril” campaign is being spun with, of course, a compliantly hawkish “Yellow Press” doing the spinning–or nasty wheezing, as the case may be.  It remains to be seen whether the increasingly decrepit Imperial Geezer will make another genocidal mess out of his most recent jingo-all-the-way “Pivot to Asia.”  War is, if History tells us anything, always a Fatal Distraction.

In coda, it seems fitting to return to the existential mood of the 1970s and quote a couple lines from a rock song that were most likely inspired by the American experience in Vietnam, but also have some degree of application to the present moment:

I’ve watched the dogs of war enjoying their feast
I’ve seen the Western world go down in the East
— Black Sabbath, “Hole in the Sky,” from the album Sabotage, 1975 (lyrics probably by bassist Geezer Butler)

Who knows that this is not now coming to pass–or, indeed, if it already has?  Bzzzzzzzzzzz…

China’s International Solidarity Aid to the World During the Corona Pandemic

China’s worldwide assistance and medical aid to other countries to combat the coronavirus is barely covered in the corporate press. Instead, the US has ramped up its anti-China campaign to cover up its own incompetence in combating the virus. As John Pilger shows in his Obama era film The Coming War on China, this is no new campaign.

The US empire realizes that China is slowly putting the US out of business around the world. If the point comes where the US can no longer impose the dollar as the medium of international exchange – still a long way away — it would rapidly go the way of the old British empire. The rise of China also signifies the setting of the white man’s bloody 500-year world hegemony.

China displayed before the world its effective strategy in shutting down the coronavirus. In contrast, every day Washington shows the world it is incapable of effective response and cannot control of the situation. Back on March 13, when US coronavirus deaths were just 40, Trump declared a national health emergency. Now, after eight weeks of “emergency” measures, the official US death count surpasses 82,000.

Over 50 years ago the United States would have been leading the international battle to fight the pandemic, as it had done with polio. Today, there is a vacuum that China, and even Cuba, are filling.

“This Administration’s retreat from multilateralism has been a boon for Chinese soft power,” Virginia Senator Mark Warner (D) told Newsweek. The US has “historically been a leader in responding to global emergencies, but with President Donald Trump’s retreat from the world stage, we’re seeing the Chinese government, and its proxies, fill the void,” he added.

Even CNBC reports:

This is the first international crisis where China is actively taking a global leadership role and it stands in particular contrast to the US, which has disdained international cooperation and invested more political capital in criticizing China for its role in allowing the outbreak to spread,’ said analysts from the Eurasia Group in a report this week. On social and state media, China continues to promote its shipments of medical supplies to hard hit countries in Europe and Africa.

China’s leader Xi Jinping has sought to rally the world, declaring the two most powerful weapons against the disease were solidarity and cooperation, that the virus can only be defeated when the international community fights in unity. “It is imperative for the international community to strengthen confidence, act with unity and work together in a collective response,” Xi said at the G20 summit on March 26. “We must comprehensively step up international cooperation and foster greater synergy so that humanity as one could win the battle against such a major infectious disease.” He proposed a four point program including a G20 joint action plan to lead the struggle to combat the virus and revive the world economy.

China has been supplying the world with medical supplies through donations and sales. The US, in contrast, has continued its bombings in Iraq, regime change attempts, and has blocked medical aid by the IMF and by other countries to Cuba, Venezuela and Iran. The US also capitalized on the pandemic to round up immigrants for deportation, ignoring advice from public health officials.

China Daily published an article “COVID-19 shows the demise of so-called American leadership,” which observed, “China has taken the lead to support the world during the crisis.” This was evident even in Europe as US-allied countries found themselves turning to China rather than Washington, and saw the Trump administration pirating supplies meant for other crisis-stricken countries, including Germany, Canada, Italy and France.

Cuba has also been a model of medical solidarity in face of the virus pandemic. By the end of March more than 850 Cuban health professionals have traveled abroad to help fight COVID-19. Washington has responded by retaliating, obstructing Cuba’s ability to combat the virus at home by blocking the sale of  Swiss respirators, blocking Cuba’s ability to import pharmaceutical raw materials, and even blocking a major coronavirus donation by Jack Ma from China. This led to over 25 U.S. lawmakers signing a letter to President Trump to allow Cuba access to medical supplies to fight the virus.

By early April over 100 Chinese public health experts, using their experience in Wuhan, had traveled to other countries to help in their efforts. At that time, 14 medical teams were working in 12 countries, which now include Iran, Iraq, Italy, Spain, Serbia, Cambodia, Pakistan, Venezuela, Cuba, Russia, Philippines, Nigeria and Algeria.  By mid-April, China had already sent medical donations to 140 countries. Moreover, as the US cut its funding to the World Health Organization, China compensated by donating an extra $30 million on top of a previous $20 million.

This information is rarely reported in the US corporate press, which then typically faults China for underhanded ulterior motives, for exporting substandard masks (and then for holding up exports to meet other nations’ standards), for covering up and lying to the world about their efforts to control the virus, and so on.

Here are examples of China’s international solidarity and other countries’ gratitude:

Chinese Donations to Canada and the US

Soon after Trump blocked 3M from shipping N95 masks to Canada, to prioritize US domestic needs, Huawei flew large quantities of medical supplies to Canadian provinces. Canada received over a million masks, 50,000 gloves and 30,000 goggles, with five million more masks to follow. Newsweek noted, “their generosity has been accepted and appreciated by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.”

CNN reported that Joe and Clara Tsai, owner of the Brooklyn Nets, donated from China  2.6 million masks, 170,000 goggles and 2,000 ventilators. Joe Tsai founded Alibaba, the giant Chinese e-commerce company, along with Jack Ma, and is its Executive Vice President. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo thanked them, “The Chinese government helped facilitate a donation of 1,000 ventilators that will arrive in JFK today. I thank the Chinese government, Jack Ma, Joe Tsai, the Jack Ma Foundation, the Tsai Foundation and [China’s New York] Consul General Huang.”

China’s ambassador to the US, Cui Tiankai in a New York Times op-ed, China and the U.S. Must Cooperate Against Coronavirus, wrote that “Huawei donated tens of thousands of personal protective items, including masks, gloves and goggles, to New York and Washington, D.C. In total, Chinese companies have donated 1.5 million masks, 200,000 test kits, 180,000 gloves and many other medical supplies to the United States.”

China also aided Oregon, sight of the initial US outbreak.  Oregon Governor Kate Brown thanked China for “The very generous donation of 50,000 much-needed masks for Oregonians,” on top of an earlier 12,000 masks.

Terry Branstad, the US Ambassador to China, also acknowledged Chinese assistance:

A few months later, we find our roles are reversed – China is now providing PPE for the US medical system, including donations from private Chinese entities. The United States has greatly appreciated the many contributions of PPE and medical supplies by Chinese companies and other organizations. These contributions have been both commercial exports and donations, both large and small, both immediate and long-term. But the American people are tremendously grateful for the support from the Chinese people, and our Mission has been touched by the many heartfelt offers to assist us in our time of need.

China’s Aid and Donations to Europe

China sent ten medical personnel to Russia in early April and a total of 150 million masks.  It sent medical aid to numerous European Union countries, including Poland, Belarus, Romania, Hungary, Greece, France, Italy, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Estonia, and Spain.

Chinese doctors arrived in Italy March 9 shortly after European Union nations turned down Italy’s requests for help with medical supplies. Maurizio Massari, Italy’s EU ambassador to the European Union, said “not a single EU country responded to the Commission’s call….Only China responded bilaterally. Certainly, this is not a good sign of European solidarity.” Besides doctors, China supplied Italy with desperately needed medical equipment, including contracts for 10,000 pulmonary ventilators, 2 million face masks and 20,000 protective suits.

Not just Italy experienced the EU cold shoulder and China’s generosity. Czech President Zeman noted, “I would therefore like to thank the People’s Republic of China, which was the only country that has helped us” when they appealed for aid. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy responded similarly: “We agreed with China and we are grateful to them, especially grateful to Jack Ma as he helped us by financing the $80 million.”

China’s offers of donations to the EU as a whole and to individual member states is “highly appreciated“, declared an EU spokesperson.  Both China and the EU regarded China’s help as reciprocating the aid Europe sent to China during its coronavirus crisis.

To Africa

In March, the  Chinese government and Chinese businessman Jack Ma donated 500 ventilators, 800,000 personal protective equipment, 6 million masks, and 1.1 million test kits to Ethiopia for distribution among African countries.  Each of the 54 African states would receive at least 20,000 test kits, 100,000 masks and 1,000 protective suits.

“There is a desperate need for the medical protective equipment and gear to support public health workers in Africa and China’s donations fill a part of that need at a time when not many other people have been stepping up to help”, says Eric Olander, managing editor of The China Africa Project.

A 13-member Chinese medical team arrived in Algeria late March with $450,000 of respirators and other medical equipment, while a 15-member team came to Nigeria.

To Asia

Chinese medical personnel have served in Iran, Iraq and Pakistan. Chinese experts have visited Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar and the Philippines, arriving with medical donations. Medical aid from both the Chinese government and businesses have  reached Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Azerbaijan, Japan, South Korea, among other nations. Teams of experts have traveled to Asian countries for two or three weeks, visiting hospitals and laboratories, holding discussions with health professionals on measures that the host countries are taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Twelve Chinese medical experts arrived in Manila on April 5 to help their Philippine counterparts manage the outbreak. The team again came with government donations of personal protective equipment, surgical masks, medical protective face shields and 30 ventilators.

The Palestinian Authority received an assistance package of 50,000 coronavirus testing kits. The Palestinian Health Minister, Mai Al-Kaila, told local reporters that aid was provided in cooperation with Jack Ma, e-commerce giant Alibaba’s co-founder.

To Latin America

From the Southern Cone to Central America, governments have received a wide range of donations, from testing kits to ventilators. Venezuela was one of the first to receive Chinese medical supplies, which came shortly after the International Monetary Fund rejected President Maduro’s request for a $5 billion loan to strengthen his country’s fight against the virus. “We want to thank President Xi Jinping, his government and his people from the bottom of our Bolivarian heart,” said Vice-President Delcy Rodríguez.

Reuters reported, “China has won praise among Latin American governments that have accepted its help. The Chinese government said it has supplied test kits, protective suits and other forms of medical aid to more than 80 countries and international organizations.”

“Thank you China for cooperation and solidarity with Ecuador!” the hard hit country’s Vice President Otto Sonnenholzner wrote.

Not only did Cuba receive aid from the Chinese government and Jack Ma (which was reshipped through Chinese channels to avoid the US blockade), but Chinese students also delivered humanitarian aid. More than 280 Chinese students, who had previously studied in Cuba under a scholarship provided by the island authorities, collected about 140,000 yuan ($19,823). This money was used to purchase 420 sets of protective medical equipment as well as 38,750 medical masks.

President Xi Jinping stressed how, since the beginning of the epidemic, Cuban authorities have expressed their support for China, an attitude that demonstrates “the deep traditional friendship shared by the two countries.”

Conclusion

China has responded to the present US anti-China disinformation campaign by presenting a timeline of what they knew and how they responded. (here, here, here) As US coronavirus deaths continued to mount, almost one third of the world total, and as the US economy nose-dived, Trump tried to deflect blame for the disastrous handling of the coronavirus on to China. Before this, Trump had praised China’s effort.

The US has long been underfunding the community health centers and programs which could have played a valuable role in combating the spread of the virus. State public health departments have lost more than 55,000 staff since 2008. That our trust in the US government to protect our welfare is at historic lows also contributes to the ineffectual US “shelter in place” programs, which hardly compare with those in China, touched on in this short video.

From the responses to the coronavirus pandemic, the world has seen the model of public health efficiency China presented in controlling the problem at home. It has seen China’s world leadership in offering international aid and care. It has seen the abdication of leadership by the US and even its obstruction in working to find solutions. Now the US still cannot control the virus, and remains mired in economic crisis, while China is rebounding. In sum, the pandemic has made the world look at both China and the US in a new light. And it has dealt a serious blow to the US rulers’ two decade long effort to counter the rise of China.

Corona Tyranny and Death by Famine

By the end of 2020 more people will have died from hunger, despair and suicide than from the corona disease. We, the world, is facing a famine-pandemic of biblical proportions. This real pandemic will overtake the fake COVID-19 pandemic by a long shot. The hunger pandemic reminds of the movie the Hunger Games, as it is premised on similar circumstances of a dominant few commanding who can eat and who will die – by competition.

This hunger pandemic will be under-reported or not reported at all in the mainstream media. In fact, it has started already. In the west the attention focuses on the chaos created by the privatized for-profit mismanagement of the health system. It slowly brings to light the gross manipulation in the US of COVID-19 infections and death rates – how hospitals are encouraged to declare deaths as COVID19-deaths – for every COVID19 death-certificate the hospital receives a US$13,000 “subsidy”, and if the patient dies on a ventilator, the “bonus” amounts to US$ 39,000.

In real life, poor people cannot live under confinement, under lockdown. Not only have many or most already lost their meager living quarters because they can no longer pay the rent – but they need to scrape together in the outside world whatever they can find to feed their families and themselves. They have to go out and work for food and if there is no work, no income – they may resort to ransacking supermarkets in the city or farms in the country side. Food to sustain life is essential. Taking the opportunity to buy food away from people is sheer and outright murder.

Every child who dies from famine in the world – is a murder

– Jean Ziegler, former UN-Rapporteur on Food in Africa.

Yes, the diabolical Masters of Darkness, who invented and launched this COVID-19 pandemic, are nothing less than murderers. Mass-murderers, that is. They are committing mass genocide on a worldwide scale in proportions unknown in recent history of human kind. And this to dominate a world under a New World Order, aiming at a massively reduced world population.

The self-imposed new rulers decide who will live and who will die. Their self-promoting do-gooder agenda – à la Bill Gates and Co. – professes to reduce world poverty; yes, by killing the poor, by, for example, tainted toxic vaccinations, rendering African women infertile. (The Gates Foundation with support of WHO and UNICEF have a track record of doing so in Kenya and elsewhere, see here  Kenya carried out a massive tetanus vaccination program, sponsored by WHO and UNICEF); or letting the “under-developed”, the already destitute, die by famine – preventing them from access to sufficient food and drinking water. Privatizing water, privatizing even emergency food supplies is a crime that leads exactly to this: lack of access due to unaffordable pricing.

Should this not be enough, “Lock Step” has other solutions to enhance starvation. HAARP can help. HAARP (HAARP = High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) has been perfected and weaponized. According to US Air Force document AF 2025 Final Report, weather modification can be used defensively and offensively; i.e., to create droughts or floods, both of which have the potential of destroying crops – destroying the livelihood of the poor.

And if that is not enough, the 2010 Rockefeller Report also foresees food rationing, selectively, of course, as we are talking about eugenics. Let’s not forget Henry Kissinger’s infamous words he uttered in 1970: “Who controls the food supply controls the people – the quote goes on saying, “Who controls the energy can control whole continents; who controls money can control the world.”  ((See also: “The Farce and Diabolical Agenda of a Universal Lockdown“, Global Research, April 27, 2020.))

A recent Facebook entry (name and location not revealed for personal protection) reads as follows:

….. In the poorer country, where I live, the entire village is on lockdown since March 16. Here the people having nothing to eat…… The wife of my main worker was raped and beaten to death. She was of Chinese descent. In spite of not being allowed to go outside, the people were starving and rampaged walking miles from farm to farm destroying everything. I have lost my entire livestock, fruits, vegetables. The houses were burned and the vehicles, tools etc. stolen. I am bankrupt with nobody around who can give money to rebuild. My workers cannot be paid. Their families are also starving. More malnutrition and undernourishment which will lead to a higher starvation rate or death from other diseases. How many will commit suicide through landing on the streets completely impoverished? – How many died in India trying to walk literally up to thousands of miles to get back home in the hope of finding refuge, after all public transportation was shut down and all had to go into lockdown. I am sure that these numbers will be a lot higher than the number who have died from the virus as well as will increase the numbers for those dying of next year’s flue due to a weakened immune system.

And as an afterthought ….

Maybe the elite are planning depopulation. It sure looks like it.

This happened somewhere in the Global South. But the example is representative for much of the Global South, and developing countries in general. And probably much worse is to come, as we are seeing so far only a tiny tip of the iceberg.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) reports that worldwide unemployment is reaching never-seen mammoth proportions, that about half of the world’s workforce – 1.6 billion people -may be out of work. That means no income to pay for shelter, food, medication. It means starvation and death. For millions. Especially in the Global South which has basically no social safety nets. People are left to themselves.

The New York Times (NYT) reports (1 May 2020) that in the US millions of unemployed go uncounted, as the system cannot cope with the influx of claims. Add these millions to the already reported more than 27 million unemployed, the tally becomes astronomical. The same NYT concludes that the millions who have risen out of poverty since the turn of the century, are likely to fall back into destitution along with millions more.

Dying of famine – mostly in the Global South, but not exclusively – is an atrocious death for millions, maybe hundreds of millions. Dying in the gutters of mega-cities, forgotten by society, by the authorities, too weak to even beg, infested with parasites due to lack of hygiene – rotting away alive. This is already happening today in many metropolises, even without the corona disaster. These people are not picked up by any statistics. They are non-people. Period.

Imagine such situations in large cities as well as in rural areas, under plan “Lock Step” (Rockefeller, Kissinger, Gates et al), the death toll would be orders of magnitude higher.

The current lockdown brings everything to halt. Practically worldwide. The longer it lasts the more devastating the social and economic impact will be. Irretrievable. Not only production of goods, services and food comes to a halt, but vital supply chains to bring products from A to B, are interrupted. Workers are not allowed to work. Security. For your own protection. The virus, the invisible enemy, could hit you. It could kill you and your loved-ones too. Fear-Fear-Fear – that’s the moto that works best.  It works so well that people start screaming – gimmi, gimmi, gimmi- gimmi a vaccine! – which brings a happy grin on Bill Gates’ face. As he sees the billions rolling and his power rising.

Bill Gates, along with WHO he bought, will become famous. They will save the world from new pandemics – never mind, their side effects – 7 billion people vaccinated (Bill Gates’ wet dream) and nobody has time to care or report about side effects, no matter how deadly they may be. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) may be slated for the Peace Nobel Prize and, who knows, Bill Gates may become one of the next Presidents of the dying empire. Wouldn’t that be an appropriate reward for the world?

Meanwhile the rather cold-blooded IMF maintains its awfully unrealistic prediction of a slight “economic contraction” of the world economy of a mere 3% in 2020, and a slight growth in the second half of 2021. The IMF’s approach to world economics and human development to social crisis, is fully monetized and lacks any compassion, and thus, becomes utterly irrelevant in the age of corona. Institutions like the IMF and the World Bank, mere extensions of the US treasury, they are passé in the face of an economic collapse for which they are also, in part, responsible.

What they should do – perhaps IMF and WB combined – is call for a capital increase of up to 4 trillion SDRs (as was suggested by some of the IMF Board Members) and use the funds as a special debt relieve fund, a “Debt Jubilee Fund” for Global South Nations. Handed out as grants. This would allow these nations to get back on their feet, back to their sovereign national monetary and economic policies, recovering their internal economy, with a national currency, public banking and a government-owned central bank, creating jobs and internal autonomy in food, health and education.

Why is this not happening? It would require a change in their constitution and a redistribution of voting rights according to new economic strength of nations. China would become a much more important player with a more important share and decision-making role. Of course, that’s what the US does not want to happen. But the unwillingness to adapt to new realities makes these institutions irrelevant to the point that they should and might fade away.

Interestingly, though, two of the three economic projection scenarios of the IMF, foresee another pandemic, or a new wave of the old pandemic in 2021. What does the IMF know that we don’t?

Juxtaposed to the insensitive approach of the global financial institutions and the globalized private banking system, the World Food Program warns (25 April 2020) that the COVID-19 pandemic will cause “famines of biblical proportions”; that without urgent action and funding, hundreds of millions of people will face starvation and millions could die as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As it is, every year about 9 million people die from famine in the world.

The WFP Executive Director, David Beasley, told the UN Security Council that in addition to the threat to health posed by the virus, the world faces “multiple famines within a few short months,” which could result in 300,000 deaths per day—a “hunger pandemic.”

Beasley added that even before the outbreak, the world was “facing the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II” this year due to many factors. He cited the wars in Syria and Yemen, the crisis in South Sudan and locust swarms across East Africa. He said that coupled with the coronavirus outbreak, famine threatened about three dozen nations.

According to the WFP’s “2020 Global Report on Food Crises” released Monday (20 April ),135 million people around the world were already threatened with starvation. Beasley said that as the virus spreads, “an additional 130 million people could be pushed to the brink of starvation by the end of 2020. That’s a total of 265 million people.”

The famine pandemic is further exacerbated by the ongoing refugee crisis – which is also a catastrophe of misery – hunger, disease, lack of shelter, total lack of hygiene in most of the refugee camps.

Professor Jean Ziegler, Sociologist (Universities Geneva and Sorbonne, Paris), Vice-President of the UN Human Rights Committee, recently visited the refugee camp of Moria on the Greek island of Lesbos. He described a situation where 24,000 refugees are cramped into military barracks that were built for 2,800 soldiers, live under calamitous circumstances – lack of potable water, insufficient and often inedible food, clogged and much too few stinking toilets…. diseases no end. COVID19 would just be a sideline.

These people who fled Europe-and-western-caused warzones, destroyed livelihoods are being pushed back by the very European Union, as most countries do not want to host them and give them a chance for a new life. This atrocious xenophobic behavior of Europe is against Human Rights all EU countries signed and against internal EU rules. They are a sad reminder of what Europe really is – a conglomerate of countries with a history of hundreds of years of colonization, of merciless exploitation, plundering and raping of the Global South.

This abjectly atrocious characteristic, shamelessly continuing to this day, seems to have become an integral part of the European DNA. These wars and conflicts are willfully US-NATO made, for power, greed – to maintain the US military industrial complex alive and profitable – and as a stepping stone towards total world hegemony.

The refugees emanating from these conflict zones, their fate and famine will be added to those starving from the also man-imposed corona crisis. The death toll from sheer hunger and famine-related causes, may become astronomical by the end of 2020, way-way outweighing and dwarfing the doctored and manipulated COVID-19 figures.

Is there hope? Yes, there is hope, as long as we live. The world has to wake up. Seven billion people under lockdown — wake up! Realize what is happening to you, all under false pretenses to control humanity, to digitize and robotize your very lives. What better way to do this than under the pretext of locking you away “for your own safety”?  Defy these rules, stand up against these invisible omni-powerful self-appointed rulers, who only have the power, we, the People, give them, or allow them to take from us. Because all they have is money, and corrupted media that spread fear and more fear to keep locking you down.

My final words: follow you heart. Open your heart to love and beyond your five given and media-manipulated senses and enter a higher consciousness. Get out of FEAR, get out of the lockdown, stand up for your rights, for your freedom. Because freedom and liberty cannot be bought with money, nor trampled by the media. They are inherently within us all. If enough of us open our hearts to LOVE, to an all-englobing love, we will overcome this small psychopathic elite.

The First Circle

Probably everyone in the West at least has seen some version of a famous figure by the late 19th century French sculptor Auguste Rodin, called in English, The Thinker. It is a nude man seated in a position we have all learned to understand as contemplative, as thinking. Several years ago, although I actually hate visiting museums, I took a few hours while in Paris to visit the Rodin museum. I confess a very good friend who knows more about the plastic arts than I do gave me the hint. He said this figure is actually only a tiny part of a much bigger sculpture. You need to see it, he said, in its context.

When I was still an adolescent, having heard about the release of Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, I asked my grandmother to buy me a copy. I was staying with her at the time. This was my first contact with Russian writers. Solzhenitsyn’s book so fascinated me that I asked for and got a box set of his novels. One of them which I found very curious and at first reading very difficult was called The First Circle. It was about scientists, if I recall correctly, in the Soviet Union during the Second World War. I could check and refresh my memory but that is not the point. There are some things in one’s life or education, which are more important for how one feels at a certain time than the actual content, which may be quite trivial. The significance of the content, his story, only occurred to me when some years later I became familiar with Dante’s Divine Comedy.

Although I still appreciate Solzhenitsyn’s work, what I most appreciate was his refusal to become a public instrument of US anti-Soviet foreign policy while in his Vermont exile. Although by all reasonable measures he was an archconservative and intense opponent of the Soviet Union, he was such a Russian patriot that he could not accept the “American way of life” and refused to promote it. However, that is not my main concern here.

Since events exploded in Wuhan, China in 2019, I have wavered between resignation and the compulsion to react to events in the way I always have since I learned to hold a pencil—by writing.

In 2016 I spent nine hours watching a dramatic presentation of Karl Kraus’ Die letzten Tagen der Menschheit,  an amazing piece of drama about the conditions of the Great War (1915-1918).1 Prior to that Kraus was only known to me by means of an epithet my university mentor was fond of citing: “Why does a man write? Because he does not have enough courage not to”.  I found the original quote in German later, which could be given a slightly different interpretation. However, the point is essentially the same: while writing is a rational act, the decision to write is not necessarily rational.

At the end of nearly 20 weeks since the first barrage of news from Wuhan, China, and the first month of the state of siege proclaimed through most of the European Union, I have addressed myself2 to the current condition some nine times in prose and verse to the so-called corona virus pandemic. As I follow the published and broadcast traces in the West, which describe and/or define the present very unsatisfactory conditions, I keep asking myself if there is really any point to saying more.

My focus has been on the character of the response, its proportionality, but also its legitimacy. From the beginning I have argued that the origin of the virus known as SARS-CoV-2 and the immediate mechanisms of the outbreak are positively deniable and therefore ought not to be the focus of too much debate. It is hard but not impossible to argue that this was a natural catastrophe, perhaps caused by “global warming”. However, I believed and still believe that the focus on the origin of the outbreak and even the details of the disease, known as covid-2019, while in a microcosmic way relevant, on the whole are minor issues. The reason is simple: what needs to be addressed is the global context in which the phenomenon of the “corona virus” has become the key public policy and health issue worldwide—apparently to the exclusion of all else—and the means by which this issue is handled and not least of which by whom?

I have also argued that there is a fundamental difference between the events in China and those in the EU and the US. Therefore simple comparisons between the action of the Chinese government and the reactions of the Western governments, singularly or collectively, do not add much to understanding the crisis. Finally I have argued that this is not a medical crisis but a political crisis.

There is no need to repeat those arguments and why I made them here.

However, in the context of the Easter holiday, a feast which for centuries was the core religious festival of Christendom, not only were the celebrations virtually prohibited, a campaign was apparently begun, or to use the corporate jargon for such an event “kicked-off”.

Prior to the near universal proclamation of the state of siege throughout the EU, there were intimations that the closures—especially of schools and universities—would probably only continue until the end of the Easter recess. In other words, one to two weeks after the Easter holiday. I say intimated because I know of no official pronouncements that the closures would end on any particular day. Since there was no public parliamentary debate and no other conventional public procedure for deciding the terms of the state of siege; e.g., according to what criteria it would lapse or be raised, the credibility of such conjecture was based wholly on a common sense approach. No later than the end of Easter recess people would have to return to work because there are simply no alternatives

The first week after Easter has come to an end and there is little sign of any end to the closures, although some EU members have announced limited and tentative returns to ordinary business and in Sweden, for example, the regime has already been superficially relaxed.

China, where this virus was first detected and the illnesses first reported, has begun to re-open its business and public institutions if in a guarded way.

Meanwhile if reports from the US are to be believed the pandemic has hit very hard in a country that has virtually no concept of public health worthy of the name.

This has given the permanent anti-Trump faction in the US another reason to continue their campaign after the attempt to ram an impeachment and removal through the US Congress failed last year. Now the man who is Vladimir Putin’s right hand in the W**** House is also the cause of a virtually hopeless corona crisis in the Land of Opportunity.

Throughout the great cataclysm, all sorts of questions are asked about the disease, the symptoms, the treatments, the risks, and the responses. Accusations and counter-accusations are fired among those who claim authority over the battlefield/battlespace and us. Those authorities claim the exclusive right to define what actions or omissions caused our current condition and what should be done to change it—presumably by ending the crisis.

Yet careful attention to those with the most access to the public, via mass media and its derivatives, shows that there is no policy for ending the crisis either.

Public debate is staged to focus on the following topics:

  1. Blame for the outbreak and its pandemic quality
  2. The putative risks, including lethality of the virus
  3. Measures to restrain or prevent spread of the virus
  4. Responsibility for formulating, promulgating and enforcing measures
  5. What will happen to the economy in the short-term and long-term?

Leaving aside the dispute between the Americans or the British about China’s liability for the pandemic, there are those who, having failed to impeach Donald Trump, now blame him either for the virus or for its apparent catastrophic spread in the USA. There has also been an on-going debate about the competency or the adequacy of the actions taken by government agencies, either to detect and warn or to communicate and organise and implement counter-measures.

Very slowly but hardly at a volume that would threaten the present regimes, some people are even discussing the failure to respond to previous warnings about the general state of the healthcare system. Yet much of this critique is only directed toward the emergency management capabilities. A fundamental challenge to thirty-plus years of anti-social privatisation and commercialisation of the public health sector for private profit is still largely suppressed, to the extent it has been made at all.

Beyond the conventional mass media; i.e., television, radio, print, which constitutes an amplifier for official government and corporate opinion, there are debates, which range from repetitions of the mass media gossip to name-calling and, of course, the dreaded field of “conspiracy” chatter.

Before going any further let us be clear about one thing.

Contrary to what is often preached in conventional mass media and taught half-heartedly in schools, virtually all serious decision-making is secretive; i.e., conducted out of public view. Naturally almost all business (corporate) decisions are taken secretly by management and announced once they have been taken. The same is generally true for all governmental operations, especially in a society that values business practices more than democratic ones. The government in a parliamentary system may occasionally lose a division or plenary vote. However, the plenary session is not where the bills are drafted or chosen for decision. All of these “democratic” preparations are taken in meetings from which the general public is excluded, but those with a special interest in the acts to be adopted are explicitly included.

This is no more clearly the case than now when most of the European Union is subject to siege regulations that were never debated in public and for which no democratic regulation is provided, especially to provide an end to it all.

Hence those who read further and feel their knee tensions rising, waiting to jerk at any moment with the expletive “conspiracy theory” should bear the foregoing in mind. The controversies found on all sorts of websites and in chat groups are not about whether there are conspiracies (those who do not use the word avoid it out of cowardice or ignorance) but what is the nature and content of the conspiracy or conspiracies that substitute for public health policy and democratic decision-making in the current crisis?

Civil affairs and civic action

We are given two excuses for tolerating an abrogation or suspension of what few democratic processes and civil privileges the citizenry enjoys. These are war and natural disaster. The reason for these exceptions is supposed to be that urgency requires speedy and concentrated action and democratic processes would be too slow or civil privileges would impede efficient action. A banal example but appropriate given the view our rulers have of us is that if a child is about to run into the street where an oncoming truck would hit and injure or kill the child, then it is unreasonable to expect that a discussion precede the command, stop! and the action to restrain the child. So our governments tell us that when an emergency is declared we revert to childhood and therefore forfeit our civil privileges and democratic processes until those governments have declared the emergency or the armed hostilities to be ended.

When the outbreak of the corona virus was announced in the Western mass media with suspicious immediacy in December last, the initial message was simply: yellow peril. China has generated another disease and the world must protect itself from the Chinese infection. Actions around the world were directed at the enemy virus from Asia and its known and secret (unknown) carriers. The UN World Health Organisation (WHO) first announced a cautious warning, reiterated by mouthpieces of the European Union.

However, by mid-January cases began to appear that could not be obviously linked to the Wuhan outbreak, in Europe and then in North America.3 Once infections had been announced in Italy, Spain, Germany, and more or less throughout the EU—with Italy apparently most affected—one head of state or government after another proclaimed a state of emergency. The WHO changed its designation of the virus to a “pandemic”. From that point on the remaining trappings of democratic processes were aborted throughout the European Union and decrees were issued of various severity confining the population to barracks or house arrest, closing small and medium-sized enterprises, schools and universities, cultural and sports venues, in short any place larger than a toilet cubicle. The basis for these decrees was not any legislation adopted in plenary session. Instead it has been asserted that these measures are justified on the basis of public health or medical expertise.

In fact, the dominant narrative is that the entire state of siege/emergency is governed by the scientific imperatives prescribed by public health or medical experts.

Thus much of the debate in the secondary media—the web—has focused on the reliability, accuracy, and completeness of the medical/public health expertise.

More radical debate actually questions the integrity of the expertise and the decisions taken based on it. These debates are obstructed not only in the web but also in the conventional mass media by apparent facticity of the disease as the “frontline” physicians confront it. In other words, attempts to examine the public health and medical expertise upon which government decisions are ostensibly based are answered by the rigorous insistence that all the hospitals and all the doctors and all the deaths reported verify the fundamental seriousness of the situation. Hence any detailed examination of government policy and action is secondary to “stopping the enemy advance!”

However, the information from the “frontline” only appears more factual than the statements made by high officials. No doubt there is hard work being done in all sorts of hospitals and clinics confronting cases of illness. It would be a mistake, however, to take reports from the front at face value. The modern medical profession, despite traditional imagery, is largely an industrial process organised by personnel whose training is more akin to that of soldiers than healers. Beginning with the selection process and proceeding through every stage of medical education, the modern physician is drilled and exercised like an infantry recruit. The modern hospital is a factory and factory organisation and management prevail: more or less strict hierarchies from overworked, underpaid and abused nursing staff to slightly better paid junior physicians whose status as subalterns makes them sacrificial labour until they are promoted or escape to private practice, where they become distributors for the pharmaceutical or medical engineering industries. It can be no wonder then that anonymous reports circulate by hospital physicians that they have essentially forged death certificates to inflate the mortality statistics for corona virus. Moreover there can be no doubt that an employed physician, like the employee in every other factory, is constrained to see what his company teaches or tells him to see. Even without such reports, however, the details from the “front” are filtered through every level of command before they reach the public. Since the medical profession is also governed by a number of overlapping regulations, including patient privacy, disciplinary and departmental guidelines and catalogued diagnostic and therapeutic rules, the raw data is useless until analysed taking all those filters into account. Therein lies the capacity for deception—not necessarily by the practitioner, but by the medical organisation itself with its claims to exclusive jurisdiction over human healthcare.

Beyond that, however, the active agencies and their mouthpieces could be called paramedical or even paramilitary. These are the bureaucratic departments and agencies at local, national and international level where public health or medical policy is made and implemented. Once one leaves the frontline, where doctor, nurse, and patient are engaged, the route back to the population at large is through a huge command structure, each with its own peculiar interest and perspective of the war being fought. There are many but the most important ones in this global war on the virus or GWOV have become the WHO and the US CDC.

Both of these organisations are presented in the mass media, and by the government officials in charge of the war effort, as if they were healthcare or medical institutions. The WHO is a United Nations body. The World Health Assembly, a kind of General Assembly of world health ministers, representing individual countries—like the General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York City—meets regularly to consider the health issues on a worldwide basis. The WHO is the equivalent of the Secretariat of the UN. Hence the head of the WHO secretariat is something like the Secretary-General of the UN—in other words, a member of the international civil service bureaucracy. Like the UN Secretary-General, the head of the WHO secretariat is a politician raised by those who have the most power in the World Health Assembly to this high office, often enough as a reward for (political) services rendered. The World Health Organisation is an ordinary bureaucracy that just happens to administer programs defined within the agenda of the World Health Assembly. But like the UN Secretariat it is dependent on the member contributions and donations for its budget. And like the UN Secretariat, especially since 1980, the WHO only implements the programs for which it receives funding.4 In line with contemporary economic orthodoxy this has meant that the UN organisations, including the WHO, are encouraged to accept private (corporate/foundation) funding in lieu of appropriations from member-states.

The US CDC, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, were originally founded as the Office of National Defence Malaria Control in 1946. The control of malaria was essentially an element of US imperial operations since malaria was not a major health problem in the continental US. Malaria infection became a chronic problem for the Panama Canal Zone, US invasions or occupations in Central America, the US Pacific protectorates, like the Commonwealth of the Philippines and the expansion of imperial operations in the Pacific basin, especially Asia.

Since the US devoted most of its World War II military effort to conquering the Pacific and suborning Japan, malaria became a serious problem exceeding the relatively small number of cases from Western hemisphere operations. In 1992 the activities and programs that had accumulated over the years were consolidated in the present organisation, located near Atlanta, Georgia.

The CDC is presented as a healthcare agency and is even assigned within the US Department of Health and Human Services. This maintains the general impression that it is a civilian public health service.5

As the drama of corona virus unfolded, the CDC, together with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), claimed the authority over the crisis, at least on the technical side. Soon controversy arose about whether the CDC recognised the crisis, reacted properly or rapidly enough; communicated to the responsible authorities; e.g., the POTUS, true and accurate information. As already mentioned Trump opponents try to exploit this controversy to show somehow that Trump is to blame for any failures. All of this controversy is really distraction. It presumes that the agencies involved actually are responding as public health services in the interest of public health; e.g., stopping the spread of the virus and/or remedying its consequences.

Epidemic Prevention and Water Purification

The CDC is still part of the military establishment, despite the fact that it is formally under the US Department of Health and Human Services. It is not unusual to place military organisations within civilian hierarchies for cover. Its military mission is to provide protection to the war fighters against communicable diseases and biological agents that could impair their fighting capacity. It is also charged with research into biological weapons, ostensibly for defensive purposes. However, given that the US regime has been the world’s leader in the offensive use of biological weapons, it is safe to say that the research is at best to protect the US from damage by its own weaponry.6  The same can be said for the National Institutes of Health. In fact, all of the so-called public health institutions created by the US regime originated in the military. The US Public Health Service is a part of the national defence establishment and one of the uniformed services (the technical term for the armed forces in the US).

When officers of the CDC or NIH pose as disease prevention agents one has to engage in mental imaging and picture a guy like Fauci in the uniform of USA Special Forces at Fort Bragg, talking to the Press about “civic action”, surrounded by people who by night command death squads. Then one can get an approximate emotional reaction to what CDC’s true function is and always has been.

Recruiting health experts for overseas

The CDC especially is a civil affairs activity engaged in what the military calls “civic action”. “Civil affairs” means in US Army doctrine the means by which the army competes to win the population. Civil affairs personnel are trained in special operations because civil affairs and civic action involve psychological warfare as well as the implementation of programs with ostensibly civilian benefits. As a civil affairs activity, the CDC conducts civic action programs that look like disease prevention or other public health work but are based on military objectives—control over the population. Civil affairs operations are intimately linked to counter-insurgency—the military conduct of unconventional warfare (aka terror) against potential threats or enemies among the civilian population.

Another important aspect of the CDC mission is vaccination. Vaccination is the industrial process for immunization. If one thinks of vaccination as a civilian activity it seems quite a conventional act. Most of us can recall getting our shots at school as children. However, in a military context vaccination is also ideological. In Vietnam the US deployed vaccination as a means to immunize the population against communism. There were two kinds of vaccination. One was the injection given to the arm by a medical officer or an enlisted man from the medical corps. The other was the vaccination administered at night by death squads who went into villages to capture or kill the communists infecting the villages.

Civil affairs campaigns comprise the organisation and conduct of civic action operations intended to immunize the population from the enemy and thus win it for the friendly forces. This process is also known as pacification.

In Southeast Asia, quarantine was also applied for pacification. The quarantine program was called the strategic hamlet system. The military deployed to an area with several villages and relocated the villagers in compounds which they helped build and equip. Villagers were trained and equipped to defend them from the enemy; i.e., the communists. The villages were concentrated—but one did not want to call them concentration camps—so that surveillance would be easier and to facilitate the use of free fire zones. All healthy villagers were located in a strategic hamlet; therefore, anyone else must be a communist pathogen to be neutralised. Since the villagers were deprived of their normal means of income and support, the civil affairs authorities had to provide benefits for the hamlet inhabitants.

If careful consideration is given to the policies recommended through the CDC and WHO the similarities to the underlying strategy of pacification will become apparent. It should not surprise anyone that people whose primary activity is the support of civil-military operations should direct governments to implement policies and programs based on those doctrines.

This is a major source of deception by the governments of the EU and the US. Medical or public health cover is given to what is essentially a global pacification campaign. The so-called “lockdown”, despite the penitentiary origin of the term, is much better understood as a huge, modified strategic hamlet program. Even the recent decision to give immediate subsidies to Europe’s “displaced peasantry” is part of the pacification strategy.

This, of course, raises the most emotional question: what is the strategic objective of the accelerated pacification against the corona virus?

In the mainstream, that is to say conventional mass media, official pronouncements and the vast majority of commentary detectable, the strategy is just to stop the virus spreading and prevent deaths due to the virus. On its face that would seem like a plausible and attainable if as yet unscheduled objective. To reach this objective the accelerated pacification campaign is supposed to isolate the population from the virus, leaving the field clear for counter-virus operations. At some point the public health services will only have some mopping up operations to perform and then we will be able to return to our villages with no corona around.

In fact, that is a ridiculous plan on its face as more critical and more sinister people have already observed.

It is ridiculous because there is simply no way to assure that another virus will not come along and cause a similar outbreak. Or just as bad, the virus could be defeated and purged from one part of the world but re-enter from some part of the world not sufficiently pacified.

Of course, there has been speculation about this problem. Slowly people are being told—if they did not notice—that pacification creates a new environment in which vigilance will enjoy higher priority than in the past.

The conventional mass media and all the mouthpieces for our governments have as if in chorus begun to advise us all: “the world has changed since corona”. Where have we heard that before? Wasn’t that in September many years ago?

Again we appear to be standing before the entry to a new era, the era after corona. Will we be able to discuss this within our old democratic processes and using our traditional civil privileges? Will the siege or emergency be lifted before we enter this new era?

Easter is traditionally a festival of renewal. It is the feast of the resurrection in Christian mythology. Many people in Europe wished that Easter also had brought an end to the state of siege. Some countries like Sweden and Austria have indeed announced a relaxation of the hamlet rules, to allow the peasantry back in their fields so to speak (if only because subsidising them under arrest is prohibitively expensive).

Instead Easter was the kick-off of a campaign by the founder of the Microsoft monopoly and co-founder with his spouse of one of the world’s richest corporate tax shelters, also called a foundation. The principal shareholder and one of the richest individuals on the planet appeared in Germany and in Britain in televised interviews conducted by the state broadcasters, ARD in Germany and BBC in the Great Britain. The interviewers provided a platform for the funder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to discuss his plans for the world after corona.

In the BBC Breakfast interview Mr Gates made some interesting points:

1) He called himself a health expert.

2) He described the process by which the vaccines will have to be approved faster than normal and distributed to everyone.

3) He also assumes that there will be insufficient quantities of whatever vaccine is developed.

4) He explained that he believes that there is really no end to the risk. Although developed countries may succeed in controlling and eliminating the virus with their superior infrastructure, the developing countries, which lack all that capacity, could remain sources from which the virus could re-enter the virus-free countries.

What is one to make of these assertions?

  1. a) By any conventional understanding of the term he is not a health expert—although he may employ people who are.
  2. b) Now that is a fairly common observation by those who have heard him speak. However, what he explained in the interview was, for example, that factories producing the vaccine will be in one place and the science will be in another place. What this reveals is the extent to which the corporate structure and intellectual property rights are already established for this vaccine monopoly. Such a structure would make no sense in a public service or genuinely public health-oriented approach. It only makes sense in terms of maximising corporate income streams — which after all is Mr Gates primary interest in life.

What is rather difficult to grasp from the public statements is just how some of this fits together. Robert Kennedy Jr. has gone very far toward showing that the Gates foundation has been conducting illegal and unethical testing in poor parts of the world where the authorities can be bought or where testing can be performed under cover of various activities that appear legitimate or legal.

  1. c) Scarcity, of course, is another factor in monopoly pricing.
  2. d) Therefore it will be necessary to maintain pacification measures in the core and intervene in poor countries to help them defeat the enemy or prevent the enemy from spreading from their countries to other parts of the world.

However, if Mr Gates is not really a health expert and actually has no capacity to produce vaccinations why is he speaking as if he were going to guide us all to the resurrection?

Mr Gates proposes that the way into the future beyond corona is vaccination. In other words he follows and promotes the strategy for which the CDC and the other elements of civil-military operations were created.

Robert Kennedy Jr., a vocal critic of vaccination policies and a critic of the Gates Foundation, has given some hints as to why. Namely, the CDC — a military organisation exempt from most FDA regulation — has become the main agency for vaccination and the vaccination business. The CDC does not have to perform as much testing for safety as is normally required by law. Its exemptions for military expediency make it a wonderful conduit for experimental substances; vaccines are not considered medicine within the scope of US law. Many of CDC’s high officers are directly tied to the vaccination industry. Mr Kennedy is not alone is producing evidence that the Gates Foundation actively promoted and participated in vaccination testing schemes in India and throughout Africa which were condemned as war crimes when performed by German authorities during WWII.7 The revolving door at the Pentagon, where high-ranking military officers become agents and directors for the major arms manufacturers while civilian offices are given to people who worked in those companies that make the weapons the regime buys, is infamous. If the weapons manufacturers own the conventional military, then the chemical and drug companies own the biological warfare divisions. Past directors of CDC sat or sit on the boards of major vaccination manufacturers.8

We sell problems, not solutions

That is one reason why there is a pandemic– this gives the CDC a role it would not otherwise have to obtain vaccinations and order their use.

Now permit a slight diversion: When automobile production in the US started to become a mass market, Standard Oil began to search for ways to strengthen its control over the automobile fuel market. The gasoline engine was promoted over the diesel engine also because gasoline could be sold at a higher price than diesel fuel. However, DuPont and Standard came up with an idea, which for many years gave Standard an edge in the gasoline market. Gasoline could not be patented which would have increased Rockefeller’s monopoly income. So DuPont developed tetraethyl lead as a fuel additive. This lead compound was sold as a so-called “anti-knocking” compound that would make fuel burn more evenly in gasoline engines. DuPont and Standard Oil had already combined to buy most of the small car and truck manufacturers and create General Motors (mergers underwritten by Morgan, like US Steel or General Electric etc.) GM became the single-biggest maker of automobile engines and it prescribed ethyl gasoline for its cars and trucks. DuPont made profits on the poisonous lead compound — prohibited some 60 years later in the US — Standard had an exclusive license to the lead compound and advertised heavily (with the help of GM) — to convince the public that gasoline without lead was inferior. The fact that the lead actually damaged the motors was ignored because damaged motors meant buying new cars. So GM profited from the deal too.

Now let us look at the vaccination business. For decades vaccinations were produced using an ethyl mercury compound patented by Ely Lilly.9  This compound was eventually prohibited in most medicinal uses because the ethyl mercury was found to be a very poisonous neurotoxin. However, it continued to be used in vaccines because the responsible agency for vaccines was none other than the CDC. Allegedly this ethyl mercury compound is a valuable preservative enhancing the shelf life of the vaccine. One can assume, however, that due to the patent and the expense of producing the additive, it makes vaccines more expensive but also more exclusive since competitors have to produce a vaccine with this patented additive (either paying license fees for the right or buying the technology to produce something like it for their own vaccine preparations).

In short a key element in making a chemical or biological product suitable for monopoly is to introduce something, which need not be relevant at all to the active agent, but in combination makes the product subject to patent or cost-intensive protection for the manufacturer.

Mr Gates will participate in a couple or triangle with a pharmaceutical producer, a biotech or even distribution oligopolist and himself as the interface. Years later it was revealed that in more than a few cases GM bribed officials and bought public transport infrastructure to demolish it in favour of roads for cars and trucks. Today there is lots of money to buy officials worldwide and destroy alternatives to the vaccination industry.

Much of the groundwork has already been done. The Gates road show after Easter advocates continuation of the siege until his business model is positioned for launch.

The “corona virus” did not appear with a China incident in Wuhan. This kind of special operation was certainly at least 24 months in the planning — very likely already under Obama in his “Pivot to Asia” programme. In fact, Mr Gates is proud to admit that he gave a speech in 2015 warning that there is risk of a global pandemic. In his BBC interview he alluded to a series of exercises leading up to what could be called the rollout in October last.10

Body count and anti-c and counter-insurgency doctrine

To understand the subtext of the Easter road show, I believe it is helpful to remember some immortal truths held by the US elite to be self-evident. One of these is white supremacy. That is the legal and social construction of a racial myth, which combines what is actually a very diverse population into a fictive unity usually called “white” but often only detectable by minimal yet socially and politically enforced caste distinctions. The origins of this white supremacy —as opposed to vulgar racism have been elaborated elsewhere.11

The other self-evident truth is better called anti-communism than capitalism. American anti-communism is an empty category into which all organised challenges to the ruling oligarchy are put. That is why it has always been senseless to deny being a communist in the US; e.g., a member of a communist party. To be accused of communism is sufficient proof that one is a communist.12 The only choice one has is to recant and be vaccinated. Anti-communism also means a constant campaign of vigilance and vaccination. People who come to the US to live have to declare that they “are not, nor ever have been” infected by communism.

In the war against communism, whether in the Philippines, Vietnam, or Central America, the supreme objective was to eradicate communism, kill the virus. When the patrols returned they had to prove they were doing their job.

During the US war against Vietnam one of the “key performance indicators” was the “body count”: how many communists had been killed. One must understand that the overall US strategy for establishing an independent Republic of Vietnam (RVN) was Vietnamese minus communists — number of South Vietnamese. The concept of Vietnamese in terms of the Geneva accords was not recognised by the US. So the CIA — capitalism’s invisible army — created a number of programs for “making RVN by purging it of anyone not RVN; i.e., communist.

Anti-C: Taking care of “Charlie”

I think we can better understand Mr Gates if we think of anti-corona and anti-communism as the same kind of business. Let’s call it anti-c. It does not matter that communism is not a biological agent. The concept for fighting both is the same. In fact, when he tells the BBC interviewer of the risk that the underdeveloped countries could re-infect the rich countries he is using the same template as all those counter-insurgency warriors before him: the poor have to be defended from contamination by communism. Only now they have to be protected from corona. But is corona really just a virus?

Why are the people who are running the anti-c operations all paramilitary or military bureaucrats? (Mr Trump’s behaviour seems incoherent because he is not a soldier or a career bureaucrat like every other POTUS before him).13 Is this because as a small segment of the vocal and literate public has been saying for years: that the most profitable medical product line is vaccination (just as heroin is the most profitable sister business)? There are already indications that the anti- c campaign has led to “strings of ears” being delivered to the high command as evidence of the numbers of c-targets neutralised. Just as in Vietnam, numbers count. The company and field grade officers are expected to show progress and joint chiefs want to hear “that there is light at the end of the tunnel”.

Keeping people healthy, by means of pure food and drinks, safe working conditions, clean air and water, time for rest and recreation and—when needed affordable health care—are even by Mr Gates admission, not profitable activities for business. Profits lie in producing cheaply (with tax subsidies or inferior inputs) and selling at the highest possible price. This has always been the philosophy of Mr Gates as it was for his idol John D. Rockefeller. That means selling problems, not solutions.

Until recently several counter-insurgency programs had been in place; e.g., GWOT was the main one. At the same time there were continued programs against Cuba, Venezuela, rest of South America, operation in Africa against China, Ukraine (where Germany took the point using US money). The 2008 crash tightened control over financial markets. The war against Syria and the much earlier war to destroy Yugoslavia are all cut from the same anti-c cloth.

However, for a variety of reasons mainly focused in the exhaustion of the NATO internal reserves (both financial and military), there was finally the need for reintroducing a systems approach to coordinate and optimize the massive number of programs.

Aside from the personal and corporate profit streams that are the aim of any aggressive war (whether against states or peoples), there is the organisational problem for a small elite to impose power on numerically superior forces.

What led to the lockdown in the West? After several attacks on the Chinese economy, particularly targeting health and food supplies, failed (Just as they have failed in Cuba!! where there is no doubt that attacks took place), it was necessary not only to cover US tracks but also to systematise the management of all anti-c programs. At the same time these are not just anti-c but anti-p, anti-population, that is. The portion of the population that is not needed for the 1% is surplus. The economic consequences for the vast majority of people in Europe and North America cannot be a surprise. It is impossible that the decisions were prepared and implemented without knowing the short-term and long-term results. This is all the more reason for a counter-insurgency strategy of the sort described here. Population control will be essential for those who own most of the wealth in the West. Of course, there have to be systems to guard that 1% from internal and external threats.

For many readers this may seem quite extreme but there is a precedent. In 1945, Dwight Eisenhower, the liberal-left’s favourite US general, organised the mass incarceration of thousands of Germans, POWs and civilians in camps within the US zone of occupation. Thousands died of starvation, disease and exposure in US prison camps. One explanation offered was Ike’s supposed hatred of Germans. However, there is a far more damning and systematic reason for his actions. After the massive defeat of Germany by the Red Army, there was real fear among the leaders of the US regime and its military that a revolution of the left could occur like in 1918 at the end of the Great War. Then it had been possible for elements of the German army (with Allied financing) to suppress the 1918 revolution. However, in 1945 the Red Army was in Berlin. The US had every reason to fear that a communist-led revolution would have Red Army support and succeed. Taking no chances, Eisenhower fenced in as many Germans as he could, declared them “disarmed enemy” and thus removed them from PoW protection under international law, and let them die. This was very successfully concealed until a Canadian journalist exposed the administrative mass murder.14

The lockdown is really the outward condition for purging the West of any obstacles to its war against Russia and China. In Vietnam this was called “accelerated pacification”. The so-called Phoenix program was a plan to integrate all the anti-c measures into a single program—which was then computerised to become what Jeff Stein called “computerised assassination”.15 The technology was not as developed as it is now nor was the concept fully ripe. In fact, it has taken several mutations before the anti-c virus was ripe for deployment. In 2015 the concept mutated from GWOT to GWOV. If we are to believe him, the global vaccination is the culmination of Mr Gates thought, the jewel in the crown of his philanthropy. Mr Gates got his big business break cooperating with IBM, whose German subsidiary supplied data processing machines for concentration camps. Wearing this crown he and his kind will guide us all into the future. As we are surrounded by the panic in the last days of humanity, we can trust this man who appears quite thoughtful (yet seems to have difficulty holding a coffee mug) to lead us.

The Thinker is usually seen in isolation. Alone his meditative posture suggests something positive. It elicits our sympathy for calm reflection, if not intellect. But the naked man seated in contemplation must be seen in the context of Auguste Rodin’s entire work, a massive set of doors. Rodin was inspired by Dante Alighieri’s monumental poem. The Divine Comedy is composed of three parts, Paradiso, Purgatorio and, of course, Inferno; i.e., Hell. The massive work into which Rodin put his Thinker was just over the entrance to the first circle. He called his sculpture The Gates of Hell.

  1. Karl Kraus, The Last Days of Humanity  (1926).
  2. Part 1: “I am not a Journalist: Against journalistic privilege and for Mr Julian Assange“,  March 12, 2020; Part 2: “Viruses, Real and Virtual“, March 15th, 2020; and  Part 3: “I am not a war correspondent either“, April 11, 2020.
  3. See Larry Romanoff, for example.
  4. Although the USA, as the primary contributor to the United Nations since its founding, has always pressed the organisation to act in accordance with US regime policy. When Ronald Reagan was made POTUS in 1980, the US government announced a strict, public policy of only funding the UN activities that conform to US policies and actively refusing or eliminating funding for programs that did not conform to US policies. This principle has been maintained by the US regime for all its United Nations contributions since then. That principle has also been applied to the WHO.
  5. J. Edgar Hoover liked to portray the FBI as a crime-fighting organisation and was very successful at constructing this myth. The fact, however, is that Hoover was a US “Gestapo” chief and the FBI was founded as a political warfare force under Justice Department cover. People who do not know the history of the NSDAP regime may be surprised to know that the German Geheime Staatspolizei also had a criminal investigation division that pursued undercover what would normally be called “crime”; e.g., theft, murder, embezzlement, fraud, assault etc. However, its main job– like that of the FBI– was to pursue the regime’s opponents or dissidents and enforce the covert policies of the regime.
  6. Names are also forms of deception. The official name for the Harbin, China laboratories and prison compound used by Imperial Japanese Army Detachment 731 for its biological and chemical warfare experiments was the “Epidemic Prevention and Water Purification Department”.
  7. However, in the Pacific, the Japanese military who conducted biological and chemical tests on prisoners (e.g. Detachment 731) were given immunity and secretly employed by the US regime to help create its post-war biological weapons capabilities.
  8. CDC Website, past directors. A biography check going back at least 40 years shows that nearly all the CDC directors worked for or sat on the boards of major pharmaceutical manufacturers. The connection between CDC and Emory University is particularly pernicious. The university’s Rollins School of Public Health was endowed by the Rollins family—who made their fortune in pest control. One could be forgiven for thinking of Zykon B. Emory University runs one of the largest healthcare/hospital systems in Georgia, offering lots of research potential as well as throughput for CDC work product.
  9. Ely Lilly was an active producer of agents used by the CIA during the course of its MKUltra program. There is at least circumstantial evidence that this cooperation was at high level in the agency since GHW Bush became a member of the company’s board when he left his post as head of the CIA. Ely Lilly also launched one of the first commercial anti-depressant medications, PROZAC, developed about the same time that Bush was CIA director. The CIA and DEA have both been intricately involved in support of corporate pharmaceutical interests worldwide. See Douglas Valentine, The Strength of the Pack (2010) and The Strength of the Wolf (2004).
  10. Event 201 held at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security in the Bloomberg School of Public Health.
  11. Gerald Horne, The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism (2018).
  12. This is a principle common with the Roman Catholic Inquisition. The only guideline the Holy Inquisition had to follow was anything was permitted “in the interest of the Faith”, anti-communism follows a similar rule but “in the interest of national security”.
  13. In fact, most people react negatively to Trump because they are already subconsciously trained to accept fascist bureaucrats as legitimate managers. They also have “herd immunity” to democracy in any form. This is regardless of whether one agrees with Trump’s actions or not. His personal behaviour in office is actually trivial.
  14. James Bacque, Other Losses (1989).
  15. In Michael McClear, Spooks and Cowboys, Gooks and Grunts (1975).

New Indonesian Capital in Borneo:  From Rural Misery to Grody Dreams of Urban Glory

Indonesia’s new shining city of the hill

An old road between Balikpapan and Samarinda passes through the poor villages, through rural slums, as well as stalls selling second-rate local fruits. The cheap, unhygienic eateries are now half-empty. While the traffic is still heavy here, the ‘real action’ is somewhere else; a few kilometers away, where the new motorway is being constructed; a motorway which will eventually connect Balikpapan, Samarinda and potentially the new Indonesian capital city which is expected to rise somewhere around the now dirt poor Sepaku Village in the area of Penajam Paser Utara.

The government of President Joko Widodo (known as Jokowi) is promising that the new capital will touch the skies, eclipsing places like Brasilia, Malaysian Putra Jaya, or Canberra. Nothing short of Dubai or Manhattan, in the middle of the logged out, monstrously scarred, poisoned island of Borneo (known as Kalimantan in Indonesia).

While virtually all Indonesian cities could easily be defined as urbanistic disasters, the new capital is supposed to be totally different, boasting green wide avenues and impressive architectural masterpieces that would be envied by the entire world.

Indonesia has already made one such an attempt in its recent history – it promised to convert its island of Batam which is located just a stone’s throw from Singapore – into something much more impressive than Singapore itself (a city-state with one of the highest quality of life on Earth). Two years ago, I travelled to Batam, where I discovered a grotesque, bitter reality. I reported it in my essay “Batam Island – Indonesia’s Sorry Attempt to Create Second Singapore“. The island had been thoroughly destroyed. Nothing public was left, and nothing, absolutely nothing was built for the people. Precisely just as in all other parts of Indonesia. The ugliness of the urban areas of Batam was unimaginable. Corruption was omnipresent. The feeble attempt to turn the island into an industrial, productive area, collapsed. What survived, at least for some period of time, was the prostitution and gambling. Eventually, the gambling ‘industry’ collapsed, too. Only prostitution, together with some sand exports to Singapore, prevailed.

Presently, there is not one single city in Indonesia which could be defined as livable. Not one. Even the Island of Bali is heavily polluted, full of traffic jams, with ruined and privatized nature, including beaches.

Why would the new capital be any different? Why would Indonesian people believe the government, which has been known for lying, for building sand castles, and for many long decades of absolute ineptness?

There is not one elegantly built sidewalk anywhere in Indonesia. So why should there suddenly be hundreds of kilometers of beautiful avenues and promenades in the middle of Borneo?

All public places in all the Indonesian cities have been commercialized, privatized, or outrightly stolen. Why would it be different now? What is this talk about big parks, green areas? Every big project in Jakarta, Surabaya or Bandung begins like that: endless promises of “city walks”, of malls overflowing with green areas. In the end: nothing! A concrete sprawl, parking lots, and nothing public whatsoever. Maritime cities lacking promenades, urban centers without public parks, concert halls, or first-rate museums. There is no place like this on Earth: absolute extreme corruption, and spite for the people.

So, is there any reason why the new capital would change the entire culture of graft, or lack of productivity and imagination? It will be, after all, constructed by the same individuals, same developers, same companies and the same government as in all other parts of the country.

*****

Along the old road on which we drive, most of the people live in poverty, or if international standards were to apply: in misery.

At Bukit Suharto (Suharto Hill), a peripheral area of the planned new capital, Ms. Niah, an old woman living alone in her shack, selling traditional rice cakes for a living, is not hopeful about her future. Here, as elsewhere in Indonesia, governments have come and gone, dropping empty promises, leaving people with basically nothing, just wooden walls, stained mattresses, and pasrah, which can be loosely translated as ‘submissive melancholy’.

Ms. Niah living an Indonesian-style ‘middle class’ life

Ms. Niah is not afraid to speak:

I did not know about the plan to move the capital here, by the government. They tell us nothing. What I know is that I have never felt the benefits of development carried out by the government. For decades, there was no help that I’d receive. I don’t even get that proverbial subsidized rice delivery, which each and every poor Indonesian is entitled to, at least in theory. I get nothing. On the contrary, I actually feel disadvantaged by what is called development. Since the government built the toll road not far from here, the traffic of the vehicles on this road has been reduced, and as a result, my rice cakes do not sell.

A few hundred meters away, Mr. Abdul Gani, a retired civil servant actually worries about his future. The government may force him out of his home, if it felt that his land may be at least of some use for the new capital project.

A few weeks ago, an officer came to the houses in our village to collect information on the ownership deeds for land, buildings and fields, without giving us a hint of what reasons the data collected is for. Then, there were rumors circulating in this area, that our land would be taken, confiscated by the government, because we do not have ownership certificates. Everything is vague for us. We don’t know what to expect.

Dubai? Manhattan? Really? Please be serious. No, we don’t believe that the government could build a city like Dubai here.

All along the road, we hardly encounter any native people of Borneo. The entire area is now populated by so called trans-migrants – individuals and families that were injected here, mainly from Java, South Sulawesi and Bali, after the 1965 military coup orchestrated by the West and by the Indonesian right-wing elites and religious cadres. Trans-migrants have been historically placed along the important roads, effectively fragmenting Kalimantan/Borneo. The right-wing, in fact, fascist dictator Suharto considered Dayak native people of this island to be ‘Communist’, because of their traditional, communal culture and way of life. He did not trust them. In fact, he busied himself destroying their “long houses”, and their philosophy of life.

Trans-migrants have also been playing an extremely important role in Borneo, which is one of the wealthiest, in terms of natural resources, islands on Earth: their increasing presence has guaranteed that the local people would not be able to one day unite and demand independence from the colonialist Java.

The entire island is now ruined as a result of Jakarta’s rule, as well as the “trans-migration”. It has been devastated, burned, deforested, poisoned. Once resembling paradise on earth, it is now scarred and humiliated. Its original inhabitants are subjugated, kept divided and badly informed, and uneducated on purpose.

Then comes the new capital project.

Map showing relocation of the new Indonesian capital to the island of Borneo (Map: Caitlin Dempsey using Natural Earth Quick Start)

In an unusually bold report, the Jakarta Globe wrote on December 18, 2019:

A study has revealed the names of numerous national and local politicians who would reap profits from the capital city relocation mega-project, including the brother of defense minister Prabowo Subianto, Hashim Djojohadikusumo, and the coordinating minister of maritime affairs and investment, Luhut Binsar Panjaitan.

The study, “Who Is the New Capital City For?” was conducted by a coalition of civil organizations; Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam), the Indonesian Forum for Environment (Walhi), Trend Asia and Forest Watch Indonesia, and took three months to complete.

It studied the oligarchic connections in the mega-project and its environmental and societal impacts.

The report revealed names of people who have assets and concessions in the extractive industries such as coal, palm oil and lumber as well as energy plants in the area of East Kalimantan where the new capital is going to be built.

It also suggested the project could be used as a smokescreen to brush off the corporations’ dirt for the environmental damage they have done there.

Within the 180,000-hectare area for the new so-called smart city, there are 162 mining, forestry, palm oil, coal and property concessions.

Around 158 of them are coal mines that have left at least 94 deadly-deep holes in the area…

*****

Indonesian girl and phone in a typical village in the area – pollution and misery

We met two leading researchers from the Institut Dayakologi (“Dayakology Institute”), Richardus Giring and Julianto Makmur, in the city of Pontianak, West Kalimantan.

Mainly, we wanted to know, whether the relocation of the capital to Borneo would benefit or harm the local people.

Mr. Giring elaborated:

Since the issue of relocation of the capital was endorsed by the Jokowi government, I have never come across any open and transparent analysis. All the studies tend to show positive aspects, without considering the risks and negative impacts of the relocation; ignoring the interests of the Kalimantan people. There should be a serious study, analyzing what the relocation of the capital would do to the locals.

Aside from seeing the relocation of the capital as a solution to what is happening in Jakarta, this plan should also be seen from the perspective of the impacts on Kalimantan and its people. We do not want this capital relocation to be a kind of escape from the problems that Jakarta is facing; we don’t want to move those problems to Kalimantan.

The ecological injustice and the destruction of the social structure of the people of Kalimantan have been occurring since a long time ago. Consistently, various government sectoral (forestry, energy, etc.) have only made Kalimantan an area of plunder, be it its forests or other natural resources. The Kalimantan that we see today is a dreadful legacy of the past and present. Although there are still few areas of pristine tropical forests left on the island, they are only small remnants.

Working all over the island, filming and writing about the dreadful situation for years, we could only agree. And Mr. Giring continued:

What’s the point of promising a big, beautiful and magnificent new capital, if it is not preceded by proper and careful planning and study? So far, what they have done is only feasibility studies based on positive predictions. No studies on the risks, or on the negative impacts that may arise. If it is not done carefully, the whole thing will definitely turn out to be a blunder. We know that this is not just a plan: a lot of resources have already been spent. But still, the important thing is to anticipate beforehand what lies ahead; to study risks, the environmental impacts.

If not, people will have no sense of ownership. The new capital will only belong to Jakarta’s elites, and to Jokowi. And in the end, it will only move the problems from Jakarta to Kalimantan. It’s beginning to look like a beauty contest, where the important thing is how things look. As long as they appear to ook magnificent, great! Short video clips created by designers/architects are shown everywhere by the mass media. But it is irrelevant to the people of Borneo and for the entire Indonesia.

I imagine that there will be many potential conflicts that will arise, such as land-grabbing caused by the politics of the state administration. There will also be an exodus of people to the new capital which will certainly trigger conflict with local people.

Well, this is our paradigm of development, which tends to sacrifice the interests of small people for the sake of the elites. On many occasions, here, development means sacrificing the poor/small people. In this case, they are being sacrificed solely for the sake of an ‘image or impression,’ as if they were not human beings with dignity.

*****

While the propaganda that is promoting the new capital is all over the Indonesian mass media, here in Kalimantan there is hardly any information, even about the precise location. The area designated by Jokowi’s regime is enormous. Everything has been hushed up, camouflaged, covered in secrecy. We ask, and people tell us where to go, but they are not sure. We drive back and forth, frustrated and tired.

On the second day, we finally came to a security post. Behind, the enormous and devastated land can be seen. We are told that it belongs to the retired General Prabowo Subianto, a man who ran against President Widodo in the last elections, in 2019, and after being defeated, was elevated to the post of Minister of Defense of the Republic of Indonesia. A former Lieutenant-General, he was accused of countless violations of human rights in the territories occupied by Java, and in Jakarta itself, where his troops were involved in kidnapping and torturing student protesters.

Several security guards man the post. One of them is called Hambali, a gate security officer employed by the company PT. ITCI, which is owned by Prabowo Subianto himself.

Behind the barrier and the post, there is the vast location of the planned city center of the new capital.

Although in theory, this place is supposed to be “public”, after spotting us, the security personnel immediately go to work, asking us questions, checking IDs, making phone calls to some undisclosed locations. Our documents are photocopied.

“So, is this going to be an Indonesian Dubai?” We ask. “Or perhaps Manhattan, or Canberra?”

The senior guard utters laconically, before lifting up the barrier and letting us pass:

I just hope that the new capital will be built as planned, although I am not sure that the new city will look like Dubai or Canberra or Manhattan.

*****

What follows is a nightmare, combined with Kafkaesque, grotesque images. Indonesia always manages to surprise and to shock me.

he Grandeur: entrance to the new Indonesia capital site

First, on the road shoulder, there are several broken trucks, full of timber. The drivers and helpers are busy fixing their engines and tires. Flies and other insects are everywhere. Indiscriminate logging is obviously going on up to now.

Pay as You Go: A new privately owned toll road

Our car moves on; begins climbing the rolling hills. The devastation is appalling, even by the standards of Borneo/ Kalimantan. Entire hills have been deforested, scarred. Huge, monstrous stubs of enormous trees line up the road. There are all sorts of makeshift ‘reforestation’ projects, obviously conducted to impress the local media. The result of all this is terrifying. The higher we get, the greater the scale of destruction: the total ruin of the island can be seen for tens of kilometers, in every direction. If this was once, decades and centuries ago, a paradise, it is now hell.

On top of all this, stands a small metal structure, called Sudarmono Tower, put together in the most amateurish manner. It is supposed to resemble the Eiffel Tower. Local people drive here; they climb it; adults, children, even grandmothers. There is nothing else to do, in this part of the world: the villages are encircled by palm oil plantations, mines and other commercial ventures. Now they have new entertainment – me. They stare, point fingers, repeating, as they always do when they see a foreigner: “bule, bule” (derogatory for “albino”).

Le Tower de Kalimantan Nouveau – at the very center of the new capital

We approached Ms. Imah, who was visiting the tower together with her family. She is from Sepaku Dua. She has no idea about politics, or about the ‘colonizing and then plundering’ of Kalimantan. If anything, she is one of the ‘colonizers’, but definitely not one of those who improved their lives by moving to the island. She knows nothing about the ‘grand plan’. Or, she knows very little. All she worries about are insignificant details: noise and possible overcrowding:

This is my first time visiting the location of the planned center of the capital. Personally, I am worried about the relocation of the new capital to our village. Now, we live in a quiet and peaceful environment. I am sure there will be more and more people coming and it will become crowded.

She does not know that she is living in thorough misery. Almost nobody around here, or even in the middle of the monstrous Jakarta and Surabaya slums, realize their conditions. ‘Quiet and peaceful’, she describes her environment. Wooden shacks, a medical and education system near the hard-sub-Saharan African bottom, an entire island robbed, with more than 100% of its land (yes, you are reading correctly) sold to private businesses.

Ms Ponadi, a shop owner, from Sepaku Village, thinks only about the possible compensation. But she is not even sure that the compensation will be provided by the government:

We came to this village decades ago, as trans-migrants, who started a new life from scratch. Now I already have enough land to pass on to my daughters and sons. Honestly, I would not be willing if we were told to move, to another place. If we had to move, the government would have to provide adequate compensation, for the hard-earned lives we have built here for decades.

This land she is talking about used to belong to this island, and to the people of this island. But she does not understand. First, the fascist government sent them here, to spread their culture and religion all around this island, which used to be inhabited by enormous, advanced and clearly socialist cultures. Now, the Javanese regime wants to cash in on its ‘investment’. Ms. Ponadi concludes, somehow sarcastically:

How could they possibly be able to build a city like Dubai here? I am not convinced at all. Tall buildings will immediately collapse to the ground.

She laughs, loudly. We don’t. All this is not funny. It is, somehow, damn serious.

*****

We drive through Borneo, exhausted, depressed, and with the feeling that something terrible is once again taking place here.

For almost three years we have been filming and talking to people all over this tremendous island, the 3rd largest on Earth, after Greenland and Papua. We have been documenting mighty rivers like Kapuas, now poisoned by mercury, hills leveled to the ground by mining companies, tremendous sprawls of land deforested, and converted into palm oil plantations. Chemicals, black carcinogenic creeks, and filth, are everywhere. Coal barges exporting the bowels of the island to all corners of the world. Villages and towns surrounded by monstrous commercial enterprises. Beaches covered by concrete, and then abandoned. Children playing in the middle of the roads. Sick people running, escaping to the Malaysian part of the island, where the medical care is much better and cheaper.

For almost three years, we have been collecting material for a huge documentary film, and a book.

The world knows nothing about Borneo; or almost nothing. Yet, its demise is as important as that of Amazonia. And the destruction is much more rapid here than anything recorded in Brazil.

Our nerves are stretched. It is all one big insanity, and we are alone, totally alone in this: no support and no backing. And this huge, enormous country all around us, choking us. The Fourth most populous nation on Earth, totally indoctrinated by the pro-Western, pro-business regime, with hardly any diversity, with no mercy, no production and hardly any enthusiasm. A country that only consumes, and which lives off cutting down trees, polluting rivers and selling its riches to multi-national companies.

A Balinese thinker, Gung Alit, wrote a comment for this report:

I do not agree with moving the capital to Kalimantan, because I prefer the forest to be sustainable. Even now they are already destroyed, so what would the forests look like if they really move the capital? Kalimantan Island would be more devastated. And once it gets more devastated, they will move again. That is ridiculous.

Yes, they always move again. They come like locust, from Java, supported by Western, foreign, companies. They stay for as long as there is something to plunder. Then, they move again. It is because Indonesia does not produce, it only plunders, and buys toys for the rich, after selling the loot. It is a terribly frightening sight. Everything is make-believe: statistics lie, planners lie. The country has been ransacked, by less than 1% of the population.

Deforestation and desolation marks the new center of the future capital city

And now, the Indonesian President, a megalomaniac, little businessman from Surakarta (Solo) is dreaming about something really huge. He is like some African king who drains his national resources in order to build a useless, huge palace or a cathedral in the middle of the jungle.

Rain forests are still being clear cut, with no end in sight

The Diplomat published an article on April 3, 2020, by By Muhammad Zulfikar Rakhmat and Dimas Permadi. It contains two interesting paragraphs:

It is also important to note that domestically Jokowi’s plan to move the capital has been a contentious issue, which has taken a toll on the president’s image. In fact, a survey carried out by the KedaiKOPI survey institute revealed that 95.7 percent of Jakartans reject the plan. Scholars have also argued that the plan is not feasible and would not solve the underlying issues the government aims to address.

Naturally, to “elevate” the project, Jokowi selected several unsavory individuals:

To realize this gigantic plan, Jokowi formed a new capital steering board consisting of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son, and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

In the area of the new Indonesia capital – a palm oil and chemical apocalypse

95.7 percent or not, the project is being criticized, increasingly, by all sectors of Indonesian society. On 7 April 2020, RMOL.ID published an essay by Marwan Batubara, Executive Director of Indonesian Resources Studies (Iress):

The ambition of relocating the capital city, which is said to be promoted as a driver for economic growth, is a program that is burdensome to state finances, is not pro-equal distribution, is not a priority, is not supported by objective studies and considerations, will increase the weight on state debt, as well as the potential for moral hazard.

Jokowi’s ambitious attitude to move the national capital has been reflected in the establishment of the 2020 state budget, on September 24, 2019. Although it is still in the initial stage and does not yet have a legal basis in the form of a law, the government has allocated a budget of 2 trillion rupiah for the relocation of the national capital, which is spread throughout the ministerial sectoral budgets.

The arrogant attitude and breaking of the regulations were adopted by the government amid the growing state budget deficit, and as a result, the burden of the country’s debt is getting heavier year after year.

Jokowi says he loves business, and he is enamored with the U.S. president Donald Trump. He can hardly believe that from a furniture seller he has gone ‘so far’, meeting the most notorious leaders of the West, shaking their hands, telling them how much they are wanted in Indonesia.

He talks big. He shuts up his critics. Journalists and activists are disappearing, or outright getting murdered. Laws muzzling any criticism are being introduced, gradually and consistently. Nobody dares to guess what may come next. New Order (“Ode Baru”) — the fascist pro-business regime of General Suharto, is being re-introduced.

In this political climate; in a climate of fear, intimidation and corruption, the new capital city of Indonesia is expected to rise.

*****

As we sit in a car, in silence, driving towards Balikpapan City, my left eye begins to ache. It is just the beginning of a horror which I will have to face in just two weeks from now. My stomach has been destroyed, as always when I work in Indonesia, particularly in Kalimantan. Soon, both eyes, attacked by a local parasite, will collapse. It will happen in Hong Kong. And I will have to fly home to Chile, half-blind and ruined after working in Kalimantan. My journey will take 8 days; from Hong Kong to Bangkok, to Seoul, Amsterdam, Surinam, Brazil and Peru.

In a few weeks, COVID-19 will come to Indonesia, but instead of mobilizing, Jokowi’s regime will tell its citizens to pray and drink herbal medicine. A tremendous amount of people will die, silently, and as always in Indonesia, unreported.

On board Lion Air – the world’s most crammed and deadliest airline

But now we are slowly progressed towards the main regional center, and its airport. Ahead of us, there will be a horrid flight to Pontianak, in two days, on a filthy and overcrowded Boeing 737, so filthy that it resembles an old bus in some collapsed country. Then, a flight to Jakarta on the national carrier Garuda Indonesia, where several people sat around us would be emitting dry, persistent coughs. Unlike in the Philippines, Vietnam and, of course, China, no temperature checking, no medical checkpoints, until much, much later.

Indonesia is a collapsed country. I depicted it in my recent huge documentary film DOWNFALL! The fact that it has crumbled is a well-hidden secret. If it does something really well, it obstructs the truth, tricking its own citizens and the world. It shows its true face only when emergencies strike, as basically nothing works there: rescue operations, the medical system, or transportation.

Before leaving Balikpapan, we talked to several individuals there. Although in Indonesia, more than half of the population lives in misery (if international statistics were to apply), people here apply standardized neocon “logic”. Even in the slums, all over the archipelago, people use stock market jargon. It looks unnatural, terrifying, perverse.

Lusi (known, like most people in Indonesia, by only one name), a housewife, a visitor to the Mall Pentacity, in Balikpapan, readily offered her “analyses”:

I agree and support the relocation of the capital. It will boost economic development, especially in the property businesses.

Would she, personally, participate in the “economic development and property business”? When asked, she did not know what to say.

*****

Mr. Arip Harahap, a senior architect based in Jakarta, declared for this report that moving the capital from Jakarta to Kalimantan is “immoral”. He elaborated:

First, it is not based on a proper planning and design process. All technical, socio-cultural studies are still too shallow. Second, considering the country’s economic situation, it is such a wasteful way of spending a budget. Third, it seems that there are the interests of groups close to the central government that will benefit from the project.

Apparently, there are many such interests of many groups close to the government. As the government and such groups are intertwined, forming one system, a regime, which has been for long decades cannibalizing the nation.

The Jakarta Globe continued its damning report, naming names:

The corporations and the oligarchs have a chance to ensure their investments are safe with this project. Meanwhile, they ignore the fact the indigenous Paser Balik tribe had their land taken away by ITCI Hutan Manunggal in the 1960s,” Jatam coordinator Merah Johansyah said at the report’s launch in Jakarta on Tuesday.

The names mentioned in the report include lumber businessman Sukanto Tanoto, the owner of ITCI Hutan Manuggal; Hashim Djojohadikusumo, Prabowo’s younger brother; Rheza Herwindo, the son of corruption convict and ex-House speaker Setya Novanto; Thomas Aquinas Djiwandono, the treasurer of the Gerindra Party and Prabowo’s nephew; lawyer and ex-Justice Minister Yusril Ihza Mahendra; and the ubiquitous Luhut.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo announced the location of the new capital city, at Penajam Paser Utara in East Kalimantan, on April 29, only 12 days after he won the presidential election.

The government never asked for approval from the people of East Kalimantan. The decision [to move the capital there] was taken 12 days after the presidential election without consulting the public. That was a crime as far as public participation in politics is concerned,” Merah said.

Investigating oppression against the indigenous people in Indonesia, as well as the destruction of the environment all over the archipelago by the collusion of local oligarchs, foreign multi-nationals and Indonesian government, is an extremely dangerous job, particularly now under Jokowi’s administration. People get hunted down, killed, arrested and in the case of foreigners, regularly deported. Recently, Philip Jacobson, 30, was arrested and imprisoned in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan, after attending meetings of the indigenous people of Kalimantan and reporting for Mongabay.

The Environmental science website, Mongabay, is an outspoken publication, that is persistently critical of the situation in Indonesia. Regarding the new capital, it reported on 6 January, 2020:

The site of the new capital on the island of Borneo is home to 162 existing concessions, most of them for coal mining, according to a report from a coalition of NGOs. This contradicts the government’s claim that the city will be built on vacant land, and raises the prospect of the concession-holders exploiting the opportunity for profit, said Merah Johansyah from the Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam), one of the NGOs in the coalition.

If the government says it’s going to be the public who will benefit [from relocating the capital], that’s a big lie,” he said at the launch of the report in Jakarta. “The ones that will benefit are these companies.

*****

And so, the story goes. Six decades of attempts to move the Indonesian capital from Jakarta to Kalimantan, Borneo Island. First, the enthusiastic effort by President Sukarno, to raise the socialist, Soviet-style city of Palangkaraya in Central Kalimantan, literally in the middle of nowhere. Then, the U.S.-backed fascist coup put a full stop to all the progressive aspirations and people-oriented development. Recently, after getting re-elected, Jokowi announced his grand plan to abandon the polluted, embarrassingly poor and ‘sinking’ Jakarta, and move the capital city to Penajam Paser Utara in East Kalimantan.

Unlike the left-wing vision of Sukarno, Jokowi’s design is nihilistic, and if implemented, it will benefit only big business and the oligarchs. The great majority of the Indonesian people will gain absolutely nothing.

The great migration of morally and economically corrupt bureaucrats and their butlers from Jakarta to East Kalimantan would further damage the already extremely devastated island. Native people there will get more and more marginalized and oppressed. If this happens, there will also be very little chance for them to ever regain control of their own island.

*****

Container ships ready to take away loot from Kalimantan to richer waters

As this report is being written, the Indonesian economy is collapsing due to the COVID-19 epidemy. Even before the lockdowns, the commodity-based economy of the fourth most populous nation was not doing well. Now the situation is truly shattering.

Statistics in Indonesia are manipulated; totally incorrect. In reality, the majority of the nation lives below international poverty lines, living in urban and rural slums, lacking basic sanitation, access to clean water, decent medical care, healthy and nutritious food, education and housing.

Can Indonesia afford to waste 33 billion dollars on moving its capital city? And everyone knows that 33 billion will at some point inflate to 50 billion, then perhaps to one trillion, until we will all lose count. If the project goes ahead, it will be nothing more than yet another re-distribution of the national wealth – delivering billions of dollars into the hands of very few corrupt oligarchs and so-called “elites”.

The ‘project’ should stop. It has to stop, but can it still be stopped?

In Indonesia, the greed of the rulers is much greater than logic. Most of the citizens are uninformed, lethargic and submissive. People are resigned.

Will the new capital ever get built? So far, there is only the tiny fake Eiffel Tower sticking up towards the sky, surrounded by plundered nature. Almost nothing moves. There is almost total silence there, as if it were the silence before the storm.

• Originally published by 21 CENTURY WIRE

• Photos by Andre Vltchek

Eight Day Journey from Hong Kong to Chile, Covid-19 on my Tail

Imagine that you are in Hong Kong, in a city where “you are actually not supposed to be”, in the first place. You are ready to go home, to South America. But just two days before your departure, via Seoul and Amsterdam, your first Sky Team carrier, Korean Air, unceremoniously decides to cancel all flights from the territory.

Several Korean religious freaks, apparently, are to blame.

On 22 February, 2020, Mail Online, reported:

More than half of all South Korea’s coronavirus cases are linked to a secretive ultra-religious cult whose leader believes he is immortal.

Just reading that, I knew I may get royally screwed. Nothing good comes from ultra-religious fanatics, and South Koreans are notorious for their political and religious extremism.

But that was not all. The report continued:

There are further reports of outbreaks in the psychiatric unit of a hospital in Cheongdo county, infections in Busan, and on the island of Jeju.

Korean Air, which was supposed to fly its glorious new Boeing 747-8 from Hong Kong to Incheon (Seoul international airport), has been carving its service, first reducing it to Boeing 777s, then to Airbus 330s, and in the end, cancelling all of its flights 3 days before my departure.

Korean Air – lounges closed down

To secure my monstrously long commute, I spent most of my Sky Team miles, to secure a business class set of tickets.

There was a reason for it: I could not see. Well, I could hardly see at all.

Before Hong Kong, I had worked in Kalimantan, in the Indonesian part of Borneo, on an island which has been totally plundered by greed, corruption and the ineptness of the Javanese neo-colonialists. An island where the present administration of president Joko Widodo (known as “Jokowi”), is planning to build and move the new capital city, abandoning the enormous, more than 20 million population sized urban area of Jakarta which is “sinking”, ridden with countless urban slums, lack of sanitation and safe drinking water.

Writing a book about this monumental insanity, I continued investigating. And in a process I got attacked, as almost anyone who visits Borneo does, by various and vicious parasites. My guts got infected by something terrible, and then my eyes. I flew between Balikpapan and Pontianak on Lion Air’s Boeing 737 (yes, that Lion Air, which keeps cramming and periodically crashing planes, ever since the beginning of its operation). I have no idea whether my eyes got attacked there, on board, or in some filthy ditch near the palm oil plantations, where they are cutting down what is left of the tropical forest.

Wherever it was, it did get infected. First the left eye. It was like a white foam. I could only see extremely abstract contours, as if between me and the world there was a thick, white blanket. It was scary, very scary. I am not only a writer and a philosopher, but I am also a filmmaker and photographer. Doing what I do and not seeing almost anything is, you know, quite terrifying.

Before flying to Hong Kong, where I have been covering the riots ignited and financed by the West, I stopped over in Bangkok and went to an eye clinic, but the doctors there only cared about the payment. They had no clue what was happening to my eye.

Hong Kong

Then, in Hong Kong, as Korean Air cancelled my flight, my right eye also got attacked.

At night, as I lay awake in my hotel room, I suddenly recalled how on board the Garuda Indonesia, between Pontianak and Jakarta, at least four people were coughing, loudly and desperately. Nobody was checking them. The Indonesian government had suggested that people pray to avoid the outbreak of the coronavirus.

“What else,” I thought. “Am I also going to get the coronavirus?”

*****

I refused to succumb to this horrible situation.

By then I knew that Korean Air was determined to ruin me. While Air France (my Sky Team carrier) and KLM were offering re-routing and compensation to their passengers stranded in Asia, Korean Air showed a clear and vulgar indifference. It did nothing to help. It never even replied to my queries.

I was also aware of the fact that I may have to travel, at least for 7 days, through various detours, and without seeing almost anything. Also, with twisted guts and a diabetic attack which had kicked my backside because of the tremendous stress.

Was it worse than being in Syrian Idlib, in Afghanistan, or near Mosul after it had been taken over by ISIS?

In a way, it was. Being blind, chased by the new coronavirus type, with airports closing one after another, and with the prices of airline tickets going sky-high, everything seemed to be demeaning, depressing and unsettling.

Strangely enough, I felt no fear of the COVID-19. I kept discussing the new type of coronavirus with my medical colleagues, through WhatsApp, until my eyes totally let go and collapsed.

I had to make it through to Santiago de Chile, which happened to be on the total opposite side of the world.

Western doctors that I knew were sending long and useless advice which mainly repeated “go see a doctor” idiocy. I told them I was in Hong Kong, which had been experiencing a near total lock-down. I told them that I had already been to a Thai eye doctor who had absolutely no clue about my condition.

Then, I realized that I could not rely on those that I am fighting against! I needed comrades to help me.

My family contacted a Syrian lady doctor, an expert in infectious diseases, and a sister of my friend in Damascus. I sent photo-images of my eyes. She saw, asked for symptoms and prescribed some powerful oral antibiotics and drops. I managed to convince a Hong Kong pharmacist to sell the medicine over the counter: I said it was a matter of life and death. She understood.

Syria and China saved me. People were guided by intuition, not by rigid rules.

I was going home.

*****

My nearest and dearest began helping me to re-route. It took days. It was horrible.

Airlines, from Korean Air to Cathay Pacific, began to cover their backs; trying to squeeze every penny from those who were still able and willing to fly. Some one-way economy tickets for 2 hours flights shot up to 1,600 US dollars. Business class on certain routes became miraculously cheaper. As long as one could search, and as long as one could look at a screen.

To avoid quarantining, and to get out of Hong Kong, the easiest way was to fly in the totally opposite direction than where I was heading: to Bangkok, on Emirates. A few business class tickets were still available, but at $600, on a route where they used to cost under $400. It was one of the last available ways out of the almost locked out city.

Emirates 380-800 – overpriced but one of the last escapes from Hong Kong

I grabbed a seat on the Airbus 380-800. I somehow pulled through the totally empty Hong Kong Airport. I could hardly see anything. There were hardly any seats to rest on in the departure hall. My backpack was almost 20kg heavy, with a professional camera, computer and mobile phones.

I have no idea how I managed to get to my plane. With my damaged eyes, I could still see those huge numbers indicating gates. I collapsed into my seat. The super-jumbo took off, Southeast; away from where I was trying to fly. I was some 20 thousand kilometers away from Santiago de Chile.

Santiago was bleeding, too! Its eyes were damaged. People were fighting against the fascist regime imposed on them by Washington, and by the multinational corporations, in 1973. Like my own, their eyes were inflamed; some, over 300 individuals, even lost their eyes, as they were shot at by the police.

On board my flight to Bangkok, I was not sure whether I was going to be able to return home, alive.

But I was going through the night towards Bangkok. Would they even let me in? The first step.

*****

They did. Miraculously. I must have looked like shit, but an unfriendly, insulting border police officer slammed a stamp into my passport, fingerprinted me, photographed me, and in the end, let me go.

That was it. Hong Kong does not stamp passports. Officially, my journey would begin in Thailand.

I had only 9 hours on the ground. The airport was eerily empty. People looked like streetwalkers, wearing masks, some even things resembling ski-glasses. I went home to my place by the river, without even opening my luggage, I collapsed into my bed, but could not sleep the entire night. Tugboats were pulling ghost-like barges, 31 floors below. I could not see the barges, only contours. This was my first day into the journey.

In the morning, very early, I somehow managed to return to the airport, and rechecked my luggage all the way to Suriname, as that was the only airport in South America, which I was able to get to free (using my air miles) business class tickets, at least from Seoul. Instead of re-routing or compensating me, Korean Air which had brutally cancelled my tickets from Hong Kong, was now charging me something absolutely ridiculous, to get from Bangkok to Seoul, where I was to catch a KLM flight to Amsterdam and many hours later, to Paramaribo.

Thai fingerprinting and photographing again. The taking the shoes off, precisely as the U.S. masters have ordered. The saturated spite of the Thai officials suffering from superiority complexes, followed by an old, dirty, 777-300 Korean Air aircraft. I crashed into its unmaintained seat. Just glanced at the food (inedible-looking, cheap version of bibimba), and slept all the way to Seoul.

*****

Coronavirus, greed, extreme capitalism, rudeness: everything accumulated into this monstrous journey.

Taking off from Hong Kong and later Bangkok, I experienced almost absolute blindness. Then, the Damascus-prescribed antibiotics began to kick in. They were terrible, but I was warned. Either or. Either blindness and white fog, or total exhaustion, a collapsed body, but clearer sight. I opted for sight.

I landed in Seoul, like a zombie, heavy rucksack on my back, wobbly, almost desperate.

My luggage was automatically transferred all the way to Paramaribo, using the Sky Team system.

But this was South Korea. At the transfer desk I was refused boarding passes: “Go through security, then go to Sky Team Lounge and wait 8 hours for your flight. They will give you boarding passes at the gate,” I was told.

At the security check, they could not read English, or understand what was written on my E-tickets. 3 times I was humiliated, going back and forth between the transfer desk and security checkpoint. The staff were clearly enjoying the game, perhaps waiting for when I would finally collapse. The transfer desk person refused to walk with me to the security check. Security people were stubbornly refusing to read English.

This was precisely one of those moments when one loses all hope in humanity. You think: “Your body will let go! You will collapse, at any moment. Collapse and die.” All this, just because you have been putting your life on the line for some poor, devastated, enormous tropical island. Just because some South Korean religious freaks went bananas. Just because of human indifference and racism. Just because, just because… The brave new world. The creepiness of a capitalist, right-wing trash universe.

Incheon, South Korea. Usually one of the busiest airports

I made it to the lounge, eventually, moving through the empty airport. Everything was shut down. The lounge was empty; almost nothing to eat there. The coronavirus scare.

At this point, all I wanted to do was to sleep. I found a transit hotel and paid an exorbitant price for only a few hours of rest. I collapsed. I cursed capitalism, greed, and humanity’s collapse.

I knew that as I was entering the disturbing world of dreams, or should I say nightmares, the People’s Republic of China, as well as Cuba, were fighting for our human race, against all the odds, against the monstrous propaganda originating from the West.

I had no right to kick the bucket in some bloody transit hotel room at the Incheon Airport. China, Cuba, Russia, Venezuela needed me. I saluted my comrades, the old fashioned way, and fell asleep.

*****

The Korean Air clerk at the gate had no idea where Paramaribo was, or where Suriname is located. He was moonlighting for KLM, but was wearing a Korean Air uniform.

I told him what I thought about Korean Air. Before that, he had not liked me for flying to “some Paramaribo”, but after that he started to hate me, openly. The fact that I am a platinum member of his alliance meant nothing.

He began treating me as if I was the coronavirus incarnated.

By then, I could hardly see him. My legs were about to collapse, at any moment. But I was not going to show weakness.

He began: “Where is your visa to Suriname”?

“Here,” I replied.

“What is that?”

“My visa.”

“So, where is your visa?”

“My visa is here.”

“You have to show it to me.”

“It is in front of you.”

Korean Air had stolen my money by cancelling flights and by refusing to re-route me. Now, it was ruining my health. But, there was zero remorse coming from the staff.

Eventually, a supervisor came, and began abusing me, too.

I told her directly to her face: “You should learn from North Korean people how to treat visitors!”

Her apparatchik essence kicked in. She began threatening me.

I pulled out five press cards: “Do you want to arrest me for expressing my opinion?”

She started to look hesitant. I demanded her name card. She said she does not have one. Bullshit: in north Asia everybody has one.

“Are you a security agent or an airline staff?” I asked her, point-blank. I knew that in South Korea, it was the same thing.

Finally, she gave me my boarding passes, together with a look, which was full of hate.

This legendary racist horror, South Korean -style then disappeared. I saw the way she humiliated herself, bowing and kissing the asses of her fellow, South Korean, citizens.

I was welcomed on board by an outraged flight hostess who was originally from Suriname: “She did not even know that my country exists, did she?” She patted me on the shoulder.

*****

While Seoul was terrified of the coronavirus, the Europeans looked totally indifferent to the possible danger.

That was on March 3rd, 2020.

After the more than 11 hours flight from Seoul to Amsterdam, Schiphol airport appeared to be totally relaxed.

Even passengers from Seoul to Amsterdam looked undisturbed. No masks, no panic. Snoring contently into the air.

777-200ER landed very early, at around 5 am.

Amsterdam Airport – no masks, no fear

I went through security, and located the Sky Team Lounge. It was stuffed with excellent food, but it happened to be totally empty. I found a comfortable chair and fell asleep, almost immediately. When I woke up, the lounge was full; literally packed.

After being used to masks being worn all over North and Southeast Asia, what hit me was the absolute lack of any face protectors at the major Dutch airport.

People were drinking, eating tons, talking. There was no sense of any emergency.

European and North American daily newspapers, in all languages, were full of the coronavirus headlines. Those freely distributed in the lounge were only attacking China, totally and bizarrely avoiding the absolute lack of preparedness in the West.

Even the Italian daily papers, at that time at least, showed no signs of concern.

Not far from me, a group of Italian travelers, was chatting, embracing, kissing, drinking prosecco and coffee for breakfast, and calling home on their mobile phones.

There was only one lax coronavirus checkpoint upon arrival from South Korea, at the time one of the hardest hit countries in the world.

In retrospect, this was all totally bizarre and irresponsible.

Was the Western medical system so unprepared? Or was it told, even ordered, to behave in such a manner?

Waiting for my flight to Paramaribo, I called my 84-year old mom, who has been living in Germany, where she is married.

“They feed us with such crap,” she told me, in Russian. “I mean, that stuff that they tell us through the mass media. I don’t believe anything they say or write,” she concluded. “All this is not going to end well.”

And she was absolutely right.

*****

The Queen of the Sky, a majestic old Boeing 747-400 took off on time, towards Suriname. Both KLM and British Airways were still flying these beautiful planes, although there were rumors that KLM will retire most of them in 2021.

This was the last flight of the captain. He was leaving KLM. The flight hostesses were urging all the passengers to write something short, something personal. There was supposed to be a great celebration, a great party, in Paramaribo.

By then, I was almost losing my consciousness. My eyes cleared, almost totally. But the monstrous antibiotics and chronic exhaustion, doubled my body down. Chile appeared to be far, far away.

Again, no masks, no precautions. The 747 was going southwest, full of passengers, with zero medical safeguards.

The plane landed, and it was sprayed with water by a fire engine, to celebrate the last flight of the captain.

No jet-ways: passengers had to climb down off the enormous aircraft. Those who couldn’t were met by special vehicle, functioning as a lift, and by a bus.

But the lift and other vehicles were quickly engaged by the celebrations of the captain’s retirement. Countless Surinamese passengers who were returning from Holland, after being treated in European hospitals, were waiting in the lift and the bus, abandoned by the ground staff. No one to measure their temperature. Nobody to even ask what kind of medical conditions they were suffering from.

By then, I had turned into a zombie. I somehow managed to sail through the immigration of a shack defined as an airport.

I almost collapsed. I asked for help, but was told by a local staff member: “If you feel sick, go get medical help”. Later, the hotel manager told me that this is the “usual treatment people get here”.

I somehow got stabilized, by getting my hands on a luggage trolley. The universe was spinning around me.

My pre-paid taxi did not wait for me. The hotel was some 50 kilometers from the airport.

In the end, I went to the airport police. Instead of helping me, they began a rude scrutiny, clearly trying to extract some bribe.

“I feel very sick,” I said. They couldn’t care less.

No questions asked about what had made me sick. Was it the coronavirus? By then it was already called COVID-19, and it was on my tail, chasing me as I was circling the globe.

*****

I filmed the Suriname River and the rainforest of Suriname, to show the contrast with Borneo.

Suriname has been terribly damaged, but Borneo has been ruined, endlessly and some say, irreversibly.

Empty crossing of Suriname Rive

I only had one full day. I had to work fast. My Indian driver had to hold me up while I was working, otherwise I’d collapse.

On the 5th of March, I returned to the airport, ready to fly to Belem, Brazil.

Further humiliation, overcharging, insults. I wanted to get out. And never return. One day I will write about those repulsive 48 hours in Suriname, but not now.

A 90 minutes flight, and everything fully changed. Even under the fascist government of Bolsonaro, Brazilians were kind and caring.

Shortly after the plane door opened in Belem, I was put into a wheelchair and zipped through immigration and other formalities. There was no overcharging, no humiliation and no dramas.

Empty river front in Belem, Brazil

Brazil was what it always has been: a great country with dire problems. But a great country, nevertheless.

The next day I flew from Belem to Rio de Janeiro, via Brasilia.

Still, almost no masks. Once or twice my temperature was checked. That is all.

In Belem, all the Amazon riverfront cafes were kept open.

In Rio, while waiting for my flight to Chile, I went to the legendary and packed Vinicius bosanova club, and to the totally packed Caso de Chuva cultural center, where Tom Veloso was singing the songs of Gilberto Gil. Absolutely no precautions, no masks, people squeezed like sardines. The evening of March 8th.

A day later, on March 9th, the airlines in South America began catching up with turbo-capitalist games. Chilean LATAM, when I asked for an extra legroom seat, suggested that I pay $1,500, for 4 hours on board a small Airbus 320 plane. Naturally, I refused.

Coronavirus check iat Santiago Airport, Chile

Santiago airport took the coronavirus seriously. There were several checkups. End of the games.

This is when strange things began to happen.

Two days after I landed in Santiago de Chile, South America moved from inactivity to hyperactivity.

One country after another began lock-ups; from Argentina to Peru, to Chile.

Santiago began resembling a ghost town. Entire regions of Chile began to close down.

I needed to recover, quickly, and to travel to Venezuela and Cuba, but it was becoming thoroughly impossible.

I arrived, I survived, but right away, I was grounded.

*****

From one extreme to another. In South America and the West.

When confronted with the terrible medical emergency, China reacted like a Communist country, which it is. It mobilized in the name of the people, and began fighting the battle. It acted rationally and responsibly. It never performed a total lockdown.

It demonstrated tremendous enthusiasm and discipline.

Without thinking twice, it sacrificed its economic interests, putting the people first.

It has won the battle; beating the virus back. Almost no new cases now. The hospitals constructed to treat the coronavirus are closing down. Doctors and other medical staff are celebrating.

Cuba is near to developing a vaccine for the new coronavirus.

China and Cuba are cooperating. China is sending airplanes with help to Italy, Spain and Serbia.

In the meantime, people in certain Western countries are being told that over 80% of their citizens will get infected, and that hundreds of thousands, even mullions, will die!

Why?

Why the hell, really?

Some nations, from Italy to Chile (where I am right now), are locking up everything: entire countries, entire regions, everything.

At the height of the crises, Beijing was open, and so was Shanghai and almost all other major cities. Flights were arriving and departing. What confidence! What a success!

A clear victory of socialism over capitalism.

Just look at the Western nations, at Southeast Asia, or at South America; people are petrified. Control of the population is much more brutal than anything that has ever been implemented in China.

And what do they tell the Italians, French, Brits and North Americans? That they will be dying like flies! Even now, when this essay is being written, more Italian people have died than the Chinese. That is on a per capita basis about 22 times more. And in the West, things are getting worse and worse.

And, until now, it is not yet clear, who brought the epidemy to Wuhan, to begin with. Many believe that it was the U.S. military. Still, China never stopped behaving like an internationalist country!

*****

During my more than 20,000 kilometers long journey, I have seen a frightened, divided planet.

And then, I saw a great Chinese victory, and a Cuban victory.

I read how Cuba has rescued 600 people stuck on a cruise ship, the MS Braemar, belonging to one of its tormentors.

I witnessed panic in extreme right-wing countries like Chile. I was ready to drive south, to Araucaria, to speak to the discriminated against Mapuche indigenous people (according to Word they do not exist, as I am given red error sign), but precisely that area got hermetically sealed, closed down, one day before my planned 900-kilometer journey, and a month before the planned constitutional referendum.

In the West, and allied countries, the coronavirus has been used for political ends.

I am almost certain the Bolivian elections will be ‘postponed’, “because of the coronavirus”, to prevent socialist MAS from regaining power.

I am back home, but home is not a real home, anymore.

Home is now China, Cuba, Russia. Countries which are fighting against the Western tyranny that is sacrificing millions of human lives.

The coronavirus is a barometer of the state of the world.

It shows which countries bring shame to the word “humanity” and which bring pride.

• First published by 21 Century Wire

• Photos by Andre Vltchek

Asia-Pacific Trade Deal: Trading Away Indian Agriculture?  

On the back of Brexit, there are fears in the UK that a trade deal will be struck with Washington which will effectively lower food and environmental standards to those of the US. At the same time, it seems that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is being resurrected and could have a similar impact in the EU. These types of secretive, corporate-driven trade deals ride roughshod over democratic procedures and the public interest.

India has not been immune to such deals. The US-India Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture (2005) is aimed at widening access to India’s agricultural and retail sectors for US companies. This agreement was drawn up with the full and direct participation of representatives from various companies, such as Monsanto, Cargill and Walmart, in return for India receiving assistance to develop its nuclear sector.

And now, in India, there are serious concerns about another deal. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is currently being negotiated by 16 countries across Asia-Pacific and would cover half the world’s population, including 420 million small family farms that produce 80% of the region’s food. Although stumbling blocks have prevented any deal being struck thus far, there is an increased sense of urgency to get it signed.

The RCEP could further accelerate the corporatisation of Indian agriculture. The plight of farmers in India has been well documented. A combination of debt, economic liberalisation, subsidised imports, rising input costs, deliberate underinvestment and a shift to cash crops has caused massive financial distress. Over 300,000 (perhaps over 400,000) have taken their lives over the last 20 years. From the effects of the Green Revolution (degraded soils, falling water tables, drought, etc.) to the lack of minimum support prices and income guarantees, it is becoming increasingly non-viable for many smallholder farmers to continue.

Indian smallholder/peasant farmers are under attack on all fronts. Transnational corporations are seeking to capitalise the food and agriculture sector by supplanting the current system with one suited towards their needs, ably assisted by the World Bank and its various strategies and directives. There is a push to further commercialise the countryside, which will involve shifting hundreds of millions to cities.

GRAIN is an international non-profit organisation and in 2017 released a short report that outlined how RCEP is expected to create powerful new rights and lucrative business opportunities for food and agriculture corporations under the guise of boosting trade and investment.

Land acquisition and seed saving

The RCEP is expected to create powerful rights and lucrative business opportunities for food and agriculture corporations under the guise of boosting trade and investment. It could allow foreign corporations to buy up land, thereby driving up land prices, fuelling speculation and pushing small farmers out. This could intensify the ‘great land grab that has already been taking place in India.

GRAIN notes that giant agribusiness concerns want to put a stop to farmer seed saving and sharing by forcing farmers to buy their proprietary seeds each season. The global seed industry is highly concentrated today and recent mergers only further consolidate its power and influence over both governments and farmers. For example, with China having acquired Syngenta, that country has a new vested interest in seeing seed laws strengthened via tighter intellectual property rights under RCEP.

We have already seen the devastating effects on Indian farmers due to Monsanto’s illegal ‘royalties’ (on ‘trait values’) on GM cotton seeds in India. Monsanto effectively wrote and broke laws to enter India. Under RCEP, things could get much worse. If patents are allowed on inventions ‘derived from plants’ (whether hybrid or genetically modified seeds), we could see higher seed prices, a further loss of biodiversity, even greater corporate control and a possible lowering of standards (or a complete bypassing of them as with GM mustard) for high-risk products such as GMOs.

India’s dairy sector

Access to the huge Indian market is an important focus for New Zealand in the RCEP negotiations, especially where the diary sector is concerned. However, according to RS Sodhi, managing director of the country’s largest milk cooperative, Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation, this could rob the vibrant domestic dairy industry and the millions of farmers that are connected to it from access to a growing market in India.

The Indian government has encouraged the co-operative model in the dairy sector with active policy protection. However, the dairy trade could be opened up to unfair competition from subsidised imports under RCEP. India’s dairy sector is mostly self-sufficient and employs about 100 million people, the majority of whom are women. The sector is a lifeline for small and marginal farmers, landless poor and a significant source of income for millions of families. They are the backbone of India’s dairy sector.

New Zealand’s dairy giant Fonterra (the world’s biggest dairy exporter) is looking to RCEP as a way into India’s massive dairy market. The company has openly stated that RCEP would give it important leverage to open up India’s protected market. As a result, many people fear that Indian dairy farmers will either have to work for Fonterra or go out of business.

At the same time, some RCEP members not only heavily subsidise their farmers, but they also have food safety standards that are incompatible with the small-scale food production and processing systems that dominate in other RCEP countries. There is sufficient room for concern here: during the ‘mustard crisis’ in 1998, ‘pseudo-safety’ laws were used to facilitate the entry of foreign soy oil: many village-level processors were thereby forced out of business.

The RCEP could accelerate the growth of mega food-park investments that target exports to high-value markets, as is already happening in India. These projects involve high-tech farm-to-fork supply chains that exclude and may even displace small producers and household food processing businesses, which are the mainstay of rural and peri-urban communities across Asia. This would dovetail with existing trends that are facilitating the growth of corporate-controlled supply chains, whereby farmers can easily become enslaved or small farmers simply get by-passed by powerful corporations demanding industrial-scale production.

From pesticides to big retail

Fertiliser and pesticide sales are expected to rise sharply in Asia-Pacific in the next few years. Agrochemical use is heaviest in China and growing rapidly in India. GRAIN notes that China’s acquisition of Syngenta, the world’s top agrochemical company with more than 20% of the global pesticide market, puts the country in a particularly sensitive position within RCEP.

GRAIN states that liberalized trade in farm chemicals are bound to be part of the RCEP, resulting in increased residues in food and water, more greenhouse gas emissions, rising rates of illness and further depletion of soil fertility.

The RCEP also demands the liberalisation of the retail sector and is attempting to facilitate the entry of foreign agroprocessing and retail gaints, which could threaten the livelihoods of small retailers and street vendors. The entry of retail giants would be bad for farmers because they may eventually monopolise the whole food chain from procurement to distribution. In effect, farmers will be at the mercy of such large companies as they will have the power to set prices and also will not be interested to buy small quantities from small producers. In effect, the RCEP will usher in a wave of corporate agri-food consolidation.

It is interesting to note that Ashwani Mahajan, economics professor and national co-convener of Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, an Indian political and cultural organization that promotes self-reliance, argues that the ‘make in India’ push by the current government is completely at odds with the RCEP. He argues that no sector seems to want the trade deal and that India’s participation in the talks have overshot the original aim. That aim was to be that of observer, so India could learn from the process. However, Mahajan suggests civil servants now seem to be fully engaged and are ready to sign up to the deal.

The RCEP is a recipe for undermining biodiverse food production, food sovereignty and food security for the mass of the population. It will also create massive job losses in a country like India, which has no capacity for absorbing such losses into its workforce

There is a need to encourage localised food economies that are shielded from the effects of rigged trade and international markets. Rather than have transnational agri-food corporations determining global and regional policies and private capital throttling democracy, we require societies run for the benefit of the mass of the population and a system of healthy food and sustainable agriculture that is run for human need.

We need only look at Mexico and what ‘free trade’ has done to that country’s food and agriculture sector: destroyed health, fuelled unemployment, transformed a rural population into a problematic group of migrants who now serve as a reserve army of labour that conveniently depresses the incomes of those in work. The writing is on the wall for India.

Empires Are a Secret until They Start Falling

In the past, we have written about the 2020s as a decade when the United States Empire will end. This is based on Alfred McCoy’s predictions (listen to our interview with him on Clearing the FOG). Sociologist and peace scholar John Galtung believes US Empire will fall much faster, losing world dominance by 2020. Much of what he predicted when he said this in 2016 is happening now. In particular, there is a rise in “reactionary fascism” or a desire to go back to the “good old days,” the cost of maintaining the empire is taking an increasing economic toll and other countries are starting to rebuke the US, both its requests for military assistance and its unfair economic demands.

What this means for people in the United States and around the world depends on whether we can build a mass popular movement with the clarity of vision, skills, and solidarity necessary to navigate what is and will surely be a turbulent period. There are no guarantees as to the outcome. Failure to act could result in a disastrous scenario – at best, that the US will continue to try to hold on to power by waging economic and military warfare abroad, weakening the economy at home, and undermining necessities such as housing, healthcare, education and the transition to a Green economy. At worst, as Galtung describes, there could be “an inevitable and final war” involving nuclear weapons.

The People’s Mobilization to Stop the US War Machine and Save the Planet is next weekend. CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS. You must register in advance for the Monday night solidarity event. RSVP at bit.ly/RSVPapathtopeace. And sign the Global Appeal for Peace here.

When Empire Is In Decline

Alfred McCoy says that it is only when empires are in decline that people begin to recognize they live in an empire and start to talk about it. While discussion of empire hasn’t broken into the corporate media, it is certainly happening in the independent media. A concerted effort by a popular movement could bring it to the fore, just as Occupy changed the political dialogue about wealth inequality and the power of money. People in the US need to face some stark realities when it comes to declining US global power.

For starters, the United States does not currently have the capacity to wage a “Great Power Conflict” even though that is the goal of the national security strategy. The loss of its manufacturing base and lack of access to minerals necessary for producing weapons and electronics means the US does not have the resources to fight a great war. Much of the US’ manufacturing has been outsourced to other countries, including those targeted by US foreign policy. Resources necessary for weapons and electronics are in China, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Venezuela. It’s no surprise that the US is maintaining a military presence in Afghanistan, has increased its presence in Africa through AFRICOM and is struggling to wrest control of Venezuela.

Despite these attempts, the US is not having success. There is no military solution for the US in Afghanistan. As Moon of Alabama explains, the Taliban has taken control of more territory than it has had since the US started the war and has no reason to negotiate with the US. He advises, “The U.S. should just leave as long as it can. There will come a point when the only way out will be by helicopter from the embassy roof.”

Alexander Rubinstein writes the failures in Afghanistan can be attributed to Zalmay Khalilzad, currently the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation. Khalilzad has led US foreign policy in Afganistan and Iraq since the presidency of George W. Bush, and before that worked with Carter’s National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, who provided crucial support for the Mujahideen to draw the Soviet Union into a quagmire. The writing is on the wall that the US must leave Afghanistan, but that is unlikely to happen as long as people such as Khalilzad and Elliott Abrams, who has a similar ideology, are in charge.

As the US-led coup in Venezuela continues to fail due to a lack of support for it within the country, resilience to the effects of the unilateral coercive economic measures (sanctions) and exposure of attempts to create chaos and terror by paramilitary mercenaries, the US grows increasingly desperate in its tactics. There has already been a failed assassination attempt against President Maduro, a US freight company tied to the CIA has been caught smuggling weapons and the US and its Puppet Guaido have been implicated in a terrorist plot as the failed coup enters a more dangerous phase. This week, the Organization of American States voted to invoke a treaty, the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR), which would allow military intervention. Mexico strongly opposed that possibility. This comes as Venezuela has strengthened troops at the Colombian border after discovering terrorist training camps on the Colombian side. With allies such as Russia and China, an attack on Venezuela would not only hurt the region but could go global.

Despite the Asian Pivot under President Obama during his first administration and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper’s comment this week that the US is directing a lot of energy toward China, analysts predict the US will fail to achieve dominance in the Asia-Pacific. China is purchasing weapons from Russia that are superior to US systems, is strengthening its military coordination with Russia through drills and is expanding its global ties through the Belt and Road Initiative. Matthew Ehret writes in Strategic Culture, “Those American military officials promoting the obsolete doctrine of Full Spectrum dominance are dancing to the tune of a song that stopped playing some time ago. Both Russia and China have changed the rules of the game on a multitude of levels….”

Protests in Hong Kong, as we described in a recent newsletter, are being used to stoke greater anti-China sentiment in the US. As often occurs, the sophisticated propaganda arm of US-backed color revolutions excites leftist activists, but each day it becomes clearer just how deep the US’ influence is. K. J. Noh provides a helpful guide – a list of seven signs a protest is not a popular progressive uprising. One sign is Hong Kong protesters are supporting a bill in the US Congress, the so-called “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.” The bill would allow the United States to sanction Hong Kong officials.

Andre Vltchek attended a recent protest and interviewed some of the participants. He found the democracy protesters have little grasp on the oppression Hong Kongers faced under British colonization, they attack anyone who disagrees with them and they are destroying public infrastructure. One of the protest leaders, Joshua Wong, is openly meeting with figures connected to US regime change efforts, and NED-backed organizations are planning an anti-China protest in Washington, DC on September 29. Their new propaganda symbol is a Chinese flag with a Swastika on it. No surprise that was evident at the protests in Hong Kong this weekend.

The US is already at war with China with battlefronts on trade and the Asian Pacific. The propaganda around Hong Kong showing prejudice against China is part of manufacturing consent for the conflict between the US and China, which will define the 21st Century. US militarism is also escalating to involve space. This week, the US conducted its first space war game and Putin warned of a space arms race.

Our Tasks as Activists

It was good news this past week that President Trump asked John Bolton, a white supremacist neocon who disrupted any attempts at negotiation, to resign from his position as National Security Adviser. Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report writes, “Every sane person on the planet should be glad to see Bolton go.” But, even with Bolton gone, the US War Machine will rage on with bi-partisan support. Whether Trump starts to live up to his campaign rhetoric of non-intervention remains to be seen. The appointment of Michael Kozak as the new US envoy to Latin America is a bad sign.

Almost two centuries of Manifest Destiny that went beyond North America to spread US Empire across the globe will not end overnight. It will take a concerted effort to build a national consensus against the dominant ideologies of white supremacy and US exceptionalism to change the course of US foreign policy. Fundamental tasks of that effort include education, organizing and mobilizing. Below are some examples of each.

Education:

The Palestinian Great March of Return, a weekly nonviolent protest in Gaza demanding the right of return granted by the United Nations, continues and each week Israelis injure and murder unarmed Palestinians. Abby Martin and Mike Prysner of The Empire Files produced an excellent documentary about it, “Gaza Fights For Freedom,” and are touring the country to raise awareness. Listen to our interview with Abby Martin on Clearing the FOG. Find a showing near you or organize one.

The United States uses unilateral coercive measures (sanctions) that are illegal under international law to wage war on other countries. The Treasury Department currently lists 20 countries sanctioned by the US, but the US also uses threats of sanctions to wield power. Sanctions are warfare, even though they are not commonly viewed that way. They result in the suffering and death of mostly civilians. Kevin Cashman and Cavan Kharrazian explain how sanctions work, why they violate international law and how they threaten global stability.

Organizing:

Alison Bodine and Ali Yerevani encourage activists to avoid the organizing pitfall of getting caught up in debates about the internal politics of countries targeted by US imperialism. Our tasks, as citizens of imperialist countries, are to stop our governments from intervening in the affairs of other countries and demand they respect international law. We also have a task of building solidarity with civilians of other countries. It will require a global mass movement to address major issues such as the climate crisis, wealth inequality, colonization, and violence.

Citizen to citizen diplomacy is critical in building this mass movement and solidarity. Ann Wright, retired from the military and State Department, writes about the challenges of citizen to citizen diplomacy as she tours Russia. Ajamu Baraka, national organizer of Black Alliance for Peace, reminds us that war and militarism are class issues in his address to an international meeting of trade unions held in Syria.

We are strong believers in breaking out of the confines of the narrative presented by corporate media about countries outside the US. Our trips to Iran and Venezuela this year were invaluable learning experiences. We hope to visit more targeted countries. An effort that came out of these trips is the new Global Appeal for Peace, first steps toward creating an international network to complement the more than 120 non-aligned movement countries that are resolved to respect international law and sovereignty and take action to create peace and prevent the catastrophic climate crisis. Sign on to this effort at GlobalAppeal4Peace.net.

Mobilizing:

The People’s Mobilization to Stop the US War Machine and Save the Planet starts next weekend. On Saturday night, Black Alliance for Peace is sponsoring a discussion, “Race, Militarism and Black Resistance in the ‘Americas’” in the Bronx. On Sunday we will rally and march to the UN with Embassy Protectors, Roger Waters and many more. On Monday night, we have a special solidarity night at Community Church of New York. Registration is required as there will be high-level representatives of impacted countries speaking about the challenges they face. Click here to register.

Rage Against the US War Machine will take place October 11 and 12 in Washington, DC. This is the second annual event organized by March on the Pentagon. Click here for details.

We also ask you to join the Embassy Protectors Defense Committee. Sign the petition to drop the Trump administration’s charges against us for protecting the Venezuelan Embassy this spring. We are facing up to a year in prison and exorbitant fines even though it was the US State Department that violated the Vienna Convention by raiding the embassy in May. We will tour Northern California in October and are planning more tours to raise awareness that the struggle to end the US  coup and interventions in Venezuela continues.

John Galtung predicts that the fall of the US Empire could have a devastating impact on domestic cohesion in the United States. As the US loses its position of global supremacy, we have an opportunity to fundamentally reshape what we as a nation represent. We can become cooperative global citizens in a world free of oppression, violence, and poverty if we do the work of joining in international solidarity for these goals.