Category Archives: President Emmanuel Macron

Macron’s Incitement: “Crisis in Islam” or French Politics? 

There is no moral or ethical justification for the killing of innocent people, anywhere. Therefore, the murder of three people in the French city of Nice on October 29 must be wholly and unconditionally rejected as a hate crime, especially as it was carried out in a holy place, the Notre Dame Basilica.

However, we would be remiss to ignore the political context that led a 21-year-old Tunisian refugee to allegedly stage a knife attack against peaceful worshippers in Nice. While it is fairly easy to recognize the individual culprit behind such a violent event, it takes much introspection, let alone honesty, to identify the true culprits, who, often for political reasons, fan the flames of hate and violence.

Since his advent to the Elysée Palace, in May 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron, has led an aggressive foreign policy abroad and an equally contentious domestic agenda. These choices were not random, as Macron was dogged by numerous domestic challenges: rising inequality and unemployment, mass protests led largely by the ‘Gilets Jaunes’ – Yellow Vests –  Movement and the unhindered rise of right-wing, anti-immigrant populist movements, such as the National Front (FN) of Marine Le Pen.

It is important that we recall the political atmosphere through which Macron was elected, for the man was meant to be the sensible choice propelled forward by the once-ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP).

The latter’s candidate, François Fillon, failed to acquire the necessary votes to decisively win the elections on April 23, 2017. Instead, it was Macron, a relative political ‘outsider’ from the one-year-old En Marche (EM) Party that had the chance to stop the progress of Marine Le Pen’s racist and chauvinistic FN. Indeed, Macron won the second runoff elections on May 7. His victory was decisive.

Judging by the mass protests that soon followed Macron’s election, later exacerbated by the economic crisis that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic (which, thus far, has killed over 36,000 people in France alone), Macron is no longer popular among his people.

With new elections scheduled for early 2022, Macron and France’s ruling elites are quite nervous. The French economy is unlikely to recover anytime soon, not only because of the coronavirus pandemic – the destructive impact of which is expected to persist over the coming months and years – but also because, in the last three years, there has been no serious structural overhauling of the French economy with the stated aim of sting the pandemics of inequality, unemployment, racism, and political corruption.

As is often the case with inept leaders, Macron has invested in creating political distractions at home and abroad, manufacturing crises and provoking unnecessary confrontations.

The French leader has seized on the opportunity presented to him as a result of the American retreat from various Mediterranean conflicts, namely Libya, Syria, Lebanon, and the East Mediterranean gas dispute. The shift in US foreign policy priorities, coupled with the British abandonment of the European Union – scheduled to go into full effect at the end of this year – led Macron to behave as if the de facto leader of Europe.

Racism in France is rife, and the electoral successes of the various right-wing nationalistic parties are a testament to this assertion. Instead of confronting this protracted disease which has afflicted the French body politic for far too long, Macron has labored to find some kind of a balance, where he continues to appeal to the liberal forces in his country without fully alienating the right-wing chauvinistic constituency. To achieve this delicate balance, Macron has opted for the most politically – and, to state bluntly,  cowardly –  convenient option: targeting France’s most marginalized and impoverished French Arab and African communities in the name of fighting for the ‘values’ of the Republic against ‘Islamic terrorism’ and the dark forces that are lurking within his country.

This is not to argue that domestic terrorism is not a major problem deserving attention and counter-strategies. However, judging by recurring statements made by French officials and media – which tend to demonize entire groups of mostly immigrant populations and their religious values – it seems as if the French government is leading a crusade of sorts against its own Muslim population. It appears as if Macron, himself, is leading a populist march against Islam and Muslims in France and elsewhere. This pathetic display of bad, opportunistic leadership was the true catalyst of today’s crisis.

This brief timeline is sufficient to link Macron to France’s latest violence:

On October 2, Macron assumed the role of the scholarly theologian lecturing his countrymen on Islam. “Islam is a religion which is experiencing a crisis today, all over the world,” he said, laying out a plan to combat Islamic “separatism” in France. This provocative statement had an international dimension which, expectedly, raised the ire of Muslim governments and populations the world over. The domestic component of his comments was even more dangerous, as he practically declared French Muslims a fifth column, whose ultimate aim is to destabilize and to break up the French Republic.

More provocations followed, once more the berating of Islam and the mocking of Prophet Mohammed, African and Arab immigrants and so on, in the name of French values, democracy and freedom of expression. Judging by the bloody attack on the Charlie Hebdo’s magazine in January 2015 and the violence and mosque burning of over 30 mosques in its wake (though the latter received little or no media attention), it should have taken no particular genius to deduce that the latest government-led provocations and anti-Muslim incitement were also doomed to result in violence and counter-violence.

Indeed, on October 16, a French teacher, who displayed images that mocked Prophet Mohammed, was reportedly killed by an 18-year-old Chechen Muslim refugee. The teacher was later declared a French hero and celebrated for his supposed sacrifice for French values.

More mockery and insults of Islam and Muslims continued, this time on a much larger scale. The anti-Muslim incitement was accompanied by acts of violence against French Muslims, particularly women. Again, this kind of violence received little attention in the international media and was hardly seen in France as an expression of a mass movement reflecting religious or nationalistic ideas.

With Turkey, Pakistan and political movements representing every Muslim-majority country in the world jumping into the fray, Macron has managed to make himself the center of international attention as the indefatigable fighter for Western values and democratic ideals – with a subtle emphasis on being the champion of Christianity, as well.

The true crisis is not a crisis in Islam, but in French politics. If anyone deserves mockery, it is not Prophet Mohammed – whose message of nearly 1,500 years ago was that of peace, justice and equality – but, rather, Macron himself, who continues to distract from his unmitigated failure as a politician by pitting the French people, religious or otherwise, against each other. Hopefully, Charlie Hebdo will be satirizing that reality sometime soon.

The post Macron’s Incitement: "Crisis in Islam" or French Politics?  first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Fight over the Mediterranean: France’s Proxy War and the Budding Turkish-Russian Alliance

Overwhelmed by uncontrollable circumstances, the Greek government is bracing for another financial crisis that promises to be as terrible as the last one in 2015.

Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, announced on September 12 that Athens has made a “robust” arms deal that will “reinforce the armed forces” and create a “national shield”.

However, beyond Mitsotakis’ mask of confidence, there is a nightmare brewing that is likely to haunt Greece for years to come. Five years ago, when Athens defaulted on its debt,  largely to European countries and institutions, France and Germany rushed to further strangle the humbled country by selling it yet more military hardware.

History is repeating itself; this time, the crisis involves the country’s enduring dispute with Turkey over territorial waters. Invoking European solidarity, the French are, once again, pushing their military hardware on embattled and economically weak Greece. Consequently, the latter is set to purchase 18 French-made Rafale warplanes, four navy helicopters, new anti-tank weapons, navy torpedoes and air force missiles.

While the Greek government is presenting the move as a show of force in case of a future military conflict with neighboring Turkey, the French arms will intensify Greece’s vulnerability to French political diktats, now and in the future.

This is part of a larger pattern for France. French President, Emmanuel Macron, is, again, assuming the role of savior. Lately, he has taken on the role of rebuilding devastated Beirut following the massive explosion in August. In return, he expects — in fact, demands — political acquiescence from all of Lebanon’s political forces.

The crisis in Greece, however, is different. The Turkish-Greek East Mediterranean conflict is multifaceted as it involves many regional players, all vying for the same prize: some dividends in the massive deposits of newly discovered natural gas. While the conflict is presented as a continuation of the protracted hostilities between Turkey and Greece, in actuality the latter is but a small facet of a new great game, the outcome of which could change the dynamics in the Mediterranean altogether.

While NATO is falling apart at the seams, due partly to the current US administration’s isolationist policies, European countries, like France and Italy, are acting independently from the once-unified Western military alliance.

Europe is losing its once strategically dominant position in the Mediterranean region. After years of investing in the decade-long Libyan conflict, European countries are likely to go home empty-handed.

For years, France has backed the Eastern-based forces of Libyan General, Khalifa Haftar, while Italy supported the Government of National Accord (GNA) in the West. The two NATO members, openly clashing politically, had hoped that the outcome of the Libyan war would provide them with much military, political and economic leverage.

Nevertheless, the news emerging from the region is clearly contrary, in that Turkey and Russia, which staked their claims over Libya only recently, are the ones who are now controlling the fate of this country. Not only are Ankara and Moscow the main power brokers in Libya – Russia supporting Haftar, while Istanbul backing the GNA – it is likely that they will shape Libya’s future, as well.  In their second rounds of negotiations in Ankara on September 16, the two countries have endorsed a ceasefire in Libya as part of a political process that should eventually stabilize the warring country.

The irony is that, until fairly recent, there was discord between Turkey and Russia. The conflict in Syria had reached a point where war in 2015 seemed imminent. This has changed as both countries saw an unprecedented opportunity arising from the relative absence of Washington as a direct player in the region’s conflicts, coupled with European/NATO disunity and internal conflict.

With time, more opportunities arose in Libya and, eventually, in the Eastern Mediterranean. When France and Italy showed enthusiasm in an emerging alliance between Israel, Greece and Cyprus around the EastMed gas pipeline project, Turkey swooped in to counter-balance this with an alliance of its own. In November 2019, Turkey and Libya’s GNA signed a Memorandum of Understanding that expanded Turkey’s areas of influence in the Mediterranean and forced France to contend with yet another challenge to its leadership in the region.

Moreover, emboldened Turkey widened its search for natural gas in the Mediterranean to cover a massive area that extends from the Turkish southern coast to Libya’s north-east coast. With NATO being unable to present a unified front, France advanced alone, hoping to sustain a geopolitical status quo that has governed the Mediterranean for decades.

That status quo is no longer sustainable as a new political contract is sure to be written, especially as the nature of the Turkish-Russian alliance is becoming clearer and promises to be a lasting one.

The mutual interests between Turkey and Russia are likely to culminate into an actual alliance should their ongoing negotiations pay lasting dividends. On the other side of that possible coalition, there are reluctant and fractious European powers, led by self-serving France, whose strategic vision has suffered a major blow in Libya as it did in Syria, years earlier.

Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, is now leading Russian diplomacy to find a non-military resolution to the Turkish-Greek conflict. This, in itself, is an indication of Russia’s growing prowess in a region that, until very recently, was dominated solely by NATO.

The post Fight over the Mediterranean: France’s Proxy War and the Budding Turkish-Russian Alliance first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Hands off Lebanon: Macron’s Self-serving ‘New Pact’ Must Be Shunned  

French President, Emmanuel Macron, is in no position to pontificate to Lebanon about the need for political and economic reforms. Just as thousands of Lebanese took to the streets of Beirut demanding “revenge” against the ruling classes, the French people have relentlessly been doing the same; both peoples have been met with police violence and arrests.

Following the August 4 blast which killed over 200 people and wounded thousands more, the irony was inescapable when Macron showed up in a bizarre display of “solidarity” on the streets of Beirut. Macron should have taken his roadshow to the streets of Paris, not Beirut, to reassure his own people, burdened by growing inequality, rising unemployment and socio-economic hardship.

However, the French show went on, but in the Middle East. It was a perfectly choreographed scene, engineered to be reminiscent of France’s bygone colonial grandeur. On August 6, Macron stood imperiously amidst the ruins of a massive Beirut explosion, promising aid, accountability and vowing to never abandon France’s former colony.

A young Lebanese woman approached the French President, tearfully imploring him “Mr. President, you’re on General Gouraud Street; he freed us from the Ottomans. Free us from the current authorities.”

It is unconvincing that all of this: the sudden visit, the pleas for help, the emotional crowd surrounding Macron, were all impromptu events to reflect Lebanon’s undying love and unconditional trust of France.

Macron could have easily assessed the damage caused by the devastating explosion at the Beirut port. If the thousands of images and endless video streams were insufficient to convey the unprecedented ruin created by the Hiroshima-like blast, satellite and aerial footage certainly would have.

But Macron did not come to Lebanon to offer sincere solidarity. He came, like a ‘good’ French politician would to exploit the shock, panic and fear of a dumbstruck nation, while it is feeling betrayed by its own government, bewildered and alone.

I will talk to all political forces to ask them for a new pact. I am here today to propose a new political pact to them,” Macron said.

Certainly, Lebanon is in urgent need of a new pact, but not one that is engineered by France. Indeed, France was never a source of stability in Lebanon. Even the end of the formal French colonialism in 1946 did not truly liberate Lebanon from Paris’ toxic influence and constant meddling.

Alas, devastated Lebanon is now receptive to another bout of ‘disaster capitalism’:  the notion that a country must be on its knees as a prerequisite to foreign economic takeover, political and, if necessary, military intervention.

If the words of the woman who beseeched Macron to ‘liberate’ Lebanon from its current leadership were not scripted by some clever French writer, they would represent one of the saddest displays of Lebanon’s modern politics — this woman, representing a nation, calling on its former colonizer to subjugate it once more, in order to save it from itself.

This is the crux of ‘disaster capitalism’.

“In moments of crisis, people are willing to hand over a great deal of power to anyone who claims to have a magic cure – whether the crisis is a financial meltdown or … a terrorist attack,” wrote the acclaimed Canadian author, Naomi Klein, in her seminal book “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism”.

The political fallout of the explosion — whatever its causes — were triggered perfectly from the perspective of those who want to ensure Lebanon never achieves its coveted moment of stability and sectarian harmony. Unprecedented in modern history, the country’s current economic crisis has dragged on interminably, while the ruling classes either seem to have no answers or are, largely, not keen on finding any.

On August 7, a United Nations-backed tribunal was scheduled to issue its final verdict regarding the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafic Hariri. Hariri’s killing, also by a massive blast in Beirut on February 14, 2005, has torn the country apart and somewhat placed Lebanon at the hands of foreign entities.

Whether the now postponed verdict was going to further divide Lebanese society or help it achieve closure, is moot. The port explosion will surely renew the French-led Western mandate over the country.

On August 6, four former Lebanese prime ministers called for an ‘international investigation’ into the causes of the blast, hoping to win political leverage against their political opponents, setting the stage for another sectarian and political crisis.

Local forces are quickly scrambling to position themselves behind a winning political strategy. “We have no trust at all in this ruling gang,” leading Lebanese Druze politician, Walid Jumblatt, said. He, too, is demanding an international investigation.

Times of national crisis often lead to unity, however temporary, among various communities, since mass tragedies often harm all sectors of society. In Lebanon, however, unity remains elusive, as most political camps have allegiances that transcend the people and nation. People often hold onto their clans and sects due to their lack of trust in the central government. Politicians, instead, are beholden to regional and international powers — as in Macron’s France.

But France should not be the last lifeline for the Lebanese people, despite their desperation, anger and betrayal. France is currently involved in two of the ugliest and protracted conflicts in the Middle East and West Africa: Libya and Mali. Predictably, in both cases, Paris had also promised to be a force for good. While Libya has essentially been turned into a failed state, Mali persists under total French subjugation. It is no exaggeration to argue that France is currently involved in an active military occupation of Mali, one of the poorest countries in the world.

Lebanon should be aware that its current tragedy is the perfect opportunity for its former colonial masters to stage a comeback, which would hardly save Lebanon and her people from their persisting calamity.

Macron’s bizarre and dangerous political act in the streets of Beirut should worry all Lebanese, at least those who truly care about their country.

Tearing Down the Idols of Colonialism: Why Tunisia, Africa Must Demand French Apology  

The visit by newly-elected Tunisian President Kais Saied to France on June 22 was intended to discuss bilateral relations, trade, etc. But it was also a missed opportunity, where Tunisia could have formally demanded an apology from France for the decades of French colonialism, which has shattered the social and political fabric of this North African Arab nation since the late 19th century.

A heated debate at the Tunisian parliament, prior to Saied’s trip highlighted the significance of the issue to Tunisians, who are still reeling under the process of socio-economic and political transitions following the popular uprising in 2011.

Sadly, the Tunisian parliament rejected a motion forwarded by the centrist Karama coalition calling for a French apology, despite a fifteen hours’ long debate.

“We are not animated by any bitterness or hatred, but such apologies will heal the wounds of the past,” Seifeddine Makhlouf, head of Al-Karama, said during the debate. Makhlouf is under no moral obligation to explain his motives. A French apology to Tunisia, and many other African countries that have endured French colonialism for hundreds of years, is long overdue.

Ravaged by a relentless economic crisis, and still largely dependent on France as a foremost trade partner, Tunisia fears the consequences of such a just demand, which, if officially made, will also include a call for compensation as a result of nearly 75 years of exploitation and the subsequent collective trauma suffered by several generations.

A particular statement made by Osama Khelifi of the Qalb Tounes party delineates the unfortunate reality that continues to govern the thinking of Tunisia’s political elites. “We are not going to feed Tunisians with such notions,” he said.

Inconsequential to Khelifi, and others among the parties that rejected the motion, is that coming to terms with the past is a prerequisite for any nation that wishes to start anew. What would be the point of revolutions and revolutionary discourses if Tunisian politicians insist on merely trying to get along with a status quo that is imposed on them by outside forces?

While Saied was paying his diplomatic dues to Paris, statues were tumbling down across the Western world; some of former slave owners, others of racist ideologues and pioneers of colonialism.

On June 7, the statue of Edward Colston, a 17th century slave trader, was taken down in the English town of Bristol. This was only one of many other monuments that were destroyed or defaced throughout the United States and Europe.

However, across the English Channel, the French government remained obstinate in its refusal to take down any similar statues, as if insisting on its refusal to revisit – let alone take responsibility – for its sinister past, especially the bloody and tragic events that shattered the African continent.

Statues are built to honor individuals for their great contributions in any society. They are also erected as a reminder to future generations that they must emulate these presumably great individuals. France, however, remains the exception.

Unsurprisingly, French government officials are engaging in nonsensical arguments as to why such statues, as that of Jean-Baptiste Colbert — a white aristocrat who, during the 17th century reign of King Louis XIV, established the horrific ‘Black Code’, the rules according to which black slaves were to be treated in the colonies – should remain intact.

Macron himself has made it clear that “the Republic  … won’t remove any statues.”

The collective rethink underway in various Western societies, which have greatly benefited from the exploitation of Africa, was ignited by the brutal murder of George Floyd at the hands of American police officers in Minneapolis.

Spontaneous popular movements, led mostly by the youth, connected the dots between racism, slavery, and colonialism, taking to the streets in their millions to demand a complete overhaul of the status quo.

Yet, France’s political elites continue to embrace French exceptionalism, arguing that, unlike the American experience with race and slavery, French law was never, at any point in the past, purposely racist.

In truth, past arrogance — ‘mission civilisatrice’ — continues to define France’s attitudes towards the present. This is why the French colonial experience was particularly keen on composing a clever discourse to account for its exploitation of Africa and other regions in the world.

In this skewed rationale, France’s invasion of Algeria in 1830 was dubbed as something else entirely. Algeria was now an integral part of France, they argued. Other countries, like Tunisia and Morocco, were made protectorates, ruled indirectly through corrupt local authorities. The rest of France’s African colonies were ravaged mercilessly by greedy French administrators.

Unlike other European experiences, the French colonial connection to Africa did not disintegrate in recent decades. Instead, it took on different forms, known by the now disparaging term ‘Françafrique’.

The expression ‘Françafrique’ was introduced in 1955 to describe the ‘special relations’ between France and the newly-independent African countries, now bound with what France called ‘cooperation agreements’. It was rightly understood that France was entering a new phase of colonialism in Africa: neo-colonialism.

Despite former French president, François Hollande, pledging to eradicate the term ‘Françafrique’ and its practical meaning, little has changed between France and its former African colonies.

Indeed, France can be found in every aspect of life, whether political, military, economic or even cultural, in many African countries. In the cases of Mali and Libya, the French intervention takes on an even more crude manifestation: domineering and violent.

To appreciate French neo-colonialism in Africa, consider this: fourteen African countries are still economically bound to France through the use of special currency, the CFA franc, designed specifically by France to manage the trade and economies of its former colonies. This jarring example of French neo-colonialism in Africa is consistent with France’s colonial and racist past.

Whether France chooses to come to terms with its past is entirely a French affair. It is, however, the responsibility of Tunisia – and the whole of Africa – to confront France and other colonial and neo-colonial regimes, not merely by demanding apologies and compensation, but insisting on a complete change of the present, unequal relations as well.

“In the colonial context the settler only ends his work of breaking in the native when the latter admits loudly and intelligibly the supremacy of the white man’s values,” wrote Frantz Fanon in ‘The Wretched of the Earth’.

The opposite must also be true. Tunisia, and many African countries, must demand a French apology. By doing so, they declare ‘loudly and intelligibly’ that they are finally free from the ‘white man’s (selfish and racist) values,’ and that they truly see themselves as equal. 

COVID-19 Great Depression: Global Ecosocialism Is the Way Out

Sunflower field in Hudson — Photo by Larry Goodwin

Suffering in numbers

The abstract science of mathematics is a language like music. But while music is in the realm of pure emotion, the language of mathematics only speaks to the mind not the heart. Numbers and equations do not lie. They are not, by essence, subjective. This being said, when the numbers are those of the dead, they can have the chilling emotional effect of a meat cleaver cutting through bones. While we have tried to stay away from the mainstream media litany of the death tolls, on April 25, 2020 we had passed 200,000 deaths globally. In the United States alone, by the end of April, the COVID-19 pandemic will have killed more people than the reported 58,220 US soldiers who died during the Vietnam war.

from the archive of Urban Museum

Neoliberal and populist war presidents?

Ironically, two political leaders who are supposed to be on opposite sides of the political spectrum have framed their COVID-19 crisis narrative as a war. One is French President Macron, a neoliberal globalist champion, and the other one is nationalist-populist US President Trump. Both, however, have a lot in common: they are proponents of global corporatism, are Commanders in Chief of their respective military but did not serve in the military. Trump was a reputed Vietnam war draft dodger, while Macron was born too late to have done the mandatory French military service. In either case, their war on COVID-19 is not going well. As matter of fact Trump and Macron are winning their war on COVID-19 like the US won in Vietnam or NATO won in Afghanistan. And incidentally, if the COVID-19 is a world war, both of these presidents and other world leaders should consider ordering a military draft.

From the archive of The National Guard

The COVID-19 killing spree is not yet over, even in its first installment. It is hard to forecast, but in a month or two, once countries such as India, Indonesia, Pakistan and the entire African continent are computed in the tragic body count, we could globally have reached 350,000 deaths. The worldwide government incompetence will continue and the litany of deaths will keep ticking away. Meanwhile human suffering is not a great concern for capitalism’s ruling class, the economy and the financial markets are now their main focus.

Photo by David Shankbone

Capitalism’s callous imperatives

Never mind their countless failures and shortcomings through the crisis. What mostly concerns our callous and cynical political and business leaders is COVID-19’s impact on the global economy. While the lockdown of half of humanity could have been beneficial for an extra couple of weeks from a healthcare stand point, the enforcers of the imperative of global capitalism do not care. As far as salvaging what can still be saved from the current economic collapse, the political technocrats who serve the billionaire class, are perfectly willing to sacrifice thousands of human lives. People are dying. Poor people are starving even in the so-called developed world and relying on food banks in places like Queens, New York; New Orleans; or Seine St. Denis, in Paris’ poor northern suburbs. But what truly matters for the worshippers of capitalism is the well being of their free-market God, a profane deity brought to its knees by the COVID-19 pandemic. Humanity is facing a time of reckoning. Despite what the global ruling class hopes for, the global economy has collapsed, and things will never return to normal.

The COVID-19 Great Depression

In just two months, the global economy was brought to a standstill. Airplanes are not flying; factories are not manufacturing, with the exception of face masks; oil has become worthless; three billion people are not consuming, at the exception of food products. The imposed hiatus for most global consumption and circulation of people and goods has blown a giant hole in the complex capitalist edifice. The main question now is will it recover. While the notion of a Great COVID-19 Depression has become accepted, governments worldwide are trying to give their citizens the idea that ultimately it will be okay again. As during the crash of 2008, worldwide national or supra-national banking institutions have followed the lead of the US Federal Reserve. Worldwide, the equivalent of about $7 trillion have been printed, and they are in the process of being injected in the financial markets. Without this, Wall Street and the other markets would already be worth as little as a barrel of US crude oil.

The oil war has come home to roost in the US

On April 21, the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) benchmark for US crude dropped below zero. As matter of fact, it was trading at -$4.29 a barrel. Needless to say, despite the federal money injection, the impact on the US economy energy sector will be catastrophic. This situation was completely predictable. It was years in the making, with one geopolitical blunder after another. After all, for decades the US and its Saudi allies have used oil price as a weapon. The oil war has come home to roost.

During the Clinton administration an oil price drop was used against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq; Bush Jr.’s administration used it against Iran; and the Obama administration used it against Russia as a retaliation over Ukraine. The Trump administration has applied the same policies with regime change goals in Iran and Venezuela. Like his predecessors, the de-facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, Mohamed bin-Salman, has been fully on board for decades. The mechanics are simple: you try to achieve your regime change goals by bankrupting another country’s economy, especially if it mainly relies on oil extraction, as does Venezuela. But Maduro is still in place and the Iranians are holding on against all odds.

The Trump administration, despite its claim of being an America-First isolationist, has dutifully followed the post World War II US empire’s geopolitical strategy of asserting a worldwide dominance, even bigger than the Monroe doctrine, by engineering failed states. It is likely, however, that with 26 million unemployed, millions relying on food banks to eat, and an economy that has imploded, the US empire will have to scale back its ambitions. For global neoliberalism’s prodigal son, Emmanuel Macron, the economic and social landscapes are equally grim.

By Lanpernas

Anger in France: “la racaille” & Gilets Jaunes’ new sans-culottes?

Despite the tough lockdown for more than six weeks in France, clashes have occurred between youths in poor French suburbs and the police. It started Saturday April 18 in Villeneuve La Garrenne with what appears to have been excessive police force against a motorcyclist. From there, it snowballed to the poor suburbs in other parts of Paris and elsewhere in France, specifically in Strasbourg, Roubaix and a Lyon suburb. In Strasbourg a police station was set on fire. The French far-right has done its best to capitalize on the incident, which involved mainly young French citizens of North African or African origin. The far-right populist leader of the Rassemblement National, Marine Le Pen, called for a severe crackdown on the culprits of the social unrest. She made the racist claimed that “la racaille” (the human scum) had to be neutralized. Le Pen also attacked the Macron administration for doing something right, which was the release of 8,000 prisoners from prisons to avoid COVID-19 mass infections. This was to be expected from racist tough-on-crime Le Pen, but Eric Ciotti, a congressman from Les Republicains, a party that is supposed to be less Fascist than Le Pen’s, went a step further and called for L’intervention de l’armee et un couvre feu (a deployment of the military and a curfew).

by Francisco Anzola

Most people understand that, without the work of the six million French citizens of North African or African origin, France’s confinement would be a lot more challenging. Just like in New York, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles or New Orleans, the mothers and fathers of the angry youths in France are largely the ones who have kept the country going during the lockdown, day in and day out, often risking their lives, anonymously. They are the clerks in supermarkets, the truck drivers and other delivery persons, the janitors, the garbage collectors, the bus drivers and low-paid support staff in hospitals and nursing homes. Generation after generation, since the early 1960s, the largely North African immigrants have done the hard work that the Caucasian French no longer care to do. Former president Chirac called this social inequality a fracture sociale in the 1990s. So it was identified but never fixed, and the COVID-19 crisis has just made it more blatant. France will ease its lockdown after May 11. After this, if the social inequalities are not addressed by actions instead of only words, the angry youths of the poor suburbs could be joined by the Gilets Jaunes, whose movement just went underground.

by Denisbin

Ecosocialism equation: climate crisis + COVID19 = systemic change

So far the central banks’ remedy, quantitative easing — a euphemism for printing money — has been largely futile. The 3 trillion dollars and 1.5 trillion Euros injected are financial band-aids on our global economical Titanic. If this doomed ship represents our pre-COVID-19 mode of development, it should be cheerfully sacrificed along with the giant cargo ships and planes, which are the nervous system of a globalization that is chocking on itself. The unfolding COVID-19 crisis has fully exposed the failures of governance and socio-economic systems worldwide.

Beyond their short-term post-COVID-19 strategies, few policy makers or business leaders have any valid answers. The ruling class’ model of globalization, based on corporate imperialism’s core principle of profit over people, is in ruins. In the middle of an unstoppable worldwide paradigm shift, so-called leaders and thinkers are in paradigm paralysis. They are trapped in a pre-COVID-19 reality bubble, unable to think outside the box.

by Gilbert Mercier

As citizens of the world, we may look ahead possibly to a better future for the many. One critical systemic problem unlikely to survive COVID-19 is the extreme social inequality driven by hyper-capitalist wealth concentration. In a nutshell, the existential problem of capitalism that could cause its end is as follows: exactly 2,019 billionaires worldwide have more wealth than 60 percent of the world population. This is not only immoral but also unsustainable. Let us travel back in time to 1788 for a moment. In France absolute King Louis XVI, who presumably combined the power of Macron and the wealth of France’s richest man Bernard Arnault, thought he was firmly in power. But within a year he was swept away by the French Revolution. The motto of the revolution and subsequent French Republic was Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite. These three notions still have power and value. If climate justice is added to them, this could be the foundation of an ecosocialist society.

While the Great Depression of 1929 unquestionably triggered the rise of Fascism in Italy and Nazism in Germany, humanity cannot afford for that history to repeat itself. The COVID-19 Great Depression upon us might be capitalism’s end game and the birth of a new global ecosocialist era based on social equality, real democracy with sound governance, zero economic growth, zero global military spending, and respectful harmony with what is left of the natural world.

by Gilbert Mercier

We think the price is worth it

On 12 May 1996, Lesley Stahl, moderator for the US TV show “60 Minutes” interviewed former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Stahl: “We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that is more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

Albright: We think the price is worth it.

The “price” was US sanctions imposed on Iraq under colour of a UN Security Council Resolution, the effect of which was to deny Iraq access to basic medical supplies. Of course, the death toll in Iraq was not confined to the denial of medical supplies. Atomic waste contamination from the first Gulf War and continued military operations later would add to the death toll from cancer and preventable disease, due to the destruction of vital civil infrastructure, like water and sewage systems.

The world should probably be thankful that the corona virus (CORVD-2019) problem was not first submitted to the US-dominated UN Security Council for deliberation.

As of this writing the intra-European borders are being closed and/or subject to control, suspending the provisions of the Schengen Agreement. The current President of the French was 19 years old when Ms Albright gave that interview. Today he declared war, adding that it is a “guerre sanitaire”.1 That is a striking and also fitting contrast to Mr Xi’s declaration that the fight against the corona virus outbreak in China was “a people’s war”. This shows something elemental about the difference between the campaign to control the contagion in China and the campaign in the West.

Mr Xi’s term refers to the war the Chinese, led by the Chinese Communist Party, fought first against Japanese invasion and occupation and then against the Western colonial forces under Chiang—who had purged the KMT of the Communists at the West’s behest. For Mr Xi, the fight against the virus outbreak in Wuhan was a fight by the Chinese masses against a threat to their economic and social development. His term was a summons to defend China against forces he was diplomatic enough not to name.

In contrast, the Western (US-owned or controlled) mass media did not hesitate to give the novel corona virus the historic colour of the “yellow peril”.

  1. Macron’s choice of words shows that he represents the war of the (mainly financial) elite against the People, a state that Mme Le Pen’s supporters had long recognised, even if they found no vehicle adequate to defend themselves. After the outgoing PSF president had successfully neutralised what little socialism or French was left after Mitterrand’s reign, neutering the Partie Socialiste Francaise, M. Macron was exhumed from the cesspool of some chateau of ill repute to fend off the anti-EU front emerging, not only from the Right.
  2. Macron’s “guerre sanitaire” is a poor substitute for the more ideologically charged cordon sanitaire. It has nothing to do with health but with waste disposal and control, with hygiene. Naturally there are those who will insist that this is a reference to washing hands. But whose hands? M. Macron’s declaration of a “guerre sanitaire” conjures visions its opposite, the “guerre sale”, the dirty war, or what Sartre described, les mains sales. Both the French author Albert Camus (The Plague) and the Portuguese author Jose Saramago (Blindness) depicted the insidious and deceptive character of this kind of war by a ruling elite against its citizens. Saramago wrote a sequel, Seeing, however, which together with Blindness ought to instruct us in greater circumspection.

Today my grocer asked me if I could remember the 40s and 50s of the past century. He knows that I am not quite that old but also that as a history teacher I am familiar with records and remembrance of things past. Then he said, point blank, “we are in a state of war.” He was not talking about the efforts to prevent infection, the risk of sickness. He was talking about the unspoken state of hostility against person or persons unknown (or unnamed) that characterises the entire environment in which the West has ostensibly found itself within the past three weeks. Ostensibly the virus is the enemy. But sane people are not so easily deceived.

There are many details one could mention. I have been writing about this now since St Greta started to terrorise us with her apocalyptic spasms.

However, it might bear consideration. M. Macron no longer has yellow vests. Madrid can dispense with its Catalonian annoyance. Italy is prevented from active participation in the Belt and Road project. Germany, well, the Sphinx of Berlin will never admit what her government’s real objectives are. (We should recall that every high official who dared to openly mention German military activity in Central Asia was forced to resign.) The war against China has not ended — maybe it is only just starting. And then there is the war against us. I am sure that if asked today not only Ms Albright would reply, “We think the price is worth it.”

  1. Le Monde, “Nous sommes en guerre“: Ie verbatim du discours d’Emmanuel Macron

Operation Condor 2.0 Expanded

According to US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, the US will help “legitimate governments” in Latin America, in order to prevent protests from “morphing into riots”.

From what we are seeing this “legitimization” may be expanded to rest of the world. Because Washington-instigated destabilizing unrest goes on throughout the world. We may as well call it “Operation Condor 2.0 – Expanded”. It promises to become devastating, oppressive and murderous on all Continents. A transformation from whatever ‘freedom’ may have existed to neoliberal dictatorships bending towards neofascism.

The original “Operation Condor” was a campaign by the United States to bring ‘order’ into her backyard; i.e., Latin America. In other words, it was a repressive move that started in 1968 and concluded around the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall. We are talking about more than 20 years of right-wing repression especially, but not exclusively directed, on the Southern Cone of South America.

It included such military dictators like Jorge Rafael Videla in Argentina. He came to power in 1976 by a US supported military coup, deposing Isabel Martinez de Perón. Comandante Videla stayed in power during five years until 1981, a period in which he brutally oppressed Argentinians, especially the opposition. It is reported that during this period more than 30,000 people ‘disappeared’ – never to return. They were tortured and killed. Some of the dissidents were dropped from helicopters into the Rio de Plata.

Another, better known dictator was Augusto Pinochet, who was directly helped by the CIA and then President Nixon’s National Security Adviser, Henry Kissinger – to overturn the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende in a bloody coup on 11 September 1973. Pinochet introduced as a first in Latin America neoliberal economics through a group of economists from the Economic School of Chicago, the so-called “Chicago Boys”. The resulting austerity brought extreme poverty and famine to Chileans. The ensuing 17 years were a horror, with over 40,000 people ‘disappeared’ or outright murdered.

Other countries that went through one or several “Operation Condor” cleansings, included Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and possibly others. It was a despicable and deadly period for Latin America. In all, an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 people were killed and some 400,00 taken as political prisoners.

Secretary Pompeo’s words could not be clearer. He added that protests in Bolivia, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador reflect the “character of legitimate democratic governments and democratic expression. We’ll work with legitimate governments to prevent protests from morphing into riots and violence that don’t reflect the democratic will of the people.”

Not to forget any invented villains, he added, the US will “continue to support countries trying to prevent Cuba and Venezuela from hijacking those protests.” He went on and accused Russia of “malign” influence in Latin America and of “propping up” the democratically elected Venezuelan government of Nicolas Maduro.

Such remarks come after the US-led November 10 military coup in Bolivia. Amazing that nobody dares stand up and answer him. Are all afraid?

And this especially in the light of having in Bolivia now an opposition dictator, the self-declared interim President (much like Venezuela’s Juan Guaidó),Jeanine Añez, who acts with impunity following fascists and racist orders from Washington – indiscriminately killing her own country-women and men – who happen to be indigenous people. Although she promised new elections, Añez has not set a date, but rather is undoing almost everything Evo Morales has achieved for the people of Bolivia, by privatizing public assets and services, as well as abolishing social safety nets by decree.

Pompeo concluded by saying there remains an “awful lot of work to do” in the region, meaning Latin America as the US’s “back yard.” He also warned against “predatory Chinese activities” in the region, which he claimed can lead countries to make deals that “seem attractive” but are “bad” for citizens.

The new repression that we see in Latin America is not homogenous. In Chile at the surface it looks like the protests started over a metro-fare hike of the equivalent of 4 cents (US-dollar cents) – and then expanded violently to oppose political and economic injustice in Chile, directed against Chile’s neoliberal President, Sebastian Piñera. In Bolivia protests are against an US-induced military coup; in Ecuador they are directed against an austerity-inflicting IMF loan, in Colombia, they appeared suddenly against the corruption and injustice of the Iván Duque presidency; and in Brazil, against the neofascist austerity reforms by Jair Bolsonaro. Copy cats? What’s good for our neighbors, is good for us? – I don’t think so.

It looks much more like a concerted effort by the US to enhance and bolster protests from whatever side they come, to be able to install fully repressive governments, of course, with the help of the US and her secret services – funded by the usual NED (National Endowment for Democracy) and other NGOs that would help install within the respective governments strong 5th Columns, so as to detect early warning signals and crackdown in time on any opposition.

“Operation Condor 2.0 Expanded” – Expanded refers to similar violent protests going on in other parts of the world – practically simultaneously. Take Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Ukraine, Afghanistan, and now France.  No matter from which side they come repression and state of siege, if necessary, are of the order – total repression, that is. All with the help of the US – and, not to forget NATO. This is certainly a key justification to keep NATO alive — to avoid opposition to spread and to risk abolishing the faltering US hegemony.

We are, indeed, in the midst of a new “Operation Condor”; or “Operation Condor 2.0 – Expanded”. Full repression worldwide. In preparation of the next planned global recession, planned by the US-led western banking and financial sector, a recession that will likely outdo whatever we have known in the recent past, and make the 2008 /09 downfall look like a walk in the park. The repression now, it is hoped, will prevent people from going on the barricades when they suffer the next cut in salaries, pensions and other social services, already at an unlivable level.  Authoritarianism and tyranny must be efficient and total with a para-military police, enhanced by the armed forces, if necessary. It’s going to be another transfer of assets and social capital from the bottom to the top.

This has been sensed perhaps intuitively by the French – who have been protesting in the form of Yellow Vests against Macron’s regime for more than a year – and now in the form of a CGT- syndicate organized open-ended general strike. Repression is massive – an estimated 1.5 million people in the streets of the major French cities, all public transportation disrupted. There have even been rumors that the police forces may also join the strike, because they realize they are part of the oppressed and abused by Macron’s neoliberal austerity policies. This is reflected by the four times higher suicide rates among police officers, as compared to the average French.

China and Russia beware. The rogue nation and bulldozer won’t stop necessarily in front of your borders. To the contrary, they may seek any entry they can get – as they are already doing in China with Hong Kong, not letting go despite the various concessions already made by HK’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, supported by Beijing; and also in the autonomous Region of Xinjiang, with the mostly Muslim Uyghur people, many of whom are being recruited  by the CIA across the border from Afghanistan, trained and funded to cause destabilizing unrest.

In view of all of this, President Putin’s recent overture to Israel, especially to PM Netanyahu, is worrisome. Netanyahu is by all accounts part of the repressive wave engulfing our Mother Earth, and, in addition, with his cruel policies against Palestine, he may be considered a mass-murderer.

Zombie NATO Is Obsolete; Militarists Try To Revive It Through Expanded Targets

NATO leaders’ meeting at The Grove hotel and resort in Watford, north of London, on December 4, 2019 (Al Drago for The New York Times)

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) held an abbreviated two-day meeting this week in London on its 70th anniversary. On display was a zombie alliance that is bitterly divided on multiple issues and has lost its purpose for existing. Rather than recognizing it is time to end this obsolete military alliance, they decided to expand their activities, search for a purpose and conduct a study to determine their strategy.

NATO is a cold war relic, an anti-Soviet tool continuing to exist 40 years after the Soviet Union ended. NATO was created one month after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in September 1945, with 12 members. This was ten years before the formation of the Warsaw Pact, which was founded on May 14, 1955.  NATO was not formed to combat the Soviet Union’s Warsaw Pact, although that was the previous excuse used for its existence.

When President Trump campaigned for office he correctly declared NATO was obsolete, but then he reversed course in April 2017. As president, he has pressured the 29 member-countries to increase their military spending. Between 2016 and 2020, NATO’s budget increased by $130 billion – twice as much as Russia’s total annual military spending. NATO members are expected to contribute two percent of their gross domestic product to the military.  NATO’s total budget is 20 times that of Russia and five times that of China.

It is time for the US to withdraw from NATO and for the alliance to disband. It serves no useful purpose and is a cause of global conflicts and militarism.

NATO meeting, President Donald Trump, right, and President Emmanuel Macron on March 3, 2019. (Credit: Al Drago for The New York Times)

Internal Conflicts: An Alliance That Cannot Agree On The Definition Of Terrorism

NATO shortened its summit because internal divisions threatened to blow up the meeting.

On December 3, before the meeting, Trump and French President Emanuel Macron held a testy joint press conference. Macron told The Economist last month that NATO was suffering “brain death” because of the poor US leadership under Trump. Trump called Macron’s comments “very insulting” and “very, very nasty.” Macron and Trump are also at odds over Trump’s handling of the military conflict between Turkey and Syria, what to do with captured foreign Islamic State fighters and a trade dispute.

A late Tuesday video showed world leaders ridiculing Trump at the summit. Trump abandoned plans for a Wednesday news conference and branded the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, “two-faced.” He cut short his attendance at the summit avoiding the final press conference.

While combating terrorism is one of NATO’s supposed tasks, Macron said: “I’m sorry to say that we don’t have the same definition of terrorism around the table.” Macron warned that “not all clarifications were obtained and not all ambiguities were resolved”. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to hold up efforts to protect the Baltics against Russia unless the alliance branded the Kurdish militias as “terrorists.” He later backed off and allowed NATO to go forward with increasing battalions on Russia’s borders to “protect Poland and the Baltic region” against fanciful threats from Russia.

NATO is facing four crisis areas. First, a deep political crisis including quarrels among the leading military members, accusations, and substantial differences of strategy and purpose. There is also a legal crisis as it consistently operates outside – indeed in violation of – its own goals and purposes and in violation of the United Nations Charter. Third, a moral crisis resulting from its wars against Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria…all catastrophes that caused unspeakable suffering, death, and destruction to millions. And, finally, an intellectual crisis, as an echo chamber alliance that sings only one tune: There are new threats, we must arm more, we need new and better weapons and we must increase military expenditures.

NATO protest in Washington, DC, April 2019

NATO’s Search For A Purpose

Rather than facing the fact that they are no longer serving a useful purpose, and despite their internal conflicts, NATO leaders did manage to pull together a final declaration.

Their declaration pointed the way to NATO expanding its military forces on a global scale that will result in creating instability and military conflicts to justify their existence. NATO has a history of brutal military attacks, including the brutal bombing and destruction of the former Yugoslavia and the Balkans in the late 1990s, regime-change wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, where it still has troops. And, the destruction of Libya that has left the country in chaos. NATO also worked with the United States in the violent coup in Ukraine in 2014.

NATO is playing its role as a military force that supports the US national security agenda. It continues to target Russia as “a threat to Euro-Atlantic security.” In reality, NATO creates that conflict by expanding eastward and putting weapons, bases, and troops along the Russian border. This violated a promise made by Secretary of State James Baker to the final Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev. In a February 1990 meeting, Baker said three times that NATO would not expand, “not one inch eastward.”  NATO’s expansion has been a major provocation in generating the New Cold War with Russia.

NATO is planning Defender 2020 the third-largest military exercise in Europe since the Cold War ended. Some 37,000 troops from 15 NATO nations will be involved including some 20,000 US troops who will be flown from their bases in the United States. Scott Ritter points out the costs associated with these exercises against Russia are considerable, along with the cost of raising, training, equipping and maintaining forces in the high state of readiness needed for short-notice response to an imagined attack by Russia. This is part of increasing confrontations along Russia’s borders, where a total of 102 NATO exercises were held in 2019.

Earlier this month, NATO said they’d formally rejected a Russian request to prohibit installing missiles previously banned under the now-defunct Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in Europe. The Russian request was made directly by President Putin, who fears “a new arms race” following both Moscow and Washington pulling out of the landmark 1988 INF treaty. Despite the facts, NATO blames Russia for the demise of the INF treaty. The French president brought out the reality: “Today would everyone around the table define Russia as an enemy? I do not think so.”

At this year’s summit, the NATO leaders “for the first time” discussed China as a collective security challenge. Prior to the meeting, CNN reported that NATO was falling in line with the anti-China strategy of the United States as NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance needed to start taking into account that China is coming closer to us.’” He pointed to China “‘in the Arctic, … Africa, … investing heavily in European infrastructure and of course investing in cyberspace.”

Despite Stollenberg’s push to make China a target of NATO, their members could only agree on a  declaration that said: “China’s growing influence and international policies present both opportunities and challenges.” NATO members know that China is a benefit to the economy of their nations and that the Belt and Road Initiative connecting China to Europe through the Middle East and Africa is likely to be the defining source of economic growth this century.

NATO has also joined President Trump’s call for the militarization of space, declaring “space an operational domain for NATO” in their declaration.  Related to this, they also pledged to increase their “tools to respond to cyber attacks.”

In April we reported that NATO seeks to expand to Georgia, Macedonia and Ukraine as well as spreading into Latin America with Colombia joining as a partner and Brazil considering participation (not coincidentally, these two nations border Venezuela).

NATO is also bringing nuclear weapons to the Russian border. The Washington Post reported, “A recently released — and subsequently deleted — document published by a NATO-affiliated body has sparked headlines in Europe with an apparent confirmation of a long-held open secret: some 150 US nuclear weapons are being stored in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey.” Raising questions: Under whose control are these weapons held? Are host countries permitted access to US nuclear weapons? Are the host nations informed? Do NATO’s practice deployments involve nuclear bombs and missiles? The Brussels Times reported this summer that  “In the context of NATO, the United States [has deployed] around 150 nuclear weapons in Europe.”

NATO’s search for a purpose has led to a fundamental strategic review of the alliance’s purpose. Members know their mission is unclear and their purpose is questionable.

NATO protest in Italy

70 Years Of Destruction Is Enough, Time To End NATO

The 70th anniversary of NATO is an opportunity to honestly examine the history of NATO destabilization, wasteful military spending, and destructive military attacks. It is also an opportunity for people to urge the end of NATO. On April 4, 2019, NATO foreign ministers met in Washington, DC to celebrate its 70th anniversary, peace and justice activists held a week of actions in protest, disrupting meetings, shutting down an entrance to the State Department and taking the streets. This past week there was a large anti-NATO protest in London.

Scott Ritter believes NATO is as good as dead writing “NATO is on life-support, and Europe is being asked to foot the bill to keep breathing life into an increasingly moribund alliance whose brain death is readily recognized, but rarely acknowledged.”

Ajamu Baraka of Black Alliance for Peace declares: “Today [NATO] is the militarized arm of the declining but still dangerous Pan- European Colonial/capitalist project, a project that has concluded that the stabilization of the world capitalist system and continued dominance of U.S. and Western capital can only be realized through the use of force.”

It is time to demand an end to this destructive alliance as a step toward ending white supremacy, colonization, the destructive military-industrial complex, and the exploitative capitalist economy.

G7: The Cost of Uselessness

The G7 Summit is an obsolete, useless talking shop, as Finnian Cunningham so adroitly says. RT calls it The Unbearable Pointlessness of G7. Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK, and the United States constitute the G7 gang. It should strike any logical thinker as extremely odd that the world’s largest economy (by purchasing parity-based GDP), China, is not part of the club. Why is that?  It’s clear.  The club is for western turbo-capitalist ideologues only; the self-proclaimed world hegemons.

Yes, the G7 are, no doubt, a useless talking shop – and much worse. These seven self-nominated leaders of the world are also among the greatest war criminals of the globe. They are involved in, and initiate, conflicts and wars that have in the last 20 years, roughly since 9/11 gave them a ‘free pass’ to raise in the name of fighting endless terrorism havoc around the globe, killed an estimated 15 to 20 million people, either directly or by proxy and mercenary armies.

That is, of course, much worse than uselessness.

Does anyone ever talk about the value and cost, of these ‘summits’?  The value; i.e., the output, is at best zero and in most cases negative. These conferences highlight conflicts, create new ones and add to the fire that was just smoldering. And I am not talking about the Brazilian Amazon fires. This was the case of the G7 in Biarritz. The high-ranking delegates were insulting each other, plus, as this was not enough, barbs were thrown back and forth across the Atlantic between Macron and Bolsonaro. That just shows about what level of human consciousness we are talking.

Trump was confusing the lot, or those who paid any attention to the outbursts of the creator of pure chaos, more tariffs on Chinese goods, then not, then again, levying tariffs for French wines, new sanctions against Iran, Venezuela, threats of new aggressions and even war with Iran; and surprise-surprise “Kim Jon-un, North Korea’s President, is a friend”. Peace talks were not even on the back-burner. So, it would be fair to say, the benefits or values of this summit were less than zilch, they were negative. It was a laughable propaganda stint, but an expensive one at that.

Defining the costs of the event is a rather complex algorithm. However, any cost for an event that produces a sum of negative values, is money thrown into a bottomless pit. The costs, of course, do not just amount to travel, lodging, good food and drink. They include for starters also the entire entourage of the megalo-politicians, police and military security. Biarritz alone was protected by about 20,000 police and military troops combined. They shielded the worldly leaders (sic) from anti-G7 / anti-establishment demonstrators.

Protests are widely justified against this clan of smiling tyrants and despots, with the audacity to appoint themselves to the world’s rulers. No UN or other international body has selected or ratified them. Their arrogance with impunity is meant to irradiate power around the globe. The smoke of grandeur emanating from their heads can most likely be seen from space. The sad story is that the vast majority of this world, especially the western world, takes them seriously. They bow to the G7 nonsense; they accept their often-criminal decisions for wars, conflicts and killer-sanctions, as God-given. The G7 decide over the fate of sovereign nations, like Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, Syria, Afghanistan – and who is next? If it wasn’t for Russia and China the damage they cause would indeed be unbearable.

They selected themselves as rulers of the universe. Unheard of, only half a century ago, that something so aberrant like the G7, the G20, the WEF (World Economic Forum that meets every January in lush Davos, Switzerland), are able to assemble many of the same rulers to hold the scepter of power over the planet. How come the peoples of this world allow their supremacy with impunity? One can but shake one’s head about this lunacy.  What has humanity become?

The Trump delegation usually travels with a flock of aids, journalists, advisors, let alone his bodyguards, and the blinding cars he brings from Washington by special air carriers. And all the others? Maybe slightly less, as they are, as vassals of the Great US Emperor, bound to be a bit more modest. Nevertheless, the total cost must be in the hundreds of millions – all counted, including shadow costs, environmental damage, CO2 emissions, and ‘externalities’ – which includes everything that establishment economists don’t want you to know, say, a total cost of 200 to 300 million dollars?

Maybe that’s an underestimate. The published figure on what Biarritz alone spent on this illustrious event is around US$ 41 million equivalent,15,000 police and about 5,000 troops, but not counting for the damage caused by the authorities fighting peaceful protesters. Add to this the cost of all the other attendants. Never mind the exact cost. The sheer fact that a grotesque amount of money in the range of 200 to 300 million dollars, is spent for nothing, zilch, for the bolstering of egos of some megalos, is an absurdity of our western civilization.

Hundreds of millions of dollars – a fiat currency produced at will and whim by the Federal reserve (The FED, the entirely privately owned US Central Bank) – nevertheless a currency that still drives much of the world, is used to pay for basics, like food, housing, clothing, health care and what’s left of education  – meaning what the world rulers are still allowing young people to be educated with.

Just think about it. Who pays for all these hundreds of millions of dollars, euros, yen, or whatever other fiat currency? You, the tax payer. So, you, the tax payer, have something to say about how your money is spent, don’t you think?

Therefore, we the people have to stop this arrogant nonsense that leads to less than zero, or worse, but costs hundreds of millions that could be spent on education and health services and other public services, including taking care of refugees in the G7 countries, or alternatively in countries to be rebuilt after the destruction by wars for greed and hegemony by the very G7.

So far – and every time more – the money spent on G7 and similar events, is like negative interest — destructive. You, the citizen and tax-payer, spend money for something that has a negative return. It is as nefarious as if you deposit your savings in a bank and the bank, instead of giving you an interest on your savings, charges you interest for keeping your money, then lends it to, say, a corporation, but the corporation has to pay back less than it borrowed. In other words, you the ‘small saver’ subsidize the big corporation, or anybody who can afford and is considered ‘eligible’ and solvent enough by the bank to borrow money.  It’s a new form of transferring resources from the bottom to the top.

The money spent on the G7 – or other comparable events – is similar. The event rulers take your money (taxes) and transfer it upstairs, where you will never see it again. Not only do you get nothing for it, but it costs you more, as the G7 foment wars and conflicts which kill millions, annihilate entire countries’ infrastructure, housing, schools, health facilities and generate an influx of refugees, for all of which you pay again.

Let’s see.  A year of primary education, say in Africa, costs about US$ 400 / per student, and about US$ 650 for high school education (2017). Providing decent health care, preventive and curative, per person in Bangladesh amounts to about US$ 650 per year. Assuming the money spent on the G7 Biarritz summit was about 250 to 300 million, you could provide education for a year to about 550,00 students in, say, Kenya, or provide a year of decent health care to about 430,000 Bangladeshi. Or the G7 funds could build drinking water and sanitation facilities for about 2.5 million people in developing countries. These figures may have a margin of error of plus or minus 20%. But you get the picture.

Or closer to home, how many refugees could xenophobic Europe, especially France and Italy,  take care of – refugees driven from their countries, precisely for wars started and sustained by the G7s, to line their weapons industries with huge profits, to dominate the world’s natural resources and eventually put all the people under one hegemonic, globalized roof — one culture, one currency, and only one kind of thinking and ideology allowed — their final goal.

Well, these refugees streaming to Europe, children without parents, divided families, sick people, people dying in the ditches, on the sides of roads in self-built camps, camps exposed to the climate elements, camps that are eventually erased by bulldozers – these human beings put into misery by the very G7 – why not use the money spent on such nefarious fora to impress the lot of the well-off populations on either side of the Atlantic, instead on a little humanitarian act, act of consciousness — what’s left of it — taking care of the trans-Mediterranean refugees?

Mr. Macron, you are besieged by the Yellow Vests, who will not go away. What do you think canceling the event and instead pledging the funds for humanitarian shelter for refugees, and lobbying with the remaining G6 to do the same would have done to your Presidency, to your ever-sinking popularity? Maybe some uplifting? You could badly need it. But the image – that’s what it is — the image of grandeur, rubbing elbows with the so-called “leaders” of the world, is of all-overarching importance, isn’t it?  Never mind the unbearable suffering of many of the people you claim to democratically represent.

• First published by the New Eastern Outlook – NEO

Is a Rouhani-Trump Meeting Imminent?

PressTV Interview Transcript
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qsp1UcXqEo&feature=youtu.be

Peter Koenig
29 August 2019


Background

Tehran and Washington have been locked in a dispute since last year when the US unilaterally pulled out of the nuclear agreement and re-imposed crippling sanctions on Iran. On Monday, President Donald Trump said he is ready to meet his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani within weeks after a G-7 leaders’ summit. The idea was proposed by French President Emmanuel Macron who was hosting the summit. But Rouhani said Washington must first lift sanctions imposed since its withdrawal from the nuclear deal.

*****

PressTV: Could you comment on Mr. Rouhani’s conditions for talks with President Trump?

Peter Koenig: Mr. Rouhani is right asking for lifting of sanctions as a principle, because Iran has never bypassed or violated the rules of the Nuclear Deal. The sanctions are a groundless punishment by Washington because Iran wants – and should – remain a sovereign country, not bowing to Washington.

It’s sheer economic terrorism.

However, let’s be realistic. The US, especially Trump who is dancing to the tunes of Netanyahu, will not just lift the sanctions. It would, in my opinion, be more constructive if Mr. Rouhani would ask for lifting of the most hurting sanctions – for example, the ban on importing crucial medication and medical equipment and other vital goods.

We know the US will not change behavior, especially under Trump, as long as they still feel they are the exceptional Nation, the undisturbed Empire. Never mind that the empire is rapidly declining. As long as they have a stranglehold, literally, on the western monetary system, that will not change.

That’s why I keep suggesting that Iran gradually but firmly and ever faster detach from the western economy and financial system, western banks, the use of dollars and euros – and shift to the East, becoming a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as quickly as possible, and trade in Chinese yuan.

Yes, Mr. Macron initiated the talks with Mr. Trump.

But, how shall I say this?  Macron is not trustworthy. He does what he thinks can serve himself, not even the French people, but him, his image as King Macron.

He wants to be the go-between, be friends with Mr. Putin and Mr. Xi, but also be friends with Trump. Whatever serves his megalo-image.

When something doesn’t go his way, doesn’t bolster his image, he will step back.

So better Iran goes her own way in direction East, where the future is.

And again with as little as possible dealing with the west.  As long as the US is in the driver’s seat, and as long as the US controls the western money flow, anybody not liked by the Master is vulnerable for sanctions. We see it all over the world.

Therefore, asking for partial lifting of sanctions, namely for vital goods, those that cause most harm to the Iranian people, like medical imports, may be a good initial strategy. Who knows, perhaps Trump goes along. And if not, Mr. Rouhani has at least tried, and a rejection by Trump would further tarnish his presidency.