zaterdag 15 maart 2014

De Oekraïne 31

The masters of war demand a new war. This time against Russia

De Huffington Post van vandaag. Denkt u dat de Amerikaanse mainstream media ooit zo over een Amerikaanse invasie schrijven?


George Soros Predicts Ukraine Could Ruin The EU

The billionaire financier says in its tepid response to Russia’s Crimea land grab, the EU flubbed a key chance to breathe new life into the stale union.

George Soros, one of the world’s leading investors, has warned that the European Union is in danger of falling apart if it fails to confront Vladimir Putin’s naked aggression in Ukraine.

The billionaire financier told The Daily Beast that European governments should have seized on Russia’s land grab in Crimea to breathe new life into a union that is disintegrating and stumbling towards oblivion. Instead, he argued, squabbling European nations have failed to meet the challenge and continued to act in their own narrow self-interest. “Europe was totally unprepared for this crisis and Putin outmaneuvered Europe with no difficulty,” he said.
Soros, who became known as the Man Who Broke the Bank of England after making $1 billion by betting against Europe’s previous financial union, has long insisted that the Euro was being fatally mismanaged. His latest book, published this week, is entitled The Tragedy of the European Union. A loud supporter at the launch of the Euro currency and a cheerleader for a united Europe, Soros has been confounded by what he calls the “nightmare” reality 15 years after its introduction.
Speaking in London, he said it was heart-breaking to see European governments shrug their shoulders at the precise moment the continent was finally witnessing an unprecedented popular uprising in the name of the European Union. “Ukrainians have effectively proved that they are willing to sacrifice their lives to get closer to a Europe that is, at the same time, in the process of disintegration,” he said.
With Putin’s troops in Crimea and a referendum on joining Russia due to be held over the weekend, Soros said there was still time for Europe to act, and reinvigorate the European Union’s withering soul.
“I would argue passionately that [the European Union] should not be a failed experiment and events in Ukraine are a wake-up call to face that issue,” he said. “It’s a challenge, and I hope that Europe will respond to it and actually really rediscover its original mission because that’s what got lost in this distortion that has occurred.”
Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, indicated that Europe was willing to increase pressure on the Kremlin on Thursday during her most emotional and strident speech since the start of the Ukrainian crisis. She said a referendum orchestrated by Crimea’s pro-Russia parliament would be a “catastrophe,” and indicated that the EU was willing to impose travel bans and asset freezes on people and firms accused of helping to violate Ukraine’s territorial integrity as soon as Monday.
“Europe was totally unprepared for this crisis and Putin outmaneuvered Europe with no difficulty.”
Soros argued that it was more important for Europe to offer positive assistance to the struggling Ukrainian government. “It’s very important to respond and respond the right way, which is not necessarily to impose sanctions on Russia, but to actually help Ukraine financially, and also with technical assistance—something  like a European Marshall Plan for Ukraine—that would be the right response,” he said.
In his new book, which asks “Is it too late to save the European Union?” Soros argues that Putin’s attempt to build a new Eastern bloc in Ukraine and beyond could eventually jolt Europe back to life. “We have just witnessed a dramatic test of strength between Russia and the European Union. Russia came out ahead,” he said. “Russia has benefited from the fact that Europe is disunited. But now that Russia is emerging as a threat to Europe, it may once again become a force that brings Europe closer together. I pin my hopes on Chancellor Merkel … one must never give up hope.”
He is hardly holding his breath, however. Soros blames the Germans for eroding Europe’s fragile union by enforcing policies of austerity and allowing southern European nations to build up debts they will never be able to repay. He accused Berlin of doing “just enough” to keep the Euro afloat: “This confirms my worst fears. It’s the nightmare I’ve been talking about and there is little chance we’ll wake up soon.”
Germany’s economic strength makes it the Eurozone’s driving force—Britain is not part of the currency union—but the nation’s history has turned it into a reluctant leader. “Germany has emerged as the imperial power, the hegemon of Europe, but the German public does not want to be in that position exactly because of the painful memory of Hitler. It is in denial and is unwilling to live up to the responsibilities,” he said.
Despite its unwillingness to assume a strong leadership role, Soros argues that Berlin’s fiscal rigidity has created a two-tier Europe where debtor countries are at a permanent disadvantage. If that does not change, he said: “We will have a Europe in which Germany is seen not as a leader but as an oppressor and exploiter. It will not be loved and admired by the rest of Europe it will be hated and resisted.”
That resistance has already begun in a swathe of countries where popular anti-European sentiment has been seen on the street and at the ballot box. Europe-wide elections in May are expected to send a record number of politicians to Brussels who are hostile to the very institutions they will be populating. In Britain, the governing Conservative Party has promised a referendum on leaving the European Union altogether. “That would be a big step forward in the disintegration of the European Union,” Soros said. “Britain’s absence would greatly diminish the weight of the EU in the world … The world badly needs Europe’s soft power.”

Crimea: Democracy is not Democracy... Unless Obama says it is

Victoria Nuland and Jeffrey Pyatt handing out candy to security forces in Kiev a month before the neo-Nazis their government funded would attack and kill many of those same forces.
As Crimea prepares to vote on Saturday March 16th in a crucial referendum on its future, the rhetoric coming from the West and its propaganda machine has hit a new and ridiculous low. Not only has US President Barack Obama and his administration done everything to undermine democracy in Ukraine, they have now resorted to the most naked forms of hypocrisy in an attempt to delegitimize the democratic process.

On Thursday March 6th President Obama spoke at the White House on the referendum and the issue of Crimea. In his prepared remarks, Obama stated categorically that the United States would not recognize the results of the Crimean referendum. He argued that the it would violate both the "Ukrainian Constitution and international law." Obama kept the comedy coming when he noted that, "In 2014 we are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders." As with all statements made by the US government, and the President specifically, this must be contextualized and deconstructed in order to be effectively critiqued.

First and foremost is the question of democracy and, more specifically, how exactly Washington is choosing to define this gravely abused word. In referring to the so-called "interim government" in Kiev, headed by Yatsenyuk and his associates, as "democratic leaders", Obama demonstrates either a complete lack of understanding of the word democracy, or as I think is more likely, an utter contempt for democratic principles. By referring to an unelected entity that has seized political power in Kiev by force, and through collaboration with Nazi elements, as "democratic leaders," Obama exposes himself and his administration to be cynical opportunists whose interests rest not in democracy but in a geopolitical agenda guided solely by strategic interests.

Naturally, the references to the Ukrainian Constitution and international law are also deeply disingenuous. Obama, and the US imperial system more generally, speak of international law purely when it suits their interests, eschewing it completely when it does not. This fact has been illustrated quite clearly with Washington's wars of aggression throughout that last two decades, including the illegal wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, not to mention the habitual violations of international law in Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan and around the world.

The most significant point here is that the US recognizes democracy and international law only when it suits their interests. Moreover, US hypocrisy regarding democracy becomes self evident if one examines the recent historical precedents of Kosovo and South Sudan. In both these cases, precisely the same individuals who today cry about international law and argue against the democratic right of Crimea to determine its own future, were then eloquently and unabashedly in favor of precisely the same sort "democratic aspirations."

Kosovo, South Sudan, and Washington's Amnesia

Serbia, a European country 'shock-and-awed' by the US
The fact that President Obama and the US political establishment have come out against the referendum in Crimea should not be surprising. Washington's interest is not in the right of self-determination of the people of Crimea, nor in their desire to remain free of a neoliberal and fascist controlled government in Kiev. Rather, the US is primarily concerned with delegitimizing the democratic process in Crimea in order to prevent the region from moving closer to, and possibly integrating into, the Russian Federation. How interesting that, in a few short years, the US has gone from being the champion of "democracy" and "self-determination" to being their staunchest enemy.

In 2008, Kosovo, the region formerly part of Serbia, held a referendum on the question of independence. Because the United States had, for nearly two decades, worked diligently to carve up the former Yugoslavia, and the states that emerged from it, it was seemingly a given that the US would be a vocal supporter and guarantor of the referendum on Kosovo's nationhood. In fact, members of the Obama administration, including Obama himself, all made statements declaring Kosovo's independence to be a triumph of democracy.

Then Illinois Senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama came out in full support of Kosovo's referendum. In a letter to the National Council of U.S. Albanians, candidate Obama wrote:
I support Kosovo's independence and her desire to move towards full sovereignty. I believe that the U.S. should help develop a strong democracy in Kosovo that will be guaranteed by the application of laws that safeguard the interests of all people. I support Kosovo's integration in Euro-Atlantic institutions, and that will best be accomplished by creating a free, tolerant and wealthy society that promotes minority rights and protects religious and cultural monuments.
It would seem that, for Obama, Kosovo's "sovereignty," "independence," and "democracy" were of the utmost importance, despite its being part of Serbia. Somehow, "integration in Euro-Atlantic institutions" trumped whatever sovereignty Serbia had, and whatever international law might have dictated. Of course, the incredible amount of willful self-deception required to make such statements should come as no surprise. The US establishment understood full well that there would be no tolerance or protection of minority rights in Kosovo. On the contrary, the US supported the independence of Kosovo, knowing that it would be purged of Serbian influence and would become the de facto NATO protectorate that it has become.

And so, the principles of international law were of no consequence to Obama in 2008 when, as per his establishment advisors, he came out in full support of the Kosovo referendum. So then, it would be fair to say that Obama supports independence and sovereignty only when it is at the expense of oppositional nations and to the benefit of the US-NATO alliance. It should also be pointed out that those who now accuse Russia of "aggression" in Crimea (despite there being no evidence of any violence perpetrated by Russian forces) and the violation of international law were the same individuals arguing in favor of a vicious bombing campaign against Serbia for "humanitarian reasons." In 1999, then Senator and current Secretary of State John Kerry wrote:

Salva Kiir Mayardit feted by Obama in Washington, DC
Broader national interests are at stake as well. There is cause enough for American intervention on the basis of security issues, our commitment to NATO, and overwhelming humanitarian needs...the United States and its NATO allies are working to preserve international law and a standard of civilized behavior shared by the vast majority of our neighbors and allies around the globe.

So, just to be clear, the United States and NATO have the mandate to both bomb Serbia and support Kosovo's secession, and both of these are "preserving international law." However in Crimea, where there is actually a Russian population, Russian military assets, a long-standing cooperation treaty, and a historic connection to Russia, somehow it is a violation of international law? Such staggering double standards are hard to ignore.

This point is further illustrated by Obama's unwavering support for South Sudan's independence. Carved out of the Republic of the Sudan, one of Washington's only remaining foes in Africa, South Sudan is the world's youngest country, having declared its independence in a referendum in 2011. The United States and its allies had been leading the charge to split Sudan into two nations, lending their full political, economic, and diplomatic support to the South to move toward full independence.

At a UN summit on Sudan in 2010, President Obama stated that "the referendum on self-determination...must take place peacefully and on time...and the will of the people of southern Sudan and the region of Abyei must be respected regardless of the outcome." Obama unequivocally demonstrated his support for the right self-determination for the people of South Sudan. Naturally, he used the rhetoric of democracy and human rights in order to do so. However, as with all conflicts around the world, Washington's language regarding democracy and human rights was merely a cover for their geopolitical agenda.

In Sudan, the United States sought to break apart an oil-rich nation that was a critical trading partner for China, a country whose economic interests and investment in Africa had made it a rival of the United States on the continent. In Kosovo, the United States carved up a close ally of Russia for the purposes of expanding NATO hegemony in the Balkans - creating a de facto NATO colony where once there had been a Russian partner. All the talk of democracy was simply window dressing.

In contrast to Kosovo and South Sudan however, US policy on Crimea has been precisely the opposite. Rather than recognizing the rights of the Russian majority in the region and their historical, cultural, political, military and economic ties to Russia, the US cries foul. Obama's declaration that the referendum is illegal and cannot be recognized is not only an insult to the people of Crimea, it is an insult to all those who have a historical memory and a conscience. Quite frankly, it seems about time that the US learned what democracy truly looks like.
About the author

Eric Draitser is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City, he is the founder and OP-ed collumist for RT, exclusively for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook" 

De Oekraïne 30

Oekraïne–Liegen dat ze zwart zien

by willyvandamme
Het is merkwaardig en toch weer niet. Terwijl veel camerabeelden en foto’s duidelijk de fascistische natuur van de staatsgreep in Oekraïne tonen, vertikken de klassieke massamedia het om dit in beeld te brengen. Ze wenden hun camera’s en fototoestellen liever hiervan weg.
Andrey Prabiy - Chef Nationale Veiligheidsraad
Andrey Prabiy, stichter van de Nationaal-Socialistische Partij en huidig chef van de nationale veiligheidsraad die alle veiligheidsdiensten onder haar controle heeft.
In het beste geval heeft men het over ultranationalisten of extreem-rechts, maar veelal zijn de gebruikte termen iets neutraler zoals ‘radicalen’ of ‘de jongens van Pravy Sektor’. Dat ze in de huidige regering alle sleutelposities bezetten die met openbare veiligheid te maken hebben, je zal het niet lezen in bijvoorbeeld De Morgen of zien vertellen op de VRT.
Oleksandr Sych (Svoboda), Vice-premier
Oleksandr Sych, vicepremier en ideoloog van Svoboda, de grootste fascistische partij.
De nummers 1 en 2 van de Nationale Veiligheidsraad, de vicepremier, de minister van Defensie en de procureur-generaal, de hoogste parketmagistraat, allen zijn in handen van het grootste crapuul dat er op deze aardbol rondloopt. Wie hun uitlatingen uit het recente verleden op een rijtje zet kan alleen maar geschokt zijn.
Iemand als Jan Balliauw van het Journaal van de VRT of die vele andere westerse correspondenten moeten toch ook overal die fascistische slogans hebben opgemerkt of die Hitlergroet. Daar kan men toch niet naast kijken.
Dmitry Janosh - Pravy Sektor
Dmitry Janosh, leider van Pravy Sektor, de tweede grootste fascistische groep, en tegenwoordig de nummer twee van de Nationale Veiligheidsraad.
Zoals men moet gezien hebben hoe het stadhuis van Kiev of het parlement beklad werd met hakenkruisen en andere symbolen van een volbloed fascisme. Dat onze journalisten niet beweren dat ze het niet gezien hebben of niet weten.
Dat kan niet. Dat beweren is de lezer, luisteraar of kijker uitlachen waar hij bijstaat. Neen, er kan hier maar een zeer zware conclusie getrokken worden en dat is dat de massamedia hier met de grootste leugencampagne bezig zijn ooit gezien. Met als vraag hoe dit grootschalig bedrog zomaar kan gebeuren. Welke mechanismen zitten hier achter?
Oleg Makhnitsky (Svoboda), procureur-generaal
Oleg Makhnitsky, de nieuwbakken procureur-generaal en een topman van Svoboda.
Er was inderdaad voorheen al het grootschalig bedrog over Syrië met een professor aan de UGent Rik Coolsaet die de Europese jihadisten die Syrië nog steeds terroriseren idealisten noemde.
Ja, en er was een Rudi Vranckx die optrok met een hier tot jaren cel veroordeelde aan al Qaeda gelieerde terrorist. Dezelfde Vranckx die ongeveer een jaar eerder met een uitgestreken gezicht beweerde dat al Qaeda morsdood is.
Neen, dit verhaal over Oekraïne is nog grover. Dat onze media verzwijgen dat hier sprake is van een door de EU en VS gesteunde fascistische staatsgreep is te schandelijk voor woorden. Maar ja, als ze die harde waarheid zouden schrijven dan betekent dit dat een Guy Verhofstadt in Kiev op Maidan fascisten toesprak toen hij beweerde hoe ze de Europese waarden verdedigden.
Ihor Tenyukh (Svoboda), minister van Defensie
Ihor Tenyukh, de nieuwe minister van defensie en topman van Svoboda.
Het zou het definitief politiek einde van de man geweest zijn. En dat zou gezien zijn steun voor die Syrische jihadisten een goede zaak zijn. Het zou echter ook betekenen dat een Herman Van Rompuy of Karel De Gucht in datzelfde fascistische bedje ziek zijn en ook zij terecht hun politieke carrière aan de kapstok kunnen hangen.
Maar dat durft de klassieke media niet en dus liegt men er op los, men liegt tot men zwart ziet. Het zwart van de uniformen van die couplegers in Kiev. Maar ondertussen Tv-zender Russia Today beschuldigen propaganda te verkopen en Poetin een nieuwe Hitler noemen, dat is geen probleem.
Arseni Jatsenjoek, premier van Oekraïne
De nieuwe premier Arseni Jatsenjoek groet zijn Europese en Amerikaanse vrienden, ook die in onze pers. Victoria Nuland, de Amerikaanse staatsecretaris voor Europese Zaken noemde hem: ‘Yats, onze man’. Jawohl. 
Het is al zover gekomen dat een Henry Kissinger, als gewezen Amerikaans topdiplomaat een man van vele bloedige oorlogen en staatsgrepen, in deze kwestie redelijker overkomt als de meeste van onze persmensen. Wie had dat ooit kunnen denken?
En ondertussen worden er in Europa mensen van 90 jaar en meer voor de rechtbanken gebracht omdat ze 70 jaar geleden vermoedelijk kampbewaker waren in een van de vele Duitse concentratiekampen. Hoe hypocriet kan men zijn? Hoe zwart kan men zijn?
Willy Van Damme
willyvandamme | 11 maart 2014 om 23:58 | Categorieën:Buitenland - EuropaOpinie - Buitenland | URL:

The Zombification of the West

The Zombification of the West

Saturday, 15 March 2014 09:33By Werner de GruijterTruthout | Opinion
Shopping Mall.(Photo: Anne Roberts / Flickr)On the need for inner tranquility in order to avoid authoritarianism 
Slightly more than ten years ago, in the heat of the moment, the West believed a war on terrorism was useful - so, it was prepared to give up civil liberties. Then the crisis hit in 2008. The banks unjustly demanded a bailout and the West passively went along. Today, again, the West in general passively believes the narrative of its secret services in favor of state control. What’s wrong with us? Why do we give up our liberties so easily? And how can we avoid this trend toward authoritarianism? 
The preamble of the US Constitution contains this prodigious message: 
"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. ... " 
Words can be powerful, especially poetic words that carry loads of meaning. But do we today live according to these constitutional principles? Or to put it differently, what did Western governments do in recent years to establish justice and ensure domestic tranquility? 
Well, first they helped our inner tranquility by dusting off medieval practices like waterboarding and humiliation; they simply tortured people. Next, they hypnotically repeated the unjust idea that taxpayers, not the unregulated banking sector, were the root cause of our economic problems. And to further our calm, they extended the use of secret evidence; they spied upon us and increased the instalation of cameras on every corner of our streets. This process toward possible authoritarianism is still far from over. Somehow, we all seem to accept this McCarthyist paranoia. That highlights the following question: what is going on in the West? Why do we have this uneasiness inside our minds that makes all of this possible? Why do we forget the lessons about tranquility our ancestors once wrote down? 
Of course, there are many explanations available for such broad questions, but perhaps there's a voice that's subtly being suppressed in the West. Every culture has its taboos. In her book On Anxiety, British academic and psychiatrist Renata Salecl, former spouse of philosopher Slavoj Zizek, points out some interesting things about the origins of our daily anxieties - which, by the way, closely resemble the critique by Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. Basically Salecl states that we lack the time in modern life to reflect on things that are really important to us, like taking up the responsibility to help secure our civil liberties.   
This process of the "zombification of the individual" as one can call it, works something like this: For the past 40 years, we have been dominated by the ideology that people would be happier and more at ease if they were constantly shopping for the best deals. But there's a catch. 
To do that, most people are obliged to spend a lot of time at work. Meanwhile, the time to enjoy the mystery of life - to watch children grow, to develop one's creativity or to learn oneself - passes. 
Maybe some feel grief about this or tell themselves that at some point in the distant future there will still be some time left. But most people seem to accept the status quo, give up their dreams and, thereby, their power as well. They accept the downside of materialism as the natural order of things since they've come to believe that possession of material goods is what it takes to experience personal fulfillment. In other words, welcome to the age of cynicism and decadence, where there is no hope for a more fulfilling future other than "buying stuff," as American comedian George Carlin once put it. 
The cultivation of this cynical idea is the job of advertising agencies that deliver profits for big corporations. It means that on a psychological level, what our laissez-faire capitalistic system effectively does is construct a social reality that seduces most people into omitting their inner call for personal growth. Thus, they neglect their very own personal responsibility and, consequently, their democratic duties as well. 
And so we end up in a situation where most people in the West don't believe in fighting for civil and economic liberties anymore. They simply can't imagine that a more humane form of capitalism and democracy is attainable and that in this whole drama they could have a valuable role to play. 
Besides the short-term satisfaction consumerism delivers, what's left is an experienced feeling of inner emptiness, restlessness, alienation and despair, at least among those who have not completely turned to the "dark side" of acting out a robot-like life in the service of profit and narcissism. 
If this is an adequate description of what is really going on inside most Westerners' minds, then this basically means that there is a whole lot of negative energy out there. However, people are not necessarily aware of their own inner state, especially when, on average, they have less and less time available for contemplation. And above all, it is too big of a taboo to talk openly about these issues. 
This lack of debate can be very dangerous, though, because human consciousness has a tendency to crave strong authoritarian leadership if it experiences a loss of control and, at the same time, is unaware of its willpower. Remember that despotic leaders such as Napoleon, Hitler or more recently, Mugabe, all came into power by the will of the majority. 
What is important to note here is that this longing for authoritarianism is in fact a desperate attempt to sustain one's zombie-like identity, even to the point of self-destruction. It works through a process of mental repression of information that signifies the unpleasant reality of fears one has to overcome to grow as a human being. Psychologists sometimes call this zombie-like resistance to growth "learned helplessness." 
But there's more. Because of this cultivated resistance to growth, politicians gain in popularity when they facilitate this process of zombification. That's why they push political discourse farther and farther in the direction of the punishing police state instead of the social state. 
If Salecl is on to something, perhaps there is a lesson in all of this: To build a vital democracy, most artists and intellectuals, like the writers of the Constitution, conclude that one needs a soul at ease. But income stagnation and the cultivation of cynicism, consumerism and decadence throughout the West makes it hard for most of us to have the tranquility to bolster our democracies. Instead, people passively seem to accept tight state control.   
Hence, it is not going to be easy to change things. People have to recognize their inner resistance to start with. But it definitely helps if more and more Westerners become aware that it is their very own inner despair caused by a corrupt system that connects them to their fellow human beings. At least that's a start. 
Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.


Werner de Gruijter is a social psychologist and moderator of the Symposion Nights in Amsterdam, a platform for critical thought.
Further Reading:

vrijdag 14 maart 2014

De Mainstream Pers 166

De gemeenteraadsverkiezingen komen nu écht dichtbij. Terwijl een groot deel van Nederland de schouders ophaalt en niet van plan is te gaan stemmen, voeren de partijen, zowel landelijk als lokaal, een hevige strijd.
JOOP. 13 maart 2014

Speelde voorheen de landelijke politiek nog een rol bij de gemeenteraadsverkiezingen, vandaag de dag is zelfs dat niet meer het geval. Net als de journalistiek is de politiek in het neoliberale systeem haar geloofwaardigheid kwijt. Te lang hebben politici en hun spreekbuizen in de mainstream media het publiek bedrogen, en daarmee het vertrouwen in de kapitalistische democratie ondermijnd. Terwijl de EU tezamen met de landelijke politici en de 'vrije pers' vergeefs de haat tegen Poetin proberen aan te wakkeren in een poging van de Oekraïne een vrije markteconomie te maken gaan niet alleen de miljardenbezuinigingen onverminderd door, maar blijft tevens de kloof tussen arm en rijk in het Europa van 'Geen Jorwerd zonder Brussel' almaar toenemen. Hoewel de Makkianen zich het vuur uit de sloffen lopen in een poging het neoliberale 'Brussel' te verkopen, blijkt steeds meer dat de dagelijkse realiteit het werk van de de mainstream propagandisten ongeloofwaardig maakt. Wat de dames en heren ook doen, feit blijft dat dankzij het neoliberale gespeculeer met lucht de rijken steeds rijker worden, terwijl de overgrote meerderheid een baanloze toekomst tegemoet gaat, zoals zelfs de spreekbuis van het neoliberalisme, het Britse weekblad de Economist, nu toegeeft. Ondertussen hebben de polderjournalisten nog niet door wat er zich voor hun ogen afspeelt. Voor serieuze informatie moeten we deskundigen van wereldnaam aan het woord laten. Martin Wolf is één van hen. Ik stel hem even voor:

Martin Wolf is chief economics commentator at the Financial Times, London. He was awarded the CBE (Commander of the British Empire) in 2000 'for services to financial journalism.' Mr Wolf is an honorary fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford, honorary fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford University, an honorary fellow of the Oxford Institute for Economic Policy (Oxonia) and an honorary professor at the University of Nottingham.

He has been a forum fellow at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos since 1999 and a member of its International Media Council since 2006. He was made a Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, by Nottingham University in July 2006. He was made a Doctor of Science (Economics) of London University, honoris causa, by the London School of Economics in December 2006. He was a member of the UK government's Independent Commission on Banking in 2010-2011. Martin's most recent publications are Why Globalization Works and Fixing Global Finance.

Op 24 oktober 2011 omschreef Martin Wolf van de Financial Times, één van de meest gezaghebbende westerse publicaties op het gebied van de financiële wereld, het neoliberalisme als volgt: 
an out-of-control financial sector is eating out the modern market economy from inside, just as the larva of the spider wasp eats out the host in which it has been laid. 
For me, the moment at which this became evident was when I learned that the financial sector had allegedly generated more than two-fifths of US corporate profits shortly before the crisis. How could a sector that was merely allocating capital and managing risk generate so much of the business profits in the world’s largest economy? This had to be due to some combination of excessive risk-taking, accounting delusions and rent extraction. So, it appears, it was.

Met andere woorden: de afgelopen vier decennia worden wij geconfronteerd met een parasitair financieel bestel, in handen van een economische elite die rijker wordt door te speculeren met niet bestaand geld dan door het produceren van goederen en diensten. Op die manier is deze onverzadigbare cultuur erin geslaagd de samenleving uit te hollen, net zoals de larven van een sluipwesp hun gastheer van binnenuit verslinden. De neoliberale elite, geholpen door de deregulering en privatiseringspolitiek van de westerse democratieën, heeft zich aldus extreem weten te verrijken, waardoor vandaag de dag 85 miljardairs even 'wealthy' zijn 'as the poorest half of the world,' in totaal 3.500.000.000 mensen. 
New Report Says Rich Are Richer And Spending More Than Ever

5,000 new individuals were added to the roster of the 'ultra-wealthy' in the last year alone.

A new report released this week by the elitist property management firm Knight Frank confirms the ranks of the rich are expanding, and they're spending their money with the gilded abandon so characteristic of our era. 
The report notes the number of 'ultra-wealthy' individuals (those earning over $30 million) across the globe rose by 59% over the last decade, and the number of billionaires increased by 80%. 5,000 new individuals were added to the roster of the "ultra-wealthy" in the last year alone. 
75 percent of wealthy respondents surveyed by Knight Frank said their assets increased in the last year, while less than 5 percent said their personal wealth had declined. 
The report optimistically forecasts an increase in the population of billionaires across the globe. From the New York Times summary of the report: 
While the United States, Japan and Germany are still home to more millionaires and billionaires than other countries, wealth is growing rapidly in the Middle East, Latin America, Australasia and Africa. By 2023, China is expected to have 322 billionaires, more than Britain, Russia, France and Switzerland combined, according to the report. The United States is forecast to have 503 billionaires in 2023, up from the current 417, according to the report.
What effect will the rising fortunes of the wealthy have on American society? The right claims that a rising economy rises in unison, but as the rich have emerged from the financial crisis even wealthier than before,  wages have stagnated for everyone else and the ranks of the poor have grown
In plaats van deze bedreiging van binnenuit in een bredere en daardoor verklaarbare context te plaatsen, proberen de politiek verantwoordelijken en de commerciële massamedia de aandacht permanent te verleggen naar vermeende bedreigingen van buitenaf. Overal ter wereld moet met geweld hetzelfde neoliberale totalitarisme worden afgedwongen onder het mom van democratisering en mensenrechten. Alsof het een democratisch mensenrecht is om 'an out-of-control financial sector' opgelegd te krijgen dat 'is eating out the modern market economy from inside, just as the larva of the spider wasp eats out the host in which it has been laid.' Dat de politieke en militaire interventies in Afghanistan, Irak, Libië in grote chaos zijn geëindigd is geen reden voor de mainstream opiniemakers om hun levensgevaarlijke propaganda te stoppen. Toen vorig jaar Syrië moest worden 'gered,' door fundamentalistische moslims via Saoedie Arabia en Turkije van wapens te voorzien, raakte het land in een burgeroorlog die het zicht op een democratie voor de eerst komende generaties vernietigde, en een explosie van mensenrechtenschendingen veroorzaakte. Hoewel door goed geïnformeerde bronnen overal ter wereld, zowel in het Westen als in het Midden-Oosten, gewaarschuwd werd geen geweld uit te lokken in een land met zoveel etnische minderheden, bleef de NAVO onder leiding van de VS via Jordanië en Turkije de 'rebellen' voorzien van logistieke steun en militaire training, daarbij bijgestaan door de Nederlandse mainstream opiniemakers als de Volkskrant-journalist Fokke Obbema, die op 24 augustus 2013 zijn lezers wist te melden: 
Amerikaanse en Europese inlichtingendiensten hebben aanwijzingen dat het Syrische regime verantwoordelijk is voor de gifgasaanval. Ook Groot-Brittannië wijst naar Assad.
AMSTERDAM - Amerikaanse en Europese inlichtingendiensten hebben aanwijzingen dat het Syrische regime deze week gifgas heeft ingezet. Dat hebben bronnen bij de diensten anoniem, en met een slag om de arm, vrijdagavond laten weten.

Let u op het absurdistisch taalgebruik, logica ontbreekt eraan. Een onafhankelijk journalist zou om twee redenen nooit schrijven dat 'Amerikaanse en Europese inlichtingendiensten hebben aanwijzingen dat het Syrische regime verantwoordelijk is voor de gifgasaanval.' Ten eerste, omdat hij die informatie niet kan checken, laat staan dubbel checken, wat journalistiek gebruik is. Ten tweede omdat de beweringen afkomstig zijn van dezelfde inlichtingendiensten, die rond 2003 door Bush en Blair werden gebruikt om 'aanwijzingen' te fabriceren dat Saddam Hoessein beschikte over massavernietigingswapens. Deze waren nodig om de illegale inval in Irak te rechtvaardigen. Desalniettemin lepelt Fokke Obbema opnieuw, zoals nu is gebleken, onjuiste informatie klakkeloos op, en ook nog op een stupide manier want na zijn stellige bewering volgt dit:
Dat hebben bronnen bij de diensten anoniem, en met een slag om de arm, vrijdagavond laten weten.
Anoniem dus, en zelf niets gecontroleerd, want als polder-journalist beschikt hij niet over ter zake kundige bronnen, in tegenstelling tot goed geïnformeerde Amerikaanse bronnen die deze informatie met de grootst mogelijke scepsis brachten. Het toppunt is Obbema's absurdistische toevoeging 'en met een slag om de arm.' Ik citeer: 'anonieme bronnen' die 'aanwijzingen' hebben 'met een slag om de arm.' Wat voor 'aanwijzingen'? Vanuit ervaring en een bredere context weten serieuze journalisten dan onmiddellijk dat ze worden gebruikt voor het legitimeren van geweld. 'Aanwijzingen' met 'een slag om de arm'? Welnu, een slag om de arm houden betekent 'een voorbehoud maken,' dus 'iets niet stellig willen zeggen, bevestigen.' Met andere woorden: westerse inlichtingendiensten die in het recente verleden hebben gelogen om een alles vernietigende shock and awe-aanval op de Iraakse bevolking te rechtvaardigen willen nu 'niet stellig bevestigen' dat hun 'aanwijzingen' kloppen. Aangezien het hier om een dreigende oorlog gaat zou een journalist vanwege het publieke belang ogenblikkelijk van die inlichtingendiensten moeten eisen wat die 'niet stellige… aanwijzingen' dan precies zijn.  Nu is Obbema's tekst niet meer dan stemmingmakerij, zoals doorgaans het geval is wanneer de VS zijn expansionistische macht wil laten gelden. Dat weet ieder mens met een beetje gezond verstand, zeker na de het beruchte Tokin-incident toen in 1964 de Amerikaanse marine drie Noord-Vietnamese torpedoboten beschoot die het vuur beantwoordden, en Washington deze 'aanval' gebruikte als rechtvaardiging om Noord Vietnam plat te bombarderen. Er zijn meerdere van dit 'False Flag operations,' vandaar dat een onafhankelijke journalist dan uiterst terughoudend reageert. Vooral ook de Amerikaanse en Britse leugens om de soevereine staat Irak aan te vallen zouden een les moeten zijn. Maar omdat opiniemaker Obbema een propagandist is kan hij domweg niets leren. En dus spreekt hij van 'aanwijzingen,' waarover 'Amerikaanse en Europese inlichtingendiensten' beschikken, zonder ook maar iets zelfs te hebben gecheckt. Het zijn dus geen 'aanwijzingen' maar hooguit beweerde of vermeende 'aanwijzingen,' maar dat klinkt weer niet sensationeel genoeg, en de polderfries wil meetellen in de grote wereld en speelt dus het spelletje mee. Het gruwelijke is dat dit slag mensen mede verantwoordelijk is voor de oorlogsmisdaden die altijd weer volgen zodra de eerste kogel of kruisraket zijn afgevuurd. Maar omdat hun brandende ambitie hun geweten uitschakelt, doen deze feiten er voor hen niet toe. Aanvallen!!! Hun bewustzijsvernauwing leidt tot schrikbarende consequenties. Terwijl het Europa van 'Geen Jorwerd zonder Brussel' zonder enig democratische debat 11 miljard euro aan belastinggeld naar Oekraïne heeft gesluisd om er kernraketten te kunnen plaatsen en er de parasitaire markteconomie af te dwingen meldt op vrijdag 14 maart 2014 het dagblad Trouw over de hele breedte van zijn voorpagina:
Steeds meer Nederlandse kinderen groeien op in armoe. 
ARMOEDE In Nederland leven bijna 200.000 kinderen in armoede. Het aantal minderjarigen dat opgroeit in gezinnen die van een bijstandsuitkering moeten rondkomen, is sinds 2009 met meer dan 10 procent gestegen. Ook woont een steeds grotere groep kinderen in achterstandswijken. De verslechterde positie van kinderen en jongeren heeft grote gevolgen voor hun welzijn en schoolprestaties.
Dat staat in het rapport 'Kinderen in Tel 2014', een rapport van het Kinderrechtencollectief, met onder meer organisaties als Unicef, Defence for Children en Kinderpostzegels. Het Verwey-Jonker Instituut meet namens dat collectief sinds 2006 de leefsituatie van kinderen en jongeren in de Nederlandse gemeenten… 
De tijd is voorbij dat je kunt zeggen dat de armoede in Nederland 'relatief' is, nu het financiële vangnet van de overheid afbrokkelt, stelt het Kinderrechtencollectief. 'Er is een groep die niet dagelijks warm eten krijgt, geen nieuwe schoenen of kleren als dat echt nodig is. Die kinderen maken zich zorgen over geld, gaan niet op vakantie, mogen niet mee op een schooluitje, kunnen niet op voetbal.'

'We kregen vorige week een noodkreet binnen van een moeder met vier kinderen die geen pakketten meer kreeg bij de voedselbank,' vertelt Aloys van Rest van het Kinderrechtencollectief. 'Het is al erg dat die voedselbanken bittere noodzaak zijn, het wordt nog erger als die niet meer helpen. Wie bekommert zich dan om die vier kinderen, om hun basisrechten? Zover zijn we in Nederland afgezakt.' […]
Volgens het rapport 'Kinderen in Tel' zijn er in Nederland 197.000 kinderen die opgroeien in armoede. Daarbij hanteren de onderzoekers de grens van de bijstandsuitkering van 1323 euro (voor een gezin met twee kinderen). Het Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau legt de armoedegrens voor zo'n gezin beduidend hoger, namelijk op 1810 euro. Het SCP komt dan ook tot 384.000 kinderen die in armoede opgroeien.
Bijna 400.000 Nederlandse 'kinderen die in armoede opgroeien,' terwijl tegelijkertijd miljarden worden uitgetrokken door de westerse economische en politiek elite om met geweld het parasitaire neoliberalisme, dat volgens een echte deskundige als een sluipwesp de samenleving van binnenuit vernietigt, tegen de wil van de democratisch gekozen ten val gebrachte Oekraïense regering er door te drukken. Het dagblad Trouw bericht ondertussen op zijn internetsite op dezelfde  vrijdag 14 maart:
Wapengekletter rond Oekraïne neemt toe
Met het referendum op het Oekraïense schiereiland de Krim in aantocht en een dode in de oostelijke stad Donetsk wordt de situatie in de regio grimmiger. Op een aantal plaatsen langs de grens met Oekraïne trekt Rusland steeds meer oefenende militairen samen, terwijl ook de Verenigde Staten en de Navo hun militaire aanwezigheid in de regio opvoeren.

Terwijl de westerse burgers in de NAVO-democratieën gelaten afwachten wat hun economische, politieke en militaire elites gaan beslissen, is één ding voor iedereen al overduidelijk: de bevolking speelt geen enkele rol in de blufpoker met mogelijk dodelijke afloop. Zo begon de Eerste Wereldoorlog; een autoriteit wordt ergens in een uithoek van een of andere rijk doodgeschoten en vervolgens gaan vier jaar lang miljoenen jonge mannen elkaar met gifgas en bajonetten te lijf, waarna achteraf niemand precies weet waar de massale slachtpartij om ging. Daarom een simpele vraag: Waarom en in opdracht van wie voeren 'ook de Verenigde Staten en de NAVO hun militaire aanwezigheid in de regio op'? En waarom wordt er een onderscheid gemaakt tussen de VS en de NAVO? Is Washington uit de NAVO gestapt? Of bedoelt de mainstream-journalist van Trouw hiermee te zeggen dat de VS de NAVO op sleeptouw heeft genomen? Zo ja, vertel dat dan. Waarom zijn de parlementen van de NAVO-lidstaten niet geraadpleegd? Als dit door een vergissing of bewust op een oorlog uitloopt zijn de consequenties niet te overzien. Of bepalen in een kapitalistische democratie de militairen wanneer en tegen wie oorlog wordt gevoerd? Waarom worden die vragen niet gesteld door Hofland's 'politiek-literaire elite' waar 'een natie niet zonder [kan]' en al die andere ideologisch gehersenspoelde dwazen? Hoeveel kost deze militaire blufpoker? De burger op wie wordt bezuinigd betaalt dit, maar mag in de kapitalistische democratie niet meebeslissen. Waar zijn de Makkianen met hun 'Geen Jorwerd zonder Brussel'? Kippen voeren in Bartlehiem of ergens aan het verkondigen dat de Europeaan niet zonder de NAVO kan? Het wordt steeds duidelijker hoe de mens gevangen zit in een totalitair systeem dat zijn eigen dynamiek volgt en zijn eigen koers bepaalt. De chaos wordt geprezen als orde, het winstbejag is democratie, en de oorlog is de strijd voor gerechtigheid. Waar en wanneer heeft de mens dit eerder gehoord?

Straight Talk on the U.S. and Ukraine

Published: Friday 14 March 2014
Given the limits of its power and its own compromised relationship with international law, the U.S. isn't in a position to do much about Ukraine.
It’s been interesting to observe the large numbers of people who suddenly think they’re experts on the ongoing crisis in Ukraine—both those on the left who blame it on Obama for intervening too much and those on the right who blame it on Obama for not intervening enough.
As someone who has spent his entire academic career analyzing and critiquing the U.S. role in the world, I have some news: While the United States has had significant impact (mostly negative in my view) in a lot of places, we are not omnipotent. There are real limits to American power, whether for good or for ill. Not everything is our responsibility.
This is certainly the case with Ukraine.
Delusions of Grandeur
On the right, you have political figures claiming that Obama’s supposed “weakness” somehow emboldened Moscow to engage in aggressive moves against Crimea. Sarah Palin, for example,claims that Obama’s failure to respond forcefully to Russia’s bloody incursion into Georgia in 2008 made Russia’s “invasion” possible, despite the fact that Obama wasn’t even president then and therefore couldn’t have done much.
Even some Democrats, like Delaware senator Chris Coons, claim that Obama’s failure to attack Syria last fall made the United States look weak.
In reality, there seems to be little correlation between the willingness of Moscow to assert its power in areas within its traditional spheres of influence and who occupies the White House: The Soviets invaded Hungary in 1956 when Eisenhower was president; the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968 when Johnson was president; the Soviets successfully pressed for martial law in Poland in 1981 when Reagan was president; the Russians attacked Georgia in 2008 when Bush was president. In each case, as much as these administrations opposed these actions, it was determined that any military or other aggressive counter-moves would likely do more harm than good. Washington cannot realistically do any more in response to Russian troops seizing Crimea in 2014 in the name of protecting Russian lives and Russian bases than Moscow could do in response to U.S. troops seizing Panama in 1989 in the name of protecting American lives and American bases.
There is an equally unrealistic view of supposed American omnipotence from some segments of the left in their claims that the United States was somehow responsible for the popular uprising that toppled the Yanukovych regime last month.
First of all, it’s not true that the United States government “spent $5 billion to destabilize Ukraine,” as some agitators have claimed. That figure is the total amount of money provided to the country since independence in 1991, which includes aid to pro-Western Ukrainian administrations (which the United States presumably would not have wanted to destabilize). Like most U.S. foreign aid, some of it went for good things and some for not so good things. There was also some funding through the National Endowment for Democracy and other organizations to some opposition groups that were involved in the recent insurrection, but this was in the millions of dollars, nothing remotely close to $5 billion. And this aid went primarily to centrist groups, not the far right, so claims that the United States “supported fascists” in Ukraine are without foundation.
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It’s also unfair to imply that such aid was somehow the cause of the uprising, thereby denying agency to the millions of Ukrainians who took to the streets in an effort to determine (for better or worse) their own future. To claim that U.S. aid was responsible for the Orange Revolution of 2005 or the more recent revolt is as ludicrous as President Reagan’s claims in the 1980s that Soviet aid was responsible for the leftist revolutions in Central America.
The uprising that overthrew Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych and his allied pro-Russian oligarchs was not a classic nonviolent pro-democracy uprising like those that have toppled scores of dictatorships in recent decades. Yanukovych was democratically elected, and the forces that ousted him included—though were not dominated by—armed, neo-fascist militias. At the same time, Yanukovych’s rampant corruption, repression, and divide-and-rule tactics had cost him his legitimacy in the eyes of the majority of Ukrainians. The protesters were primarily liberal democrats who engaged in legitimate acts of nonviolent resistanceagainst severe government repression, many of whom spent months in freezing temperatures in a struggle for a better Ukraine dominated by neither Russia nor the West. To label them as simply puppets of Washington is as unfair as labeling peasant revolutionaries in El Salvador as puppets of Moscow.
At the same time, given that the new government includes corrupt neo-liberal oligarchs along with representatives of the far right, it would be equally wrong to assume that the change of government represents some kind of major progressive democratic opening. And the refusal of the opposition to abide by the compromise agreement of February 21, which called for early elections and limited presidential powers, and seize power directly raises questions regarding the legitimacy of the new government. Whether for good or for ill, however, and despite whatever attempts Western powers have made to influence the outcome, the change of government is ultimately the responsibility of Ukrainians, not the Obama administration.
While the United States and the European Union no doubt want to lure Ukraine in a pro-Western direction and the Russians even more desperately want Ukraine to stay within their orbit, Ukrainians themselves—given the country’s centuries of subjugation—are strongly nationalistic and do not want to be under the control of Russia or the West. With a population of 45 million and significant agricultural and industrial capacity, they are not a country that would passively accept foreign domination.
Just as U.S. military action in the greater Middle East in the name of protecting Americans from Islamist extremism has ended up largely encouraging Islamist extremism, Russia’s actions in the name of protecting Russians from right-wing Ukrainian ultra-nationalists will likely only encourage that tendency as well. The United States, therefore, needs to avoid any actions that could encourage dangerous ultra-nationalist tendencies among either Russians or Ukrainians. Polls show most Russians are at best ambivalent about the Kremlin’s moves in Ukraine. Provocative actions by the United States would more likely solidify support for Russian president Vladimir Putin’s illegitimate actions.
One factor that may have partly motivated Russian moves in Ukraine could have been talk by U.S. officials of incorporating Ukraine in the NATO alliance, a move which—given the history of foreign invaders conquering Russia through the Ukraine—would be completely unacceptable to the Kremlin. However, Russia’s moves in Crimea may make such a scenario more likely rather than less likely. To ease such tensions, even such hawks as former U.S. National Security Advisers Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski acknowledge the limits of American power in such a situation and have proposed a compromise whereby Ukraine, like Finland during the Cold War, would be prohibited from joining any formal military alliance, and the Russian-speaking areas would be granted a degree of autonomy. Should President Obama consider such a compromise, however, he would almost certainly be attacked not only by Republicans but by hawkish Democrats as well. Indeed, Obama’s former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in comparing Putin to Adolph Hitler, has contributed to a political climate making the Obama administration’s ability to accept such a compromise all the more difficult.
U.S. Leadership
Thousands of Russian troops have fanned out from Russian bases in Crimea and, under Russian control, the Crimean parliament—dominated by ethnic Russians—has unilaterally declared independence and called for a snap referendum to reincorporate the peninsula into Russia. This is a clear violation of the 1994 Budapest Treaty—signed by Russia, Ukraine, the United States, France, Great Britain, and China—guaranteeing, in return for Ukraine giving up its nuclear arsenal inherited from the Soviet Union, the country’s territorial integrity and security assurances against threats or use of force.
As a result, there does need to be a strong international response to Russia’s aggrandizement. Unfortunately, the United States is hardly in a position to take leadership on the matter.
For example, Secretary of State John Kerry has chastised Putin’s actions in Crimea on the grounds that “You just don’t invade another country on phony pretext in order to assert your interests,” adding that Russia’s actions constituted a “direct, overt violation of international law.” While this is certainly a valid statement in itself, it’s ironic coming from a man who so vigorously supported the illegal U.S. invasion of Iraq on the phony pretext that Saddam Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction.” Indeed, while Obama, to his credit, opposed the Iraq War, the fact that he appointed so many supporters of that illegal invasion and occupation to major foreign policy positions in his administration has severely weakened the United States’ ability to assume leadership in challenging the Kremlin on its own unilateral excesses.
Similarly, in 2004, Kerry, Joe Biden, and other members of Congress who later became key Obama administration officials unconditionally endorsed then-Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon’s plan to incorporate large sections of the occupied West Bank into Israel, a proposal denounced by international legal authorities worldwide as an illegal annexation. This makes it very difficult for the Obama administration to be taken seriously when it denounces the illegality of the proposed referendum to have Crimea incorporated into Russia.
There is also the fact that the Obama administration appears willing to accept Morocco’s illegal takeover of occupied Western Sahara (under the autocratic monarchy’s dubious “autonomy” proposal) in defiance of international law, a landmark 1975 World Court decision, and a series of UN resolutions. While illegitimate, the Russians are at least willing offer the people of Crimea a choice in a referendum. By contrast, the United States has effectively abandoned the United Nations’ insistence that there be a referendum in occupied Western Sahara, apparently in the recognition that the vast majority of Western Saharans would vote for independence.
In short, given the history of U.S. support for its allies’ land grabs and its own history of illegal invasions, this leaves the United States with little credibility to take leadership in this crisis. This in no way justifies or minimizes the seriousness of Russia’s aggression, of course. However, it underscores the fact that international leadership is not just a matter of being “tough.” It means being willing to abide by and defend the same international legal norms for yourself and your allies as you demand of your adversaries. Until there is such a change in policies, there is little the United States can do.

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Dr. Stephen Zunes is a Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco, where he chairs the program in Middle Eastern Studies. A native of North Carolina, Professor Zunes received his PhD. from Cornell University, his M.A. from Temple University and his B.A. from Oberlin College.