zaterdag 19 april 2014
WASHINGTON — The United States plans to carry out small ground-force exercises in Poland and Estonia in an attempt to reassure NATO’s Eastern European members worried about Russia’s military operations in and nearUkraine, Western officials said Friday.
The moves are part of a broader effort by NATO to strengthen the alliance’s air, sea and land presence in Eastern Europe in response to Russia’s new assertiveness in the region.
It is not yet clear what additional troop deployments the United States and other NATO nations might undertake in Eastern Europe after the exercises and to what extent the moves would ease anxieties there.
The land-force exercises the Obama administration is planning are extremely modest.
The exercise in Poland, which is expected to be announced next week, would involve a United States Army company and would last about two weeks, officials said. A company consists of about 150 soldiers.
The exercise in Estonia would be similar, said a Western official who declined to be identified because he was talking about internal planning.
Although the exercises would be short, the United States is considering other ways to maintain a regular ground-force presence in Eastern Europe by rotating troops and conducting training there.
“There’s an entire range of possibilities and measures that are being considered,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Thursday in a joint news conference with Poland’s defense minister, Tomasz Siemoniak. “Rotational basis of training and exercises are always part of that.”
The company-size Army exercise that is planned is far from the sort of NATO deployment that Poland’s foreign minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, suggested this month when he told reporters that he wanted the alliance to deploy two combat brigades with as many as 5,000 troops each in Poland.
This week, NATO’s top military commander, Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, gave members of the alliance a range of options for strengthening its military posture in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, along with his own recommendations.
The measures include immediate, midterm and long-term steps. One option, General Breedlove said in an interview this month, is to move the 4,500-member American combat brigade from Fort Hood, Tex., to Europe. But Obama administration officials have not publicly supported such a step.
The first hint that the Obama administration plans to announce that American troops would be sent to Poland was provided on Friday by The Washington Post, which noted that Mr. Siemoniak had said that the move had been agreed to on a political level but provided no details.
The United States has already sent 12 F-16 fighter jets and 200 support personnel to Poland.
NATO’s secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said this week that the alliance would fly more air patrols over the Baltic region and that allied ships would deploy to the Baltic Sea.
Mr. Rasmussen left open the possibility for additional deployments, including on land.
“More will follow, if needed, in the weeks and months to come,” he said.
NATO officials have said that a number of member nations in addition to the United States were offering to provide ground troops, which could be sent to Eastern European members through the end of the year.
|Jim Hightower, Op-Ed: Let’s review the rap sheet of Wall Street banks: defrauding investors, cheating homeowners, money laundering, rigging markets, tax evasion, credit card ripoffs… and so sickeningly much more. Many everyday Americans sniffed out that rot back in 2007 at the start of the Wall Street collapse and nauseating bailout. Imagine how pleased they are that it took only seven years for the stench of bank rot to reach the tender nostrils of authorities. Still, even slow progress is progress. Really. Where’ve they been?|
At last, though, some of the cops on the bank beat seem to be having regulatory epiphanies. The New York Times reports that some financial overseers are questioning “whether such misdeeds are not the work of a few bad actors, but rather a flaw that runs through the fabric of the banking industry…” Regulators are starting to ask: Is there something rotten in bank culture?
Both the head of the New York Fed and the Comptroller of the Currency are at least grasping one basic reality, namely that the tightened regulations enacted to deal with the “too big to fail” issue do nothing about the fundamental ethical collapse among America’s big bankers. The problem is that, again and again, Wall Street’s culture of greed is rewarded — bank bosses preside over gross illegalities, are not punished, pocket multi-million-dollar bonuses despite their shoddy ethics, and blithely proceed to the next scandal.
More restraint on bank processes misses a core fact: Banks don’t engage in wrongdoing, bankers do. As Comptroller Tom Curry says, the approach to this problem is not to call in more lawyers, “It is more like a priest-penitent relationship.”
Public shaming can be useful, but it should include actual punishment of the top bosses – take away their bonuses, fire them, and prosecute them.
Published: Saturday 19 April 2014
We sail in an unstable political ocean, surfing bursts of protests and unexpected revolts emerging across the globe: 843 large protests in the last eight years.
If Karl Marx raised his head, he would be absolutely baffled: Revolts are shaking the world, bursting in the most unexpected places, but they rarely take power. The conditions for rebellion are as sharp today as in the nineteenth century, but few protests lead to the literal meaning of revolution, that "violent change in political, economic or social institutions of a nation."
In addition, working people, whom Marx called the proletariat, seem not to have found control of the worldwide riots they are sparking – nor is class struggle the leitmotif of the wave of social unrest that has been repeating since the Arab Spring. Instead, a new political subject – more diffuse, more heterogeneous, more unclassifiable – is blurring the boundaries and formal definitions of revolution.
Measuring the period between 2006 and 2013, we live in the most agitated era in modern history – more intense than 1848, 1917 or 1968 – according to the World Protests report released last fall by the Initiative for Policy Dialogue and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung in New York. We sail in an unstable political ocean, surfing bursts of protests and unexpected revolts emerging across the globe: 843 large protests in the last eight years, according to the study.
British journalist Paul Mason sees a strong parallel between the current unrest and the waves of discontent stirring in 1848 and 1914. The philosopher Alain Badiou even envisions a "rebirth of the story" in a new age of "riots and uprising" after a long revolutionary interval. It may be what we are seeing now with the constant procession of protests and pop-up revolts. People take the streets. They hack codes (legal, social, urban). They build new communities. But the establishment, in most cases, barely ruffles.
The increasing global revolution remixes and recombines social ties. However, when a revolt takes power, as in Ukraine, it may be with the help of conservative or even fascist, neo-Nazi forces. And a popular uprising against a dictatorship, as in Egypt, may lead to a new military government. "The protester" may have made the 2011 cover of Time magazine, notes Mason, but "not a single revolt has achieved its goal." When Passe Livre protests in Brazil reached their initial goal (reduction of the public transport fare by 20 cents), the crowd already had dozens of new demands: quality education, political transparency, participatory democracy... Is global revolution infinite revolution?
Do we live in the most revolutionary era of history or just a prelude of discontent like the one that led to social unrest in 1848? Is the big explosion still coming?
Around the World in 843 Riots
The World Protests report – which was compiled by Isabel Ortiz, Sara Burke, Mohamed Berrada and Hernán Cortés, and is perhaps the most comprehensive study of its kind produced to date – details 843 significant protests that occurred in 84 countries between 2006 and July of 2013. Its methodology is classical. It does not talk of networked revolts, cross-subjective infections or global connections. The symbolic, emotional or effective memes used in those protests – like the one enjoining the 99% against the 1% in 2011 – appear in small boxes under the report.
The study mentions Occupy Wall Street and the Spanish Indignados, looking at the objective causes of these revolts and the particulars that defined them: lawsuits, who were the organizers, the formats of the protests, the opponents, the results. At first glance, the reader may not recognize the radical novelty of this report, which revealed that the main cause of the 2006-2013 riots was "economy or anti-austerity measures" (488 protests), and that marches or demonstrations were still the most common protest format (437).
However, a careful observation of the World Protests study shows other surprising details. Even while analyzing the objective causes, explanations or macro-economic conditions that led to the wave of rebellion, something else is shaking the world. Governments may still appear to be the main opponents of the demonstrators, says the report, but something more liquid and atmospheric is unscrewing the established order. The demand for "Real Democracy" is the second most common claim in the protests (210), while the "failure of representative democracy" was the cause of 376 protests.
World Protests reveals that "New agents of change" (such as Occupy, 15M/Indignados, Anonymous, etc) have become, as organizers, almost as important as unions. The "occupations" and "assemblies" (219 total) are now the second most common format for protests, following classic demonstrations. The emergence of "leaks" – such as the Iraq, Afghanistan and other logs released by Wikileaks, the Edward Snowden files, or the political databases released by Anonymous at the start of the 2011 Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia – complement this intriguing new landscape of global rebellion painted by the World Protests report.
"The State is institutional and static, the revolution is fluid and dynamic," said Emma Goldman in 1924, describing how the "State killed the Russian Revolution," while widening the semantic field of revolution for the 21st century. What Goldman could not witness, we may be seeing right now: an underground, symbolic, liquid revolution that is eroding the foundations of the State.
This revolution prefers the lateral, the asymmetrical, rather than the solid and defined territories of conventional politics. Perhaps we have entered into a new age of resistance, as Costas Douzinas points out – an era with new "forms, strategies and subjects of resistance," a new insurrectionary era played by a new diffuse, lateral, inter-class, transnational subject. Such a subject replaces the ideologies and close identities of the past with a new activist ecosystem, driven by hyperlocal desires while participating in a new magma of intercontinental struggle.
Marx would be dazed and confused. Perhaps he would be enjoying the insurrectionist virality of this new century. Maybe he would also be understanding that "masses" and the proletariat are giving way to a new collective body – a new crowd that disperse and reconfigure the world without taking power, as John Holloway used to say. Faceless crowds without leaders are replacing politics in parts of the world without changing the operating system suddenly. What we are seeing is a resilient and mutant crowd that, although it is not able to take formal power, finds the gaps (and hacks) inside to sow the seeds of the new world.
Or perhaps the planet of 843 riots is not immersed in a revolution. Perhaps it's a new networked renaissance. "The renaissances are recontextualizing historical moments," argues Douglas Ruskoff. And maybe, above all, a symbolic revolution is brewing in the minds of people everywhere. The difference, now, is that subjective revolution does not depend on a vertical apparatus as in Hitler's Germany. Rather, the subjective revolution may be born after connecting nodes, after a sequence of assembled indignation and linked social empowerments.
The symbolic revolution are like wheels without brakes, from the networks to the streets, remixing a single shout in a multi-cause revolt as happened in Istanbul's Gezi Park or the Passe Livre protests in Brazil. It is not for 20 cents: it is for civic rights. And in the world of 843 revolts, nothing is linear or predictable. In Mali, they take the streets against the rights of women. In France, against gays. In Austria and Singapore, against immigrants. And if the citizens of the richest country in the world decide that their social situation is outrageous enough, they too would do a forceful revolt.
Paul Mason cites a comment made by Virginia Woolf in the early 20th century, in trying to explain the 21st century: "Around December 1910 human character changed." Virginia Woolf was referring to a revolution in social life and art that transformed the conventions of the Edwardian era into "something dead." Protesters, says Mason, may have now made the our century seem as alien and remote as the 19th century was to Woolf and her revolutionary circle.
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