tirsdag den 31. marts 2009

Løsrivelse fra NATO-åget

En progressiv, decentralistisk, humanistisk og menneskerettighedsorienteret venstrefløjspolitik for det 21. århundrede, fordrer i praksis, at det militaristiske udenrigspolitiske paradigme, som pt. er herskende indenfor NATO regi, herunder hos vores egen regering, selvfølgelig er noget man skal få Danmark ud af hurtigst muligt. Hverken Norge eller Sverige er medlem, og der er nærmest kun gode grunde til, at melde os ud af denne klub af krigsmageriske kultur- og militærimperialistiske nationer.

Kathrin vanden Heuvel, chefredaktør ved det progressive netmagasin The Nation, kommer med nogle ret overbevisende grunde til hvorfor det er på tide at vinke NATO pænt farvel.


tirsdag den 24. marts 2009

Om Iraks humanitære katastrofe.

The sixth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq is a sad occasion for the balance sheet: during six years of occupation 1.2 million citizens were killed, 2,000 doctors killed, and 5,500 academics and intellectuals assassinated or imprisoned. There are 4.7 million refugees: 2.7 million inside the country and two million have fled to neighbouring countries, among which are 20,000 medical doctors. According to the Red Cross, Iraq is now a country of widows and orphans: two million widows as a consequence of war, embargo, war again and occupation, and five million orphans, many of whom are homeless (estimated at 500,000). Almost a third of Iraq’s children suffer from malnutrition. Some 70 per cent of Iraqi girls no longer go to school. Medical services, not so long ago the best in the region, have totally collapsed: 75 per cent of medical staff have left their jobs, half of them have fled the country, and after six years of “reconstruction” health services in Iraq still do not meet minimum standards.

Because of the use of depleted uranium in ammunition by the occupation, the number of cancer cases and miscarriages has drastically increased. According to a recent Oxfam report, the situation of women is most worrisome. The study states that in spite of optimistic bulletins in the press, the situation of women keeps deteriorating. The most elementary supplies are still not available. Access to drinkable water is for large parts of the population a problem and electricity is functioning only three to six hours a day, and this in a state that was once a nation of engineers. More than four in 10 Iraqis live under the poverty threshold and unemployment is immense (28.1 per cent of the active population). Besides 26 official prisons, there a some 600 secret prisons. According to the Iraqi Union of Political Prisoners, over 400,000 Iraqis have suffered detention since 2003, among which 6,500 minors and 10,000 women. Torture is practiced on a large scale, and some 87 per cent of detainees remain uncharged. Corruption is immense: according to Transparency International, Iraq, after Somalia and Myanmar, is the most corrupt country in the world. The American Foreign Affairs journal calls Iraq “a failed state”. This is symbolised by the fact that Iraq, a state that has the third largest oil reserves in the world, must import refined oil on a massive scale. Authorities are on the verge of giving oil concessions for 25 years to international (also European) oil companies, though they have no mandate or legal authority to do so. Instead of being paid reparations for the enormous destruction wrought on the infrastructure of the country, entailing billions in oil revenues lost, Iraq is again in line to be robbed. There is large scale ethnic cleansing going on against the Turkmen, the Christians, the Assyrians and the Shebak. Kirkuk is being “Kurdicised” by massive immigration and illegal settlements (of Israeli inspiration) and its history falsified.


onsdag den 18. marts 2009

Jim Garrison om det amerikanske imperie.

People used to think of America as a global leader. Now a majority of the world thinks of America as a rogue power. Why? The answer to this question has to a large degree to do with what America has become. America has made the transition from republic to empire. It is no longer what it was. It was founded to be a beacon of light unto the nations, a democratic and egalitarian haven to which those seeking freedom could come. It has now become an unrivalled empire among the nations, exercising dominion over them. How it behaves and what it represents have fundamentally changed. It used to represent freedom. Now it represents power.

It was when I began to realize that my country had crossed the threshold from republic to empire that I began to study the history of empire. It was the only concept large and dynamic enough to explain what was going on, providing a larger framework, a more complex metaphor with which to understand America and the world. Republics imply single nations democratically governed, which was what America was founded to be. The very essence of empire is the control of one nation over other nations. While America remains a republic within its own borders, it has become an empire in relationship to the rest of the world.

The inordinate power of the United States disturbs people on the American left and excites people on the American right. Liberals are uncomfortable with the notion of an American empire because they are uneasy with the fact that America has so much power, especially military power. They would prefer that America simply be part of the community of nations, perhaps a first among equals but an equal nevertheless, and use its power to further human welfare. Conservatives, on the other hand, are jubilant that America is finally breaking out of multilateral strictures and is unilaterally asserting its imperial prerogatives abroad. For them, national self-interest, enforced by military supremacy, should be the guiding principle of U.S. policy.

The liberal notion that America confine its power within multilateral frameworks and the conservative desire to apply American power unilaterally for narrow self-interest are both inadequate. There is a deeper and more complex reality going on. Whatever qualms people may have about it, America has become an empire, and there is no turning back. As Heraclitus taught us, one can never enter the same river twice. The transition from republic to empire is irreversible, like the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly. Once power is attained, it is not surrendered. It is only exercised. The central question before America, therefore, is what it should do with all the power it has. How should it assert its authority and for what end?

This means that America should acknowledge, even celebrate, its transition to empire and acquisition of global mastery. What began as a motley band of colonies 225 years ago is now not only the strongest nation in the world but the strongest nation in the history of the world. Americans should be justly proud of this achievement. It has been attained with enormous effort and at great cost.

The world, too, should modulate its antipathy against America with the consideration that America has become so powerful in part because it has been so benign. This might be a little hard to take if one has experienced the boot of American strength, but consider the three other national attempts at empire in the last century: the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, and Imperial Japan. What if any of these empires had defeated the United States and established global hegemony? What would the world be like today if Nazi Germany and Japan had won the Second World War, or if the Soviets had won the Cold War? We should all breathe a sigh of relief that these eventualities never occurred and that a democratic nation committed to universal values triumphed and established global dominion.

Having prevailed in the competition against these other empires and having achieved what they were denied, Americans should be aware that there are now enormous responsibilities that must be undertaken both in relation to the United States itself and in relation to the world. The fate of empires can be long or short, noble or tragic, depending on how astutely leadership is exercised and decisions are made. The exercise of power is highly unstable, especially the near-absolute power that empire represents. It provides opportunity; it also corrupts. It demands wise action; it also seduces to the dark side.

There are thus all sorts of dangers inherent in the exercise of power. Internally, the transition from republic to empire is almost always made at the cost of freedom. Power and freedom are contradictory and do not coexist comfortably. Freedom requires the limitation of power. Power demands the surrender of freedom. This is something the ancient Athenians and Romans learned at great cost: democracy was the casualty of their empires. Americans must heed this ancient experience and painful truth. American freedoms are not eternally bestowed but must with each generation and circumstance be reevaluated and preserved. Freedom is lost far more easily than it is gained, especially when it is surrendered for the sake of more power.

Externally, empire incites insurrection. No nation wants to be ruled, especially those that have just been liberated, such as Afghanistan and Iraq. Maintaining dominion is therefore a very tricky challenge, especially in a world of instantaneous communication and porous borders, in which information and people can move about virtually unimpeded, and small actions can have large and unexpected effects. This was the lesson of September 11. There are many enemies of empire and few friends. Americans must know this as they rule, especially in obscure places far from American shores.

To achieve greatness, an empire needs a transcendental vision that can unite all the disparate elements within it into an overarching purpose. It must aspire to a mission that the entire empire can join in building. It must be fundamentally constructive, not destructive.

Americans at their point of empire are called to articulate a vision for the world worthy of the power they now hold over the world. This vision must transcend self-interest and embrace the whole. In order to do this, America must remember that even though it now represents power, it has historically been a shining light to the international community, symbolizing freedom. Can the vision that built the American republic now guide America as it consolidates its empire?

History teaches that great empires are constructed, not simply by using military might but by building institutions that are perceived by the governed as just and fair. The common interest of the empire as a whole must supersede the national interest of the dominant state in order for the empire to endure. The great paradox of empire is that stewardship is far more powerful than force in maintaining imperial control.

Sixty years ago, Presidents Roosevelt and Truman achieved this level of greatness, as did Woodrow Wilson in the generation before. They defeated world fascism and contained communism by ensuring that the United States had the strongest military in the world. At the same time, they founded the United Nations, established the Bretton Woods institutions, implemented the Marshall Plan, and established NATO, thereby ushering in a new postcolonial international system. They blended American interests with the interests of the common good to create a new world order. American strength thus served political aspirations that were welcomed by the international community.

Six decades later, the forces of globalization have made the institutions built then anachronistic to the needs of an integrating world. The world is therefore in a new state of crisis, both in terms of the magnitude of the problems pressing down upon us and in terms of the inability of the prevailing national and international institutions to cope with these challenges.

The major difference between now and sixty years ago is that Roosevelt and Truman redesigned the international order within the context of an acute and undeniable crisis: a world at war. Today, we are in a crisis of similar magnitude, but the crisis is more like an accident in slow motion. The old Cold War system and the system of nation states are dysfunctional and no longer capable of coping with global problems ranging from global warming, deforestation, and water scarcity, to persistent poverty, dealing with failed states, and HIV/AIDS. All these crises are pressing down upon us and the prevailing system of international institutions is simply incapable of effective response. The planet is thus quite literally on a collision course with itself. Yet strangely, the totality of the danger is not yet apparent. World leaders thus do little more than talk about it. Most are simply in denial.

The opportunity in this situation is for America to ask itself anew what it can do about the needs of the global commons. How can America proactively lead the world out of the present crisis? How can it revitalize the international order and lead in the development of innovative ways to solve global problems? What global institutions need to be established to ensure that democracy and prosperity, along with American primacy, prevail in the twenty-first century?

What both Americans and the world must internalize is that no one is even remotely capable of leading this effort but the United States. The United Nations is weak and bureaucratically paralyzed. Other powers that could one day serve as regional sources of stability and order, such as the European Union, Russia, China, India, or Brazil, are themselves either unformed, unstable, or not sufficiently coherent. The myriad number of new international initiatives and institutions coming from the nongovernmental sector have high aspirations but remain fragile, underfunded, and only marginally effective.

This situation may be completely different in a few decades. But right now, it is only the United States that has the capacity, the traditions, the reach, and the will to lead at the global level. Until there is a sufficiently strong matrix of global institutions to ensure global stability and prosperity, there is literally no one else to lead the world but America. This means that the highest vision for the American empire is to serve the global need for effective global governance.

The greatest temptation at the moment of power is to be seduced by the dark side, or in arrogance, to dispense with “the vision thing,” as President George Bush, Sr., put it, and to use one's power not for the common good but for the sake of gaining even more power. The question before the United States is whether the magnitude of its power will eclipse the light by which it was founded, or whether it will use its power to serve greater light. Does it seek mastery to dominate or mastery to serve?

This is a crucially important distinction and question. If it uses its power to build democracy at a global level with the same genius with which it built democracy at the national level, the United States could leave a legacy so powerful that the world will become knitted into a singularity of democracy and freedom. The possibility for a successor empire could then be superseded by the demands of a single global system.

To achieve this task, America must consciously view itself as a transitional empire, one whose destiny at the moment of global power is to midwife a democratically governed global system. Its great challenge is not to dominate but to catalyze. It must see its historic task as that of using its great strength and democratic heritage to establish the integrating institutions and mechanisms necessary for the effective management of the emerging global system such that its own power is subsumed by the very edifice it helps to build.

Wilson established the League of Nations. Roosevelt and Truman established a new world order during and after World War II. It must now be done again. If it attains this level of greatness, America could be the final empire, for what it will have bequeathed to the world is a democratic and integrated global system in which empire will no longer have a place or perform a role.

This is the challenge before America: to manifest a destiny of both light and power at the level of global affairs. It is ultimately a challenge about how high it will cast its sights, about what kind of vision it will manifest as it leads in an integrating world fraught with crises. The deep question is whether Americans have the political and moral intention to rise to this occasion and whether the world will accept the leadership that America then provides.

Jim Garrison is president of the State of the World Forum, which he cofounded with Mikhail Gorbachev in 1995. Garrison has written six books on various aspects of philosophical theology and history, including Civilization and the Transformation of Power (2000). His most recent book, America as Empire, from which the above article is excerpted, came out in January 2004.

tirsdag den 17. marts 2009

Parenti-interview om finanskrisen.

You see, the Republicans were never against debt; they were the biggest debt spenders there ever was. When Ronald Reagan came into office, the national debt was $800 billion. When he left office, it was $2.5 trillion. I mean, it was OK with him to spend. He also put in the biggest tax program that ever was, but it was a regressive tax. It was a Social Security tax on tens of millions of people. When George Bush, Sr. came in, the national debt went from $2.5 to $5 trillion. Clinton—I’ll give him credit for that one thing—he did try to go for solvency. But when you got to George Bush, Jr., for eight years, the debt has gone from $5 trillion to $10 trillion. And these Republicans were voting for that all along. All these spending bills were theirs. So, you see, they don’t mind debt, because debt is really a way of upward distribution. You tax the common people, and you give the money to rich creditors. It’s a very regressive way of redistributing wealth upward. So debt is fine with them.

Læs resten her.

Michael Hardt om Common Wealth.

Dick Cheney interviewet.

Jeg bragte forleden et klip med Dick Cheney, som var et uddrag af et længere interview fra CNN, men nu har jeg så fundet en lidt over 19 minutter lang udgave af interviewet.

På hans blog kritiserer professor i mellemøstlig historie, Juan Cole, Cheney-interviewet på baggrund af følgende udtalelse fra interviewet: "I guess my general sense of where we are with respect to Iraq and at the end of now, what, nearly six years, is that we've accomplished nearly everything we set out to do...."

-> An estimated 4 million Iraqis, out of 27 million, have been displaced from their homes, that is, made homeless. Some 2.7 million are internally displaced inside Iraq. A couple hundred thousand are cooling their heels in Jordan. And perhaps a million are quickly running out of money and often living in squalid conditions in Syria. Cheney's war has left about 15% of Iraqis homeless inside the country or abroad. That would be like 45 million American thrown out of their homes.

-> It is controversial how many Iraqis died as a result of the 2003 invasion and its aftermath. But it seems to me that a million extra dead, beyond what you would have expected from a year 2000 baseline, is entirely plausible. The toll is certainly in the hundreds of thousands. Cheney did not kill them all. The Lancet study suggested that the US was directly responsible for a third of all violent deaths since 2003. That would be as much as 300,000 that we killed. The rest, we only set in train their deaths by our invasion.

-> Baghdad has been turned from a mixed city, about half of its population Shiite and the other half Sunni in 2003, into a Shiite city where the Sunni population may be as little as ten to fifteen percent. From a Sunni point of view, Cheney's war has resulted in a Shiite (and Iranian) take-over of the Iraqi capital, long a symbol of pan-Arabism and anti-imperialism.

-> In the Iraqi elections, Shiite fundamentalist parties closely allied with Iran came to power. The Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, the leading party in parliament, was formed by Iraqi expatriates at the behest of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1982 in Tehran. The Islamic Mission (Da'wa) Party is the oldest ideological Shiite party working for an Islamic state. It helped form Hizbullah in Beirut in the early 1980s. It has supplied both prime ministers elected since 2005. Fundamentalist Shiites shaped the constitution, which forbids the civil legislature to pass legislation that contravenes Islamic law. Dissidents have accused the new Iraqi government of being an Iranian puppet.

-> Arab-Kurdish violence is spiking in the north, endangering the Obama withdrawal plan and, indeed, the whole of Iraq, not to mention Syria, Turkey and Iran.

-> Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi women have been widowed by the war and its effects, leaving most without a means of support. Iraqi widows often lack access to clean water and electricity.

Følg ovensående link for at læse resten samt links der kvalificerer kritikken yderligere.

søndag den 15. marts 2009

Obamas Foreløbige Udenrigspolitik.

Det oprindelige indlæg er blevet slettet, men jeg refererer i stedet til min artikel fra i år omhandlende Obamas udenrigspolitik efter nu to år ved magten. Den omhandler selvfølgelig på ingen måde alle aspekter ved denne, men giver blot et overblik over USAs fortsatte alliancer med stærkt kritisable regimer. Det kan læses på Kontradoxa.

Samtidig med dette kan man orientere sig nærmere om Obama's udenrigspolitik ved at trykke på tagsne nedenunder dette blogindlæg som linker til andre relevante artikler som har været bragt på bloggen.

Jon Stuart vs. Cramer

What a dick.

torsdag den 12. marts 2009

Professor Ha Joon Chang om Finanskrisens ophav

Der var forleden et interessant interview med den syd-koreansk fødte professor i udviklingsøkonomi v. Cambridge, som jeg fandt oplysende, og derfor linker til.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you explain what are neoliberal policies? And then you can critique them.

HA-JOON CHANG: Yes. Well, basically, the reason why it’s called “neoliberal” is that it’s a successor to nineteenth century classical liberal doctrine. I mean, “liberal” in American usage usually means kind of the left to the center, but in the European usage, “liberal” means basically belief in the free market and private ownership and basically rule of money.

Now, neoliberals have moderated some of the old liberal beliefs. For example, the old liberals actually thought that democracy was bad for capitalism. You know, they thought if you have democracy, poor people vote and create things like income tax, which they have, but, I mean, it actually helped the economy rather than destroyed the economy like the liberals said. So the neoliberals [inaudible] some degree of progressive income tax. The liberals used to be against, for example, having a central bank. The neoliberals actually like the central bank pumping money into the economy when things are going wrong. So it has modified the classical liberal doctrine, but neoliberalism still has, in its core, belief in free market, free trade, deregulated economy and private ownership.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you find it funny that you’re saying—that Gordon Brown is saying what you have been saying for a while—

HA-JOON CHANG: That’s right, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: —talking about the hypocrisy of the West? But explain what that is, what the US has done or what the West has done with poorer countries when they’re in trouble, and then what we do when we’re in trouble.

HA-JOON CHANG: That’s right, yeah. For example, when the developing countries go into financial crises like the rich countries are experiencing today, they were told by the IMF and the World Bank, and ultimately the rich country governments which control these institutions, that they have to cut spending; ideally, they should run budget surplus. They have to raise interest rate to 30, 50, even 80 percent in some countries. And basically, they have to tighten the belt. Now that the rich countries have the financial crisis, they have cut interest rate to practically zero. You know, I mean, when South Korea had its financial crisis back in 1997, the IMF insisted that the country runs budget surplus equivalent to one percent of GDP. This year in the US alone, budget deficit is estimated to be equivalent to something like 12 percent of GDP.

Now, I mean, how do you explain that? I mean, that these policies are not good enough for you? I mean, “We’ll use one set of policy, which we think are the good ones, but you have to use something else.” You know, the American writer Gore Vidal once upon a time famously said that the American economic system is socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor, and the international macroeconomic policies have been like that. I mean, it’s what I call monetarism for the poor and Keynesianism for the rich. So when the rich countries have a fall in demand, they think nothing of boosting it up by printing money and increasing government spending; the poor countries shouldn’t do that.

Now, it’s not only the macroeconomic policy where this hypocrisy has a role. For example, the rich countries have been telling the developing countries to adopt free trade and told them, “Look, I mean, all countries in history probably, with the possible exception of Japan, have become richer through free trade. So how do you think that you guys can manage it otherwise?” Well, actually, if you look at the British history, American history, you find that today’s rich countries used protectionism, center, left and right, when they were developing countries. You know, I mean, for about one century, until the Second World War, the United States was actually the most protectionist country in the world. You know, there’s something there when Pat Buchanan said free trade is not free American, because in its 200 years of history, it has practiced free trade only for about fifty years.


torsdag den 5. marts 2009

Pilger om den britiske politistat.

Den legendariske australske BBC-journalist John Pilger.....

Freedom is being lost in Britain. The land of Magna Carta is now the land of secret gagging orders, secret trials and imprisonment. The government will soon know about every phone call, every email, every text message. Police can wilfully shoot to death an innocent man, lie and expect to get away with it. Whole communities now fear the state. The foreign secretary routinely covers up allegations of torture; the justice secretary routinely prevents the release of critical cabinet minutes taken when Iraq was illegally invaded. The litany is cursory; there is much more.

War Comes Home To Britain

Zunes om Obama og Israel.

Stephen Zunes, professor i politik og internationale studier ved San Francisco University, har idag en ganske god kronik om Obama-administrationens forhold til Israel.

During the fighting in January, Amnesty documented Israeli forces engaging in "direct attacks on civilians and civilian objects in Gaza, and attacks which were disproportionate or indiscriminate." The leader of Amnesty International's fact-finding mission to the Gaza Strip and southern Israel noted how "Israeli forces used white phosphorus and other weapons supplied by the USA to carry out serious violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes." Amnesty also reported finding fragments of U.S.-made munitions "littering school playgrounds, in hospitals and in people's homes."

Obama and Israel's Military: Still Arm-in-Arm

onsdag den 4. marts 2009

Juraprofessor: Bush-administrations politistatslige virksomhed.

Den som regel interessante juraprofessor Majorie Cohn har idag en veloplagt artikel om Bush-administrationens politistatslige virke, som takket være nyligt lækkede memoer, nu kendes i endnu mere forstyrrende detaljer.

Memos Provide Blueprint for Police State

Seven newly released memos from the Bush Justice Department reveal a concerted strategy to cloak the President with power to override the Constitution. The memos provide “legal” rationales for the President to suspend freedom of speech and press; order warrantless searches and seizures, including wiretaps of U.S. citizens; lock up U.S. citizens indefinitely in the United States without criminal charges; send suspected terrorists to other countries where they will likely be tortured; and unilaterally abrogate treaties. According to the reasoning in the memos, Congress has no role to check and balance the executive. That is the definition of a police state.

Global Research on Obamanomics.

Michel Chussodovsky fra Global Research har skrevet en interessant analyse af Obamanomics: America's Fiscal Collapse.