• All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.

  • I.F. Stone

zaterdag 4 juli 2015

U.S. Eternal War


The Pentagon’s “2015 Strategy” For Ruling the World

On Wednesday, the Pentagon released its 2015 National Military Strategy, a 24-page blueprint for ruling the world through military force. While the language in the report is subtler and less incendiary than similar documents in the past, the determination to unilaterally pursue US interests through extreme violence remains the cornerstone of the new strategy. Readers will not find even a hint of remorse in the NMS for the vast destruction and loss of life the US caused in countries that posed not the slightest threat to US national security. Instead, the report reflects the steely resolve of its authors and elite constituents to continue the carnage and bloodletting until all potential rivals have been killed or eliminated and until such time that Washington feels confident that its control over the levers of global power cannot be challenged.
As one would expect, the NMS conceals its hostile intentions behind the deceptive language of “national security”. The US does not initiate wars of aggression against blameless states that possess large quantities of natural resources. No. The US merely addresses “security challenges” to “protect the homeland” and to “advance our national interests.” How could anyone find fault with that, after all, wasn’t the US just trying to bring peace and democracy to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and now Syria?
In the Chairman’s Forward, Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey attempts to prepare the American people for a future of endless war:
“Future conflicts will come more rapidly, last longer, and take place on a much more technically challenging battlefield. … We must be able to rapidly adapt to new threats while maintaining comparative advantage over traditional ones … the application of the military instrument of power against state threats is very different than the application of military power against non state threats. We are more likely to face prolonged campaigns than conflicts that are resolved quickly … that control of escalation is becoming more difficult and more important.” (Document: 2015 U.S. National Military Strategy, USNI News)
War, war and more war. This is the Pentagon’s vision of the future. Unlike Russia or China which have a plan for an integrated EU-Asia free trade zone (Silk Road) that will increase employment, improve vital infrastructure, and raise living standards, the US sees only death and destruction ahead. Washington has no strategy for the future, no vision of a better world. There is only war; asymmetrical war, technological war, preemptive war. The entire political class and their elite paymasters unanimously support global rule through force of arms. That is the unavoidable meaning of this document. The United States intends to maintain its tenuous grip on global power by maximizing the use of its greatest asset; its military.
And who is in the military’s gunsights? Check out this excerpt from an article in Defense News:
“The strategy specifically calls out Iran, Russia and North Korea as aggressive threats to global peace. It also mentions China, but notably starts that paragraph by saying the Obama administration wants to “support China’s rise and encourage it to become a partner for greater international security,” continuing to thread the line between China the economic ally and China the regional competitor.
“None of these nations are believed to be seeking direct military conflict with the United States or our allies,” the strategy reads. “Nonetheless, they each pose serious security concerns which the international community is working to collectively address by way of common policies, shared messages, and coordinated action.” (Pentagon Releases National Military Strategy, Defense News)
Did you catch that last part? “None of these nations are believed to be seeking direct military conflict with the United States or our allies. Nevertheless, they each pose serious security concerns.”
In other words, none of these countries wants to fight the United States, but the United States wants to fight them. And the US feels it’s justified in launching a war against these countries because, well, because they either control vast resources, have huge industrial capacity, occupy an area of the world that interests the US geopolitically, or because they simply want to maintain their own sovereign independence which, of course, is a crime. According to Dempsey, any of these threadbare excuses are sufficient justification for conflict mainly because they “pose serious security concerns” for the US, which is to say they undermine the US’s dominant role as the world’s only superpower.
The NMS devotes particular attention to Russia, Washington’s flavor-of-the-month enemy who had the audacity to defend its security interests following a State Department-backed coup in neighboring Ukraine. For that, Moscow must be punished. This is from the report:
“Some states, however, are attempting to revise key aspects of the international order and are acting in a manner that threatens our national security interests. While Russia has contributed in select security areas, such as counternarcotics and counterterrorism, it also has repeatedly demonstrated that it does not respect the sovereignty of its neighbors and it is willing to use force to achieve its goals. Russia’s military actions are undermining regional security directly and through proxy forces. These actions violate numerous agreements that Russia has signed in which it committed to act in accordance with international norms.” (2015 NMS)
Russia is an evildoer because Russia refused to stand by while the US toppled the Ukrainian government, installed a US stooge in Kiev, precipitated a civil war between the various factions, elevated neo Nazis to positions of power in the security services, plunged the economy into insolvency and ruin, and opened a CIA headquarters in the Capital to run the whole shooting match. This is why Russia is bad and must be punished.
But does that mean Washington is seriously contemplating a war with Russia?
Here’s an excerpt from the document that will help to clarify the matter:
“For the past decade, our military campaigns primarily have consisted of operations against violent extremist networks. But today, and into the foreseeable future, we must pay greater attention to challenges posed by state actors. They increasingly have the capability to contest regional freedom of movement and threaten our homeland. Of particular concern are the proliferation of ballistic missiles, precision strike technologies, unmanned systems, space and cyber capabilities, and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) technologies designed to counter U.S. military advantages and curtail access to the global commons.” (2015 NMS)
It sounds to me like the Washington honchos have already made up their minds. Russia is the enemy, therefore, Russia must be defeated. How else would one “counter a revisionist state” that “threatens our homeland”?
Why with Daisy Cutters, of course. Just like everyone else.
The NMS provides a laundry list of justifications for launching wars against (imaginary) enemies of the US. The fact is, the Pentagon sees ghosts around every corner. Whether the topic is new technologies, “shifting demographics” or cultural differences; all are seen as a potential threat to US interests, particularly anything related to the “competition for resources.” In this skewed view of reality, one can see how the invasion of Iraq was justified on the grounds that Saddam’s control of Iraq’s massive oil reserves posed a direct challenge to US hegemony. Naturally, Saddam had to be removed and over a million people killed to put things right and return the world to a state of balance. This is the prevailing view of the National Military Strategy, that is, that whatever the US does is okay, because its the US.
Readers shouldn’t expect to find something new in the NMS. This is old wine in new bottles. The Pentagon has merely updated the Bush Doctrine while softening the rhetoric. There’s no need to scare the living daylights out of people by talking about unilateralism, preemption, shrugging off international law or unprovoked aggression. Even so, everyone knows that United States is going to do whatever the hell it wants to do to keep the empire intact. The 2015 National Military Strategy merely confirms that sad fact.
MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

Pro-Israel Propaganda

The Washington Post whitewashes the violence of Israel's occupation 

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Ben White
Ben White

The Washington Post published an article today by their Jerusalem correspondent William Booth about "seven major attacks against Israelis in Israel and the West Bank over the past two weeks." The seven attacks cited in the report date back to June 19, and include shootings and stabbings that have targeted Israelis at military checkpoints and near illegal settlements.
However, it is only near the end of the piece that the Post acknowledges how "there has also been violence from the Israeli side" during the period in question, citing the shooting of an unarmed Palestinian at a checkpoint on June 30. It also references the shooting of a Palestinian teenager this morning (though at the time of writing, does not mention the fact he died).
This one paragraph on "violence from the Israeli side" whitewashes two weeks of routine violence directed at Palestinians by both Israeli forces and settlers. According to UN OCHA, from June 16-29, a similar time frame to the period covered by the Post, Israeli forces injured 28 Palestinians in different incidents. There were also 10 attacks by Israeli settlers that damaged Palestinian property.
Attacks omitted by the Post include: June 20, Israeli forces shot a Palestinian child with live ammunition; June 27, Israeli forces again shot a Palestinian child; June 30, Israeli forces shot a Palestinian with a rubber-coated metal bullet; June 30, settlers assaulted a 60-year-old Palestinian man; July 2, Israeli forces shot three Palestinians during a raid on Dheisheh refugee camp.
The article does not make even one reference to the fact that the West Bank is under Israeli military occupation. The illegality of Israeli settlements is also not mentioned. Even an Israeli newspaper, analysing the "current wave" of attacks, thought to note as a factor "the Palestinians' long-standing opposition to the Israeli occupation."
Bethlehem's 'Checkpoint 300', meanwhile, is described as a "turnstile through the high gray concrete wall that separates the Palestinian territory in the West Bank from Israel." This is misleading; the checkpoint lies inside the West Bank, thus actually separating one part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory from another part (85 percent of the Wall is inside the West Bank).
Finally, the article claims politicians have urged security forces to "reverse decisions to loosen travel restrictions [for Palestinians] to Jerusalem during Ramadan." In fact, Israel's military has already revoked one of its Ramadan 'concessions', so that all Palestinian men under 50 and women under 30 will require a permit to visit Occupied East Jerusalem to pray at Al-Aqsa mosque.
Disappearing Israel's violent enforcement of a half century-long colonial occupation means another explanation for Palestinian attacks is required - and the Post uncritically cites Israeli suggestions such as "anti-Israel programming on TV", "incitement" at the local mosque, or simply "Ramadan."
In its inaccuracies and omissions, the Post's article is a microcosm of the way in which the mainstream media distorts and misrepresents the reality in Palestine, whitewashing Israeli violence and colonial control, and decontextualising attacks by Palestinians under occupation.

Syria 307

Aleppo, Syria: 2nd-3rd July 2015 attacks - Please stop blaming the Syrian Government


ALEPPO, SYRIA: We didn't sleep all the night. The attacks of yesterday 2nd July started around afternoon and continued up till today 8:30 am 3rd July. They said that 3-4 civilians died, but 87 civilians injured. The ambulance voices didn't stop all night long. You had to hear the people over here in Aleppo. Aren't they Syrians? After all these years and after all these attacks on them and after they lost their income sources and family members, they are asking the Syrian army to terminate the terrorist attackers and their nests, which have become like cancer in Syria's body. They don't care if that termination happens by chemical weapons, bombs, or whatever.
Yet, around the world and in the mainstream media, they dare to demonize the Syrian Army with the so-called "barrel bombs" and refer to dead terrorists as peaceful moderate Syrian opposition who had been killed by dictator! 
I don't swear, and I'm fasting this month, but that injustice is unlimited and makes me and many feel like we are going to explode with cursing and swearing against all that nonsense of people lecturing in conferences in Britain or people of the UN who have nothing to offer but lies and hypocrisy.
Our daytime maid, along with her sister and mother, spent the night in the bathroom, because it's the safest place in their house. They were crying and terrified by the "moderate peaceful opposition" as their house is located close to one of the conflict lines. But we can't bomb them because the "international community" will accuse the Syrian army of using their unprecedented super ultra weapon that is way stronger than a nuclear bomb: Barrel bombs!
The terrorists are using mortars, explosive bullets, cooking-gas cylinder bombs and water-warming long cylinder bombs, filled up with explosives and shrapnel and nails, in what they call "Hell Canon". (Google these weapons or see their YouTube clips.) The cooking-gas cylinder is made of steel, and it weighs around 25 kg. Imagine it thrown by a canon to hit civilians? And imagine knowing that it's full with explosives?... Yet, the media is busy with the legendary weapon of "barrel bombs"! They came to spread "freedom" among Syrians! How dare they say that Syrian army shouldn't fight them back?
For the first time last night, we smelled gunpowder. The shelling was so extreme to smell gunpowder in the air.
Results were nothing but new innocent victims. I mean, the terrorists failed in gaining new land, or occupying new buildings or quarters. They lost many of their "zombies", but they don't count, because they have no families or friends to weep on them, unlike civilians.
I apologize that I'm very upset, mostly not from the attackers and whoever is supporting them in Turkey over here (and Israel and Jordan in the south); but mainly from the liars in that conference in Britain or at the UN , who keep lying and lying, piles and tons of lies, about "freedom" and "barrel bombs" and live in their perfumed and ironed suits and ties, happy with their Ph.D. degrees in stupidity and fooling the world, having no problem in obtaining clean water, electricity, warm food, and all the other services that we here cannot rely on. Those people travel in 1st class airlines, and live in five-star hotels. They are always ready to appear on television to weep on the plight of the "Syrian people" and blame the "regime" while turning a blind eye upon all the terrorists they themselves are funding and supporting. I wish these people, whether they were Arabs or Westerns, Muslims or Christians, Syrians or others... I wish them Hell! And to taste and suffer the same pain they have caused to innocent people.
Syrian army had defended the city, and all the lies on the media claiming the terrorists victories are nothing but rumors and gossips.
President Bashar al-Assad had gifted Aleppo yesterday with about $15.5 million as an urgent aid to the city.

Paul Craig Roberts 96

Privately Owned Greek Media Line Up With The One Percent Against The Greek People

The latest report from Greece indicates that the privately owned Greek media have taken a stand against the Greek people and for the One Percent:
Yesterday’s demonstration in favor of ‘No’ in Syntagma Square of Athens had gigantic proportions and great fighting spirit.
Instead, the rally of supporters of ‘Yes’ was enormously  smaller without breath and passion. 
Of course, with the exception of state television, all TV channels mainly or exclusively showed the second (Yes), saying that it is a big demonstration,  exhausting every possibility  to conceal and distort  reality.
A climate of hysteria and terror has been cultivated by  all private media (the public ones consist an exception) , which present the  ‘No’ vote as an emerging Armageddon. The same media produce a permanent stream of lies and distorted or even more nonexisted  statements that nobody in reality manages to confirm or deny.
Former prime ministers, senior military officers not on duty, the archbishop of the Greek Church, have come out in favor of  ‘Yes’, saying  the ‘No’ vote threatens Greece’s position in Europe and the national security of the country.
The political discourse of SYRIZA remains at a level far beyond what is required by the situation and its practical mobilization is very weak. But there is a deep popular wave of peaceful revolt against the Mighty which is struggling against the fear and insecurity current.

President Putin

Putin: We don’t expect any change in hostile policies toward Russia

Published time: July 03, 2015 16:17 
Edited time: July 04, 2015 11:41 
Russian President Vladimir Putin (RIA Novosti /
Aleksey Nikolskyi)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (RIA Novosti / Aleksey Nikolskyi)
7.2K1
Russia is not expecting a soon change in the hostile policies it’s subject to, President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting of the country’s Security Council, adding that Moscow is not going to “trade its sovereignty.”
We cannot expect a change in the hostile policies of some of our geopolitical opponents in the immediate future,” Putin said, without elaborating on the countries he was referring to.
The reasons for pressuring Russia are clear: the country is conducting an independent policy and doesn’t trade its sovereignty. This is not to everyone’s liking, but it can’t be any other way,” he said.

Putin pointed to what he called attempts to split Russian society “to find the weak link,” but maintained that they had not yielded the desired results. Those attempts came from those who introduced and continue to support “restrictive measures” against Russia, the president said.
Russia should look into all challenges it now faces and define the strategy of the country’s national security, Putin said.
It is necessary to quickly analyze the entire spectrum of potential challenges and risks – political, economic and informational, and others, and on this basis to adjust the strategy of the national security.
Putin’s statement comes after the Pentagon unveiled its new military strategy where it said that Russia, North Korea and Iran are among its new challenges together with non-state groups – particularly the “violent extremist organizations” such as Islamic State and the Taliban.
Countries that have introduced sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis:
EU, US, Australia, Canada, Albania, Iceland, Montenegro, Norway, Ukraine, Switzerland, Japan
Sanctions include travel bans for individuals and asset freezes for companies considered to be involved in the ongoing crisis in the east of Ukraine and Crimea seceding from the country.
The document blamed Russia for violating “numerous agreements” with its “military actions.”
The countries who initiated anti-Russian sanctions have provoked the Ukrainian crisis, Putin said, and now they don’t even try to analyze what is happening.
“Those who are implementing these restrictive measures toward Russia, sanctions – they are, in fact, the culprits of all the events we are witnessing in the east of Ukraine.”
Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolay Patrushev declared that the pressure on Russia is aimed at changing the country’s leadership.
"Sanctions toward Russia are aimed at reducing our economic potential, to influence the policy we have been conducting. Well, in fact, [sanctions aim] to change the leadership in our country, " he said, adding that the country needs to work out a 15-year economic security strategy.

Solidarity with Greece 4

How Greece Has Fallen Victim To


 "Economic Hit Men"

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“Greece is being ‘hit’, there’s no doubt about it,” exclaims John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, noting that “[Indebted countries] become servants to what I call the corporatocracy … today we have a global empire, and it’s not an American empire. It’s not a national empire… It’s a corporate empire, and the big corporations rule.
John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, discusses how Greece and other eurozone countries have become the new victims of “economic hit men.”
John Perkins is no stranger to making confessions. His well-known book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, revealed how international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, while publicly professing to “save” suffering countries and economies, instead pull a bait-and-switch on their governments: promising startling growth, gleaming new infrastructure projects and a future of economic prosperity – all of which would occur if those countries borrow huge loans from those organizations. Far from achieving runaway economic growth and success, however, these countries instead fall victim to a crippling and unsustainable debt burden.
That’s where the “economic hit men” come in: seemingly ordinary men, with ordinary backgrounds, who travel to these countries and impose the harsh austerity policies prescribed by the IMF and World Bank as “solutions” to the economic hardship they are now experiencing. Men like Perkins were trained to squeeze every last drop of wealth and resources from these sputtering economies, and continue to do so to this day. In this interview, which aired on Dialogos Radio, Perkins talks about how Greece and the eurozone have become the new victims of such “economic hit men.”
Michael Nevradakis: In your book, you write about how you were, for many years, a so-called “economic hit man.” Who are these economic hit men, and what do they do?
John Perkins: Essentially, my job was to identify countries that had resources that our corporations want, and that could be things like oil – or it could be markets – it could be transportation systems. There’re so many different things. Once we identified these countries, we arranged huge loans to them, but the money would never actually go to the countries; instead it would go to our own corporations to build infrastructure projects in those countries, things like power plants and highways that benefitted a few wealthy people as well as our own corporations, but not the majority of people who couldn’t afford to buy into these things, and yet they were left holding a huge debt, very much like what Greece has today, a phenomenal debt.
And once [they were] bound by that debt, we would go back, usually in the form of the IMF – and in the case of Greece today, it’s the IMF and the EU [European Union] – and make tremendous demands on the country: increase taxes, cut back on spending, sell public sector utilities to private companies, things like power companies and water systems, transportation systems, privatize those, and basically become a slave to us, to the corporations, to the IMF, in your case to the EU, and basically, organizations like the World Bank, the IMF, the EU, are tools of the big corporations, what I call the “corporatocracy.”
And before turning specifically to the case of Greece, let’s talk a little bit more about the manner in which these economic hit men and these organizations like the IMF operate. You mentioned, of course, how they go in and they work to get these countries into massive debt, that money goes in and then goes straight back out. You also mentioned in your book these overly optimistic growth forecasts that are sold to the politicians of these countries but which really have no resemblance to reality.
Exactly, we’d show that if these investments were made in things like electric energy systems that the economy would grow at phenomenally high rates. The fact of the matter is, when you invest in these big infrastructure projects, you do see economic growth, however, most of that growth reflects the wealthy getting wealthier and wealthier; it doesn’t reflect the majority of the people, and we’re seeing that in the United States today.
For example, where we can show economic growth, growth in the GDP, but at the same time unemployment may be going up or staying level, and foreclosures on houses may be going up or staying stable. These numbers tend to reflect the very wealthy, since they have a huge percentage of the economy, statistically speaking. Nevertheless, we would show that when you invest in these infrastructure projects, your economy does grow, and yet, we would even show it growing much faster than it ever conceivably would, and that was only used to justify these horrendous, incredibly debilitating loans.
Is there a common theme with respect to the countries typically targeted? Are they, for instance, rich in resources or do they typically possess some other strategic importance to the powers that be?
Yes, all of those. Resources can take many different forms: One is the material resources like minerals or oil; another resource is strategic location; another resource is a big marketplace or cheap labor. So, different countries make different requirements. I think what we’re seeing in Europe today isn’t any different, and that includes Greece.
What happens once these countries that are targeted are indebted? How do these major powers, these economic hit men, these international organizations come back and get their “pound of flesh,” if you will, from the countries that are heavily in debt?
By insisting that the countries adopt policies that will sell their publicly owned utility companies, water and sewage systems, maybe schools, transportation systems, even jails, to the big corporations. Privatize, privatize. Allow us to build military bases on their soil. Many things can be done, but basically, they become servants to what I call the corporatocracy. You have to remember that today we have a global empire, and it’s not an American empire. It’s not a national empire. It doesn’t help the American people very much. It’s a corporate empire, and the big corporations rule. They control the politics of the United States, and to a large degree they control a great deal of the policies of countries like China, around the world.
John, looking specifically now at the case of Greece, of course you mentioned your belief that the country has become the victim of economic hit men and these international organizations . . . what was your reaction when you first heard about the crisis in Greece and the measures that were to be implemented in the country?
I’ve been following Greece for a long time. I was on Greek television. A Greek film company did a documentary called “Apology of an Economic Hit Man,” and I also spent a lot of time in Iceland and in Ireland. I was invited to Iceland to help encourage the people there to vote on a referendum not to repay their debts, and I did that and encouraged them not to, and they did vote no, and as a result, Iceland is doing quite well now economically compared to the rest of Europe. Ireland, on the other hand: I tried to do the same thing there, but the Irish people apparently voted against the referendum, though there’s been many reports that there was a lot of corruption.
In the case of Greece, my reaction was that “Greece is being hit.” There’s no question about it. Sure, Greece made mistakes, your leaders made some mistakes, but the people didn’t really make the mistakes, and now the people are being asked to pay for the mistakes made by their leaders, often in cahoots with the big banks. So, people make tremendous amounts of money off of these so-called “mistakes,” and now, the people who didn’t make the mistakes are being asked to pay the price. That’s consistent around the world: We’ve seen it in Latin America. We’ve seen it in Asia. We’ve seen it in so many places around the world.
This leads directly to the next question I had: From my observation, at least in Greece, the crisis has been accompanied by an increase in self-blame or self-loathing; there’s this sentiment in Greece that many people have that the country failed, that the people failed . . . there’s hardly even protest in Greece anymore, and of course there’s a huge “brain drain” – there’s a lot of people that are leaving the country. Does this all seem familiar to you when comparing to other countries in which you’ve had personal experience?
Sure, that’s part of the game: convince people that they’re wrong, that they’re inferior. The corporatocracy is incredibly good at that, whether it is back during the Vietnam War, convincing the world that the North Vietnamese were evil; today it’s the Muslims. It’s a policy of them versus us: We are good. We are right. We do everything right. You’re wrong. And in this case, all of this energy has been directed at the Greek people to say “you’re lazy; you didn’t do the right thing; you didn’t follow the right policies,” when in actuality, an awful lot of the blame needs to be laid on the financial community that encouraged Greece to go down this route. And I would say that we have something very similar going on in the United States, where people here are being led to believe that because their house is being foreclosed that they were stupid, that they bought the wrong houses; they overspent themselves.
The fact of the matter is their bankers told them to do this, and around the world, we’ve come to trust bankers – or we used to. In the United States, we never believed that a banker would tell us to buy a $500,000 house if in fact we could really only afford a $300,000 house. We thought it was in the bank’s interest not to foreclose. But that changed a few years ago, and bankers told people who they knew could only afford a $300,000 house to buy a $500,000 house.
“Tighten your belt, in a few years that house will be worth a million dollars; you’ll make a lot of money” . . . in fact, the value of the house went down; the market dropped out; the banks foreclosed on these houses, repackaged them, and sold them again. Double whammy. The people were told, “you were stupid; you were greedy; why did you buy such an expensive house?” But in actuality, the bankers told them to do this, and we’ve grown up to believe that we can trust our bankers. Something very similar on a larger scale happened in so many countries around the world, including Greece.
In Greece, the traditional major political parties are, of course, overwhelmingly in favor of the harsh austerity measures that have been imposed, but also we see that the major business and media interests are also overwhelmingly in support. Does this surprise you in the slightest?
No, it doesn’t surprise me and yet it’s ridiculous because austerity does not work. We’ve proven that time and time again, and perhaps the greatest proof was the opposite, in the United States during the Great Depression, when President Roosevelt initiated all these policies to put people back to work, to pump money into the economy. That’s what works. We know that austerity does not work in these situations.
We also have to understand that, in the United States for example, over the past 40 years, the middle class has been on the decline on a real dollar basis, while the economy has been increasing. In fact, that’s pretty much happened around the world. Globally, the middle class has been in decline. Big business needs to recognize – it hasn’t yet, but it needs to recognize – that that serves nobody’s long-term interest, that the middle class is the market. And if the middle class continues to be in decline, whether it’s in Greece or the United States or globally, ultimately businesses will pay the price; they won’t have customers. Henry Ford once said: “I want to pay all my workers enough money so they can go out and buy Ford cars.” That’s a very good policy. That’s wise. This austerity program moves in the opposite direction and it’s a foolish policy.
In your book, which was written in 2004, you expressed hope that the euro would serve as a counterweight to American global hegemony, to the hegemony of the US dollar. Did you ever expect that we would see in the European Union what we are seeing today, with austerity that is not just in Greece but also in Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Italy, and also several other countries as well?
What I didn’t realize during any of this period was how much corporatocracy does not want a united Europe. We need to understand this. They may be happy enough with the euro, with one currency – they are happy to a certain degree by having it united enough that markets are open – but they do not want standardized rules and regulations. Let’s face it, big corporations, the corporatocracy, take advantage of the fact that some countries in Europe have much more lenient tax laws, some have much more lenient environmental and social laws, and they can pit them against each other.
What would it be like for big corporations if they didn’t have their tax havens in places like Malta or other places? I think we need to recognize that what the corporatocracy saw at first, the solid euro, a European union seemed like a very good thing, but as it moved forward, they could see that what was going to happen was that social and environmental laws and regulations were going to be standardized. They didn’t want that, so to a certain degree what’s been going on in Europe has been because the corporatocracy wants Europe to fail, at least on a certain level.
You wrote about the examples of Ecuador and other countries, which after the collapse of oil prices in the late ’80s found themselves with huge debts and this, of course, led to massive austerity measures . . . sounds all very similar to what we are now seeing in Greece. How did the people of Ecuador and other countries that found themselves in similar situations eventually resist?
Ecuador elected a pretty remarkable president, Rafael Correa, who has a PhD in economics from a United States university. He understands the system, and he understood that Ecuador took on these debts back when I was an economic hit man and the country was ruled by a military junta that was under the control of the CIA and the US. That junta took on these huge debts, put Ecuador in deep debt; the people didn’t agree to that. When Rafael Correa was democratically elected, he immediately said, “We’re not paying these debts; the people did not take on these debts; maybe the IMF should pay the debts and maybe the junta, which of course was long gone – moved to Miami or someplace – should pay the debts, maybe John Perkins and the other economic hit men should pay the debts, but the people shouldn’t.”
And since then, he’s been renegotiating and bringing the debts way down and saying, “We might be willing to pay some of them.” That was a very smart move; it reflected similar things that had been done at different times in places like Brazil and Argentina, and more recently, following that model, Iceland, with great success. I have to say that Correa has had some real setbacks since then . . . he, like so many presidents, has to be aware that if you stand up too strongly against the system, if the economic hit men are not happy, if they don’t get their way, then the jackals will come in and assassinate you or overthrow you in a coup. There was an attempted coup against him; there was a successful coup in a country not too far away from him, Honduras, because these presidents stood up.
We have to realize that these presidents are in very, very vulnerable positions, and ultimately we the people have to stand up, because leaders can only do a certain amount. Today, in many places, leaders are not just vulnerable; it doesn’t take a bullet to bring down a leader anymore. A scandal – a sex scandal, a drug scandal – can bring down a leader. We saw that happen to Bill Clinton, to Strauss-Kahn of the IMF; we’ve seen it happen a number of times. These leaders are very aware that they are in very vulnerable positions: If they stand up or go against the status quo too strongly, they’re going to be taken out, one way or another. They’re aware of that, and it behooves we the people to really stand up for our own rights.
You mentioned the recent example of Iceland . . . other than the referendum that was held, what other measures did the country adopt to get out of this spiral of austerity and to return to growth and to a much more positive outlook for the country?
It’s been investing money in programs that put people back to work and it’s also been putting on trial some of the bankers that caused the problems, which has been a big uplift in terms of morale for the people. So Iceland has launched some programs that say “No, we’re not going to go into austerity; we’re not going to pay back these loans; we’re going to put the money into putting people back to work,” and ultimately that’s what drives an economy, people working. If you’ve got high unemployment, like you do in Greece today, extremely high unemployment, the country’s always going to be in trouble. You’ve got to bring down that unemployment, you’ve got to hire people. It’s so important to put people back to work. Your unemployment is about 28 percent; it’s staggering, and disposable income has dropped 40 percent and it’s going to continue to drop if you have high unemployment. So, the important thing for an economy is to get the employment up and get disposable income back up, so that people will invest in their country and in goods and services.
In closing, what message would you like to share with the people of Greece, as they continue to experience and to live through the very harsh results of the austerity policies that have been implemented in the country for the past three years?
I want to draw upon Greece’s history. You’re a proud, strong country, a country of warriors. The mythology of the warrior to some degree comes out of Greece, and so does democracy! And to realize that the marketplace is a democracy today, and how we spend our money is casting our ballot. Most political democracies are corrupt, including that of the United States. Democracy is not really working on a governmental basis because the corporations are in charge. But it is working on a market basis. I would encourage the people of Greece to stand up: Don’t pay off those debts; have your own referendums; refuse to pay them off; go to the streets and strike.
And so, I would encourage the Greek people to continue to do this. Don’t accept this criticism that it’s your fault, you’re to blame, you’ve got to suffer austerity, austerity, austerity. That only works for the rich people; it does not work for the average person or the middle class. Build up that middle class; bring employment back; bring disposable income back to the average citizen of Greece. Fight for that; make it happen; stand up for your rights; respect your history as fighters and leaders in democracy, and show the world!
Reprinted from Zero Hedge.