Category Archives: United Nations

Capitalism’s Suicidal Trajectory can’t be ignored

If we make it out of the climate emergency, we may come to view the few decades usually described simply as the Cold War that followed the Second World War as halcyon days – at least relative to what we are facing now.

The Cold War was a power struggle between two economic empires for global domination – between the United States and its vassal states, including Europe, on one side, and Russia and its vassal states lumped together into the Soviet Union, on the other. The fight was between a US-led capitalism and what was styled as a Soviet-led “communism”.

That struggle led to an all-consuming arms race, the rapid accumulation of vast nuclear arsenals, the permanent threat of mutually assured destruction (MAD), military bases in every corner of the planet, and the demonisation by each side of the other.

Not much has changed on any of those counts, despite the official ending of the Cold War three decades ago. The world is still on the brink of nuclear annihilation. The arms race is still at full throttle, though it is now dominated by private corporations making profits from “humanitarian interventions” based on “Shock and Awe” bombing campaigns. And the globe is still awash with military bases, though now the vast majority belong to the Americans, not the Russians.

‘End of history’

After the fall of the Soviet Union at the end of the 1980s, we moved from a bipolar world to a unipolar one – where the US had no serious military rival, and where there was no longer any balance of forces, even of the MAD variety.

That was why US empire intellectuals such as Francis Fukuyama could declare boldly and, with so much relief, the “end of history”. The US had won, capitalism had emerged victorious, the west’s ideology had prevailed. Having defeated its rival, the US empire – supposed upholder of democratic values – would now rule the globe unchallenged and benevolently. The dialectics of history had come to an end.

In a sense, Fukuyama was right. History – if it meant competing narratives, diverging myths, conflictual claims – had come to an end. And little good has resulted.

It is easy to forget that the start of the Cold War coincided with a time of intense international institution-building, flowering into the United Nations and its various agencies. Nation-states recognised, at least in theory, the universal nature of rights – the principle that all humans have the same basic rights that must be protected. And the rules governing warfare and the protection of civilians, such as the Geneva Conventions, were strengthened.

In fact, the construction of a new international order at that end of the Second World War was no coincidence. It was built to prevent a third and, in the nuclear age, potentially apocalyptic world war. The two new superpowers had little choice but to recognise that the other side’s power meant neither could have it all. They agreed to constraints, loose and malleable but strong enough to put some limits on their own destructive capabilities.

Carrot and stick

But if these two empires were locked in an external, physical struggle with each other, they equally feared an internal, ideological battle. The danger was that the other side might make a more persuasive case for its system with the opposing empire’s citizens.

In the US, this threat was met with both carrot and stick.

The stick was provided by intermittent witch hunts. The most notorious, led by Senator Joe McCarthy in the 1950s, searched for and demonised those who were considered “un-American”. It was no surprise that this reign of terror, exposing “Communists”, focused on the ultimate US myth-making machine, Hollywood, as well as the wider media. Through purges, the creative class were effectively recruited as foot soldiers for US capitalism, spreading the message both at home and abroad that it was the superior political and economic system.

But given the stakes, a carrot was needed too. And that was why corporate capitalism was tamed for a few decades by Keynesian economics. The “trickle-down” effect wasn’t simply a talking-point, as it is now. It was a way of expanding the circle of wealth just enough to make sure a middle class would stop any boat-rocking that might threaten the wealth-elite running the US empire.

War of attrition

The Cold War was a war of attrition the Soviet Union lost. It started to break apart ideologically and economically through the 1980s – initially with the emergence of a trade union-led Solidarity movement in Poland.

As the Soviet empire weakened and finally collapsed, capitalism’s internal constraints could be lifted, allowing Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan to unleash unregulated neoliberal economics at home. That process intensified over the years, as global capitalism grew ever more confident. Unfettered, capitalism anticipated its ultimate fate in 2008, when the global financial system was brought to its knees. The same will happen again soon enough.

Nonetheless, Soviet collapse is often cited as proof of two things: not only that capitalism was a better system than the Soviet one, but that it has shown itself to be the best political and economic system human beings are capable of devising.

In truth, capitalism looks impressive only comparatively – because the Soviet system was appallingly inefficient and brutal. Its authoritarian leaders repressed political dissent. Its rigid bureaucracies stifled wider society. Its paranoid security services surveilled the entire population. And the Soviet command-style economy was inflexible, lacked innovation and regularly led to shortages.

The weaknesses and atrocities of capitalism have been much less obvious to us only because the culture in which we are so steeped has told us for so long, and so relentlessly, that capitalism is a perfect, peerless system based on our supposedly competitive, acquisitive natures.

Installing dictators

History, remember, is written by the victor. And capitalism won. We who live in the capitalist west only hear one side of the story – the one about vanquishing Communism.

We know almost nothing of our own Cold War history: how the US empire cared not a whit about democracy abroad, only about extracting other people’s resources and creating dependent markets for its goods. It did so by cultivating and installing dictators around the globe, usually on the pretext that they were necessary to stop evil “Communists” – often popular democratic socialists committed to redistributing wealth – from taking over.

Think of General Augusto Pinochet, who headed a brutal dictatorship in Chile through the 1970s and 1980s. The US helped him launch a military coup against the democratically elected left wing leader, Salvador Allende, in 1973. He created a society of fear, executing and torturing tens of thousands of political opponents, so he could introduce a “Shock Doctrine” free-market system developed by US economists that plunged the country’s economy into free-fall. Wealth in Chile, as elsewhere, was siphoned off to a US elite and its local allies.

This catastrophic social and economic meddling was replicated across Latin America and far beyond. In the post-war years, Washington was not just responsible for the terrible suffering its war machine inflicted directly to stop the “Communists” in Latin America and south-east Asia. It was equally responsible for the enormous number of casualties inflicted by its clients, whether in Latin America, Africa, Iran or Israel.

Military-industrial complex

Perhaps the US empire’s greatest innovation was outsourcing its atrocities to private corporations – the emergence of a military-industrial complex Dwight D Eisenhower, the former US army general, warned about in his farewell address of 1961, as he stood down as president.

The global corporations at the heart of the US empire – the arms industries, oil companies and tech firms – won the war of attrition not because capitalism was better, fairer, more democratic or more humane. The corporations won because they were more creative, more efficient, less risk-averse, more psychopathic in their hunger for wealth and power than Soviet bureaucracies.

All those qualities are now unimpeded by the constraints once imposed by a bipolar world, one shared between two superpowers. Global corporations now have absolutely unfettered power to drain the planet of every last resource to fuel a profit-driven, consumption-obsessed system of capitalism.

The truth of that statement was mostly unspeakable 16 years ago when one was ridiculed as a tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy theorist for pointing out that the US had invented two pretexts – Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction and its equally imaginary ties to al-Qaeda – to grab control of that country’s oil.

Now Donald Trump, the foolish, brash president of the United States, doesn’t even bother to conceal the fact that his troops are in Syria to control its oilfields.

Toothless watchdogs

The unipolar world that resulted from the fall of the Soviet Union has not only removed the last constraints on the US empire’s war-making abilities, the external battle. It has also had terrible repercussions for the internal, ideological battlefront.

Control of the media has grown ever more concentrated. In the US the flow of information is controlled by a handful of global corporations, often with connections to the very same arms, oil and tech industries so keen to ensure the political climate allows them to continue pillaging the planet unhindered.

For some time I have been documenting examples of the corporate media’s falsehoods in these columns, as you can read here.

But US elites have come to dominate too the post-war international institutions that were created to hold the superpowers to account, to serve as watchdogs on global power.

Now isolated and largely dependent on funding, and their legitimacy, from the US and its European allies, international monitoring agencies have become pale shadows of their former selves, leaving no one to challenge official narratives.

The combined effect of the capture of international institutions and the concentration of media ownership has been to ensure we live in the ultimate echo chamber. Our media uncritically report self-serving narratives from western officials that are then backed up by international agencies that have simply become loudhailers for the US empire’s goals.

A coup becomes ‘resignation’

Anyone who doubts that assessment needs only to examine the reporting of last week’s military coup in Bolivia, which overthrew the democratically elected leader Evo Morales. Corporate media universally described Morales’ ousting and escape to Mexico in terms of him “resigning”. The media were able to use this preposterous framing by citing claims by the highly compromised, US-funded Organisation of American States (OAS) that Morales’ rule was illegitimate.

Similarly, independent investigative journalist Gareth Porter has shown convincingly how the International Atomic Energy Agency, the body monitoring states’ nuclear activities, has come under the US imperial thumb.

Its inspectors produced gravely misleading information to help the US make a bogus case justifying Israel’s bombing in 2007 of what was claimed to be a secret nuclear reactor built in Syria.

The deceptions, it later emerged, included the IAEA violating its own protocols by concealing the results of the samples taken from the site that showed there was no radioactive contamination. Instead the IAEA highlighted one anomalous finding in a changing-room that was almost certainly caused by cross-contamination from an inspector.

Head-choppers humanised

Another stark illustration of how international agencies have been captured is the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). It has played a central role in bolstering an unproven US narrative, echoed by the western corporate media, that Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad has been responsible for a spate of chemical weapons attacks on his own people.

That narrative has been vital to western efforts at justifying regime change in a key Middle Eastern state resistant to US-Israeli-Saudi hegemony in the region. The narrative has also been useful in “humanising” the head-chopping extremists of Islamic State and al-Qaeda – which were in control of the areas where these alleged attacks took place – making it easier for the west to support them in a proxy war to oust Assad, a battle that has created untold misery for Syrians.

But the OPCW is no longer the independent, respected expert body it once was. Long ago it fell under effective US control – back in 2003 when its first director-general, Jose Bustani, was forced out by Washington in the run-up to the attack of Iraq. That was when the US needed to manufacture a false pretext for invasion by suggesting that Baghdad had weapons of mass destruction. US official John Bolton even threatened Bustani’s children, so desperate was George W Bush’s administration to cow the agency.

In Syria, the post-Bustani OPCW has been the lynchpin of the US narrative spin against Assad. Basic investigative protocols have been discarded by the OPCW, such as the requirement of a “chain of custody” to ensure any samples handed to it can be properly attributed. Instead the OPCW has implicated the Syrian government in the alleged chemical attacks based on samples collected by Islamist extremists desperate to justify more western meddling against Assad to bolster their own rule in Syria.

The first real test of the chemical weapons narrative came last year in Douma, where the Islamists argued that they had again been attacked. That claim led to the US, Britain and France launching missile strikes on Syrian positions in violation of international law.

Days later the Islamists lost control of the city to Assad’s forces and for the first time OPCW inspectors were able to visit the scene of an alleged attack themselves and collect their own samples.

Douma findings distorted

The official report into Douma, published earlier this year, appeared to confirm the US narrative. It hinted strongly that the Syrian air force had dropped two bombs located by the OPCW and that those sites had tested positive for the chemical chlorine.

But thanks to two separate whistleblowers from the OPCW, one of whom was an investigator in Douma, we now know that the official report was not the one submitted by the investigators and did not reflect the evidence they unearthed or their scientific analyses of the evidence. It was rewritten by the OPCW officials in the Hague to suit Washington’s agenda.

The official report was, in fact, a complete distortion of the evidence. Investigators found that levels of chlorine at the supposed bomb sites were no higher than background levels, and less than found in drinking water – nowhere near enough to have killed Douma’s victims shown in photos produced by the Islamist groups.

The investigators’ findings suggested an entirely different narrative: that the Islamists in Douma had placed the bombs at the two sites to make it look like a chemical attack had taken place and thereby provide a pretext for even deeper western interference.

It was not difficult to understand why officials in the OPCW’s head office had decided to conceal their expert inspectors’ findings and submit to US intimidation.

The real findings would have:

  • undermined the official narrative unquestioningly attributing the earlier chemical weapons attacks to the Syrian government, in turn making a mockery of western claims to humanitarian concern in aiding and funding years of a devastating proxy war in Syria;
  • revealed the politicisation of the OPCW, and the corporate media’s supine treatment of the Islamists’ claims;
  • intimated at the collusion between western governments and Islamist groups that have been slaughtering non-Sunni populations in the Middle East and launching terror attacks in the west;
  • highlighted that the US-British-French military attack on Syria in response – a violation of Syria’s sovereignty – was not simply a war crime but the “supreme war crime”;
  • and bolstered the case for the Syrian government to be allowed to regain control of its territory.

Down the memory hole

The leaks from the OPCW whistleblowers paint a very troubling picture, where our most trusted international institutions can no longer be relied on to seek out the truth. They are there to serve the world’s sole super-power as it seeks to manipulate us in ways that accrete ever more power to it.

It is quite extraordinary that the mounting evidence that OPCW officials conspired in the falsifying of evidence to help the US empire overthrow another government is not considered news, let alone front-page news. There has been a complete media blackout on these revelations.

In an unguarded moment back in May when she heard about the first whistleblower, the BBC’s much-admired chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet responded to a Twitter follower that it was “an important story” and that she would “make sure programmes know about it”.

Six months and another whistleblower later, neither Doucet nor the BBC have uttered so much as a squeak about the discrediting of the OPCW report. This “important story” has been collectively plunged down the memory hole by the corporate media.

In this confected unipolar reality, we, the public, have been left compass-less, exposed to fake news not only from wayward social media sites or self-interested governments but from the large media “watchdogs” and the very global institutions supposedly set up to act as dispassionate arbiters of truth and justice. We have been returned to a world where might alone makes right.

Environmental destruction

Things are bad enough already, but all the evidence suggests they are going to get a lot worse. Capitalism’s problems go beyond its inherent need for violence and war to acquire yet more territory and open up new markets. Its economic logic is premised on endless growth, based on unremitting resource extraction from a finite planet.

That causes two major problems.

One is that as the west runs out of resources – most obviously oil – to fuel its endless consumption, resource extraction will become ever more difficult and less profitable. Markets are shrinking and the ramifications can now be felt at home too. Youngsters in the west have no hope of being as successful or wealthy as their parents, or even grandparents.

In a world of diminishing resources and no serious ideological or economic rival, Keynesian economics – the basis on which western elites won over their publics by enlarging the middle class – has been discarded as an unnecessary indulgence. We are in an era of permanent austerity for the many to subsidise the further enrichment of the already fabulously wealthy few.

But second, and much worse, capitalism is being exposed as a suicidal ideology. In its compulsion to monetise everything, it is polluting the oceans with plastic and choking the air with particulates. It is rapidly extinguishing insect life, the main barometer of the planet’s health. It is destroying habitats necessary for larger animals and for biodiversity. And it is creating a climate that humans will soon not be able to survive.

Capitalism isn’t unique in degrading the environment. Soviet economies were quite capable of it too. But as with everything else it touches, capitalism has proved to be uniquely efficient at destroying the planet.

Sinking boat

It is no longer just poor people out of sight in far-off lands who are being made victims of capitalism, though for the time being they are still the worst hit.

They are fleeing the lands we helped to degrade with our weapons, and the crop failures that resulted from the climate change our industries fuelled, and the poverty we increased through our resource grabs and addiction to consumption. But in our continuing arrogance we block their escape with tougher immigration policies and “hostile environment” strategies. We trivialise the plight of those we have displaced through our globe-spanning system of greed as “economic migrants”.

It is gradually becoming clearer – with the environmental emergency – that we are all ultimately in the same boat. It is only the supremely efficient propaganda machine created by the capitalist elite that still persuades too many of us that there is no way to get off the boat. Or that if we try, we will drown.

But the stark reality is that we are in a sinking boat – the sinking boat of capitalism. The hole is growing and water rushing in faster by the day. Inaction means certain death. It is time to be brave, open our eyes and search for dry land.

The 2019 UN Vote Against the US Blockade of Cuba


The United States government does not have the least moral authority to criticize Cuba or anyone else in the area of ​​human rights. We reject the repeated manipulation of this issue for political purposes and the double standards that characterize its use.

— Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, November 7, 2019 at United Nations General Assembly

On November 7, 2019, for the 28th year in a row, the entire United Nations General Assembly, gathered in one room, voted overwhelmingly against “the Economic, Commercial, and Financial Embargo Imposed on Cuba by the United States.” The final tally was 187 in favor, 3 opposed (Brazil, Israel, US), 2 abstentions (Colombia, Ukraine), 1 not voting (Moldova).

Several points should be noted about these holdouts to the overwhelming consensus of the world’s constituted governments that the ultra-powerful nation-state of the United States (population over 300 million) of America should cease and desist its decades-long shameful, arrogant bullying of socialist Cuba (population less than 12 million). Speaker after speaker, to this observer, barely repressed their contempt for Washington’s  slanders of Cuba. All fully understand that Cuba is a classic and model example, among many in this Hemisphere since the end of the 19th Century, of being on the receiving end of unrelenting Yankee imperialist aggression, under a crass cover of flowery bullshit demagogy about “human rights” and “freedom.” As speaker after speaker declaimed from the General Assembly rostrum, “28 years is Enough!”

First, let us note that while the crisis-ridden Brazilian government of Jair Bolsonaro may have added the NO vote of Brazil to those of the United States and Israel, Bolsonaro is not Brazil. There is not the slightest doubt that the public opinion of the Brazilian working class, youth, and population as a whole (likely including the “professional” diplomatic staff in New York and in the Brazilian Foreign Ministry), solidly rejects as an abomination the vote dictated by Bolsonaro and solidarizes with Cuba.

Israel – and the right-wing coalition government of Benjamin Netanyahu just-hanging-on to power – is, of course, politically and militarily dependent on the United States and votes accordingly. (Netanyahu’s government abstained when the US government under Barack Obama also did so in 2016.) Interestingly, however, Israel and Cuba, which have not restored diplomatic relations cut after the 1973 Middle East War, have for many years now, carried out, by all accounts, normal and even friendly bilateral trade with each other, as well as extensive people-to-people travel exchanges with no restrictions.

Finally, while fully 50 separate speakers addressed the 2-day General Assembly meeting from the rostrum or from their seats – representing their member states directly or speaking for major constituted blocs recognized by the UN – Israel, Brazil, Colombia, Ukraine, and the elusive Moldova chose not to speak at all and defend their “point of view” whatever that might be other than jerking their knee towards the United States government and the Trump Administration.

Even regimes installed directly or indirectly by US military force such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, could not stomach being identified with Trump’s Washington against Cuba. Again, as for well over a decade, Washington’s EU and NATO allies voted for the Resolution presented by Cuba.  As did both North and South Korea and even Iran and US close ally Saudi Arabia.

Why the UN Vote Matters

The annual Resolution does not have any enforcement authority or mechanisms, is generally ignored or relegated to a back-pages note in the US capitalist media, and can be even characterized as politically toothless. Still, from Cuba’s vantage point, the annual Resolution is an important material and political factor in the defense of Cuba’s socialist revolution, and registers an objective marker in the relationship of political forces in the world and is a material factor in the political limitations on direct US aggression and the permanent world pressure to crush the blockade in all its forms once and for all in world public opinion. It can fairly be said that the US blockade of Cuba is universally hated around the world, including by many millions in the United States who increasingly know some or much of the truth about Cuba, including many tens of thousands from licensed and unlicensed travel to the beautiful island.

Above all, every year it is revolutionary, socialist Cuba that holds the moral high ground in world politics, worth all the nuclear weapons in Washington’s arsenal, on this world stage. The revolutionary diplomats at Cuba’s Mission to the United Nations give great importance to this annual vote. And every year dozens of Cuba solidarity activists, mostly from the New York-New Jersey area, take seats in the 4th Floor Visitors Gallery to respectfully observe the annual event.

2018 Ruse Not Repeated

Last year in 2018 the United States carried out an elaborate diversionary ruse to dilute the political impact of the Resolution in the form of a series of amendments attacking Cuba over this or that “human rights” nonsense. These fell completely flat as the EU and every other force voting for the Cuban-sponsored Resolution, refused to take the bait and Washington’s political isolation and humiliation was only deepened, as they appeared unprepared and blindsided.

There was some mystery as to whether Trump’s UN flunkies would put themselves through the same wringer again in 2019, but at the end of the day the US representative, recruited by Donald Trump from giving commentary on a conservative cable TV news oligopoly, simply took the floor in turn after the previous 40 speakers had blasted US anti-Cuba policy, gave a subdued, lame 3-minute litany (“I promise not to speak too long.”), and promptly sat down. Perhaps the highlight of her time was a snarky reference to Cuba’s solidarity with the “former Maduro regime” in Venezuela. A few moments later she was followed on the rostrum by the present Maduro regime’s Foreign Minister.

The US approach was simply let’s just get it over with! This points to the genuine political consternation and isolation that is the political reality faced by the Trump Administration that is accelerating since the debacle of its Venezuela “regime-change” policy which culminated in the failure of the April 30, 2019 US-directed right-wing military coup. I will return to this decisive point in assessing the significance of the 2019 UN Cuba vote.

Too Much Pressure

On Day 1, November 6, there were 31 separate presentations. The first seven from recognized UN blocs: the accredited delegate from Palestine speaking for “the Group of 77 plus China;” the delegate from Tunisia for the “African Group;” Azerbaijan’s representative spoke for the “Non-Aligned Movement,” Grenada’s representative for the “Caribbean Community;” Singapore’s for the Association of South East Asian Nations;” and Uganda for the “Organization of Islamic Cooperation.”

Trump’s envoys were reportedly pressuring nation-states in Latin America and the Caribbean to side with them against Cuba but, observing the several hours of discussion, it was clear to me that Hemispheric states and governments were, if anything, going out of the way to register in clear and direct language their sharp opposition to US anti-Cuba policy. Argentina, Costa Rica, and Uruguay rushed to get their statement of support for the Resolution on the record.

Nearly every individual member of the “Caribbean Community” also took the rostrum – Grenada; St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Suriname; Belize; Guyana; St. Kitts and Nevis; Jamaica; Trinidad and Tobago; Antigua and Barbuda and spoke eloquently and with some passion and sharpness about their solidarity with Cuba, all citing Cuba’s internationalist medical, educational, and sports solidarity misiones. It is very clear that the US blockade of Cuba, in addition to the moral and political outrage it engenders, has a deleterious economic impact on Caribbean-wide economic integration and agricultural and industrial development and exchange for the entire Caribbean.

Sharp Tone, Growing Exasperation

Having attended these discussions and votes, and written about them several times, I can say that my impression this year was that the diplomatic language was a little less diplomatic, that the tone was more than a little sharper from many African and Caribbean states, and more exasperated from others. Many noted the “regression” from their hopes and illusions after Barack Obama in his second term led a retreat of US policy: freed the remaining Cuban Five political prisoners and heroes; restored Washington-Havana diplomatic relations; loosened travel restrictions and air travel; and OK’d Cruise Ship stops.

The tone this year – and I think it was V.I. Lenin who said, “Tone equals politics” – ranged from “deep concern” to “unconscionable” and “appalling” as all lined up to “categorically condemn” the “illegal character” of US policy which should be “consigned to the trash heap.” There was less mincing of mealy-mothed words among the diplomatic gentlemen and gentleladies. Vietnam’s representative spoke “as a country that suffered 19 years of US sanctions…we are in solidarity with the brotherly people of Cuba…we demand the policy be reversed!” The representative from St. Vincent and the Grenadines spoke of her country’s “unwavering support and solidarity with the revolutionary Cuban government; we decry this affront to the indomitable Cuban people.” The Chinese representative like many speakers listed the recent, escalating measures implemented by Trump and said, in the end, “bullying will only hurt the bully.” Gabon spoke sharply of the “nefarious” blockade. Speakers vied over who could use the most condemning or disdainful phrase to register their solidarity with Cuba. (And let us not forget this is communist Cuba led by conscious revolutionary Marxists and Leninists, the political children of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, and a generation of revolutionary women and men who were combatants and fighters for socialist revolution in the Americas.)

The speaker from Belize spoke of the “unbreakable friendship” with Cuba and Cuba’s “magnanimous” support in the fields of health and education “where we have needs and Cuba has strengths.” North Korea called the blockade a “crime against humanity”. South Africa’s representative demanded “End this Injustice! We demand that all of it be scrapped!” The Namibian delegate gave a heartfelt presentation citing Cuba’s “significant contribution to African liberation and the defeat of apartheid and “winning the independence of my country.” Speaker after speaker spoke in praise of Cuban and world revolutionary leader Fidel Castro. (This included a couple of places where if you praised Fidel or tried to promote his politics you’d likely end up in the slammer.)

As is the case each year militant statements of solidarity came from Bolivia, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.

Shifts in Hemispheric Politics and the Blockade

While this represents a remarkable continuity and consensus in the so-called international community, it also registers significant new developments in the long struggle to, once and for all, eradicate the US economic and political war against Cuba. The anti-blockade and anti-US government tone, rhetoric, exasperation, and contempt for the ongoing US aggression was more pronounced, more bitter, and perhaps more conducive to action and deeds from past statements for the record. Events in Latin America and the Caribbean, from Haiti to Chile, are accelerating and intensifying every burning political issue and the “Cuba Question” and the US economic and political war and sanctions has been central and volcanic for decades.

Since the last vote in 2018, and in particular over the last six months in Latin America and the Caribbean, momentous historic political developments have shifted the relationship of class and political forces in the Hemisphere to the detriment of the Donald Trump White House and the US bourgeoisie it serves (in its own peculiar style that worries more than a few in the US ruling class) and in favor of the Cuban revolutionary government and the Hemispheric working class, including inside the United States, where the class struggle is notably heating up. (It is said that the number of strikes in the US today is higher than at any time since the 1980s.)

New Political Dynamics as 2019 Closes

Washington began 2019 with blood in its mouth, full of itself, and living in its bubble of lies to the point where it believed its own bullshit. Trump and his minions were apparently convinced that quick work could and would be made of the sovereign, elected government of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela in the midst of the devastating capitalist economic contraction in that country, greatly multiplied by the collapse in oil commodity prices, mounting US sanctions; and the concurrent economic sabotage in cahoots with the Venezuelan bourgeoisie, which still controls wholesale and retail distribution networks, and much else in the Venezuelan “mixed economy.”

With Maduro disposed of, to the likes of John Bolton, Elliot Abrams, and Marco Rubio, the path would then be clear: Forward to the extermination of socialist Cuba!

Alas for Trump and his gang by the time of the humiliating fiasco of the failed coup that was definitively registered on April 30, 2019, it was obvious that the Maduro-PSUV government was actually being considerable strengthened. This is among the many unintended consequences of the flop of Trump’s anti-Venezuela crusade. These consequences are now continuing to unfold. As the virulently anti-Cuba and anti-Venezuela Miami Herald put it in a deliciously demoralized headline “South America’s wretched month has been great for one man: Venezuela’s Maduro.” The article goes on to quote a Venezuelan “businessman and political pundit,” who laments, “I think people [that is, the Venezuelan capitalists and their allies] here are resigned. They feel like Maduro has survived. And now the world is distracted with the protests in Chile, Ecuador, Haiti – so many other countries.”

From 1992 to 2019: History of the Vote

In 1992, Cuba was reeling from the economic cataclysm of the “Special Period,” when its economy contracted virtually overnight by 35% following the collapse of the Soviet Union and its allied so-called “socialist camp.” Its revolutionary diplomats in New York City at the United Nations took advantage of an inadvertent lapse in the attentiveness of US UN personnel – who, in any case were cooling the champagne in anticipation of socialist Cuba’s imminent implosion and evaporation under deepening US sanctions and stepped-up US-based terrorist attacks – to slip onto the General Assembly agenda the first Resolution “Opposing the Economic, Commercial, and Financial Embargo Imposed by the United States Against Cuba.” Precedent established, and unable to be blocked by US veto. Every year since then for now 28 years now, Washington has been utterly isolated in this annual vote in the General Assembly.

In the November 2016 UN Vote, the US delegation (with Israel in tow – actually abstained in the vote against itself, making the vote formally unanimous. That was in the week before Donald Trump’s narrow electoral triumph over the hapless Hillary Clinton.

That had capped a process which had unfolded from December 2014 when the Barack Obama Administration, in the second half of its second term, began a retreat that partially overturned the bipartisan ruling-class consensus against Cuba. That consensus had lasted from the end of the Dwight Eisenhower Administration in 1959-60 through December 2014. In a dizzying few months Obama, with the public support of Hillary Clinton (who had been battered on Cuba at successive Organization of American States “Summits” from 2008-2012) Secretary of State John Kerry, and Vice-President Joe Biden, released the remaining Cuban Five heroes, engineered Cuba’s removal from the State Department’s notorious list of “nations supporting terrorism,” established formal diplomatic relations with Embassies in Washington, DC and Havana, and loosened existing travel restrictions without abolishing them. The overall “embargo” mandated since the 1996 Helms-Burton Law signed by then-president W. Clinton remained in place.

Trump has steadily reversed, incrementally and with accumulation, much of the limited Obama measures without abrogating formal diplomatic relations or ending all loopholes or even direct flights from US airports to Cuban cities.(Commercial flights to cities other than Havana have been canceled but Charter Flights remain possible.) Trump used the pretext of perturbing reports of “sonic attacks” or some other mysterious ailments supposedly afflicting US and Canadian diplomats at the beginning of his term to cut back drastically the significant people-to-people exchanges that were proving very popular with US and Cuban citizens, separated families, trade unionists, creative artists, doctors and scientists, and so on.

Virtual Coup in Venezuela

The situation changed when the disastrous economic crisis in Venezuela by the end of 2018 led Trump and his team to think the time had come to choreograph a right-wing military coup in Venezuela with the hapless Juan Guaido installed as President. This team of Pence-Pompeo-Bolton and the dusted-off war criminal Elliot Abrams displayed an uncommon skill combining unsavoriness with incompetence with Senator Marco Rubio on the ground with “humanitarian” trucks on the Venezuelan-Colombian border!

For the first 2 months of 2019 they organized a virtual coup that turned out to be 50% bullshit and 50% fantasy. This was fully backed by the Democratic Party Capitol Hill leadership and their lackeys in the capitalist media who went into full Yankee imperialist mode! All their obsession with and contempt for Donald Trump was cast aside to join him in the love fest for – let’s hear the drum roll!!! – Juan Guaido and our bipartisan love for Venezuelan and Latin American democracy and human rights! Hear, Hear!

Mass May Day 2019 mobilizations in Caracas defending national sovereignty against the US-led virtual coup.

Following the late-February 2019 debacle on the Venezuelan-Colombian and Venezuelan-Brazilian borders, Trump and his gang doubled down and organized a virtual coup that was supposed to culminate on May Day with Maduro hopping on the last flight to Jose Marti International Airport in Havana and Juan Guaido installed in Miraflores. Instead the mobilized Venezuelan working class dominated the streets on May Day, Nicolas Maduro’s political position was greatly strengthened in the working class, in the population, and in the Venezuelan Army with his stalwart defense of national sovereignty. The army officer corps was deeply insulted by Trump and Pompeo who though they could throw around some dirty US money to buy off Venezuelan patriots who Washington had previously slandered as drug dealers and worse! For Trump – and you can be sure he was enraged at his minions for the humiliation — the virtual coup became a humiliating reality check. What to do?

Trump and Pompeo quickly pivoted to blaming revolutionary Cuba for their own debacle. (Bolton was also soon sent packing.) Cuba was accused of having 20,000 soldiers and spooks in the country and that was why Maduro was still in office and not living the life in a Cuban ocean resort! Cuba actually has 20,000 medical personnel and educators, and sports trainers in Venezuela.

This, among other things is an egregious insult to the Venezuelan Army and neighborhood-based organized militias that mobilized continuously to defend national sovereignty culminating in the defeat of the virtual coup.

Cuban Doctors in Venezuela

The anti-Cuba measures since then have been coming fast and steady, US- and world public opinion be damned! Cuban-Major League Baseball Deal – annulled. Cruse Ship stops in Cuba (very popular with US citizens, and Cuban small business owners, and a growing source of foreign exchange for Cuban health care and education) — cancelled. “People-to-People” Exchange – eliminated. Then there was the new Trump first that even the solidly anti-Cuban Administrations of William Clinton and George W. Bush wouldn’t do. That is, ending the waiver of Title III of the blockading Helms-Burton Act signed into law by Clinton in 1996. The way is now open for frivolous lawsuits in US courts over property legally nationalized by the revolutionary Cuban government between 1959-1961. At the time, that is over 60 years ago, Washington – which utterly dominated the socially oppressive and brutally unequal Cuban economy – rejected offers of fair compensation to affected companies. Companies based in other countries settled without much difficulty.

Instead the John F. Kennedy Administration was committed to a CIA-directed mercenary invasion of Cuba in April 1961 and, when that failed panned a direct US invasion that was only averted with the settlement of the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962.

We are now seeing the accelerating consequences of Trump and company’s Venezuelan fiasco in the rapid shift in – to use bloated academic jargon – the political paradigm in Latin America and the Caribbean from the uprisings in Haiti and Chile to the return of the Peronist party in Argentina and even the freeing of Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva on November 8 in Brazil. It seems certain that the so-called Lima Group stitched together to prop up Juan Guaido cannot have too many more days on this planet. This shift takes place amidst ongoing assaults on the working class under the whip of the International Monetary Fund and the concentrated summits of world capital.

This then was the background for this year’s vote.

2020 approaches with Donald Trump’s Washington on its heels in Latin America.

Syria:  The Launch of a Constitutional Committee a Sign of Hope for Syrian People

29 October 2019

Peter Koenig

Transcript of a PressTV Interview following a live press Conference by the Foreign Ministers of Russia, Iran and Turkey at the UN Geneva, Switzerland

Background

GENEVA, October 28 (Xinhua) — The UN Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, said here on Monday that the Constitutional Committee’s launch should be a sign of hope for the long-suffering Syrian people.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Pedersen said that the creation of the Constitutional Committee is a shared promise to the Syrian people to try in earnest to agree on new constitutional arrangements for Syria’s future.

Russia, Iran and Turkey have stressed that Syrian constitutional committee must work independently from any foreign intervention to gain maximum support from the people in the Arab country.

Sergey Lavrov was reading a joint statement made by Moscow, Tehran and Ankara ahead of a meeting of Syria’s constitutional committee in Geneva. Lavrov also highlighted the importance of Syria’s unity and territorial integrity. He expressed the readiness of Russia, Iran and Turkey to cooperate with the United Nation’s special envoy for Syria to facilitate the work of the constitutional committee. Lavrov urged the volunteer and safe return of Syrian refugees to their homeland. The Russian foreign minister also described the presence of the U-S troops in Syrian oil fields as illegal.

*****

PressTV:  How would you assess the Launch of the Syrian Constitutional Committee and the conclusion of the press conference?

Peter Koenig:  The Constitutional Committee is a good initiative, of course.  And as Mr. Pederson says, “Syrians, not outsiders, will draft the constitution. And the Syrian people must popularly approve it.”  This is an absolute must.

But we should not forget, and I do not think this is a coincidence, that President Trump just decided to leave troops in Syria, under whatever pretext is unimportant.

And I do not think that he wants to either protect nor steal Syrian oil.  What he wants is remaining with a sizable – and flexible – military presence in Syria.

Let’s backtrack to 2008 and then 2011 when the CIA first recruited, trained, funded and armed the terror groups in 2008 up to 2011, when they launched the so-called “civil war” as part of the Arab Spring which, as we all know, has nothing to do with a civil war, but it’s a US mercenary war against the legitimate Syrian Government.

Why is it important to remember this?

Because Washington has made it its goal to ultimately control Syria. Syria is part of the list countries mentioning in the PNAC (Plan for a New American Century) that must fall in order for the US to reach full global hegemony. To reach that goal, the Middle East is a key square on the geopolitical Chess Board.

This should always remain in the back of the heads of those who negotiate and draft the new Constitution. The idea of new Constitution is good, but even if all parties agree, it will only be possible to apply it when the US leaves Syria. That is a must.

So, while the negotiations and drafting of the Constitution goes on, observed by Russia, Iran, and Turkey and, of course, the UN, it is extremely important that the US leaves Syria letting Syria take full and sovereign control of her territory.

PressTV: It is an important part of the validity of the new Constitution that Syria gains full sovereignty over her territories. What if the US won’t leave?

PK:  That is precisely the point. The US is not likely to leave voluntarily as we just have vivid proof. They stay under any pretext as it is and remains their goal to achieve regime change in Syria and dominate this crucial pivotal Middle East country called Syria.

And more so, as the US does not even have an observer role in the drafting of the new Constitution unlike Russia, Iran and Turkey and, of course, the UN, Washington could easily disrupt the process by launching again a false flag attack, by re-mobilizing the ISIS / Al Qaeda terror, or by calling NATO to “secure and protect” the Syrian oil fields. There is no shortage of potential interference by the US.

This is not to put a negative spell on the process of the Constitutional Committee, but let’s be conscious of the dangers while this worthwhile initiative is moving forward.

The designated observers’ awareness and constant presence in Geneva and in Syria is, therefore, of utmost importance. Let it also be reminded, Russia and Iran are invited in Syria by President Assad. The presence of the US is illegitimate. Peace can be secured only once the US leaves Syria, be that by diplomatic or economic pressure. For the America, leaving Syria is like stepping back from their objective of Middle East and world hegemony. And that does not come voluntarily.

Israel’s New Moves to airbrush the Occupation

The United Nations’ independent expert on human rights in the Palestinian territories issued a damning verdict last week on what he termed “the longest belligerent occupation in the modern world”.

Michael Lynk, a Canadian law professor, told the UN’s human rights council that only urgent international action could prevent Israel’s 52-year occupation of the West Bank transforming into de facto annexation.

He warned of a recent surge in violence against Palestinians from settlers, assisted by the Israeli army, and a record number of demolitions this year of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem – evidence of the ways Israel is further pressuring Palestinians to leave their lands.

He urged an international boycott of all settlement products as a necessary step to put pressure on Israel to change course. He also called on the UN itself to finally publish – as long promised – a database that it has been compiling since 2016 of Israeli and international companies doing business in the illegal settlements and normalising the occupation.

Israel and its supporters have stymied the release, fearing that such a database would bolster the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign that seeks to end Israel’s impunity.

Lynk sounded the alarm days after Israel’s most venerated judge, Meir Shamgar, died aged 94.

Shamgar was a reminder that the settlers have always been able to rely on the support of public figures from across Israel’s political spectrum. The settlements have always been viewed as a weapon to foil the emergence of a Palestinian state.

Perhaps not surprisingly, most obituaries overlooked the chicanery of Shamgar in building the legal architecture needed to establish the settlements after Israel occupied the Palestinian territories in 1967.

But in a tweeted tribute, Benjamin Netanyahu, the interim prime minister, noted Shamgar’s contribution to “legislation policy in Judea and Samaria”, using the Israeli government’s term for the West Bank.

It was Shamgar who swept aside the prohibition in international law on Israel as an occupying state, transferring its population into the territories. He thereby created a system of apartheid: illegal Jewish settlers enjoyed privileges under Israeli law while the local Palestinian population had to endure oppressive military orders.

Then, by a legal sleight of hand, Shamgar obscured the ugly reality he had inaugurated. He offered all those residing in the West Bank – Jews and Palestinians alike – access to arbitration from Israel’s supreme court.

It was, of course, an occupier’s form of justice – and a policy that treated the occupied territories as ultimately part of Israel, erasing any border. Ever since, the court has been deeply implicated in every war crime associated with the settlement enterprise.

As Israeli lawyer Michael Sfard noted, Shamgar “legalised almost every draconian measure taken by the defence establishment to crush Palestinian political and military organisations”, including detention without trial, house demolitions, land thefts, curfews and much more. All were needed to preserve the settlements.

Shamgar’s legal innovations – endorsing the systematic abuse of Palestinians and the entrenchment of the occupation – are now being expanded by a new generation of jurists.

Their latest proposal has been described as engineering a “revolution” in the occupation regime. It would let the settlers buy as private property the plots of occupied land their illegal homes currently stand on.

Disingenuously, Israeli officials argue that the policy would end “discrimination” against the settlers. An army legal adviser, Tzvi Mintz, noted recently: “A ban on making real-estate deals based on national origin raises a certain discomfort.”

Approving the privatisation of the settlements is a far more significant move than it might sound.

International law states that an occupier can take action in territories under occupation on only two possible grounds: out of military necessity or to benefit the local population. With the settlements obviously harming local Palestinians by depriving them of land and free movement, Israel disguised its first colonies as military installations.

It went on to seize huge swathes of the West Bank as “state lands” – meaning for Jews only – on the pretext of military needs. Civilians were transferred there with the claim that they bolstered Israel’s national security.

That is why no one has contemplated allowing the settlers to own the land they live on – until now. Instead it is awarded by military authorities, who administer the land on behalf of the Israeli state.

That is bad enough. But now defence ministry officials want to upend the definition in international law of the settlements as a war crime. Israel’s thinking is that, once the settlers become the formal owners of the land they were given illegally, they can be treated as the “local population”.

Israel will argue that the settlers are protected under international law just like the Palestinians. That would provide Israel with a legal pretext to annex the West Bank, saying it benefits the “local” settler population.

And by turning more than 600,000 illegal settlers into landowners, Israel can reinvent the occupation as an insoluble puzzle. Palestinians seeking redress from Israel for the settlements will instead have to fight an endless array of separate claims against individual settlers.

This proposal follows recent moves by Israel to legalise many dozens of so-called outposts, built by existing settlements to steal yet more Palestinian land. As well as violating international law, the outposts fall foul of Israeli law and undertakings made under the Oslo accords not to expand the settlements.

All of this is being done in the context of a highly sympathetic administration in Washington that, it is widely assumed, is preparing to approve annexation of the West Bank as part of a long-postponed peace plan.

The current delay has been caused by Netanyahu’s failure narrowly in two general elections this year to win enough seats to form a settler-led government. Israel might now be heading to a third election.

Officials and the settlers are itching to press ahead with formal annexation of nearly two-thirds of the West Bank. Netanyahu promised annexation in the run-up to both elections. Settler leaders, meanwhile, have praised the new army chief of staff, Aviv Kochavi, as sympathetic to their cause.

Expectations have soared among the settlers as a result. Their impatience has fuelled a spike in violence, including a spate of recent attacks on Israeli soldiers sent to protect them as the settlers confront and assault Palestinians beginning the annual olive harvest.

Lynk, the UN’s expert, has warned that the international community needs to act swiftly to stop the occupied territories becoming a permanent Israeli settler state. Sadly, there are few signs that foreign governments are listening.

A version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi.

Death, Misery and Bloodshed in Yemen

Writing about his visit to the world’s largest weapons bazaar, held in London during October, Arron Merat describes reading this slogan emblazoned above Raytheon’s stall: “Strike with Creativity.” Raytheon manufactures Paveway laser-guided bombs, fragments of which have been found in the wreckage of schools, hospitals, and markets across Yemen. How can a weapons manufacturer that causes such death, bloodshed, and misery lay claim to creativity?

“Strike with Creativity” (Cartoon credit: Sean Reynolds)

Greta Thunberg, sitting alone outside her school as she initiated a movement of climate strikes, could properly invoke the words “Strike with Creativity.” She inspired Friday classroom walkouts, worldwide, by young people protesting destruction and death caused by climate catastrophe. Her admirable goal is to save the planet by promoting such strikes.

Coming from Raytheon, the words “Strike with Creativity” sound chilling, grotesque.

Consider the Raytheon weapons now demolishing Yemen. Fragments of Raytheon and other U.S. manufactured weapons dot blast sites where Yemeni survivors struggle to collect body parts and scattered bits of clothing, which are needed to compile lists of the dead.

In September, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) hit a detention center in the Dhamar governorate, in the northern highlands of Yemen with seven airstrikes that killed at least 100 people and “pulverized” the area, according to Bethan McKernan, reporting for The Guardian. “It took five days to remove all the bodies impaled on metalwork ripped from the walls in the blasts,” she wrote.

After the attack, McKernan interviewed Adel, a 22-year-old security guard  employed at the site. His brother, Ahmed, also a guard, was among those killed. Adel pointed to a blanket, visible on the second floor of a building where the guards had slept. “You can see Ahmed’s blue blanket up there,” said Adel. “There were 200 people here but now it’s just ghosts.”

Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Saudi-led coalition bombarding and blockading Yemen have killed tens of thousands, wrecking the country’s already enfeebled infrastructure and bringing Yemen to the brink of a famine that may kill millions. President Trump signaled additional support for Saudi Arabia on October 11 when the U.S. military announced it would send thousands more troops to the kingdom, bringing the number of U.S. troops there to 14,000.

Just as Greta Thunberg insists adults must become intensely aware of details and possible solutions regarding the climate catastrophe, people in the U.S. should learn about ways to end economic as well as military war waged against Yemen. For us to understand why Yemenis would link together in the loose coalition of fighters called Houthis requires deepening awareness of how financial institutions, in attempting to gain control of valuable resources, have pushed farmers and villagers across Yemen into debt and desperation. Isa Blumi writes about this sordid history in his 2018 book, Destroying Yemen, What Chaos in Arabia Tells Us about the World.

Blumi details how Yemen’s society, largely independent and agrarian, became a guinea pig for International Monetary Fund (IMF) “development projects” which, based on strikingly colonialist theories of modernization, crushed grassroots institutions and amounted to “cost-effective ways of prying Yemen’s wealth out of its peoples’ hands.”

Local Development Associations, for example, were formed during the 1970s to help people hang on to their land, cooperatively determine what crops they would grow and decide how they would use the profits. But U.S. Agency for International Development “experts” pressured these groups to instead produce “cash crops strictly meant for export.”

“After all,” Blumi writes, “with the right kind of cash crop and the use of American labor-saving technology, pesticides and fertilizers included, Yemen’s villagers were no longer needed in the fields. Alternatively, they could work in cities in sweatshops producing clothes for a global market or the soon booming oil and gas projects.”

Blumi’s book documents the fiercely stubborn creativity with which, decade by decade, Yemenis kept surprising the West, exploring and pursuing countermeasures to resist its exploitative control, and risking the West’s destructive anger.

Yemenis resisted U.N. and IMF prescriptions of global integration and debt peonage. When farmers desperate for cash went to work in, for instance, Saudi Arabia, “they consistently sent remittances home to families that saved the cash and invested in local projects, using local bank transfers.” Imams and village leaders encouraged people to resist imperialist “modernization” projects, knowing that the West’s preferred “modern” role for them was as wage slaves with no hope of developing a better future.

The “Houthi” movement began when Husayn al-Houthi, an opponent of Yemen’s dictatorial (and Western-allied) Saleh regime, tried to defend the water and land rights of locals in the Sa’adah province in northwestern Yemen. Sharing what was then a porous and informal border with the KSA, they often found themselves in disputes with Saudi border patrols. They also resisted ‘structural adjustment’ demands by the IMF to privatize some of Yemen’s best farming and grazing land. When the dictator Saleh made criminal concessions to the KSA, al-Houthi and his followers persisted with protests. Each new confrontation won over thousands of people, eventually spreading beyond Sa’adah.

Blumi cites numerous instances in which Yemen’s economic assets were pillaged, with Saleh’s approval, by “well-heeled global financial interests” who now designate Saleh’s successor Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi as Yemen’s “internationally recognized government.” Hadi governs from Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, due to a stunning lack of Yemeni support.

In 2008, an extremely wealthy member of the bin Laden family aimed to build a bridge across the mouth of the Red Sea from Yemen to Djibouti. The project could generate hundreds of billions for investors, and quicken the process of exploitative modernization; but it would also require building railways and roads where there are only villages now. People living along the coastline of the Red Sea would be in the way.

Since 2015, fighting has been concentrated in this area, called the Tihama. Control of the coastline would also allow financial takeover of potentially profitable Yemeni fisheries. Blumi says billions of dollars of annual income are at stake, noting with irony that a war causing starvation is being waged, in part, to gain control over food assets.

A recent United Nations report says that Yemen is now “on course to become the world’s poorest country” with 79 percent of the population living under the poverty line and 65 percent classified as “extremely poor.” The Yemen Data Project estimated 600 civilian structures have been destroyed, monthly, in Yemen, mostly by airstrikes.

“Staple food items are now on average 150 per cent higher than before the crisis escalated,” says a 2019 report by the Norwegian Refugee Council. “Teachers, health workers and civil servants in the northern parts of the country haven’t been paid in years,” according to the same report.

Mainstream media reports could convince concerned onlookers that Yemenis have been particularly vulnerable to violence and war because they are socially and economically backward, having failed to modernize. Blumi insists we recognize the guilt of financial elites from multiple countries within and beyond the Gulf states as well as institutions within the World Bank, the IMF and the UN. It’s wrong to blame “eighty percent of a country’s population currently being starved to death”

Here in the United States, news commentators discussing the Trump impeachment story liken the breaking developments to “bombshell after bombshell.” In Yemen, real and horribly modern bombshells, made in the United States, kill and maim Yemeni civilians, including children, every day.

Greta Thunberg continues calling us to join her on an unfamiliar, unprecedented, and arduous path to change course as our world careens toward terrifying devastation. We’re offered a chance to resist destructive, albeit “modern” means of exploiting the planet’s resources. A true strike for creativity, necessarily challenging militarism and greed, will help prevent the hellish work of destroying Yemen.

Map (Credit: Political Geography Now)

A version of this article appeared in The Progressive Magazine

Climate and the Little Green Women and Men

The Little Green Women and Men (LGWM) are us, humanoids, especially those living in the west, believing we command Mother Earth. Well, no wonder, there is a group among us, who claims to be “God’s Chosen People” – and they act it all the way. So much so, that they and their influence on LGWMs, have almost managed to dominate all the women, men and resources of Mother Earth.

Humanoids, LGWMs, are easily manipulated. They have chosen to be green, because “green” is IN. They are ‘little’, because in the big scheme of things, as compared to Mother Nature, for example, they are diminutive. Very.  Yet, they pretend to command the climate. Green parties all over the western world are multiplying fast; almost like the legendary grain on a chessboard. They are called green but they come in all shades, from brown to green to red, and everything in between. In Germany the Greens have become so popular that during the next elections they may catch up to 30 % of the votes.

Question is: What will they do when they come to real power, when they are in Government, confronted with the interests of big business? Will they bend over, cave in – as did the Socialist parties throughout Europe during the last half of the 20th Century?

Today, one has to be green to belong. Who is green, (pretends) fighting for the environment, for the protection of the environment – which is good, per se. But fighting for the environment is not a linear affair, as they, the LGWMs, are made to believe, and many of them believe, as “science” tells them to believe. When they believe, they create a comfort zone for themselves, where guilt disappears. They don’t question anymore. THE authority, called “science”, tells them the “facts” to believe. And if they do, they are almost absolved from guilt.

Almost – because to be really absolved in our western ultra-capitalist world, only money can really absolve you. So, they – or we, collectively, whether we believe in the propaganda or not (fortunately some of us don’t), will be asked to pay – to pay environmental fees and taxes of all kinds and shapes. To be more attractive they may be called ‘climate taxes’ for using fossil fuel, for buying plastic, for flying in airplanes, for consuming no end and-so-on. Hardly anybody asks what will be done with this new tax money.

As it cannot stop climate from changing, it will most likely end up in private banks, mostly Wall Street banks, where the billions collected will grow into speculative multi-trillions-dollar bubbles. And we know what eventually happens with bubbles. We all remember the Carbon Funds, which apparently are not dead yet, but will rather be resuscitated in this new fervor to fight climate change.

Stamped by our western Judeo-Christian guilt culture, we truly believe from the bottom of our hearts that paying a climate tax will free us from environmental responsibilities and put us back into our comfort zones. We then comfortably and guiltlessly continue driving our huge gas guzzling, CO2-emitting SUVs. That’s why the corporate manipulators — BIG-BIG money and their media — tells us every day, the Climate Armageddon is coming. So, we pay to postpone it.

It was coming already at the first UN-sponsored Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) of 1992 which was extended to the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, an international treaty that commits state parties to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, based on scientific consensus that (1) global warming is occurring and (2) it is extremely likely that human-made CO2 emissions have predominantly caused it. The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997, by 192 nations. The Protocol entered into force on 16 February 2005.

But despite all the warnings of Armageddon, nothing has happened. Even if mankind was responsible for the CO2 production that changes climate, mankind, or rather the LGWMs, have ignored it. Climate Armageddon is still written all over the walls. But it moves from wall to wall, further into the future, as nobody seems to be interested in preventing it.

After Kyoto followed Copenhagen, the next UN-sponsored Climate Change Conference, also called the Copenhagen Summit, in December 2009. Similar discourse, and new targets were set and propagated; billions of dollars were pledged by governments – but few paid-in, mostly because already then it was not quite clear who should administer the funds and who should invest in what and where to stop the climate from changing. Copenhagen also coined the 350-slogan. It stands for 350 ppm (parts per million) of carbon dioxide (CO2) which has been identified as the safe upper limit to avoid a climate tipping point. As of today, there is climate NGO called 350.org.

In 2019, CO2 is expected to pass the 410-ppm level.

As per the New Scientist (25 January 2019), carbon dioxide levels will soar past the 410 ppm milestone in 2019. We will pass yet another unwelcome milestone this year. The average concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is likely to rise by 2.8 parts per million to 411 ppm in 2019 – passing 410 ppm just a few years after first passing the 400 ppm mark.

No stopping of climate change is happening and Armageddon is moving on.

What this climate movement doesn’t seem to understand, or those that manage it do not want the world to know, that climate is a complex structure of ever shifting values and natural phenomena; that climate is influenced by many factors which are all inter-related and orders of magnitude more important than what man can ever contribute. There is the sun with its constantly changing eruptions and radiation emissions, perhaps the most important influence; then the oceans, while they absorb CO2, they also emit CO2 – and most important according to a 30-year NASA study the oceans themselves change temperatures in natural intervals of roughly ten years, which is called El Niño in the Pacific and the North Atlantic Oscillation in the Atlantic. They are responsible for large-scale weather patterns, also orders of magnitude larger than what man could ever create. In addition, there are the volcanos around the world, many of which are active. A massive eruption of one of them; i.e., Iceland, the Philippines, Italy, Hawaii may produce a multiple of CO2 levels of what man produces in one year.

And we should also be aware of what is not much talked about, that the US Air Force, the US Navy, the University of Alaska and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), have developed since the sixties a weather control-program that functions with electromagnetic waves emitted in the Ionosphere, altering ionospheric temperatures to create specific weather patterns. The intention is to weaponize the weather so as to control entire regions by weather, floods, droughts, hurricanes… you name it. This program has been tested and applied during the Vietnam war, when it was capable to prolong and enhance the Monsoon season, so as the paths the Vietcong used to transit from the North to the South were made impassable. That is really man-made.

The program used to be called HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) and was stationed in Alaska. It has now nominally been dismantled, but continuous more clandestinely to be sophisticated enough to allow the US to control the world’s weather by 2030, according to the Pentagon.

Talking about military and climate – the wars and conflicts mostly inspired by the US and carried out by the Pentagon, NATO or their mercenary proxies — cause more than half of the man-made CO2 emissions. This is a fact that may never be discussed in these UN-sponsored climate conferences — a strict rule imposed by Washington.

These are just a few climate-influencing elements, the composite of which is much larger than each one acting linearly on its own, because they are all inter-related, they are all acting holistically and dynamically – in other words, not predictably – and with a power orders of magnitude larger than CO2 by itself, let alone man-made CO2 which is but a tiny fraction of all greenhouse gases produced by nature. And these ever-occurring climate changes, are well controlled by nature, as NASA’s Earth Observatory found out by studying the oceans for over 30 years (). They are kept in balance by our Mother Earth, no matter how much we would like to influence them.

*****

Notice this: We are today threatened by nuclear war, a nuclear war that could wipe out mankind within a few days – yet we talk and demonstrate for climate change prevention, man-made CO2 reduction. Public Icon, the Swedish teenager, Greta, and her followers, the Friday for the Future kids and those that call themselves “Extinction Rebellion”, take to the streets in so-called climate strikes by the hundreds of thousands throughout the world.

Seriously, imagine the use of CO2-producing fossil fuel and an industrial agriculture infesting the atmosphere with greenhouse gases, the engine for 90% of the world’s economy – and let’s not forget the CO2 produced by wars and hostilities around the globe – all of which is also the engine for huge corporate profits!  Does anyone seriously believe that hundreds of thousands, or even millions, demonstrating against climate change  will have an iota of influence on corporate behavior and profit oriented growth policies?

These kids – the LGWMs – are dreaming. Most of them anyway. Some of their leaders are directed by the same corporations they pretend to fight and to demonstrate against. Generally, the LGWM movement doesn’t have a clear agenda, other than talking loosely and abstractly about CO2 reduction. But they don’t really know how to go about it and what this means, what steps need to be taken and by whom, what implications and consequences this would have for our today’s civilization and every-day life, yes, theirs too, the climate kids’ every-day life. Thy have no program of what has to change; they just believe the change has to come from ‘outside’; i.e., the politicians. No idea either that these same politicians are captured by the same industrial, financial and specifically the war industrial complex and that this highly capitalist money-making machinery also commands the propaganda apparatus on which they drive and thrive.

These climate folks managed to organize a special UN Climate event preceding the 2019 UN General Assembly, during which the most powerful and obnoxious representatives of nations and heads of states, notably of the US of A, talked aggression no end to those countries that do not bend to their orders and do not want to submit their people and natural resources for exploitation and profit of the western elite. In the special firing line are the usual condemned and sanctioned – but almost the only true sovereign countries left on this globe – Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, North Korea – and, of course, Russia and China.

Instead of seeking peace, the essence of the UN Charter, the UN has become a forum for war declarations and climate change. If ever man wants to make a true contribution to climate change, it can only be done by PEACE, through peaceful cooperation and solidarity among nations across the globe.

The LGWM movement has to wake up to a reality which is not propaganda-based and has to do with our behavior, with our entire attitude, with our socioeconomic system, with a turbo-capitalist system that is growth-based with ever larger profit margins. The system to survive has to expand every day, every year.  It induces extreme consumerism, thrives on fashion trends, and on generation of massive waste, most of which is not biodegradable, but accumulates and – yes, influences our ambiance, living conditions – and eventually being part of a holistic world, also influences the climate.

We are living in a throw-away society, driven by an industrial apparatus that uses obsolescence as a tool for consumerism and growth, to generate more profit, no matter how much more non-renewable resources will have to be sacrificed and wasted – ending up as waste, rotting away, polluting the air we breathe, the soil we use to grow our food and the water – the all-important water, without which no life is possible.

To slow down and eventually stop the rapid decline of our existence on this lovely and generous planet, we ALL have to contribute in solidarity to PEACE. A life in peace is a sine qua non for improving our planet’s environment and thereby our sheer living conditions, quality of life, and foremost to bring about more societal equality, less poverty a better distribution of wealth. All of this requires a massive awakening, an awakening towards a consciousness that is immune to egocentricity to fake propaganda that is 180 degrees opposite to the current selfie-culture.

In the 1950s, I’m old enough to remember, we wrote letters to our friends and relatives, shopped in corner grocery stores, bought beverages in recycled glass bottles, filled our staple food from bulk containers into recycled paper bags, and wrapped fresh vegetables into newspapers (not plastic), went to public phone booths to call our girlfriends, walked, or biked to school, and if at all, our parents had small cars, no SUVs, prepared our sandwiches for school, used the same cloths for years, talked with each other eye-to-eye, enjoyed nature.

Today, nature is the same in the city or the countryside, because we stumble through nature wherever we go watching the little screen of an obsolescence disposable smartphone, with which we chat, smile and also make some phone calls. Then, in the post WWII fifties, our lives were more modest and happier. Then, we consumed less than what Mother Earth could sustainably provide us with. In the 1960s we started exceeding that threshold. Today, we, in the west, use three to four times what nature can give us (Africa about 0.6) and that for sure will not go on forever.

Perhaps we have to think about jumping forward to a life style of the fifties and that consciously and conscientiously – and we won’t have to worry about 350-ppm CO2 as the limit for sustainable climate, because it will happen naturally and climate change will continue to happen naturally, as it always did for 4 billion years of our planet’s existence and never bothered us. And most importantly, we have to learn to consciously remind ourselves that we are a solidary peaceful society, and we have to consciously disconnect from MSM, turn off our ears to the ever blaring and lying media propaganda lyrics. Consciousness is our integrity and base for social cohesiveness.

• First published by the New Eastern Outlook – NEO

The Two Internationalisms

In recent years, internationalism — cooperation among nations for promotion of the common good — has acquired a bad reputation.

Of course, internationalism has long been anathema to the political Right, where a primitive tribalism and its successor, nationalism, have flourished for many years.  Focusing on their nation’s supposed superiority to others, a long line of right-wing demagogues, including Adolf Hitler (“Deutschland Über Alles”) and Donald Trump (“America First”), have stirred up xenophobia, racism, and militarism, often with some success in public opinion and at the polls.  Numerous nationalist imitators have either secured public office or are hungering for it in many parts of the world.

But what is new in recent years is the critique of internationalism on the political Left.  For centuries, internationalism was a staple of the progressive, avant garde outlook.  Enlightenment thinkers promoted ideas of cosmopolitanism and the unity of humanity, critics of war and imperialism championed the development of international law, and socialists campaigned for replacing chauvinism with international working class solidarity.  In the aftermath of two devastating world wars, liberal reformers roundly condemned the narrow nationalist policies of the past and placed their hopes for a peaceful and humane future in two world organizations:  the League of Nations and the United Nations.

A key reason for the decline of support for this internationalist vision on the political Left is the belief that internationalism has served as a cloak for great power militarism and imperialism.  In fact, there is some justification for this belief, as the U.S. government, while professing support for “democracy” and other noble aims, has all too often used its immense military, economic, and political power in world affairs with less laudatory motives, especially economic gain and control of foreign lands.

And much the same can be said about other powerful nations.  In their global operations during much of the twentieth century, were the British and French really concerned about advancing human rights and “civilization,” the Germans about spreading “kultur,” and the Russians about liberating the working class?  Or were they merely continuing the pattern — hough not the rhetoric — of their nationalist predecessors?

To continue this subterfuge, starting in 1945 they all publicly pledged to follow the guidelines of a different kind of global approach, cooperative internationalism, as championed by the United Nations.  But, when it came to the crunch, they proved more interested in advancing their economies and political holdings than in developing international law and a cooperative world order.  As a result, while pretending to honor the lofty aims of the United Nations, they provided it with very limited power and resources.  In this fashion, they not only used the United Nations as a fig leaf behind which their overseas military intervention and imperialism continued, but ended up convincing many people, all across the political spectrum, that the United Nations was ineffectual and, more broadly, that cooperative internationalism didn’t work.

But, of course, cooperative internationalism could work, if the governments of the major powers — and, at the grassroots level, their populations — demanded it.  A fully empowered United Nations could prevent international aggression, as well as enforce disarmament agreements and sharp cutbacks in the outrageous level of world military spending.  It could also address the climate catastrophe, the refugee crisis, the destructive policies of multinational corporations, and worldwide violations of human rights.  Does anyone, aside from the most zealous nationalist, really believe that these problems can be solved by any individual nation or even by a small group of nations?

Fortunately, there are organizations that recognize that, in dealing with these and other global problems, the world need not be limited to a choice between overheated nationalism and hypocritical internationalism.  In the United States, these include the United Nations Association (which works to strengthen that global organization so that it can do the job for which it was created) and Citizens for Global Solutions (which champions the transformation of the United Nations into a democratic federation of nations).  Numerous small countries, religions, and humanitarian organizations also promote the development of a more cooperative international order.

If the people of the world are to stave off the global catastrophes that now loom before them, they are going to have to break loose from the limitations of their nations’ traditional policies in world affairs.  Above all, they need to cast off their lingering tribalism, recognize their common humanity, and begin working for the good of all.

The Orwellian Apex: Dissecting Trump’s UN Speech

There are liars in the world and then there’s Donald Trump. A first rate unapologetic gaslighting manipulator of language who takes deception to the heights of hypocrisy. Bending and looping definitions at will where words themselves start to lack all meaning. It’s not surprising that the world is in its present state when a bucket of highly condensed lies is splashed onto the public by every sycophantic corporate media outlet and the rebuttals, like this one you’re reading now, are given little if any coverage. It’s a mouse squeak responding to a thunderous roar of media channel distribution.

Everyone knows politicians openly lie and wildly misrepresent what few half truths they reference, yet somehow a captured populace who has become deathly ill with Stockholm Syndrome has not lost faith in the system itself. Despite election after election of the same behaviors, the same patterns of power seeking from elites, the same wars for resources being fought, the same handouts for the rich and rampant inequality; despite all this the populace still somehow has faith that capitalism works and the US is force for good in the world.

The average American believes their government isn’t completely corrupt and that their politician of the moment is better than the other guy and will change everything if they are patient just a little longer. They at least believe their candidate will hopefully lie less than Trump, and on that point they’re probably right to some degree, but these politicians are all stooges for banking cartels, neoliberal corporations, and display a jingoistic allegiance for nation-states and are open liars who can be easily debunked if the people could just briefly not succumb to conforming around the given status quo argumentation. Politicians don’t debate ideas, rather they commonly simply take up the Pee Wee Herman debate tactic espousing an “I know you are but what am I” stratagem. Public debate for all politicians within this deeply broken system has nothing to do with truth, but rather attempting to frame and contextualize arguments so they sound moderately better than their opponents as they speak to the known indoctrinated beliefs already installed in the public dialogue.

Trump isn’t so different from every other politician.  He just lies with more ferocity and an open disdain for truth. He couches his arguments of ideological conformity in being a good patriot, and a good patriot is loyal to their country and stands by it no matter what kind of horrors they unleash upon the world. Within the notion of blind patriotism is the same tactic taken up by dogmatic organized religions for centuries who claim to be mouthpieces for god and to speak against their word is to blaspheme god herself. Likewise, Trump, like nearly every other US leader continually attempts to associate America with liberty, democracy, and bold individualism, and thus to be a patriot means to support these underlying beliefs, so if one should speak against the actions of America equates to be against these poorly defined values that sound really good, but have come to mean nothing to the point they hit the ear like shallow platitudes.

Trump’s UN speech delivered on September 24th, 2019 is such an affront to truth that hearing the mangling of the definition of words nearly drives one to madness. The rhetoric is an assault on the English language and what words actually mean, and when politicians are able to steal language from us they have stolen the ability for the public to speak to one another where real dialogue can be had and actual truth can be found.

And while we are all quite aware there are always lies baked into this kind of propaganda, I thought it still worthwhile to rend this Orwellian nightmare of drivel down and unpack some of these lies, though truly a lengthy book could be written breaking down the volume of lies contained within this single speech. Such is the power of a lie that dispelling them requires far more effort and time than telling one. So without further ado, let’s strip this emperor of his semantic clothes and expose this dingus brained twitter twat for what he really is, a naked liar.

I thought I’d start here:

DT: “Like those who met us before, our time is one of great contests, high stakes, and clear choices. The essential divide that runs all around the world and throughout history is once again thrown into stark relief.  It is the divide between those whose thirst for control deludes them into thinking they are destined to rule over others and those people and nations who want only to rule themselves.” 

The “divide between those whose thirst for control deludes them into thinking they are destined to rule over others” – This is an “Are you friggin’ serious?” line spoken as if the US hasn’t been at the center of this kind of activity since its very inception. I suppose Manifest Destiny was really just a genocide to spread the word of god and not a power grab for resources and land? I suppose all the countries the US has attacked without provocation, the forced regime changes enacted by our intelligence agencies, or the feigned false flags and manufactured reasons for military intervention so that we may occupy places we have no right to be for decades was not the US believing it was “destined to rule over others” but instead just the US protecting the world in acts of bomb dropping benevolence. Sure.

DT: “I have the immense privilege of addressing you today as the elected leader of a nation that prizes liberty, independence, and self-government above all.

The immense privilege of an elected leader who didn’t receive the majority of votes in a faux democracy.

And a country that prizes liberty so much by having the world’s largest prison population which is actually understated, and where people who might try to be independently choosing what they put into their own bodies and having control over their own consciousness are arrested and thrown in prison en masse, and especially so if your skin color is something other than creamy white. A place where you are free to tirelessly work for your employer and the only consequence for not doing so is that you go without a roof over your head, and you and your family will be unable to get healthcare without being in a lifetime of debt, and your access to food potentially threatened if you don’t complete those TPS reports with the proper cover sheet. But remember your country prizes liberty above all else! God Bless the USA!

I must admit I have a morbid curiosity to know what Trump’s working definition of liberty is. I’d love to know even more what the hell the slave owning genocidal scribes of the founding documents of America meant by it, because it sure does seem like their definition of liberty is freedom for the elite class and subservient never ending work for everyone else. It’s the classic standard setup in western civilization since the get go, but now the difference is we say the word liberty instead of openly stating slave, serf, or indentured servant. Progress in modernity is measured by the positivity of the words chosen by those in power.

DT: “The United States, after having spent over two and a half trillion dollars since my election to completely rebuild our great military, is also, by far, the world’s most powerful nation. Hopefully, it will never have to use this power.

Yeah, let’s all hope our military won’t ever have to use that military power to say drop bombs with drones. Like, it would be a real shame if they used them to kill farmers in Afghanistan a couple weeks ago instead of ostensible ISIS targets, which usually amounts to armed people who don’t want US occupation in their country. Because you know, no one would ever join an extremist group after having a foreign military kill their friends and family who were doing nothing but farming. That surely doesn’t drive people to take up whatever arms they can find against an occupying force. Good thing all our divinely blessed weapons are there unused to make sure none of that happens. And good thing if such an event were to occur it would just be an isolated incident in a single country and not something that happens across the entire middle east in an ongoing immoral war that’s over 17 years old now.

And thank god we used two and half trillion dollars to strengthen our god fearing military, who is in no way or form an oppressive force in the world or the world’s largest polluter while the planet is in an ecological emergency. But, yes, well spent taxpayer dollars to bring supposed peace to our world.

DT: “Americans know that in a world where others seek conquest and domination, our nation must be strong in wealth, in might, and in spirit. That is why the United States vigorously defends the traditions and customs that have made us who we are.”

Yes, it’s just those others that seek conquest and domination, not the kind-hearted Mr Trump and the US empire with 800 military bases, which is just for safety and security for good folk like he, Mr Trump, who would describe himself and the US just like a good natured Dickensian character would – “Soft-hearted me! Hard-working me! Clean-living, thrifty and kind as can be!” How pure of heart we are, what noble intent, it’s a shame the corrupting domination seeking world around us forces our hand so much into warfare.

DT: “Looking around and all over this large, magnificent planet, the truth is plain to see: If you want freedom, take pride in your country. If you want democracy, hold on to your sovereignty. And if you want peace, love your nation. Wise leaders always put the good of their own people and their own country first.”

A “magnificent planet” Trump glibly speaks about while encouraging US corporations who can’t seem to destroy it fast enough so long as there are profit incentives for them to do so, which the government won’t lift a finger to impede since more important things like the almighty GDP and forever inflating the financial markets, which primarily benefit the rich, are continually prioritized over protecting this magnificence.

He also equates jingoism with peace, since there seems to be a pretty good history in place that backs up the premise that peace and “loving your nation” go hand in hand. For instance, NAZIs loved their leaders and nation above all, and they were well known for their peaceful attitudes.

And I’m also glad Trump has a handle on what a “wise leader does” and he defines as one who puts the interests of the people first. Yup, billionaires are commonly known for doing just that.

DT: “Last month, African American, Hispanic American, and Asian American unemployment reached their lowest rates ever recorded. We are marshaling our nation’s vast energy abundance, and the United States is now the number one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world. Wages are rising, incomes are soaring, and 2.5 million Americans have been lifted out of poverty in less than three years.”

Being the number one producer of oil should not be a thing any compassionate citizen of Earth should take pride in while carbon emissions directly contribute to a rapidly warming planet. And boasting about the economy while rising healthcare and housing costs do more than enough to negate the pathetic rises to income the working class has seen. There aren’t enough living wage jobs available to support the population and the debt is at levels where it can never be paid back. But sure, Donnie, boast about how wonderful the economy is. And to assert that you lifted people out of poverty when the threshold for being in poverty is $12,500 for a single person makes this talking point no great accomplishment. Further there is no way to accurately assess how many have been thrown into poverty in that time either.

But the rich are richer than ever and hoarding at rates not seen since just before the market crash of 1929. The rising tide does not lift all boats, rather it tends to drown those who cannot afford boats.

DT:  paraphrasing “…A bunch of horse-shit on how China is ripping us off”.

Never detailing how American companies have been benefiting from abusing Chinese labor for decades. Trump’s crusade is never to condemn US companies for profiteering off unsavory labor conditions which corporations go to great pains to arrange so they don’t have to pay labor here, and even if factories are brought back to America they’ll see to it they automate or shift production to another country they can exploit before paying good salaries to American workers. The impetus here seems to put a ceiling on growing Chinese economic power rather than to help Americans as he claims. This is a common tactic in all actions of ruling power, which is to couch their arguments in ideas of security, helping the common American, or building up the nation-state when what they are really doing is what Trump makes claims others are doing, giving ever more power to elites just like him through unscrupulous methods.

DT: “The United States does not seek conflict with any other nation. We desire peace, cooperation, and mutual gain with all. But I will never fail to defend America’s interests.

The non-Orwellian translation – If the rest of the world doesn’t economically surrender their resources in the manner the US wants, you’ll talk to our bombs instead of our predatory capitalists in expensive suits.

DT: “With that goal in mind, my administration is also pursuing the hope of a brighter future in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, the Taliban has chosen to continue their savage attacks. And we will continue to work with our coalition of Afghan partners to stamp out terrorism, and we will never stop working to make peace a reality.

Fighting “terrorism” while actively giving people good reason to be violent against you because of immoral US occupation in their country and killing innocent people in droves is a never ending fight and a spiral of pain. This strategy is reminiscent of the CIA’s strategy in Vietnam called the Phoenix Program where the basic idea is to cause chaos where the people can never organize or have control of their own government. US foreign policy is pure bullshit and the war on terrorism is 100% a ruse to rule over the middle east with military might and done under the guise of peace while their true intent is, and always has been, control of oil resources in the region.

DT: “One of the most serious challenges our countries face is the specter of socialism.  It’s the wrecker of nations and destroyer of societies….In the last century, socialism and communism killed 100 million people.

There is perhaps no lie bigger than the continual blathering around the spurious dangers of socialism/communism and the supposed 100 million deaths attributed to these economic system alone. No one seems to think about it, they just hear red baiting repeatedly and over time have developed a negative association with the words, and now when people like Trump just mention the words it causes a visceral reaction that flies right past the thinking mind, which is exactly what was intended.

It should be noted, first of all, that capitalists hate socialism/communism because it reduces capitalists’ ability to commodify everything they see and takes power away from the almighty dollar which is the source of all power for the US and other nation states. Money buys the means of production, it funds weapons companies, it buys media, it buys lobbyists, super pacs, essentially a political voice, it controls everything. Money commands leverage over all and controls human behavior in extremely authoritarian ways.

Yet capitalism is supposedly responsible for no deaths, as if Hitler, Stalin, and Mao weren’t all using currency and being financed in some capacity by capitalist currency.  Some of that money came from American investors even. As if all the wars and military apparatus America has manufactured and sold to others weren’t done under capitalism. As if all the dangerous working conditions billions of people have been exposed to weren’t done under capitalism, all the black lung disease, exposure to chemicals, and cheaply made products that killed people so that the producer could save a buck in production costs weren’t somehow done under capitalism. As if the entire eroding planetary ecology which threatens every last person on the planet wasn’t done in the name of capitalist dollars. And does capitalism not always allow for primitive accumulation of resources and always inevitably end in authoritarianism time and time again? So then, if we are blindly going to assign a death count to an ‘ism then there is no more dangerous ‘ism than capitalism.

Further, Stalin and Hitler were communist and socialist like America is a democracy. It’s something they say while doing something that is very different. America has elements of a democracy but is not one, as again Trump himself didn’t come to power through democracy. He came to power through the leverage of financial resources and an electoral college where he didn’t have to accrue the most votes. In no way, shape or form is that a democracy. And the same can be said for NAZI Germany and Stalinist Russia with their claims of socialism and communism.  They had some elements of those things they claimed were so, but what they delivered was something quite different from what they promised their people and used all kinds of capitalist practices while doling out their ostensible communism and socialism. What all these things have in common is they are run like top down hierarchies who made use of centralized systems of power.

And what socialism and communism really amount to is sharing things instead of everyone buying something through a capitalist entity. People share things all the time peacefully, and aboriginal cultures lived in relative peace for thousands of years without a common currency at all. In our society people within their own families, inside their churches, their work places etc. commonly share things without problems. When people go to work their is a communal printer, a communal computer server, a common kitchen space and so on. Sharing public spaces and human cooperation without the use of “free” markets and money does not directly equate to dictators and warfare.

Problems arise when leverage over others is used to force them into activities. The threat of losing your home or the threat of violence from the state are things capitalist America does consistently to force behavior just like every other major power throughout the history of western civilization. This is the essence of authoritarianism.

Trump has a knack of saying everyone else is the problem without ever considering that he is no better than the worst of what he speaks to. All the lies Trump tells there is a continual dismissal of nuance, while a reductionist and simplistic narrative of choice is adhered right over top of the truth.

DT: “Events in Venezuela remind us all that socialism and communism are not about justice, they are not about equality, they are not about lifting up the poor, and they are certainly not about the good of the nation.  Socialism and communism are about one thing only: power for the ruling class.”

Today, I repeat a message for the world that I have delivered at home: America will never be a socialist country.

Sadly, as we see in Venezuela, the death toll continues in this country. These totalitarian ideologies, combined with modern technology, have the power to excise [exercise] new and disturbing forms of suppression and domination.

This comment is rife with epic amounts of misrepresentation and outright lying by a billionaire who has done nothing but seek out more power for the ruling class. Money is power and massive accumulations of it to use as leverage over others is the very definition of power seeking. And Trump points to Venezuela and Cuba as examples of power seeking? What power do they command exactly? What massive armies do they control? Who are they allowed to place sanctions on?

It seems to me that US sanctions and the power the US has on the global stage to enforce such sanctions is what is making Venezuela struggle economically. Venezuela attempting to do what was best for their country and use their oil resources without the financial hegemony of the petrodollar is what led to these sanctions.

And Trump’s comment that America will never be a socialist country shows his dictatorial fervor, even if the people in America overwhelmingly want some socialist policies so that hospitals and insurance companies can’t price gouge them to live and have medical treatment. The dear leader refuses to accept the will of the people because it would impede capitalist profiteering. This demagogue refuses the will of the people despite evidence that socialist policies can work in the system like they do in Canada, the UK, Norway, and Sweden. Oh, the horrors of those countries! And they aren’t perfect places. They are just generally a lot better in some critical ways than ra ra capitalist America.

DT: “As we defend American values, we affirm the right of all people to live in dignity. For this reason, my administration is working with other nations to stop criminalizing of homosexuality, and we stand in solidarity with LGBTQ people who live in countries that punish, jail, or execute individuals based upon sexual orientation…Guided by these principles, my administration launched the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiatives.….Yesterday, I was also pleased to host leaders for a discussion about an ironclad American commitment: protecting religious leaders and also protecting religious freedom..

Trump seems to care so much about the rights of LGBTQ people, religious freedom, and women’s rights as he continues to be best buddies with Saudi Arabia who is one of the worst offenders of criminalizing homosexuality, denying religious freedoms and women’s rights. There is nothing this man says that doesn’t have a direct contradiction built in, which is a pretty good clue that he’s a say-anything charlatan and a pathological liar.

DT: “My fellow leaders, the path to peace and progress, and freedom and justice, and a better world for all humanity, begins at home.

I couldn’t agree more. And being that this system will never get any better than it is now is why we need to overthrow the likes of moneyed totalitarians such as Trump and the powers that be and replace them with a coalition of independent communities where the local people of each area work together cooperatively employing  anarcho-communism while exercising a dialectical participatory democracy through each small community so that the rule of the centralized power and maniacal oligarchs finally comes to an end.

What was provided here was but a small amount of the bullshit packed into his speech. The lies are layered and injected with tacit antecedent lies leading to conclusions that are lies. What’s special about Trump is that the lies have become so bold and brash in orientation that he doesn’t seem to mind how egregious the fibs have become. His speech is laden with empty platitudes and populist rhetoric people want to hear while leading down a trail to all the nefarious acts he speaks negatively of, pointing a finger at everyone else and projecting the horrors of the hegemonic US empire onto the very people and governments the US exploits and abuses, while fostering a nation-state that is fundamentally worse than the most power seeking governments ever to exist. It’s not just that bad, it’s worse than what I’m even stating here, which is why many Americans remain incredulous. They can’t believe someone in power could lie to this degree, but those in power can, and they do, and they will continue to until the people wise up.

“How Dare You!” The Climate Crisis And The Public Demand For Real Action

Reality clashed with the BBC version of false consensus in a remarkable edition of HardTalk last month. Roger Hallam, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, was starkly honest about humanity’s extreme predicament in the face of climate breakdown and refused to buckle under host Stephen Sackur’s incredulous questioning. Sackur’s inability to grasp that we are already in a climate emergency, and that massive changes are necessary now to avoid societal collapse, was clear for all to see. His line of questioning attempted to present Hallam to the BBC audience as a dangerous revolutionary, trying to destroy capitalism for twisted ideological reasons.

Sackur: ‘You want to bring down the capitalist system as we know it, is that correct?

Hallam: ‘The capitalist system is going to be brought down by itself. The capitalist system is eating itself.’

Sackur: ‘Well, no, the point about your…’

Hallam (interrupting): ‘Let me make this point clear, right? The capitalist system – the global system that we’re in – is in the process of destroying itself, and it will destroy itself in the next ten years. The reason for that is because it’s destroying the climate. The climate is what’s necessary to grow food. If you can’t grow food, there will be starvation and social collapse. Now, the problem is, people in elites, people in the BBC, and people in the governmental sector, cannot get their heads round what’s actually happening. The fact of the matter is, if you go out and talk to ordinary people in the street, they’re aware of this. And that’s why hundreds of thousands of people around the world are starting to take action…’

Sackur (interrupting): ‘I understand what you’re [saying], your perspective on the climate is that the emergency is here, it’s now and we have to respond.’

Hallam (interrupting): ‘No, I don’t think you have [understood].’

As Hallam pointed out in the interview, ‘hard science’ shows that, as things stand, billions of people will die in the next few decades as a result of climate breakdown. William Rees, professor emeritus of human ecology and ecological economics at the University of British Columbia, and the originator of the concept of ‘ecological footprint’, agreed. He added bluntly:

Humanity is literally converting the ecosphere into human bodies, prodigious quantities of cultural artifacts, and vastly larger volumes of entropic waste. (That’s what tropical deforestation, fisheries collapses, plummeting biodiversity, ocean pollution, climate change, etc. are all about.)

Earlier this year, Noam Chomsky noted that:

In a couple of generations, organized human society may not survive.

If corporate media were structurally capable of reflecting reality, this would be constant headline news:

Every single [newspaper] should have a shrieking headline every day saying we are heading to total catastrophe. […] That has to be drilled into people’s heads constantly. After all, there’s been nothing like this in all of human history. The current generation has to make a decision as to whether organized human society will survive another couple of generations, and it has to be done quickly, there’s not a lot of time. So, there’s no time for dillydallying and beating around the bush. And [the US] pulling out of the Paris negotiations should be regarded as one of the worst crimes in history.

Human extinction within one hundred years is a real possibility. A massive upsurge of public concern, placing unassailable pressure on governments to drastically change course, is urgently needed. Climate strikes, with seven million people taking part last Friday, inspired in large part by the example of 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, need to be ramped up even further, demanding real change; not fixes to a fundamentally destructive system that is falling apart, bringing humans and numerous other species with it.

As Thunberg passionately told world leaders at the UN in New York last week, in a powerful mix of emotion and reason:

People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you! […] How dare you pretend that this can be solved with business-as-usual and some technical solutions.

Thunberg’s speech gave the lie, yet again, to ill-founded claims that she is being manipulated or ‘manufactured’ as a front for neoliberalism, ‘green’ capitalism or ‘neo-feudalism’. As Jonathan Cook wrote in a cogent demolition of cynical claims made against her, including by some on the left:

Thunberg is not Wonder Girl. She will have to navigate through these treacherous waters as best she can, deciding who genuinely wants to help, who is trying to sabotage her cause, and which partners she can afford to ally with. She and similar movements will make mistakes. That is how social protests always work. It is also how they evolve.

Cook added:

Should Thunberg become captured, wittingly or not, by western elites, it is patronising in the extreme to assume that the many millions of young and old alike joining her on the climate strikes will be incapable of recognising her co-option or whether she has lost her way. Those making this argument arrogantly assume that only they can divine the true path.

Elite Fear of the Public

Despite considerable ‘mainstream’ coverage given to climate activism in 2019, public demands to make fundamental changes to the global economy will most likely continue to be ignored, twisted or derided. Indeed, the more extremist elements of the corporate media are prone to fear-mongering about the supposed risks – i.e. to wealth and power – in making significant changes in society. Thus, for example, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, international business editor of the Daily Telegraph, warned darkly:

The Green Taliban will sweep away our liberal order unless we get a grip on climate change.

We have a choice. Either we fight runaway climate change with liberal market policies and capitalist creativity, or we cede the field to Malthusians and the Green Taliban.

A Telegraph editorial had mocked the climate movement the previous week:

This climate strike is a joke. Childish socialism won’t help the environment.

The establishment paper scorned protesters as ‘economically illiterate’ and dismissed their ‘Luddite war on capitalism’. This is the stock clichéd insult, seemingly requiring no explanation or justification. The fact is, there is virtually no substantive coverage or discussion of capitalism as a root cause of the climate crisis, and that it is driving its own collapse, as Roger Hallam pointed out on BBC’s HardTalk – a rare mention indeed.

As an illustrative example: a search of the ProQuest newspaper database on September 26, covering the previous seven days, yielded 2,075 mentions of ‘Greta Thunberg’. But only 21 of these included the word ‘capitalism’. And, of these, only four made substantive critical remarks about capitalism: an article on The Canary website, an Irish Times piece quoting Naomi Klein, an article in Kashmir Times, and an opinion piece in Free Press Journal, based in Mumbai, India. In other words, vanishingly few; and not one in a major UK newspaper.

But then, corporate media and political leaders hate the idea of an informed public demanding real societal change. Bear in mind former Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent admission that he panicked over a possible ‘Yes’ vote in the Scottish independence referendum in 2014. When a YouGov poll put the ‘Yes’ campaign in the lead, it hit him ‘like a blow to the solar plexus’ and led to ‘a mounting sense of panic’.

Or recall the consternation of Tony Blair, Prime Minister in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He was so concerned about public opposition to the coming war that he told George Bush that the US may have to go ahead without UK involvement. Ian Sinclair, author of the 2013 book, The March That Shook Blair: An oral history of 15 February 2003, said:

It is important to remember just how close and how much the anti-war movement came to shaking Blair during that period and nearly stopping the participation.

Sinclair expanded:

On 9 March 2003 Development Secretary Clare Short threatened to resign, and there was a real concern within Blair’s inner circle that the Government might not win the parliamentary vote on the war. Receiving worrying reports from their embassy in London, Washington was so concerned about Blair’s position that on 9 March President Bush told his National Security Advisor Condeeleeza Rice “We can’t have the British Government fall because of this decision over war.” Bush then called Blair and suggested the UK could drop out of the initial invasion and find some other way to participate.

He continued:

Two days later was what has become known as ‘Wobbly Tuesday’ – “the lowest point of the crisis for Mr Blair”, according to the Sunday Telegraph. The same report explained that the Ministry of Defence “was frantically preparing contingency plans to ‘disconnect’ British troops entirely from the military invasion of Iraq, demoting their role to subsequent phases of the campaign and peacekeeping.” The Sunday Mirror reported that Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon had phoned the US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and “stressed the political problems the Government was having with both MPs and the public.” An hour later Rumsfeld held a press conference and explained that Britain might not be involved in the invasion. The Government was thrown into panic. Blair “went bonkers”, according to Alastair Campbell.’

Sinclair argues that although the invasion of Iraq went ahead:

It’s important to be aware of just how close the anti-war movement came to derailing British participation in the Iraq invasion.

“It’s Appropriate to be Scared”

We therefore need to take heart from the growing public awareness and determination to act in the face of the climate crisis. A recent poll showed that, in seven out of the eight countries surveyed, the climate emergency is seen as ‘the most important issue’ facing the world, ahead of migration, terrorism and the global economy.

At least three-quarters of the public agree that the world is facing a ‘climate emergency’, with climate breakdown at risk of becoming ‘extremely dangerous’. In the UK, 64 per cent agreed with the statement ‘time is running out to save the planet’ and a mere 23 per cent in the country think that the government is taking sufficient action.

Time is indeed running out, just as the scale of the crisis becomes ever clearer. Senior climate scientist Stefan Rahmstorf cautioned via Twitter:

Climate skeptics and deniers have often accused scientists of exaggerating the threat of climate change, but the evidence shows that not only have they not exaggerated, they have underestimated.

He was pointing to a piece in Scientific American titled, ‘Scientists Have Been Underestimating the Pace of Climate Change’. The article’s authors, including renowned science historian Naomi Oreskes, warned that:

Climate change and its impacts are emerging faster than scientists previously thought.

As if on cue, a new landmark Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report warned that sea levels could rise by fully one metre by the end of the century. Professor Jonathan Bamber, director of the Bristol Glaciology Centre at the University of Bristol, said:

Sea level rise is projected to continue whatever the emission scenario and for something like business-as-usual the future for low lying coastal communities looks extremely bleak. The consequences will be felt by all of us.

Even worse, warned Professor Peter Wadhams, professor of ocean physics at the University of Cambridge, the report did not mention the ‘very serious threat’ of methane coming from the seabed of the Arctic continental shelf as the permafrost thaws, releasing large amounts of powerful global-warming gas.

In an article for Nature, the prestigious science journal, lawyer Farhana Yamin, explained why she embarked on civil disobedience after three decades of environmental advocacy for the IPCC, the United Nations and others:

The global economy must be fundamentally reconfigured into a circular system that uses fewer resources and is based on renewable technologies. The time for half measures has run out — as made plain by the 2018 IPCC special report on the impacts of a 1.5 °C rise in global average temperatures. That’s why I chose to get arrested.

In April, Yamin super-glued her hands to the pavement outside the Shell headquarters in London, surrounded by numerous policemen. Once unstuck, she was arrested for causing criminal damage.

She said:

The current form of capitalism is toxic for life on Earth.

One might as well delete those three words, ‘current form of”.

Yamin continued:

By now you might have labelled me an extremist, here to boast about her mid-life flirtation with the barricades. Talk of injustice, devastation, emergency and the need for radical change is far removed from the neutral vocabulary used by the scientific community in journals such as Nature. But these seemingly emotional terms now fit the facts — and they effect change. I’d rather be labelled ideological than mislead the public into complacency.

How long will it be before other, even more senior, figures ‘take to the streets’, figuratively or otherwise, demanding real change? Professor Sir David King, former chief scientific adviser to the government, recently told Roger Harrabin, BBC environment analyst, that the faster pace of climate change, with an increasing number of extreme events, is ‘scary’. He expanded:

It’s appropriate to be scared. We predicted temperatures would rise, but we didn’t foresee these sorts of extreme events we’re getting so soon.

Other scientists contacted by the BBC echoed King’s emotive language. Senior physicist Professor Jo Haigh from Imperial College London said:

David King is right to be scared – I’m scared too.

We do the analysis, we think what’s going to happen, then publish in a very scientific way.

Then we have a human response to that… and it is scary.

Gerald Meehl, a senior scientist at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, warned:

I have a sense of the numbing inevitability of it all.

It’s like seeing a locomotive coming at you for 40 years – you could see it coming and were waving the warning flags but were powerless to stop it.’

The BBC’s Harrabin observed:

Few of the scientists we contacted had faith that governments would do what was needed to rescue the climate in time.

This ought to be so shocking that, to repeat Noam Chomsky’s point, newspapers should be headlining scientists’ warnings about climate every day, as well as highlighting that even normally cautious leading science experts have little faith in governments taking the necessary action to avoid the worst effects of climate chaos.

The UN has already warned that the climate crisis is the ‘greatest ever threat to human rights’. If the UN had warned that Iran, Russia or China is the ‘greatest ever threat to human rights’, it would get blanket coverage with huge headlines and leading pundits screaming, ‘Something must be done!’.

Michelle Bachelet, the UN rights chief, told the UN human rights council in Geneva earlier this month:

The economies of all nations, the institutional, political, social and cultural fabric of every state, and the rights of all your people, and future generations, will be impacted [by climate change].

She also denounced attacks on environmental activists, and the abuse and insidious accusations hurled at Greta Thunberg (which Thunberg herself has stoutly rebutted).

Writing for the leading physics news website, phys.org, Ivan Couronne called Thunberg’s ‘How dare you?’ UN speech ‘a major moment for climate movement’:

Thunberg’s way of speaking—brief, forceful and backed up by well-chosen scientific data points—contrasts sharply with the style of her peers, as was apparent over the weekend during a youth summit.

Some of the young activists already speak like their elders, reciting long texts lacking in nuance.

The uniqueness of Thunberg’s speech—at times reserved, at others blunt—partly comes from her Asperger’s syndrome, a mild form of autism that the teen says has made her very direct.

Couronne reported that Thunberg writes her own speeches, relying on reputable climate scientists to ensure that she gets her facts correct. These include Johan Rockstrom, Stefan Rahmstorf, Kevin Anderson, Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, Glen Peters and others.

Anderson, professor of energy and climate change at the University of Manchester, told phys.org:

I am confident that Greta writes her own speeches, but quite appropriately checks the robustness of facts, scientific statements and any use of numbers with a range of specialists in those particular areas.

Rahmstorf, Head of Earth System Analysis at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, added his support:

After discussing with Greta here in Potsdam and in Stockholm, I can vouch that she acts out of her own authentic motivation, and she knows the science. I wish more politicians would get this well-informed about climate science! Why is that not the case?

The answer is that political leaders remain largely beholden to powerful financial, economic and corporate forces that have yet to acknowledge the gravity of the climate crisis; and – in the case of the huge fossil fuel industries, in particular – are actually driving us ever closer towards oblivion. Only massive mobilisation of the public can turn things around. We are literally fighting for human survival.

Decimation of the Rainforests and the Money Men

During August thousands of fires ravaged the Amazon rainforest in Brazil and Bolivia. Some are still burning. In the wet ecosystem of the rainforest fires are not a natural phenomenon, they are started by people, mostly well-organized criminal gangs that profit from illegal logging and land clearance.

Brazil’s right-wing President, Jain Bolsanaro, took office in January; since then deforestation in the country has doubled, there have been 87,000 fires in the Amazon, the highest number since 2010. Funding to Brazil’s Environmental Protection Agency, IBAMA, has been cut by 25%, including monies allocated for prevention and control of fires, which was slashed by 23%, he has publicly attacked organizations working to protect the rainforest, like Guardians of the Forest (made up of indigenous people), and turned a blind eye to environmental crimes.

By dismantling “all the state organs that enforce environmental protection,” Alfredo Sirkis, director of the Brazil Climate Center, says Bolsonaro is inciting environmental crimes and facilitating deforestation; through his words and deeds he is complicit in the environmental crimes being perpetrated. A spokesman for Guardians of the Forest told Human Rights Watch, “If we were to wait for the authorities to act there will be nothing left.”

80,000 acres a day

The World’s rainforests are the lungs of the planet. They soak up greenhouse gas emissions, affect wind currents and rainfall patterns and produce the oxygen we need to survive. They provide habitat for hundreds of animals, thousands of birds and tens of thousands of plants: around 25% of modern pharmaceuticals are derived from ingredients found in rainforests.

In 1950 they covered around 15% of the earth’s land surface.  Now, due to intensive deforestation, it’s down to just 6%. According to Scientific American, “most experts agree that we are losing upwards of 80,000 acres of tropical rainforest daily, and significantly degrading another 80,000 acres every day on top of that. Along with this loss and degradation, 135 plant, animal and insect species are disappearing every day………as the forests fall.”

In 2015 the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) claimed that “over the past 25 years the rate of net global deforestation has slowed down by more than 50 percent”.  However, according to the World Resources Institute, that trend has reversed; 2018 “was the second-highest on record for tree cover loss, down just slightly from 2016. The tropics lost an area of forest the size of Vietnam in just the last two years.” If this unimaginable level of carnage continues unabated it is feared that in less than 40 years there will be none left.

The consequences of a world bereft of rainforests are too horrific to contemplate, but one thing is clear: it would then be too late to do anything meaningful about climate change and the environmental calamity more broadly. Currently, deforestation and forest degradation rank as the second highest cause of man-made greenhouse gas emissions, producing around 15% of the total. As the children of the world have been rightly demanding, radical action is needed now, not in twenty-five or thirty years’ time, but now.

The causes of deforestation

There are various causes of deforestation; while logging is an issue, particularly in Indonesia where 80 percent of timber exports are illegal, the major cause is animal agriculture. Huge tracts of land are cleared to graze cattle, grow feed for animals and for biofuels. Animal agriculture is a principle cause of greenhouse gas emissions – producing, the UNFAO say, 14.5% of the anthropogenic GHG emissions that are driving climate change. It also uses approximately 70% of all agricultural land, and is the primary cause of biodiversity loss, animal extinction and water pollution. If deforestation and climate change are to be tackled, reducing consumption of animal produce needs to be a priority. This is something we can all do; it just requires commitment and a sense of social/environmental responsibility.

A recent study into the impact of farming on the planet concluded that “a vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication [when a body of water becomes overly enriched with minerals and nutrients which induce excessive growth of algae], land use and water use…it is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car,” it states, “as these only cut greenhouse gas emissions.”

The research, which is the most comprehensive to date, found that “beef cattle raised on deforested land result in 12 times more greenhouse gases and uses 50 times more land than those grazing rich natural pasture,” and states that producing 100g of beef “results in up to 105kg of greenhouse gases, while tofu produces less than 3.5kg.” Without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by 75% (an area equivalent to the US, China, the European Union and Australia combined), the study states, and we could still feed everyone.

In response to this summer’s fires in the Amazon a coalition of environmental groups came together, which included Friends of the Earth, Action Network, Rainforest and Amazon Watch. They called for a Global Day of Action for the Amazon and issued a damning statement to those responsible for the destruction.

Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro is, they made clear, primarily to blame for the fires and the increase in deforestation since he took office, due to his “regressive, and racist policies and his explicit encouragement to ‘open the Amazon for business’.” But, it is multinational companies that have created the “conditions for profiteering at the expense of the lungs of the earth – and these same companies are poised to profit further as today’s fires open up the door for tomorrow’s plantations and ranches.” Behind deforestation is big business and the multinational banks.

Global commodity traders are the “key drivers of deforestation in the Amazon”; companies like Cargill, a US based agriculture corporation, or JBS, an American food processing company, or Marfrig Global Foods, a Brazilian beef producer, and, according to their website, “one of the world leaders in the production of hamburgers, with processing capacity of 232.000 tons per year”.

The products these companies make are sold by large-scale retailers all over the world: E. Lecrerc has over 500 shops in France and 112 outside the country; Stop & Shop (the name says it all), a US supermarket chain with 415 outlets; Costco, another American conglomerate, and US mega corporation, Walmart, which has 11,389 stores. Behind these corporations sit the money men. The key players are BlackRock (an American investment management corporation); US investment bank, JPMorgan Chase; Santander (Spanish Bank); BNP Paribas (French Bank); HSBC (UK-based bank) and others. “These financiers not only enable the destruction of our forests – they profit from it.”

The driving force

Behind the banks and corporate traders is the Neo-Liberal socio-economic model; these powerful organizations operate within, and are determined to uphold, the confines of its doctrine, they are driven by the values and motives inherent in the Ideology of Money, and demonstrate no concern for the natural world, or human well-being.

Together with the consumer society that it relentlessly promotes and depends on, Neo-Liberalism, sits at the polluting heart of deforestation and the wider interconnected environmental catastrophe. Under its profit-bound ethos, everything is regarded as a commodity, everyone seen as a consumer. Competition and division are inherent, selfishness and greed, the antithesis to what is needed, are fostered.

Within the present construct and modes of living it is hard to see how the necessary action to curb deforestation could be initiated. In an attempt to halt the carnage in 2008 the UN set up Redd (reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation). A mechanism through which developing countries are encouraged to improve forest management and developed nations can contribute to a fund to facilitate and support such schemes. It may contribute to encouraging conservation and places a degree of responsibility, albeit voluntarily accepted, on rich nations, but it will not stop deforestation.

A completely new approach to so-called development as part of far reaching systemic change is urgently needed, together with a shift in public attitudes: away from self-centered activity, competition, and the aggrandizement of the individual and/or the nation state. Humanity is one, individual but united. This essential fact needs to be recognized and acted upon. Not as a vague philosophical or psychological catchphrase, but as a principle of truth from which a new socio-economic model can be created; one that serves the needs of all through sharing, encourages simplicity of living, harmlessness and social/environmental responsibility.