zaterdag 20 juni 2015

Hillary Clinton's Wall Street 2

Hillary Clinton’s Empowerment

Hillary Clinton isn’t a champion of women’s rights. She’s the embodiment of corporate feminism.

US Department of State / Flickr
US Department of State / Flickr

Assuming Hillary Clinton runs for president in 2016, much of her popular support will be based on her image as an advocate of women’s rights. During her 2008 candidacy, the National Organization of Women (NOW) endorsed Clinton based on her “long history of support for women’s empowerment.”
A group of 250 academics and activists calling themselves “Feminists for Clinton” praised her “powerful, inspiring advocacy of the human rights of women” and her “enormous contributions” as a policymaker.
Since then, NOW and other mainstream women’s organizations have been eagerly anticipating her 2016 candidacy. Clinton and supporters have recently stepped up efforts to portray her as a champion of both women’s and LGBT rights.
Such depictions have little basis in Clinton’s past performance. While she has indeed spoken about gender and sexual rights with considerable frequency, and while she may not share the overtly misogynistic and anti-LGBT views of most Republican politicians, as a policymaker she has consistently favored policies devastating to women and LGBT persons.
Why, then, does she continue to enjoy such support from self-identified feminists? Part of the answer surely lies in the barrage of sexist attacks that have targeted her and the understandable desire of many feminists to see a woman in the Oval Office.
But that’s not the whole story. We suggest that feminist enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton is reflective of a profound crisis of US liberal feminism, which has long embraced or accepted capitalism, racism, empire, and even heterosexism and transphobia.

Making Profit and War

All issues of wealth, power, and violence are also women’s and LGBT rights issues. For instance, neoliberal economic policies of austerity and privatization disproportionately hurt women and LGBT individuals, who are often the lowest paid and the first workers to be fired, the most likely to bear the burdens of family maintenance, and the most affected by the involuntary migration, domestic violence, homelessness, and mental illness that are intensified by poverty.
Clinton’s record on such issues is hardly encouraging. Her decades of service on corporate boards and in major policy roles as first lady, senator, and secretary of state give a clear indication of where she stands.
One of Clinton’s first high-profile public positions was at Walmart, where she served on the board from 1986 to 1992. She “remained silent” in board meetings as her company “waged a major campaign against labor unions seeking to represent store workers,” as an ABC review of video recordings later noted.
Clinton recounts in her 2003 book Living History that Walmart CEO Sam Walton “taught me a great deal about corporate integrity and success.” Though she later began trying to shed her public identification with the company in order to attract labor support for her Senate and presidential candidacies, Walmart executives have continued to look favorably on her, with Alice Walton donating the maximum amount to the “Ready for Hillary” Super PAC in 2013. Walton’s $25,000 donation was considerably higher than the average annual salary for Walmart’s hourly employees, two-thirds of whom are women.
After leaving Walmart, Clinton became perhaps the most active first lady in history. While it would be unfair to hold her responsible for all of her husband’s policies, she did play a significant role in shaping and justifying many of them. In Living History she boasts of her role in gutting US welfare: “By the time Bill and I left the White House, welfare rolls had dropped 60 percent” — and not because poverty had dropped.
Women and children, the main recipients of welfare, have been the primary victims. Jeffrey St Clair at Counterpunch notes that prior to welfare reform, “more than 70 percent of poor families with children received some kind of cash assistance. By 2010, less than 30 percent got any kind of cash aid and the amount of the benefit had declined by more than 50 percent from pre-reform levels.”
Clinton also lobbied Congress to pass her husband’s deeply racist crime bill, which, Michelle Alexander observes in The New Jim Crow, “escalated the drug war beyond what conservatives had imagined possible,” expanding mass incarceration and the death penalty.
Arguably the two most defining features of Clinton’s tenures as senator (2001–2009) and secretary of state (2009–2013) were her promotion of US corporate profit-making and her aggressive assertion of the US government’s right to intervene in foreign countries.
Reflecting on this performance as Clinton left her secretary post in January 2013, Bloomberg Businessweek commented that “Clinton turned the State Department into a machine for promoting U.S. business.” She sought “to install herself as the government’s highest-ranking business lobbyist,” directly negotiating lucrative overseas contracts for US corporations like Boeing, Lockheed, and General Electric. Not surprisingly, “Clinton’s corporate cheerleading has won praise from business groups.”
Clinton herself has been very honest about this aim, albeit not when speaking in front of progressives. Her 2011 Foreign Policy essay on “America’s Pacific Century” speaks at length about the objective of “opening new markets for American businesses,” containing no fewer than ten uses of the phrases “open markets,” “open trade,” and permutations thereof.
A major focus of this effort is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which involves twelve Pacific countries and is being secretly negotiated by the Obama administration with the assistance of over six hundred corporate advisers.
Like Bill Clinton’s North American Free Trade Agreement, the deal is intended to further empower multinational corporations at the expense of workers, consumers, and the environment in all countries involved. Lower wages and increased rates of displacement, detention, and physical violence for female and LGBT populations are among the likely consequences, given the results of existing “free trade” agreements.
Clinton’s Foreign Policy article also elaborates on the role of US military power in advancing these economic goals. The past “growth” of eastern Asia has depended on “the security and stability that has long been guaranteed by the U.S. military,” and “a more broadly distributed military presence across the region will provide vital advantages” in the future.
Clinton thus reaffirms the bipartisan consensus regarding the US’s right to use military force abroad in pursuit of economic interest — echoing, for instance, her husband’s secretary of defense, William Cohen, who in 1999 reserved the right to “the unilateral use of military power” in the name of “ensuring uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies, and strategic resources.”
In the Middle East and Central Asia, Clinton has likewise defended the US’s right to violate international law and human rights. As senator she not only voted in favor of the 2003 invasion of Iraq — a monstrous crime that has killed hundreds of thousands of peoplewhile sowing terror and sectarianism across the region — she was an outspoken advocate of the invasion and a fierce critic of resistance within the United Nations (UN).
Since then she has only partially disavowed that position (out of political expediency) while speaking in paternalistic and racist termsabout Iraqis. Senator Clinton was also an especially staunch supporter — even by the standards of the US Congress — of Israel’s illegal military actions and settlement activity in the occupied territories.
As Barack Obama’s secretary of state, she presided over the expansion of illegal drone attacks that by conservative estimates have killed many hundreds of civilians, while reaffirming US alliances with vicious dictatorships. As she recounts in her 2014 memoir Hard Choices, “In addition to our work with the Israelis, the Obama Administration also increased America’s own sea and air presence in the Persian Gulf and deepened our ties to the Gulf monarchies.”
Clinton herself is widely recognized to have been one of the administration’s most forceful advocates of attacking or expandingmilitary operations in Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria and of strengthening US ties to dictatorships in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Morocco, and elsewhere. Maybe the women and girls of these countries, including those whose lives have been destroyed by US bombs, can take comfort in knowing that a “feminist” helped craft US policy.
Secretary Clinton and her team worked to ensure that any challenges to US–Israeli domination of the Middle East were met with brute force and various forms of collective punishment. On Iran, she often echoes the bipartisan line that “all options must remain on the table” — a flagrant violation of the UN Charter’s prohibition of “the threat or use of force” in international relations — and brags in Hard Choices that her team “successfully campaigned around the world to impose crippling sanctions” on the country.
She ensured that Palestine’s UN statehood bid “went nowhere in the Security Council.” Though out of office by the time Israel launched its savage 2014 assault on Gaza, she ardently defended it in interviews. This context helps explain her recent praise for Henry Kissinger, renowned for bombing civilians and supporting governments that killed and tortured hundreds of thousands of suspected dissidents. She writes in the Washington Post that she “relied on his counsel when I served as secretary of state.”

Militarization and Its Benefits

In another domain of traditional US ownership, Latin America, Clinton also seems to have followed Kissinger’s example. As confirmed in her 2014 book, she effectively supported the 2009 military overthrow of left-of-center Honduran President Manuel Zelaya — a “caricature of a Central American strongman” — by pushing for a “compromise” solution that endorsed his illegal ouster.
She has advocated the application of the Colombia model — highly militarized “anti-drug” initiatives coupled with neoliberal economic policies — to other countries in the region, and is full of praise for the devastating militarization of Mexico over the past decade. That militarization has resulted in eighty thousand or more deaths since 2006, including the forty-three Mexican student activistsdisappeared (and presumably massacred) in September 2014.
In the Caribbean, the US model of choice is Haiti, where Clinton and her husband have relentlessly promoted the sweatshop model of production since the 1990s. WikiLeaks documents show that in 2009 her State Department collaborated with subcontractors for Hanes, Levi’s, and Fruit of the Loom to oppose a minimum-wage increase for Haitian workers. After the January 2010 earthquake she helped spearhead the highly militarized US response.
Militarization has plentiful benefits, as Clinton understands. It can facilitate corporate investment, such as the “gold rush” that the US ambassador described following the Haiti earthquake. It can keep in check nonviolent dissidents, such as hungry Haitian workers or leftist students in Mexico. And it can help combat the influence of countries like Venezuela that have challenged neoliberalism and US geopolitical control.
These goals have long motivated US hostility toward Cuba, and thus Clinton’s recent call for ending the US embargo against Cuba was pragmatic, not principled: “It wasn’t achieving its goals” of overthrowing the government, as she says in her recent book. The goal there, as in Venezuela, is to compel the country to “restore private property and return to a free market economy,” as she demanded of Venezuela in 2010.
A reasonable synopsis of Clinton’s record around the world comes from neoconservative policy adviser Robert Kagan, who, like Clinton, played an important role in advocating the 2003 Iraq invasion. “I feel comfortable with her on foreign policy,” Kagan told the New York Times last June. Asked what to expect from a Hillary Clinton presidency, Kagan predicted that “if she pursues a policy which we think she will pursue, it’s something that might have been called neocon.” But, he added, “clearly her supporters are not going to call it that; they are going to call it something else.”

Narrowly Defined Rights

What about Clinton’s record on that narrower set of issues more commonly associated with women’s and LGBT rights — control over one’s reproductive system and freedom from discrimination and sexual violence?
Perhaps the best that can be said is that Clinton does not espouse the medieval view of female bodily autonomy shared by most Republicans, and does not actively encourage homophobia and transphobia. She has consistently said that abortion should remain legal (but “rare”) and that birth control should be widely available, and when in office generally acted in accord with those statements. She has recently voiced support for gay marriage rights. These positions are worth something, even if they are mainly a reflection of pressure from below.
But nor does her record on these rights merit glowing praise. In addition to partly capitulating to the far-right anti-choice agenda in Congress, with disproportionate harm to low-income parents, Clinton and other Democrats have also actively undermined these rights. Some observers have argued that Clinton’s repetition of the Democratic slogan that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rarereinforces the stigmatization of those who choose that option.
Her narrow definition of reproductive rights — as abortion and contraception only — does not allow much in the way of material support for parents or young children. She insists that abortion must remain “rare,” but has also helped deprive poor expecting parents of the financial support they would need to raise a child (for instance, through the 1996 welfare reform and the fiscal austerity for social programs that has become the bipartisan consensus in Washington).
She has supported the further militarization of the Mexico border and the arrest of undocumented immigrants, undermining the reproductive rights of women who give birth in chains in detention centers before being deported back to lives of poverty and violence.
Regarding non-discrimination, Clinton’s record is also worse than her reputation suggests. Her old company Walmart, widely accused of discriminating against women employees, was recently praised by the Clinton Foundation for its “efforts to empower girls and women.”
Clinton has given little serious indication that she opposes discrimination against LGBT individuals in the workplace (which is still legal in the majority of US states). Her very recent reversal of her opposition to gay marriage came only after support for the idea has become politically beneficial and perhaps necessary for Democrats. At best, Clinton in these respects has been a cautious responder to progressive political winds rather than a trailblazing leader.
Clinton’s foreign policy record is even more at odds with her reputation as a champion of women’s and LGBT rights. Her policy of support for the 2009 coup in Honduras has been disastrous for both groups. Violent hate crimes against LGBT Hondurans have skyrocketed. In mid-2014, leading LGBT activist Nelson Arambú reported 176 murders against LGBT individuals since 2009, an average of about 35 per year, compared to just over 1 per year from 1994–2009.
Arambú located this violence within the broader human rights nightmare of post-coup Honduras, noting the contributions of US-funded militarization and the post-coup governments’ pattern of “shutting down government institutions charged with promoting and protecting the human rights of vulnerable sectors of the population — such as women, children, indigenous communities, and Afro-Hondurans.” Clinton has been worse than silent on the situation, actively supporting and praising the post-coup governments.
In a review of her work as secretary of state, Middle East scholar Stephen Zunes concludes that while “Hillary Clinton has been more outspoken than any previous Secretary of State regarding the rights of women and sexual minorities,” this position is “more rhetoric than reality.”
As one example he points to the US-backed monarchy in Morocco, which has long occupied Western Sahara with US support. Two weeks after Secretary Clinton publicly praised the dictatorship for having “protected and expanded” women’s rights, a teenage girl named Amina Filali committed suicide by taking rat poison. Filali had been raped at age fifteen and then “forced to marry her rapist, who subsequently battered and abused her.”
Although Clinton’s liberal supporters are likely to lament such details as exceptions within an impressive overall record (“She’s still much better than a Republican!”), it is quite possible that her actions have harmed feminist movements worldwide. As Zunes argues:
Given Clinton’s backing of neo-liberal economic policies and war-making by the United States and its allies, her advocacy of women’s rights overseas . . . may have actually set back indigenous feminist movements in the same way that the Bush administration’s “democracy-promotion” agenda was a serious setback to popular struggles for freedom and democracy. . . .
Hillary Clinton’s call for greater respect for women’s rights in Muslim countries never had much credibility while US-manufactured ordinance is blowing up women in Lebanon, Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Base Building

This summary of Clinton’s “enormous contributions” (as Feminists for Clinton puts it) is just a partial sampling. On almost all other major issues, from climate change to immigration to education to financial regulation, President Hillary Clinton would likely be no better than President Obama, if not worse.
As in the case of Obama, it is of course necessary for Clinton to “call it something else,” in Robert Kagan’s words. The stark disjunction between rhetoric and policies reflects a well understood logic. Mainstream US political candidates, particularly Democrats, must find ways to attract popular support while simultaneously reassuring corporate and financial elites.
The latter, for their part, usually understand the need for a good dose of “populism” during a campaign, and accept it as long as it stays within certain bounds and is not reflected in policy itself. One former aide to Bill Clinton, speaking to The Hill last July, compared this rhetorical strategy to threading a needle, saying that “good politicians — and I think Hillary is a good politician — are good at threading needles, and I think there’s probably a way to do it.”
Hillary Clinton faces the challenge of convincing voters that she is a champion of “people historically excluded,” as she claims in her 2014 memoir. Last year, The Hill reported that “Clinton is now test-driving various campaign themes,” including the familiar progressive promises to “increase upward mobility” and “decrease inequality.” Her memoirs, for those who dare to suffer through them, include invocations of dead leftists like Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman (“one of my heroines”), and Martin Luther King Jr (referenced nine times in Clinton’s 2003 book).
This public relations work requires that her past record be hidden from view, lest it create a credibility problem. Here Clinton has enjoyed the assistance of many liberal feminists. One former Obama staffer, speaking to The Hill, notes Clinton’s successful efforts “to co-opt the base groups in the past eight years.”
Rhetoric is not totally meaningless. The extent to which politicians like Clinton have been compelled to portray themselves — however cynically — as champions of the rights of workers, women, LGBT people, and other “historically excluded” groups is an indication that popular pressures for those rights have achieved substantial force.
In the case of LGBT rights this rhetorical shift is very recent, and reflects a growth in the movement’s power that is to be celebrated. But taking politicians’ rhetoric at face value is one of the gravest errors that a progressive can make.

The Feminists Not Invited

Liberal feminists’ support of Clinton is not just due to credulousness, though. It also reflects a narrowness of analysis, vision, and values. In the US feminism is often understood as the right of women — and wealthy white women most of all — to share in the spoils of capitalism and US imperial power. By not confronting the exclusion of non-whites, foreigners, working-class people, and other groups from this vision, liberal feminists are missing a crucial opportunity to create a more inclusive, more powerful movement.
Alternative currents within the feminist movement, both in the US and globally, have long rejected this impoverished understanding of feminism. For them, feminism means confronting patriarchy but also capitalism, imperialism, white supremacy, and other forms of oppression that interlock with and reinforce patriarchy.
It means fighting to replace a system in which the rights of people and other living things are systematically subordinated to the quest for profits. It means fighting so that all people — everywhere on the gender, sexual and body spectrum — can enjoy basic rights like food, health care, housing, a safe and clean environment, and control over their bodies, labor, and identities.
This more holistic feminist vision is apparent all around the world, including among the women of places like Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran, whose oppression is constantly evoked by Western leaders to justify war and occupation.
The courageous Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her feminist advocacy, has also criticized US drone attacks for killing civilians and aiding the Taliban. Yousafzai’s opposition to the Taliban won her adoring Western media coverage and an invitation to the Obama White House, but her criticism of drones has gone virtually unmentioned in the corporate media. Also unmentioned are her comments about socialism, which she says “is the only answer” to “free us from the chains of bigotry and exploitation.”
The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) has equally opposed the Taliban, US-backed fundamentalist forces, and the US occupation. While liberal groups like Feminist Majorityhave depicted the US war as a noble crusade to protect Afghan women, RAWA says that the United States “has empowered and equipped the most traitorous, anti-democratic, misogynist and corrupt fundamentalist gangs in Afghanistan,” merely “replacing one fundamentalist regime with another.”
The logic is simple: US elites prefer the “bloody and suffocating rule of Afghanistan” by fundamentalist warlords “to an independent, pro-democracy, and pro-women’s rights government” that might jeopardize “its interests in the region.” Women’s liberation, RAWA emphasizes, “can be achieved only by the people of Afghanistan and by democracy-loving forces through a hard, decisive and long struggle.” Needless to say, Clinton and Obama have not invited the RAWA women to Washington.
A group of Iranian and Iranian-American feminists, the Raha Iranian Feminist Collective, takes a similar position in relation to their own country. In 2011 they bitterly condemned the Ahmadinejad government’s systematic violations of women’s rights (and those of other groups), but just as forcefully condemned “all forms of US intervention,” including the “crippling sanctions” that Clinton is so proud of her role in implementing.
The group said that sanctions “further immiserate the very people they claim to be helping,” and noted that few if any genuine grassroots voices in Iran had “called for or supported the US/UN/EU sanctions.”
In Latin America, too, many working-class feminists argue that the fight for gender and sexual liberation is inseparable from the struggles for self-determination and a just economic system. Speaking to NACLA Report on the Americas, Venezuelan organizer Yanahir Reyes recently lauded “all of the social policy” that has “focused on liberating women” under Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro, those evil autocrats so despised by Clinton.
This tradition of more holistic feminisms is not absent from the United States. In the nineteenth century, black women like Ida B. Wells and Sojourner Truth linked the struggles for abolition and suffrage and denounced the lynching campaigns that murdered black men and women in the name of “saving” white women. In contrast, leaders of the white suffrage movement like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony refused to include people of color in the struggle for citizenship rights.
Unfortunately this history continues to be distorted. In 2008 Gloria Steinem, the standard-bearer of liberal feminism, said that she supported Clinton’s campaign over Obama’s in part because “black men were given the vote a half-century before women of any race were allowed to mark a ballot.”
The assumption that all women are equally oppressed by patriarchy (and that all men are equal oppressors) was fiercely challenged by US women of color, working-class women, and lesbians in the 1970s and 1980s. Feminists of color analyzed their gender and sexual oppression within the larger history of US slavery, capitalism, and empire.
In New York, the women of the Young Lords Party pushed their organization to denounce forced sterilizations of women of color, to demand safe and accessible abortion and contraception, and to call for community-controlled clinics. They redefined reproductive rights as the right to abortion and contraception and the right to have children without living in poverty.
In recent years, the radical LGBT movement has condemned the state, from prisons to the military, as the biggest perpetrator of violence against gender and sexual non-conforming peoples, particularly trans women of color and undocumented queers.
These queer radicals reject the logic that casts the United States and Israel as tolerant while characterizing occupied territories, from US to Palestinian ghettoes, as inherently homophobic and in need of military and other outside intervention. They condemn US wars and the Obama administration’s persecution of whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning (who helped expose, among other US crimes, military orders to ignore the sexual abuse of Iraqi detainees and the trafficking of Afghan children).
A more robust vision of feminism doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t defend women like Hillary Clinton against sexist attacks: we should, just as we defend Barack Obama against racist ones. But it does mean that we must listen to the voices of the most marginalized women and gender and sexual minorities — many of whom are extremely critical of Clintonite feminism — and act in solidarity with movements that seek equity in all realms of life and for all people.
These are the feminists not invited to the Hillary Clinton party, except perhaps to serve and clean up.



Jens Stoltenberg: NATO’s Mr Zig-Zag

Finian CUNNINGHAM | 20.06.2015 | 00:00
Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary-general, has a knack for intellectual zig-zagging. Indeed, the 56-year-old former Norwegian prime minister, can be said to have made a very successful career in public life owing precisely to his adept ability at expedient zig-zagging.

Stoltenberg’s latest dubious public intervention this week was to accuse Russia of «dangerous nuclear sabre-rattling». This followed the announcement by Russian President Vladimir Putin that Moscow was to introduce up to 40 new Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) into its nuclear arsenal, and that threats to the country would be countered by deploying modern weapons that could thwart any anti-missile system. That was a clear reference by Putin to recent American moves that intend to introduce more missile systems into eastern Europe aimed at giving the US-led military NATO alliance «first-strike»capability against Russia.

So, who is rattling sabres here? Obviously, the NATO alliance is on a dangerous, threatening roll toward Russia’s borders. American-led war games, thousands of troops and tanks, missiles, warplanes and warships have proliferated at dizzying speed over the past year, from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Currently, NATO is conducting its biggest-ever war manoeuvres in the Baltic region, and yet when Russia takes reasonable defensive measures, Stoltenberg accuses Moscow of sabre-rattling. Just this week, prior to the Russian ICBM announcement, the Pentagon told the Paris Air Show that it was considering the stationing of its new generation of stealth F-22 and F-35 fighter jets in Europe – another contravention in a whole series of audacious contraventions of the 1997 Russia-NATO Founding Act which forbids such NATO military expansion.

This is not the first time that the Norwegian civilian figurehead of NATO has shown a stupendous ability to invert reality. Back in March this year, Stoltenberg accused Russia of destabilising security in Europe by holding «snap» military drills within its own borders – and that at the same time when NATO is rolling out ever-more military manoeuvres on Russia’s borders.

While on a visit to Britain’s premier David Cameron at 10 Downing Street on March 13, Jens Stoltenberg told the Guardian newspaper:  «There are more and more snap [Russian] exercises with no prior notification. It is important we keep the channels for military communication open to have as much transparency as possible to avoid misunderstandings and to make sure that incidents don’t spiral and get out of control. Every nation has the right to conduct exercises, as long as they do it within their international obligations. But the recent Russian practice of calling snap exercises is of serious concern. Sudden, unpredictable and surprise military manoeuvres contribute to instability».

Stoltenberg seems to think that it is perfectly acceptable for the Western military alliance to encircle Russian territory with offensive capability, but when Russia carries out counter-measures «without prior notification» then that is unacceptable and contributing to «instability». Maybe Stoltenberg would find it acceptable if NATO were to be given the exact coordinates of all Russian military bases and future flight plans. Or, in other words, if Moscow were to simply surrender all defensive capability.

Earlier this month, the NATO secretary-general told Norwegian media that «Russia is more aggressive and re-writing the borders of Europe with military force in Crimea, Ukraine and Georgia». He accused Russia of invading Ukraine with heavy arms and troops. As usual, no evidence was provided to substantiate NATO assertions.

But then, incongruously, in the next breath, Stoltenberg said:»We do not see an immediate threat from the east against any NATO country… our aim is to cooperate with Russian that benefits NATO, that benefits Russia».

Stoltenberg has previously made high-flown claims of Russia «invading Ukraine» and threatening European security, while at the same time appealing to Russia for «cooperation».

That anomalous reasoning indicates a lack of seriousness in Stoltenberg’s claims against Russia. How can Russia be considered a threat and a partner simultaneously?
If we take a further look at the Norwegian’s political career, there are telltale signs of a self-serving chameleonic character.

After Stoltenberg took up the top civilian post at NATO, last October, he described the 28-member organisation as the «most successful military alliance in history».

That’s quite a zig-zag from his vociferous anti-NATO campaigning as a rising leader of the Norwegian youth Labour party. Stoltenberg was apparently a bit of Marxist-Leninist firebrand back then, leading sometimes violent protests against the American Vietnam War and his own country’s membership of NATO.

In a report in Germany’s Deutsche Welle last October, cheekily headlined ‘NATO’s Jens Stoltenberg, more secretary than general’, the newspaper recounts: «As a young man, Stoltenberg opposed Norwegian membership in the [NATO] alliance and disputed US policies. In protest to the Vietnam War, Stoltenberg shattered windows at the US embassy building in Oslo, and later, as a young adult, he railed at the Western military alliance».

From smashing windows of the US embassy to now rhetorical window-dressing for the «greatest military alliance in history»is an impressive chasm, equal to the widest Norwegian fiord.

As the Deutsche Welle report notes: «Then he changed his mind, and made sure that Norway's Social Democratic youth organisation officially accepted the country's membership in NATO».

During the 1990s, the thirty-something Stoltenberg was by now finding his footing on the career ladder in professional politics. He soon found ministerial posts in the governments of Gro Harlem Brundtland followed by Thorbjorn Jagland. By 2000-2001, Stoltenberg had reached the pinnacle, becoming prime minister of Norway. His stint as premier was followed by two more periods in office between 2005 and 2013. He is on record for modelling his political tactics on Britain’s former Labour prime minister Tony Blair.

Under Stoltenberg’s leadership, Norway markedly increased its national military spending and deepened its membership of NATO. He committed his country to serving with the US-led occupation of Afghanistan; and in 2011 Norway was a major contributor to the NATO bombardment of Libya that precipitated the murder of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and a disastrous regime change in that country. Four years on, the NATO regime-change operation in Libya – which substantial legal opinion condemns as criminal aggression – has resulted in an explosion of the refugee crisis assailing Europe and a surge in Islamic State terrorism across the Middle East and North Africa.

But such militarist policies earned Stoltenberg important favour in Washington – the executive power that rules NATO. As Deutsche Welle points out, when the Dane Anders Fogh Rasmussen was standing down as NATO civilian chief in October 2014:

«By then, the United States and other NATO states had forgotten his [Stoltenberg’s] youthful follies – and he was gradually brought forward as a candidate for the alliance's top political job».

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s Mr Zig-Zag, can thus be seen as a chameleonic species of politician who survives and thrives by adapting his rhetorical skin to suit the prevailing geopolitical environment. Therefore, anything he says can be taken as skin-deep and is best ignored.

Russia is eminently correct to take necessary defensive measures against what any objective observer can clearly see as flagrant NATO aggression. Mr Zig-Zag’s opinion on the issue should be kicked into the long grass where it will no doubt revert to something else in the next instant.
Tags: Missile defense NATO Eastern Europe Russia US


Paul Craig Roberts 88

Putin Straight Talk v. Obama Double Talk

Like Vladimir Putin, Stephen Lendman speaks Straight Talk, a language
Washington needs to learn.
Putin Straight Talk v. Obama Double Talk
by Stephen Lendman
Putin says what he means and means what he says. His style is forthright. He follows through on what he says.
Obama is polar opposite – an inveterate serial liar with no credibility whatever. He says one thing and does another.
On the occasion of Ramadan, he duplicitously extended “warmest greetings” to world Muslims he’s been systematically mass slaughtering since day one in office with no letup.
If he really cared for their rights and welfare, he’d immediately order all US direct and proxy wars of aggression ended. He’d stop destabilizing Muslim countries and end persecuting Islamic people at home and abroad.
He’d end the charade about a so-called Iranian nuclear weapons program that the whole world knows doesn’t exist. 
He’d cease all US financial, political and military support for Israel until it recognizes Palestinian statehood within June 1967 borders and ends its illegal occupation once and for all – both unconditionally.
He’d stop pursuing regime change in one independent country after another. He’d put Wall Street and other corporate crooks in prison where they belong – plus CIA torturers for their high crimes.
He’d end punishing austerity and go all-out to increase social benefits – including replacing corporate controlled Obamacare with universal healthcare for all Americans.
He’d dismantle America’s police state apparatus and repressive laws. He’d support fair and equitable trade, not what benefits corporate predators at the expense of consumers.
He’d end Big Brother spying on everyone without just cause. He’d obey international, constitutional and US statute laws instead of breaching them consistently. He’d serve all Americans equitably – not just the rich and powerful.
Putin participated in a St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) plenary meeting panel discussion. 
He answered questions forthrightly. He had much to say worth hearing. He justifiably blamed Washington for pursuing Cold War 2.0.
“Not military conflicts but global decisions like the US unilateral withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) lead to a Cold War,” Putin explained.
“This more in fact pushes us to a new round of the arms race, because it changes the global security system.”
Washington lied claiming ABM withdrawal was to counter threats from North Korea and Iran. No such threats exist. Both countries want normal relations with America and other Western nations. Instead they’re bashed for maintaining sovereign independent rights.
The Bush administration ended ABM to install anti-missile systems intended to negate Russia and China’s strategic nuclear forces. Obama pursues the same belligerent policy.
“The problem is that Washington is constantly trying to impose its standards and decisions on us with no regard to our interests,” said Putin.
“In essence the “exceptional” country says,’we are better’ as if the US knows better what is good for us. Well, let us decide for ourselves what our interests and needs are as dictated by our history and culture.”
Putin accused Washington of irresponsibly meddling in Russia’s internal affairs, which is the same way Washington operates globally, a nuclear-armed bully throwing its weight around.
“There is no dialogue,” Putin explained. Instead “an unacceptable ultimatum. Don’t speak the language of ultimatums with us,” he stressed.
“Russia does not claim some sort of hegemony. Russia does not claim some kind of ephemeral superpower status. We want relations based on equality with all members of the international community.”
Russia will go all-out to defend its interests, Putin explained. It’s not about to roll over and obey US diktats – nor should it or any other nation.
After the Soviet Union’s dissolution, Washington began aggressively expanding east using enlarged NATO as a dagger targeting Russia’s heartland.
“I’m completely convinced that after the so-called bipolar system ceased to exist, after the Soviet Union disappeared off the political map, several of our partners in the West, including the United States first and foremost, fell into euphoria and instead of setting up good neighborly and partner relations, they began grabbing geopolitical space as they saw fit,” said Putin.
Confrontation substituted for normalized relations. Nothing in prospect suggests change.
“We are not the root cause of crisis in Ukraine,” Putin explained. Europe “shouldn’t have supported Washington’s anti-state and anti-constitutional coup, the armed seizure of power that eventually ignited a tough confrontation and de facto civil war in that country.”
Multi-world polarity is the new way of things Putin stresses often. Instead of accepting it and building good relations, US-dominated NATO expanded east in violation of what Washington pledged not to do.
“Quite possibly, some of our partners might have gotten an illusion that a global center like the Soviet Union had existed in the postwar world order and now that it was gone, vacuum appeared and it was to be filled urgently,” Putin said. “I actually think that’s an erroneous approach to the solution of the problem.”
Kiev must shift from “manipulations to practical work”–including constitutional reform, accepting Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics’ special status, decentralization, a new law on municipal elections, amnesty as agreed on, and full implementation of Minsk ceasefire terms.
So far, nothing constructive was accomplished. Aggression on Donbass continues. No dialogue is in prospect to end it – or efforts made by the West to afford its residents their legitimate rights.
“If the current Ukrainian authorities think that the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics are Ukraine’s territory and there live Ukrainians who enjoy the right to be provided with disability benefits or pensions and who have earned them working in accordance with the Ukrainian law, then the Ukrainian authorities cannot deny payments of these benefits. By not paying Kiev is violating the Ukrainian constitution,” Putin explained.
Given lunatics running the asylum in Washington, the possibility of East/West confrontation is greater than any time during the Cold War.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Visit his blog site at 

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts' latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West and How America Was Lost.

Voetbal Commentator stan van houcke heeft dit als repost geplaatst Marcel Van Silfh...