Wednesday, 29 July 2009
For over 30 years, F. William Engdahl has been a leading researcher, economist, and analyst of the New World Order with extensive writing to his credit on energy, politics, and economics. He contributes regularly to business and other publications, is a frequent speaker on geopolitical, economic and energy issues, and is a distinguished Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.
Engdahl's two previous books include "A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order" explaining that America's post-WW II dominance rests on two pillars and one commodity - unchallengeable military power and the dollar as the world's reserve currency along with the quest to control global oil and other energy resources.
Engdahl's other book is titled "Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation" on how four Anglo-American agribusiness giants plan world domination by patenting all life forms to force-feed GMO foods on everyone - even though eating them poses serious human health risks.
Engdahl's newest book is reviewed below. Titled "Full Strectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order," it discusses America's grand strategy, first revealed in the 1998 US Space Command document - Vision for 2020. Later released in 2000 as DOD Joint Vision 2020, it called for "full spectrum dominance" over all land, surface and sub-surface sea, air, space, electromagnetic spectrum and information systems with enough overwhelming power to fight and win global wars against any adversary, including with nuclear weapons preemptively.
Other means as well, including propaganda, NGOs and Color Revolutions for regime change, expanding NATO eastward, and "a vast array of psychological and economic warfare techniques" as part of a "Revolution in Military Affairs" discussed below.
September 11, 2001 served as pretext to consolidate power, destroy civil liberties and human rights, and wage permanent wars against invented enemies for global dominance over world markets, resources, and cheap labor - at the expense of democratic freedoms and social justice. Engdahl's book presents a frightening view of the future, arriving much sooner than most think.
After the Soviet Union's dissolution in late 1989, America had a choice. As the sole remaining superpower, it could have worked for a new era of peace and prosperity, ended decades of Cold War tensions, halted the insane arms race, turned swords into plowshares, and diverted hundreds of billions annually from "defense" to "rebuild(ing) civilian infrastructure and repair(ing) impoverished cities."
Instead, Washington, under GHW Bush and his successors, "chose stealth, deception, lies and wars to attempt to control the Eurasian Heartland - its only potential rival as an economic region - by military (political, and economic) force," and by extension planet earth through an agenda later called "full spectrum dominance."
As a result, the Cold War never ended and today rages with over a trillion dollars spent annually on "defense" in all forms even though America has no enemy, nor did it after the Japanese surrendered in August 1945. So the solution was to invent them, and so they were.
Post-Soviet Russia, "The 'new' Cold War assumed various disguises and deceptive tactics until September 11, 2001" changed the game. It let George Bush "declare (a) permanent (Global War on Terror) against an enemy who was everywhere and nowhere, who allegedly threatened the American way of life, justified (police state) laws," and is now destroying our freedoms and futures.
The roots of the scheme go back decades - at least to 1939 when powerful New York Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) insiders planned a post-war world with one nation alone triumphant and unchallengeable.
Engdahl's book is a geopolitical analysis of the past two decades - peering into "the dark corners of Pentagon strategy and actions and the extreme dangers ('full spectrum dominance' holds for) the future," not just to America but the entire world.
Things are so out-of-control today that democratic freedoms and planetary life itself are threatened by "the growing risk of nuclear war by miscalculation" or the foolhardy assumption that waging it can be limited, controlled, and safe - like turning a faucet on and off. The very notion is implausible and reckless on its face, yet powerful forces in the country think this way and plan accordingly.
The Guns of August 2008
On the 8th day of the 8th month of the 8th year of the new century, a place few people in the West ever heard of made headlines when Georgia's army invaded South Ossetia - its province that broke away in 1991 and declared its independence. For a brief period, world tensions were more heightened than at any time since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis when only cooler heads avoided possible nuclear war.
Like then, the crisis was a Washington provocation with tiny Georgia a mere pawn in a dangerous high-stakes confrontation - a new Great Game that former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski described in his 1997 book, "The Grand Chessboard."
He called Eurasia the "center of world power extending from Germany and Poland in the East through Russia and China to the Pacific and including the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent." He explained that America's urgent task was to assure that "no state or combination of states gains the capacity to expel the United States from Eurasia or even to diminish significantly its decisive arbitration role." Dominating that part of the world is key to controlling the planet, and its the main reason for NATO's existence. From inception, its mission was offense.
Post-Cold War, Washington used the illusion of democracy to dominate everywhere - with the long arm of the Pentagon and NATO as enforcers. Euphoric East Europeans couldn't know that American-style democracy was even more repressive than what had ended. Decades of Voice of America and Radio Free Europe propaganda was soon revealed to be no different than the Soviet system they rejected and in some ways much worse.
Western-imposed "shock therapy" meant "free market" hokum, mass privatizations, ending the public sphere, unrestricted access for foreign corporations unemcumbered by pesky regulations, deep social service cuts, loss of job security, poverty wages, repressive laws, and entire economies transformed to benefit a powerful corporate ruling class partnered with corrupted political elites. Globally, Russia got billionaire "oligarchs," China "the princelings," Chile "the piranhas," and in new millennium America the Bush-Cheney "Pioneers" and Obama Wall Street Top Guns wrecking global havoc for self-enrichment.
As for ordinary people, Russia is instructive for what's heading everywhere:
-- mass impoverishment;
-- an epidemic of unemployment;
-- loss of pensions and social benefits;
-- 80% of farmers bankrupted;
-- tens of thousands of factories closed and the country de-industrialized;
-- schools closed;
-- housing in disrepair;
-- skyrocketing alcoholism, drug abuse, HIV/AIDS, suicides, and violent crime; and
-- a declining population and life expectancy because the country was looted for profit and all safety nets ended; what Milton Friedman called "freedom."
Mikhail Gorvachev tried to revitalize Soviet Russia with Glasnost and Perestroika but failed. In return for agreeing to "shock therapy" and nuclear disarmament, GHW Bush promised no eastward NATO extension into newly liberated Warsaw Pact countries. The Russian Duma, in fact, ratified Start II, providing a firm disarmament schedule - contingent on both countries prohibiting a missile defense deployment as stipulated under the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM).
On December 14, 2001, the Bush administration withdrew from ABM and much more. It claimed the right to develop and test new nuclear weapons (in violation of NPT), rescinded the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention, greatly increased military spending, refused to consider a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty to increase already large stockpiles, and claimed the right to wage preventive wars under the doctrine of "anticipatory self-defense" using first-strike nuclear weapons.
The door was now open for enhanced militarization, creation of the US Missile Defense Agency, and proof again that trusting America is foolhardy and dangerous. Both GHW Bush and Bill Clinton lied by enticing former Warsaw Pact countries into NATO, one by one.
At the beginning of the 1990s, Zbigniew Brzezinski described America's arrogance this way:
"Presidential travels abroad assumed the trappings of imperial expeditions, overshadowing in scale and security demands the circumstances of any other statesman (reflecting) America's anointment as the world's leader (to be) in some respects reminiscent of Napoleon's self-coronation."
Brzezinski understood the dangers of imperial arrogance, causing the decline and fall of previous empires. Even a superpower like the US is vulnerable. He was very comfortable with an American Century, only leery of the means to achieve and keeping it. In 2008, with 28 NATO country members, including 10 former Warsaw Pact ones, Washington sought admission for Georgia and Ukraine, and did so after announcing in early 2007 the planned installation of interceptor missiles in Poland and advanced tracking radar in the Czech Republic, both NATO members.
Allegedly for defense against Iran and other "rogue" states, it clearly targeted Russia by guaranteeing America a nuclear first-strike edge, and that provoked a sharp Kremlin response. Washington's deployment is for offense as are all US/NATO installations globally.
Vladimir Putin expressed outrage in his February 2007 Munich International Conference on Security address stating:
"NATO has put its frontline forces on our borders. (It) does not have any relation with the modernisation of the Alliance itself or with ensuring security in Europe. On the contrary, it represent a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust. And we have a right to ask: against whom is this expansion intended? And what happened to the assurances our western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact?"
Putin's speech drew a storm of US media Russia-bashing. Last August, it got this writer to comment in an article titled "Reinventing the Evil Empire," saying: Russia is back, proud and re-assertive, and not about to roll over for America, especially in Eurasia. For Washington, it's back to the future with a new Cold War, but this time for greater stakes and with much larger threats to world peace.
Over the past two decades, Washington upped the ante, encroaching on Russia's borders and encircling it with it with NATO/US bases clearly designed for offense and to block the spread of democratic freedoms to former Soviet Republics. "Diabolical propaganda" made it work by projecting imperial America as a colonial liberator bringing "free market" capitalism to the East. It succeeded as "long as the United States was the world's largest economy and American dollars were in demand as (the) de facto world reserve currency...." For decades, America "portray(ed) itself as the beacon of liberty for newly independent nations of Africa and Asia," as well as former Soviet Republics and Warsaw Pact nations.
Geopolitical Reality - America's New Manifest Destiny, Global Expansion to the Vastness of Eurasia
For over a century, America sought "total economic and military control over (Soviet) Russia" through the full strength of its military-industrial-security sectors - by war or other means. From 1945, the Pentagon planned a first-strike nuclear war, an "all out conventional war (called) TOTALITY (as) drafted by General Dwight Eisenhower" per Harry Truman's order, the same man who used atomic weapons against a defeated Japan instead of accepting its requested surrender.
With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, America's superpower supremacy depends on "precluding Eurasian countries from developing their own defense pillars or security structures independent of US-controlled NATO," especially to prevent a powerful China-Russia alliance capable of serious challenge, along with other Eurasian states, notably oil rich ones.
As geopolitical strategist Halford Mackinder (1861 - 1947) observed in his most famous dictum:
"Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland;
Who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island;
Who rules the World-Island commands the World."
Mackinder's World-Island was Eurasia, all of Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
Early in the last century and notably post-WW II, America determined to rule even at the risk of all out nuclear war. For its part, Britain intended to stay in the game, and in April 1945, Winston Churchill urged Dwight Eisenhower and Franklin Roosevelt "to launch an immediate full-scale war against the Soviet Union, using up to 12 captured German divisions (as) cannon fodder to destroy Russia once and for all."
Instead, Washington invented a post-war enemy, and got Europe and Asian countries to feel threatened enough to agree to US dictates, even ones contrary to their own interests. As for America, in 1945, Truman ordered Eisenhower "to prepare secret plans for a surprise nuclear strike on some (Soviet) cities (despite knowing the Kremlin) posed no direct or immediate threat to the United States" or its close allies.
A nuclear-armed Russia with intercontinental missile capabilities halted the threat - until the 2001 Bush Doctrine asserted the right to wage preventive wars, with first-strike nuclear weapons, to depose foreign regimes perceived dangerous to US security and interests. That was the strategy behind the 2008 Georgian conflict that could have escalated into nuclear war.
Defused for the moment, "a number of leading US policy makers (see Russia today) as unfinished business (and seek its) complete dismemberment (as) an independent pivot for Eurasia." Nuclear superiority, encirclement, and "diabolical propaganda" are three tools among others to finish the job and leave America the sole remaining superpower. Disempowering Russia and China will create an open field for a "total global American Century - the realization of 'full spectrum dominance,' as the Pentagon called it."
Today, under Obama as under Bush, the risk of nuclear war by miscalculation is highest in nearly half a century. With America the clear aggressor, Russia may feel its only option is strike first while able or delay and face the consequences when it's too late. The closer offensive nuclear missiles are to its borders, the nearer it gets to disempowerment, further dismemberment, and possible nuclear annihilation.
Its reaction left few doubts of its response. In February 2007, Strategic Rocket Forces commander Col. Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov said "Moscow would target US Ballistic Missile Defense sites with its nuclear arsenal if Washington" proceeded with its plans. Putin delivered harsh rhetoric and announced Russia would spend $190 billion over the next eight years to modernize its military by 2015 and that state-of-the-art weapons would take precedence. His message was clear. A New Cold War/nuclear arms race was on with Russia ready to contend "out of national survival considerations," not a desire for confrontation.
"Missile Defense" for Offense
On March 23, 1983, Ronald Reagan proposed the idea in a speech calling for greater Cold War military spending, including a huge R & D program for what became known as "Star Wars" - in impermeable anti-missile space shield called the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). The idea then (and now) was fantasy, but a glorious one for defense contractors who've profited hugely ever since.
The Clinton administration gave it modest support until the National Missile Defense Act of 1999 proposed an active missile defense "as soon as is technologically possible...."
When George Bush became president, Donald Rumsfeld wanted war preparations to include missile defense and space-based weapons to destroy targets anywhere in the world quickly for "full spectrum dominance." The strategy included "deployment of a revolutionary new technique of regime change to impose or install 'US-friendly' regimes throughout the former Soviet Union and across Eurasia."
Controlling Russia - Color Revolutions and Swarming Coups
"Swarming" is a RAND Corporation term referring to "communication patterns and movement of" bees and other insects and applying it to military conflict by other means. It plays out through covert CIA actions to overthrow democratically elected governments, remove foreign leaders and key officials, prop up friendly dictators, and target individuals anywhere in the world.
Also through propaganda and activities of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the International Republican Institute (IRI), and National Democratic Institute (NDI) - posing as NGOs but, in fact, are US government-funded organizations charged with subverting democracy, uprooting it where it exists, or preventing its creation by criminally disruptive means. Methods include non-violent strikes, mass street protests, and major media agitprop for regime change - much like what's now playing out in Iran after its presidential election.
Other recent examples include the Belgrade 2000 coup against Slobodan Misosevic, Georgia's 2003 Rose Revolution ousting Eduard Shevardnadze for the US-installed stooge, Mikheil Saakashvili, and the 2004-05 Ukraine Orange Revolution, based on faked electoral fraud, to install another Washington favorite, Viktor Yushchenko. The idea is to isolate Russia by cutting off its economic lifeline - the "pipeline networks that (carry its) huge reserves of oil and natural gas from the Urals and Serbia to Western Europe and Eurasia..." They run through Ukraine, a nation "so intertwined (with Russia) economically, socially and culturally, especially in the east of the country, that they were almost indistinguishable from one another."
Achieving geopolitical aims this way is far simpler and cheaper than waging wars "while convincing the world (that regime change was the result of) spontaneous outbursts for freedom. (It's) a dangerously effective weapon."
In 1953, cruder CIA methods toppled democratically elected Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh - the agency's first successful coup d'etat to install Reza Shah Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran.
In 1954, it deposed the popularly elected Jacobo Arbenz and replaced him with a military dictator - on the pretext of removing a non-existent communist threat. Arbenz, like other targets, threatened US business interests by favoring land reform, strong unions, and wealth distribution to alleviate extreme poverty in their countries.
Short of war, various tactics aim to prevent them: "propaganda, stuffed ballot boxes, bought elections, extortion, blackmail, sexual intrigue, false stories about opponents in the local media, transportation strikes, infiltration and disruption of opposing political parties, kidnapping, beating, torture, intimidation, economic sabotage, death squads and even assassination (culminating in) a military (or other coup to install) a 'pro-American' right-wing dictator" - while claiming it's democracy in action. For decades, countries in Latin America, the Middle East, and other world regions have been frequent victims.
Since the CIA's 1947 creation, "national security" and a fake communist threat justified every imaginable crime from propaganda to economic warfare, sabotage, assassinations, coup d'etats, torture, foreign wars and much more.
However, by the 1960s, new forms of covert regime change emerged along the lines that RAND studies called "swarming" - the idea being to develop social manipulation techniques or disruptive outbreaks short of wars or violent uprisings. After 2000, as mentioned above, they played out in Central Europe's Color Revolutions. According to State Department and intelligence community officials, "It seemed to be the perfect model for eliminating regimes opposed to US policy," whether or not popularly elected. Every regime is now vulnerable to "new methods of warfare" by other means, including economic ones very much in play now and earlier.
Organizations like the Gene Sharp Albert Einstein Institution, George Soros' Open Society Foundation, Freedom House and others are very much involved, and Sharp's web site admits being active with "pro-democracy" groups in Burma, Thailand, Tibet, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Belarus, and Serbia. They all conveniently "coincided with the US State Department's targets for regime change over the same period."
Eurasian Pipeline Wars
Central to the current conflict is control of the region's vast oil and gas reserves, and as long as Russia can use its resources "to win economic allies in Western Europe, China, and elsewhere, it (can't) be politically isolated." As a result, Moscow reacts harshly to military encirclement and bordering Color Revolutions - hostile acts, the geopolitical equivalence of war.
For America to remain the sole superpower, controlling global oil and gas flows is crucial along with cutting off China from Caspian Sea reserves and securing the energy routes and networks between Russia and the EU.
It's why America invaded and occupies Afghanistan and Iraq, incited Baltic wars in the 1990s, attacked Kosovo and Serbia in 1999, threatens Iran repeatedly and imposes sanctions, and keeps trying to oust Hugo Chavez. For its part under Vladimir Putin, Russia's economy began to grow for the first time in decades. It's rich in oil and gas, and uses them strategically to gain influence enough to rival Washington, especially in alliance with China and other former Soviet states like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, united in the 2001-formed Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) with Iran and India having observer status.
Under Bush-Cheney, Washington reacted aggressively. "full spectrum dominance" is the aim with Russia and China the main targets. Controlling world energy resources is central, and nothing under Obama has changed. Iraq's occupation continues and Afghanistan operations are enhanced with increased troop deployments under newly appointed General Stanley McChrystal's command - a hired gun, a man with a reputation for brutishness that includes torture, assassinations, indifference to civilian deaths, and willingness to destroy villages to save them.
As long as Russia and China stay free from US control, "full spectrum dominance" is impossible. Encircling the former with NATO bases, Color Revolutions, and incorporating former Soviet states into NATO and the EU are all part of the same grand strategy - "deconstruct(ing) Russia once and for all as a potential rival to a sole US Superpower hegemony."
Vladimir Putin stands in the way, "a dynamic nationalist (leader) committed to rebuilding" his country. In 2003, a defining geopolitical event occurred when Putin had billionaire oligarch, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, arrested on charges of tax evasion and put his shares in giant Yukos Oil group under state control.
It followed a decisive Russian Duma (lower house) election in which Khodorkovsky "was reliably alleged" to have used his wealth for enough votes to gain a majority - to challenge Putin in 2004 for president. Khodorkovsky violated his pledge to stay out of politics in return for keeping his assets and stolen billions provided he repatriate enough of them back home.
His arrest also came after a report surfaced about a meeting with Dick Cheney in Washington, followed by others with ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco. They discussed acquiring a major stake of up to 40% of Yukos or enough to give Washington and Big Oil "de facto veto power over future Russian oil and gas pipelines and oil deals." Khodorkovsky also met with GHW Bush and had ties to the Carlyle Group, the influential US firm with figures like James Baker one of its partners.
Had Exxon and Chevron consummated the deal, it would have been an "energy coup d'etat. Cheney knew it; Bush knew it; Khodorkovsky knew it. Above all, Vladimir Putin knew it and moved decisively to block it" and hit hard on Khodorkosky in the process. It "signaled a decisive turn....towards rebuilding Russia and erecting strategic defenses." By late 2004, Moscow understood that a New Cold War was on over "strategic energy control and unilateral nuclear primacy," and Putin moved from defense to a "new dynamic offensive aimed at securing a more viable geopolitical position by using (Russia's) energy as the lever."
It involves reclaiming Russia's oil and gas reserves given away by Boris Yeltsin. Also strengthening and modernizing the country's military and nuclear deterrent to enhance its long-term security. Russia remains a military powerhouse and displays impressive technology at international trade shows, including the S-300 and more powerful S-400, reportedly more potent than comparable US systems.
Controlling China with Synthetic Democracy
From the 1940s to today, America's China strategy has been "divide and conquer," only tactics have varied from "big stick" to "carrot-and-stick" diplomacy. Key is to keep Russia and China from cooperating economically and militarily, "maintain a strategy of tension across Asia, and particularly Eurasia" (that, of course includes the Middle East and its oil riches) - for the overarching goal of total "control of China as the potential economic colossus of Asia."
With America embroiled in Eurasian wars, policy now "masquerad(es) behind the issues of human rights and 'democracy' as weapons of psychological and economic warfare."
Another initiative as well is ongoing - the 2007 AFRICOM authorization, the US Africa Command to control the continent's 53 countries no differently than the rest of the world, using military force as necessary. China's increasing need for Africa's resources (including oil), not terrorism, is the reason.
The 2008 Army Modernization Strategy (AMS) focuses on "full spectrum dominance," controlling world resources, and the prospect of wars for three to four decades to secure them. China and Russia are most feared as serious competitors - the former for its explosive economic growth and resource requirements and the latter for its energy, other raw material riches, and military strength.
AMS also included another threat - "population growth" threatening America and the West with "radical ideologies" and hence instability as well as unwanted "resource competition" that expanding economies require - everything from food to water, energy and other raw materials. These issues lay behind AFRCOM's creation and strategy for hardline militarism globally.
America's second president, John Adams, once said: "there are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt," or more broadly economic warfare. With much of US manufacturing offshored in China, both methods are constrained so an alternative scheme is used - human rights and democracy by an America disdaining both at home or abroad.
Nonetheless, in 2004, the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor targeted China on these issues with millions in funding, headed by a right-wing conservative, Paula Dobriansky. She's a CFR member, NED vice chairman, Freedom House board member, senior fellow at the neo-conservative Hudson Institute, and member of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) at which she endorsed attacking Iraq in 1998. Now she targets China with "soft warfare" strategy that's just as deadly.
Other tools include the Dalai Lama organizations in Tibet, Falun Gong in China, "an arsenal of (global) NGOs" carefully recruited for their mission, and, of course, the Western media, including public television and radio in America and BBC globally.
Weaponizing Human Rights - From Darfur to Myanmar to Tibet
In targeting China, Washington's human rights/democracy offensive focused on Myanmar, Tibet, and oil-rich Darfur. Called the "Saffron Revolution" in Myanmar (formerly Burma), it featured Western media images of saffron-robed Buddhist Monks on Yangon (formerly Rangoon) streets calling for more democracy. "Behind the scenes, however, was a battle of major geopolitical consequence" with Myanmar's people mere props for a Washington-hatched scheme - employing Eurasian Color Revolution tactics:
-- "hit-and-run swarming" mobs of monks;
-- connecting protest groups through internet blogs and mobile text-messaging links; and
-- having command-and-control over protest cells, dispersed and re-formed as ordered with no idea who pulled the strings or why - a hidden sinister objective targeting China for greater geopolitical control and destabilizing Myanmar to do it.
Also at stake is control of vital sea lanes from the Persian Gulf to the South China Sea with the Myanmar coastline "providing shipping and naval access to one of the world's most strategic waterways, the Strait of Malacca, the narrow ship passage between Malaysia and Indonesia."
Since 9/11, the Pentagon tried but failed to militarize the region except for an airbase on Indonesia's northernmost tip. Myanmar rejected similar overtures - hence its being targeted for its strategic importance. "The Strait of Malacca, linking the Indian and Pacific Oceans, (is) the shortest sea route between the Persian Gulf and China. (It's) the key chokepoint in Asia" so controlling it is key. China has close ties to Myanmar. It's provided billions in military assistance and developed the infrastructure. The country is also oil-rich, on its territory and offshore.
China is the world's fastest growing energy market. Over 80% of its oil imports pass through the Strait. Controlling it keeps a chokehold over China's life-line, and if it's ever closed, about half the world's tanker fleet would have thousands of extra miles to travel at far higher freight costs.
In summer 2007, Myanmar and PetroChina signed a long-term Memorandum of Understanding - to supply China with substantial natural gas from its Shwe gas field in the Bay of Bengal. India was the main loser after China offered to invest billions for a strategic China-Myanmar oil and gas pipeline across the country to China's Yunnan Province. The same pipeline could give China access to Middle East and African oil by bypassing the Malacca Strait. "Myanmar would become China's 'bridge' linking Bangladesh and countries westward to the China mainland" trumping Washington should it succeed in controlling the Strait - a potential geopolitical disaster America had to prevent, hence the 2007 "Saffron Revolution" that failed.
India's Dangerous Alliance Shift
From 2005, India was "pushed into a strategic alliance with Washington" to counter China's growing influence in Asia and to have a "capable partner who can take on more responsibility for low-end operations" - directed at China and to provide bases and access to project US power in the region. To sweeten the deal, the Bush administration offered to sell (nuclear outlaw) India advanced nuclear technology. At the same time, it bashed Iran for its legitimate commercial operations, and now Obama threatens hardened sanctions and perhaps war without year end 2009 compliance with clearly outrageous demands.
The Significance of Darfur in Sudan
In a word - oil in the form of huge potential reserves with Chinese companies involved in discovering them. Washington's genocide claim is a hoax. Yet it's trumpeted by the media and foolhardy celebrities used as props for the charade. By 2007, China was getting up to 30% of its oil from Africa prompting its "extraordinary series of diplomatic initiatives that left Washington furious" and determined to respond.
Beijing offers African countries "no-strings-attached dollar credits" compared to exploitive IMF and World Bank terms. It paid off with important oil deals with Nigeria, South Africa, and Sudan's Darfur region. China National Petroleum Company (CNPC) is now Sudan's largest foreign investor, around $15 billion in the past decade, and it co-owns a refinery near Khartoum. It also built an oil pipeline from southern Sudan to Port Sudan on the Red Sea from where tankers ship it to China.
With its need for oil growing at around 30% a year, China must have all the secure sources it can arrange, so what Africa can supply is crucial. Hence the Darfur confrontation, fake genocide charges, and Washington pressuring the government to sever its ties with China, something Khartoum won't countenance.
For years as well, America used proxy Chad, Eritrea, and other forces, poured arms into Southeastern Sudan and Darfur, and trained the Sudan People's Liberation Army's (SPLA) John Garang at the School of the Americas for his role as a Pentagon's stooge. His campaign in the country's south, and that of others in Darfur, killed tens of thousands and left several million displaced. At stake is vital energy and other resources from Sudan and elsewhere, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, long reeling from Washington-initiated aggression using proxy forces for the dirty work.
For one, Chad's thuggish "President for life" Idriss Deby's elite troops, trained and armed by the Pentagon, for attacks in Darfur and to aid rebel forces against the Khartoum government in Southwestern Sudan. A US/World Bank-financed pipeline also extends from Chad to the Cameroon coast as "part of a far grander scheme to control the oil riches of Central Africa from Sudan to the Gulf of Guinea" - an area with reserves potentially on a par with the Persian Gulf making it a great enough prize to go all out for.
Enter China with "buckets of aid money" offered Chad the result of Deby wanting a greater share of the revenues, creating his own oil company, SHT, and threatening to expel Chevron for not paying its required taxes. Things got resolved, "but the winds of change were blowing" with China taking advantage, something "not greeted well in Washington."
"Chad and Darfur (are) part of a significant Chinese effort to secure oil at the source(s), all across Africa," a matter Washington's Africa policy is addressing with AFRICOM and various military bases on the continent plus others planned. Washington wants global control of oil. Because of its growing needs, China represents a challenge everywhere but especially in Africa and Latin America. The result - "an undeclared, but very real, New Cold War (is on) over oil."
Tibet is another battleground with unrest unleashed ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The operation dates from when George Bush met the Dalai Lama publicly in Washington for the first time, signaled his backing for Tibetan independence, and awarded him the Congressional Gold Medal. It clearly angered China that considers Tibet part of its territory.
China also worried that Washington targeted Tibet with a Crimson Revolution much like earlier ones in Georgia, Ukraine and elsewhere while at the same time embarrassing Beijing ahead of its Olympics - intended to display its prosperity to a world television audience round the clock from August 8 - 24. The stakes on both sides are huge and remain so going forward.
The Dalai Lama plays a pivotal role, but not what most people think. Although promoted in the West as spiritual and concerned for human rights and justice, as far back as the 1930s he "traveled in rather extreme conservative political circles," including with extremist Nazis when he was a boy.
Later in 1999, he joined with Margaret Thatcher and GHW Bush in demanding the British government release Augusto Pinochet, under house arrest in London, and not extradite him to Spain for prosecution. Also, US government documents dating from 1959 revealed that he was was financed and backed by "various US and Western intelligence services and their gaggle of NGOs." He continues to serve them today and got a White House meeting and Congressional Gold Medal for his efforts.
In 1959, the CIA helped him flee Tibet to Dharamsala, India where he's lived for the past 50 years, surfacing where Washington sends him for whatever purpose is intended. He's also gotten millions of NED dollars to engage in disruptive activities benefitting the West against designated adversaries.
"The most prominent pro-Dalai Lama Tibet independence organization in the destabilization attempt of 2008 was the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), founded in Washington in 1988." Its board of directors includes former US State Department officials revealing Washington's clear involvement. For the past 15 years, NED provided funding for its usual type mischief. Other anti-Beijing organizations are also active, including the US-based Students for a Free Tibet (SFT), founded in 1994 as a US Tibet Committee project, financed by NED for "made-in-the-USA" subversion.
Tibet is also important as one of the world's most valued water sources and for its "treasure of minerals....oil (and) some of the world's largest uranium and borax deposits, one half of the world's lithium, the largest copper deposits in Asia, enormous iron deposits, and over 80,000 gold mines." Also its forests contain China's largest timber reserve, and its "treasure basin" border with Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has 57 types of mineral reserves, including oil, natural gas, coal, crude salt, potassium, magnesium, lead, zinc and gold worth an estimated $1.8 trillion. Truly a "treasure" worth contesting for and the reason for America's interest. Human rights and promoting democracy are subterfuge, the same as everywhere America has a strategic interest, usually focused on resources.
Destabilizing Tibet "was part of a shift of great significance....at a time when the US economy and the US dollar....were in the worst crisis since the 1930s....By the end of 2008 (America looked) more and more like the British Empire of the late 1930s - a global imperium in terminal decline" yet determined to impose its will on an increasingly reluctant world wanting better alternatives than they're getting. Quashing it requires "full spectrum dominance," something the Pentagon clearly understands. So do nations like China, Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, and others on every continent.
Global Bases As the Basis of Empire
NATO currently includes 28 member states, including 10 former Soviet Republics and Warsaw Pact countries. Prospective new candidates include Georgia, Ukraine, Croatia, Albania and Macedonia and potentially others later to more tightly encircle Russia. At the same time, the Middle East and part of Eurasia have been increasingly militarized with a network of US bases from Qatar to Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond - a clear breach of GHW Bush's promise to Mikhail Gorbachev that paved the way for unifying Germany in 1990 and dissolving the Soviet Union.
The Pentagon has hundreds of bases globally, 1000 or more by some estimates, including secret and shared ones for greater control - at a time when no nation threatens America yet trillions of dollars are spent anyway and over time may bankrupt the nation.
Many of them were built in the last 10 years starting with Camp Bondsteel in occupied Kosovo. Numerous others followed in Hungary, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, Macedonia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and new ones planned for Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean - to be closer to potential targets like Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Cuba.
In recent years, it's become clear that America seeks more than the strategic control of resources. It wants global dominance, without challenge, by political, economic and military means. In other words, "full spectrum dominance" to become master of the universe.
Along with encroachment, encirclement and control, another agenda is in play - over a dozen built or planned Afghanistan bases to defend the country's opium fields and the lucrative billions they provide. Much like Southeast Asia's Golden Triangle in the 1960s and 1970s, they supply CIA with significant drug revenues, then laundered through front company banks abroad and at home to finance covert and intelligence activities along with the agency's generous black budget.
Pentagon planners regard Afghanistan as strategically crucial - to project military power against Russia, China, Iran, and other oil-rich Middle East States. It's also for a proposed oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea to the Indian Ocean and close to Kyrgyzstan where another US base is planned at Bishkek's international airport. In all, 13 new US bases will cross Eurasia, including three in Pakistani cities. Most, perhaps all, are permanent, especially in occupied Iraq and Afghanistan.
America in Terminal Decline?
Like ancient Rome, Ottoman Turkey, Britain, Austria-Hungary, and dozens of other previous empires, America increasingly shows signs of "terminal decline as Bush and Cheney launched their bold military policies to extend its imperial life, or as George HW Bush (called it), the New World Order." Friendly persuasion no longer works. Raw military power is the strategy, "a de facto admission of the failure of the American Century" and a sign of its terminal decline.
At the end of the Cold War, a "leaner and meaner" nuclear force" was deployed with little fanfare, including (post-2004) Conplan 8022 (for contingency plan) putting nuclear bombers on Ready Alert status from global locations - to conduct "Global Strikes" anywhere with devastating force, nuclear or conventional. In addition, NATO "would be subject to US desires and adventures" - a very disquieting situation for potential targets and planet earth if nuclear weapons are used.
The Curious History of "Star Wars"
As mentioned above, Ronald Reagan proposed the Strategic Defense Initiative (dubbed "Star Wars") on March 23, 1983 even though the whole idea is fantasy as independent experts then and now assert. MIT's Theodore Postal for one, a leading authority on ballistic missile defenses. He flatly states:
"the National Missile Defense System has no credible scientific chance of working (and) is a serious abuse of our security system."
Nonetheless, the program was launched, and according to a former economic studies head of the Soviet Union's Institute of World and Economy & International Relations (IMECO), it forced his country to spend so much that it contributed greatly to the Warsaw Pact's collapse and Germany's 1990 reunification.
NASA and Military Secrecy
In 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Act created NASA's Space Program in response to the Soviet's successful October 1957 Sputnik 1 launching. The Space Race was on to see which side could trump the other but not without inevitable problems.
A major one happened on January 28, 1986 when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded in flight killing all on board. Official causes cited faulty O-rings to hide the truth. Contrary to NASA being "devoted to peaceful purposes for the benefit of mankind," it's really to control space, weaponize it, launch first-strikes against adversaries like Russia, and achieve "full spectrum dominance."
In December 2000, prior to Donald Rumsfeld becoming Defense Secretary, the Pentagon's newly released Strategy Report for Europe and NATO included a Theater Missile Defense section in clear violation of the ABM Treaty. Russia and China expressed "grave concern," and with good reason. They're the main targets and they know it.
"Missile defense" is for offense, but not against "rogue states" or "terrorists." It's for nuclear supremacy ("unilateral assured destruction") and "full spectrum dominance." It's also to intimidate rivals like Russia and China, and potentially unleash a first-strike attack with catastrophic consequences if it happens.
Iran threatens no other nation, and so far as known, its commercial nuclear program complies with NPT unlike notorious nuclear outlaw states - Israel, India and Pakistan. Nonetheless, Tehran may also be targeted for its huge oil and natural gas reserves and to remove Israel's main regional rival. But that's a sideshow. "Full spectrum dominance" depends on eliminating any challenge from Russia mainly, a nuclear superpower, then China, a less formidable nuclear threat but growing economic rival.
Washington's Nuclear Obsession
Russia knows that "missile defense" is for offense and nuclear supremacy to enforce America's will on the world without challenge. After September 11, 2001, the Bush administration renounced its treaty obligations, like ABM, then pursued "explicitly banned weapons....with hardly a peep of protest from Congress" or most other nations.
Studies like the 1995-96 Air Force 2025 elaborately detailed "hundreds of technologically advanced, super-sophisticated space-based weapons systems intended to provide the United States with global combat support capabilities in space (to let America) remain the dominant air and space force in the future...."
One example is a laser cannon to:
"successfully attack ground or airborne targets by melting or cracking cockpit canopies, burning through control cables, exploding fuel tanks, melting or burning sensor assemblies and antenna arrays, exploding or melting munitions pods, destroying ground communications and power grids, and melting or burning a large variety of strategic targets (of every imaginable kind) - all in a fraction of a second."
During the Cold War, Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) restrained both sides. However, with space-based capabilities, America could think the unthinkable - the insane idea that nuclear war harms only the target, not the US or rest of the world. That's "really and truly mad."
Secretly under development since the 1970s, Nuclear Missile Defense (NMD) includes:
-- radar installations to detect enemy missile launches and track them; and
-- ground-based interceptor missiles to destroy them in flight before they reach US air space.
The Bush administration planned interceptor sites in California, Alaska, and Poland. Installing "infrastructure in East Europe was far and away the most reckless enterprise of a cabal that had already demonstrated its bent for dangerous and foolish brinkmanship." With missile "defenses" within minutes of Russian targets, Moscow wouldn't know if they were nuclear armed or not, but the possibility puts the world "on a hair-trigger to possible nuclear war, by design or miscalculation," and thus the greatest ever threat to possible Armageddon if leaders on either side react wrongly.
Yet that's precisely the path still on with Obama pursuing the same recklessness as George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld - "full spectrum dominance, the New World Order, and the elimination of Russia, once and for all, as a potential rival for power." China potentially as well. Installing NMD is one part of the grand scheme. Launching offensive nuclear missiles another, and today the chance it may happen is greater than ever, despite the sheer madness of doing it.
Yet NMD is "coupled with the Top Secret order by the Secretary of Defense....to implement Conplan 8022, 'which provides the President a prompt, global strike capability.' (It means Washington) decided to make nuclear war an 'option' " - an absolutely insane strategy.
Dr. Strangelove Lives!
The 1964 Stanley Kubrick film portrayed a nuclear Doomsday Machine with the subtitle: "How to stop worrying and love the bomb." It ended with "an accidental, inadvertent, pre-emptive US nuclear attack on the Soviet Union," today more possible than ever, something the film only portrayed as black comedy.
Conplan 8022 is offensive and preemptive on "the mere perception of an imminent threat, and carried out by Presidential order," with no Congressional authorization, internal debate, or consultation with allies. Today, the world risks Armageddon based solely on perception, US intentions, and whether the president of the United States pulls the nuclear trigger.
The Permanent War State Lobby
Post-WW II, US dominance "depended on two main pillars:"
-- maintaining the dollar as the world's reserve currency, with oil and other hard commodities dollar denominated; and
-- unchallengeable US military power.
The American Security Council
Founded in 1956, the Washington-based American Security Council (ASC) is "One of the least-known and most influential organizations to formulate policy initiatives for (the) military-industrial complex....(It's) played a prominent role in almost every important foreign policy or national security program since World War II." According to its web site, its "inner circle" included some "of the most influential names in the American establishment of the day."
Figures like Time magazine's founder Henry Luce and his wife Clare Boothe Luce, closely tied to CIA chief Allen Dulles who considered Henry one of his key media assets. Noteworthy others as well - a who's who, including Walt Disney, Averell Harriman, Senator Thomas Dodd (Chris Dodd's father), Senator Henry (Scoop) Jackson, General Douglas MacArthur, House Speaker Sam Rayburn, Nelson Rockefeller, Eugene Rostow, Senator John Tower, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, and "some of the most aggressive military organizations in the United States."
Throughout the Cold War, "the ASC was at the heart of propaganda and lobbying initiatives which supported the military-industrial complex and the establishment of America's permanent Security State and war economy."
After the Soviet Union's dissolution, a New Military-Industrial Complex emerged, according to writers Ian Mount, David Freedman, and Matthew Maier in the March 2003 issue of Business2.0. It embraced "the latest generation of high-tech weaponry (and) the military's new doctrine of faster, lighter, smarter warfare - combat in which cutting-edge technology becomes US troops' deadliest weapon."
The Pentagon calls it a Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) or a blueprint for "full spectrum dominance." Its proponents include "some of the most powerful people ever (in) Washington, including Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney," out of office but still influential.
The Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA)
Afghanistan and Iraq are examples of "alternative methods to secure the American Century well into the future." So is the notion of first-strike with enough force to prevent any significant retaliation. The Pentagon's notion of "counterforce" means the ability to destroy an adversary's nuclear missiles pre-launch with Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD), then "cleaning up" the few still remaining to precude retaliation.
The idea isn't new and first surfaced in the 1970s under Nixon, Kissinger, and other prominent military-industrial complex figures. In a word, it's that "nuclear war is not only 'thinkable,' it was do-able" to secure US Nuclear Primacy.
In January 1974, in the midst of the Watergate crisis, Nixon signed National Security Decision Memorandum 242 (NSDM-242) titled "Policy for Planning for Employment of Nuclear Weapons....for Deterrence." It stated that:
"The United States will rely primarily on US and allied conventional forces to deter conventional aggression by both nuclear and non-nuclear powers. Nevertheless, this does not preclude US use of nuclear weapons in response to conventional aggression." It also said "The fundamental mission of US nuclear forces is to deter nuclear war (and) attacks - conventional and nuclear" and implied that first-strike would be used to do it as part of new nuclear war options. "The USA was going for it all."
Defense Secretary James Schlesinger directed the development of new technologies to achieve it, including:
-- miniaturization of nuclear warheads enough for one missile nose cone to carry up to 17; and
-- atomic physics and computerized navigational device advances to improve accuracy to within 50 feet of a target.
These breakthroughs gave America a first ever strategic edge - the ability to destroy hardened silos, submarines and aircraft. Even so, the "essential element to make the entire program workable and operational remained (elusive): a Ballistic Missile Defense (BDM) system to take out any (surviving) Soviet missiles" that could be launched in retaliation.
So in 1973, RAND think-tank specialist Dr. Andrew W. Marshall became Director of the Office of Net Assessment, US Defense Department, and created what was called the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA). He described it as:
"a major change in the nature of warfare brought about by the innovative application of new technologies which, combined with dramatic changes in military doctrine and operational and organizational concepts, fundamentally alters the character and conduct of military operations."
Marshall became known as "Yoda," referring to the Star Wars film character Grand Master of the Jedi Order. At age 86, he's still active because of his expertise, skills, and value. His job is "to assess regional and global military balances and to determine long-term trends and threats."
Developing first-strike systems continued after Richard Nixon, including Jimmy Carter's Presidential Directives PD 18 - 59 calling for:
-- developing Anti-Satellite weapons (ASAT) to destroy Soviet early warning systems;
-- Pershing II missiles to decapitate the Soviet leadership; and
-- a Counterforce Nuclear First Strike to destroy almost all Soviet nuclear weapons.
During his tenure, Carter "authorized the greatest commitment to war-fighting of any President in history." Nonetheless, an effective anti-missile defense remains "the missing link to a First Strike capability." The Cold War ended in 1990. America's quest for a First Strike advantage still continues. It's considered the "grand prize for global domination through Nuclear Primacy."
That along with a new way of waging wars: "by spy satellites and long-range missiles, by computer viruses that would disable the enemies' offensive and defensive systems, and by a 'layered' defense system that would make the US impenetrable."
The political climate and neoliberal heyday under Bill Clinton held new military technological advances at bay. That changed under George Bush, even before 9/11, with Andrew Marshall still around and active at an advanced age. His proteges include a rogues gallery of hawks, including Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Dick Cheney who with others comprised the hard core defense and intelligence team, neocons in the Bush administration.
"As a group, Andrew Marshall's proteges formed the most powerful military lobby in the US policy establishment in the first years of the 21st century. They advocated radical force transformation, deployment of anti-missile defense, unilateral pre-emptive aggression, and militarization of space in order to use the US military to achieve for the United States and its closest allies, total domination of the planet (and) outer space. It was perhaps the most dangerous group of ideologues in United States history," and their influence remains.
Marshall advocates weaponizing new technologies and testing them in real conflicts like Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama's security appointments reflect the same ideas and goals so expect continuation of Bush policies ahead. He favored preemptive aggressive wars. So does Obama as evidenced by his stepped up offensive in Afghanistan and Pakistan, permanent occupation of Iraq, challenging Russia with offensive missiles, and encirclement with new military bases.
Challenging the Official 9/11 Scenario
Skeptics abound and with good reason. The idea that 19 Arab terrorists "could commandeer, with only primitive boxcutters, four sophisticated Boeing commercial jets and redirect three of them, successfully, as apparently poorly-trained amateurs in air maneuvers which seasoned pilots claimed were near impossible" seemed utterly preposterous.
Eckehardt Werthebach, former German domestic intelligence service president said:
"the deathly precision and the magnitude of planning behind the attacks would have needed years of planning (and would require the) fixed frame (of a state intelligence organization unavailable to a) loose group" of terrorists. Werthebach's conclusion: the attacks were "state organized actions."
Andreas von Bulow, a former German Parliamentary Commission member in charge of three branches of German secret service, believes the Israeli Mossad and CIA were responsible for the attacks using corrupt "guns for hire" to pull it off. The lack of an open and serious investigation was incomprehensible in their view and proof of an official cover-up. Other experts agree. The 9/11 story is preposterous on its face - concocted to hide the truth.
Just as Franklin Roosevelt used Japan's Pearl Harbor attack (known well in advance to be coming) to launch The American Century, the neocons around George Bush used 9/11 for the Global War on Terror, attacking Afghanistan and Iraq, and waging permanent war on the world ever since with defense appropriations topping a trillion dollars annually in spite of America having no enemies.
In a bid for "full spectrum dominance" to extend many years into the future, "It was to be an increasingly desperate bid to prop up a crumbling empire, that like ancient Rome, the Ottoman Empire, Czarist Russia, the British Empire," and all others in history, "had already rotted far too deeply from within." The price of imperial arrogance yields bitter fruit. America is no exception. It's not a question of if it will fall, just when and with what fallout.
Full Spectrum Dominance or Fully Mad
Under George Bush, "defense" spending "exploded beyond all precedent" and annually way exceeds $1 trillion dollars now with all categories included. The official Pentagon budget alone more than doubled from $333 billion in FY 2001 to $711 billion for FY 2009, and Obama's proposed FY 2010 budget is the highest ever requested. Today, America accounts for around half of all global military spending - at a time it has no enemies but seeks global dominance through wars, intimidation or other means.
Supporting a "Mafia state" in Kosovo is one example. When Kosovars declared their independence in early 2008, Washington extended recognition despite objections from several EU countries and the fact "Kosovo independence and its recognition openly violated UN resolutions for Kosovo, making a farce of the UN, as well as violating international law."
Equally troublesome is Kosovo's prime minister, Hashim Thaci, a known criminal whom Interpol and German BND intelligence connect to organized crime, including drugs trafficking, extortion, and prostitution. No matter, as Washington, NATO, and the EU embrace a man they can control, and for America it secured a strategic foothold in Southeast Europe - "a major step in consolidating NATO's control of Eurasia...." Moscow objected vehemently as it compromises its own security.
Georgia's August 2008 South Ossetia invasion did as well, another provocation very troublesome to the Kremlin, and with good reason. Like most others, it was made-in-the-USA and Moscow knew it, especially after uncovering incriminating evidence besides what was already known about Washington and Israel's involvement.
After Russia easily defeated the Georgian army, its spy satellite spotted a convoy with Georgian special troops en route to Poti, the port city under Russian occupation. It was captured along with its weapons and "a large trove of top-secret NATO documents concerning their hightly secret satellite technology." It was analyzed, used to capture large stocks of US military equipment stored in Georgia, and humiliate Washington and Israel at the same time.
It was also learned that captured Pentagon electronic equipment was manufactured in the Ukraine (a non-NATO state) under US license, yet "NATO-compatible sensitive military equipment" was being made there sub rosa. The discovery for Russia "totally compromised both the American and Israeli intelligence networks set up in Georgia (to spy) on Iran, Russia and Turkey."
Later it was learned that Ukraine president Viktor Yushchenko was involved in illegal Georgian arms sales, fraudulently under-reported their value to his own tax authorities, and engaged in extensive embezzlement exceeding $1 billion for himself and associates.
Yet along with Georgia, Washington supports Ukraine's admission to NATO for greater chokehold control over Russia. Gangster dictatorships in both countries make them all the more attractive to America's strategic aim for global dominance.
AFRICOM, China and Resource Wars
China's rapid growth requires increasing amounts of all types of resources, especially oil, natural gas and all others for its industries plus enough food to feed its huge and growing population. Getting them puts it in competition with America that wants global control of them all.
For its part, geologists believe Africa holds the world's largest mineral riches. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for one, an immense country the size of Western Europe with its Kivu region bordering Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi in the East being one of the most mineral-rich regions in the world, which is why so much conflict vies to control it.
Overall, Congo has over half the world's cobalt, one-third of its diamonds, and three-fourths of its vital columbite-tantalite or "coltan," essential for computer chips, circuit boards, mobile phones, laptops, and other electronic devices. Having the right leadership in the country and its neighbors is thus crucial, and when any outlive their usefulness they're removed, by assassination or other means.
"The common thread linking Kivu with Darfur" and other vital regions of the continent is that America wants control of their resources to be able to deny them to China and other non-strategic partners. For its part, Beijing needs a reliable present and future supply and has taken effective non-military means to secure them.
The toll on Congolese has been horrific, the result of Washington-engineered conflict to split the country and control its eastern riches. According to the International Rescue Committee, over 5.4 million civilians have been killed in ongoing fighting since 1996, without a word of outcry from the Western media compared to fraudulent genocide claims in Darfur.
Also unreported was that Congo's president, Joseph Kabila, was negotiating a $9 billion trade agreement with China - his "irreversible choice" as preferred trading partner to the displeasure of Washington. Shortly afterwards, eastern fighting broke out with regional US stooges attacking the DRC - Rwanda's president Paul Kagame (trained at Fort Leavenworth, KS) and Laurent Nkunda (another Fort Leavenworth product), his ally and henchman with all signs pointing to a US role sure to intensify with the establishment of AFRICOM.
America's two key Eastern Africa military partners, Rwanda and Uganda, are used freely against Eastern Congo to counter China's influence in the region. "The balkanization of Congo appeared to be a major objective behind the organized chaos (and mass slaughter) in the Great Lakes region."
Throughout the continent, the Pentagon under George Bush signed base agreements with numerous countries, including Botswana, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Namibia, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zambia - besides many others in Iraq and other Middle Eastern oil-rich states.
China is the target - seen as a threat to Washington's control of the continent's riches. Its rapid industrialization requires growing amounts of "every mineral commodity imaginable...." AFRICOM was established to secure them for America and deny them to Beijing by blocking its economic presence in the region.
Obama supports it, and it's why he retained Robert Gates as Defense Secretary. He's said publicly that he backs offensive missiles in Poland and connected radar in the Czech Republic - both targeting Russia, not Iran, the official claim. In addition, Marine General James Jones, a former NATO commander, was appointed National Security Advisor and played a central role in establishing AFRICOM. After retiring, he served on the boards of Boeing and Chevron Oil and is closely connected to the military-industrial-oil complex as well as neocons in the Bush administration. Obama also appointed Admiral Dennis Blair, a former Pacific Fleet commander and China specialist, as Director of National Intelligence - the top intelligence job.
Afghanistan as "The Main Geopolitical Prize"
Straightaway in his new administration, Obama ordered an additional 17,500 more troops to the country, potentially more to follow, and just recently appointed a new commander, General Stanley McChrystal, described earlier as a hired gun with a reputation for brutishness and indifference to slaughtering civilians.
America's interest in Afghanistan has nothing to do with bin Laden (likely dead since December 2001), Al Qaeda, or the Taliban. It's all about "geopolitics and the geopolitical encirclement of both China and Russia" with Eurasia the grandest of grand prizes. To do it after the 2001 invasion, America built at least 19 military bases in Central East Asia and Middle Asia, including 14 in Afghanistan - for regional control and "air and space surveillance systems to monitor air traffic throughout all of Eurasia, from China to Russia."
America's obsession with militarism includes the homeland with an array of post-9/11 police state laws destroying constitutional checks and balances and Bill of Rights protections. Illegal spying on Americans is now widespread and commonplace, and the Pentagon, for starters, ordered 20,000 combat troops deployed inside the country by 2011. In addition, the Bush administration funded FEMA with hundreds of millions of dollars to retrofit former military bases and construct other facilities as detention camps.
Currently, over 800 are in every state, ready if ordered, with enough capacity for many tens of thousands of internees. They're not ordinary in any sense. They're concentration camps for dissidents or others targeted by order of the president or others he directs. In addition, National Guard forces will be employed, and local police have been militarized to work cooperatively with the Pentagon to achieve police state enforcement on the pretext of "respond(ing) to a nuclear terrorist attack or other domestic catastrophe."
It's why this writer calls the country Police State America, and unless addressed will get more hardline until fast disappearing civil liberties no longer exist and the nation is isn't safe or fit to live in. That's where we're heading without a hint from Big Media.
Equally alarming is an Obama administration proposal calling for a National Civilian Security Force that will be "at least as powerful and well-funded as the US military."
Early in the new administration, it's clear that continuity, not change, is planned with "full spectrum dominance" the goal, globally, including hardline in America. What's unclear is "the extent to which the most devastating economic crisis since the Great Depression would affect the ability of Washington policymakers to project that power."
Going forward, today's choices "could spell the end of the American Century from the rot of its own internal policy since the Vietnam War." The nation's militarism threatens its own survival "as a functioning democracy" and the planet.
In his writings, Chalmers Johnson explains that America is plagued by the same dynamic that doomed past empires unwilling to change - "isolation, overstretch, the uniting of local and global forces opposed to imperialism, and in the end bankruptcy" along with authoritarian rule and loss of personal freedom. Nixon's chief economic advisor, Herb Stein, explained it saying: "Things that can't go on forever, won't."
Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman/blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Monday - Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening.
Monday, 27 July 2009
With one exception, his key explanations for the crisis are the same as those identified by myself and the handful of other economists who predicted this crisis before it happened:
The roots of the crisis lie in the preceding decade of excess. In it the world enjoyed an extraordinary boom… However, as we later learnt, the global boom was built in large part on a three-layered house of cards.
First, in many Western countries the boom was created on a pile of debt held by consumers, corporations and some governments. As the global financier George Soros put it: “For 25 years [the West] has been consuming more than we have been producing … living beyond our means.”
In the United States, in particular, consumers went on a long, debt-fuelled shopping spree. Household debt rose from about 65 per cent of income in 1983 to nearly 140 per cent of income by 2007. The commentator Bill Gross summarised the US consumption boom as: “For too long it’s been McHouses, McHummers and McFlatscreens, all financed with excessive amounts of McCredit .. What a colossal McStake.”
Australian consumers also spent up big. Between 1996 and 2007 there was a 460 per cent increase in credit card debt, a 340 per cent increase in household debt, a 450 per cent increase in corporate debt and a 200 per cent increase in net foreign debt.
Second, these debts were racked up on the back of skyrocketing asset prices. In several countries, stock prices and house values soared far above their true long-term worth, creating paper wealth that millions of households used as collateral for their growing debts. The value of global financial assets grew from less than 45 per cent of global GDP in 2003 to nearly 490 per cent in 2007…
The finance sector, rather than servicing the needs of the real economy, began to primarily service itself.
The final layer of the house of cards was the huge volume of money funnelled from China, Japan and the Middle East to Western banks and governments. Cheap savings from the East flooded into the West to finance ballooning deficits. From 1999 to 2006 the US current account deficit more than tripled, from $US63.3 billion to $US214.8 billion, balanced by huge surpluses in other countries, especially China. (the emphases in these and subsequent quotes is my own)
The only element of that with which I disagree is the third point–which I’ll get back to later on.
Rudd also provides some interesting “insider’s” statistics on the size of the collective efforts taken by OECD governments to try to limit the scale of the crisis:
On the fiscal front, governments from the world’s largest 20 economies are expected to collectively pump about $US5 trillion into their economies by the end of next year (or nearly 8 per cent of global GDP since the crisis began). Altogether, the measures are the equivalent of an extraordinary and unprecedented 18 per cent of global GDP.
That’s an extraordinary injection–against which the scale of this crisis should be apparent. Inject an additional 18 per cent of activity into a global economic system over about 3 years, and yet the system still falls by about 6 per cent over that period? Without that intervention, output could have fallen by 25 per cent over 3 years, which is a Depression in anyone’s language.
Where I differ again with the Prime Minister is over whether this government stimulus alone is sufficient to avoid a Depression. Though his case is far more nuanced than most, the “green shoots” phrase nonetheless gets an airing:
We have already begun to see the results. Early signs of “green shoots” have emerged in recent economic data. And this month the International Monetary Fund revised up its forecast for the global recovery, from 1.9 per cent to 2.5 per cent growth next year. An IMF report this month noted “the world economy is stabilising, helped by unprecedented macro-economic and financial policy support”. The truth, however, is the world is still a long way from recovery.
The extent to which Rudd is “levelling” with his audience is also quite welcome:
The average budget deficit for OECD economies increased more than sixfold, from 1.4 per cent of GDP before the crisis in 2007 to 8.8 per cent of GDP in 2010. Public borrowing is required to finance these deficits and is expected to increase from 73.5 per cent of GDP in 2007 to 100.2 per cent in 2010. Among the big advanced economies, net debt will increase from 52 per cent of GDP in 2007 to 79 per cent in 2010.
Australia’s deficit and debt position have inevitably been affected, albeit much less than in other advanced economies. The combined effects of collapses in revenue ($210 billion) and policy interventions to support our economy ($77 billion) are expected to result in a deficit that peaks at 4.9 per cent of GDP in 2009-10. Net public debt is expected to rise to 4.6 per cent of GDP this financial year and peak at 13.8 per cent of GDP in 2013-14. Both are the lowest by an order of magnitude of all major advanced economies.
Clearly, government global action has come at a cost. But as the IMF argued earlier this year: “While the fiscal cost for some countries will be large in the short run, the alternative of providing no fiscal stimulus or financial sector support would be extremely costly in terms of the lost output.”
Without government intervention, global growth, global unemployment and prospects of global financial recovery would be much, much worse.
We never got to see whether Howard or Costello would have provided a reasoned explanation of policies in the light of an economic catastrophe, because they never experienced one–instead, they were amongst the lucky incumbents who held office while the global financial excess that caused this crisis held aloft the illusion of prosperity, and lost office before The Piper called to collect on The Tune.
Had they held on to power, I have no doubt that they would have–by force of necessity–been undertaking very similar fiscal policies to those Rudd now is (though the additional expenditure may have gone on the military and border patrols rather than ports and schools). Whether they would have presented as reasoned an explanation for their actions I think would have been less likely.
Rudd also revisits the anti-neoliberalism theme of his previous essay:
As I have argued elsewhere, the boom-and-bust economic cycle of the past decade has been an unavoidable consequence of a decade of neo-liberal free market fundamentalism that reinforced a culture of corporate greed and excess in the financial sector. The central principles of this extreme form of capitalism are that markets are self-regulating; that government should get out of the road of the market altogether and that the state itself should retreat to its core historical function of security at home and abroad.
As someone who has long argued that the economic theory that underlies neoliberalism (Neoclassical Economics) is intellectual drivel, I of course support this critique.
Where I beg to differ is Rudd’s dating of this–merely the last decade? We’ve been following Neoclassical-Economics-inspired policies ever since 1975, including under the preceding Australian Labor Party government of Bob Hawke and Paul Keating (or since 1973 if we include Whitlam’s 25% overnight cut in tariffs). And of course, the last decade wasn’t one of boom and bust around the globe, which was partly the problem: the mild US downturn after the 2000 Stock Market Crash occurred because the huge runup of private debt-financed spending that was the Subprime Crisis overwhelmed the negatives of the DotCom swindle, and of course set us up for the far bigger crash we are now experiencing.
The absence of economic downturns since 1993–and the mildness of the mainly US recession after the DotCom Bubble burst–played a large role into deluding neoclasssical economists like Bernanke into believing that they had tamed the trade cycle in what they termed “The Great Moderation”:
… the low-inflation era of the past two decades has seen not only significant improvements in economic growth and productivity but also a marked reduction in economic volatility…, a phenomenon that has been dubbed “the Great Moderation.” Recessions have become less frequent and milder, and … volatility in output and employment has declined significantly… The sources of the Great Moderation remain somewhat controversial, but … there is evidence for the view that improved control of inflation has contributed in important measure to this welcome change in the economy … (Bernanke, 2004)
Bollocks to all that. The prediction I made in 1995 in my paper “Finance and Economic Breakdown: Modelling Minsky’s Financial Instability Hypothesis” has stood the test of time rather better:
From the perspective of economic theory and policy, this vision of a capitalist economy with finance requires us to go beyond that habit of mind which Keynes described so well, the excessive reliance on the (stable) recent past as a guide to the future. The chaotic dynamics explored in this paper should warn us against accepting a period of relative tranquility in a capitalist economy as anything other than a lull before the storm. (Keen, 1995)
A Nascent Recovery?
Like most global leaders, Rudd is now speaking as if recovery has already begun. But to give him his due, even here there is a word of caution:
The first phase of Australia’s response to the global crisis has legitimately focused on crisis management, emergency interventions and implementing a strategy for recovery. But we must now deal with two challenges that arise in the context of a possible recovery.
There is also welcome realism that a debt-financed recovery is barely possible and certainly undesirable, and an awareness that deleveraging and deflation are the major risks facing the global economy.
This crisis has shown we have reached the limits of a purely debt-fuelled global growth strategy. Not only will the neo-liberal model of the past not provide growth for the future, its after-effects will make recovery more difficult. Mountains of global public and private debt, global imbalances, and a weakened global financial system will drag on global growth for a long time. As the renowned financial columnist Martin Wolf has written: “Those who expect a swift return to the business-as-usual of 2006 are fantasists. A slow and difficult recovery, dominated by de-leveraging and deflationary risks, is the most likely prospect.”
Since Rudd has properly entertained the prospect that the next decade will be dominated by deleveraging rather than rising debt levels, let’s get a handle on what that might mean for aggregate demand over that decade.
Australia has experienced two previous bouts of deleveraging, in the Depressions of the 1890s and 1930s. In both those previous Depressions, deflation and falling real output drove the debt to GDP ratio higher after the onset of the crisis–something we have yet to experience–after which the painful process of deleveraging began.
In the 1890s, we began with a debt to GDP ratio of just over 100 per cent, which then fell to a low of roughly 40 per cent over a 15 year period. In the 1930s, we started with a lower level of 75 per cent, which fell over a similar period to a low of 25 per cent–but the Second World War clearly accelerated the deleveraging process, which prior to then was running more slowly than after the 1890s Depression.
In the Figure above, these historical episodes are fitted by an exponential decay process. The rate of decay in the 1890s was roughly 4% per year; it began at roughly 3% in the 1930s prior to the War, but over the entire period including the War it fell at an average rate of 8% a year.
There was no policy intervention to accelerate economic recovery in the 1890s, so 4% might be taken to be the endogenous capacity of a Depressed economy to de-lever, whereas 8% can be regarded as a policy-accelerated rate (where however that “policy” was an arms race during a global military conflict). Both these rates are considered as hypotheticals for reduction of our debt levels today.
Taking 50% of GDP as a level at which normal economic activity might resume (higher than the 40% level that applied in the 1920s and 25% level of the 40s-60s), this implies that deleveraging could take anywhere between 15 years (at the accelerated 8% rate) and 30 years (at the “natural maximum” 4% rate).
We can get a preliminary handle on what this might mean for economic growth by calculating the percentage of GDP represented by each year’s deleveraging–effectively by converting the percentage reduction in debt each year into a fraction of GDP for that same year (this ignores feedbacks between the rate of change of debt and GDP itself, but it will do as a first pass). In the first year (2009) when debt started at 165% of GDP, a 4% reduction in debt levels is equivalent to a 6% reduction in GDP; the size of this hit then falls as the debt to GDP ratio itself falls.
The following chart shows each year’s deleveraging as a percentage of GDP, at the rates of 4% and 8% per year:
We are currently deleveraging at the 4% rate, and debt has fallen from 165% of GDP in March 2008 to 159% today–a 6% fall as a percentage of GDP, as noted above. At this rate, debt will not fall below 50% of GDP until 2038, and the annual reduction in debt will be equivalent to 3% of GDP until 2028.
To compare this to what happened during the 30s and 40s, the next Figure shows the impact of deleveraging in the 1930s: the actual 3% rate that applied from 1932 till 1939, what a “natural maximum” rate of a 4% fall per year would have meant as a percentage of GDP, and how bad things might have been without a World War if the achieved rate for 1932-45 of an 8% reduction had come via reducing debt rather than increasing GDP via a huge militarisation effort.
Even the worst rate of 1930s deleveraging (including WWII) only just compares to the impact of deleveraging today at the 4% rate–because the debt ratio in 2008 peaked at 2.2 times the peak level in the 1930s. And throughout the 1930s, deleveraging never subtracted more than 3% from GDP–again because debt was so much lower then than it is now.
While Rudd is therefore aware that deleveraging will probably be the defining economic experience of the next decade, I doubt that he is aware of the scale of its potential impact. Though Treasury–if it has had any input into Rudd’s paper–seems more aware of the dangers of deleveraging than the RBA, deleveraging is surely not factored into Treasury’s economic modelling of the post-crisis recovery scenarios on which some of Rudd’s budget predictions are based. These presume a return to real economic growth of 3%+ by 2010, which imply a capacity for the economy to grow at upwards of 7% per annum in real terms, to counteract deleveraging subtracting more than 5% from GDP every year till 2015.
If we rely upon the “natural maximum” process of deleveraging, we face a 30 year period in which changes in debt will cut at least 3% from the growth potential of the economy
This is why I propose a far more radical policy to deal with the crisis than the government stimulus package that Australia and other OECD nations have followed to date. These policies are attempting to address a crisis caused by irresponsible private lending, yet they involve continuing to respect this debt. They attempt to counteract private deleveraging by running up public debt instead. And they drastically underestimate the impact of deleveraging: rather than achieving a return to growth by 2010, these policies alone are likely to result in zero or sub-zero growth for most of the next decade.
That private debt does not deserve respect. It was irresponsibly lent in the first place, and the financial institutions that lent it should pay the price–not the public nor the public purse–via deliberate debt reduction. This of course would bankrupt those financial institutions, but as should be obvious from the US experience, these institutions are effectively bankrupt already.
A Copernican Switch on Savings
I noted above that the one aspect of Rudd’s analysis of the crisis that I disagreed with was the proposition that:
The final layer of the house of cards was the huge volume of money funnelled from China, Japan and the Middle East to Western banks and governments. Cheap savings from the East flooded into the West to finance ballooning deficits.
This is the “Savings cause Loans” perspective of the conventional model of money. As I explained in The Roving Cavaliers of Credit, this model is rather like the pre-Copernican view that the Sun orbits the Earth: it’s easy to understand (we still speak of “sunrise” and “sunset” after all) and also completely wrong. Just as the Earth orbits the Sun, “Loans cause Savings”.
The “excess savings” of the East were thus caused by the excess borrowing of the West. Chinese, Japanese and Middle Eastern accounts accumulated money because Western consumers and firms borrowed up big, and spent that borrowed money buying goods produced in China, Japan and the Middle East. Now that the borrowing binge in the West has come to an end, those “excess savings” in the East should start to diminish.
Rudd’s essay shows a stronger appreciation of the causes of this crisis, and the fragility of the economy in its wake, than I’ve yet seen from any other official source (with the sole exception of the Bank of International Settlements, where Bill White’s influence appears to remain, even though he is no longer its Economic Adviser–check this story on Bill and his forlorn attempts to raise the alarm during the Bubble).
Its one weakness is continued reliance upon neoclassical economic models to predict the future course of the economy after this crisis–when those same models ignore the role of private debt (which caused the bubble in the first place) and deleveraging (which will in fact drive the future course of the economy).
We can expect Rudd and Swann to continue with a large scale fiscal stimulus, in the hope that this will end the crisis. The next stage will come when this stimulus fails to achieve the level of growth predicted by neoclassical economic models, and as a result unemployment exceeds forecasts, public debt continues to run up, and deficit reduction strategies get pushed back in time.
So though Rudd is aware of the problem of deleveraging, he hasn’t yet taken developed policies that directly tackle it. But awareness of the problem is a necessary first step in addressing it, and Rudd has taken that first step.
PS Gittins on the Boil
Ros Gittins wrote a far less flattering review of Rudd’s essay in this morning’s SMH (Rudd’s new bogy: fearing the pain of recovery, SMH July 27 2009).
There were a few elements of his argument I agreed with, but most of it I reject. The points he made that I agree with include:
- That Rudd’s definition of neoliberalism is bogus–or at least incomplete. As Gittins puts it:
“The notion that the Libs could be fairly described as “neo-liberal free-market fundamentalists” is laughable.
And yet Rudd boasts about the success of the Hawke-Keating government’s micro-economic reforms and promises more reforms of his own.
Micro-economic reform and neo-liberal mean the same thing. As an ideological warrior, this guy’s a phoney.”
True–as I noted above:
We’ve been following Neoclassical-Economics-inspired policies ever since 1975, including under the preceding Australian Labor Party government of Bob Hawke and Paul Keating (or since 1973 if we include Whitlam’s 25% overnight cut in tariffs).
- The false claim that our national balance sheet is healthy:
“He boasts his intention is to maintain Australia’s position as having “the best national balance sheet of the major advanced economies” (I didn’t know we were a major economy). Really? With a net foreign debt equivalent to 56 per cent of gross domestic product?”
True again. But Gittins himself has rarely (once from memory–see below) acknowledged the parlous state of private debt in general in this economy. Rudd’s essay did discuss that, and he drew the implication of the danger of deleveraging as well, which applies to all debt, whether owed domestically or overseas.
- And finally, the fact that most of Rudd’s reform agenda is no different to anything else proposed at any time in the last two decades–in other words that it’s still reading from the neoliberal script, which of course is written by neoclassical economists:
“First is regulation and competition reform… Next is infrastructure (nothing new here), innovation (the national broadband network “will arguably be the single greatest multiplier of productivity growth”; I certainly hope it isn’t the best we can do), skills (nothing new) and tax reform (waiting for the Henry report). Then comes the “broader reform agenda”: retirement income policy (waiting for Henry), health and ageing (may do something in response to the imminent report) and climate change and water (nothing new).”
But that’s about it. Otherwise
- Rudd had an accurate analysis of what caused the crisis, on which Gittins had no comment; and
- Based on this analysis, Rudd warned of the dangers ahead in deleveraging and deflation, while Gittins seems to have bought the “it’ll all be over by Christmas” sentiment. For instance:
“Rudd fails to explain just why it will be so tough to get the budget back to surplus. It shouldn’t be, when you remember that all the official stimulus spending is once-off and the budget’s “automatic stabilisers” will eventually bring back the revenue they took away.”
“I’m starting to see the motive for all this talk about tough times ahead: you make it sound terrible so that when it turns out it isn’t so bad, voters are more relieved than angry. It’s spin, in other words.”
Yes there was certainly some spin there. But there was also a better appreciation of what caused this crisis than I’d previously seen from an international leader. In practice, Rudd may well have set the grounds for what is needed politically if, as I expect, things turn out to be a lot worse than most neoclassical economists and commentators like Gittins expect.
Anyone who read Gittins’s diatribe before reading Rudd’s essay would probably conclude that it wasn’t worth the effort to do so anyway. That would be a mistake. It’s rare that a major essay in a newspaper actually (a) identifies the cause of this crisis and (b) notes the dangers that lie ahead. The former has happened only once, so far as I can recollect in any of Gittins’s own columns (”It’s not inflation that did us in, it’s the borrowing“, SMH 08/12/2008–see my blog entry on this “Ross Gittins finally comes aboard“), the latter, never.
On that point alone, reading Rudd’s essay is a far more rewarding activity than reading Gittins’s critique.